In my proper, grown-up writing class last week, this happened…

Tutor: Right, here is your prompt. Use this to create a character and write a short piece. You have 20 minutes.
Me: *looks at prompt*
Me: *thinks*
Me: *starts writing*

20 minutes later

Me: Oh bloody Nora, I’ve written 500 words of Cartinelli fan-fic.

Getting my edit on #365 #writing

Not ten minutes after taking this picture, the app crashed and – thanks to dodgy wifi in the cafe – I lost two hours of work and revisions. Whimper.

I see people… Pretty people…

I am getting back into the writing groove (sort of) and I am determined to keep the novel going forward. It is inching its way slowly onwards. Part of that inching is to really get the character list pinned down and to work out, at least roughly, what happens.

Now, most of what I have written in the past has been sci-fi/fantasy and whilst I have had an idea in my head roughly what characters look like (hair colour, skin tone, eye colour at a push, tall/short etc), I have never felt the need to have an actual image of each character. It’s just not how I see people, or characters – when I read, I don’t have a photo in my mind of what they look like. I simply have the feel of the person. Ask me to describe someone I’ve met and know well and I can’t do it. Yet I know without a doubt who that person is. And that, up till now, has followed into my writing.

The current WIP however is set very much in the real world and, for some reason, I have found myself needing a physical image to build the characters around. I still know clearly in my head the feel of Bob, and his characteristics, mannerisms, and how he interacts with the world, but central to it all is a photo of Bob. Strange, and a little weird for me to get used to writing this way, but that’s how it’s flowing this time around.

To facilitate this, I have a folder of character bios in Scrivener with a mug shot for each character. These are mainly images I have found on the internet and gone “oh, that’s Bob!” or Lizzie. Or Sarah. Or John. Some are famous people, others are just random people. I just spent a merry ten minutes uploading these images to a private board on Pinterest so I have a quick and easy way of checking character info when I am away from Scrivener (i.e., at Wednesday Writing each week on the iPad), and it was quite an eye-opener to see them all spread out in once place.

I noticed a few things in particular:
1) I have a thing for brunettes. Most of my characters are brunette. There’s one ginger chap, a blonde guy, and a blonde girl. That’s it. The rest are various shades of brunette/black. Huh.
2) They are reassuringly of diverse ethnic backgrounds. It’s a small group, but they are not all white. I didn’t do this consciously either, it’s just how it worked out (go me!)
3) For the male characters, I seem to have gone for lots of actors (and one rugby player).
4) For the female characters, I seem to have gone primarily for non-actors.
5) They are all stupidly attractive. I really need to get some ugly/more normal people into this book!

And it is point 3 and 4 which really caught my attention. I seem to have no problem of taking a picture of Michael Fassbender and going “that’s Stuart” and building the whole Stuart character. The one photo becomes STUART’S photo. Nothing of Michael Fassbender, or the characters he has played, carries forward into the character I am writing.

I cannot, however, seem to separate the image of a female actor from the characters she has played, and so I can’t write my own character. I would love to have a character who looked a little bit like Tamara Taylor for example, because she is beautiful. But I can’t. Any character I try to write immediately becomes a really bad copy of Camille Saroyan in Bones.

I don’t know what conclusions to draw from this. I am sure there is a whole branch of some -ology which can explain our relationship to faces and actors and the characters they play and gender and identity… (ooh, that does sound fascinating!) but I don’t have the answers. It just struck me as interesting, that’s all.

NaNoNovember

So it’s November, and we all know what THAT means, don’t we? No? Oh. Well, It’s NaNoWriMo. What is that, you may ask. NaNo is where crazy people like me attempt to write 50,000 words in a month.

I tried it properly last year and wrists about 15,000. Not a “win”, but it was about 14,950 more than I has written in the three years previously! Plus, it has become the start of the first thing I can seriously see becoming a finished book.

So this NaNo I am going to try to write flat out and finish it. Or at least break the 60,000 mark.

Follow me on twitter and I’ll (maybe) share my word count with you. Keep pestering me here and I (might) let you read some of it.

Wish me luck!

You’ll never know

You’ll never know this,
but I wanted your arms around me today.
I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry on your shoulder.
I wanted you to translate what they said.
That it was going to be OK.

You’ll never know this,
but I almost picked up the phone this morning.
I nearly called your voicemail, just to hear your voice.
I almost broke our rules.
So nearly asked for help.

You’ll never know this,
but I needed you holding my hand today.
I needed you to be there.
I was so scared this morning.
You should have been my rock.

You’ll never know this,
but I was in the doctors this morning.
They ran more tests.

Wish Upon a Star

I want passion. Fire. Mastery. Romance. Love. Comfort. Stability. Family. Roots. A springboard. A tether whilst I fly.

I am colour and spark and warmth. I need earth and water and safe harbour. I demand devotion. I need control. I need a partner in crime.

A rock. Pride. Folly. Everything. A kiss. A touch. A whisper in the darkness. Glory. A start. An ever-after.

I want love. I want life. I need space and a bolt hole. A hug. Permission. Understanding. Compassion. Forgiveness. To be told no. To hear Yes. To know I am ok. That everything is ok.

To be wanted. To be needed. To be a hero. To be your damsel in distress. I have to be what you want. What you need. And for you to be mine in return.

Fuel for my flames. A place to roost. An anchor. To be called home. To dance. To be shown off. Someone to be proud of me. To be told I am beautiful. That I am perfect. To fight my battles for me. To hand me my sword and stand back whilst I fight for myself.

To submit. To bind. To cherish.

To have. To hold.

Be mine. Be yours. Be together.

Be free.

100RPM – short story collection

Cover for 100RPM

The ever delightful Caroline Smailes (even lovelier in real life, if that is possible!) came up with an idea at the start of the year of putting together a collection of flash fiction stories, all inspired by songs on YouTube. The collection was to be published as an eBook on Amazon, and ALL the money collected would go to the charity One in Four, which provides support and resources to people who have experienced sexual abuse and sexual violence.

So the call went out, and many, many (350) people answered the call.

Many, many hours later, Caroline has done the impossible and drawn together a collection of 100 amazing stories (all of 100 words or less), got Nik Kershaw (yes, you heard me, Nik Kershaw! – there might have been Squeeing in MeadowTerrace) to write an introduction, and persuaded Becky Adams and Ifan Bates to design the cover. Phew. The woman has worked miracles.

Et voila! The fantastically awesome collection, called 100RPM, is published today, and is just a click away . (Via Amazon and their DRM, I know, I know, but it’s for charity. Live with it). If you have a Kindle, why not buy it? Even if you don’t have a Kindle, but have an iPhone or other fancy smartphone, there’s a Kindle app out there for you. If you don’t have either, er… Buy it anyway? It’s only 99p this week. More information on Caroline’s blog.

What are you waiting for – go buy it!

Why? I hear you ask. Oh, all of that isn’t enough for you? Well 😛 And I suppose I can reveal that I wrote one of the stories. No, I’m not telling you which one because it’s under my super-secret pseudonym, but if you know anything about me, you’ll work it out.

So, you’re going to buy it now, aren’t you?

There’s also a playlist on YouTube, so you can listen along as you read. Frankly, at 100 words the stories will be over long before the songs that inspired them, but it’s all good music. A lovely eclectic mix. Rather like the collection of stories themselves now I think of it.

Still not sure? The collection has a five star review on Amazon:

I bought this book because an author whose novels I love compiled it and it’s raising money for a great charity. If I’m completely honest I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it as I’m not really a huge fan of short stories but this book may just have converted me because it is simply fabulous. The stories are all brilliant and even though they are all under one hundred words they have such power. I actually cried over two of them and nodded my head in recognition of the emotion in others. I love how the stories are all inspired by songs and I now have many of these songs swirling around my head. Some of these stories will stay with me for a very long time, they’ve really got under my skin in a way that a short stories never have for me before.
This book is one I will definitely read more than once and I’ll be recommending it to everyone I know. Go buy it; you won’t regret it!

And if you’re not going to buy it after all of THAT just look at this post. I have never, in my entire life, been concise. EVER. And I managed to write a 100 word story that was good enough for a proper, published author to pick. Surely THAT is enough reason for you to part with less money than you would need to buy a coffee in Starbucks. So BUY IT.

If you don’t buy it, I’ll dedicate a month of my 365 project to alternating pictures of my feet and the cat, because you all love those, don’t you. Trust me, it’s easier just to buy it.

I’ll stop now. Cxxx