Monday, January 31, 2005

Discovery or Creation?

Sometimes, when writing a book, I feel like I'm discovering a story, not writing it.

Let me give you an example.

A few years ago, I wrote a short contemporary romance, which is now on my "rewrite sometime" pile. It opened with a car crash scene that was actually written some time before I wrote the rest of the story. I saw that scene, wrote it out, and promptly forgot about it. I had no idea who the characters were, what the story was, where that scene fitted.

In the scene, the heroine saw the face of a little girl at the window of the car she swerved to avoid.

Later, I tumbled into a story that fit the scene - the story of an impoverished English country Lord and the hurting, captivating woman who threatens all his ideas of who he is, and who he should be. But who was the little girl? No-one, as far as I could see. There was no room for that child, so she was removed from the car, and from the story. The car crash became the start of the story, the Hero became the driver of the second car that has once had the little girl in the passenger seat.

I finished it, edited it, submitted it, and it was rejected.

And just this morning, driving the stretch of road that inspired that opening scene, I suddenly remembered the little girl, and just as suddenly realised who she is.

She's his daughter. He was married. The woman he alludes to obliquely somewhere around chapter 7 as leaving him to go to University - CAME BACK. They were married. They had a child. Somewhere in the first Act of the REAL story, the story I SHOULD have written, that little girl rolls her eyes at the heroine, when the Hero tells her off for shortening his daughter's name.

Now the point is, I don't feel like I DECIDED to add these things to the story. I didn't think, "I could do this, this or this, and THIS seems like the best option." I feel more like I remembered something I had forgotten, or found something that was lost. Like turning two pages in a book without realising it, and only finding the pieces you had missed when you re-read that book years later.

Now I'm faced with rewriting a story to include (or reinstate?) a dead wife and a young girl. Which fits beautifully with the story's themes of responsibility and expectation, guilt, blame and punishment.

Looks like that story will be coming off that rewrite sometime pile sooner than I thought....

Friday, January 28, 2005

Bright Magenta Foods

Beetroot, people! BEETROOT! Do you not have beetroot over there???

Sheesh! As Julie said, bright magenta foods are always good. And this smoothie is a particularly pleasing shade of radioactive pink.

First, for the boring "beetroot is fashionable" stuff, go here, then, for the far more interesting "beetroot and sex" stuff, go here. Never let it be said this blog is not a) educational, and b) downright wierd.

(ROFL @ Peter and Shannon)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Smooth with a capital Smoo

Since my chosen detox smoothie provoked a reaction yesterday, I thought I'd continue on a theme...

Yes, there's beetroot in it!

It's not THAT much beetroot... sheesh! It's good for you, people!!

In fact, it's made of (and I quote) 2 pressed apples, 1/2 a crushed pear, 1/2 a mashed banana, some freshly squeezed orange juice, some bright purple beetroot juice (4%) and some nice ginger (0.5%)

So there. Check out the nice people at innocent. Love their virtual gym.

And remember to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day. Five a Day. Do it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Decisions, decisions...

Let me see....

Innocent Detox Fruit Smoothie, or Gu Chocolate Amaretto Pudding.

What do you mean there's chocolate on my mouth?

Monday, January 24, 2005

Please, let him be a bastard....

You all know the type of hero I mean. He's character C in the story of protagonists A and B. He's a secondary, but you know he's destined to have his own book soon.

He's dark, intimidating, threatening... dangerous. Ruthless. Uncompromising. Usually he's just a *smidge* taller than the other heroes in the series. You're just a little scared of him. And you LIKE it.

Often the author holds them in reserve until the last book in the series, like some jealously guarded Ace up the sleeve, till you're fairly salivating with anticipation.

You haunt the author's website waiting for a publication date, and you almost wet yourself when you finally get hold of a copy. You turn the pages with shaking hands, read the words with baited breath....

... and....

.... he's a pussycat.

What? What happened to my gloriously shadowy bad guy?

Suddenly he's been disarmed, defused. Emasculated. Rather than threatening dissolute criminals with his lethal blade, he's choosing curtains with the heroine. "Don't you think the biscuit coloured velour would bring out the lustre of the upholstery, darling?"

The disappointment is intense.

So authors, editors, publishers. Please, please.... let him be a bastard.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Ghost of Scenes Past

You know the one.

In the rough draft it was a key scene: pivotal, climactic, pacey. Then you edited. And then you rewrote. You took out a marriage of convenience (which was, I blush to admit, completely pointless and highly INconvenient). You shifted Act III into a different country.

(Okay, that last one could just be me. Remind me to talk about my obsession with settings one of these days)

Suddenly your key scene needs major rewriting. And you’re... stuck. You’re so stuck you’re running scared, running on empty, running for President of Procrastinators.

“Work out why the scene needs to be there,” says Julie, “and maybe it'll be easier.”

Now why didn't I think of that?

Because I'm so deep in what that scene USED to do, and why it USED to be there. And also because I've committed that cardinal sin of viewing the scene constantly in isolation. So I need to read back, rediscover a few arcs, and put in what's missing not just change what's there.

Thanks Julie. :-)

A circular walk and a psychological journey

Every wonder why what you ought to do and what you want to do are rarely the same thing? Is it only I who can spend so much time agonising about not doing something I ought to, that I end up not doing anything else either?

Today is a case in point.

Minnie (IlovemycatsIlovemycatsIlovemycats) having started playing hunt-the-nose at 6am, I finally dragged myself out of bed an hour later, fed the cats, threw on some clothes randomly selected from the heaps on the floor, boiled eggs for Husband, re-boiled mine because the timer wasn't working, caught up online etc etc....

So. It's 10.30. I WANT to go back to bed.

But I've had no exercise since Wednesday. The sun in shining, the ground is frosty. I OUGHT to go for a walk. Even a short walk, I reason.

I go to bed.

I lie in bed, watching the sun shimmer on the old walls through the gap in the curtain. I argue with myself. Repeatedly.

Ten minutes later I get up, bribing myself with taking the digicam and therefore potentially having a chance to take some nice frosty pics. I put on another random selection of slightly more robust clothes. I go out.

Just walk down into the village I reason with myself. Just stretch your legs and get some fresh air

Some three miles and an hour and a half later, having trogged over fields, bridges, up hill and down dale, through woodland and down centuries old sunken lanes, I finally return home.

What?! What happened???

One minute I'm thinking a walk is the worse punishment I could inflict on myself, the next I'm striding out, metaphorically singing about the knapsack on my back.


Saturday, January 22, 2005

Let me tell you a story...

In the mid nineteen thirties, deep in rural Kent, a pretty young woman lived with her young son. The woman was unmarried, a terrible crime then - she was lucky not to have been sent away. She certainly considered herself lucky to have kept her child.

Presently a young man came across the young mother. He loved her, and adored the son. He couldn't have loved that son more if he had been his own flesh. To that young man, the small boy WAS his son.

The young man and the young woman were married. The small boy finally had a father.

The war started. The new father became a soldier, was sent away. He was stationed in the middle east, near a small town in Mesopatamia called Basra. He wrote long, long letters to his young son, who loved to hear about the places he had been and the things he had seen. The son new his father was coming home soon, because that's what his father promised him.

One day, while swimming in the River Euprates, the new father saw a man struggling with the current. Without hesitation, the new father helped the drowning man to safety.

But the Euphrates was too strong, and the new father was swept away and drowned.

Now the drowned man had a twin brother - they used to call them the giant and the dwarf because the drowned man had been so tall, and his twin so short. Between them, the twin and the mother wrote letters to the son, so that he would not know he'd lost his new father.

Eventually he knew his father had died, but he never knew where, or how.

The son became an angry child, an unhappy and rebellious youth, and, at length, with God's help, a loving husband, and an adventurous father of one son, and one daughter. The son grew up tall, and strong, and the daughter was clever with words, and people who loved her called her beautiful.

Many, many years later, another very different conflict started, and that tall, strong grandson of the drowned father was called to war. He went to Iraq, and built water pipelines for beleaguered towns.

He swam, one day, in the Euphrates, just outside Basra. It was very hot, and the water was very cool.

And over a year after the grandson came safely home, the family finally found out where the drowned father died, and how.

That grandson is my brother.

We only found out yesterday that it was Basra where my Grandfather died, saving another man's life.

How small is the world. And how beautiful.


All silliness aside, I did want to just say thank you to all those who've left such lovely comments for me! :-D

Hoovering, Pigs and the Stereophonics

Wow. I have... an audience. *slow, evil smile*

This is so bad for my ego....

It's all pink and silver outside, hard frost and bright sunrise.

Merlin is on the small landing outside this room - I can see his white bib and white nose in the gloom. I believe he's trying to decide between curling up in the spare room (which is his favourite, but colder) and bedding down this room. He's doing a slow pan, gazing at the spare room door, and then this door, like a tortoise choosing between two lettuces.

This decision may take some time.

Five Reasons Not To Do The Hoovering

1) Husband should have done it anyway.
2) The hoover is an evil, animate creature who hates me
3) It'll all be dirty again by tomorrow
4) By the time I get to the last room I'll be swearing blue murder, kicking the hoover and sweating like a pig*. This is bad for my karma.

WEARING:- bath robe
LISTENING:- Husband's chillout mix, currently Stereophonics Have a Nice Day, that lovely slow acoustic version

*Pigs can't sweat, btw. This explains why they produce copious volumes of urine and are susceptible to heatstroke. Remember! If you have a pale pig outside in the hot sun, apply sunscream!

Friday, January 21, 2005


Since I just confessed to the existence of this blog, I'd better come clean about the photo, too.

It's OLD. I don't really look like that today.

But I still think like that. And, when I'm daydreaming, far from reality, I THINK I look like that. You might call it my spiritual appearance, or, as Terry Pratchett calls it, 'residual self-image'.

That photo was taken by my husband at Hermitage Castle in SW Scotland. If you ever get the chance, go there. Just do.

Oh, but ignore all the soppy Mary Queen of Scots stuff.

Thank you!

Thank you for subscribing to my Newsletter Mailing List!

Best, Anna Louise Lucia.

Love is Dangerous.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

In the beginning.....

... Was the Word, and the Word was.... "help!"

Having spent the best part of two hours wrestling with incomprehensible technology, I'm tired, emotional and irritable. That could, however, be hormones.

The funniest thing was that I kept wanting to IM or e-mail blogging friends for help with setting this up, but I don't want them to know until I'm sure I'm going to keep it up. So I had to struggle on alone. Yes, that's right. I'm a furtive blogger.

That was the funniest thing. The wierdest thing? Anna Lucia is the name I'd like to be published under. Pretty much everyone on the web knows me as AnnaofCumberland.

I have just revealed my true identity and am standing, naked and afraid, unprotected by aliases and reputations, in the harsh light of the blogging world.

Is it me, or it is cold in here?