I dream of John Green

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I am a huge fan of John Green. I can’t say I’ve read all his books, because Paper Towns is still sitting on my bedside table in the gigantor pile of books to read. But I kinda like that it’s there. It makes me feel like a little bit of John Green magic is still out there waiting for me if I ever finish Outlander/Cross Stitch. I’m on page 68 so I’m making pretty terrible progress. I was really getting into it until the sex scene a couple pages back. Is it just me or are sex scenes in books almost always really cringey and not that hot? I gave up on the Sookie Stackhouse books, although I do very much enjoy True Blood, because of the awful sex scenes. I mean really? Can’t we just elude to these things? I’m not a prude especially, but we’re already in the protagonist’s head and know their every thought, can we give them just a little privacy?

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Nice segue into my John Green Dream.

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No, it wasn’t that kind of dream.

So I’m somewhere in America, it’s very green (ha!) and there is a river. I go off to teach my writing class and I happen upon John Green. He’s like Hi. I’m like Hi, John Green. Then he says he’d love to give me some writing tips and I’m about to hear them and then my alarm goes off and wakes me the hell up. This is like my version of those dreams where you are about to make out with your celebrity crush or something and then…

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So when I got home from work I looked up a bunch of John Green memes and quotes on Pinterest, just to check if he’d left my message somewhere, but no. It was just the usual John Green quotes like this one:

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But I think I actually like the above pizza version better. You can totally write your own version of this that you can put in your YA novels so that people can make cool pictures for Pinterest based on your book later. Here’s an example of what I’m thinking…

“So she walked through time and space and collapsed onto the red leather couch, thinking that if people were drinks she was an old flat bottle of 7-up and he was a shot of vintage whiskey.”

Could I write my whole novel based on a John Green novel?!

And so I continue to live my life with no actual personal writing advice from John Green, but I live in hope that I will have the dream again tonight, or tomorrow night, or one night soon, and he will tell me all the secrets to the YA novel writing universe.

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Procrastination by casting

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I’ve been working on this novel for like 5 years on and off and editing is pretty heavy going sometimes. Especially when you are trying to work on the scenes that don’t work. I know I should just delete them, but I did that once in a fit of rage and lost huge parts of my plot. So now I just leave notes all over Scrivener saying “BIG MESS SORT OUT”, “EDIT THIS PROPERLY”, “WTF” etc. while I re-read and re-edit occasional odd words in the chapters I really like.

Casting my characters out of celebrities is just one of my many favourite ways to procrastinate. Pinterest and scrapbooking are a really great way to do “research” for your novel when you just can not write words. It kind of feels like a bludge looking at pretty pictures but it really helps me to see my story come alive. It gives me something constructive and creative to do when I have writer’s block and makes me feel like even though I didn’t really write, I still spent a lot of time working on characterisation. Or something like that.

Most of my characters are a mash-up of a bunch of celebrities. I never started out writing characters based on anyone, it’s just kind of happened over time.

And over time John Cusack became Jack. Hey hang on… J (ohn, Cus) ack. Wow. I never noticed that until RIGHT THEN! #Destiny

So in the interest of procrastination today I would like to introduce you to Jack. Jack is the only hipster in town and he’s so far off the chain that he wears brown converse chucks to school when he should be wearing brown leather dress shoes. He’s totally ridiculous! In the movie Jack will be played by a young John Cusack. #reasonsweneedtimetravel. I guess actual John Cusack could play old Jack if I wrote a scene for that. Ha, my writer’s block is over! I’m going to go write that scene right now. Someone get me @JohnCusack’s address and I’ll send him my manuscript immediately!

Here’s a bunch of reasons in gifs why young John Cusack shall be invited onto my casting couch when he works out how to time travel to the present.

ImageI’ll totally be in your book.

ImageThis is just so Jack

ImageWhat Jack thinks about wearing the correct school shoes

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ImageJack’s great because he’s always got spare pens

ImageNot quite the same with an iPhone though is it?

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And here’s a Halloween costume that is really good.

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TIME-TRAVELING PHOTOGRAPHY

Imagine if you could spend some time with your younger self… I absolutely love this! x

Jess Smart Smiley: the Internet Version

(via viralnova)

This series of photos that Japanese London-based photographer Chino Otsuka created is so nostalgic and heartwarming, it left me breathless.

In “Imagine Finding Me,” Chino does something unique that I frankly have never seen before: she digitally inserts herself into old photos, so that she is standing next to her younger self. The concept is simple and her digital manipulation of the photos is done so well it makes it seem she is a time traveler (HMM).

These pictures are filled with a sense of longing for simpler times that may hit you at your core.

1982 & 2005 (France)
1982 & 2005 (France)
1976 & 2005 (Japan)
1976 & 2005 (Japan)
1979 & 2006 (Japan)
1979 & 2006 (Japan)
1975 & 2005 (Spain)
1975 & 2005 (Spain)
1975 & 2009 (France)
1975 & 2009 (France)
1981 & 2006 (Japan)
1981 & 2006 (Japan)
1985 & 2006 (UK)
1985 & 2006 (UK)
1982 & 2006 (Japan)
1982 & 2006 (Japan)
1985 & 2005…

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore

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While slaving away at my day job I often happen upon children’s books. To be completely honest I think most of them are rubbish and that I could write a better book in my lunch break, even in my coffee break. Some are so terrible I could do better on a loo break. How hard can it be? You think of a quirky character with a bit of alliteration in the name – Harry the Horse for example (I totally just made that up) and then you put this character in some magical land – e.g. Unicorn Land. Now give him a problem – he’s a horse and everyone else is a Unicorn. I mean, come on I just made that up as I wrote it in about ten seconds.

But sometimes a children’s book comes along that is just like – oh, wow. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is one of those books. It’s beautiful on so many levels. The illustrations are lovely and the story is so sweet and inspiring, I just wanted to run home and work on my novel after reading it. It’s rare that a “picture book” has any effect on me at all and I just loved the sentiment in this book so much I felt compelled to share it here even though it has nothing to do with time travel. Oooooh, or does it?!

Fantastic. Five stars. x

There goes that idea re: time travel + stone circles

How seriously annoying is it when you have an awesome book idea and then you find a book and it’s like, oh. I guess someone already had that awesome book idea?

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I’ve had this idea for ages about a time travel thing that happens in a stone circle. Fair enough, it’s not exactly the kind of idea only one person has, if you’ve ever been to a stone circle you’ve probably had the idea too. Like if you are going to time travel through some random space on the planet a stone circle is a pretty likely place for that to happen. I mean, what even are they?! They definitely have the potential to be a time machine. But anyway, so my idea has been taken so that sucks. This Diana Gabaldon person wrote it already. She sets it in 1945 and takes it back to Jacobite Scotland. I would’ve done more like a Stonehenge school trip modern day and taken it back to punk London in the early 80’s, but it would basically be the same story so I’ll leave that one for now and carry on with my time travel through a door trilogy, but if any agents/publishers are reading this, I will totally write that punk thing if you like the idea. 

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I read somewhere Warm Bodies was a short story floating about on the internet for ages and then some movie big wigs were like – hey Isaac Marion, write it into a novel and we’ll make it into a movie. OMG Punk-henge (working title) would make a pretty awesome movie. I’d pay £12 to see it in VIP seats. I only want to sit in VIP nowadays. When I went to see Mockingjay I had a regular ticket and some girl behind me kept kicking my seat and I had to sit next to a man that smelled funny and he kept doing heavy breathing in the quiet scenes,  he was probably doing heavy breathing in all the scenes, and no, he was not my date. 😐

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But Cross Stitch is 863 pages long and I’m only on page 21. It’s really well written and I’m loving it so far, but do I have time to read this whole brick of a book?  I mean Hollow City came out today! So many books so little time, and the worst part of life is finding time to both read time travel/YA fiction and write it. I also have a day job. But no social life, so that’s something.

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Random Writing Tip #1 – Headphones

If you like writing to a soundtrack like I do, you might enjoy it even more whilst wearing headphones. I’ve started doing this even when no one else is home and I’m totally digging it. My purple headphones are really comfy and make my ears feel happy. There’s something about the sound of the 1980’s pumping straight into my brain that makes it even easier to block out reality and get into my story world.

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10 totally awesome reasons to watch Valley Girl (1983), like ferr surre!

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So I’m third draft into my time travel 1980’s YA novel, and I’m thinking, I need some inspiration. My characters are wearing the same thing for like two months, I need to see some hairstyles and 80’s jumpers desperately. The year I’m researching for the first book (oh yeah it’s going to be a trilogy) is 1983, because if you had a time machine and you were about to go time travelling what’s the first year that pops into your head? 1983, of course it is! So I’m Googling movies of 1983 and stumble across this thing called Valley Girl, which looks like it could be a contender for one of the best so bad it’s good movies of the 80’s. She’s a girl from the Valley, like totally! And he’s a punk/new wave/not really sure what he’s meant to be from Hollywood played by a bit-part actor called Nicholas Cage, who later went on to become Nicholas Cage. Nick Cage playing a punk (he’s not really a punk)? I’m so totally in. I laughed, I cried (not really, but one scene was kind of emotional), I danced (bobbed my head a little).

10 Reasons to like, totally watch this movie

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1. This is a real line in the movie. Randy’s (Cage’s) love interest Julie tells her mates he’s “trippin’-dicular”. I mean, wow. Wikipedia tells me that Nick Cage and Deborah Foreman (Julie) were dating in real life during filming, but Fast Rewind says no. I’d like to think they were even though she’s kind of annoying. He seems to really like her.

2. The soundtrack.

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3. Nick’s hair.

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4. People calling each other pukeoids. And the clothes, look at that blouse. The film only had a small budget (really?) and the actors had to bring in their own clothes (clearly).

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5. Nick Cage being all hot and stalker-ish, he’s like a pre-Edward Cullen pretty much. He doesn’t watch her sleep, but he does stalk her in the toilet. Yep.

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6. Nick Cage’s chest hair.

7. A 7 minute version of the whole movie exists on YouTube for those of us with busy schedules. It’s missing the Valley-Speak though and it cuts the best scene just before it gets really good, so like, you should probably make time to watch the whole thing.

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8. This shirt.

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9. 80’s prom. Whoever does not enjoy an 80’s prom has no soul, or really really needs a cuddle because… 80’s prom!

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10. Someone made this art out of yarn.

I see fictional people!

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If you are a regular person going about your regular life and you start seeing things, imaginary things, imaginary people, anything imaginary really, then you should probably go and talk to someone about it, it could be really serious. If, however, you are a writer or other creative type then it’s totally acceptable to see imaginary things or imaginary (let’s call them “fictional”) people.

I didn’t always see fictional people. I used to hear them a lot, they were always trying to talk to me, and then when I ignored them they’d start talking to each other about me (that’s so rude you guys!) but I never really saw them until recently and now they won’t leave me alone!

Today I sat behind a woman on the bus who was SO one of my main characters I wanted to take a picture of her. I had my phone out and I was about to ask her to be in a photo but I felt really weird about that, and I’m sure she would also have. “Hello, I’m writing a book and you look just like someone who’s in it, could I get a photo of you for my Pinterest board please?” Uh… No.

I’ve seen one of my characters a lot more than the others. He’s one of my leading men, a rebel without a cause and a heart of gold, you know the type. I see him in his Ray Ban Wayfarers leaning coolly against lamp posts outside the corner store, I see his car parked across the street. It’s a great car, very cool.

It sounds kind of nuts, but I’m totally OK with it, I’m great with it! I’m too scared to see a ghost, but fictional characters popping up throughout my day is totally fine. It’s like motivation, if they see me out shopping when I should be at home writing, it makes me want to go home and write. They are like my own personal muses.

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Speaking of muses, check out these awesome movies featuring people getting freaked out by fictional characters!

1. Xanadu. It’s not about a fictional character so much as a muse, but I guess muses are kind of fictional if you don’t believe in them. When I was a kid I taped the vinyl soundtrack onto a tape, put it in my walkman and whizzed around the garage on my roller-skates in circles for most of my childhood. I was always annoying my folks by asking them to move the car.

2. The Purple Rose of Cairo. “I just met a wonderful new man, he’s fictional, but you can’t have everything.”

3. Stranger Than Fiction. I’m still struggling with killing my characters. It’s not so easy once you get to know them. It’s actually kind of heartbreaking, I wonder if that’s the way JK Rowling felt when she killed [SPOLIER!!!!!!!] Dumbledore.

Save yourself 104 minutes of your life and never watch Ruby Sparks. If any of my characters ever get that annoying I would just kill them for sure. Easy.

Then of course there are the fictional characters that jump out of the books we read. They crawl into our minds and hearts and make us crazy (Hello Edward Cullen fans). We think about them, and talk about them as if they are real. We make our friends read our favourite books so we can blabber on about these people no one else knows, then we get jealous when our mate has a crush on Jace Wayland! Noooooooooo!

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The End