Friday 29 June 2012

#RomanticFridayWriters - Challenge No 39 - STUCK IN THE MIDDLE!

Ah, the joys of technology. This is pre-scheduled to publish when I'm in the air, a couple of hours from Fiji. No way I could miss my RomanticFridayWriters post. I had great comments on my Geffron and Marsilia story last challenge for the Perfect Ex prompt, so I continued the saga to suit this week's prompt but I don't exactly adhere to the specific guidelines, sorry Donna. Some readers said they loved the names Geffron and Marsilia - Geffron is an early English name and Marsilia is a traditional early Italian name and today's new name, Luigina, means 'famous warrior' in Italian and that's how I see her.

You're most welcome to check out the challenge at RomanticFridayWriters website and you may have time to pen a story for us this weekend (Linky closes on Sunday) or in two-week's time for the special prompt, Greener Pastures.

So, my On the Streets of London story continues with the addition of one character...

Crowded House

‘I’m back! Miss me?’

Geffron heard the call he’d been waiting for. He listened to the familiar clop as her bags hit the floor.

‘Geffron? Are you home, honey?’ He caught the uncertainty in her voice and smiled. Underneath all that blather she was a vulnerable child. Oh, he’d missed her!

She’d be pacing the hall, checking out his hated Escher prints. He’d not been game enough to hang them until she'd left, taking her graffiti-inspired abstracts with her.

He heard the clump of leather boots on the polished floor. She’d be angry that he’d ripped up the ugly purple carpet. Plop! She’d sunk into his new yellow leather chesterfield – he’d tossed out her ridiculous hippie-esque orange bean bags. She’d be looking around, waiting for him to come running, faithful puppy that he was.

‘Geffron! Where are you?’

‘Marsilia? What a surprise!’ He tugged the belt on his smoking jacket and closed the bedroom door.

 ‘Geffron! Why are you dressed like that at 5 o’clock in the afternoon?  Are you ill?’ He loved her delicious concerned frown.

‘Things have changed around here Marsilia. Since you’ve been gone –‘

‘New floor, new carpet, new lounge. What else is new?’

‘I am.’

Marsilia looked like she was going to vomit. How satisfying that the sight of another woman distressed her so.

‘Who’s this?’ He cringed a little from her furious purple eyes.

‘Luigina. I met her after you walked out on me.’

‘She is me, Toad.’

Luigina strolled to Marsilia’s side. ‘Ah, so you are Marsilia.’ Her eyes raked Marsilia from her curly red mane to her green thigh-high boots. ‘Geffron, now I see why you confused me for Marsilia.’

Geffron reclined on the chesterfield, admiring the picture his two girls made. Same height, same fabulous hair, same Mediterranean skin. He was one lucky hipster.

Marsilia raised her green boot and kicked him, hard.

‘Ow! What was that for?’

‘I’m not going to be stuck in the middle here. What was I thinking? I didn’t miss you at all.’

‘You can’t leave me again, Marsilia! I need you!’

Luigina raised her pink Dr Martens boot.

‘Don’t you need me?’ Her boot caught his shin bone. Oh, the pain!

‘Oh God! Of course, Luigina. I need…I love…both of you.’

‘Geffron, baby, you love yourself. You don’t need anyone else. Ta rah.’

‘Wait up, Marsilia!’ She clattered down the stairs.


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Monday 25 June 2012

Reading, 'Riting and tRavelling in Fiji, lucky me!

‘I love to go a’wandering along the mountain track
And as I go, I love to sing, my knapsack on my back.’ 

…so the song (Happy Wanderer, Scout Songs) goes. And so do I. It’s time for me to go a'wandering again – this time to Fiji.

I haven’t been to Fiji before, have you?  My wanderings usually take me far, far away into the Northern Hemisphere. I've been saving the Pacific Islands and Asia for when I can no longer stand 20 hours on a plane! 

But for this trip I decided to explore closer to home, one reason being I wanted to meet someone who lives there – someone who invited me to check out the Fiji islands some time ago. This time the planets aligned, and I emailed that special someone who said – yes, yes, yes, come on over, but you’re not just staying a week (as I’d planned) you have to stay 6 weeks as we’re going away and we need a house sitter! 

This caused some consternation as you can imagine – man, who wants to stay in a tropical paradise in a beautiful home with 330-ish islands in close proximity for 6 whole weeks? What will we do to fill the days? Huh? Oh, that’s right, great idea! So my mid-year jaunt turns out to be a surprise to me at least – all of July and half of August in Nadi, Fiji.

And who would be this mysterious someone who set this mid-winter tropical tryst in motion, you ask? I know, you want in on the action too! You want to peek into my address book! Well, this mysterious someone you probably know, that most generous blogger in the bloggerverse, Nas Dean.  Not only does she tirelessly promote romance writers on her RomanceBookParadise blog and collaboratively review romance titles on her Romance Reader blog, she tirelessly gives of her home and her resources to introduce writers to her hometown, Nadi, Fiji.
So, dear jealous followers, I leave for Nas’ on June 29th (gulp, that's this coming Friday, friends, better get cracking!) and return to my sub-tropical Queensland paradise on August 19th. Fiji – ah, a pretty good ‘summer place’ to spend winter and winter is being a bit nasty here on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland ATM - bleak, Scotland-type winter days with oppressive clouds. 
Nas assures me her home is wi-fi’ed to the max so there should be no break in my blogging and hosting of RomanticFridayWriters schedule. If you'd like to write flash fiction/poetry for RFW check out the 2 upcoming challenges in my right sidebar or go here to the RFW site. My RFWer stories will take on a romantic paradise setting I’m sure. I imagine grass skirts (and that’s just on the men!), palm trees dipping into the pristine blue waters and glorious sunsets over the Pacific – except for grass-skirted men, much the same as home, but with an exotic flavor.

My plans always go awry, but at this stage I hope to catch up on my Kindle reading list, do lots of writing and lots of island hopping, not necessarily in that order! I'll miss my Writing Group. We're collaborating on a high fantasy novel, but have our own Facebook page so I should be able to continue to add my bits and pieces.

I hope you’ll enjoy my little photo essays during my time in the wonderful Fijian islands.

Thanks Nas, blogger extraordinaire!

Found this recent photo of Nas and her daughter on the
Romance Reader blog.

And I’ll fill my incoming suitcase with books for your libraries and schools and do my bit for the retail economy on the return journey.

Until I have my own fab photos to post, I'm using one from google images which is supposed to be copyright free, fingers crossed. 

  • So do you know Nas? Have you been to Fiji or any of the Pacific Islands?

Tuesday 19 June 2012

More favourite websites for writers - Online Writing Advice

Hello there!My first post on 10 Favourite Websites for Writers was well received and some of you asked for more. This time I'll give you some favourite Writing Advice websites. Some of these were found at Writer's Digest and have undergone rigorous road testing by moi.
  1. The Writers Knowledge Base: This is a relatively-recent site run by author Elizabeth S. Craig and Mike Fleming as the brilliant technorati. It calls itself: 'The best writer's resource' and I think this is pretty spot on. Many of you have the badge on your blog. It's often my first stop when I want to get tips for writing a Pitch, a Synopsis or Character building. Great for the technicalities of novel writing.
  2. Grammar Girl: I don't got many problems with gramma being an English teacher  like, who has had grammarh drummed into her all her life like, but gee, it is a growing problem for many as grammar is not taught well in most of our schools and many teachers lack the fun-de-mentals. So if you're on struggle street in dis area, check out Grammar Girl, especially before ya hit Publish on your latest e-book like.
  3. This is writer Debbi Ridkpath Ohi. She provides tips and tools for writers. You'll find her all over the social media sites. Check out her popular Twitter feed.
  4. Nathan Bransford: I'm sure you know/follow Nathan, but just in case you don't, you'll find heaps of practical information on the writing gig here. Nathan is both a published writer and a former literary agent.
  5. A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: I like writer J.A. Konrath's blog as he gives his personal experience of his experimentation with both traditional and self-publishing. He's a bit of a ground breaker.
  6. Novel Rocket: A fantastic collection of interviews and advic from published authors and literary agents. 
  7. Story Fix: Larry Brooks is both an author and writing instructor. He has no-nonsense advice on what makes publication-worthy writing. I've found expert advice on story structure, character development and related topics.
  8. Writer Unboxed: Top-notch contributors offer valuable business and craft advice for all writers.
  9. Writing Forward: Here you'll find helpful writing tips and ideas.
  10. Preditors & Editors: This site offers great advice on who or what predators to look out for when you're seeking publication.
  • I hope you find all/some of these sites helpful. Do you have any great sites that offer writing advice to share with us?

Friday 15 June 2012

#RomanticFridayWriters - Challenge No 38- Being the Perfect Ex.

Here's my RomanticFridayWriters post for Friday June 15. Try your hand at a little flash fiction/poetry! It's mucho fun! Our challenge this week is to write to the prompt, Being the Perfect Ex. You can imagine what fun we're going to see in the stories/poetry from members and casual writers. You're most welcome to write to the prompt. Check out the RFW site by clicking on the link above, where you'll find stimulus for the challenge (as if you need any!)

On the Streets of London

Geffron checks his text messages. Nothing. She must have been serious about leaving.

He looks up. A movement down the street catches his attention – a billowing green cloak, a black scarf, red boots. Only Marsilia would dress so outrageously. Wasn’t he always telling her to tone it down? He hesitates, squints into the weak sun, shakes his head. ‘It can’t be! She said she’d never come back to London, calling it a damp hole.’ He stands still, smoothing his hair, stroking his beard, arguing with himself. But she’s changed her mind! That’s a woman for you. Oh, but he's so glad she did.

He begins running, nearly tripping over his Ralph Lauren black trench coat, calling out ‘Marsilia! You’ve come back! Marsilia!’

He runs as fast as his slippery Paul Smith Derby shoes permit, pushing people aside, ignoring angry snarls.

 ‘Marsilia! Wait for me!’

 He grabs her arm just before she obeys the ‘WALK’ sign. When did Marsilia ever obey a sign? To her they were just a suggestion. Something to do with her Italian roots he supposed, while he’d been conditioned to wait all day. He could never ignore a ‘DON’T WALK’ sign. How many times had he argued with her about stepping into the traffic? He’d get so angry he wouldn’t talk to her for days, especially after the latest near miss which resulted in a jaywalking offense on both their records. That really stung.

But he’s made up his mind that he’ll let Marsilia do whatever she wants from now on if she’ll just take him back. What’s a few traffic offenses when all’s said and done? Since she left him he’d gone back to his strict regime of sleep, eat, work and no play. He's bored. He can’t go back to his old life. He's realizing how much he needs Marsilia to put the spice into his life, the zing into his step.

‘Whaddya think you’re doing, hipster freak?’

Startled, he tugs her arm, appalled at the menace in her voice.

‘Let go of me or I’ll call the cops.'

She slaps at him with her free arm. Her cape falls away to the elbow. A ghoulish tattoo screams at him. What? He looks up to meet her icy eyes. His fingers uncurl. He glances from side to side. The Londoners have ignored the little altercation. Too wrapped up in their own boring lives.

‘You’re not Marsilia,’ he says stupidly. ‘Marsilia’s left me.’

‘No wonder buster. Beat it.’


WORDS: 413

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Wednesday 13 June 2012

Are your story ideas a bolt from the blue? Some famous bolts from the blue from some literary giants...Tolkien et al...

Hi all!

Many authors say when they rock up for an author talk, then open up for questions, they always get the one - 'Where do you get your story ideas from?' Well, there are as many answers to that as there are ideas. For me, I have ideas all the time, it's reeling one in and seeing it through to its conclusion that's the problem! So my interest was piqued when I came across this book by Celia Johnson:  Dancing With Mrs Dalloway: Stories of the Inspiration Behind Great Works of Literature.

I'll share a few to inspire you:

  1. The Hobbit: J.R.R. Tolkien was grading college exam papers and came across a gloriously blank sheet. Tolkien wrote down the first thing that randomly popped into his mind: 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.' He had no idea what a hobbit was or why it lived underground, and so he set out to solve the mystery.
  2. Treasure Island: Robert Louis Stevenson painted a map to pass the time during a dreary vacation in the Scottish Highlands. When he stepped back to admire his handiwork, a cast of imaginary pirates appeared. Stevenson recalled: 'They passed to and fro, fighting and hunting treasure, on these few square inches of a flat projection.' He promptly traded his paintbrush for a quill and began to write.
  3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: On an otherwise ordinary day, C.S. Lewis was seized by a peculiar daydream. A frazzled creature, half-man and half-goat, hurried through snowy woods carrying an umbrella and a bundle of parcels. Lewis had no idea where the faun was heading, but the image was still with him when, at age 40, he finally put pen to paper to find out.
  4. Rip Van Winkle: Washington Irving was suffering writer's block. His brother in law, Henry Van Wart, was cheering him up by reminiscing about childhood adventures in the Hudson Highlands. In the middle of the conversation, Irving dashed out of the room. The next morning, he emerged with a new story inspired by the talk.
  5. One Hundred Years of Solitude: Gabriel Garcia Marquez was driving his family to Acapulco for a vacation. As he gripped the steering wheel, the opening line to a novel popped into his head. He threw his foot on the brake, turned the car around, and cut the trip short to work on the rest of the story.
There are other great stories of how some great works of literature were created - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz came when the author L Frank Baum was telling his sons a story and got swept away to a land unlike any his imagination had ever conjured. Around the World in Eighty Days came from Jules Verne seeing an advertisement in a Paris newspaper for a chance to travel the world in 80 days. Animal Farm was the result when George Orwell was a young boy and was steering a massive cart horse along a narrow path and wondered - what if animals realized their own strength? Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy had a vision of an elbow, which expanded into a melancholy woman in a ball gown. She haunted him until he wrote the story.

Inspired? Looks like taking a vacation is a good idea, coupled with a little dreaming and 'what ifs'?...

  • Where do you get your ideas from? Please share with us...Do the planets have to be aligned or do you just go for it? 

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group. Continuing my previous post on 'Be Your Own Structural Editor'.

Hello there!

Following last month's post, I promised to continue this topic. As many authors are publishing e-books, some good, some bad, some riddled with spelling, grammar and structural mistakes, I thought it was timely as self-pubbed authors don't have access to all the editorial help available to those who are lucky/unlucky (depending on your experience) enough to go the traditional route.

My first post talked about writing the first draft, putting it away for a week, month, whatever, then getting it out again and seeing what is to be done. According to the structural editor I conferred with recently at Queensland Writers Centre, the first stage of the editing process is structural, i.e. seeing how the larger elements of your work fit together.

A good idea is to start with a chapter breakdown (you may have done one in the planning stage, but quite likely it has changed during the first draft) before you begin your structural analysis. This provides a skeleton structure of your ms and is useful for analysing plot lines and characters' story arcs. Maybe you'll find a key plotline fades out before it should, or a character you meant to be key throughout the novel vanishes altogether in an early chapter.

Structural analysis is hard work. It's best to break it down through a series of questions for - CHARACTERISATION, NARRATIVE VOICE/POV, PLOT, STRUCTURE.

This post will look at CHARACTERISATION. I'll look at the others in future posts if this post appears helpful.

CHARACTERISATION - questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your story have a clear main character with a developed story arc?
  • Do you know what the secondary characters are contributing to the story? What is their function?
  • Do your characters DO things, or are they passive?
  • Do you know why your significant characters act the way they do (their motivation)?
  • Are there too many characters? Could you merge minor characters that fulfil the same function, or remove characters without a clear role?
  • Is there a balance of narrative text and dialogue, i.e., are you letting your characters speak?
(These dot point courtesy of Nicola O'Shea, freelance editor for a wide range of Australian publishers/authors. Go to for more...)

Further points:

At a recent Toolkit for Writers workshop it was stated that your antagonist wants to be the protagonist. Is your antagonist strong enough to have his/her desire met?

I read a related article at KM Weiland's Helping Writers Become Authors, where she states your mc needs not one, but at least two conflicts. Another thing to think about when you're being your own editor.

  • I hope this was a helpful post for IWSG. The purpose of Alex J Cavanaugh's group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Go here for more participants...

A word before I go. RomanticFridayWriters' next challenge is Being the Perfect Ex. 400 words of prose or poetry. Open to all writers. You can learn more here...

Friday 1 June 2012

#RomanticFridayWriters - Challenge No 37- My Monologue, Yes, no, oh alright then!

RomanticFridayWriters is a fortnightly blogfest of flash fiction under 400 words, whether prose or poetry. It has some romantic element, but not necessarily a HEA. It's a way to experiment with different styles of writing, different genres, different voices. Feedback is given which will help you expand your ideas if you wish to polish your entry for publication. Full critique is available if you request it. Add your name to the linky here if you want to experiment with us...Further suggestions are on our Challenges Page.

Occasionally I experiment with monologue. My Writing Class today was on 'person', so here is a combination of first and the devilishly-tricky second...

You can approach this prompt any way you choose. The overall theme is of course indecision. I've interspersed the words of the prompt throughout. They're in a different colour and large type...

Yes, well it’s nearly winter, so I’m in a bad mood, how about you? Okay, I know winter can be a cosy time of year. After all, what could be better than snuggling up with a lover in a warm bed? Not much, that is, if you had a lover. And that’s the problem you see. I have no lover, no one to warm my bed. Well, that’s not strictly true. I have Pusska, my Russian Blue Siamese who loves me well. Well, he’s not exactly human but oh he makes a good leg warmer. He gets right in under the covers and lies on my poor cold feet. Alright then, that’s not all he does. He also sits beside me as I look out the window, searching for my lost lover who obviously isn’t coming back. Aren't I the fool then? I shiver and dream of my soft bed but I pull my shawl closer and worry the bright beads around my neck while I peer into the night. I’m rather an obsessive type who doesn’t like to let go as you've already figured out. But I should, shouldn't I? I murmur endearments to Pusska that I used to whisper to Vallen when he was in a mind to be loved. Pusska loved him too and I can tell he misses the way Vallen used to toss him off the recliner chair before the fire. Pusska had a habit of sneaking onto the master’s chair until Vallen got home but I notice poor kitty just sits beside it now and looks up suspiciously, as if he thinks Vallen might come back if his chair's not taken. I used to make do with the radiant heat, or whatever was left over after Vallen and Pusska warmed up. I was happy with whatever I could get, pitiful me. But I want that old life back don't I? I’m desperate. I’m lonely. I’m sick of just daydreaming about Vallen. Sure, he could be cruel but that’s all I’ve ever known in my lifetime. I’ve read in books how heroes are chivalrous, kind, thoughtful, well, that’s a laugh isn't it? My heroes have all been in the Vallen mode – nasty and brutish. But just when you think you can take no more, these brutes do something beautiful, move your chair closer to the fire, bring home some trinket you’ve lusted after, bring you a cat to keep you warm when they’re planning on doing a runner, leaving you all alone to face winter...

Yes, well, it's officially the first day of Winter in Australia today. Autumn and Winter are my two favourite seasons over here. Just right. Glorious sunshine, not too hot. It's nice to get those boots out for a couple of wearings before it's too hot again. And brush up that winter coat for going out at night. Sadly, I have no fire to recline before, but yes, we do have fireplaces in Australia in some cold places, just not very common in Queensland which is semi-tropical.

  • So I was inspired by the season and my writing class today. What do you think? Did you think Vallen was another cat? Yes, I thought so too when I was writing it, but no, I decided to make him an ugly human instead, lol!


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