Monday, 27 February 2012

Suit up, it's the Knights of MicroFiction!

Having basically all but run out of blog ideas, I've joined the Knights of MicroFiction to give me something to write and maybe a kick back onto the path of productivity because my WIP has basically been floundering too.

You should really check it out. It's only once a month, and I think it's such a good idea, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone makes of the prompts! 


The prompt for this week was: After all this time, there it was...

My entry's not from a WIP or anything, I just went with where my head was going when I read the prompt. Here's what I came up with!

After all this time, there it was – there he was – lying right at the bottom of the box.
Officially, we had moved in a little over three years ago, but we still hadn’t managed to completely unpack. I’m sure a very philosophical individual would say at this point about how we don’t need all of our junk but I’m not one of those people. I like having stuff. Every piece of so-called junk has it’s own story.
I reached in and picked my old friend up. He hadn’t changed a bit. With all the articulation that a two year old could muster, the day Dad had brought him home, I had appropriately named him ‘Beary’.  To this day I still have a problem with stating the obvious.
The lenses of his glass eyes were scratched, from his many adventures, and parts of his grey fur were almost bare in places. Maybe I had given him one too many cuddles. Little specks of pink nail varnish still clung to his paws from the time I had decided to give him a manicure. Mum had spent hours trying to get it off, and the house had smelt of remover solution for days afterward.
With a smile, I carried him down the stairs and into the sitting room. In pride of place I set him into the big antique armchair. Jake looked up at me over his glasses, then, glanced towards the new arrival.
“Should I be jealous?”
“Of Beary?” I replied. “Always.”

Word count: 250 exactly!

Hope you enjoyed it. Why don't you pop off to read some more of the Knight's posts? 

Sarah x

Friday, 24 February 2012

Music to write to: Progressed

So as you may (or may not) have noticed by my relative inactivity for the last week, I've kind of run out of things to blog about!

Already? But you just started!

Apparently so. It might have something to do with real life drama's becoming, for once, more overwhelming than the drama's being played out in my head! Having some serious house mate issues, spliced with a dash of stomach bug to contend with. So, understandably I'm feeling a little uninspired.  So I thought I'd write about something that helps me write, and that's music!

I'm going to do a segment, hopefully every week for a little while until I get my 'mojo' back!

Listening to music whilst writing is a very touchy subject for some people. Some can't write with it, some can't write without it. I'm in the later group. Music is a big part of building an atmosphere for me and as a result I have different play lists set up in my iTunes for different moods.

So, this week's Album of choice: Progressed by Take That

Genre's suitable for: Contemporary, Futuristic, Science Fiction

Personal highlights: Love Love, SOS, Underground Machine, Man

The marketing of this album bugged me. Take That released their album 'Progress' in November 2010 and it was their first album as a fully reunited group, i.e. with Robbie Williams back. (If this is all going over the heads of my American readers, I do apologise!) However, in June 2011 they RE-RELEASED the album with 8 new tracks and retitled it 'Progressed'. It was a very similar thing to what Lady Gaga did with The Fame, and then The Fame Monster. It's a kick in the teeth for fans that buy the first album, and then have to essentially buy the first album again to get the extra tracks.

But enough about bad record label choices. On to the writing side of things!

To me, the album has a very industrial (I use that term VERY lightly because I do know there is a very large genre of music that is ACTUALLY called industrial and I do not wish to offend) theme running through it, without departing from what can be considered 'pop' music. My absolute favourite song from this album is Love Love because it was the song in the closing credits of 'X-men: First class' (which I adore) and it always reminds me of the film.

From the angle of using this as a background to writing, the sound of the music is very important, especially for science fiction because most things in science fiction tend to rely heavily on machines, and the sound of this album can be very mechanical at times. But in a good way. The second thing is the lyrics. In one song especially, SOS, the lyrics are very poignant of our future and remind me somewhat of Beth Revis' book Across the Universe (which I haven't finished so don't spoil me!). There aren't parallels in the lyrics to the book, so I'm not spoiling anyone who hasn't read it, but there are sort of, themes that are similar. If you've read the book you might know what I'm talking about.

Here are some of the lyrics which make me think:

"When the levee breaks 
And Manhattan sinks 
There won't be water fit to drink 
When the winter's warm 
And the summer's cold 
The poison stops you looking old"

"No antibiotic can save us now 
No, no, no, no, no 
We are the virus that we talk about"

I'm going to leave you with the Love Love video. There are some clips of X Men in it, including my gorgeous Michael Fassbender as Magneto. I sure do 'Love Love' that man. Sorry. It had to be done.

I'm going to be possibly doing this segment every week, for a few weeks at least, breaking down the favourite music that I write to, and what genre's they inspire me to write for. I hope you find this segment interesting! Perhaps you'll find a new group or artist that appeals to your music tastes, or fits nicely in with what you're writing! 

Sarah x

EDIT: Also, if you're not following me through blogger, and are still interested in what I have to say (which I hope you are!) then you're going to have to switch to the Linky Follower, because at the beginning of March Google Friend Connect will cease to be working/exist! (I don't understand why, but there we go.)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I'm talking about plot ideas.

I suffer from a condition called an 'Over-active imagination'. Unfortunately, a cure has yet to be discovered, and even if there was one, I wouldn't take it and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME.

I love my imaginary friends, even if their relationship with me is dubious at best. However, I do seem to have a bit of a problem with crowd control. There is just too many in there for me to function as a normal human being, so I have to let some out to stretch their legs on paper. The trouble is, which ones?

I have read on a few blogs that a writer should, first and foremost, write for themselves. With regret, I can't do this. I wish I could be satisfied by simply getting their story out onto paper and being happy at that. But I'm not. Whenever I start writing, I'm filled with this consuming need for people to be interested in what and who I'm writing about. If I'm going to pour my heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into a story, I need to know that people will want to read it.

(I'm a bit of a praise whore. I was that annoying brat in school that would be the first one to finish her work, and would flaunt it in front of the teacher -and the class- all for the sake of getting a 'Well Done' stamp on my book.)

But I have a problem, in my head, I'm interested in every plot, otherwise it wouldn't be there. How do I decide which is the good, the bad, and the downright ugly?

But, Sarah, why is it important that other people like your stories?

Well, italic voice, because I'd like writing to be my job. For it to be a job, I need to make money. To make money, I need to get the story published. To get published, other people have to like what you read. And there we come full circle.

Recently, I had, what I thought was an amazing idea for a story. And I took it and ran with it for about 10,000 words. Then, just for a bit of fun and encouragement, I submitted it to Susanna Hill's 'Would You Read It Wednesday' where authors pitch their plots, and get feedback from her blog readers. But this is where I hit the road block. Not very many people seemed interested in it. Or if they were interested, it was because they had misinterpreted the plot in a way that I hadn't (and can't) imagine it going. It was then that I realised that I'm incapable of  judging which of my ideas are good, and which stink worse than my dad's feet (and trust me, that's bad). So what do I do? Do I put it to one side and hope that a better plot twist reveals itself? Do I scrap it and start something else? Do I keep going and ignore the warnings that it might fall flat on it's face?

When do you stop the CPR, look at the clock, and ask the Nurse (or in my case, cat) to call time of death? (In case you're wondering, it was purr minutes past meow.)

So, here's where I ask for your help! How do you sort out your Good, Bad and Ugly?

Sarah x

Monday, 13 February 2012

Origins Blogfest

So after the 'Hearing Voices' blogfest last week, I'm getting straight into another one!

Today I'm taking part in the Origin's blogfest! If you'd like to check out some of the other participants, click here to one of the co-hosts blogs, where there is an absolutely HUGE list of people taking part! There seems to be so many out there willing to share their origin stories. I'll try my best to get around them, but with class, I've only got so much time on my hands!

So here's my origin... (There was no word limit right? Because I do go on a bit...)

I've always had a creative mind. There are probably two factors to this. Number one is down to my wonderful mother. Bedtime stories were a daily event in my house when I was growing up, but quite a lot of the time, instead of reading to me from a book, my mother would make up a story on the spot, about what my teddy bears got up to when I wasn't around. I got used to the idea that stories weren't something that only came from books, but that everyone could do it! The second reason I attribute my creative mind was the fact that I spent a lot of time on my own as a child. I'm an only child, and when I was young my dad was very ill for quite a few years. Because of his illness I wasn't allowed to interact with very many other children for fear that I could bring new strains of viruses into the house that would make him worse, so I spent a lot of time playing by myself and imagining situations.

The first thing I ever wrote was on holiday's once when I was about 6 years old. It was about a bubble that I'd blown from our balcony, and it's journey to the mountains that I could see on the horizon. I don't remember the plot, but every time I talk about wanting to be a writer, my mum brings up the bubble story.

Then came Fanfiction. The first thing I wrote was an alternative ending to the 2004 movie version of Phantom of the Opera ( Gerard Butler... swoon...). I didn't even know there was a name for what I was doing until about a year later I discovered that quite a few other people on the internet liked to do the same thing! I went through several fandoms. It was the first time in my life that I'd finished a story. All through my childhood I would have started stories, but never gotten past the first few chapters. Until, that is, I found fanfiction. I fell in love with the community spirit that it gave, and the support that my stories seemed to get. I still have them all lurking around in my hard drive somewhere for nostalgia purposes.

I can't exactly pinpoint when I decided that I wanted to be a writer. It's always been there, in the background. Although it's always been what I've dreamed of being, it's always been Plan B. Unfortunately we live in a world which dictates that you need a steady source of income to be comfortable. I was never confident enough that I would be able to make a living from my writing, so instead of putting all my eggs in the writing basket, I'm studying to be a Biomedical scientist. (In case you don't know what that is, we're the people who check blood samples, and do the research behind medical and pharmaceutical methods.)

My dream to be a writer is secret from most people outside my family. A few months ago I told a friend on my degree course that it was what I wanted and she got very brisk with me, saying that some people would kill for the change to get a degree, and that if it wasn't what I really wanted, then I was robbing someone else of a place. That hurt. In my head I'm only trying to be realistic, and account for the fact that the highly subjective world of writing might not open it's doors to me.

I'm a religious person, and I believe that God has a plan for my life. I find it hard to believe sometimes that I would be gifted with a creative mind full of characters that demand to be let out of my head and onto paper, if I wasn't meant to be a writer. But at the same time, I have to be realistic. Although it's what I want, it might not be the path that's best for me. Perhaps my characters are only meant to keep me company and not to be shared with the wider world! At the end of the day, I'll still have a degree, and job prospects (however limited in this economic climate!) if my writing is just not meant to be.

So, after writing this, it's not so much my origin than my whole writing history, but once I started I just couldn't stop. I do hope I haven't bored you!

Sarah x

Friday, 10 February 2012

Emotion Flash Fiction - I'm Hearing Voices - Final Day

I have enjoyed these last few days so much! Hello to all my new followers, I hope you like what I have to say! I promise I'll get around to checking out everyone who commented and followed me, and everyone who entered the 'fest, but I just didn't realise how hectic my 2nd week back to Uni could be!

Thanks goes to Cassie and Angie for this amazing blogfest. It's been super fun!

Now, my emotion is a little unorthodox. There's a bit of a debate on the internet as to whether 'loneliness' is actually an emotion, but I've made an executive decision and for the purpose of this blog, it is. Without further ado, here is the flash fiction. Enjoy!

She felt sorry for me, the waitress, as she cleared away the cutlery from the other side of the table set for two. It was the way she looked at me, with her almost imperceptible smile and the haste with which she lowered her eyes from mine.
I knew that making friends in a new place would be difficult, but I had never anticipated this. At first, I tried to pretend I didn’t care. But eventually, it gets even the strongest of us, sucking life like a parasite. It starts off slow, but builds up, and up until the roar of silence that surrounds you is deafening. Mid-afternoon, while innocently placing a coffee order, I realised that the only soul I’d spoken to all day was paid not to ignore my existence. The thought left me hollow, and cold.     
Inside my head, my consciousness struggled to compensate and, instead of actually having them, I begun to imagine the conversations I would have. The highlight of my week was my Sunday night call from Mother.
“It’s great”, I lied, my pride refusing to permit the truth. I had been so desperate to unfurl my wings and fly. Perhaps if I’d known that my fate was, instead, to fall, I wouldn’t have been so eager. I would grasp at straws, teasing out every morsel of conversation that I could before her inevitable goodbyes.
As the waiter passed, I pulled my phone from my pocket and checked for a message that wasn't there.

Word count: 250. Like a boss.

Sarah x

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Pssst... over here...

Okay, two blog posts in one day, not like me but I just have to point y'all in the direction of a most wonderful blog!

Susanna Hill  does a wonderful piece every Wednesday called "Would you read it wednesday" where people pitch their book ideas to her readers. It such a great idea and I decided to ask her if I could take part. She agreed and today is the turn of my current WIP 'Starstruck'.

I suffer from having too many plot ideas. Of course, I think all my ideas are amazing but I'm naturally a little biased, so I decided to see if this particular plot would interest other people!

Pop on over and have a read to see what you think!

I've read a few of the comments so far and I've already learned so much! I can't thank Susanna enough for allowing me to share my idea!

Sarah x

I'm Hearing Voices Blogfest - Dialogue Introduction

Post two of the I'm hearing voices blogfest!

First of all: Oh, my, goodness! I never expected such an AMAZING response from everyone! Thank you to everyone who commented on my post! Next time I see Nasreen, I'll tell her all how much you liked her, but as you can probably guess, she's not the easiest person to pin down!

I had to flick back through a few stories that I'd written until I found two characters who jumped up and grabbed me. I did eventually find some that were suitable and once I got them talking they couldn't stop so it's a tiny bit over the word count! But here are Alannah and Christian to introduce each other!

“Thanks Sarah! So, my name is Alannah…”

“No, sweetie, you’ve totally got the wrong idea about this. We have to introduce each other. I’ll go first. Specky-four-eyes over here is Alannah.”

“You have glasses too…”

“Yes but mine are fabulous. And don’t interrupt. She’s twenty two, and a reporter.”


“What did I say about interrupting? Ex-reporter, but technically everyone at that magazine was fired so it doesn’t count. She was born in Essen, in Germany. She’s a bit too shy for her own good, and clumsy. She is the funniest drunk you will ever see. Her hair is naturally blonde but she’s currently sporting a brunette ‘do because she thinks it makes her look more intelligent. It doesn’t.”

Okay. I think it’s my turn now. The loud-mouth over here is Christian. He’s twenty-three, obnoxious and most defiantly gay.”

“A regular bum-chum, but you should really say homosexual. It’s much more politically correct.”

Urgh, he’s also vulgar in case you can’t already tell.” 

“I’m not vulgar, I’m just telling it how it is!”

“Well stop. You’re going to scare away the readers. He’s always scaring away people. When we’re out on the town I can never get a guy because, believe it or not, Christian has a very overpowering presence.”

“As I always say, if he can’t stand the heat, then he better get out of the kitchen.”

“But they’re not in your kitchen, they’re in mine!”

“They’ve just never sampled my cuisine.

“I give up. I really do.”

“You’d never give me up, Lana, you wouldn’t know how to.”

“The sad thing is; he’s right. And I guess that's why we're best friends.”

“Aw, thank you sweetie. And despite the fact that your roots need done, I love you too!”

That's when they started arguing about how long you can reasonably leave between hair appointments. I don't even think they saw me leave...

Sarah x

Monday, 6 February 2012

Characters on the couch - I'm Hearing Voices Blogfest

My first post, in my first ever blogfest! This should be exciting. Having never done anything like this before, I don't really know what to expect, but I'm already finding it great fun!

Here was the brief for today:

Characters on the couch: Have one of your characters answer the following questions (to make this work to your benefit, choose a character who is the hardest for you to write :) Max 250 words (Not including the questions—only the answers).

The character I have picked is one of my original characters that I slipped into a fanfiction once. I fell in love with her, and I've already begun to map out her own story. I can't wait to get started!

Her name is Nasreen. She's a gypsy living in a fictional Persia during the middle ages. She can't quite remember how old she is, but even if she did, she wouldn't tell you. Here's what she had to say:

1. What is your biggest vulnerability? Do others know this or is it a secret? 

"I don't have one, and even if I did, I wouldn't tell you. Once people know your weakness, they own you."

2. What do people believe about you that is false?

 "Most people believe that I am a whore. They just assume, and wrongly so, that a woman living on the streets has to prostitute herself to survive. Let them think whatever they want. As long as they can’t feel my fingers as I cut the cords of their purse strings, I don’t care."

3. What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw? Why?
"Well, the word fatal implies that I would be dead, and seeing as I'm not, I mustn't have one. But, if there was something, it would probably be my arrogance. I'm so used to getting away with my ‘crimes’ that one day I might get complacent. It’s not likely though." 

4. What would the same friend say is your one redeeming quality? Why?

"I steal, I cheat, I lie, and I backstab. There’s nothing redeeming to be found in me. But I survive, and that’s all that matters.” 

5. What do you want most? What will you do to get it? 

"I spend most of my days wanting. Food, money, shoes that fit. What I want most though, is to not have to want. Ultimately, I want security, but that’s not something I can wrap my thieving fingers around. It’s just a concept, and one that is beyond even my grasp.

Thank you Nasreen for your time, I... hold on... where'd my handbag go...?

Sarah x

Saturday, 4 February 2012

What I read in January

1. The Help

The Help

Technically I didn't read it, I listened to it. But never the less, I enjoyed it! It was a very gripping book, and although some people disagree, I think it deserved the hype that it got. The movie was also excellent and I'm glad it's gotten the oscar nominations it has. The way that this book was read really added to the experience. I think I would have struggled with the accents, especially for Aibileen and Minny. Some of the Skeeter sections seemed a little unnecessary at times, but other than that, it was a good read.

2. Twenties Girl

Twenties Girl

I read this while I was revising for my exams. I don't know if it was because I was so desperate to read anything that wasn't about Immunity or Pathology, but I devoured this book. It was fun and a good read. It's not going to win any literary awards but it was good clean fun. There were however bits of the book that were immensely cringe inducing and the situations were so awkward that I generally found it difficult to read. But that was about my only complaint!

3. Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss

A purchase that I made with some money after Christmas. I decided that I would get myself familiarised with  the contemporary genre. Another good book. As you can probably guess at this point, I'm very easily pleased when it comes to books. If I don't like them, I don't tend to finish them, and therefore can't say that I've read them!

4.  Looking For Alaska

Looking for Alaska

I was assured by a friend that I had to read John Green books. So I did. And I am so glad. At times this book was laugh out loud funny, and at others it had me crying. The title of the book leaves you guessing as to the major plot event, and I can tell you that it knocked me for six. I didn't expect it at all. There were some amazing philosophical quotes in this book too that really make you think about life and death and beyond. It does seem to just end though. Nothing feels resolved at the end which leaves me feeling a little unsatisfied for a few moments, until I put the book down and move on with things.

5. The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars

From the blurb you can tell that this book isn't going to have a happy ending. And this book also hits a very raw spot within me because I nearly lost my dad to cancer when I was very young, and when I was 13 I also lost my cousin, the closest thing I had to a sister, to it as well. There are some beautiful messages to be taken from this book, about life and death and living while you can. John Green strikes me very much as the type of author that likes to tackle the big meaty topics in a refreshing, real, and sometimes humorous way. He really seems to be a fantastic author and I can't wait until I read some more of his work. One thing to note, is that this book also just seems to end in a very strange way. Perhaps that is his style. Again, nothing is really resolved and when you see that the next page is blank you almost want to say, "Really?" but it doesn't take away from it at all.

Phew. So, what books did you read in January?

Sarah xx