Life in Fiction

Writers, what do your characters DO? When they’re not catching criminals, falling in love, crossing the ocean or solving mysteries, what to they do?

Readers, have you ever thought outside the book? Have you ever wondered what the characters you’ve come to know and love do when they’re not cavorting across the pages of your books?

Or have you, the author, told your readers already? Have you included the characters hobbies and interests as part of their story, part of revealing their character? Because, let’s face it, we all do something in our spare time, even if it’s sitting in front of the tv, or falling asleep on the couch. Our interests and hobbies tell a lot about us.

If someone tells you they like to go scuba diving and hillwalking, you quickly get the impression they are pretty active, energetic, out-doorsy. If they say they like to go fishing, taking the dog for a walk in the park, doing a bit of gardening, you’ll think of them as a little less adventurous but still active and still enjoy being in the fresh air. What about stamp collecting, video-gaming, knitting, reading – quieter pursuits? Perhaps they’re altogether quieter and prefer to be indoors.

Sometimes you meet someone who likes a real mixture of all of the above. Maybe most of the people you know like doing a good mix of things.

But, whatever it is they do, it can shape how they live their lives. It dictates how they use their time, how they spend their money, how much they interact with other people.

As writers, if we want to make our characters live on the page, if we want our readers to identify with them, feel they know them, almost expect to bump into them on the street, then we need to think about what our characters do when they’re not rushing about through the main plot of the story. We might only allude to it in passing, or we might build the story round it. Either way, it can enhance our writing to give our characters a hobby, an interest, a passion.

As readers, do you find it helps you identify with the character who enjoys gardening, as you do? Or who scuba dives like you’d like to? Who horse rides? Or who plays video games? Or knits? Or sews?

In my latest release, Gold Plated, my main character, Rosanna, loves to paint, to design clothes and to make them. She’s enjoyed these pursuits since she was a young girl.

Can you imagine her lying on the grass in her mother’s garden, sketching the shrubs and trees, painting the flowers? Or sitting at the patio table taking inspiration from the colours and shapes of the flowers for the next dress she intends to design and make?

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What about now she’s older? Can you picture her sitting in her conservatory, looking out at her garden, still allowing nature to inspire the dresses she designs

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What does her interest in such a pursuit, and the fact it has been the interest of a lifetime, tell you about her? She’s turned seventy now and it’s still her passion. Does that help you picture her?

Perhaps if she tells you about the dress she’s designed and made for her Golden Wedding Anniversary party:

“The dress I’m going to wear tonight is hidden in the wardrobe till later. I want it to be a surprise for Paul. He hasn’t seen it yet and has no idea of the peaceful hours I’ve spent sewing while he’s been out and about. It makes me smile every time I open the wardrobe door, push aside the things it hides behind, and see my handiwork hanging there. Inspired by the pale, creamy-yellow, woodland primroses that bloom in our garden every spring, designed and fashioned over the summer months after their faded beauty folded and faded further, it has been such a delight to make. Impossible to improve on nature, all I could do was allow the delicate flowers to inform my eye and guide my hand as I sketched and painted, desiring to capture the essence of their beauty in the spring to infuse into my work in the summer.
The chiffon material I sought out is gossamer thin and beautiful, the colour soft as sunshine on a misty day, and the dress slips over my still-trim figure in flattering, floaty, fluted layers to just below my knees.
Being so fine, it is one of the most difficult materials I have ever worked with, but worth every painstaking moment of the hours and days it took to cut and sew. Even the buttery silk lining had to be handled gently. Never have I worked so slowly and never have I been so rewarded for my care.
My fingers melt with pleasure as they linger on the fabric, and I long to feel my creation slip over my body to caress my skin.
I thrill with contented anticipation.”

~~~

Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage.

Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, all their friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul.

What could possibly go wrong?

When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.

Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?

Gold Plated is available right now on Amazon Kindle. You can read it FREE if you have Amazon Prime. And the paperback will be published in a few weeks.

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Click here to buy Gold Plated on Amazon Kindle

Give yourself a treat!

Enjoy!

Music in My Fiction

Music in Fiction

Last year, I wrote a series of guest blogposts about Music in Fiction, in which we discussed books that featured or mentioned music as part of the story.

There are many devices writers can use to help bring our writing to life. In that short series of articles, published on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s blog, I took a fairly light-hearted look at just one of them.

Music.

Music plays a large part in Gold Plated, my latest release – in particular, the music of the sixties, and I’ve included a playlist at the end of the novel, with links to YouTube videos of the original versions of some of the songs I’ve referenced.

The story begins with Rosanna and her daughter, Heather, meeting up to continue planning Rosanna’s Golden Wedding Anniversary party. As she wanders through the garden centre on her way to meet Heather, her own version of a popular song from her youth runs through Rosanna’s head:

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When a third stranger smiles at me, the realisation dawns not only am I humming an adapted version of Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit, It’s My Party, as I meander among the flower beds, but also, I sport a silly grin – and the blush of embarrassment that follows the realisation. But I can’t help myself.

There’s a party in the offing and, for a change, the butterflies fluttering about in my chest have gossamer wings rather than tackety boots. I’m not often a party-person, being more comfortable as a wallflower than a poppy, but …

“It’s Paul’s party and I’ll smile if I want to, smile if I want to, smile if I want to. You would smile too, if it happened to you.”

~~~

It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To – Lesley Gore – 1963

Gold Plated is now available on Amazon Kindle – paperback will follow shortly.

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Click to buy Gold Plated

If you’d like to read the series I wrote about Music in Fiction, click here.

Enjoy!

 

Gold Plated

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http://mybook.to/GoldPlated

We were walking on the beach in Embo in the North of Scotland, September 2016.

Often, walking together is a great time to chat, sharing thoughts and dreams, decisions and schemes, but today we were silent. There was a heavy mist on the North Sea and the horizon was hiding, taking our words with it. There was something about the haar: it silenced birds, the wind, the whisper of long grass as well as our words – but it couldn’t silence the continuous rolling waves as they broke onto the beach – and it couldn’t silence our thoughts.

Often, thoughts would tumble out of our silence and we would share them. There was no reason not to today – yet we didn’t. We were enjoying a world shrouded in a soft, white veil, from which rays of sunshine struggled to break free while the sea, ruthless, relentless, ripped through to crash on the shore.

I didn’t ask what my lovely hubby was thinking, but concentrated on the story that was forming in my mind.

We were here on vacation with our family and there, set like a pearl in the middle of the two weeks, was our anniversary. Forty-nine years of married bliss.

But that’s never true, is it?

No-one is perfect, so no two imperfect people can forge a perfect marriage – not even us. We’d had ups and downs – never ins and outs – and some years were better than others – but we’d never not wanted to be married to one another.

Our children asked how we wanted to celebrate our 50 years of marriage next year, our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

I got to thinking about it. What did we want? What would we do? What were the children plotting? We told them, ‘Nothing much. Nothing expensive, no silly gold ornaments that we don’t need, golden gifts that we’ll never use. It would be nice just to be together.’

The conversation still swirled in my mind as my husband and I walked in our misty, magical silence. 

Then, in a sudden rush of gold, the sun won the struggle to light the world, compelling us to pause to take a few photographs.

I stood at the water’s edge.

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Wave after wave of water rolling in, breaking with cold white froth over the landscape of the beach – year after year of life rolling in, breaking with warm love over the landscape of our marriage.

But what if?

What if it had been different?

So I wrote a story about a love that spanned more than fifty years.

Or did it?

Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage.

Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, all their friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul. What could possibly go wrong?

When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.

Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?

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Gold Plated is with the publisher now so the paperback should be launched soon. Meantime, it’s already available on Amazon Kindle.

The Death of an Inspiration

From time to time, I’m asked if my work is inspired by other writers, and I usually list several authors whose work I admire. Anita Shreve is high on that list. I love her books and was saddened by her death on 29 March from the cancer she’d been fighting for a while. So sad to lose such a fine novelist so young, only 71 – not old these days.

She was a wife, a mother and a grandmother as well as a teacher, journalist, non-fiction writer, and a novelist. She may have worn other hats for all I know, but these are the ones I know of. She was a reclusive writer though there are a few radio, tv and newspaper interviews you could delve into.

Anita Shreve wrote eighteen novels, most of which I have had the pleasure of reading. I am sad that there will be no more because her books are all so beautifully written, so well plotted and crafted. I learned a lot about how to write a novel from reading hers.

 

 

 

 

She Was a Red-headed Woman

Do you enjoy writing prompts? When we meet together in our writing group, we enjoy doing short, timed prompts. Sometimes five minutes, sometimes ten, or even fifteen if the subject seems to merit it.

A few weeks ago, we had one that we all enjoyed and had a bit of fun with. Perhaps you’d enjoy it too. Why not tell a story in just ten minutes, using the prompt:

She Was a Red-headed Woman

I’d love to read what you come up with, and invite you to post in the comments.

One of our members wrote this one that I find quite good fun. I feel there is a story under the story, that the word ‘today’ invites the readers imagination to fill in the blanks.

She Was a Red-haired Woman

By Sharon Scordecchia

She walked into the restaurant and sat at her usual table. Hans, the waiter, approached her, an apologetic twist on his face. He sighed, bowing his head towards her.
“I’m very sorry Madam, this table is reserved.”
She put down the menu and looked up at him, her head tilted to the side. Slowly she lowered her sunglasses with both hands till they perched on the end of her nose. She paused. “It’s me, Hans,” she said.
Hans stared at her. “I’m sorry madam, I don’t believe I am acquainted with you. And this table is reserved for one of our regular customers.”
“Oh, for goodness sake, Hans,” she said, taking her glasses off completely and slapping them on the table.
Oh, Madam! I didn’t recognise you.” He stopped, his mouth open, aghast. Today she was a red-headed woman.

~~~

Why not visit me in my new FaceBook group for readers – though I know there are a fair few writers among the members too.

You’ll find us here Lifting The Lid Off Christine’s Kist Of Stories

Christine’s Kist of Stories

Are you familiar with the word ‘kist’?

It’s origin is from the Old Norse kista, meaning chest.
The word appears in several countries and, in the Scots language, it’s the name for a large chest or coffer often used for storing linen, such as a new bride’s trousseau.
Also used for storing treasure. And it’s in that context I’d like to introduce my kist to you.

My hubby wrote me a beautiful song for our 50th wedding anniversary – about my ‘Kist of Stories’, describing my stories as treasure. How cool is that? Well, I felt so honoured by this I want to honour him in return by using the song as my ‘brand.’

So I have started a Book Group on FaceBook, called Lifting The Lid Off Christine’s Kist Of Stories. The aim of the group is to allow readers to interact with me about my books. So, if you’re interested in learning the stories behind the stories, you’re welcome to join. The group is designed to take the ‘Author Meet and Greet’ to a whole new level.

My daughter has recorded the song and I’d like to share it with you here. To help you understand it, since it’s written in the style of an old Scots song, here are the words written out. I’d be happy to explain any that are unfamiliar to you. Just let me know in the comments which words puzzle you.

Christine’s Kist O’ Stories

Sparkling there, tae love and share,
Gleam tales o’ pains and glories
Of lovers kissed, and children missed
In Christine’s kist o’ Stories

Folks that’s real, that breathe and feel,
Wi’ lives o’ less, or more ease
Come tumblin’ out, tae sigh, tae shout
Frae Christine’s kist o’ Stories

Frae Reekie’s chills tae Cuillin hills,
They tak’ delightfu’ sorties
That turn and twist thru lambent mist
Tae Christine’s kist o’ Stories

~~~

The video ‘Christine’s Kist of Stories’ comes to you from team Pow.
Filmed and produced by Tim Pow
Words and music by Gus Campbell
Sung by Aimee Pow
Original painting by Michelle Campbell
Scenery by Scotland

Enjoy!

The Importance of Being a Reader

When asked the question, “Is reading important in your life?” my experience is that many people say they enjoy reading but it doesn’t play that big a part in their day to day life. Some only find time to read when they are on holiday, some while travelling. And there are those who derive little or no pleasure from reading. I’ve even come across people who profess they’d love to write a novel but they’ve rarely or never read one!

I’m aghast at this latter category because it’s a bit like saying you want to bake a cake without ever having tasted one and without a recipe to follow. “But I have this great idea for a wedding cake. I mean, how hard can it be to throw a few ingredients in a bowl, give them a bit of a mix, pour the mixture in a tin and pop it in the oven for ten minutes or so?” Aaaaargh!!! I’m sure there will be bakers all over the world throwing their recipe books in the air at the thought.

Yet there are books being produced by the dozens with less preparation and by people who it would seem have never read a book in their lives, if the grammar, spelling and construction are anything to go by. “But I have this great idea for a story. I mean, how hard can it be to scribble it down, type it up, slap a cover on it and upload it on the net.”

Like the potential wedding cake maker, who’s seen the end result, can measure, mix and heat things in the oven – has even had a nibble of a finished cake – our potential novelist has seen books on the shelves in the supermarket, learned how to put pen to paper in school, can even type with one finger, may even have read the blurb on the back of the book of the film of…

I say again, “Aaaaarrrrgh!!!”

So, to rephrase the question, how important is reading in a writer’s life?

I’d like to put it to you, that reading widely is the first step of many in learning how to write and how to write better.

How to Support an Author – and get a Free Signed Copy of a Novel

Do you like a challenge? For some, January is a month they enjoy challenging themselves to start a training regime, a dietary regime or tackle their New Year resolutions list. Oooh! I love a good list – though I tend not to go for the New Year resolution list, since, for me, it’s an invitation to failure and I don’t believe in reinforcing failure. I prefer to think positively, ‘This coming year, I’m going to try harder and get better all round.’ And that includes my reading and reviewing habits.

Do you enjoy a good book? At this time of the year, most folks have some time off and this is traditionally a time for enjoying family, fun and relaxation. For lots of us, that means getting time and opportunity to read.

Luxury.

But do we ever spare a thought for the authors of the books we enjoy? How could we make their holiday happy too?

I came across a post on FaceBook by blogger ShaylaRaquel.com,  where she suggested 31 ways to support authors in January. She offered this printable PDF which I’ve reproduced here.

It seems a pretty good list to me and I’m sure there are many authors like me who would turn cartwheels in the snow if someone would support them to that extent. In fact, most of us would settle for half that list. Or quarter. In fact, any and all support is welcomed by any author, so I intend to try harder to support other authors by reading and reviewing their books. For that reason, I was delighted to come across this list of 31 suggestions how I might do so.

I’ve copied it here to help you see there are many ways, 31 on this list, you might support your favourite authors if you are up for the challenge.

If I happen to be one of your favourites, or if you’d like to find out if I could be, here’s the link to my Amazon author page to get you started, since top of the list is ‘Buy their e-book.’ Since all my novels are available also in paperback, you might prefer to jump to number 7, 9 or 15 to start you off. The same link will take you to where you can buy the paperbacks.

If you tell me in the comments when you’ve bought one of my novels in either format and posted a review on Amazon, I’ll pop your name in a hat and pick a random reader to send a free signed copy of one of my novels.

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Music and Drama in Writing

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Yep! That’s what’s happening right now in my WIP. And I can’t get the song out of my head! It’s an old one, from the sixties when part of the book is set, and though there have been more recent covers of it, I’ve been using the original – You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore – since that’s what my character would have listened to at the time.

The novel I’m working on is called Gold Plated and the main character, Rosanna, is remembering being eighteen in the late sixties and being let down in love. She goes home to her mother to be looked after while she gets over the break up.

‘My mother knows straight away that something is wrong when I arrive home late that evening, but I tell her I don’t want to talk about it. Wise woman that she is, she leaves me in peace that night and for the first few days I’m home. Days when I hardly leave my room. Days when I don’t get out of bed, or don’t dress if I do. I leave my room only to go to the bathroom or to return the tray Mum so kindly brings up at regular intervals with some tasty treat or other on it along with a warm drink and a loving smile.
I dig out my records and play a series of heartbreak songs, followed by a series of angry songs, ending up with playing Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me over and over again, convincing myself it was I who set myself free from the hold of his caresses and whispered endearments. He had my heart in his hands and he couldn’t let me go, so I had struggled free.
Most of the words don’t fit my situation, but there is something in the tone of the song, something in its power that resonates with me.
It is an unusual choice to become my anthem in that I am not often roused to great passion. I am not someone given to temper tantrums or dramatic outbursts, nor do I let anger simmer dangerously inside me. My default position is to accept the inevitable, in whatever form it takes, and get on with things.’

So I’ve been playing this track over and over while I’ve been writing and it’s time to move on to another scene, but the song lingers in my head as I write, keeping the mood, holding on to the anger, the hurt, the angst.

Do you remember the original Lesley Gore version? Or Dusty Springfield’s from a few years later? Among other versions, there is a recent one by a singer called Grace. Perhaps you’ve heard that one.

As a reader, do you find it helpful to listen to music that’s mentioned in a book? As a writer, do you like to use music in your writing? For me, the answer is a resounding, ‘Yes!’ on both counts.

#sixtiespopmusic #novel #amwriting #amediting #contemporarywomensfiction

Hope you enjoy the track and do share your thoughts. I’d love to read them.

~~~

If you are interested to read any of my novels, here is the link to my Amazon Author page, where you will find details of the seven novels already published both as paperback books and on Amazon Kindle. They are all Contemporary Women’s Fiction and are clean reads, as in no swearing, sex or violence. #CleanIndieReads #CR4U

~~~

 

Writing Update

Hi there! It seems a while since last I posted about my own writing, so I thought I’d give you an update of how I’m progressing with my next novel.

For What it’s Worth is about a married couple whose marriage is under stress because of two main factors: Hugh is out of work and Yvonne is working too hard; and despite years of trying, they have been unsuccessful in their efforts to start a family. Two problems many people face, sometimes even together. So Yvonne and Hugh’s story is one many people can relate to. But we all deal with things in our own unique way, don’t we? So, although you might know someone who has been in their position – you might even have been in that position yourself – I haven’t written their story, or your story. I’ve written Yvonne and Hugh’s story. It’s about how they handle the stress, how they decide to move forward. You might not agree with their choices, but I hope you’ll be cheering them on.

This novel is not part of The Reluctant Detective Series, but it is a spin off from it. Yvonne is Mirabelle’s sister. If you read the series, you’ll probably remember that Mirabelle was the main character – and quite a character, quirky, eccentric and unpredictable – and she has a part to play in this new novel, but as a supporting character.

She was too much fun to write about to let her go 🙂

If you’re a writer, have you ever found it hard not to go on writing about a certain character even after their story has been written? It’s like keeping in touch with an old friend.

For What it’s Worth has been drafted, redrafted, edited, beta read, edited, redrafted, edited and is now with some more beta readers. Depending on their feedback, it will hopefully not be too long until the final proofread and polish before publication.

Tell me, when you read a book, do you like to think of the writing process that book had to go through before it landed on your bedside table? I must confess I love reading author interviews and profiles, learning as much as I can about the author and their work. I find it helps me understand where the story might have originated, and so enhances my understanding of it.

~~~

To learn more about me as an author and about The Reluctant Detective Series or any of my published novels, please check the sidebar or click on my Amazon Author page.

~~~

 

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