Tag Archives: story arc

A Writers Conundrum – Finding Time to Write..


To have inspiration for our writing we must observe life, to avoid our family and friends abandoning us we need to engage with them, to pay the bills we must usually work a day job, to maintain our word count or deadline we must organize writing time. So the question is, how can we juggle all of these demands on our time with failing at each one?

Finding the ‘perfect’ balance between these is always a challenge. You may be in the depths of a scene when a small hand lands on your lap, a teenager ‘must’ be taken to a friends house, your husband needs help with a project or dare I say it your boss needs something from you? We inevitably crumble and leave the narrative in the hope you will remember the details later? We may scramble to jot down that idea, phrase or even paragraph before being torn away. I have looked to other writers, famous or not, and tried to delve beyond the obvious and gleam an insight into their methods of finding time. There are numerous hints and tips populating the internet but in the end you know your life and its limitations best. You may get up extra early, stay awake until the breaking dawn or cram a few paragraphs into your lunch hour – whatever works for you and your writing – is the right way to go. The trick is how to organize your time productively.

How do you schedule your writing?

What time of day works best for you?

I have to admit my writing is not scheduled. I take advantage of any time I’m left alone and once absorbed find it difficult to let go. Weekend mornings are good for me as I get up early and have several hours while my daughter is still sleeping and my husband is playing about in the garage! Other times I can use are the evenings when I arrive early for writing group meetings and write until the allotted time. Other ‘escape’ opportunities do arise and I always take advantage of them: a cancelled appointment, the house to myself or the glory of a  writing retreat! Obviously, I dream of the day I can shut myself away with my laptop and not have to answer to anyone…it will happen I just need to be patient.

With my freelance work increasingly demanding more of my time, I have to split my writing with that of clients. Maybe I am wrong but I tend to complete a client’s work prior to my own. Having a deadline for a paying job and completing it is, to my mind, more important and vital: a) for repeated work b) for remuneration. That is not to say I believe my own writing is secondary, far from it. Within my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, I am fortunate to have other writers who engage in an annual novel workshop. At the beginning of the year, when several of us have participated in NaNoWriMo and others are ready to share their first draft, we meet every month until June (sometimes longer). We section our novels and email them to each other, then edit and comment on the narrative. Then at month’s end email our editing and meet to discuss the stories. It is beta reading within a ‘safe’ environment if you will. This mutual assistance enables me to edit my current manuscript with the views of several other authors and a ‘faster’ editing process too.

Care to share your writing schedule or tips you found useful?

My writing area expands a little each year! Where do you write?

New Writing DEsk 003new writing deskPicture Wall

Except #2 – YA horror story – Clickety Click…


monster claw

Alice breathed in the fresh spring air and looked upward through the tree branches where the sun glistened and danced through the leaves. The lane to her Aunt and Uncle’s home was narrow and not suitable for vehicles. She wondered how her Aunt and Uncle managed to shop but maybe there was some sort of short cut she was unaware of; after all, she had only been with them for three days. The pain hit her in the chest unexpectedly and completely. Her legs gave way and she landed heavily on her knees on the gravel. Tears flowed and her sobbing filled the air startling several chattering birds into silence.

            They’re gone…forever. Aunt and Uncle are so kind but I miss my parents so much. A rabbit hopped across the lane in front of Alice. She looked at its white tail bobbing up and down. Wiping her nose and wet cheeks with her sleeve, Alice stood up and brushed the debris from her knees. There were small pits in the flesh where small stones had pressed into her skin. I have to be brave, that’s what Uncle says. Wiping away a stray tear, Alice breathed in deeply and began walking toward the lane’s end again. Dwelling on it will stop you healing, Alice. Remember the good times with them, my dear. Her aunt wisdom echoed in her mind. She understood nothing would change the fact her parents were dead but it still hurt and the previous year with no-one to comfort her had taken its toll. When her Aunt and Uncle appeared at the care home, Alice felt saved.

A car’s horn sounding brought her out of her thoughts. She looked up to see Bernadette waving at her from the vehicle’s rear window.

“Hurry up, Alice. I want to get to the fair.”

Alice ran toward her friend, her only friend so far in this small town in the middle of a forested valley.

****

 

An hour later, Gregor joined Cattrine, complaining the pen’s inhabitants were too noisy and his ears hurt.

 

“Will you stop your complaining? They won’t be noisy for much longer, Gregor. Come and help me form the sausages.”

 

Given a much nicer task, Gregor cheered up and pushed the mince into the sausage machine, as Cattrine guided the sausage skin ensuring the meat encased evenly. She expertly twisted the skin without hindering the flow to form perfect sausages. When the machine was empty of meat, Cattrine laid the long string of sausages out along the counter.

 

“I suppose there’s no way we could have a couple now, is there, dear?”

 

Cattrine turned to Gregor with a smile.

 

“Well, maybe a couple each. We have worked hard after all.”

 

She gave Gregor a large rectangular pan and he began laying the sausage tube in lines back and forth. Cattrine cut four sausages off one end and took a frying pan from the shelf. While they sizzled in the pan, Gregor filled the tray and then put it into a large freezer hidden at the back of the pantry. After consuming the delicious morsels, they both licked their lips and giggled. Free meat was more delicious than bought meat.

Excerpt #1 from YA horror story – Clickety Click


I began a ‘short’ story for children but somehow it is getting longer and longer. So I will post excerpts of it for your enjoyment and that of your children!

monster claw

Clickety Click  Part 1

It’s eyes widened as it grew closer and closer to her face. Alice was paralyzed with fear, clutching her bedcovers with white knuckled fingers. The creature’s mauve skin glistened with slime and drops fell onto its spindly pointed claws. Alice opened and closed her mouth willing her voice to sound in the dark bedroom. The claws clicked together as the monster’s jaw opened. Click, click, clickety, click.

Alice’s scream woke her. She was drenched in sweat; her heart beating so fast it hurt her chest. She had no idea how long she screamed but her throat was sore. Shortly after waking, she heard her uncle’s thundering footsteps coming up the stairs. The noise drowned out her aunt’s voice full of concern and Alice’s fear induced tears.

The bedroom door flew open and Alice’s uncle stood in the doorway, looking around the room before rushing to the bed and embracing Alice.

“There, there girl, what was it? A nightmare?”

Alice tried to stop her crying in an effort to answer him as her voice croaked and her body shuddered.

“It was a monster, a huge mauve monster with sharp claws and dripping slime. Uncle Gregor, I was so frightened.”

“What a horrid dream, my girl. You are perfectly safe now.”

Alice’s Aunt walked into the room slightly out of breath with a panicked look on her face.

“Oh my, you poor dear. Just look at you. I think it would be best if you had a nice glass of milk and left the bedside light on.”

“Thank you, Aunt Cattrine. I’m feeling better now you are both here but a nice glass of milk does sound good. I can come down to get it.”

“Not at all, let Uncle stay with you, it won’t take me long.”

Her aunt stroked Alice’s hair before exiting the room giving her husband a quick wink as she left. With her uncle’s strong arms around her, Alice felt safe and calmed down as her heartbeat resumed a normal beat.

Once she finished her milk, her aunt and uncle left her to sleep the rest of the night with the small lamp lit. They told her to call them if she had another bad dream. Alice drew her bedclothes up as far as she could and curled up into a ball. She watched shadow branches on the wall closest to the door for some time before her eyelids grew heavy and sleep claimed her.

Click, click, clickety, click. His claws tapped together as he sat in the corner watching her. He delighted in the way she moved as she spun the threads back and forth. The aroma of boiling meat filled the room, making him drool. She turned and grinned; she was as hungry as he looked. This would be a good feast.

Alice slipped out of the covers and curled her toes when they touched the cold wooden floor. She pulled her legs up and reached for her thick woolen socks. Once her feet were enclosed in the soft warmth of the wool, she wrapped a large dressing gown around her and walked downstairs. She found her aunt and uncle busily cleaning the kitchen counters. She thought it was odd as breakfast was not on the table but their smiling faces pushed the thought away.

“There she is. You do look better this morning, rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes. Now what do you fancy for breakfast?”

“Whatever you and uncle Gregor are having is fine, thanks auntie.”

“Well I think after such a dreadful night you should choose, I haven’t begun anything yet.”

Why were they cleaning so thoroughly if they haven’t eaten yet? Her uncle’s large hand on her shoulder made Alice dismiss the thought. She turned and smiled up at her large heavyset uncle.

“Sausage and eggs would be perfect, if I may. Thank you, Auntie.”

“Good breakfast choices, Alice, I think we will all enjoy eating them.”

Alice walked to the counter and pulled out the cutlery drawer then began laying the table settings. Her aunt turned to the stove and placed a large skillet on the heated ring, while her uncle picked out sausages and eggs from the fridge. The sausages soon began to sizzle and their tantalizing smell filled the kitchen.

When the food was cooked and placed on plates, they sat down to eat. Alice chewed the spicy sausages and marveled at the unusual but delicious taste. The eggs were special too, bigger than Alice had ever seen before with large deep yellow yolks. Alice collected all the plates once everyone had their fill and set them into the sink before turning on the tap. She heard a clickety click behind her and turned swiftly. Her aunt and uncle were smiling at each other and both frowned at Alice’s sudden movement.

“Whatever is it, dear?”

“Didn’t you hear it? That clickety click noise.”

“No dear just the water running and your uncle’s belch. Really Gregor, your manners!”

“I must be overly sensitive, that nightmare was so real, and I swear I could feel its breath on my face. Thank you both for caring for me.”

“No need for thanks, Alice, we are here to make sure you are healthy…”

With her back turned, Alice didn’t see Cattrine punch Gregor’s arm hard.

“What Uncle means is happy and healthy, Alice. Now are you meeting Bernadette today?”

“Yes, I am. Her Mom will collect me at ten o’clock so I should get dressed.”

Cattrine watched Alice leave the room then licked her lips. Gregor sat with his head down sucking at his fingertips.

“Good grief, Gregor, watch your tongue around her. Get yourself up and go to the pens and feed them.”

Gregor stood slowly blocking out the window with his massive bulk but scuffing his feet like a reluctant child.  Cattrine huffed and turned to the cupboards. As she took out a huge pot, Gregor opened the back door and left mumbling under his breath.

“If you are swearing about me I’ll know it, Gregor.”

She heard no answer so began her chores. In the pantry, she unlocked a metal container’s lid and inhaled deeply. Drool dripped from her mouth. She sucked in deeply to return it to her throat. The aroma tantalized her in a way nothing else did. Cattrine pulled out a slab of meat and carried into the kitchen. Footfalls on the stairs made her stop and return to the pantry. She closed the door and stood at the sink waiting for Alice to enter.

“You do look nice, Alice. It’s nearly ten; maybe you should walk down to the end of the lane and wait for Bernadette’s Mom there? It will save her driving all the way up here and it’s too nice a day not to enjoy.”

“Yes, it is lovely out there the sun is so warm. I should be home by four o’clock, Auntie.”

“Have a wonderful day, dear.”

Alice kissed her aunt on the cheek and skipped out of the door, happy and carefree. Absently brushing away a spot of wetness from her cheek as she walked into the wooded glen.

Cattrine returned to the pantry, picked up the slab of meat and began cutting it into strips. Next, she took out a large mincer and fed the strips into the machine. The extruded meat formed a pink and white curl into a bowl beneath it. When all the meat was minced, Cattrine began adding spices and herbs to it. She dug her hands into the mixture and kneaded it repeatedly. Her mouth salivated as she did so.

Q&A 7 Deadly sins of books


I couldn’t resist having a go at this writerly ‘tag’ post. Thank you to: https://romance4thebeach.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/tag-seven-deadly-sins-of-reading/  for allowing me to snag it.

7 sins tag

 

greed

Defined as: An intense and selfish desire for something.

 What is your most expensive book?

This depends on how you define ‘expensive’. I treasure the book I received for an art contest when I was in primary school – The Story of Hiawatha. Not only did I want to win the contest but in particular this first prize. The book is slightly worn but I will never let it go – it is my treasure and irreplaceable.

hiawatha

https://mandyevebarnett.com/2014/09/19/stories-that-stay-with-you/ 

wrath

Defined as: Extreme anger.

 What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

A difficult question as I accept most writers as we approach, create and write in our own unique way. However, poorly written, constructed and badly edited books really upset me. Obviously there are the ‘Grey’ books, which are awful but also hastily published ebooks and some paperback books that you know were not given the proper time and effort to edit, revise and review. Poor craftsmanship reflects badly on the author and alienates your readership.

gluttony

Defined as: Intense over-indulgence.

What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?

One that stirs my imagination every time I read it. Ferney by James Long. It is exquisitely written and I re-read it often.

FERNEY

Sloth

Defined as: a reluctance to work or make an effort.

What book have you neglected to read due to laziness?

A couple of freelancer guide books are awaiting completion on my shelves due to not having a block of time to study them in detail and take copious notes!

Pride

Defined as: satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

What book do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

To be honest I can’t think of one in particular. It depends on the situation and the theme of the discussion. I will refer to a book that would inspire others, help define or make my point.

lust

Defined as: a strong sexual desire.

What attributes do you find attractive in male characters?

I do not genre prefer characters in narratives. If a character is strong, capable (or even especially wicked) I enjoy their personality and mission.

envy

 

Defined as: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

A signed copy of the first edition of Carrie by Stephen King. He is the ultimate storyteller and this edition would be placed underneath the personal letter I received from Stephen.

I’m tagging:

http://middlemaybooks.com/adrienne-morris/

http://distraction99.com/

https://rachelcarrera.wordpress.com/about/

https://authordylanhearn.wordpress.com/about/

https://writerbeeblog.wordpress.com/about/

Why don’t you take the quiz?

Contrived Stories and Writing Prompts…


promptsI came across this post and loved the use of the prompts.

http://vanessa-chapman.com/2014/11/24/contrived-story/

As a frequent prompt user myself; some of which I successfully morphed into novels, I am always contriving stories in my head. As writers we have the ability to create ‘something from nothing’ a good deal of the time. This is one of the reasons writing is such fun. No matter what our minds construct as a character, circumstance or environment, it is feasible within a narrative.

I set a prompt every Saturday on my writing groups calendar, to refresh and inspire. http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com – why not try one or two, just scroll backwards until you find one that appeals. Some use pictures, others are a list of words or a sentence to incorporate.

Has a prompt inspired a story for you? 

Care to share it here?

I enjoyed this prompt – limited to 300 words or less from the starting paragraph.

It wasn’t like that before, Andrea thought to herself. The previous night’s storm had caused the tree to topple over like it had never been rooted to the ground. The hole it left in the wake of the storm-induced tragedy was enormous, bigger than she could possibly fill in on her own, especially with nothing but a broken shovel. Andrea walked to the large pit that was now the center of her front yard and peered in. What was that she was seeing? It looked like a…

skeletal hand pointing upwards. Andrea turned her head as she vomited on the grass. Wiping the back of her hand across her mouth she looked down again. Bile rose but she managed to swallow it. A body under the old tree? How long had it been there? Who was it?The shock of her discovery numbed her mind. What should she do first? Call the police? Call Dan? 

A cloud moved away from the sun brightening the scene, a sparkle caught Andrea’s eye. There on one finger was a jeweled ring. Could she manage to climb down and get it? Wasn’t there a ‘finders keepers’ thing for buried treasure?  Determined to reach the ring Andrea used her shovel to steady herself into the hole. Gritting her teeth she gripped the ring and pulled, it came off the bone easily. The gem was a large sapphire in a gold setting. There were words engraved on the inside. Andrea read them and everything was dark.

Dan called out as he entered the house. Andrea did not respond. He searched the house, the garage and the garden – no Andrea. A missing person’s report was filed. Andrea was never found. Underneath the tree roots the darkness slithered over the new body – a welcomed feast.

Did you like my interpretation?

Want to use it and share?

If you want a unique prompt book try this one.

http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/retail/books/writing-prompt-journey-road-your-creativity

Writing Prompt Journal