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Hey folks!

back-soon

Hey folks! I’ve not gone away nor have I disappeared forever.

I’m just taking a little bit of time from blogging to concentrate on my writing. Hopefully, I’ll be back blogging in a week or two which isn’t really that long away really. But with work I’ve only got one day during the working week free from work to do writing so I have to make every minute count at the moment – not that I’m neglecting you lovely people.

I’ll be just using my twitter account instead for a while: @lmhmiller. So you can still keep up with what I’m doing.

Another reason for taking a break is that I don’t want to keep blogging just for blogging sake. I have felt that recent blogs haven’t been my best…..I need some time away from it methinks. I don’t won’t to grow complacent with it, I still want to blog things that we all find interesting – and relevant.

So for a short time I won’t be posting anything, but keep up to date with me on twitter and I’ll be back before you know it.

Thanks folks!

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Good Deeds?

Wizard of Oz: Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.

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I was going to write about working on my ‘blurb’ – the ‘pitch’ for my forthcoming novel and I was going to draw your attention to my first novel A Straight Path that is on sale through  Amazon.

But something has literally just happened that made me change my mind. Some one fell over in the street – fairly spectacularly as they struggled to stay on their feet – luckily they were not hurt – and they were generally fine. A slightly sore wrist, shaken from the fall and quite possibly a bruise to their ego.

Naturally, I stopped to make sure they were ok, making sure nothing was broken and sitting next to them until they felt alright again to go about the rest of their day.

A little selfishly perhaps I thought about the ‘good dead’ I’d just done. Naturally, I didn’t stay with them so could feel good about myself (that came after) but to make sure that they hadn’t hurt themselves. Because of course I didn’t go looking for someone to help. And I like to think if I hadn’t stopped someone else would have done. (Fortunately I’d just stepped out of the hairdressers when it happened right in front of me.)

[I'm not recounting this story to get a pat on the back - it simply got me thinking]

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But should we go looking for someone to help, in whatever way, to do the oft desired ‘one good deed a day’? I’m sure once you start looking then you’ll see more and more people who may need that little act of kindness. But is it ever as easy as that? We’d all love to do one good deed  a day, but actually managing to accomplish it may prove extremely challenging, and that’s not because as a race we’re cruel and self-centered but maybe because these sort of situations don’t arise every day, or at least not in front of me all the time.

I always vow to do more ‘good deeds’. But what constitutes a good deed? Could it be as simple as letting a child press the button at the pedestrian crossing or waiting for the green man before crossing when nearby children are learning the green cross code? Or is it more extravagant than that, like rescuing someone from a burning building? Can it be that no one directly benefits – or sees the benefit? I once picked a trolley out of the middle of a quiet road which leads to a bus station. No one saw, and no one directly benefited.

I guess a good deed would be described as an act of kindness. However small and insignificant it may appear to you, it may have a greater impact on someone around you and you may not even know it.

I think the overwhelming message really is to not be so blinkered to what is going on around you. Oh and just be nice. You never know who you may be helping.

And there it is…my random (or not so random) thought of the day…..

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Are writers really like that?

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I’ve recently begun watching the hit US comedy-drama Californication featuring David Duchovny as troubled writer Hank Moody, who moves to California, suffers from writer’s block, drinks and womanizes. His life is filled to the brim with sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Moving on… to Castle. Again this features a novelist, this time played by Nathan Fillion as Richard Edgar Castle. He too is plagued by writer’s block. The early seasons depict him as an immature womanizer.

Moving on… to Sex and the City… Carrie Bradshaw…. a newspaper columnist who likes fashion and men and happily and regularly we see maxing out her credit card on things she cannot afford and running around the City in high heels looking for the man of her dreams.

I’m sure there are other shows out there too that feature characters as writers/novelists who are portrayed as being a bit of a mess.

Drink, sex and shopping? Is that all we do? Oh with a little bit of writing thrown in to remind us that they are writers.

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Held up against these lives – which I know are dramatized to keep us entertained – my writing life is pretty dull. It’s filled with every spare minute with writing – or at least I aim for it to be….

And…

………..is that how writer’s cope with writer’s block? Hank Moody, according to the TV show hasn’t written anything for 7 (I think) years! Years! Yet still calls himself a writer, still has an agent and still manages to find the money to go boozing almost every night.

[P.S. I may not have watched any of Castle however I am a fan of the other two so my mini rant may be sort of hypocritical.... I know their flaws but still tune in.]

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Waiting, always waiting

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Waiting for my delayed train (again!!!!) yesterday, I got to wondering how much time I (unintentionally) waste waiting.

Waiting for trains (delayed or otherwise), waiting for buses or other public transport. Waiting for the kettle to boil. Stuck in traffic. Waiting for the oven to warm up. Waiting for tea to cook. Waiting for the computer to fully load. Waiting for the bath to run. Waiting for appointments.

All that waiting may seem small buckets individually, but what happens when you add it all up. What could you do with the time?

Yesterday for example my first train was delayed by 9 minutes, therefore missing the connection I usually go for. Therefore I waited a further 20 minutes. So that’s already 29 minutes, lets add another 10 minutes for the oven to heat up, 1 minute (twice) waiting for the kettle…that’s 32 minutes already and that’s just the time I spent waiting off the top of my head.

32 minutes basically wasted through waiting.

What could I have done? Obviously the task has to be able to be split into the waiting times. So…..

1. Could have read a paragraph or several (perhaps even a full chapter) for research purposes.

2. Could have outlined a new project.

3. Could have created a new character profile.

4. Could have decided upon the title of my forthcoming novel.

5. Could have worked on the blurb. Could have worked on the ‘pitch’ to describe what my book’s about.

6. Could have written a review.

7. Could have outlined the title and theme of a potential short story.

8. Could have worked on the improvement and editing on my current project.

9. and so on and so forth……..

 

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Time is precious. You can potentially get so much done if you organize your time while waiting. I’ll definitely be taking my own advice and thinking not only what could I be doing while waiting, but more importantly do it.

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In the children’s corner: War Horse

In the Children’s Corner: War Horse

Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse

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In the deadly chaos of the First World War, one horse witnesses the reality of battle from both sides of the trenches. Bombarded by artillery, with bullets knocking riders from his back, Joey tells a powerful story of the truest friendships surviving in terrible times. The bedlam of battle had begun. All around me men cried and fell to the ground, and horses reared and screamed in an agony of fear and pain. The shells whined and roared overhead, and every explosion seemed like an earthquake to us. One horse has the seen the best and the worst of humanity. The power of war and the beauty of peace. This is his story.

 

A beautiful, heartfelt story. Absolutely brilliant. It’s a book for children and adults alike. Become Joey and witness the First World War through his eyes. Follow Joey through his trials and tribulations, through his friendships and sorrow. It’s a gem. It is brilliantly written and keeps you hooked until the very end. While the idea of the novel, set through the eyes of a horse, may be slightly cliché, but it does really work.

I’ve not read a book for children, since I was….a child myself. Well that’s not strictly true I have read the Harry Potter novels. But apart from that, this is the first one I’ve picked up since. After someone recommended I read Michael Morpurgo, I went to the library shelf and picked up War Horse, and I’m glad I did.

Warning: may bring a tear or two to your eye. Emotional stuff which really shows the futility of war and the importance of friendship.

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Why I’d Love to Write Full Time

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If (or when) I get the opportunity to be able to ditch the day job and write full-time I’d leap at the chance. I guess most writer’s would scream ‘Me too! Me too!’, but here are my reasons why:

1. I love to write – I thought I’d get the obvious reason out of the way first. I love being creative and writing, I’ve always got ideas floating around in my head that I’d love to be able to act upon. I love the buzz I get filling pages with my words, with my creations. I love the initial excitement staring at a blank screen; a blank screen waiting to be filled with stories. I love all aspects of writing from initial ideas, to development, to planning and research and then the writing. Quite simply I love writing.

2. All rolled up in one – I’m a creative person. I’m an organised person. I’m motivated. I try not to procrastinate. I work great on my own. I don’t easily get distracted. Writer’s qualities are rolled into one.

3. I’d like to think that – writing full-time will give me more flexibility. I know it won’t be easier than going out to work, with having only yourself to rely on, to motivate yourself and to organise your own hours. But I’d like to think it’d offer a greater level of flexibility with being able to organise my time around my own schedules and dead-lines. I’d also like to think that it’d offer more flexibility as a family. While I don’t have children yet, they are definitely in our future, so I think that working from home would make family life that little bit easier with not having to deal with the commute home – I guess this will be the case for anyone working from home.

4. No commute – working from home will mean that I can work longer hours without even really realizing it. I wouldn’t be tired from the commute to and from work so I’d be able to put that extra energy – not to mention time – into doing what I love best – writing.

5. I’d like to think – I’d have more time. And that’s more time to do writing stuff. Including the actual physical writing, but I’d also have more time to engage with other writers and readers online as well as in person. Right now I’m blogging having got straight in from work and before I start preparing tea. It’s a bit rushed. So I’d like to have more time spending more time on all elements of writing – from researching to networking.

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There’s probably other reasons that I’ve neglected to say, but as I’ve said, I’ve just got in from work.

The down side:

The financial side – the finances for writing are far from predictable. With the job I’m doing now I know how much I’m going to get paid at the end of the month and therefore I can budget accordingly. But if my finances weren’t as predictable month on month I may have to think twice on financial decisions. And I’d have to do self-assessment taxing. In the UK it’s the companies we work for who sort out our wages and sort out what tax we need to pay etc., but obviously if you are self-employed this is something you have to do on your own. And I’ve got a feeling that despite the slogan ‘Tax doesn’t have to be taxing’, it probably is. Things like that are never straight forward.

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What’s in a name?

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When thinking about character names or even the name of your book(s) how easy do you find it?

Do you play around with various names until you settle on one? Are you fortunate that names just walk into your mind fully formed? If not does it prevent you moving forward? Or do you carry on regardless?

I can see how not having a character name sorted especially for your lead characters can make things difficult. It may be difficult to build a fully formed picture in your mind of your character.

But what about your titles? I’m struggling with mine. Where do your’s originate from? The title of my first novel A Straight Path came about after research for one of my characters who follows the religion of Islam and I came across the phrase a straight path in the Muslims journey through life and in their religion (sorry if that’s not the best description of it). And the phrase fitted with the rest of the story. Or at least it was an ironic title for the themes in the novel, mainly that life is never a straight path, even for those who seem to have it all sorted, and moreover the Indian battle for independence from the British Empire was also very far from a straight path, even if the hopes may have been.

But there has been no such lightning with my second. I’m not asking here for suggestions, I’m hoping it’ll come to me. I keep playing around with words and phrases (and continuing reading) to see if anything feels right.

So like most things that happen, I wonder what other people do. How other people create their titles.

 

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So? How do you do it?

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