Feb 10, 2013

"Place pieces"

I do all sorts of brainstorming when it comes to coming up with the new ideas for one of my short stories. I am always amused with the ideas that my brain produces out of the blue. There is, however, one thing in common of all these ideas. They're each tied to a certain place.

A place, such as an abandoned cottage. Or a house on a cliff. Or a bench in a park. Or the middle of the woods. I can pretty much bet that my next setting for the new story is going to be at a local swimming pool, with very few people beside my main characters.You get the idea. It took me quite some time to understand what it actually meant, to place my characters in such, I dare say vacuumed, places.

And the answer to that could be best described as: the inevitability. The inevitability of life; it has that cruel tendency to go on, to evolve and expand, and to let it happen, we must say goodbye to our past, one way or another. We have to cut the cords with people and places that are no longer in our lives, or to clear the vibes of resentment towards people who are still somewhere around.

By putting them into these situations, I am forcing them to clear the past, to sort the problems among each other, and to send them on a new, hopefully improved, journey. Another thing, though, is that isolated places often provide us with a sense of comfort and stability. Being with a loved person between the four walls is sometimes a blessing for our lonely hearts. There is a feeling of intimacy, of understanding, of comfort.

How do you look at the "place pieces"? Are you prone to it, or do you prefer building the whole world from scratch?

Jan 9, 2013

Mike O'Doone - part 4

Mike was woken up that very early morning by a large thud coming from downstairs. He sat up, and remained under the covers, listening carefully. By the sound of it, it looked like the front door were moved by the intensity of the wind whirling outside. He couldn't be sure, however. He knew that he should probably go downstairs and check it out, but his brain was frozen from fear. 

Besides, it was still too dark for anything to be seen without lighting a candle, and Mike didn't have one near him. He was sure that he'd been asleep for only an hour or so. A few more thuds and then it stopped, although he could clearly hear that the wind was still raging outside. So it was...something? No, someone! Yes, Mike whispered to himself, someone is trying to scare me off. Well then, gentlemen, you know nothing about me. Putting a pillow over his head he closed his eyes and fell asleep once again. 

A few hours later he woke up again and, seeing that it wasn't so dark any more, came downstairs. The first thing he did was looking carefully around the room. Everything was in place. He was a type of person with a photographic memory, and even if a single item was moved but a few centimeters to the side...he'd have noticed it. There was something, however, that didn't give him a piece of mind that he needed. He walked to the door and pulled them open with no effort. That meant that someone was, indeed, trying - and succeeded - to open them. So if that is the case, what made them stop? What made them just walk away after they've put so much trouble into breaking in? And most importantly...who was it?

Was it that shady-looking man from the pub, who had threatened him once before? Or the, equally shady-looking, guy who was keeping his profile low in the darkness last night? Or the pub owner himself? There was, of course, the possibility of a complete stranger. But if it were a stranger, Mike thought to himself, why would he pick this house? Surely, the pub was worth much more money than this shabby old place. The possibilities were endless. Deciding to skip his breakfast and lunch at the pub, he started redecorating the living room. At one point he knew that he would have to build at least a wall or two, but for now he'll have to go with what he had. 
He started with the most tedious task ahead of him: dusting. The dust was evidently present in this place for years, because every single movement of a wet cloth raised it right up to his nose, causing him to sneeze and roll his eyes with irritation. 

When that horrible task was done a good half an hour later, Mike noticed that the floor, now sparkling and clean, was scratched; painfully so. Ah. So he needed to buy new tiles. That was one of the things he was counting on, when he set himself up for this adventure. He knew that this place was damaged, and he was determined to fix it. So just as he was preparing to go upstairs he heard a loud knock on the door. His feet froze in place and he slowly turned around, fixing his gaze on the knob.

It started moving. He stopped breathing.


Nov 22, 2012

My first Blog Hop!

Thank you Leisa for tagging me to participate in a blog hop! Let's start answering questions, shall we?

What is the working title of your book?
My working title is called Shed a Little Light, and to me it represents a hope that we all need once in a while.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
 It actually came as an idea for the NaNoWriMo challenge. I didn't know what to write, but somehow I got the idea of four people with life issues, and it sounded so warm and inviting, that I knew that I was on the right track.
What genre does your book fall under?
 I thought it would be best to describe it as a hot chocolate for the wounded soul. Once I heard my first character talking in my head, I knew that this was the genre I would choose

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
If I had that possibility to choose, the three male characters would be: Dominic Cooper as the James, Ryan Gosling as David, and Colin Firth as Michael. The female characters would be: Amy Adams as Andrea and Michelle Trachenberg as Emma.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Two women and two men, who have never seen each other before become intricately connected by an unlikely man at their favorite cafe, where they came to realize they are not alone in their problems, and that someone is always there to help them.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
As a start I plan to publish it myself, in three parts via PayPal. If it goes well, I might consider turning to the agency.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Since this is the NaNoWriMo challenge, there are still a few days left for me to finish it, and I am almost close to finishing it.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Most likely all the books by Cecelia Ahern, because she so beautifully paints the magic of life, that is a pleasure to read it over and over and over again.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Through the first week of the NaNoWriMo challenge I realized that the biggest inspiration comes from my own past, so this is in a way a healing process for me as well, only split between four people. And it is my wish for other people who read the book, to find some relief for themselves as well.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This is a story that is based on 95 percent of the truth; it is a way for a young woman to learn to face her demons and hopefully help others along the way.
I am tagging the following people for the Blog Hop:

Nov 6, 2012

When you find your flock...

or how NaNoWriMo has helped me to improve my social status.

To say that I was a shy kid would be an understatement. Seriously; I was too shy. For many, many years I've been chronically in need for company that fits my needs, and as I got older the things got more difficult.

When you're a kid you usually go to a park and play hide and seek, play catch and other delightful activities with other kids involved, that allows your mother to sit and socialize with other, oftentimes tired, mothers. So that's a win-win situation. You're happy, they're happy too. And then when she calls you over to go home you refuse, because you're having waaaay too much fun. That's what, as I said, usually happens. In my case the story is completely different.
The last I can remember feeling good and safe around kids my age, and having fun with them, was somewhere between last years of kindergarten and then the first grade of elementary school. I was carefree, I didn't take too much notice on the way I looked and I was confident in general. I even remember having friends at that time. I've had no problem coming up to them and just joining their games.

Then the things changed for the worse. I've switched schools because we've moved to another home, far away from my great school and an awesome first-grade teacher. I was lost and I started gaining weight from being unable to cope with such a change. And what do other kids do when seeing a fat kid? They pick on them. A lot. They've been picking on me throughout my elementary school, and switching classes only partially helped. The provoking still remained.

I must admit, however, that the kids only reacted to the way I felt about myself. I am not saying that all the other kids/people who are overweight have the same lack of confidence, in fact I knew, and still know, a lot of them who never paid too much attention on the fact that they're overweight and that didn't stop them for having lots of friends.

But not me. I couldn't ignore it and neither did my classmates. The result of that noticing of my weight issue also had a huge impact on my social life in the way that I was never invited to parties. Because I wasn't allowed to stay until midnight. So fat people just don't know how to have fun, right? I was relieved once my 8 years of elementary school were over and then I went to high school.

Much the same problem here as well, I was too aware of my physical unattractiveness and now my classmates thought of more vicious words to humiliate me. Ok so yes, I've tried to attend parties, but now young adults of my age were really interested in getting wasted and stoned. I didn't fit there, so the reaction was: you're fat and you're not a troublemaker. You have no business here.
Then I went to college and the story repeated itself once again. I tried find something else, some activity that can help me to spend time with a group of people, with whom I feel connected with. Right, you'd think that would happen. Not in this life.

The first bigger step towards changing my mindset was through the Neuro Linguistic Programming, when I started searching through layers and layers of my soul in a safe and gentle way. I started paying attention to myself, the way I looked, the way I stand, the way I feel. Things started slightly moving forward. I started my Russian language courses and met a few girls there who I felt good around at the time, but there was still not so much to talk about because they were also focused on getting drunk every Friday and Saturday.

I remember telling my brother how tired I am of this situation, and how I've used up all the ideas of where to go and what to do, to feel accepted within the group. Enter NaNoWriMo. I went to meet the people and the moment I stepped into that bookstore/cafe I felt like I've finally came home. It was everything I wanted! Young, beautiful people enjoying things that I also enjoy doing! Of course, the still hurting part of me whispered: what are you doing here?!
They will not pay any attention to you and you know that!! But I've silenced it and was right to do so! I've had so much fun that I never thought it was possible! I felt like I was a part of the group, that I was being accepted for who I am!! I finally got to talk and talk and laugh so hard at the cafe and I seriously didn't want it to end!!! I was so energized, so positive, so happy!! I can't believe that I've actually got to this point, to dare and do something that makes me feel so happy, and being rewarded with acceptance from the moment i stepped over the threshold.

I guess that for a lot of you out there this may seem like a normal thing. But to me it means so much more! I am being accepted around people my age, and they are interested in what I have to say! And that, for me, it's huge! So yes, NaNoWriMo has indeed changed the course of my life.

Oct 20, 2012

Mike O'Doone - part 3

Hello everybody, as promised here is my story part 3! This is getting exciting and I still don't know where it will end up. The bits and pieces slowly reveal themselves to me and I'm enjoying the process of writing it
It was already around 1 o'clock in the morning when Mike finished with his dinner. At first he thought that a meatloaf and bread would be enough to satisfy his growling stomach, but it still kept complaining.
“Do you still have some of that apple pie left?”
“I must say, you have quite a big stomach for the man of your size.”
“I've seen stranger things than the size of my stomach. You didn't answer my question.”
“Would two big slices be enough for you?”
“We'll see.”
The waiter disappeared behind the door and once again Mike was left alone. This time the fireplace was emitting very little heat, and if someone was still sitting in the dining room...and Mike knew that someone was there...they easily remained unseen. Mike tried to push his eyes to scan the darkness and just as he was getting better at it a sound of opening door made him forget all about the possible danger. He just remembered how hungry he was.
The smell of dough and hot, almost melted apples with cinnamon and sugar topping was incredibly inviting. He put the first slice in his mouth and felt it almost melt on his tongue.
“Compliments to the cook.”
“My wife will be pleased. I must ask you to hurry up, though. It's dangerous to be out on these streets when it's so late. You wouldn't want to be caught by the patrol, right?”
“Good point. How much do I owe you for dinner?”
“It's on the house.”
For the moment Mike thought to take that offer but then changed his mind.
“I prefer to keep my relationships as clean as possible. How much?”
The old man gave him the bill and Mike payed it without blinking. Then he said his goodbyes and stepped out on the cold. The weather made his lungs freeze but for some reason he welcomed it. It felt comforting, clearing his mind, making it a blank sheet of paper. He felt the key in his pocket and pushed it inside the keyhole. It didn't resist. Closing the door he lit the candle that stood on a little table that he found in the attic and brought it downstairs with him. He illuminated the room as much as he could.
“Home sweet home...” He whispered. 

As soon as Mike left the the pub, a shadowy creature that caught Mike's attention stood up and approached the bar.
“He's asking too much questions. He is a threat.”
“And what do we do with threats?” Smiled the waiter.
“We eliminate them!” He said and they both roared with laughter. Mike O'Doone...you better be prepared.

Oct 10, 2012

English (Russian) vs. my mother's tongue

Here's another curious question that most people who know me can't really get; why on God's Earth do I write in English and Russian language when I am perfectly capable, and definitely successful since the early age, of writing in my native language?!
Well...as much as can write in my native language, the reason why I'm drawn to English and Russian is because they have nuances of one particular word. What I mean is, you take a word in English (or Russian) and look it up in some reference book, such as Thesaurus and you can see all the other soft and fine possibilities that can be used instead of that word. And it is well known that changing a word can change and set a completely different mood to the story.
Croatian doesn't have that many words that could mean the same, and it's not tactile, whereas Russian and English are. And so...when I want to describe a particular scene in Croatian most of the times it sounds unnatural; unconvincing. But when I write in English I know exactly what 'nuance' of the word I must use to get the wanted impact on the story. And besides, although nor English nor Russian are my native language I consider them to be so.

Do you write in a language different to your own?

Oct 2, 2012

Mike O'Doone - part 2

The weather outside was cold and Mike was glad that the pub was just a few footsteps away from his new home. In fact, it was both a blessing and a practicality, since his new home didn't have a kitchen. He opened the heavy door of a house painted in soft pink color. A bit unusual color for the pub, Mike thought. But hey, as long as he can get something to eat he couldn't care less if the pub was coated in gold.
As soon as he opened the door he was washed with a smell of freshly homemade bread and meat loaf. Wooden walls covered the entire interior, a few big chandeliers were placed on the ceiling in even distance, casting a heavy, dimmed light across the room. A big fireplace leaned against the wall on the right was turned on, giving Mike pleasant chills all over his body. He needed this pleasant warmth. There were only a few people inside, sitting around the biggest round, heavy wooden table and whispering beneath their breaths. Mike looked at them and his stomach turned over. There was something so scary about them, but he couldn't decide what exactly. They looked as any other person he met on his way here. Deciding not to give it any more thought he went to the middle of the room where the waiter was cleaning big, heavy ales of beer behind the bar. Mike sat down and the waiter nodded at him.
"What can I help you with, sir?"
"Well this ale of beer seems appealing. And whatever you're cooking at the back...I'll take some of it as well."
"A man with a sense of pleasure and taste. We don't get many of them around."
"Well I'm here to stay. You'll get used to it."
The waiter nodded and went to the kitchen. Mike slightly turned his head over his shoulder just to meet with a steady gaze of a man whose eyes were shaded with his cowboy-like hat. Mike shuddered despite the pleasant heat radiating from the fireplace. The waiter came in carrying a tray of meat loaf and a double-sized ale of dark beer.
"Anything else?"
Mike waved his head in negation. This was just enough. Just as he was about to take the first bite he heard a stool behind him scratch the floor. The man who stared at him just a moment ago stood up and worked his way towards him. He was much taller than Mike, with much more muscles.
"What is your business here, stranger?"
"I keep my business to myself. I'd prefer it to remain that way."
The man growled in rage and grabbed Mike's collar, lifting him up from the stool and pressing him against the wall.
"You don't know what you're getting yourself into, here. You better watch your back everywhere you go."
Mike closed his eyes and stopped breathing because the odor coming from the man's mouth was unbearable.
"Beau, leave the man alone. He just came here to eat."
"He's moved into the old house, didn't you know that?"
"Of course I knew that! Everybody knows it for days now. But I'm telling you, let him eat his dinner in peace."
Beau reluctantly removed his hands off of his collar and went back to his buddies at the table. Mike got back on his seat and started eating his dinner.
"You'll have to forgive him, his wife passed away recently. He means no harm."
"That's not what it sounds like." Mike muttered.
"He's just barking. He won't bite. But I would like to give you a friendly advice; don't ask too many questions. They're not welcome here."
Mike looked at his plate. Suddenly the place seemed hostile. But he had his own agenda in this town and, by god, he will see it through!