Archive | February 2010

Fiction Friday #144

I had yesterday off work, and was out of the house for most of the day, so wasn’t able to post this then.  Before we went out I got my boyfriend to go onto the Write Anything site and get the prompt.  Then, when we got on the tube, I read it and scribbled this.  I’m going to find it hard to do, but I’ll copy it here unedited as the rules for Fiction Friday dictate.

The prompt is:

The bag was empty except for a smudged slip of paper which said, “Sorry.”

Here’s where I went with it…

Katie ran downstairs dripping wet, almost tripping over the cat on her way.  She knew the postman didn’t have much patience so if she didn’t get to the door soon he’d leave, then she’d have to go to the sorting office to pick up here boots.

Looking at the letterbox there was no note so she must have got there in time.  She flung the door open.

‘Sorry I was…’ she said to an empty doorstep.  She looked around but couldn’t see anyone.  She wondered who it could have rung the doorbell, or if she’d imagined it.

Just as she started closing the door, something on the mat made her look down.  There as a small black bag lying there.  It looked like the one she’d lost when she was in America, at Disney world three years ago. 

Trying not to reveal too much beneath her very short towel, Katie bent down to pick the bag up.  She turned it over, it looked exactly like the one she’d lost.  She didn’t know how, but she KNEW it was hers.  Her heart stopped.  It was inexplicable how it could get here, back to London.  She’d moved since she lost that bag, so nothing could be traced to this house.

Slowly she started thinking about the implications of her bag turning up.  That was the day before the last time she’d seen Drew.  She thought it was more than a holiday fling, but two days later he just disappeared. 

The lady at reception said he’d checked out early, in the middle of the night, it had seemed like he was in a hurry.

Katie tried to shake his image out of her head.  She’d only known him nine days when he left, but she’d felt so much in that time.  It sounded stupid, and she hated thinking it now, but she’d had a feeling it was forever.  But then he’d disappeared, and she’d never heard from him again.

She opened the bag, and saw a scrap of paper inside.  Before she could think or anything she pulled it out.

Sorry‘ it said.  She turned it over. ‘I’m not who you thought I ws.  I didn’t mean to hurt you.  I’ll always love you. Drew x

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts – just remember, it’s a first draft.

Three Day Weekend

I’ve got a three-day weekend!  I’ve got a three-day weekend!  Not that I’m excited or anything.  The downside to this is that I probably won’t be doing any writing for the next three days, as I never seem to at weekends.

Although having said that, it’s Friday tomorrow, which can only mean Fiction Friday, which I do love.  I’ll HAVE to find some time to fit that in.  Shouldn’t be hard – it’s supposed to only be a five-minute write.  Ooh, I can’t wait 🙂

The day being Friday tomorrow also means that another copy of the magazine I’m analysing for my writing course comes out.  I’ll get a copy, do a quick review of the ‘coffee break’ short story, then that’s my assignment done.  I’ll send it off this weekend then. 

I’m coming on nicely with reading the modules for the next part of the course.  Every time I have a chance to read, I find there’s a straight out fight between the novel I’m reading and the next module.  I want to read them both so much.  Why aren’t there more hours in the day?

One of my collegues’ wife is just about to have a baby.  He works in another office that is even quieter than this one.  I’m going to be covering his paternity leave.  YAY!  That means a reduced amount of work for me to do daily (I know – less than I do already – crazy!) and no boss on site – so I can pretty much do what I want.  Plus, the desk has a high front, so I can read my course assignment booklet there without anyone seeing.  I’m so excited about that.  Hope she has the baby soon.  Also, I’ll get to see baby pictures – ahhhhh. 

I’ll also mention the Search Term Challenge ErgoFiction are holding that I’ve entered.  Each day for 14 days they are going to post one entry.  So far there’s three entries that I think are really good.  Check them out here.  They’re anonymous so I can’t tell you which of the 14 that will be posted is mine – I will do in 3 weeks once the voting has closed!

And finally for today, I’ve made a plan to get through my stack of 70+ unread books on my shelf.  For every 2 I read, I’m going to allow myself to buy ONE.  That should stop it growing and growing as it keeps doing.  I’ve not worked out what I’m going to do about library books… Or books that are given to me…  Like George Orwell’s nineteen Eighty Four (I talked my mum into buying for me this weekend) or Linwood Barclay’s Too Close To Home (which she’s just read and gave to me). 

Well, that’s killed a little more time, there’s only 6 hours and 20 minutes until my weekend starts. *happy dance – virtual anyway – I don’t want funny looks!*

Post 200!!

Wow!  This is my 200th post.  I can’t believe it.  I’ve not really been sure what I was going to blog about today, but I guess a 200th blog is something to celebrate?!  I think I’ll have a glass of wine to me tonight!

I’ve also had 239 comments (although nearly half of those are probably mine) and, apparently, 2,076 visits.  Even if you divide that number by 3 to get a realistic number (I read somewhere that’s what you do), that’s still a lot of people reading my words. Wow.  This month already has my highest visitor numbers – by over 100 – and there’s still 4 days left. 

On 10th February I totally forgot to do a special one year blogiversary post.  I’m annoyed about that as I was really looking forward to looking back over my first year of blogging.  Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow, I don’t think I can do it today.  Way too much nothing-ness to do today. 

On Monday my (at home with a week off work) boyfriend sent me some links to some competitions to win books.  I seriously have the best boyfriend in the world!  That’s what I’ve been doing this week.  The latest competition I have entered is on the lovely So Little Time for Books blog.  It’s to win a copy of The Uglies series by Scott Westerfield.  Yes, I said series – 3 books.  Fingers crossed for me please!

I’ve read 9 books in the last 2 months – I’m on my 10th.  That makes me laugh as I only read 19 last year (plus 2 children’s).  What was I doing last year?!?

Books and Writing

I didn’t know this, but apparently I’m the kind of person that would prefer to read a good book than watch TV.  Or I was last night anyway.  While my housemate sat and watched ‘soap night’, I sat and read my book.  I love soap night: (if I’m home in time) 4 episodes of different soaps back to back.  My boyfriend hates soaps so I tend not to watch them when he’s around, which he usually is every other night of the week.  Soap night was like a guilty pleasure night where I could sit and watch an hour and a half  to two hours of soaps.

But recently I’ve not really been bothered.  I’ve prefered to read a book.  Obviously it means I’ve been reading some good books.  I was thinking the other day that I would rather read a book than watch a film.  I think, I’m not too sure about that.  If I am, I’m not sure I like that. 

I finished Coming Home by Melanie Rose on the escalator out of the tube this morning.  I literally had 2 pages left when I got off the tube so HAD to read them before I got to work.  I love a bit of chick lit and this satisfied me completely.  I think I especially liked it as you didn’t know who the heroine was going to end up with – there were 3 potentials there.  That’s how my novel ‘Holiday’ is going to play.  There’s going to be 2 potential love interests. 

I do have a criticism though, no maybe just a dislike.  The first chapter happens before she loses her memory.  I would have liked it to start after so we, like her, have no idea where she’s come from.  Melanie’s got another book that came out a while ago, so I’m going to find that at some point, she’s definitely someone I’ll keep an eye on for new books too. 

I’ve now started The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson.  So far it’s nasty – I’ve only read the prologue, which is about a girl who’s been kidnapped.  Still I know it’s going to be good, and I guess it’s some of the nastiness that makes it good.  The last book had really good descriptions of some severely gruesome things so I was picturing them as I was reading.  Not always a good thing.   

I have read so much this year.  It makes up for last year when I read less than 20 books – which I’m still shocked about. 

I’ve recently admitted to myself I’m not good at writing descriptions.  When I write, I tend to write what people say, and think and the story.  There’s never really descriptions of where they are, what they look like etc.  Even in Italian Infatuation I left big gaps where I need to fill in details about the countryside and the villa, I don’t even know how detailed charcters are – I suspect not very.  

To get over this, I’ve decided to set myself challenges where I HAVE to describe things.  There has just been a man sat in reception at work, I’ve done a description of him.  I’m going to do people and places.  Lots.  You know what they say – practice makes perfect!!

A Brand New Week

Well, my target was to finish this writing course assignment by Friday.  Obviously I didn’t succeed in that.  I’d like to make excuses, in fact I’m going to, I need to review the stories in a magazine, but the magazine only comes out once a week, so I’ve only been able to look at a couple.  I feel like I really need more.  I’ve done everything else for it, so might just wait until Friday to add another review before I send it off. 

I’ve started reading the next modules for it, so will just get on with the next assignment.  I’m sure that’s fine. 

The next three modules are about planning and writing a novel.  Hmm.  I wish I’d read them 4 months ago before NaNo.  Although so far, I did do what it says, but that’s not much, I’m only on page 3 or something.  After these writing novel modules they go onto editing, which is just what I need.  I’m now feeling good that I’ve ignored Italian Infatuation since November – there’s obviously a reason I did and it’s probably that I need to read this first.  I’m a great believer in things happening for a reason, and this fits in well with this. 

Over the weekend I received a book in the post.  Woop!  Even better than that, it was a free book thanks to the Thriller & Suspense Challenge I’m taking part in over at Book Chick City this year.  The kind people from SIMON & SCHUSTER UK gave everyone taking part a free ARC (which I’ve found out to be an unedited version on the novel) of one of two books – I got Random by Craig Robertson.  Ooh, it sounds so good.  Apparently it’s not out until April so I’ll be among the first to read it.  How exciting.  I’m going to try not to buy any more books for a month, so the next book I read will be the next in the Millenium series by Steig Larsson, then Random.  Yay!   Then that will be 4 out of 12 Thriller & Suspense books read by March.  Excellent. 

The book I’m reading now (as you can see from my sidebar) is Coming Home by Melanie Rose.  I picked it up in the shop and thought it looked pretty good, but, due to my 70+ full to be read bookshelf, I nearly put it down.  Just as it was going back on the  shelf, I saw the words ‘A must for all Cecelia Ahern and Sophie Kinsella fans’ (in so many words).  Damn, that had me.  I’m really enjoying it, I can’t wait to see where the story goes. 

Last week I entered a Search Term Challenge at ErgoFiction.  The first story is up… Read it here.  A new story/entry will  be added each day, then when all the stories are up, you can vote for your favourite (it’s all anonymous on the website).  Exciting! 

I thought I had about a million other things to blog about, but it would seem not.  Hmmm.

Fiction Friday – The Invitation

I wanted to think up a clever title for this week’s challenge, but couldn’t so The Invitation will have to do. 

Fiction Friday: Spend at least 5 minutes composing something original based on the theme or challenge. But, remember, no editing. This is to inspire creativity not stifle it. On Friday, simply post what you wrote to your own blog.

Today’s theme:  An unsigned invitation arrives requesting your protagonist’s compulsory attendance at the opening of Electric Lady Land.

The invitation

‘Electric Lady Land’  Eric stared at the invitation for the longest time, trying to work out who the hell the invitation could be from, and who would be opening a place called Electric Lady Land. 

He thought maybe the invitation wasn’t for him, so he turned the envelope over.  Yes his name and address.  Weirdly it also had his middle name.  He never used Alexander.  Ever.  The only place it was written was on his birth certificate.  The only people that knew about it were his close family. 

His parents had both recently died, Stephanie was living in Australia with her husband and two kids, which just left…  No… It couldn’t be… Not after all this time… He couldn’t believe it.  No, he wouldn’t believe it.

Eric looked at the clock on the table by the door and calculated the time it would be at the other side of the world.  Really early in the morning.  Steph would kill him.  He had to know though, and he though she might have the answer. 

He ran to the living room for the phone, but it wasn’t on the base next to the sofa.  Damn, where had he put it?  He vaguely remembered being on the phone last night.  Damn, had he called Sophie again?  He had to stop drinking and calling her, if he had any hope of getting her back he had to stop sounding desperate. 

Forcing Sophie out of his head he turned round to see where he had left it.  After 5 minutes of searching under newspapers, magazines and takeaway boxes, Eric came to the conclusion it wasn’t in the lounge so walked through to his bedroom and eventually found it wrapped up in his duvet. 

Stephanie answered on the third ring.  She sounded, rightly so, asleep.

‘Steph it’s me.  I’m sorry…’

‘What?  What is it Eric?  It’s 3 O’clock in the morning.  I’ve only just got Bethanie to sleep.  Why have you woken me up?’

‘I’m sorry.  I didn’t think.’

‘That’s your problem Eric you don’t think.’

‘Sorry.  I won’t keep you long.  I just wanted your opinion on something.’

‘And it couldn’t have waited?’

Eric looked at the time on the clock, and the time on the invitation and decided that no, it definitely couldn’t wait. 

‘I got an invitation this morning.  To a business opening.’

‘Wow Eric.  Congratulations.  What does this have to do with me?’

‘It was addressed to Eric Alexander Stephens.’  There was silence at the other end of the phone.  Eric heard movement so presumed Steph was getting out of bed to go somewhere she could speak to him in private.  Obviously she didn’t tell her husband everything. 

When the movement stopped, he heard Steph sigh. 

‘Do you think it’s him?’ she asked.

‘Other than Mum and Dad, no one knows my middle name.  It’s not even on my driving licence or passport.  It has to be him.’

‘He wouldn’t have gone back to London though when he got out would he?’

‘London’s a big place.  It’s easy to be anonymous in London.  The invitation says Honslow – pretty far from Islington.   I can’t think of any other reason I’d have something using Alexander in my hand.  It has to be Tom.’

Again there was silence down the phone.  Eric wondered what his sister was thinking. He knew she what she was thinking.  He knew that after what their brother had done she never wanted to see him again.  That’s what she’d said 15 years ago, surely now he had turned up she’d think differently?  They were family afterall.

‘I don’t care.  I don’t want to know.  If you go, don’t tell me.  I want nothing to do with him.  Not now, not ever.’  She ended the call.  Eric knew she meant it.  At the same time he knew he had to go, to find out, was it their brother?

 I spent a lot longer than five minutes on that – once I started I couldn’t stop.  It’s funny the plan for what was going to happen changed a couple of times as I was writing it. 

I’d really like to spend more time on this, I have so many unanswered questions about it.  I’ll add it to the folder of unfinished work and maybe one day fill in the blanks.

I’m Back!!

It feels like forever ago that I last blogged.  I don’t really count Friday as that was really just my ‘entry’ for Fiction Friday! 

So, where have I been?  I’ve mainly been working on my writing course.   I’m very very close to finishing the next assignment.  It’s a 3 parter: list magazines that publish short stories, analyse the market and stories in one magazine, and, write a short story for one.  I’ve done the first, last and just need to finish the second. 

You could say I cheated on the writing of a story.  I used one that I’d written before, but it was written in the time I’ve been doing the course, so I don’t think it’s cheating.  Before I decided I’d use it, I was pretty impressed with it, but it was 150 words longer than it could be for the assignment, so I had to shorten it. 

Wow.  It is so much better now.  I had so many irrelevant sentences and redundant words.  Now I’m happy with it.  Except it’s not got a great title – The Friend Next Door.  I like the way it kind of has a double meaning, but at the same time I don’t really like the title itself.  Since I started writing it, it has been known as Blueberry Yogurt and I’m sad that title’s gone.  But, as ‘Blueberry Yogurt’ is what Word suggested I called it (the first 2 words of the story), it doesn’t really fit. 

I’ve also been writing a story for ErgoFiction’s Search Term Challenge.  I read about this on Merrilee’s blog and couldn’t resist giving it a go.  So much fun: Write a story which use 4 of the 7 given search terms that are used to find Merrilee’s blog (starting with one and finishing with another with two others thrown in.  I love a prompt – hence why I keep joining in with Fiction Friday.  The deadline’s tomorrow midday, so I’m going to send in my entry tonight. 

The stories are put online (without the author) then voted on by readers.  I have no thoughts that I may win, but it’s been really good fun writing it, and challenging getting the terms in. 

*I’m just going to have to stop this blog to have a moan.  WILL PEOPLE PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT THE RAIN.  Yes, it’s raining, yes it has been all day but I am now sick of talking about it.  If one more person walks past reception and says anything about the rain, I may not be able to finish this blog – I don’t think they let you have computers in custody. *

Also I didn’t blog a lot last week as I was ill.  Well, I think I had man flu, but I felt awful the end of the week and for half the weekend and just not up to writing (except Fiction Friday, but nevermind).

Yesterday I was reminded of a quote that my other half sent me a while ago.  It comes from Stephen Fry’s website, and it’s really a quote of a quote of a quote.  Thomas Mann said it, Clive James repeated it to Stephen Fry, then he blogged it:

”A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than for other people”

He then goes on to say that he nearly gave up wiring, until people told him it is supposed to be hard. 

My boyfriend sent me the link when I was really struggling with writing.  I’d started the writing course and started writing bits here, pieces there.  I’d even started a novel.  But it wasn’t going well.  I didn’t think I was any good.  I wanted to write, but kind of hated it to.  But couldn’t stop.  Then I read this and got it.  It’s supposed to be hard.  Now, whenever I’m struggling with something I remember that quote and it pushed me through.

Although saying that, it’s not pushed me through to the next draft of my novel.  Oh well, it will happen.

Speaking of, I’ve just heard about NaNoEdMo.  National Novel Editing Month.  Boy am I tempted.  50 hours of editing in March.  BUT I’m doing so well with my writing course that I really think I should carry on with it.  I’ve just read the next assignment and can’t wait to get started on it.  But it would  be good to do.  But so is my writing course.  Ahhhh.  I can’t decide.  I’ve got 10 days to make my mind up!

Fiction Friday and a little more

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front over the last few days  but I thought I’d break my silence for Fiction Friday as I enjoy it so much.  Read all about it and the rules here.  This week’s prompt is:

A family’s life changes dramatically after they are bequeathed an old painting in the will of an obscure relative.

When I read this nothing at all came to me, so I thought I’d cheat a little and not exactly use the prompt, but what happened before.  So here’s my effort…  As per the rules of Fiction Friday it’s not edited, it’s just been written. 

‘I don’t want to go though.  She was weird; I don’t want anything weird from her.’

‘Look Janie now is not the time for one of your teenage tantrums.  Auntie Frederique asked for you to be at the will reading and if it’s the last thing on this earth I do I’m going to get you there.’


‘NO! No buts. Just finish getting ready NOW.  This is not up for discussion.’  Before Janie could even think to say anything her mum had left the room and slammed the bedroom door behind her.  And she thinks I act like a child!

She knew her mum meant business so carried on getting ready.  She didn’t see why she had to dress up to go and see a lawyer, it wasn’t as though she had anything Janie would want. 

They’d not been to visit her for a few years, but Janie remembered being pretty freaked out when they went to visit her.  She lived in a massive dark spooky house in the middle of nowhere.  It was run down, apparently because her father had run up huge gambling debts in the last few years before he died so hadn’t spent any money on repairs.  There was nothing to hand down to Frederique so she just stayed in the rotting old house. 

Janie had never been that close to her, her brother Adam seemed to have a bond with her – he had time for her that Janie really didn’t have.  From a young age she couldn’t understand why someone would stay living in a house like that not move out.  It was creepy and Janie hated going there. 

At least this would be the last time she’d have to go there.  Frederique didn’t have any children to hand the house down to and it was common knowledge that she intended to give it to a cat charity when she died, it was a relief.

Which brough Janie on to question, what did she have that Janie would possibly want?

When she got to the bottom of the stairs she was still puzzling over what an 80 odd year old woman would think a 14 year old girl would want, when Adam pulled her arm, then her into the lounge. 

‘What..’ she started to shout but he clamped his hand over her mouth.

‘Shhhhhhhhh.’ He said slowly releasing his hands from her mouth and arm.

‘What do you want?’ Janie whispered impatiently.  She wanted to get there so she could get out of there as soon as possible. 

‘Do you think it’s the painting?’  He asked in an equally quiet voice.  Janie looked at him blankly.

‘What pain…’ she gasped.  It couldn’t be. ‘But that’s not real.  It’s just a myth… Isn’t it?’  Adam smiled wryly and walked out the door. 

That was kind of fun.  Although I wish we were allowed to edit it,  I think there could be some better descriptions of the house in there.  Actually I’m glad we can’t – I would be here forever trying to make it perfect.

So there’s a couple of reasons why I’ve not blogged recently.  First I’m working really hard on my writing course assignment.  I wanted to have it ready for today to send off, but in hindsight that was a pretty unrealistic goal.  I think I’ll go for next Friday instead.  There’s a lot more research to do than I thought there would be.

Also I’ve got a really horrible cough and cold so when I’ve not been working on my course I’ve been snuggled up on the sofa.  I’ve had it for over a week so it really should be going soon.  I hope.

I’ve a busy weekend coming up, but I hope to get some more of my course done then, I doubt I’ll get a chance for blogging.  Especially not with Valentine’s day on Sunday.  Not that my boyfriend really believes in it.  Not that his beliefs are going to stop him making me a special dinner that night 🙂

Happy weekend everyone 🙂

Edit 2? What edit 2?

Indeed, what edit 2?  I should have started that in January.  It’s now 8th February and Italian Infatuation 0.2 is still exactly the same as Italian Infatuation 0.1.  Why?  Well, I must admin, I seemed to have blocked out the fact I needed to do it a few days ago – until today, I had genuinely forgotten I should be working on that. Oops.  I blame the cough and the cold.  I hate England. 

I also seem to be doing quite a lot of other things at the moment, which are maybe taking up the time I should be editing.   Good things though I think. 

So what am I doing?  Obviously I’ve got  the 20 or so blogs I read a day (thank god not everyone updates their blog daily).  I’ve now made a crack with the second (fiction) assignment for the writing course.  I need to list all magazines I can find that publish short stories, analyse one and write a short story for it.   Oh, I also need to read some modules that I keep forgetting to do.  I’m doing lots of little writing things too: Oneword daily, Fiction Friday on Fridays, and generally finding any prompts from anywhere online I can to write from. 

So really, it’s all good things that are keeping me from starting this edit.  I read somewhere that a lot of people write their first novel then stick it in a draw and it never comes out.  I don’t want to be one of those people.  I know I’m a little biased,  but I think Italian Infatuation is a story that needs to be told!  😉

I’m a little torn on what story to use for the course.  I have one pre written I would like to send, but it’s 1,600+ words and I need to have it 1,500 or less.  I don’t want to shorten it, I think it needs everything it has.  I have a story that I started for Fiction Friday, that I am working on to make a longer more detailed story, but I’m not sure if I can get it up to 1,500.  But I’d like to.  Or, should I just start a completely new story for it?  Oh the decisions. 

I think I might have thought up another idea for another novel this morning.  Serioulsy, can my mind not just work on one thing and one thing only?

Right, I’ve got 25 minutes before my lunch break.  I’m going to work on the course until I go.  I will not work on the story prompt I started this morning.  I will not work on the story prompt I started this morning.  I will not…

Mega Monday Moan

I actually did some writing over the weekend.  Better than that though, I made some notes for my writing course assignment AND bought some magazines for research.  Yeah, get me! 

I’m so excited about it now, I can’t stop thinking about what I’m going to write.  The problem I’ve just remembered is that I’m supposed to read some modules before I write the story.  I’ve read some of them, but not others, and I’m now not planning on going home for a couple of days.  Even with this, I’m still determined to get it sent by the end of the week.  I will do it. 

I’m doing an early shift at work, so am incredibly tired.  I am not a morning person so getting up at 6.15 (with a bad cough and cold) does not make me a happy person.  It also doesn’t make me a very creative person – I know I should write more, but I’ve got that can’t be bothered feeling.  I’m going to type up my notes about the short story for the course, then spend the rest of the day surfing I think.  Happy Monday everyone… Only 4 1/2 working days till the weekend…