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.  





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?





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!





Who doesn’t love a good villain?

5 08 2014

This isn’t a throwaway title. Carefully weighted and judged.

Villains come in many shapes and sizes. I have written before about “black hats” and “pencil moustaches” in the traditional baddie but the thing about most cads and rotters you read about or see in films and on TV is that they have a redeeming feature. Something to hook in the audience.

Is it a tale of an abused childhood to elicit some sympathy and possible empathy?
Is it a love of stroking long haired cats? How can a cat lover be all bad?
Does he love his old mum?
Carry a terrible secret?
Walk with a limp? (A limp what?)

Most villains are written with something good on the side. Something that either gives the reader or the hero some pause to consider the person behind the balaclava mask, the motives for evil.

However, sometimes you find someone without that redeeming feature. You find a villain written as a villain, pure evil, self-centred, careless with the precious world and all else in it. What does the reader do then?

Typically, they will look to empathise, look for something to help understand this bad guy. And if they cannot find it they start making excuses,
…perhaps he???
…surely he must have???
… he’ll be redeemed in the end – just wait and see.

penguin

As a writer I try to give my villains something for the audience to hook in to. Not necessarily something big or obvious since no-one likes being led by the nose! Sometimes however, sometimes, the villain fights back. Sometimes the little bit of good you give them turns out to be a con operated on you as the writer.

Sometimes a bad guy is just that. Bad!





Ebbs and flows in writing output

28 07 2014

You’ll have noticed the clever name of my blog site. “Writer’s Blog”. It’s a pun you see, a play on words. Writer’s Blog = Writer’s Block. (I know you know this but in case one or two people missed it thought I would spell it out – it’s not a great pun, not a classic)

It’s funny though. (not the pun, obviously!). It’s funny that since I started blogging last year I have mentioned writer’s block only once. In passing. In a blog about something else.

Why?

I do believe in it. Can’t deny it. Sometimes a story just doesn’t want to come, a character seems to suddenly not have the capability, the capacity, to escape from the situation they have got themselves into. How do they get out of the locked cellar, get away from the man with the big chopper and black balaclava? They don’t have the skills and suddenly giving them a Houdini backstory without at least a couple of signposts earlier on will stretch reader credibility. More importantly, it will stretch the picture you carry in your head of your hero/heroine.

They have to be real.

But that’s for another blog. For now I give you my solution to writer’s block. It’s not advice, self help, guidance counselling. It’s just what I do.

I open my mouth and speak aloud and tell, just TELL, my subconscious to get on with it and find a solution. I tell it three times. Think about it hard for a minute or two to reinforce the need.
Then
Forget
All
About
It

And so a write something else, read a paper, cut the grass. Anything!

If it is only a minor problem I might carry on with other aspects of the story but if it’s a biggie I’ll just let my mind get on with it and eventually I will stop chewing mid-muffin and know the solution.

I suppose this isn’t pure writer’s block when nothing will come out but that has only happened once and that REALLY is “a HH Coventry revelation” for another day.





To cleat or not to cleat

30 06 2014

fallen rider in cleats

fallen rider in cleats

cleatsA diversion in my blogging to consider cycle cleats. I am a cyclist. For pleasure, exercise, to get away from the blank page staring at me. I like the freedom of the open road, the danger of the ever-menacing tosser-late-for-a-meeting and the feel of the blood pumping.

Then a hill appears, or a long gradual incline. It’s fine. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wimp out immediately, switch to granny ring (low low gear) and dawdle along like a toddler learning to walk. I still go for it, push on and up. But I’ve been told there’s a better way.

I don’t have a racing bike. Well, I do, but the shifters are on the frame rather than the handlebars and it is a tad awkward so I use a mountain bike. I have knobbles for the mud and wheels with hybrids for the low rolling resistance on road. I don’t, however, have cleats.

I’ve always used flat pedals. Never bothered looking at other things. Upgraded everything else but pedals are just for sitting your feet on.

I’ve bought cleats. I’ve bought shoes with clicking soles but not for the stage. They’re in the post, winging their merry way to me. I’m eager and nervous. It’s like a first date. Will it be a massive disappointment or the start of something big?

Watch this space and I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.





Not so floppy!

22 06 2014

not so floppy!

not so floppy!

I was on one of my clear-outs of the Drawer of Ideas yesterday evening and found some history. Ancient history to anyone under 20. Floppy discs. Not the big 7.5 inch ones but the little hard plastic rectangles with the metal slider protecting the circle of black floppiness. Old news.

Well actually not! Old stories yes but not old news. Old ideas – but when I rooted through them (having found a converter from Lotus Notes to a more usable word processor) I was surprised to see elements of a number of my current books sitting hidden in stories I wrote 10 or even 20 years ago. These were my backups from the birth of the computer age where a book had to be split into sections, chapters even, and saved across multiple discs. And then saved on multiple more, stored in a different room or sent to relatives for storage against the inevitable fire.

However, fire wasn’t the biggest risk. There was a more dangerous enemy to the floppy disc lurking in every house, hidden in plain view and ready to pounce and delete the data of the unwary. I speak of the evil magnet. Created by Gallileo from Satan’s foreskin and scattered across the world with two aims. First, to stop boats interrupting beach picnics by crashing into land unexpectedly. Second, and more importantly, to delete your data.

Carelessly leaving your floppies on a stereo speaker or too near a telephone and you would return to find nothing, nada, zip. Magnets were the bane of existence. But if you wanted to listen to Wham whilst tapping away at your BBCB or Amstrad then magnets were another necessity of life.

I’m not so floppy now. On line cloud storage in both Dropbox and Google Drive. Double bubble, double safe. And free (for now).





Return of the chick-lit-dick

3 06 2014

Penny B is returning. Heroine of multiple tales, my favourite female detective is on her way back. Last edits complete, h/b cover nearly finalised, launch party arrangements underway (so I’ve been told anyway – why am I last to know details?).

Nerves?

Possibly. Why lose them? They keep you on your toes. Can’t go getting complacent. The world is a changing place. Genre popularity wanes, fashions move on.

Time for something new perhaps?

Watch this space…