According to WordPress this blog is two years old – gulp. How did that happen?
I started this blog to document my writing journey but looking back, I don’t seem to have achieved as much as I planned. My current WIP remains incomplete at 50,000 words, I only have a handful of worthy short stories and my writing routine is still hit and miss but I have
found new friends. Some of these are amazing writers and support me in all aspects of life.
gained confidence in my writing
discovered how friendly the writing community is on Twitter and Facebook especially #Turtlewriters and #FictionCafeWriters
completed Camp Nanowrimo twice.
As Nanowrimo approaches it is time to prepare and with the help of preptober prompts from Emma-Louise at Read, Write, Inspire maybe this time I will manage it.
It’s time for some flash fiction. This was written for my writing group after being given the prompt:
Choose a well known fictional character. Write why they did what they did.
While everyone chose well known characters from literature by Charles Dickens, the only characters I could think about were from children literature including Eeyore from A.A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.
The Story of Eeyore’s Tail
Crushed against the wall Eeyore looked up at the small child next to him to see her eyes tightly closed. Maybe if he did the same, he would be invisible too instead of hiding behind a musty settee in the parlour listening to the stampede of feet on the wooden floor in the hall. Doors opened and closed, whispers silenced until all he could hear was the countdown from the hall.
Ten. Nine. Eight.
When Louise chose him from her menagerie of toys to attend Alexander’s birthday party he was so excited and proud he thought he would burst his seams. Instead of the colourful toys and her pretty dolls he, a round cloth donkey with his drab grey coat, had been seen at last and was the envy of all in the nursery. The party was all anyone could talk about; there was speculation on whether there would be ice cream as well as jelly, whether jelly really wobbled as described in the books Nanny read and what the cake would look like. Louise chattered endlessly about the dress she would wear and the need for matching new ribbons. All the toys worried about whether Alexander would receive his much desired catapult and if they would in turn be used for target practise but Eeyore hadn’t cared because it was him who would see the party first hand. Now, all he wanted was to be in the toy box with the others. Anywhere but here.
Seven. Six. Five. Four.
He could feel Louise’s heart beat faster and he prayed they wouldn’t be seen.
Three. Two. One.
“Coming ready or not”, bellowed Alexander. His loud footsteps faded into the distance and Louise took a deep breath.
It started so well. Eeyore was in awe with the scene in front of him; bunting decorating the room, every child wore party hats, the table was spread with birthday treats and was that the infamous jelly he could spy? Louise was ushered in and Eeyore watched as the gift she gave Alexander joined the growing mound of presents in the corner. The children all sat down in a circle before passing a parcel to each other unwrapping layer after layer of paper when the music stopped until it revealed a prize for Louise and the first tantrum from Alexander ensued. Consoled with the promise he could open his presents calm reigned again but Eeyore felt the first tingle of apprehension. He tried to remember all the gifts he saw but his mind went blank when the dreaded catapult was unwrapped. The nursery toys would not be happy and neither was Louise. She held him tighter and tighter. Further party games followed with Alexander being declared the winner until it was time for hide and seek.
Eeyore froze as a thunder of shoes headed their way and the door creaked open.
“Found her” Alexander loomed over them causing Louise to squeal and run off without him. Eeyore felt himself snatched up roughly before he hurtled through the air from boy to braying boy. “Let’s play pin the tail on the donkey” one suggested. The small toy quivered in fear. It silently screamed when they ripped his tail from his body. He wanted Louise. He wanted the sanctuary of the nursery. With a scarf tied over his eyes, a boy was turned round and round. It was only when the donkey saw his tail and a large pin in the lumbering child’s hand he knew what was coming. Over and over the pin jabbed into him to the sound of the boys raucous laughter.
“Time for food” a voice called. The children retreated. Left alone and discarded in the corner of the room, Eeyore began to cry. He never saw the cake nor knew whether jelly really did wobble and when he returned to the toys he refused to talk. His humiliation and shame of losing his tail was too great. Eventually he lay forgotten at the bottom of the toy box, shunned for his aloofness until one day he found himself in a different nursery with a boy called Christopher Robin. His life began again but he never forgot that day and he always hated birthdays.
I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult so was very excited to recieve an advanced copy of her new release A Spark of Light. Thank you NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the opportunity to read this.
A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
Title: A Spark of Light
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughon
Genre: General Fiction
Release date: 30th October 2018
Whose choice is it?
The masterful new novel from the Number One bestselling author of Small Great Things.
The Center for women’s reproductive health offers a last chance at hope – but nobody ends up there by choice.
Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.
Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real: a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.
Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people – the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment – to this point.
And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.
This is another divisive novel by Jodi Picoult told sensitively as it tries to deal with all sides of the abortion debate. It is honest, gritty and hard-hitting and doesn’t shy away from the heightened emotion abortion evokes and the physical aspects of the procedure. Some may find parts distressing and a trigger. The plot revolves around the stories of the women and doctor at a women’s centre in Mississippi when a gunman attacks – these include a 15-year-old girl, her aunt, doctor and nurse. Each have their own reasons for being there that day and all different characters. Unusually, it is told in a reverse chronological order taking you from the end of day to the beginning. This could have been an awkward format but Jodi Picoult’s style and talent carries it off. My heartstrings were pulled because I felt an attachment to all characters whatever their beliefs and was on the roller coaster of emotion with them as the terror unfolds. It is a story about life and should read to start a conversation.
After all, as Jodi Picoult says
“Honestly, I do not believe we, as a society, will ever agree on this issue. The stakes are too high, and both sides operate from places of unshakable belief . But I do think that the first step is to talk to each other—and more important, to listen. We may not see eye to eye, but we can respect each other’s opinions and find the truth in them. Perhaps in those honest conversations, instead of demonizing each other, we might see each other as imperfect humans, doing our best.”
A Spark of Life Jodi Picoult 2018
Would I recommend?
Yes, whatever side you are on this novel shines a light on the shades of grey in the abortion debate which divides many in all countries. It is not an easy read but you come out of it a different person.
Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
The premiere of A Discovery of Witches based on the All Souls books aired last week so it’s time to catch up with the rest of the trilogy book reviews starting with Shadow of Night.
Warning: Spoilers for the first book of series A Discovery of Witches may follow.
Title: Shadow of Night
Author: Deborah Harkness
Genre: Fiction, supernatural
Release Date: 14th February 2013
Blurb It began with A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.
Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot. Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…
Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in this stunning, richly imagined, epic tale.
As Matthew and Diana timewalk to 1590 when the witches’ powers were strong this sequel has a different feel to the first; it is historical fiction with a paranormal twist. I love the historical details and Deborah Harkness excels at bringing everyday Tudor life alive. I could smell and feel London as the characters walk through the city and interact with old characters and new. The introduction of recognisable personalities of the time such as William Shakespeare and Kit Marlow works well and inspired me to look into their works but it was the witches which fascinated me. The world of All Souls is expanded with new witches, daemons and vampires.
The pace is different and in places slower so not as page turning as A Discovery of Witches but it is still a strong book. The characters and twists keep the plot moving forward and all the details help bring things together in the Book of Life.
When I first read this book, A Discovery of Witches remained my favourite of the series but the more I reread this one the more details I see and has become the one I love most.
Would I recommend?
Of course. It has prime place on my forever bookshelf.
Thank you Headline and NetGalley for a digital copy.
Have you read this yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
September is here with the promise of my favourite season — Autumn. Cold, crisp mornings with colourful leaves littering the ground tempts people to run through them like a toddler. They always make me smile. Or am I the only one who feels that urge to do that when faced with a pile of leaves? Colder days also make me want to curl up, read and write.
My visitors left a few days so writing is back on my agenda and I hope to see my word count increase as I get my writing room back but best of all writing group has begun again. Two hours a week of uninterrupted writing time, catching up with friends and of course, eating biscuits or if we are lucky cake. I lost a stone over the summer by not eating carbs – I wonder if this will continue when fresh homemade cakes such as warm chocolate brownies are brought in. I have missed the companionship of fellow writers, the exercises and prompts but especially the laughs our stories will bring either by design or accident. I have my new notebook and pencil ready to be filled.
Grab that cup of coffee (or tea if you prefer), maybe add a splash of something stronger, settle down and enjoy your break with this gripping collection of flash fiction and poetry that will send shivers down your spine. With an added bonus of a longer story at the end that will fill your lunch break. What are you waiting for? Dive in! Everything from a discovery in an Ice Cavern, to a tornado. Mermaids, and Dragons. Mystery and Horror. This collection of flash fiction and poetry has something to capture anyone’s imagination, with a final chilling thriller that will leave you gasping for air.
As the title suggests this book is one to read over your coffee break or those free five minutes in the day. This collection of poems, short stories and flash fiction is easy to read over several breaks and there is something for everyone.
The raw emotion of some poems and the chapter ‘Loneliness’ brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I credit this book as one of the ones which opened my eyes to the depth and connection poetry can portray in a few sentences. I no longer shy away or skip the pages when I see a poem but jump in and enjoy so thank you SL Grigg.
As a writer, I enjoyed the editing exercises she shares to show the transformation from one story to another with the cutting of word count. I felt privileged to read the stories written in her childhood and I reminisced about my own afternoons scribbling in my teenage notebook.
I am looking forward to reading more from SL Grigg in the future.
Sometimes a blog post, like this one arrives in your reader at just the right time. Life is changing with my daughter growing up fast – I am sure to be facing the dreaded empty nest soon and my priorities inevitably are changing too. This exercise has made me consider where I am in my life and what I need to focus on next to create the life I desire.
I’ve been quiet for a few days haven’t I? I’m still here but focusing on me and The Book!
I’ve been mulling over something I studied a while back and fancied sharing it with you 🌸
I recall a test in which we participated during our 12-week self-esteem course (I say ‘we’ .. that’s myself and seven other women who had qualified for this course having done the Freedom Programme at my local Womens Aid centre).
The amazing volunteer leader who stood at the front had six sheets of different coloured A4 paper. She held up the white sheet.
‘This represents me; my self esteem, which is extremely good.’
(immediately she said this, I curled my toes with embarrassment – how could anyone be that self assured … but I hadn’t completed the course had I)
‘This red piece of paper represents my husband – and when you do…