Thursday, 29 November 2012

Visual Dare Triple #NaNoWriMo Sneak Peek

Angela Goff has done it again!


Posted some great picture prompts for her Visual Dare.

We are still just in November and this is the final TRIPLE Visual Dare with a few extra rules...

Your mission is to:
     * Pick the one that grabs you the most.
     * Use it to write a story in 100 words OR LESS. (I'm counting this month!! Mind!!)
     * BONUS POINTS: Make your entry an excerpt from your current NaNoWriMo story.
     * BONUS BONUS POINTS: Use all three photographs (somehow!) in your entry!
     * Add your entry via the cool linky thing below. Be sure to link directly to your Visual Dare post, and not your home page. (You want everyone to see your amazingness straight away!)

I chose this obscure little pic because it fired something off in my imagination.

I may have set my NaNoWriMo ambitions aside but The Book of Esther is still very much alive and kicking in my imagination.

This picture takes the story right back to the beginning, the first chapter, possibly even a prologue. It is written by Cai and is his perspective of the world he and Esther find themselves living in.

It strips the story down to my original idea, hinting at the faith and belief system that set Esther and Cai apart from most of the population.

Probably my most revealing NaNo Snippet yet...

It is as if the powerful of this world took a huge pair of scissors to our history books, cutting out the bits they didn’t want us to read.

And then they removed the pencils so we could no longer write down what we saw or even the stories we might have imagined.

“What are books?”
“What are pencils?”
Dare you ask?

Others shrug - “dead information” you don’t need because otherwise you would have been taught it.

The high ideals have all been corrupted along the way, shifting out of kilter like the tectonic plates that move beneath our feet.

100 words exactly - how's that Angela?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Return of the Dizzy Blonde Blogger

About a month ago I decided to dye my hair red – nothing overly dramatic just a wash in/ wash out colour but it did last 6 – 8 washes.

As with any sudden change I wondered at first if I really liked it and by the time I decided yes I did it had pretty much washed out.

I joked that with red hair I was far more capable of making sensible decisions and that I wouldn’t have so many “blonde” moments. But now I’m back to being blonde with a smattering of silvery grey and I easily slip into the role of ditsy Friend, I like to think I am a “Phoebe” sort of character and it was confirmed recently by a straw poll on my Facebook page. 

I’ve always had the ability to laugh at myself, or at least it is a trait I have comfortably developed over time. Maybe it originally came from being picked on at school, for standing up straight and talking posh, something my mother always insisted on. Where once it made me frustrated I now revel in it, I’m not totally joking when I say I only watch the BBC so I don’t have to watch those annoying little adverts. I love using BIG complicated words and if people laugh at me they are leaving someone else alone. I am very happy to be a caricature of my own created persona.

My brain was quietly mulling over these thoughts about stereotypes and characteristics, planning my blog post, when on Saturday morning I woke up to the sad news on the radio that Larry Hagman had died. JR Ewing was the meanest man on TV in the early eighties and when he got shot even my dad had a T-shirt proclaiming he had done the dastardly deed!

Watching Dallas was a family event in our house, although by the end of its original run I had given up with the plot – along with the programme makers I suspect – shower scene, goodness me Dr Who is more believable!

However I rejoiced to see Dallas back on our TV screens this year and have thrown myself into the make believe Texas oil scene, a pinch of nostalgia mixed in with pure escapism and the leading men are hotter than ever!

 *blushes ever so slightly* 

Good grief - I am almost old enough to be John Ross’s young auntie!

 But it is an excellent excuse to add a photo!

Another thought bubbling in my brain at the moment is the annual task of writing the nativity script. I like to get all the kids together and come up with a plan for telling the story that they feel they have some ownership of.

So I have all these thoughts and characters in my head, from dizzy blondes to feisty tycoons, from inventive teenagers who want to include a dance off in the nativity to the quiet ones who just want to fade into the background. 

It is interesting seeing their differing confidence levels, some like to be funny and show off, others relish getting their teeth into the meatier more challenging roles. Some struggle to be heard maybe others think they are not worth listening to… they are so young and unsure of their place in the grand scheme of things.

I love to write a nativity that suits each child, merging the person they are with the character they choose to be!

A friend of mine was joking the other day that she wants to be the crazy cat lady when she grows up.

We laughed but really we are hiding behind labels we give ourselves so we don’t have to face the labels the world tries to pin on us.

The one I try hard to avoid is the WIDOW label, particularly at this time of the year. I don’t want that W word to define me, I think I may have written this before, probably more than once. Although oddly I still use it on my Twitter profile ... that’s something I have to ponder! 

For the 16 years before Andrew died I like being defined his wife for a girl who never had a proper boyfriend before Andrew came along and took a fancy to me it was an important definition. A recognition that I was valued, loved and special.

A wife without a husband is an strange entity.

Here’s a quote I found this evening from a new book by Mark Driscoll “Who Do You Think You Are?  Finding your true identity in Christ”

When we suffer, we can easily allow our hurt to become our identity.

I have posted this quote and a couple of others on my Twitter account in the hope of winning a copy of the book! I think I need to read it.

Maybe without intention I have allowed my widowed status to take more precedence than I ever intended it to. It’s funny but when I started this post I wasn’t sure this was where it would end up.

Once more I feel I have wittered on merely travelling round in circles.

Perhaps it is time for a bit of personal reinvention? A new title?

In the meantime I will once more embrace the Dizzy Blonde moniker, until the next bottle of hair colour catches my eye and I have time to craft 160 characters into a new Twitter profile statement!

Found this on a friend's Facebook page today too and although the picture definitely isn't ME the words just seem to fit, it really is time to move on...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Past Prayers

The notebook I have been using to jot down my NaNo ideas is not new. I have too many unfinished notebooks to extravagantly just buy another one – I am too thrifty for my own good sometimes!

It is quite usual for me to have several books on the go at once, littered around the house, I grab the nearest when I want one. I work on the principle of serendipity, that I will find the notes when I need them for inspiration. 

While flicking through this particular notebook, a pink hard backed book, a present from my brother one birthday, I discovered a written prayer.

I don’t always write my prayers down but occasionally I find it a useful method and it can be enlightening reading back over my relationship with God and how it has developed, or not - oh how often my life goes round and round and I seem back at an all too familiar sticking point!

I decided to share this prayer with you originally written Oct 5th 2010.

God show me today once again
Where you want me to be
What you want me to do

Let me write and express
Let me use my gifts to show your love
To inspire and the challenge

Take me on a journey
You have led the way
Now let me follow

I can dream so wildly
But take and tame my thoughts
And bend them to your own

I know my worth
I am loved by you
Almighty King
And that makes me a
PRINCESS in your courts

Let me live your fairytale


What amazes me most about this prayer is that it was written about six weeks before Andrew died and God has answered my prayer in that he has taken me on a journey full of more twists and turns than I could ever have imagined.

In some ways my prayer was a very “dangerous” one, placing myself and my story in God’s hands acknowledging his might and power.

There are similarities to Esther in the Bible, the Esther that I am writing about for NaNoWriMo. I may even adapt these words to fit Esther’s story.

I’ve always believed writing this particular story is something God wants me to do, maybe finding this prayer was no co-incidence. God is reminding me of my side of the bargain if you like and gently urging me on, whispering in my ear - don't give up.

Sharing this prayer is another way of standing my ground, making myself in some ways accountable to my readers and being a reminder that although I have slowed down my writing pace I should NEVER stop altogether.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Excuses and Reality

I’ve not written much recently. Despite the NaNoWriMo rush to conquer the highest peaks of the graph mine has stayed resolutely at the same plateau for about a week.

Now I could offer you an almost exhaustive list of excuses,

    • I’m still grieving and this time of year is too hard for me emotionally

    • I’ve had a cold and been feeling unwell

    • It’s so close to Christmas and I have both boys birthday’s to sort out in December

    • As a single parent I have no one here to help me out

    • Other people are so competitive with their 50,000 words written in the first week of November, I prefer to take things slower

    • Some people haven’t even written as much as me, so actually I am doing fine, what else is the 29th for except have a last mad dash to the finish line!

    • I’m procrastinating

    • I’m a rebel at heart

As I said a long list and all true in one way or another.

I have found the last few days difficult. However much I try and avoid grief, put on a brave face and carry on it somehow finds me and wallop I’m down and out for the count blubbing!

It doesn’t help that I have been feeling under the weather.

Oldest son has a birthday 9th December and youngest son on the 20th – such bad planning!

I don’t have someone to help cook the tea, do the ironing or play taxi driver and ferry the boys to and fro to their activities. As it is I am sitting typing this at the local tennis club while oldest son has a lesson – multitasking is second nature.

But the truth is I don’t need excuses, I certainly don’t need to explain to you why I’ve stopped writing for NaNo. This is after all my decision and I long ago came to the conclusion that I know best when it comes to things concerning me.

Many people are already supportive; I have made the most wonderful friends through taking part, including a Facebook group that has grown into an excellent source of encouragement and inspiration. It amazes me what a close group of friends has developed sharing so much and all having this common bond of writing. Kindred spirits who understand.

I have learnt a tremendous amount from the experience too, firstly that planning is essential, I know I didn’t do enough, but never realised until I really got going with the story.

Characters that didn’t even exist in the original book of Esther have appeared in my head and on the page, and my heroine has a back story that I would love to develop into a prequel, perhaps long term this could even be a trilogy?

Because the most important thing is I have over 25,000 words I didn’t have before, I have a viable story and once I’ve ironed out a few kinks I know I CAN write this.

The excerpts I have shared have been well received and I have people wanting to find out what happens next.

Maybe November wasn’t the best time to write etc. etc. – whatever the excuse, the reason, I know this is the right decision for me to take rather than blindly write on regardless.

Ultimately I want quality over quantity and although the NaNo experience has been fantastic for this year it is time to call it a day.

Next year? Who knows … as I said I have a prequel bubbling away.

Now excuse me but I have to go, the room here is noisy, not especially conducive to writing, I much prefer quiet, but maybe I just need space without the children calling me or the household distractions being on hand, whatever the reasons or excuses for or against I am writing because in the end it’s what I choose to do!