Posts Tagged ‘ writer ’

Writing Prompts: Using the News

Ever thought the news is all doom and gloom? Good. For me, at least, doom and gloom is easier to write about than rainbows and, since my last short story was partly inspired by a news article, I thought I’d collect some good ones here for people to peruse and get some ideas from. This is the first that caught my attention:

London’s Weird Fog

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This looks like something out of a horror movie and the commotion leaves lots of room for a murder to take place, shady political deals or an abandoned baby to be dropped off on a doorstep. Have a read and see what you come up with or scroll down for more ideas.

Soldier controls bionic arm with his brain

(That one is just pretty cool).

Cold tolerant cockroaches 

Because every alien invasion is brought to mind. Also, it reminds me I can change the living quarters of any animal and see how that would effect life and whether a story comes out of it. Black cats are said to be in Britain’s countryside, wolves once lived in Britain and wild boars. Even if I don’t supplant the geography of these creatures, I could turn back time to see more of them/alternate history it.

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The other thing you can do is search for news in any country which takes your fancy. I’m going to go for Portugal here because I find their culture interesting and they seem fairly liberal with their relaxed drug laws.

I found they have 280 new farmers setting up every month

This is interesting, as if the world has gone back a few generations or become more green.  Either way, it brings a different setting in Portugal in terms of villages, countryside and towns that could have characters injected into them. Those old countryside bickerings and family rows could be hosted here.

If you’ve been inspired by any news stories lately, let me know about them and how they helped. (Of course, sometimes news stories are more research after the idea than inspiration but it’s all useful).

Until next time!

Holly Ice

Story: accepted.

Stag Artwork Favim

This beautiful artwork is from this site: http://favim.com/image/15655/

 

Good news on my end to finish up November. One of my short stories has been graciously accepted by Ian Whates of Newcon Press for an anthology due out next year.

The story is a dark fantasy/magical realism piece which focuses on a girl who has unknowingly been tricked into a one night stand in a long line of girls. In this world, men have antlers and rut over women. She meets a beautiful specimen of malehood in a bar but when she finds out how much of a player her new bed partner is she decides to get more than even. He will never forget her and he will have a long period of time where girls don’t find him quite so attractive.

Hopefully the sound of this story appeals to you all. I will give more information about the anthology and its release as things progress.

Until then, Happy November and incoming holidays!

Holly Ice

A Year Online & “Professional” Authordom

According to the lovely cup reminder, it has been a year since I started this little blog in a corner of the internet I can call my own. Not too much has changed but there has been some subtle differences over the year.

I’m now a part of an anonymous review site and read books for free (yay!) in exchange for truthful reviews. This gives me a great source of inspiration and entertainment for those boring days.

I also finished the first draft of ‘While I Slept’ over the summer which is languishing on my external hard drive, safe but in need of love and attention. I’m hoping I can find a space in my university schedule big enough to fill with editing it. Then I’ll start thinking about agents and publishers and possible failure.

The biggest change to date (as novel writing and reading is a staple of almost any writer out there) is that I am, as of today, technically a professional writer. I’ve had stories published before but the most recent ‘My Oasis Tower’ has been bought and published in ‘Looking Landwards’. Since money has changed hands, I am now a professional. Great stuff! Though I think my family is still holding out for the massive success from future novels. I expect it won’t be a lot of money in future but who knows what and where another year will bring!

You can find Looking Landwards, written in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the institution of agricultural engineers (lots of anniversaries going around here) and edited by Ian Whates of Newcon Press here.

I attended the book launch today and haven’t had that much fun professionally since the London book fair! There was free wine and I got to sit on a stage with a panel for signings and speeches about our individual stories! My father had a proud moment and videoed my bit so I expect that will make an appearance soon, too, for the curious. 

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone’s year has gone at least as well as mine.

 

Holly Ice

Writing Prompt / Exercise – Character – Writer’s Block #2

driving writing prompt writer's block

We all hate being stuck so here’s another idea for a writing prompt.

I will assume you already have a character in mind here. If you don’t, that’s fine. Think of someone you know or a character who played a very small role in an old or current piece. This is aimed at giving you new inspiration you can either use with that character or rename them and use in a separate story.

To begin with, especially if you’ve not paid much thought to this character, much of their back story is one gaping big hole. Well, I’m going to attempt to get behind their eyes and into their driving seat with this exercise.

What does this character drive? No need for specificity here if, like me, you have little idea of makes, models etc.

Here’s the big questions in my head:

Expensive?
Colour?
Curvy or square?
Good nick or falling apart?
Rusty or smooth paint work?
Dirty or clean on outside?
Dirty or clean on inside?
How is it so dirty/clean?
What is personal about the objects inside the car?
What do the keys and keychain (if there is one) look like?
Is it their car or shared?
Is there a radio or CD player?
What sort of music is played?
Is it modified? Why &how? (where did money come from etc)
Anything broken/stolen?

These questions (and their answers) will tell you a lot about any character and a lot about what their house might look like, too. If none of these give you any ideas, maybe push to see what their room looks like or how their character traits (like OCD or slob) may bring about a crisis worthy of a story.

I’ll try this out with one of the more minor characters in my WIP: Melissa.
It should get me closer to her motives and shine a light into her character. Maybe, if I’m lucky, it will give me an idea for a new story, too.

Now, her car is…

Expensive?
Yes. She is a top reporter in her field. She makes a lot of money and believes she should show it, put herself above other people not just to look good but to get more answers.

Colour?
A grey silver. She’s girly but likes understated class in accessories and this way it goes with any outfit. (Clearer sense of her character is coming through here).

Curvy or square?
Curvy. Thinking two seater, too. No children in her family. Possibly single. Too career orientated.

Good nick or falling apart?
Great nick, not far off new. Maybe 1-2 years old. New car – recent promotion or bonus/bribe for job well done?

Rusty or smooth paint work?
Smooth.

Dirty or clean on outside?
Too clean. As if gone through a car wash just before it’s seen, only every day. A little suspicious.

Dirty or clean on inside?
Her bag on passenger seat when she’s in the car. Glove box has glasses, contact lenses and an emergency phone. Also has road service numbers taped to inside of door. Why does she have an extra phone?

How is it so dirty/clean?
She doesn’t do it herself. Pays to get it cleaned and regularly. Hates muck. Doesn’t get on with mother who is an alcoholic. The mess, clutter and anger got to her.

What is personal about the objects inside the car?
List of road services – can’t fix own car. No mechanical bent. Extra phone – undercover work business or dodgy connection to somewhere else?  Picture of a smiling man hung around the mirror. At least 3 years old. He’s cute, would be around her age.

What do the keys and keychain (if there is one) look like?
Simple keychain with the car’s brand on it. Likely received on its purchase. No adornments.

Is it their car or shared?
Their own. Would not let anyone else drive it unless under duress.

Is there a radio or CD player?
Both. She likes audio books.

What sort of music is played?
Very little. She turns the radio off when the music comes on. Only listens for talk shows and news.

Is it modified? Why &how? (where did money come from etc)
No.

Anything broken/stolen?
The right mirror is a little wobbly at the joint – hit something and never got it fixed.

Hopefully this can help a few of you. It’s made me see another side to Melissa. Possibly a few reasons for why she’s such an uptight prude and so irritating to my protagonist. If nothing else, I guess this method allows me to see the human side to my villain-like character!

It has also given me a few clues to her past and the option of a romance story gone wrong (and maybe later gone right). This could be entirely separate or joined to my main novel WIP series.

Give this a go if you have the time and let me know what you come up with! 🙂

I’m thinking on a few more exercises.

Holly Ice

Creative Juice

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Growing up, I read a lot but I also drew a lot from around year 4 (8 years old). I studied, copied, coloured, erased. Art was more my life than words and now that has reversed.

I made the big decision during A Level (16-18 years old) that I was better at writing than I ever was at art. Writing began to take over from when I was 13 and continued. Sure, I drew constantly during my A level years and I have sketchbooks worth of art but the image in my head never matched up to what I could draw and that frustrated me too much.

The last few days I’ve had dreams about artwork and dreams about poetry and writing. Maybe this means I can do both or maybe it just means I need to do something creative. Either way, it’s difficult. Without practicing art, my hand is not as skilled as it was before. The lines are sketchier, less well shaped or defined.

The same thing can happen with writing if I take a break, short or long. I’ve been told that there’s only so much creative juice to be had and this is true. Any artist or writer can tell you that after that creative feeling has gone, if you press on and try to draw or write something else, it will usually not be of the same level as the first piece.

I never thought 3 and a half years would have so much impact upon my drawing but I’ve seen friends who’ve continued along that path surpass my talent. Now, I don’t often get ideas in a format which translates well to art and I wonder where I got all these old ideas from.

I’m wondering if it’d be best to try to keep my art up, alongside my writing. After all, the more ways ideas can come to me and form in my head, the better, surely? All artists need to keep an open mind to inspiration, at least.

Does anyone else have any experience of this? I’d love to hear your words of wisdom or despair.

Holly Ice

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

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 

 

The Sorrow of Putting a Good Book Down

Erin Hart Lake of Sorrows Holly Ice Blog Author Writer Review Reviews Story Stories Novel Novels

Still sitting on my desk and propping up my dinner plate

 

No, it’s not propping up my dinner plate because it is bad. Quite the opposite. It is being used as a temporary balancer because I’m not yet ready to put it back on the bookshelf to gather dust.

This book was a great read from start to finish. There are two murdered victims preserved in peat- a modern and an ancient one but the wounds appear similar. The suspects and suspicious characters mount to a degree I’ve never seen before in novels without reaching unrealistic proportions.

There are secrets within secrets, deceptions, mistruths and many examples of people being used for another’s gain. That’s life. That’s a small village/town.

Erin Hart captures the familiarity of the in club in a small town and extorts this atmosphere to create the environment in which there can be a series of murders and a list of suspects so long I did not guess the killer until the clues had mounted to a point of obvious realisation.

Many authors cannot achieve this and the plot is up within a few chapters. Not this one! It keeps the reader interested and reels them along for over 400 pages of fast paced murder mystery and stewing relationship problems and successes. 

And, above everything, the environment is what sticks with me most about this book. The swampy peat land with its ancient sacredness and old names and history has seeped into my soul in the reading of this novel. I know a lot more, now, about swamps, the celts, and bee keeping and, somehow, it has made me feel more complete.

Definitely a book to add to your memories and not to leave to dust on the bookshelf. 

I give this book a grand 5/5. If I could give it more, I could: not many books cling to the reader like this one. 

A Story About a Shoe

Capture1

This is pretty much what it looks like. On holiday in Latvia, on two occasions, I saw a shoe bereft of its partner. In both cases, these shoes were heels and left standing as if someone walked right out of them. Any girl should know this is odd: even really drunk, there is a rather large discrepancy between a heeled foot and an unheeled foot.

My father and I actually stared at this shoe for a good ten minutes, wondering what could have happened to the owner and one of these musings got me an idea for a story to submit to the hgwells festival competition for 2013. I started the story yesterday and intend to finish up the last little bits today.

Goes to show: inspiration is anywhere and within the most unlikely of objects.

If you have a weird event that inspired a story, let me know! Let’s see how weird it gets.

Hope all are well.

Holly Ice

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