Thursday, 9 July 2009

Break - verb

1. to destroy or interrupt the regularity, uniformity, continuity, or arrangement of,
2. to put an end to; overcome; stop,
3. to overcome or wear down the spirit,

Effectively this blog post is all about doing the first two to prevent the third.

I've been writing my book now, tentatively titled George and the Dragon, for a good few months now and 55,000+ words in I find myself going over the same bits editting them constantly and not finishing the full manuscript first.

So I decided to take a break, I have few other stories floating around my in my head but nothing that would make a good book. Flitting around on some forums I picked up the idea to put the book down for a couple of weeks and literally throw together some short stories to see what comes out of the melting pot.

I can write 3000 words in about 3 hours. Whether this would be considered worth printing is another thing entirely. Given the amount of competitions out there for short stories it has to be worth a punt though. I might only win £20, however, I might win £15,000! Although I confess I think that unlikely. It's all part of the experience though and I think that's part of the attraction. At the same time when I go back to writing George and the Dragon I should be able to tackle it with renewed vigour and energy.

One of the curiosities I've come across while looking for short story references is the txtlit competition. Imagine if you will writing a story using 160 characters, yes that's characters not words. With spaces that last sentence was 90 characters on it's own. The challenge to write something that concentrated yet still gramatically correct is quite appealing if a little daunting. If I try it I'll let you know how I get on.



(p.s. for those that are wondering the connection with the picture it's a break-water at Portland, a flimsy connection I know but I like the formation of helicopters!)

Thursday, 2 July 2009

by Aprilynne Pike
Review by Phil Tolhurst

Do you believe in faeries? An interesting question, how many of us have left money under our pillows as children for the tooth faerie? How many people were duped by the Cottingley fairy hoax?

Aprillynne Pike sets out in her début novel, Wings, to try and breath new life into the Fae myth. One of the difficulties I think the young adult fantasy author faces is to successfully merge the real and usually mundane with the fantastical and usually more interesting part of their story. This is something Aprillynne Pike manages this quite well.

The book focuses on our main character, Laurel, who, having been home-schooled until she was 15, has just become the new girl at college. It deals with how she copes with this new environment and then having managed to settle in at school how her life is turned upside down in more ways than one. The well crafted story is easy to follow and well written, the main characters are well formed and believable which is a feet considering the nature (punn intended - read the book) of some of the characters.

Although a little too short for my liking, the book grabbed me drew me in and made me want to finish it. Part of it's charm is the journey of discovery you are taken as Laurel discovers more about herself and her history. Thrown into the mixing pot are family worries, boy troubles, and general teenage angst.

The story ending is well crafted and cleverly leaves the story open for a sequal. In fact there are hints thorughout the book of more to come. Several characters are barely touched upon, the fantastical world is only glimpsed, the story truely has only just begun.

I won't spoil the book for you but there is one small part of the book, an explanation about a certain facet of the story, that I think doesn't really work. I understand why it is the way the author made it that way but the explanation doesn't work for me when everything else does.

To sum up this was a thoroughly enjoyable if a little too short for my liking and I'm looking forward to reading the sequals.


Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Balance - noun

1. stability of mind or body: lose one's balance
2. a state of being in balance
3. harmony in the parts of a whole

If you're like me you're not a full time authur writing your first book, in your study in your country mansion. Instead you're more likely to be holding down two jobs while dealing with the demands of a spouse and young child.

Trying to squeeze writing into my life has always presented a problem for me. Given that I work an 8 hour day, spend the best part of 3 hours commuting and ontop of that run my own business I don't have a lot of free time and what time I get I like to use to unwind. I also work most Saturdays with my business and so means I have one free day a week, Sunday and I spend that time with my wife and daughter, Chloë who is 2 at then end of next month.

As you can tell I never really had the time for writing and so I've had multiple stories slushing around unwritten in my head for many years.

That all changed recently when I decided to buy my wife a laptop (well I couldn't get it for myself could I?) what this does is gives me around 2 hours a day on the train while I commute to purely focus on writing and editing my book. I think this actually works, I've written 36,000 more words in the last few months than I had in the last five years.

I also think that as a writter you have to be honest with yourself if you can not or are unable to set aside time every day to work on your book then the chances are it'll never become the work that you want it to be.

I think at the moment I've just about got the balance right in my life but it'd be nice to have a few more hours in the day. So if someone could have a word with the person who runs the atomic clock I'd be grateful.



Monday, 8 June 2009

Word – noun

1. a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.

Being the fledgling author that I am I have an obvious interest in words. After all I have used over 41,000 of them so far and have the intention of using maybe three times that amount in my final manuscript. Because of this I am concious that I use the same words a lot when writing.

This is highlighted by a comparison with arguably the world's greatest writer - Shakespeare. In his complete works, Shakespeare used 31,534 different words! (Although he did coin a lot of them himself, which I think is verging on cheating.) It is also estimated that he knew over 66,000 words*.

I've not got a bad vocabulary when compared to my peers I took this test and knew 463 of the words listed:

What this highlights in my case is not necessarily an obvious lack of a sufficient vocabulary more a lack of actually being able to use those words in a written document and that takes practice and exercise.

To this end I have instigated several different tactics:

The first is to start playing Scrabble and Lexulous on Facebook. They are pretty much the same word game with which I suspect any reader of this blog will be familiar. The great thing about them is seeing some very strange words being used, on the negative side is the fact that there is no definition and no context to those words so I still have to use a dictionary to look them up.

Secondly I've signed up to at least two 'Word of the Day' emails just because you never know what they will send you. This may turn out to be completely fruitless after all am I ever going to use tergiversation in a book? Even my Firefox dictionary doesn't recognise it.

For the record it's a noun:

The act of practicing evasion or of being deliberately ambiguous.
The act of abandoning a party or cause.

The third and probably most important step I have taken is to start reading again. Even books I have read before, I am going to re-read in the hope of picking something up. I'll probably even expand my reading horizons and steer away from my usual fantasy, sci-fi and thriller leanings.

If you have any ideas that you think might be useful please let me know.