Back from Wales!

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Well I made it back from Wales. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t always as good as in the photo I’ve posted. But we had a lovely time anyway. We went for lots of walks in various places with our dog who, as I’m sure you can imagine, had a whale of a time. The weather may not have been perfect, but we explored the Welsh countryside which was beautiful and there were plenty of gorgeous unspoilt beaches and towns. The beaches were especially lovely – miles of golden sand stretching into the distance towards the azure sea. I’m always impressed by how well kept everything is in Pembrokeshire; it’s all neat and tidy and nothing is unkempt.

Unlike last year, this time I decided to take my laptop with me so I could do a little bit of work on my writing. I was also able to reply to a few bloghop messages which was really nice. In theory I could have joined in the weekly bloghops I do (WIPpet Wednesday and Thursday’s Children) but the connection was through my husband’s smartphone and wasn’t very strong so I didn’t want to risk it.

Anyway, in the end I got quite a lot done on my writing. I’ve been amending my last story in preparation for publication. Two Twitter friends have read it for me and made lots of suggestions for how I could improve on it. So I’m currently going through it and changing bits in line with their comments. I’m pleased with how much I managed to get done while I was away, especially seeing as I haven’t done any work on it since we got back. I’ve been so busy catching up with washing and housework in general as well as returning to my usual routine. Phew!

I said in my last post that I’d had an interview for a job. Unfortunately I didn’t get it, but I’m trying to be philosophical about it – after all it’s good experience for me, especially as I haven’t done many interviews. I don’t like the nervousness that I find I have before and during an interview. I get so scared; my insides feel like mush and I can get a little shaky. But it’s a necessary process of course if I want to get a job.

However, not getting the job at least means that for the moment I can devote plenty of time to my writing. So this week I’m definitely taking part in WIPpet Wednesday and Thursday’s Children. This week there’ll be no stopping me! This week I will dazzle you all with my writing prowess!! All right, maybe not the last one. ;) But anyway, I’ll be back and contributing once more. I’m really looking forward to catching up with you all and reading your amazing work.

Till then…

Nerves – Thursday’s Children

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I had an interview for a job today. I haven’t had many before and despite the friendliness of the people who interviewed me, I found it nerve-wracking! I’m still feeling tense now, mainly because I have at least a day until I find out if I’ve got the job or not. I know it’s only a day but I hate that feeling of not knowing, of being in limbo until I find out.

So seeing as that’s all I can think about at the moment, I thought I’d turn this nervousness into a (hopefully!) thoughtful Thursday’s Children blog entry on suffering from nerves and how that can affect how we write. In my experience, it can be useful to write when you’re feeling on edge. There’s nothing like a bit of escapism using your own imagination. It can distract you from whatever is making you nervous, giving you something else to focus on.

And nerves can inform what we write; we may bring in a sense of strain into one of our characters’ lives. Perhaps they suffer a nervous breakdown that we wouldn’t have written into the plot if we hadn’t been feeling bad ourselves. Or maybe they find a way to break through the anxiety barrier and achieve something incredible against all the odds. It can be cathartic to write about our characters suffering from anxiety – we can shift some of our anxiety away from our minds into our work.

It’s a little bit like artists painting their pain, both physical and mental. It can be like a channel flowing from the mind through the paintbrush or pen onto the paper. The artist Frida Kahlo was in a lot of pain for most of her life. She turned that pain into wonderful paintings which are visceral in their depiction of what it’s like to suffer from chronic pain. Because how do you show pain ordinarily when it can’t be seen? You can’t, you can only describe it. As a writer though, it is possible to describe it beautifully, especially when it’s pain of the mind. I digress a little, but what I’m trying to get at is that as writers it’s possible for us to transform our trials, our anxieties, even physical pain into something positive, a work of art that can be enjoyed by many people – even millions of people.

If we work through the anxiety, the physical or mental pain, it can transform our writing and make it into something wonderfully unique. Everyone has their own story to tell. It can be tough to face our fears and actually write about anxiety, write about what scares us, but when we do we can find that our writing is the better for it. So if I don’t get that job, it’s too bad – but at least it’s given me even more ideas of what to write about.

If you would like to join in the weekly bloghop that is Thursday’s Children, just write a blog post about whatever inspires your writing. Then simply add your name to this link where you can also check out all the other wonderful Thursday’s Children bloggers. Thanks to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.

WIPpet Wednesday – The Inheritance

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Well it’s nearly the end of Wednesday and I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to participate yet, but I’ve got just about enough time left to post my contribution to this week’s WIPpet Wednesday. I thought that seeing as I’ve put my current WIP on hold to revise my previous WIP, which I’m hoping to publish soon, I’d post a section of the previous one. It’s called ‘The Inheritance’ and it’s about two daughters, one wise daughter and one foolish daughter. It’s loosely based on the Prodigal Son, a parable Jesus tells in the Bible. Here’s the opening 17 lines (approximately), seeing as it’s the 17th today. Enjoy!

Emma was perched on a hay bale in the barn. Green rolling hills that she’d known all her life banked up in the distance. She watched her sister, barely able to disguise her irritation. Kate was sitting on another hay bale a few feet away, attempting to untangle her blonde curly hair with her fingers.

It was a permanent mess. Emma had the same slender figure, blonde curly hair and blue eyes as her sister, but her hair was always styled neatly. Why don’t you just cut it all off and start again? Emma wanted to say. Kate looked up at her with a disapproving expression on her face.

‘I don’t see why you can’t just stay here and wait until you’ve decided what you want to do with your life,’ she said.

‘But you would say that, wouldn’t you? You’ve always wanted to stay exactly where you are now, stuck on this farm,’ Emma said.

‘Yes, I love the farm. I’m happy here. The reason you want to leave is because you’re so restless. Take your clothes for instance. You update your look every five seconds.’

‘Well at least I have good taste in clothes,’ Emma said. ‘Look at you, Kate. How long have you had those ripped jeans? No, don’t tell me, you got them when you were fifteen and you’ve worn them ever since.’

If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday, simply post a sample of your current work in progress on your blog which relates to the date in some way, so today being the 17th I’ve posted 17 lines from my work. Then just add your post to this link. Thanks to K.L. Schwengel for hosting. And my special thanks goes to my good friend Kate Frost who’s read ‘The Inheritance’ for me and has given me loads of great advice for improving on it!

Off to Wales!!

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I’ll keep this short because I’ve got a lot to do today. But as the title of this blog post suggests, I’m off to sunny (?) Wales for a week on Friday. Not on my own – my hubby and our lovely golden retriever Dug are coming with me. :) Before we go there’s a lot of preparation to be done as I’m sure you can imagine.

We’re going back to the self-catering cottage on a farm in Pembrokeshire we went to last year. We really enjoyed ourselves last year so thought we’d go back. I’m posting this now while I remember because I probably won’t be able to take part in WIPpet Wednesday or Thursday’s Children next week. I say probably because my husband did manage to get an internet connection there last year (I think!) with his smartphone. I’m toying with the idea of taking my laptop (I didn’t last year) because it would be good to carry on revising my novel ‘The Inheritance’ for publication. But we’ll see.

I don’t know if with all my busyness I’ll be able to take part in the bloghops this week either – I’ll try but I’ll see how I go as I’ve got a job interview first thing Thursday morning as well (eeek!).

But I plan to get back to WIPpet Wednesday and Thursday’s Children as soon as I can.

I’ll post some piccies of Wales when I’m back.

Words – Thursday’s Children

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Have you ever been inspired by language? I have. William Shakespeare comes immediately to mind when I consider words that have inspired me. Lines such as: ‘We few, we happy few, we band of brothers’ (Henry V), ‘I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me’ (Beatrice in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’) or ‘Hath not a Jew eyes?…If you prick us do we not bleed?’ (Shylock in ‘The Merchant of Venice’) are so memorable for me. They inspire me to try with my writing. I could never hope to emulate Shakespeare, but his writing brings so many images into my head when I read or watch his plays being performed that it makes me want to develop my own stories.

Of course there are many, many more words from Shakespeare’s plays I could mention but those are some of the ones that really stick in my mind. But it’s not just Shakespeare whose words are in my head a lot. As a Christian, I find many of the words from the Bible stay in my head a long time. Even if you’re not religious, you’ve probably been to at least one wedding where the words from 1 Corinthians 13 have been read out: ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud’, and so on. These words also stay with me, particularly when I’m not feeling very loving and want to bite someone’s head off!! The characters and personalities in the Bible are mostly just like us – very human – and the words the various authors in the Bible use to describe them can at times be elegant and poetic, great examples of writing at its best.

My favourite author, as I’ve probably already said on this blog, has to be Jane Austen. Again, her words (mostly those from my favourite novel she wrote ‘Pride and Prejudice’) stay with me long after I’ve read them. One line in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ which I think is lovely is towards the end. Elizabeth’s opinion of Mr Darcy has changed. Now, ‘She began to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in dispostion and talents, would most suit her.’ It sums up perfectly for me the way in which Elizabeth herself has changed as a person over the course of the novel, from hating Mr Darcy with a passion to being deeply in love with him. To me Jane Austen is a wonderful writer who I would love to be if only a little bit like. Although I can hardly claim to have her talent, like her I tend to feel at home writing a lot of dialogue and it would be wonderful for me if I could emulate her style (albeit in 21st century fashion!) in my writing.

What sort of words inspire your writing?

If you would like to join in Thursday’s Children, simply blog about what inspires your writing. Then add your details to this linky. As always thanks to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.

Break up – WIPpet Wednesday

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So last week I continued my teasing of you all with a little snippet from an argument my MC was having with her boyfriend. I thought to be kind I’d post the following ten paragraphs, it being the 10th of April today. :) This passages continues with Anna telling her friends about her big argument with her boyfriend. (Just to be clear the dozens mentioned are the number of people who’ve been warning Anna about Elliot.) Enjoy!

‘Oh I don’t know, about a dozen? Maybe two dozen? Did you really think I’d never find out? Who is she anyway, this model? No wait; don’t tell me, she’s some bimbo who’s conveniently only in it for the sex!’

‘Look I told you, Anna, I’m not having an affair! You’ve got to trust me.’

‘Not having an affair. Hmmm. That’s what you said three months ago when I first told you what people had been saying. And I stupidly chose to believe you. But since then more and more people, friends and acquaintances, have been telling me what you’ve been getting up to on those ‘research’ trips to London.’

‘They’re wrong, Anna, they’re wrong. Why would I ever want sex with Petra… ’ He’d trailed off realising his mistake.

‘Oh so that’s her name is it? I’ll take that as a confession, shall I? It’s obviously all I’m going to get after three years. Three years of my life wasted!’ Anna had sobbed a harsh strangulated sound and through the haze of tears had seen Elliot coming towards her. ‘No!’ she yelled at him. ‘Don’t touch me! Just get out! I don’t need to hear any more excuses.’

He backed off and turned to leave the kitchen.

‘I want you out by tonight,’ Anna heard herself say in a shaky voice. ‘And all your stuff.’

‘Where am I supposed to go?’ he asked turning round. ‘You could at least give me a day to get my stuff out.’

‘OK, fine. You can’t stay here tonight but I’ll let you leave your things here. But only for twenty four hours. If you haven’t taken them away after that, I’ll chuck them out!’

He had scowled at her as he left the room, and for the first time Anna had felt as though she were seeing the true Elliot. The person she thought she’d known had been almost like a figment of her imagination.

If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday, simply post a segment of your current WIP on your blog which relates to the date, so for today the 10th April I’ve posted 10 paragraphs from chapter 4. Once you’ve done that, enter your details onto this linky. Thanks once again to K.L. Schwengel for hosting.

Inspiring Places – Thursday’s Children

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It could be true of all writers; it’s certainly true of me that places I’ve been to in my life have inspired my writing. From rowdy schools I’ve attended to stately homes nestled in the rolling English countryside, places play an important role in my work. Even if I take artistic licence and create a place for a story in my imagination, places are vital to the unfolding of the narrative in my stories.

So which places in particular have inspired my writing? Well to create a fictional village in my current WIP I drew inspiration from a small market town called Marlborough in south western England – for those of you outside the UK! It’s a very pretty town, not too built up, with plenty of pubs to eat and drink in! My husband and I met up with my parents there one year as we live quite far apart and Marlborough is sort of half way between our homes, so it’s easier for us to meet there instead of going all the way to each other’s houses. I think it was New Year’s Day and we had lunch in a pub where the landlord was tired because they’d been on the go all night (New Year’s Eve!).Technically the town is bigger than the village in my story, but I felt the atmosphere in Marlborough was right for the place I was creating.

Then of course are the dreaded schools! If you’ve read some of my previous blog entries for Thursday’s Children, you’ll have seen that school days play a big part in my writing and that I didn’t enjoy school much! But it’s great or at least cathartic to write about a fictional school as I remember my own school days. I bring into my writing details about the school buildings as well as creating characters resembling nasty pupils I’ve known!

A stately home comes into my WIP as well. I’ve made it a spa in that particular story. I’ve visited a fair few big old houses in my time and they can be a real inspiration too. They’re invaribly large and history oozes out of them. Sometimes you almost feel as though you’re stepping back in time. In the ghost story I was writing years ago, the stately home in that story was definitely inspired by many similar buildings I’ve been to – though without the ghost of course!

Many places inspire my writing and I’m sure there’ll be places I’ve not yet been to which will inspire me just as much, if not more. I haven’t found them yet, but I will!

Are there particular places you’ve been to which inpsire your writing?

If you would like to take part in Thursday’s Children, simply write about what inspires your writing and then enter your details on this link. Thanks again to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.