One Blade of Grass

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

Where do writers get their inspiration? It’s a question I’m often asked and I ask myself every day. Each morning, I wake up to a running thought-commentary of a million ideas for a new book. I begin erasing each one methodically, as I stir my coffee or pour out breakfast cereal. That’s a process that helps me sort out the wheat from the chaff and eventually, (it takes time) decide on a plot line, based on the chosen idea. If it sounds complicated, it is.

There is no quick fix when it comes to writing a book. I remember thinking I would never be able to read a complete book. I was about seven at the time and had just started to put words in order and follow a page or two of my Janet and John book – yes, that’s how old I am! Writing a book can be like that early stumbling attempt at making sense of words, turning them into a story you and other people will understand and want to read. And along the way, there are pitfalls, hundreds of them.

The 6am desk
This is where it happens!

I was never very good at grammar or punctuation. It’s a slog to get it right, especially when you are an independent author and have to do the editing of your work by yourself. But, it gets easier. However, I am still at the stage of describing myself as a novice writer, probably because of my fears about getting grammar and punctuation horribly wrong. Although I have published four novels, I am only just beginning to understand the writing process and I know that learning any craft takes time. The hard work, the frustrations and tears will all be worth it when I get a review that tells me I have written something worthwhile and my readers have enjoyed it. I am thankful for publishers like Feedaread, who give new writers like me the platform to try out my skill and see my words in paperback, hardback or on Kindle.

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I always take my camera

Another good way to find inspiration is to walk through the countryside in the early morning. The beauty of nature waking up, as the sun rises, accompanied by the incredible bird orchestra, is like opening a door to a room in my mind where the stories live. Those early morning strolls with my dog leave me raring to go, though there has to be coffee first!

I’m at my desk, the window wide open in summer, the radiator blaring in the winter, hands poised over the keyboard, computer glasses on, coffee at my elbow…waiting. For what, you ask? For the bloody inspiration! Sometimes, it’s right there, ready to spew up and mould into a coherent first chapter. Often, it’s not. The germ of an idea, the title, a couple of characters, a structure for chapter one is at the tip of my fingers – and that’s where it stays, until something turns on the tap.

Is it time to get up, walk around, go for another walk? No, you lazy beezum, get on with it! Once I’ve given myself a good talking to, I settle down again to write. What will I achieve by lunch time? Four rewrites of chapter one? Several trips to the loo? Another three cups of coffee? A cuddle with my dog? All of them. Then…

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I can hear a noise and smell something wonderful. My neighbour is out there, mowing his lawn. The scent of grass wafts into the room and lands up my nose. A breeze sends several blades of grass through the window.  They flutter to the floor. A ladybird clings to one of them. A single blade lands on the sill, wriggling in the gently moving air, bright green, long, pointed and exquisite. I pick it up and lay it in the palm of my left hand. It’s an intricate, amazing piece of brilliance that has evolved, all by itself, over millions of years. Who the hell do I think I am, making a fuss about creating a piece of writing!

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You can buy Lyn Ferrand’s books at Feedaread.com  Amazon.co.uk  Waterstones.com

 

 

 

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TIME TO WRITE

Lyn FerrandLYN FERRAND – www.lynferrand.com

https://www.amazon.co.uk/JONTYS-WIN-Lyn-Ferrand/dp/1788763513#customerReviews

I am a novice writer. Jumping head first into a deep pool of vague ideas, bad spelling, rotten grammar and a sense that I have made a terrible mistake contemplating the thought that I could ever create enough paragraphs to make a book, I started the uphill climb five years ago. Prior to this, I had worked as a theatre director of my own small touring theatre company, writing and directing plays and making commissioned films about health and social issues. I won awards and life was sweet.

Then, I got old. Not really old, but old enough to realise that touring is a young person’s game. I ran out of steam. There was a gaping hole in my life. From the age of seven I was fascinated by words, their power, their unpredictability, their music. It was time to examine that fascination and find that darned elusive thing: my writer’s voice.

Everybody has one, I was told. You just have to find it. Ever tried finding the needle in the haystack? Sitting alone in a tiny room I’d commandeered as a study in my house, closing the door and chewing the end of my pen, I quickly realised no creativity was forthcoming; not one jot. What this did was make me feel supremely guilty. Outside the door, life was happening. In the study, the air was frozen with apprehension, with nothingness, all I could hear was this silent ‘writer’s voice’ and a sense that my family would fall down a black hole if I wasn’t there holding their hands and making everything work for them, every minute of every day.

Then, my husband became ill. Sometimes these things happen out of the blue, like the unexpected meteor hit – at least, that’s what it felt like. My kids were grown and scattered and at a place in their lives where the last thing they wanted was to consider a sick father or a stressed out Mum. (Kids today, eh?) My youngest, however – it’s always the youngest, isn’t it? – my baby stepped up and came home from a glamorous life in Australia to help out. What a star.

 

Once the trauma was over, I found myself in the study cell, staring at the wall and like a bad case of constipation, waiting for my writer’s voice to speak and tell me what the f*** to write! Now almost two years on from his illness, I have just completed my fourth book, a quirky little tome called JONTY’S WIN. The first reviews have been good. Here are a couple from the Amazon UK website where you can download the book on Kindle or buy a paperback copy.

No. 1.

5.0 out of 5 stars A delight to read!
7 September 2018
Format: Paperback
Would you want to personally befriend or even know most of the characters in ‘Jonty’s Win’ if they really existed? Possibly not! But reading about them is another matter altogether. Lyn Ferrand has assembled a compelling cast of misfits, could-have-beens and never-weres, replete with all manner of very human weaknesses and foibles, to create an utterly compelling page-turner. It’s not often I read a book from start to finish in just a couple of sittings; they’re more likely to be on the go for weeks because there are too many many other distractions. This was not the case with Jonty’s Win; not because it was a quick, lightweight read, but because I genuinely wanted to find out what happened next, and that, as was apparent quite early on, was by no means predictable. I guess a lot of us fantasise about what we’d do with a really big lottery win. I don’t imagine that many of us would use it to fund a series of theatre workshops to try to turn around juvenile delinquents as Jonty Greer does. The story of how he sets out on this philanthropic adventure in a seaside town in deepest Devon that has seen better days, a journey that doesn’t go turn out quite according to plan, is funny, charming, at times head-scratching, sometimes moving, often surprising and ultimately very, very satisfying. I loved this book!

No. 2

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, what a gripping book!
10 September 2018
Format: Paperback
If this is the quality of Lyn’s sequel I really can’t wait to read the next part to this story.
Lyn has the enviable skill to make the reader feel completely involved in each of the characters lives and in doing so gives the reader the possibility of a new perspective on their own life. Her writing style is individual and hugely engaging.
What an immensely talented author! Everybody should experience reading this book.

No. 3

5.0 out of 5 stars   Very enjoyable read.

12 September 2018

Format: Paperback
It took me a short while to get involved with the story, but once there I found myself wondering about various characters and endevoured to find time to read a little more of their stories at every opportunity. Very sad in parts and with humour tinged with pathos. Each character and voice very different. I want to know more about them please. This would also make a great audio book.   

Buy my books here and be happy! Getting good reviews is the most wonderful thing. It means your words have made people happy. What is more exciting than that!

Amazon.co.uk  Barnes&Noble  feedaread.com

 

 

 

 

Writing Through The Hard Times

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When you are a writer and illness comes into your life, you can do two things: stop or go on, regardless.  Terminal illness is not easy to experience or to write about. Nor is a bombshell, like a Stroke. Both happen when you least expect it and stop you in your tracks.

Family disengagement such as estrangement is another fatal blow to your ability to continue to work. Yet, all these disasters – and they are unique disasters to the people experiencing them – are very common. Writers are like everyone else. They can succumb to severe illness overnight and so can their families. They can struggle with unhappy relationships and loss.

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These huge life events are the things that most writers explore and write about. Living through them, at the same time, needs a huge amount of strength, will power and determination. Struggling to work at your writing when you are having chemo, trying to finish chapter when you are recovering from a Stroke, or dealing with family breakdown is like climbing a mountain naked in arctic temperatures, knowing that if you don’t reach the top, you will be a monumental disappointment to everyone.

Good books are made up of the stories we can all relate to; love, loss, grief, fear. The characters are going through these emotions and you will follow their every move to the end. They may live or die, but if the book is well written, you, dear reader, will feel their pain and their joy as if it were your own.

Something makes a writer write, no matter what is going on in their life. You might say it’s a sort of therapy? Yes, it can be. For myself, it’s a way of reaching out to the human race, the world, my family. Connecting to them, sometimes in the only way I know how.

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The great writer, E. M. Foster said: ‘Only connect…’  Writers spend their lives, ill or healthy, unhappy or joyous, trying to do just that.

All experience informs your writing. Every connection strengthens your story. Write on, no matter what.

 

Can You Tell?

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When you read a book, can you tell how old the writer is? Very rarely is the age of the author put on the dust jacket. It usually says something like: Daisy Maisy worked as an usherette at an Odeon cinema before writing her first brilliant novel and now lives in Dorset with her husband, five children, three cats and a horse.

The word usherette might give you a clue. We haven’t had those lovely ladies selling ice-cream in the aisles for years, though they are still flogging programmes in theatres. My point? Is it important, dear reader, to know how old the writer is of the book you are reading and does their age make any difference to the way the book is put together?

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Clive James is a poet and columnist and someone I hugely admire. He has been very sick for some time. In a recent BBC programme, Front Row, he was interviewed by the wonderful classicist Mary Beard. He talked so eloquently about his autobiographical poem The River in the Sky. This is a man who is not young and is coming to terms with dying. I am not going turn sentimental about his situation, it would not do him justice. What I will say, is that I did not once think about his age, or his illness or the fact that he is brave and courageous in the face of such adversity. I was swept up by his humour, his writing genius, his warmth and all I felt was total awe and admiration. I feel the same about Mary Beard, too.

In our British culture, we do seem to dismiss the old or talk about them as if they are a huge burden on everybody and particularly, the state. Yet, there are increasingly more people over sixty achieving amazing things.

I wonder if we Brits compartmentalise age at every opportunity? Our own Prime Minister is not young, most of the government are erring on the side of central or late middle age – but, that’s okay, isn’t it? They’re not going senile, are they, though Brexit negotiations might change that opinion.

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Some of our most famous and talented pop stars are positively ancient, (Paul, Mick, Ringo?) Yet, we never accuse them of blocking beds or being too rich because they own their own homes, which – wait for it – they must sell in order to pay for care, because when they get dribbly and senile, they can sit in stiff chairs against magnolia walls and twiddle their thumbs, in which ever care home is willing to take them, and their money?

I keep reading that this is the age of youth. Is it? Statistics say something else. We need young people, we need old people and everyone in between, to make society work. We must have respect for one another, understand that everyone will, one day, become old and will face our demise and the time we have is so, so short.

cropped-cropped-img_3158.jpgI will park my bike, take a long walk along the beach and think about ageing. If I know nothing about the author when I am reading their book, I don’t dwell on their age.  It doesn’t matter how old they are. I know they have sweated blood getting those words down on the page. I can appreciate the frustrations they experienced during the editing process and I can, unequivocally empathise with their desire to offer me something that will entertain, illuminate and please me.  I don’t care about ageing. I care about living. I would like to think we all feel that way about each other every day.

Writing About Life?

cropped-cropped-sc00094adf.jpgWhich bit? That’s the question. What part of a life is worth writing about? My answer? All of it. Life is so precious, so indescribably mysterious, so short – you could walk under a bus tomorrow (as my mum, deceased, used to say).  The shortest story, made up of one sentence, is surely a way to start your epic voyage towards your first book about life, or the lives of your characters, because this is what your readers want to know about. You see, we are all basically voyeurs, Peeping Toms and incredibly nosey human beings. We love to read about scandal or tragedy or success in the lives of fictional characters.

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Plot?

Creating characters is a fascinating process. Think about it; every film, TV show, play, book you have ever come across is about how the characters execute their time on earth; their beautiful, evil, silent, noisy, pathetic, angry, drug-fuelled, heroic  lives.

Sometimes, when you are writing a book, the fictional people become so real, they start invading your life. I can wake up thinking about my heroine and go to bed and dream about her. She might, if I’ve had a few nightcaps, actually speak to me in my sleep and describe chapter 10.

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If I am writing about a love affair, I can personally feel the emotions my characters want to express. Getting those emotions down on the page in the form of words can be a monumental challenge. Writing love scenes takes practice. Am I ever embarrassed? Sometimes, I have to admit. I’m not good at describing certain parts of the anatomy. Other writers are brilliant at it – think Lady Chatterley’s Lover.  Emile Zola takes some beating when it comes to the naughty bits, but then the French always were good at that stuff, weren’t they?

Another way to get to know your characters intimately, is to think about the mundane moments in their lives. We all have them. Here is a pretend character I have just conjured up from the deep recesses of my writer’s mind. ( Believe that, you’ll believe anything). Let’s call her Betty? What does Betty do when she wakes up? When does she wake up? 6am? Noon? Or maybe, she doesn’t wake up; she died in the night on the first page? See, you are already interested, aren’t you? Betty’s mundane life is not so mundane any more. She is a corpse. So, who killed her? And why?

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Is this Betty? No, it’s my grandma.

Some writers plan every sentence, edit as they go along, or follow such a carefully prescribed route to the last full stop, it makes your eyes bleed. I have a circle drawn on an old piece of wallpaper pinned to a wall behind my desk. I use it as a timeline for the events my characters come up against, though they’re not set in stone. There will be changes as I plough through the plot.

The plot. Now, there’s a thing. My plots tend to unravel like a badly knitted jumper caught on a rusty nail. I trust my subconscious, always have, always will. The plot evolves. It’s part of that thing called life; the life my characters are living, bless them.

Now, all the elements are in place: characters, plot, chapters (or not), happy ending (or not), sex (or not), romance, murder, suicide – the list is endless, though probably not in the same book. The possibilities, the ideas, the complete joy of writing always transports me to a better, crazier, funnier world! Try it.

Read my books, check out my characters at

www.feedaread.com  

Waterstones.com   Amazon.co.uk

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