Monday, 26 July 2010

Travel Log: Sydney through a Jetlag Haze

I have been away from London for a total of four sunsets, several timezones, an entire hemisphere, and I still cannot shake the old city's dust from my bones.  Day four of my travels and I awoke...still a dear, draw those curtains and leave the tea tray at the door.

The good news with jetlag is that, if your brain feels so inclined to wake you in the middle of the night - you can reach for that book you packed! Yes, you were right to pack that.  Better still, you can write!  In fact every morning, my routine has been coffee, check the weather, work on my WIP, take a break and grab some leisurely family time. In the evenings - I write some more, and have started a 'Frequent Writer Programme' - much like the 'Frequent Flyers' however instead of air miles, I reward my writing goals with cheese, wine, champagne, cupcakes...I really like the self-imposed holiday writing treats!  And I only do it when I hit my daily word count, which has been every day so far.  Go Team WIP!

Here's a few snaps from the jetlagged haze over this weekend, on one little beach there was a plethora of activity, brave swimmers, kayakers, sailboats, even a group of stealth divers...who suddenly appeared out of the sea, like slinky black creatures of the deep.  I was a little stunned by their slinky coats.  Or was that just the haze I've been walking around in these past few days?

The perfect beach for an early morning stroll

My breakfast view seen through caffeinated eyes

Lovely homemade goodies and family gatherings

Kayakers paddle seamlessly across the bay

Old pool at Sydney beaches,
 full length bathers and floral caps at the ready?

Divers suddenly emerge from the sea

 Hanging out with family

Holiday treats for WIP daily word count!
Photos courtesy yours truly.
Snaps taken at a small local beach in Sydney, whilst I love Bondi, Manly and Palm beaches - its the smaller coves that are my favourite. 

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Gone Travelling

       Shoes, gowns, corsets...packed!

The Lady Doth Scribe will be travelling for a few weeks holiday 'down under' to see family and friends. Leaving a lovely summer for a very chilly winter...madness isn't it?  I will however be writing and blogging as much as possible.  Dare I say, travel logging?  My tweets shall be upside down for the duration of the trip.

Travel Checklist: 
Pink netbook at the ready
SLR camera 
Camera lens...did we pack the extra long lens? Right okay
Evening dresses at least a dozen; one should never get caught short 
Ridiculous heels
Swimming togs and floral bathers cap
Leopard print kaftans
Big floppy sun hat
Big pantaloons
More frivolous heels
Books, books, books!
iPad... oh wait I don't have one of those yet...Hello Christmas list?
Activity bag for small child
Activity bag for full grown adult male
Gucci play bag for moir
Eye mask for lady
Pink velour juicy couture tracksuit for flight...Oh wait, that's someone else's bag.
Presents for over-bearing Grandmamas' (only joking dears)
iPhone...iPod...all my iThings
Small dog... hang on; the kennels should've picked him up ages ago.
Er, Passport? Yes, tick that box.

Right my dears, into the breach we go...entering the long queues at Heathrow at my own peril.  Now where is that Porter? ...what do you mean we don't have porters...oh dear, smelling salts! Over here please.  What kind of holiday is this?

Photos credit: Ian Britton Free

Happy Summer Holidays All!  

Monday, 19 July 2010

Plotting Pixies and Mad Teaparties

 "You used to be much more muchier.  You've lost your muchness.'' 
Mad Hatter, Alice In Wonderland.

I have been reciting the Mad Hatter quotes all weekend.  Blame it on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, which I devoured on Friday night.  I particularly loved Johnny Depp's portrayal as the Mad Hatter, his equally eccentric friend the March Hare and their insanely infectious laughter.  Maybe some of their hysteria caught a hold of me because I spent the whole of Saturday rethinking the plotline for my main WIP, searching for that muchness.  Was there enough muchness?  Or could it be much more muchier?  By Sunday afternoon, I sat huddled over pieces of paper, scribbling wildly over my carefully plotted timeline, fresh ideas flying onto the paper.  Yes, there ought to have been warning lights going off, but no - I plodded along.  Merrily...led down the garden path by the pixies taunts the dear lady.

And so, after spending all weekend assigning fates to many chapters.  "Off with their heads!"  Yes, indeed.  There has been a flurry of activity, merging, deleting, and saving for later.   Thankfully, I am almost at the end but I have to wonder - was it all worth it?  Should I have left my plot as is and ignored those naughty pixies whispering in my ear?

Lesson learnt? Er, that would be Plot and Structure...and er, mmm I'm still learning.

Right, lesson over  - its time for fresh air and gorgeous summer days. Let the barmy lady take you on a whirlwind visit through Leeds Castle in England...another kind of Wonderland.

Summer haze through the luscious lavender, 
Very much muchier..methinks the Mad Hatter would approve.

The Queens Bath Chamber, 
if only the Red Queen had one of these, 
her moods may have improved

A White Rabbits Playground

I see the perfect spot for a Mad Tea Party, what do you see?

Photos courtesy yours truly, snapped on a hot summers day at Leeds Castle, England.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Mastering the Arabesque

Growing up, there were three different vocations, if you will, that I secretly lusted after.

1st:  A ballerina, all pink and fluffy, pirouetting across the mirrored studio to my hearts content.

2nd:  A gymnast, somersaulting across the uneven bars, in the air and landing to the judges perfect score of full 10/10.

3rd:  An airhostess, travelling the world in a glamorous jet, looking amazing, not a hair out of place. Eventually I tired of that dream, threw off the fabulous silk scarf and pillar-box hat...opting instead for an upgrade in airborne fantasies - I wanted to be a fighter pilot.  Or maybe you just wanted a fighter pilot dearie? I recall one particular darling man in uniform...the old lady reminences.

Last night I got to relive one of my childhood dreams at the ballet when I went along with two of my dear friends to see a sublime performance of Swan Lake at the London Coliseum, an amazing venue that is home to the English National Opera.

As I watched, mesmerised, breathing in each of the four acts of this ballet, I wondered, how long it must take to master this art - these delightful dance steps.  One of my dear friends was a trained ballet dancer herself and she tells me that after training for an incredible seventeen years, she would not be able to dance as the lead prima ballerina did last night.

That's alot of blood, sweat and tears right?   And I thought to myself - well if you love something so much, you just do it right?   Like writing, it takes practice, hours, days, months, years... I wonder how people persevere at mastering this craft despite the many daily challenges thrown at them.  Want to know what's top of my vocation list now?  Writing - all I want to do now is write.  How about you?

A/N: Photo credit: Fotosearch photography group. 
All images purchased rightfully.  Thank you.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Play Me, I'm Yours - A Brief Interlude

London is full of surprises.  Take this piano below, left to its own devices, to fend for itself in a small cemetery in the city's center. Its belongs to the Play Me, I'm Yours event which is part of the City of London Festival 2010.  What I really love about this piano and its setting, its the potential stories that it inspires.  Here's a scene that wafted through the dear lady's recesses whilst viewing this wonderful image.  Oh the wanderings of  a writerly writers brain.

A Brief Interlude  

Della woke, startled.  Something was different; she looked up at the early evening sky a pastel pink smeared with charcoal grey, the moon would soon be out.  A light breeze whispered through the tall oaks overhead, sending a shiver through her body.  How long had she been sleeping?  She stood now, patting down the back of her navy overcoat.  It was dusk, no one was left in the park and yet she could sense she was not alone.  What was that soft music?  Delicate notes floated through the trees, melancholic yet beautiful, seducing her entire being, filling her mind, drawing her away from the shaded nook where she had napped in the arms of the late afternoon sun.  She moved slowly, forward in a trance towards the music, crunching leaves underfoot, she is almost in the clearing. 

A row of ancient maples lines an old dirt path, which leads to the black wrought iron gates, her only way back to the street.  In the pathway, a young man in tailcoats sits bent over an old brown piano, his disheveled hair falls in waves just shy of his shoulders.  Della cannot see his face but she can feel his fingers dancing lightly across the keys, his haunting music fills the air around her. 

She hesitates in her approach, not wanting to disturb the pianist; waiting until his fingers slow to a light flutter.  Her hands move to tangle in her own hair, twisting slowly as she sways to his playing.  In an unhurried fashion, the young man lifts his head, tilting it ever so slightly in her direction, his eyes closed as he inhales deeply.  Della catches her own breath watching his chest rise and fall as he turns to her now, a small smile spreading upon his dark lips. 

* To Be Continued, Perhaps... *

Photo courtesy of a kind soul who works near the cemetery, I have altered the image to suit the mood of the story.

'Della - A Brief Interlude ' © 2010 T.Loto. All Rights Reserved

My main WIP is a contemporary romance, but I needed a break - this little snippet is an excerpt from a short story I am also developing.  *Whispers* Taking a detour many we ever stay faithful to our WIPs? 

Although I haven't entered a blogfest as yet I wanted to post a little something - I hope you enjoyed it but as I am still learning, please do let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Meandering through those Chapter One Blues

If there were a confessional box for abandoned-freshly-purchased-brand-spanking-new-books, I would be wearing the carpet thin, walking around it.  Why is that? I hear you whisper.  Well, simply because I stand guilty of buying new books, reading the first few chapters and leaving a trail of them, strewn across the house.  Bookcases, tables, the sofa...lovely doorstop material though, the dear lady utters whilst dusting her shelves.

Initially, it started with a small stack of books - they sat waiting patiently for my inner reader to return.  As the stack grew, I told myself - "no more new books until you finish that lot first."  Ridiculous notion.  Who wants to be sensible?  So why haven't I finished reading these books? I know - I'm just a little busy, don't worry I'll get back to reading them later...promise!  Several months later, the stack has tripled.  Could it be that reading multiple stories at one time has taken its toll?  Too confusing?  Better to focus on one book at a time, Grasshopper.
Truthfully speaking though, for me - its the 'Chapter One Blues' - I meander through those early chapters searching for that spark to ignite my imagination, pull me into that scene where I can eavesdrop on the shoulders of the main character, breathe their emotions, feel their happiness, sorrow and pain.  I try; I really do...and yet.  I feel nothing; I'm not drawn in, I don't understand the character.  Which is sad.
Chapter One is crucial to drawing the readers in, keeping them interested.
On further pondering, I came up with my top three reasons for abandoning the stack of spanking new books.

1)  The Voice Disappears
Although enticing at the start, that unique voice disappears with the first twenty or even fifty pages of the book.  The blurb on the back of the book was enough to open my wallet in the bookstore but once home, the voice fails to capture and hold my attention the entire way through.

2)  Story, Interrupted
I've never been a great fan of clowns, especially ones that jump out of boxes.  And I'm not a fan of authors who pop in and out of chapters randomly addressing the reader.  I don't want to be drawn away from the story with 'Well, dear Reader...I digress.  Let us return to our potty Mrs. Gardner..."  Its frustrating, patronising too.  I want to lose myself in a book, be entertained and taken on a journey away from real life.  Reminders that I'm reading a book...well, just ruin the party.

3)  The Plot Loses..Itself
Or its my perception of what the plot should be.  This excuse is ridiculous I know, however when I get so involved with a book and the plotline takes an unexpected, dare I suggest unnatural twist, one I can't agree with...well, I usually do this -"What? Thats ridiculous - she can't end up with that twat!  Who is this Johnny-Come-Lately?"  Cue snorts of disgust, toss offending book across sofa, leave the room.  Yes, there really is a secret burial ground under my sofa cushions.

Writing a rip-snorting Chapter One is difficult, I'm learning all the time.  Write, write, write, and then write some more.  My growing collection of doorstoppers does teach me a lesson - that is, to ensure my own Chapter One is in ship-shape condition.  There are so many hints for writing a brilliant Chapter One; I am drawn to this post by Chuck Sambuchino Chapter 1 Pet Peeves.  I know, its dated 2008 but still a great reminder.  Another great article I found at the Guardian online is Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.

Are there any opening lines or Chapter One bugbears which get your pantaloons in a twist?  Please feel free to air them here.


A Pantaloon = Breeches = Bloomers = Knickerbockers.

At, I found this delightful definition:

.pan*ta*loon (pnt-ln)n. 1. a. Men's wide breeches extending from waist to ankle, worn especially in England in the late 17th century. Often used in the plural. b. Tight trousers extending from waist to ankle with straps passing under the instep, worn especially in the 19th century. Often used in the plural. 2. Trousers; pants. Often used in the plural. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [French pantalon, a kind of trouser, from Pantalon, Pantaloon; see Pantaloon.]

All Chapter One Pantaloons will be culled for charity later this year.

Friday, 2 July 2010

A Beautiful Butterfly Award

 Flutter By Butterfly

Ahem, an announcement Ladies and Gents!

Last week, the delightful Lydia Kang bestowed a lovely award upon us!  I'm very excited and grateful!   Lydia had no less than five awards to select from.  Mmm almost as difficult as shoe shopping, or cupcake tasting...which one?  I chose the pretty butterfly because well...its pink and I'm girlie that way.  The dear lady and I have donned our sparkly wings and fluttered around the garden to celebrate.  Thank you Lydia! Mwah xox

There is so much positive support online for aspiring scribes and I feel really lucky to have crossed paths with so many lovely people.  Whether blogging, or tweeting - this journey thus far has been a great way to share and learn about the craft.  And I know its still early days yet.

Cue fairy trumpeters and shimmering butterfly dancers....I would like to pass this award onto the fabulous five whose blogs or stories have incited raucous laughter or caused me to sit for a while...and ponder.  Either way, I have been affected in a very positive manner.  Thank you!

The dear lady will be right along with her drinks trolley...she was last spotted trundling through the cellars in search of some decent bubbly to celebrate with you all.  

Vintage 1702-1782 & 1791

**Drinks in the garden now, do come along! **

A/N: Photo courtesy yours truly.  This pic was snapped in the Champagne region in France. 
*Deep sigh*