On a Spring roll …

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For novelists, November is a huge month, with a small endeavour known as  NaNoWriMo keeping them busy. It’s like the vomit draft I mentioned previously, aimed at getting some 50,000 words of a novel down on paper.

For screenwriters, the equivalent is Zero Draft Thirty – a month long attempt to bash out the first draft of your screenplay, or plan or rewrite – there are no rules. It fitted well with my three pages a day plan.

March was ZDT and I decided to adapt a thirty page short sci-fi story. I quickly realised that the twist at the end was really only the end of the first act and then came the hard part of upping the stakes.

I took vomit draft to a whole new level as I struggled to make sense of the story – and also struggled to not edit as I went along  – until finally, something clicked. It might only be 48 pages in total at present, as the 3 pages a day gave way to thrashing out the story, but it has a beginning, a middle and an end, and I’m pleased with the overall concept. My main character turned out to be fun too!

Although I found the rewriting process with the other two projects a lot of fun, I’ve parked this story for now – it was more of an experiment for my first ZDT – and am going to focus on another project that I feel more passionate about, one that has a beginning and an end but a higgledy-piggledy middle.  This one, a darkly comic crime caper, has been one of my main projects since I started to focus on screenplays and I’m itching to crack on with it.

Flitting between the two stories is a bit of luxury at present, as the two completed projects are now with a script consultant. The pilot I’m going to enter in Thousand Films competition, and the feature will be sent to Sheridan Smith’s production company, Barking Mad Productions – Sheridan very kindly put out a call for scripts and has promised to read all of them – I’m guessing she’s decided for forego sleep for a while!

All this is happening while putting together the next RLF Murderous Medway (21st September), for which we have some cracking authors already lined up. A pretty productive March, which has energised me for April!

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#RLF2016: Written Worlds, Inspiring Places

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For some strange reason 5 years ago, I decided to start a literature festival. Possibly I had too much time on my hands (I didn’t) possibly I just felt we were lacking a festival in Medway dedicated to writing, and somebody had to do it. I must’ve been mad, and I’m also stubborn, so here we are: the fourth Rochester Literature Festival 2016 kicks off this weekend.

Amidst the usual creative writing workshops, Cafe Crawl and author talks this year, the RLF has a wonderful day of craft activities planned for all ages.

The Turtle Moves, inspired by Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, sees a Juvenile Crafters’ Guild appear, as if by magic, in Rochester’s Community Hub, where you can design your own Luggage or bring to life a Golem, among other activities. Out and about in the high street you’ll bump into numerous characters – and even see a re-enactment of the Battle of Koom Valley! And shhhhh – it’s rumoured that the Librarian will be appearing in L-Space (Baggins!)

RLF Patron Lisa Cutts is appearing at Strood Library on Oct 4, alongside fellow crime author Simon Booker, while author of The Outlaw Chronicles, Angus Donald, is at Rochester Library on Oct 6. There is also a Local Author Day at Rochester Library between 10am-2pm on Oct 1.

The popular Cafe Crawl takes place on Sunday, Oct 2 and features the Canterbury Yarners, Fiona Sinclair, Nancy Charley, Johanna Coulson and Maggie Butt alternating at Bruno’s Bakes, The Quills and Cafe @172 between 12-3pm.

The festival opens with three creative writing workshops on Saturday, Oct 1: An Introduction to Screenwriting, A Guide to Self Publishing, and Building Your Make Believe World. It ends with a Writers’ Retreat on Sunday, Oct 9.

All the events apart from the workshops are free, and more detail and tickets for the workshops can be booked here.

If you pop down, be sure to say ‘hi’ 🙂

My Mind is Free

My Mind is Free play

I remove the scrunched up hair band from its hiding place. In all this time they’d never found it and it is now my only link back to my family.

I’d been taken, ripped away from Shona as I was plaiting her hair. My six year old sister’s screams keep me awake at night but her hairband keeps me grounded. Reminds me who I am and that Shona is waiting for me.

I decide that this is the day I begin my journey home. They will come soon but just one will be left. I’d loosened a bar in the bedstead and the lengths of rags I’ve been saving are tied together. I know their pattern. They will wait out back, dragging on those repulsive cigarettes. But the passage will be empty.

I slip the band around my wrist.

The lock clicks.

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A creative boost

Congratulations!!

Can I get a whoop whoop?! Just me then? Ok.

A hearty ‘congratulations’ is a great opening to an email, and reading on to find out the Rochester Literature Festival has been short listed in two categories in the Kent Digital Awards 2015 gave me a bigger boost (fleetingly) than chocolate.

I entered the LitFest into the Website: School, Education or Charity section of these inaugural awards but such was the overwhelming response, the KDA instigated a couple more categories and short listed us in the Lifestyle and Culture Award too! *does a happy dance*

Big congratulations also to some of the lovely people I’m connected with across social media or work in some way: Lucy Hall, Ohhh Kaye, Maxim PR, Rochester Bridge Trust and Fore! Women are all shortlisted in various categories.

You can read all about the awards and see the full list of finalists on the Kent Digital Awards website.

Firework image: Pixabay

Triffidus Corpus

The day outside was sounding wrong. Feeling wrong. Even for a Sunday, the silence was disturbingly, mysteriously different. No rumbling wheels, no roaring buses, no tramping feet. Shuffling, hesitant feet, yes. But none with purpose. No birdsong, just unintelligible wailing and sobbing close by.

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He wasn’t able to see the light show played out in the skies last night. Bright green flashes; shooting stars; showering comets. A magnificent spectacle, they said. A unique phenomenon, they said. You should have seen it, they said. Rather insensitively.

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The feeling of the bogey man under the bed began to creep upon him. A lifetime of being deprived of his eyes did nothing to alleviate this. Was it that famed sixth sense, becoming more heightened?

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Was it his imagination? That fluttery feeling in his stomach, a prelude to something he dreaded. But what? Reaching out to touch … what? There was nothing there, nothing to feel and yet… still that persistent nagging.

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What was that? A waft of air passed by his face, light as a feather. He was reminded of a fly, caught in a spider’s web. Trapped by uncertainty; perplexed by inactivity. Stilled by fear. He became aware that something was waiting …

Lurching towards him, leathery leaves rustling.

A stem whipped back and forth.

A swish and a slap.

The sting whistle slashed.

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“A Triffid is in a damn sight better position to survive than a blind man. Take away our sight and our superiority to them is gone.” – John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids

I wrote this piece for The Skywatcher Investigation, our interactive alien game during the Rochester LitFest 2013 Other Worlds, Other Voices Festival. Using Wyndham’s descriptive language to capture the feel but creating a character of my own, it was performed by the multi talented Lance Philips of Physical Folk, playing a blind gardener, who succumbs to attack by a Triffid, played by the wonderful Sophie Williams. I read the piece aloud to the sound of Mozart’s requiem, Ave Verum Corpus, adjusting the text to fit the rhythm of the music.

It was a new experience for me but one I thoroughly enjoyed working on, and hope to do similar again in future.

Photo credit: Nikki Price Photography