She countered the insomnia by making up stories in her head. Thinking about her working day or her life led her down too many rabbit holes and the minutes ticked by as her thoughts kept her wide awake. The stories … Continue reading
I’m a fully-paid up member of the mad for moggies ladies club – so mad for them, I even wrote a book, Katie and the Deelans, where teenagers discover the power to change into cats. (Oh joy – can you imagine?!)
I’m not the only one to write a book with cats as the star. Editor, features writer and author Melanie Whitehouse was adopted by her cat, Gus, in 2003. He inspired her book The Tail of Augustus Moon (2008, Book Guild), which tells the story of Gus’s adoption of journalist Maisie and his experience of the chaos that is a 40-something woman in search of a man.
As a member of various writer forums, I’ve noticed a number of throw-away comments about cats and I began to wonder to myself: “Is there something to this ‘cats as inspiration’/’writers having cats’ feeling that I have?”
One thorough, scientific experiment later – well, a quick straw poll of a freelance women writers’ forum – and the results revealed themselves. Within minutes of posting up a question about cats, inspiration and how cats like to sit on your keyboard, I’d been inundated with responses.
And an awful lot of fabulous pictures of cats curled up next to laptops, cats sitting in in-boxes, cats taking up room on top of notebooks.
The overwhelming feeling was that cats make the writer’s life less lonely. In the main, freelancers work from home and the cat helps to make up for the lack of contact with human beings. Continue reading
I’ve been tidying up book number three (working title: Parallel) as it appears on this blog.
I’d had feedback that it was confusing – which is understandable in that my book juggles the stories of three women so it can be hard to keep track of when it’s appearing in serial form on a blog. I added in some times and days for the start of each chapter and I also added in links to all the chapters on the blogs and on one page, here.
Incidentally, adding links in your own blog usually leads to pingbacks. According to the very useful website, WordPress beginner, pingbacks give software the ability to communicate between websites and if you link to an article on your own blog, WordPress automatically sends a self-ping.
I’m not entirely sure I understand it yet, but I did want rid of the feature because I found it annoying and, as it turns out, it’s easy to remove.
- Go to the dashboard.
- Go to settings.
- Go to discussions.
- At the top is an option – Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article.
- Untick this.
Voila – no more annoying pingbacks!
And here’s my new page setting out the location of all the chapters of book number three that I’ve posted here.
When you’re a self-published author yourself, stories such as these are always inspiring to read. Continue reading
There’s an individual who has gained a certain amount of notoriety of late – I won’t mention his name or his website as that merely adds fuel to the publicity fire he seeks, but let’s just call him Randy.
In truth, I thought I shouldn’t write about him at all. There are a few people who choose to live their lives (and make money) through provocative behaviour. Commenting on them justifies their actions.
But I justified writing this blog to myself by reasoning that as I write an obscure blog, read and seen by very few (and by the way, I do treasure those of you who do read and follow my work) I am not adding fuel to Randy’s publicity fire and I haven’t mentioned him by name.
(According to one news source I read, his website experienced 82,000 unique visits this week. Hmm.)
Negativity, trolling and deliberately provocative remarks and behaviour online are often thought of as something that is too easy. Being face to face with someone requires rather more courage to say to them, “you are S*** and so is everything you write and everything you say”. (And that is probably one of the milder comments you can get on YouTube or Twitter.)
But actually, what is really easy is being nice. It leaves you with this warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Don’t believe me? Spend the next hour or so going through other people’s blogs. Comment on them all – hey, nice pics, or wow, thought-provoking article, I like what you have described or isn’t your cat so cute?
Feel better now? Feel like a nice human being? Mmm, me too.
You can, if you want, seek out Randy and bombard him with nice comments. I don’t mean faux nice comments (Hi Randy, I can tell you’re unhappy. Never managed to get a girlfriend hmm?) but proper ones: Hi Randy, have a lovely day! Or Hi Randy, hope you are taking very good care of yourself – which neatly steer away from any endorsement of his actual views.
And in the meantime, here’s a little bit of cheeky Friday flash fiction.
With a snigger that smacked of Beavis and Butthead, Randy clicked ‘Send’ and sat back, launching his latest hate-filled 140-character rocket into the ether.
Sure enough, within seconds the rocket exploded and his phone pinged once, twice… and more. The responses were coming in thick and fast.
“Randy, you in there?”
“Mooooommmm,” he whined as his mother came in, bearing sandwiches.
“Whaddya doin’ son?” She was an understanding kind of mom.
“Tryin’ to get this woman’s attention, Ma. She’s an amazin’ feminist and I dunno what else to do to get her to notice me. Wish I could date her!”
©Emma Baird 2016
A Notable Woman is an extraordinary book – painful reading at times, but very worthwhile. Simon Garfield has edited the journals of a 20th century woman. Jean Lucey Pratt kept journals for 61 years up until a couple of months before her death and the journals record her daily life, her feelings and what was going on at the time.
There are small details that make it incredibly fascinating – Jean loved cats for example, and there is the question about how you fed cats during the Second World War, and there is also her growing realisation that her cigarette habit is doing serious harm to her health (smoking having been thought of as mostly harmless up until the 1950s).
But most of the book is about Jean’s loneliness. It makes for very painful reading at times and you rather wish a nice man would come along – or rather, that she would stop falling for such awful cads. Her descriptions of people are rather fabulous, if often unflattering, but there’s bravery running through the writing, a kind of unflinching determination to write about herself and what is going on in truthful terms.
The book is a perfect choice for book groups, as it is bound to elicit plenty of discussion. Just a warning though – it’s a whopper (700 plus pages).
Last year, I finished a book about teenagers – specifically a teenager with mental health issues. I enjoyed writing the story and I felt reasonably proud of it once I had finished, but I knew work needed to be done on it. It needed re-writing in places and it needed some re-ordering of the plot half-way through.
[I find beginnings easy to write and endings fairly straightforward, but the middle of the novel – the rising arc seems to give me issues.]
I started the re-writing and then ground to a halt, beginning another novel instead and letting that take up my time. One of my issues with the book about teenagers is my feeling that I can’t possibly keep up. When I started book number two, I felt reasonably confident that I knew how teenagers lived and existed day-to-day, but as time went on I lost that confidence.
How do teenagers live these days? Do they talk to each other at all? Or are they too busy, heads bent, hands curled round a mobile phone awaiting updates on whatever social media platforms they belong to? And what social media platforms are they on? Is Twitter now passe? Have young people grown bored of Instagram yet? Have they moved onto Periscope? And how exactly does Snapchat work?
Modernity feels as if it’s difficult to accurately reflect these days because it moves so very, very quickly. I’m sure anyone writing about children and teenagers 40 or 50 years ago could confidently feel that their book would be as relevant at the end of a decade as it had been at the beginning of one, but I don’t feel that way about teenagers living in 2010, compared to teenagers living in 2016.
The answer to this dilemma? Who knows… Writing about teenage vampires or teenagers living in a futuristic world where they need to take part in games to stay alive? Maybe that’s the answer.
Oh. That’s been done already. Oh well.