Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself. Colleen’s prompt words this week express my morning breakthrough in such a wonderful way. I’ve been writing my prologue for Book Two of The Curse of Time and I had a BREAKTHROUGH. The words flowed so effortlessly I wanted to do a happy dance. As I was beetling away writing the prologue I suddenly had an unexpected flash of inspiration. I’m going to start each new chapter – (Puzzle Piece,) with a Cinquian! Bring it on.
Wait a minute, I have no clue how to write a Cinquian. Never fear… Colleen is the Queen Bee of mentoring! She is a fabulous source of inspiration and her blog is full of useful information, so without further ado, I popped over to read up on how to write a Cinquain. I discovered there is a reverse Cinquian too. Boy, this is getting exciting! More happy dance! What a morning…
Here is a tiny excerpt (unseen until now!) about Cinquians from the first (unedited,) draft of the prologue of The Curse of Time – Book Two – Golden Healer:
I’m so stressed. My go to when I’m stressed is writing. Poetry. It’s my number one anxiety solution, a bunch of words in a tight format make me feel better. But somehow I don’t feel in the mood for Tanka. There have been too many weird changes for that. I need a new more challenging form of poetic expression. I’ve heard about Cinquian. It’s very formulaic, first line is the title, second line add two adjectives that describe the title, third line stick in three verbs that express action, fourth line are four words that shout out feeling or describe more and the fifth line takes it back to the beginning. Closure. That appeals. The fifth line is a synonym of the first line. Sounds good. If anything will take my mind off my present anxiety this will do it. I feel it in my gut. Cinquain. I like it. It sounds like a cash register. Not that I’m materialistic but I feel a Cinquian coming on. Bring it on!
So to my Cinquain. I’ve used synonyms – Quantum Leap and sign.
That last line was a struggle. I had one of those ‘can I really do this moments.’ But I like a challenge so I didn’t give up. Then I found the word. Auspicious. Oh, I do like auspicious! I hope it brings me luck. 🙂
Any feedback for this novice Cinquian writer would be gratefully received.
Date for your Diary! My paperback is due for release mid April. The pre-release blog tour begins in April with my #ABRSC club pals, followed by a release tour with Neverland Blog Tours. (Jenny Marston is also a #ABRSC member!) http://neverlandblogtours.weebly.com/
Thank you so much to Brigid Gallagher for nominating me in the Book Lover’s Tag. It’s a long while since I’ve participated in a tag. I’ve been so busy doing my own book promotion that this is a welcome change.
Do you have a specific place for writing? I write at my desk in my office at home. One blissful year I went away to Brighton for a few days and wrote in my hotel room, in cafes and in the library. That was wonderful.
Book mark or random pieces of paper? Mainly a book mark but I have been known to use anything that comes to hand!
Can you stop anywhere or must it be at the end of a chapter? Always at the end of a chapter unless I’m reading on the bus (and I do this often on the way to work,) and then I’ll make a mental note of where I stopped!
Do you eat or drink whilst reading? No, I don’t unless I’m in a cafe. Otherwise, I tend to focus 100% on the book.
Music or TV whilst reading? Do people do this? Shock, horror, no I never listen to music or watch TV. I’d find that too distracting. My husband reads in the bath which I find equally odd. How can you turn the pages with soap bubbles everywhere?
One book at a time or several? Oh, I rarely read more than one at a time but occasionally I might read a paperback and a kindle. I don’t like to do this but time pressures sometimes mean that I do.
Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere? I’ll read at home, on the bus, travelling by train, in the library, in cafes, anywhere!
Read out loud or silently? Silently, but I have been known to cry whilst reading a book in public places!
Do you read ahead or skip pages? I never skip pages, ever.
Break the spine or keep it like new? I keep it like new.
Do you write in your book? Ouch, never!
What books are you reading now? I have been reading MalalaYousafzai’s biography, the Pakistani schoolgirl who stood up to the Taliban and defended her right to an education. It’s an amazing book, about halfway through. I recommend everyone reads this, very inspiring, educational and moving too.
Other than that I read anything I can get my hands on. I found another little gem recently in the same independent bookshop in Ely, Topping Books – Only Dull People Are Brilliant at Breakfast.
It’s a tiny black penguin classic with ‘Wildes’s celebrated witticisms on the dangers of sincerity, duplicitous biographers, the stupidity of the English – and his own genius.’
Some of my favourite witticisms from the book:
‘We spend our days, each one of us, in looking for the secret of life. Well, the secret of life is in art.’
‘One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.’
‘Thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the world, and people die of it just as they die of any other disease, Fortunately, in England at any rate, thought is not catching’
‘Pleasure is the only thing one should live for. Nothing ages like happiness.’
‘Life is much too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.’
‘The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything.’
‘To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.’
‘Time is waste of money.’
‘I love acting. It is so much more real than life.’
‘The tragedy of old age is not that one is old. but that one is young.’
‘Murder is always a mistake. One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner.’
“Life cheats us with shadows. We ask it for pleasure. It gives it to us, with bitterness and disappointment in its train. ‘
Today, I am delighted to welcome S C Skillman to my blog with her blog tour post and discussion about inspiration.
GUEST POST By SC Skillman For Marjorie Mallon Inspiration, Motivation, and Keeping to the Path
Being an author in today’s world is a much tougher journey than one might ever believe, when one first conceives the desire to write stories.
I was inspired at the age of seven by the adventure stories of Enid Blyton and wanted to write exciting stories like hers. Essentially my desire was to write about girls my own age doing thrilling and dangerous and intrepid things quite out of my own daily experience. I created two girls called Marilyn and Sylvia and wrote many stories about them. They were good, brave, beautiful, clever and talented, everything I wanted to be. In other words, the desire was for transformation.
And this is why I believe we read fiction. Our longing is to be transported from out of our own lives, our own minds, into the mind and heart of someone else, to enter into a different world, to be inside someone else’s skin, to share his or her joys and sorrow and hopes and dreams.
Listening to conversations and observing people and the interaction of their personalities has long fascinated me and is a large part of my desire to write. I wrote a detailed daily journal throughout my teens and twenties, which ran to many volumes, and in it I would often record conversations I had been a part of or had overheard, and observations about people I knew, including family relationships.
The changes in the publishing scene over the past couple of decades have held out a seductive allure to independent authors, offering power and autonomy. Yet the snares along the path are even greater. We have all these opportunities, but also there are many people pursuing the same dream, and recording their success and offering their advice on social media. This can prove overwhelming for sensitive, introverted creative people – which is the case with many writers.
So it can prove a lifeline when we find inspiring quotes to strengthen and uplift us. Here’s one, from St Paul: “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize.” And he also encouraged his readers with these words: “Only let us live up to all we have attained.”
Knowing that others have struggled for years and eventually, with persistence, won through, is a very helpful reminder for us when we start to doubt the value of our past achievements and allow it to weaken our faith in what we are capable of achieving in the future. My non-fiction book Perilous Path, an inspirational writers guide, contains several chapters which help authors to overcome obstacles in their path and how to use art and music as therapy as well as a source of fresh inspiration.
So, finally, what makes us carry on? We need to draw the water of inspiration and motivation from a reliable well. I found one particular saying of Sir Winston Churchill very powerful. When invited to speak to an audience of school pupils, who were all waiting to hear wise words from the great man, he said, “I only have five words to give you. Never, never, never give up.”
Today it is my pleasure to welcome Trent to my blog.
Here’s Trent’s take on inspiration. It’s fascinating …. I’m a dreamer too – I expect a lot of writers are – enjoy!
OK, I’ll admit it, I’m a dreamer. Not just any old dreamer, but a daydreamer. More than that, a daydreamer with an insatiable appetite to learn all there is to know about the world around me.
Typically, when we think of a daydream, we imagine someone dreaming about what they’d do if they won the Lotto, or found the perfect person as a mate, or made a great scientific discovery, or got a huge promotion, or… you get the point: people think of daydreams as improbable fantasies about the dreamer’s future.
Not me. (At least not always )
What if this legend is actually true, or if there is a basis in fact for that myth? What if, just beyond that latest scientific discovery that was recently announced, there is a deeper, more disturbing truth? What if I could see what you are thinking?
What if magic is real?
I am constantly on the move. I don’t have a Fitbit because I’m not concerned about the number of steps I do. Walking with people who do 10,000 a day, I know I do far more, at least if I include running.
There is something about walking that makes the creative juices flow. When I was in school and hit an impossible problem, I would just go take a walk and my subconscious would answer it. When I’ve researched some new discovery, or some ancient one that I recently decided to study, a walk makes me think about the topic. Thinking, of course, as I said above, leads to daydreaming.
And I’m a dreamer. A daydreamer.
Do all of my ideas for stories come this way, from a long walk? Of course not. I really enjoy prompts and typically write two flash fiction pieces a week. I think of doing the prompts as exercising my story writing muscles. Beyond the prompts, sometimes a complete storyline just appears in my head out of nowhere. And once I even had the idea for a book from a (real, night) dream (The Halley Branch, which will be the next book I publish). But typically, a longer, more involved work will be written in a series of walks.
A good example of that would be my book The Fireborn. It was born by just the type of daydreaming on a walk described above. I was thinking of history and myth and suddenly something gelled. I had a perfect storyline. As these ideas grew deeper and deeper, I realized I had a book on my hands, not just a short story. Over the next month, before I wrote a single word on “paper” (or electrons), I wrote the entire book in my head. Every time I’d leave the house, I’d pick up on The Fireborn just where I left off. Sure, I changed quite a bit once I started actually dictating it to myself and writing it out, but all of the main ideas were there.
In my opinion, anything and everything can be the source of inspiration for a daydreamer. There is nothing too large or too small. A word, a phrase, a photo or a drawing can often bring out an idea. Sometimes it’s a song, or even just a sound.
I started this blog almost four years ago mostly as a place to promote The Fireborn (I know, it took long enough for me to break down and publish it). Since then I have posted almost 500 works of fiction, from 100-word micro-stories to 8,000-word short stories. I have put up three serialized novels and am working on a fourth. They were all written because I am a dreamer. A daydreamer.
You can catch some of these dreams in my book of short stories Seasons of Imagination. And, of course, there is the longer daydream that I recently put out, The Fireborn.
This is a perfect poetry prompt for me as I love to explore shadows and light in my writing.
Here’s an extract from The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone followed by my Tanka.
The evening descended, and darkness filled my room. I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned, but the stagnant dead air in the house tightened around my neck choking me. I slipped out of bed and opened a window. It made no difference. Feeling anxious, I noticed a deep sensation of dread forcing its way into my soul.
I often heard strange grumbling voices and laboured breathing coming from the walls of our silent house, speaking in unison, ‘Cursed house, dreadful misfortune.’ Tonight, no difference awaited me. Those weird sounds seemed to reverberate from the cramped attic room at the top of the house, right down to the ground floor. The hexagonal hallway grumbled as I heard six whispered voices that unified into one loud, persistent groan that amplified, filling the hall with the same repeated words.
I wrestled with alternating tiredness and wakefulness, pushing the sounds away, I fell into a deep sleep. I dreamed. A vision formed and I could see the pathway ahead lay deserted, not a soul in sight. The dead of night beckoned, and an eerie silence magnified every rustle and quadrupled every whisper in the breeze. The gentle sound of trickling water soothed my disturbed senses, but I couldn’t find the source. I fought a strange feeling that someone followed me. Yet, when I glanced over my shoulder, no one seemed to be there. No footprints, no churned-up earth, nothing. I walked faster, but my steps lagged, like a clock pendulum moving back and forth on a predetermined journey, yet moving in slow motion.
As my dream continued, the whispering winds grew louder. I forced myself to turn around and confront my growing fear. I saw the shadow of a man, and he was following me. Disconcerted, I tried to run and stumbled; as if this shadowy man’s long limbs were reaching forward to trip me up. Just when I couldn’t take another step, the winds stopped. The shadow revealed itself in a flash of light and vanished. My eyes blinked, captivated by blue-black hair, but I couldn’t see his face. I stood transfixed by a bright light followed by an immediate darkness.
Colleen’s prompt words this week are heat and confuse.
I reckon I’ll write a passionate Tanka this week! Why? I’m feeling happy having just set up my author page on Amazon: Amazon Buying Link… for my debut novel The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone, even though it was stressful setting it up….
Yes, formatting isn’t my favourite job. It made me confused, hot, headache prone and more than a bit irritable, so let’s have some passionate poetry to make me feel less stressed! Lol…
Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is. Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain? In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover: How to develop a villain’s mindset A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up Why getting to the core of a villain’s personality is essential to make them credible What pitfalls and clichés to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create superbad villains. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will help power up your bad guy and give them that extra edge.
These lessons will help you master and control your villainous minions, navigate and gain the perfect balance of good and evil, as well as strengthening your villain to give your story the tension and punch it needs. If you like dark humour, learning through examples and want to create the best villains you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting superbad villains. Read 13 steps to evil today and start creating kick ass villains.
Confession time. No, it’s nothing to do with my prison record, or my descent into villainy. It’s simply this – I’m pretty lazy about reading books about writing – but Sacha Black’s 13 Steps To Evil has completely changed my mind! What a fantastic kick ass little book! I wish I’d read a copy years ago.
It’s a detailed resource, which informs and entertains in an illuminating, and humorous way. There are so many excellent examples that I am giddy with the potential for villains. The mental health section is handled with great sensitivity (one of my characters self-harms, so I read this with considerable interest,) and I was also fascinated by the detail on narcissistic personality disorder too.
Sacha’s extensive knowledge of villains prompts me to ask….. Is Sacha a secret villain? Or has she been hanging out with dodgy characters? The mind boggles. No, none of these apply… at least I don’t think so! Sacha Black has done her research, and it shows. She studied Psychology to 1st Class Degree level and thereafter completed Masters in Research Methods in Cognitive Neuropsychology. She has also spent an exorbitant amount of time watching villainous films, (from a tender age,) and has read tonnes of books, and absorbed popular culture like a sponge. Where does this woman get her energy? I am in awe, totally star-stuck… or should I say villain struck!
My recommendation: 5 stars. Get a copy now and write a review. Share the love!
Check out the current Blog Tour hosts….
DISCLAIMER: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”
My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review.
I know it sounds bonkers… but this is Kyrosmagica, and anything can happen here…. ANYTHING!
So Who is Lily?
Lily comes from a busy household of four cats: Charlie aka Madame La Princesse aka
Princess Charlotte Oddpaw, Lily Bee, Ting Tong Maccadangdang and Tooty
Michonne….Tooty and Lily are both black cats, Ting is Siamese and Charlie is
Marje: Tell us a little about the humans and the other cats that you live with Lily?
Lily: My human family are all right – I wish they’d learn to appreciate the mice and birds I bring them a little more, I put a lot of effort into those hunts!
The other cats are all right, as far as cats go. It’s the 21st century though, and us felines have to adapt to living in a multi-cat household. Not always easy… apparently we also have a budgie that lives with us. I often hear him screaming but I’ve never seen him…hmm…wonder why…
Marje: What is your temperament like? Are you an easy-going kind of feline? Or can you be a bit fierce?
Lily: I may be the smallest cat, but I think I’m the fiercest! And provided things go my way, then I’m wonderful to live with!
Marje: Out of the cat siblings that live with you do you have a favourite?Or do you all get along really well? Tell us about Ting, Charlie, Madame La Princesse, and Tooty.
Lily: Ting and Tooty are sisters and quite a bit younger than me, so I find them a bit immature, to be honest. Nice enough, but a bit dim, the pair of them. I used to get on better with Charlie when we were younger, but she was a bit of a bully, and can still be quite… princess-y… if you know what I mean!
Marje:What do you think of my cat character Shadow? He thinks you’re gorgeous!
Lily: Shadow sounds intriguing…exciting… put it this way, I would definitely add his book to my collection! You may thank him for the compliment, by the way.
Marje:Are you a home buddy or do you like to wander far? Do you have a perfect spot for a nap?
Lily: We have quite a large garden, and a park behind us… sometimes on fine clear nights I wander further than I should and remember our wild ancestors…But mostly, I don’t go too far! The best spots for napping are generally on one of the beds, but I’m not fussy. Hey, I’ll sleep on the ironing board if I have to!
Marje:What are you doing whilst contemplating on this slab?
Lily: Actually I’d just been told off for trying to catch one of the frogs that lives in the pond behind me in the picture… so I suppose you could say I’m sulking…
Marje:Sometimes you look a bit thoughtful. I wonder what’s on your mind?
Lily: Sometimes there are deep mysteries of the Universe that need pondering… sometimes I’m just wondering why Mother doesn’t realise none of us like chicken flavour catfood…
Marje: What were you like as a kitten?
Lily: Totally precious! Aren’t all kittens?
Marje: Are you enjoying modelling? Do your cat siblings get jealous?
Lily: Ha ha! Oh yes, I’m enjoying the extra attention from the modelling! Charlie is always thought of as the “pretty” one of the family, so she’s quite jealous! She complained until our mother created an Instagram account that features lots of her pictures Samantha’s Instagram Account… Ting and Tooty don’t really understand the concept of social media… or blogs… or books.. or cameras… well, you see what I mean.
Marje: Tell us a little about the crystals that your owner Samantha collects. And Buddha you seem to hang out with him sometimes… lol… J
Lily: I quite like the crystals our mother collects. Obsidian is pretty cool, it matches my fur, jade matches my eyes, and she did actually use pyrite to help when I hurt my paw. Yeah, Buddha’s all right – sometimes hanging out with him is the only way to get a decent conversation…
Marje: Who is the most temperamental cat, and/or human in your household?
Lily: Most temperamental cat – without a doubt, Charlie. Definitely. She is such a princess… we have a catflap but she has to have the door opened specially for her, special beds in all the best places and when she’s in a temper she doesn’t care who she has a swipe at! Most temperamental human… we don’t really have any… they tend to know their place. Mother can be annoying, always picking me up… kissing me… brushing me… singing to me… hasn’t tried dressing any of us up yet though.
Marje:What is your favourite pastime?
Lily: Well I do play chess – no! Sleeping, of course!
Marje:Do you care for dogs? I hear your owner Samantha’s mum has a doggie…
Lily: My birth mother lived with three dogs and then my human mother actually had a little dog when I was younger. She’s since gone over the Rainbow Bridge, so yes, dogs, I don’t suppose I mind them. Couldn’t eat a whole one though…
Marje:Are you mischievous, getting your paw prints on everything?
Lily: Not really, I just do what I have to do, and if that includes walking on the clean kitchen work surfaces , sitting in the bath with muddy paws, bringing in mice and birds – then so be it!
A HUGE Thank you to Samantha and her son Alex Marlowe for their wonderful photos of Lily and for answering my questions!
I am so glad that Gary @ Fiction is Food introduced me to Samantha. It has been absolutely wonderful collaborating with her. She is a true gem, just as sparkly and lovely as the crystals she collects. Do pop over to Samantha’s blog to see her beautiful cats and crystals: Samantha Murdoch Blog.
These are especially for Lily:
Next, I will be interviewing my male character Ryder on my blog, (with some stunning photographs taken by my daughter,) so keep an eye out for that.
Bye for now from MJ…. This is my new nickname, and author initials…
To balance out the good with the bad #10thingsIhate here are my #10thingsIlove.
1. Spending time with friends and family. There’s nothing quite like this, I’m definitely a social animal. Love going out for coffee, dinner or just hanging out at home with my family. Friends both on and offline are the best for supporting and encouraging you to pursue your dreams.
2. Eating tasty food. This just had to be on my list! LOL… I love food, any food, but especially spicy meals, as I grew up with a diet of Malaysian fare – my mum is from Kuching, Malaysia.
3. Travelling. Absolutely, would love to travel more. I grew up with a father who had a penchant for travel so this isn’t entirely surprising. Recently, I entered Dan Alatorre’s recent Word Weaver writing competition with the first chapter of my dad’s travelling adventures. Sorry, the competition is now closed, but Dan has a great blog so go follow! I’ve been to many places in the world but there are still many to explore.
4. Going to the Theatre to see drama and dance. Where would we be without the theatre to make our imaginings take form? I adore going to the Edinburgh Festival and try to go every year if I can. The buzz is fantastic.
5. Visiting Edinburgh to see my mum, dad, brother and extended family. Love Edinburgh, it is one of the best cities in the world Edinburgh ranked Second in the World for Quality of Life and is my home from home.
6. Writing prose and poetry, and reading books. Of course, this has to feature here. What has writing done for me? So much, it has given me such confidence, and so much enjoyment. I wish I had started writing decades ago! Reading books and going to Book Festivals ranks pretty highly up there on my favourite things to do. Books make me cry, they make me smile; they delight me. Where would we be without books? I daren’t contemplate such a fate. And book festivals, again, my favourite is the Edinburgh Book Festival
7. Tai Chi. I have been attending classes in Taoist Tai Chi for many years, and I love it. I find it helps me relax, keeps me balanced and gives me a terrific boost. I would recommend it. Start young and you’ll stay fit well into your old age! Start older and it will keep you young! It’s a win, win situation… Recently, we had a Tai Chi intensive at my local branch. Here’s the link to the Facebook page to see photos: Taoist Tai Chi Intensive in Cambridge. What’s a Tai Chi Intensive? It’s a special lesson when a particularly awesome instructor comes along to impart their knowledge to us Tai Chi enthusiasts. We partake of a bring and share lunch and generally have a lovely time.
Here’s the instructor considering what to teach us next:
8. Sea air and sunshine. These two I’ve combined, as I enjoy the seaside best when the weather is nice. If the sun is out, I can swim, (not in the UK!) sunbathe, eat an ice-cream, walk and explore. When it’s cold I still enjoy it, but I have to wrap up in many, many layers!
9. The blogging community. Have been a blast, so helpful, supportive and amazing. Love you! In fact I love you so much that I set up a special community on Facebook for authors/bloggers and bookish souls. Please do investigate and join …. Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club. My fellow administrators of the group areColleen Chesebro, and Debby Gies.
10. And last but not least, crystals and cats. I collect crystals and write about them too. My current manuscript is entitled: The Curse of Time – The Bloodstone. I intend to release this YA fantasy this summer. Cats, well I like their independence, and cats always seem to like me! Unfortunately, I don’t own one as both my husband and daughter are allergic but I get my fix over at Samantha Murdoch Blog. Samantha and I are good blogging friends and she has kindly been providing me with lots and lots of photos of her cat Lily who looks like the cat Shadow in my book.
Here are the latest photos of Samantha’s lovely cat Lily.
In life, there is always good and bad but it is always nice to end on a high note. There is much more to enthuse about when writing about what I love. The list could have gone on and on…