Category Archives: writing

FINALISTS in the RICHARD HARRINGTON LITERATURE CHALLENGE 2015

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FINALISTS IN THE RICHARD HARRINGTON LITERATURE CHALLENGE  2015 – report by the Watford Observer

Entries were limited to 500 words. The theme was Fairytales.

My story is entitled ‘One Wish’.

After you’ve read it, check to see if Watford Football Club (known as the Hornets), really did get promotion to the Premier League.

Source: The remaining top ten stories in the Richard Harrington Literature Challenge 2015 (From Watford Observer)

SEKHMET – THE MIGHTY GODDESS

 

SekhmetSEKHMET – THE MIGHTY GODDESS

Recently I’ve been trying my hand at short stories.  I’m in that space between my latest book being in production and wondering what to do next. So I’ve been writing shorts and putting them in for competitions.

It’s been harder than I thought. A novel allows the characters to breathe, whereas short stories seem to be all about distilling the essence of the tale; forensically cutting out the extraneous. I’m even beginning to see the virtue of flash fiction, which requires the story to be cut to the bone.

The upside of all this activity, is that I’ve been studying the work of the various winners of last year’s competitions, so I am beginning to get an idea of what’s expected.

Writing’s like that. You start out writing freely, until you submit your work and the people in the know tell you where you’ve failed to follow the formula: like making clear what the protagonist wants in the first thirty pages of the book; introducing main players in the first third; when to bring in more conflict, etc.

My latest story is about a woman who’s arranged a meeting with a man she knew years before. She’s early, so she spends half an hour in the British Museum, one of their regular haunts when they were together. She goes to the Egyptian sculpture gallery to see her favourite statue of Sekhmet, the warrior goddess, depicted with the body of a woman and the head of a lioness –  the lioness was the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians. 

The woman in the story reads the description of Sekhmet and begins to think about the past. When she returns home, after an unsatisfactory reunion lunch, she seems to have absorbed some of Sekhmet’s power, as she resolves to ‘keep hunting’.

This summer, I’m going to keep hunting for a short story prize to help me decide whether my next book’s going to be a stand-alone novel or a series of stories linked to a central theme. Only time will tell (sounds like a good title for a short).

‘Pandora’s Gift’, the third and final book in the Pandora series, will be out later this year.

A LYRICAL LIFE – WRITING FOR PERSONAL GROWTH

A Lyrical Life – writing for personal growth

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 The more you focus on something, the more automatic it becomes, and writing regularly can lead to a fluency which is often referred to as ‘being in the flow’. In Taoism, the concept of ‘flow’ is life being lived in balance and harmony, like a river finding its natural course. The act of writing connects you to your creative nature, which in turn attunes you to this ‘flow’.

The following is an encapsulated version of a short correspondence course I wrote on the subject of achieving a positive shift by means of guided writing based on the CHAKRA system.  The course is no longer active, but you might like to try this taster for yourself.

Czakry[2]

 

Instructions: Simply write down the answers to each of the questions in as brief or expanded a way as you like. Pen and paper is best for this process. If possible, find someone you trust to read your work and discuss it with you.

 

 Practice 1Red Base Chakra – Security and Survival

What was your first memory/impression of the world?

What is your favourite childhood memory? And your least favourite?

What people or things in your life do you value highly, and why?

Do you provide support for anyone? Could you help anyone feel more supported and secure?

Assignment: A horror story!

 

Practice 2Orange Sacral Chakra – Feelings, Sexuality

 Did you experience the anxiety of separation when you first went to school/nursery?

What is your friendship circle like? Do you sometimes find friendship demanding? Do you demand a lot from your friends?

When were you last moved to tears? And laughter?

Do you think that males and females have different expectations of sexual encounters?

Assignment: Write about one of your friends or lovers.

 

Practice 3Yellow Solar Plexus Chakra – Power and Wisdom  

 Can you recount any instances of risky adolescent behaviour, relating to you, your friends or your own children?

What do you feel self-assured and fearless about? What makes you apprehensive because you lack faith in yourself?

How would you answer the question: Who am I? Are you fairly constant in character or ‘all things to all men’?

Can you sum up what being wise means to you?

Assignment: An article entitled ‘How I would like the world to be’. Make it as surreal as you like.

 

Practice 4Pink/green Heart Chakra – Love

 When do you feel you truly became an adult?

Describe the best and worst jobs you’ve ever had. What would be your perfect job?

Have you any reservations about giving and receiving love? Do you sometimes feel dependent on, or even addicted to, another person?

To love others, first we need to love ourselves, and so it is with forgiveness. Is there something you find hard to forgive – in yourself – or others?

Assignment: Have a go at writing a love poem. Write a love story, truth or fiction.

 

Practice 5Sky Blue Throat Chakra – Communication

 What are your thoughts on middle age? Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

Do you tend to be trustful or mistrustful? Do you find that people live up (or down) to your expectations?

Do you have the freedom to express yourself as you would wish? Do you give others the opportunity to communicate effectively with you? Do you ever overstate your case?

How do you think your attitudes and opinions affect others?

Assignment: When you communicate with Source through meditation you open a channel of potential creation. Writing can also be a means of communicating your intentions. Write down how you’d like to create the coming year, after each intention, writing one positive step you will take towards that goal.

 

 Practice 6Indigo Third Eye Chakra – Intuition

Do you agree that physical signs of ageing are a result of our expectations? Is society ageist? Are you looking forward to retirement?

Of the knowledge you have acquired, what do you value most highly? What course of learning would you like to embark on, if time and money were no object?

How developed is your intuition? Have you noticed any increase in your intuition since you’ve started writing regularly? 

Assignment: Suspend any disbelief you might have, and write to your guardian angel. Give him/her (they’re gender neutral) a problem or two to solve on your behalf, then write the reply. You might get some good advice back!

 

Practice 7Violet Crown Chakra – Spirituality

What do you expect to happen when you die? Who will you see? Where will you be?

Have you had any experiences with formal religion? If these were negative, is any anger or lack of forgiveness now resolved?

Write about a loss of some kind you have survived. Is someone missing you? Do you need to contact someone?

What would you like your obituary to say?

Assignment: Start a daily journal where you ask advice about decisions you need to take and jot down anything that’s on your mind.256px-Codex_Manesse_Schulmeister_von_Esslingen[1]

I trust you’ll enjoy the writing practice and, on a more subtle level, the chakra cleansing and clearing that can occur as a result of addressing the relevant issues. I hope you achieve a lyrical life, and will always be ‘in the flow’.

TRANSFORMING PANDORA – Frequently Asked Questions

 

TRANSFORMING PANDORA – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Pandora, Rossetti

Pandora, Dante Gabriel Rossetti

What was the inspiration behind Transforming Pandora?

When I left teaching, I thought I’d try my hand at something other than material for language learners. My first efforts were a bit off-beam – some dodgy poetry and a self-help manual. It wasn’t till the autumn of 2010 that I had an overwhelming urge to write a novel, so I joined a writing class to get my work critiqued by strangers – friends and family are often too kind to be objective critics. There was some resistance from a few members of the class to the spiritual element, but for me this underlying theme was essential because I wanted the book to be more than just a story. I wanted it to appeal to the reader’s heart and soul.

Is there anything biographical about Pandora?

I’ve certainly drawn on familiar locations and scenarios. I was a convent schoolgirl with an Irish background, I worked in a nightclub in Estartit, on the Costa Brava, and have attended a number of Mind, Body and Spirit events and workshops in my time. But she isn’t based on the eighteen-year-old me: she’s much more reflective about religion than I was at that age. 

Do you think of the 1970s with affection?

Photographer: Louise Docker

Photo: Louise Docker, Sydney.

Yes. I got married in the 1970s. One of our wedding presents was an old black Austin A30 which kept breaking down. We rented a small flat with an orange ceiling and purple walls, mercifully not in the same room. Both of my sons were born in this decade, and we moved house three times, so it was full of new life experiences.

Have you ever communicated with a supernatural being from ‘the other side’?

I communicate with ‘the other side’ in the way that any other writer or meditator does. With writing it’s the state of being in the flow – contacting  the muse, if you like – when the words come easily and it feels as if a truth is being communicated through the speech and actions of the characters.

Richard_Doyle,_illustration from In_Fairyland,_1870

Richard Doyle, In Fairyland

Meditation can put the meditator in touch with his or her higher self. The practice opens the third eye and increases our powers of intuition, so we instinctively make better choices, know when to follow a hunch, become tuned in to the process of creativity. But, no, I don’t see angels or ascended masters – or even fairies. It would be nice, though.

How long did it take to write Transforming Pandora?

About a year, but after that, six months of tweaking! Working with two time frames did cause complications. I sent the manuscript to a literary consultancy to see if the structure worked and they advised me to review the chapter sequence. So I rejigged some of the chapters, clustering them together, and added a new one at the beginning, to set the scene a bit more.

What’s Next?

   Photographer: Norbert Nagel

Photographer: Norbert Nagel

Pandora takes centre stage again in my second novel Squaring CirclesThis one’s set in 2008, so there’s only four years of her life to catch up on. Like the first, it starts with a recent death, but this time there’s a mystery surrounding the burial which a large Poitou donkey helps her solve. I plan to write one more Pandora book after that. Then I’ll see what life and inspiration brings.