Welcome to Dragonscale Clippings

Inside the mind of a writer...

My motto for 2012: Quality, not quantity

I am currently exploring the sensation of Sound...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

What Inspires Me - Part 5


Most definitely books! From Beatrix Potter stories to Wind in the Willows, from Winnie the Pooh to The Hobbit, from The Lord of the Rings to the Chronicles of Narnia, from the Dragonlance Chronicles to the Dragons of Pern - the list is endless. 

Books were very important to me as a child. We did not have a TV and even now I cannot just sit and watch TV unless I am watching a story or music. Books were my escape from school. They made me feel safe. I could have adventures without having to go through all the scary things myself! 

I have to make time to read now. There is always something to do. But when I do read I like real writing, not some slapdash story just put together and sold on either titillation or sensationalism. Stories need to be told and readers need to read them. I write what I like to read but cannot find on the bookshelves. Surely that should tell publishers and agents something!

Monday, 29 November 2010

What Inspires Me - Part 4

Nature inspires me greatly. 

Nature makes me stop and think. Nature makes me slow down and consider. When I slow down and think, I write haiku. I find it excellent discipline as a writer to create haiku. Restricted to 19 syllables, I have to make sure every word counts in order to paint a vivid picture in the reader's mind. This is good because on first drafts I tend to be too wordy. 

The changing seasons and the variable weather inspire me a lot. (I suppose really that I didn't need variable before weather, did I?!) Nature changes all the time: -  grows, fruits, decays, sleeps - a seemingly endless cycle. 

In my novels and stories I include observations about Nature - the weather, the seasons, things that I notice. Sometimes people who read them query my descriptions. But I only write about what I've seen or heard. You have to slow down and pause in order to really notice things properly. 

Nature, in all it's varying forms, will always inspire me to write.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

What inspires me - part 3

People are very inspiring! 

I find I draw a lot of inspiration from people. Although I don't like to be around too many people for too long (crowds drain my energy) I enjoy meeting different sorts of people. Anything from physical appearance to mannerisms, what people say and how they say things - these are all inspirational to me as a writer. 
I don't use everything I see or hear but certain things that stand out from the "norm" I nearly always use. What intrigues me is how someone can say one short sentence, and even though I won't necessarily use that sentence in a story, the words spark off a whole scene for a book. 

It doesn't take much to be inspired. You just have to be open to inspiration and be aware that it's lurking in the not-so-obvious places...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

What inspires me Part 2

Other people's comments and work!

Negative comments when phrased constructively, really help me to improve my writing. Of course, positive comments also really help too. 

I belong to two postal folios, one for Fantasy and Science Fiction writers and the other for general fiction. If you're interested in joining us and have a completed book that needs constructive criticism, email me at freya.pickard@gmail.com and I'll send you the contact details. 

The folios are excellent because the quality of writing is extremely high, often better than currently published books. Everyone has such different ideas and various ways of executing a plot that I feel I've learnt more from these two folios than from anything else, including a creative writing course at college. It's how people write that is so revealing. And when you're reading one chapter of a book every 2 months, you have time to analyse and really think about what the writer is doing. 

I also subscribe to Dial 174 a magazine for poet lovers. There's always something for everyone in each quarterly issue and I find it very inspiring to read other people's work. The poetry ranges from traditional iambicpentameter and rhyming couplets to haiku and blank verse. There are also several short stories in each issue as well as articles. I have yet to win one of their in-house competitions though...

I used to subscribe to Scheherazade, when it was still being published. This was, in my opinion, the best small press magazine for fantastic fiction. Not only was the quality of the writing superb, but the illustrations were like something out of an expensive fairy tale volume. Each issue was indeed a magical read. I'm hoping that one day Scheherazade will return to print. 

Comments, other people's work, all these things inspire me to write more and to write better. If I don't keep honing  my skill it will die.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

What inspires me to write - part 1

Many things!

Other artists and creative people  inspire me to write. A photo, a painting or a poem will often open windows in my mind. Feedback from other people is also not only encouraging but inspiring too. 

Over the past couple of years I've subscribed to a free 'zine that features creative people - photographers, poets, novelists and painters. It's called Ends of the Earth and is available by email subscription at myendsoftheearth@gmail.com if you're interested. It's sole purpose is promote high quality creative work.

There are 3 issues each year in April, August and December. This year I have had 2 poems featured in the April and August editions. In the December issue I have a poem and a short story about Dracomagan. 

Feedback from other artists as well as non-artists is very important to me. It shows me where I should be going next and reaffirms when I've created something that has a wide audience appeal. 

Even if the feedback is short and sweet, such as I liked that, it means a lot.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

What do I write?

I write comedy and serious fiction but even the serious stuff has comedic elements to it. I believe the best tales move readers to both tears and laughter. 

My background is fantastical writing and my published novel, Dragonscale Leggings, is comedy tale. You should only read it if you have a sense of humour. If you take yourself and life too seriously, you shouldn't read it at all. But if you need a lift in these dark times, treat yourself to a copy - you won't regret it!

Although I enjoy writing comedy, sustaining it is difficult. I have to be in a certain mood to write it. Serious writing, however, can be written whatever mood I'm in. 

In the background, at the moment, I have a 9 book series waiting to be written. The first two books are complete with the first book just needing a rewrite and the 2nd book probably needs redrafting several times. The other 7 books are all planned, I'm just waiting to write them. I would define this series as speculative fiction. 

This year I completed a Thriller set in 2027. It's about control and freedom in a futuristic totalitarian state. The plot was based on a series of what ifs? One of the folios I belong to is reading it at the moment and they're finding it disturbing...

I also wrote a Romance novel in the spring which is a gentle tale about a woman who is dealt quite harsh blows by life eg unfaithful husband, infertility and early widowhood. The story tells of how she gets through life with the help of her friends and how she finally finds a man she can love. It's set in the modern day in the office and at home. It's a comfort read really and I'm trying to find an agent who will represent me to the right publisher with this novel. 

I've also rewritten a suspense tale set in two time periods. The lost legion of York features as the lure - where did they go? Are they dead? Are they still wandering the mists of time? And in the present day there are fractured relationships, drugs and breakdowns going on. It's different and challenging and I leave the reader to make up their own mind as to what really happens. 

Right now I'm working on another futuristic tale set in the same timeframe as my Thriller. This tale, however, is to do with Freedom of Choice - a very important issue to me. 

I also have a romantic fantastical tale to find a home for as well as other Dracomagan novellas that are ready to be published. So at the moment I'm busy writing as well as searching for the right agents / publishers!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

How I write

I used to handwrite everything until I was given my first pc - an applemac. Now, alas, budget contraints mean I have to use Microsoft - yick! But I can now type my novels straight onto the pc. 

Interestingly, lyrics and poems still have to be handwritten as ideas for them strike whenever I am away from the pc. (So is that the pc or Microsoft that stilts creativity?!) Sometimes short stories will also be drafted using pen and paper. 

Novel writing however has become quicker and better for me when I type straight onto the keyboard. I plan meticulously before I start typing though. My current novel had 6 hours of planning with pages and pages of handwritten notes, most of which probably won't be used. But I have to know the backgrounds of my characters before I start writing. A lot of that time was also taken up with finding the right names for my characters - this too helps me visualise them more clearly. 

As for actual writing, well, I set aside a certain amount of time twice a week and just sit down and type. Sometimes it's rubbish, sometimes it's brilliant. I don't mind how the first draft turns out. If I've got something on paper, then I can work on it. The more I practise, the better I'm becoming at distilling the real story. No more endless drafts for me now as I did when I first started writing. I go through 3 drafts maybe 4 to get the story "right". 

It is an exhausting process, the act of writing. I have to live on two levels. At one level I'm just going about my ordinary everyday businss of working, looking after the house and garden, cooking etc. On another level I'm living every second of my book. At the back of my mind the ideas are jabbering away at me, jumping up and down, competing for my attention. It's almost a love-hate relationship. It's such a relief to get rid of the voices in my head once the first draft is complete. But at the same time, I miss my characters when I've finished the story. 

Creativity hey? It's both a blessing and a curse. But I wouldn't be without it.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Why do I write?

I write because there are stories inside me. 

I write because there are so many ideas fermenting in my mind that if I did not write them out, I would explode. 

I write because I have something valid to say. 

I write because I have to. It is part of me. Even if it's just one sentence per day - I have to write. 

I write because I love words. I enjoy making prose and poetry that delights and entertains. 

I write because I want to challenge people's perceptions of the world around them, of themselves, of concepts that they haven't even heard of yet. 

I write because the muse is constantly feeding me, inspiring me, driving me to write. 

I write because I am a writer. 

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Time escaping...

Time seems to be slipping through my fingers. I am so busy all the time but what do I accomplish? How can I gain enough time to get everything done?

Yesterday I was supposed to have a rest day. You know, take things easy, read up on photography, maybe take a few pictures. I wanted to sketch and write music as well. But I didn't do any of these things. Instead I was working on a short story for Ends of the Earth. I got it all sorted out but it took far too long. Why? It's not as though I am slow at doing things. I work too hard and too fast sometimes.

I need to work out what is important and what can be left. Next week I had planned to continue with my new book but both the folios have arrived so I will be working on them instead.

Time mustn't control me. I must control my time.

Monday, 4 October 2010

A rainy holiday day

OK, my partner and I are on holiday. A mini holiday at home. He's using up his holiday before Christmas and I'm taking a break from writing. But it's raining. What can we expect at this time of year? It's autumn! At least it's mild still. So instead of going photographing (as we planned) we're going to look at cameras. We would have had to have done this anyway at some point as our current camera has developed a fault. So I'm hoping that tomorrow will be brighter despite the pessimistic forecasts! Maybe there'll be a poem somewhere in the rain and grey clouds today...

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Steaming Ahead With Corrections

Corrections are probably the least interesting part of writing a novel for me. But they are a necessary evil otherwise the finished MS looks dreadful. Fortunately my long suffering parents have read my Romance novel for me and completed 5.5 sheets of A4 of corrections for me. Most are typos which is gratifying. There was only one major plot mistake which I've rectified. Just getting on with corrections, boring but maybe I'll get time to start the new novel today!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The scent of baking...

Very clear head today. Unusual for me. Usually there's ideas and stories jumping up and down yelling for my attention. Perhaps my head is clear because I spent 3 hours solid yesterday writing down all my ideas for the next novel. It is still weird to have a quiet head but I'm enjoying it. Today I'm focusing on being domestic. I am baking lots of food today: - 3 sets of bread rolls, two apple and blackberry crumbles and a fruit cake for my dad's birthday at the weekend. The house smells divine! As soon as I start cleaning I expect the ideas will start off again. Story writing and being domesticated don't sit easily together. Haven't heard back from any of the agents I wrote to last week. But most of them will take 6-8 weeks to respond so I think maybe I'm being a bit impatient.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Planning completed!

Have just finished planning the next novel. I feel so much better already. All those ideas that were jabber-jabbering at me have finally gone away. All written down waiting to become real...

Monday Morning

I am trying to plan my next novel and all I seem to be doing is faffing around trying to sort out blogging and facebook and all that tedious kind of stuff! No email from Fiona Robyn today. She's really good at getting one focussed on what one should be doing on a Monday morning. I think she was moving this weekend, so that's probably why we've not heard from her... OK, I am going to get on with planning now. Futuristic novel here I am!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Introducing Dragonscale Clippings

What do you do when you've launched a female dragon slayer into the world? Well, short of dropping everything and trying to go after her to find out what she's up to (check out Dracomagan on Twitter!) I've had to go down other avenues to satisfy my creativity. Today I am marketing and unearthing relevant agents to send my completed novels to. And I thought I'd try blogging as well.