Dodgems of Love

Grandma is one of my favourite people on earth! She is really short, and probably as round as she is tall, but she’s an amazing tower of strength. She is a proper matriarch of the family, that always wants to know how all the family are doing all the time (with 8 children, 19 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren it’s not an easy task!), but she just wants to know everyone is doing well, healthy and happy.

I adore her and granddad’s story. A chance meeting on the dodgems may not be a fairy-tale romantic setting for most, but for them, it was to be the start of a relationship lasting 60 years and counting. Grandma met the love of her life, Peter, at Bridlington’s arcade in 1953 and they married after a year of courting.

When Grandma tells the story she says, her and a friend walked through the amusement arcade and granddad was on the dodgems having the time of his life.

“We looked at one another and he came over and we have never been separated since. He was the one.”

The secret to that special connection that creates a long and happy marriage?

Is to never let an argument rumble on. Grandma’s advice. “We care for one another and never let the sun go down on an argument.”

We think this translates to Granddad accepting that Grandma is the boss! But whatever it is it clearly works. Things may have changed in this day and age but I think their story still shows you just never know when and where you might find your happily ever after.

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Inspiration Tip for Writers – The Random Decision Maker

A quick post today as I came across this little beauty and thought others might like it. It is a random decision maker. http://www.randomdecisionmaker.com/

As a writer you have a lot of decisions to make and sometimes those can take way too long to decide.

What colour eyes should a character have?

How did she get hurt so that she can’t run away fast when that monster comes to get her later on?

Who did he unload his troubles too, to help him realise she was the one?

random_decision_generator

Sometimes you just need something to put in as a place holder to come back later or as an experiment of ideas you wouldn’t normally try. Well this little tool is free and can be quite liberating, think of it as a magic-8 ball with options. 🙂

Anyway, I thought it could be a useful writers’ resource.

Enjoy.
KL

From the Land of Fairytales

What does it mean to be British?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the definition of Britishness is:

The quality or state of being British or of embodying British characteristics.

I am not sure this goes a long way in describing what Britishness means. As I myself am a British mongrel, having been born in Glasgow (Scotland), I Eileen Donanmoved to Yorkshire (England) in my teens, then moved in my 20’s to County Durham (England). These three areas have distinct accents (and unfortunately none of which sound anything like Colin Firth’s “British” Accent). These three area’s have different priorities, different schooling, different cultures, and different industry backgrounds. They even have different laws! For example did you know in York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.

For me I take an altogether different view on patriotism and Britishness, probably a rather naïve, childish view, but one that works for me.

Dracula whitbyBritain for me is a land of fairy-tales. Filled with castles, we have the tales of King Arthur and his knight’s, the legends of Robin Hood hiding out in the luscious green forests and the humble shoemaker and his elves. It is the land of evil uncles murdering Royal Princes’ so that he can be crowned king. It is the green valleys that are the land of hobbits, Abbey ruins frequented by vampires and the Scottish islands that are the homes of the seal people. If this history, these stories can teach someoneGrimes Graves anything, it is that being British is about being different and celebrating that and each other and marvelling at the inspirational land that is all around us.

So for those looking for a bit of inspiration, pick up a book by a great author from your area (or further afield) and immerse yourself in what you can see around you.

Literary Map of Britain

For those that like this map I was bought it from the literary gift company, – there is also an American one and an Irish one too 🙂

See  “My Literary Lap of UK” posts where I myself have started the journey of visiting these spectacular places.

How to Write Historical Fiction: 7 Tips on Accuracy and Authenticity

Balancing Authenticity with Accuracy.

1. Have fun with the research, but do your homework. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Borrow some good reference books. Become comfortable with the time period. Try to understand both the larger scope of the period, while examining aspects of daily life. This will help create an authentic backdrop for your novel.

2. Let the characters engage with the historical details. This goes along with that “show don’t tell” truism writers are told all the time. Rather than just dumping a bunch of facts on the poor reader, let your characters interact with these details with all these senses. Let them smell the offal dumped onto the cobblestone streets. Let them squint in the fading light of the tallow candles. Let them feel the tingling sensation as the physician places a leech on their bare skin.

3. Allow your characters to question and explore their place in society. This will help reveal the larger political, social, cultural context of the time. What were the expectations for women? For sailors? For criminals? How did people from different parts of society interact with one another?

4. Use the internet wisely, to inspire and inform. The internet can be a researcher’s best friend, especially for arm-chair time travelers. Need to know how long it would take to walk from the Louvre to the Eiffel tower? Use the walking feature on mapquest. Need to see the inside of the Hagia Sophia? Check the dozens of tourist videos on YouTube. Sometimes I’m amazed by what the internet can’t answer. Certainly, the internet is a treasure trove of interactive maps, images, videos, and historical documents, which can be both informative and inspiring.

5. The internet can be bad, bad, bad for historical research. Unfortunately, the internet is also full of flawed information, lies, plagiarized material and half truths. (I’m looking at you, Wikipedia! Which I do use, but cautiously). Check all “facts” against at least two sources when possible. If a story or definition is repeated nearly verbatim in more than one source, there’s a good chance someone simply copied the information without verifying the accuracy. This is how a lot of bad information gets passed along and taken as “true.”

6. Don’t fret the details; let the story be told. Strive for accuracy, but when necessary, make your best informed guess and move on. And if you have to fudge something, well, that’s what the ‘historical note’ at the end of your novel is for!

7. Love the process, because readers will still find errors. And they’ll let you know about them. It doesn’t matter if those errors happened in editing process (as several of mine did. I collapsed some scenes together, and voila! A perfect recipe for timeline and geography mistakes). You can triple-check facts, hire copy editors and proofreaders, scrutinize every word for inconsistencies and mistakes, and I guarantee something will still slip by. At that point, you just have to laugh, thank your reader and move on.

But what do you think? How do you balance historical authenticity and historical accuracy as you tell your story?

I Came Across this useful article today on writers digest, by author Susanna Calkins (author of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate). I did click the share button but apparently it doesn’t translate to wordpress very well so I have extracted the tips to here. But please visit the full article using the link below.

How to Write Historical Fiction: 7 Tips on Accuracy and Authenticity.

Today Google marks the 200th birthday of Irish gothic tales writer Sheridan Le Fanu

google

Extract From Wikipedia

..Le Fanu worked in many genres but remains best known for his mystery and horror fiction. He specialised in tone and effect rather than “shock horror”, and liked to leave important details unexplained and mysterious. He avoided overt supernatural effects: in most of his major works, the supernatural is strongly implied but a “natural” explanation is also possible. The demonic monkey in “Green Tea” could be a delusion of the story’s protagonist, who is the only person to see it; in “The Familiar”, Captain Barton’s death seems to be supernatural, but is not actually witnessed, and the ghostly owl may be a real bird. This technique influenced later horror artists, both in print and on film (see, for example, the film producer Val Lewton’s principle of “indirect horror”). Though other writers have since chosen less subtle techniques, Le Fanu’s best tales, such as the vampire novella “Carmilla”, remain some of the most powerful in the genre. He had enormous influence on one of the 20th century’s most important ghost story writers, M. R. James, and although his work fell out of favour in the early part of the 20th century, towards the end of the century interest in his work increased and remains comparatively strong.

Inspiration

This image has inspired me. I have always had an interest in horror novels (and movies), particularly those that expose the readers imagination to cause the horror effect. I remember reading the shining by Stephen King when I was around 11/12 years old and then going on holiday with my dad were the hotel had hedge creatures! I spent a large amount of the holiday keeping an eye on the hedge animals for suspected movements, the slightest breeze putting me on high alert and holding onto my dads hand (something that was very uncool at that age).

For me, James Herbert was the modern master of this type of writing. I raced through his novels soaking up every word and loved the feeling of falling asleep with the lamp on in case something made a noise in the middle of the night. Both “the magic cottage” and “the secrets of crickley hall” being particular favorites’ and I love re-reading these every few years.

I love that this type of creepy horror and it is coming back into fashion with writers such as Susan Hill and Jonathan Ayecliffe recovering this genre from neglect. I’m sure most readers of horror will agree imagination beats gore every time.

Time for some more horror reading…and maybe a little bit of writing too.

The Most Heartbreaking Abandoned Place on Earth

After reading The House at Sea’s End: A Ruth Galloway Investigation by Elly Griffiths. I was inspired to research the book that inspired her Myths and Legends of the Second World War by James Hayward.

This has had a bit of a snowball reaction in inspiring a vast variety of genre’s I wouldn’t normally choose to read (not to mention have a dabble in writing). Imagine my excitement in finding out this beautiful quaint little story in the news today – The Most Heartbreaking Abandoned Place on Earth. This truly does evoke traditional childhood horror stories of wandering souls in a time-warp returning to each day to the place the called home unaware the rest of the world has moved on. Or a story of a true love returning to this desolate place each day hoping his lover who was taken from him finally returns home. I could go on but I am sure you get the gist. The past can be the most fascinating inspiration for the future.