Ebony and Frank: 3

Just when Eb thought things couldn’t get any worse for her, it did. She stood with her back against the corridor wall watching as if a fly as the two nurses wheeled Hillary’s body from her room. The one person she’d gotten close to in that God-forsaken nursing home. The one person who made it feel like home, if Eb even had a home. 
‘Is anyone coming for her?’ She couldn’t help but ask as the nurses went about the gruesome business. ‘I mean her family?’
The nurse shook her head. ‘We’ve informed but no one has confirmed yet.’
‘So what happens now? To her, I mean?’
‘Ebony. You shouldn’t be watching this.’ There was a note of deep concern.
‘She was all I knew…’ Both the nurses gave her such a pained look that Ebony couldn’t stand any longer without crying. ‘Excuse me.’

… to be continued….
Ebony and Frank: what would you do if you woke up in a nursing home with no memory of who you are and your story? 



(Bear with me. I’m still writing this particular post but I’m struggling at the moment with a nasty flu and couldn’t keep going for tonight. Will try my best to add to it tmw. Hope you are enjoying Ebony and Frank. Looks like this is the start to my fourth novel or my 2nd spec feature. Haven’t decided yet.) :)

Carefree steps

I tend to generally write a poem that fits a novel in writing, and this I usually do without realizing. Must be the fact that that story will subconsciously continue writing itself in my mind. 

Carefree Steps is something I wrote and rewrote couple of days ago and it’s supposed to fit the new spec Ebony and Frank. But something doesn’t feel right or sound right. (The flu has muddled my brains!!)

Would love an opinion or two on this if any one is game. :)

Carefree steps

Into the darkness 

strays carefree steps,

the dying light 

sleeps amongst the land of promises

by morrow, the light will bring everything 

but home

which by and large you passed 

an age ago. 

Ebony and Frank: 2

Ebony watched the nurse as if there was nothing more to do than watch the nurse. The middle-aged woman was doing her routine rounds. When she happened upon Eb’s way, she stood blocking the way. ‘Put me to work.’
‘I’m sorry, what?’
‘Put me to work. Give me something to do. Anything. Anything at all. I’ll even clean the bed pans.’
‘We haven’t got bed pans in years, love.’ The laughter echoed.
Ebony certainly didn’t think any of this was funny. ‘I’m going mad here, Shivone. Help me out.’
Shivone shook her head. ‘You know it’s against the policy to let our residents do our work, Eb. You know that.’ Shivone pushed past her. ‘I’ve told you that time and again.’
‘Please,’ Ebony held her by her arm. ‘I’m not a resident really, am I? I have all my senses.’ When Shivone gave her a look, Eb felt defeated. She clicked her tongue. ‘Oh, you know what I mean. At least I can move and hold a conversation!’
‘Oh, alright. Go see how you can help old lady Judd over there. She hasn’t been feeling terrific lately and no one comes to visit her anymore unless there is a problem. She is a little lonely.’
Ebony turned to see the 90 year old Hillary laying still as a statue on her bed. ‘Why don’t her people come?’ It wasn’t an accusing question.  She just couldn’t mask her own longing for someone, anyone to visit her. 
Shivone shrugged. ‘Too busy.’ She walked away, shaking her head as Eb pondered the short reply. ‘Everybody is too damn busy these days.’
Eb turned and walked her way to Hilllary’s bed. Hillary suffered bouts of dementia, and the only thing she seemed to ever really love doing was have a book read to her as she was almost clinically blind. The word on the vine was, Hillary once used to be a writer. That’s where her fortune was said to have been made. H.L.Judd. Ebony couldn’t recall if she ever read any of her books. 
She grabbed the Hungry Caterpillar book from Hillary’s side table, settled herself down on the armchair and opened the book. ‘I’m going to read you a book, okay, Hillary?’
The woman looked at her with barely a smile, prompting Eb to think, at least you have days where you’re not lonely. ‘The Hungry Caterpillar…’ She began, fighting a knot in her throat from forming. She wasn’t going to do it, pity herself. Not here.

Night grows deep

So silent, the night grows deep,

deeper still lays something, watching 

the pinprick glistens, ever so slightly 

hidden behind a slivered space of the wooden paneling,

waiting, biding, enticed as you slip so comfortably into sleep.

As the night grows deep, beyond the walls 

it breathes.

Biding.

With time, the night goes deep.

Ebony and Frank

‘Do you remember anything? Anything at all?’
She shook her head. 
‘No snippets of vision, no names you remember? A landmark? Or where you lived? What it might have looked like?’
Suddenly, old barn doors flashed in her mind. Just the doors. Closed. ‘I don’t know. Maybe.’ She stared at the ceiling. At the circle light fitting. They’d been going over and over this for the last few weeks, and no, she didn’t remember anything.
‘Ebony?’ 
She continued to stare at the ceiling. ‘Are you even sure that’s my name?’ She finally spoke. A hint of resignation in her voice. She was tired. She was getting nowhere with finding out who she was. She was also getting a headache. She turned to the man she knew as the resident psychologist, Dr Graham. ‘How do you know that’s my name?’
Dr Graham showed no emotion, no sign that he was any more caring about her than the flower vase on his coffee table, with wilted flowers crawling over the rim. ‘You were found with a charm bracelet that read…’
‘Ebony. I know, I know,’ she rose from the chair. Had had enough for the day. ‘I’ll let you know if anything comes to mind.’ She headed for the door.
‘Ebony,’ his placid voice caused her to shiver. It was a voice that noone could grow to love. ‘Do try, yeah, to remember. Every little bit helps. Fran tells me you were asking to join the art sessions. I think it’s a wonderful idea. Maybe you’ll draw something that you can recognize.’
‘Sure, doc.’ Ebony slipped out the room, into the wide wheel-chair friendly corridor. She saw Cecile pushing her walker at a snail’s pace in front of her, probably trying to get to the dinning hall.
‘Here, let me help you,’ Ebony pushed her arm below the old woman’s elbow and helped her along. Cecile smiled, her dentures missing this morning. ‘You forgot your teeth, Cecile.’ Ebony smiled.
Cecile nodded. ‘You don’t look so old.’ She shuffled her feet. Cecile always said that to Ebony, everyday. Same old thing. In fact, Cecile was right. Ebony wasn’t really what you’d call nursing-home material.
As Ebony walked alongside the woman she caught glimpses of herself on the glass surfaces they passed. No, she wasn’t old. Just unfortunate. 
‘Who are you?’ Cecile turned. Already forgotten that Ebony was helping her. 
‘Call me Eb, Cecile,’ the words just slipped out and she caught herself. Eb. Was that her nickname? 
‘Eb.’ Cecile pushed her walker along. ‘Your children dumped you here too?’
Ebony shook her head. Going by her reflection, she couldn’t have been more than 30. At least that was the guess of hospital staff when she’d been brought in from the side of the road. Not a stitch of belonging on her bar the clothes and the bracelet she wore. The police had assumed hit and run. But then again, she’d been found on the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere. Where had she been walking to, or from?
Since there was no missing persons report matching her description, no one had come forward either. The local channel had even had a bulletin or two on her, but no calls had come in. So, the hospital did what hospitals do, they moved her along to a nursing home after her bones and fractures had healed. 3 months on, and still, Ebony didn’t have a single shred of memory come back. Not yet anyway. Except the barn doors she kept seeing in her dreams. 
‘I don’t know if I have any children, Cecile. I don’t even know if I’m married. Or whether I have a husband, a family. Anyone really.’ 
‘That’s nice dear.’ Cecile smiled as they finally reached the dinning area. Ebony forced a smile, sat her down on the nearest chair and rushed out into the garden area. Some days she panicked. What if she could never remember who she was. What if this was her life, living amongst people who barely remembered who they were or where they were.
She slipped out into the downpour. It was cold, it was miserable, but for just a moment, she didn’t have to pretend she was fine. Ebony, or whoever she was, she was not fine. The cold rain latched onto her, forcing those thoughts away, but another replaced it…
Who are you? The thought streamed across as always. Who the hell are you?

How long do you brew?

Seriously, I’m interested in seeing the differences out there. How long do writers brew, or rather stew on an idea before they begin writing it down? How long do you normally take? A couple of days, a few weeks, months maybe, or even years? 
I normally take weeks if they are novels, and a day or less if they are short stories, poems etc. I take a couple of days for short scripts and a couple of months for features. The longest I’ve sat on a story before starting to write it is a few months. 
In those months, what do you do? Do you plot the whole affair from beginning to end, or just major story arcs? Do you figure out your characters? 
I find that I usually focus on story arcs and character profiles, but in saying that I don’t set these as immovable before I write them down. Even as I start writing, I know I have to get from A to D to J and eventually Z, but the whole planning (and I use this word loosely) can go out the window as I write without restraints. 

Well, my dilemma here is that I have an idea, a very brief overall arc of the story and the two protagonists I’ll be writing about, but I am so tied up with other projects that I feel this will have to take a backseat for God knows how long. Is it wise to lay aside a story? What has been some of your experience? I’m kind of nervous that if I don’t at least brew on it for a little while, I’ll lose the story, the spark that inspired it. 
All I know is that I have the title for the story already and the characters: Ebony & Frank.

The theme: recognizing one’s true self through the eyes of others.  

 

The ‘Dream’ we dream (When not to approach agents and publishers): notes from an amateur writer.

If you’ve found yourself clicking on this post, then I’m safe to assume that you are either someone starting out in writing and dream of being published, or, you are an experienced writer/producer wanting to see how much of a fool I’m making myself in this post and what other silly things I might write beside the title that obviously got you to click.

Well, here’s the thing. I am amongst those who dream of being a writer whose work gets picked up by a publisher/agent. An action that will mean ‘Yes, we made it!’ We have achieved the dream we set out to make reality. Despite self-publishing my debut novel and despite entertaining the notion of self-publishing my second novel, I am still in fact hoping, praying and dreaming that one day I get to sign on the dotted line. As a writer, regardless what stage of that dream you are in, I guarantee that you have dreamed of being ‘picked up’ as it were. I know I have. 
There are certain things you should definitely heed if you are wanting to go down that path, and other things you should definitely consider before you make your decision.

1) Get unbiased opinion on your work:-
this doesn’t mean you give it to a family member of friends, or family members of your friends and asks them to be ‘objective’. I mean, get a genuine stranger to read your work and give you an honest feedback as to the overall story, the strengths and weaknesses, characters, what works, what doesn’t etc. You can find these people in writing groups, or hire a professional.

You need this to truly gauge how strong your work is, or not. All this before you embarrass yourself by sending subpar material to agents and publishers. Don’t even take that chance. 

2) Take the sound suggestions made by the said ‘unbiased’ reader (or readers):
– You don’t need to and should never take every single advice from your readers. If there is a pattern, and obviousness that occurs through the feedbacks, then I suggest you take them on. If however, a suggestion doesn’t settle well with you, then remember that the story at the end of the day is your. Only make the changes that you feel surely add to the overall strength and unity. Otherwise, make wise decisions on which suggestions work for you.

3) Don’t be afraid to re-write:-
Though re-writing is the bane of our existence, unfortunately, you must do it. Don’t rush it, don’t hate the process, just get on with your ego to the side and do what’s best for the story. It’s all about that story. You have to make it be what it could be. Sometime you will find that you only have to rewrite very little, a paragraph here, maybe a chapter there, but other times, you will have to completely re-write a section or the whole story. Don’t be depressed by this. All of us go through it. Just do your job, which is ultimately the coherence and cohesion of your story. 

4) Don’t send it in till you are absolutely proud of it:
– Until you reach such a moment, always know that every work can be continuously improved as time goes. But you must be sure there isn’t much more you can add to the work without the guidance and keen eye of a producing house. Until such moment, keep at it till you can make it as good as you can make it. Then, you are good to go. Send it out and see what comes back. Sometimes it will be nothing, just silence, but you learn. Maybe another time, you might just be in luck.

5) If you go down self-publishing path, don’t rush your trimmings:
– If your story is your main course then think of your cover as your enticing appetizer and your blurb as the entree. The dessert is the pay off of having found out what the book is about. Please pay great attention to both of these sidekicks: cover and blurb. Most often I have seen pretty bad covers on what are great stories, and chances are I wouldn’t have read them if I didn’t know the person. Our readership are pretty much the same and we all inherently judge value based on appearance. There are some cover designers out there who work with indie authors for a small fee. See if you can find them.

6) Don’t let silence take your joy away:-
if you haven’t heard back from publishers or get rejected more times than you can throw a pen at, don’t let it pull you down. Maybe you work isn’t ready, or maybe it’s not a fit with the house you approached. Keep trying and while you do that, keep yourself distracted. How do you do that? Just write that other story you have been meaning to write. Focus on that. It won’t promise that you current one will get picked up but at least you are preoccupied and doing something you enjoy, and at the end of it all, you may even have two stories to pitch rather than the one. 

Well, I’m sure there are more things I could rattle on about, and I’m sure there is a whole array of things you and I have yet to learn. These are just the few things I’ve gone through myself and thought I’d share, in case there is just one of you who can benefit from these. 
Keep writing those stories chapter at a time and enjoy.
Goodnight.

What To Do WHILE Querying

Eva Acharya:

If you’re thinking about becoming an author, here are some raw in for and insights for you to be mindful of. (Ps. I love when I can hear the voice of the writer in what they write, and found that in this piece and thought I’d share.)

Originally posted on Nightwolf's Corner:

A few months ago (okay, six months ago), I posted a surprisingly popular piece about what not to do when querying, detailing all the things authors should avoid, as well as some of the things they shouldn’t (I posted a reprise of it last week too, in case you were wondering). But that only covered the initial part of the process, the actual act of querying. Today, I want to talk about things you, as an author, can do while you wait oh-so-patiently (yes, that was sarcasm, people) for those elusive responses. And in keeping with the tone of the previous post, there will probably be at least a tiny bit of snark, so be ready.

What To Do WHILE Querying

(aka How to Avoid the Finger-Drumming Lure of Bad Decisions)

Let’s face it, waiting sucks. It has always sucked. And it will continue to suck, because it’s waiting. And…

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To Blog or Not to Blog…Does it matter as long as a writer writes?

Eva Acharya:

As I sit here contemplating my own Author platform, here’s another writer’s thoughts on the same thing.

Originally posted on Kate Dancey:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA image: Graphics1796

So you’ve taken the first steps toward writing a novel. Me too! And might I add; holy carpel tunnel, what an undertaking.  Aside from a novella pubbed with a small house, and a self pubbed short story, I’m new to the journey of writing longer bodies of work. And now that I’ve got a couple of novels closing in on completion, I’m revisiting the notion of blogging before the novel is finished. Why blog before you’re writing journey is finished? Let’s explore that idea, because if you, like me are already writing every night, you need a reason to take that next step, and write some more!

So, do you really need a blog or website?  I’m tempted to answer, “HELL YES”, but that gets us nowhere. It is also a short answer for a long journey. Ask yourself two questions to determine if having a blog or…

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Writing style: Long-handed writing

How prevalent are computers and tablets, and little ‘Note’ apps on phones? Pretty much everywhere. You’d think they’d put notebook makers and other paper product out of business, but, luckily, we can still enjoy a well bound and finished notebook in our hands. 

I tell people I write and they immediately assume I write straight onto the digital page. When I say ‘No, I actually psychically write my books on paper’, the mouths fly open. It’s something people can’t fathom a writer doing in the modern digital age, but I’m not the only one. There are lots of writers out there that like writing with a pen in hand. I LOVE it. The only time I’ll use a computer is to type up the story I’ve written longhand.
It sounds crazy but it’s true. The reason I do it is several, but here are just a few you might like to hear:

1) I write faster than I type,

2) I can actually focus on the story and not the screen. Writing by hand is obviously more natural than staring at the distracting screen, 

3) It feels more free, and comfortable,

4) I can take it anywhere, no chargers needed and is often lighter than the laptop,

5) It’s how writing has been done through the ages and I like being part of that club,

6) I’m not tempted to edit what I just wrote, therefore keeps me focused on getting more writing done than fussing over mistakes I can mend later, hence, helps me keep pace,

7) Is a lot calming; studies have proven that people using their computers and phones before bed struggle to fall asleep, and I tend to do most of my writing before bed.

Fact about my previous books: 
1) In Strange Company took me 5 years on and off to write and a few more on and off to edit. It also took about 700 sheets of A4 lined paper.
2) Rule of Thirds took me a year to write, and 7x250page notebooks. ( Releasing later in August)
3) A Million Smiles for June, I started writing this late last year and am still going, on and off between my studies and film attempts. So far, I’m on chapter 13, notebook #2, and I already have about 6-7 notebooks ‘handy’ should I need them.
What I want to own one day?: A classic typewriter.
(Something about sitting at a typewriter and punching out a book has such an attractive appeal to it.) 
How do you write? And most importantly, what do you use to write?

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