Pinocchio: An FP inspired short story.

The FP (Friday Phrase, check out the hashtag FP on Fridays for micro fiction fun) this story came from was one I wrote a long time ago, even before the weekly themes came about. It’s a little bit of fun with the idea coming from the familiar fairy story of Pinocchio. I haven’t written a short story for a while, so forgive me if it’s a bit on the not-so-sharp side. But it’s been good to get some practise in. :) 

 

So here it is, an FP inspired short:

PINOCCHIO

“Peter.” The stranger stated his name confidently and extended his right hand as though he knew for certain I would take it. His left hand casually rested in the pocket of his trousers causing the matching suit jacket to flick up slightly, revealing a well toned thigh. That much I could tell, even through the fabric.

I offered him my hand in return, intrigued by his assertiveness.

He took it in his cold, smooth, firm one and, instead of shaking it, he held it up to his lips, not that this surprised me much.

“Christie,” I said, wondering why I was giving this stranger my real name.

I wasn’t one for being stopped dead in my tracks by a well chiselled jaw, I was too long in the tooth for that, but Peter was, how shall I say, different. Oh, I know it sounds trite, but there was something unique about him that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I pulled my hand back. Not quickly, but deliberately, reluctantly almost, and ran my fingers through my hair.

“Your finest champagne, please,” Peter said to the barman. Ryan took it upon himself to roll his eyes on my behalf. I wasn’t a stranger to being chatted up in this way. Ryan had seen it a hundred times though and it simply amused him. He was gay of course, otherwise he’d have tried it on with me, despite being half my age. He’d told me as much. Thousands of pounds on plastic surgery meant that even now, into my fifties, men found me attractive enough to try their luck. It was tedious at times. The same old chat up lines, the same lack of originality. But this one, despite the usual conventionalities, was different. Something in me melted, and it wasn’t my enhanced cleavage or botoxed cheeks.

“Thank you,” I said, as I took the champagne flute and we clinked the crystal together.

“Here’s to new acquaintances.” Peter smiled, and I couldn’t help but notice how every single physical feature he possessed was so perfectly formed.

“He’s had as much work done as I have,” I thought, and smiled back.

We spent the evening chatting, drinking and, unusually, laughing. He was easy to talk to, and despite his slick, obviously well-worn, moves, he was refreshingly childlike in his outlook on life. Perhaps on account of being no older than thirty-five. He suggested we go bowling and ice-skating, though not that night, “maybe we could do that on our first date?” he boldly suggested.

When the jazz band came on, he took my hand and led me to the dancefloor. He held me close, those well toned thighs pressed hard against mine, and it was obvious, from another of his protruding body parts, where the night would lead.

I think I might have whispered something suitably cliched in his ear at that point. Something along the lines of, “Is that a piece of wood in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?” and he laughed. Not at me, but with me. And then he looked into my eyes and leaned in for a kiss.

The sudden blaring of the fire alarm brought us both to our senses and halted the kiss before it had even started. “Everyone out! This is not a false alarm,” I heard Ryan’s voice call, as we were shoved and shunted towards the exit. Thick smoke bellowed into the intimate space Peter and I had only moments before shared. I found myself clinging tight to Peter’s fingers. Long and smooth and slender; a reassuringly strong grip.

A sudden cry of terror ripped through the air from somewhere behind us. Peter froze on the spot and turned his head back. As he did so his fingers slipped from mine and I was pulled away from him through the crowd towards the fire exit.

“Peter!” My voice was strangled, and I coughed through the smoke.

But he didn’t hear, or didn’t seem to hear, and he disappeared from my sight towards the back of the club. As I moved closer to the front exit with the crowd, I glanced back. The kitchen door flung open and a tsunami of flames tore up through the bar and licked at the ceiling over our heads. I tripped out onto the street, wondering how the dream had turned so quickly into this nightmare.

Then a man, an old man, appeared through the swirling black smoke, coughing and spluttering. He hobbled towards the exit and collapsed, as two firefighters ran to him and dragged his body out onto the pavement. There he gasped for air.

“My son,” he choked the words out. “My son, you must save my son.” The firefighters ran back in, ducking under the flashover and disappearing towards the kitchen.

Only a few seconds passed, though it felt to me like minutes and in those seconds I caught the old man’s watery, grey eyes staring at me.

Suddenly, the firefighters emerged with Peter from the back of the club. He was wheezing and gasping, his face blackened from the smoke. The two firefighters hauled him out and he collapsed next to the old man on the ground.

I screamed. Peter’s feet were alight. They were actually alight.

“Somebody help him, for Christ’s sake!” I yelled. The flames licked higher, smouldering through the fabric of his trousers. And therein lay the strangest thing. As the grey sheen of the trousers disintegrated, underneath there was no burning flesh. There was no bubbling or crackling of skin and there were no screams from Peter. He didn’t so much as flinch as the fire danced and burned up his legs and charcoaled the wood that replaced the flesh.

Peter caught my eye, and he smiled just as he had when we had clinked champagne glasses.

“My son! You must save my son!” The old man coughed again. But this time he was not addressing the firefighters or the paramedics who were now rushing across the street to Peter with blankets and medical equipment. No, he was looking at me, with the same steel-grey eyes Peter was.

“Kiss him,” The old man choked. “Kiss my boy,” he said just as a paramedic put an oxygen mask over his mouth.

Confused, I looked again at Peter. The man who had captured my heart in one evening of utter madness. How much more madness would kissing him be now as his body burned?

“Someone, please, help him!” I screamed again.

One of the paramedics threw a blanket over Peter’s legs and rolled him back and forth, but the flames resisted the smothering and continued slowly cremating both the blanket and his wooden legs.

“Christie, please. Only you can save me,” Peter said. “I need you to kiss me, You must kiss me.”

The paramedic swung his head round to the firefighters. “I’m going to need help here! This man’s legs are wooden and won’t stop burning!”

I went over to Peter and dropped to my knees, behind his head. Peter tilted his head towards me.

Another paramedic took out an oxygen mask, and pulled back the elastic.

“Quickly” Peter whispered to me. “Before it’s too late. Before all of me burns.”

I leaned in just before the paramedic could put the mask on. “Please, Madam,” I heard him say “Now’s not the time!”

I ignored him. It was now or never, whatever ‘it’ would turn out to be. As our lips touched, Peter’s whole body shuddered. I kept my lips locked there, and felt his face, so rigid and taut, suddenly soften. His shoulders and arms relaxed by his side. I stepped back, and watched, wondering how one kiss could have so much power. His breathing slowed and his chest rose and fell with the ease of a sleeping baby. He touched his stomach and pushed the soft flesh inward. Peter sighed and a small smile crept over his face, until the smell of burning wood turned suddenly to the acrid stench of burning flesh. The paramedic reeled back.

“What the-?”

Peter screamed as the flames now seared his brand new flesh.

“The blanket!” I grabbed it from the stunned paramedic and, wrapping Peter’s legs in it, I rolled him side to side. The flames went out and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Peter’s breathing became more shallow and the paramedic placed the oxygen mask over his mouth.

“Thank you,” Peter mouthed through the mask. “Thank you for giving me my life.”

I grabbed Peter’s hand and squeezed it. It felt different. Warmer and softer than when he had first taken it all those hours ago at the bar.

“I don’t understand any of this,” I said.

The paramedics lifted Peter onto a stretcher.

“Are you coming with him, madam?”

I looked at Peter.

He shook his head, and in that moment I knew. I knew I’d been used.

I went home, tossed my heels in the trash, pulled down my hairdo and removed my mask of make-up for the last time. I looked into the mirror and saw my naked features through a new lens. I guess there’s no real way to tell a liar, and killer looks aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.

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Ode to Social Media

(With no hint of irony at all…)

Oh social media, how I love you
Your silly, modern ways.
A place to be a socialite
Across the World Web waves.

To check in your location
Refresh the News Feed page.
To tag and crop a photograph
To create your very own stage.

A place to share and have a laugh
Or for sympathy to seek.
Make of it all what you will
Any day of your long, dull week.

A world to stalk celebrities
From the comfort of your own home.
Or just to find that other folk
Have a life as ordinary as your own.

Status updates, like and link
A profile for all to see.
Nothing’s sacred anymore
But who cares? It’s all for free.

Tell whoever wants to know
All about your life.
Communicate your deepest thoughts
From the sofa to your wife.

Collect up lots of friends like stamps
How many follow you?
How many do you even ‘like’
Of all your Facebook crew?

Be certain that you always
Try hard not to offend.
Be politically correct
Lest your followers should un-friend.

Acronyms a plenty
May drive some up the wall.
O.M.G and W.T.F
You haven’t heard them all??

Now social media, it may seem I loathe you
For wasting all my time.
But if you were not in my life
Then where would I share this rhyme?

A great big thanks to all who continue to read this blog and engage with my mixed up mind on social media :)

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Filed under General Rambliings, Writing

Character Count

Another post about her writing journey? Really? What’s come over her?

Yes, folks, don’t change the channel. I know I haven’t done a rant for a few weeks, but you know, this blog is called Writeaway so I do feel a little as though I am false advertising at times.

Anyway, for those of you who have followed this blog for sometime, you will know all the headaches and doubts I have about my novel in progress, as well as the great things I love about it. (Yes, I do; remember the A-Z from last year? There you go.)

You may also be aware that I consider myself to be a plot driven writer, rather than a character driven writer. Many blogs and writers will tell you this is the way to doom and unpublishable work, because if a reader can’t identify and root for the character they can’t give a damn about the plot. I’d agree with this (but only to a certain extent). I would argue there are plenty of adults who don’t worry about either so much. I haven’t read 50 Shades, but from what I can gather, neither the characters or the plot stand up too well, yet look at its success. Hmmmm. That old chestnut, hey?

So as always with writing and with regards to writing my own novel I have to put the blinkers on from time to time and not heed all the ‘rules’ and ‘advice’. As I’ve often said: yes, there are certain rules which need to be adhered to, but essentially I need to write what I feel is in me, and it so happens that my characters are not, as so many writers profess, “speaking to me in my head” or “taking over my life,” whilst I am trying to go about my daily business.  They are just not. It was in a previous post entitled “Losing the Plot” that I talked about this. I think of a plot first and characters come only when I start writing dialogue on the page. That’s just how it is for me, right or wrong, we shall see. It is why I have to ignore social media most of the time because there are a lot of writers out there spouting their advice as though it were gospel, and as any atheist will argue, that’s a load of tosh as well.

So, today I was turning over in my head what my editor may say about my characters (other than “why are they all named after motorway service stations or mash-ups of UK place names?”),  and thinking more so with regard to the question do the characters drive the plot or does the plot drive the characters? And then I stopped questioning myself and thought…”You know what, I don’t care, I’m just going to blog my thoughts on this subject.”

And this got me to  thinking about all the books I loved as a child and how plot won me over every time.

1) The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe. Most of the characters got right up my nose actually. Other than the White Witch and Edmund. Lucy was sappy, Susan and Peter as dull as ditch-water, talking Beavers and a fawning Fawn. Then there was Aslan and well, he was just a lion who sacrificed himself. That book was all about plot (and God and Jesus and stuff, not that I got that from it at all when I was ten)! But I don’t think CS Lewis spent an awful lot of time drawing his characters out. I could be wrong, but what I loved about that book (and The Magician’s Nephew – more so actually) was the plot. The story and the way it developed. Just the simple notion there was another land through a wardrobe or pools of water in woods or by putting on a magical ring. Cool.

2) Anything by Enid Blyton: Oh come on. The Famous Five? The Secret Seven? Plot, plot and more plot. The mystery was what kept me reading, not Dick or George or er…who were the other ones again? The Naughtiest Girl in The School only had me hooked because I wanted to go to boarding school and have a tuck box and go to the shop to buy stamps and write letters home. Elizabeth could have been Alfred for all I cared.

3) All Fairy Tales. All of them. Generic characters with the odd baddy to spice it up. (Rumplestiltskin anyone?) Why is it only the baddies who were any fun or actually the ones who drove the plot forward? (Incidentally, I worried that my antagonist is the one who drives the plot forward in Book 2 as oppose to Toddington. I’ll wait for the back lash on that little piece of literary rule breaking and rebellion, but as I’m, essentially, writing a fancy, long fairy tale, I think I’m going to just have the guts and conviction to go with it.)

4) I’d even go as far as to say Harry Potter himself is not the character who kept me reading that particular series of books. Professor Snape? Yes. Ron and Hermione? Yes. Wanting to find out out what magic spell they’d all learn next? Yes. Harry was, for me, quite bland, and although I cared about him a bit, it was more that I cared for the wizarding world and the effect Voldemort had on that and how they were all going to collectively defeat him. All the little plot twists and turns around Snape actually engaged me more than the main plot. And actually Voldemort’s back story was far more riveting than Harry’s.

But not only as a child has this been the case. As an adult I’ve enjoyed Agatha Christie novels and we know how her characters (at least the secondary ones) get accused of being two dimensional. Murder mysteries are, by nature, plot driven. It is the whodunnit? which keeps us reading, rather than the characters, I’d say anyway. I mean her detectives are engaging of course, and Poirot is my favourite, but Christie had plots first it seems, then character.

Then I got to thinking about stuff my little boy has read or is reading. He’s heavily into Roald Dahl at the moment and I’d say his books go on a 50/50 scale, including his short stories for adults. Tales of The Unexpected…very plot driven. Of course he does write some wonderful characters too…The children in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and Willy Wonka and The Grand High Witch. Miss Trunchbull. All fantastic characters.The BFG too is a great character, but I wouldn’t say all of his stories have great main characters. Danny in Danny The Champion of the World is for me, quite dull, yet I love the story itself.  Dahl actually is billed as “The World’s Number One story teller” and I think it is the stories and their plots which engage children most. The idea of winning a chocolate factory? Or of turning ducks into people and vice versa? The idea of a man who can see through playing cards to win a fortune and how he goes about it. It is Dahl’s “what ifs?” which engaged me over the characters (although obviously mainly very well drawn).  I certainly know the idea of The Witches all being teachers in disguise was just perfect! Oh and speaking of Roald Dahl. We’re reading The BFG at the moment and Dahl uses the “was  ….ing” thing LOADS instead of ed verbs. So quite frankly, I really, really, really won’t be listening to much of these “writing tips” anymore. It seems one sure fire way to lose your style and voice.

Also my little boy loves these books called “Dinosaur Cove” by an author called Rex Stone. They are typical chapter books for the 6+ age range, but oh! The amount of adverbs is akin to the number of hot dinners I’ve had and the two main characters are completely indistinguishable from each other. But my little boy LOVES them. Because, you know, dinos.  Also the plots are atrocious, but that’s what is funny. Kids will like books for all sorts of reasons that we as adults and especially us as writers baulk at!

Now, I’m not aiming for a series of ‘easy read’ chapter books or advocating the overuse of adverbs or inappropriate repetitive dialogue tags (grinned – Rex Stone, seriously too many ‘grinned Jamie, grinned the other one’) particularly as I’m writing a three volume middle grade fantasy novel. Of course I want my characters to have depth and I hope the main ones do, (because my character count currently stands at about 24 speaking characters and it’s really hard to give them ALL depth), but in all honesty, my book is not character driven. Probably because when I had the idea for the book I was twelve and had just finished reading The Narnia books. I like my characters though, but I had no idea who they were going to be until I actually started writing. Many of them just showed up half way through, unexpectedly. For Book 3, which I haven’t written yet, I need to introduce four human characters. Children. I work with children. I know children, yet I cannot plan for them at all. I don’t know what I want them to be like until I get them to meet Toddington (the main protagonist). Even Toddington had no real character to him when I first drafted. All my characters have developed as I wrote them in and found them talking. It is my idea for the plot and getting from point a to point b which drives my characters forwards and my writing, not the other way round.

And the truth seems to me, from my experience of children, is that plot is actually more important for most of them than character. That doesn’t mean you can’t have great characters, but do we need to sit and worry that every event which happens in the book is driven forward by the main character? I know in my book it isn’t. And if you watch children write a story they come up with a plot. They do. That’s how they are taught. That’s how their imagination runs. My little one wrote a story the other day. He couldn’t get all his plot ideas down quick enough, as he told me. He was so excited by the plot. It just so happened everything in the plot happened to a velociraptor named Speedey (with an ey on purpose apparently). Speedey was simply the vessel for all his plot ideas to go through. I know however, many writers say “Have a character, THEN put them in a situation, or situations.” But knowing what I do about children it seems to me, I think maybe we need to worry less about what adults think when we’re writing for children and see it from a child’s point of view. I’m not dumbing down my characters at all, I’m just saying I’m going to get ready to defend why they aren’t necessarily at the forefront of my thoughts when writing.

Yes, I am a novice and so am, no doubt, talking out of my backside. My editor will no doubt tell me a load of these things which are formulaically wrong with my book and will hate my characters for more reasons than that three syllable names are hard to pronounce. But I can’t help thinking back to those books I enjoyed as a child, and even now as an adult enjoy most. They are the ones where the plot came first. The characters have to be good, but for me they are not what comes first to my mind when reading or when writing. I do like a good story.

The End.

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Filed under Characters, Editing, Plot Development, Writing

To the End

“Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?

It took me years to write, will you take a look?….”

So I was all a bit doom and gloom last week when I wrote my post on how the writing is going so far. That may be something to do with my strange, annual “I’ve now got six weeks off work” feeling that I get, which should see me dancing on the ceiling, but which invariably, as I said to one friend, sees me staring at the ceiling blankly for a couple of days instead. My brain is indeed a strange machine.

So anyway, I took a Twitter break intending for it to be for two weeks (as I figured that would be how long it would take me to get my backside into gear and finally finish the first draft of Book 2 of Prophecy of Innocence).

Turns out taking a Twitter break was a brilliant thing to do, if not excruciatingly hard for a hobbity hermit such as myself who has come to rely on it so much for contact with the outside world. Ooops. May need to rectify that. Yes, I missed it. Shocking. (I say it, I mean you all, of course.) However, the break does mean I have now finally finished the first draft of Book 2! Yay!

Near enough four years ago now, I sat down at my little Samsung net-book and typed the first words for Book 1. (No longer the first words, naturally, after a million revisions.) So it’s hard to believe  I have actually completed the second one. And the final leg only took me five writing sessions during my Twitter break to finally finish it off. (I have also had to do holiday stuff with the little one, as well as paint my hallway and lounge you understand. It’s not all been “write, write, write.” Though it just goes to show how much time I must spend on Twitter! A hem…)

However, if it wasn’t for Twitter I’d not have managed to find the editor who has agreed to work on my first manuscript. (Yes, despite my worries in my last post that she wouldn’t want to after reading the sample I sent, she emailed saying “I enjoyed reading the sample, and found the characters and set-up fascinating,” so I was worrying over nothing as usual. I’m trying to tell myself she doesn’t use the same stock phrase to all her clients. Put the cynic back in her box, Joanne.)

As I said, my editor came on recommendation from a Twitter pal who has worked with her. I spoke to her the other day, and I believe this may be the best nearly £600 I’ve ever spent. Yes, folks, an in depth editorial report with annotated manuscript does cost that much, and actually knowing how much goes into it, it’s very reasonable for the work needed. I could have gone for the cheaper less detailed edit, but I am a novice writer. It is important to learn as much as I can and take advice from the professionals, even if as my friend says “Just be prepared for your ego to take a battering.” Anyway, that’s also happening (an edit not my ego battering) and I will have the feedback around about the 12th October. (When the ego battering will take place! Happy Birthday!)

So what will I do until then? Writing wise that is? Well, I need to begin outlining Book 3. Book 3 is going to be the most complex as it will obviously be where everything comes to a climax and the whole story is finally resolved. Although in some ways this should be easy, as I know how the story ends, getting to the story’s end is always very tricky. Book 3 will also be trickier as we fast forward in time to the modern day and there will be new (human children) characters to introduce. Book 3 will in some ways be easier  as it was Book 3 which was actually the original idea for the story. Books 1 and 2 grew backwards from that idea. I guess I could actually have written Book 3 first, with hindsight, but I’m quite a linear writer – I felt the need to go back to the beginning. Anyway, there will be a lot of outlining for Book 3. There was none for Book 1 (hence why 4 years later we’re only just getting to professional edit stage). Book 2 has outlines. (Plural because the outlines have changed about a hundred times, or at least it feels like it!) Of course, I need to go back to Book 2 and begin the re-writes, but I’ll probably sit on that for a few weeks and go back to it with fresh eyes to begin that process.

Also whilst on my Twitter break I wrote a short story which I may or may not go back to. It’s an FP inspired one, but I’m not sure how much I like it. It needs work and I did it mainly just to warm up for getting back into the writing habit, so what I do with it may, in fact, be nothing.

I also recently started a draft of another children’s book I had an idea for a few weeks a go. I may well go back to that and start writing it properly, if I have enough time.

Once the editor comes back to me in October I will also have more re-writes and edits to do on Book 1, which will have a knock on effect on Book 2 and then Book 3. We will have to see how it goes. When I’m happy I will then start submitting properly to agents, if I feel that is a viable option. If not, I will look once more into self publishing, which will be an expensive business if I want to do it properly.

For those of you who think a book can be knocked out in a matter of months, or if there are first time writers out there frustrated that they are not getting anywhere, well the truth is it is a long game, as I said in my last post. It takes years, and in those years there are highs (like now) and lows (like last week when I had all the doubts one could have crowding around my brain).

As a result there is little point to asking “when are you going to be published?” because that is like asking me to answer “when will you die?” I don’t know. I can only hope I have published my book one way or another before I do die. That’s the best I can tell you.

My all means, ask how the book is going, because clearly I’m not about to be quitting on it (despite how I might feel at times)!

No, it seems now, having completed Book 2, I will indeed make it to the *end.

*Whenever the end may be :)

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Filed under Editing, Publishing, Writing

Slog

So where am I on this actual writing journey at the moment?

It’s a question I seem to have neglected on the blog for a while now, but no news is good news, right?

It’s a long slog, this writing a novel business. That’s what most people don’t realise.

Recently I was asked by someone who had been told I was writing a book: “Published yet?” It was his first question, and I did my usual sigh and patiently explained how long the process took. He did the usual, “Look at JK Rowling. Twelve rejections before she was published.”

“I have four,” I replied.

“Then only eight more to go,” he said.

I suppose the fact that I am writing a fantasy novel for 9-12 year old’ will perhaps slap me into JK comparisons, but I am growing a little tired of it now. Why does everyone assume that if you are writing a book you are going to become some sort of millionaire? Yes, she is but only because her books were sold into one of the biggest film franchises ever and she’s probably living off the interest created from merchandise alone. The books themselves probably account for a very small proportion of her wealth.

Truth is there are not many famous, rich authors. I am certainly not going to be one of them. Neither would I wish to be that famous. Everything you say, wear, do scrutinised and ripped apart? No thanks.

Anyway. That’s for another blog post. This one is to update on how we’re doing so far.

Well recently I was lucky enough to come into a small amount of money, which means I can finally use it to get a professional edit done on Book 1.

Once I knew this, I set about (after all the thousands of re-writes I’ve done) chopping the superfluous words and passages out as the word count stood at around 85,000. I’ve managed to get that down to 79,000. This is still a little on the long side for middle grade, but I am now at the point where I need a professional eye on the thing. But I am so nervous about this. I mean more nervous than I’ve been about anything related to this Book so far.

Why? Because I know there are still loads of things wrong, things I don’t know, even with professional advice, I might not be able to fix. They may be things like my voice which make this book not at all commercial and so not publishable (not by traditional publishing standards at any rate.) A professional edit may help this, but it may just be I’m not cut out for writing children’s fiction. I only have this one idea. A publisher wants something/someone with longevity. Publishers in England also seem to want middle class authors, and I don’t fit that bill at all. There are days when after four years of work on this, I feel the dream of having my book published slipping away. I had so many visions for it, but I know so little and I have so little time to spend on it, or spend on courses learning how to write. Or maybe I just don’t have the inclination. Perhaps with so many things in my life, I’m chasing the wrong dream.

Anyway, I have found an editor on the recommendation of a Twitter friend, (he’s now got an agent for his Middle grade book since working with her) and she is looking at the first 5000 words of my manuscript to see if she wants to take me on as a client. I think if she chooses not to, this will be a worse rejection than from a publisher, as it possibly means it is actually beyond all hope and the last four years have been a wasted effort. More nerve racking is that I could invest this small windfall on an edit, for it simply to be beyond hope anyway, and I’m not rich and this is a big investment for me. I’m speculating to accumulate, because I want my work to be the best it could possibly be. I could spend it and still never make that money back, and as I am not one of life’s big risk takers, I feel a little apprehensive about it all.

I guess I may even have to face the facts that I am not a born writer. Many people say writer’s are born with the talent. I tend to agree. I tend to agree that they need to practise and hone the craft, yes, but that essentially they are creative and are born with an inherent capacity to put words into the right order in such a way as to form a solid plot and a cohesive story.

I’m not at all sure I have that.

For some reason though, I keep on slogging onwards and I’m now hoping to write the last 20,000 words or so of Book 2. Once that first draft is complete, maybe I’ll feel better. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll give up writing and teaching and go and live in a cave somewhere.

Sometimes life feels like one long hard slog where nothing comes easy.

But for some reason, despite the set backs and the lack of time to dedicate to this book fully, I keep on keeping at it. Maybe I’m just waiting for the day someone in the business says: “Yeah, look give it up.”

I guess until then I’m going to just keep at it.

Until next time, when hopefully I’ll be in my happ(ier) place, TTFN. :)

PS: I’m on a Twitter break right now, which is, after less than 24 hours, making me feel like a crack addict going cold turkey. Seriously I don’t know why I’m doing it to myself.

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Filed under First post

Ode to Summer (It’s disappeared again)

I just logged onto Facebook and, lo and behold, up popped one of those “You have memories to look back on today” notifications (from the days when I used to actually post stuff on there).

Anyway, co-incidentally I was reading Terry Tyler’s latest blog post on “Roll On October”, highlighting the reasons why she doesn’t get along with summer, (check it out here if you’re a fellow hater of Summer) and which echoes my own sentiments from a ranty blog post I wrote last year entitled “Is Winter coming Yet?”

So I did chuckle when up popped on my Facebook from July 13th 2013 a little ode I wrote. One of my rhymes I started doing around that time, but had forgotten about and isn’t on my rhymes page here.

So for those of you who don’t like the heat…well er…get out of the kitchen? Or enjoy this, my Sonnet to Summer. (Let’s face it today’s rain hasn’t half been welcome. I even went running in it!)

Summer sonnet: Some questions and observations. (Written July 13th 2013, originally posted on Facebook)

Why is it in a heatwave
Faces start smiley and bright?
But after three days of sunshine
Everyone’s ready for a fight?

Why does everyone buy suncream
To slip, slap, slop it on?
But end up looking like lobsters
All cooked and overdone?

Why do some people insist
On parading around in the buff?
Men with their shirts thrown off
Showing their belly fluff?

Women who have forgotten
What body shape they are,
Believing all of a sudden
They have the looks of a film star.

The sight of far too many toes,
The whiff of sweaty feet,
The stench of body odour,
On everyone you meet.

And eating out in the open,
What is that all about?
You know it’s only going to be ruined
When the wasps come swarming out.

And why can flies
Find their way through a tiny crack?
But open a door wide for them
And they can’t find their way out for Jack?

The pressure to go outside
Just because it’s ‘nice’
The pressure to drink a G&T
Complete with ice and a slice.

And if you don’t enjoy
This ridiculous kind of heat,
Why be branded odd, strange or weird
By everyone you meet?

Dedicated to fellow haters of hot weather and semi clad Brits, Terry Tyler and Carol Hedges :) Cheers, ladies!

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Who Ya Gonna Call?

Anyone reading my last post might think I am an uber-feminist. Not so, but I’m not going to be delving into the whys and wherefores of why I’m not on here. Just accept that I’m not. Instead, I think of myself as a human being who happened to be born with breasts and a vagina instead of a penis or the ability to grow facial hair. (Although give it a few years and I’m sure it’ll come once the need for HRT hits.) As a result, I accept gender differences, (YES THEY EXIST) and can see the positive and negative in both.

“Oh no, she isn’t going to start blogging on feminist issues is she?” No. Well, not exactly. Where this one goes will be anyone’s guess and I’m more than likely going to come in for flack for what I write here, but so what? I have an opinion. No one has to agree with it any more than I agree with a reboot of a Ghostbusters movie with an all female lead cast.

Did I just say that? Yes, yes I did – pick your jaw up off the floor while I tell you for why.

Firstly: I am pretty sick and tired now of Hollywood churning out re-make after re-make after re-make of old classics. They are never, EVER as good as the original.  Never. Man of Steel? Batman Mark 10? Spiderman Mark 20? Yawn, yawn yawn. There is very little original out there any more and surprise, surprise it’s all about the amount of dollars to be made at the box office (more so than it ever was it seems), and very little to do with good art. Much like with music and novels. X factor artists and 50 Shades of Grey overshadowing sales of anything half decent. No one these days, least of all film directors, seems willing to take a risk on anything remotely original. So instead, what we have are ‘blockbuster’ franchises of absolute tripe. I don’t need to see Jurassic World to know it will not be a patch on Jurassic Park, I don’t care what sophisticated CGI effects are available now. I want a good story and great actors who can do something with their characters. I was excited to see Jurassic World until I read the reviews. I can’t even talk about The Hobbit series without seeing red. I mean, why even bother to try and top Lord Of The Rings, Jackson? Oh of course MONEY! Silly me. What would possess anyone to make one book, smaller than any volume of The Lord Of The Rings, into a film trilogy amounting to the same screen time as er….an actual trilogy? Oh, yes, silly me. Money. Hang any sort of quality or need for it. Uuurgh.

Then come December we’re going to have Disney hash up Star Wars. I mean it was bad enough the first three had to have three, yes THREE, prequels. Now we’ve got to have a sequel to the sequels. And no doubt we’re going to have to have more than one. We already had the awful Clone Wars cartoon thing. I mean talk about milking something for all it’s worth. Why can’t we just be satisfied that the rebels won and the dark side of the force was defeated. That is how a story should end. Good triumphs over evil. I’m not interested in what has happened to Luke. Star Wars was always about Darth Vader if we’re honest. He’s dead. End of. Let’s all move on.

If my actual trilogy of a children’s novel ever takes off in the book world and a film gets made of it, (hahahaha!) I can just imagine some film director saying “Oooh now we could make a few prequels to this from the back stories.” Because actually you could. But you know, sometimes back stories should be just that. And the happy ever after ending is all we need to hear.

So then yesterday I saw a picture on my Twitter feed of the new Ghostbusters film cast. I didn’t even know there was going to be a re-make of Ghostbusters until I saw this picture and I have to be honest my initial reaction was to roll my eyes.

Because just WHY? Why even bother? Just so they can do it with an all female cast? This for a start in my book is absolutely ludicrous and when I saw the initial picture my first reaction was: “Could we get any more political correctness into one shot?” Of course we have a black woman (sorry woman of colour) and we have a fat (oh sorry plus sized) woman and we have a geeky (sorry academically intelligent) woman and a conventionally good looking slimmer woman (otherwise will men even go to see it? Can’t risk it can we? No, let’s not have all big women in it despite the fact that actually obesity is an epidemic now in the western World, but it’s not PC to acknowledge that is it?) I would put money on one of the characters being a lesbian or at the very least bi-sexual, though why that should matter in the story I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess. All we’re missing is a woman with a disability (but I’m guessing we’re leaving her for the office job of Janine maybe? Unless of course she’s going to be a man? Or is that job obsolete now due to computer technology? Anyway, yes I’m being facetious but really?

Now I know all the feminists out there might shout “and why not have an all female cast? It was an all male lead cast in 1984?” (None of whom were fat, oddly enough maybe given they had to be fairly fit to be chasing ghosts around the whole place.) Well, why not indeed? Okay I have a problem with it simply for the reason why should we? I’d like to think if we were really aiming at equality we’d have a mixed lead cast. Any more than I want kids to assume only men can be Ghostbusters, I don’t see why we should have only women. Recently on Twitter (I really need to get off Twitter) there was a woman calling for publishers to only publish women for a year. WHAT? Seriously. Perhaps male authors have a higher share of the market right now, yes, but it’s not as if female authors don’t get published. How can you aim for equality by then pretending the other gender doesn’t exist? Hmmmmm. Also maybe we should just be looking for the best people to do the job rather than focusing so much on selecting people based on gender or trying to be being seen to be politically correct and not sexist.

Now having read the little material there is on this film, it seems the desire to re-make it is for comedic value. To find comedic actresses who can bring the comedy of the original film to new audiences and showcase female comedic actresses. Hmmmm. I am sceptical about this. No, no, no. Someone wants to make a load of money, because even though people who like the original will probably never like this new one as much, they will go and pay to see it, out of curiosity if nothing else. New audiences will go for other reasons, probably because the best publicity stunt you can pull is to cast the lead roles with an all female cast, but whatever the case, be sure that money is at its beating heart. The idea to cast an all female lead though is to me baffling. I can only assume that the makers may have thought: “if we cast all men again we’ll be in trouble with the feminists.” But in that case, again why not have a mix?  I can see a bunch of boys  being disappointed there aren’t any males in the lead roles. Just as girls maybe felt in 1984, and just as girls need a variety of role models in the media and in characters, so too do boys. In this new feminist age are we starting to forget about our boys? I wonder.

So, if we do need to make a comedy film with an all female lead cast (Calendar Girls has that, not like it’s not been done) why not make a NEW film with an all female lead cast being funny and cool in an original story? What really riles me is that (and we don’t know if the director is aiming for like for like characters to the original male counterparts here), but simply from looking at the picture I can bet the geeky, wild looking one (Kate McKinnon) will be Egon. Obviously. She probably has no romantic liaisons (though if anyone is the lesbian, it’ll be her) because she is so dedicated to science she has no time for the deep and meaningfuls and be socially inept. I’d like to think that Leslie Jones won’t just be the token black woman (I always felt Winston was the token black man in the original) and I’m sure she won’t allow herself to be “just happy for the paycheck.” Of course the thin, pretty one (Kristen Wiig) will be the ‘maniser’ (female version of a womaniser)  Bill Murray character, not only because she’s  funny, but because she’s slim and pretty and has to get the guy, and fat girls or geeky girls (unless they take off their glasses and have a massive makeover never get the guy, right? Ho hum.) However, of course she’ll be a proper, cynical ball breaker who takes no shit from men then falls in love with the dashing Sigourney Weaver counterpart who she saves from the ghosts haunting his apartment. Hmmmmm. Oh and don’t forget the fat one, (Melissa McCarthy) She’ll of course be Dan Ackroyd. Or will she? Maybe she’ll have to be the funniest, you know to allow her ‘bubbly’ personality out. The thing is, having only had a picture, a snapshot to go on, one makes snapshot judgements about the film and its intentions. The four characters have passing physical resemblances to the originals. Why do this? Make them totally different. Again it would have been easier to avoid making comparisons to the original characters if there had been a mixed cast.

Anyway, I hope to goodness I’m wrong and the makers avoid all the above stereotypes like the plague. I hope they are not going to just make a like for like film, because if the new characters are just going to be the old characters with breasts, well what’s the point? All you’re going to do is replace one gender stereotype (“ass kicking Ghostbusters must be male”) with a whole bunch of others. And if the story is the same, well really what’s the point?

Before anyone jumps on my case, I really haven’t got a problem with Ghostbusters being all female simply for being female. They could be, as much as they were all male in the original. I mean why not? It’s bloody fiction and there are no such things as ghosts and ghost hunting proton packs etc etc… anyway, so it’s all academic really. The only reason I don’t feel it fits here is because it is being billed as a reboot of an old classic and I do think it is just a publicity gimmick to have cast only women in the lead roles, rather than a mixed cast. The director says it’s because he’s casting the funniest people he knows, just as the original did, but these all happen to be female. Hmmmmmm. Okay. (anyone who knows me knows my views on (most) female comedians. (I am not cynical, nope, not at all.)

Unlike many people with views on this film, I have no idea who these four actresses are. Maybe they are the funniest four actors on the planet at the moment. Maybe the director, Paul Feig, didn’t even consider gender when thinking of remaking it and did just think “Oooh who’d make a good Egon. (Was that a pig that just flew across the sky outside my window?) I think folk from the USA may be more acquainted with them through Saturday Night Live (from what I’ve been reading) than I, so I’m probably not best qualified to comment at this moment, but hey, I’ve waded in there with both size nines, so what the hell. Bring it on.

Like I say, maybe it won’t be a complete remake. I mean can we have a Stay Puft Marshmallow woman? ;)  Maybe it’ll be the greatest comedy film of 2016, or of ever. Maybe Paul Feig really does have these four women down as the funniest on the planet and he thought they’d make good Ghostbusters (though again, write and direct another film for them, stop re-hashing). Have I made that point enough yet? I don’t know. It just seems all a bit…contrived to my mind, and, much like with Jurassic World or Disney’s Star Wars, I honestly can’t see any real point to making it. People are always bound to make comparisons and probably not favourable ones. So Hollywood, stop with gimmicks and start investing in some original work. I’m bored of seeing the same old, same old.

 

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