The story continues…

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Delighted to announce a story of mine is published in Metamorphose. This story is called ‘Master Tailleur and The Seamstress‘ – its set over one night when a tailor and his seamstress work on a rush order for a very important client, and deals with the ramifications of the past on both characters. There is fear, there is hope and a little bit of bravery too.

‘Master Tailleur and The Seamstress’ is set in the same world as my previously published story ‘Scent of a Monster‘. When I created one story and the world in which it was set – I started to think about how events impact on other people and places in the world. That’s how ‘Master Tailleur and The Seamstress’  came about. 

It has inspired me to continue exploring this world and I have another related story in production (meaning I have to finish it!) – that at the moment exceeds 15,000 words. This story concerns a young girl and is set in the turbulent world described in my two published short stories. 

What interests me is the impact on otherwise normal or lowly people of larger political upheavals. How often are these stories untold? They have resonance and I can’t wait to explore them! 

Support the Metamorphose by having a read of some exerts and perhaps purchasing a copy here!

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The story continues…

The War of Art

The War of ArtI’m reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He writes about the resistance that all writers face. All the things in life that we let distract us from writing.

What I love about his message is that it makes a lot of sense to me. I know a lot of writers and most of us are distracted by life.

Very few of us are disciplined, consistent, bull headed and professional about our writing. We do a bit now and again and it satisfies something in us.

But maybe that’s not enough – for me anyway. Ever feel that slightly gnawing sense of not being happy with your life?

For me  its when I’m not following my calling to write, write and write. To immerse myself in the process, to improve my craft and to keep doing it – no matter what.

We all listen to the negative voice which says things like – Come on! Its more important to get the housework done/wash the car/ go on holidays/ attend that conference/ eat chocolate.

The negative voice questions us all the time: Why on earth do you think you’re any good? Who wants to read your stuff anyway? You’re never going to finish that novel so why try?

The negative voice can get nasty: You weren’t born to be a writer. Others are much more talented! Why not make yourself a nice cold drink and forget about it?

Its only as I write out the negative voice that I realize it has a lot to say!

But what about my other voice – the voice inside me that wants me to express myself?

If I listen to that voice, I know that I will be happier, more satisfied and more fulfilled in life. Simple as.

So I’m writing every day. I’m writing fresh material, or editing material.

I’m involved with two writers groups. I’m reviewing and contributing to others work. I’m getting involved.

I’m sending work off to publishers and competitions.

I see writing as vital and essential to my life. Writing is a core part of my life.

And that feels so right.

The War of Art

New Group, New Focus

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In my last post I mentioned how sharing work can really help the writing process. I have taken this a step further recently by joining an online writers group called Scribophile.

Every writer’s group has its own personality. The one I belong to the longest and which has been a great source of encouragement is a local group called Dunlavin Writers Group. This group is all about its inclusive welcoming atmosphere where writers can feel comfortable sharing their work. I have really benefited from this. It helped me get over the nervousness of reading my work out loud to a group. Usually I get one or two suggestions that help hone my storytelling too.

However, for some time I’ve wanted even more. I’m looking for serious and detailed analysis. I think this is because having worked with an editor before, I see how it immeasurably improves my work. So I started researching for a different type of group and I think I’ve found it online!

And now a little about Scribophile.

I’m only a newbie on the site but I’ve got to grips with it quickly as it works in a simple way. For every critique I do I receive karma points. When I’ve got five points I can then publish my own story and it will receive three or more critiques.

As I joined as a paying member (it’s $65/annum) I received a couple of karma points to start with. After a couple of critiques, I had my five points and I posted my first story. Newbies get their own special place to publish and I received four critiques very quickly.

One critique was very good, one was excellent, all four had something to add and it will help me edit my short story with the different views and some excellent suggestions in mind.

I just have to do the work now!

By the way, carrying out critique of other short stories etc helps me as a writer to see what does and doesn’t work. So its rarely a chore and often is very enlightening. Some writers on the site are real beginners, and some are definitely seasoned writers. Its fabulous to be part of such a vibrant and active community.

New Group, New Focus

Create action, delete, share for a better story

My story Master Tailleur and the Seamstress, has received an honourable mention in the 2018 Metamorphose writing competition. Metamorphose specializes in publishing new voices in science fiction and fantasy. And boy, am I glad they do.

This will be my second story published with them (The Scent of a Monster published in 2017) and I’ve worked with their senior Editor on the latest piece. Its great to have a cool and knowledgeable eye thrown over your work. She picks out those quirks, inconsistencies and plain bad grammar that we all – or at least I- unwittingly do.

This time around I learnt that I use the verb were/was way too much! So I put in active verbs in their place. An example: They were negotiating peace  becomes ‘They negotiated peace’. A simple change but it makes the action more immediate. Sometimes it involves changing a sentence completely around but generally its all to the good.

I also cut out chunks of text when they didn’t add to the story or simply confused the story. It helps if an editor has queried the section and I can see that the story works better without that bit. I find that if I create a file of ‘offcuts’ – I then cut and paste the offending piece in to this file. I have deleted the piece but I can re-insert it at a later date if I want (this is a psychological comfort to me). I rarely, if ever, re-insert the deleted piece!

Lastly, having an editor work with me reminds me of the value of showing my work to other writers or readers before submitting it. It may be useful to have an agreement with a fellow writer to look over each others work and make constructive criticism of the work on an ongoing basis. I shall certainly try to do this in future, in particular for writing that’s important to me. Its probably one of the reasons I belong to two writers groups and would even consider joining a third!

 

 

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A changed perspective tells the story

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Over a year ago now, my short story won OUEN PRESS travel writing awards (2016). The competition theme was ‘journey’ and I took them at their word! Inviting entrants from all over the world, I sent them my piece called “Journey through Uncertainty” to see how they might like it. It eventually won the competition and was published in an anthology named after my story.

My journey wasn’t the usual one of getting on a plane, visiting some exotic location (although I have done that!) – no, my journey took place a lot closer to home – about 20km from my house actually. As you might know, I live in County Wicklow, Ireland. Truly a lovely place – I’m lucky to live here. My story location is one of most the magical places in Wicklow, perhaps in all of Ireland! It is Glendalough – glen of the two lakes in other words. And in one of those lakes, my journey took place: An open water 1.5km swim in the deep and dark upper lake.

Here’s a short extract….

I gasped loudly and repeatedly as a trickle of ice wound its way inside my wet suit. It spread across my body. Nipples jerked to attention. I dived and saw for the first time the dark brown nothingness below. My heart pounded noisily in my chest. I spluttered to the surface shaking myself like a wet dog flinging water from its body.

Head reeling from the impact of the cold, this was no gentle immersion in a heated swimming pool. This was an icy body of dark water and except for six large buoys marking the course, there was no friendly lines of floats to guide me. No well-lit tiled floor or coloured wall to turn at. The start of this swim was no dive into a clean chlorinated blue, but a chilling walk from the gritty shoreline, through the shallows, then a swim out to the start.  The start line was indistinct – only roughly marked by the plethora of swimmers who bobbed in a straggling line out from a small green float.

I turned to face the lake proper and spotted the first marker, a big yellow buoy incongruous against the peaty darkness of the water and the heathered mountains beyond. I was still contemplating this, still coming to terms with being in this lake for this swim –  when a loud horn reverberated around the valley walls and every swimmer in the water took their first stroke. We were off…

The interesting thing about this story was – not that it actually happened – but that I had first fictionalized it by writing it from a created character’s perspective. I intended to submit it to a standard short story competition. But it never really worked for me.  However, I wanted to tell the story because it was genuinely one of those amazing moments in my life. It had to be shared! So when I saw the call for submissions for a fact based short story with the theme of ‘journey’ I went back and rewrote it from my own perspective. It became a much more powerful piece then.

I cared so much about it I asked another writer friend of mine to have a look at it and she made some valuable suggestions. I also rewrote the introduction after my husband said it read like a visitor’s guide to Glendalough! Not good. There were many drafts but I was delighted with the result and the win!

 

 

A changed perspective tells the story

A Win!

32130a09-84d9-4cbb-8652-b9e0d0a017c6Delighted to say my story “The Scent of a Monster” has won the novice prize in the 2017 Metamorphose Fantasy & Science Fiction writing competition. It was my first time writing fantasy. I initially wrote it for another competition and after receiving positive feedback, but not getting through that competition – I wanted  to have another look at the story. I couldn’t let it go. I did many re-writes and finally I was happy with it and submitted it to this specialized publication. It was fantastic to win and also to work on the edits with a professional editor. That taught me a lot (thank you Tammy Davies, Senior Editor at metamorphoselit.com. Its now published in Metamorephose V3. Check it out on amazon.com.

What did I learn from this process? Every writer has ticks, or things they unconsciously do. For example I use passive verbs all the time – such as running, crying, grabbing when I should instead write: He ran, she cried, he grabbed. This makes the story more active and immediate.  Also the editor helped me let go bits that although as a writer I was attached to, really didn’t add anything to the story, in fact could confuse readers and they were deleted. We did have some debate, and the edits were all my decision, but it was a fantastic process to be involved in.

Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed writing the story. I used a couple of initial prompts and then let my imagination run free. I created a world – that was recognizable to us but also very different – and the characters in it to a fantastical degree. I had fun looking up arcane stuff on the web such as medieval weaponry, names and their meanings, victorian era pamphlets…

I could go on! So that is what I am going to do. I am going to try to create more stories where I can let my imagination run riot.

A Win!

Help…. I am editing my novel

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Help! I am editing my novel (the photo above bears no relation to this topic but I find it peaceful. I need the calm). The novel slept happily in a drawer for a few years but now wants some attention. Don’t blame me. It was an inspiring workshop I attended last summer that has compelled my novel to the forefront again. So here I am following the advice of the wonderful editor who spoke about how to get beyond the first draft.

This is where I am. I have re-read the whole thing – all 93,000 words and 54 chapters. I have summarised each chapter down to a few bullet points. Now I am attempting to summarize the story to about 500 words and then in even less, 250 words, for a blurb-type summary. The last one will try to be catchy – like what you’d read on the back cover of a book. I will try to encapsulate the theme of the book in just one (albeit long) sentence.

The good thing is that I still like the story (or most of it – there may be some big deletes to come…) I still like the main protagonists. It hasn’t staled for me. Although reading and rereading can be tiring. And what is it about? On a basic level, what I want to get across is that the kindness we show to others and the kindness we might show to our own selves, can have a huge impact and can be a powerful thing. That’s what its about and because I am a big romantic, there is a romance in the story although that’s not the only relationship that matters.

More details to follow…

Keep reading

 

Yours

The Wicklow Writer

Help…. I am editing my novel