Restoration Reflections

After the week I’ve had (I know it’s only Tuesday) all I needed to do was to lie quietly in a dark room and recharge. After a super early start and a 5-mile walk with the naughty dog, I sat down to write. It was to be my quiet time, my time to complete another round in my (editing) chamber of hell. That reminds me, my third novel, I’m pleased to report is being tweaked and polished… Again! As a distraction, I wanted to work on something that did not involve a red pen and lines.

For inspiration, I looked through projects I’d begun and not finished. Works which for whatever reason I’d put onto the back burner but didn’t burn. Maybe secretly deep down I hoped they could be resurrected. After all, where there’s life there’s hope, right?

I spend the first hour or so on the internet doing ‘research’ (OK… randomly doing anything but writing), then set to it.

I had two lightbulb moments –

‘who the hell wrote this dross?’ and ‘some of this isn’t that bad.’

The dross has now gone to the log basket to be ‘recycled’ – the rest? Well, the rest is being restored and will be looking for a home in the not so distant future. Onwards people onwards…

National Flash Fiction Day June 16th

Now in its seventh year, National Flash Fiction Day is dedicated to the celebration of writing in one of its shortest forms (Flash). Flash fiction is usually considered to be a story under a 1000, 500 or 300 words. Anything less is regarded as ‘micro-fiction’ (100 words) or a ‘minisaga’ (50 words).

The roots of flash fiction go back (literally) centuries. In the 1920’s flash was known as ‘the short short story’.

Flash fiction sits perfectly with our crazy busy lifestyles. A 500-word piece can be easily read on the train, bus – in fact anywhere.

The nuts and bolts of what measures up as a piece of Flash Fiction are difficult to pin down, but I’ll give it a go. For me, the art of a good piece of flash fiction lies in what the author does not say. It’s down to you the reader to grasp the meaning and fill in those spaces between the words. It needs to grab you, keep you wondering.

This year I am lucky enough to have my flash fiction ‘Yellow’ feature on the Flash Flood Journal blog in celebration of Flash Fiction Day. Take a peak here

I hope you enjoy it.

Photo by Emily Marie on Unsplash

 

A Short Short Tale…

Tomorrow June 16th is National Flash Fiction Day. As part of the celebrations, I have been fortunate enough to have my flash fiction story Yellow selected for inclusion. I shall be featured alongside some fine authors each with a captivating story to tell. For 24 hours from midnight tonight you can read a myriad of fine tales all 500 words or below. My offering Yellow will be up at 05:00 BST. I would love it if you could set your alarm, give it a read and post a comment (I know a big ask but if you don’t ask and all that…). I am in good company, my friends and fellow authors Jane Lomas and Rosie Canning also have their flash pieces included. Rosie’s story ‘The Swimmer’ will be up sometime between 06:00 – 07:00 and Janes story ‘First Love’ will be up at approx.07:12. Whenever you tune in there will be a story to tickle your literary taste buds. Check out all of the wonderful stories from midnight tonight here

Getting Help…

Here is an important post from my friend and fellow author Amy M. Reade. This is so heartbreaking but so important. Thanks for agreeing to share your blog post Amy. Over to you…

The post I originally wrote for today was about my summer reading wish list, but that will have to wait until next week.

Today my heart is broken for a family I’ve never met.

Yesterday a student at the high school two of my children attend took his own life. I found out about it this morning through my church’s prayer chain. I have no words for the sorrow I feel for this boy’s family.

This is not the first time this has happened at the school. In fact, it’s at least the fourth time in as many years. There is something really, really wrong when a child feels there is no hope and no help.

Please, please, if you know anyone who is thinking of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

Whether you contact them by phone or online, someone is there to help 24/7 all across the United States. And because I know people from all over the world read this blog, click here for a list of suicide hotlines by country. Please note that Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England are listed under United Kingdom. If you know any information on that list to be incorrect, please let me know and I’ll post the correct information below in the comments.

If you know someone who is struggling emotionally or mentally, you could be the catalyst for getting that person the help he or she desperately needs. Please visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-someone-else/ to find out what you can do to help. There’s also great information about things you shouldn’t do.

Please keep struggling families in your prayers, and please remember to be kind–you never know what someone else is going through.

Until next time,

Amy

A Life Full of Good Things

A few days ago I received some rather good news. One of my short stories has been shortlisted for a competition. After the initial ‘yes, it really is your story, no you are not dreaming’, came gasps of joy, disbelief and an overwhelming sense of all good things. Buried deep, almost hidden I found strength. Let me explain… Writing can be a lonely experience, the road is often filled with diversions. Great big signposts fill your head – ‘give up’, ‘you’re rubbish’, ‘not good enough’. Writing novels is a long experience and takes an awful amount of strength. As time goes by that strength can wane, as it does those ‘signs’ sitting on your shoulder grow bigger.  Being shortlisted has refuelled me. It has given me strength, provided re-enforcement to keep going.

I do not know if I will win, but I do know that I am now superwoman and can conquer the world once more!

 

A Charmed Life ~ The Importance of Character Flaws

Today I’ve been ruminating… Yes, I am feeling quite well, thanks for asking!

A while ago I wrote a blog piece on the believability of character flaws. They are such a big part of a writers remit that I wanted to revisit them. Recently I’ve read a few books where the characters were not believable and it irked me. The books were well written, and the stories could have been so amazing. Yet the characters were not believable. Those books sadly were just words on a page, there was no life in them and I got bored!

Characters need to be equally at home eating a plate of pasta, as running for their lives. Buried deep within the pages they need to live, breathe and come to life.

As a reader, I need to understand them. If I don’t understand them, I don’t believe them. If I don’t believe them, I can’t connect with them and I hang up. I don’t have to agree with them or even like them, but I do need to have a level of understanding.

As I move forward to write book 4 my head is filled with people. Tall people, short people, fat people, thin people – all bouncing through my mind waiting for their moment to connect. Some I’ve already ditched, some I am curious about and some keep me awake at night!

They are ordinary people living ordinary lives…. until something extraordinary happens. How many ordinary lives do you know that are perfectly lived? Exactly!

We, as a species love nothing more than neat little boxes. We want labels on absolutely everything from gender to religion, to leftovers in the fridge (maybe that one’s just me…). We gain a level of security knowing where we are within the world and how everyone else fits into our model.

I, am a walking contradiction. I change my mind more often than not, tell white lies, debate, argue and cry. I laugh at things I shouldn’t and get myself into awkward and tricky situations. Am I perfect – er no! Am I believable? I would like to think so. And that’s the point. It is OK for me to change my mind – I am flawed, it’s part of who I am. It is the same for my characters. They can change their minds too but (you knew there was a ‘but’ coming), as writers, we get so focused on making sure our characters fit into the boxes we’ve created they can become ‘too perfect’. Characters with contradictions, some ‘why the hell did they do that?’ moments grab our attention. Crazy events work well if you understand them. You need events to move your story forward. People are peculiar- not perfect!

Usually, events are character driven, unless you’re a shark, a big great white shark with big teeth! Although, thinking about it, even shark based thrillers require the characters to get into the water!

So lovely people put your characters in the water and watch them swim for their lives! They can swim right?…Cue scary music…

 

Are you ready to get into the water? Photo by Francisco Jesús Navarro Hernández on Unsplash

 

Early Bird or Night Owl?

I have been musing recently about optimising the time I spend writing – or, to be more accurate, the time I spend thinking about writing!

My writing seems to follow a seasonal pattern. In the spring and summer months I write more effectively in the early mornings. During the autumn and winter that drive for early morning words is reversed. The dark evenings beckon and I sit and commune until the wee hours. Is this true of other writers I wondered.Does seasonality play a role?

Taking that thought further, I wondered if seasons not only direct when I write, but what I write. I can’t say as I’ve delved into this too deeply, but I’m sure it’s one of those interesting facts someone somewhere must know!

Moving sideways, I was curious to discover whether I adopted a ‘default’ season in my writing. A quick bit of analysis said not. It appears I write across all seasons. My current season of choice is winter. During Forbidden Colours it was most definitely Autumn. So, does any of this matter? No, not unless you are me! I am sadly time poor. I needed to know when I worked best, and if any of it had become habitual. It is of course habitual by the fact that I try to write each day, but, thankfully, what I write is still as free and unpredictable as it’s always been.

The #5amwritersclub is where it’s all happening right now and I busy with another edit on my historical fiction novel. It has become like an old friend and I look forward to moving it forward each day, even if it’s only a few words. As they say ‘every little helps’.

Life in the Fitton house is as chaotic as usual. It is exam season, conference season and time to sort the garden out season!

Do you have a preferred time of day to write or a ‘go to’ season? Do let me know.

If you’re not a writer, do you find seasonality plays a part in what you do? Pop a comment below… until next time adieu.

Photo: Cliff Johnson at Unsplash

Me, Agatha and The Snow….

I can hardly believe it was only two weeks ago that myself and four very talented ladies got together for the most magical of experiences. The occasion was a writing retreat, but my lovelies, this was not just any writing retreat. This was a magical adventure, held in the most magical of places.

Heartfelt thanks go to Rosie Longstocking from Greenacre writers who organised the retreat. We were treated to four days at Agatha Christie’s summer home – Greenway in Devon. Yes, that is what I said, I stayed at Agatha Christie’s summer home!!

My goal was to complete the first full edit of my historical thriller and to tighten and rework the first few pages.

Having never met the other writers I was apprehensive. In the days leading up to the retreat, I wondered why I had been so cavalier in signing up, but as they say, he who dares and all that. Maybe I am not as introverted as I like to think!

My worries soon disappeared on meeting these fine ladies. They were funny, friendly, and oh my, so talented!

We shared meals, taking it in turns to cook (who knew you couldn’t make rice pudding with Basmati rice??). The rest of the time was self-directed.

What followed were periods of procrastination involving – long walks, visits to the boathouse, a scoot around Agatha’s house, another visit to the boathouse, discussions concerning impending snow, attempting to find a phone signal, yet another visit to the boathouse – you get the picture… until….. finally…. I began to write!

It worked! Whether it was Agatha sending me good vibes, the wonderful company, or the location I know not. What I do know is that it was my perfect storm – I wrote my heart out. I was spurred on by receiving news that one of my short stories had been shortlisted in The Fiction Factory short story competition.

I can happily report that my edit got completed and my pages got tightened (nowhere else will you ever hear me say those words). And here’s the best bit ….. it was fun!

Between us, we created an environment that was supportive, encouraging and creative…. I think Agatha would have been pleased. Her sanctuary for those few days also became ours, and we flourished.

Highlights included:

Episodes of Poirot

The Boathouse

Writing

Stunning views

Laughing a lot

Playing story cubes after several sherbets!

Reading with the girls

Writing some more

Camillias

Snow

Finding Ingrid in the bathroom writing!

Eating

Making lists

Cooking

Continuing to write

Ladies in the gift shop

Murder….

Got ya! There were no murders, well not real ones!

There really were so many special moments.

Our adventure continued when we came to depart. As had been predicted, the snow came. A frantic half hour ensued. We debated whether or not to ‘wait and see’ and risk getting snowed in, or to depart. I think it was Agatha’s way of trying to keep us there… ‘Five Get Snowed in at Greenway’… Logic got the better of us and we left. The snow continued to fall… heavily, and so began the long haul back to our own worlds. We got stuck on a snowy hill, stuck trying to leave Torquay (roads closed due to snow), snow, snow and more snow fell. Thankfully we all made it home safe and sound.

Jane Lomas, Rosie Longstocking, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Michelle Cunnah – you ladies rock!

To coin a phrase – It really was the best of times!

Five Go to Greenway…. there needs to be a sequel!

Photos courtesy of: Rosie Longstocking, Jane Lomas and Nicole Fitton
View from the path

 

Karma Camillias…

Agatha’s House Greenway. My room is top right with the window slightly open.
Spot the difference! The first fluttering of snow!
The famous Boathouse
Room with a view
Murder… did someone mention murder? Our living room.
View from my room…
Me and Jane, Jane and me and a very big window!
The lady herself!
Here come the girls

Tuesday Spotlight… Meet The Cast ~ Casualty of Court by L.S.Fellows

A few weeks ago I featured friend and fellow mystery writer Lynne Fellows and her new release ‘Casualty of Court’. Today we are getting a front row seat and meeting the cast. Buckle up, it may be a bumpy ride! Take it away Lynne:

LF: This shorty links the prequel to the bigger story and offers an insight into what each character wants from the upcoming trial.

Continue reading “Tuesday Spotlight… Meet The Cast ~ Casualty of Court by L.S.Fellows”