Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Routines

There are many stressful things about moving house, not least of which is the complete disruption to your daily routines. Everything's in a different place, you don't know where to find things for a long time, you have to get used to doing everything slightly differently.

Even my writing routines got disrupted. I did no writing at all for about a month after moving - I felt I really couldn't get back to normal life while there were still boxes to unpack. But now the boxes are mostly unpacked, most things that we use every day have a place, and I have got back into writing.

My journey to work is longer now. The train route I'm on is a slower trek into London, and I have a longer walk to the station. This has put a bit of dent in my early morning writing routine. From the old place, I would leave the house at 6:30 am, to get into the West End for 7:30, and I would sit in Starbucks for an hour writing before going to work. Now, in order to get to the West End for 7:30, I have to leave the house at 6:00 am. That means a 5:30 start if I skip the shower and other morning customs - generally I prefer to have an hour.

However, in the new house I have a bigger writing space - in fact I have a study, a whole room to myself to write in - in the other house I only had a writing corner. This morning I decided to try out a new routine - getting up early to write at home before work.

So I set the alarm for 5:30 am. I spent an hour writing, in my pyjamas (with cup of tea, of course). I then had an hour to get ready for work, and although I had to catch a later train than usual, I was still at my desk for the day job by 9:00 am. By the time I got there, I'd been awake for three and a half hours and felt that I'd already done something productive with my day.

I think I'm going to stick with this routine. It means I will spend a bit more time in our new house, I'll save a bit of money by not buying quite so many Starbucks breakfasts, and it means I get the writing time in before I even leave home in the morning. It did take me a while to get going this morning, and I'd had two cups of tea before I even left the house. but it's just a matter of getting used to a new routine. It's good for me to get out of the rut sometimes.

I'm not planning on giving up the Starbucks mornings completely. This is just a way of cutting back, without cutting back on the writing. After all, once upon a time I thought I could never write away from my little writing corner, and my Starbucks mornings proved that one wrong.

And there is something gloriously decadent about writing in one's pyjamas.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Short Story Release!

I'm excited to announce the release of my short horror story, "Obsession", in Spells - Ten Tales of Magic.

This year, I've been busy writing short stories. It's also brought me back to my dark fiction roots and rediscovering the short story writers I admire. I'm glad to see short stories seem to be making a comeback.

Are short stories hard to write? Some authors have admitted they find the format difficult. Since I started out writing short stories, I find it easier than writing a novel. But it may be that I want to get to the point and move on. :-)

I notice I often write characters who become fixated on some person or object. In "Obsession", Corinne is determined her boyfriend promise his undying love. Only problem is, he's dead. Can she extract a promise from beyond the grave? 

Spells is available from Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Another Year Older

Today is my birthday. I am 43. I am slightly bummed about this - I rather enjoyed being able to say I was the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything when I was 42. 43 just doesn't seem to be a very interesting number. Though it is a prime number, and I guess there aren't too many of those.

However, looking back on the past year it does seem I have cause to celebrate. The last 12 months have seen the release of my third published book. Maybe I'm not making loads of money from the writing, but I'm getting published, and that's something to cheer about.

It seems a lot of our friends have lost one or both parents recently. Mine are still around. Some people have been dealing with losing their jobs, or debilitating illness. I still have the day job, which lets me pay the mortgage, and I'm still alive and kicking. So it seems there's a lot to celebrate. I'm off to raise a glass to being another year older. Bring on 43.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Five Favorite Horror Reads and a Free Book

Headless Statue - Eastern Cemetery

I've two short dark fiction stories releasing soon. But rather than talk about my writing, I thought I'd share my five favorite horror stories, ones that still stay with me after all these years.

1. The Haunted Well (Tales of Terror) - Ida Chittum's story of a father who commits a heinous crime over a seemingly innocent act isn't for the squeamish. Indeed, this is probably the best collection of horror stories I've ever read and many of the stories still resonate with me. My only regret is I no longer have my copy.

2. Cool Air (H.P. Lovecraft) -You know those people who have their thermostats set so low, ice forms on their windowpanes? There may be a reason for it, but you probably don't want to know.

3. The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson) - A house that drips malevolence, seeking to trap the living within its walls. A young woman drawn to its darkest secrets. I think the scariest thing about Hill House, besides the fact Jackson made the house seem like a living, breathing character, is we never know what happened to make it so evil.

4. The Shining (Stephen King) - What's worse? Seeing the bloody ghosts of twin girls or watching your father descend into madness? Then there are those hedge animals and that boy lost in the concrete tunnel who wants Danny to play with him. Um, sure. Yeah. Right. 

5. The Monkey's Paw (W.W. Jacobs) - The classic "be careful what you wish for" story. And proof that horror is far more effective when less is more.

Special Note: Those are my favorite five, although I've many more. Now I'd like to share a free giveaway so you can enjoy some horror stories. No, none are by the authors mentioned, but you may find your own favorites:

Free from October 23-27: HAUNTED : TEN TALES OF GHOSTS 10 stories by 10 authors. US Kindle: UK Kindle:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Room of One's Own

Since we moved house, I have done no writing. Somehow I seemed unable to to get back into a normal routine until all the boxes were unpacked and everything had a place. And there were a lot of boxes to unpack. The disruption of this, coupled with no internet access, is also why I've not been blogging.

Hubby and I have been together 22 years and we've moved four times during our life together. Each time has been into a bigger place than the last, and each time there was more stuff to move. We're both terrible hoarders. I've been unearthing some fascinating artifacts whilst unpacking this time around. Every story I wrote in high school, for instance. All my school notebooks. Every letter that everyone ever wrote to me from the point I moved from Canada back to England in 1988.

So now there are two of us in a four-bedroom family house. You'd think that would be enough space for two people, but we're still working on finding a place for things. Much of the space in our house is taken up by books. We are both bibliophiles, and although we've now both converted to e-readers, that doesn't mean we want to get rid of all the physical books we have acquired over the years. In the last house, the books were spread throughout every room. When we moved, we got a better idea of just how many books we've got. Taken in total, there must be close to a thousand in all.

The two of us have always dreamed of a private library, and with the layout of the new house we began to think that we might finally realise that dream. The house has an extension at the back - a lovely sunny room the previous owners called 'the sun room' that we thought would make a perfect library. However, when we actually got in the place and started unpacking all the boxes, we began to realise that we actually had too many books to fit them all in one room.

For once, though, we moved into a house that already had bookshelves built in - the first time we've bought a house bought by fellow bibliophiles, it seems, as usually the first thing we have to do is put up shelves in order to put the books away. The dining room in this lovely old house was built with a fireplace, and although the actual fire has been removed, the alcove on either side of the chimney breast has been filled floor to ceiling with sturdy shelves. Just right for putting books on.

Of course, we had far more books than these shelves would fit, and so we have bought more book cases and have managed to create our library - see attached image.

 I have to admit I am very fond of this room. It's a wonderful room to sit and read in, and it's one of my favourite spaces in the new house. The plan is to keep this room free of TVs, computer and stereo equipment, and keep it as a quiet space - a proper 'room of one's own', where we can retreat for solitude and quiet reflection.

 With this room being at the back of the house, as part of a single storey stone extension, we are already getting an inkling that it will be a tad chilly in winter - the season we are, of course, moving into. However, this is such a wonderful space that I don't think the cold will put even me off from spending time in here. I might just have to get into the habit of wearing thicker sweaters around the house. And of course, when one sits and reads, a nice hot cup of tea doesn't go amiss either.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Countdown to NaNoWriMo

According to my NaNo stats, this will be my seventh year participating in the popular writing challenge. Fifty thousand words in thirty days. For fledgling novelists, the stats seem almost impossible to achieve, but if you break it down, 1,667 words a day is manageable. If you're willing to commit, that is.

I'm friends with authors and they don't all write novels. (Or, in NaNo's case, short novels.) Some are poets, others screenplay writers. But some have expressed a desire to write a novel. Indeed, they've started plotting one or have even completed it. Finishing a manuscript is a feat unto itself and anyone who reaches that milestone should be applauded.

But what of those who can't seem to get beyond "taking notes" and yet never advance on their novel? I've tried to convince a friend to sign up for NaNo. If nothing else, it would help give her the push she needs. We've discussed her story, but I think she's come to rely too much on planning and still isn't quite sure how to approach the actual writing.

Is it fear? Hard to say. Many aspiring novelists probably fear that if the first line isn't perfect, the rest of the story will hobble behind and eventually collapse upon itself. Trust me, stories can be revised. I hate the beginning of my current UF. Hate it. But I plowed on ahead and continued with the revisions. The beginning will take care of itself. I just need to spend some time away from it. (Not to mention, I've changed it so much, I couldn't even tell you how the story originally started.)

So what am I writing for this year's NaNo? A phantasmagorical type of story, one inspired by the cons I've attended. Do I have any idea of my plot or characters? Only a vague one. Why worry? I have two weeks to plan this thing. Of course, I say that every year and then before I know it, it's November 1.

But I've got faith. After all, out of six NaNo attempts, I've won four. Not bad odds.

To learn more about NaNoWriMo   

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Anthology Story Released

I'm excited to announce my short story, "The May Lady Vanishes," is included in Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft. This is the third story I've published in the Ten Tales anthologies. Unlike my previous stories, which were dark fiction suspense, "The May Lady Vanishes" is more positive. Well, nobody dies. :-) Then again, it's only appropriate, given Beltane is a time to celebrate life and love. It was also a chance for me to write about what's considered taboo in romance: the interracial romance. (Now I can't understand why that's considered taboo, but apparently it is in some circles.) Being a rebel, I couldn't resist throwing Taboo over my shoulder and kicking dust in his face.

"The May Lady Vanishes" also deals with racism. Not the overt kind, but the subtle, insidious type that plays itself off as helpful "suggestions." For Andre, the main character, trying to fit in as the newest coven member is hampered not only by the feeling certain members don't want him around, but also by his contentious relationship with Dominic, his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend. When Melissa vanishes, Andre believes Dominic is responsible.

To find out more about Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft, check out Amazon or Smashwords.