Notes From A Lockdown Author

We have been in lockdown for nine days already and people are becoming restless. As a writer, I have relished the opportunity to have some time for reflection, keeping fit and generally catching up on reading, TV series and healthy eating. It is beyond me how I have managed to avoid snacking and increased the amount of fruit and veg that I have eaten. There is, of course, one thing that I haven’t managed to get round to doing… and that is writing. I haven’t written a single thing, despite spending most of my time wishing for a chance to write and indulge my imagination.

Remembering my Swiss holiday is therapeutic and inspiring.

I now feel relaxed and used to my new situation as somebody who works from home and today is the first day that I am attempting to get back my writing Mojo. After today, I hope to continue reinvigorating my blog and engaging with readers and writers out there who must also be in the same predicament. From this day onwards, I am going to write a minimum of three hundred words a day. It doesn’t matter if that is simply blogging, being anecdotal on Twitter or creating new stories. Hopefully I can exceed this target and start to build on my writing, working towards a variety of projects.

So please, engage with me, share ideas with me and by all means invite me to co-write with you. I want to explore different genres, scriptwriting and children’s fiction. Today I am going to begin by returning to a kids’ book that I first conceived last summer and one which has been sitting in my documents ever since. It is Christmas based which will definitely make me cheery as I absolutely love Winter, snow and all things festive.

Let me know what you are up to. I look forward to seeing how the writing community thrive during this period of challenge.

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers

As a big fan of both the book, ‘Big Little Lies’ and the HBO series, I thought it would be great to sample another book by Liane Moriarty. I started to read it and was soon drawn into this novel which centres around nine characters who venture out to a Health Spa in a remote Australian venue.

Liane is very capable of writing characters that are full of life and have incredible back stories that are not only relatable, but also fascinating. I love the fact that each chapter comes from a different character. In the third person, each character bounces back and forth with their takes on events that unfold.

The story is interesting as it really makes you think about mental health and the desire to make your mind and body better. Each person has a reason for needing some nourishment and mindfulness. Some are tormented while others are merely after time away from the mill.

I enjoyed the setup of the storyline and loved the modern references and context. It made me think about how much faith one can put into therapists and how we trust certain people purely because of their job titles. The situation seems intriguing early on as the visitors are banned from using phones and forced to remain silent for a few days. THEN things start to get weird.

Her way of outlining a tale is magical with a real prowess over the English language. This book will draw you in and I hope that you will pick up a copy and join in the discussion about the scenarios that unwind. This book deserves five stars and I cannot wait until Nicole Kidman turns it into a series or film.

Writing For Readers

After a winter of dreary weather it seems right to get back to reading and blogging. Currently I am reading five books at once and I love transitioning between each one. Some fiction to feed my imagination and some biographies to warm my heart a bit during this wet and windy season. Still I long for the snowy days when I could look out of my window and adore the beauty of a real wintry scene, whilst sipping tea and writing happily.

This week I decided to write 5 tips that I would give to any new or developing writers based on my experience as both a reader and writer, years of teaching English and an appreciation of the art of forming prose which might resonate.

If nothing else, it is always good to share ideas and this may help someone who is currently stuck in a writer’s block cave.

1) Threads.

I regularly read threads on twitter and it made me aware of how important it is to needle particular elements of a story into a text as if you were knitting a jumper. Whereas, on twitter you tick the part of the thread you want to read next, in a story they can be scattered around and not always easy to predict. The important thing is that they keep emerging, slice by slice, one spoonful at a time.

By this (thread) I mean perhaps a smaller element of the character’s life or perhaps even a hobby that they mention. In my latest story one of them loves cricket and I kept dispersing nuggets linked to cricket throughout the story to ensure they stayed true to their passions. If you describe a character early on with lots of traits and then fail to recognise or illuminate these traits later on, you are missing some of the needlework needed to stick a story together properly.

A story on twitter made of a series of tweets that run in sequence, would be a mess if one tweet within the thread were deleted. Similarly, if a thread is begun within a novel, it is awfully sad to not see it continued later on. You begin to wonder why the author mentioned it to start with. Too many unanswered questions may leave a reader off-put.

I am editing my current book with a view to trying not to miss any opportunities to connect the dots and ensure that all of the threads are maintained, appropriate to the storyline, useful in some way, and make sense. It is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

Later in the week I will be presenting you with Tip Number Two. I hope this was of some help.

Snowy winters

After days of feeling ill

Must have caught a winter chill,

Suddenly I start to think,

Are we really on the brink?

Of winters where we see no snow?

I really hope not. But if so…

Then I will miss the snowball fights,

The glistening plants when I turn on the lights

The wonderful feeling of wrapping up warm,

A snowy old winter was always the norm,

But now we are stuck with an endless parade,

Of rain and wind and clouds throwing shade.

Bring back the winters like when I was a kid,

When I’d run around squelching, and doing a skid,

When my mum made hot chocolate and marshmallow bits,

Without snowy winters, it’s really the pits.

Too much POSITIVE?

Positive vibes,

Positive thinking,

Spread a little love,

Stop that overthinking.

Take a rain check,

Gives us a break,

Leave it alone, mate,

Why is some news fake?

Take a chill pill,

Give it a rest,

Chill out dude,

Live your life the BEST.

Take some down time,

Unplug, phones off, unhook,

Meditate, have a nap,

Go and read a book.

Now wake refreshed,

Put your best foot forward,

Get to work,

… this is awkward.

Truth be told,

There’s too many resting,

The world would be better,

If we were doing our best…ing.

Energy and passion,

Attitude and hard work,

Make YOU a positive force,

Don’t JUST be a lazy berk!