On re-reading

I’m re-reading my all-time-favourite novel again at the moment: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO by Alexandre Dumas. I’m not entirely sure why I love it so much, just that I do. And each time I read it, I find more and more to love.

Take, for example, this segment:

“The two friends sat down to dinner; but as they were eating, Albert could not refrain from pointing out the marked difference between the respective merits of Signor Pastrini’s cook and the one employed by the Count of Monte Cristo; and indeed, honesty obliged Franz to confess, despite the reservations he still seemed to have on the subject of the count, that the comparison was not to the advantage of Signor Pastrini’s chef.” (p. 401)

and this, four pages later:

“The two friends did not presume to repay the count for the luncheon he had given them: it would have been poor jest to offer him, in exchange for his excellent table, the very mediocre fare that made up Signor Pastrini’s table d’hote. They said as much openly and he accepted their excuses with evident appreciation of their thoughtfulness.” (p. 405)

What gorgeous writing! Wouldn’t you agree? That first sentence, in particular, is 73 words long!!!

And have a fantastic, literary week yourself, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

What would you do?

I was given a progressive story to finish recently. This is what I had to work with:

  • 2 love-struck teachers, John and Angela. They’d been kissing for the first time, in the school break-room, when
  • an explosion had occurred and they’d been knocked to the ground. Angela had been impaled, and John was also much the worse for wear.
  • Enter cleaner, George. He tells them he’s called the ambulance and encourages the two teachers to talk to each other. They declare their undying love (yeh, I added the adjective here because hey! irony!)
  • explosion number 2.

Oh – and finish the story in just 300 words.

So now what? What would YOU do?

If you’re interested in my take on the story, read on below. If not, that’s fine! Have yourself a fantastic week, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

*****

Now it was George’s turn to be thrown to the ground. He landed heavily on his vacuum cleaner. John, who’d finally managed to stagger upright, was blasted down again. This time, his temple hit the corner of the lunch table. He’d never rise again.

Angela, disoriented, bleeding profusely from multitudes of cuts, tried to rise but couldn’t. Her legs wouldn’t support her. She could feel her body growing weaker. In her pain, she didn’t notice a man stride into the destroyed room, gas mask covering his head and a thick black coat disguising the rest of his muscular body. He kicked John’s body out of his way.

George, regaining consciousness, groaned loudly. Leaning over, the man hauled him to his feet. “Leave.” George, spluttering, quickly decided this was not a man to trifle with. Eyes wide, he took the stranger’s advice and fled.

Not even bothering to watch, the stranger had calmly sauntered over to Angela’s broken body. He removed his mask, his face flushed with hatred. “I told you,” he spat.

“Henry?” Angela’s whisper held pain and confusion. “What…? Why?”

“When you broke my heart two years ago, you promised me ‘never again’,” he roared, over the wail of approaching sirens.

He grabbed the piece of window frame embedded in her abdomen and twisted it slowly, painfully. “You lied.”

“But…”

“No,” he snarled. “You’d promised. It was easy enough to get the gas contract for this stupid old school. A piece of cake, letting it leak into this break room over the past several weeks. Just waiting for today. For you. And him!” His eyes glittered crazily; her eyes, tear-filled, lost their sheen of life.

The sirens stopped, replaced by screeching tyres on the gravel outside.

Henry, smiling grimly, surveyed his handiwork, then slipped silently out the back door.

Moving right along…

So now the musical’s over, I’ve been head down and getting stuck into the work I’d been (of necessity, mind you!) neglecting. Housework, gardening – oh, and my students’ assignment drafts too, don’t forget! I’ve also had enough head-space to actually ponder the commencement of writing again, would you believe? And I also found 15 minutes in there somewhere, last week, to FlowState… although what came out was embarrassingly pitiful and barely worth keeping, but writing is writing and a skill practiced is a skill improving, I always say. (Well, okay. I made that saying up just now. But it sounds significantly better with the word ‘always’ in it, don’t you think?)

What’s FlowState? You ask. Well, it’s a horrific tool which forces you to write by threatening to remove all your words.

Originally, you could set the timer for 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes. I preferred that. But with an update a year or so ago, they removed that functionality, leaving users with only a 15 minute option.

And the idea behind it is that you WRITE for 15 minutes. No hesitating, just writing. Adding word after word to the screen. Or else!

If you hesitate for longer than 5 seconds (from memory; I *think* it’s five but I’m too scared to check it and see) the words fade on the screen and when they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

You’re forced, you see; to write, and write non-stop, until the timer finishes, and the work is saved.

And believe me, you do NOT want to stop at 14 minutes and 55 seconds! I did that before, and lost literally hundreds of words. Yes, I cried. And yes, I also stopped using the app, my own solitary protest, for several months. But returned though, because it’s perfect to get the writing mojo happening (rather than the thinking mojo!) and the threat of losing work is enough to keep the fingers tapping keys 🙂

Anyway, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

That, and dreaming about publishing. If only Book 7 of my Justine Browning series would write itself!

 

Have a great week, dear Reader 🙂

– KRidwyn

Review: WRITING WITHOUT RULES by Jeff Somers

As a Reider – a commenter on (literary agent extraordinaire) Janet Reid’s blog – I was fortunate enough to hear about this book, WRITING WITHOUT RULES by Jeff Somers.

Now, I’ve read numbers of titles on ‘how to write and sell your book’, ranging from Stephen King’s ON WRITING to Chuck Wendig’s THE KICK-ASS WRITER. These particular two have stood out to me as the two ends of a spectrum, and many, many, MANY other titles within that spectrum have inspired me and encouraged me in my whole ‘get-your-butt-in-your-chair-and-get-your-novel-finished’ aspirations.

Not since reading Catherine Deveny’s USE YOUR WORDS though, have I read a more down-to-earth ‘just write, and finish what you write’ philosophy espoused so clearly. And it’s exactly what I (in my current “I can’t do this” frame of mind) needed to hear. And the footnotes! Hilarious!

Jeff’s wit sparkles, and I laughed aloud throughout each of the 20 chapters. The first ten chapters – on writing – were more applicable to me than the second – on selling – however now I’m in the winding down chapters, drafting Book 6 of a 7 book series, I can see that the latter half of his book may indeed become more important to me in the (hopefully not too distant) future.

As Jeff Somers is a client of Janet Reid’s, and as I am an unashamed Reider familiar with her take on literary agenting, it was not only a pleasing confirmation to note that her own views are firmly held by her client, but that the ‘inside jokes’ he made, were ones I am also (partly) familiar with. I smiled, I laughed, I took copious notes, and the fact that emblazoned across the back cover demanded that I:

STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND WRITE!

YES, YOU: WRITE!

made me smile every time I picked it up. [Because even though the blurb insisted I write, the premise behind actually being able to read the hard-cover book I’d been given for my birthday (thanks, Mum!) was that I needed to stop what I was doing – even if my current activity were writing – if I was to read the book!]

But it was worth it. Worth missing out on the writing time. Because it’s a great book. And it you’re an unpublished writer – or even a published one, come to that – you’d find this a good read. And if you missed clicking on that link at the top, it’s here again now if you wanted to buy it directly from Jeff Somers’ blog.

And have a great week, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

 

 

in which I contemplate the joy that is Beerwah Writers’ Group

Back before I was working full time, I joined my local writers’ group. It was fantastic, the fortnightly face-to-face interaction with people who shared my passion for word-smithing.

But the constraints of my current day job meant that I haven’t been able to attend a meeting since January of 2017 – and even though some meetings fell on school holidays, at no point was there a meeting I could attend, due to family commitments, being away, or meeting cancellations.

That is, until the meeting just gone. Friday 13th. I walked in, surprising many people, and it was as if I’d never left. It was fantastic!

I love that idea – that I could be part of a supportive group of writers who, in spite of my 18 month absence, are just as continually supportive of me and my writing as ever before 🙂

I look forward to the next time a meeting aligns with a school holiday – because such a wonderful group of people are a joy to be with.

Here’s wishing a close support network for you too this week, dear Reader!
– KRidwyn

Sipping from the saucer #27

I work at a Christian school. The pastor of the church which established our school has a saying: “The LORD has blessed me so much, my cup is overflowing (taken from Psalm 23) and I’m sipping from the saucer.”

I like the visual, so I’m using it here, in this month-long blogging challenge focusing on the blessings God has poured out on me.

And now, blessing #27: the books Mum ordered for my birthday – which arrived in time for her to bring when she came to stay on Monday just gone 🙂

I’m partway through WRITING WITHOUT RULES by Jeff Somers – laughing my way through, more accurately. It’s a great read, and I’m learning about the writing craft at the same time, so a twofer and I like that 🙂

And what with the holidays officially starting this afternoon, and my (meant to be) being on minimal movement in an upright position… having a second brand new book to look forward to is a wonderful thing!

Here’s wishing you a blessed day too, dear Reader!

— KRidwyn

#AtoZchallenge Day 18 – my most fun ‘R’ tongue-twister

Well, this one took me a while to create – and much hilarity was had by all those who could hear me puzzle it out! I wonder what *you* think of my attempt…

Rough Wal Wulf and gruff Rolf Wuff roof

… and yes, I was thinking that it’d be good to have a brilliant final word or phrase, but the best I could come up with is ‘wine refineries’ – which added a vowel sound that I didn’t have anywhere else 🙁

Do you have any suggestions, perhaps?

And have a great day, dear Reader 🙂

— KRidwyn

[The #AtoZchallenge is a daily blogging challenge which has been running for quite a few years now, with hundreds of participants worldwide. Blogging happens each day in April except Sundays, and on each letter of the alphabet, starting at A and finishing with Z.]

A boat has arrived

So it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to enjoy my morning routine – up soon after 4; get to the gym; leave by 5.15 to get to my favourite writing place by 5.45 then home soon after six.

So it was beautiful this morning to reclaim my routine, and – although the first gym workout in a while left me aching more than I’d like – I arrived at my writing place happy with myself and the world, eager to write for the first time in what felt like literally months.

Only to discover: I wasn’t alone. My view of the creek was not what it had been. A yacht had arrived and had moored itself smack bang into the middle of my writing view.

(Yeah, okay. In this photo it looks tiny. But in real life it looked much bigger. For real. And I was Not Happy.)

What an intrusion! A defiant attestation of the proximity of human habitation – when I wanted to see God’s creation and it only!

True, I see the hypocrisy in my annoyance and frustration. How dare I complain when I’ve been busily driving myself here, and happily inserting my own human-ness with all its noise and pollution and disturbance for months now… suddenly to be upset at the presence of another?! Shame on me!

But it still saddened me. Selfish, I know. Silly too. To be upset by the inevitable.

Dumb, even, to be surprised by it. To have not realised that it would happen one day… and seeing the rate of sub-division development close by recently, it was bound to happen sooner rather than later.

But saddened anyway. I wonder if that’s how God felt when Adam made an axe and chopped down a tree for the first time ever? I wonder if he sighed and thought, ‘Well, there goes the neighbourhood.’

Or if He saw it as an opportunity for something else. Something different. I don’t know what, yet… but I guess I should remain open to the opportunity for finding out.

Change doesn’t have to be bad, I guess.

So with that thought in mind, we should probably head into this week. Here’s wishing you a great one, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

Sucking out the marrow

I’ve only got one life, and I intend to live it! I want, like Henry David Thoreau famously said, to “suck out all the marrow of life” – to get every last drop out that I can. Selfish? Perhaps. But that’s how I feel.

So I started a brand-new job this year, working full time for the first time since 2007, and still being a wife, a mum to three, a housekeeper, ‘chief cook and bottle-washer’ – and don’t forget the endless piles of laundry that just never seem to wash themselves…

It’s been tough.

Four months before starting the new job, Hubby convinced me to take out an 18-month gym membership, and so I didn’t want to neglect that either – waste of money, an’ all that.

Plus, as a Christian, I believe it’s important to have a ‘quiet time’ at the beginning of each day, where I can still my thoughts, read God’s Word, and spend some time talking to (with?) him.

But it’s been hard trying to fit everything in!

At the beginning, I tried keeping my ‘normal’ schedule – which included staying up in the evening to welcome Hubby home after his night meetings. But combining that with early morning gym sessions meant that I *really* wasn’t getting enough sleep, so I had to can that idea, and head to bed as early as I could each night.

Now, my routine has settled down fairly well, and it’s one that I’m pretty happy with.

I regularly wake up at 4:08 AM, and I’m in the car heading to the gym before 4:15 AM. I pray as I drive to and from; and read my Bible in between sets or while I’m on the treadmill. I leave the gym at 5:15, and drive to my morning ‘happy place’ where I sit, breathe, watch the view, and write. By the time I get home at 6AM, I have been able to ‘tick off’ exercise, some writing, and my quiet time.

And that morning routine leaves the rest of my day to spend with the people in my family, or at my job, where I can give of myself non-stop, knowing the ‘bases are covered’ so to speak.

It’s pretty exhausting.

But I love how, at the beginning of each day, I can spend time with my God, spend time with myself, and feel relaxed and replenished and happy.

Right now, for example, I’m writing in my ‘happy place’. A hundred metres ahead of me, a kingfisher just dived into the creek, chasing his breakfast. The ripples fan out over the reflection of the clouds from the sky above.

A mullet leaps elsewhere in the creek. He gets incredible height on the jump – close to a metre above the water, by my reckoning.

It’s going to be another warm day.

This is the way I choose to live my life. Yes, it’s busy – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every minute is precious; and I don’t want to waste even one of them.

How about you, dear Reader? Do you have a routine you love?

And here’s praying that you have a brilliant week this week!

– KRidwyn