Creative Writing Cafe – Term Three – Lesson Eight

THURSDAY 22nd NOVEMBER 2012

I was unable to make last weeks class so this week I bring you both pieces of homework .

The previous weeks homework was to take an existing character and write about what happened to them when the story finished. I went down The Hunger Games route and my piece leads on from the ending of the third book in the trilogy Catching Fire.

For those of you haven’t read the books it may be worth skipping over this section just incase there are any spoilers.

In the epilogue, twenty years later Katniss and Peeta are married and have two children. The Hunger Games are over, but Katniss dreads the day her children learn about their parents’ involvement in both the Games and the war. When she feels distressed, Katniss plays a comforting but repetitive “game,” reminding herself of every good thing that she has ever seen someone do. The series ends with Katniss claiming that “there are much worse games to play.

It had been a contentment she dared to dream, yet dared to accept. Happy endings didn’t happen to Katniss and she often found herself nipping the skin on her arm for reassurance that it was indeed real.

She watched lovingly as Peeta scooped up their youngest, her braided hair swooshing the air as he twirled her around. She felt a pang of longing, the memory bitter-sweet of when her father used to do that to her when they had been successful in their hunting.

Their oldest, a boy who mirrored Peeta’s handsome looks and Katniss’ fiery personality, pounced on her back, squeezing her tightly before trying to drag her up in desperation to show her the rat trap he had made.

It had been a talent she had taught him, hoping in vain that he would never have to use it in the circumstances that she had. A small part of her remained cynical to the facet that it was all over, over-cautious in preparation for her children should the worse become of them again.

It had been ten years since the fall of the Capitol; an inevitable marriage built on trust, survival and instinct had ensued, whimsical and fulfilling all that Katniss had ever worked for. However she could never fully relax into the life, the threat that it would be ripped from her grasp at any second was a fear that struggled to disappear.

The Hunger Games were no more.

Yet they had been a part of her life as natural as inhaling and exhaling. Even a decade on, Katniss still couldn’t shake the dread that she felt with every impending reaping.

Someone stroking her hair pulled her from her thoughts and she looked into the eyes of Peeta, who piggy backed their daughter as she squealed in delight.

It was a sight she drank in and savored, she remembered her refusal to ever get married and have children for the very reason of the Hunger Games. Since the demise of The Capitol and the eradication of The Hunger Games, Katniss had softened to the idea and for the first time in her life saw hope and felt pure happiness.

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Last week’s homework was to write 750 words on how a relatively prosperous and happy member of society ends up falling through society to become homeless, penniless and with nothing. Well, the following also comes with a warning as it’s not the happiest of stories so here goes…

The cold sliced bitterly through his hands as the thin thread from his woollen gloves unravelled in tatters around his grip on the black bin liner. The energy summoned to put another battered boot forward was more than that released from the half eaten sandwich, rescued from a bin and devoured with relinquished hunger,  would allow. Nausea and fatigue wrapped around him simultaneously as he slumped to the frosty floor.

The light from the pub window above him shone down like a sore wound from his past as the revellers clinked their drinks and laughed raucously in Christmas glee.

Christmas drinks with the staff.

That had been him once upon a time; buying the rounds in, organising fancy Christmas Parties for his staff and placing an infinitive tab behind the bar. Watching the carefree expressions on their hardworking faces as they revelled in free booze had brought him a sense of joy and satisfaction.

He had loved his job; Director of his own successful company by the age of thirty had been one of the many things he had achieved on his life’s wish list. Marrying Tara and having their two beautiful daughters had been another. His hard work had earned them a lovely five bedroom detached house with luxury holidays at least twice a year. Life couldn’t have got any better than that.

And it didn’t.

As the snow fell from the skies and settled on his flaccid body, the sting of the flakes landing on any exposed skin jolted electrifying pain through his body as his blurry mind recalled that horrific night.

They weren’t going to go.  Tara had a severe cold, yet the trooper that she was insisted that they still go out for the annual family pantomime night to the local theatre. His girls loved the occasion and dressed in their finest party frocks as daddy always treated them to a lovely meal in an amazing restaurant beforehand. A few flakes of snow had escaped from the sky, drifting lazily before stubbornly refusing to settle on the wet ground. He and Tara had watched in delight as the girls squealed with excitement and awe, before having to comfort their sighs of disappointment when they realised there would be no snow man building.

He would never forget how she looked that night. Her porcelain skin paler than usual yet it still glowed as her smile radiated through. Her black hair all tousled up in a bun. He was the luckiest man alive.

A car drove by as he lay on the pavement half propped up against the pub wall; his foot dangling in the doorway, the power of the headlights blinding him through his defeated closed eyelids. A howl of pain escaped his lips as the headlight conjured a memory that stabbed through his brain. That had been the last thing he had seen before the accident, the intense fiery lights of the devil coming towards him about to snatch away everything he had ever worked for.

A drink driver had ploughed head on into his Audi. He later cursed himself as he regrettably nearly took the Range Rover when he had seen the first few snowflakes starting to fall, but had decided it against it as the Audi would be easier to park in the multi storey. The force of the impact had sent the Audi spiralling off the road, jamming it into a tree.

What followed was a disco of blue and white lights as he danced at deaths door. Four days of blissful coma induced sleep saw him skipping through luscious meadows, hand in hand with his girls as a peaceful white light watched over them. The intensity of the love and contentment he felt was suddenly snatched away from him as consciousness ripped through him. Devastation that all he had worked for, all that he had dreamed of had now been shattered as he learned he was the only survivor.

Tears of guilt, anger and frustration had attached themselves firmly to him, following his every move and had never left him since. The gaping wound was filled with copious amounts of alcohol, rendering him as dreadful as his family’s killer as he was later caught drink driving and subsequently banned. Lonely nights were spent gambling in a casino until he was penniless. His business suffered and with the added blow of the recession, it folded. His possessions and his cars were sharply snapped up by bailiffs whilst his house was repossessed.

 A jolt to his leg resurfaced him from the depths of his depression as the merry pub patrons stumbled out of the pub, knocking his foot in the process. As he tried to focus his eyes, he saw someone bending over him and the faint words, “Can I help you sir?”    

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Next week’s homework is a two parter, this first part is to;

* Create a Main Character whose journey through a story can fit different types of stories

* To come up with a template of my own and two different plots on top of it. Summarise the template in one a couple of sentences. The plot example is a paragraph.

We will then discuss these at next weeks lesson in order to write the stories ready for our final lesson.

To read:

Jane Austen – Northanger Abbey

EDITING:

A bit of advice discussed in today’s lesson was to consider when cutting paragraphs, place them in another document incase you want to use them at a later stage.

A tip that Woody Allen did when he edited his films was that he kept the edited pieces and placed them aside to possibly use in other films.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Jody Gehrman – Audrey’s Guide To Witchcraft

SUNDAY 18th NOVEMBER 2012

Please note this post does contain affiliate links,

Today I finished my Halloween themed-read, Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft by Jody Gehrman, a Young Adult novel about a seventeen year old witch in training.

Missuswolf Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft bookcover

Synopsis

Falling in love, baking a magical cake, fighting an evil necromancer–it’s all in a day’s work for Audrey Oliver, seventeen-year-old witch-in-training. When her mother goes missing and her mysterious “cousin” shows up out of the blue, Audrey knows something’s gone horribly, dangerously wrong. Now it’s up to her to get her own magical powers up to speed before everyone she loves is destroyed by the sorcerer intricately connected to her mother’s secret past.

Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft is more than just a novel; it’s a book of spells, a collection of easy recipes, a charming coming-of-age tale, an enchanting romance, and an action-packed adventure. As Audrey overcomes her insecurities and learns to protect herself against the wicked black magic of her nemesis, she grows into a heroine we can root for–a witch who knows that true power comes from deep within.

A great piece of fantasy

that is poetically written.

What I appreciated the most was the poetic style of writing that the author has, her descriptions and use of language really caught my attention. I loved the flow and rhythm of the sentences which were so beautifully described, the author really has a way with words.

Examples are:

The sun had set but enough light remained to stain the splotchy clouds a beautiful orange (36%)

Buttery moon (41%)

And one of my favourites – totally fab desc:

We looked out over vineyards aflame in red and gold, brilliant fiery swaths of colour draped over rolling contours. The scene radiated peace. I sipped my water and watched the starlings swoop like a team of tiny acrobats. There were so many of them they formed a cloud in the air, one that changed shape and undulated constantly (43%)

Veins throbbed as if filled with ground glass (93%)

There is a great fantasy storyline carried by vivid character’s; such as cheerleader Dallas, who you love to hate, as well as Audrey’s adorable best friend Bridget. I particularly loved the contrast of Audrey’s younger sister Meg to that of her own character.

There is a sequel to the book so the end is left on a pleasant cliffhanger and I look forward to reading more books by Jody Gehrman. Her writing style reminded me of that which is similar to Rosemund Lupton.

Get Your Copy Here  Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft: Volume 1

Visit her website here.

Love Missuswolf xxx

New Release – Prodigy by Natasha Brown

SATURDAY 17th NOVEMBER 2012

Book Release and Giveaway!!!!

Today marks the release of Prodigy, the 2nd book in The Shapeshifter Chronicles by Natasha Brown. Prodigy returns to the story of Chance and Ana after the death of Chance’s grandfather. Chance Morgan’s dreams are haunted by the last moments shared with his grandfather. Memories of the fateful day when he died plague his thoughts, and without his grandfather’s council, his shapeshifting powers mysteriously fail him. Desperate to seek out a new mentor and learn more about the mystical world he was sheltered from, Chance must travel far from home to hunt for answers. Ana Hughes has only known Chance for a few months, but he quickly found his way into her heart. Since being rescued from Chance’s power-hungry cousin, and coming back from death, Ana is unwilling to leave his side, and joins him on his quest to the Yucatan in search of a new mentor. When Chance’s memories fall into place and reveal a threat from their past, Chance and Ana must fight to survive – or die trying.

 

Natasha was born in Nevada City, California. An only child, she used her imagination while exploring the forest surrounding her home. Her natural interest in fantasy ignited when her parents read ‘The Hobbit’ to her as a youth, and from then on anything seemed possible. Once awarded with a Hershey’s bar ‘the size of a Buick’ in her High School English class for creative writing, her passion and interest in writing has never dimmed.
She now lives in Littleton, Colorado with her husband and two children.

Links!

Fledgling, Book 1 in The Shapeshifter Chronicles: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

The Shapeshifter Chronicles Official Page: Here

Natasha’s Amazon Author Page: Here

Natasha’s Facebook Page: Here

Giveaway:

Love Missuswolf xxx

Holiday Book Samples – For You!

WEDNESDAY 14th NOVEMBER 2012

 

Books make terrific holiday gifts, but finding perfect books for friends and family is always a challenge. If only we could flip through a few sample pages on our own schedules. If only the bookstore could come to us. Well guess what readers, we’re doing just that!

 Twelve amazing authors have come together to offer you an amazing opportunity to sample their latest novels just in time for the holidays—12 awesome samples and quirky holiday-themed interviews in one FREE downloadable PDF.

 Whether you like to read mysteries, romance, young adult, women’s fiction, or suspense—this group has a book for you.

 First Snow – Christine Cunningham
After The Fog – -Kathleen Shoop
A Charming Crime –  Tonya Kappes
Come Back To Me – Melissa Foster
Read Me Dead – Emerald Barnes
The Halo Effect – MJ Rose
Dancing Naked In Dixie – Lauren Clark
The Last Supper Catering Company – Michaelene McElroy
The Hurricane Lover – Joni Rodgers
The Hounding – Sandra de Helen
Milkshake – Joanna Weiss
The Ninth Step – Barbara Taylor Sissel

Each excerpt is prefaced by information about the book and its author. Concluding each excerpt is an order page with clickable links to several online retailers
You can download the PDF “Holiday Sampler” here http://bit.ly/eBookSamples, and share it with friends by sending them this link: http://bit.ly/eBookSamples.

So go ahead and sample these fantastic novels from amazing writers! And don’t forget to help spread the word!

Happy holidays and happy reading!

Love Missuswolf xxx

Cuppa and a Catch up – Author Interview with… Van Heerling

SUNDAY 11th NOVEMBER 2012

I am delighted and honoured to have guesting on my blog today Author Van Heerling who has recently released his novel Dreams of Eli.

Van Heerling’s Bio:

Van lives in Burbank, California with the lingering spirit of Redford—his adopted morbidly obese cat, which was more of a paperweight than a feisty feline, his wife and boy and their very alive kitty—Abigail

Synopsis for Books:

MALAIKA

A middle-aged man with the crushing weight of his American past seeks peace and a simpler life in rural Kenya. Armed with only his smokes and coffee he discovers a friendship with the most unlikely of friends—a lioness he rightfully names Malaika (“Angel” in Swahili). But she is no ordinary lioness nor is he an ordinary man. Between them they share a gift. But not all embrace their bond and some seek to sever it. Discover this new world rich in human truth and sensibility.

Available at:

Amazon

DREAMS OF ELI:

Southern soldier Eli West wakes in a cave and discovers he is held captive by a soldier of the Union. Shot, drugged, and tortured, he descends into the darkness and the beauty of his unconscious, uncovering a time when he was still in love, a time before war, a time before everything fell away.

Excerpt:

May 1863

Eli Age 26

During a skirmish two days ago, while in retreat, I lost my company. Somewhere in the backwoods of Northern Mississippi I finish a piece of stale bread, stand up, and lay my rifle against my shoulder.

It is not the crack of the enemy Enfield rifle round that startles me. It is the sifting whispers of the bullet as it splits the wild grass in my direction. The shooter, by the sound of it, is between four hundred and five hundred yards off. I know this because I have the same standard issue. The ball strikes me hard in the lower left shin. White searing pain shreds up my leg and body like a thunderbolt.

I stumble. My rifle catches most of my weight as I plow it into the soft earth from where I had just risen. But the shock is too great. I lose my grip—falling hard and fast to the cool soil where I crush my face against a large granite boulder. The flavors of shattered teeth, and metallic blood sour my mouth. But all I can think about is the next eighteen seconds—enough time for my enemy to reload. The shot that I will never hear is upon me. I knew I would die in these woods. I just did not realize I would be alone. But at this end I do not want my brothers next to me. I want Cora. I wait for the final shot, but it never comes. Instead, blackness takes me.

Available at:

Amazon

Now wrap your hands around that cuppa and get snug as we get to know the lovely Van Heerling…

Hi Van Heerling and welcome today, thanks for stopping by.

First of all, congratulations on the publication of your new novel, Dreams of Eli.What inspired you to write this book?

I have been fascinated with the 1800s for a while now. When this tragic story came to me it twisted my guts and burned in my mind. I say this with love, but I hope it will do the same for the reader.

 How did you start writing? Was there a particular book or moment in your life that spurred you on?

How about I answer the other side of this question. As a boy I struggled in class. Words were not my friends. I despised the written word. The pop quiz with the dreaded essay question at the end; the “what did you do over the summer vacation” paper. I remember walking home from school when I was eight years old, and being astonished by the idea of someone making a living by writing. To choose such a dismal existence was beyond my comprehension.

Some time in my early twenties is when I started writing. It hit me like a baseball bat to the face.

 You have also had published two other novels; Malaika (which achieved 45,000 downloads – congrats!) and Midnight. Out of your three novels, which did you find the most difficult to write and why?

 One tiny correction, Midnight has not been released yet but the draft is done. My author friends may raise an eyebrow after I declare this but it is the truth. I have not experienced difficulty in writing. I don’t get writers block, I get frustrated if my manuscript isn’t finished by my deadline. I can hear the comments now, “Oh watch what you say Van… you’re going to jinx yourself. No. I don’t play into that kind of stuff. I have a system and it works very well for me. I can sum it up with a quote of mine: “The muse has tapped my shoulder and my ear is turned toward her lips. I am waiting for her whisper.” ~vh~ Perhaps I should explain. I don’t force myself to write. If the story wants to be told it will come to me. I have manuscripts that are tucked away unfinished. Writers block you say, I disagree. I am still “waiting for her whisper.”  

 How do you organise your writing time?

I write late. I am a night owl. I do my best writing when the family is asleep and I am able to click my keyboard into the night. Sleep is all fine and well but writing is better.

 Do you have any wise words of advice to pass onto aspiring authors like myself?

Yes. Start now. And take your time with your projects. Don’t try and do everything yourself. At minimum, hire an editor and a cover artist. I recommend that your work be edited at least three times. Typos are inevitable. I say this because you will think you have caught them all. Publish something and just wait. You will be disappointed at first and then genuinely upset. Just fix them as they come, and move forward.

Great advice – something I will definitely take on board as I am an impatient character! Finally, tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know.

The anti-bully thing is blowing up these days. I am glad to see this. Going into high school I weighed 98 pounds. Yes you read that right. Although I had a good amount of caring friends I did have a few bully encounters. As one grows up one can usually forgive and forget. Boys will be boys and all that. I say no.

If I saw them today I still wouldn’t do anything. But in my perfect world I would punch each one in the face repeatedly until I felt better. I may have to take a break and then come back later, but eventually I think I would feel better. How’s that for vengeance? We reap what we sow right? Of course one could say I am perpetuating the situation and that it will come back to me again. Perhaps this is true. But I’m bigger now.

 Thanks again for your time today Van Heerling, I have really enjoyed having you here.

Find out more about Van Heerling:

Author Website

Facebook

Twitter https://twitter.com/VanHeerling

Love Missuswolf xxx

Creative Writing Cafe: Term Three – Lesson Six – What Happened Next

WEDNESDAY 07th NOV 2012

Missuswolf Creative Writing Cafe Book and pen

I returned to class this week following the half term break and my absence at the two classes prior to that. There was no homework set for this lesson so rather than classmates having their masterpieces to read out, we were put on the spot to come up with ideas for next weeks homework.

The task set was:

* Take an existing fictional character and write about what happened to them when the story finished. We must take a character that was alive – not killed off. We can use one from a book/film/soap/drama.

The tutor gave us fifteen minutes at the desk to pool our ideas onto paper.

Well, the experience I can describe is one of instant panic, the type you are exposed to in an exam-like scenario. Where your mind blanks as everyone around you is frantically writing away, flicking through papers as you are desperately still trying to remember what your own name is. The urge is so great to take a peak at what everyone else is up to but I managed to strongly resist.

As a result, this is the utter chaos that filtered from my brain through to my hand:

* The Little Mermaid (could she have really been a man and her new husband just finds out?)

* Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games (creating an opposite called The Feast Games as to who could eat the most. A bit sadistic)

* Harry Potter

* Frodo from Lord of The Rings

* James Bond (make him gay)

* Mr Darcy (he becomes a serial killer)

I read my options out and there was a short pause as the tumbleweed blew by. I think my ideas were a bit nuts(to be polite) and this class seems to stretch into rather random loops of my imagination.

We discussed a few options and Katniss’s character was thrown about a lot; how I could write a post rebellion happy ending for her that she had always wanted then another threat looms over her. I’m also strangely drawn to Killer Darcy.

Once a character is chosen, the next thing we have to consider is:

* Do they repeat their behaviour or fight it?

I open the floor up to my readers

as to which character excites you the most.

 

Again, I have to write a story of 750 words for next week.

TO READ/WATCH

Missuswolf Creative Writing Book reading

* Gone With The Wind

* Read The Hobbit and then Lord of The Rings

* The Killing (Danish programme with subtitles currently onto 3rd series)

* The Scandal (American Politics fast moving drama)

* The Bridge (Scandinavian Subtitles)

* The House of Elliott (TV Series possibly on yesterday channel)

INTERESTING TOPICS OF CONVERSATION:

This term we are having such a laugh, the tangents we go off on and the banter thrashed around is making this a really enjoyable class, especially when someone says ‘Erotic’ when they mean Erratic…

The tutor came up with an interesting perspective; that of from the murderers point of view when we watch films/drama’s. His examples were first that of the Psycho film where the body is bundled into the car and pushed into a lake where, for a split second, it stops and doesn’t roll any further. As a viewer, you willingly want the car to keep rolling and then realise you are somehow on the side of the killer. The same happened in a Cracker episode where Robert Carlise was a shaven headed killer who took newspaper clippings of his kills. The police attended his house on suspect enquiries and walked past these clippings on the wall, all the while the viewer subconsciously willing the police not to see it. Something for me to muse over and one day write into a story…

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from Pixabay