Random Bullet Points of Life

For the little things in life worth recording but possibly not worth a full entry

  • I usually tell people that if an entry appears on my blog before about 9:30 it’s because I wrote it in advance and scheduled it.  But it’s 08:42 and I’m actually writing this live so to say.  I’m waiting for carer, it’s been put back to just after 9 today.
  • Lately I have not been reading.  I did just start an audiobook which I like (Where Love Lies by Julie Cohen which I got from the e-library). And I must finish my library ebook this morning as the time on it runs out just after lunch.  It’s good I just had no motivation to read for a few weeks so abandoned it with less than 100 pages to go (that’s Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon)
  • I’ve been working on crochet squares for Woolly Hugs and sent a pile of 10 12 inch squares off to them last week – I’d been working on them on and off since January.  At the moment I keep starting new things and abandoning them.
  • I can’t help feeling I’ve shared the above point before but that might have been on facebook
  • My next craft maybe some decopatch though – my carers keep commenting on my decopatch “Love Books” on my book cases so I’ve told several about it.  One came in a couple of days ago and said she’d had a go and is clearly now hooked. And it’s got me wanting to do some too!
  • Writing is going well.  I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo with an hours goal (and I definitely blogged about that before) but am really beginning to wish I’d stuck with my word count goal as it feels more achieveable. Next time!
  • Isn’t the weather lovely?
  • I’m going to see my favourite musical next week!
  • The Citizens Advice office I volunteer for is taking part in #CABLive over on twitter for the first time this week. I set it up (for us to take part) and I’m enjoying see it run.

Best Practice by Penny Parkes

I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of Best Practice by Penny Parkes in exchange for an honest review. This is a book I’d have been buying on publication day if not as I totally love this series – it’s the third book in the Larkford series following Out of Practice and Practice Makes Perfect (along with the ebook short story Swept Away).

Here’s the blurb:

Dr Alice Walker has become accomplished at presenting a façade to the world – to anyone watching, she is the epitome of style, composure and professionalism. But perhaps it was to be expected that the cracks might begin to show at some point. Thankfully Grace is on hand to offer both friendship and support when it’s needed most.
 
Meanwhile, Dr Holly Graham has her hands full both professionally and personally. Planning a wedding with Taffy Jones is challenging enough, even before some surprising news changes everything. At least beloved Larkford resident, Elsie, still has a few tricks left up her sleeve!
 
Dr Dan Carter, on the other hand, has decided to throw himself into his career – the best antidote he’s found to unrequited love. When tragedy strikes in the heart of Larkford, Dan makes it his mission to help the community.

I mentioned above that I love these books – I actually think it’s my favourite series at the moment.  Before I read the first one I really thought it wasn’t going to be for me but I was proved wrong and three more installments later I’m left hoping there are many more!

Best Practice doesn’t disappoint. It has a brilliant feeling and moments that make me laugh.  But it also has it’s gritty heart in mouth moments  and others that just make you go “aww”. I really can’t say too much about this book or recommend it highly enough But you shouldn’t read this book if you haven’t read the others, go read those first. I don’t think you necessarily have to read them first as I think there’s enough set up that Best Practice could stand alone. You’d just be missing a couple of amazing books and probably wouldn’t enjoy this one as much.

I love seeing the characters grow and change and develop as real people. It’s just brilliantly done.  A few weeks ago I was at the Books and The City Spring Blogger Evening where Penny Parkes talked about Best Practice and how real the characters have become to her.  She shared a story about seeing a house for sale and thinking “Elsie’s house is for sale?!” and another about how her phone is full of pictures of info from the Drs surgery (and actually I was waiting at my Drs shortly after reading this and wondering whether the receptionists who get a bad stick were actually anything like the ones in the book and just how true to life it is)

Something else I loved was the fact that it was set rurally and had a brilliant community feel to it. I can’t think of another book I’ve read in the last year or so that does that so well.  I think this has a wide ranging appeal and is just brilliant.  Best Practice is definitely going to be in the running for my book of the year.

Flash Fiction: Friends Request

My writers group have started posting a monthly prompt competition for a piece of no more than 500 words.  I submitted this for the March competition and was unsuccessful so thought I would share it here instead.  It’s the first time I entered – it was given as an exercise at the flash fiction workshop  I went to at the end of February (as the tutor was the one who set that prompt and did this month’s judging) and I wrote it there and then typed it up and tweaked it to submit to the competion.  The prompt was “The Last Request”

Friends Request

Claire smiled when she saw the notification.  She had a friends request from Rebecca.  Years ago they had been best friends before Rebecca moved away and every year or so in a fit of nostalgia she searched Facebook for her.

 

There were lots of people called Rebecca Smith listed.  Dark haired ones like the girl she had known.  Ones with obviously bleached blonde hair.  And ones from all over the world.  Claire always spent far too long browsing the profiles.  Wondering if the girl pulling the silly face was her joker friend, gazing at the one with the shocking pink hair and remembering how Rebecca had always threatened to do that.

 

Her husband still socialised regularly with his school friends and Claire often went with him.  She enjoyed spending time with the other couples.  They were nice people and sometimes they even made her laugh.  But they were very much Steve’s friends not hers.  She wouldn’t get to keep them if she got divorced.

 

Claire had never been quite sure she had found her.  Over the years she had found a few definite maybes and even plucked up the courage to send a few friends requests.  But those had always got a confused message back asking who she was. Or worst still, been completely ignored.  And she was left still lonely and looking for the one who got away.

 

They had promised to be friends forever.  The night before Rebecca had moved away they had sworn in a fit of teenage optimism that the distance wouldn’t matter.  In reality they had lost touch within months and 15 years later Claire regretted that.

Each friends request that was declined she told herself was the last.  But until today it never had been.

As she clicked accepted and scrolled over to open the message that accompanied the request Claire had a big smile on her face knowing that this time it really would be the last request.

 

A Writing Quote

A daily commitment to writing seems to be doing me a lot of good.  I’ve spent almost 5 hours on writing and writing related things (editing mostly but some research) over the last two days.  And maybe something will come of it, maybe it won’t.

I just read an interesting quote about writing from Ray Bradbury and I wanted to share it here so I can remember it and find it again when I want it.

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

A Few Writing Thoughts

Since the end of September I’ve been going to a weekly writers group most weeks. It’s been good for me to have the space each week which is given over to writing and makes me focus on actually writing rather than thinking about it and talking about it.  It’s also very inspiring to hear others talk about what they’re writing.

Sometimes I struggle to find things to fill the time with and others I struggle to concentrate for the whole time (it’s 2 hours split into two 45 minute writing sessions and coffee breaks).  Sometimes I end up googling things I want to know about for my writing and others I open the Kindle app on my iPad and start reading a review book. I just need to write those damn reviews now.

But over the last few weeks I’ve been picking at writing a fanfic. It’s not going as well as I’d like and I’ve convinced myself I’m bad at writing fiction.  That’s not an unusual stage of writing for me and actually when I went back and reread some of what I’d written I did think it was good.  Admittedly I’m writing slower than I could be and not in a cohesive way but in a slow and somewhat painful few minutes at a time if nothing else way I was writing.  I miss the days when I used to sit and type for an hour nonstop without thinking just to get the piece down.

Locally there have been a few writing workshops.  An evening one on plotting which is was very useful and I could definitely do with looking at the pacing of my work based on the tips she gave us.  And two one day ones on flash fiction in February and character in March.  I got a lot out of both of those but enjoyed the one on flash fiction much more than character (possibly because it was a different group and possibly because I was stressed and tired for the character one).  Using the prompts in the session and free writing techniques made me remember that I enjoy writing short pieces like that.  Flash fiction it turns out may be much more my thing than writing a novel. But I still want to write a damn novel.

Going back to the fanfic, there is a deadline for it as I signed up to write it for a fandom big bang. And part of me wishes I hadn’t. I haven’t written in that fandom before or seen the whole series. And I’m not sure when I last wrote fanfic for any fandom.  I did it for my first nano in 2004 and can’t remember doing so since I stopped playing with that piece in 2005 although it would suprise me if that was the last time.  Hang on, as I write this it occurs to me I wrote a very small piece of Chalet School fanfic and posted it on The-CBB when I was first on there which was 2007 ish I think.  One of the problems I’m finding at the moment is I’ve only written for three fandoms before – two of which are set in the UK and the third was a character driven Star Trek piece that had basically nothing of the setting and very little plot in it.  This fandom is an American show and I don’t want to use too many Britishisms as I know I find them glaring when I spot them in fic (Americans calling each other mate is a frequent one I see in others pieces). I’m sure some will slip through but it’s making me think more about my word choices.

I ended up deciding to use the flash fiction principle and dividing my rough storyline into prompts then writing each one as a separate piece. It’s a work in progress but it seems to be going well because the biggest problem was how to transition between the different scenes. I’m still going to have to figure it out later but at least I’ll have the plot down. And as a fair amount of the story takes place in a hospital there’s not a lot of physically moving around to be had.

I still think this is going to end up a very bad piece of fanfic and I’ll get negative feedback. But I’m really glad to be writing regularly again and especially to be writing fiction again (particularly fanfic).  I’m taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo this month and have set myself a goal of 60 hours spent on writing over the month – it feels like it might be out of reach but I think it should be doable now I’m going.  I’ve done a fair amount of writing today inbetween other things as my powerchair batteries were changed this morning so it’s been charging. As always it’s not as much as I’d like but it’s a start. And I do seem to write more in the evening than other times.  We shall see.