Wednesday, 28 October 2015

National novel writing month 2015

Sighs… I wasn’t going to do nanowrimo this November. You are supposed to do a new project and I felt that with my ever-increasing list of half, or quarter done projects, that starting yet another new project would just be putting more crap on that pile.
I joined a website and I had to pay real money to do it. The write practice. It is a community of writers; specifically ones who have trouble completing projects. Does that sound like me? Yep. And the idea is that you all do nano together.
The community will mean we have to share word counts, writing and issues. That’s the point. There are people to help you, you help others, and that you are all cheer-leaders for each other.
So I scrabbled through my idea file and found two that were plotted out and that I had some vague ideas about.
And then I literally tossed a coin. And the winner was the Aussie small town romance set in a haunted house.
It was inspired by an article I read in the Guardian about an Irish home for unwed mothers where they found skeletons in the yard. Most of them were children and the final estimate was nearly 800. Gah… shudders. I can’t imagine that any of those spirits rested peacefully.
And then I asked, and what happens next? Which is where all stories start.

So the tentative title is: the house of lost hearts.
The summary:
A young woman with no real family is approached by a lawyer who tells her that her great aunt has left her everything in her will. But the house that comes with the estate is no ordinary house. It seems to be haunted and under the terms of the will she *has* to live in it. The house also comes with a lawyer who seems determined to involve himself in her life and a local cop who seems to distrust her. Can she help the spirits of the house and help herself in the process or will she fall victim to the cursed property too?

The original article

The pinterest board

National novel writing month - friend me up if you wish

The write practice

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

It’s three o'clock in the morning, Sam.

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag #writeworld in your block!
“It’s three o'clock in the morning, Sam.” Val leaned against the back of the door as she argued with him, her ex.
“I know. I’m sorry... I just ...” A pause. “Please, Val? Please open the door.”
“I can’t talk to you out here.”
“No. You can go home.”
“I can’t.” He sounded panicked.
What on earth? She yanked the door open and he nearly fell inside. “Why not?” she demanded.
“I just can’t.”
“Sam,” she warned. “Spill.”
“I thought it was too late for talk.”
“Talk or I’ll make you leave.”
“It’s that guy.”
“What guy?” Although she thought she knew which guy he meant.
“He’s at my house.”
“Which guy?”
“That young one... what’s his name - he’s been following you around. I don’t know why he’s started on me.”
“Emyr.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yeah... him.”
“Why is he following you?”
“I just said, I don’t know. You’d have to ask him”
“I will.” She pointed at the couch. “You sleep there.”
He got that look on his face. “Really? After everything we’ve done together.”
“We are not together now. You’re an ex, Sam. We parted on terms good enough to let you in the door at three am, but you will never get back in my bed.”
“Jeez... okay.”
“Good night, Sam.”
Val tossed and turned, trying to go back to sleep and failing. Why was Emyr at Sam’s place? Wait... how did Sam know who Emyr was? Or that he had been following her.
She didn’t think he was dangerous. That wasn’t the vibe she got from him.
She asked Sam in the morning. He showed her a photo one of his housemates had taken. It was definitely Emyr; standing with his back against a tree, ankles crossed. He had to know the picture was being taken. “Who took it?”
“Ben. He said he’s been around for a few days but he only got the shot last night and then he sent it to me.”
“Emyr is not dangerous. I don’t know what you’re scared of.”
“He’s been watching my house.” Sam had been left a house by a relative. He rented rooms out to people who cooked, and cleaned as well as contributed to the bills. She had been a tenant and then she’d been more than that.
“I’ll talk to him.”
“Doesn’t he scare you?” Sam asked.
“No. He’s annoying though.” She would have described Emyr as a puppy. An eager one who wanted her affection.
The next day she was more aware of people around her but she didn’t spot Emyr until the day after. He was outside her office when she left for lunch. His face lit up when she stomped across the mall to confront him. “Val!”
“Leave Sam alone.”
He pouted.
“Why are you even at his place? Answer me.”
“Can we talk somewhere?”
“No. “
“Please, Val. I’ll buy you lunch.”
“I don’t want-” but her stomach growled and betrayed her.
He obviously heard it. “There’s a bar a block over, but they do great lunches.”
She checked her watch. “I have to be back in an hour.”
He beamed at her.
The bar looked a bit shabby, more of a rough place than she usually frequented. A booth at the back would have suited her better but Emyr pulled out a chair for her at a table in the dead centre of the room. “Drink?” he asked.
“Just a soda.”
She watched as he went to the bar to order drinks. He had a glorious ass. Wide shoulders, slim hips, and not an ounce of fat on him. Pity he was so young. Too young to be in the bar, she belatedly realised. “Now, tell me what you’re up to.”
“We’ll order first.”
He ordered a mixed tapas platter, she a burger.
“Sam is not good for you.”
She frowned. “I know that; that’s why I dumped him and moved out.”
The meals appeared lightning fast. “Good lord, did we get someone else's’ food?”
He chuckled. “No. Probably not.”
Probably? Okay.
“Here,” he said. “Try this.” He held it out in front of her and she took it from his hand.
“That’s good.”
“So you aren’t getting back with Sam?”
“Ugh, no. That ship has well and truly sailed.” Busy holding her burger with both hands so that she could eat it, she was only half listening to him. “Wait up,” she said with a mouthful that she swallowed before adding, “What makes you say that?”
“He still likes you. Try this.” He fed her this piece from his fork as she was still holding her burger. He looked incredibly pleased to be sharing his meal with her.
“How did you get that from following him?”
He snorted. “It’s obvious. And you were visiting the house.” Now he fed her a piece of potato wedge.
“I was visiting Ben. He’s been having a rough time.”
“Oh.” He moved some food around on his plate and then glanced up at her through his brows. “Not Sam?”
“No. Ben was my friend when I lived there.”
“So how did you know it was me?”
“Sam showed up at my place at three am. Woke me up and said he was too scared to go home.” She snorted.
Emyr looked horrified but he was holding his fork in mid-air so she stole the chorizo from it. He blinked. “That sounds like a line.”
“That’s what I thought. You’re not scary.”
“No.” He appealed to her mutely.
“He slept on the couch,” she added. “I’m not that stupid.”
She studied him. “So why were you watching his place in the middle of the night.”
An eloquent shrug.
“Emyr, please tell me why.”
He met her eyes as he fed her some more potato.
It suddenly occurred to Val that the bar had gone very quiet. Everyone seemed to be watching them.
“It doesn’t matter now,” Emyr declared and gave her his last piece of roasted red pepper.
“It doesn’t?”
“No.” More meat this time. He beamed at her.
She chewed contemplatively. “So you’ll stop harassing Sam?”
“Okay then. That’s all I wanted.” Val looked at her plate and grabbed a handful of French fries. “Here,” she said as she dumped them on his plate. “Payback.”
“I fed you,” he said quietly.
“True.” She shoved a fry in his mouth. “There! Now we’re even.”
“Yes, we are.” He looked very serious.
She was sure she heard the barmaid gasp and mutter something but didn’t hear it clearly.
“At any rate, I have to go back to work.”

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Who will you be tomorrow?

I was talking to kid extra about the issues a friend has at uni with her legal studies. She had said something like ‘she’d be glad when she finished learning law’. I used to be a lawyer. Oh, no, I said. Studying law NEVER finishes.
Not only do you have to keep up with changes in the law - and there are literally hundreds of cases heard every day that may set a new precedent. Plus, those same cases that used to be precedent are overturned on appeal in a higher level court. You also have to be up to date on the science or the information used in a case, especially if you go to trial and you have to cross examine an expert witness. And in Australia, as part of your practising certificate, you are also required to attend a minimum number of educational courses in legal studies every single year. Continuing legal education or CLE they are called.
It never stops.
And it is exactly the same with writing. The learning process never stops.
Lately I have become a bit of a learning demon: I read dozens of blog posts a week on writing, publishing, planning and the book industry; I read books on writing, plotting, making great characters, story structure and so on; I do Udemy courses on writing, or promotion, or using Scrivener; I have watched webinars on promotion, website design and many other topics; I have signed up for courses on marketing, book cover design, and productivity; and I have got up at 5am to watch a live chat session with people in the know.
It all helps.
You may cringe when you read the first thing you ever wrote, but don’t be tempted to edit it, or delete it. That was who you were back then, and now you are someone else.
Who will you be tomorrow?

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

I’m not here to help you. Version2

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag #writeworld in your block!
“I’m not here to help you,” she hissed at him. She felt obligated to say it because of the way his eyes had changed when she had entered the room. Hopeful. He had looked hopeful.
The door clicked shut behind her. And then she heard the lock turn. That made her blink.
He was tied to a chair, gagged with a cloth and he looked as if he needed help. He asked her the question with his eyebrows.
“I’m your guard,” she explained.
He snorted.
She was annoyed with herself. She had spoken to him first. So, to look more professional, she checked that the windows were locked. It was a pointless gesture given how well trussed up he was but she did it so that she didn’t have to look at him. Not for a little bit longer at any rate. He was dangerous they’d told her. And he looked it, you know? Even tied up. It was something about the way he held himself. She felt nervous and it annoyed her.
The chair made a tiny creak noise and she had to look at him. He was shifting his weight. Was he trying to test it?
“Stop that!”
He did it again, the squeak slightly louder this time.
She stood in front of him. “Hey! Stop that.”
Another looked question.
What was she going to do?
“I’ll hit you.”
He blinked slowly. And then he did it again. A challenge.
She lifted her hand in front of his face... but she couldn’t hit him. It dropped. Pointless. She had failed at the first hurdle. She couldn’t even follow up on her threat. She was the worst guard, ever.
He worked at it. Endless flexes of his body against the ropes. Heels pushed into the floor and spine arched up against the ropes. Forcing the back of the chair away. A decade of strain in as many minutes. He did it over and over. Sweat on his forehead, he blinked it away and his breath was forced through his nose.
She watched, with a glance towards the door, every minute or so. She wasn’t helping but she wasn’t stopping him either. How long could he keep this up?
His head lolled forward, body slumped.
Was he asleep?
She cleared her throat and he jolted awake. Their gaze locked and she didn’t look away. His eyes - he looked trapped. 
“They’re going to kill you.”
A slow blink. Yes.
“In the morning.”
Another blink. Yes.
“Why?” A pause. “Sorry,” she added when she realized that he couldn’t say.
He shook his head. The gag had moved a little but it was tied so tightly that it pulled at his mouth. She knew why they had tied it so tight. They’re frightened of him.
She didn’t say it out loud so she was confused when his brows lifted.
Brows again.
“Me?” she guessed.
A nod.
“Why choose me?”
“I don’t know... it was my turn?” That sounded like the question it was.
He rolled his eyes.
“Don’t be rude.” She folded her arms and turned her back on him.
But he’d made her think.
Why was she guarding him? She wasn’t exactly known for her brutality. There were others who would have loved to be in the room with him tied up. They had to have known she’d be no good at this. And if he was so dangerous why hadn’t they killed him the first chance they got? Why stick him in a cell?
With her.
She rounded on him. “Why do they want me dead?”
He tilted his head.
“That’s it. Isn’t it? You’ll escape and kill me in the process. But why me?”
He lifted his chin at her.
Against her better judgement she tried to undo the gag.
“Too tight.” She slid her fingers under the material just behind his ear where his hair was soft. It shifted a little. She put her other palm against his head to hold him still and she yanked at it.
He made a snort noise that sounded amused.
“Shut up,” she snapped.
Another yank and it loosened enough to slide. Once it dropped a little there was enough room to pull it out of his mouth. Her hands on his face. Wet material. She wiped them on her skirt.
He gulped in some air. When he could manage he rasped out his thanks.
She’d actually helped him. She really was a bad guard.
“So,” he checked, “you, dead, why?”
“I asked you first.”
“I know. I’m a girl.”
“Suits you.”
“Help me, Toby. And I’ll help you.”
“You could just kill me.”
“Yes.” A pause. “But I won’t.”
“Why not?” Not that she wanted him to kill her; it was the principle of the matter.
“I’d give you my word.”
“Right.” She frowned. Could she trust him? “Did they ask you to give your word that you wouldn’t escape?”
He grinned although it seemed to hurt his mouth to do it. “No.”
A longer pause.
“Toby?” he checked.
“The door is locked.”
“I know.”
“I’ll have to untie you for the door lock.”
He waited.
He’d probably break the chair eventually and she’d still be locked in the room with him. At least he was on her side. Or said he was. She was so annoyed with herself. Fancy letting them talk her into this, and locking her in, and with no food or water. Not even a weapon let alone a key to the door. She was just too trusting.
And she was trusting him.
She looked at him.
He was waiting for her to think it all out.
“You’re safer with me,” he pre-empted.
“I’m not so sure.”
“Stay here and the odds are that they'll hurt you, maybe even kill you, and say I did it anyway.”
“That’s happened to you before,” she guessed.
And it was her. The sacrificial item. Dropping to her knees she started to work at the knots.
“You are coming with me,” he said.
“I’ll slow you down.”
She snorted when he didn’t even try to deny it. “I’ve never travelled.”
“I’ve only travelled alone. Come anyway.”
“I’m not leaving you here.”
Oh, boy. She was well and truly in the fire, now. She looked up at his face and he smiled at her.
“If they want you dead, then I think you just might be the most valuable thing in this village.”
He was dangerous, all right. He knew just what to say. No wonder they had gagged him.

Monday, 5 October 2015

I’m not here to help you. Version 1

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

“I’m not here to help you.” He folded his arms across his substantial chest and said nothing further.
“You’re my bodyguard,” she reminded him.
“Right. Body.”
So he wasn’t going to help her. “What if I injure myself?”
“I’ll tell the truth. It was self inflicted.”
Her eyes narrowed at him. “I hate you.”
“So you keep telling me.”
“I just wanted a souvenir.”
“This is only memorable when you get caught.”
“What does that even mean?”
“Leave the sign. Get back in the car.”
“Hate!” she hissed as she scraped her boots along the pavement. But she did get in the car. 
“You are ruining my new year’s eve,” she told him as he slid into the driver’s seat.
“You did okay.” It was almost dawn.
“Humph.” She had had a pretty good night but any possibilities to use to start the new day with a bang had been scared off by her Lurch. She snorted. He ignored her.
She had deliberately sat in the front seat just to annoy him. He was a stickler for form and etiquette. The client rode in the back. Behind the driver was the safest seat in the car. That passenger survived accidents. She was in the death seat tonight. He had told her that a driver’s instinct was to turn the wheel to save themselves. She knew what he was thinking when he glanced at her and sighed loudly.
“Princess Diana's bodyguard sat here and he was the only one who survived that crash.”
“He was the only one who had his seatbelt on.”
Pulling the inertia reel out a little she let it thunk back against her chest.
“Noted,” he said.
They’d had the seat belt fight on day one. He had threatened to wrestle her into it and she had acquiesced because she didn’t trust him not to do it. He unnerved her sometimes.
“I get why I am being punished, but why are you?” she asked him.
He flicked her a glance as he pulled away from the kerb. “I’m not being punished.”
“Aren’t you? Why did you get this duty?”
“It’s a difficult assignment.”
“I am?” She snorted. “What? Going to parties, clubs and concerts?”
“Crowds, small rooms, bad lighting, multiple exits, dubious people, extreme noise-”
“Fine,” she interrupted. “I get it.”
Silence for a minute. the smooth hum of the engine.
“I need a drink.”
He made a small noise.
“I’m sobering up.”
“Good. You tried to steal a street sign.”
Another silence.
She shifted in her seat suddenly to face him. “Wait up... if I am difficult does that make you quality?”
He frowned.
“You know what I mean,” she added.
“Huh. Well listen to you Mister Wonderful.”
He ignored her.
She gave up talking to him. she had almost fallen asleep when the car pulled up at the house. The main gates opened and he steered carefully up the drive and entered the garage. He usually dropped her at the front door under the porte cochere.
“This is the garage,” she said when he turned the motor off.
“Yes,” he said it super slowly.
“You’re a dick!”
“I was trying to make less noise. It’s late.”
“Or early.” It made some sense and it was thoughtful of him.
The internal door from the garage led into the staff kitchen. There was another one for show. She grabbed a glass of tap water and gulped it down, refilled it and handed it to him. He seemed surprised, but he took it.
And then she waited for him to drink it. She could have just left but it seemed rude to do that and she wasn’t sure why that mattered; why she was still there.
He placed the empty glass on the sink. “So how were you going to reach the screws at the top of the sign?” he asked.
“I was going to do this-” and she climbed him up his body as easily as if he were a set of monkey bars, “-see?”
“Uh, huh.” His hand braced her at her lower back. He hadn’t moved much; just one foot back to brace himself.
She was almost sitting on one of his shoulders. He was looking up at her as the smile faded from her face. “Sorry,” she muttered. Thinking clearly wasn’t high on her list right now.
When she tried to get down he grabbed her. He manoeuvred her around and slid her down the front of his body until her feet touched the floor.
She gasped.
He held her a moment too long and then he stepped back; away from her.
They stared at each other.
“Happy New Year,” she whispered.
His fists were clenched and his body tense. “Same.”
“I have to sign your timesheet-”
She went. Once she was safe in her room she shut the door and locked it, washed her face and fell into her bed. Stared at the ceiling for a moment. If he was still her body guard in the morning, then she knew something about him. If he stayed, he wanted her. If he transferred out, the job mattered more to him.
She had a new aim in life. She had felt his reaction to her; hard as a rock as he’d held her body against his. She wanted to do it again, and naked of course.
The possibilities were endless. Especially given how easily he had thrown her around. Maybe her New Year would be explosive after all?

Friday, 2 October 2015

Accountability is the key to keeping habits

I love stats and graphs. I can see it, you know?
I count my steps. I count my calories. I have a Garmin vivofit bracelet and it syncs with a free phone/Chrome app called ‘my fitness pal’. So I think twice about eating that second potato if I have to log it for the day.
Steve “S.J.” Scott is always arguing that accountability is the key to keeping any new habits. He’s the habit guru, he should know. I am starting to get this, myself… call me slow.

But recently I totally let my word count spreadsheet go.
I had word counts for Goodreads reviews, blog posts, fanfic, original fic and major works. And I totaled it up every day.
I write in dribs and drabs all over the place: scraps in Google Drive, plots in spreadsheets, scribbled paragraphs in notebooks that often don’t get typed up, I have Word docs, Scrivener projects and notes for story ideas in every note-keeping program. I have short stories kept in different folders; sorted by working on it, finished, finished and posted, and finally possible to extend.
And I have lost track of what I have counted and what I haven’t.
Part of it is me. My writing system is messy and therefore not easy to track. And my Google script broke (that counted words written and emailed it to me) and I’m not clever enough to fix it. I am determined to work out how, though. Plus, I updated to windows 10 and my PC is restarting more frequently and when it does I lose my count for the scrivener words for the day. Grrr.
And these are all excuses.
But without seeing that figure, my productivity dropped. Maybe it did maybe it didn’t - but I could no longer SEE it. And that made me disheartened.
I want to finish a major project and send it off to a beta before November because I want to work on something else for nanowrimo.
In my never ending search I found another app called Writeometer. Again, it’s free. And it is a combination of word count, graphs and the pomodoro time technique - working for 25 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks - and you earn treats that you can set yourself. All customizable.
And it beeps at me. Hey, AM. You haven’t written today. You want to do that now? After your countdown session you enter in the number of words you got done. You can have more than one project. It also has a built in dictionary and thesaurus.
And it’s helping.
Maybe it’ll help you, too.

Steve Scott

My fitness pal