Archive | March 2013

Thursday’s Children – Inspiring stories

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It’s time for my Thursday’s Children post yet again, that time of the week when we writers come together to share what’s been inspiring our writing.

I must confess I was having trouble working out what to say this week about what inspires my writing as I’ve said quite a lot about that already. I’ve also had quite a busy day – hence the late posting!

But in the end I did think of something – hooray! It occurred to me that I could talk about what inspired the subject of the novel I’ve just finished (NOT to be confused with the WIP I’m sharing a bit of weekly with all you lovely WIPpeteers!). I’ve called this novel ‘The Inheritance’ and it’s loosely based on Jesus’s parable told in the Bible about the Prodigal Son.

Now for those of you who don’t know your Bible, the story is about two sons and their father. The younger son demands his inheritance immediately and sets off to live the good life, whilst the elder son stays with his father on the farm and works really hard. The younger son gets into a lot of trouble (think drunkeness and debauchery!!!) and loses his entire inheritance. He ends up working for a farmer minding the pigs. I don’t know much about ancient Israel, but seeing as Jews don’t eat anything with pig in as they consider it unclean meat, it probably means that looking after pigs would have been seen as one of the lowest of the low jobs.

So whilst tending the pigs, it occurrs to the younger son that he could earn more money than this as one of his father’s hired hands. He decides to return to his father, ask his forgiveness and if he could work for him. As the son is making his way home, his father sees him (he’s been watching for him) from afar and rushes to meet him. The two are reconciled – the father won’t hear of his son working as a hired hand – and he insists on throwing a party for his younger ‘prodigal’ son. Meanwhile the elder son who’d been working so hard and hadn’t squandered his inheritance, is pretty peeved as you can imagine. He has a go at his father telling him in no uncertain terms that he feels hard done by, but his father says that of course he appreciates all he does for him. But he tells his elder son that it was as if his other son had come back to life ‘he was lost but now is found’. So ends the story.

I just thought it would be really interesting to update the story to the present day and tell it my way. So it’s set in present day Cornwall, UK and it’s the story of two sisters on their father’s farm and what happens when the younger daughter decides she wants her inheritance straight away. I have changed the story quite a lot from the parable, embellished it and so on. One thing I’ve done is given the elder daughter’s side of the story as well as the younger. I won’t say much more because I don’t want to spoil too much before I finally get round to publishing it on Kindle. :)

It gets me thinking about how other people’s stories can be an inspiration for our own. Obviously you can only rework stories such as those in the Bible or where the copyright has expired (think Jane Austen!) without being accused of plagiarism. Such stories are ripe for the reworking. But I guess it’s possible to draw inspiration from any kind of story we’ve been told. We could maybe adapt a family story our mother told us about what happened to a great grandmother, or a story our friend told us about their antics on holiday for their 21st birthday. Anything like this I think is great for developing our own ideas for a story.

What’s your take on this? Do you come up with an idea for a story from scratch or are you inspired by other stories?

If you would like to join in with Thursday’s Children, simply write about what inspires you on your blog and then click on this link. Thanks once again to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.

Anna’s surprise: WIPpet Wednesday

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Last Wednesday I posted an excerpt from my current WIP. It left some questions unanswered so I thought I’d share the next 27 lines with you, it being the 27th today, and maybe some of those questions will be answered… Melody, almost a complete stranger (she’s only met my heroine once briefly before), has interrupted Anna’s work on her writing and is confiding in her – unasked – about her complicated love life. So here it is:

It couldn’t be the same Will could it? No, surely not, ‘William’ was a common enough name and plenty of people shortened it to ‘Will’.

‘I couldn’t deal with his immaturity and his inability to make an effort in our relationship, you know, to just accept responsibility for his actions some of the time. He could never admit that he was wrong; he constantly expected me to take the blame.’ Melody sighed.

Anna wondered. Could Melody be talking about the Will she knew? There was a chance.

‘So I dumped him,’ Melody continued. ‘Then I moved on and met Richard and things just spun out of control. I love Richard, I do, but everything has happened so fast. We didn’t plan the pregnancy, but now that I’m expecting…I’d rather be married.’ She paused, her gaze fixed unseeing ahead of her. ‘Oh well, at least ‘Morris’ is a better surname than ‘Schoddy’.’

Anna started involuntarily. That was Will’s surname. It was unusual, she’d never heard it before or since, it had to be the same person surely?

‘Are you all right?’ Melody had turned to face her and was giving her an odd look.

‘Er…yes I’m fine.’

‘You don’t know Will, do you?’

‘No…no I heard the name once and it stayed with me,’ Anna lied.

‘Oh. Well maybe you’ve heard of him rather than met him. I don’t think there can be many ‘Schoddys’ in this part of the world. And if you’d met Will, you’d remember him.’

I can’t argue with you there, Anna thought.

If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday, all you have to do is post a section of your current WIP on your blog that relates somehow to the date, so it being the 27th today you could post twenty seven lines from chapter twenty seven or twenty seven words and so on. Then add your name to this linky and you can look at all the other great WIPpeteers’ work! Thanks once more to K.L. Schwengel for hosting.

Updating

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I’ve just been experimenting with the look of my blog. It’s now a lot pinker than it was! :) I had to search around the WordPress background menu for a while to find one I liked. All the best ones seemed (unsurprisingly!) to be ones you have to pay for. So it took me quite a long time to select a free one that suited me.

And it got me thinking about updating – whether it be the look of your blog or your home or your workspace or your writing. As many of you may be aware, I’ve been thinking in my Thursday’s Children blog posts about revisiting my old writing from years ago. I guess updating is the next concept along from that. What I mean is that once you’ve revisited your old work, it’s possible to get to the stage where you’re thinking of revamping it, of updating it. This could mean taking your old ideas but starting from scratch in terms of actually writing it. Or it could mean taking parts of what you’ve written already and weaving them into a new version of your story.

It’s something I may well do sometime, perhaps beginning with my ghost story. In that case I would probably use some of what I’ve written in the updated version; seeing as I’ve already written so much it seems a shame not to use any of it and anyway I like a lot of what I’ve written. Updating your old work can give it a new lease of life. You may take it to new levels and new places. Maybe you’ll change the locations of the story, give the characters new names or perhaps radically change the plot. Or alternatively you might just change a few small things like the colour of your main character’s eyes or hair.

However you do it, updating can be fun to do. It means you don’t necessarily need to come up with a new idea for your next story – you can revamp an old story without having to start from scratch. Why not dig out that old manuscript that you barely remembered you had and take a fresh look at it? It might not be as bad as you remembered. You might surprise yourself by just how good your writing skills were ten, fifteen, even twenty years ago.

Although it could be that updating one of your old stories isn’t what you want to do right now (maybe you’re committed to your current WIP), it could be something that you might consider one day when the wells of inspiration have run dry. I know that for me, whilst I’m happy at the moment working on my WIP, I would definitely consider going back to my ghost story and maybe even others to update them and finish them off.

So don’t discount that old story of yours you’ve got languishing at the bottom of your filing cabinet. It may well be a hidden gem that could be very successful if you take the time to update it.

This entry was posted on March 23, 2013. 2 Comments

Revisiting old work – Thursday’s Children

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You may remember from last week that I shared a story I began developing years ago from a dream I’d had about a girl finding a ghost in a house. I decided that this week I would share with you my thoughts about that story and how it’s made me revisit some of my old work from years ago.

I was really inspired by so many comments on last week’s Thursday’s Children blog entry which were saying I should write the story – they’d love to read it. This galvanised me to hunt through the house for my original manuscript. Technically this consists of an old school exercise book and another larger notebook. I began reading what I’d started to write nearly twenty years ago as a 13 year old (I know how long ago it was because I’d dated it and yes I am that old!!). I haven’t finished reading it yet because there’s quite a lot of it. But I have to say I really enjoyed what I read. Of course some passages are a little bit teenage-girly but there are some great descriptions of my character’s feelings and of the house as well as her meeting the ghost.

She’s a girl at secondary school (I think I made her about 14/15 so for those of you who don’t know the British education system I’m guessing high school) and she’s fallen out with her boyfriend. She goes off on her bike and finds this amazing house in the woods and eventually a ghost inside, a young man. I’d been working on it for a number of years. The most recent time was about 10 years ago, which I haven’t got to reading again yet but I’m keen to see how I continue the story on. Though I have to say I never finished writing it, having read all those lovely comments makes me feel I should seriously consider revisiting it.

So how does all this relate to being inspired to write? Well for one thing it’s encouraging to me as I look back over my old work, and not just this, to remind myself of my writing style and how it’s developed over the years. It’s encouraged me, making me feel that yes I can write, I do have a talent and I should feel confident in myself that I can write a good story. Something I’ve noticed about my writing style from a while ago is that I wrote descriptive passages a lot more confidently when I was a teenager compared with nowadays, when I feel that dialogue flows from my mind onto the page (or more like computer screen!!) more easily than description. I’m hoping that rereading my old work – this story and others – will help me to revitalise my writing style a little and give me the confidence to experiment a bit with the way in which I tell a story.

It’s a funny thing in a way to say that in a sense the younger me is inspiring the older me, but it’s true!
What or who are your inspirations for writing?

To join in or check out other wonderful writers talking about what inspires them to write click on this link.
Thanks again to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.

Reunion – WIPpet Wednesday

Well it’s that time of the week again where we share a segment of our current WIP. Last week I posted a segment of my story which has the working title of Reunion. Today I’m going to share 20 lines from chapter 3 seeing as it’s the 20th of March. This section is a bit further on in the story. Anna, the main protagonist, has been approached by Melody who she doesn’t know. (Melody is the character who was getting hot under the collar in last week’s WIPpet.) Melody begins to confide in her.

‘I don’t usually confide in complete strangers,’ she said to Anna, ‘but I’ll make an exception this time. The thing is I’ve made some mistakes; I know we all have but I feel so guilty about mine…I’ve not been as good a girlfriend as I could have been.’

‘I think we’ve all had moments when we’ve felt like that,’ Anna said. In spite of needing to get some work done, she was interested to hear what Melody had to say. At the same time though, she felt she was intruding into a complete stranger’s life. Even if that stranger seemed to be inviting her into her secrets. But if Melody wanted to confide in her, where was the harm in listening?

‘I had a serious boyfriend a couple of years ago. We got engaged.’ Melody said. ‘We’d been together for a while but we weren’t living together. He proposed to me before we even started looking for a house. It came out of the blue, I wasn’t expecting it but I was so happy – I said yes straight away.’

‘So what went wrong?’

‘Well eventually we found somewhere to live; he insisted on buying a property, he didn’t want to rent. But by that stage I was finding him really hard to be around. Will was so needy and clingy and…’
Anna didn’t hear the rest of Melody’s sentence.

If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday, simply post a section of your current work in progress that corresponds with the date, for example today is the 20th March, hence 20 lines from chapter 3 of my work. Then just add your name to the linky that K.L. Schwengel hosts on her blog and check out some other great WIPpets.

Do we get over our past?

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Hmm. A bit of a tough question for a Sunday evening when the working week is fast approaching! But it’s something I’m considering at the moment in my WIP. A couple of weeks ago in my ‘Thursday’s Children’ blog entry, I was talking about experiences we have at school. Nearly everyone said in their comments on it that they’d struggled at school.

My character Anna is still grappling with the demons from her past and hasn’t got over the nightmare of her school days. It got me wondering if that is unrealistic – doesn’t everyone come to terms with their difficulties at school, and surely she should be over it by now? But then if you look at it from another angle, I think it’s fair to say that we’re all affected by our past in one way or another. It may not be the case that we had a tough time at school, but I’m sure we all have events in our lives that have helped to shape and mould us into the people we are today.

And this can inform so much of our lives, and for us authors our writing. I definitely draw on my past as at least partial inspiration for my writing. Without it my work would be colourless. I could say I’m over my past but am I really? Is it more the case that I’ve accepted it rather than I’m fighting against it and that I’m not trying to deny it? I must say I’m worlds away from where I was 18 years ago as a person, but then I’m sure we could all say that. I will say that I’m happy in my life now, never happier. I know I’m blessed in that respect because not everyone can say that.

So do we get over our past? Maybe, maybe not. But I believe it is possible to be reconciled with our past selves and to keep looking forward.

As always I welcome your comments!

This entry was posted on March 17, 2013. 4 Comments

Dreams and their influence – Thursday’s Children

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Years ago I had a dream about a girl and a ghost in a big old house. Because it was so long ago, I can’t remember much about it. But it did inspire me in my late teens/early twenties to begin a story. I never completed it, but I did do quite a lot of work on it. The story concerned a teenage girl who finds an empty mansion in the woods, overgrown and dilapidated. She’s amazed and begins to explore it.

Obviously the story is fantasy, so I have the girl going around the different rooms which have different colour themes to them, particularly the bedrooms. There is a blue room, a yellow room etc. Then the girl opens a wardrobe in one of the rooms and out steps a ghost of a young handsome man. The girl is petrified of course and runs away but the ghost appears again. Eventually he reassures her that he’s not going to hurt her. He’s stuck in a sort of purgatory and is lonely. The girl and the ghost begin to get to know each other…

Well I won’t go further than that because I may return to the idea at some point. But it is interesting when dreams we have inspire our writing. Although I can’t recall much of the original dream, at the time I had enough to go on to begin creating this whole world where fantasy meets reality. Would the girl tell anyone about what she’d found? What was the ghost’s history?

I’m not alone as an author in being influenced by dreams. The author Stephenie Meyer was inspired to write her novel ‘Twilight’ by a dream she had about a human girl and a vampire who was in love with her but thirsted for her blood. To coin a well known phrase, the rest is history. I believe that dreams can influence us more that we think. We may not always be aware of it, but sometimes decisions we make can be affected by them. It’s possible to be warned that something is about to happen that we need to do something about. Dreams can also help us to be clearer in our minds what choices we should make. So don’t discount the next dream you have. It might be very helpful to you.

If you would like to take part in the ‘Thursday’s Children’ blog hop, just write about what inspires your writing and add your details to this link. Thanks to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting this blog hop.

WIPpet Wednesday Reunion story

This week it being the 13th March, I thought I’d share about 13 lines from chapter 3 of my current WIP which has the working title ‘Reunion’. At this point in the story my main character Anna and her friends have arrived at an old stately home for a spa weekend.

‘Hey! Hey, what do you think you’re doing?’ Anna and her friends turned to face the questioner. They were faced with an angry looking woman of about their own age, who was being followed by an entourage of women dressed in various shades of pink. The woman speaking had an L plate stitched to her T shirt. They were obviously there for a hen weekend.
‘What do you mean, what are we doing?’ Lizzie asked. ‘We’re just going into our rooms.’
The woman shook her head forcefully. ‘You can’t do that. Those are our rooms.’
‘There must be some mistake,’ Anna said. ‘We were quite clearly told to come here to the second floor, turn left and that our rooms were the third and fourth on the right.’
She watched as the woman’s face turn redder and redder.

If you would like to join in with WIPpet Wednesday simply post a section of your current work in progress that relates in some way to the date (e.g. 13 lines or words for the 13th), then add your name to this link. Thanks again to K.L. Schwengel for hosting.

Lazy Saturdays

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I don’t know about you but sometimes at weekends I find it harder to focus on my writing than on a weekday. I don’t work weekends and although I love having the time free to spend with my husband and our lovely golden retriever, I find the time slips through my fingers and before I know it it’s gone.

I have done some writing today; I’m trying to do some now but it’s hard. I’m being distracted by pottering around the house, looking at the internet, tempted away from my writing by updating this blog, and generally unable to keep on track with my writing and tasks in general unlike on a weekday. The trouble is I tend to feel guilty if I haven’t done a great deal of anything at the weekend. As the weekend approaches I kind of think ‘oh I’ll do that at the weekend, I’ll have more time then.’ But then the weekend arrives and I just can’t be bothered! A lethary envelopes me and I can’t seem to see through the fog of my own inertia!

I guess the whole point of weekends (if you’re not working) is just that: they’re end of the week; you’re supposed to have a rest and take it easy. But I feel bad when Monday arrives and the house isn’t looking as good as it could, or the word count of my novel hasn’t increased as much as I’d like. It would be nice to either have a weekend where I somehow manage to get plenty done on the house AND on my novel. And do all this without overdoing it! It’s a shame that, to coin a well known saying, I simply can’t have my cake and eat it too!

What are your thoughts on weekends and work?

This entry was posted on March 9, 2013. 2 Comments

Thursday’s Children on my new blog!

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Well this is my first Thursday’s Children on my new blog and it’s another chance for me to tell you what inspires my writing. Hmm…various things I guess, one of which I shared last week. So this week I want to talk about what has inspired my current WIP. This WIP is partly to do with my main character, Anna, going to a school reunion and having to face the bullies who made her life hell while she was at school.

I didn’t enjoy school , so I know what my character’s going through. Growing up isn’t easy for anyone, and it’s especially hard if you have zero self confidence. My character Anna has changed an awful lot since her school days. She’s blossomed from a dumpy teen into a beautiful thirty something woman, with a successful career as – would you believe – an author. Her self confidence is much greater now she’s an adult. I guess it’s similar to my own story as I suffered a great deal from a lack of self confidence, particularly in my teens. It doesn’t help that girls can be very catty when they want to be and the same is even more true of teenage girls. They can make each other’s lives difficult. This is something that my story deals with. Having said that some of the bullies in my story are male, so that’s interesting to me too.

The story I’m telling, whilst not about teenagers, does have plenty of flashbacks to Anna’s past and her experiences at school. Our childhood and teenage years shape us into the people we become as adults and that’s what I’m drawing on in this story. I’ve often imagined going back to my secondary school and seeing my old classmates as they are now, what they would look like years later, how they might have changed. That was one of the main ideas for the story: what happens when someone revists their past. I’m also thinking about the ramifications of that; what the effect of the reunion is on Anna and her friends. I’m developing my character: how does she change as a person as a result of meeting people from her past?

What are your thoughts on how people are shaped by their school days?

If you want to take part in this Thursday’s Children blog hop simply blog about what inspires you to write and add your link to this linky

Thanks to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting

Other awesome authors include Raewyn Hewitt Kate Frost Regi McClain