Monday, 30 January 2012

A - Z Blogging Challenge 2012

Since starting this blog, I've failed to maintain any kind of consistency.

I read about bloggers who spend blocks of time compiling posts, to sprinkle throughout the week, and I'm green with envy!

The only thing that's stopped me from doing the same (apart from conviction), is the question: What do I blog about?

As much as I love organisation and structure in my life, I feel weird with the idea of writing just for the sake of it. My blog posts have been somewhat *maybe too* impulsive, written on an impassioned whim.

But I want to blog more frequently, get disciplined and interact with other bloggers.

Where does that leave me?

Well... I've found a nice little challenge, to fix my wee problem. It's the A to Z April Challenge, 2012. The magic words on their website...

"This is a great opportunity to discipline yourself, grow as a blogger, and make new friends – come join us!"

The gist of the challenge is to write every day for 26 days (excluding the last 4 Sundays of the month. Yes, there are 5 Sundays in April this year.), with an alphabetised theme. To quote the website again:

"Using this premise, you would start beginning April First with a topic themed on something with the letterA, then on April second another topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on until you finish on April thirtieth with the theme based on the letter Z. It doesn't even have to be a word--it can be a proper noun, the letter used as a symbol, or the letter itself. The theme of the day is the letter scheduled for that day."

I don't mind telling you, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time poring over the last years entries, gleaming inspiration.

I now have a word document splattered with letters, and ideas for each letter. I hope to get as much as possible done before April, so I can spend the month browsing other blog's entries (famous last words... we both know there's a good chance I'll be posting the letter each day in a panic. I'll try not to though).

I don't think it will make me blog every day after that. What I hope to gain from the experience, is the practice of finding subjects to blog about, and the excitement of writing the posts.

It first started in 2010 with 100 bloggers. The next year, there were 1300 bloggers :o I predict a massive turnout this year! Come join me in the challenge! The sign up list is now open. :)


Thursday, 26 January 2012

Blog Hop!

Today, I'm taking part in a Blog Hop, created by the lovely Angie Richmond, Lillie McFerrin, Angela Goff, and Daniel Swensen.

As soon as I saw the photo, I knew I had to enter! It has also taken pride of place as my current desktop background!

Photo credit: Luis Beltran

Here are the instructions, taken from Angie's "Write Me Happy" website:

Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) using the photo above as your inspiration. Post it on your blog anytime between now and when the linky closes. Every eligible entry will qualify for a chance to win one of the prizes listed below. The linky will close January 30th. Lillie, Angela, Daniel, and I will then read, debate, and decide on five winners for the following:

1st: Fifty page critique by
Lillie McFerrin
2nd: Twenty-Five page critique by Angie Richmond
3rd: Fifteen page critique by
Angela Goff
4th: Ten page critique by Daniel Swensen
5th: A copy of Steven King’s On Writing

Pop over to Angie's website to enter!

And here is my entry...

“They say it’s better than weed,” said Jack, crumbling the Plympti plant into the dampened cigarette papers; cemented with saliva, stuffed with tobacco.
“Best of all, it’s free and there’s loads of it!” Simon laughed, looking down from their tree-house at the sparse carpet of Plympti. It lingered like decaying snow, wilted in appearance, despite its rich abundance.
Adam was apprehensive. “The newspapers said three people died from it last week.”

 “Of course they’d say that,” Jack rolled his eyes, “they’re scaremongers for the government, raging that we’ve discovered free drugs.” He stopped packing the joint to look at Adam. “Are you wimping out?”
“Ugh! Why did your little brother have to come?” Simon moaned.
“Shut up and roll it,” Adam snarled, defiant, “I want first draw.”
“Roller goes first.” Jack smirked, sealing the papers together and lighting up.
As the joint sparked to life, the tip seared and crackled, the paper crisping as it perished. Soon, the tree-house was thick with acrid smoke. It was pungent, like aniseed.
Their eyeballs stung.
As Jack convulsed, Simon grabbed the joint.
“Hey!” Adam whined “I was next!”
Ignoring him, Simon took a deep draw and held his breath, closing his eyes.
Jack’s bloodcurdling scream pierced the air. It was the last sound he made. 
His eyeballs bulged, splitting his eyelids. Simon’s eyes burst open too, but there was no life behind them; he was already gone. 
Adam shrieked in terror. Trying to escape, he lost his footing at the tree-house entrance. The fumes prickled his eyes, blurring his vision. Grabbing the light cord for dear life, he swung, like a frenzied monkey through the trees.
As the eyeballs popped from his head, he collapsed into the bed of waiting Plympti.
The beating of his heart stopped long before the swaying light did.


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Winning is not everything, but wanting to win is.

Quote by Vince Lombardi

I'm delighted to announce that I won the #weekendwritercize competition! Look at my shiny badge :)

This is what the host, Alana Garrigues, said about my entry:

I chose this story because outlandish as the pairing was, the dialogue and circumstances felt very natural and true to their characters. I really enjoyed the humor and the light-hearted exchange.

Just look at the following dialogue between Paris' personal assistant and financial advisor.

Paris scowled at Meredith. She would try and change Daddy's mind about firing her when she got back.

“Never mind Mere-bitch,” François hissed, “I happen to know 100% that he performs miracles. There's absolutely nothing he cannot do. Face it honey,” he placed a hand on his hip, “do you think we'd even know who he was if he couldn't?”

Thanks, Alana, I'm chuffed to bits!
The other entrants, Rossandra White, Nicole, Aurora Lee and Christopher H Mitchell, were excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every one of them!
To take part in #weekendwritercize (or any of the other excersizes), visit the Writercize Website. Go on... flex that creative muscle.
:) x


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bless Thy Buttocks

In order to strengthen my "writing muscle", I've taken part in this weeks #weekendwritercize; the weekly writing challenge over at Writercize.

This weekend's challenge is: Different Folks.

The excersize:

Put two people who you would not expect to see together in a room and see what happens. Write about where they are, their dialogue and body language.

Trying to come up with two polar opposites, I decided upon:

The Dalai Lama

Paris Hilton

Granted, it's no masterpiece, but it was fun to write! Here's my entry:

The flight attendant announced that seatbelts could now be removed. Paris Hilton never wore seatbelts; they crumpled her outfits. There was also the issue of who'd used the seatbelt before her. The staff on these common luxury air-crafts probably never thought to clean the seatbelts.

She regretted loaning her private jet to Britney Spears this weekend. “Poor Britney, having her Father control her finances,” she'd told herself at the time, awash with sympathy, “why do tragic things always happen to good, decent people?”

François, her PA, hurriedly knelt by her side, flushed with excitement. “Ooh. Emm. Gee, Parr! You'll never guess who's travelling in the next suite!” He grabbed her skeletal arms, blinking so hard his false eyelashes were threatening to dislodge.

Paris bristled. She hated other celebrities sharing air travel with her; stealing her publicity. She thought of Britney luxuriating in her private jet and resolved never to be selfless again.

Feigning disinterest, she examined her polished nails. “Who is it?”

Please don't let it be Kim Kardashian.

François placed one hand over his chest and gave a slight bow “It's... The Dalai Lama.”

Her entourage gasped and squealed with delight.

“The who?” Paris's delicate eyebrows tried to furrow, but the botox prevented movement. “Isn't that a statue in India?”

He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head “No, Dahling... The Dalai Lama!! He's, like, some kind of Chinese God!”

Ruby, her make up artist, knelt next to François and whispered “I heard he blessed Jennifer Lopez's ass.”

François nodded “I also heard he blessed Lindsay Lohan, via Skype, the day before she was due to start her jail sentence. And what happens? She doesn't have to go into that stinky prison!”

“Eww!” squealed Paris and Ruby, simultaneously.

Meredith, Paris's financial advisor, turned in her seat to face them. With a sigh, she pushed her glasses down her nose to look at the trio of twits. “You Americans are hilarious” she said, in her crisp, English accent. “The Dalai Lama is the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet. He enlightens through peace, harmony and compassion, not by pandering to celebrities!” She laughed into their vacant stares. “But, please, do ignore his quest for Tibet's independence from China; Jennifer Lopez's arse cheeks are far more important!”

Paris scowled at Meredith. She would try and change Daddy's mind about firing her when she got back.

“Never mind Mere-bitch,” François hissed, “I happen to know 100% that he performs miracles. There's absolutely nothing he cannot do. Face it honey,” he placed a hand on his hip, “do you think we'd even know who he was if he couldn't?”

Her glacial eyes bore through his, contemplating what this opportunity could mean for her; how it could impact her life.

Meredith chuckled. “What can she possibly wish for that she hasn't already got?” As she turned back in her seat, she muttered “A brain cell, perhaps?” and buried her face The Financial Times.

Paris had an epiphany. She wanted eternal youth. “I want to meet him,” she announced, “set it up. Now!

Dismissing everyone with her arm, she reclined in her plush chair, with her gel eye mask on. No more surgery. No more needles. No more hiding out in hotel rooms until the swelling subsides. “It's gonna be so hot!”

Before long, her entourage had pulled the desired strings and she found herself sauntering through a mass of smartly dressed businessmen. A small, bald-headed man sat at the helm of the suite, draped in orange and red fabric.

“Eww... that is, like, sooo gross!” she thought to herself “François and Ruby are liars! How can someone that... ancient looking know anything about eternal youth?”

“Sit” he beckoned in the chair next to him. Somewhat dejected, she did as instructed, her cold, dead eyes poring over him.

“You look familiar” she realised. “I know! You were on Masterchef Australia, weren't you? We watched the re-runs in Ibiza last week; it was the only English-speaking TV they had! It was just the worst!”

The Dalai Lama nodded sagely.

“I'm throwing a dinner party tomorrow night, for some very important people. Would you suggest I tell the caterers to make the Veal? Or the Foie Gras?”

François squealed and eye-balled her meaningfully. “His Holiness doesn't believe in eating meat, Paris, just like you, remember?”

Paris seized up “Of course," she lied, "the meat is not for me! I have to think of the needs of others.” She attempted to look noble.

“I am not vegetarian,” he said “however, I applaud your decision not to eat meat: Be kind, whenever possible. It's always possible.”

“That's sexy.” Images of Jennifer Lopez's buttocks floated in her mind. “So," she yawned, stretching then folding her bony arms, "can you bless me with eternal youth?”

His entourage tittered, and François blushed. Paris gazed at the bald-headed man unashamedly.

“What makes you crave eternal youth, my dear?”

Without a second thought, she replied “It would make me happy. That's why!”

He looked down for some time. She was starting to think he'd fallen asleep, until he faced her and said “Happiness is something not ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”

She clenched her tiny fists, her thin nostrils flaring. “Are you saying you won't help me?”

“If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”

“What-EVER, old man,” she stood up in a huff, “let me help you then: red is sooo not your colour!” She stormed out of the suite. “And get a facial!”

The Dalia Lama looked at a mortified François, with an amused glint in his eye. “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

Follow writercize on Twitter: @AlanaGarrigues
Follow ME on Twitter (go on...): @Catherine_Noble

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone! x


Friday, 20 January 2012

Tweethearts No More

This time last year, I had next to no knowledge of Twitter. I'd opened my @NobleNourish account for the food blog; even so, I had little interaction and even less inclination to tweet. What would I tweet about? What I had for dinner? People hate reading that kind of thing, don't they?

Side note: I love reading that kind of thing, but I'm aware this makes me a weirdo. Moving on...

When I decided to set up my writing twitter account (@Catherine_Noble), things suddenly clicked into place. I finally realised what all the fuss was about. I was discovering new writers every day, absorbing myself in their blogs and writing groups. Gleaming advice from seasoned authors and being swept along with all the creative enthusiasm.

Today, as I went to follow another writer, I was stopped in my tracks with the following message:

Somewhat perturbed, I clicked on the "Learn More", to be told:

"Every account can follow 2,000 users total. Once you’ve followed 2,000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users you can follow."

Meaning, over the course of a few months, I've managed to follow TWO THOUSAND writers! This is insane!

Ok... maybe not insane when you think about the many millions of writers out there in the Twitter universe (or Twitterverse, sigh, what's happening to the world?). But 2000 is still loads.

Does this mean my following days are over? This is what Twitter tells me:

"If you've reached the account-based follow limit (after you've followed 2,000 users), you’ll need to wait until you have more followers before you can follow additional users."

I have to say, I find that quite disheartening. It encourages a "tit for tat" mentality. It instigates a popularity contest.

Should I go and "unfollow" anyone that's not following me?

Indeed I will not! That would insinuate that my follows are conditional, which would make me a bit of an arse, to be frank.

Here's my take on Twitter:

like those #FollowFriday tweets that include a big list of people. You know the ones:

#FF @theuniverse @itsgranny @theirneighbour @secondcousintwiceremoved @thedog @thegoldfish @thelistgoeson...

Folk may say it's insincere; impersonal, but I like clicking on each account mentioned, to see what comes up on their page. If I like their description, I'll click on their website. If I like their website, I'll follow them.

Granted, to do this 2000 times exposes me as someone who spends an inordinate amount of time on Twitter, but lets just wash over that fact...

I've struck up a rapport with several writers who took part in NaNoWriMo with me; I've grouped these lovely people into my Twitter "Nano List", and often visit this list to see how they're getting on.

I've built up a mass of saved hashtag searches, which I like to peruse often. The writing related ones are:

#amwriting (funnily enough)

I also like to read the results of these hashtag searches; they can be quite amusing, and even inspiring:


I'm aware that having my "follow" ability taken from me is hardly the end of the world. And I know I'm being a theatrical fool by whining about it on here. Furthermore, it probably indicates that I spend too much time on twitter and not enough time on writing, thus holding me back from my inevitable bestselling author fame/fortune/grandeur. That mansion isn't going to build itself, now, is it? ;)

Thus, I shall take my impending Twitter prohibition, with reluctance, as a sign to step away from the Twittersphere (!) and focus more on my writing, even if I don't like the way they've enforced it. *huff*

I'm considering using that "Write Or Die" software. Anyone have any experience with it?

Still... come follow me so the bad twitter-men can let me back into their poncy club.

How are you all getting on with your writing, writers? I'd love to know. Come speak to me on here, until Twitter stops being a meanie.


Saturday, 14 January 2012

Wake Up Little Snoozy...

Is it appropriate to say Happy New Year, being the 14th January and all?

Nevertheless, I bid you a tremendous 2012.

It's been a while since my last post. I'd love to tell you I've been horrendously busy, writing my novel with ferocious voracity.

I haven't. My muse has had a terrible case of the Black Dog. If it had a chaise longue, it'd have been sprawled across it, damp cloth on the forehead, fainting occasionally.

The excitement from my NaNo days (which seem so long ago now) had all but disappeared. It abandoned me, leaving me with a 50k story that I had no idea how to progress.

Guiltily, I started writing other story ideas, and the creative buzz returned somewhat. But, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I don't care for failure. That's what The Caretaker was starting to look like, and it pained me.

Was I just procrastinating? Surely procrastination is what happens when you put off something you don't want to do? I want to finish the novel, goddamnit, what the F is going on?

I consoled myself, reading blogs from experienced authors, writing about how your first novel is never publishable anyway, and how people really don't find their true novel until they've written five or six of them. I even tried to write a couple of blog posts, about how The Caretaker wasn't The One for me. How shameful.

It still didn't change how I felt about The Caretaker.

I'm pleased to report, stubbornness has prevailed.

The smelling salts arrived in the form of this Creative Writing Masterclass video. Not to impugn videos, but that's how bad it was getting. I couldn't bring myself to write, so I was watching videos on writing. If Charles Dickens could have witnessed this spectacle, he'd have poked me in the eye with his feather-tipped pen.

This video ignited the epiphany within me. It made me realise which character I wanted to be my "hero". Something every writer probably has pegged from the first page, but I'd become so close to all the characters, I didn't want just one hero.

That doesn't make for a good story though, does it?

Here's my very first synopsis of The Caretaker, before I started writing it:

When a car crash leaves Harry crippled and his mistress dead, his previously idyllic world collapses around him.
He seeks forgiveness from his devastated wife, Wendy, who agrees to give up her teaching job to take care of him. Can she bring herself to trust him again? Or does she succumb to the advances of the school's Caretaker; so desperate to be someone's first choice again?
The mistress haunts them both, in more ways than one.
Experience the turmoil of both sides of the coin, in this tragic tale about the fragility of trust.
Here's the synopsis of The Caretaker, written 30 days and 50k words later:

When a car crash leaves Harry crippled and his mistress dead, the lives of those around him change forever.
His devastated wife, Wendy, agrees to stand by and take care of him. But she cannot forgive the betrayal and, when advances from the local school's Caretaker distracts her, Harry's well-being is severely at risk.
The mistress haunts them both, in more ways than one.
Not only did Tina lose her sister in the accident, she lost the love of her life, Mick, Harry's brother. Mick can't see any future with the sister of the girl who tore his brother's life apart. When she finds out she's pregnant with Mick's baby, she hides it from him, convinced he'll tell her to get rid of it. As the baby grows inside her, so does her obsession with Mick.
Helen is out for revenge, after losing her favourite daughter in the accident. Hell bent on
vengeance, she blames Wendy's inability to maintain a good marriage; her inability to keep her man from leading astray. When her other daughter, Tina, falls pregnant, it fits into her plan perfectly. A stout Catholic, she believes it is her religious duty to make everyone pay for their sins.

As you can see, the story is riddled with other stories. They do all tie in together, but there was something missing from it.

My hero, Harry.

Yes, he is a cheating scumbag. I have no more time for love rats than you do. But my aim is to make this book his journey. I aim to weave his tale throughout the rest of the chaos and hopefully come out on top.

Although... you never know... he might just be too despicable to save. There may be more bad karma coming his way...

You'll have to read the book to find out! :D