A faint singing, half heard

1 11 2015

It wasn’t clear. High pitched, likely children. Girls perhaps? More than one, maybe three. Voices raised hesitantly. Learning a new song, practising?

He walked towards the noise, hoping for clarity but he knew clarity in this tiny mystery would bring no peace, no resolution. 

It was children. He could see them through the bay window, through the gap in the curtains struggling to keep out the darkness, to hold in the warmth of family. He would twitch them if his hand could but pass through the glass. Twitch them  as if a secret watcher standing guard on a lonely residential street. But he was the interloper here and onwards he must go

The piano they’d been standing about in their innocence had triggered a memory. A conversation so long ago. Where she’d gone as a child to find peace. 

Perhaps, just perhaps? 

He turned his face from the warmth and let the cold moonlight caress him. It was as he deserved. 

He searched the rooftop silhouette for God and set his course to his house.  

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The socks! Why the socks?

30 10 2015

the black wool-mix of the base colour was nearly obscured by the colours. Vibrant discs of orange, yellow and red marched around each ankle in regimented bands which presumably paraded from toe to hidden calf. 

The rest was business. Blue trousers – not salesman shiny. White shirt – crisp, cuffed, woven. Tie- half Windsor knotted, blue, slight pattern. Watch – gold but understated. 

But the socks…

Characterisation is about giving your people reality, clear places in their world where they live. They may live uncomfortable lives but they. Do. Live. 

Socks tell us nothing. Should they? 

I’ve been guilty myself on putting a comedy tie on a man to make the reader associate him (falsely in that case) with the office joker, possibly sad and lonely on the inside and overcompensating but that would not be unexpected. 
But what about socks?

What do you think when you see a businessman in non-“standard” socks? Do we have any common cultural references to build on? 

Run out of clean socks? Does he live alone, work away?

Christmas present? Living family? Children? Mad aunt? Work secret Santa?

But why put them on if given a choice? What do you want the world to know, to see, to guess?

I’m open to ideas on this one. Comments welcome
Comedy socks – why?





misogynistic? Sexist? Woman hating?

28 10 2015

Musing on the daily sexism which lies beneath the veneer of men. Building a character who is sexist and blatant about it is different from a character who is your normal bloke who thinks he isn’t sexist but …

I’ve taken to breaking down my interactions with women, my “touch points” to use some marketing speak I picked up in a recent session about promoting a novel. I’ve also taken to focusing my normal author habit of people watching on exactly that. 

As an intriging intro to the subject here are a few of the institutionalised thoughts and actions I have had or seen

– family group in public. Kids playing up. Look to the mum first to control them. 

– bad driving. Think “woman driver”. Too many old jokes told to think anything else?

– nice house. What does her husband do?

– pretty young woman. Use the word “pretty” rather than just “young woman”. Always with sex in mind?

– passing by a kids football team playing in the park, parents shouting encouragement. Why does he have long hair?

– you throw like a girl

– any offer of a lift must include thoughts of sex

– any woman must include thoughts of sex

– slag v stud

When it comes down to it, how many relationships start with the mutual attraction of the mind. Some, of course. Most, not. Men and women are different by definition but is one better than the other?

Our minds and attitudes are shaped by our upbringing and sometimes there are some of those unconscious attitudes which are so ingrained that all you can do is look to control them, bite them back in disgust, hide them behind your new man veneer, the mask we wear. 

Sometimes they escape. How do they manifest, which bit of the mask slips?





Idioms! Huh! What are they good for?

23 10 2015

sorry about the title. Got an 80s song in my head. 

Idioms. Common sayings we pepper our conversations with without even thinking about. Some are similes, some metaphors, some confused (or not) with slang and some just damned odd created in a mad moment in the history of cultural references. 

I knew a teacher some while ago who was frequently saying “that’s the badger!” Rather than that’s the one. 

However, to the point. A quick blog as I pull into the station to share my favourite saying I was reminded by when a lady came out of the tilting toilet cubicle saying there was no paper left. I saw the same thing in a bar many years ago when the lady just said back to her complaining friend, ” yeah, mine neither. I just had to shake the lettuce” 

Need I say more?





The Empty Cellar

21 10 2015

My ideas are generated in the cellar. Each room a generator of a different idea, a different view. A story viewed from one room can look completely different if I take a look from the creative sitting locked in the cellar cell next door. A stalled story arc can be resurrected or rechanneled by seeing the whole at 90•. 
Travelling has left my cellar rooms empty. Clean sheets, fresh clothes, pleasantly scented. But empty. Now is the time to think about the minds, the creatives I want to put in each one. Do I want a boho free spirit, a constrained and uptight bookworm, a journo with tight style and logical bent? Or go for random. Try a few and keep what I like the feel of and to the furnace with the dross? Time will tell what minds will work on the next Penny B mystery but she will return from the cellar (of my mind?)
Image care of Stuart miles and free digital images. Net





A writer returns 

21 10 2015

Having been off travelling for a year to recharge the creative I have returned ready to create the next instalment in the worlds of chick-lit-dicks Mrs Vintnor and Penny B. Detectives start detecting





A Jobbing Writer

11 08 2014

“You’re so lucky you don’t have a real job!”

“You just swan around all day”

“What do you know about work/life balance?”

The questions a professional writer faces every day from the public who don’t get what writing really is. As a fiction writer you could argue that there are clear deadlines, pressures to complete, pressure to compete as well. But why bother? I often do swan about. I do often put life above work. I don’t have a real job!

I don’t have a real job. I have a passion. I swan around and think and observe and create. One man’s swan is another’s royal meal.

Life is work, work is life. A truism of anyone who has to understand life to be able to work effectively.

There was a time when I was a salaryman but I was lucky enough to find a way out of the trap. Now I don’t have to work but I want to!

…. and I probably put in more hours than most 9-5 office workers!