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1. NaNoWriMo - Do You Love It Or Hate It?

Those of you who follow my blog will know that this year has been a little patchy for me so I thought a good way of giving myself a kick up my creative backside was by taking part in NaNoWriMo - yes, I really thought that writing 50,000 words in one month would be a good idea... Emma from NaNoEssex asked me to write a post for her blog and I thought it would be nice to share with you.  So here we go - this is my NaNo blog, I hope you enjoy it!


NANOWRIMO – DO YOU LOVE IT OR HATE IT?

A couple of days ago an author friend of mine wrote this simple statement on Facebook: “I don’t understand NaNo”.  He just threw it out there and I read the comments first with interest and then with an open mouth because I couldn’t believe the ferocity of feeling it generated – it appears that you either love NaNo or you hate it, there’s no middle ground.  None at all.  Nada.  Nothing.  And there was me thinking authors were a balanced bunch who could see other people’s point of view.  Tsk.  Silly me.

The comment which surprised me the most was this from an indie author:  “I always think if you can write that much, just do it all the time.  Plus a lot of people turn out garbage to keep up the word count. Just my opinion, but I think it’s ridiculous.”  Ridiculous?!  At least with Marmite if people say they don’t like it then the chances are they’ve tried it.  How can anyone say it’s ridiculous without ever having tried it?  My hackles were raised I have to say, so I feel I have to stand up and explain to the doubters why NaNo is not ridiculous and, in the process, also explain why it’s not always possible to ‘just do it all the time’.  In a balanced way of course.

I happen to love Marmite and I love NaNo (although there are times when I’m struggling I could cheerfully smack the creator of NaNoWriMo with a large wooden spoon for having devised such a torturous event…).   My good friend Stuart Wakefield introduced me to NaNo in 2010.  From that one small initial NaNo meeting in Nero we met Brigit and Jane and the four of us started Writebulb, a writing group, in Chelmsford.  Our very first speaker was Penelope Fletcher, a young indie author, who spoke to us about self-publishing.  Heavens above, what a revelation that was!  As Penelope talked I just knew it was something I wanted to do and as soon as I left the meeting I started self-publishing – me, who barely knew what a Kindle was!  Here I am four years later – over 190,000 of my books have been downloaded and I’ve loved every step of the journey.  Yes, that meeting in Nero’s four years ago was a catalyst like no other!  Way to go Nano.

There is another reason why I like NaNo so much, but it’s more personal. This year has been very been busy and sometimes difficult.  I’ve moved house, leaving the home I’d lived in for 24 years, into a house that needs a lot of work done to it.  In addition, my father’s Alzheimers has deteriorated rapidly; he still lives in his own home but I am responsible for him and most evenings after work (I commute to London) I go and check on him and see how he is.  I’ve tried to write, to keep up on social media but have failed miserably throughout the year – by the time I get home, unpack yet another box or paint (or even knock down) another wall, go to help my dad find whatever he’s lost, and then have some supper I’m usually too tired to do anything other than go to bed!  When Emma contacted me to see if I would contribute to the blog it was like a ray of light shining through the dark (thank you Emma!) but then I thought hold on, I’d better sign up to NaNo if I’m going to write about it and immediately I did that panic set in.  How would I cope?  When would I find the time?  Would stress finally overwhelm me?  Nuhuh.  Not one bit.  The only feeling that’s overwhelming me is that I’m finally back doing something I love.  I’m not stressed by trying to write 50,000 words because if I don’t make it the target, I don’t make it.  That feeling of creating something has made me feel happy.  Simple.  

So – do you love NaNo or do you hate it?

If you still think you hate it then I’d ask you read this blog again because what I’m saying in a nutshell is that NaNo will give you the opportunity to go on a journey, to meet interesting people, to find support and encouragement, to learn new things, to spark that creative fire inside you and to give you a sense of achievement.  It’s pretty damn good stuff.

If you already love it then hold fast – you’re now just over half way through and we will all celebrate together when it’s over.  I’ll bring the toast and Marmite!  Good luck everyone J

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2. A political post.

We need new leaders in Congress and the White House, I don’t see any in either arm of the government. We need leaders who lead according to conscience, not religion. Defending our country, Cutting spending, Not writing legislation for the people who paid to get them elected. Considering ALL the people not just the rich or the poor but all of us. There are leaders in other countries that see us a weak nation. We are NOT a weak nation and we need to stand up and prove it.

Denis.

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3. My Shop at Big Cartel

Many of my long time fans know that I do not usually sell my original artwork. Since I am mainly a digital artist, a watercolor or ink drawing by me is a rarity. I recently opened a small shop on Big Cartel to sell an original painting here and there. You can view what is available here. These paintings can be purchased through Paypal and will be shipped to the buyer via USPS. I will sign and date them upon mailing. Please check back as I will try to put up a few more pieces before the holidays.

 

 

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4. New cover!!!

I’ve never had a paperback cover that was different from the hardcover before, but for Seven Stories Up, we decided to freshen things up.

What do you think???

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5. Fiction, Freedom and the Meaning of Life

Zorba text“The superior virtue is not to be free but to fight for freedom.” ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

I know writers who would argue, “That’s just a man talking.”

Seriously, you’d spend $12 to watch a movie called The Valley of the Happy Free People?

No one has made such a movie and for good reason. Audiences don’t pay to vicariously experience being free, but rather to suffer the personal crises that open us to freedom.

Which explains why screenwriters write movies like Zorba the Greek, Casablanca, Thelma & Louise, and Good Will Hunting.

And American Beauty, Moonstruck, A Late Quartet, A River Runs Through It, Up in the Air, Out of Africa, The Artist, A Room with a View, and A Passage to India.

And Rocky, Sideways, Nebraska, The Matrix, Disgrace, Ordinary People, Of Gods and Men, On the Waterfront, The African Queen, Silver Lining Playbook, American Graffiti, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, and Labor Day.

Labor Day I saw just last night.

If you’re like me you don’t just watch movies, you examine them for how the writer does it. Does what? Frees the protagonist.

It happens in all the best fiction.

Every protagonist is on a trajectory toward freedom.

Let’s look at Labor Day.

Labor DayJosh Brolin plays Frank, an escaped convict. Ask him about freedom. His bid for freedom will intercept the lives of a mother and son living in small town USA.

Kate Winslet is Adele, who has lost all faith in herself in the aftermath of a divorce. She’s a prisoner of the belief that she’s an utter failure. She can hardly get out of bed. Don’t ask her anything.

Henry is Adele’s adolescent son. Since Henry is not the protagonist, he is not required to behave as though he were fighting to be free. However…

Henry has to bring his poor depressed mother breakfast in bed, for goodness sake. Ask Henry if he’d like to be free of the responsibility that weighs so heavily upon him?

Labor Day is unique for depicting a trio of characters who each find freedom early in Act I.

Most stories depend upon a merciless plot to beat the hard-headed protagonist into an awareness of how to solve their problems, but in Labor Day the miracle takes ten minutes.

Five minutes into the film, Frank shows up to kick-start the story. Injured from his leap out a prison hospital window, Frank politely but firmly inserts himself into the lives of Adele and Henry. The violence and trauma you’d expect to characterize an abduction are quite unnecessary in this case.

Adele blows convention out another window by acquiescing almost immediately to this stranger’s demands. She wants nothing more than to escape her sorry life. Perhaps to end it.

(To die and be reborn—there’s a freedom trajectory!)

Frank, Adele, and Henry foresee their salvation in this strange and sudden togetherness. But wait! They haven’t arrived in Freedom Valley yet. Not only would that be utterly boring, but it ignores Kazantzakis’ aphorism:

The superior virtue is not to be free but to fight for freedom.

The manhunt!

Kazantzakis will be happy to know that the police are closing in on Frank. The story becomes a fight to escape the forces that would annul these newfound freedoms.

Suffice to say that Adele, Henry, and Frank must remain freedom fighters into the foreseeable future. And I think that’s an accurate portrayal of the human condition.

However many jail breaks we execute, the walls of our human condition keep us under house arrest. The fight for freedom is an ongoing battle.

Which explains why The Valley of the Happy Free People strikes us as a bogus premise.

Freedom isn’t a place, it’s an attitude. Good fictional protagonists earn this perspective only after the plot has beaten the apathy right out of them. Now we realize that there are two ways to live, just as there are two ways to die.

“Free or not free—this is our choice in every moment.”

And that’s a woman talking, by the way—Pema Chodron.

Just had a thought…

Why doesn’t someone write a story about an escape from Happy Valley?

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6. Day 31 #inktober Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

 

Halloween 31

Today is the last day of the project Inktober. I have finished it with a drawing every day for 31 days! Thank you to everyone that has visited my blog to view my little sketches. November is the start of Picture Book Idea Month which is a project I have participated in every year since 2009. I will post along the way to let you know my progress. Sometimes I draw as well for the ideas I get.

Thanks for visiting!

 

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7. Announcing the Ultimate Guide to Picture Book Submissions!

I’m thrilled to announce that  my good friend and colleague, author and 12X12 Picture Book Challenge Founder Julie Hedlund, and I have officially launched our new course, The Ultimate Guide to Picture Book Submissions!

Julie and I have poured everything we know about writing query letters and the process of submitting picture books into this course. We are proud to say it is a one-stop-shopping source for EVERYTHING a picture book author needs to know about submitting picture books successfully to agents and publishers.

In fact, we guarantee that every possible question about the picture book submissions process is answered in this course. How can we make that promise? Because if anyone purchases the course and finds, after going through all the material, that a question they have is NOT answered, we’ll both answer the question AND add it to the official FAQs.

And for this weekend only, we are offering an early-bird special of $50 off the retail price of the course, bringing it down from $197 to $147. (That’s actually $3 less than my professional Query Critique service… and in true “teach-a-man-to-fish” fashion, empowers picture book authors to polish their own queries with confidence forever more.) In addition, those who purchase the course before the early-bird deadline expires will receive a BONUS gift – our comprehensive list of publishers that accept un-agented picture book submissions.

This is NOT a mere ebook, but a complete soup-to-nuts resource for crafting flawless submissions to land an agent or a book contract. Those interested can take a short video tour of everything that’s in the course HERE.

(But remember – the early-bird offer expires at midnight on Monday, November 3.)

To your submissions success!

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8. Every Story Is an Escape Story

Escape Title shotHere’s a story theory of mine worth checking out:

http://writetodone.com/facts-of-fiction/

…published today on the Write to Done website.

I mean it when I say, “Check it out.” The next film you see or novel or read, examine it for the escape story it most probably is.

And if you’re writing a story, see if your protagonist isn’t escaping from some kind of prison. Of the different kind of escapes possible, one of them is the key to writing fiction that gives readers their money’s worth.

I’d love to hear your thoughts once you’ve read the post. You can comment here below, or on the Write to Done site.

I’m living in both locations for a few days.

Cheers.

PJ

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9. Catch up post – Inktober Day 26, 27, 28 and PiBoIdMo!

Here is my catch up post! A 3 in 1 :) We are getting down to the wire now, only a few days left of Inktober. I will miss it, but I will have PiBoIdMo to keep me occupied. What is it? It is Picture Book Idea Month. Every day, for 30 days, participants come up with an idea for a picture book story. It is a wonderful, creative project that I have participated in every year since 2009. More details at Tara Lazar’s blog!

Inktober 26

Morning bird & bugs 

Micron brush pen black & graphite

Inktober 27

Witch hat 

Micron brush pen black & graphite

Inktober 28

This isn’t scary…

Micron brush pen, micron 05 black, graphite

 

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10. Why is a re-write so important?

As a writer you spend months writing the first draft of your manuscript.You type the last word and part one of the process has been completed. That is a huge accomplishment in itself, but it’s not over yet.

Now you have something to work with: something to edit and polish. Will it change? Will the story hold up to scrutiny and to the feedback of editors, readers and critiques? Time will tell.

This is the best part of writing. The polishing and detailing of the work. The excitement grows. The anticipation of an agent. The rejections of some agents who like to live in their own comfort zone and play the odds to put money in their pockets OR the acceptance of your manuscript by an agent who sees a new writer emerging from the throngs of formatted prose and  safe subject matter.

Writing is not for the faint-hearted. It is all about persistence. It is all about great characters and a fast-moving story. But primarily it is all about the prose.

We as writers need feedback. We hunger for it. We need it to grow. If we didn’t write anything then there would be nothing for the critics to extol their criticisms as non-writers. They are the ones who buy books. Let’s not forget that.

 

And keep writing.photo

Denis.

 

 

 

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11. Catch up post – Inktober Day 24 and Day 25

 

 

Inktober 24

“Do you know which way?”

Micron brush pen black, graphite pencil, and Micron Pigma 05 pen black

Inktober 25

Buzz, buzz, buzz…

Micron brush pen black, graphite pencil, and Micron Pigma 05 pen black

Still playing catch up! Sorry for the delay in posting these. Only two more to go and I will be finally caught up. I am hoping to finish inking 27 tonight and posting in the morning. Happy Monday and thanks for visiting!

 

 

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12. Scarecrow process

Many of my fans, especially the younger ones, are interested in my process of doing my art. Today I would like to show you how I created the #inktober Scarecrow painting that is for sale in my shop at Big Cartel.

Inktober 8

First, I took the original sketch and using my light table, I traced it onto #150 lb watercolor paper. I taped it as securely as possible as I didn’t want either paper to slip! I traced  this very lightly as I didn’t want the pencil to show through too much on the completed painting. I only did the the main frame, as this is just a guide for the paint. When it was traced to my liking, I placed the traced sheet on a board. I secured it to the board using painters tape all around the edges. Using a brush and water  I really soaked the paper. This makes it so it stays nice and tight for the painting later.

 

I let this dry about a half hour to an hour. Once it was dry, I was ready to paint. Hooray! That’s my favorite part. I tried to use very little water, as I wanted nice bold colors for my scarecrow. Also, too much water could cause a disaster of it running. Note: If I had too much water, I would take a tissue and gently soak up some of it. Luckily, this didn’t happen this time.

Once my scarecrow was painted to my liking, it was time to let it sit and dry. I waited about 2 hours just to make sure. I took the sheet off of the board and placed it back on the light table over top of the sketch again. I lined it up perfectly and made sure to tape it securely again so the papers wouldn’t slip.

 

I then traced the outlines, using Koh-I-Noor black permanent ink and a thin, small paint brush. You have to go very slow and be very careful. One slip could mean disaster. I take a lot of breaks at this stage and try not to go too fast.  And here he is, Mr. Scarecrow, all ready for sale in my shop!

 

Thanks for visiting, stop by again!

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13. New shop up selling original art!

Inktober 8Hi everyone! I have looked a long time for a place that I could sell my original art. I finally found a venue that I liked. Big Cartel lets the artist sell on their site and all money from the sale goes to the artist. This is much better than my other shops where I only receive a small portion of the sale. Please visit and check back as I will be adding more originals. The first two up are “Cats of Many Colors” and a watercolor I did from the Inktober Day 21 sketch, “Scarecrow”.  To visit my shop at Big Cartel, please click here.

Thank you for your interest in my art, I greatly appreciate it!

:)

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14. Inktober Catch Up Post #inktober

I’ve fallen behind on posting for Inktober! I have been drawing and inking, just not posting :( Sorry about that! Life happens and I have been way busy. Here are #21, 22, and 23.

 

#21 is a tribute to the albino white tailed deer that was shot by a 12 yo in Michigan. I was very sad to hear about it so I drew a sketch in its honor.

Inktober 21

#22 is a tribute to one of my favorite artists, John Lennon. It was just a doodle I started and then thought it was cool enough to ink and put on the blog. I really enjoyed creating it. I hope to do more like this in the near future.

Inktober 22

#23 is a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. I would like to watercolor this one. Again, this one was really enjoyable to research and create, so I think I will do more rock artists in the future. I love music (my minor is Popular Music) , so it is great to combine two of my loves.

Inktober 23

 

All drawings were sketched with a Papermate sharpwriter 02 pencil, a Micron brush pen in black, and a Micron Pigma 05 black pen.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned tomorrow for the next three to catch me all up!

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15. SCBWI Bulletin Cover

SCBWIcover

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16. Ten Thankful Turkeys Book Blast and $50 GC Giveaway

Ten Thankful Turkeys by Angela Muse

About the Book

Title: Ten Thankful Turkeys | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Ewa Podleś | Publication Date: October 4, 2014 | Publisher: 4EYESBOOKS | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 2 to 8 Summary: This colorful autumn tale follows ten turkeys as they get ready for an important celebration. This story teaches about gratitude. There are also fun turkey facts in the back of the book.

Kindle version available for only 99 cents from Amazon on October 24 & 25, 2014. Grab your copy now!!

Amazon (Kindle) * Amazon (Paperback)

 

About the Author: Angela Muse

Angela Muse, Author

Angela Muse

 Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to   being the “new kid” in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends,   but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children’s book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children’s picture books and released books in her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2013/2014. Her husband, Ben Muse writes suspense/thriller books that can also be found on Amazon.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest closes: November 23, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the Angela Muse and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway

MDBR Book Promotion Servicesthe

Copyright © 2014 Mother Daughter Book Reviews, All rights reserved.


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17. ALL pictures posted by me on this site are copyright.

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18. Spain and conquerors

The most interesting thing about southern Spain is the architecture. It tells the story of the Visigoths. The Romans. The Moors and the Catholics. It’s all here in every city expressed in tiles, scrolls, gold,  statues and buildings. The most incredible mosques; some with Catholic cathedrals inside them. Others as stand alone expressions to their Catholic faith in Sevilla. Roman remains in gardens and a beautiful bastion in Granada- The Alhambra. Water, peace, protection and vestiges of power and wealth.

 

DSCN6393 DSCN6400 DSCN6401 DSCN6527 DSCN6537 DSCN6566

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19. Change of email…

I seem to be locked out of my hotmail account, which I’ve used in the past for corresponding through the site. If you’re having trouble getting in touch, or you haven’t received a reply, please email laurelsnyderauthor@gmail.com

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20. Inktober Day 16 “Rain, Rain, Rain” #inktober #inktober2014

Inktober 16

On Inktober Day 16, it was raining like crazy here in New England. That was the inspiration behind this little piece.

Thanks for stopping by!

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21. Inktober Day 18 “Deadline” #inktober #inktober2014

Inktober 18

Inktober Day 18 – Micron Brush black & Graphite pencil

 

 

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22. Inktober Day 19 #inktober #inktober2014

 

Inktober 19

For those new to my posts, here is a link to the project I am doing called Inktober. Basically it is to create a drawing with ink every day for the month of October. This little character has shown up in many of my drawings, especially the ones that include my little adventurous mouse. :)

Thanks for visiting my blog!

 

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23. Inktober Day 20 #inktober #inktober2014

Inktober 20

 

Micron Brush pen black, graphite, watercolor

Some of you may recognize these two characters. Piggy and Chicken have danced before, however it was in the ballet. This is ballroom :)

 

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24. I Didn’t See it Coming

I didn't see it coming

I didn’t hear it coming.

For an opening line I think it works. What do you think?

See what coming? Exactly!

The reader is going keep reading to find out, and isn’t that the overarching purpose of the first sentence—to compel the reader to read the second sentence. Etc.

I was going to write a blog piece on “openings.” By examining the first paragraphs of my upcoming book, The Writer in Love, I would assess the effectiveness of my beginning, see if it…

  • Established a Central Question
  • Made a promise
  • Set a trajectory

But that opening line got hold of me and wouldn’t let go. It wanted this blog post all to itself.

I sure didn’t see that coming.

Then it hit me—that line echoed far beyond Page One. So innocently tossed onto the page many months ago, it infected the entire manuscript, becoming a major motif throughout the book.

The cheetah is the first and most obvious thing I didn’t see coming. It approached me from behind and grabbed my hand in its mouth and wouldn’t let to. True story. I didn’t see it coming was the perfect way to establish an essential fact of fiction:

Protagonists never see it coming.

Drama depends on it.

Protagonists don’t see what coming? That which will destroy them. For their own good! It’s amazing how many times we can hear the poets and the mystics say something like this…

“Our body is a ship that sails on deep blue waters. What is our goal? To be shipwrecked!”

And still we complain, “I didn’t see it coming.”

Neither do writers see it coming.

We get in over our heads, trust me. We get excited about creating the kinds of payoffs that give readers their money’s worth. We find ourselves writing about characters whose only way out of Act II is to surrender to the storm, and by that I mean forsake who they’ve always thought they were.

I didn’t see that I was laying a trap for myself by trying to write in depth about such sacred story mechanics. I was in way over my head. I was drowning, myself. I almost quit. I didn’t see that coming, either.

I wrote a scene in which I drown. (That was fun.) I didn’t see that coming, either.

I never expected to take almost two years to write The Writer in Love.

To be honest, I never anticipated becoming a writer. I was going to be a mapmaker.

I never thought I’d have children until I tended my grandfather on his deathbed.

Nor did I imagine my children having children!

I didn’t foresee my website vanishing a few weeks ago. I thought I’d lost everything. I was resigned to starting over, but most of it is resurrected, and with a new design. Look, I’m blogging again!

The cool thing about blogging is you can start with a line like, I didn’t see it coming, and see where it goes. Because we don’t write to explain, we write to find out.

We might equally say that we live to find out.

I’ve found out a lot while writing The Writer in Love. And it all started with this opening scene:

I didn’t hear it coming.

It hadn’t finished devouring the bait when my Bolex ran out of film, so I retreated but slowly, walking away through the elephant grass when it surprised me from behind by clamping down on my hand hard enough to hold me but not break the skin. The growl in its guts, I could feel the vibration in my arm if you can imagine that. And then in my own belly. It’s a funny thing when your life stops suddenly dead in its tracks, it’s not funny at all because there you are for the first time without a future. As for the past, well, it’s your fault—my fault!—I had been carrying the bloody bait in that hand. Of course, the cat could smell it. I could see that now.

I should have seen it coming.

 

 

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25. School Visits!

Please click on the image to enlarge.

schoolvisitsflat

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