Month: August 2014

Song Lyric Story Saturday – #2

Yes! I am back with another exciting song lyric prompt for you.

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We Are Roma

Rheinland, Sinti und Roma mit Wohnwagen auf Landstraße

 

I grew up in the countryside, on the edge of a fairly small town. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with it now that I am grown but, when I was young there was nowhere else I would rather be. I explored every street, footpath and secret shortcut through the woods. I would wander alone through the trees trying to get lost, enjoying the sounds of nature all around me, unspoiled by the mindless rush of humanity.

One day I happened upon a clearing in the woods, a meadow that I swear had never been there before. In my youthful innocence I did not question where I was, I just accepted this meadow’s sudden appearance as perfectly normal. The grass rustled with the gentle breeze as butterflies and bees fluttered and buzzed between the flowers in the autumn sunshine. Right in the centre of the meadow was a big black horse, munching happily on the grass around him. He was tethered to the strangest caravan I had ever seen. My parents had a caravan, it was a huge plastic rectangular looking thing that attached to the car. This caravan was round topped, wooden and horse-drawn. I tiptoed slowly around the edge of the trees, taking in the sight before me. As I got within sight of the open door at the back of the caravan I froze. I could see a silhouette in the doorway and my mother’s words repeated many times drifted to me from my memory.

Keep away from strangers darling, mummy and daddy love you very much and we don’t want anyone to take you from us. You much stay safe.

As I stood, making up my mind whether to stay or flee, the person inside moved through the door. A girl my own age made her way carefully down the steps in a pink frilly dress. I glanced down at my jeans and t-shirt, feeling strangely self-conscious but the girl made no comment, she merely beckoned me over. I approached with caution, watching the doorway to the caravan for more people.

‘Nobody else is in there, it is just me.’ I look back at the girl, noticing her dark brown eyes and skin the colour of milky coffee.

‘Where are your parents? Will they be back soon?’ I was curious about the girl and her funny caravan but I was afraid of being caught by her parents and getting into trouble.

‘They are walking in the woods looking for firewood. We are camping here for the night. They will not be back for a little while. You do not need to be afraid.’

‘I’m not afraid’ I lied ‘It’s just… my parents do not like me to talk to strangers.’

‘Don’t worry, your parents won’t find out unless you tell them. My name is Nuri. What is yours?’

‘I am Dara.’

‘Hi Dara’ She giggled conspiratorially ‘Now we’re friends so you can’t get in trouble.’

I giggled too and relaxed, reaching out to touch her dress.

‘Your dress is so pretty. I don’t have any pretty dresses like that.’ My fingers brushed against the sleeve and onto her arm. As my skin touched hers she stiffened and gasped, her eyed rolling back into her head, causing me to jump back hastily, my eyes widening in alarm.

‘…Nuri?’

‘We are not Nuri, we are Roma.’ The chorus of voices poured forth from Nuri’s mouth, a thousand voices, old and wavering, speaking in unison through the girl stood before me. I stared, rooted to the spot in terror. My heart was racing, hairs stood to attention along my arms and neck.

‘You touched us. Now we see your future stretched before you. We see your life string cut short. We see a flight to a distant land, mountains topped with snow and a wooden cabin burned to the ground. You must not go to the mountains. If you go, you will die.’

As the last eching word faded away, I stumbled backwards, turned and fled. I crashed through the woods, falling over roots and grazing my hands and knees in my haste. It felt like an eternity before I found the familiar road back into town. I ran towards home, tears streaming down my face my legs aching as I pushed to get as far away from the terrifying girl and her thousand voices. I slowed to a walk as I reached my street, hastily rubbing the tear tracks from my face as I reached my back gate. My mother called to me as I closed the gate behind me.

‘Dara? Is that you? I have something to show you.’ I met her in the garden half way between the gate and the house.

‘Hi mum’ I waved casually, trying to ignore the sick feeling of fear that was still settled in the pit of my stomach.

‘Your father and I have a surprise for you. This Christmas we thought it would be fun to teach you to ski. So, we have booked a holiday. We’re going to Switzerland!’ My mum held out a holiday brochure which showed a picture of a wooden cabin high up in the mountains, surrounded by wilderness. The smile on her face faded to concern as I swayed, and then crumpled to the ground in a faint whispering a single word.

‘No…’

Shadow and Shine

I wander among the rocks of Stonehenge as the setting sun shines golden light around me, making my dark brown skin sparkle and shimmer. My pearly white dress flutters in the breeze. My jet black hair curls wildly around my head, crowned with fluttering moths.

I can feel their energy, like tiny sparks in the cool evening air. The earth beneath my feet vibrates with energy and life. I can feel it flowing through me, connected as we are; earth to skin. My soul sings in response to the heady rush. I feel so alive. I dance around the circle, spinning and leaping as the sun sets lower and lower. I am lost to the rhythm of the earth and the melody of the winds skittering and spinning around with me.

As the sun disappears over the horizon I come to an abrupt halt. Nature’s song morphs into a slower, darker tune of night. The earth still hums with life under my feet, but the timbre has changed. The new moon provides a weak silvery glow, giving just enough light for me to see. The Shadow Fae have been seen in the area and I have been chosen to keep watch and report back to the council. I fade back against the rocks and settle in the grass. I focus my magic, watching my hand fade in front of my face until I am barely visible, then I wait.

I feel energy approaching. The rhythm is of Fae and I scan the darkness, apprehension mingling with curiosity as I spot a male approaching the circle of stones. He peers cautiously around the edge of a stone, searching. I can feel my heartbeat accelerate slightly as I look upon a Fae of the Shadow for the first time. His skin is icy white and seems to faintly glow in the moonlight. A stark contrast to the Fae of the Shine. Our deep brown skin shimmers in the sunlight but looks dull by the light of the moon. He steps casually out into the middle of the ring and begins to dance. Time is lost as I watch his sensual movements, luring me out of my hiding place to join him. Our stories warn of the seductive powers of the Shadow Fae and I struggle to remain hidden as I watch him hungrily. His movements spark a longing and I move. I stand and take a hesitant step towards him, becoming visible in a sudden rush. He smiles and his eyes alight with triumph as he moves towards me. I stand, frozen by his mesmerising gaze. As he reaches out to grab me, the sun breaks over the horizon, flooding Stonehenge with light. The Fae before me gasps in shock as the sunlight touches his fragile skin and he flees, releasing me. I shudder at how close I came to disaster, even as longing settles in the pit of my stomach.

I must see him again.

The Many Ways To Name Your Characters

I haven’t written an article for a while because I’ve been focused on CampNaNo and getting some short stories written for people to enjoy. However, I have read a few things on various websites recently that have prompted me to look at how I build up my characters. Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting ideas about how to make your characters realistic, three-dimensional and memorable.

british_baby_names_2009

Name

I have a really bad habit of naming my characters with names that mean something. It’s all fine and well for when you want to add something special, J K Rowling did a fabulous job with all the meanings behind her character names, but when you aren’t writing about wizards and werewolves it isn’t always necessary to name the bad girl of the story something like Maelani (which means dark) and the good girl something like Aurelia (which means light). That is, however, what I have done with two of my characters in my novella. The twins are called Dany (which means dark) and Zane (which means light).

Whilst googling name meanings recently I came across a Yahoo question where the most popular answer to someone trying to find the right meaning for their character’s name was: “Just give her a normal name. Parents choose names because they like them, not necessarily because they think their child will grow up to be the meaning of that name.” This is a very good point and actually kinda makes life a little easier. Especially when trying to find names for your bad guy/girl characters, it’s not easy to find names out there that mean things like deceitful, two-faced or cruel.

The reply also suggested the possibility of using a name that means the opposite of the characters personality. Take Angelica from Rugrats, for example. She was always being mean to the babies and rarely ever behaved in an angelic fashion.

I rather like this idea. It offers many story suggestions just by turning the name meanings on their heads. How about a call girl called Chastity? A benefit cheat called Charity? An atheist called Faith? Cliff who is afraid of heights? Lake who can’t swim? Oh, the Irony!

You could always go all Bond Girl or Iron Man with names like Pussy Galore or Pepper Potts: A small joke thrown in to your writing to make it more memorable and to give your readers a small smile.

Maybe your characters all have surnames that depict their job like Cook, Smith and Harper. Then again, Bin-man, Lawyer and Waitress might be slightly unusual…

Of course sometimes you just need to be that little bit wacky. We all know celebs love to name their poor kids unfortunate things like Fifi Trixabelle, Lettuce and Phoenix Chi. It’s not just celebrities though. My friend is a teacher and I happen to know she taught a kid called Awesome and there was a lot of social media attention about that girl who called her kid Hashtag.

baby_name

Ethnic names are good if you want to give that well-rounded feel for a character’s ancestry, but names are becoming rather more universal these days so you want to be careful not to stereotype at the same time.

There are some clever ways to use names in all the ways described here and more, but try to not to get stuck in a cycle of doing it all the time. I named a character without looking up the meaning the other day. I nearly went crazy about it and had to talk myself down:

‘Step away from the google page Naomi’

But I did it. It works just as well, and a lot of the time people probably don’t even notice clever naming unless you tell them anyway. I know I don’t look up name meanings for things I read.

 

I’m not even going to mention the characters from the kids TV programme Captain Pugwash…

The Psychic and the Catnapper

Sibyl was driving back to her little flat just off campus when her vision swirled before her eyes. Gritting her teeth, she forced herself to see the here and now until she could pull over and let the vision take her. When she finally succumbed, she saw a lock picked, a door swing open, a familiar room…

There’s someone in my flat.

Helpless to intervene, Sibyl watched through the eyes of the stranger in her flat as they wandered through each room, searched idly through drawers and, upon reaching her bedroom, stooped down to stroke her kitten Akiiki who was purring and winding around the intruders legs.

That cat would make friends with the devil himself. Scratch them Akiiki, they aren’t supposed to be there!

The unknown intruder picked Akiiki up and started walking back through the flat. When the front door grew closer and closer, Sibyl began to panic.

No! Not Akiiki, please don’t take him. Fight Akiiki, run away.

As though he had heard, Akiiki started to struggle. To Sibyl’s horror, the intruder walked through her front door into the corridor and pushed Akiiki into a cage they had left there. As the stranger carefully closed the front door, picked up the cage and began walking briskly out of the building, Sibyl struggled to get back to her own mind. She needed to get home. Now.

Two days later, as Sibyl lay awake on her bed trying to force a vision of where Akiiki was, she heard a slight noise from the corridor outside. Grabbing her dressing gown she slipped quietly through her flat to the front door and noticed a dark shape on the mat. Stooping down to pick it up, she found it was a folded piece of paper. She took it to the living room and switched on a lamp to read it.

Little Miss Psychic doesn’t know where her kitty is.

You better magic up £500 if you want him back.

Put it in a purse and drop it into the bin inside the ladies toilets in the entrance hall of your Uni by Midday tomorrow or you’ll never see your cat again.

Sibyl smiled with triumph at the note. It was handwritten. A person’s handwriting is…well, personal. With a bit of concentration she should be able to work out who wrote it. Closing her eyes and holding the note in both hands, she breathed deeply and forced herself to relax.

 

That evening, Trixie picked up her netball kit, glanced around and then froze. The cage door was open. Peering inside, hoping the cat was somehow still there, she found a folded note inside.

Little Miss Psychic took her cat back.

Tough luck.

Looks like you’ll have to find the money for that new dress you were looking at in town elsewhere.

It won’t help with Tom anyway. He’s distant because he loves someone else.

Don’t believe me?

Skip netball practice and go to Breaker’s bluff.

He’ll be there, making out with Andrew.

CampNaNoWriMo…..I WON!

2014-Winner-Facebook-Cover

It’s the first of August and the first day of ‘Post-CampNaNoWriMo’.

This was my first venture into the world of National Novel Writing Month and I have to say, it was quite an adventure! The late nights, the disobedient characters, the sections of storyline that I definitely had NOT planned… It all mixed together to make this last month a fantastic experience.

I don’t think I am ready for the full NaNoWriMo in November, I only had a target of 25k this time and completed at 23:32 on the very last day of writing, but in a year or two I expect to be tearing my hair out and making my friends think I am terrible boring whilst writing full 50k first drafts of my novels.

I’m delighted to have finished the draft of my novella and I can’t wait to go back and read it all. The editing fun starts now!