Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's New Year's Eve and time for my last musical post of the year. I have three songs for you this week that are each beautiful in their own way, and each, to me, tells a story of our hopes and dreams for the coming year.

The first song should more accurately be classed as a Christmas song, but I knew I had to include it this week instead, as it definitely represents a message of hope for the future. The video also makes me cry. Every single time I watch it.

The title of the second song will probably tell you instantly why I've included this one. The lyrics will just illustrate the point :-)

Finally, just to prove that I'm a traditionalist at heart, I've included the one song that will be sung around the world as the clocks strike midnight.

Thank you to the people who have welcomed and supported me in the past nine months. I've had such fun, and learned so much. I've shed a few tears for some of you, quietly behind my keyboard, and cheered for others. I can't wait to do it all again next year.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's a good job other people have great ideas

You know what is supposed to be here? My entry for Heather's competition* over at My Demon Spirits. In fact, I had planned to post it last Monday. However, you can't post what isn't written, and right now I've got nothing. Instead, I bring you a couple of public service announcements.

*The deadline mentioned in this post is 19th December, but Heather has kindly extended it to 31st December.

I'm pretty sure that you're all following SB Jones Publishing but, just in case you didn't realise, he released Guardian, the second novel in his Eternal Gateway trilogy, on December 15th. Go here to see how you can tweet to be in with a chance to win a copy until December 30th. Don't worry if you haven't read Requiem, the first in the series. SB is offering everyone a free ecopy from Amazon, also until December 30th. You can download it for the Kindle, or for the Kindle app (if, like me, you still haven't got a real Kindle and you're pretending that your pc is an ereader).

Have you got a romantic 'short' just looking for the right home? Jami Gold on her Paranormal Author blog is offering a great chance for writers. I'll let her explain it herself, as she did in her post here:

Several editors from Entangled Publishing will be visiting my blog in the second week of January to take pitches for shorter length works.  They’re interested in stories with strong romantic elements that end in a “happily ever after” or a “happily for now.”  They’re looking for stories in the 10-60K word range and are open to many genres:
  • Contemporary
  • Historical
  • Romantic Thrillers
  • Science Fiction, Dystopian, Steampunk
  • Paranormal and Urban Fantasy
  • Fantasy
If you have stories already completed that would fit those guidelines, get them polished.  If you have ideas along those lines or if you’ve thought about attempting a short story, get writing.  (Another great thing about short stories is they’re quick to write and revise.)
The editors have promised they’ll make at least one request from those who pitch on my blog, and for the pitch that excites them the most, they’ll offer detailed feedback.

So, if this sounds like something you might be interested in, check out Jami's blog before January 10th and make sure you get your chance to pitch. Good luck!

In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be here in the corner trying to turn a vague idea into a 500 word story.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A musical Christmas to you all

By the time you read this it will probably be Christmas Eve and, in the spirit of the season, I'm suspending Musical Stories for two weeks. This week, in a move that is neither surprising nor original, you get Christmas songs :-)

I love me some Last Christmas by Wham!, and Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl is probably my favourite Christmas song of all time, but I've gone for two songs that, in my opinion, aren't played enough, and a third that I heard for the first time only this morning and knew I had to share. It was hard deciding which one to push out to make room for it, I can tell you :-)

The first song has been covered by many many people, and I spent a lot of time listening to various versions with the intention of bringing you something different. In the end though, I had to admit defeat. Nobody sings it quite as well as this woman!

I've loved the second song since I first heard it as a little girl. At that time, it never struck me as an odd pairing - I was about eight - I'd never heard of either of the singers. Since then, I've decided that whoever thought of putting these two together was a genius.

The last song was one I heard for the first time this morning on Sarah Wesson's blog, Earful of Cider. I think it struck a chord with me instantly, because my parents live abroad, along with my brother and his wife and three children. I feel the distance especially at this time of year. I wish I could be there with them, drinking white wine in the sun!

Whatever you celebrate, have a wonderful holiday. I truly hope that all of you can be with people you want to be with, doing things you want to.



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Musical Stories 22: YA

I've had a cold for a few days which seems to have progressed to some kind of flu-like thing. I sat down to rest on the sofa last night, and woke up this morning at five am. I was covered with the special blankie that we only use when we're sick. Nearby was a glass of water, nasal spray, flu tablets, a box of tissues and the blistex cream for chapped lips. The kitchen, (which I hadn't cleaned), was spotless, and there was even a cup and teabag laid out next to the full kettle. I love my wonderful family :-)

This week's Musical Stories are from the YA genre, and we're hearing it from the boys this week.

I heard the first song on Leigh Covington's blog, Something to Write About. I know that everything we go through when we are young makes us who we are today but, be honest, wouldn't you love to go back and give your younger self just a few words of wisdom to make the transition a little bit smoother? I know I certainly would :-)

I just want to shake the boy in our second story and tell him to look at what he's got, right under his nose. Also, Stacy honey, never bring a boy home on the first date!

Our final entry this week wasn't supposed to be this one, but as soon as I heard it on J. A. Bennett's A Book, A Girl, A Journey I knew I had to include it. It's less of a story, more of a chapter, but as I listened to it I could picture him and her laying on their backs on a beautiful day, seeing pictures in the sky and making plans for the future. Just perfect.

Next week's chapter of Musical Stories is supposed to be crime, but who wants that on the Friday before Christmas? Musical Stories will be taking a two week break, but if you like Christmas songs, come back next week for some of my favourites :-)

I'm supposed to be going shopping today, but I'm going to relax at home and not worry about everything I still need to do until Monday. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Lyrics here

Lyrics here

Lyrics here

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja Vu Blogfest

This week's Musical Stories will be posted tonight, but today you get an extra post. This is my contribution to the Deja Vu blogfest. Click here for details.

I chose this post because I've decided that I might start entering competitions next year. This is my reminder of what not to do. Yes, this post is absolutely true. It's the story of my one and only entry to a writing comptetion :-)

First posted May 4 2011

How not to win a writing competition

20 easy steps to guarantee failure

1. Find out about a competition ten days before the closing date and convince yourself that you can produce something of a high enough standard to enter, even though you rarely write short stories because you have trouble with the 'short' part.

2. Spend the next five days writing your story, even though you're not one hundred percent sure that you've managed to interpret one of the required elements correctly. Edit and re-edit until you've made it as tight as you possibly can.

3. Congratulate yourself on being 1000 words below the required maximum word length.

4. Re-read the rules and discover that you're 1500 words over the maximum word length.

5. Spend four days trying to reduce the word-count without destroying the original story.

6. Read the finished story immediately because you don't have time to let it sit like you'd planned.
Realise that you now have something so flat that it reads like an example on a 'how not to write' blog.

7. Read it to your beloved partner, even though he has a history of sending you back to the drawing board, because you need another opinion and he's the only one around.

8. Listen to, and agree with, his suggestions which involve you going back to the drawing board.

9. Struggle with writing a new opening. Write a rubbish one for now just so you can continue. Realise 1000 words into your new effort that you're boring yourself. Screw up latest effort and throw it across the room.

10. Go to bed.

11. Wake up the day before the competition deadline determined to get this right. Spend the day making some progress, realise that you're going to be working late into the night.

12. Spend the evening watching DVDs with your daughters because they came home a day early after being away for a week and they want to spend time with you. Go to bed late.

13. Set your alarm clock for 9am. Dream that your competition entry should have been posted instead of submitted online so that when your alarm goes off you think you've missed the deadline. Go back to sleep.

14. Jump out of bed in a panic at 10.30am, realise that you have no time to finish your rewrite.

15. Have a quick read through of your original entry. Decide that it would sound better in present tense. Rewrite and do a quick spell check. Realise you have 15 minutes to deadline, so submit story without even a read through.

16. Be too ashamed to even read it back once it's been submitted as you know there are formatting errors, and probably a ton of typos and it's too late to do anything about it.

17. Resolve never ever to submit anything to a competition again that you are not proud of, and thank the writing deity of your choice that no-one, except the judges, will ever know what you did.

18. Hope that the judges of a competition for a TV station will never judge any other writing competitions and be glad that you don't have an unusual name that would stick in a judge's mind.

19. Make a note to check the competition website on June 1st to read the three that did actually make the short-list.

20. Go and work on your novel.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Contests and blogfests and corn, oh my!

The family trip to the art college on Saturday was a huge success. Practically from the moment she walked in, Diva was sure this was where she wanted to be next year. Each new thing she learned about the studies involved only strengthened her resolve. She's already working on extra pieces for her portfolio to show her diversity. Fingers crossed that she's accepted. They accept 200 students a year and last year had 420 applicants so it isn't a foregone conclusion, but at least she knows what she's working towards. I wish we could say the same for poor Blue. The school she has set her heart on accepts about 20 students from the UK and have over 500 applicants. So far, we haven't found any other viable schools that offer the International Baccalaureate rather than A' levels, but we keep searching! Send us positive thoughts if you would :-)

I have some interesting things to tell you about today, so let's start with some contests:

Medeia Sharif is offering a book of your choice from the Book Depository. This is an international contest which closes on 31st December. Click here to enter.

Joanne at Whole Latte Life is offering a $20 ebook gift card for her lucky winner, but this one closes tomorrow so be sure to click here today to enter!

Here's a nice one. Heather at My Demon Spirits is holding a competition for the best short holiday story (it doesn't have to be Christmas related). The closing date for entries to be posted on your blog is 19th December and she's offering three prizes including a $25 Amazon gift card. Go here for all the details.

Now for some blogfests:

A nice easy one to start. Katie Mills at Creepy Query Girl is co-hosting the Deja Vu blogfest, along with Nicole Ducleroir, Lydia Kang and DL Hammons. Click on one of the links to sign up, and repost one of your old posts on 16th December. Easy, and a good chance to remind us of something you might be particularly proud of :-)

The Wrap It Up blogfest is being organised by David Powers King, J. A. Bennett and Leigh Covington. Sign up before 16th December, then write something in less than 300 words for somebody, (real or imaginary), and post it on your blog before the closing date. There are prizes for this one. Click on one of the links for full details.

Finally, if all this Christmas joy is just too much for you, here's a bloghop especially for you. Grumpy Bulldog is offering his very own Bah Humbug Blahg fest. Hit the link to sign up before 15th December then, on that day, simply answer the question: What are the 12 things I hate most about the holiday season?

Before I go, I promised you corn. Enjoy :-)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Musical Stories 21: SciFi

Thank you all for your kind comments and suggestions on my last post. It really meant a lot, and stopped me feeling sorry for myself. Things are moving on in the editing department, but more about that some other time! Tomorrow, Techno and I are off to visit an Art College with Diva to see if it will be a good fit for her next year, so wish us luck!

After our recent special editions, it's time to begin the third series of Musical Stories. As usual we're starting with SciFi. Enjoy :-)

I'm almost certain that somebody recommended the first song to me. Unfortunately I didn't make a note, so if it was you could you please let me know so I can credit you? On the surface, this is a cheerful, cheesy song but, listen closer, and you will realise it's actually very sad. (It's also a retelling of another, very famous, SciFi song).

If you watch Breaking Bad, I have two words for you: Gale Boetticher.

The second story comes at the usual 'humans meet aliens' idea from a slightly different angle. The reaction our visitor has, after seeing how people on Earth behave towards one another, is one that I think we would all have now and then if we had the choice.

This week's final song is a boy's fears that he is no longer exciting enough for his love when she returns from an amazing journey. He points out some of the good things there are on Earth too. I'm not sure I'd include fried chicken but, hey, whatever works!

Next week it's the turn of YA literature. Have a wonderful weekend :-)

Lyrics here

Lyrics here

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group 3

It's time for this month's post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Thanks, as ever, to Alex Cavanaugh for putting this together. Here are the participants if you'd like to read more.

So, what am I thinking about this month? If you read my last post, you already know my feelings about editing. This is kind of an extension of that.

I'm not sure I actually have a full length novel in me.

Before I started my first novel, I assumed I would write long and have to delete thousands of words. At school, my stories were always longer than everyone else's. At uni, my essays were double the length they needed to be. I used to cut and paste them. I mean, literally. I would cut paragraphs up, move them around and stick them onto paper. My dissertation, which had a 16k limit, started life at 40k words. So I resigned myself to having to kill a lot of darlings.

I wish. I've written four stories, (I can't bring myself to call them novels), ranging from 36,000 to 55,000 words. I know there is stuff that needs to be added, but there's stuff that needs to be removed too. I think my problem is that, whilst I have good ideas for main plots, I don't have sub-plots. I tell myself to concentrate on the stories and not to worry about the length, but if I do that then I feel like I'm giving up on publication. Which isn't so bad, publication still seems like pie in the sky to me right now anyway, but then I feel like a fraud, being here with all of you, having this blog.

Perhaps these are just not the right stories, but I love them. In the right hands, I think they could be really good. If only they were longer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Starting with the basics

Now that NaNoWriMo is finished, it's time to turn my mind back to editing. I had just started to edit one of my stories at the end of October, and I thought that I would continue that whilst writing something else. I realised very quickly that it wasn't going to happen. Still, another month of leaving it to sit won't have hurt it at all.

I'm after some recommendations, if any of you have any, as to some good books that might help with the editing process. I've got a ton of posts from around the web, saved in my editing folder but, faced with a mass of my words, I'm really struggling to know how to do this. I know that you should leave the small stuff until last. What's the use of correcting punctuation and deleting adjectives if you're going to rewrite great swathes of the story? Still, it's those little things that I find myself focusing on because I'm not exactly sure how to go about fixing the big picture.

What's frustrating me is that sometimes I'm sure there's a good story buried among the rubble, I'm just not sure how to find it. I'm scared I'm going to end up as one of those people who just write story after story, and never edit any of them. I have four now, and not one of them has had a proper edit. To steal someone else's analogy, I've painted all the bedrooms before I've built the staircases. Can anyone help me with a good carpenter?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Musical Stories Special Edition: He's just not that into you ...

Sorry I've not been around this week. It's mostly due to the end of NaNo and joining the beta test of a new online game, Star Wars, The Old Republic (WoW in space and absolutely amazing). I'm hoping to catch up with your blogs over the weekend and, from next week, I'll be blogging three times a week for the foreseeable future.

This week is the last special edition of Musical Stories before we start series three. I know that 'he's just not that into you' is not a genre but the title was too good to pass up! I'm not sure there's a category for broken romance, but perhaps someone could put me right on that score.

I've broken my own most rigid rule this week. The last of these songs is over eight minutes long. I had to include it though, as it is one of the best examples of this kind of story I have ever heard. I've tried to balance it out by choosing two other songs that are shorter than usual. I hope you enjoy them.

My first choice has to be the ultimate demonstration to a woman that yes, it really is over and he's not going to change his mind. And, even if he does, girl you really don't want him back!

For the second song, you just know he still loves her, but he's going to keep telling himself he doesn't until he believes it. I actually wanted to give you Elvis Costello's version of this song, which is incredible, but I couldn't find it anywhere online. So you get another singer who I love instead.

The final choice is a truly epic tale. If you get the time to watch the video, you should. The interaction between the singers is great. A true cautionary tale for loved-up (or 'lusted-up') teens everywhere!

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend. I'm looking forward to catching up with you all soon.

Lyrics here

Lyrics here

Friday, November 25, 2011

Musical Stories Special Edition: Memoir

Happy Friday everyone. I hope all my American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday, and that those of you who went shopping today grabbed a few bargains, and no bruises.

You might remember last week that I said I would showcase a few Musical Stories that didn't quite fit any of our genres before I got started on the third series. I think today's three could all be classed as the memoir genre. (I wish I'd thought to include Memoir when I started this!) I'm sure I don't need to state this, but I will anyway, I'm not suggesting that these are real memoirs, rather they are the stories of the people depicted in the songs.

You get an added bonus with the first song as the best sound quality version I could find is played against a backdrop of scenes from Thelma and Louise. There are other versions of this song, but I don't believe anyone could sing it better than this woman, although I suspect the singer's memoir would be way more exciting than anything the character in this song could experience.

I first heard the second song when I was too young to understand the words, and it has remained a favourite of mine ever since. I bet there's not a single one of us who hasn't, at least once, wanted to give it to someone with both barrels :-)

My final choice for this week is a bit of a self indulgent one. Yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of the death of someone who I consider to be the greatest showman ever. You're still missed mate.

I hope you enjoy these, we'll have another special edition next week and then we'll start series three.

If you want to know how Harper Valley was faring 15 years later, here's your answer.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stupid Comments

If you're looking for this week's musical stories, it's here, but you can't comment on it. Too many people were unable to comment on my posts so, much as I loved the comment system I was using, I uninstalled it. In doing so, I lost all comments since 16th September. I don't know how I messed it up, and I'm really upset about it but from now on there shouldn't be any problems.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Musical Stories 20: Romance

I messed up and you can't comment on this post. There is a newer post above it if you would like to leave a comment. Yes, I'm an idiot :-)

Thank you so much to all of you for your prayers and good wishes for Diva. She is absolutely fine now. She went to school today dressed like Annie Hall, which is a style she thinks she has invented, (for 'dress down' day), excited to tell all her friends about her trip to the hospital. Oh, the resilience of youth! She doesn't read my blog but I did tell her that all my friends were thinking of her and she wanted me to say thank you from her too. So, thank you from Diva!

By the way, I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but I was interviewed over on Emily's blog, Get Busy Writing. It was last Monday, but I thought I'd mention it in case you haven't discovered Emily's blog yet.

It's hard to believe, but we're at the end of our second journey through our musical stories, which means we end on a romantic note. The choices this week are a reminder that the course of true love can be anything but smooth.

The first song is proof, if proof were needed, that guys are just as scared as girls of getting it wrong and spoiling things. If you're not sure what to say, say nothing and enjoy the moment.

Song number two is the sad tale of what happens when you fall in love with someone you shouldn't. You see them when you can, instead of when you want.

For the final choice, the whole world knows this guy is in love, now, if he would only admit it to himself! If that description didn't give it away, I'll be very surprised.

So there it is, the end of series two. I do hope you've enjoyed it. There might be a third series, but for the next couple of weeks I'm going to showcase a few songs that didn't quite make it. These are usually ones that I think have a great story, but if they were books, I wouldn't quite know where to shelve them :-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm thankful

Blue has something wrong with her, medically. It's still undiagnosed, and it's not major, but she suffers at times with her health. In contrast, Diva has the constitution of an Ox so it was a shock last night, when Diva came home from school and complained of having had pins and needles all up her left side during the bus ride home. It had started in her arm, moved up to her shoulder and travelled across her face. Her mouth and gums had gone completely numb. When she was talking to me, she sounded as though her tongue was swollen, and her speech was slurred. The pins and needles disappeared, but her arm had gone numb, she couldn't feel anything. I phoned the Doctor, and they said they would see her in the morning but to phone if anything changed in the next half an hour. I'd barely put the phone down when Diva began to panic that her arm was burning. I was back on the phone straight away and they agreed to see her in half an hour. Five minutes later, her arm was no longer burning but it was too heavy to lift, and very cold. I couldn't feel any difference in temperature, but it was obviously happening. That's when she told me that earlier, her leg had also gone numb and she struggled to walk for a few minutes.

By the time we went to the Doctor, most of the symptoms had subsided, but she now had a headache on one side of her head, which seemed to be moving round, spiking, fading, moving then spiking again. Lights were hurting her eyes and she felt sick. Outwardly, I was very calm but inside I was panicking. The symptoms seemed to be coming and going so fast and I had never seen anything like this before. I'll be honest I was really scared. After examining her and doing some tests, the Doctor called the paediatricians ward at our local hospital and told them to expect us. He told us not to go on the bus but to take a cab. This is the point where I really grew frightened.

I'll cut the rest of this short, but some of you may already know what the diagnosis was. The hospital (and the Doctor, it turns out, although he didn't say) are positive it was a migraine with aura. The type of aura (all the symptoms before the headache) is rare but still common enough to diagnose easily. They can't officially diagnose a migraine as there needs to be more than one to call it that but they are certain that's what it was. Strong painkillers eased the headache enough to the point where I was allowed to take her home rather than her staying overnight as they had originally wanted. This morning she has no more than a mild headache.

You may think I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, and maybe I am, but last night, for a couple of hours I thought there was something seriously wrong with her. Don't get me wrong, I'm not underplaying the severity of migraines but they can be managed, they are not life-threatening, and she may not get another. If she does, we'll know what it is and be prepared. The things that were going through my mind – stroke, poisoning, tumour – are a lot harder to deal with.

I commented this morning on a post asking what I am thankful for. Today, I am thankful that last night my daughter had a migraine.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Musical Stories 19: Horror

Life's been a bit hectic this week, but I couldn't miss my regular chapter of Musical Stories, so here I am. Before we get to that though, a very brief update on how NaNo is going for me. In a word, badly. Apparently, I'm set to achieve my 50,000 words on June 15, 2012. Hopefully, I'll pick up this weekened though as Phil from A Time to Phil and I are doing one of our regular team 10k events, where we write 10k words in a weekend. This is our third time, and we've always managed to push each other over the finish line in the past, so wish us luck for this time too!

This week's Musical Stories are from the horror genre. I've gone for a slightly more tongue in cheek theme this time, rather than out and out chills, but I hope you enjoy them all the same.

The first one is a great example of the writing 'rule' where everyone should have a motive for what they do, even the bad guys. This gentleman's motivation is that he loves his work!

I love the second story, it's a wonderfully creepy YA tale. If it was made into a film I have no doubt that one of the boys would be changed into a screaming girl, but I like it better this way.

For my final choice, what happens if you're turned into a zombie and your co-worker won't speak to you? Why, you send him a memo of course! This song is fun, as well as being creepy but - and this is a serious warning – If you're one of those who can't watch The Walking Dead, don't watch the video. Minimise it and just listen to the song, I really don't want to gross anybody out.

Next week, we reach the end of our journey for the second time and we'll end on a romantic note. In the meantime, have a lovely weekend, and don't have nightmares!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Musical Stories 18: Children's Literature

I'd like to tell you that I'm late with this week's Musical Stories because I was hard at work writing or editing, but I'd be lying. The truth is, I went to bed at 8pm last night. One of these days I'll find a decent sleep pattern!

Better late than never, this week's Musical Stories are Children's Literature. They're all quite different, but each is special in its own way.

I love number one almost as much for the video as for the song itself. The singer mimics the mannerisms of a small child beautifully. I hope you're able to watch the video as well as listen, and you'll see what I mean.

Number two is a reminder that the world can be a harsh confusing place, and sometimes children have to find this out early. This one never fails to bring a lump to my throat.

The final song for this week was recommended by Margot Kingberg from Confessions of a Mystery Novelist. I do have other songs that, perhaps, tell more of an actual story than this one but it was so beautiful I just had to include it. (Sorry if there's an advert at the beginning, it was the best version).

Next week is the penultimate chapter in this series and it's horror, so be prepared to be spooked!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And we're off!

It's 12:04 am. I might as well start while I'm feeling enthusiastic :-)

I'm registered as Sarah Pearson if anyone wants to find me. There are a few of us, but I'm using the same picture as my blog one.

This is going to become my theme tune, not just for NaNo, but until I get published.

I nabbed this from Sommer Leigh's blog Tell Great Stories. If you liked that, she has more here.

Best of luck to everyone taking part, officially or unofficially!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Musical Stories 17: Fantasy

Wow, can you believe I've been running this feature for over seventeen weeks, and we're almost at the end of the second series? This week, we're revisiting the Fantasy genre, and I've got three very different songs for you.

The first one is by special request. I mentioned last time round that this artist had been on the shortlist, thanks to Patsy Collins who introduced me to her, but hadn't made the cut, and a couple of people were disappointed. This song in particular was mentioned as a favourite by Jenny of Fulfilling Dreams. So, especially for you, Jenny :-)

I love number two. Pity the poor Angel who's been on Earth for years, witnessing misery and devastation and unable to stop it all, all he wants to do is go home.

Number three is fantasy of a different kind. What happens when you mix a wonderful story with recreational drugs? You get this!

So , that was our fantasy week. Next week it's children's literature.

Lyrics here

Lyrics here

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some very Special People

I'm the first to admit that I'm really really bad when it comes to passing on awards. One of the reasons for this is that, other than Musical Stories on Fridays, I only post once a week and something always seems to come up when I'm planning an award post. This is partly why I'm planning to post an extra day a week. I probably won't start doing this until December because of NaNo, but I've got so much great stuff that I find, and want to share, that it's something I need to do.

That was all a long-winded introduction to tell you about a really special award that I received a while ago. Julie at rosewood pencil box gave me an award that she and J at Concrete Pieces of Soul had designed. (Well technically J's talented fiancĂ© designed it, but you know what I mean). They've named the award 'The thumbs up from Skunk award' since “we all feel like stinky, stinky skunks some days” and there are people who “make us feel (and smell) a lot better”. I don't know about the smelling part, but there are definitely people who make me feel better :-)

Thank you so much to Julie, and I'll let her explain the award:

Since the Random-Things-About-Yourself trope is getting a little tired, J and I decided to make this award different. Of course, still thank and link back to the person who gave it to you. Thumbs Up from Skunk is about confidence, believing in yourself, so we think it'd be great for you to list one Thing About Yourself That Pleases You, one thing you LOVE. It could be anything, from your writing, to a good meal you had, a conversation with a witty cut-up... something good. To get the ball rolling, J and I are passing the award onto five people a piece, but you can give it to as many or as few as you like. You can even hold onto it, if you'd rather, until a particularly uplifting something occurs, and then pass it on accordingly. Or, as J says in her post, “until someone comes along and changes your universe.” I love that.

Okay, something about myself that pleases me? Fifteen days ago (not that I'm counting!), I started a diet, and I have stuck to a sensible eating plan instead of some get-skinny-quick crash diet. There's a long way to go, and it's not something I'm going to bore you all with by blogging about (although I might, occasionally), but right now, it's something I'm proud of.

Now for the hard bit. Obviously, there are so many people I would like to pass this on to, so I decided to pass it on to people who either inspire me, or make me feel good, without knowing that they do so. Feel free not to display it or pass it on if you choose not to, (at least one of these people doesn't display awards), I just wanted you to know that you make a difference. I managed to narrow the list to six, so in no particular order:

E. R. King at Get Busy Writing and

Vic Caswell at hairnets and hopes

Emily and Vic, thank you for being my friends. Your emails cheer me up, and you both have the ability to make me laugh even when you don't know that's exactly what I need :-)

Margot Kinberg at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist

Margot, you write a fabulous crime fiction blog and I've expanded my knowledge of this genre so much since I've been reading it. More than that though, you are kind and patient and you never mind when I make stupid comments. Your kind emails have stayed with me, thank you.

Denise at L'Aussie Writing

For making me feel that you believe in me, and for having faith that one day I might be able to write a decent romantic scene :-)

Michelle at Hot Pink Combat Boots

For your sense of humour and fun blog, (the name of which suits you perfectly), in the face of constant moves and a difficult job. I admire the way that you get on and do things that others only think about.

Brooke Busse at Paper Mountain

Because every piece of flash fiction you write makes me want to know more about the characters. I think you are incredibly talented and I cannot wait for the day I can buy something published by you. Your writing inspires me.

You six, you inspire me, and make me feel good. So now you know :-)

I apologise for the weird spacing, font size and everything else. I've typed this post three times. Blogger hates me.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Musical Stories 16: War

First, hello to all the people who have followed me on Twitter. I'm pretty sure I'm following you all back. I'm still a bit quiet on there, but I'm slowly finding my feet. Thank you for making me feel so welcome.

Our stories this week are all about War. So what have I chosen?

Number one is one of my slight cheats as it's less of a story and more of a character study. Still, it's all about the writing, no?

I know I said this week would be less girly than last week but I still managed to sneak a ballad in. This is a sweet, very sad story, that actually brought a lump to my throat, (although I think I've already mentioned I cry very easily). I found this song on someone's blog a few weeks ago but neglected to write their name down so if it was you, please let me know so I can credit you.

This week's final song is a definite cross-genre story, just right for this time of year. By the way, I refuse to be held responsible if the chorus gets stuck in your head!

Next week, it's all about the Fantasy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Broadening my horizons

Well, I've finally gone and done it. I've joined Twitter. Actually, I did it last week, I just haven't tweeted anything yet. Or told anyone I'm there, until now. So far, I'm following three people and watching two. (These are people who came up on my google account). I haven't really got to grips with it yet, mainly because the little bird on my task bar who is supposed to turn red when someone tweets only does it about one time in three. I'm sure I'll work it out soon though. I'm SarahPearson9 if you're interested, but I wouldn't bother just yet. I do have one follower though, Techie bless his heart, which is funny because he doesn't actually tweet either. Also, if he wants to say something to me he could just turn round. At some point, I'll try and work out how to put links on my blog. At some point.
Also, I'm on Goodreads. I joined ages ago, but I've just started using it in the last few weeks. It seemed a better idea than my 'books I want to read' page, which I never remember to update. Join me there if you like.
Lastly, who's doing NaNo this year? I wasn't going to. I was just going to use it as a challenge to write 50k words in November, but then Sommer Leigh of Tell Great Stories (who's running a series of great posts about it) asked me why I wasn't actually signing up. I don't actually have an answer, so I think I'll probably just take the plunge.
Before I go, I just wanted to let you know that I'm probably going to revert to the old comment system. I've had at least four people let me know that they were unable to comment on my last post. I've been looking at it and I can't see why, so it'll be all change again soon.
Update: Apparently, if you click on the actual post title, the comments box will appear. If you still have problems, could you please email me and let me know?
To finish, here's a little something I nabbed from Sarah Wesson over at Earful of Cider, who got it from I Can Has Cheezburger. This is just brilliant :-)

(Removed picture of two crows. Caption reads 'attempted murder.')

see more So Much Pun

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Musical Stories 15: Chick Lit

I know I'm a day late with this week's Musical Stories, but I wanted to give you all a chance to enjoy my awesome selections for the Pay It Forward blogfest. That's my story anyway! Talking of the blogfest, welcome to all my new readers and visitors that have found their way here. I'm well and truly over the two hundred readers mark now, so thank you!

This week is Chick Lit and I'm going to start with one that I was in two minds about posting. It has a very definite story line with a woman protagonist but I wonder how many of you would be able to warm to an MC like this. I think she could be made into a sympathetic character, but it might take some skill. This is one of those times when the plot triumphs over the characters, I think!

I had a hard time at school, and a wise person once told me that I should think kindly of those Queen Bees giving me grief, because their popularity at school was the best things were ever going to be for them. I didn't understand then, but the second song explains it perfectly.

My final song of the week epitomises our strong chick lit heroine. It also demonstrates that a happy ending can take more than the obvious form!

Don't worry if this is all a bit too girlie for you, next week's genre is War :-)

Lyrics here

Lyrics here

Lyrics here

Friday, October 14, 2011

Paying It Forward

If you're looking for this week's Musical Stories, they'll be up later. For now, I wanted to take part in the Pay It Forward Blogfest that Alex Cavanaugh, and Matt from the Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment have devised. The idea is that we each choose three blogs to introduce you to, blogs that we love, and if you don't already know them, feel free to check them out.

Once you've done that, Click on Matt or Alex's list above for a full list of blogs taking part if you fancy finding plenty more great new blogs.

If you're taking part in this, then you'll know how hard it is to pick just three. I've finally managed, and I hope you love them.

Linda G at Visiting Reality is funny and smart and has plenty of sass. Also, every week on hump day there are camels. How can you resist?

Michael Offutt from SLC Kismet is a man with opinions, which he's more than happy to share. I don't always agree with him, but he often makes me think. Plus, he has excellent taste in TV programmes :-)

Roland Yeomans of Writing in the Crosshairs writes the most beautiful prose, and has a wonderful imagination. On top of that, he's kind and supportive and will reach out a helping hand to anyone in the blogosphere who needs it.

So there you go, three out of hundreds. Please go and say hello if you get the chance.

Monday, October 10, 2011

South of Charm with Elliot Grace

I'm absolutely thrilled today to be bringing you an interview with Elliot Grace of So close, but ... This is the fourth stop on Elliot's tour for his wonderful book South of Charm.

This is an excerpt, courtesy of Goodreads:

We're huddled in the far corner of my bedroom. Arms wrapped around our knees in the dark. The approaching footsteps grow louder. Ominous thuds. Our mother, but somehow not. She's standing outside my door. We listen to the creak of the hinges. My sister clenches my arm. "She's coming," she whispers. "She's broken."

You can buy the book from Amazon UK Kindle edition

also from Amazon .com Kindle edition or paperback edition

Now let's see what Elliot has to say.

Describe South of Charm in your own words

While South of Charm doesn't really fit into the general selection of genres available, (something I'm actually proud to admit), I liken it to a coming of age story in the mold of King's Stand By Me, or McCammon's A Boy's Life. This is a story of small town innocence, of the drama surrounding a young boy and his sister, fallen victim to personal tragedy, and of a certain magic that only happens in neighborhoods where last names aren't necessary, and front doors are left unlocked after hours.

From starting to write, to getting published, how long did the process take?

I began South of Charm while laid off from my day job at that time, then continued on after being called back to work, for fear of losing the “groove” as my wife likes to call it. It took me three years to complete a manuscript worthy of speaking of. After signing with Wooster Books, revisions, rewrites, and final edits burned up another eighteen months, followed by six months of waiting. Needless to say, in this biz, patience is an absolute virtue.

Why was this the story you had to tell? It can't have been an easy one.

While I've played around with other story ideas, this was the one with the strongest character drama, the one I felt carried the best message of hope. This was the story that made my wife cry, which was most convincing of all.

Which character was the hardest to write?

Danny's mother proved the most difficult simply because her character demanded the most attention to detail. It took several re-rewrites to figure out her illness, her thought processes as her family crumbled around her. She's been the most challenging character I've dealt with to date.

Were there any favourite parts to write?

Growing up surrounded in athletic ventures, and now as a youth ball coach, penning the baseball scenes were a blast to write. I've since begun work on several new projects involving sports related themes, and enjoying every minute of it ;)

What, if any, advice would you give Danny?

What a great question! To be quite honest, following the end of Danny's struggles, and the respect demanded of him upon the final decision he makes, I think perhaps it would be me going to him for advice, as opposed to the other way around.

Being a regular reader to Elliot's blog, I expected this book to be well written and I expected it to tell a great story. I also expected it to be a cute MG book that would while away a few undemanding hours. You know what they say, two out of three ain't bad. This is not an easy book, but it is a rewarding one, and the characters will stay with you long after you've read the last page. I thoroughly recommend it. I also recommend this wonderful review from Anne Gallagher at Piedmont Writer.

Elliot's also holding a contest with some great prizes. Go here to find out how to enter and what you can win. The details are below his tour itinerary.

Thank you so much to Elliot for allowing me to share the fun of his book tour, and also for being my first ever guinea-pig interviewee.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Musical Stories 14: Literary

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my last post. I know people always say this, but it really does make a difference knowing that I'm not alone, and that you all understand and have my back.

It's literary week again on Musical Stories. This is the one week in the series when, whilst story is still important, the real beauty is in the words themselves. From today, there will be a link below each video to the lyrics of the songs. This is for the people who've told me that they can't view the videos, so they can still join in.

Apparently the first song has been used in a film I haven't seen, (I gleaned that from watching another video), but I've chosen a version with lyrics instead. I'm not hating on the film, I just don't want sparkly vampires to distract from the words :-)

For the second song, originally I was going to pick Hallelujah but I decided at the last minute to go with another Leonard Cohen song which, in my opinion, has equally wonderful lyrics but doesn't get the love it deserves.

The last song is a recommendation from SBJones. Thanks SB. There are two videos for this song on YouTube. The other one is almost seven minutes long so I've picked the shorter one. I should warn you though, that the video for this song was made to highlight awareness of human trafficking. As such, you may find it disturbing, although there are no major scenes of violence. I suggest you play the song with your screen minimised if you prefer not to watch. The song itself was actually written as a tribute to a band member's Mother who died. I think it's beautiful.

I hope you enjoy this week's selections. Next week we're revisiting Chick Lit.

Lyrics here

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group 2

Remember last month when I wrote this post for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Group?
Well guys, things are kind of tough right now in a lot of ways. Ways that are having a knock -on effect on my writing. As in, I'm pretty sure I've taken a great idea and turned it into a boring story, and I don't quite know what to do about it.

So I'm asking you all for this:

In return, I promise you this:

Sorry it's not in my own words, but other people can say it better than me today.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Musical Stories 13: Crime

The Musical Story chapter this week is crime, and I've got some real treats. Two of the songs deal with the same crime but I couldn't bear to leave either of them out so I hope you'll forgive me. Things I have learned this week: If you meet someone you think you want to spend the rest of your life with, it's best to finish with the current love first. It could be seriously bad for your health otherwise. You're welcome. Also, all three of these song titles would make brilliant titles for books.

I had a very hard time choosing which version of the first song to use. In case you're interested, on Youtube there are also great versions by Kirsty MacColl, (and if you've been here since the beginning, you know how much I love her), Nat King Cole and some random guy with a harmonica. In the end though, I went with a classic. This song is a testament to good manners. No matter what is going on in one's life, one should always remember to cancel those social engagements that one cannot attend!

For the second song, I deliberately picked a video that showed the lyrics. If you're able to, read those lyrics while he's singing. The singer was only about twenty when he wrote this. If I'd been able to write description like this at twenty, I'd have been a very happy girl.

What can I say about the third song except – enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Internet - Luxury or Necessity?

This post was supposed to be my entry for the second Campaigners Challenge but I've got nothing. I even tried a poem, but it was just a lot of pretty words strung together with no real meaning behind it. I may be sitting this one out but that's okay, there are plenty of great entries out there. I have to say, I've been very pleasantly surprised by the high standard, considering the words given. It's been a really interesting challenge.

This week I received a telephone call from the local council who I'm negotiating a debt repayment with. We currently disagree on the monthly figure I should pay. Among other things, I was told that having the internet was a luxury I didn't need. I explained that I felt it was necessary as there are two adults in the house looking for work, and two teenagers who have important exams next Summer, who are constantly set homework assignments that require the internet. The Official said that wasn't a good enough reason to pay for such a luxury and it would have to go. He wasn't querying the amount I pay for it, just the fact that I pay for it at all. It's academic really, because even if I got rid of the internet, and made the changes that he said I should, our disposable income still wouldn't reach the amount that they are asking for.

So here's where I want your opinion, and I mean this genuinely. Am I wrong in considering the internet to be a necessity these days? Putting aside the fact that I'm a writer and a blogger, I could still work on my wip at home obviously, only research would be affected. The amount I pay for my internet would pay for 5.5 round trips per month between Techno and I to visit the Jobcentre and the library. The girls could probably stay late at school to do their homework. There are some problems with that, but I won't complicate things.

I'm honestly not just looking for you to tell me that the big bad council is wrong, (unless that's what you believe, of course), but I'm wondering if I have a false sense of entitlement, if actually the internet really is something that I should be prepared to get rid of.

So, internet - luxury or necessity?

ETA: This post has been edited to remove some of the more personal elements that I probably shouldn't have shared in the first place.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Musical Stories 12: YA

So far so good, there seem to be more advantages than disadvantages with the new comment system. You should be getting email replies from me as I post my replies on the blog, so I hope that's happening. I know it doesn't recognise your blogger ID, but if there are any other issues with it please let me know.

Time for my favourite part of the week. This week's Musical Stories are Young Adult. I've got three quite different choices for you, so hopefully something for everyone.

Number one is a classic. I like to think there's a happy ending for our MC. It's not looking so good for her parents but, as this is a YA story, I think they should be grateful they haven't been killed off!

Number two was a tough call. I debated whether this belonged here or in another genre. I made my decision based on where I thought it would be shelved if it was a book, so here it is. I'd like to make it clear that I'm not trying to make light of any events that have happened in the past by including this, it's just a demonstration that YA stories cover a very wide range of genres and topics.

Number three is something special. Apparently there aren't enough male MC's in YA literature so here's my contribution, evidence that boys have their hearts broken too!

The very first time I heard the third song, upon hearing the first few lines, I thought it was David Beckham talking about taking a penalty in some new football anthem. In spite of that, it's become a favourite of mine.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Competitions, good news and something special

What you were supposed to be reading today was my entry for the second campaigner challenge but as I have to find a dictionary to work out what I'm supposed to be writing about, I'll think I'll devote a bit more time to this one. Tomorrow is Musical Stories, so you'll see my entry next week sometime.

In the meantime, I've got a few things to mention. First is two competitions that I've been meaning to tell you about for a couple of week s now.

Are you a fan of Dean Koontz, Stephen King or Laurell K Hamilton? Would you like to win a book autographed by one of these three? Roland Yeomans of Writing in the Crosshairs is running a competition to win just that. All you have to do is write a review of one of his books for Amazon. This competition is running until October 1st and is open internationally. I'm particularly excited about this as Stephen King was my first 'grown up' author and Dean Koontz was my second.

The other competition I want to tell you about also has an awesome prize. On 1st December, D. J. Kirkby is giving away a kindle. Go here to find out how to gain additional entries. Follow the blog for future posts on how to gain even more entries.

While we're on the subject of competitions, I have some good news to share. Although I didn't place in the first campaigner challenge, (see here for the winners) I was lucky enough to win a random prize which turned out to be a critique of a full ms of up to 85,000 words by the lovely 1000th Monkey. I've been in touch with her, and I'm very proud to say I have my first deadline. Admittedly, it's a loose deadline, but it's still great. I work so much better under external pressure!

Still on the first campaigner challenge, I'd like to thank all the judges for their time and effort and, in particular, Michael Offutt who had the huge task of delegating and organising the judging. Not a task I would have relished.

One more thing to mention before I go. CherylAnne Ham wrote a guest post at Bird's-Eye View earlier this week extolling the virtues of a blog tool called IntenseDebate. Red more about it there, but the two things about it that really excited me were the fact that you can respond individually to each commenter and, when you respond to a comment by email, it automatically posts the comment on the post. At the moment I'm doing that separately, so I'm going to try this. Let me know if there's anything you don't like about the new comment system (assuming I've installed it correctly, of course). I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Finally, here is something special. I'm afraid I can't remember whose blog I got this from, I've had it a while, but I often look at it when I need reminding that it's okay to do what I do. Don't peek at the end before you've looked at it all, but I have the last line stuck up next to me on a post it. I hope you love it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Musical Stories 11: SciFi

This week the Musical Stories begin all over again with the Sci-Fi genre. For those of you who haven't been here since the beginning, this is where you can find the first Sci-Fi stories. Don't forget to come back and enjoy this week's choices though!

The first song this week is a classic, although you might not know this version. It may be exciting travelling beyond the stars, but it can be lonely too.

Song number two proves that even in the SciFi genre, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or does it? Is he thinking of only her while they're all that distance apart? I have my doubts. I guess you might say this one is a bit cheesy, but it's fun!

Finally, a story where an alien is preparing for first contact and doesn't want world domination? Now that would be quite an original storyline!

I hope there was something you liked there. Next week we're going to tell some young adult stories.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

If I could be anyone...

As I suspect you've noticed by now, there's a bit of an event happening for the release of Talli Roland's new book Watching Willow Watts. You can buy the ebook at Amazon UK or Amazon .com.

Talli asked us who we would choose to be for the day. I promise you, the name of who I chose is entirely coincidental, in that it happens to be one of my favourite names.

I had real trouble deciding who I would be. So many names of people I admire went through my head but then I'd think about their traumatic personal lives, their bad habits, their unsuitable spouses … you get the picture. That's when I realised it would have to be someone I know everything about, so the person I would like to be is Willowslayer, my dwarf warrior from the online game World of Warcraft. (Yes, I wanted to call her Willow, but the name was taken. Nobody ever used her full name anyway.) I played this game for a lot longer than was good for me and made many many characters, but that's all they ever were, game characters. Willow was different, she was the first character I ever created. The only one whose name and appearance I never chose to alter.

There are a number of races to choose from in this game but not many people choose female dwarves. They're not pretty like some of the other races, but that's why I like her, she's different. None of my friends ever blamed me when I died, or got lost, it was always 'oh Willow's in trouble again'. I was never really very good at the game, but I tried hard, and I loved to help people, so that became Willow's personality. Don't get me wrong, I am aware of the line between fantasy gaming and reality, but the people I knew online didn't know me, they only knew Willow the clumsy dwarf. Willow got to fight dragons, demons and monsters. She got to stand at the front taking the blows while others did the damage. She rode a ram, and later an insane motorbike. She could fly anywhere she wanted on a beautiful multi-coloured hippogryph. Best of all, when she died (which was a lot), she got to resurrect and do it all again! She also had the dirtiest laugh I've ever heard on a game character!

If you've never played an online game like WoW, you're probably thinking I'm a bit weird right about now, but if you have, I suspect you'll understand!