Monday, 25 April 2011


Happy Easter Monday folks,

I apologise for not posting much recently. I've now set myself the target of posting at least once a week, but knowing my wonderful deadline habits, that won't be an easy one to keep. In fact, one of my favourite writers quotes (of which you find thousands on *mutter* twitter) is courtesy of Douglas Adams,
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

I on the other hand do not get on well with deadlines. At my first university, I only ever made one assignment deadline. It was too soon after that that I found out the uni counsellor was far far too easy to get an extenuating circumstances letter from.
For some reason at my second uni I didn't dare miss a deadline. These guys were far less forgiving, and there were significantly fewer of us on the course, so slipping under the radar wasn't an option.

In two weeks time it will have been one year since I wrote the first draft of my novel's long synopsis, sat on a lovely comfy sofa, with a very friendly dog, in Auckland, New Zealand, waiting for confirmation that I could fly home without worrying about volcanic ash (Hi Jay!).
I told myself once I got back to the UK that I would write the second draft by the beginning of September. Then it was by Christmas. Then New Year. Needless to say it still isn't done, and as a result something tells me that my goal to have the first draft of the novel written by the end of December this year is a bit of a long shot.

So for those of you who maybe waiting for the next part of The Future Holds... series, it is on it's way, I swear it! Felicity is being totally rewritten, and Becca, the new one, has had to undergo a total restructuring.

Now, the reason that it's taking so long is due to one little word. Conflict. My friend Renee pointed this out to me about the first version of Felicity, that it's all well and good having a pretty little story, but to really draw a reader in, there has to be conflict.
Admittedly every book I've read so far about writing says the same, that conflict is essential.
So do we agree that a story can't be particularly interesting unless there's something in the way?
Out of curiosity, in your opinion, would the life story of someone who gained everything they needed and led a happy life without anything getting in the way, be a boring story?
Discuss - Is a story without conflict a story?

I'll admit that I'm too nice to some of my characters.  A friend and I were debating why that is for about 45 minutes last week. It would seem I avoid conflict a lot of the time. She says it's rooted way way back in my child-hood, I blame my sister (love you Fran!). Sometimes I just want my characters to have a quiet, problem-free existence because I don't. I think most writers will admit that in at least a fraction of their work, they give their characters the lives they themselves wish they could have.
Come on, I refuse to believe I'm the only person that writes a bit of myself into one character, even a very minor one, in most pieces I write.

So, to make sure I don't forget to put the conflict into my work, I have this posted above my laptop.

You should see how many curve balls I throw the protagonist in my novel now after being I told I was being too nice to her.

Anyway, I'm going to do my best to finish the current version of Felicity or Becca tonight and try to post one or the other by the end of the week. I just need to hide the Dexter boxsets, then I might actually get some work done!

Good night folks.

PS. I thought I'd start posting the link to articles or fellow blogs that I find interesting and relevant. So here's todays one. It made me laugh, as much as being very informative, so thanks to Austin Kleon.
It's entitled "How To Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me)"

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Future Holds...Felicity

Hey Folks

Sorry, I know I'm late posting this, I got distracted by a book. In fact I only finished writing this an hour ago and gave it a quick edit over the last 15 minutes. It's been an intense evening and I have cramp in my arm but it's done!

Right so the point of posting this here is to hopefully get some feedback on it. I know my friend and mentor Renee will be brutal with it. That is want I want and what I need. I can't improve my writing skills unless people are honest, so constructive criticism please. 
Also, random query, do we think anything mentioned in this warrants restricting the age access to my blog? Because I honestly don't know. This is as explicit as I will get on this blog, everything else is being saved for the novel!

Just to point out I've spent about 10 minutes now trying to make the text I've imported the same as everything else, but the last bit just will not change from a central alignment. I apologise.

And now for the fun bit! These things always made me laugh on fanfics and I've always wanted to write one myself and this is my first opportunity!

DISCLAIMER: This short story is a work of fiction, any resemblance to companies, or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
This short story also features a loving relationship between two women, as well as some inexplicit sexual references. If such things are not to your taste I recommend you leave this page. In fact you might not want to come back to it, as this sort of thing creeps up regularly in my work :-)


It's been one of the most harrowing nights of my life, but the thrumming of the bike beneath me soothes away all the nerves and tension as the wind whips my hair around my face.

I pull up around the back of the enormous tent and it only takes me a split second to spot her. My siren. She's glowing tonight, the floodlights make her mousey hair shine golden, and her green eyes sparkle as the grin plastered on her face threatens to split it. She throws a comment to her friends over her shoulder as she bounds towards me, but I'm so mesmerised by her I barely hear it.

It's appalling this effect she has on me. It's nearly gotten me in trouble so many times at work. When she's on the stage she's the only thing I see, which considering there's two other vocalists and the entire band onstage for me to worry about, tends to cause problems.
When we first started working on this show, I was as determinedly focused as I could possibly be. I was finally doing the job I'd always dreamed of and I was not going to let the fact that my girlfriend was the lead vocalist threaten that. It got to the point where I was practically ignoring her for a couple of weeks, and believe me I got plenty of flak for it. But now I've been mixing this show for almost a year, I know it inside out, and it's far too easy for me to fade into autopilot so I can just watch her. My Felicity.

She leaps onto the bike behind me and her arms are around me within an instant, a questing hand clutching possessively at the buckle of my belt as she presses into my back.
"Get me out of here" she whispers in my ear, before flicking it teasingly with her tongue.
I don't know if it's her voice or her tongue that sends the shiver down my spine, but I'm not one to hesitate at such a command. I snap the bike into gear and speed off into the night. She throws her arms up and yells to the stars as we dodge the traffic.
I remember when we used to do this in London.

We met while working in the same cocktail bar. She was the struggling actor slash dancer slash singer and I was the out of work sound engineer that had a flare for throwing bottles and fruit around. I tried so hard to teach her my most basics tricks, but we smashed so much glass I had to give up. She used to howl with laughter watching guys trying to chat me up over the bar. Her favourite thing to do most times was to drape herself over my shoulder, hitch her knee up onto my hip and huskily tell them "Sorry pal, but she's mine."
It certainly helped us to rake in the tips.
Our boss had no problem whatsoever letting us work together, the takings were up every night we were both on shift.
So you can imagine how happy he was when one Thursday night we turned up and she told him she'd been offered a part in a West End musical, and I told him I'd got a sound assistant gig on another one.
It was an awesome eight months. We weren't working on the same show, but as soon as I was done for the night, I'd leap on the bike, speed down the Strand and pick her up from stage door. Most nights we would head straight back to her place, or mine, but some nights we'd just ride. One night I think we actually ended up in Leicester, just following the M1 and enjoying the freedom.
It was hell when she left London to rehearse this show. We agreed early on that neither of us would give up a career opportunity for the sake of our relationship. We'd both wanted to work for this company our entire lives, so when the ads came out for performers and crew we both jumped on the chance. She'd already been in rehearsals for four months by the time I was even interviewed. They could have easily sent me off on one of their other shows, touring Asia or America. So when they offered me the job on this show, I think we both knew it was a sign that we were meant to be together. I rode the bike across Europe to get to her, and then we spent two days together exploring.

So now, every time we get to a new city on the tour, we spend the first night exploring. Just ride for hours, going all over the city and into the surrounding area's. And we always get lost. We never take a map with us, as far as we're concerned that spoils the fun. We enjoy finding places by chance, and there's always some special place we find, usually by a river or in some woodland. Once it was cornfield. It's a place where we can just be together. Privacy is something of a luxury on tour, that's why we always take off. It's become our little tradition, that after the last show in a city, we go back to our special place one last time before the big after party.

At the end of every show, like every show ever performed on this planet, the entire cast gather onstage to take their bows. Now with our company, at the end of the last show in each city, everybody ends up onstage for the bows; cast, crew, dressers, all of us. Tonight there was a twist to it.
The cast were taking their first bows, the band were still playing, and I was shaking like a leaf. My palms were sweating, my breathing shallow and rapid and I felt like I was going to faint. I was dreading that last phrase of music, because then I was expected to leave the safety of my desk, run down the auditorium steps and onto the stage. The last note rang out, and I saw Felicity beckoning to me. I could also see various other cast members beckoning me far more frantically. I was frozen to the spot. Eventually Clarissa, one of the Canadian girls jumped down off the stage and ran up the steps.
"You're not bottling it are you?" she asked.
All I could do was shake my head as she dragged me down the stairs. By the time I got to the stage all the other crew were there, waving to the crowd and bowing. I grabbed Felicity's hand and pulled her behind everyone else. When I eventually managed to look at her her brow was furrowed as her eyes searched my face.
"What's wrong babe?" she asked grasping my still shaking hand.
I pressed my other hand on hers, taking a deep breath.
"Felicity," I started haltingly. "I...I need to ask you something..."
The next thing I know, Clarissa's behind me with her foot in the back of my knee, forcing me down.
"If you're going to do this, you're going to damn well do it properly!" she hissed.
That's when I realised that all eyes were on us. So I charged ahead.
"Felicity Louise Duncan, will you marry me?"
The entire room held it's breath, as Felicity's eyebrows flew up her forehead and her jaw dropped. I groped in my pocket for the ring I'd bought the week before, holding out the gold diamond encrusted band to her as she clamped her hands over her mouth.
Very slowly, she started to nod her head, the motion becoming more frantic as I stood.
"Yes! Yes of course I will!" she cried as she threw herself into my arms. I couldn't help myself as I spun her around before planting her back on the floor and kissing her like I'd never kissed her before. The room exploded into noise around us, catcalls and applause from the auditorium and shouts and cries of congratulations from from our fellows on stage. I was shocked to see tears streaming down Clarissa's face as I placed the ring on Felicity's finger.

She's had a grin on her face ever since, and as we follow the river out of town into the country I know it's still there without even seeing her, simply because there's a matching one on my own face.

I pull up at our special spot. Nimbly she climbs around me until she's straddling my legs, and I can't help but stare into her eyes. But her fingers are getting twitchy. Her hands are under my jacket as she slowly presses her lips to mine. She tastes sweet. Distracted, I barely notice her removing my jacket, before she climbs off me and slowly walks away. I rock the bike back onto it's stand before leaping off it and running after her. She lets out a little shriek as I grab her from behind and swing her into the air. As I put her back down she giggles and leads me to the edge of the bank, glancing at me over her shoulder and biting her bottom lip. She pulls me down with her as she lays on the grass. Our lips caress each other, slowly and gently as we make love. She shivers beneath me, before her body arches and she buries her face in my shoulder, whimpering. I roll over, pulling her with me as her heart rate calms and her breathing levels out. Pushing herself up, she kisses me once more before settling down against my side, her breath tickling my throat as she nuzzles my cheek.
“I can't wait to be you're wife,” she whispers.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

"The Future Holds..." Series

Good Evening Folks

I just thought I'd pop in and tell you a little bit about the series of short stories I'm going to attempt to write this week. At the moment, I am calling it "The Future Holds..." series, and they're all little bits of pretty fluff about where my life could lead in the next 5 years. They have very little basis in reality, but I need to start writing again.

For the last few months I've been in a reading rut. Since I finally managed to put the fanfiction down (yes I'm a geek, but it's sooooo good!) for more than 10 minutes I've just been thirsty for real reading material. Not that fanfiction isn't real and lots of fun. Some of the writers are pretty awesome at what they do in fact, the likes of GL Dartt, Sazzy and Tracy Renee Cook have me enthralled for hours, as well as distracted at work, and they've taught me a lot about writing.

But as I said, I've finally managed to ween myself away from all that, I've spent the last 6 months reading non-stop. I am so glad I do a lot of long bus and tube journeys!

In those six months I have read:
     The Liveship Trilogy by Robin Hobb
     All five Sarah Waters novels
     Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
     Jack Tar by Roy and Lesley Adkins
     Life Among The Pirates by David Cordingly
     Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
     Writing Fiction For Dummies by Randy Ingermason and Peter Economy

Any idea's yet what the novel I'm planning might be about??? But despite having read all that, I've got several books still on the go:
     Trafalgar by Roy Adkins
     Post Captain by Patrick O'Brian
     Writing A Novel And Getting It Published For Dummies by George Green and Lizzy Kremer
     Creative Writing For Dummies by Maggie Hammand
     Story by Robert McKee
     The Sea Rover's Practice by Benerson Little

You might think it's just a little ridiculous trying to read all those books at once, and looking at the list now I have to agree with you, but I'm loving it. Everything I read clicks something plot-wise into place or makes a character more real or throws a new problem in the way of my protagonist.
All I have to do now is start actually writing all those down so I don't loose them.

So anyway, back to the shorts series...My plan is to write one story per day and then edit it the next day after writing the next story. So hopefully late tomorrow or early thursday, I should be able to post the first one, called simply "Felicity".
Time to quit waffling and go write.

Have a good evening everyone.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

I'm scared of writing!

Hello there!

Well this is my first attempt at blogging but it has been recommended to me as a cure for insomnia by giving myself somewhere to vent all the things that fly around my head at warp speed and keep me awake at night.

By things, I mean strange thoughts and ideas, what some people would call a writers essentials. For the last few weeks my sleep pattern has been disrupted, not only by the usual rubbish of work and life, but by elements and seeds of stories. And the reason they are still flying around my head at warp speed, is because I haven't had the nerve yet to write them down.
I believe Jessamyn West is quoted as having said "Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential".
Well, apparently I have talent for story creation, I'm working on the actual writing talent, and I guess this is a step towards developing the guts to write my stories.

I've always had stories of some description in my head. But the last few years, it's been like there is less and less room for me in my own mind. I'm a sound engineer by trade, but the novel and the 4 short stories currently residing in my brain have forced me to abandon my only current sound design project because there is no room for it anymore. The show the design is for is growing and changing and evolving, and naturally the sound design needs to grow and change and evolve with it. But I'm stuck. So bye-bye sound design.

On the wall above my desk is a little photo frame with an affirmation that I typed out on my type writer. (If you can't read it please let me know and I'll transcribe it here!)

I'm hoping this will help me to just get on with it and write down everything that is in my head. By the way, you may have spotted on that affirmation that I put AKA Merchant, which is also the name in my URL. The reason for this is that Merchant was my mum's maiden name, and she had to write as well, as does her sister, and as did her father before them. I don't know if the writing bug goes back any further on that side of the family, but writing under their surname is something of a salute to 3 great influences in my life.

So, I think the plan is that every now and then I might post some of my short stories and various bits and pieces on here. I apologise in advance for any rants that may occur, there will probably be a few. Right now, I'm going to attempt to edit some of my old work now that I have a better understanding of a few things, thanks to various Dummies Guide's to writing and other articles.

Good night folks, and enjoy the last little bit of your weekend.