Comfort zone…

A lyrical and thoughtful view

The Silent Eye

Image: Pixabay

I felt a tad fragile and the thought of sitting in front of a bright computer screen had no appeal at all. I could have done the ironing, I suppose, but there was no hurry. I could have cuddled the dog and done nothing… which I did for a while; doing nothing can be the most productive way of spending your time. But eventually, I started to fidget. I turned to an old, familiar friendship and picked up a book.

It was not one of the many interesting books still waiting to be read, their pristine pages silently urging me to explore their secrets. No, it was a book that is falling apart from having been read by several generations of my family over the past forty years. A book I have read so many times before that it held no surprises at all, apart from the fact…

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How to make your #Amazon book landing page look awesome #WriterWednesday #AmWriting

If you are going along the Amazon Kindle road this is well worth a read

D.E. Haggerty

How your book landing page looks is vital to book sales. In a bookstore, potential buyers spend an average of eight seconds looking at the cover and only fifteen seconds reading the back cover before deciding to buy. These times are even shorter when it comes to browsing at an online store such as Amazon. Can you say EEK? Today’s blog concentrates on the actual look of the landing page and not how to make the actual text compelling for readers. (Stay tuned for that)

Have you ever seen a book description on Amazon full of different fonts and bold and wondered how in the heck it was done? I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried to make my blurbs exciting with different bells and whistles, but the changes never were visible. Until now. My first mistake was changing the blurb via Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. I’d go to…

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Good People Doing Good Things — Axana Soltan

Jill brings to light another wonderful person who is contributing to the world

Filosofa's Word

Axana Soltan may be only 21 years of age, but she has already done more for human rights than many of us ever do in our entire lives.  When she was only 10-years-old, Axana immigrated from her native Afghanistan to the U.S.  At the time Axana lived in Afghanistan, the Taliban controlled the country and women endured unspeakably harsh conditions and were deprived of their basic human rights like education, employment and freedom of speech. Girl’s schools were burned down, teachers were threatened and women who spoke up against their regime were flogged and executed.

Axana’s family was forced to flee the country and became refugees. Axana has spent much of her childhood in refugee camps where there was no school, no medical facilities, no electricity, heating, and not even access to the very basic life necessities such as water. After witnessing the disparities in Afghanistan, she has witnessed the…

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Winning Back Your Novel (Adventures in the Writing of “Our Skirmishers of Silk, Steel and Fire”)

 

Pencils and notebooks out time folks.Victorian writing

Here is another delve into my writing career (the word for me in uncomfortably close to ‘careen’). For you to take note of, or…if you so wish to say ‘Nah…I wouldn’t do it that way!

For those of you who have been familiar with my blog know full well how much of a problem I have with THE PLOT. This item coming down the list of priorities in my writing. Characters- no problem, narrative not so bad, humour- loads of it.

Plot?

Hmmm.

Anyway, as alluded to in my previous post having completed the first draft of Our Skirmishers of Silk, Steel and Fire I began to address THE PLOT. And in doing so a suspicion was finally confirmed.

Not only had my characters started to influence my writing, as in the previous volume ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ Book Cover 9

(See Amazon Kindle “Of Patchwork Warriors” by R J Llewellyn)

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I wish he wouldn’t do that

where they had snatched a sub-text and turned it into an entire facet of the plot; in this case they had taken hold of the whole durn book.

It’s not that I mind them having their moments of glory, adventure, romance, humour, clever schemes and narrow escapes, after all it is those aspects which give a book its flavour and zest. The issue in contention here being they felt inclined to fill every corner up with how they saw things and coped with them, BUT not allowing me to explain WHY these things were happening. Or if I did get a sentence in, matters came across as hurried and ‘Oh By The Way’ the empire is falling over and the emperor has gone vicious for no apparently good reason and I appear to have lost three minor characters who were to have conveyed certain major plot elements. Either that or there was only enough space for some other lesser characters to gather and engage in cryptic or enigmatic conversations.

(At this stage I should point out to new readers; it is my opinion I do not create these characters, they exist in another part of Creation and by some wonderous osmosis we have tuned into each other. You will appreciate I have a mixed blessing here.)

At first there was a problem of shoe-horning in ‘facts’ of the current geo-mystical-political situation in the world of this story. Some characters were unhappy at having bits of their own favourite business cut out and tried to be awkward in obstructing the flow of the narrative. Then there was the issue of avoiding the dire ‘Let me explain’ in which one previously minor character stands up and proceeds to suck the oxygen out of the flow by explaining some history or process with all the verve of a bad lecturer in economics; some successful authors get away with this; I’m not successful.

So stern and tough-love measures had to be taken, being the one who knew the world in which these stories were taken place I contrived to throw in events which I knew would fit in but were surprises to the characters. This did cause some flummoxing amongst the cast, so much so they quite overlooked me cutting out chunks of their personal activities and speeches. As is the case in normal life, they had to deal with the random and unexpected.

Since the narrative was now back in my hands I started to inject the themes encountered in history, not events, themes. Reading of political and military histories suggests there is a constant unpredictable factor be it natural such as weather, unknown folk rising suddenly, or established subordinates thinking ‘I Know Better’ and going off on a tangent; in addition you must also consider bodies of folk who have not read or forgotten the script. There is a military adage that no plan survives first contact with the enemy; thus the notion of some all-power (usually grinning) who until the last chapter is two steps ahead of the hero(es) goes straight out of the window.

In this novel there are Patchwork (ooohh, where have I heard that word before?) alliances which are fragile and not based on trust and no one is really in control of the situation, because no group really wants to work for another group. This gives an air of uncertainty and makes for interesting situations, hopefully the reader will as all writers hope ‘want more’.

This comes with its own set of problems.

For a start off it’s necessary to make sure every character is an individual but none of the lesser ones steal the plot in some unexpected way.

Secondly there should not be too much plot and sub-plots lest the reader eventually thinks….Uhh? and finally……Hah! Who cares!…..

Thirdly, structure. Even in chaos, there is structure. In writing this part of the series I ask myself a hard question. Would the background stand up to an historian’s scrutiny as a possible series of plausible events?

Jerk
Err?

Still, nothing worthwhile in writing comes easy. At least it shouldn’t.

So far, so sort of good. There has been a lot of alteration and some deletion of banter and ‘business’. However, the atmosphere of crisis and varied approaches to it is starting to seep in; it is meant to seep in, all being well this series is a long haul (heck I’m only 67, plenty of time). And the central characters?

They are struggling to keep balance and focus (Well apart from Karlyn, but if you knew her you would  not be surprised. This said she is not going to be allowed to scamper and giggle through the whole lot; even if she is difficult to rein in).

In conclusion.200px-Advokat,_Engelsk_advokatdräkt,_Nordisk_familjebok

Never be afraid to let go on a tight narrative. Life is not ordered, predictable or convenient, so why should you story?

Re-rewrites, Highlights and Reality-Bites (A journey through writing of The Skirmishes of Lace, Steel and Fire-Part II of a Fantasy )

Preparing to Launch

A writer launching a book is to be celebrated! For more information please visit Audrey’s site on WP

Audrey Driscoll's Blog

I will publish the ebook version of my next novel, until now referred to as “the work in progress,” in November. I’m not sure when in November, but definitely in that month.

The book, now titled She Who Comes Forth, will be available for pre-order early in October.

September and October will be busy months for me, but right now, while the garden bakes in midsummer heat, I’m doing the following:

  • Finalizing the cover image. I’ve narrowed it down to seven possibilities. Yes, that’s not very narrow, but I have a couple more months to brood over them.
  • Finalizing the book description (called by some a “blurb,” but I think that word sounds dumb; and besides, it actually refers to a brief endorsement of a book by someone noteworthy. You see blurbs on those annoying pages that precede the title page in mass-market paperbacks). I have both a short…

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Beauty in Death

Audrey is a writer of no small talent and here also shows she has an eye for images in nature.

Audrey Driscoll's Blog

A macabre title for something innocuous. The other day, I cut down flowering stalks of perennials that were past their best, as part of ongoing garden maintenance and cleanup. There were lambs’ ears (Stachys byzantina), delphinium, mullein (Verbascum olympicum), blue fescue grass, achillea.

Bundling them together, I noticed how beautiful the textures and colours still were, in these technically dead flowers. I laid them on the cedar trunk bench, which contributed to the photos with its own colours and textures — the grain of the weathered wood, the dry moss and lichen growing on it.

Cut-down bloom stalks of lambs' ears, mullein, delphinium, achillea, blue fescue on Pond Bench. Dead flowers.

This seems a fitting entry into August, a month when the garden becomes dry and rattling, brown around the edges, but still with its beauties.

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Every Picture Tells A Story???

Sometimes a picture just…well y’know….it begs a comment:

Flirty Singles

(the following dialogue inspired by the great Bob Newhart)

‘Ah Good Morning Miss Singles. Welcome to the job interview. Can I get you a glass of water? Tea? Coffee? Sure coffee! And, black, yea. No sugar, sure….Just a spoonful of salt? (nervous laugh)..well that’s different…Eh keeps you focused does it? I’ll have to…err…look into that.

Now construction site work. What a lot of folk don’t realise that in addition to being quite labour intensive, a lot of skill is needed so I hope you don’t mind if some of my questions seems a measure intrusive…Err would you like a tissue Miss Singles..looks like you got something in your eye..Ah I see, that just a twitch..Yeh! Quite twitch. Guess it’s dust and pollen……. and maybe the gun powder? Make your own bullets do you? Well I make my own flies for fishing, so… …Anyway. Now I have to ask (laughs). Your first name there, it’s…… I see….uhh-huh…Yeh grandparents sometimes make some freaky requests of their children….Oh made their money in the 1960s on the West Coast, yeh…kinda makes sense now….Have you ever discussed this with them. Ah, both died in a house fire…I’ll just get your some paper towelling, you spilled some of your coffee when you were giggling. And your parents?….Those creeps are still alive y’say….Well I guess that ties up that line of enquiry.

I see you went through twenty schools. Did you parents move much? No. Hmm, some places can be picky can’t they? Did the kids call you silly-nick names….Yeh I guess it would have gone better for them if they had….. Sports? Gridiron, I didn’t know some schools had girls’ teams…..Not in a girls’ team… Offensive tackle? No kidding, they are usually kinda taller….You say it an’t needed when you jump at the face….Yeh that would be different…Hmm…Now my opinion is those guys were being a bit whinny, it is a contact sport after all, just as long as you didn’t try and wrench the helmet off….Only the once…He used your first name did he? How did I know?….oh….. just a lucky guess.

Ah I see here you signed up for the Marines…..And were dropped out of basic training because your drill sergeant and the rest of the squad were getting nightmares…. Special forces said they needed stealth not banshee screaming. Geez, I hate to come across as sounding stuffy and cranky but they don’t breed them as tough as they did in my day…Nah…cooks and that’s no walk in the park I can tell you! Now this rejection from the Chicago Police Department to my mind just isn’t helpful, I mean what does ‘Hah! Not until Hell Freezes Over’ offer to the applicant? It’s just not helpful.

OK, before we go out and try out on site there, if you don’t mind me asking, who took the photo? It’s only just first impressions y’understand but…..ahhh…doesn’t seem your style. Oh….right.…..So your mother…Sorry, as you wish…This three-dammed witch…. is good at photoshop and all that..stuff…Oh on FaceBook and Instagram……Gee that’s tough. But I guess that mothers for you trying to get you married….My, that is some twitch!

Well anyway, here we are. Office being on site. As you can see a lot of construction going on here….HEY guys! You might wanna tone down the remarks….YEH? Well Joe it’s my opinion you’re damn lucky you are up there and not down here! Don’t worry I’ll have a word with them at lunch break….Sure…ha-ha….for their own sakes.

OK, so this is Harry our site foreman. No Harry I wouldn’t make too much of that twitch if I were you. I’d be careful there Harry…Yeh I kinda guessed she’d have that sorta grip in her handshake, put it in cold water after, swelling’ll go down. So this is Miss Singles…No Harry, her first name isn’t important, truly Harry you want to trust me on that one. Remember how I was right about that gas leak?…Well it’s the same kind of situation Harry. Yeh, glad you see it my way.

Sorry Miss Singles, just a little bit of construction site chat there. Now I’d….You like to try out with the sledgehammer? Oh sure, if you feel that way. That piece of old granite foundation there …Yeh….I guess if……OK, then, there you go…..Yeh I know Harry, that’s one hellava swing there…..No I don’t know what she’s putting on the rock, some, I dunno, looks like a photo…..Yeeaaaaah I gotta feeling it might be an old family photo and…WOA!..No I don’t think was a lucky strike there Harry, and you should come out from behind that truck and see her swing again! No I think you’re exaggerating there, I reckon you did see worse shrapnel in Iraq! Geez-Louise willya look at that, split straight down the middle! I don’t see you need worry about the scream when she swings Harry, I mean you watch those tennis players on the tournaments, the racket they kick up…..Hey! The Racket! Didja get that one Harry?…Oh c’mon Harry you are the site foreman, just ducking when Miss Singles swings isn’t good for your image……JOE! Look I warned you about your comments, that’s just not appropriate……..Now y’see Joe you just provoked that! Thinking she couldn’t hit you with a chunk of granite you being two stories up. Well more fool you fellah!…..Wassat Charlie? Well if your daughter’s little league team needs a new pitching coach, I guess you’d better discuss that with Miss Singles after your shift there, not my business buddy.

Ok Miss Singles, that block of granite looks like it’s ready for the bagging and spreading on someone’s pathway now, you might want to stop…Yeh, if there’s still bit of the photo left, when you’re ready then. But I’m convinced we can use you around here….Pardon…..Oh sure you can take the sledgehammer home to prove to your parents you got the job. The way you’re stroking it, you obviously like the…..We call it a tool on site Miss Singles, not a weapon…….Excuse me a minute…..Joe! Now fellah it’s no use you  clinging to that girder and whimpering, you’re getting in the way of Bill’s riveting there….Boy some of these guys are such cry-babies!

So you start tomorrow then Miss Singles. Pardon…Oh no, you don’t have to be so formal and call me Mr. Nightly…..’Jay’ will do, just like the intial…Uh? Nah I never use the full name, that was my parents’ fascination with east European culture..Jerkov, yeh….yeh! No they aren’t around anymore, died in a tragic freak car accident. Apparently an electrical fault, caused  a petrol explosion….Yeh…Tough break.

Well, then see ya tomorrow! Y’know I got a feeling you and I are going to get along just fine!