Total Word Count: 23,043 Today's Word Count: 2,510
10 tips inspired by famous authors
1. Ideas / Originality
'Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any.' Orson Scott Card
'There are two kinds of writer: those that make you think, and those that make you wonder.' Brian Aldiss
'Books aren't written, they're rewritten. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it...' Michael Crichton
Make everybody fall out of the plane first, and then explain who they were and why they were in the plane to begin with.' Nancy Ann Dibble
'Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I'll tell you a story.' F. Scott Fitzgerald
'I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.' Stephen King
7. Beginnings and Endings
'Don't mistake a good setup for a satisfying conclusion -- many beginning writers end their stories when the real story is just ready to begin.' Stanley Schmidt
8. Process / /Deadlines
'I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.' Douglas Adams
9. Being a writer
'I get up in the morning, torture a typewriter until it screams, then stop.' Clarence Budington Kelland
'There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are.' Somerset Maugham
Total Word Count: 20,533 Today's Word Count: 1,999
Lest we forget......
In Flanders Fields, by John McRae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Total Word Count: 18534 Today's Word Count: 392 (so far: miles to go before I sleep)
10 things every serious writer has......
Total Word Count: End of week one... 18,142 -Today's Word Count: 2,012
Hell, High Water and Harwich......
The dog needs a walk come hell or high water and today is both. I am tired at the end of week one of NaNo but happy to be ahead of the count. I use the walk to wake up, and a brisk pace in a howling gale wake the brain.
My characters walk with me and tell me their story.
I notice the surroundings and the weather, and describe it in my head. Sometimes I record snippets on my phone.
'Poppy chased a squirrel across a bed of wet leaves and in the joy of the chase, forgot that it was raining. We made wet prints in the leaves as we sought the shelter of the trees. The sky and sea merged in the distance into a grey smudge and the sun barely rose, subdued and baffled behind it,'
Total Word Count: 16,130 Today's Word Count: 3,048
Introduction to Self Publishing
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I would like to share with you the triumphs and disasters I experienced whilst publishing
The Art Forger's Daughter.
It was a steep learning curve but I am now hooked!
Would you like to publish your own work? It could be fiction, short stories, poems, or a book about your life, the life of someone you know well or have worked with. Or a book about your hobby which you can share with other enthusiasts.
Join us at The Hotel Continental on Wednesday 3rd December 10.00 - 1.00
Total Word Count: 13,082 Today's Word Count:........
Remember, remember the fifth of November. Gunpowder Treason and Plot.....
English Folk Verse (c.1870)
The Fifth of November
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England's overthrow.
But, by God's providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
I'll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!
Total word count: 13,082 Today's word count: 2,454
I am surprised that so far I am (almost) on plot but this is the nursery slopes. The setting up of characters before it all begins to unravel. That's usually when I do as well.
Total Word Count: 10,628: Words today 4,918
What why where when who how
I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
and How and Where and Who.
Word count to date: 5,710 Total words Today: 2,530
Take these examples:
You read an article in the newspaper about a road accident
A friend witnesses a road accident and tells you about it
You witness the road accident
You are involved in the road accident......
Word Count: 3,180; Chapter One...
Tomorrow a whole new blank page awaits and I will approach cautiously until I feel the rhythm which may let me dance with words again.
I am teaming up with poet Gordon Hoyles and Blossom at The Hotel Continental in Dovercourt for a new series of Writing Workshops and a Writer's Group to stir the restless creativity of Autumn.....
A blank page... an open stage, full of possibilities....
Whatever you love to write - fiction, short stories, poetry,
life stories, diaries, anecdotes... join us for an informal
creative writer's group in Dovercourt.
Thursday 23rd October and monthly
Hotel Continental Dovercourt
More information here
Would you like to:
Tell your own story, document your family history,
create a blog for family and friends, write an autobiography, write about your ancestors, write about other family members, or an incident in your past, a world event which has changed your life, or a personal journey to fulfillment?
October 29th Hotel Continental, Dovercourt
more information here
Introduction to Self Publishing
Have you dreamed of having your story published?
Whether fiction, short stories or a novel,
A collection od poetry or your life story
This half day workshop will set you off on the road to making that dream come true
December 4th Hotel Continental, Dovercourt
more information here
Coaching for Writers - one to one Coaching for writers is a private, one to one session with writing tutor, Anita Belli which aims to help you to unlock your potential as a writer. We will talk about you current work, your aims for your work, and any problems, blocks, or challenges you are facing with your writing or publishing
more information here
Look forward to seeing you at the place to write in Harwich this autumn.... The Hotel Continental Dovercourt
...and what are you going to do about them?
At the current count, I have a new historical novel brewing, with a title, a story, themes of love, loss and art, set during the Spanish Civil War with characters shouting at me when I take the dog for a walk, or just before I go to sleep. I need to pin down the plot so that I can start writing it for NaNoWriMo in November. Then there is the lighter contemporary short romcom set in Andalucia with a title, story, characters and plot ready to go.... A Young Adult historical which is also bugging me and tugging at my unconscious; if it shouts much louder I will have a story, and a few more characters with a plot gradually emerging....
The back catalogue, which most of us have collected, comes under the heading of 'Unfinished Business' and needs to be resolved. Four Romantic Novels which will be cannibalised for spares if I don't get them into publication before then. But they need attention; there is a reason they are not published; usually, story related and all are in a queue for the story doctor to diagnose some remedies which will make them more compelling to read.
So the question is this:
Do I work on the new, exciting historical novel, which needs a lot more research? The romcom which I will enjoy and requires less research? Or change tack altogether and go for my first YA historical which will also need research? And when oh when do I get round to healing and making the back catalogue of four novels ready for publication?
Tell me about your WIP's and back catalogue and how you plan to tackle it.
Author's Notes: The Art Forger's Daughter
Art Forgery in World War Two
The starting point for this book was the remarkable true story of Artist Hans Van Meegeren who was arrested after WW11 in Amsterdam for Collaboration. He was charged with selling the nation’s art treasures to the Nazis when a small Vermeer painting was found in Herman Goerring’s collection of looted art and was traced back to Van Meegeren. Collaboration was a hanging offence, so in his defense, Van Meegeren claimed that he had painted the picture. He was not immediately believed – nobody could paint like Vermeer - and the painting had provenance and authentication. He said that he could prove it by painting another and so he set about literally painting for his life. He proved his case and was sentenced to one year imprisonment for forgery, a light sentence which reflected public opinion; he had become a national hero for fooling the Nazi’s. Sadly he died in prison before his sentence was completed.
This story has been told in many books and even a film, so I was not intending to recreate it – but I wondered about the other ways in which Art can play a part in all areas of our life and even be used to save lives. Picasso’s now infamous painting ‘Guernica’ for example raised awareness and support across a largely non interventionist Europe of the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.
This book is a love story, dealing with the reckless passion of first love, and a deeper, more lasting maternal / paternal love which echoes down the centuries. It tells the story of the unintended consequences of actions, memory truth and lies. How the past ripples through the generations to impact on the lives of those who come after.
The effects of trauma
It is well documented that trauma casts a long shadows after any war. What I am interested in is the trauma suffered by the women and children of war and the impact that trauma has on those who come after. There is much documentation about the Hunger Winter and the physical effects of starvation, which also rippled down the years causing both physical and emotional ill health throughout the lives of those who endured it.
The 1950’s was another planet and looking back even over such a short time, we can see the social changes in attitude and life styles, but none so much as in the treatment of Mental Health patients. Thanks to my brother, John Belli for his support in researching this aspect of the book and answering my unusual questions.
Learning how to forge pictures in the 1940’s and 50’s hasn’t made me rich! Detection techniques have improved dramatically and these forgeries of old masters would be harder to make today. Modern masters became easier to forge but fakes and forgeries are still prolific and continue to keep the law busy
Some of the places in the book are real, some are fictional and for the purposes of this book, I have taken a few liberties.
Severalls Mental Hospital in Colchester is a real place and was closed in 1997. Opened in 1913 and did indeed have extremely long, previously unglazed corridors. It’s gardens were documented as being amongst the best in the area.
The suburb of Shrub End in Colchester was built in the post war era, in common with many towns and cities around the UK.
The old Dutch quarter of Colchester still exists and is now much sought after. The Little House on Stockwell Street is fictional but is typical of houses in that area at the time. Stockwell Street doesn’t exist: East and West Stockell do, as does ‘Stockwell’.
The George Hotel has stood on the same spot for 500 years and I thought it an appropriate venue for Dr. Felix to stay.
Wrabness just along the tracks on the branch line between Manningtree and Harwich: I have taken a few liberties to suit the story but mostly thought it would be a great setting for these two ‘babes on the wood...’
The Port of Harwich remained busy during the war and passenger ferries resumed in 1946. It was the port which received the Kinder Transport, the Jewish children evacuated from Nazi occupied Europe, who were housed temporarily in a caravan park in nearby Dovercourt, Essex, being transported on to London Liverpool Street where a statue commemorates their journey. At the time of writing, there are still people living in Colchester and the surrounding area who first came to Britain on the Kinder transport.
Amsterdam as a setting because it is more likely that Dr. Van Gelder would live and work there. Following conversations with Johanna Brown, who lived in Holland as a child during the Nazi occupation and now lives in Manningtree, I set a scene in the more remote tree nurseries of Boskoop.
1st person alternating Beatrix and T’Ash. 3rd person other characters; multiple viewpoints give more scope for story telling. I love to hear a character's ‘real’ voice
All fictitious and like most of us a flawed bunch who are trying to survive and thrive; who share a common humanity and I have tried to give them all some redeeming features. Their task is to learn and grow through the challenges which have been chucked at them..... So in reality, based pretty much on all of us....
... from The Creative Casa
Endnotes from: 'Tales from the Creative Casa' by Anita Belli
1. Morning pages is based on an exercise from Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’ (A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self). As soon as I get out of bed; after putting the dog out, feeding the cat and putting on the coffee, I write. Whatever comes into my head gets put into words. You capture all the unconscious thoughts, ideas and dreams which you didn’t even know were there and which evaporate like mist as the morning dawns and life gets in the way. I fill a notebook every three or four weeks with this process and now I cannot start my day without it. I write on a computer the rest of the time but my Morning Pages are hand written. There is something magical about waking up and taking a pen and making marks on paper. It is primitive and spontaneous. I use this as a warm up to develop fluency between feeling, thought and words. It has become my scales and arpeggios, or ballet barre.
2. Develop a reflective practice: sieve the morning pages and the memory banks looking for connections, themes, links and ironies: all fertile ground to grow ideas. All sorts of things come up and writing them down gives tangible form, like water from mist, which can be bottled and stored, distilled and explored, to find an essence which you can process later and use in your fiction.
3. Get the Notebook Habit: Carry it around with you. Write everything down: snippets overheard can spark a short story. Observing people can spark an idea for a character. Write down how you feel. How the world is treating you. How you are treating the world. Your interaction with others. Even if it doesn’t spark an idea for a story setting or character, it will at least get it out of your system so that personal rants don’t make it into the pages of your fiction.
4. Warm up the body: greet the day with feathered wings not feet of clay: Get in touch with your body; shake it up and wake it up; alert the senses to the day; through gentle stretches, or a walk. Dogs are great companions and motivators; they get you out of the house in all weathers. Breathe. The ‘inspiration’ of breath is taken for granted. Connect with it consciously.
5. People matter. Refresh the pool of ideas and resources through interaction with interesting people thus creating flow and sustaining the process. Populating your creative life adds value to the seeds and ideas.
6 Play games; borrow a child if necessary. You can have fun and liberate the locked-in creative soul of the curious child who is willing to play and hasn’t yet learned the inhibitions and fears of the adult. Be playful and bring joy back into your life and work.
7. Location and environment are also important. Try a different place, a new space, a refreshing view. Recharge the spirit; do something different or go somewhere you haven’t been before. Vary the morning walk, or shop in a different town. Visit someone who lives in a very different environment to your – urban or countryside, village or metropolis; it is all grist to the mill.
8. Learn through doing; experience it. Doing is where the meaning is and if you find the meaning you learn more; another small step on the creative journey. It sounds obvious, but the more you write and reflect, the more you will learn about yourself and your writing.
9. Be present in your life: explore the boundaries of being present in your life; of turning up and experiencing it; and translating those experiences into creative thought and insights.
10. Use all of the senses as you write, paint, create, make, sing, play. Feel it. taste it; hear it; look again; see the layers. Experience it. Go on a treasure hunt to a market, or a village or an urban street or an empty beach and gather notes or images for each of the five senses. Review your notes and images and notice connections, links themes and ironies.
Creativity requires trust and imagination and placing yourself in the moment and exploring the whole world with the whole self. And having fun along the way and sharing it with like minded fellow travelers.
Contact me if you wish to continue the conversation or participate in workshops.
Available today on Kindle
and in paperback from Monday 8th September
Introduction to this collection
This collection of short stories was edited at The Creative Casa and the stories have been selected from a large number written over a period of years. The themes I have chosen here are universal themes of love and loss, secrets and lies; the unintended consequences of past actions on the present; and young women at that threshold in their lives where they discover that they are carrying new life.
They are sometimes humorous with a light heart, real life with a little magic, and occasionally, real life which doesn’t end so well. I also like to write short stories where the possibilities begin as the story ends.
Some have previously been published in magazines whilst others are openings and jumping off points for longer works of fiction. They vary in length, motivation and inspiration.
In the end, all fiction draws from the well of creativity which needs to be nurtured. It springs from our experiences, observations, snippets overheard, and a life lived.....and we can all draw from that spring if we are nudged towards it.
Coming soon on Amazon and Kindle
Available now in Paperback and on Kindle
When we stop running and the dust settles, I will set up some workshops on how to self publish. It has been such a steep learning curve that I want to share - I will post here in early September. Meanwhile if you have any questions or queries I will be happy to answer them if I can. Also happy to support Reader's Groups.
Charlie has made a short video of his design process and the many variations before we arrived at the final cover, just for fun and so that he will never forget! The next one will be easier.
The Grand Theatre of Lemmings.
The theme of the street theatre event was Then And Now. It was a commemoration of WW1, with Mandy Rose and Helen Abbey singing Old Time Music Hall, the young Lemmings running circus skills for children and a poppy making workshop. There were letters from the trenches read by Charlie Peacock and my workshop was to collect words, thoughts, ideas, and memories from people passing by and to write them on postcards to be added to a time capsule. I wrote the poem below from those words and memories and it was read back to the people of Clacton at the end of the day.
Then and Now
Written by the people of Clacton
25th July 2014
Never has so much been owed to so few.
I still think of you every day, Walter.
The arguments and fights we had as boys, but we were always friends
in the end.
You hated it when people wasted food.
Do you remember how we collected shrapnel after air raids
which we sold for sweets when we were evacuated to Wales?
I miss the comradeship.
My friends, brothers, real heroes
who gave their lives, and limbs for freedom.
Unselfish, loving, hopeful.
Brave men and women.
Memories gone by now...
A word, a sound, a bomb whistles by, or perhaps a sigh?
The world has failed.
What have we learned?
Missiles still fly, innocent people still die.
Lest we forget....
It was a great day. Thanks to The Grand Theatre of Lemmings and to all who passed by, aged from 8 -80's, and added their voice to the memories of Then And Now....
Drop-in Advice Booth for Writers:
Are you a writer looking for advice and support? Spread the Word is London’s writer development agency, funded by the Arts Council to nurture writing talent, and they are offering short, drop-in professional development and advice sessions for writers. Come along and have a chat with me about how to get involved with Spread the Word’s diverse writing programme.
Look forward to seeing you there
Venue: Keats House Museum, 10 Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR
Advance booking is not available for this event. Just drop in for a chat any time on the day.
2.00 - 4.00 Morden Library: Thursday 24th April
Book as usual through www.spreadtheword.org.uk
This week we will explore Character and Place through creative exercises and word games. Check out the Random Word Game here
This is where I explore the themes and ideas behind my novels.
The backstories of the characters and how they came about.
Where the ideas come from and how they grow into a story. And how my own life experiences feed the constant, fast flowing stream of stories and ideas.
Writer and Creative Writing Tutor
How much do you want to know about me?
I am a compulsive writer and I want to share some of my writing with you as well as thoughts and ideas about writing and some useful techniques. Welcome and please leave a message.