Category Archives: Blogging

What to do on a weekend in Paris?

I normally blog about a movie or TV series we watched over the weekend, but my husband booked us a weekend in Paris as our accumulated points of some sort were about to expire. Obviously, our eyes didn’t see a TV screen for over forty-eight hours. We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for the weekend as we were both very busy, he with his work, I with my writing. We tried to delegate the task to our two teenagers, but to little avail. Our son, who is a bit of a foodie, only came up with the idea of visiting a chocolate shop. We had a quick look online for the ususal touristic stuff on Friday evening, but the Catacombes were closed (why now!!!???), and the Moulin Rouge was already fully booked. So, also because the weather was a bit fickle, we had to go ‘on the fly.’

Saturday Morning

A typical Metro station sign
A typical Parisian Metro station sign

We got up at 4am and took our KLM flight to the airport of Charles de Gaulle where we arrived at about 9am. It’s the biggest airport of Paris, but also the saddest and dirtiest airport I’ve been to. Unfortunately, there were no trains this weekend going into Paris, so we were directed to a bus that would take us to the nearest train station. We were packed like sardines in the bus, but fortunately didn’t have to wait long and could sit in the train. We arrived in Paris mid-morning.

The Sacré-Coeur
The Sacré-Coeur

At first we thought to visit Versailles but changed our mind when we found out how long it would take us to get there. With only one one-and-a-half day to spend, time was precious. The weather was good, so we decided to visit the Sacré-Coeur first. We grabbed ourselves some drinks and a bite (I got myself a croissant vanille, i.e. a pudding croissant. Yum!) at a patisserie and made the climb up. There were many people there, but not as many as I have experienced before. It was still early, and the weather forecast had been bad. We were very lucky with blue skies!

The kids weren’t very impressed with the church. More so with the view from here, and my husband could tell them what was visible from this high point.

View from Sacré-Coeur/Montmartre
View from Sacré-Coeur/Montmartre

Next, we visited Montmartre. It is a very touristic attraction that we thought our artistic daughter might enjoy. We walked around the little square with all the painters painting pitoresque Parisian scenes or drawing faces of tourists. To my surprise, I didn’t get much of a reaction from my daughter. We were lucky enough to find a table in the sunshine and enjoyed a white beer while watching the tourists go by.

A little sculpture on a fence
A booklovers’ sculpture on a fence

Saturday Afternoon

Next, we decided to do another outdoor attraction: the cemetery Père La Chaisse. The kids found this a bit more interesting. My son stood on a grave and breathed deeply three times (apparently giving him more energy, according to instructions), we saw Chopin’s grave, and of course visited Jim Morrison’s grave. The kids had no idea who he was. They were more impressed with the amount of chewing gum stuck to the tree there. We completely forgot to visit Edith Piaff’s grave.

Jim Morrison's grave at cemetery Père La Chaisse
Jim Morrison’s grave at cemetery Père La Chaisse

Walking down from the cemetery, we headed to the chocolate shop of Alain Ducasse which my son had found online. It wasn’t as impressive as we had thought although we did learn they actually have machines to cover the fillings with chocolate. We bought a little box of chocolate which set us back more than I cared for. They were very nice, but the minty ones weren’t minty enough for my taste.

The weather was turning dark and wet now, so we ducked into one of the little restaurants, called Café des Anges, in the Marais quarter and had dinner while it bucketed down outside. It was a quaint, little restaurant, and we were happy we weren’t big Americans as we already struggled with the size of the seating.

Saturday Evening

The Eiffel Tower by night
The Eiffel Tower by night

With our bellies full and our feet rested, we made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. It was a long wait for the tickets and a long way up, but it was so worth it: the view up there is spectacular! We arrived at the top just as it was getting dark. Magnifique! My son made some time lapse shots with his phone and they are so cool. I’ll post one here once he forwards it to me, so check back in a day or so. It’s worth it!

Again, we were very lucky with the weather. It was dry for the time we were up there. By the time we had made our way all around and had feasted our eyes on the views, it began to rain again, and we decided to descend the multitude of steps again. We had to end the day with eating some waffles, so we walked to the Centre Pompidou and had some excellent waffles with ice cream at one of the Amarino outlets before heading back to the hotel.

Waffle with ice cream!

Just for fun, we let the kids guide us through the metro system. My husband and I enjoyed seeing them trying to figure out how the maps worked. They only made one little mistake at the end, and we corrected them as we all had sore feet and desperately wanted to lay on a bed. But, we are confident they will be able to make their way around next time they visit Paris on their own.

Centre Pompidou
Centre Pompidou

Sunday Morning

Our daughter woke us at 8am. She’s a stickler for plans. We had breakfast at the hotel, the Radisson Blu at Porte de Saint-Cloud. This hotel, by the way, was one of the cleanest and well-appointed hotels I’ve stayed in. We did have to ask for toothbrushes as they we about the only thing not supplied (and there’s always something we forget to bring 🙂 ).

Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil
Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil

The two things on the schedule this morning were memories, both of them in the south-west part of Paris. The first one was mine alone, of the time when I stayed with my husband when he did his engineering course in Paris. I spent quite a lot of days studying in the Jardin des Serres d’Auteil. It’s a beautiful Victorian glasshouse with tropical plants. It’s warm, it’s quiet (when you ignore the huge bird cage filled with finches, canaries, and parakeets), and I just loved it. I still remembered the plants there. The kids were most impressed with the carps in the pond.

A huge flower at the tropical garden of Auteuil
A huge flower at the tropical garden of Auteuil

 

We then made our way to anthother garden; Parc Citroën. It’s a public park built on the site of the old Citroën car factory. We had visited this park in 2007, when the kids were five years old. They couldn’t remember. It was summer and hot and we played in our bathers in the fountains. Unfortunately, something sad must have happened as people weren’t allowed to play in them anymore. We were ushered out by a guard, and we heard through her walkie-talkie that there were two suspicious persons spotted in the park. I guess we’ll never find out what was going on.

Parc Citroën
Parc Citroën

Sunday Afternoon

As you can see in the photo of Parck Citroën, the weather was getting dark, so the afternoon activity was inside at the Louvre. We wanted to walk through the Tuilleries at first but then decided to spare our feet and make our way there by metro. We had a bite at the food court there (not recommendable as it is expensive and not very ‘Parisienne’) and entered the museum. As expected, there were masses of people here, but it became worse when it started to rain outside. We found the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. I was surprised that my daughter was most excited here. She recognized many French paintings they had discussed in art class and could tell us stories about them 🙂 .

As you can imagine, by now we had ‘flat-feet’ (as we would say in Dutch) and wanted nothing more than to sit down somewhere and take the weight from our sore soles. My son had seen an advertisement from Subway about a bun with Doritos on it, so we found our way to the nearest Subway outlet. After a short lunch/dinner, we decided to call it a day and headed back to the airport.

Sunday Evening

The trip was extremely tiring as we had to stay standing both train and bus ride. The Starbucks at the airport had hardly any seating, and when we decided to have a bite at the Yo! Sushi place, we were sorely disappointed again as they didn’t serve any chicken (and my son doesn’t eat fish). The staff at the airport were rude and unhappy, so we were glad to come home to find our dogs welcoming us with wagging tails!

A beautiful sunset to close off a wonderful weekend
A beautiful sunset to close off a wonderful weekend

I’ll leave you to enjoy some of the photos I took at the Louvre…

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Girls Kick Ass!

Girls Kick Ass Sept 2018

Fight like a girl

Over one-hundred-and-fifty best selling authors have teamed up to offer a delightful selection of books featuring the fiercest women. These damsels save themselves.

Get them here while you can, these deals are available for FREE for a limited time.

 

Meet the Author… Sherrie Brown

Sherrie Brown writes time travel romances. I love any sort of travel, but if I could, I’d be traveling to all sorts of times 😀 . And, of course, I love a good romance story as well. Let’s find out how Sherrie got to write her stories.

Sherrie Brown

Sherrie_Brown

Biography

“Sherrie Brown, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I could never answer that question until now. Life for me has never been boring; it has always been an adventure. While serving in the Air Force, I married one of my best friends. I stayed at home to raise our two sons, who married two wonderful women, and one grandson. I have several incredible friends, and I love to travel. My husband and I are now living in Texas.

How has your environment & upbringing colored your writing?

Sherrie_Brown_King RoanMy 6th grade teacher told me (a young girl about 12 years old) that “I would never amount to anything without a dictionary tied around my neck.” Because I had a difficult time spelling and reading out loud. After that happened, I refused to read or write anything that was not required for me to pass my classes in school. I started reading again for enjoyment at the age of 37 when I was introduced to historical romances and then I couldn’t find enough books to read.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be/if you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

Not to listen to anyone who tells you that you aren’t smart enough. I would have listened, participated and studied more in English class.

Who is the most famous author you have ever met?

I would have to say, Sky Corgan the author of Bully and several other books. We live in the same area and frequently enjoy having lunch together. It is never a competition for us, we write in different genres and she has a huge heart. She is also a wonderful writer, no matter what genre she writes in.

How long have you been writing?

In 2017, a good friend of mine dared me to write a book. Unable to refuse the dare, but still unconfident in my ability, I wrote my first book, The Dreams: Will Set You Free by Sherrie Brown. It is a Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) based on Pride and Prejudice. To my surprise it sold and during that series I wrote in my first, time traveler into the 2nd book. This created my love of writing, because I could decide what I wanted in the story and how I wanted the characters to act. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop so I wrote 3 books in The Dreams: Series and 3 in The Eternal Knot Series in one year. Book 4 has taken longer because I was sick for a few months.

Music or silence?

Definitely Music! I put in my earbuds and crank up the music. The type of scene dictates the music I listen to. I listen to rock during most of my writing, especially during a fight scene and I listen to music that is from that specific time or location if I can find it, to help set the mood.

What genre do you consider your book(s)? Have you considered writing in another genre?

Sherrie_Brown_RavenThe Eternal Knot Series by S. Brown is Time Travel Romance – they are not written as one specific genre. They have the element of science-fiction with time travel, but they include a small amount of romance because they are searching for their soulmate. The romantic scenes are kept to a minimum and the storyline focuses on the relationship development. I love writing in this genre, but I started writing with a three-book series in Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF), titled The Dreams: by Sherrie Brown.

Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I wrote The Eternal Knot series, so it can be read in any order or only certain ones and still be able to enjoy. This series has a main event connecting them together and is included in each book. Each book tells about the events and journey related to one of nine women, who are in possession of a special necklace.

Are you working on another book?

Yes, I am working on book 4 – MacKenzie: Time Travel. This one is set in 1717 with Irish Pirates. MacKenzie (Mac) is a security guard who begins to question her career and what is fair related to the law when she interrupts a robbery at her job. When everything she thought about her father growing up is revealed to be a lie; she questions who she is. Traveling to Ireland, Mac finds herself on a 1717 Pirate ship, and must decide if those who break the law are always bad. Will she ever break the law or risk her life, for someone she loves?

When you develop characters, do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

I have a basic outline on each character. However, it is easier if I create my book cover before I write. Then I can write descriptions about my lead character that corresponds with the picture. As for their personalities, they develop as I write. Anytime I plan for something they hijack the story and it goes in a whole different direction, so I follow the lead they give me.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

Sherrie_Brown_SamanthaMy toughest criticism came with my first book. I released it without allowing anyone to edit or proof read it. I had a large amount of errors and should never have been published, but I was too afraid to tell anyone other than the person who dared me to write it. I had a reader tell me that her Labrador Retriever (dog) could write better than I could. I cried and wasn’t going to write anything ever again. However, my friend Sky Corgan, convinced me to get the book edited and release it again. She told me that most authors have a bad review sometime in their career and I need to learn from it, so I can be a better writer.

Wow! It’s amazing to hear that your teacher had such negative influence on your reading and the fact that you proved him so wrong! It’s great to hear real-life stories like these. And I hear you about planning your stories. My characters have a habit of not following instructions either 😀 .

Where can we find you online?

Email: authorsherriebrown@att.net

Website

Twitter

Facebook (friend me)

Facebook  (follow me)

Amazon Author page

Books2Read.com

All Sherrie Brown’s books in The Eternal Knot series are available as eBook and in paperback. Don’t forget it’s under the name S. Brown, not Sherrie Brown (as her non-time-travel romances are under that name).


 


Discover Your Next Favorite Series!

180901-30_DiscoverYourNextFavoriteSeries.png

If you’re ready to Discover Your Next Favorite Series, then click on This Link and check out nearly one-hundred-and-eighty awesome FREE first books of some great series!

They include Living Like A Vampire, by yours truly, The Werewolf Whisperer, by Bonita Gutierrez and Camilla Ochlan,  award-winning Sister Witch, by David W. Thompson, Night’s Gift, but Camilla Ochlan and Carol E. Leever, and did I mention my own Living Like A Vampire (yes, it’s in there twice 😀 ).

What to Watch? Grabbers

We had watched this movie before, but it’s such a funny, little gem that we watched it again. This movie is on Amazon, not Netflix this time.

Grabbers

Grabbers.jpg

Cast

There are actually a few characters that play a major role in this movie, but the two it is all about are Garda Ciarán O’Shea, played by Richard Coyle, and Garda Lisa Nolan, played by Ruth Bradley. Garda means something as constable. Ruth does an excellent job of playing drunk.

The other persons that all play their part in this hilarious movie are: Russell Tovey (from Being Human) as Dr Smith, Lalor Roddy as Paddy, David Pearse as Brian Maher (the bar tender), Bronagh Gallagher as Una Maher (the bartender’s wife), Pascal Scott as Dr Jim Gleeson, Ned Dennehy as Declan Cooney, Clelia Murphy as Irene Murphy, Louis Dempsey as Tadhg Murphy, Stuart Graham as Skipper, and Micheál Ó Gruagáin as Father Potts.

Plot

The movie starts with something like a comet falling out of the sky into the ocean and skippers going missing. Then people on the remote Irish island start to go missing. All this happens when uptight Garda Lisa Nolan joins the force to replace Garda Ciarán O’Shea’s boss while he’s away. O’Shea’s an alcoholic and Nolan’s a teetotaler. The two need to form an alliance to figure out this mystery.

What I liked about Grabbers

This is a low-budget movie with an incredible cast and excellent CGI! Next to this, it has very humorous situations that never feel tacky.

What I didn’t like about Grabbers

Let me think…. Nope, can’t think of something.

Summary

Like they quoted in the trailer: “Funny, gory, and with some feckin’ good CGI!” It is not a movie for the little ones as some scenes may be too gory/scary and/or inappropriate (and I’m mainly talking about the boozing regarding the latter). All in all a very funny movie that shouldn’t be missed if you love a good laugh/sci-fi/fantasy/small town living.

PS: don’t watch the You Tube trailer as it gives away too much! It’s still funny when you know what’s going to happen, but I just hate trailers that show you nearly all of the movie 🙂

Grabbers_2

Awesome Literary Book Gifts Deal!

Have I got some news for you! You’re going to really love me now (giggle)!

I have been able to get a great deal for my readers:

A never-expiring, whopping, 20% discount on all gifts in the Literary Book Gifts online shop!

Isn’t this amazing?

Yes, I know, it’s in the US. Not to worry, my dear UK readers, they also ship to the UK. And no, this is nothing affiliate. I don’t get any money when you click on it or buy something. This is just something I have been able to organize for you, my readers!

So, why not pick out a great T-shirt for Halloween? Head over to the shop via the following link:

Literary Book Gifts

Pick out a great gift for that book lover friend (or yourself!), and use the discount code JACKYD20. You should get a fantastic 20% discount at the checkout! (if not, just contact the store, they should be able to fix it).

Edgar Allan POE T-shirts
Edgar Allan POE T-shirts

These T-shirts are just an example, and they are available in a multitude of colors. Yes, you can also get it in purple!

Meet the Author… R.H. Hale

Rebecca H. Hale is one cool chick! I asked her for an interview and she said yes immediately… in July. And then her email slipped the net. My bad. Instead of bombarding me with emails asking what’s happening, or getting stroppy and giving me the cold shoulder when I asked her the other day when I could expect her answer, she just went with the flow. I like people like that.

R.H. Hale

R.H.Hale.jpg

Biography

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, R.H. Hale’s interests range from reading and writing, to science and the arts, including theatre. After receiving a BSc (Hons) in Natural History from Kingston University in Surrey, she returned to Edinburgh where she joined a ghost tour company to pay the bills – and became hooked, terrifying innocent tourists on a daily basis in the city’s underground vaults. Not long after being clinically diagnosed with autism, in 2014 Hale began work on her first novel, Church Mouse (Book 1): Memoir of a vampire’s servant. Its sequel, Church Mouse (Book 2): The Change, is completed and due for release in 2019.

Who is the most famous author you have ever met?

That’s a tie between two. When I was eleven years old I attended a festival in the town of Wick in Caithness, Scotland, where I had the pleasure of meeting the late, great Scottish poet Norman MacCaig. He was a delightful old gentleman, very calm and patient. If I’d had any idea at the time how famous he was, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to read him a poem I’d recently written for class at school. I did read it to him however, and he seemed very impressed by it.

Far more recently, last year I met Dacre Stoker, the great grand-nephew of Bram Stoker, at the Edinburgh Horror Festival. Fortunately, I’m close friends with the event organisers, so I took him and his assistant on a short tour around The Banshee Labyrinth, the reputedly haunted pub where he was giving a talk about his latest book and his research. He is fantastic company, a joy to speak with and very generously asked me about my debut novel, so I felt honoured to have had the chance to discuss it with him.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

It may sound cliché, but in truth my biggest surprise has been that people are liking the book! Every writer understands how scary it is releasing a debut; it’s like having one of those dreams where you find yourself haplessly walking around in public in your birthday suit.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

R.H.Hale_ChurchMouse1I think it depends on who you’re asking. For many including me, writing is also a way of exorcising demons, a silent scream if you like. I think it can be both, since it’s lovely to be told you have a gift and makes it all worthwhile if your work touches people and takes them on the journey you intended. But it comes with a price: you may’ve had to live through (or be living through) hell to create the worlds, scenes, characters and descriptions you did. The greatest reward is getting good reviews, so combined it can be negative feedback loop.

Pen or typewriter or computer?

Often pen since you can never know where you’ll be when ideas strike. Computer later, though ideas churn out on both. I haven’t used a typewriter since I was child just before computers kicked in everywhere and frankly I don’t intend on revisiting them; the stress of corrections and Tippex would give me a heart attack.

Do you write alone or in public?

Definitely alone for me. To many distractions in public. I even have to pause grumpily if I hear my poor housemate crossing the hallway to visit the bathroom!

What is your favorite place to write?

My room at home, sitting in bed, propped up by the pillows. Though in an ideal world I’d love a secluded Victorian study with a massive bay window and fireplace, me curled up in a gigantic leather armchair with cushions, hemmed in by a small portable table for my laptop and another table by the armrest for my coffee and ashtray. Maybe a grandfather clock ticking away in the corner…

Is your ‘being an author’ a goal achieved or an accident?

I never expected this to happen. I’d always had ideas for stories, screenplays, written dozens of poems and started many things throughout my lifetime, but I never originally set out to be an author. I thought I was going to be a scientist or maybe an actress. One day I just had some scenes in my head so solid they were baying for release and I had to get them down on paper. The rest grew from there.

Do you try to be original in your storytelling or to deliver to readers what they want?

Some people may disagree with me here, but to be honest I don’t understand this concept of ‘giving an audience what they want’. How are audiences supposed to discover anything new otherwise? If art of any sort teaches, shocks, surprises or inspires, it makes an imprint or mark, and to me that should be the whole idea. In fact, ‘what they want’ may have been exactly that to begin with – something original they weren’t expecting; before it got re-used again and again. I know that realistically there’s hardly any such thing as new ideas, and no matter how hard any writer works, it’s impossible to please everyone, but long as you’re driven by the desire to create, that’s what counts. Putting original ideas out there always carries a risk, and in many art forms, the powers that be like to “play it safe” by sticking with whatever made them money last time, but to me there’s something dishonest – maybe even mercenary – about ‘giving readers what they want’. Not all audiences know what they want until they’ve seen it. Besides, if I tried writing from only that perspective, I’d never get anything done. My head and heart do the dictating, otherwise what’s the point? That said, it really isn’t for me to tell anyone how to write, and if some readers prefer authors that give them what they want, fair enough, it’s their personal choice.

Can you give us an interesting fun fact about your book?

V0017193 Still life with a skull and medical book. Oil painting by anIn Church Mouse (Book 1), there’s a scene involving an old Victorian surgeon’s medical case, bound in leather, containing the top half of a human skull. That was inspired by a completely true story. When I worked at the ghost tour company in Edinburgh, one of the vaults was run by a group of Wiccans, led by George Cameron. One day he entered the office, showed me the medical bag with the top part of the skull inside and I was fascinated. My other colleague present at the time was not quite so enthralled and turned green on the spot, so I tortured him by chasing him around the office wearing the skull on top of my head like cap. Out of respect though I did apologise to the human remains in advance. I don’t know if this is true, but Cameron told us that apparently the skull came from a cadaver stolen from Greyfriars Cemetery in the early-1800s, possibly by an ambitious medical student, as cadavers at that time were in relatively short supply. The crude chisel marks of the surgeon’s blade were clearly visible around the bone. The above details are mentioned in the novel.

What motivated you to become an indie/published author? How did you break into publishing?

I decided being an indie author was the only way, chiefly because of word count. No literary agent is going to take a chance on the printing costs for a newbie if it’s over 100k words. My editor also works for Help For Writers: not a traditional publishing house, but they convert authors’ work into e-format, publish and distribute for a fee; the author keeps all the royalties.

Thank you so much for sharing all this with us, Rebecca. I feel very privileged that I actually have that perfect writing spot that you talk about. The windows are still a bit draughty, so I don’t sit in front of them, but yeah, all the other bits are there. If you’re ever in Aberdeenshire, do look me up!

Where can we find you online? 

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

YouTube

Amazon Author page

R.H. Hale’s book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Goodreads, Blackwells, and other online bookstores


What to Watch? Orphan Black

The other day, I read a post of someone on Facebook, mentioning how engrossed they were in Orphan Black. As I was loosing interest in Salem, I was looking for something else. I checked out Orphan Black and finished season 1 this weekend. We just got into season 2.

Orphan Black

Orphan-black.jpg

Cast

The main character, Sarah Manning, played by Tatiana Maslany, actually plays twelve characters! And they’re all different, not only in looks but also in voice and how they carry themselves, not to mention sexuality. Maslany does an awfully good job pulling it off.

Her fellow actors are Dylan Bruce as Paul Dierden, an ex-military mercenary, who is a monitor and boyfriend. Jordan Gavaris plays Felix (“Fe”) Dawkins, Sarah’s gay foster brother and confidant. Whether he is gay in real life or not, he does a great job as the comic relief in the series. Kevin Hanchard is Detective Arthur “Art” Bell, Beth’s police partner. Michael Mando plays Victor “Vic” Schmidt, Sarah’s abusive, drug-dealing ex-boyfriend. I felt so sorry for him (but not because he’s a drug dealer 😀 ). Maria Doyle Kennedy is Siobhan Sadler, Sarah and Felix’s Irish foster mother. They call her ‘Mrs. S.’

Évelyne Brochu is Dr. Delphine Cormier, Cosima’s monitor (I actually visualized this name as being ‘Kozimaa’), Ari Millen is Mark Rollins, a Prolethean, and Kristian Bruun as Donnie Hendrix, Alison’s husband and monitor.

Plot

I’m not going to give away too much as I don’t want to spoil the fun for you. It starts with Sarah Manning witnessing a woman, Beth Childs, who looks very much like her, throw herself in front of a train. Being in a bit of a pickle after stealing her boyfriend’s cocaine stash, she grabs the dead woman’s bag and takes her identity, not realizing the woman was a police detective. Sarah has a seven-year-old daughter, taken care of by her foster mother Shioban, that she wants to start a new life with, but Sarah has no idea what danger she has gotten herself and her daughter into.

Orphan-Black _2

What I like about Orphan Black

As mentioned before, I love the way that Tatiana Maslany plays all these different characters. She has different hairdo’s, different ways of speech, different mannerisms. It must have been so hard for her! I’m sure it’ll put her on the map of great actresses. This, of course, couldn’t have been pulled off without the great eye of the director, John Fawcett, who was bold enough to put three of the same characters interacting with each other in the same scene.

As I’m always looking for things that take me out of a scene, I’m happy to mention that the only thing that bothered me was the hairdo of Rachel Duncan. That said, it was a hard one to pull off; a high-back bob-line. With all the other wigs, there never is a moment that you think they’re fake.

All the actors play their parts excellently and the story is extremely intriguing, nothing like you’ve seen before. That said, I’m not sure if they can keep this up for five seasons. I guess I’ll be looking for something else again after season 2, but in the meantime I’ll soak up every second!

What I didn’t like about Orphan Black

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Summary

If you haven’t yet, watch it. Just watch it. It’s funny, it’s scientific, it’s got drama, romance, and action, murder and mayhem. All the good stuff.

6 Ways to get your story written

You may know I run two writers’ clubs at the local library. One weekly one for adults and one monthly one for children. I had a great session with the kids again yesterday. They’re all girls, and some are born writers. I can’t believe how they absorb what I teach them like a sponge, and how prolific and creative their minds are.

The adults seem to have more problems putting pen to paper. Yes, they have more chores and responsibilities that take up their time. I don’t deny that. One lady, though, has a particular problem with writing stuff down (you know I’m talking about you, lovely lady X 🙂 ). I’ve tried all sorts to get her to write a full story, including the ending. This post is to share with you all the creative ways I’ve come up with to get a story written.

1. Set aside a specific writing time

cuvier-eAs adults have less spare time than kids, it helps to set a specific time aside for your writing. The adult writers’ club runs every Wednesday afternoon, so I set every Wednesday morning aside for my short story writing.

I’m lucky not to have to go to work every day, but if you do, you may have to get more creative. Get up an hour earlier or work later into the night when you’re family is still/already asleep. Perhaps you can get your story down during your lunch break or while you’re commuting by bus/train/walking?

2. Just ‘write’

Writing on Mountain Top_W700This is my way. Each week we pick a few keywords and write a story about them. As soon as I know the words, I usually already know the major direction my story will be going in. I don’t always know the ending. In fact, most of the time I don’t. I like to surprise myself.

It doesn’t matter how you write. It can be with pen on paper, or typed on your computer, laptop, or phone. Any which way will do. You could write it in the sand with the tide coming in. You could even record your voice. The thing is to not let the inspiration slip away from you.

It also doesn’t matter where you write. I sit at my desk, but I have a friend who stands at his desk. Desks are not a requisite, though. You could be sitting in public transport, or like I mentioned earlier, walking to work or walking your dog (obviously, you’d be recording your voice as writing while walking is rather difficult and, quite frankly, dangerous). Some people go on holiday to write and get inspiration. You could write your story on a mountain top!

Two years of writing short stories has given me the experience to write a full story within one thousand words, but this may not be the case when you’ve just started writing. The 5-Finger Pitch may possibly help you.

3. 5-Finger Pitch

Microsoft Word - 5-Finger-Pitch.docxIt can help to know more specific what you’re going to write, when you know the major characteristics of your story. We used the 5-finger method to do this, and these are the five points you need to know before you start writing:

  • genre
  • protagonist
  • goal
  • obstacle
  • twist

I learned this system during an online creative writing course and have adjusted it a little. I changed the last ‘finger’ into the twist part. I love twists. Nearly all my stories have a twist at the end.

4. Plotting

Plotting is fun for some
Plotting is fun for some

For some, knowing these five points is still not enough to get to the ending of your story. In this case, you may want to plot your whole story before actually writing it. There are a lot of authors out there that plot every little detail of their novel before writing one sentence. I did this for my third novel and didn’t like it. Like I said before, I like my characters to surprise me and take me into directions I haven’t thought of before.

Apart from the 5-Finger Pitch, you may also need to know the following points to get your story written:

  • Setting and introduction
  • Change of status quo (at about 25%, i.e. 250 words)
  • Reaction
  • Midpoint/Resistance (at about 50%, i.e. 500 words)
  • Action
  • Lowest point of MC (at about 75%, i.e. 750 words)
  • Climax building
  • Ending/Resolution

Knowing roughly where the major turning points in your story are help you stick to the one thousand words.

5. Snowflake method

The Snowflake Method of writing
The Snowflake Method of writing

The above method does require you to know the ending. If you can’t make up your mind on how to end your story, or keep changing it, maybe the snowflake method works better. With this method, you start with writing the whole story in one sentence. Then, you divide this one sentence into three, giving you the beginning, the middle, and the end of your story. Next, you divide these three sentences each into three, more detailed ones. And so one until you have a story of about one thousand words.

Yes, this forces you to know the ending beforehand as well, but also forces you to stick with it. Well, technically, you can change the ending as soon as you’ve split it up from the rest of the story, but you’re not supposed to!

6. Start at the end

When all of the above didn’t work for my writing buddy, I racked my brain on how to get her to write a full story. As endings are her problem, maybe starting with the ending was the way to go. So, for next week, we’re writing a story starting with the end.  It doesn’t matter how detailed or how far ‘back’ you go as it’ll always have an ending (which actually is the whole point of this post).

Next week’s story is going to be a murder mystery, so it’s going to be interesting!

Write Backward
Write backward

Now, I know these methods don’t address the character arcs or tension building, etc. But that were not the issue here. These are six ways for those who have a problem writing things down and getting a full story happening. You can work on the other stuff once you have words down on paper. Like they say; you can’t edit a blank page !

If you know of any other methods of getting your story written, please do let me know. I’d love to hear them, just in case No.6 also doesn’t work…

Meet the Author… M.N. Seeley

As you may know, I follow Leonard Tillerman’s website as he reviews a lot of books. He reviewed my book as well, and after some nail-biting days, I was very happy he gave Living Like A Vampire five stars! You can read his review of it here. He doesn’t always give five stars, so you know when he does, the books are good 🙂 . So, one of the books that received five stars from Leonard was A Flicker of Shadows, by Neil Seeley. I contacted Neil and here’s the interview.

M. N. Seeley

Neil_Seeley

Biography

M.N. Seeley is a former Illustrator now working as a professional Art Director, Copywriter, Commercial Artist and Marketing Brand Consultant all rolled into one. But, what does this have to do with writing? Everything, if you ask him, because he believes storytelling is at the core of every successful creative endeavour. To him, the creative process never changes; only the medium does. He lives in Meaford, Ontario, Canada, where his children have spent years trying to teach him how to throw a football with a decent spiral. To date, they remain unsuccessful and undeterred.

Do you outline or just write?

I won’t begin writing anything until I have the entire story outlined, detailed and paced. My first novel was outlined using Post-it Notes stuck to a wall. The outline for my second novel is a 30 plus page document. I leave plenty of room for changes and sudden inspirations, though.

What gives you inspiration for your book? How did you come up with the idea for A Flicker Of Shadows? Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas

Neil_Seeley_AFlickerofShadowsA Flicker of Shadows began life as a series of children’s illustrations. However, since illustrating is a painful and labourious process for me, I found it more fun to write the accompanying story paragraphs for the paintings. That’s when I decided to forget the illustrations entirely and just focus on the writing. But, I had no interest in writing a children’s novel, or even one for young adults. The concept of transitioning into adulthood was a massive inspiration. It occurred to me that I could tell a different story based on the illustrations; a story that has one foot in the children’s world and one foot in the adult’s world. Where these two worlds rub together is where my novel lives. At least to me, I thought I had a hold of something unique.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

I was surprised by how exhausting, hive-inducing and ulcer-burning self-promotion is. I’d rather perform drug-free DIY dental work on a gorilla.

Give us an interesting fun fact about your book

In A Flicker Of Shadows, I never allowed Morton, the bat, to use contracted words in his journal. I thought this rule would make him appear uptight and repressed. 

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

It’s a curse well managed, I’d say. There have been many, many times when I wished to trade all of my creativity in just so I could play 8-ball better. At the very least, I’d like to be able to make a simple cross bank with some regularity. To date, the Devil has yet to present himself with a contract detailing the trade conditions.

What is your favorite part of the book?

The very last paragraph of A Flicker Of Shadows, particularly the last sentence, makes me happy. I enjoy the tempo of the words as well as what they imply. For the most part, it was effortless to compose. That didn’t happen to me often.

Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I prefer stand alone stories because of their finite structure. When the book is over, it’s over. Done. Myself, the reader, the person who glances at my novel laying crumpled and dirty in the bottom of a garbage bin, can all move on with their lives. Having said that, I do plan on reusing one character from A Flicker Of Shadows. A variation of him will show up in every future novel I write. Readers of A Flicker Of Shadows will likely be surprised to know which character I’m referencing.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Treasure_W700.jpgSure. I love symbolism and other hidden gems. They’re mostly there for my amusement. I like to amuse myself. A Flicker Of Shadows has plenty of meat to be picked off the bones, should one feel so inclined.

What writing/publishing wisdom would you bestow upon new writers?

You’re looking in the wrong place if you’re looking for wisdom here. I wrote a novel that I wanted to read. That alone was hard enough without adding other people’s expectations to the mix. This may not be universally true, but I think authors need to pick a lane: either write for themselves or write for an audience. Both options have merit. Both options have big concessions. For me, combining the two is madness and leads to mediocrity.

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

One reader of A Flicker Of Shadows thought my book had more in common with cult classics than popular best-selling books. That was very cool to hear. I would gladly take more of that sort of praise. I know my book won’t appeal to everyone. That’s how I prefer it.
Thank you so much for your time and your words of wisdom, Neil. I know you think they aren’t, but I think your comment on picking a lane is a very wise one. I’m still at the crossroads myself but leaning very much to the ‘write for yourself’ direction. I think that gives the most pleasure to the writer and hence the reader. You can’t please them all, so you better please the ones that do like your writing! And I can relate to your thoughts on promoting!

Neil Seeley’s book is available in eBook and paperback form on Amazon. You can follow him on the following social media: