I have recently discovered that coming to the end of writing the end of your WIP is a fascinating experience, although in some respects, quite sad too.
This is a new feeling for me and surprising, for I am writing my sixth book!
All I remember about finishing those was an immense feeling of relief. I wonder why I feel differently about this one?
But I digress…
Creating a satisfying ending for all the characters you have come to love (or not!) involves some serious decisions. Will they walk into the sunset, happy and fulfilled, or will they face a difficult ending, one they didn’t see coming?
As a writer, you end up being judge and jury as you decide their fate. I love being in charge, all the creation, the character development, the sadness and the joy.
Each story I write will be totally different to anything I have done before, even if the genre is the same.
Different people’s lives and situations, all living and breathing and all under your control.
Being a writer must be the best job in the world!
All this productivity is having a knock-on effect on everything, and although I welcome all this mental activity, I am having trouble understanding why I end up with so many more plans than those I started with. Usually, having nothing to do with what I am doing at the time. So much for not having so many irons in the fire!
Finishing one job lands me among all those ghosts of other projects I either made a mess of or have completely forgotten about.
My mind does try, bless it, to think along dual idea lines, and I have had serious talks with the muse, to stop cramming my head with so many ideas, to at least wait until I finish one!
For the past few days, I have shut myself in the office with that timeless excuse, I simply cannot put this book down!
Seriously, for the first time in a long time, I am really committed to finishing this book. Where I can generally put my writing aside to do all the normal, everyday jobs, I suddenly can’t do it. This book has to come first…
I cannot stop until I can no longer hold a pen, and I even eat at my desk. I hope this won’t just be a flash in the pan as the word count is rising!
A writer’s life is not what I thought it would be in the beginning.
Maybe years ago, it was what I imagined, but in these digital times, it has changed so radically from that idyllic, if rather a romantic, notion of what being a writer would be like.
These days, we all wear so many different hats, it’s a wonder we get around to writing anything.
What with the constant struggle to write interesting posts, review all the books we read; trying to find new and practical promotional ideas.
Not to mention all the thinking, worrying, emails and planning, there are not enough hours in the day!
So when I read about organising my life better, my interest was aroused! In this POST, the author recommends assigning different days for specific jobs and not deviating from this agenda. I thought this could work, but not sure about using an alarm clock to keep me on track!
I have long attempted to devise a routine that would help me to get more done, but the harder I try, the more complicated it seems to be and the slower I seem to get.
I have always had a problem with rules and restrictions. Or instead, fate seems to have on my behalf. The minute I decide on a certain idea, timetable or schedule, you can just bet something, or someone will come along and wreck it!
I try to be more productive, especially with my writing, and one of the ways I have found that actually works is to try and write 1000 words every day. As I am up long before anyone else in my family, I usually manage this easily, so in one area, at least, I have it covered. As for everything else, I have almost given up hope as I cannot find a solution that works. I have almost concluded that it may not be possible to go much further, and it might be sensible to stop trying.
I read a post recently about the importance of identifying your audience or readers when drafting a book. I had heard this before and must admit I didn’t understand it then or now. I mean, basically, we write for readers, don’t we?
But apparently, this is not good enough and could be the reason our books fail to meet our expectations.
Determined to dislodge the penny, I tried to get my head around what the article was trying to tell me. Thinking back to my own writing efforts, none of them had made much of a splash, although (in my humble opinion) they were reasonably well written, so what would make a difference?
Sometimes I turn problems upside down to see them from a different angle. Very often, I can see ways of solving them or at least making them better.
My first book was a challenge for me. I didn’t know if I could write well, if at all, way back then, so I probably wrote it for myself.
To be honest, I think my second book was written for me too. And by the time I started writing the third book, I was floundering. I spent a lot of time chasing how-to articles, searching for helpful ideas and advice and getting nowhere fast.
Around this time, people were talking about muses and how helpful they can be for a writer. Not that said how to get one in the first place.
When I did get what I thought was a muse, he wasn’t what I imagined a muse should be. He was sarcastic, almost rude, making me guess what he meant, but he really made me think.
For some reason, I cannot find the link for the post I wrote on that day, and I would love you to read it…
Call me Sam…
My office is usually a quiet, peaceful place. Unless something goes radically wrong and I am having a rant.
Today was almost such a day, but I was trying hard not to lose it, determined to figure out what I was doing wrong and why my WIP was proving so difficult to get right.
I have to sit with my back to the door, something I wish I could change but the layout of the room doesn’t allow for any change. So when I sensed someone standing behind me, I assumed it to be one of the family.
‘Ma’am, that is surely a crying shame…’
The soft gentle voice of a man, inches from my ear should have alarmed me, but my curiosity had the better of me and I wondered what he was talking about. Although I wasn’t entirely sure if I had imagined it, I answered. ‘Pardon?’
‘I have to say that character is all wrong, you know…’
By now, I knew I wasn’t imagining it, but insanity seemed a better fit. I was also fascinated, so decided to play along and see what happened. ‘How do you mean?’
‘If you will permit me to sit down, I will explain…’
I nodded, aware that I was about to see who my mysterious visitor was. I watched as this white-haired, distinguished and slightly familiar gentleman walked past me to sit in the only other chair in the room. He reminded me of someone, but my brain was stumbling around like an idiot at a genius convention.
He had kindly blue eyes and an enormous, also white moustache, a bit like Albert Einstein, but I was sure it wasn’t him. He sat there, next to me, calmly watching me with an amused expression on his face. I wondered id he, like me, wondered what he was doing here. I decided to ask. ‘I feel as though I should know you, but what are you doing here in my office?’
His bushy white eyebrows were moving slightly, reminding me of caterpillars.
‘Ma’am, I have no idea how I arrived here, but judging from what I just read on your notebook, I must be here to lend a hand, so to speak.’
For the next hour, we talked about my progress as a writer, my WIP and one character in particular. I had been worried about this one, so it was refreshing to have another clearly expert opinion.
‘The problem, Ma’am is this. You have not brought him to life yet. He needs to have a life, smell the coffee, and do normal things like a regular human being. He will die soon anyway…’
‘Where did you read that? And please stop calling me Ma’am, my name is Jaye.’
‘Oh, I didn’t read it, Jaye. The poor chap never eats, so he won’t last long…’
I was embarrassed but had to laugh. My visitor was right. I had been so involved with the plot; I had forgotten to give him a life. My eyes returned to the chapter on the desk in front of me, eager to see with fresh eyes just what a pig’s ear I had made of it all. It occurred to me to thank my visitor for pointing out what had been wrong all along, but when I turned my head in his direction, he had gone and the chair was empty…
I tried to continue working but my brain was busy trying to remember where I had seen the old gentleman before…
The book he helped me with did very well. I remember feeling very differently about this one, once I knew he had been reading it. Every time I sat down to write, I imagined him looking over my shoulder, and I believe it helped. Remembering how I felt back then, the penny begins to move. I think I wrote that book for him, so maybe there is something to this, after all?
Since then, life has thrown everything at us all. Not much time for anything really. Two years on, the virus seems to have lost its teeth and life is struggling to return to normal.
The current WIP, despite a lot of work on my part, is a mess. I don’t know how many times I have almost binned it, but something compels me to keep trying.
I don’t know why my muse left, or how to get him back, but do you think he would lend a hand if I asked him nicely?
The best-laid plans and all that, always seem to backfire when it’s me who makes them.
Doesn’t matter what it is, something will always get in the way. My best days are those when I don’t plan anything, almost as though I must keep it a secret from myself.
I have lost track of how many good writing days just happened.
This works for everything. If I plan to cut the grass, the heavens will open, and it will rain all day. Some of my unplanned days turn out to be amazing, far beyond my expectations.
As you can imagine, this state of affairs plays havoc with my progress, something I have trouble accepting. I mean, who is in charge around here?
I love it when it happens with writing. I can be in the middle of the daily chores, and emails when I get this overwhelming desire to pick up a pen and write something that has popped into my head.
I welcome these moments, even when they happen first thing in the morning when I only have one eye open. I suppose this could be what happens to rebels when they get old, if it is, it’s the only part of growing old I approve of!
I often wonder if I need more discipline, although saying the word puts my teeth on edge.
It would increase my book production though…
Another reminder of Bookfunnel’s latest promotion!
The basement door was easy to overlook, it looked like a cupboard. It opened easily, revealing a dark hole leading down into the bowels of the earth. I looked for a light switch, my hand searching where my eyes could not but found nothing.
As we made our way down the stairs in the dark, I used the torchlight on my phone to see the way. I found the light switch at the bottom of the stairs.
The air in the basement smelled old and musty, with the faint odour of tobacco. We were in a large room, set out like an office with an old desk and overflowing bookcases. An even older leather armchair sat in the corner surrounded by a neat stack of cardboard boxes.
Laurie must have read my mind, saying exactly what I was thinking. ‘Phew, thank God there’s no freezer, nowhere to hide a body…’
My next thought I kept to myself, maybe the body had been cut up and was in all those boxes.
A loud noise made me jump and Laurie shriek, and that was when the light went out.
‘What was that? Snow, where are you?’
‘I’m here, Laurie. Stand still while I switch on my phone light. I don’t suppose you remember seeing any torches when we were here before?’
The limited light from my phone isolated us as we stood at the bottom of the stairs. I strained my eyes, trying to see the further corners of the room. It looked as it did moments ago, but it didn’t feel the same. Weird rustling sounds, creaking and what sounded like whispering came at me from all the corners of the room.
Laurie must have heard it too, for she turned away from me. ‘I’ll go look for a torch, shall I?’ And shot up the stairs like an athlete.
I wanted to follow her, but something kept my feet rooted to the floor.
The whispering came closer and seemed much louder. Something brushed against my face and the image of a bat flew across my mind. This was unlikely, as there didn’t seem to be any access to the outside, something bats had to have.
I shone the light around the room again and as it reached the leather armchair in the corner, the light flickered and went out but not before I thought I saw someone sitting there.
I barely had the time to consider this when something shoved me.
I felt hands on my lower back, strong enough to cause me to stumble.
Instantly, my arms thrashed around, expecting to contact whoever touched me, but found no one.
‘Laurie, is that you?’
The room was silent, the creaks and the whispering stopped as if waiting for someone or something to answer my question.
I tried to move, to make my way up the stairs but my feet refused to move.
I felt the hands on my back again, a growing chill spreading from the site of contact. ‘Who are you?’
When the voice began to speak, the whispering grew louder, creating a tornado of sound, circling around me.
‘You don’t want or need to know who I am, MR Snow. Get out of my house!’
When the shove came, it sent me flying across the room and I found myself in the leather armchair, pinned down by the hands that sent me there.
As I sat there, stunned and very disorientated, I tried to make sense of what had just happened. A flickering light appeared, bobbing up and down. Now what, I wondered. My rational mind not quite accepting any of this.
‘Snow, where are you? I found a torch, it’s a bit feeble but better than nothing.’ As she shone the light around the room, she found me sprawled in the armchair.
‘What are you doing? Don’t tell me you wanted to take it easy, what are you like?’
A small laugh escaped from my mouth as I thought about trying to explain what I thought had just happened.
I did my best to describe what happened to me in the basement. Laurie listened, but I wasn’t sure she believed everything I said. One thing we did agree on, we were trying to help a lonely and confused woman, not get involved with ghost hunting.
That’s what I think, but is it really? ( all opinions gratefully welcome!)
I wasn’t ready for the week to start, as still immersed in my WIP. I have made amazing progress, (some of Anita’s alchemy) over the weekend, so it does seem a shame to switch off that part of my brain,
So, I won’t.
Luckily, Anita has been busy too. A new poem, I Cannot Live and The Sunday Whirl Wordle, so I hope you won’t miss me today!
I was reminded today of just how far we have come with our writing and all that is involved with it and wanted to share our pride in our accomplishments.
Still, a long way to go, but loving what you do is a lovely way to do it!
(we didn’t do it all by ourselves, so we thank everyone who helped us along the way!)
About the Book
You read about families where everyone is happy, and life is wonderful. That wasn’t my family. My mother coped patiently with a drunken, obsessive gambler of a husband and a daughter with an insatiable sexual appetite. I loved my father, but he kept us one step away from the poor house. Loving my sister was harder because she hated me and constantly brought trouble to our door. Me? I couldn’t wait to grow up and live my own life. Then everything changed. Dad won a guest house in a card game, and suddenly we were off to a new life in Cornwall. A beautiful place steeped in legend and mystery. Would trouble leave us alone now, or was it merely biding its time?
Excerpt from Let it Go
We hadn’t seen dad for nearly a week, and that was a long time, even for him.
Mum was going spare, ranting on about what she’d do to him when he finally came home. Poor dad, it could mean another black eye or a nose which wouldn’t stop bleeding for hours after mum lands one of her punches. This is pretty normal behaviour for my parents and had been going on for years. Considering my mother’s temper, you would think he would stop rolling home drunk and penniless, but he never did.
It was late Friday night when he finally came home. We knew it was him, even though it sounded as if something had been thrown at the front door. We listened to him fumbling with the key for ages, mum with arms folded, waiting for him to fall through it. How she controlled her temper and didn’t rush at the door and tear it from its hinges, I will never know. I think I would have done; it would have been quicker.
I heard the lock turn and dad swung in like a gust of wind, holding on to the key that was stuck in the lock. His dark, shaggy hair hadn’t seen a comb in days, and his clothes appeared to have been slept in. He stood there swaying, grinning at mum like an idiot.
She slapped his hand from the key, sending him flying across the hall, skidding on the mat that never seemed to want to stay in one place. I had a ringside seat at the top of the stairs and watched as she calmly removed the key and slammed the door.
Sally, my older sister by two years, came out of her room to see what was happening. At seventeen, she thought she’d been around the block and knew everything. As for the block, she’d been around it all right. There was no good way to describe my sister other than to call her a tart. She looked the part, too, with her smeared makeup and messy hair. Hanging over the bannister in her underwear, she told mum to kick his no good arse back out the door. Mum looked up at us with rage in her eyes and we both fled, creeping back when we felt it safe, even sliding down a few stairs to hear better.
They were in the kitchen now and something wasn’t right. Mum’s voice sounded cold, as though talking through ice cubes. We heard her say she was leaving him. After twenty years of going nowhere she’d had enough. Then silence. Why weren’t they speaking, shouting or smashing things like they normally did?
I sat there wishing I could see through the walls. I wanted to go in and say something, remind her that dad wasn’t a bad man. Stupid and unlucky, maybe, but it wasn’t his fault all his schemes and dreams came to nothing.
The silence frightened me. Mum couldn’t possibly leave him. She loved him, had stood by his crazy ideas all this time. Turning to Sally, I whispered, ‘We’ve got to do something. Put some clothes on, hurry, before Dad passes out and mum goes to sleep on the thoughts in her head.’
Sally stopped me from standing up, pulling me backwards, knocking the lower part of my back against the stairs. ‘We can’t, Mary. He’ll say something stupid in a minute, then she’ll go for him. You know what happened last time. You got mum’s elbow in your face, couldn’t see for a week.’
I looked at her, seeing her differently for a moment. Unable to stop the words from coming out of my mouth, I said, ‘I didn’t know you cared.’
‘Of course, I care, you stupid cow. You’re my kid sister.’
Was that a hurt look I saw or another of her acting games? I tried again to stand. Feeling her hand on my shoulder, I moved faster, not wanting to be pulled down again. My foot slipped forward on the edge of the carpet and gravity did the rest, pulling me headlong down the rest of the steps. I heard Sally yell, and then a chair scrape against the kitchen floor. My head hurt. I tried to move, and then someone turned out the lights.
I woke up on our living room sofa with dad holding my hand. Mum was putting a cold flannel on my head. Trying to move shot pain through the top of my head, much as I imagined dad must feel when mum slaps him with whatever comes to hand.
‘Lie still, Mary.’ Dad said. ‘Everything’s all right. Hard heads run in the family.’
From somewhere in the room, I heard Sally scoff. I struggled to sit up and could see her leaning against the doorframe, picking at her nails.
Looking dad square in the face, I said, ‘It’s not all right. Didn’t you hear mum say she’s leaving you? Couldn’t you hear the difference in her voice?’
Dad put the palm of his hand on my cheek and smiled. The smile made you believe in angels and held mum to him all these years.
‘Not to worry, Mary. I have something here that will put the warmth back in her voice.’ Taking some legal papers and a bunch of keys from his pocket, he gave them to mum and said, ‘Read it, Margaret.’
Waiting for mum to say something, to let us in on what could only be another of dad’s get-rich-schemes, seemed like waiting for hell to freeze over.
She read them once, and knowing dad of old, read them again. ‘Cornwall,’ she said finally. ‘A broken down guesthouse.’ She waved the paper at dad. ‘How did you get this with no money?’
‘Playing cards.’ Dad said. ‘I won it from old Tom. That’s where I’ve been, Cornwall, to look at the place. Margaret, it’s beautiful. Overlooks the ocean – a lick of paint, and it’ll be good as new.’
‘So, Michael Flanagan. How long has this place been closed, did you think to ask?’
‘A year or so.’
‘Right. So with eyes full of beer, you managed to figure out it’s a lick of paint we’ll be needing, nothing more?’ The temper still showed on her face and her words had thorns. It was no accident she had been born with red hair.
‘Don’t start, Margaret. Can’t you see that luck has finally found us? It’s what you’ve always wanted, to run our own place. And the money we get from this house will get us started. The girls can help out, even get paid for the work they do around the place.’
‘I don’t see myself as a chambermaid.’ Sally moaned, folding her arms across her chest like mum. She straightened her back, trying to look tough.
Dad spun on her. ‘Better than lying on your back with God knows who, whenever the mood takes you!’
Sally stormed off, and I heard the bedroom door slam shut as dad went on about her going the same way as his sister, Aunt Vivian, known hereabouts as the local bike.
Mum said he should hold his tongue.
‘Can’t do it, woman. I won’t see one of my own daughters end up on the same road. I’ll be putting the house on the market first thing in the morning. We’ve talked about nothing else for the past ten years. Now, it’s been handed to us on a plate.’
From the look on mum’s face, I could tell she was beginning to think it might be a good idea. After all, we had nothing to lose. It had plenty of rooms and hadn’t cost dad a penny, and this house would give them the money to do it up. But what on earth did they know about running a guest house? I decided that now wasn’t a good time to ask…
Fifteen-year-old Mary’s life is turned upside down when her father wins a large house in Cornwall in a card game, and her parents decide to up sticks from South West London, move down to Cornwall, and run a bed & breakfast boarding house. Mary does not have a good relationship with her sister Sally but is particularly close to her elderly and infirm grandmother (Nan). Nan decides to make the biggest change of all and move with the family to live in a caravan at the end of the garden. Mary finds an old diary written by a girl her own age who used to live in the house. She reads of a particular event in the diary that happened years before, which she cannot get out of her mind. Mary has a need to follow up the event and finds a new friend, Mark, who has knowledge of the local area and all its mysteries to help her in her quest. The author has an obvious love of Cornwall, and this is evident throughout the book. I enjoyed reading about the shifting family dynamics, Mary’s relationship with her sister, and the new life experiences that she had to learn to cope with. I can recommend this four star read for fans of women’s fiction, family dramas, and coming-of-age stories. There are a few grammatical errors, but they did not distract me from the story. Well done!
A fantastic look at family dynamics through the eyes of Mary, a fifteen-year-old who is older and wiser than her years. When her father wins a guest house in a card game, Mary’s has to adjust to a new life in Cornwall. In addition to her parents and sister, Mary also has her beloved grandmother, Nan, to aid in that adjustment.
This book is filled with wonderful characters and effortless writing. I adored the relationship between Mary and Nan. As narrator, Mary does an excellent job in allowing us to see the world through her eyes. From the vivid place descriptions to the strengths and weakness in the people around her, including her own family, the reader sees scars, faults and triumphs.
The plot thread with Mary’s sister Sally, and how the family rallies around her when she runs afoul of three local women is especially strong. I also liked the thread with Spike, an unexpected “lodger” and how his storyline turned out. The author has a great style and hooked me immediately. I plan to seek out more of her books. Consider me a fan!
These reviews for Anita’s book really thrilled us and made our writing life so much more rewarding. Everyone should review the books they read. It is easy to do and brings so much joy to writers everywhere!
I have always been a fan of Anita’s writing, her wonderful books, and her incredible poetry, so this is what I am posting today.
This week has left me drained, I have been so busy, what with catching up on all the chores that didn’t get done thanks to me being on retreat, locked in my office. And I have managed to get a lot more writing done too, as the muse decided to hang around and nag me. Not complaining, mind you, but couldn’t think of a better way to end the week.
Every morning, without fail, I switch on the computer and systematically clear my emails, mostly spam. My day would not be right if I didn’t do this. Usually, I don’t have loads of rules, preferring to do what I like, when I want, but this one thing is a must-do job.
Then I log in to our website on WordPress.
I read and answer any comments and then turn to the Reader List. It can sometimes take me over an hour to read them all, but I love every minute. On any particular day, I can communicate with many people, new conversations or ongoing ones—so many discussions about such varied subjects from people all over the world.
When we began blogging over ten years ago, we never knew that it would grow into this huge, wonderful club where we can smile, sigh, laugh and cry, all in the space of an hour.
We marvel at the fantastic images and artwork, share in the joy of writers finally getting a break, share the sadness of losing either people, pets, or sometimes their minds (more common than you might think) and laugh at children’s antics and animals alike.
These lovely people have become our extended family, a family that shares their lives, loves, and sometimes, even their limitations.
We began blogging to help further our writing careers, but somewhere along the way, it has become so much more than that…
We have been trying hard lately to be more organised, to find ways to stop life from getting in the way of everything, but it continues to beat us or find ways to slow us down.
There are days when I wish I could say okay, you win, and crawl away like a sensible old lady. Not happening. There is still so much I want to do; in fact, the list seems to get longer every day.
I hope it’s just my imagination, but I seem to be getting slower and shock horror! I am making more mistakes than usual. There have been serious errors on the WIP, bad enough for me to want to scrap it and start over. But I didn’t.
Being stubborn usually saves me so much work in the long run, not that it helps me much these days. Now that I am a part-time carer and head cook and bottle washer, and apparently, the only one who knows where the saucepans live, time is getting a lot harder to stretch.
I will continue to stretch it until it screams, for I thoroughly enjoyed my recent weekend writing retreat. Apart from writing up a storm, the sense of calm and purpose was very welcome. I must do it again, and soon!