#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘Frosty’ #SaturdayThoughts #FlashFiction

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. 

This week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “-sty.” Find a word that ends in “-sty” or use the word “sty.” Enjoy!

Frosty

A few words have crossed my mind, such as:

Nasty, but I refuse to let any type of unpleasantness into my life.

Dusty, but I’m not in the mood to think about housework or dirt.

Crusty, I was tempted, but it’s way past my bedtime and I’m not hungry.

Hasty, I’m no longer in a hurry. I’ve been there, done all the rushing around, life is slower now.

Misty, this word brings sad memories. It’s the name of our cat who was run over, and I don’t need sad memories right now.

So, I finally settled on Frosty because I live an hour and a half’s drive from the Mediterranean Sea, where the climate is mild, so frost is a pretty, exotic thing I see very little of, and therefore it has no negative connotations for me. On the contrary, I looked through Pixabay and found some lovely pictures of frost, like this one:

I would love to stay at a log cabin, like the ones you see in films, in distant places like Canada and Alaska, sit by the window and write whatever comes to mind, drinking cups of tea and hot chocolate, by the fireplace, and eating hot soup with crusty bread (maybe I am hungry?).

I’d write a story about a writer who was in search of inspiration. She rented a cabin in the snowy countryside in the Alaskan wild where she found a diary in the bedside table drawer, left behind by a previous occupant who had also come to write a book.

She opened the first page and read:

Once upon a time a writer needed solitude to write her novel, so she rented a cabin and found a diary written by a previous occupant. It started with Once upon a time…

She wrote the first chapter, and then she left.

She returned every year to find her diary in the same place. She wrote a new chapter each year.

(And now I’m going to bed, because it’s one o’clock in the morning.

Tomorrow morning I’ll reread my post and write the end of the story.

Hi! I’m Back. Here’s Part II).

“Good morning, Maggie.”

Maggie turned to the pretty young girl and smiled.

“Where would you like to go today?” the nice girl said, showing her images on a screen. “There’s a beach, the mountains, a thick wood, or …”

“I want to go back to Alaska.”

“If you’re sure?” Maggie nodded enthusiastically.

The girl pushed Maggie’s wheelchair into the viewing room. “Why are you always so keen on frosty Alaska?”

Maggie’s eyes shone. “I have to finish my novel.”

The young girl caressed Maggie’s wrinkled hand, put on her 3D glasses and said, “Alaska it is.”

****

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘Blogging Friends’ #bookbloggers #amwriting @SCVincent

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the February 3 posting of the IWSG are Louise – Fundy Blue , Jennifer Lane, Mary Aalgaard, Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon!

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February 3 question – Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

When I started blogging in November 2013, I had no idea what I was doing! I had heard of blogs, of course, and I’d probably read some blog posts, but I’d never even thought of starting one.

An online writer friend I met through Goodreads told me every writer should have a blog, so I started looking into what blogs actually were and decided to give it a go, and I’m really glad I did.

Blogging and interacting with other bloggers has helped me improve and develop my writing career by improving my craft through writing blog posts and creative flash fiction, showcasing my writing and sharing opinions and work with other readers and writers. It has given me a window to the world and a direct connection to other readers, writers and bloggers.

I’ve met a lot of bloggers along the way, and there are a few who I consider my ‘blogging friends’. But first I’d like to briefly reflect on the term ‘Blogging friend’. What is a blogging friend?

My blogging friends share many characteristics of the friends I see face to face. They are both supportive and friendly, which means I can ask them for help and advice on the topics that brought us together, in my case, mainly books and writing. We often share other personal opinions and some aspects of our private lives, too. We regularly read and comment on our posts and our projects. I feel as if I know them, so if I ever physically met them, I’m sure we’d chat away about our common passion and everything else we could think of!

The only thing blogging friendships lack is physical interaction and after this epidemic, when 95% of the contact I have with friends and family is online or on my phone, I’d say physical contact is overrated!

Sue Vincent: A Very Special Blogger

Talking about blogging friends, I’d like to introduce you to a very special blogging friend, who she has thousands of followers and blogging friends and is well-loved by many bloggers: Sue Vincent.

I ‘met’ Sue in 2017 when I first took part in her weekly photo prompt challenge on her blog called #Writephoto.

#Writephoto is a great challenge because there is no word or genre limit, just a picture prompt to take you wherever your thoughts go!

Sue is a very supportive host who comments on all entries and reblogs as many as she can every week.

She has three Websites where she shares her poems (And I love her #midnighthaiku) flash fiction, short stories, guest posts, poetry, books, etc.:

Daily Echo

France & Vincent

The Silent Eye

Sue is struggling with a serious illness at present read more about that here, so she could do with love and support from the blogging community to which she has contributed so much over the years.

Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch Literary Community, another supportive online writing and blogging community, is organising The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic, including a Flash Fiction Event to celebrate and support Sue. Read all about it in H. R. R. Gorman’s post on behalf of the Rodeo Organization Team and take part.

Find out more about Sue here

Finally I’d like to share a poem I wrote this morning. Hoping you all have a wonderful Wednesday.

 

#MondayMotivation ‘The Miracle Morning for Writers’ #MondayBlogs #WritingGoals #amwriting

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

This Monday I’m featuring The Miracle Morning for Writers, written by Hal Elrod, Steve Scott and Honoree Corder. As many of my readers are writers, like myself, I’m sure you’ll find the key ideas of this book useful.

The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income by [Hal Elrod, Steve Scott, Honoree Corder, S.J. Scott, James Altucher]

Hal Elrod also wrote The Miracle Morning, which I reviewed here, so it’s not surprising that in this book he gives us many examples of successful writers who get up early and do their writing in the morning. The first chapters are all about getting up as early as possible and establishing a morning routine which lasts an hour and comprises the following SAVERS: ‘Silence, Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading and Scribbling’.

He also insists that we set realistic goals, including intended word counts, eliminate limiting beliefs and treat writing like a full-time job by scheduling time for writing and finding an ideal place to write.

This book also discusses practical aspects such as ways of being more efficient, outlining, writing numerous drafts, editing, monetising blogs and books, advertising, self and traditional publishing, finding an agent, building a platform and social media presence.

I love his ‘Miracle Equation’. You have to believe in yourself, no matter which obstacles come your way, but that’s not enough. You also have to work as hard as you possibly can to fulfill your dreams.

Finally he tells us that in order to achieve our writing goals, we should become the person who can achieve those goals. In the end, it’s not about publishing a book, it’s about the journey of becoming a writer.

I found The Miracle Morning for Writers useful and motivating. It’s a brilliant book for writers in the first stages of their careers because it has everything a would-be-writer needs from inspiration and writing to publishing and marketing.

The authors touch on all the aspects of being a writer, from mindset and motivation to writing and making a living from your writing. Every author at whichever stage you find yourself in your career will find value in The Miracle Morning for Writers.

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth 

Check this post out to find out about my Blogging schedule.

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘7 things which stop me from finishing a book’ #amreading

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

Life is short, and getting shorter every day, and there are so many books to read that no one can read all the ones they’d like to read, so we have to pick carefully, and even then, if we’re not happy we can stop reading, because we don’t have to finish every book we start. I certainly don’t.

I’ve identified seven issues which could stop me finishing a book.

1- Unmet Expectations.

There are many reasons to read the first line of a new novel. But if it hasn’t been written or recommended by a fellow author or blogger, I decide to download a sample after reading the title and the blurb, although the cover also entices me!

If the book is described as a legal thriller, that is what I expect to read, and if I discover it has a dystopian setting, or it is a romance, I may not continue. On the other hand, I may like the writing style and proceed anyway.

2- Unlikeable characters

I don’t mean villains. I love villains, especially if they’re complex and part of the main plot, such as unreliable narrators!

An unlikeable character is one I can’t relate to, find irritating, whiney, or unbelievable. If there is only one, that may be ok, but if several characters, especially the main one, fall into this category, I will probably stop reading.

3- Poor editing

Repetition of events, words, phrases, too many adverbs, swear words, clichés etc. can put me off, but not always, because the characters and story can pull me in and persuade me to continue.

4- Trigger topics

We all have topics we do not want to read about explicitly, because they upset us. These topics are often related to sex, violence, drugs, trauma, etc.

I have a few personal ones, which is why the blurb should advise readers if the novel includes any sensitive topics.

5- Pacing

Sometimes I like the writing style and characters, but little seems to actually happen by means of a traditional plot. If I already know this might be the case because it’s what may be referred to as ‘literary fiction’ I may continue reading, anyway. But if I’m expecting a fast-paced thriller, according to the blurb, I would feel deceived and might not read on.

Contemporary readers, unlike Victorian readers who revelled in three-volume novels, are impatient and demanding, so books should respond to their audience’s needs. 

6- Implausible plots

I prefer history and reality to fantasy, so I don’t read a lot of fantasy. I’m not happy when novels take a sudden and implausible supernatural twist and I might not read on, although other factors, such as writing style and characters might keep me reading.

I like plot twists and unexpected turnings, and even open endings, but loopholes in plots or ones that work out because of a sudden implausible event, or novels that drop a plot line or character in the middle are often annoying.

7- Writing style

This is a make or break one for me. I can read about any topic if I like the way it’s written, sci-fi, fantasy, vampires, erotica, westerns, warfare; it doesn’t matter if the writing draws me in.

The problem is, I have no idea how that happens.

I believe it when they say agents read the first line, paragraph or page and decide if they want to read the book, because I do exactly the same. I only carry on regardless if it’s one of my many favourite authors, or if it has been recommended by someone I trust.

So, what’s the secret to drawing the reader in?

I have this quote pinned on the wall in my study and I read it every day, hoping it will inspire me, because it’s the hardest and most important thing to do as a writer.

Not only the opening line of a novel, but I’d apply this proposal to every chapter, because you need to get the reader hooked on the first page and continue reading after the first paragraph of every chapter.

So, what makes you stop reading a novel?

By the way! Happy New Year!

 

#IWSG Why do I write what I write? @TheIWSG #amwriting #WWWBlogs #amwriting

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the November 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!

November 4 question – Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

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This is a question I rarely ask myself explicitly, but I do think about the answer, because so many people ask me, and on this occasion it’s the Insecure Writer’s question for the month, so I’ll do my best to reply.

As I understand it, this question has two parts, a) why I write and b) why I write what I write.

a) Why do I write?

I write because I can’t not write, the same as I can’t not think, or feel, or walk, or talk.

Once I learn to do something which is useful and rewarding, it becomes part of my life and I can’t unlearn it or undo it.

I can’t stop writing a poem when I see a beautiful image, or have an emotional thought, or memory.

I can’t help carrying a notebook and jotting down ideas for poems or scenes for my books, and I’m sure I’ll never stop doing it, in fact I shudder to think I could ever stop the creativity flowing through my mind.

Now to the second part of the question, b) why do I write what I write?

I write about topics which I feel strongly about. This doesn’t mean I’m on a mission to change or improve the world, I would never be so presumptuous, it just means that I write about what is significant for me.

I write poems because I love capturing my emotions with a few symbolic words and giving them an artistic shape and sound, based on syllables and rhythm or rhyme.

I write Victorian novels because I admire Victorian authors who gave me so many hours of joyful reading and inspiration, and in so doing, I offer them my humble tribute.

I write about Jane Eyre, because when I first read it in my early teens, it was the first novel that inspired me to even think about writing myself, and I’ve never been able to get Jane Eyre out of my mind.

I write my blog because I want to reach out to and communicate with other authors and readers. It’s thrilling to know I can ‘meet’ and interact with other people who I’d never be able to reach or talk to or read about in my day-today life, if I wasn’t an active blogger.

I could go on, and if we could sit and chat with a coffee, a tea, a beer or a glass of wine, depending on our mood and the time of day, we’d share more ideas and reasons, because I’d love to know why you write too, and of course, why you write what you write.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to like and/or share and/or leave a comment 🙂

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#Lockdown ‘Every cloud has a Silver Lining’ #MondayMotivation #MondayBlogs

I live in Spain and we’ve been on Lockdown for ten days now due to the Covid-19 virus and I haven’t written a single post, until today.

I’m not going to talk about facts and figures, prevention, medicine or science, because I’m not an expert on any of those major aspects and there’s plenty of reliable information online.

I’m going to write about my personal reflections, feelings and how my life is being affected by the lockdown. This means owning both the positive as well as the negative experiences derived from imposed isolation, because every cloud has a silver lining.

First I’m going to tell you about the clouds, or what I miss:

 

1) Hugging my children and grandchildren. 

I have four wonderful grandchildren (ages 3,5,6, and 9, and a fifth on the way!) I love playing board games, ping pong, telling stories, going to parks and fun fairs, or just chatting with them. 

My husband and my daughter walking in the countryside, near where I live.

2) My daily walks.

My husband and I have retired recently and we enjoy long (2-3 hour) daily walks. We choose different parts of the town and countryside, have a coffee or a beer on the way there or back, depending on the time. We chat, take photos, pop in to museums or exhibitions, wherever takes our fancy. No walks allowed now.

I took this picture of some of my oldest friends last year at a local flower festival ‘Flora’

3) Going out with friends.

I enjoy going out with friends. We go to the movies, to a coffee shop, window shopping, real shopping, or out for drinks and tapas. No going out with friends.

 

Last year we popped over to Bari, on a bargain Ryanair flight, just for the fun of it!

4) Impromptu outings

We love getting in the car and popping over to Malaga (an hour and a half drive) to walk along the seafront, or to meet up with friends and family, or to any other city for a day trip, weekend at home or abroad.

60th Birthday Party at home with some of my best friends!

5) Receiving guests

I love cooking and having guests, especially when the weather’s nice and we can eat in the garden. On other occasions, friends come over for tea or coffee, some home-cooked cake and a chat. 

Secondly, this is my silver lining, or what I can appreciate about this situation.

1) More time to write. 

I’ve just finished and sent the umpteenth draft of my latest novel to my editor, Alison Williams. I managed, to block out the lockout and get on with it with no one to distract me. I plan to continue with other unfinished novels and literary projects, too.

2) More time to read

My TBR pile is slightly smaller! At the moment I’m reading and enjoying When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, on my kindle and listening to L J Ross’s Alexander Gregory Thriller, Impostor, its Book 1 in the series (I read Book 1 first by mistake!). She’s a wonderful author as I learned when I read her DCI Ryan Mysteries.

The Alexander Gregory Thrillers

3) Watching series I never have time for.

I’m not much of a TV viewer, but I was able to binge watch over a couple of days, eight episodes of The Stranger, by Harlan Coben staring Richard Armitage.

4) Phoning + texting friends and family 

I’ve spent the last few days contacting friends and family all over the world, by phone, text and email, making sure they’re all OK. I haven’t finished yet, there are still a few more to contact.

With my three best friends from London University, celebrating our 60th birthday, last July, back on our College site, now luxury residential homes.

5) A time for introversion and reflection.

I’ve never been faced with so much time for myself or so much worry about family, friends and myself. Facing one’s own vulnerability in such an unpredictable world is daunting. Facing our finite and limited time on earth and the possibility of illness, or even death in complete isolation was not how I expected to spend 2020.

Momento Mori is not welcome, but it’s a necessary reminder that my life is brief and finite and every moment is precious.

Stay safe, virtual hugs and love to you all.

#SilentSunday ‘Back to the Keyboard!’ #Haiku #amwriting

Back to the keyboard,

After plotting and planning,

One word at a time.

****

After over a year writing and rewriting various drafts of The Ghost Wife, I still wasn’t satisfied, so I stopped to plot and plan, all over again, from the beginning.

I Stared from scratch, back to basics, with main character arcs, secondary character profiles, scenes, sequels, and three-act structure.

No more excuses!

It’s time to write!

Happy Sunday!

#Writephoto ‘Too Bright’ #Haiku #Poetry

Too Bright

Bright sun conquers Earth

Devouring every pigment

Scared bluebells shiver

****

This beautiful photograph reminds me of Dylan Thomas’ heartbreaking and powerful poem Sometimes the sky’s too bright.

There are times when the light is too bright and instead of showing you the way, it’s devouring everything, so you can’t see what’s hidden behind it.

Sometimes we need to wait until the sun has mellowed to see what was always there, behind the brightness.

We’re stuck in a rut. Life seems too much, but it isn’t. We often only need to stop, breathe and wait, a short time. The brightness will gradually vanish and we’ll see what’s behind the light isn’t so devastating after all.

A suggestion, while you’re waiting for the brightness to fade, write a poem, a piece of flash fiction, draw a picture, sing a song, dance, read a poem, a story, a novel, go for a walk, ride your bike, take a photo, be creative!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

This post was written in response to Sue Vincent’s weekly photo prompt

#writephoto