Tag Archives: Inspiration

Inspiration Monday – Imaginary Research

Those who pop by every other Thursday for submission suggestions might be disappointed to see another InMon post. Eventually, I’ll get back into the swing of things but at the moment, I seem to have more brain power for writing than researching, and since my blog is the only place I’m writing at the moment, I enjoy the extra chance to exercise creativity. I hope you’ll bear with me for a while longer

Talking of research…

Too Clever For His Own Good

“What does Santa have for dinner?” asked Joshua, pushing his peas around the plate in attempt to make them disappear.

“Peas,” said his father, unable to hide his frustration. “And so should you.”

“How do you know?”

Ian sighed. He should have known better than to put one over on his son. At six years old, Joshua already had his mother’s sharp eye for when he was being fobbed off.

“Dad’s hotline,” he tried.

There was a hint of an eye roll from Joshua. “I’m going to ask him in my letter. I bet he has nice things, like ice cream and turkish delight and sausages.”

“All on one plate?”

It was more pronounced this time. “Not all on one plate!” For a second Ian thought he was going to get angry; then the boy caught his eye and giggled. “Although… he is magical, so maybe he would have them all together and magically make it taste good!”

Ian felt the laughter run across his heart and found himself joining in. “Well, be that as it may, my research clearly indicates that Santa eats peas. And Rudolph – carrots too.”

Joshua picked up a forkful of peas. It approached his mouth, but came to a halt between his open lips. Joshua laid the fork back on his plate and ran to the kitchen. He returned with a clean plate and two carrots. He quickly shovelled the peas onto the plate.

“What are you doing, Josh?”

“We’ll leave these for Santa tonight. Instead of sherry and mince pies.”

 

 

15 Comments

Filed under Inspiration Monday, Writing

Travels with their pens

Somehow, it’s Monday again. And Little Miss Muse seems to have taken the day off to batten down the hatches against the impending storm. We are far enough North and inland that Sandy shouldn’t mean more than high winds and torrential rain here; my thoughts are with those up and down the East coast USA who are in its path. I suspect LMM is rather more concerned about another imminent arrival – Baby’s due date is tomorrow, and even if he’s held up, he’ll be here within the next couple of weeks. Hubby didn’t look thrilled when I suggested we name the baby as the hurricane though…

Anyway, as a consequence of LMM’s vacation, I have nothing useful to say about writing and no successes (or even failures) to report on my own writing. So instead, I’d like to tell you about two inspirational writer friends of mine who have taken trips this month in furtherance of their writing plans.

Claire Larson is planning to write about her family history, which involves some nasty events which happened in Paraguay several decades ago. I only heard about that a few weeks ago when she announced that she was heading down to South America on a research trip, which involved meeting some rather unsavoury characters, being smuggled across borders and all the time negotiating the corruption and other risks of travelling in that part of the world. To help a local family (including the man who saved Claire’s father’s life) to make their way out of poverty, Claire and her family have returned the proud owners of a pregnant cow, and half a farm in Paraguay. Presumably the cow is staying there, and hasn’t been freighted back to Canada!

Claire’s back in Toronto now, and even just the story of her trip – let alone the events she was researching – makes for exciting reading. The extent of my research tends to be a laptop or a library, so my hat is firmly off to her for going the extra (thousand) mile(s).  I can’t wait to read her novel!

On the subject of long-distance travel, another writing friend is back from Scotland this morning. Not quite the same level of danger, but certainly an epic journey with its own trials and tribulations to overcome. The gentlemen of the Wayfarer’s Quest walked a gruelling 500 miles across the Highlands of Scotland during October, most of it in costume as adventurers from times gone by.

They met with some serious obstacles on the way, both in the planning – when a number of team members had to drop out for health and other reasons – and in the execution. Just a few days into the trip, Wayfarer Dan came down with a severe case of food poisoning. The Doctor’s advice of bed rest and then “no strenuous activity for a few weeks” nearly put paid to the Quest, but these boys don’t back down easily, and they managed to fit in the full distance in spite of a shortened time schedule and reduced health.

This time, the main aim of the game was not writing, but fundraising. The Wayfarers have raised over $15,000 for cancer charities, and are still looking for ways to increase that figure. And one of those, is potentially going to be a book about the trip. Again, it makes me feel like I should do more to write more! You can read about the trip and how to contribute to the Wayfarers’ cause at http://www.wayfarerquest.com/ The blog has some fantastic photos too, and I’m sure there will be more to come now that the boys are back in Toronto (Just need to drop off a Timmies voucher first to help them get over the jet lag!)

 

How far have you been in pursuit of a story? Where would you like to go to finalise that last detail or even a huge plot point? And what’s stopping you?!

 

4 Comments

Filed under Writing

A Brief Literary Interlude

A few weeks ago, I was in the Peak District (that’s a rural area of England for those from further afield) spending a few lovely days with a few lovely friends. In spite of the changeable weather, we had decided to go for a walk. Those of us with “conditions” had decreed that said walk should be reasonably flat, and so it was decided to walk around a lake. We had a choice of two lakes, and eventually decided on Tittesworth Reservoir – man-made with a fancy dam at the end (there are enough engineers among my friends that “engineering porn” is a well-worn phrase where I come from, and dams count).

However, the OTHER lake, the one we didn’t visit, is Rudyard Lake. The story goes, that Mr and Mrs Kipling -to-be spent some time at Rudyard Lake and thought it so beautiful they named their son after it. Presumably an early precursor to the Brooklyn Beckham school of thinking. It has since been voted the “3rd most romantic spot in Britain” or some such honour.

It’s probably a good job the courting couple went to Rudyard Lake, Tittesworth Kipling doesn’t have the same ring to it!

One of Mr Kipling’s exceedingly good poems came to mind this week. It’s been a favourite of mine and an inspiration for years; I learned it by heart as a teenager, not for a class project, but simply because I wanted to take it with me wherever I went. The last line has proved controversial in our modern age of gender equality, but I think the point stands regardless of the wording, and I enjoy it for what it is.

If…

If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too,

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies;

Or being hated, not give way to hating

And yet don’t look too good or talk too wise.

If you can dream and not make dreams your master

If you can think, and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph and disaster,

And treat those two impostors just the same.

If you can dare to hear the truth you’re spoken,

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

And watch the things you gave your life to broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings,

And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings,

And never breathe a word about your loss.

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,

To serve your turn, long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing left within you,

Except the will, which says to them “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings, nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

And all men count with you, but none too much.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute,

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth, and everything that’s in it

And, which is more, you’ll be a man, my son.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

Inspiration Monday / Monday’s Challenge

A tough one this week – why do I set myself these challenges?! I’m going to try to write a children’s story as promised in Monday’s post AND use one of BeKindRewrite‘s prompts. Let me know what you think!

UPDATE: Huge thank you to Sam Agro, who heard about Sally Duck and sketched me the amazing illustration you see below. I am constantly amazed by the talents of my friends. Do check out his blog to see what else he can do!

What Are You Going To Do With It?

Sally Duck liked to watch the river from her nest. One day, something exciting bobbed past on the river. It was square and brown. Sally Duck jumped out of the nest. She chased the something as fast as she could. She paddled with her feet. She flapped with her wings. She quacked with her beak. When Sally caught it, she picked it up in her beak. It was big and soft. Sally Duck carried it back to the nest.

“What is it?” asked the ducklings.

“It’s bread,” said Sally Duck.

“What are you going to do with it?” asked the ducklings.

“Eat it!” said Sally. She shared the piece of bread with all the ducklings. It was very tasty.

The next day, something exciting bobbed past on the river again. It was long and thin and white. Sally Duck jumped out of the nest. She chased the something as fast as she could. She paddled with her feet. She flapped with her wings. She quacked with her beak. When Sally caught it, she picked it up in her beak. It was big and light. Sally Duck carried it back to the nest.

“What is it?” asked the ducklings.

“It’s a feather,” said Sally Duck.

“What are you going to do with it?” asked the ducklings.

“Line the nest with it!” said Sally. She dried the feather in the sun and lined the nest with it. It was very warm.

The next day, something exciting bobbed past on the river again. It looked like a silver circle. Sally Duck jumped out of the nest. She chased the something as fast as she could. She paddled with her feet. She flapped with her wings. She quacked with her beak. When Sally caught it, she tried to pick it up in her beak. It was big. It was not soft like the bread. It was not light like the feather. It was hard to pick up.

By the time Sally got it back to the nest, she was very tired.

“What is it?” asked the ducklings.

“It’s a can,” said Sally Duck.

“What are you going to do with it?” asked the ducklings.

“I don’t know!” said Sally Duck. “It is no good to eat. It will not help to keep us warm.”

The ducklings tried to eat the can but it tasted bad. They tried to sleep against it but it was cold and hard. Sally put the can at the edge of the nest and went to sleep. The next day, it was still there.

Sally put the can outside the nest on the ground. Then she heard a voice. It was a little girl.

“Look, Mummy,” said the girl. “That duck is drinking from a can!”

“Cans are not good for ducks,” said Mummy. “Let’s take it and throw it away properly.”

The Mummy bent down and picked up the can.

“Would you like to feed the duck a bit of your sandwich?” Mummy asked the girl.

“Yes please. Here you go, duck.” The little girl threw a piece of bread into the river.

Sally Duck chased it as fast as she could. She paddled with her feet. She flapped with her wings. She quacked with her beak. When Sally caught it, she picked it up in her beak. It was big and soft. Sally Duck carried it back to the nest.

“What is it?” asked the ducklings.

“It’s bread,” said Sally Duck.

“What are you going to do with it?” asked the ducklings.

“Eat it!” said Sally Duck. She shared the piece of bread with the ducklings. It was very tasty.

“From now on, I will only chase bread and feathers,” said Sally Duck.

8 Comments

Filed under Inspiration Monday, Writing

Not just for kids

A friend of mine writes the Eager Little Bookworm blog and when I went to visit her – along with the little bookworms – this week, I very much enjoyed exploring their library, including old favourites like “Where’s Spot?” and new (to me) treasures such as “Winnie the Witch”. But it got me to thinking, so this week I’ve decided to set myself – and anyone who feels like joining in – a challenge: to write a children’s story. Not for publication or because I think we should all because children’s authors, but as an exercise to make us write outside our usual pattern and to focus on other aspects of writing, such as:

1. Plot: The plot has to be simple, but also interesting. You don’t need much by way of twists and turns, but you do need a clear and fun story. Spot is hiding, Sally (his Mum) wants him to come for tea, so she looks for him and finds lots of other animals along the way. That’s a plot.

2. Length: A children’s story can easily be longer, like the Narnia books, but a book for children to read themselves, or have read to them in the first few years, will often be one which can be completed in just a few minutes – for example as a bedtime story. As such, it might only be 100 words long, or even less.

3. Language: The language needs to be simple enough for children to understand the story without having to investigate the meaning of every (or even almost every) word. Many focus on a particular word sound, word or grammar principle, repeated throughout the book or on a particular page. And dealing with any of those aspects would be good discipline for any writer to focus on in an exercise like this.

4. Characters: Lots of children’s books end up being series and lots of children’s characters end up being hugely popular outside book form (just think of all the Mr Men toys, lunchboxes, dvds etc you can buy). So there are definitely bonus points for creating a loveable character or set of characters.

5. Theme: Many children’s books deal with a particular theme. They are educational and deal with colours, or numbers, or vehicles, or whatever. Or they are educational in other ways, for example dealing with important subjects like potty training or adoption or getting a little sibling.

6. Illustrations: Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting you illustrate your story (unless you want to). In fact, this is a bit of a false point, because although children’s books are invariably brightened and brought alive by the illustrations, these will usually have been added long after the story was written, by an illustrator selected by the publisher without the author’s input, and that’s only going to happen if the story is good enough in itself. Nevertheless, it’s worth thinking about vivid images (although probably not describing them in words), colourful characters and vibrant scenes … everything that makes a good book for any age really!

Are there other aspects you think make a children’s book special or challenging? Let me know in a comment below, or have a go at writing a children’s story bearing some of these points in mind and let us know how you get on!

5 Comments

Filed under Writing

100th Post

Back on 5th September 2011, I opened this blog with a Welcome post, now it’s less than a year later and I’m on post #100. Thank you all for making this blog such a fun project to work on and here’s to the next 100. I thought I’d celebrate with a 10×10 post, ten lists of ten things each. I hope you enjoy it!

1. Ten Things I’m Proud Of (Writing-related)

300 followers. Days no longer go by without someone stopping by to read, like or comment. My plan to submit something every month is working. Competition and Publication success with my 100 words stories. Still editing, however plodding that has become. I write almost every day. I find the more I write, the easier it becomes. The amazing writing friends I’ve gained, through online and off-line writing groups. Learning to critique other people’s writing (which I hope is also making me a better critic of my own). Experimenting through Bookers’ 7 and the Friday Fictioneers with new genres and styles.

2. Ten Goals For The Future

Finish editing Booker’s 7 before Baby arrives. Return to Eric when he’s rested a little more and edit him to the stage where I can shop him around for publication. Be a great Mum. Buy a house. Keep up with this blog even after Baby arrives. Visit Australia. Eat something grown in my (as yet non-existent) garden. Abseil something tall. Publish a novel. Leave something behind.

3. Ten Books I Love

The Narnia series (Ok, technically that’s 7 books right there, but tough). Jane Eyre. Winnie the Pooh. 5 People You Meet In Heaven. The Three Musketeers. The Post-Birthday World. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. The Art Of Happiness. A Child’s Garden of Verses. My (as yet unpublished) first masterpiece.

4. Ten Things That Make Me Mad

Driving in Toronto. Bigotry. Dishonesty. Cold Callers. Selfishness. People who put the lives of others at risk. The fact my TV keeps crashing. Losing stuff. Irrational price differentials. The quality of vegetables available in Canada (or lack thereof).

5. Ten Things That Never Fail To Make Me Smile (WARNING: cutesy stuff alert!)

Sitting on soft grass. Pepsi cuddles. Max’s purr. Hugs. The english countryside. The Toronto cityscape at sunset. Let Loose’s “Crazy For You”. Seeing Jon after any time apart. Baby kicks. A letter from my best friend, Joy.

6. Ten Songs I Will Always Love

Have a Nice Day – Bon Jovi. American Pie – Don Mclean. Blackbird – The Beatles. Defying Gravity – Wicked cast. Shine – Take That. You Make Me Smile – Uncle Kraker. The World – Brad Paisley. The Rose – Westlife. Whiter Shade of Pale – Procul Harum. It’s Raining Men – The Weathergirls.

7. Ten Guys I’ve Had A Crush On (oh the shame! Note the past tense here, but roughly in date order)

The guy in 5th year that me and my friend used to stalk in school (even then, we didn’t know his name). Jon Bon Jovi. Emilio Estevez. Ronan Keating. Colonel Fitzwilliam (from Pride and Prejudice. Not the actor, the character.) Matt Beale (blame Ant, it’s all her fault). Sam the Thesp. Sean Bean. Shane Filan. Kimi Raikonnen.

8. Ten Places I’d Like To Go (I’ve been to so many amazing places already, some of these are “again”)

Uluru. The Maldives. Macchu Pichu. On a train across Canada. Oklahoma. Eire. Narnia. The Galapagos Islands. Nova Scotia. Dolwydellan.

9. Ten Faces Loved and Lost

My grandparents: Eve and Ken. My friends: Roger, Catherine and Hilda.  My rabbits: Thumper, Snuffy, Elmo and Sooty. My fish: Flipper.

10. Ten Of My Favourite Posts from the Last 99!

Divided by a common language.

Falling Softly.

Halloween.

So What Do You Do?

Lucy

It’s Alive

More On Inspiration and Murderers

5th – 8th Days of Christmas

Naming Names

May I Introduce…?

11 Comments

Filed under Writing

Friday Fiction – The Crossing

Another story courtesy of Madison Wood’s photo below. Please let me know what you think – I thrive on criticism of my writing, so don’t hold back if there’s something you think I could do better or change.

For those who wanted to see the expanded version of last week’s Knight Returns story, please click here. Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Crossing

Mike’s across already. Longer legs? Better balance? Or just more confidence. I’m still teetering on the first stone. The stream rushes beneath me in torrents barely six inches deep. I could just wade over, but there are stepping stones for a reason.

I prise one foot from the rock it’s melded to, then a dragonfly lands on the next stone and I am unable to move again. He’s so tiny, he straddles a rock that will barely hold my toes. Reassurance, or a dare? I don’t know, but as he takes flight, I fly with him: safely across the stream.

43 Comments

Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing