Where I Turn Into Agatha Christie


Welcome to my 2nd instalment of the 30 Day Writing Challenge 🙂

Day 2 – Open a book – pick a sentence and use that as the first line in a piece.

Ok, so I picked a book from my shelf, copied out a sentence in my notebook and put the book back. Do you think I can blooming remember which book it was? LMAO!

“The gateman didn’t ask him about the drowsy man with the dark sunglasses who was half asleep on the passenger seat.”

So he drove straight through and into the large enclosed courtyard.

“Good evening Sir.” Yates approached the car and opened the drivers door.

“Good evening Yates. I’m afraid Mr Ramsey is slightly worse for wear.”

Yates peered across at the slouched figure of Ramsey. “Oh dear Sir, did Mr Ramsey consume too much champagne in London?”

Edward Mandrell pulled at the sports cars hand brake, turned off the ignition and released his seat belt. He climbed out of his seat as Yates held the door.

“Ah, you know him well Yates!” Edward slapped the butler on the back as he made his way up the stone steps to the front door, taking two at a time. At the open door he paused and turned. “Is my wife at home Yates?”

“Yes sir, she’s in the library.”

Without even a thank you Edward entered the imposing Victoria mansion.

Edward was born in India to a family who considered themselves Aristocracy. Truth be told, it was only his great grandfather who had made the family’s fortune, prior to that the Mandrells had been farmers in Somerset. But thanks to an unfortunate sinking of a cargo ship and great grandfather George’s opportunistic nature the family estate in Bath now included thousands of acres and a stately home that rivalled Buckingham Palace. Edward was sure he had only ever been in a 3rd of the rooms the house contained. As a small boy he’d become lost in the East Wing, which put an end to his exploring.

He made his way purposefully to the library. It had been several days since he’d seen his wife Daphne and there was much to discuss. He threw open the double oak doors.

“Darling!” He expected to see Daphne sitting in her favourite chair, book in hand, her glasses perched on the tip of her nose, but her chair was empty.

His eyes searched the room for some clue to her location. A lit cigarette in the ashtray or a hot cup of tea on the table beside her chair would indicate she’d just left the room, but neither of these things were present.

But as he entered, the doors creaked as they swayed closed behind him, revealing one of his wife’s navy shoes, sticking out from behind the overstuffed chaise lounge. And then, he noticed the blood…..

I wrote this one morning in the main lounge at Swanwick, inspired by the photos adorning the walls of what the house looked like in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

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Ok, this will probably end up languishing in my notebook, and before you ask, no, I don’t know who Ramsey is, what they were doing in London, or what’s happened to poor Daphne *sniggers*

Be interested to hear your ideas and thoughts 🙂

Writing Blogger Challenge – Day 1


I must admit, I’ve been thinking my blog is/was a little stale recently. So this morning when I was reading blogs and having a major catch up I noticed that one of my favourite bloggers, Hunter Emkay is hosting a Writing Blogger Challenge which will run for 10 days. Ok, well that sounds interesting.

So I’ve signed up 🙂 (you know me, I like to be stretched lol).

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So today is Day 1 of the challenge and the prompt is…

Introduce your latest writing project with an elevator pitch or maximum 250 words.

Now you all know everything about two of my novels (Still & Tangled) but I have a 3rd one lol. During Nano last year I decided to write, or rather, try to write a Mills and Boon novel *sniggers* I managed it, but, in just under 22,000 words, which is well short of the 50,000 that is required. So it will need some major editing, I need to add more angst, and add two sex scenes *blush*

So here is my 250 word pitch for Sorrento Sunrise

Kate works for a travel magazine and when her boss asks her to visit a hotel in Sorrento to interview the owner, little does she know that the sexy, dark Italian will become more than just another assignment.

After a hellish journey and mistaking him for a bellboy, Damiano initially thinks that Kate is a typical arrogant journalist, but he soon changes his mind as they get to know each other intimately on the hotels private beach and over the course of her stay.

Damiano asks Kate to meet him in the bar on her last night where he is planning to ask her to stay on, but when Kate arrives she see’s him with another woman and flees back to England.

Damiano tries to contact Kate but she refuses to speak to him or respond to his e mails, having now researched him online and discovering the string of Italian models he’s been photographed with over the last few years. Already having arrangements to visit London Damiano goes to Kates house with a huge bouquet of roses but as he gets out of the taxi he see’s her hugging a man who is holding a toddler.

Angry, and thinking he has been lied to he continues with his business in London, the purchase of a new hotel and decides to get on with his life, trying to forget about Kate.

Several months pass and Kate is given an assignment to attend a new London hotel opening. She is shocked and embarrassed when the owner gets up on a podium to make a speech and it is Damiano. Their eyes meet and Damiano realises that he can’t get on with his life unless Kate explains herself. Having traditional family values he is shocked that she could have been the way she was in Sorrento knowing her husband and child were waiting at home.

After a small “scene” at the party Damiano finally manages to drag Kate to his office and demands an explanation. Kate is shocked and after explaining that the child is hers but she is a widow and that the man was her brother Damiano feels an idiot. But Kate doesn’t let him off the hook easily. She demands to know who the woman was that she saw him draped all over in the bar. Damiano explains that she was his cousin.

Ha ha ha….that’s 394 words and I haven’t even told you how it ends! But it is a Mills and Boon, so I’m sure you know lol

Oh well, I think I’m gunna need to work on that.

Any guesses as to how it ends? 😉

Time Off From The Must Do’s


There is no To Do list this week, for 2 reasons:

1. I deserve time off!

And

2. I thought you’d all want to hear about my reading at the Faber Event last Friday 😉

I was still editing my piece on the train journey up to London!

When i arrived we were offered the chance to have a practice reading with Richard Reeves (who tutored SJ Watson). So after watching a few of my fellow students go up to the podium, read, be timed, and then given tips on how to improve their readings I gave it a go. I was nervous, but it was only to be in front of a dozen students.

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My reading came in at 1.50 seconds (our time slots were for 2 minutes) and Richard said my volume was fine (he could hear me perfectly at the back). He said that I could probably afford to pause for slightly longer in a few places, but other than that it was clear and understandable. When I made my way back to my seat my hands were shaking lol.

By 1.30 the room was packed and we took our seats. The readings were in alphabetical order, so of course, I was 21st out of 23 lol….if I’d had known that I would have changed my name! I managed to take this pic before everyone arrived lol.

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I didnt hear a word the guy before me read, all i could hear was my heart pounding and then when they were clapping i knew i had to get up. I was terrified but, everyone else had done so well overcoming their nerves that i was determined to do it. I went up to the podium and said “Hello, my name is Vikki Thompson and this is the opening scene of my novel Still.” It was the only time I looked around the room until I’d finished reading lol. I wasn’t shaking when I finished, but I felt the practice run had been better lol.

After everyone was thanked for coming we got up and seriously, some of the agents made a bee line for certain students, who’d obviously impressed them. They just had to get in first!

We all congregated in another room for drinks and it was then that agents had the full opportunity to approach the students whose work they were interested in. Five people from my class were approached, two of them by two agents.

My tutor Tim came up to me and said I’d done really well, and at that moment I could have burst into tears, the relief, the build up of 6 months was just so overwhelming. He must have seen my face because he asked if I was ok and all I could do was nod lol

I don’t know exactly which agents were there, although I did see one of my class approached by a lady from Curtis Brown.

I wasn’t disappointed that no one approached me and that i didnt get the opportunity to do my “pitch”. I wasn’t expecting anyone to. My fellow students work was so much better, seriously. The ones who went away Friday with requests to submit truly deserved it….I didn’t, and I accept that.

We were given 2 copies of the Anthology. One, I got all my fellow class mates to sign (so that when they’re famous I can flog it for thousands! Just kidding, I’ll treasure it) and the other I signed and wrote a small thank you note to The Hubster, who, has been very supportive with the course and as a taxi service (Thank You!).

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The Anthology will be available on Kindle soon, so I’ll give you the link to that when I have it….just in case you’d like to download it and see my submission. My reading isn’t in there though….I may share that with you at some stage, when I’ve recovered lol

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So now what? I guess I’ll just plod on, keep learning, keep writing….it wasn’t my time, maybe it never will be (and noooo, this isn’t a self pity post, really, I’m fine about it, I’m not even upset, just proud of myself and relieved its over lol). I learnt a lot, had some great experiences, met some fantastic people and can now put on my CV Faber Graduate 🙂

But now, i deserve a rest, don’t you agree? 😉

X is for Xinran


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Appropriate that my X letter is made out of chopsticks. I discovered my X author by looking on the shelves in the book shop. I’d never heard of her before, although I vaguely remember her book when it came out.

Xuē Xīnrán is a British-Chinese journalist who was born in Beijing in 1958 and writes under the pen name of Xinran In the late 1980’s she began her career by working for Chinese Radio and in 1997 moved to London. It was here that she started work on her most well known book, The Good Women of China, which is a memoir, telling stories she heard whilst she was working in radio.

Her radio show in China was aimed at women, and over time she was able to invite her listeners to share their stories. Even though she had to work around tight government censorship, she managed to cover topics that had been banned from public discussion. Women shared their stories about their sexuality, contraception, sexual abuse, homosexuality, arranged marriages, and even whether or not they were happy with their lives.

Since arriving in London she has worked for The Guardian, having a regular column and to date has written 5 books, fiction and non fiction. She often advises the BBC about Western relations with China and has set up her own childrens charity/foundation MothersBridge

Xinran quotes I like:

“The more you read, the more you want to know, and so the more questions you have.”

“Reading, sharing and thinking can help us to find out who we are and what we want from our life time.”

“My writing comes from my deep heart where watered by my tears… again…and again…”

“Today’s comfortable life has made us become too lazy to think and to dig the truth…or, at least to question the truth of our past.”

“I can’t just turn myself off. I can’t walk away. I thought that maybe if I wrote this book and others, I could make a space for some of my memories to keep somewhere else, to put them somewhere outside of me. But the memories keep coming back.”

Xinran talking about her book The Good Women of China

Xinran has become a spokeswoman for the women of China, educating Westerners on the truth that goes on in a country shrouded by political censorship, albeit that she has been forced to do so from a distance. I really admire her 🙂

I’m not sure that I could ever write a memoir, is my life really that interesting enough? Have you ever considered writing a memoir?

Faber Session 28 – Notes and Thoughts


Apologies if you’ve received this post twice! In my excitement I mucked up the scheduling…. This one is the live link 🙂

I had a lovely day yesterday…..I went to a new cafe I’d never been to before and had a Cream Egg Brownie!

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Wandered through Covent Garden and then accidentally stumbled across the HUGEST Paperchase I’d ever seen! Three whole floors of goodies!!!!

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Well, as you can imagine, I was so overwhelmed that I came out with nothing, but, if The Hubsters reading this, I’d like a Paperchase voucher for my birthday please! Lol 😉

So last nights Faber class was the last one *all say awwwwww* Seriously, I’m quite sad 😦 But I can’t make up my mind if I’m a really good advert for their courses or a really bad one. I started the course with 65,000 words, by the middle of the course I had 24,000 and now I have 500! LMAO! Yeah, ok, this 500 are probably far better than the previous 89,000! My novel has gone from But Not Forgotten to The Last Word Cafe to Still and my structure has changed from 3rd person, to 1st person to both! 😉

Part of Saturdays session and most of last nights was about synopsis and pitch. We were given some examples of bad intro letters, bad synopsise and good ones. There aren’t really many tips I can pass on to you to be honest. I know, you’re disappointed right? The reason being is that our synopsises (spelling ??) are tailored to our Faber submission which will be going into the Anthology, which is then given to the agents. Last night we had to read them out and the feedback on mine was that it was too “facty” (is there such a word? Lol). I didn’t give enough information on how the past will affect the present and how my characters actually feel. Yeah, I can get that, but gawd only knows how I’m going to do it! 😉

So we ended up at the pub for a quick drink 🙂

I’ve got one more session at the Faber offices, a guest tutor and then we’re all meeting up (the students) a couple of times before we have to do our pitches in June.

So I guess I’ve got lots of work to do…..have to submit everything by the 19th April! *gulp*

I can highly recommend the course and Tim Lott has been a great tutor. But, it’s the guys on the course that have made it all worth while. Their advice, suggestions and support has been invaluable. I shall miss them so much.

So when I finally have my book published (notice I said when, not if) Anna, David, Gareth, Hannah, Janet, Jason, Linda, Marci, Michelle, Ros, Sam and of course, Tim, will all be in the acknowledgements 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little piece of Faber each week? I’ve enjoyed sharing 🙂
It’s been a ride, and I soooo, need a holiday! Lol….but first, there’s work to be done 🙂

Faber Session 27 – A Sense Of Time and Place


Firstly, HUGE apologies that I’m so behind with e mails and blog comments. I was out all day Friday, then my Internet went down Friday night, and I’ve been out all day today. We’ve luckily got 2 Internet connections in the house so I’m using the boys one at the moment….Engineer coming tomorrow, but in the meantime it’s a bit up and down so please bare with me 🙂

I’m not even gunna begin to tell you how cold it was in London today. When I arrived at 9.10 it was snowing, and it continued to snow until about 4pm. I’m just relieved it didn’t settle, especially as The Hubster was meeting me in Covent Garden after class for dinner.

So today’s class was about “time” and “place” but we also did some work on pitching & synopsis, but I’ll save that for another day 🙂 a really interesting session, especially with all the time frame/structure problems I’ve had with Still.

Some of my notes:

If you can, walk around the place your novel is set. Look for things you normally don’t notice, the tiny details, for example, what’s in the gutters.

Establish how important the setting is in your novel. Is it a minor character, or a major one? The bigger the part it plays, the more detail you need to add.

Don’t forget to remind the reader every so often where they are.

Use all the senses to describe a place. Even if its just a room, that room will have a smell.

Don’t use descriptive comparisons that the reader won’t understand, ie, not everyone knows what a Peony smells like, but will be able to relate to a Rose.

Compare the landscape to emotion but don’t forget if a character is describing a place, the way they feel, and the way they feel about the place will influence the words you use.

When setting your story in the past think about how society was. What they believed in, their morals. For example, someone in the 70’s wouldn’t care about the environment.

WHY is your novel set in the era it is? Do you have a good enough reason?

Be careful when using different time zones that it doesn’t end up too fragmented.

Cloud Atlas and The Hours are good examples of different time frames used successfully.

Read books, newspapers & magazines that were published the year your novel is set in.

Don’t forget that people don’t think in the present, our internal thoughts jump about between past, present and future. Use that when writing from a characters POV.

When writing a chronological story you don’t need to include every day. Jump days, months or weeks if need be.

This gave me a lot to think about….but I’d be especially interested if you guys know of any other examples of novels that use different time frames successfully?

Only a couple more classes left….I’m really gunna miss it 😦

Here’s the view from my class room window today of the British Museum….

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Oh, and of course, I bought a couple of books in my lunch hour 😉

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Bedtime For Bonzo?


I bet that title has confused you *snigger* 😉

The third (and probably my favourite) character from “Still” let me introduce you to Ronnie, but I guess he could have been a Ronald 😉 Please excuse any errors, this is taken from my note book.

Ronnie was born in February 1953 to an Irish father and English mother who were never actually married. His parents lived on a Council Estate in Lee, South East London. The youngest son of 4 boys he was a tear away (so his mother Liz said) from the moment he could walk.

Curly auburn hair when he was a toddler (which, as an adult only begins to curl when he needs a haircut) and deep blue eyes like his fathers, his ruddy complexion meant that he always looked like he’d been dashing around, but then, most of the time he had. He always had an abundance of energy that continued into adulthood.

Not doing well in school he preferred to play truant and found himself in detention frequently. His mother despaired, but he was her favourite. When he was 12 his father Patrick left the family and went back to Ireland because he couldn’t find work, leaving his mother to bring up the four boys on her own. At secondary school he met Daniel and they became best friends. Although from very different backgrounds the boys shared a love of fishing. It was the only thing he could really remember doing with his father.

At 15 he left school and got himself an apprenticeship with a local builder. He enjoyed being outside, the manual work and the banter with the other workers. But with two of his older brothers involved in petty crime it wasn’t long before he found himself with a police caution.

At 17 he met Laura, a girl who served him in a local café where he and Daniel often met. He asked her out and within weeks they become “a couple” spending a lot of time at the local pub and having a weekend away at his aunts caravan. They were inseparable for a year.

Ronnie started to get friendly with a group who knew his brothers and they introduced him to drugs. His relationship with Laura suffered, and Ronnie moved out of home and into a squat. He and Laura split up and his is mother Liz contacted his father because she was worried.

His father Patrick returned to London in 1972 and with their parents back together the whole family moved back to Ireland, his mother agreeing as she wanted to get Ronnie away from the drug culture he had become embroiled in.

Ronnies father was a struggling builder, but with the help of his sons they made a success of the business and it thrived. He often thought about Laura and Daniel, wondered what happened to them, but as the years went by he put them to the back of his mind.

With a huge zest for life he likes to play practical jokes and to be the center of attention. In his early 20’s he married an Irish girl, but they divorced after only 3 years with no children. Ronnie threw himself into work and with 7 nieces and nephews he was content to stay single and still play the field.

He still walks with the arrogant swagger he had as a teenager, but at 45 he is lonely, realising that he can no longer chat up women like he used to. One of his brothers has suggested he use a dating agency, but he is too embarrassed. Loyal, attractive for his age (although grey and balding) and with a successful business, he is still hot headed. He plays golf with his brothers.

He receives a letter from a young woman in Kent called Ruby, who thinks she may be his daughter and they speak on the telephone. The old memories of Laura and Daniel come flooding back and he immediately makes plans to travel to Kent. He is excited at the prospect of being a father, but even more so about seeing Laura. He regrets the way he treated her and wants to make amends.

So what has my character Ronnie got to do with Bedtime for Bonzo? I’m kinda thinking that Ronnie’s mum had a bit of a thing for Ronald Reagan 😉

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