Saturday, 20 July 2013

New Writing- Writing exercise.

I've felt eerily aware that I haven't written recently. It has irritated me and for a while I questioned whether the writing thing was a one trick pony. So I did a writing exercise to help me start to get back on track. This isn't part of anything bigger, just a quick doodle...

Sometimes the shuddering echo of the door slamming, as I flee from the house one balmy summer night, is all I have. A solitary cry out in the dark. The scratching of long grass against my calves and the wheeze of a non-existent breeze are as familiar to me as my own skin. When my hurried walk turned into a flat out sprint, I scarcely noticed. Failed to appreciate the way my subconscious had made a decision that the rest of me had denied for so long. I just ran. I just did...


Sometimes I like to brush anything uncomfortable off; avoid truths I don't want to hear or can't understand.  Emotional catharsis has never been my thing. I don't want to cry for all I've lost. I don't want to face it was ever mine to lose. Better to repress all those messy emotions and deal with what has to be done, right? Better to keep the choice in your hands, right?




I can't ignore this...


Living here now is different. Surreal, I suppose. I changed my name on the day I arrived into the smoky city. The pavements were slick with sweat and the Tarmac of the road seemed to bubble like the concrete was lava. God it was hot that day. When I stopped to ask a potential local for directions, I realised quickly how far from home I really was. Used to ever friendly neighbours and an abundance of time, I was mortified to be ignored and brushed past rudely. Lesson number one- don't expect people to care anymore. That was then; this is now.


So I  made myself new; forged a new me out of tears and bone. Shakespeare asked the question 'what's in a name?' I could tell him the answer straight. Everything is in a name. That's why we cling to them. The frail and unrelenting reminder that someone has claimed us.


Slipping out of my old self was hard. For a while whenever I heard someone else mention it, I would automatically turn around to answer. When people asked for my name, a small portion of my mind wanted to divulge the real name, to tell them my story. But she's a liar, the old me. Don't go listening to her...


Holly. That's my name now. Plain. Safe. Dull. I'm the girl that blends in. My long blonde hair scooped back into a low ponytail, my tall frame swamped in baggy clothes, my eyes hidden behind darkened glasses. You'd look through me sooner than notice me. And that's what I want. That's what I need.


One day they will come for me. They will know what I did and they will come to collect me.


But they will never know why. And I will never tell them. Only you...

Monday, 8 July 2013

Learning to write songs

There are some lyrics from songs which stay with you forever. Sometimes I think I'm haunted by lyrics. They follow me around all day until I finally give in and sing along. My favourite lyricists are the ones who make me feel the words. They're the ones you can imagine furiously scribbling away in their notepads as they go through the day. The ones woken in the middle of the night desperate to jot down lines they dreamt. One of my earliest memories of lyrics comes from being 10 years old, sitting in my bedroom with the cd cover to the spice girl's first album desperately learning the words to each and every song. Thankfully as I've gotten older , my music taste has improved.

Now when I listen to my favourite songs, to the Verve, the Smiths, Oasis, Stereophonics, Feeder, Florence and the machine, I tie all the beauty in their lines to moments in my life. So when I decided I wanted to write songs as part of my novel 'Echoes of Glory' I naturally assumed it would come fairly naturally to me. How wrong was I? Oliver needed to be a musical character. I knew this the moment the idea of him was thrown around in a conversation with a friend. Though I was only through writing Siren Call, I really felt the connection to him as a character. I'd managed a couple of lines for the chapter. So no big deal! 

But it is so much harder than that! It's a fine balance-lyricism. Not wanting to write something cliche, or something too odd. Wanting to convey emotion, without sentimentality. Then there's trying to sound simplistic/effortless, yet at the same time, sounding intelligent. 

I'm going to show you guys some lyrics. They are nothing like the qualities I listed above, but I'm still working on it.

So this was my first attempt at a more sinister song from Oliver. It would accompany part two of siren call i suppose. It needs work, but throwing it out there so you guys know I'm not slacking too much with writing. This is as yet untitled.

Creeping under your skin now,
My fingertips linger.
Your body's flushed and numb,
I'm your siren, your singer.

But if the night gets cold,
And my lies get old,
You'll sit in the dark heat
And feel it take over.

You say you want to be saved,
But you've built your own grave.
And as the waves roll in closer,
You lay there in silence.

There is more but still uncertain...

Need advice and feedback please! 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Musical Inspiration

So those of you who follow my blog will know that my writing and my music are intrinsically linked. I've been finding it really hard going to write the sequel recently, choosing to concentrate on editing 'Lost Glory' rather than new writing. But I heard this in the car when I was driving home from work earlier. It was one of those strange moments when I felt like I was totally wrapped up in the song and music. It also really made me think of 'A Siren Call' and how Faye feels after everything that happens to her up until that point. I think that line 'All my tears have been used up on another love' just really sums it up. So i've posted the video and lyrics. Hoping to listen to the whole album and do some more writing this weekend.

Stace x

"Another Love"

I wanna take you somewhere so you know I care
But it's so cold and I don't know where
I brought you daffodils in a pretty string
But they won't flower like they did last spring

And I wanna kiss you, make you feel alright
I'm just so tired to share my nights
I wanna cry and I wanna love
But all my tears have been used up

On another love, another love
All my tears have been used up
On another love, another love
All my tears have been used up
On another love, another love
All my tears have been used up

And if somebody hurts you, I wanna fight
But my hands been broken, one too many times
So I'll use my voice, I'll be so f*cking rude
Words they always win, but I know I'll lose

And I'd sing a song, that'd be just ours
But I sang 'em all to another heart
And I wanna cry I wanna learn to love
But all my tears have been used up

On another love, another love
All my tears have been used up
On another love, another love
All my tears have been used up
On another love, another love
All my tears have been used up

I wanna sing a song, that'd be just ours
But I sang 'em all to another heart
And I wanna cry, I wanna fall in love
But all my tears have been used up

On another love, another love
All my tears have been used up
On another love, another love
All my tears have been used up
On another love, another love
All my tears have been used up

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A Siren Call: Part Two. Don't read if you haven't read part one.

My lack of posting has been abysmal of late, and i'm sorry. Writing 'Echoes of Glory' is taking more effort than it should. At 12,000 words on it, but I imagine the bulk will be written in the summer. So, to tide you ver, i've given you part two of the 'Siren Call' chapter. This is only in first draft stage, but it definitely feels like it has potential to me... As always, all feedback welcome and appreciated.

                                                                A Siren Call: Part Two.

  It was inevitable that based on the somewhat haphazard arrangement of the front of house that backstage was going to epitomise why the place was actually named ‘The Wreck’. Faye was not disappointed to learn that she was completely right. The long hallway seemed to shrink in on her; its dark blue walls were waves crashing into each other. The more she stared into them, the more she swore she could hear the heavy roll and crunch of water smashing onto rock. The floor was a tangle of crossed wires and debris, laced onto the concrete. Large dog-eared and faded posters of bands that had once played adorned the wall. A few were signed by the band, although Faye barely recognised the name of any stuck up there.
            It was only by fixating herself on those minor and insignificant details that Faye could actually avoid where she was, and who she was actually with. The lure and call had been irresistible and once again, she waited to see what the price would be. The low glare of the lights ahead made her head feel fuzzy. It felt like she was underwater, still breathing but not totally conscious. The melody he hummed seemed to be taking her deeper into a trance, leading her away from the light. A small insignificant voice wailed at the back of her mind, telling her that this was an awful idea. Faye couldn’t even claim it was like last time when she had first met Mephistopheles and her behaviour had been totally out of character. Being fooled twice was a sign that she should know better. A trip to hell and back should have taught her how to pronounce the word ‘no’.
            But it wasn’t that simple. As if things ever really were… Like a Pandora’s box, once opened, could it ever actually be closed? Not once the secrets were out. Rejecting the reason in her mind, she pushed it to the back until its urgent shriek was lost in the echo of him.
            ‘Are you alright?’ His humming had stopped and the sound of his ruffled voice snapped the box in her mind shut, but she knew that tiny tempests had already escaped.
            ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ A fake nonchalant shrug accompanied the words, and satisfied, he turned back around. Whoever he was, it was easier to deal with him when she couldn’t see his face. Though even now, she was aware that she was watching every detail.  Faye’s eyes were fixated on the tiniest details. The refraction of light onto his hair, the cool sparking of his hand against hers, the half whispered promises exhaled into the air. Ten minutes ago, he didn’t exist to her. Now she couldn’t move away from him. Attracted like magnets.
            He continued to lead her until they reached a large crimson door. Allowing his hand to break the contact, he pulled the door firmly until a blast of cold air forced its way in. Gulping down the cold air greedily, she felt some semblance of logic and reason return. But she rejected them when his hand once again grasped hers. Feeling his body pulling her, she stepped out into the void.
            Except it was like stepping into another world. Leaping into the abyss.
            Gone were the drab walls of ‘The Wreck’ where each punctured note rang of failed dreams. A brilliant shimmer of a sunset greeted her eyes, so clear that it exposed the nakedness of the air. Hues of violet, burned oranges and muted yellows seemed to blend and mask each other, the colours’ edges streaming rainbow blood. Below the melting sky laid a calm sea, its water iridescent under the sinking sun. The waves gently passed on their secrets, rising and falling until each one was lost to the tranquil water. It was the most sublime thing she had ever seen.
            ‘Breathtaking, isn’t it?’ He was there beside her. Of course he would still be there. Her throat parched and coarse, she chose to nod in encouragement rather than try to respond. It struck her then that she had followed this man through a doorway to another world, and she didn’t even know his name.
            Turning to face him now, she cleared her throat to ask who he was when she was greeted by eyes bluer than a clear sky. Her prepared words came out in a jumble so that ‘I forgot to ask you about your name’ came out sounding like a garbled mess instead.
            ‘Oliver,’ the words came out as a gentle song, or that’s how they seemed to sound. Each note complimenting the wombing and breaking of the waves below. At least he seemed to understand what she meant, even though she was mentally kicking herself.
            ‘Oliver,’ she repeated. ‘Olly.’ His lips hardened into a thin line, erasing their pink lustre. ‘Oliver…’ she reverted back to his first name and he smiled again. It was hard not to mirror it with her own. ‘I’m Faye.’ This time he nodded at her, his face warm and inviting. It was wrong to compare Oliver and Lee, but she couldn’t help herself. The problem was it was like comparing ice with fire. Both beautiful. Both mesmerising. Both lethal.
            She waited for him to speak next. To initiate the conversation. To break the tension scissoring through the air between them. But he let it hover there. It crept along her skin like a cool breeze, crinkling her composure, tugging her in.
            ‘So…’ Faye began, desperate to mask the silence with something. She hadn’t remembered it feeling this difficult to speak to Lee. Words fell like stardust with him; now they clung to the inside of her throat, afraid to make their way out. ‘Why are we here?’
            ‘Because it’s where you want to be.’ His voice resonated in the air, as if he understood the current swimming under his words. Six months after the worst and best days of her life, there was nowhere to run anymore. Lucifer was going to come for her soon, and when he did, not a place on earth would be safe for her.
            ‘Don’t look so worried, Faye. I’m not going to hurt you.’ The flutter of a wave muffled the thudding of her heart against her rib cage. He wasn’t going to hurt her. She’d heard that before.
            ‘That’s not the first time I’ve heard those words,’ she countered quickly, a wry smile playing on her lips.
            ‘But it is the first time you’ve heard them from me,’ she nodded, ‘and I’ve given you no reason not to trust me…’
            ‘She loathed that he had an answer for everything, but it had been a while since anyone had shown any interest in her. And as for Lee… Well he had made his choice now. She was sure he would cope with the consequences.
            ‘Okay, I’ll play.’ Settling down on the grass, Faye couldn’t really remember much about his music, only the chemical pull she had felt on her body. She still felt the pull now, and her body was reacting to him, inching ever closer.
            ‘They were great! Reminded me of someone but I can’t remember who…’ The hazy nature of those details was odd. Faye had a crystal memory, especially when it came to music. Before her life had been transformed six months ago, her headphones were a surgical extension of her body most of the time. ‘Have you played at ‘The Wreck’ before?’
            ‘No, we haven’t. We were there as a favour to an old friend. We haven’t been around here for a long time.’ Not really a surprise. Coventry really wasn’t a city that people would choose to revisit, unless there was some contractual obligation to be there. Before Faye could move on to the next question, he was humming that song again. It didn’t feel like before, when his voice literally paralysed her and tied her down. This time, she leaned back on her elbows and allowed the melody to glide over her skin like the crest of a wave.
            Descending deeper into the ocean now, the sun was an enflamed jagged orb. When his lips began to murmur the lyrics of the song, Faye felt her skin prickling, as if invisible strings all over her body were being manipulated and pulled in which ever direction he wanted her to be. And what was worse, the grin on his face made it clear that he knew it too. His fingers traced shapes on her open palm and when the end of the song came, she felt completely pliant. If he would have asked her to throw herself off the cliff, she knew she probably would.
            ‘Have you always sang?’
            ‘Always. You could say that I was born to sing.’ His eyes, framed by perfectly long eyelashes, glanced down at the floor. ‘If I’m not holding my guitar, I feel naked.’ A mischievous smile ghosted his lips. Faye felt her cheeks flush scarlet. ‘And you, can you sing?’
            ‘I’m not bad, I suppose. Kind of average… It definitely isn’t my calling though.’ Singing was reserved for the company of Lauren and herself. Any public display of confidence was off the cards.
            ‘So what do you want to do?’
            ‘I honestly don’t know… School is alright, but I’ve seen too much and done too much now to worry about exams. My A levels aren’t really that important to me.’ The brutal cold of the inner circle and the feel of manacles holding her down were never far away from her mind. Especially when she was alone. ‘I don’t want to be stuck in a job. Working all day, everyday just to scrabble together enough money to pay bills doesn’t appeal to me.’ She thought of her Mum then and the late shift she was currently working on a checkout at the local supermarket. The bags under her eyes. The meagre wage she received. But at least she was sober now. A small mercy.
            ‘So you want to leave here then?’ Her head shook frantically in response to his question before she even realised. Her bright eyes widened in alarm at the thought of leaving now. The first escape she’d had from reality in months. She wasn’t ready for the strings to be cut quite yet. Oliver instantly rephrased, responding to her panic. ‘Leave this city, I meant.’
            ‘Definitely, I want to see the world.’ Of all the things she had witnessed and experienced, about her past, about where she might be headed, about the magic coursing through her blood. To stay here would be a prison. Bound. ‘ I can’t believe the world starts and ends at the motorway. Have you travelled far?’
He shuffled closer to her conspiratorially then, so they were shoulder to shoulder, his pumps knocking against her shoes, his hand tangled in hers clumsily. His eyes seemed frantic and wide with excitement. There was something very boyish about him.
            ‘Faye, I’ve been to see so many places, I can’t even believe to tell you what is out there. You see that horizon…’ His free hand pointed out towards the ocean, stretching out until it kissed the sky. ‘I’ve chased it. I’ve seen worlds you wouldn’t even know existed.’
            She wanted it all then. She needed to chase the sunset with him, before this was all over and she had to skulk back into the darkness. Turning her hand over in his, there was no doubt that she had waded in far too deeply now. She was hovering on the edge of oblivion and she either had to pull herself back from the brink, or jump straight in and brace herself for the fall.
            Dauntless, she took the jump.
            It might have been the song, it might have been the place, it might have been the friction between his skin and hers, but no matter the reason or the cost, she crushed her lips against his urgently. He didn’t push her away, but pulled her closer, his fingers interlocking with hers on the sandy grass edge. The miniscule voice that whimpered at the back of her head was abandoned now. This wasn’t wrong. He could be the one for her. This was not a mistake. Dismissed. He tasted of pacific sunsets, of the deep blue sea and of balmy air. It was hypnotic.
            When Faye broke away, her breath coming in ragged bursts, the air still felt charged, except the idyllic sunset before them was now a wound ripping through the sky, bleeding crimson and black. Storm clouds were approaching in the distance.
            ‘Sorry.’ Faye’s words were out before she could prevent them. Though they remained, however uncertain she was about who she was apologising to.
            ‘Don’t be,’ he murmured, kissing her lightly on the forehead, twirling a strand of her hair around his fingertips. ‘I was wondering how long you’d take.’
            Playfully, she stuck her tongue out. ‘It’s clearly your fault for being so irresistible.’ Rolling her eyes, she scrambled to her feet, worried as she watched the darkening clouds move closer towards them.
            He chuckled. ‘You have no idea. I’m not even trying.’ If he wasn’t even trying now, she dreaded to think how he could be. The lack of control she felt was concerning. If he asked her to sit back down next to him, she would obey without question. It was terrifying. A secret war in her head between desire and fear.
            Keeping her back turned, she concentrated on the glimmer of sun left in the distance. She wondered where she was supposed to go from here. If she pretended Oliver wasn’t nearby, maybe he would disappear and she would find herself back home. When his arms encircled her waist, and she could feel his breath against the curve of her neck, the world felt like it was shrinking it on itself. The vibrant timbre of the air shivered and shook into a sepia tone. The air was awash with beiges and reddish browns, the colour of autumn leaves. The waves rose higher, chopping against the face of the cliff they stood on.
            This time when he sang, it wasn’t a soft, sweet melody. It was darker than that. Delicious and haunting, numbing her senses, dulling the part of her brain that realised that this was a trap.
            Thunder slashed the air, but Faye could only hear its slight echo. To her it sounded tinny and insignificant. Lightening streaked, spiking the peak of the waves, but to her the light was muted and dull. A tumult of water crushed against the rock, making the ground tremble and fracture, but she didn’t feel even a slight shift. A cold, clinical blade hovered at her back, its malicious steel pointed at her skin. She didn’t feel the pinch. Anaesthetised. Drowning in him. A sinking ship.


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

How much of you is inside a story?

It is a tricky conundrum for a writer. Creating a character and a world often relies on familiarity, on drawing parallels between your own experience and the fantastical space you want to create. You trawl through every memory, every place you've visited, every experience you've had, desperately seeking to create some truth in the narrative you are writing. But how much of you ends up inside your story?

I suppose it works differently for each writer, and it depends on each individual personality. You could argue that it is impossible to write anything convincingly, if you've never experienced it. How can you accurately present love and loss if you've never understood what that means? But what if your world is so far removed from this one? How can human reference apply to a place and time so radically different from the one we inhabit? I don't think it matters. If you write, you write what you know. Even if your world is one where dragons exist and walk and talk, where people ride unicorns into the sunset, where people have three heads and eight legs, you will always place your human experience on them. Within every character, you will place the characteristics you love or despise onto them. At the back of your mind, you will remember a moment where someone, perhaps yourself, behaved similarly. When a character makes choices, you will inevitably relate it to a similar choice and its consequences, its motivations, its results. Likewise with setting; no matter how amazing the place you describe is, it will always be grounded in a place you've been, perhaps on holiday, perhaps as a child, perhaps one you created in your dreams. A writer and their work are inextricably linked, so that even when you're writing the opposite of who you are, remnants of you remain in them.

People have said to me about 'Lost Glory', well Faye is basically like you isn't she? My gut reaction is always to say 'no'. It is no secret that as a writer, I have really struggled with Faye as a character. Desperate to avoid creating a stereotypical caricature of a teen fiction character, I've found myself really thinking about the way Faye acts and the decisions she makes. I was adamant that I didn't want to create another Bella Swan, yet at the same time, I didn't want to create a Katniss Everdeen or a Clary or a Helen Hamilton either. I wanted Faye to be a normal girl. Not beautiful, or perfect, or strong, or noble, or powerful. I just wanted her to be relatable and easy for a teenage girl to read about. I wanted her to go on some type of journey, where she realises that she has strength inside of her, but she has to learn from her mistakes and bad choices, as we all do in life.  I'm yet to work out whether I have done this successfully.

Faye and I do have similarities. We both come from single parent families, with our respective fathers disappearing at a similar age. We both have had to grow up quickly. We both lack confidence in ourselves, and we both desperately want affection. But then I think the similarities end. My own relationship with my mother is far less conflicted than that of Faye with hers, and my Mum always took care of me, unless Faye's mother who exists in an alcohol drenched oblivion. Thinking back to my own experience of school. I remember existing in a headphoned world where it was just me and my music (similar to Faye). I did have friends, and I would say I was fairly popular, but I think that came more from the perception that I was clever. People gravitated towards me because I always knew the answer, and I always painted on a smile for people, no matter how difficult that felt.  Faye on the other hand, lacks any social circle. Lauren helps her muddle her way through school and through life, but essentially Faye shuts everyone out. With Faye, I think she is convinced that everyone must have an ulterior motive, If not, they have no business talking to her. I don't think this is dissimilar from many teenage girls' experiences. Being a teenage girl is hard. You are at your most paranoid and self conscious in many senses. Your body is changing and you don't always understand it. You're making that transition between being a girl and a woman, and no one tells you whether you are doing it 'right'. Boy that you used to tease and hate suddenly become objects of desire, and you watch all of your friends becoming more grown up before you, whilst you in some sense feel left behind. Even if you're actually not. Through the character of Faye, I wanted to encapsulate this feeling of isolation and alienation that school can make teenagers feel.

At the start of 'Lost Glory', I deliberately wanted Faye to be weak. I wanted her to be a social outcast, to have no confidence in herself and for her to be distinctly average in all areas. In some ways, Faye is ridiculously weak at the start of the novel. This frustrated me initially, as I cannot stand the idea of female characters being weak. However, now I don't mind this so much, as it makes her rash decision to sell her soul to the first attractive person who looks at her way more believable. Had Faye been really intelligent, or really pretty, or really comfortable in her own skin, she would have said no. Her weakness and vulnerability also serves to emphasise the change in her personality over the course of her novel, and the way that Lee brings out the best in her. He makes her funny and witty and sarcastic. but also opens her up to love. Rather than walking around in the body armour she appears to for the opening of the novel, he breaks down her barriers, softens her and makes her talk to him. By the end of 'Lost Glory', Faye is not the same person she was. I cannot say too much about how she changes, but she is undoubtedly a better person because of her experience. In fact, the Faye that exists at the end of the novel is far closer to who I am as a person than she is at the start.

The relationship with Lee was a challenge. It was a given that they would fall in love. I'm a total romantic deep down, and I enjoyed creating Lee so much that I wanted him to be with someone he deserved. At the start of the novel (the extract is on the blog), he comes across as being evil through and through. A dangerous move perhaps, as people rarely fall into one category or the other. Lee needed to be more layered and more complex than that. His first role in the novel is to be seductive, to lead Faye into the contract that secures her soul. He works for Lucifer, so I also wanted to bring out his sense of loyalty and brotherly affection. These two characteristics, although noble, are in fact two of Lee's weaknesses. He carries on down the course he is on because of this misplaced loyalty to Lucifer. But Lee is also completely taken by surprise that someone like Faye can hold his interest. She is awkward, irritating and hard to please, but she has a good heart deep down and makes him believe that he is also something worth saving. He doesn't have to be the 'monster' he says he is. The way that she forces him to question himself and his decisions is what holds them together, and the way that he shows her that morality is shades of grey rather than black and white makes her doubt her own perception of how people could/should behave. Essentially. they do for each other what I believe a good relationship should do. They bring out the best in each other. They feel like a couple you genuinely root for, and you curse them at their lowest moments, and rejoice when they get it right. Managing to make the reader care for their relationship was one of the easiest but also hardest things to get right in 'Lost Glory'.

Now I am moving on to write my sequel 'Echoes of Glory', I find myself reevaluating the characters. Thinking about the distance they travelled in the first novel and what that means for them now. Those of you that have read the extract of 'Siren Call' will know that the introduction of a new male character is on the cards. Oliver is... interesting. Having become so in tune with Lee as a character, having to place myself in the shoes of someone new is difficult. With Lee, I feel like I completely understand the motivations behind the decisions he makes, and actually his journey in 'Lost Glory' feels natural. Oliver on the other hand, has rather questionable motives. He is trouble with a capital 'T' and I'm looking forward to developing him more in later chapters. Adding a new dynamic to the story is necessary, but don't worry. This is not going to be some 'Twilight-esque' love triangle. Oliver isn't interested in love ;-)

I hope my ramblings made some sense! Keep reading and sharing!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Starting Sequels

Originally 'Lost Glory' was a stand alone book. It was all going to be wrapped up in one self contained plot and I would be able to walk away from it all, knowing that I'd accomplished what I had wanted and finished a book. 

But then I got attached...

The trap of being an avid reader as well as a writer is that I fell so much in love with my main characters and the world I was sewing together that I realised about three quarters of the way through that the story couldn't all be solved on one book. There were too many loose threads to create a meaningful denouement at the end.  I've always been rather cynical of trilogies with some writers. I get the distinct impression that some sequels are written entirely out of selfish monetary based motivations, rather than engagement with the characters. Clearly this isn't the case with 'Lost Glory'. It currently had nearly 900 blog views (impressive) but I haven't made a single penny. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that writer is consuming much of my life. Dodgy sleep patterns, lack of appetite for food, and insane mood changes to list a few of the delights of the reality of writing. So here goes: 

I need to write 'Glory Regained' (working title) for the following reasons:
1. For my own sanity
2. Because of the way 'Lost Glory
' ends
3. To continue developing and enhancing the layers of what I've created 
4. So you guys can read it and love it the way I do.
5. So I have an excuse to discover lots of new music to put on my writing playlist.

So where do you start writing a sequel?
So far, it hasn't been at the beginning. I've started with a scene, a new character (if you've read 'Siren Call' you've met him...) and some loose ideas about how I want to use them. The idea came about in a discussion with a friend. I was instantly attracted to the influence of Greek mythology, a hark back to days at Uni studying 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey' and the focus on music (my second love after writing). After piecing together the background to my new male character and reacquainting myself with Faye and where she finds herself post 'Lost Glory', it was surprising how easy my brain found it to start writing again. Like an outpouring, the moment I start, I find it incredibly difficult to stop! 

 So 'Glory Regained', I know the overall story arc for my main characters and how they will continue to evolve and change on their journey through the novel. I know how I want the book to feel. That's the easy part!

Writing wise, I want my words to feel more confident this time. My description needs to be sharper, my dialogue more crisp and my vocabulary needs more originality. If I can nail these things and move this story on so it is more than a standard YA Paranormal a romance, I think 'Glory Regained' stands a chance of being the sequel it needs to be.

Will keep you updated with more news about agents and writing as and when I can.

Stace x

'The Eden Initiative.'

A friend's writing page. Sounds really interesting. I, for one, can't wait to read.

Check it out :)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Siren Call

An early first draft of something I've been playing around with this evening. I know that I have set it after the events of 'Lost Glory', but not decided whether it is going to be part of the sequel. Depends how well received it is, I suppose. Please bear in mind it is a very early draft, so miles to go with it yet. Anyway, let me know what you think...

Siren Call.
The subtle glow from a candle on each circular table threw its bright shade over the darkness. Where the light flickered, small snatches of gold and sequins pinched at the air, before retreating into the shadows. An odd sense of anticipation seemed to hum in the air; strange for such a small venue, Faye thought.

Taking a sip of her tonic water, she reclined back in her seat, her eyes darting from face to face. Each one locked into an animated conversation. A cacophony of buzzing chatter, a seamless harmony of excitement and plans. Switchblade smiles were painted onto their edged faces.

At the front of the collection of tables stood a small platform, raised less than two feet off the sticky ground. A solitary stool was placed in the middle of a deflated black stage. Bedraggled maroon curtains hung limply at each side of the stage, remnants of the old theatre the space had once been. Faye had never been  to ‘The Wreck’ before, though she had heard rave reviews, particularly of its monthly ‘Open Mic’ night. It had seemed like the perfect place to meet. Neutral. Non-threatening. Public.

And he was supposed to be here half an hour ago.

The fact that he was late didn’t surprise her. It was his default setting. To make her wait around for him. He made her impatient. Briefly, she glanced at her phone.


When the remaining lights around the stage dipped and a single cylindrical shimmer descended on the tiled noir floor, she had given up hope that he was going to show. A few months ago, this might have provoked an emotional response. A tightening of the gut. Tears. Despair. There was not a remote possibility of that now. It was over. She was over. He was dead to her…

Absent-mindedly, she twirled a chocolate brown strand of brown hair into a spiral around her finger. When the blonde peroxide had been stripped from her hair, it had felt like a cleansing. An exorcism of a part of her that clung on inside begging to be heard. It nagged at her still, haunted her even, but she was hardly going to allow it to plague her night. Just to satisfy a ghost of what had once been.

The thump of a drum and the upbeat jangle of an acoustic guitar lifted the air and provided a window of light in the darkness. Until that point, she hadn't even realised that the band had started to play. It made sense to stay, to hear them out, to escape the familiar barbs of home. It would be the same as every night now was. Her mother’s anxiety, her friends’ interrogation, the haunting voice of regret taunting her late into the cold night…

This was going to require something stronger than tonic water.

Turning her back on the appreciative crowd, she made her way to the empty bar, fumbling in her purse for what remained of her 24 hours. A flimsy, fake ID, matching her own flimsy, fake sense of self. Tapping her foot along to the infectious rhythm, she flashed the ID at the non-plussed bar man and downed the amber liquid in one mouthful. Placing the glass back on the bar’s edge, she ordered another one.

When the sound of polite applause resounded against the slick grey of the walls, signalling the end of the first act, Faye was five shots down and counting. Her blood felt ignited now, the liquor blazing through her veins. Instinctively she knew it, she wanted to dance. A hazy sweep of the room told her that there was little chance of her wish being granted here.

Faye reached the door and inhaled a sharp intake of iced air. The shiver that trembled down her spine took her completely by surprise, mostly because it wasn't prompted by the air. It was the melancholic chords of a guitar brushing and soothing the hushed atmosphere.

That voice.

To call it velvet wouldn't do it justice. Velvet was smooth, unruffled, blameless. This sound was more like…she groped for the word…taffeta. Ruched, uneven, ridged. The words were emotions. The emotions were words. Inseparable.

When her feet moved back to their old seat, they almost seemed to be levitating above the ground. There was no reason. No choice. Like her body was on an intangible cord. Like that golden thread was being extracted all over again.

Sitting obediently in her chair, the wick of each candle was so low now it seemed only an ember remained. Just a spark, but enough to direct her submissive eyes to the stage. To illuminate the reason her skin was crawling with desire. He sat there, posture relaxed, his guitar cradled to him almost as if it was a natural extension of himself. His tousled brown hair hung low over his eyes, and they were directed downwards, focused only on the flex and coil of each string when his fingers plucked them. Faye felt her cheeks blush, as if she were intruding on something personal. Feeling that unnatural pull exerting its hold over her, she felt herself leaning forward, her elbows on the table, her eyes glazing over. When he briefly tore his eyes away from the sharp smoothness of the guitar strings, and the drenched blue pool of his irises met hers, she knew she was supposed to look away. That her heart was a traitor. But the melody erased the guilt. His seductive smile erased whatever was left of her soul.

As the song progressed, the lyrics ebbed and flowed from his honeyed lips like waves upon the shore. Each word caressed lovingly by his tongue. Each word meant for her.

A siren call. A hidden warning.
A fool’s promise. A new day dawning.

            When the song came to a close, she watched the people around her clap nonchalantly, as if they were watching someone else. Detached. Disjointed. She wanted to shout, to scream, to shake them one by one until they felt an ounce of the flood of feelings she felt now. But they didn't see it, and a small tinny voice at the back of her mind didn’t see it either. An insignificant mumble that something wasn't right. That she should leave…

            Pulling herself to her feet, she made her way back to the bar, desperate for a glass of water and some fresh air to clear her busy mind. The frosty burn of her skin where someone’s hand lingered on her wrist forced her body to turn to a slender frame. Fitted jeans and checkered shirt. A taffeta voice.

            ‘Come with me.’ A command, not a question. Her muscles moved on cue to follow him into the dim light ahead. Tonight she was his puppet, and he was pulling all her strings…

Sunday, 5 May 2013

An angsty poem I wrote in my youth... Found once more...

Watching Stars

The grass blades are moist
Between my fingertips.
The air, a whisper of memories
Failed to be forgotten.
Holding me now my receptors freeze;
Synapses of trust reversed.
Avoiding your gaze, fearing my eyes would turn green
I focus on a diamond in the sky.
So clinically white, tough to comprehend
As a yearning fusion of gas, of fire.
These lips do not want to know you, so frail
With poison from last time,
So fragile
From well meant promises.

I burn to be your stardust,
To be rare, to be a wonder.
I know you will deny me that
Instead choosing younger, fresher blood.
My bitterness cannot be sweetened
By platitudes tonight,
Your lies not undone by a shooting
Star of a kiss.
Sending up a solar flare I wait,
Wait on the voice of a star.

I burn to be your stardust,
To be rare, a wonder.
I know you will deny me that
Instead choosing self exile.
A glance at you,
A glance at my star.
At this time,
In this place, 
I understand the gas, the fire,
The impending supernova
Far more than I understand you.

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Waiting Game

So I've sent my book off to agents and I've realised that I'm now in the literary version of purgatory. That indefinite period of time where you hear whether your manuscript is taking you to publishing heaven, or whether you're judged as not worth and sent to rejection hell.

I feel a little on edge now. Like every email alert, every phone call may bring good or bad news. It isn't a sustainable existence all things considered. In fact, I probably need to develop a tougher skin for the months ahead. There are going to be people who criticise it; there are going to be people who love it. And both are fine. To have only one or the other would make me an extremely poor writer, either out of arrogance or despair. It is a bit like that moment in the final Harry Potter book where we learn that the sword of Godric Gryffindor only takes that in which makes it stronger. Every criticism, every piece of praise must be allowed to be taken into to strengthen me and mould me. This is going to be a steep learning curve, but it may be just the life lesson I need...

Monday, 29 April 2013

The definition of crazy.

Just received this update on views on my blog in the past month. This is absolutely mental and I am beyond grateful. Every single person who has taken the time to read my little story has meant so much, in theory I am sending it off to agencies sometime this week.

Please continue to share my blog with others who might like it :) If everyone who reads it shares it with two people, it would be phenomenal!

Thanks again and love to you all x

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Why I love reading...

On a journey back to Coventry in which I, unfortunately, am not the driver, so thought I would wile away the time thinking about reading.

I've always been a reader. My Mum loves to tell an anecdote of me when I came out of my first day of school. Apparently I told her that I wanted to teach people to read and write one day. At the age of 25 on the brink of my 5th year as an English teacher, it strikes me as funny that I managed to do exactly what the 5 year old me wanted.

Reading really is my life, and I don't mean that in an over sentimentalised schmaltzy kind of way. I mean it truly is part of me. I'm always reading at least one books. At some times, I am reading more. I don't really believe in book monogamy. I mean there are some books you have to devote yourself to heart and soul. But some... Well some just feel more like flings than serious commitment.

I digress... The best part about reading is the sense of calm it brings. The moment when you are wrapped up in the blanket of a life you've never lived, a world you've never experienced with words you wish you had written. When I read a really good book, one that brings chills so vivid that no fire can warm me (to paraphrase Emily Dickinson) I feel totally at ease. It doesn't matter that my car might need fixing, or that there's some kind of family emergency or even that a pile of marking is sitting on my desk. No. When I'm reading, time stops and to quote another book, I become infinite.

So when somebody says to me that they don't like reading, it stabs me. Like actually wounds me, because I just feel so much pity for that person. To live only one life in one world. To miss out on all those experiences. To miss that spread of serenity that creeps over you as you assume the character of another.

My only wish is that one day, my book is an escape for somebody else too...

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Cafe scene. Meet Faye...(and more Lee of course!) The last snippetyou're getting for a long while...

It was only as Rosie left, that Faye became acutely aware that she was being watched. It was an odd feeling. Faye was used to being inconspicuous, save for the occasional jibe made at her in the corridor at school. She certainly had not been invisible earlier. Feeling the hairs on the back of her arms standing on end, she tentatively raised her eyes to meet another pair. They were russet,with an odd metallic glint as if glitter lingered in the irises. She quickly looked away, feeling as though she was far too exposed. The sound of a cup being placed on the table, and the smile in Rosie’s voice as Rosie told her that she hoped that she enjoyed it, signalled to her that it was safe to look up. Leaning forward, she inhaled the rich scent of cocoa and closed her eyes.For the first time that day, she felt calm and level headed.
‘Mind if I join you?’ a sleek rich voice questioned. Faye’s eyes snapped open at the sound of a stranger’s voice. Faye raised her eyes, peering up over the lenses of her glasses and was momentarily caught off guard. Those eyes, back again,were staring into hers awaiting a response. On any other day, these smoky quartz irises might have stunned her into silence, but not today. She was too far past the point of caring to notice their unique glamour.
‘Whatever,’she gestured to the seat with bitter sarcasm. Before he could take a seat, she forced herself to move her struck eyes from his striking face down over the rest of his body. He was well-dressed, so clearly someone with money. The cut of his black tight jeans seemed like they had been painted onto him, hugging his legs perfectly. His shirt was equally well-tailored .Under the glare of the cafĂ©’s fluorescent lights, it was hard to decipher the exact colour. In some places, where the light avoided, it seemed to be black, yet in the aspects where the bright light illuminated it, she was sure she could detect a roya lpurple glimmer. Nevertheless, it suited him, contrasting with his pale skin. He had opened the top two buttons, allowing the base of his throat to be exposed and for Faye to peek at the silver chain wrapped around it on which hung a small round pendant. Before she could look closer, he purposefully coughed and her eyes darted down to the table in embarrassment.
Nonchalantly,he slid into the opposite booth, placing his own cup of steaming black coffee on the dirty table. Great, she might actually have to make conversation now that she had completely humiliated herself. He must have thought she was a hormonal teenager, she fretted.
‘Sorry for disturbing your revelry,’ he began with equal amounts of sarcasm. ’but you seemed like you could do with someone to talk to.’ His voice softened at the end of his sentence and she saw genuine concern frame his burnished eyes.
‘Yeah,I guess…’ Faye automatically softened her brusque attitude in response to him.It was strange; never had she been talked out of a mood so quickly. ‘The world and I are not really friends today.’ Her shoulders shrugged, attempting to heave the burden of the day off her shoulders, and onto somebody else.
He laughed without humour ‘Tell me about it. It seems like I’m in a daily battle with it. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.’ He looked her dead in the eye as he spoke. It unnerved her.
‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down? The problem is they keep trying every single day.Do you ever feel like putting your sword down and surrendering to them all?’Faye visibly relaxed, and before she could rein herself in, she had slouched her body language and allowed the corners of her lips to curve into an ironic smile. He didn’t reply at first, sipping his coffee. Cautiously, Faye began to allow her eyes to survey his face properly. Apparently, this man had more to him than just a set of eyes. He seemed older than her- about 19, yet despite his youth there was something old about him. He had perfectly defined cheekbones, as any self respecting stranger would, and a smatter of stubble around his thin lips. A halo of tawny curls adorned his porcelain skin, hanging slightly longer than normal because of the rain, she surmised.
The silence lingered, and Faye began to feel an awkward sense of discomfort creeping through her.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Re-drafted Prologue

Based on the invaluable feedback of my target audience book group, I have made a couple of changes to the Prologue of the novel below. What do we think of the new version? Is it better?

Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed 
 In one self-place; for where we are is hell, 
  And where hell is, there must we ever be.
(Doctor Faustus. Christopher Marlowe.)

Hell isn’t what people say it is. I remember going to ‘Sunday School’ when I was younger and being told that it was heat, pain, fire and torture. They got it half right.

Hell isn’t under the ground either. In the films, you see zombie-like arms pushing through the ground as a screaming victim is dragged down to its murky depths. It isn’t like that either; more like stepping into the next room, albeit a room that you didn’t know existed. A flash of ultraviolet light. A portal in the air. A living portal. One which moves and swells, swallowing up the room around you, swallowing up you.

When the hour struck and he came to retrieve me, a ferocious cold snapped at me. I thought my bones would shatter into a million fragments, and then slip through my fingers like gold dust. Tentacles of ice slithered and snaked their way around my ankles, my wrists, my neck… Where each feeler grasped at my skin, obsidian crystals began to form. Tiny clusters of these grain-like crystals meandered their way over my limbs, tracking the veins as they ruthlessly made their way to my heart. I didn’t scream and wail, like I should have. The contract had been signed in my tears. I had made the deal. I was his.

An ashen blue flicker. I know; you would expect reds and oranges and yellows, flames which lick at the carbonated air, emanating blasts of heat and sending plumes of smoke into the atmosphere. The mixture of blues, purples and silver fog the air, creating a dull sheen between your eyes and what is in front of you. The mist is the only thing down there to remind you that you can breathe at all, even if the air itself is clammy and scented like maple syrup. Scented like death.

When he took my shaking hand and led me deeper into the cavernous tunnels ahead of us, I was not afraid.  I knew what I had signed up for and the surprising thing was, I wanted it.  My feet scraped over hard rocks and debris on the ground and where the mist was thickest around my feet, I felt a tickling sensation.
Surprisingly, hell is not dark. Like the brightest of all angels who created it, its incandescent light filled the tunnels as we ventured into them. A light so blinding, it made it impossible to see what was ahead, or what you had left behind. We suddenly came to an abrupt halt and he turned around. Taking both hands in mine, he brushed his thumb across my palm and I shivered.

When he looked into the depths of my eyes and told me it was time, I allowed it to happen. I wanted it. I needed it. I wasn’t dragged down to hell; I volunteered.