Archive for August, 2013

When Being Stuck is a Relief (writer’s block)

It has been too long since I last did a writing exercise so here we are…

Non themed anthology submissions or any submission without a theme gives me a blank.

I know for some people this is liberating but for me it is the opposite. Where do I begin? There is no spark to get me going on something new.
If I’m aiming to submit an old piece, this is fine. Not so fine if I’m starting from scratch.

So, what if nothing comes to mind, no ideas, no inspiration, nada?

I go back to secondary and primary school ideas.

Grab access to a random book title generator such as this or a better example you may have found.
Then look at the results. I got:

  1. Swollen Souls
  2. The Vacant Dream
  3. Dreaming of Someone
  4. The Moons’s Wizards
  5. The Boy of the Husband
  6. Boy in the Silk

Okay, so no.5 is useless as it makes no grammatical sense but the rest are okay.

I would then brainstorm the rest of these titles and see if I came up with a topic, story or character which interests me. Anything I get out of these titles can be renamed under a new title, something more fitting of the result.

No.1 For instance could be a demon story or a story about what happens to overweight men and women beyond the grave.

No.2 Could be about an empty house or a character who has lost their life’s purpose, their hobby losing to their hated career. It could even be about someone with no purpose or a drug addict who has no care for the future.

No.3 The obvious choice is a romance but this could also be a weird symbiotic connection between twins or mother and child or pet and human etc.

No.4 Sounds like a stereotypical fantasy story but then it could just be the title of a kid’s favourite bedtime story.

and No.6 could be an abandoned child, left in silk – a mystery of sorts as this indicates a wealthy background. Or it could be a young market trader in a foreign country.

 

All possibilities, themes and genres are open with these titles. Let the random words speak to you and tease you out of that writer’s block. I know  I’m going to if I come face to face with it again. It’s better than beating myself up over not writing until my brain refuses to work at anything any more.

Hope this helps some of you! I’ll be thinking of more writing prompts and exercises over the next few weeks.

Until then!

Holly Ice

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Why I Continue to Believe the Unbelievable and a Link to a Give Away

fantasy, latyrx, deviantart,

This piece was created by Latyrx and here is a link to his lovely gallery on deviantart: http://latyrx.deviantart.com/gallery/

 

 

Fantasy is, in essence, the enchantment of something unreal becoming real in fiction. Thing is, even in real life, I keep an open mind to the “impossible”.

I like to think many things thought of as impossible can instead be unknown or undiscovered.

There is a basis for this. New species are found or reorganised every couple or years and weird things happen all the time.

Now, for instance, I am glaring at my computer case because both my HDDs have SATA and power cables connected but only one shows up under my computer and my DVD drive is nowhere to be found – yet worked fine before windows 8 arrived.

But there are more interesting things than irritating machines to be looked at.

Strange News is a great site I found recently. It is the stuff of sci-fi. 

Here you can find “Particle Personality Disorder”, “Satanic Sacrifice” and “Atomic Clocks”. These are real life stories collected from the strange corners of the world.

I still have a lot more to delve into on this site but it satisfies a need in me to find something unreal which could become real or detected, in some years. After all, faeries and new dimensions could well be real, just out of our current reach.

I’d rather believe that than think what is now is all there is. Wouldn’t you?

 

Added Bonus:

A review site I follow (Long and Short Reviews) is having a give away tomorrow. 
Their anniversary is coming up so there is many goodies to be won and some great reviews to read. Check it out!

LASR, Long and Short Reviews, Give away

The picture links to where the give away will be happening tomorrow morning, American time. 

 

Thanks for reading and I hope I’ve found some sites you might find as interesting as I do. Keep believing in the impossible!

 

Holly Ice

 

I Write Everything Backwards – Or Forwards Depending on Perspective

Review Holly Ice Writing Novel While I Slept Elisa Art Vibes

Picture by this lovely artist: http://artvibes.tumblr.com/ (Very talented)
I feel very much like this frog- trying to keep the cold rain out of my MSS one word at a time with only a flimsy leaf for help.

So how can I write backwards and forwards? Well I write in linear fashion but have a very loose plan for novel and for short stories. I usually have an idea of the main issue; a group of serial killings, a kidnapping, a love interest gone right etc. However I usually don’t have a clear idea of the ending until I get to it or what the characters are like until I start writing them.

This can be a problem.

It can also make the writing process more fun and realistic.

What reader is going to know the back story of your characters, their pets, fears and hair colour until you introduce them? I know many writers and writing advice articles will focus on the need to plan. I’ve tried it before – these endless character sheets and plot planning bullet points. It stifles me creatively. The last thing my spontaneous imagination and muse wants is a list. I hate lists. Lists are for chores and homework and shopping. Not writing.

This is where many will say I’m going backwards. I edit the story and only then look at it to see if it makes proper sense. I have to fix plot gaps where things have been added but not introduced or dropped but not had a proper good bye scene. This makes my editing a lot harder. It also makes the first draft much less complete.

Of course, I’m still looking for better ways of planning and a few have been suggested to me or have come to my attention.

One is a sentence for each scene of the novel. Not a bad idea but my best ideas usually come to me in process. Other ideas are to expand upon this and change it as the novel progresses. Again, not a bad idea but I’m a lazy sod and like keeping to one document. I procrastinate enough as it is without another one.

But with the way I work my first draft will need better structure. So far I’ve found two great articles by Randy Ingermanson. Whole novel structure in the Snowflake Method and scene by scene editing with thing/action reaction units here (all free to read and use). It sounds like maths but it really isn’t. I used to do langauges and my brain just needed this simple formula of how to make words do what I think I know I want them to do but can’t quantify.

The character part of his snowflake method even helped me work out what was wrong with one of my novel’s characters. I knew something was but couldn’t place it without his help so I am indebted to him for that. The scene section kept me up all night one night and forced me to write 2000 words in 30 minutes before I could sleep. That’s as high a recommendation as I can give for motivation.

I’m yet to see if these plans will work at the “correct” side or more usual side of novel workings – in the planning stages. That’s for the next book to find out. For now, his advice and the book Self Editing for Fiction Writers  is going to be in the wings, waiting for my first draft to be complete.

If there is any advice you can give me for the next stage of writing and perfecting this thing, please, please, leave a comment.

Hopefully I’ve shown you something that’ll help you, too.

Holly Ice

An Equal to Anne McCaffrey? (There be dragons ahead)

Temeraire, Naomi Novik, dragons, review, book, novel, holly ice, Holly Ice

A pretty little (big) dragon to illustrate

I recently read Temeraire by Naomi Novik, a chance find from the charity shop. I thought from the cover it would be too stereotypical fantasy for me but I was proved wrong, and quick too. I would recommend this for any lover of dragons, fantasy and especially Anne McCaffrey.

Temeraire is a dragon picked up by the British navy and impressed upon the ship’s captain. The captain then must join the “aviators” (the replacement for the RAF) – a troupe of dragon riders.

The action is tense and the battle looks like it cannot be won. It is the stuff of epics, with not a few allied quarrels along the way. After all, all emergency and battle groups have a bit of friction between them.

All the major characters have grit and appear real – they do not know everything and yet they are driven to find answers for solid reasons. They also get injured, and some die – all normal in close combat. There is also a chance at romance but this fizzles and for good reason: in reality, it wouldn’t have worked out.

This is what the novel is in simple terms: brilliantly executed magical realism with a fantasy adventure theme.

Pages blurred into a vision of the ocean and leather harnesses as I read and I’m not sorry for the time the book took up – not one bit. I finished and wanted the next one (this is part of the “Temeraire Series”).

I can see why this author has received such good feedback for her writing and I look forward to reading more from her, and this series. Here’s hoping a cheap version winds up in a charity shop near me soon because I’m skint!

I award this book: 5/5.

I’m not sure if this means I’m getting better at finding books I like, or the right books are finding me, but I have awarded a lot of high ratings recently. Not that that’s bad – there’s never enough amazing writers out there to keep me entertained. High five, Novik. Keep up the good work.

Holly Ice

Changing Surroundings – My Novel – Whilst I Slept

Holly Ice Writer Writing Novel Author Whilst I Slept WIP

Typing in the Altered Dark

(For my musings, read below. For a rough synopsis of the book to come and my concept of what main characters look like, scroll down to the bold text.)

 

It gets to the point with any long-term project where months have passed and something needs to change. I’m at the place in my novel Whilst I Slept where I’m questioning everything.

I’ve questioned the title and the relevance of the “I” with more than one first person POV, I’ve questioned whether my characters are believable, whether the story will sell, whether I should listen to more music as I write…I’ve even questioned whether the LED colour of my keyboard suits this section of my novel.

But I don’t think this is a problem. Many writers will and that is their writing style – awesome. I’m actually beginning to be comfortable with how I write and understand my “vibes” (such a corny word) when I write. 

I can tell that fuzzy, off-focus feeling when I’m inspired, I can feel when a sentence isn’t right, when a word is off but it’ll have to wait for later, and when a character needs something (though it’s much harder to tell what!)

I think a lot of this is down to me being roughly two thirds of the way through my manuscript. At 64K~ things need to heat up, speed up and get good. To do that to the best of my ability, I had to do a first full edit of the first half.

Why? Because I had one of those pesky, insistent vibes that, if I didn’t, the book would go entirely off course and my reward is that, so far, things seem to be coming together. I even got high praise from my little brother and that’s a rare thing.

From now on, I’m listening to my instincts and putting faith in the hope they will make me a better writer. Let me know if you get these “vibes” too. I don’t want to be alone out here!

 

The Book and The Cast

WARNING: this synopsis is a rough first draft, is probably too long, and needs work. Don’t get the knives out yet but feel free to critique it.

Annie Vivant likes to dig up hillsides in her spare time. Only, on this dig, she finds a coffin with a man inside…and he’s still alive. He introduces himself as Arthur but he is no King and, with his awakening, the Otherworld, an adjoined land of dark, fairytale creatures, reconnects to our own.

After so long apart, neither world remembers the other and the old laws of mutual existence are forgotten. Arthur is the only known link to the old ways but he needs Annie’s help to understand the modern world.

After a bout of killings and disappearances from a human world unable to protect itself, their mission becomes clear. It will be a tough battle for them to negotiate an end to the murders when the press want them to be their newest celebrities and the government see them as a security risk. The trick is to not look crazy. 

 Hopefully that wetted your appetite. If not, I’d love to know why – every opinion provides interesting feedback.

In the mean time…enjoy some model photos of what I imagine the main characters to look like:

Annie Vivant: I wanted Annie to have a girl-next-door feel to her and this picture is as close to my mind’s eye view of her as I’ve yet found. The closest I’ve gotten to representing her visually is a Sims 3 character I’ve made, based on my idea of her.

Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author
Arthur: Because of his occupation as a soldier, Arthur is tough, muscular and battle trained but he is also attractive. This is a hard mix to find in model photos. Again, this is the best to date. Just imagine the hair longer and messier: he’s not a vain guy (which is one of the many reasons this photo is not quite right for him). 

Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Katrin: As Arthur’s old love, Katrin has a ghostly part to play in most of the first novel but I think later in the planned series, she will be a much larger part of proceedings. She is a politician of the Otherworld, good at negotiations and easy to like – when she wants you to like her. Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author
Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Brent: Another half-Giant but Brent is tougher than tough, on the outside. I needed him muscular – built- with a tan from being outside and shaved head. I see him with hacked cut-offs and boots. Apparently, this too is hard to find. I made do with his boots.

Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Farah: Was one of the easiest characters to find a picture for. I have about three that fit her personality.

Farah, Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, AuthorFarah, Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, AuthorImage

Keeping appearances consistent

If I haven’t introduced it already then here it is: Charahub

This is a site where you can create an account – for free- which will hold all details of your characters in a database. You can set it to private or public and it asks many questions which have helped me round out my characters without boring myself over laborious character sheets for hours. 

 

Illustrators and Book Covers

I used to be an artist (perhaps I still am, sometimes) but this means I’m picky. I want my cover to be an accurate portrayal of the characters and the story, something I can see within my mind’s eye AND something which will sell for both the fantasy genre and the crime genre.

If you have any recommendations of illustrators or other artists which may be interested in my project or do book covers as commissions, please direct me to their portfolio. Thanks!

 

I hope this piece gets everyone up to date on my writing progress and – if I dare to say it – has got you interested in my novel WIP.

Would love to hear from you.

Holly Ice 

 

I Sci-fi a new Story by Moi – “Looking Landwards” (yeah, yeah, cheesy title, I know but I’m feeling happy, so there)

46384_10151855354528072_466374397_n

It was officially confirmed about a week ago that my story “My Oasis Tower” will be joining 23 other authors in the collection “Looking Landwards“, edited by Ian Whates at Newcon Press and sponsored by the Institution of Agricultural Engineers in celebration of their 75th anniversary. The book is scheduled to be launched at BristolCon in October.

The collection’s sci-fi stories are based on different interpretations of the future of farming. Some of these will be more practical interpretations than mine. My story describes the use of leylines in food production – not the betting man’s future, for sure. This frames the real story of a woman living in a lighthouse-esque environment and having to deal with a machine fault on awakening, only to find far more than machines downstairs.

All stories in this collection are geared towards a reader’s enjoyment, as any other story collection should be, and are not essayish theories on the technical future of farming. I hope that clears up any misunderstandings.

Personally, I am chuffed to be named amongst writers who have already made such a name for themselves and I get my first paid writing job, to boot. Happy bunny: present.

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