Category Archives: Writing a novel

Islands of Inspiration (2) ~ Tinos 2022

Two ferries from Sifnos, via Mykanos, and we arrived on Tinos; our second island in the Cyclades, chosen because it didn’t have an airport. Yet again we had no idea what to expect. We were self catering this time and our host suggested we pause our taxi to stock up in Tinos town; valuable advice because the next day was Sunday.

There was another good reason, which dawned on us as we zig-zagged from Isternia down to Ormos Bay and our delightful accommodation.

The nearest shop now, was a mile away, winding back up the cliff!

We were relieved that our fridge was now full and our host reassured us that there were three tavernas and also a sandy beach in the bay.

How the island helped me in mind, body and spirit

With no car this could have been a frustrating location, but we soon relaxed, with the certainty that we were meant to be here, to unwind, to heal from the trauma of the last two years and learn ‘to be’ once more.

Ormos Bay

Most days we wandered down to the beach, had a swim, sat and absorbed the view, enjoyed a light lunch before an afternoon siesta in the shade of the veranda. This gave us time to read, to talk and think of life. What a relief it was to be on holiday in the sunshine.

Most evenings we enjoyed supper at one of the three tavernas, where we were welcomed and treated to mouth watering Greek cuisine.

It was a press the pause button on life; refreshing, calming and just wonderful!

How was I inspired by our visit to Tinos?

Ormos Bay

We only had two trips out ~ one to be dropped off at the top of the hill to enjoy the breathtaking views, an ice-cream and to wander down the winding path back to the bay The path was an amazing feat of engineering from between the world wars. Although I am sometimes scared of heights (why do I live in Scotland you may ask?), the path was wide enough so that I could breath easily. The men who built it were truly inspiring and I’m sure there are stories to tell of those times.

The second trip out was to visit the lovely village of Pyrgos, where carving in marble, a treasure still mined on Tinos, could be observed in awe.

I spoke to one of the craftsman and asked him how much one of the small seahorses on the wall cost. 45 euros was his reply and then he showed me a block of rock he would carve another from, the template and one partially carved. ‘Do you know how many hours one of these takes to make?’ he asked.

I had no idea.

About 80 hours,’ he said.

Wow, I thought and then I compared it to my craft of writing a novel.

  • Loosely planning ideas, beginning, middle and end
  • Several months to write the first draft
  • A couple of months for edits, beta readers and revisions.
  • Working with an editor until the manuscript is ready for publication.

Typically that’s at least six months.

Does the reader appreciate this hard graft?

Would I have appreciated the carver if I hadn’t watched him at work? If I had bought that seahorse in a gift shop?

By a craftsman in Pyrgos, Tinos

I gained much inspiration from Tinos; a beautiful island. I relaxed and felt ready to face the world again, but the greatest lesson I learnt was to value the work I do and to feel proud of it, as the master carver I met certainly does.

How much do you value your writing?

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Filed under Inspiration, Inspirational and Motivational Series, mind body and spirit, Writing, Writing a novel

Virtual Tour around the main settings for my latest novel ~ real and imaginary

MISSING Past and Present is unlike my previous novels because two of the main settings are imaginary. Why go to all that trouble?

  • It challenges the imagination of the writer and the reader
  • It will not offend a reader ~ in my murder mystery, set on my doorstep at the time in a village down in Bedfordshire, some folks loved it that way but others were a bit disturbed by it ~ well, it was murder after all!

Strangely enough this did not deter my ability to see the scenes as vividly as ever in my mind’s eye, maybe more so. I suppose writing fantasy is like that.

Tour 1 in the imaginary Town of Drumford

Here’s my sketch of the main town of Drumford in my novel, or at least the centre, where a lot of the action took place. It was the birth place of Dot, my protagonist, and the focus of a life of memories.

The main scenes were set in The Ark, a centre for the homeless, but there were also scenes in the community police station in the old bank building, in the cafe, in both churches and in the Women’s Refuge.

Belmont Park featured both in the past and the present; as a park to enjoy in today’s world it was a place of reflection, even secret assignations. The ruins of the old manor house, still visible among the gardens, brought to life its past for Millie, my trainee nun, nearly two hundred years before.

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Filed under MISSING Past and Present, Mystery inspired by history series, Planning a novel, Writing, Writing a novel

Light Bulb Moment of inspiration ~ Just a Sentence ~ then a Story Plan

HAVE A NOTEBOOK AT ALL TIMES

Do you have a notebook, or a plethora of notebooks to hand when inspiration for writing strikes?

Sound advice!

All it took was just a sentence popping unbidden into my mind:

‘While picking blackberries in the hedgerows one day, I found a dice.’

CHOOSE AN UNUSUAL PROTAGONIST

I had already decided to write about a homeless person but wanted to choose an unlikely character, This one sentence was the perfect lead to my protagonist, Dot. Picking blackberries is second nature to her and thus she would be a ‘jam making women’s institute sort of lady’, the sort who you might pass unnoticed in the street. If a lady like that who hadn’t done anyone any harm, well almost, became homeless, straightaway I felt that the reader would feel empathy towards Dot when her husband went missing.

BACK STORY

Then I began to think of her back story. Holding the dice which I had found one day it struck me to be a fantastic tool for Dot’s memories while she was trying to recover from the breakdown of all she had known. (Her memories were not personal ones to me by the way, except maybe one, but I’m not going to admit which one.)

 

 

SUBTITLE

No one deserves to have their life destroyed, but what sums up the overriding question in Dot’s mind as she tries to make sense of it all.  Life is never fair but

Is Life Just a Roll of a Dice?’

My subtitle came to life.

MISSING Past and Present on Amazon

SETTING

The scene of picking blackberries could be an idyllic one, but in Dot’s case it was a means for survival, to glean from the countryside. What was it like to survive when homeless.

MAIN THEMES

This led to the main themes in my novel, as explored in previous blogs, leading to further tension and miscommunication.

Homelessness, soup kitchens and food banks

Mixed race relationships

Multi faith marriage

Gender inequality

Prejudice, racism and acceptance

SUMMING UP

Thus, finding a dice in the hedgerows gave me a sentence.

Out of the sentence came the protagonist, back story and major setting.

This allowed me to develop my plan, including themes pertinent to my story.

What originally inspired you to write your latest novel?

If you would like to be a guest writer on this blog why don’t you take the Dice Challenge and get in touch with me diana@dianamaryjackson.co.uk

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Filed under MISSING Past and Present, Mystery inspired by history series, Planning a novel, Writing, Writing a novel