Seven Cans Short of a Six-Pack?

A writer’s life can be quite strange in some ways. That’s not to say we’re strange people (well maybe a few are, but on the whole…), but strange things happen to us. Let me explain.

I can only tell you how it is from my perspective, but some of my author friends have voiced the same things so I know I’m not alone here.

When I’m working on Heart Search: Found (book 2 in the trilogy), I’m totally focused on it to the extent I sometimes forget to eat lunch (like yesterday). I’m totally engrossed in the story I’m creating, the interaction between the characters, building the next twist, where I’m taking it next, but at the same time the story seems to write itself. I start writing a chapter knowing what I’ve got planned for it and suddenly I find I’ve thrown a curve ball into the mix and something I’ve not planned for takes shape on the pages. It happened when I was writing Heart Search:Lost (book 1) as well.

In some ways it’s like the books actually write themselves and I’m just the channel to put the words on the screen. I believe my Muse has something to do with it. Many writers believe they have a Muse who helps and guides them on their writing journey – I know I have, and can describe her, tell you her name and a little of her history! But anyway, I digress.

It’s when I’m away from Heart Search that things get strange. On the rare occasions these days when I leave the house, I watch people more closely than before, scrutinising their expressions, mannerisms and listening to the inflections in their voices when they speak (that’s probably one for another post), basically anything I can use to help bring my characters to life. Those of you who have been following my blog for some time know my feelings on this matter, but for those of you who have just found me, check out the archives and you’ll see how much emphasis I place on making characters real so readers can relate to them.

The other things I suffer from are random characters running around in my head begging me to tell their stories. They have nothing to do with my current project and yet they make themselves known to me. They give me just enough to pique my interest and if I’m able, I jot down some notes for future reference. I just never know when one or more of these characters will make it into one of my stories.

In addition, I get new story ideas floating around and they can appear at the most random places and times. The weirdest things can set this off; an overheard conversation, a painting in a shop window, a building, a person, or just walking (or in my case hobbling) or driving somewhere and letting my mind wander.

If I write all the story ideas running around my head which I’ve made note of, I’m going to be writing about 30 books and that’s just what I’ve got at the moment!

I love how inspiration for a story can appear ‘out of nowhere’ – it’s strange when it happens, but it’s what we writers live for, to get that spark to start the next book or a new twist for one we’re working on. It’s our form of sustenance and without it, we can’t create the stories to entertain you.

So the next time you’re walking down the street and you see someone grab a small notebook and start frantically scribbling or they have a slightly glazed look in their eyes, don’t write them off as someone who’s seven cans short of a six-pack, they’re probably authors getting inspiration for what could well be the next best seller!

Advertisements

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

For me!

I’ve just been nominated for this awesome award by my fellow blogger and friend Laura Thomas, and I’m blown away by it – thank you so much, Laura!

If you don’t know Laura you can find her on her blog http://fuonlyknew.wordpress.com . Her blogs are always entertaining and fun!

I understand I’m supposed to nominate 7 bloggers and tell you 7 things about myself. this is going to be the hard part, but I’ll try and give you a chuckle or three.

1. I love watching Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing With The Stars in the US). Being a pro dance teacher, I love picking out faults and arguing with the judges, even though they can’t hear me.

2. When I was pregnant with my daughter I had three main cravings; white chocolate, lemon curd and hot cross buns. Guess what some of my daughter’s favourite things to eat are . . . yep, the three things I craved!

3. I read Tarot cards. I’ve had the ‘gift’ since I was a child, but didn’t realise what it was until my mum explained I come from a line of psychics (my grandmother was particularly strong). It’s only been the last year or so that I’ve properly started using my gift, having received training from my best friend who is a fabulous medium and teacher.

4. I hate ironing with a vengence and do as little as I can get away with. My mum used to iron everything, even underwear and it was a standing joke in our house that if you stood still too long, mum would either iron you, wash you or dust you!

5. I used to be in love with Patrick Swayze and it was my dream to dance with him (especially after I saw Dirty Dancing for the first time). When he died, I actually cried my eyes out. (I know it’s sad!)

6. I hate having grey hair and will go to any lengths to cover them up – not that I have very many but they’re right at the front in my fringe (I think you call them ‘bangs’ in the US) and stick out like the proverbial sore thumb! I don’t look my age and until recently I didn’t feel it so grey hair does NOT fit with the me I am and how I see myself. Usually I hide them subtly by having highlights of light blonde and bright red in my dark blonde hair but as my highlights had grown out and the grey was starting to show again, I decided to get one of these home colouring kits and have now gone a ruby red. This was quite a major step for me as I’ve never had an all-over colour change since I was about eighteen, &*?/^ years ago, but I’m happy to report it came out really well and I actually like it. It took a bit of getting used to though; I kept glancing in the mirror everytime I passed it to make sure it really was me! I’m past the narcissism now! Lol

7. I have quite a weird and wacky sense of humour. I use word-play in my humour, subtle remarks, and sometime sarcasm. I enjoy a good joke and love to laugh. It’s funny though, there are very few ‘comedians’ on the tv which really make me laugh.

Ok, now that I’ve revealed some of my inner self (some of it to my embarrassment) it’s now time for me to pass on the mantle.

My job now is to nominate 7 ladies who, in my opinion are worthy of this award. There are so many great bloggers out there so in some ways this is going to be a dificult choice. However, my first two nominees are easy to choose as their blogs are amazing, informative and entertaining. So without further ado,

My nominees are:

1. Alison DeLuca    http://alisondeluca.blogspot.com

2. Connie J Jasperson    http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

3. Christine Nolfi     http://www.christinenolfi.com/blog/

4. Brianna Lee McKenzie    http://briannaleemckenzie.blogspot.co.uk/

5. Rachel Tsoumbakos   http://racheltsoumbakos.blogspot.co.uk/

6. Kathleen Barker   http://kateinla51.blogspot.co.uk/

7. Danielle Raver     http://danielleraverauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

Good luck, Ladies, and congratulations!

Monochrome or Colour?

 Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a monochrome world?

Photograph by Sheila Smart

It’s hard to imagine isn’t it?! Everywhere we look, we’re surrounded by colours; from nature, vehicles, advertisements, shops, soft furnishings and even our own clothes, and we take all this for granted because it’s always there. We don’t have to search it out because it’s everywhere we look.

 

 

But, indulge me for a moment . . . shut your eyes and try to picture everything around you purely in monochrome. It would be beyond boring to live in a world like that, with no colour to bring everything to life. It would be depressing to the nth degree!

That is what your writing is like if you don’t bring ‘colour’ into it.

There are so many ways you can do this:

Your characters

Physical descriptions. You don’t have to go overboard, but your readers want to have an image in their mind of what your main characters look like. Is your protagonist a slim, hazel eyed brunette or a chubby blue-eyed blonde? This is better than nothing – at least you’ve given something for the reader to work with, but by taking it just a little further, you can write a picture of how they appear. Imagine them in your mind’s eye then write what you see. You can always cut superfluous information (which would happen during the editing process anyway), but you’ve brought your character to life just by adding some colour. And don’t forget your characters don’t have to be flawless; they’re more real if they have a small defect or two (like a scar from a childhood accident, or a lazy eye, or one lip being out of proportion with the other).

Emotions. You need to show that your characters are ‘real’ by the way they react to certain situations – SHOW being with operative word here. “He was angry . . .” this phrase TELLS us something, but it has no colour. Now consider, “His skin flushed purple as his eyes narrowed, blazing with an icy fury and he clenched his fists so tight you could imagine the bones breaking through the skin . . .” Now you are showing the reader; you are giving them colour and an image they can relate to.

Gestures. I’m an observer of people and I tend to particularly watch expressions and mannerisms. Some people use their hands a lot when they talk, some pull on an ear lobe when they’re lying, some run their fingers through their hair when they’re thinking. Some people bend forward when they’re vehemently trying to get a point across or arguing. Imagine telling a friend a secret when there are others around and you don’t want them to hear – what do you do? You lean towards them and whisper in their ear – right? The point is people don’t just tend to stand like mannequins, with no movement at all apart from their lips when they speak. Use these sorts of things to add colour.

For extra examples and help, look back at my three-part series called Describing People;

Part 1 http://wp.me/p1UhOl-1K Part 2 http://wp.me/p1UhOl-1Y

Part 3 http://wp.me/p1UhOl-2N

Immediate surroundings

Again you don’t want to overdo it, but give your readers a flavour of where your characters are. Are they in a 17th century mansion? Are they in a 1960’s semi-detached house? Are they in a café or posh restaurant? Are they in a park, wood or forest? Pick out one or two features and describe them a little so your readers can picture the scene.

World Building

When you write fantasy or sci-fi, you especially need to bring your world to your reader as it’ll be somewhere they can’t relate to. Is the sky always purple during the day? Is the grass blue? Do the trees have strange coloured leaves? Do the flowers talk?

 I’m going to use a small example here from Tower of Bones by Connie J Jasperson and her world of Neveyah. Her main characters are on a quest and they are approaching a place called Mal Evol which has been taken over by a dark God. She describes the Mountains of the Moon where some of the face is as shiny and smooth as glass. The land approaching Mal Evol has been turned from fertile to poisoned soil which will only sustain thorn bushes and trees higher than the head of the tallest character on the quest. She describes strange Rat People who seem part human yet are vicious and attack for no reason, Thundercows which cannot be eaten by humans and will only eat the thorn bushes. And so the list goes on. Through her brilliant depiction and use of ‘colour’, she had brought her world of Neveyah to life. But the best thing is she hasn’t overdone it. She gives the reader just enough description in each place for them to form a picture, without detracting from the action.

A thorn forest

 All these elements brought together in your writing will add the colour a reader looks for. So from now on, is your writing going to be Monochrome or Colour?

My thanks to Connie for allowing me to use information from her novel to emphasise my point.