News Update

Even more exciting news!

First off, another piece of flash-fiction is going to be immortalized in an anthology with proceeds going to charity; hooray! I submitted to Christopher Fieldens’ Sensory Writing Challenge and I’m excited to see another snippet of writing in print.

Following previous publications of the same type, this anthology should be available for purchase on Amazon during pre-release – super exciting! I’ll be sharing the details once they’re available, so keep an eye out.

Secondly, the target for pre-sales for the Third-Word anthology has also been reached. This was due to be in print before Christmas, and I’m excited to get my hands on the teeny-tiny book that is being created. I think it will make a lovely present and suspect I might end up buying a few more copies…

Finally, as promised work is going ahead with Burning Embers. It’s been officially sent to a professional Editor this afternoon and I’m feeling a bit giddy. The manuscript should be returned to me by the end of October and then…then it’s simply a matter of publishing! Eeeeek!

In the meantime, before I burst with excitement I can at least promise to share the cover with you in the next few weeks. Yes, the picture featured might be a bit of a teaser…Also, as I’m no longer following a traditional publishing route with Burning Embers, I can share some of the writing with you. I hope that you enjoy. Leave me a comment!

Extract from Burning Embers #BE – Due November 2017

In the heartbroken depths of night, exhaustion overcame her tears and Feia slept. It was a fitful restless sleep on cold hard ground and she woke when the first rays of light touched her. The world was replete with layers of autumnal colour. She lay on leaves of copper, geranium, magenta, burgundy and cerise. The leaves still attached to the tree were in the middle of transformation.

With arthritic movements she sat up. She pulled off the leaves that had fallen on her during the night. Her eyes and throat itched, her clothes were damp through and she was chilled to the core. She could smell the forest pine mingled with the waxier scent of the tree she’d sheltered under. Poking through the pile of cast off foliage were stalks of lush grass and a plant with purple and maroon berries that twined around the base of all the trees she could see, linking them. Feia pulled her cloak round to inspect it, realising that she’d lain on the vine. She found berry stains mottling the grey cloth like a bruise and she felt a rueful smile pulling at her mouth. Perhaps it was an improvement. She’d never liked the colour grey anyway.

She could hear the river in the distance and the trees rustling above, shaking final drops of rain from their branches. Gradually, she became aware of another sound. Crackling and spitting then a louder pop. Why had she not smelt smoke? She sniffed the air, purposefully, drawing it in, but the forest scent kept its secrets. Dread wrapped around her like a cloak. She wasn’t alone. Please do not be a man. Please don’t be Bill. She sent her silent plea to the Spirits. However, Feia suspected that if they had ever been listening they weren’t any longer. She was no longer a child.

Happy Writing,

Fibi xxx

Escape

I’ve been struggling for a while to get back into my manuscript for the much needed re write. There is a lot going on at the moment that keeps invading. Scottish referendum (please don’t leave us), problems in Gaza, Iraq, Syria and the ebola outbreak.

So I felt it was time to creatively escape and this flashed into my mind. escape

And here is the text laid out in a more readable way:

Free words from trappings and uniform. Mind is drifting in an ever outwards dance with dainty steps. Desire to put ink to paper but not, no never at the moment to include those phrases thoughts to screen. But, but but- it needs to be done. Need to finish, finish and perfect the overall manuscript. They’re waiting for it and then I’ll be onto something new! But would I just be breaking free from discipline? Dreams in jeopardy against that too-fast ticking of the clock.  Time for a little escape and some clearer headspace to EXPAND thoughts into SPACES and ideas. New stories have to come from somewhere and the mind is too full of the must do, must finish,  must think this, must feel this and the guilt is an ANCHOR. NO ONE CAN FLY WHEN THEY ARE TIED TO THE GROUND. Yet here I go around and around and around. There is this pause though. This breath of air. We breathe. Shoulders lift with the shadows taken off. It has all been for something. And to remember remember always not just the 5th, but… for the words to run without FILTER. It is time for a little escape.

Fibi xx

Fortunately this ties in quite nicely with todays Daily Prompt. Hooray!

Scared of Reading?

As a writer I believe it is important that the words are clear and the meaning, vision of what I am saying is easy for the reader to picture. I’m not saying I would like to spoon feed plot because it is also important that ye old brain-cogs get a work out sometimes as well, and if you have to work and remember and think about the story, then you do get more from it.

But in terms of making the writing clear, for me I’m likely to turn away if the writing is too much like hard work and I think the same applies to a storyline that starts to seriously disappoint or concern me. I have to admit that I’ve become a terrible reader and so scared about the emotional impact of what I’m reading that I really have to take a mental run up to books. Luckily in all of this I have discovered Robin Hobb, and she is amazing.

What am I afraid of reading? Well, as an aspiring writer I’m terrified of finding my book already published. The story I’ve been slaving over, written by someone else (better) and in the bookshops. This has turned into something of a recurring nightmare.

Secondly, I worry too much about the characters. There has to be a happy ending for me to enjoy reading the book. I have to feel confident that the author will provide me with a sense of resolution. The first book I really put down half-way through the Juliet Marriliers Blade of Fortriu. I was so invested in the narrative that when it reached a mid-way point, and it would not be possible for resolution to be complete, I had to put it down. It took me over a year to re-gather my courage and return to the story and I couldn’t start at the beginning in case it was too much! (Such a reading wimp!)

But although this sense of ‘happy ever after’ is I demand from a story I’m not convinced if I would necessarily agree from a theoretical stand point. Shouldn’t ‘Happy ever after’ also be complicated, realistic, aspirational? Should I be a more emotionally mature and complex person and encourage that in my reader? I’m not promising anything.

Thirdly, a sure way to put me off a story is to falsely advertise.

I LOVED Trudi Canavans The Black Magicians Trilogy. I bought all three books because they were on offer and devoured them in two days back in 2005. I was therefore delighted when the first of the Age of Five was published and acquired it as a pre-order hardback. For the first chapter I was enchanted, enthralled and delighted that I would get to read the story of this amazing girl growing up to be a member of the white and the trials and challenges that would entail. Then the second chapter happened. Did anyone else feel utterly cheated? She was grown up. This was not the story of the girl growing into a woman. It may be petty by I felt so frustrated by the 360 of expected narrative that after struggling through the first third of the text, I put it down and haven’t picked it up again. I do plan to revisit it and hopefully connect with a series that I appreciate is loved by so many, but it’s at the bottom of my ‘to-read’ pile. I don’t forgive betrayal easily. Sorry book.

Finally, I tend not to read spooky stories, horror, crime or ‘true-life’ I know this narrows my field of literature and good writing but I realised a few years ago that my imagination doesn’t need help coming up with dream or nightmare material. I am usually very invested in what I’m reading and if I read for too long, I emerge a bit google-eyed and hazy on what is real and what is still the narrative replaying. When I read it is not so much imagining characters, it is experiencing their stories in 3d. It is amazing to go on so many adventures, but I certainly don’t want to provide my imagination with concrete horror to explore in my sleep! *shudder*

What would put you off a story? Should it have a happy ever after?

Everything is going to plan – Panic!

So this is an update. Hello world! I feel as though I’m emerging out of a cocoon of books, writing, endless of paper with red, purple, blue scribbled notes.

I’ve finished and submitted my MA thesis. Party!!!!

So excited!

And yet…

Scared.

I remember handing in my undergraduate dissertation. I spent the week before it was due scrambling to pull 8000 words together in library. I would swipe in at midday and force myself to write at least 1000 words and then as I inevitably didn’t get that done, by the end of the week I was locked in a private study room until I’d finished the entire thing!

Then I was sat in the library with loads of time to spare the morning the assignment was due. It was beautifully formatted and I had two hours to print, bind and swipe it through the electronic system. I decided to casually browse through the requirements one last time. 8000 words to be handed in, including footnotes. What? Including footnotes. What?! PANIC! Suddenly I have just under two hours to remove 2000 words from my carefully crafted, painstakingly edited dissertation. 2000 words of content and footnotes to remove. Editing, re-formatting, re-reading and hoping that I find all the now half-words and cuts and manage to make everything into a proper sentence again once I’ve gone through with a brutal delete key! 30 minutes to print, dash around the library to find someone from the ‘unhelpful-desk’ to help me use the weird spiral binding machines. Which no-one knew how to use. They were like a dusty alien lifeform, left over from the 1970’s.

I had to run up six flights of stairs to swipe my student card in time. I managed it- just!

The ultimate lesson in how not to finish writing your dissertation.

Much beer was had in celebration.

And then I came back for an MA.

Hand – in this time was not traumatic. It was quite lovely. I was given a cookie by my tutor.

I’d managed to finish writing up a few days early. I spent three mornings re-writing an accompanying critical piece (I have never, never written a draft essay before this! I have to admit, they’re not wrong when they advise you to go back with fresh eyes after a few weeks. Especially if, like me, feedback consists of: ‘needed proof-reading’. Followed by my red-faced realisation that some of the sentences are not sentences and the odd word is missing. Just missing. Not miss-spelled or grammatically incorrect (my undergrad suffered from that) – missing. Anyway, essay was re-done commas’ were moved, reading aloud completed.

And I had a whole day and a half before going to print.

It was printed.

It was bound.

It was handed in.

Where is the panic.

WHAT HAVE I MISSED?!

Nothing. So far, honestly – I think all my hard work has just paid off.

Now I can return to my blog. Hooray!

*dusts shelves & generally spruces up the place*

Just as a further update. My cousin Alex is fast approaching his 8th adventure!!!!!

Good luck to him and the rest of the adventure crew.

Especially the little pony who would. Daisy. She’s going along for this one. I can’t wait for the posters.

I now go to celebrate with a more sophisticated beverage than my undergrad allowed.

Surely the rules don’t apply to me?

I have to admit to feeling a bit disheartened about my writing recently. The euphoria of having completed a manuscript rises and falls. Some days I’m elated and delirious with excitement, other days I feel as though the amount of work that it requires is just too much, that I’ll never be truly done. But that’s silly, because really, I just need to split one chapter into three smaller chapters and expand them properly. Then add in a few more chapters at the end (which are already written) and give the whole thing a sweep through to check for consistency. Not too much to do at all! And every sweep makes the story so much better; I can see that and appreciate it. Every run through always re-invigorates my excitement.

However, this is probably where I’m a bit silly.  I can’t shake the nagging doubt that, if I were actually a good enough writer, to be published – if I actually had ‘talent’ then surely it wouldn’t be so much work? Wouldn’t it all just be easier? Well… no.

On the majority of websites I’ve followed, or interviews of authors that I’ve read – no one claims that their work is easy. All of the advice says that you write that first draft and then you can throw it out the window and start again. It’s hard work. You need to be dedicated and put the graft in. So, what I’ve been learning is that: yes, talent has a part. So does inspiration and having a solid idea – a market that you’re aiming for. A plan, a structure – all of this is important in its own right.  But not only do you have to get the words down, you must be prepared to re-write and re-write, especially if you are a first time author.

It’s hard though, to realise that nothing less than perfection will be good enough. Perfection is hard to achieve, it’s not going to arrive effortlessly. A fully formed book isn’t going to fall into my lap unless I go out and buy one.

It has taken some time then, but finally the message is sinking in. I shouldn’t feel bad that I’m working hard. I should be proud of the efforts I am making. Taking care and consideration, spending time editing, is not a sign that I’m just no good and a talentless shmuck. There, that’s the lesson. It’s what I’ve been reading for years now but it’s only just sinking in. The rules apply to me too.

What do you think? Any advice or realisations?

 

Dialogue Advice – Reading Aloud? Nooooooooo

Following yesterday’s blog post, a fellow writer of Young Adult fiction replied that she always reads her dialogue aloud after writing it. That is, all around brilliant advice!

But what if you have a crippling phobia and inability to read aloud? Yes, yesterday’s blog post was about my fear of writing dialogue. Well, surprise! I’m also afraid of reading it out.

Why am I afraid? Well, I could give a few reasons and it all starts back at school. I was bullied throughout my school career, with very little support from teachers. It was however, a long time ago. But as a child being bullied, the last thing I ever wanted to do is draw attention to me, imagine!

“Yes – I spend most of my time in this school, trying to hide from the rest of the people in this classroom and what I really want to do, is stand up in front of them, have all of their attention devoted to me, and read aloud. This is my dream!” – No, it’s a nightmare.  It’s the mental equivalent to walking onto the stage and realising that you’re naked, or something.

Now combine this desire to hide from the spotlight and some minor dyslexia. Imagine staring at the white board, concentrating as hard as you can and still seeing absolute gibberish. Difficult. Very difficult. You begin to believe that you are stupid. The words are making sense to everyone else, but for me, at times I felt that I was trying to read hieroglyphics. Brain did not compute.

Reading however, is brilliant. I loved reading, I lived for reading and still live for words. But as a youngster it was my escape and I read much more quickly than I could ever write, or speak. The result? My eyes and my mind are far further ahead than my mouth. Cue tongue-tied-twisters. Combine with innate fear of a. reading aloud in the first place and b.  giving my classmates another reason to mock me and the results are a put of dread as the ‘turn’ to read goes around the room. The Turn is coming closer, creeping creeping, only three people away. I’d be so worried about having to read, that I’d start losing touch with the rest of the world and feel a bit spacey. I couldn’t breathe. The words would start to wriggle under my gaze, slipping over the page. Sweaty palms. The person reading is next to me. I’m next. What are they reading? At this stage there would be no understanding of the text or comprehension of what had just gone. Just a mad skim to the bit I was supposed to speak aloud before the inevitable doom arrived. My turn.

Moving onto University did wonders for my confidence. I was able to rebuild myself from the very shy and defensive person I had become. I was found and accepted by friends and it was wonderful. However, the fear of reading aloud had become a physical reaction as well as a mental one at this point. I studied creative writing, and so once a week during our seminar would need to read aloud my work. It was awful and still isn’t very pretty! Having to read once a week, every week made things a bit easier. But when it’s your own work? Well, at that point you’re definitely naked. I can’t help but feel that my work is a part of me. A creative output, it’s found form that I’m pleased enough to try and share with other people.

This year, I was privileged enough to have a piece acted out at RADA as part of my Masters. My classmates were elated to watch their pieces and each had a strong reaction to the work. The actors and actresses were also absolutely amazing. I couldn’t bring myself to watch however. Mine was a particularly personal and emotive piece. But all the dizziness came flooding back. There was nothing wrong with the writing and the feedback was astounding in its positivity. But this reading aloud thing – I think it’s really just not for me. Which might be a problem.

As my fellow writer replied to me on twitter, in order to publicise their work, writers are required to read aloud. Yikes! I hadn’t really considered this before. I’m of course, happy to work my socks off to publicise my writing and any future publications. But reading aloud?

Well, this is one fear I’m going to need to work on. All of the above are reasons, and possibly excuses as to why I have managed to avoid reading aloud for so long. Like my desire to avoid dialogue – I’ll need to get on with it won’t I?  I’m thinking acting classes… Actors have to read dialogue, and after seeing professionals at work, their ability to read/act, in the same moment of being handed the script, is truly inspiring to watch.  I’m not longer the shy person I was either. I am, by necessity confident and far more outgoing than I was.

All the advice also says, that you should never submit something without first reading it aloud. I need to at least be able to read my work to myself.  This is my new mission, write, edit – read out. Put the words out there in the open air. Even if only the kittens can hear me.

I don’t think I’ll ever want to be on stage, but maybe if I push myself beyond my worry and so far beyond my comfort zone, then hopefully, possibly – sinking back to simply being able to read my work aloud to other people, and enjoy it will be comfortable; or at the very least easier.

What do you think? Do you have any tips and advice?

How necessary is it, for new writers to read aloud?

10 Day Blogger Challenge: Day Four ….Or Fourteen?

I feel as though I’ve probably broken some cardinal rules when it comes to blogging and the blogging challenges. Ergo- I’ve missed a few days/weeks on my blog, eek! As always, I will endeavor to slink back into place and carry on as though nothing happened, nothing at all- you saw nothing you hear? Well, if you’ve been following my blog then really you would have. Anyway, continuing…

Challenge four of the 10 day blogger challenge from Hunters Writing

Profile 3 to 5 top writing craft books

I’m not sure about five, but I can certainly manage three, I think – if not then there is probably a huge problem! Okay, definitely two, two sprang into mind straight away.

Booko numero uno:

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers – Any writer that I meet, or generally just people that I meet and I happen to get into the conversation that I write, I’m bound to tell about this text.  If we’ve been friends for more than a few weeks, I’ve probably raved about it, at you – sorry. But it IS brilliant.  Joseph Campbell, in my mind is attributed for this idea that there are just seven main stories, or The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  (Note to self, profile this book second) But Vogler, I find to be excellent at clarifying the archetypal characters.  He names them all, and then explains their purpose. His explanation of how to structure a story really stuck in my mind. I had already written the majority of my first manuscript when I read Writer’s Journey but I found that it immediately sharpened my focus. I realised that things that had been niggling at the back of my mind, were really out of place and I was able to adjust the plot to make it more coherent and enjoyable for my reader.

Book Two:

For anyone interested in storytelling, structure or literature analysis, you’ve probably already heard of, or read Cambpell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I’m a bit rusty on this text, but I remember it being a gem! Well worth a read if you’re interested in why things work a certain way.

Book Three

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft

This book was a set text for a creative writing module I did a few years ago. I studied the module in Canada along with a few others, however when I returned to the UK I had very limited funds and couldn’t either physically bring all of my belongings back with me, or b, afford to pay for postage to send them. It was a nightmare! In the end, I had to make some hard decisions and ended up selling over half of my school books back (the college had a handy buyback scheme). However, I was determined to keep Writing Fiction! And so I did, it was so satisfying to deliver it safely home. (I have a thing about books, it’s bad.)

Why was I so determined to keep the text? It has the most amazing examples of writing to inspire. It also has writing prompts and suggestions that I felt really helped me develop my characters. Having studied writing at University for a few years, I recognized in this book something I hadn’t found in others. I do really recommend it to anyone who wants something constructive to read.

(I also carried back my copy of the Watchmen – which I gave to my brother for Christmas and he LOVED)

You may stare at me for many hours – I am a book!

boooks

 

Well, at least that is what I imagine Lewis is saying…

Beneath him is my reading for the Summer. I have been introduced to Robert Jordan by my very own Robert. Although I am only reading the second book; I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into the series.  I’ve also been listening to some Bernard Cornwell as audiobooks. I’m  fan of Sharpe, but really enjoyed listening to the Last Kingdom and the Pale Horseman.

Just some of my many recommendations for any writer! The advice I’ve come across over the years, has been to read, read, read and read – whilst I’m on a break between semesters, this is what I intend to do!

…I have far too many books….

Fi