Category Archives: Inspiring Others

Short Journeys

I have talked about short stories before and how important they have been to me on this journey to become ‘real writer’… that makes me think of Pinocchio I want to be a real boy… 

I think, all too often, we tend to overlook the short story form, assuming that the real success and I guess therefore the real creativity and even the real money is to be made from the novel that becomes the bestseller that becomes the Hollywood blockbuster… and so on. But short stories have also been made into movies you know. And besides, not all short stories want to grow up to be movies, do they?

I always talk about how I ‘cut my teeth’ as a writer working on the short form, and how important this was for me in terms of developing my style and honing my craft and I have spurts now of still writing short stories and sending them out. When I did that earlier this year I had three successes and two of those placements has resulted in a publication; one of which is now available to pre-order, I was runner-up! So I thought I would share a short extract of that as a teaser with some links…

Thinking in Circles

In order to understand something, we must exist outside it.
We are all made of numbers.
Aged 13, Size 8 shoes, Form 5, the 14.35.
We are all on a journey to somewhere from somewhere else with
our eyes half-closed.
And sometimes we get stuck.

You are standing there. Head tucked down; reminds me of a
penguin. The strap of your big blue school bag cuts across your blazer
and it’s as if there’s a thread attaching your head to your shoes. Not
shiny new shoes. These are scuffed, end of term Clark’s one-size-too-small
shoes; they didn’t buy new shoes. Because of what happened
over the summer.
It’s the thing – the thing no one will want to talk about – but they
will talk about it. They’ll whisper. They’ll pretend they’re not talking
about it.
People say bad news is always better when it happens to
somebody else but even when it happens to somebody else,
sometimes it’s happening to you.
You shuffle last year’s shoes to the front; to the desk you used
last year. And the year before. And the year before that. Soon they’ll
all come in and sit where they always sit and nobody will ask. But
they’ll all know.

They’ll all know because it was in the Echo. It was in the Echo
over the summer. Shock had filled up the kitchen: a line of uttered
Oh Gods.
In the sound you were sure you heard something break.
Not like a snap. Not like an ornament shattering into a million
pieces. Not like that. And not like the jolt of something stopping
suddenly, because that happens all at once. This was like a slow
unpicking along the seams.
It happened because of what happened over the summer. It
happened to your dad when he went quietly mad and your nan had to
move in.
It was in the Echo. Everyone knows. About the thing – not your
dad going quietly mad, or your nan moving in. About the thing. The
thing that happened over the summer.

The train left London at 14.35. The name on the front said
Southend Victoria…

© Debz Hobbs-Wyatt 2017, With Our Eyes Open, Published by Bausse Books October 15 2017

The book is available now for pre-order as an eBook and a paper version will follow in tine for Christmas! I will share the link again!

With Our Eyes Open

Order me…

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When To Delete {Editing Tips}

 

editing

All I can say is: be ruthless when it comes to anything that’s — clunky (awkward), redundant, superfluous, extraneous, clichéd, telling, overdone…

When it comes to having a nice fluidity to your narrative you have to ensure you remove things that simply don’t need to be there, simple! Take them out and if it still works then you are on the right track. Some writers think they have to say it in unique and interesting ways. While, to some extent, that might be true it can, if you work too hard, really feel forced. Then it simply doesn’t work! I have seen some wonderful metaphors and similes lost in a crowd of metaphors and similes! The trick is to use such devices sparingly and in just the right place. This gives them power. Got it?

 

Here are just a few things to ponder… I will talk about filler and the things you can lose from the actual story tomorrow!

  • Description — this is important for allowing the reader to really ‘see inside the moment’, to visualise it as you intended them to, but they don’t need every single detail drawn in for them — just enough and perhaps more importantly to create the right mood, or tone, perhaps, even, to create the right sense of danger if you are leading them to the edge of a cliff face, for example. Sparing, yet vivid wins the day! So it really does come down to how you use your words and which ones. And if in a moment of great tension then whatever you do don’t stop to admire the view, make the description an active part of the movement itself. Look at how other writers do it!

……………………………………………………………………………….

  • Look at things like attributions; the ‘he said/she said’ in dialogue. You will find that a lot of the time you can remove these as long as you can stay with the flow of the conversation. Better to show some body language so we know who said it. And don’t write  ‘they paused’ — create the pause with an action! None of us stop and pause, well not really! Lose adverbs that are redundant if we can see how something is done or said. Lose different words for said when said is just fine (I have talked about this before!) Punchy and sharp!

……………………………………………………………………………….

  • Lose clichés as these are considered to be lazy prose! The tears streamed down the face… ugh! How about she dabbed her cheeks or some other more interesting way to show she was crying!

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  • Telling tags: These tell why something is done or said when it’s usually obvious! She stopped the man to ask the time because she was worried she was late. Telling! If we see her rush and ask the time as she rushes we can see it, it’s shown! See what I mean?

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  • Lose ‘that’ and ‘very’ and ‘just’: a lot of the time … see some of my deliberate crossings out. Also see the use of italics when I think the word is more functional so I left it in…  The way that he said it made her smile; he was just so angry (more active?); she was very jealous (though better to show this through actions… right?) Also think about some of the adverbs we overuse! Like ‘suddenly‘… So often there is no other way to interpret the action so lose it and just show the action!

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  • Pleonasms: nodding the headshrugging the shoulders; thinking in the mind… Where else? Get the idea?!!!

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The message here is very simple: if you can lose it, lose it. That way the writing becomes sharper! 🙂 Only repeat expressions or use words that are less functional in a sentence when part of character voice and there is a difference as I will show you later in the week!

Happy Tuesdaying!

5e3d161f9093134762cfbc96928654db--every-tuesday-good-morning-tuesday

 

 

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Friday Writing Prompt

Inspired by my talk last weekend, and thinking about the close interaction between fact and fiction, here’s a prompt for you.

Take a key moment in history; so something that ‘literally’ stopped the world, not just your world, so let’s say, as is the case in my novel, the death of a president, maybe 911, Diana’s death, Elvis… ? and then write a short piece of ‘alternative history’ as if it never happened. So you will need to use fictitious characters perhaps or make it a memoir piece where the event affected you, but now let us see what happened if something else happened instead… So, for example, JFK Airport used to be called Idlewild and, in fact, this is the name of Mark Lawson’s alternative history novel, if Kennedy had not died as he did and make him the icon he is, would the airport still be called that? In fact, that is the case in this novel; Kennedy is still alive years later. Perhaps juxtapose what might have happened with what did happen, so some of you might even want to write two versions…? I will leave that to you! Allow your imaginations to run wild… and not be idle! See what I did there 🙂 Groan!

Happy Writing!

Happy Weekend!

Happy Being YOU!

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Who Will Be My Friend?

Dreams never die and my dad is a testament to that! Some of you will know he is a Walt Disney artist (one of only a couple back when he started approved to work for Disney) and has illustrated many children’s books and comics over the years. He was a co-creator of the BBC’s Poddington Peas when he brought Paul Needs’s characters to life, some of you might remember.

I worked with him when my little press published The Jet-Set books at Paws n Claws for Born Free helping him to realise the dream of writing as well as illustrating his own characters.

Well I am thrilled to announce that he had another picture book of his illustrations and stories published this month by Chapeltown Books and how lovely this is for its illustrations and beautiful message that in today’s political climate is just what we need.

 

Who Will Be

The book is available on Amazon; here is the UK link! Dad will be doing talks in schools and has some planned at local libraries next month; this Saturday in Benfleet!

Do please spread the word… Dad taught me that age is no limit and if you have a dream… never give up!

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Self Editing: Eveything you need to know

I had planned a post at some point similar to this, but when I read the talented Sharon Zink’s page I decided to share it.

Sharon is an amazing writer and I have had her on my blog. She also does the same job as me in that she offers manuscript appraisals; the same level of detail.

So I decided to share this link because it really is a masterclass in writing and everything on here is exactly the kind of thing I say to clients all the time when I assess their manuscripts…

Take heed fellow scribes!

I am now about to write the homecoming chapter on Pelicans… this is exciting, it’s the final chapter when we reveal the last of the missing pieces… and it’s raining so I am loving the sounds of rain on the roof as I write! The morning goes pitter patter… ❤

Have a wonderful day everyone!

http://sharonzink.com/writing-tips/all-first-drafts-are-sht-so-heres-a-masterclass-on-self-editing/

 

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In The Spotlight: Amanda James

Mandy James April 2017

 

I have great pleasure in welcoming the very talented Amanda James back to my blog to share her latest writing news… and to interview the protagonist of her fantastic new novel Behind the Lie that was out for Kindle on Friday.

This is part of Amanda’s busy blog tour so I am delighted she found time to pop over to mine!

Look where she’s been and where she’s going!

Blog Tour Mandy James

I met Amanda through Bridge House Publishing when we published her short story in our charity book for Born Free. It’s a collection of wild animal stories, and of all our collections remains a landmark success. We launched at the Hay Festival in 2010 with the wonderful Virginia McKenna. What a day. Amanda got to read at the festival. I have since followed Amanda’s career as she has gone from success to success.

Friday (just gone) saw the release of another novel and so I asked her to do something a little different. So we have an exclusive over here today. But first let me tell you a little more about Amanda.

 

She lives in Cornwall and is inspired every day by the beautiful coastline near her home. In fact, three of her novels are set there, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Summer in Tintagel and the new one Behind the Lie – April 2017 published by HQUK ( HarperCollins).

So in an exclusive, I asked Amanda if she would interview her protagonist, Holly, for me and this is what happened…

So to set the scene… a beach house overlooking a windswept beach in Cornwall. We are on the balcony drinking tea and watching the Atlantic waves hurl themselves at the shore. We are huddled in thick sweaters, because even though it is spring, the wind is Arctic.

So, I thought we’d have a little Q&A session, is that okay? It will be fun. Please tell me your name?

The young woman sitting opposite gives me an incredulous look, her eyes reflecting the blue of the ocean.

Humour me.

You know my name, but okay, I am Holly West.

Tell me what you’re most afraid of?

Holly sighs and takes a sip of her tea. She watches at a kite surfer but I can tell she sees something else. She wrests a strand of golden hair from the wind and tucks it behind her ear. Eventually she looks back at me.

People thinking that I’m not telling the truth, that I am still the woman I used to be.

Why so sad? What has happened to you?

There is no hesitation this time.

So much has happened in such a short time …When my childhood sweetheart left for the army, I left too. I moved from my village in Cornwall to be a model in London. Caught up in everything that goes with such a glamorous life, I was lost, alone…disgusted with the person I became. But then I met Simon and he helped me turn my life around. I was so happy when we married and I fell pregnant with twins but then my son died. Well, that’s what they told me, but I know he’s alive.

What do you want most from the world?

A sad little smile turns up one corner of her mouth.

That’s easy. To find my boy, make a life for us all back in Cornwall and to just live an ordinary life.

What will happen if you don’t get it?

Her expression grows dark and the clouds roll over the sun.

I can’t think about that… I won’t think about it.

Is there something about you the reader never finds out about you, Holly?

There are secrets about me that only you know, Amanda…

 

 

Want to know what happens? This is it…

Behind the Lie Cover

Holly West has turned her life around. She’s found a successful and loving husband in Simon and is expecting twins. She is definitely a woman who has taken back control of her future.

Until she gives birth, only for one twin to survive. Holly can’t let it go.

Holly’s world is in a tailspin and suddenly she can’t trust herself or anyone else. No one believes her, not her husband or her best friend. Because she thinks she knows the truth…her son is still alive and she won’t stop until she finds him.

Buy me! 

Amanda can usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

Author links – Amanda’s blog – http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.com/

Twitter  @akjames61

Facebook mandy.james.33

 

I don’t know about you but this has certainly whet my appetite… so do download a copy… thanks, Amanda, and we wish you great success with this! Thanks for being in the spotlight today!

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Success is a State of Mind

I have always admired people who see the positive instead of the negative. I hear people saying that now something else has happened and why does life always bring them bad luck: wrong. Think again. Good and bad things happen to us all and it’s in how we deal with it we see the differences between winners and losers. Right?

“Success is not luck but hard work and the right attitude. “

So I have always championed those who take challenges, who are able to step outside their own comfort to make themselves better — but also, by doing so, to make the lives of those around them better.

I work with a lot of writers and being able to encourage others and show them that if I can do it, so can they, fills me up a million times. It makes sure I keep grounded and never stop believing that every day will be good, even if it isn’t. So when I work with writers, as well through my little publishing company for charity, when I was able to bring young writers together (at Paws n Claws that I really missed doing his year) and even in my writing group, I hope that message that you can do anything shouts out loud and clear.

If I can do it, you can.

When I moved back to Essex, just over a year ago, I already felt I had a good balance in my life, I was happy with my job, I was successful with my writing, but I wasn’t as  fit and healthy as I wanted to be, so I applied the same CAN DO IT, WILL DO IT philosophy I apply to every area of my life. I said I would find a gym (no matter what it was like, and I never liked the gym!) and I would go there every week day (health permitting or as long as it was open and I wasn’t away) and I would do that for myself. FOREVER. I mean it.

Well, as many of you know I did just that. I needed to shed weight (at least 2 stone) but I needed to feel healthy. Well, what I never bargained for was the friendship and the community that little gym on Oak Road, Canvey Island gave me. Really. It has changed my life in so many ways. I have always liked some exercise, but trust me, it has never been high on my list of priorities until now. But the positive, inspiring, happy faces of those at Fitness 4 Life, of Dave and Angie Rowe and the whole family (the nicest family you could meet) changed my life. Really. Yeah I know that sounds dramatic, but it did. I work for myself, so to have somewhere to go every morning and people who have become the best of friends in the process, means I can’t be lonely. They are like colleagues, only a million times better.

The gym is a place I know I have to set a story at some point, because this kind of family gym, in particular, is more than a place people get pushed to their limits, it’s a family, a community and I never knew that in the other gyms I’ve been to, the corporate ones. And the stories I hear every day inspire me. No matter how bad things are, we come and we work out our frustrations. Every day we are pushed but also praised and what I love the most is the ethos the Rowe family created is one of supporting one another. It’s not about ego, it’s about support.

So I can not thank them enough for what they did to change my life, apart from having hard defined muscles where I never knew I had them (I have strong legs, who knew! And the size 8 jeans!) I have far more than that, and even the new fella came from that gym. I met someone, after ten years of not thinking something was missing. Wow.

So look people, if you live on or near Canvey, if you do anything for yourself in 2016, give Fitness 4 Life a try…

And you know, we had our Christmas Party on Saturday, a wonderful excuse to get all dressed up and have fun. This year I was looking forward to it more than ever as I am fully part of that family now… and wow. What a great atmosphere and what a sense of belonging. THANK YOU.

But, to top all of that, Dave announced that they were introducing an award in honour of a lovely woman who sadly I never met, but who was also part of the Fitness 4 Life family who passed away from cancer, way too young, this year. Her name was Kara Hiskey and she inspired so many and touched so many lives, so the award is for achievement and inspiring others. Well you could have knocked me over with a white feather when Dave started to talk about the first recipient… OMG, it was me! I think I was in a daze when I tottered to the stage in my glam dress. I could feel the tears and was holding them back. But wow. I don’t think I really took in most of what Dave said. Wow. Just glad I did not have to make an acceptance speech! But I also didn’t feel worthy, wow. Me? Little ol’ me?

But it was me! 

 

Debz

 

Holding my award…

I didn’t feel worthy when I know how good the people are who go to that gym and I think all of the Rowe family, for what they do and what they have had to overcome, deserve the biggest trophy of all, but humbly I say thank you.

But it wasn’t just me and I so pleased that the amazing Beryl Andrews, a really lovely lady and new friend, also was a recipient, not only for losing more than 8 stone this year, but the way she inspires so many people. At 74 she knows no boundaries… well done and so well deserved. An honour indeed to be stood with her. She has the best attitude ever!

 

Beryl

And last but by no means least Jason Wood who has completely changed his life with a staggering 102 lbs off since March and counting. I remember when I first met him at the gym, and how I said the way to get results is to come every day. He tells me he has always remembered that and humbly thanked me for that when he got his well-deserved award. Jason never had any confidence but now he has so much and so many friends. Well done.

Jason

Dave, Jason and Angie

 

This place, these people really change lives and the award should go to them. Thank you from all of us, that’s all I can say and I can usually say a lot! These awards, and in memory of someone special, makes sure she is never forgotten and her legacy remains in such a powerful way… but also it means each year someone else realises their worth and their place in this special family. It’s indeed a lovely thing to do. Thanks is a wonderful thing, and they always make you feel appreciated.

Award 1

Award 2

THANK YOU DAVE and ANGIE.

Best Gym Ever.

Fitness for Life

Website

Sign up and change your life… best gift you could ever give yourself. TRULY.

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