Saturday, February 25, 2012

Author unites DIY writers against 'publishing sharks'

That is the title of an article in The Sunday Times 12th of Feb 2012 by Gabrielle Monaghan.

This article really interested me because it deals with self publishing.
Self publishing seems to have divided writers right down the middle.
Those on the left say self publishing is for people who can't get a publishing deal with a 'real' publishing house' because their writing stinks and those on the right who say I have written something good but I won't go through a mainline publishing house because they will put it in a pink cover and market it as chicklit. Which is exactly what happened to Orna Ross an author with Penguin. She wrote a murder mystery set during the Irish civil war and Penguin marketed as chicklit in a pink cover. This is when this author and former literary agent decided to go the self publishing route. Ross decided it was time to give self published authors a voice and is involved in the Alliance of Independent Authors. (
It is a non profit organisation which aims to help authors find editors, agents, designers, booksellers and publishers. It is a fantastic fresh idea. Perhaps with an Alliance such as this 'watching' our back we finally can concentrate on the business of writing!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge – Making a sandwich.

Chuck Wendig interviewed author James R. Tuck and Tuck said something that stuck with me:
“You can write a whole page on a character making a sandwich and if you do it right it will be gripping and compelling.
This weeks challenge:
· You have up to 1000 words to write a story — not a scene, but a story — where a character makes a sandwich. Any kind of character, any kind of sandwich, but the point is to infuse this seemingly mundane act with the magic story-stuff of drama and conflict. Make it the most interesting “person-making-a-sandwich” story you can possibly make it. It needs to grip the testicles. It must twist the nipples. It must not let go.

Love Crazy Love.
Cian looked at Niamh.
Her eyes were enormous.
It was the first thing he had noticed about her. She was watching his every move. Frankly it made him nervous. As if he wasn’t already shaking with excitement and nervous energy. His stomach rumbled and he up stood suddenly needing to eat. “I never offered you any thing to eat” he said his voice unsteady. He swallowed then his Adams apple bobbing up and down on his skinny throat. She didn’t say anything. Niamh just kept watching him with those big beautiful brown eyes. He opened the drawer where his mother kept the knives but he couldn’t see the bread knife. He whistled through his front teeth in frustration. Then he remembered he had given it to his mother right between the ribs. It was still there lodged in her lifeless body in the back room. He could go and get it he supposed but he didn’t feel like cleaning the old woman off of it.

“I’ll make us a couple of sandwiches” he said too brightly “I have some chicken and some mustard and I’m sure there’s a bit of pepper somewhere. Everyone likes chicken don’t they?” He spoke to the air somewhere between them. He busied himself finding things in the fridge and laying them out on the counter for Niamh to see. Little mini offerings on an altar. “Normally” he said cutting thick uneven slices of bread “a girl as good looking as you wouldn’t even see a scrawny piece of meat like me”. He laid the bread out on the plates and began tearing the chicken off the bone “But you had been kind to my mother who just happened to be the old woman in the apartment across the corridor from yours.” Niamh didn’t even blink as he recounted her short history in his life.
“That time you came over for a cup of tea with my mother. God how she had fussed and fretted she even took out the good china tea set. It had been a wedding present over forty years before. Did you know that” he wiped chicken fat off his hands on a tea towel. Niamh nodded slowly.
“Mother didn’t want me around that day” he shook his head like a parent talking about an unruly child. “You’ll scare her off with your oddness. You’re so selfish! You never think that I might like to have a friend. A nice girl to talk to sometimes.“ He mimicked his mother in a singsong voice. “You’re a waste of space you are always in the way.” He hated his mother so much sometimes he could kill her. Oh that’s right he thought he already had he sniggered.

Niamh’s head shot up and she watched him carefully. Cian put a red pepper on the chopping board and began to slice it with a seven inch serrated knife spreading the slices artistically on the sandwich like a fan. “After that you saluted me on the corridor. And you even said hello to me once in the corner shop. Do you remember?” He asked holding the mayonnaise jar and knife in mid air like he’d just had the most brilliant idea.
“I knew you’d come. I knew I could count on you. All I had to do was be believable. Please come quick my mothers collapsed” he was laughing again it was such a high pitched unpleasant sound. He placed the final slices of bread on top of the sandwiches and cut them in to neat triangles with that lethal looking knife he cut the bread with. He took some fresh coriander from the pot on the kitchen window and sprinkled it over the sandwiches.
“Mother would be so proud” he sighed. “She never lets me make the sandwiches when we have guests. These are a masterpiece.”
He carried the plate towards where Niamh was sitting and placed it on the low table in front of her. “I’ll be very disappointed if you don’t finish it all up” he smirked “like a good little girl”.
He crouched down then so he was at eye level with those gorgeous brown eyes. “Now Niamh I’m going to undo your left hand, only your left had so you can eat your lovely sandwich. Unfortunately the tape on your mouth is going to be a bitch. But…” he shrugged in a you know how it is manner. Niamh raised one manicured eyebrow and waited. She flexed her left hand a few times to get the circulation going. The tape coming off her mouth hurt like hell. But she didn’t make a sound. When Cian turned to get his sandwich on the counter she reached behind her and pulled out her police issue revolver. When turned back to face her he had that goddamn knife in his hand. No telling what he would do with it so she shot him right between the eyes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Write! . . . for yourself.

Write for your own enjoyment!
Unfortunately I'm not built that way.
I absolutely live for others peoples comments (praise - was I a needy child?)
I love when I get good feedback and lively debate from my writers group.
I love when CW challenges us to write and people from all over the world read and comment.

So to be perfectly honest I have never written something without picturing how it will be 'heard' by the reader.
Maybe that's where I am going wrong?
Maybe I should start a piece and adamantly insist to my subconscious that I am not going to share this with any living breathing human.
I can hear the voices in my head already arguing that one.

The thing is I can't be bothered if its not going to be read.
When I first started writing my plan was to give up the day job and improve my standard of living. Have more time for my friends and family.
However once I started on this road I really love the writing. Its not a means to an end any more.
In fact I need the act of writing (fiction)
If I was told 'No dear. Stick to the day job' I'd be sick.
If I had to give up making up stories in my head I'd be sick.
So heres to health happiness and writing!!
See you next week (I'm away for a few days)

Friday, February 10, 2012

The unlikeable protagonist Chuck Wendig Challenge 1000 words.

Valentines Night.

‘It’s closing time’ she said. The old bell jingled as the door swung closed.
‘I’ll only be a minute’
‘Something for your wife, sir’ she said. ‘I could just kick him in the balls with my ‘fuck me’ boots’ Natalie thought.
‘Something like that’ Jim said. The soft cream of her thighs trembled a little as she walked around the display cabinet. Her skirt was very short. He watched her model engagement rings for a young couple pulling out more trays for them to ogle.
‘I thought they’d never leave’ he said
‘We closed five minutes ago’ finally she looked at him.
‘Please Natalie, don’t be like this’ he whined. He hated how she reduced him to this but she was so damn sexy. He reached for her but she stepped away from him.
‘Just give me a chance to explain’
‘There’s no need, really I get it. You’re married. You have kids. It’s fine.’ She walked around the store locking up cabinets and flicking off lights.
‘Look,' she paused her closing up shop duties 'if you really want to get something check out the cases in the window and I’ll even give you a discount, for old times’ she smiled at him then, a sort of lopsided look-at-us smile.

‘You’re the best Natalie. Jim felt foolish but he had to get something or his wife would kill him. He just couldn’t go home empty handed on Valentines. He slipped out to check out the stock in the window and she promptly locked the door behind him. He banged on the door. What was she playing at? ‘Natalie. Open up for Chrissake.’ She walked up to the glass and looked him up and down like some kind of cheap suit. ‘Valentines Day falls on the same day every year, you had twelve months to plan for this but no. You turn up here at the last minute and expect me to look after you. Why? Because you were so good to me? Because the sex was so good? Because of all the gifts and meals out you lavished me with? Idiot.’

She pulled the blind down. Jim waited. She couldn’t stay holed up in there all night and he was going to teach that bitch a lesson. He skulked in the shadows just a few feet from the door. If she thought he was going home with his tail between his legs she had another thing coming.

A tall athletic man in his twenties with blonde highlights strolled up to Natalie’s shop door and rapped. It was a childish type of rat-a- tat – tat. He heard the locks undoing but he couldn’t move. He was glued to his spot in the shadows. Natalie squealed when she saw the flowers Blondie had brought her – she pulled him into the shop. Jim couldn’t help it he just had to watch.
A cardboard display of a newly engaged couple admiring a ring fell to the ground. A tray of sparkling bracelets was swept off the counter. He could see Natalie through the chink beside the blind and Blondie leaning towards her. He was big in every sense and she was loving it. Her panties; a small scrap of lace were thrown to the floor. And the rumble of the stranger and Natalie could be heard out on the street above the noise of the traffic. Jim couldn’t take his eyes away.

His phone rang, it was Fran his wife, he didn’t answer it. ‘Honey, where are you? I thought we were going out tonight? Did you forget to make reservations? Let me know what’s happening’ Jim listened to the voicemail. He was sick with himself. Fran was a good woman. But Natalie was fucking gorgeous. It should be him in there with her sending diamonds flying.
Natalie and Blondie were standing inside the door laughing. He hadn’t noticed the blind going up. Blondie opened the door ‘hey Natalie give the man a break Honey, let him get something for his woman’
‘OK Tom, you’re the boss’ she sniggered.
‘T-thanks’ Jim stammered. Natalie’s knickers were still on the ground. Tom reached past Jim and picked them up. He patted his tight jeans pocket. ‘You don’t mind if I keep a souvenir?’

Natalie giggled and began kissing him very deeply. Jim had to look away. That’s when stepped outside and locked him in. Tom smiled at him through the glass. In his hand was Jims’ phone. It was ringing and Jim could see Fran’s’ face lighting up the screen. Jim slammed his fist against the glass of the door but he couldn’t break it. Natalie gave him a single finger salute before she pulled down the night shutter. He could see Tom talking on his mobile through the chinks in the metal. He handed the phone to Natalie. Jim felt the room spin. His legs grew weak and he slumped to the floor.

‘Could things get any worse’ he thought?
Tom and Natalie stood outside the window laughing and kissing. The phone on the counter started ringing. Jim stumbled over to it.
‘Jim’ it was Fran ‘where are you?’
‘I’m-ah-still in town, I-ah-got delayed, I-ah-wanted to get you something nice for Valentines’ he stumbled out the words.
‘You bastard!’ she hissed furiously.
‘I’ve just been talking to Natalie. She told me everything! How long you were seeing her, how she broke up with you, how you came to see her tonight! Everything! How do you think I got this number to ring you dumb ASS’ Fran screamed ‘I never want to see you again. And another thing you have no kids, you come near us again I’ll get Daddy to kill you.’
Jim sat on the hard industrial carpet looking dumbly at the dead receiver in his hand. ‘Christ’ he thought ‘that was close. She always said she’d get her old man to kill me if I cheated on her.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I'm so hungry

I can't concentrate on what I'm supposed to be doing!
I am writing a scene and its set in a cafe and I want to describe the food but its making me hungry.
How can I write about gorgeous fresh salads, soft warm bread, juicy ribs, exquisite sauces and not drool.
It's driving me crazy!
I'll have to move the action to a truck stop that sells stale chips and burnt burgers!

Any one else have this problem?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Breathe in ...breath out

I am trying to expand my vocabulary in a writerly sense.
Normally my stories would lay along the fault line of romantic fiction / comedy / relationships
This week I am tackling a crime story.
Because my writing group demanded it!
Damn their cold blood thirsty hearts.
Not sure if it falls under the hardboiled, soft boiled or cosy crime yet.
Any way genre (sub-genre?) aside what I want to say it this...
I went to see 'The Grey' mainly because Liam Neeson is in it
(and also because boy child wanted to see it).
I won't say anything much about it here because i don't want to spoil it for you if you haven't seen it yet.
But one thing.
Boy is it tense.
And really there is no let up on the tension bar one scene where there is some funny dialogue and the brief flash backs our main Character has to his lovely wife.
Coming away from it all I could think about was Jo Eberhardts blog about narrative structure and rythym.
Breath in ... breath out.
I don't think I exhaled for the whole movie.
So I am going to use this experience to guide me in my tension building
let a little comedy creep through here and there to ease the tension
Add a bit of romance to up the interest in the characters.
And hopefully I wont produce a pile of stinking ...writing!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The love of my life

Flash fiction in present tense 1000 words any genre.
As per instructions from Chuck Wendig

The love of my life.

'I love you'.
He mouths the words over my son's head.
Our son.
His eyes crinkle up at the sides as his face splits into a smile so
enormous I think his head might just crack in half.
'I love you'.
I mouth it back.
It is such a perfect moment.
The noise of the hospital ward fades into the background and we are sitting
in a bubble of euphoria.
The exhaustion hasn't hit yet.
I smile back at my husband but I don't see his face anymore.
I smile and say I love you again but it is to a new face I am speaking.
The face of the person I love most in the world who cannot be here.
She cannot give me babies and marriage because she is married already with
children of her own. She is so clever. She suggested this union with her

'It'll be perfect' she said 'we can spend loads of time together and no one
will be the wiser'.
She was so excited telling me her plan 'you always wanted to be an actor?
well get ready for the role of a life time! Wife. Mother. Pillar of the
community.' She was practically on fire telling me all this and all I
could think of was how beautiful and animated her face was.

I do love my husband. I love him because he is a kind and gentle man. I
love him because he is the father of our son.

I sigh, utterly content.

He looks at me anxiously.

'everything alright?' he whispers.

'everything is perfect' I reply just as the rising sun washes the walls in
early morning orange.