A Nightmare on My Street


The 5th prompt in the 30 Day Writing Challenge is…

Write about a dream or nightmare that you’ve had and turn it into a short story.

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The Dream Vacation


Number 3 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge prompts is:

If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world where would you go? Use vivid detail and prose to describe the experience you would like to have.

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This photo was taken in Spain.

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Where I Turn Into Agatha Christie


Welcome to my 2nd instalment of the 30 Day Writing Challenge πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

Writing Blogger Challenge Day 9


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Today’s prompt is:

Post either a setting or character profile from your latest fiction project, a chapter summary of your non-fiction book, or a discussion of the theme or object inspiring a poem, article, or other writing project.

Hmmmmmm *thinks* Well, I’ve shared the character profiles of my first novel (Still) but I’m afraid the characters in Tangled and Sorrento Sunrise are somewhere, within the pages of my 41 notebooks (and at this stage I’m thinking I really should have some kind of indexing system!). So rather than try to trawl through all my notebooks I’ll give you a new one πŸ™‚

Last night I wrote the beginnings of yet another story (prompted by something in Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind). Ms Goldberg suggested making a list…

A Colour Blue (the sky over London on a September morning)
A City London
A Street Charlotte Street (where I meet the Faber gang and the location of my story)
A Fruit Mango (what my character finds in his lunch box lol)
A Month September
A Job Newsagent (newspaper seller)

And then to write a piece containing all of them…. So this character profile is from the story I came up with last night.

Bill Taylor is 62 years old. Born and bred in East London he is proud of his roots and his first job at 14 was on a market stall in Petticoat Lane, selling “bits and bobs” to local housewives.

Short and stocky, he is now balding, what little hair he has left is white but he still has the cheeky blue eyes and dimpled chin that made him so popular in the 1960’s.

Married to Marjorie since the 1970’s they have 2 sons who both live overseas, and 2 grand daughters they rarely see. On his left arm he has Marjorie’s name tattooed and on his right arm, the names of his sons.

Bill runs a newsagents in London selling to the commuters as they make their way to the tube station. Business has taken a dip these past couple of years due to the digital age (everyone getting the news on their phones) so Marjorie is trying to persuade him to retire and buy a little flat by the sea. Bill couldn’t think of anything worse! Since his heart attack last year, Marjorie has been filling his lunch box with what he terms as “rabbit food” and insists that he stick to the diet recommended by the doctor.

A very proud man, he is a traditionalist with high morals and strong views of what is right and wrong. A Royalist, his proudest moment was meeting Princess Diana when she stopped at his shop to buy a bottle of water and a pack of sweets for Wills and Harry.

In his spare time (what little there is as he has to be at the shop for 4.30 every morning) he enjoys football (but sadly doesn’t go to the matches anymore…he used to take his sons) and likes to keep up to date with current affairs. He often says “what’s the point of selling newspapers if you don’t know what’s going on in the world” and can often be found reading the papers behind his counter when the shop is empty.

He drives a small old white van that’s constantly breaking down and although he owns his shop (he inherited it from an uncle back in the 1980’s) which is prime London real estate, he has no intention of selling and is adamant that they will have to “cart him out in a box” which causes tension and arguments with Marjorie.

I think that’s it πŸ™‚ I don’t know what’s going to happen to old Bill, I haven’t got that far in the story yet lol, but, you know me, Bill will probably end up getting his wish of being carted out in a box πŸ˜‰

if you try Ms Goldberg’s list idea, do let me know, I’d be interested to hear what you come up with.

Writing Blogger Challenge Day 8


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Day eights prompt is:

Post about your writing routines / rituals / habits or quirks – or – your writing origins story

Well, I’ve told the story of my writing origins, so I guess today I’ll be revealing my routines πŸ˜‰

I start every single day with a cup of tea, 3 sugars (I’ve cut down, it used to be 4 lol) and a cigarette. I’m the kind of person who is usually fully awake from the moment my eyes open. Yep, I’m one of those annoying people who jumps out of bed at 7am and is raring to go before I’ve even uttered my first word lol. So it makes sense that my most productive writing time is in the mornings.

Whilst drinking my tea I check my e mails, log into FaceBook and generally have a mooch around online (whilst trying to entertain Albie by multitasking with one hand on the iPad, the other on ‘teddy’).

I always start any writing session by writing in my journal, doing a prompt in my notebook, or, as recently, doing my morning pages. I prefer to write by hand than use a keyboard so doing something with pen and paper first makes me feel more connected, gets the creative juices flowing if that makes sense.

I went through a phase where I used to light a smelly candle as I sat down at my desk, but I don’t do that so much anymore, especially now that I’m back at the dining room table (Albies not allowed upstairs just yet). I also like to make sure I have a good selection of pens before I start. Different colours and nib widths, so that my notebooks are visually interesting.

And that’s it really πŸ™‚ If I get really involved in a session I like to have a NescafΓ© Cappucino in a Starbucks mug by my side, or if I’m out and about, a skinny latte πŸ˜‰

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(My Starbucks mug collection – cappuccinos in anything else just isn’t the same lol)

Do you have any writing routines/rituals?

Writing Blogger Challenge Day 5


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Today’s prompt is:

Show off 3 of your best blog posts (with links!)

Oooo, this is hard, how do I know which were my best? Ok, shall I go on views? Comments?

Ok, well the most views I had to a post was this one:
What I Learnt From 9 Hours of The Lord of The Rings
I guess it was all those Tolkien fans πŸ˜‰

The most comments on a post goes to this one:
Insecure Writers July 2012
Not sure why lol

But one of my favourite posts was:
Generating Titles
I really enjoyed writing that post because coming up with titles is probably one of my favourite parts of writing. I have pages and pages of them in my notebooks lol

Wow, ok, so it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Hope you enjoyed the blast from the past, I did πŸ™‚

Happy for you to share your best posts in the comments below, just leave a link so I can go see πŸ™‚

Must Do’s 15th to 21st July


Well here in the UK summer has finally arrived, and as we’re all sweating our nuts off, being typical Brits it won’t be long until we’re all moaning about it *snigger* πŸ˜‰

Sticking to my To Do List this week has been difficult…who wants to follow a stupid old list of stuff to do when you can sit in the garden and read? Plus, Albie’s arrival has kinda turned my world upside down and I smell of “dog” πŸ˜‰

So last week this is what I was supposed to do…

1. Finish reading/critiquing Faber work for meet. Did that and had a lovely evening catching up πŸ™‚
2. Decluttering/sort out hallway. Done, I had to, for Albie.
3. Take Tangled to the post office. *sighs* It’s still sitting in its envelope at the bottom of my bed…but…I’m going TODAY!
4. Clear up desk and writing stuff. Nooooo, fraid not, it was too nice outside to sit at my desk in the corner of my stuffy bedroom πŸ˜‰

I started doing The Artists Way at the weekend. Spent all day Saturday having a major catch up session so I can take part in the FaceBook group I’ve been invited to join. This will be my 3rd time of doing it now and I’ve gone back to Morning Pages. Just gotta make sure it’s not a 3 page rant every morning lol πŸ˜‰

So this weeks list looks like this, but I also have some Artist Way stuff to do…

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What are your writing plans for the week?

Free Writing In The Lake District


Standing in the grounds of the hotel as there’s nowhere to sit. Everything is covered in a fine layer of rain. The air smells clean, earthy, like a box of button mushrooms and the only sound is the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. Even the birds are fed up with the incessant wetness. They sit huddled on branches and dry stone walls, their feathers puffed up.

Is this really summer? The only animals that seem to like this weather are the Llamas in the field next to the hotel. They lay down on the wet grass and click their tongues at each other. I guess if I had a thick wooly coat like that I wouldn’t mind it so much either!

The Lake District…a place loved by writers, poets. An inspiration to artists so they keep telling me. But is that because it just seems so miserable? A place that suits a tortured soul? Perhaps I’m just not depressed enough to appreciate it. I just want to go home now, back to my concrete town where everyone shops at Icelands and where the Llamas would be well advised to wear a bullet proof vest over that warm wooly coat.

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It’s not really that rough where I live….a slight exaggeration, but only slight πŸ˜‰

No seriously, it’s a beautiful place but I didn’t find it as inspiring as I thought I would, or was told I would. Perhaps it was just too cold and wet? It got me thinking, what place would I find inspiring? And it has to be the beach, no doubt about it πŸ™‚

What kind of place do you find inspiring?

I Don’t Remember…


I’m currently reading Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind, which is the 2nd of Ms Goldberg’s books I’ve read/worked with (and I highly recommend them!).

I don’t often share private information on this blog, but, it just goes to show that when you do a writing exercise that’s of a personal nature, it can bring up ideas for fiction writing. Here’s what I wrote in my notebook in response to the prompt “I don’t remember…” πŸ™‚

I don’t remember the last time that I actually woke in the morning feeling refreshed. I’m not sure I ever have!

My first bout of insomnia was when I was 14 and I was taken to the doctors. He prescribed sleeping tablets, but I never took them. I was concerned about how they would affect me at school and the ability to be cohesive at 8.30 every morning.

The problem continued well into my 30’s. I just couldn’t fall asleep and would often still be reading at 2am, willing myself to feel sleepy. I read a lot in those days lol.

But in 2007 the problem changed. We had to move to a rental property (long story about our business that I won’t go into) and within a matter of weeks I found myself waking up every 3 hours, not being able to breath, feeling as though someone was hugging my chest so tightly they were crushing me. Trips to the doctors and an alternative therapist finally diagnosed panic attacks…in my sleep lol. I never had an incident during the day when I was awake lol. Every single night I would go to bed, be up 3 hours later…recover, go back to bed and it would happen 3 hours later again. I was completely exhausted 😦

But that all stopped shortly after we moved into this house 5 years ago, but it left me with a slightly different problem…Sleep Paralysis.

When I initially told people what I had been experiencing they looked at me like I was mad! The most common response is “you must be dreaming” and in the end you stop telling people. But it wasn’t until a couple of months ago when I came across a video on YouTube that I realised what I had been experiencing had a name and I wasn’t alone. Although, after hearing the experiences of others I’m a little more freaked out about it.

Basically, Sleep Paralysis is where you wake up but you are completely paralysed and consumed with this intense fear, terror. For me, I’ve never been entirely sure why I’m so terrified, but many others have seen what it is that terrorises them in the small hours. You try to move, you can’t. You try to scream, you can’t. It can last from several seconds to a few minutes. Many other sufferers believe that the thing terrorising them is of a paranormal nature, but as I’ve never seen my dark shadow/entity (and I really DON’T want to) I’m not sure what I believe. The scientists who have studied it don’t seem to know either.

I’ve discovered a way to avert an attack which seems to work. When I lay down to sleep I have to think hard about nice things. Events of the day, what I’m going to do tomorrow and stories I’m working on. If I forget to do that or any negative thoughts creep in (I think about an advert I’ve seen about animal cruelty, or the blood and violence from a film) it can bring on an attack. It’s funny, because I don’t scare easily. I’m not a fan of horror films but I do love a ghost film, I just can’t watch that kind of stuff just before going to bed now lol.

So now, I consider myself very lucky if I sleep for 7 hours, but it’s usually more like 5 or 6 on an average night and I spend most of the day feeling tired. If I have a nap, I can’t go to sleep later, so it’s a viscous circle. I’ve tried various alternative medicines, read lots of books and tried various techniques, but there is no treatment out there for Sleep Paralysis, although, thankfully, I’ve been able to reduce my attacks to probably about 1 a month, and I know now that I’m not going mad πŸ™‚

When I reread what I wrote I thought, could this be my Nano 2013 novel? A woman who becomes petrified to go to sleep? But hasn’t that been done? Was it Nightmare On Elm Street or something like that? I’m quite fascinated by the whole thing and I’m sure I could turn it into fiction….I feel a mind map/spider graph coming on lol πŸ˜‰

The short video above is part of an hour long programme by Professor David J Hufford, who has been studying Sleep Paralysis for many years. Are there really demons who want to torment us during the night? It doesn’t seem to matter what religious denomination you belong to, sufferers come from all beliefs, and most believe that when they have an attack there is an evil entity in the room *shudders*

Scary huh? Will I freak myself out if I try to turn it into a novel? πŸ˜‰

The Power Of Knowledge


When I finished my Faber course back in April one of the last things our tutor said was, don’t enrol on anymore writing classes, just get on with it now, and WRITE!

Initially I thought, yeah, great advice….like Nike says “Just Do It!

But then a couple of weeks ago I heard an interview on the radio with Tracy Chevalier (who wrote Girl With A Pearl Earring) where the interviewer asked her why she had decided to go down the Creative Writing MA route rather than just write. She responded by saying that she felt she needed the structure and instruction that a course like that gave her.

I was already thinking what the hell was I was going to do after Faber and Tracy’s words really struck home. I think I’m quite a lazy writer, no, perhaps not lazy, oh what’s the word? I’m the type of writer who needs a push. When it comes to a choice between the carrot and the stick I probably respond better to the stick, that’s for sure. I suffer from huge motivation issues.

Sooooo, after hearing what Tracy said I went straight online and looked up writing courses. I still have so much to learn (I feel) and as I’m a member of 2 writing groups I don’t feel that I’m lacking in contact with fellow writers, so I was looking for something I could do at my own pace, at home.

I’d seen adverts for The Writers Bureau in all the writing magazines. I know people who have done the course, and I even know a couple of writers who tutor for them. So I signed up for the Comprehensive Writing Course and my pack arrived last week πŸ™‚

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I’m a big believer in learning as much as I can about writing, but I know at some stage my Faber tutor is right, but I don’t feel I’m ready to let go of learning, just yet….So when will I know I am?