Writing The Masterpiece: Making A Good Start

English: Book and apparatus for writing. Engra...

English: Book and apparatus for writing. Engraving (prints). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writing The Masterpiece: Making A Good Start

So now I’m on the countdown to beginning novel three and I can’t wait to start.  I’m writing the first draft of book three as part of the Nanowrimo challenge. That means I am committing to writing 50k words in November.  It is quite an assignment but I managed it last year and have my certificate to prove it.  I wrote the first draft of Blood Brothers – a book you can find out more about on the blog.  Of course it went through several iterations afterwards but the first draft is the tricky bit for me.

At the moment I’m clearing the decks ready to begin.  I have been working on the outline and the main characters.  I just wish I had started planning a little earlier and had time for a little more research. But it the act of creation that gives me the buzz about writing and preparing never has the same kind of charge about it.

So now for the last few days I go back to the nittygritty of planning with the anticipation to keep my spirits.

Wendy Mason is a writer of novels and poetry as well as blog posts about life style and personal development. She is a career and life coach.  You can find out more about her and her books at this link 

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Beginning Ben And The Pain Of Outlining!

mapBeginning Ben And The Pain Of Outlining!

An on-going issue in the world of aspirant novel writers is whether to produce an outline. In other words, should you produce a map before you start writing the novel itself or should you just fly by the seat of your pants.? Will you work to a disciplined plan or just put pen to paper and begin the mighty tome?

There all kinds of good reasons for outlining, as long as you apply the structure flexibly.

But, of course, there are people who find the whole concept constraining. I suspect these dedicated “pantsters” will never be convinced that outlining is worthwhile.

It is a battle I’m fighting right now. In November, I start work on the first draft of my third novel provisionally titled Ben. And once more I’m struggling with the outline.

I have an idea what the novel is about of course and the key players. I think I know where it is going. All this has got easier to formulate since I started a scriptwriting course. In scriptwriting, the ability to outline properly seems to be critical. I’m working on a TV play as well at the moment and the outline for that took real self-discipline.

Having learned why outlining is important for a script, I’ve begun to have much better understanding of why it will help me to organise my novels better.

Sadly, though, when it comes to it I hit a real pain barrier.

Every time I start work on the outline for Ben, I can feel my anxieties rise.  I’m not sure exactly why.  Otherwise I am a pretty disciplined writer – for example, I have editorial calendars for my main blogs and stick to them.

You see somehow for me novel writing is close to poetry in being mystical. The stories come like poems used to and I’m grateful for them. What I fear, I think, is that they won’t come the same way when I ask them to be governed by index cards as I outline.

Wendy Mason is a writer of novels and poetry as well as blog posts about life style and personal development. She is a career and life coach.  You can find out more about her and her books at this link 

Morrissey, Publishing and A Dangerous Dissonance

Morrissey, Publishing and A Dangerous Dissonance

2002 design of Penguin Classics

First I have to declare an interest in the world of publishing. At the somewhat surprising age of 66 (most of the surprise is mine),  I have self published two novels in a year. To be honest, I didn’t work too hard on trying to find an alternative. I sent the synopsis to a couple of agents but it was fairly clear that they were otherwise occupied.  After that, the more research I did on how to get published by someone else, the more dispiriting the process seemed.

What I learned left me worried and concerned for the world of books – both hardcover and electronic. Clearly getting a book published was no longer about writing a good book. Oh yes, you needed that.  But even to get an agent (a middleman/woman between you and the publisher) required skills more likely to be found in business marketing than in the creative world.

I decided to opt out and into the friendly and welcoming world of indie-publishing and, for me, self publishing. Readers will decide whether my books are worthwhile. They can buy the ebooks cheaply on Amazon and soon on Smashwords and they can write their reviews.

But I was still sad. You see my generation grew up honouring the great names in publishing and with huge respect for publishers. And our lives were enriched by Penguin and the Penguin Classic Series in particular. The first Penguin Classic (E. V. Rieu’s translation of The Odyssey) was published in 1946, the year that I was born.

And now my despondency about the world of publishing has reached its deepest depth.

On 17th October, Penguin Classics will publish Morrissey’s memoir/autobiography.

Morrissey, of course, is a fascinating character and his book will be popular. But why is it to be published by Penguin Classics? How can even the mighty Penguin declare what will undoubtedly make them and Morrissey a lot of money, a classic ahead of publication. Does book truly have a high quality or standard against which other things are now to judged (Cambridge Dictionary definition of classic)? Will it be around as other than something of historical interest in 100 years’ time?

There is something about all this that strikes a dissonant chord in my ears.  But perhaps at the end of the day that is the point.  What dear ear old Penguin Classics seem to missing, though, is that the last laugh is likely to be on them and their tarnished brand!

Wendy has now started work on novel three as well as a television play! 

You will be able find out more on Wendy’s Amazon page (US Amazon Page ) in due course, or you could just come back here.

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Your Author’s Life as a Writer

writingYour Author’s Life as a Writer

I have always loved writing.  I can remember how much I enjoyed essays at school, though perhaps my early efforts were a bit too florid for the times.  I was told at the age of nine that my writing was too passionate – which now seems quite bizarre.

In my teens I wanted to be a lyricist. I suppose everyone wanted to write pop songs in the sixties! I still enjoy writing to a beat.

Slowly my song writing morphed into writing poetry.

I knew that I wanted to be a professional writer.  I was dissuaded from launching out as a journalist which is now one of my few regrets in life.  Instead, eventually I fetched up working as a Civil Servant where the ability to put pen to paper was clearly useful.

My creative gift, such as it was lay dormant for a long time.

I wrote poems sometimes, which were published in obscure journals, but that was about all! The most successful of my work at that time was on the subject of slavery, Middle Passage Remembrance, which was published in 1990.

I did try writing short stories but they never really appealed.  Somehow, they were not as satisfying to write as poetry, nor did I feel driven to create them in the same way.

I had settled for being a poet, albeit, of a fairly modest kind!

Things changed. When I left the Civil service and launched out as a blogger.

To blog successfully means building up your readership and that happens when you blog frequently. So I got into the habit of writing 300 to 500 words (the length of an average blog post) five days a week. It was great training.  Then in the middle of 2012 a little occurred; the plot of the my first novel, The Wolf Project, started to come into my mind. You can find out about that and what happened next at this link.

The Wolf Project – A Book To Give You A Warm Glow

The Wolf Project – A Book To Give You A Warm Glow

A New Novel From Wendy Mason

The Wolf Project Front Cover

I’m really excited to tell you that my new novel is now available on Amazon.  It is really thrilling for me to be able to share this story with you.  Those who have read it so far have really enjoyed it.  Here is a short summary.

“Liz Morris had been a successful TV writer. Then her marriage broke up and she lost both her money and her confidence. Now, she has been asked by the formidable Annabel Meadows to help her husband, retiring American General, George “Jet” Meadows, write his autobiography. Liz doesn’t want the work but she does need the money. What she doesn’t know is that this project and meeting General Meadows will change her life forever.”

UK readers can find out more at this link 

US readers can find out more at this link

Wendy Mason is a Career and Life Coach and Writer and she is passionate about helping people find happiness at work and at home! She lives in London, England with partner, Owen. As a coach, Wendy helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life. This is her first novel.

The Lovely Capucine

Screenshot of Capucine from the trailer for th...

Image via Wikipedia

North to Alaska is on TV again and once more there is the lovely Capucine. For me, when I was growing up, she the epitomized all that was French and all that one aspired to be in terms of looks and grace.

Capucine was a Golden Globe-nominated French actress and fashion model best known for her role as Simone Clouseau in the 1963 comedy The Pink Panther and as Michelle “Angel” in North to Alaska.

Born Germaine Lefebvre in Saint-Raphaël, in the South of France, Cpucine  soon exhibited an independent, non-conformist personality.

She attended school in France and received a B.A. in foreign languages. At 17, while riding in a carriage in Paris, a commercial photographer noticed her. Her elegance and sophistication soon brought her to the attention of modeling agencies where she became a regular fashion model for such fashion houses as Givenchy.

Capucine was great friends with Audrey Hepburn, the two having met while modelling in the 40s. They shared an apartment together at the time and Capucine was later a witness to the 1969 wedding of Hepburn to Dr.Andrea Dotti in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A manic-depressive, Capucine’s life had on several occasions been saved by Hepburn (both women lived at the time in Switzerland) after repeated suicide attempts.

In 1949, Capucine made her film debut in the French film Rendez-vous de Juillet. On the set of Rendez-vous, she met Pierre Trabaud. The two married the following year. The marriage lasted only six months, and Capucine would never marry again. In 1957, film producer Charles K. Feldman spotted Capucine while modeling in New York City. Feldman brought her to Hollywood to learn English and to study acting under Gregory Ratoff. She was signed to a contract with Columbia Pictures in 1958 and landed her first English-speaking role in the filmSong Without End (1960) Starring opposite Dirk Bogarde. For the next few years, Capucine would go on to make six more major motion pictures before moving to Switzerland in 1962. She continued making films in Europe until her death.

Her best known films include: Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), Red Sun (1971), Fellini Satyricon (1969), What’s New, Pussycat (1965), The 7th Dawn, (1964), The Pink Panther,(1963), The Lion,(1962), Walk on the Wild Side (1962), North to Alaska (1960) with John Wayne.

She also appeared on American television in the 80s in episodes of “Murder, She Wrote” and alongside old friend Robert Wagner in “Hart to Hart”.

Capucine  suffered from bipolar disorder throughout her life and sadly in 1990 she finally succeeded by jumping to her death from her eighth-floor apartment in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Born 6 January 1931, Saumur, Loire,( or Toulon,) France
Died 17 March 1990, Lausanne, Switzerland

Here is a small tribute:

Disque Bleu Et La Vie En Rose

I fell in love with Edith Piaf a very long time ago.

I was fourteen and crazy for all things French.

At that time in our lives most of us fantasize about finding the great love. Girls did it when I was young and I hope they do it still.

We try to imagine what it will be like.  Most of my ideas about love came from reading Françoise Sagan ; “a charming little monster”.  Then I discovered Piaf and love on a completely different level; love in the bones and soul as well in the heart and the flesh.

Piaff’s voice wreaks of pain, as my breath must have wreaked of the forbidden Gauloises Disque Bleu cigarettes.

I can’t remember how I came to own a recording of La Vie En Rose.  But I can remember the days leading up to my 15th birthday very well.  In the twilight, not wanting to switch the light on to spoil the mood and dreaming to the sound of her voice singing this over and over again;

“When he takes me in his arms and speaks softly to me, I see life in rosy hues. He tells me words of love, words of every day. And in them I become something. He has entered my heart”

This is her signature tune. She co-wrote it with Marguerite Monnot, the composer. According to the story, it was published under someone else’s name only because he was licensed to publish and Piaf was not.

For me, this the most perfect love song and it is ageless.

It was the most popular of her songs by far, until she sang Non Je Ne Regrette Rien, but that is another story.

If you would like to see, as well as hear, her sing the song go to this link.

If you just want to listen to what I heard all those years ago then here you are.


For the Healing

Two "blocks" of wood crossed over on...  
In the darkness
Drums are beating
Telling of a ancient wrong
Do you hear them
Oh my Sister?
Can you sing
Old sorrow’s song?
Did your Mother
Tell the story
As you sat beside her hearth?
Did your Father
Tell your Brother
As they trod the forest path?
Song of sorrow
Song of history
Like a birthmark on the skin
Only love can heal the wound now!
Only love forgive the sin
Love sung out
By hearth,
In forest
Let the heart song
Now begin

Amergin, Bard of the Milesians, lays claim to the Land of Ireland

Amergin, Bard of the Milesians, lays claim to the Land of Ireland

I am a stag: of seven tines,

I am a flood: across a plain,

I am a wind: on a deep lake,

I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,

I am a hawk: above the cliff,

I am a thorn: beneath the nail,

I am a wonder: among flowers,

I am a wizard: who but I

Sets the cool head aflame with smoke?

I am a spear: that roars for blood,

I am a salmon: in a pool,

I am a lure: from paradise,

I am a hill: where poets walk,

I am a boar: ruthless and red,

I am a breaker: threatening doom,

I am a tide: that drags to death,

I am an infant: who but I

Peeps from the unhewn dolmen, arch?

I am the womb: of every holt,

I am the blaze: on every hill,

I am the queen: of every hive,

I am the shield: for every head,

I am the tomb: of every hope.

Song of Amergin translated by Robert Graves, from The White Goddess, Faber and Faber Limited, 24 Russell Square London WC1. It appears here under the principle of Fair Use.

And here is Celestial Elf’s machinima film of
The Song Of Amergin, A Samhain Story, as referred to in his comment below

Sherlock Holmes and a Mystery

On Location 1f

Benedict Cumberbatch, a 21st Century Sherlock

We all know Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice has a mysterious attraction for women. It has been pondered on for years and by many! But is the same thing true of Sherlock Holmes? Certainly for me it is! For some reason this hero of detective fiction fascinates me! And I don’t think it is only for the quality of his mind, although that is certainly part of the magic.

Sherlock Holmes certainly seems to represent some archetype as a Victorian gentlemen detective. This brilliant, London based, “consulting” detective has an odd charisma all his own. He seems to mesmerise both men and women and people have great difficulty recognising that he is, in truth, a creature of fiction. Many visitors seek out his home and I gather letters are still sent to his London address asking for help in solving difficult crimes.

But for all his popularity, he never seems a wholly good character. He is flawed and ambiguous, even though he is supposed to have taken up bee-keeping in later life. There seems to be something that is not quite right about him and something that is more than a little wicked. There is certainly arrogance and a chilling intellect that is dangerous, magnetic and repulsive at the same time. We float around him in our admiration like moths around a blue flame that should be cold as ice.

Apparently, he is the most portrayed character in film and in his latest TV incarnation, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, we seem to have a Sherlock for the 21st Century.

As for me, fascinated as I am by Sherlock, he is certainly not someone I wish I could meet. His relationships with women are distinctly odd and I suspect he would be cruel. If I did encounter him, I am sure I would loathe him intensely in the flesh but there on page or screen, oh my! I can’t wait till he turns up again.