Saturday, 28 January 2012

The #smallstone challenge is almost over

Jan 25th

Starlings like flecks of black ash swoop as a flotilla, fly swiftly then land light, cling to yacht mast wires as the sun sets #smallstone

Jan 26th

This day wears its pallid drab damp dreary dullness with effortless ease it is only me that seems put out by its inclemency #smallstone

Bathed in brilliant sun light, snowdrops bow their unblemished showered heads to kiss the earth after the storm has passed #smallstone

Jan 27th
Silent, almost obscured a jet flies east, a faint sketch of a fast evaporating contrail the only evidence that it flew this way #smallstone

Shimmering sunlight shines straight, through tangled skeletal hedgerows, serrated by fine twigs & twisted gnarled branches #smallstone

Jan 28th

It’s cold. I breathe out, the warmth of my breath forms a trickle thin cloud, a vapour trial that dissipates no sooner than seen #smallstone

Jan 29th

An indistinct morning, neither light enough for day nor dark enough for night, yet in this diminished grey light I read #smallstone

A gash of light, neon lemon-yellow arrests my attention, I put down my book, close my eyes & bask in the warmth of a winter sun #smallstone

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

These #smallstone (‘s) just keep rolling along:

Jan 19th

Hands clasped round my mug of peppermint tea I sip this scented brew & think about events today as I look at a muted lacklustre sky

Jan 20th

A striking crow lands inspects bare braches, selects, sets about the prized twig until it snaps & flies away beak crammed full

Jan 21th

As the dreary winter nights draw out & days gradually grow lighter my heart soars in anticipation of longed for summer evenings

Jan 22nd

Whisper thin translucent twists, spread out across a vast expanse of blue, fine strands twirl as unruly as golden locks of hair

Jan 23rd

A dozen juveniles buzzing between two trees, delightful long-feathered Pied Wagtails frantically chirrup, play chase & wag tails

Jan 24th

The finest mist spray arcs, kicked out from the heels of spinning wheels as tyres surf the tarmac turfing water out of their way

This #smallstone exercise has proved to be huge fun again for me this year and I’m glad that I chose to join in at the last minute because it got me over a dry patch as I’m now feeling more inclined to write again. I've hatched two more short stories... which need a little time to relax before being edited.

So if you like these #smallstones then you will find loads more by many other writers on Twitter by following this hashtag #smallstone and some lodged under #smallstones.

And in case you were wondering about the heavy usage of the ‘ampersand’ in my #smallstones it’s my little cheat to get the most words in, out of 129 characters!

Perhaps next time you'll feel inspired to join us as its good fun.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Book Review: The Tent, the Bucket and Me

I don’t usually contemplate this… writing my book review so early as I’ve only managed to read the first three chapters!

Seriously… this book should come with a Health Warning:

Do not attempt to wear mascara or any eye makeup whilst reading this story and ensure that you have ready to hand a constant supply of clean hankies (you will need these I promise) oh and should you suffer from a weak bladder (sorry to bring this up) I would strongly recommend you consider wearing incontinence knickers! There I’ve said it and you might thank me later.

The tone of this story is brilliant and I can promise very accurate. I HATE, LOATHE and DETEST Camping.

Like Emma Kennedy I suffered the indignities of camping all my young life and teenage years, oh the ignominy of it. She has successfully helped me to access and remember many incidents mostly hilarious, and some rather painfully embarrassing moments that I may choose to share in later blog posts.

It is not often I feel that I am so in tune with an author. However on this occasion her descriptions of travelling to Wales ring loud alarm bells in my head, for I too am a girl from the valleys born behind the gasworks, well no not literally, but in my grandmother’s house in Caerphilly, complete with outside carsy and coal bunker the size of a small shed. I feel I’m almost part of Emma’s film set or rather that she was part of mine, really quite scary on so many levels.

I’m not sure who suggested we read this book for our book group meeting but I shall be eternally grateful and I’m very glad they suggested it! Because I can’t recall crying this hard in a long time and I believe that laughing until you cry can be a cathartic experience. Of course the downside of crying whilst reading is that is that one’s eyes fill with tears and blur one’s vision.

I think Emma Kennedy has captured the essence of the 1970’s succinctly because it certainly is how I remember that period of time although I never made it the Biba shop – such a shame truly.

So my recommendation is quite simple: If on an overcast January day when the sky is filled with scumble glazed clouds that are certain to deliver a deluge then I would suggest you find a quiet spot, curl up in an armchair, with a hot chocolate and a box of tissues.

And should you dare to read this book in a public place, be that on the train or in a coffee shop then other customers will want to know why you are in fits of giggles. And there is an added and significant danger… you may end up snorting rather loudly!

Well I’m going back to the book that I can’t actually read as I have to put the book down and dabs away the tears with a tissue.

And I do hope you enjoy this reading treat…

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The #smallstone challenge continues

I can’t help but notice that I am at my happiest when the sun shines so the past five days have been a glorious respite this month.

The bleakest month of all is upon us in my opinion yet it seems that we have been extremely lucky with what can only be described as a glorious start to stunning sunny days, and how I just love cold crisp air, perfick!

But I fear that when the frost comes it will devour the softest buds, their outer skin will be burned, and damaged, possibly beyond repair, because they were fooled that Spring was coming early.

These bright light days do not quiver, they are strident and strong, glaring blasting sunlight. And this gorgeous cold crisp dry weather offers mottled winter colours a chance to sing – so some of my #smallstones will reflect this mood, whether it is heightened or lowered.

What a glorious morning so far left for Brighton -5° then in Brighton 45mins later +5° & back home another 45m its 0°

Jan 14th

Twinkling bright a string of light bulbs slung casually from tree trunk to tree trunk in the woods leads to a hidden hinterland

Jan 15th

Deceived by the promise of Spring the acanthus mollis (Bears breeches) lays on the frozen ground as wilted as overcooked cabbage

Jan 16th

Soap suds sit on the waters surface in the bowl, sun light bounces off the bubbles & sparkles brilliantly no rough diamonds here

Jan 17th

My finger is held by a smaller hand, he holds on tight, he will not let me go, not without crying & I can't stand to let go

Jan 18th

Today feels like a small day, the sky is too close, the grey half light too low, the drizzling rain an unwelcome dismal intruder

My pray: The darkest of these mid-winter days is banished, blitzed by the brilliance of a glorious lemon gold winter sun #smallstone

Friday, 13 January 2012

Some more #smallstones to contemplate

This #smallstone exercise makes me take time out each day and think about what I see especially when I am out and about driving. This is when I seem to relax without realising that I’m doing it and frees my mind up to play around with the sound of the words. I often use repetitions deliberately, despite the fact it’s a no-no in most writing especially where my novel is concerned, but I do it here simply for the fun of it and because I like the sound an alliteration makes.

Jan 7th

Burbling fountains of water forced up through tarmac gather momentum & run away to join the ever growing roadside streamlets

Jan 8th

My night sky overhead, an intricate map that contains many secrets all of which could be unravelled if I knew how/where to look.

Jan 9th

A low winter sun breaks through dense dove grey clouds, an icy cold stare that reminds me of glacial snow sub-zero & unfeeling

Jan 10th

Against a clear blue sky clouds glide by with graceful ease. I’m reminded they go freely, only in one direction at a given time

Jan 11th

The sun rose in a glory of colour, stretched along the horizon crimson golds & a pink-yellow light streamed in thru’ my window

Jan 12th

Rivulets of rainwater race fast, downhill, to form ever expanding streams that almost converge & meet in the middle of a highway

Jan 13th

The horizon splits in two, menacing black clouds to the east yet to the a west glorious golden setting sun splinters the darkness

Oh... and for added incentive I am limited to 129 characters!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Why I write, the way I write:

I’ve come to realise that sometimes I need to ponder my storylines before I even get anywhere close to committing them to paper. This process can take a few hours or a few days and dare I say it a few months.

But then again, perhaps that's procrastination?

Often I’ll day-dream my way through a sequence of events so that I can frame the story in the correct setting and place my characters in situ and watch their unfolding reactions before I begin the lengthy process of writing out a first draft long hand.

I prefer to write long hand because this is the fastest way I can commit words to paper.

Typing & thinking don’t work well for me as a simultaneous action because I’m not a natural or trained typist. (How I wish I’d done a Pitman & typing course at school because it would have been invaluable now.)

Once the draft is written, the hand written version is left to one side before I begin to type up a hard copy.

As I type I rarely change what I’ve written by hand preferring to see how the finished article looks like once it is typed up and spaced out on a page following standard layout.

Then if I feel it looks wrong I can begin messing around with the first copy to see if I can improve the original.

Without being fully aware I have probably already edited the piece from its original conception either by adding in more detail or subtly changing order of events, or a characters response.

The final editing process is often harder for me and this might be my failing, because usually I like what I've written especially if it bears a close resemblance to the original idea. However that doesn’t mean it's good writing or grammatically correct.

So I find that I have to read my work out loud and even better if one of my nieces will read it out loud back to me because then I can hear the clunky and lumpy sections or when the words sound misplaced.

Often my nieces act as copy editors which is fabulous because sometimes I can’t see the mistakes if I have worked too closely on a piece of work. If my brain makes the mistake first time out then it’s bound to repeat the same mistake again so having my work read to me is invaluable.

This may seem long winded to many other writers who can automatically commit their work by typing on a pc screen and if push comes to shove I can do this but if I’m honest I prefer the longer, slower method.

Which method do you prefer when writing?

I mean Barbara Cartland had six secretaries and a personal assistant so she only had to dictate an idea or thought as it entered her head and sadly I don’t have those resources.

Friday, 6 January 2012

A few more small stones


Thirst-quenching raindrops fall heavy, then bounce, a bubble appears, grows then bursts, melds into a lake at a roadside ditch

Jan 4

Rain pelts down hard, drops of various sizes splatter across & blur my screen before windscreen wipers smear away the evidence

Jan 5

Cement grey ocean, buffeted by fierce wind punches heavy waves ashore crashes violently onto the pebbles, its energy spent

Jan 6

As the sun sets starlings swoop & dive in close tight formation, a murmuration of delight, a spectacular twilight evening display

Monday, 2 January 2012

#Smallstones 2012

Each day during January 2012 I will focus on a small 'thing’(something I heard or saw or felt or tasted) and then write about it as best I can.

Jan 1
On waking silence surrounds me until I focus. The soft pitter patter of rain impacts the ground, a reassuring & delightful sound #smallstone

Jan 2
Robin redbreast lands, light-footed he scours my patio searching for sweet offerings, when his mate emerges & joins the hunt #smallstone

If you were wondering what is 'a River of Stones?' is & want to join in - "How to write small stones" on Writing Our Way Home: (you'll need to cut & paste this link as for the life of me I can not get it to attach & appear here despite valiant efforts!)

It's run by Fiona Robyn who you can find on Twitter: @fiona_robyn