Tag Archives: fiction

Oh, you are a cancerian too (gulp!)

29 Jul

During my break from blogging, I celebrated my 30th birthday. It is official, I am now a grown up.

Last year following my birthday I wrote a post about horoscopes and chorizo. Being that time again, I feel it is time to embark on this pondering, especially in light of new acquaintances.

Bear with me, this is related to writing and character development, which just shows how much the ‘writer’ in me has matured in the past year.

In the past year I have had a close friend (lets call her Bobo)  that like me is a cancerian. It is safe to say we are a bit of an odd team in terms of where we are in life, as well as in age. The fact that Bobo shares the same star sign has never really risen to the surface, her birthday is in June, mine in July, we are just good mates.

My son started school last year. For any of you that have ever had to face the school playground you will be aware of the various groups that gravitate towards each other (watch out on my special post on the witches coven). As it goes, there were a few of us that mingled around the edges eventually clinging onto each other. Oh my, of that crowd, the three standards, myself, mum A and mum B (names protected for safety reasons) all share a July birthday, all cancerians.

What a nice coincidence. It means we can all go out and celebrate our birthdays together. Makes it more special I think.

Character traits have shown through over time and more and more I have found myself intrigued by how similar we are. Not in the ooh we like shoes type of way, but more of an oh, that is how I would react. I can identify with hopes and dreams, disappointment and rejection. It’s good to have friends that are like you…or is it?

I realised very quickly at this point that Bobo is also the same as Mum A and Mum B. At work, two colleagues of mine hinted at a weakness. As I sat there listening all I could think was, ‘oh, you are such a cancerian’. Both colleagues are cancerian.

Safe to say I freaked. all my life I have only had one friend that was also a cancerian, and we separated ways at the age of 15. Sure kids at school had June/July birthdays, but I was very rarely drawn to them.

Why was I freaked? I thought I was unique. An anomaly in the way I thought and acted. At times I genuinely thought I must have something wrong with me, no self-help book would ever work for me…nope I am normal. I am a typical cancerian, and these people, they are too. What this means however is a desire in me to run and hide. If they think the way I do, that is too much for me to handle.

What does this have to do with writing you ask. Well, my love for character bibles and the such has just taken an unexpected twist. When I started reading about cancerians, I realised I had my start for every character bible. Cheating? Not really. I was always told to give my characters a month of birth, I never understood why. Now it has become clearer.

How does this make me a more matured writer? Simply it shows I am studying other peoples traits and analysing them. Trying to understand what makes them tick. What part of them makes them break the norm, be unrational, remain calm in stressful situations. Developing characters is much more than knowing they have a lisp and blonde hair.

Obviously there are cynics that do not believe in this. That is fine. As I have said before, I am not a great one for following this, I certainly wouldn’t at this time be able to say ‘oh you are a typical…’ as I have heard others do. I do however, believe after these past few weeks that there is something behind these signs. I know nothing of the history, and honestly, I do not have an interest to learn. All I know is of the seven of us that I refer to, we are all typical of the cancerian sign. For now, for me, that is enough.

Oh and a word of warning, if you are a cancerian, and you see me running, it’s because I am afraid,  after all, I know what you’re thinking.

***So I dont know what you are actually thinking, but I know how you will react***

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Me and Mr G…and Voodoo Dolls

25 Apr

In the past year I have been in the privileged position to work closely with a writer whilst he wrote his entire first novel.

From the first chapter, i provided feedback on plot, characterisation, language, continuity…proofreading. Not your typical way of doing things, but that is what we did. Last month, I received the final installment of this first draft. Much to both mine and the writers surprise, the word count exceeded 137,000 words.

Why am I telling you this?

Well obviously once this novel has gone through the full editing procedure it will be the bestseller of our time. It will rival the sales of Harry Potter, its series will be found in libraries in hundreds of years, hailed as a classic.

No not quite (although it is quite brilliant). This journey I have been part of has taught me a lot about dedication, commitment, and being in the real world as a writer.

You see, me and my writer friend, lets call him Mr G (ha) started our ‘writing careers’ at the same time. Where as I have embraced blogging and networking, Mr G has continued with his commitments away from writing, held down a part time job, and has just been accepted on a post graduate degree programme in creative writing.  Mr G does not have a family to care for, the need to work full time, the desire to have a career today as the years are passing by quickly. Other than wanting to write, mine and Mr G’s lives are very different.

So, what I did find surprising then, was that Mr G, with what to me seems like an eternity of time, did not write to a daily word count, did not measure his success on how much was achieved in an overall time scale, did not, well did not have any rules.

Mr G would take a couple of months off, then he would churn out multiple chapters on a daily basis. Mr G in September told me that he had to continue, he had got so far after all, and then didn’t produce anything until January. Mr G did not beat himself up.

Whats my point? Well, I have been pondering this whole blogging malarkey. I know, FACT, I don’t write like I should as I write my blog post when I get time. I also know, FACT, it is blogging that spurs me on. remember No Way Out, well nothing kills me more than knowing I haven’t written the next installment, eventually the guilt becomes such that I find some drive.

This is not a post of oh I have no motivation, oh I will write soon, whats the world coming to, not at all. This post is about embracing the diversity of our own approaches, to do things our way. We shouldn’t feel guilty for not writing. We should feel smug if we manage to churn out 5,000 words in one day. We should just feel how we feel, and not allow the pressures of the blogging community/twitter etc to make us feel we are doing something wrong. we should be pleased for fellow writers when they achieve something, not secretly stab pins in the makeshift dolls we have sat on the shelf above our computers….oh just me?!

(If you were the blogger last week chatting about writing goals give me the heads up – I wanted to include a link but can’t find you!!!)

No Way Out – the Second Installment

13 Apr

Unedited first draft. Please offer your thoughts within the comments. First installment can be found here. remember this is your project as much as mine so we are looking for a) further plot developments b) inaccuracies c) HONEST opinions and anything else you want to add. If you haven’t been involved to date, check out the page above with a full list of related posts.

‘Take a seat,’ Charles commanded as Steve shut the door  behind him, before even reaching the round back chair, deliberately chosen to be uncomfortable and uninviting Charles said ‘I won’t dance with my words. We have to let you go.’

Steve finally sat, stunned. Surely Charles was having him on.

‘You may as well as clear your desk immediately. Your contacts have been transferred already. If you speak with Sharon, she has all your documents.’ Charles turned to his computer and began typing.

Steve tried to find his voice, ‘But..’

Sighing Charles turned to Steve. ‘Don’t make this harder than it has to be. Your sales record does not make you invincible. Our staff have to give 100%. Shut the door on your way out.’

Steve did just that. As he walked across the sales floor, he was reminded of the scene from Jerry Maguire. Tempted to ask who was him? But he already knew the answer. It was obvious. All of these people, the ones that had shared his champagne, frequented lunches with, they all smirked and turned away. It was laughable. He didn’t feel anything except pity. Pity for these people that worked for a company that didn’t care, and in turn had become soulless themselves. He knew their greed. He knew nothing mattered accept that next sale. He also knew they wouldn’t get it. There had only ever been one reason for his success, one reason why he stood above the rest, quite simply, he gave a damn.

Steve grabbed his jacket and keys, and left the office. No hugs, no farewells, and no regrets. They had done him a favour. It was obvious he and Poppy were entering a new stage, and what better way than to enter it without the trash of the past.

***

Steve ran down the stairs scooping Michael from the floor he ran from the house. Mindful of how sensitive Michael is, Steve bundled him into the car, with promises of a surprise.

‘What surprise Daddy?’ Michael beamed, the features on his face highlighted by a rosy glow.

Thinking on his feet Steve responded cheerily, ‘How does a play in the park followed by the nugget shop or pizza sound?’ Michael cheered and began to chat incessantly. Steve, as hard as he tried he could not listen, the images of the past few minutes crashed like a cannon ball around his head.

Pausing in traffic, Michael’s voice broke his thoughts ‘…and what about the shower Daddy? Didi the man fix it?’

‘What?’

‘Mummy said the man was fixing the shower. Did he do it?’

Steve swerved the car into the parking space. Snapping his seat belt he turned to Michael’ we’re here. Last one to the swings is a monkey.’

Sitting on the bench, Steve watched Michael play with two other children. He thanked his lucky stars that this was the case. He hated to admit it, but right now was not the time for him to be with Michael. He didn’t have the capacity to be a caring loving father, broken husband and recent redundee all at once. His luck couldn’t get any worse. But this wasnt his fault. He didn’t do all of this. It was her. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t rationale her behaviour.

It had taken him what now felt like a lifetime to realise what was happening before his eyes. Thinking rationally, he was sure it was barely seconds, but he wouldn’t stand in court and swear on it. The ruffled bed, the strewn clothes, the stranger with his wife before his eyes. When she turned, and realised he was stood there, on the threshold of the bedroom, she had smiled, a slow smirk of a smile, it hit him hard, it was the second time that day he had seen that look on the lips of those he was meant to be connected to.

The words had stuck in his throat, the emotions strangling him. He had connected with her eyes. They wasn’t cold, or filled with hate. No love no compassion, just empty. Needless to say he had never seen such blankness in her, or anyone else for that matter. It was like the life was gone.

Maybe that was it. Maybe the loss of their child had taken everything from her. Maybe there was more to her grief than what had been on show. It was often said that you hide the most from those you hold most dear. But, the smirk, the very deliberate smirk, she knew what she was doing. The whys where’s and how longs were questioned to be answered later. For now, all he knew for certain was that she felt no remorse for what she had done.

****

Poppy sat on the bed, wrapped in her dressing gown, knees hugged to her chest. The silence in the house was just that, silent. Outside the clouds moved across, the dusk beginning to settle around the house like the dusk did every night. There was no comfort in the darkening skies, just as there was nothing to hear in the silence. The world was, at least within the house, just nothing.

Knowing steve would return soon, had to return soon, did not drive Poppy to move. The voice that still gave a damn told her she should at least get dressed , remake the bed, but the naughty voice, the one that she had indulged for too many months now told her to forget it, what was done is done, and finally so.

She could already predict the conversations that were soon to take place, both to her face and behind her back. It will be the shock of what she had done, how her and steve had always been such a strong couple, think of Michael.

Well it was Michael she was thinking of. If it hadn’t happened now, it would have happened later. If left they would have argued and Michael would have witnessed that. He would have heard the awful words, the terrible accusations, felt the tension. As for those that would argue she should have tried, well she had. But it was quite simple, if you didn’t love someone, then no matter how hard you try, you cannot wave tinkerbells magic wand and be in wonderland. There may be such a thing as happily ever after, but it would never be with her and Steve. Cheating may have been cowardice, but it will certainly provide the opportunity to escape.

Looking around the room, Poppy critiqued it. From the cream and brown walls, to the thick pile carpet, to the intricately wove bedding, Poppy knew she was surrounded by luxury that very few could afford. It was a risk she had taken, but she knew these things, as much as she adored them, were not enough.  She remembered, she had practically begged Steve for the hardwood shutters at the window, the thought of not having them , not having the perfect home had just been too much for her to handle. How shallow she had been. And yet, she had been online, she had spoken to women in unhappy marriages, and all they wanted was just what she had, just what she was leaving. She didn’t think any less of these women, she couldn’t even begin to imagine what life would have been like had her and Steve been hard up, but what she did know, even without money worries, steve was not enough.

Standing, Poppy walked across the room, and swung open her wardrobe door. Stepping inside she saw the plaque that still made her laugh out loud, ‘All men are idiots. Better to be married to an idiot with money than without’. This time however, she wasn’t laughing from the memory of the purchase, or at the saying men are idiots but just the irony that she was married to an idiot with money.

Needless to say Steve hated the plaque, he wasn’t too fond of the ‘what if the hokey cokey is all its all about?’ plaq either, but they were her guilty pleasure, and they could be found in her wardrobe only. Her little sanctuary. As much as she loved her house, and frankly, who couldn’t, sometimes she wished she could be brave enough to throw some colour or quirkiness in. Conformity was where she had been at since being with Steve, but today was the first day that was going to change all that. She could feel it, like a bubble of recklessness fizzing around her insides, it escaped in the form of laughter, freedom, her mouth salivated, her eyes glinted with mischievousness, this was it, the time had finally come, feeling breathless Poppy danced to the music in her head, pausing to chew her lip, suppressing the scream of excitement.

No Way Out – The First Installment

20 Mar

After several false starts, I finally have the first installment of ‘No Way Out’ that I would like to share with you.

It has not received even what I class as a first edit, as I am not ready, nor have I written enough to begin that process. So take it as you will. I shall continue to write in this format and share it with you. remember this is OUR project so if you can see me heading in a direction that you don’t feel works, or perhaps my characters are unbelievable, please shout it out.

The tears poured down her face. The pain, or was it just discomfort was more than she had ever dared imagine possible. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Surely the guilt of her actions was enough.

The nurses were kind enough. If she allowed herself to think it, she may even say caring, but how they couldn’t be judging her right now she didn’t know.

As she was wheeled into the next room, she kept her eyes closed. Slowly they helped her into a wheelchair, and then pushed her into a lift upstairs to a room to recover. They all spoke to one another, jovially talking about their plans for the weekend whilst she sat there praying for a distraction. The distraction never came, but who would be listening to her right now. They had said when she came in she was lucky, normally the bible bashers were hanging around outside, but maybe, just maybe, that would have made her feel better. At least it would have been a sign that this just wasn’t OK.

***

Steve busied himself in the kitchen. He could hear CBeebies coming from the lounge; the jolly jingles a contrast to his and his wife’s feelings of despair. Gently stirring the tomato soup Steve berated himself. Just the day before, he and his boss had shared a bottle of champagne in the office. Once again Steve had made salesman of the year for the UK, and was shortly to hear if he had indeed been awarded the coveted international prize. Without mortgage, debt, but a beautiful wife, a three year old son and a recently confirmed pregnancy, Steve felt as if the world had turned on its axis.

The celebrations had come too early, just seeing Poppy’s face as he had walked in the door the evening before had confirmed this error.

Pouring the hot soup into a bowl, Steve felt a movement behind him.

‘Daddy’ questioned the small voice of his son, ‘why is mummy crying?’

Crouching down low, Steve pulled Michael into him, ‘Mummy is just poorly, she just needs lots of hugs to make her better’

Seeming to accept this answer, Michael pulled away and went back through to the lounge. Steve followed with the soup, hoping that these little gestures would help make everything OK.

***

‘Will you just go back to work?’ Poppy hissed at Steve, the frustration of the past five week’s nonstop companionship smacking the air

Steve turned to Poppy, confusion on his face, ‘But I thought you needed me here?’

‘Just go.’

Poppy was seething. Unable to return to work herself until Steve stopped fussing, Poppy felt as if the world had been torn away from her. Isolated, lonely yet always in company, Poppy just craved normality. Actually, she just craved her time to be the person she had always been, the person that was only ever allowed to escape at work. The person that since meeting Steve had been locked away. It wasn’t his fault, well, he never asked to change, but when she did, and she lived her life as he did his, he never commented, he never questioned why, he just allowed it to happen. Life was all about what he did and what he wanted. There wasn’t room at home for Poppy.

***

The message on the email read,

My office. Ten mins.

Steve looked through his own office window, across the sea of administrative staff and into Charles’ office. Catching his eye, Steve nodded at Charles.

Steve felt reassured. In the past Steve had fretted over this type of email, back in the day before the awards. Since then, Steve understood Charles had one way of communicating, good or bad he was never anything other than brief. There was no room for additional use of words.

Starred on his electronic calendar was an event one week ahead. It marked Steves ten years service with the company. Within the first two years, Steve had been awarded regional sales rep, by year five; he had won international sales rep. His figures stacked up. The only thing that stood between Steve and his promotion was Charles. His time would come, five years he reckoned on. Sure, he had been offered various positions, with worldwide locations. The type of position most could only ever dream of, but he had chosen to decline. His wife, the sweet, kind yet viciously ambitious Poppy had received her own promotion and there was no chance that Steve would jeopardise her career. They were a partnership and that meant both at home and work they were equal.

The Sphinx Project – Review

6 Mar

Today I want to share with you The Sphinx Project a new title that has just been released by self published author Katherine Hawkings.

Lets start with the blurb:

Not many people can say their entire existence has been one big lab experiment: poked and prodded by scientists, genetically modified to be the best and endure the worst, subjected to daily tests and trials that would kill a normal human. All Michaela wants is her own life, to be able to go to school, flirt with boys, maybe eat ice cream now and then. So when the chance to escape finally comes, Michaela and her sister grab it, taking their friends with them.
But they weren’t the only ones to find their way out of those labs. Following close behind are another breed of creature, one that doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong, who exist only to feed their own hunger. The appearance of a strange boy who seems too much like them to be a coincidence makes things even more confusing. But as the world begins to literally fall apart around them, Michaela must accept his help, especially when she could lose the very thing she holds dearest: her sister.

Sounds good. Believe me, it does not disappoint. Fast paced, action packed, compelling storyline..even the slightest hint of romance is included in this genreless book.(Maybe I have made that word up – lets run with it!) And it is genreless, its crossover is what holds its appeal, a bit of everything for everyone and it certainly seems effortless, and there is not one point that I scrunched my face feeling that it didn’t work.

Sure, it may predominantly fit YA but i think to pigeon-hole it would detract from its quality.

I just have two negative points to raise. During the first half of the book a couple of times I felt the information was repeated. Just the odd line, but I noticed it, so I have to mention it. The other one is the fact that this book is part of a series, and I need the rest of that series NOW. Seriously, I feel like my iPad has been stolen midway through a book.

My recommendation is that everyone should read this book. Even if it isn’t your usual cup of tea, the drama and action is too much to ignore, you will be at the end before you even know you have started. If, like me, you are impatient, I recommend you follow Katherine Hawkings to keep up to date with new releases so you can get the full series in one hit as soon as it is available.

You can pick up your copy here.

Kicking Myself – No Way Out

2 Mar

I could kick myself. No seriously, sometimes the most obvious is staring you straight in the face and you just miss it completely!

That would be me these past few weeks.

So obviously the experience of No Way Out to date has not been that positive, the indecision, the lengthy contemplation…as a rule that normally kicks in at about 10,000 words, by which point I feel I am too far in to turn around.

However, I have said the progress would be recorded through this blog, so that means ups and downs, warts and all. The stupid decisions, the moments of elation, and hopefully the completion – although if I choose to walk away from it, then I shall have to explain that also.

believe me, I have been just wishing I could erase the past posts and forget it, even with the elation of last week that I had finally started writing.

But this whose point of view, finding the main storyline, choosing the angle, it has just been too much. Even with your support I have just not felt it clicking. I have found my distractions too easy to go with.

I was stupid.

We even discussed it within the comments.

It is a script, and even if it wasn’t, sub plots are required.

The script is started. I am writing both Steves and Poppys storylines side by side. Becky has been pushed to one side for now, but that’s fine. I have the answer. Simple wasn’t it?

Character Development Cheat

28 Feb

When I started blogging, I would write posts on writer’s block, provide handy little tips on overcoming it to get you going. I even provided one during the early days of a cuppa.

Wow, so many people have so many ideas on what will work, but it really is each to their own. A bit of assistance along the way however can be helpful.

When I was writing this post, I got thinking that some may be a little alarmed that I had started with something so real for my characters and developed it. am I wrong to do this? Absolutely not.

We all, whether we like to admit it or not steal from those we know. A flick of the hair, a particular phrase, if it catches our imagination, into the pot it goes. some of us eavesdrop on the bus, some seem to be watching the world go by whilst in reality are mentally noting the small childs limp, the too tight jeans…

Some call it people watching, some make up a whole world for the people around them, creating each persons story. It’s not just writers, the teenage girl may note her peers latest outfit to recreate it, whilst the small boy dreams of the day he will be allowed to ride his bike to the shop alone.

I remember a task that we were set during a children’s writing session in university. it was simple, describe someone you know from the ground up. Have you ever tried this? It is simply the most intriguing exercise you can do.

I was unsure at first. How can describing someone in this way be beneficial? I opted to describe someone who I spend a lot of time with, not sure what I would end up with. I began with the shoes, tatty, too tight laces and faded. By the time I had reached the knees, I was no longer describing the person I began with. My imagination had started working without purpose, I didn’t know what I wanted to end with, I just started adding little details, simple rips and repairs…

I was left with a slightly eccentric, tramp like character that just begged for more questions to be asked. Why were the clothes tatty? Who was his family? Did he even have one? Was this a lifestyle choice? Was there a significant event in his past? Yes I knew the answers to these questions for the original person, but those answers no longer fitted what I had on the page. In short, I had a whole new character that just needed the story completing around him.

How do you develop your characters? Where do you start? Have any of your characters ever been identified by close friends and family?