Tuesday, 28 April 2015

At Long Long Last - the excerpt ...

So here is a teeny taster of The Epic.  This excerpt comes from Chapter 20 and, just so you know, the character Mono is a small black & white cat ...

Mono knew the Third Howl was coming long before it actually did.  She'd been following The Voices for days and several things had come to her befuddled mind.  It wasn't only that she could understand things a lot more.  It was the realization that she was still in Tracklands - but at a different time to everyone else.  As the days had passed, the environment around her had become more and more familiar.  She recognised certain landmarks.  Here was the wall she had first clambered up as she tried to escape that horrid dog,  There was the place the rats had taunted her.  But with this realisation came a sense of dread, for she was seeing it all not as it had been but as it would be!  Or - the logical part of her mind told her - as it could be.

This realisation had not come to her to begin with.  All she knew was that she was being led somewhere by The Voices for a very specific reason.  It was only as she came upon her tree that Mono truly understood.  Where that tree had been clothed in healthy leaves, what she was actually seeing was a tree devoid of life, denuded of leaves whose once proud trunk had been rich with bark.  Now she could only see a tree that was dead, with gnarled branches and skeletal twigs which pointed accusingly.

It wasn't only the tree that was dead either; the grass, bushes and shrubs around it were brown and dry.  Had Mono been human, she'd have actually wept at this sorry sight.  As she was feline, she could only feel an intense sadness that touched her very soul.

(c) J P Henderson-Long 2015

What do you think ....?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Adele, The Epic & I

It is just after 11pm and I have just finished adding today's quota to my Tesco order.  Because I shop for six to eight weeks at a time, I have to do it in stints - Sunday night - drinks (non alcoholic) and non-food stuffs, Monday night - tins & jars, Tuesday night - dairy and tonight was for dinners, desserts and extras.  Tomorrow it will be salad stuff, fruit & veg and then - thank goodness - I will be done till mid-June. Phew!  Personally I prefer walking round the nearest superstore with a trolly - but that then wipes out a Saturday morning when Steve & I could be doing something more interesting. Somehow an hour a night for four or five nights is the lesser of the two evils!  Shopping has to be done; end of!  So that's tonight's stint out of the way and now I can indulge in two of my major passions - Writing and listening to Adele 21.  Have you ever listened to this amazingly talented singer?  Her voice is truly astonishing but it's the words of her songs that just tear my heart out!  I also have Adele 19 which is brilliant but this one is what I would listen to all day every day given half a chance.  In fact I listen to it so often I know most of the words to most of the songs now and there are a couple which I am sure she wrote just for me because I know exactly the pain she is going through when she wrote them!  Amazing lady.  Cheers to you Adele.

Found out today that our landline phones are no longer working.  Don't know why.  They were working okay yesterday afternoon.  I think we might need to go out and buy some new ones.  Bit of a pain; we have only had these a couple of years.  Good job I have my mobile and laptop or we'd be completely cut off from friends and family.  Honestly however did  people stay in touch before telephones?  No wonder whole families usually lived in little villages and hamlets all their lives!

So - what have I been writing?  Well The Epic is marching on.  Still no idea where it is actually taking me.  Al I know is that I get lost in it every time I pick up my pen.  And before I make good on my promise to include a little excerpt in my blog, let me give you a little bit of background info about it.

It kind of all goes back to Yucketypoo in a weird kind of way.  The Yucketypoo books were written to help raise environment awareness in children.  Environmental matters are something I hold very close to my heart because I truly believe our World is beautiful, Mother Nature is amazing and people are generally really nice and caring.  Not sure when I first began to feel the world's pain but I have always been terribly sensitive to it.  I hate waste,  Any kind of waste.  I hate seeing litter strewn everywhere.  I hate thinking about wildlife getting caught up in nets and bags and the like and the fact that turtle often eat plastic bags because they think they're jelly fish.  I hate seeing what is beautiful being made ugly.

I have been a vegetarian for about twenty years but even as a child I loathed the whole ethic of killing animals to feed us.  Now don't get me wrong.  I understand about the food chain and everything.  People have to eat;  look at what I was saying earlier about six week's worth of shopping!  But I never liked the idea and, as I grew up, I found I was eating less and less meat until one day I realized I was eating more non-meat than actual meat.  I always went for the veggie option if one was available so I decided one day - ironically when I was having lunch in a pie & mash shop with my mum that from that day forward I would never eat meat again.

But getting back to The Epic - I became very angry a few years ago when I went to catch my morning tram and found that some bright spark from the council had come along in the night and chopped down all the trees on the bank leaving a tangle of logs and wood cuttings in their wake.  I'd seen the wildlife down there - foxes, wrens, jays, magpies, ring-necked doves, robins, butterflies of every hue. Had anyone actually thought about them as they ploughed through nests and habitats?  I don't think so.

Anyway a few days after this monstrous event, I spotted a cat down there and not just any cat - a manx cat.  I spotted her a whole lot of times over the next few weeks and suddenly this idea began to germinate in my mind - how about a story based on the tram tracks about all the animals living down there?  So I did a bit of research and found a lot of species living on them I'd never considered before - rabbits up on the common, rats, mice, foxes, badgers - and - as it turns out - lots of other cats who either live there or in the houses nearby.  Add to this the demise of the trees and my environmental thing and you'll kind of get where I am going with it.

So now I have given you the basicalities (I think I just made that word up) I will include my excerpt next  time, I promise.

But it is now close to midnight and Adele's stopped singing.  Time to switch off the CD player ...


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Poor Me ...

Not feeling too well tonight.  Horrid sore throat and gland so swollen it hurts to swallow!  Headache. Earache.  You name it.  Don't know where that came from but do know I plan on hopping into bed soon to (hopefully) sleep it off. An early night should help.  So this will be short and snappy but full of love for anyone reading it (and of course those who don't).

The Epic is bounding along.  I don't know why I call it The Epic.  At the moment it is around 30,000 words and it needs to be ten times that to qualify for  a 21st century Epic.  Mind you Jonathan Livingstone Seagull is about as Epic as you can get and is, I think, less than 22,000.  So now you know!

Sold another copy of my book today.  My Writer is trickling along like a sweet little babbling brook at the end of a garden.  Eventually it will join a river and when it hits the Ocean - wow!

No good - can't think - head hurts.

Bed callzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, 13 April 2015

Love This Writing Life!

Had an excellent Young Writer session on Saturday  (I don't mean to be repetitive but most of the sessions are excellent) and came away as fired up as the children!  We were looking at play-writing - something we have not tackled before.  I put together an information sheet (one day I will put all these sheets into a book and call it The Young Writer's Handbook)  and, because the group was quite small, we all worked together to come up with a play.  It was a resounding success - take a look at the AYW blog (addiscombeyoungwriters.blogspot.co.uk) to find out more about what they came up with.  Suffice it to say that the pride on their faces when they realised what they'd done was worth a year's salary from the Day Job and they went home in a glow of achievement!  As well they should.

The Epic and I remain constant buddies.  I write whenever I can.  I have reacquainted myself with the characters - and already invented some new ones!  So very pleased with how that is going.

The Book is still selling well.  Don't know how well it is doing on Amazon and Kindle but my Steve and I are finding people who buy direct from us - which is pretty helpful because it gives us a good idea of how things are going.  Don't forget - if you know of a Craft Fair, Summer Fete or Spring Bazaar going on in or near the Croydon area, let me know.  When I used to do such events with the Yucketypoo books, they always sold well, so the power of Local must not go under-estimated!

Better go for now - but if you are very very good - I might even put a sample of The Epic into my next blog ...

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Sorry - Just HAVE To Share ...

I write this blog every so often and have absolutely no idea who reads it because I rarely get any feedback.  However - two people I know have recently told me they read it so it stands to reason that other people might. 

The only reason I mention it is because anyone who has stayed with it since I first began to blog a couple of years ago will be familiar with The Epic.  This is a novel I began around three years ago and wrote feverishly for months.  But then The Book (ie My Writer) took precedence because I knew I had to see that through.  All those months The Epic rested in the back of my mind (and a drawer) until I took it out and read through it a couple of weeks ago.

Last night, my very best friend in the entire world (outside of family of course) came for a spot of dinner and we talked about many things (we are in a very spiritual relationship as well as being great mates) including The Book (My Writer) and The Epic (as yet untitled).  Well - Paul - this one is for you.  I took up my pen this morning and wrote a whole new chapter!

Yep - The Epic is back on.  But better still.  I am WRITING again!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Sequel? What Sequel?

Someone who came to the launch of My Writer and bought a copy for the young son of a friend of hers (whom I have never met), came into the Day Job yesterday with a message from the young son.  Jilly - when is the sequel coming out?  Sequel?  What sequel would that be then?  Talk about lighting the way through the endless Blank Page dunes of Writersblocksville!  Suddenly a whole new bunch of possibilities came to me.  Yeah - why not?  A professional editor who read the book in my trying-to-seek-a-publisher-or-agent phase came back to me with two very important points.  The first point she made was "I love the twist - this book will be published".  The next was the suggestion that I take the Creative Writing Academy thread in the book and build a whole series from there - looking at a different character and using a different genre for each consecutive story, whilst keeping the original characters in the background.  Thinking about this, I came up with ideas for maybe six  sequels - possibly even more!  But in order to make that work I need to find an agent, or indeed a publisher, who is prepared to take a leap of faith with my writing.  I very much doubt I could afford to fund them all myself.  So we shall have to see.  At least the feedback I am getting is positive!  Bit like me really.

Yesterday I physically took a copy of My Writer into Waterstones and left it, along with my About The Author sheet, with the manager there, who came out of her lunch break to speak to this persistent unknown local author who has been blighting her life for the past couple of months.  She has promised we will get together again the week after next after her holiday to look at the possibilities.  So fingers crossed.

You see - never ever give up!  Catch you later.