Invitation to Digress – Songs with Story

Response to a Daily Prompt: Invitation

I was planning a blog post about Songs With Story and I will circle around to my intention shortly, however I thought I’d check the daily prompt to see if it tied in with my thoughts today. It doesn’t lend itself to the words I had in mind, however I’m currently working on a very exciting project – wedding invitations! Today’s inspiration came as I’ve been hand tracing a monogram onto invitations. The groundwork is done, tomorrow embossing powder!

Aside from my other creative interests I wanted to talk about music. There are reasons that when I’m writing, I struggle to concentrate when there’s music or radio playing in the background. I’m aware there are some creative bods out there who can’t be without a background melody and it helps them keep going. I can’t, which is a shame; because I love music.

If there’s music whilst I’m working or writing I find it impossible to work around and distracting. However, when drawing, painting, embossing or anything else then I take the opportunity to blast something from an eclectic range. I may well have the worst taste in music, ever. Or it might just be the best. I thought I’d share a few of the current playlist with you.

The theme, as I’m sure you’ve worked out by now, is songs with a story. The best thing about writing, is that you get to weave and create a story. I don’t think that it’s any surprise that some of my favorite songs are lyrical expressions of a tale. They’re more of a poetic exploration and set to melody’s I can only dream of reaching, but they’re beautifully written.

Here they are, three from the collection today:

LionHeart – I love the folk tale feeling to this. It also never fails to remind me of Alanna from Tamora Pierces’s ‘Song of the Lioness’

Fairytale – This song always makes me smile. An alternative to a traditional fairytale. A different outcome for the feminine hero of a classic.

Scars – A  new discovery with heartfelt depth and some gorgeous sweeping lyrics – poetry!

I’d love to what you listen to for inspiration! Leave me a message.

Fibi

 

Scratches on the Surface

In my foolish endeavor to return to my prolific blogging self I’ll be joining in with the Daily Prompt ‘s once more. Hooray!

I’ve been caught up with the Olympics again. I feel like a fool, because when the medals are presented I lose that sense of proprietary and the tears start building.  Athletes that realize that they’ve won a medal seem to have the same struggle. Hit with emotion that they struggle to contain. Euphoria, excitement, tears and weak-knees all break through to the surface, for all the world to see. There’s something vulnerable in those moments and sometimes I wish the camera would turn away, and let them regain their sense of control.

But I’m afraid that what gets to me, is that this moment is their culmination of years of sacrifice and training. The metallic disc is their representation of teenage years spent in a swimming pool or gym. Time away from friends and family, early starts and late nights. In their moments of triumph, I can’t help but feel that the absolute joy is made all the sweeter by the difficulties and the long journeys to this point.

In the stories I like to write and love to read, I’m propelled through the plot twists because I’m seeking that moment of triumph. If the protagonist is not victorious then I can’t help by feel cheated. But what is that moment worth, is if the journey is too easy? Nothing can be gained at the end if nothing was ever at risk of being lost.

At the close of a novel, and perhaps shorter fiction, and certainly in a lot of films there is usually that moment of ‘all hope is lost.’ There’s a metaphorical death of the protagonists’ purpose. If they set out seeking love, then the object of their affection might have made it absolutely clear there is no future. Without this moment of utter failure to meet their purpose there wouldn’t be the sweet sense of victory when it’s achieved and they run off into the happily ever after.

So for anyone who is editing, or coming to the end of a piece. Where is your moment of utter failure? Where are the scratches on the medal?

We bring you this programme today, sponsored by: The Lewis.

Hello.

My name is Lewislewis I have taken the decision that you, female human whom I tolerate with some affection, will be privileged to stare at me instead of that black box with the moving pictures and squeaking voices.

I have some minor requests. Please can we have some better food? I prefer fresh chicken over anything else. I also would like some more shiny spherical objects. Last month there were a lot on that tree you insisted on bringing inside. I hid as many as I could under the sofa along with tin foil and other shiny objects. However, I don’t have any thumbs and so it was difficult for me to unhook them and you did seem determined to tie them securely on.

You may pamper me because I am gorgeous. But don’t think that you can tickle my belly. This is very undignified and you know what happened last time. I may soon grow bored of demanding your attention. Please warn the male human whom I also tolerate with some affection, that I intend to walk purposefully under his feet so he’ll have a split second decision to make. To stand on me, or to seriously injure himself. I hope he chooses wisely. I’m sure I’ll make him feel incredibly guilty no matter the outcome.

Thank you for your attention.

Now, please let me outside and then inside. And then outside. Then inside…

 

(A response to the Daily Prompt. This was the last picture on my phone…)

Horsing Around

Combining my thoughts for today with the Daily Prompt:

My random photo for the word horse, is this beautiful one.

horseThe reason I’m thinking about horses was because I found this article about George R R Martin never seeing a horse before writing the Song of Ice and Fire is satirical and quite funny. It nudged my into thinking about the horses in my own work. Now, horses do tend to feature in fantasy. They’re a large means of transport for people and for goods, but frequently I feel that they’re very underwritten.

Robin Mckinley in the Hero and the Crown does an excellent job in describing how Aerin learns how to ride bareback on a wounded horse, Talat. She describes the process that horse and rider go through together. Tamora Pierce also gives very good descriptions of who the horses ridden by Alanna and Keladry are and how the riders build bonds with them. With Daine, the bond with animal kind is explored more directly.

So what have I been doing to make sure that the horses in my manuscript behave realistically, as well as look the part? Well, as with most things I believe the best way to write accurately and believably is try whatever it is out. The manuscript features a lot of snow and so I took an opportunity to live in Canada a few years back. Horses are important to me, and so I’ve spent a lot of time with my Aunt (who fortunately for me, owns horses and isn’t averse to her crazy niece riding around on a pony pretending to be a knight…) I have to say that the hours I’ve spent at the farm have been invaluable and I learn something new every day.

Below is me on said pony – having a Black Beauty moment!

33Speaking to my Aunt she despairs at how in films and books (not just in the fantasy genre) the hero will jump on the nearest horse and canter off into the distance. For anyone who has ever ridden, we know that this is a virtual impossibility. Yes in alternate universes and fantasy worlds the horses could have reached a point of training where they will follow whomever happens to be riding them over the hills and far away. But in reality, what herd animal is ever going to be happy running off into danger with a stranger? There’s no build of trust, no relationship. So is the horse simply submitting to the demands of the rider? If that’s the case there is only so far that you’ll be able to push it before it explodes (not literally) but has an almighty hissy fit in which endangers itself, it’s rider and anyone within a near radius, particularly other riders. Presumably, if you still have the horse on the end of the reins after this hissy fit, you’ll be feeling a bit shaken up.

Now all of these things of animal behaviour could be interesting plot point. Added problems in  it the journey from A to Z. I’ll admit that I’m not exploiting the antics of the horses in my manuscript, but I’m making a concentrated effort not to make it look easy. My heroine needs to learn how to ride and she’s not going to be an expert after a day. She’s not been bought up in a stable and so she’s uncertain and she’s worried about riding, but she has to do it. The horse is nervous because she’s nervous and they have very little trust between them. But they’ll get there with time and patience. I only hope my reader joins them with an open heart. Because if there is one thing I definitely do know about the magnificent equine – is that they’ll find a way into your heart if you let them, and then it’s very hard to let them go.

Further research I’ve done into riding, other than riding, is to look through various websites of how far a horse could travel in a day. For anyone else for whom this information would be valuable one good website could be found here.

Last year I rode cross country for a day (man did that hurt) and a detailed account of my exploits can be found here: Day Two: Team Horse joins the Adventure. My current horsebound plan for this year, along with said Aunty – is to ride from the South Coast of England to Scotland. We anticipate this could take a few years…

What are you researching for your writing? How do you do it?

Off off off the hook! Daily Prompt

A second #RoyalBaby will soon be joining the Windsors in England. Given the choice, would you rather be heir to the throne, or the (probably) off-the-hook sibling?

This is my response to the Daily Prompt above:

Well baby news is something close to my heart at the moment. We’re currently anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new baby nephew. I am so excited to meet him. I’m a very lucky Aunt to have three nieces and a nephew and every day I can’t help but miss the little monkeys and wish I could see them more often. Every baby is so special and as my nieces and nephews have grown into such cheeky individual I can’t help but be reminded of how privileged I am to share in their lives.

I feel a bit young to have children of my own but delight in creating things for them, making them water-colour story books to treasure with the hope that, maybe one day, in years to come they’ll be worth something. Who knows, if I become a successful novelist people will be dead keen to get their hands on my early little cartoons and miniature books.

But back to the prompt. Which would I rather be? Power is something I explore in Burning Embers and the sequels. Can you ever feel prepared to rule over a country or does power always corrupt? Is it best to watch from the side-lines and enjoy the ‘freedom’ the comes from this. Or does being a sibling automatically open you to a more negative commentary in comparison to an older sibling? Will you never be as good, where as your sibling is considered charming as appropriate to a prince, will you automatically always be seen as verbose. Are you defined by the need to create a clear distinction between the favourable and unfavourable candidate for King or Queen?

I think being heir to the throne would be far too responsible a job for me. It would probably be best if I were far further down the list of possibilities. A castle would be nice though, and a sword…and a dragon……..please? (Just a tiny one????)

Happy lunch everyone,

Fibi xx

I believe!

I’m sure you’ll all be sick of me talking about this, but thank you Daily Prompt for a perfect oppertunity! Another reason to believe….

Currently my reason to believe is the generosity of the people around me. A few weeks ago I put out a call for poems, stories, artwork and photographs to pull together in a book. The purpose of this book was to help raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis and the fire fighters charity via Alex’s Adventures.
I was overwhelmed by the amount of work I received back, and the immense quality of so many of the pieces.
One of my favourite things is a poem written by my three year old niece about her favourite person. Honestly, it’s inspired! But there are also some gorgeous short stories and many poems dedicated in love to those who have passed on from this world. I’m so proud of the collection and just feel so grateful to all of the contributors who helped make it what it was.
It’s been an emotional journey, pulling it all together but it’s worth it. I hope it does well as all proceeds will go to charity and help raise awareness for things that are close to my heart.
One final, enormous thank you has to be to a friend I contacted, out of the blue just two days before sending the book to print. I asked, because I knew he was into arty things, if he had any illustrations that would fit the theme. His response was just incredible. He managed to get three amazing pictures back to me, for three poems. They are amazing and so beautiful. His website is Unknown Creatives and they come very highly recommended.
If any of you lovely bloggers would want to review this raw and heartfelt collection that would be amazing! Please contact me 🙂

And here it is! You mean the world to me… a collection made and dedicated to love.

I can’t stay mad at you – Occupational Hazard!!

My cousin Alex is doing ten amazing challenges in ten months to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis and the Fire-Fighters trust to mark ten years since his sister passed away due to this destructive disease. In the past four months he must have walked, cycled, horse ridden and kayaked more than 300 miles! Not to mention the miles put down by everyone joining in with the cause. So, to help him I decided to pull together a collection of poems, short stories, flash fiction and art work from friends, family and fellow creative people and create a book that we will be able to sell; all profits donated to charity.
I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the submissions I’ve received and they’re still coming in! The theme is You Mean the World to Me. Now, this post is supposed to be forgiveness based and I’ve named it Occupation Hazard. I’ve come a long way around, but I’m finding it hard to read the submissions. They’re so beautiful and so many of them are raw. I’ll be honest; the first reading of each submission is tending to leave me in tears.
I’m not usually an emotional person. It takes a lot to choke me up and I’m certainly not one to wear my hearty on my sleeve – well, that’s what I like to think anyway! But I keep choking on the words that other people have sent to me, in honour of this amazing cause. Don’t get me wrong by any means. I am LOVING pulling everything together and working on something physical which will both help the charity’s and act as a kind of record for what my cousin Alex is undertaking. I didn’t expect to need a box of tissues when reading through though.
Luckily, after the initial waterfall-inducing whammy of the pieces, I’m able to step back a little bit. Or at least, I know enough of what they each are to put them into a cohesive order for the book. Make me cry once, shame on me, make it happen twice – well…well done your creative geniuses for creating such moving pieces.
I forgive you all though.
Thank you.
Fibi xx

Bluebells

bluebellIt’s been a while since I have shared any photography with you all, so please find a little something below! It was taken on an Iphone 5 and edited with Pixlr. I’m quite excited as for the first time I figured out how to do the black and white – with a pop of colour effect. Hooray!

Missing the bus of life.

I can’t help it, but instantly Taylor Swift’s song ‘fifthteen’ burst into my head when I read this daily prompt. Stop it, stop it – get out my mind. It’s not that I don’t like Swift, it’s just that it’s the wrong year, and has no connection to my own time as a sixteen year old as it was released a decade after that fact! Right, I think…I think I’m free of it.
So…Sixteen? I was just starting Sixth-form. I had to catch a bus every morning to the nearest town. Perks of living in a tiny village. I remember one October day, huddling in the stone shelter out the way of the rain. Proper heavy rain, with deep grey clouds above. Cars flashing past, splashing up the puddles then, out of the mist, I could see the yellow glow of the bus lights. It zoomed up to the bus-stop and carried on going. No college for me that day! I wasn’t prepared to make the four mile hike in.
When I managed to catch the bus though, I remember chatting with excitement to three other girls who I’d known through secondary school, (one who became a very best and even closer friend a couple of years later – but that’s a saga to be told another day…) We’d be talking about how our lives would go, from here on out. What choices we would make about University’s and why. I was definitely going to University because, and this is somewhat ridiculous – after reading, and obsessing over Enid Blyton books throughout my childhood, I had once demanded that my parents sent me to boarding school. They said NO. And that was that.
My dreams of having a ‘trunk’ and a tuck shop, of being Head Girl, waking up in dorm rooms was over and only slightly mitigated by having a tuck shop at my secondary school and the fact that it was very unlikely I would ever be head girl, anywhere. So, I was going to Uni. I was going to study literature because, well I quite liked sitting literature exams and I liked the idea of reading books for a degree. I also have a lot of useless, historic literature related knowledge, like what a piz’nez is… I loved reading; I loved writing essays – win win. From experience, I can now appreciate the fact that my parents were so laid back about my degree choice. In the past decade I’ve come across so many peers who were told they could NOT study certain things, or had to choose something like ‘Law’ in order to be doing a ‘proper’ degree.
For some people this is a positive thing, I have one close friend who is amazingly artistic and talented and just wanted to make things for her degree. She was ‘encouraged’ by her parents to pick a degree that would lead more directly to a job, instead of ‘fine art’. She chose a model making course and is now a very successful model maker within the film industry, credited on Harry Potter, Captain America, Gravity…the list goes on and on and on and I’m so proud of her. Not only that, but she’s doing a job that she loves. For other people, the firm shove in a particular direction is very negative. I have another friend who is another wonderfully talented artist who was told she had to do a proper degree and become something ‘proper.’ She was ‘encouraged’ into studying Law with the view to becoming a lawyer. After a few years of repeated modules, I’m not convinced she’ll ever be as happy in that profession as she would have been, had she followed her creative dreams. So, I was lucky that my parents didn’t try and push me into any particular direction. Now this is slightly owed to the fact that they knew very very very little about higher education and my mother feels that it is somewhat pointless to have a degree (don’t get me wrong, she’s very proud) but she also spends a lot of time telling me that it’s not necessary to have a degree because you could get one and work in MacDonald’s – yes…yes you could. And what is wrong with that? They have an excellent career progression scheme. But you do have a better chance of a more successful, higher flying career.
Not discounting work experience at all, because I’m a firm believer that you need to have both. Experience being a proper ‘people’ and working your socks off in low, entry level jobs and building experience and connections in the work – place. Learning how to be a professional –kind of grown-up-person-thing. But it’s important to back skills up with qualifications. Yes, you can see that I can manage difficult, challenging situations and I am very very unlikely to pour soup over an annoying customers head – but I can also string together a sentence, in writing – see I have degree to prove it! You can feel confident that I will answer your e-mails and not embarrass the company with ‘street ism’s in professional correspondence, isiiiiiiitttt??? Kind of thing. Sorry, I digress… I chose literature. It was something I loved.
I also decided that I would travel during my time at Uni and have a year studying abroad. All to kick-start my life as a ‘travelling writer’. I had no idea what kind of career or path my life would take ‘beyond the degree’ but I knew I was always going to write. I planned to live for six months in all the countries I wanted to visit and have a patch work life. Building on my experience with different cultures and landscapes in order to make my writing better.
I have to say, that despite being lucky enough to travel through quite a lot of Europe and living in North America, that whole patchwork thing has dropped to the wayside. I’ve managed to begin building a good career in something I never expected to, and no I’m not a teacher, despite the belief that that’s what ALL literature students ‘do’. Can you imagine me a teacher? Honestly? I was always worried that I’d be that teacher who hides from her class in the stationary cupboard…
But all the rest of those dreams I had on the bus? I made them come true. I stuck to what I believed was the right path for me. I went to Uni, got my degree, have travelled and I write. I may have ended up a little sideways to where I thought I’d end up, but I’d not change anything for the world (well maybe travel more?) But it is also my firm belief that it doesn’t matter where you end up, as long as you’re happy. As long as you have a plan in mind and put one step in front of the other, on this crazy road called life, you’re doing great and you’re moving forward. Who cares if you end up askew from the original destination?
Well…that’s a rather long post from me and I’ve definitely gone a bit off topic! What do you think? What do you believe in?

 

Daily Prompt – 1950’s Pirate Chic?

What do I love wearing? – Response to Daily Prompt which was ‘Tell us all about your best confidence outfit. Don’t leave out the shoes or the perfect accessories.’
Wow. Well I love my heels. I have a favourite 4 inch-platform pair which are gooooorgeous – see below.
shoes
See, they are lovely… pretty pretty shoes.
A couple of years back in my twenies (late teens, super early twenties) I had the ability to run in such shoes, in snow. It was pretty awesome. I’ve always been co-ordinationally challenged however had the theory that in the big heels I had to concentrate on walking and so fell over less often. 99% of the time this proved to be the case. But that skill is sadly slipping away and I’ve exchanged my 4 inchs for well, currently some rather lovely flip flops. (I’m taking advantage that today IS the British summertime)
On the other end of the spectrum, I also love wearing bandanas. When I’m really focused on getting some words down and getting some writing done, I bandana up!
bandana
It’s so useful to keep my hair out of my face. When you’re bent over a manuscript wrestling with the dreaded comma, the last thing you want is an all-out battle with your hair (which I never win). I was first introduced to the wonders of a bandana as a Girl Scout Camp Counsellor in New Hampshire, one summer many years ago.
But back to the confidence…
The best outfit.
If I had to go out somewhere right now and be dressed to impress. I’d run home and change into a knee length dress. It was an absolute bargain and was perfect for what I was looking for at the time. It’s a deep blue with a pale purple detail. It fits beautifully and works well for evening wear or work wear. I love it.
So combine all three items together?
I guess I’ll end up as some kind of strange 1950’s housewife-looking-pirate. Arrr!