Now, onto Grandad's Wild Ride, behind the scenes...
It all started with a small red go-cart being restored on the TV show, The Repair Shop. A sweet grandfather had brought in the small, red racing car he'd played in as a child. Beaten up and rough around the edges, it sparked just enough of something for me to write down little red racing car in my notebook. The grandfather wanted his cart restored for his grandchildren to enjoy, and the result was a candy-red racer fit for children to have a ball with!
My story didn't come easy though. My children have had colds, the children I look after have had the colds too, and to top it off, I got the cold, but still, I had a story to write for all of you! I had many false starts, not writing more than a few words. Finally I stepped back and decided to mull it over without the pressure of writing anything down. I thought about the grandfather's cart, and his hopes for his grandchildren. A memory came to me of my Mum's father, Grandad Lance, who passed away a decade ago, and his dare-devil, get-stuck-in attitude with us, his grandchildren. Many years ago now, my father made my sisters and I a go-cart out of a tip-trolley. It was narrow and a bit tricky to steer, but boy could it go! We only found just how fast after Grandad visited and couldn't resist having a turn himself!
I've also written about my father's father in the last couple of months. He passed away two years ago, and with my grandmother passing recently, my grandparents have been on my mind. Grandad Ray's story is Burning the Cow, and it felt as if Grandad Lance wanted a turn too.
The melding of all these fragments of ideas has resulted in Grandad's Wild Ride, a fast-paced flash fiction full of fun! Enjoy!
I am in no way associated with Pinterest beyond being an enthusiastic user. I’m have not been approached by Pinterest and am not being paid for any element in this post. I merely wish to share with you a tool that I find invaluable as a writer and believe you’ll find an asset to your writing.
If you haven't caught the other posts in this series, link to them from here: Part One: The writer's best friend, Part Two: Do it once, do it right, Part Three: Injecting your brand into your boards. Enjoy!
I find storyboards great for two main reasons: 1. They help me create a visual plan of my story before, or as I write, and 2. They’re great to share with readers or potential readers to give a sense of the story as I saw it during writing.
Pinterest is an exceptional place to create storyboards because you have access to the entire web. Being image-based, these storyboards become a visual representation of your story, and you can pin links to research keeping it all in one convenient place.
Before going public with this board, you might consider making a title image using Canva or similar. As I’ve posted about before, I have specific titles I use, and incorporate my logo and website into cover images to make them instantly recognisable.
Storyboards can be an effective source to lead readers to your website or book sales links by including your book cover in the storyboard, plus, you can use your cover image to lead to your books, blogs, or buy links too. Consider having them lead to different places, e.g. cover image leads to your website, book cover image leads directly to your amazon link for that book (or similar).
I find my storyboards an excellent source of motivation to write. Visiting them gives me a deep reminder of my characters, setting, and plot, and this drives me to write more. Having images I can return to as needed helps me write accurate descriptions of character and setting, my saved research can be accessed quickly and efficiently, and I get a real sense of what my story looks like from my storyboards.
If you’d like to give storyboarding on Pinterest a go, I suggest you visit my Write! boards (link to my account below) as a great starting point. You’ll find banks of character inspiration images (see below; thousands of faces choose from including celebrities, well-known people, athletes, and so on, with multiple images of each person); Setting Development includes sections on world building, architecture, and images for inspiration; Images for Inspiration has plenty of setting ideas, plus a more diverse section called Strength, Beauty, Diversity to find character inspiration; and Research for Stories has a wide selection of topics you might require information on from survival to medicine, law to ancient culture and so much more. Feel free to follow these boards as I’m adding to them all the time.
Click Character Image Bank images to access below...
Do have a look at my existing storyboards under Read! (link to all boards above). Some are better than others, but all will give you a good starting point for your own storyboarding adventure. Learn from my successes and mistakes, and take from them what you like.
So, why not give it a go? And if you come across any great storyboarding examples or ideas, please add them to the comments on this post for others to learn from. Who knows, it might just generate you some sales!
I decided that the prompt itself demanded to be the opening of my story:
The boy’s plight caught me in the chest, however I didn’t feel that this story was his in the telling. Instead, the narrator is an observer, though no less part of the story. Both are caught in that hazy zone between boy and manhood, and both have weights on their shoulders that aren’t a boy’s to carry. They share desperation, drive, and more…
This story required research. I’m not a natural Western writer, but I have taken on historical fiction pieces in the past, and approached it from that direction. I wrote the guts of the story first, then went digging for information on the Western genre – particularly the identifiable features of Western – and swept back toward places I knew, lending them to the story. My experiences with gold come from the Central Otago region of New Zealand, particularly Cromwell, Arrowtown, and Queenstown. I panned for gold on school camp when I was eleven, but before that, family holidays to Bannockburn and Cromwell were spent out in the old diggings; dry, dusty places of shale, burning sun, and the evidence of the search for gold back in the late 1800s. I also borrowed from T.V. and movies, particularly scenes involving medicine and hospitals/infirmaries.
But how to get all that into 1500 words? Well, not easily! I had to balance what was important to the genre with the heart of the story, which essentially is the idea that a strike (yours or not!) could change a life. I found it addictive and used it to build the desperation within the story. If you want to find out how, I suggest you have a read when Joseph’s Gold comes up for FREE Flash Fiction Friday, or, if you can’t wait, Joseph’s Gold (and all other Flash Fiction Friday stories) is locked down to a tiny price throughout the month. If you’d like to check out the images I collected that helped inspire Joseph’s Gold, there’s a link just over here! I’d also love to hear what you think of the story, so feel free to pop a review on via the link. Plus, this prompt, and more, are available on my Prompts by Emily board on Pinterest, so go to it! Write your own version of the story!
Anyway, to the story!
I wanted to escape my flash fiction genre comfort zone (had enough of contemporary fiction yet?) this month, and I needed something sweet, light, and, escapist. The Invitation takes us on a 1950s (historical fiction!) beach trip with Tallulah, her beau, Emory, and his older, more experienced friends. At just seventeen, and living away from home, Tallulah is out of her depth in just about every way possible. With help and encouragement from her elder sister, Tallulah embarks on this trip, worried about what people (Emory included) will think of her in everything from her image and actions, to her swimsuit!
It's a little longer than standard flash fiction (300-1500 words) - you're getting a generous 2000 this month, though I expect you won't mind! The Invitation takes inspiration from the movie Brooklyn, though the setting is distinctly New Zealand in flavour, and has a teen romance at heart.
So, be brave like Tallulah and give The Invitation a go. After all, on Free Flash Fiction Fridays, it won't cost you anything!
First up, I have not been approached by anyone or paid to write this post. I’m singing the praises of Pinterest solely because it’s an essential and brilliant tool in my writing kit, and I want to show you why, so it can make your writing life easier too!
For those of you unfamiliar with this platform, Pinterest is essentially a search engine, but unlike the majority which allow you to bookmark pages, Pinterest has been designed to be the ultimate place to capture exactly what you want off different sites through images and links. It goes beyond that, too, allowing you to create and share your own ‘pins,’ ‘boards,’ or account.
There are numerous different blogs on how to set up an account, and the basics of using Pinterest, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel outlining how to do that here. Instead, I’ll give you my tips and tricks for making Pinterest work for you as an author.
Things to note: a ‘board’ is like a folder (you can have multiple boards on your account. I presently have 38). Within your board you can have ‘sections’ or dividers with different titles related to the subject of your board. A ‘pin’ is the item you’re saving, or tucking into that section that you can come back to later. A pin can be a single image with no link, or it can be a title page that, when clicked on, can lead you a whole blog post or website.
I make Pinterest work for me in several ways:
First: it’s a place to promote myself and my writing. I have boards that illustrate me as a writer and person, my blog and other social media platforms, and my books and stories. These are my marketing boards that help me get my brand across. Many of my pins contain links that take you directly to my website or places you can buy my books.
Second: I use it to learn and help others learn my craft. I have ‘Write!’ boards to inspire others to join the writing way of life. From how to develop a character or plot, to images and prompts for inspiration, I’ve saved hundreds (if not thousands) of excellent tools to help you on your journey as a writer.
Third: I use it to learn and help others learn the business side of being an independent writer. Titled ‘Biz,’ you can find everything here from how to build a website or blog, to different forms of publishing and marketing.
Fourth: it’s a tool for developing and illustrating my stories as storyboards. Each of my stories gets a board, and each board is sectioned depending on what I want to store or show. Common headings here are: characters, setting, and research. I also have character banks (with thousands of entries to help you put a face to your characters), and a ‘research for stories’ board in which I tuck bits and pieces I might need in the future, and could help you out should you need to know about anything from survival skills to period costume, science to crime and combat, and heaps more.
The internet is truly your oyster when it comes to Pinterest, and you tailor your boards to suit you. You can even have public boards (seen by everyone), or private boards (seen only by you), so if you want to save things that aren’t relevant to your writing life, but happen to like sewing or cooking and want to save pins on those topics, you can save them just for you.
Like other social media platforms, you can follow other accounts, or follow a selected one or more of their boards. Likewise, you gain followers – people who see what you’re pinning, and can pin those things too. The key to gaining followers is to pin, pin, pin. Several pins in short bursts throughout the day seems to be the most effective strategy. I’ll pin anywhere from 10 to 50 pins in a day depending on what else I’ve got going on. You can also create your own pins, but everywhere I’ve looked advises to start by pinning from what’s already out there (when you pin someone else’s pin or follow their board or account, they’re notified of that and might pin from you or follow you back!).
UNIVERSE, WHY DO YOU KEEP THROWING CHALLENGES AT ME???
The new routine at home. Routine? Haha!
The start of the school year has come with a whirlwind of trips to kick off the year. Between my two girls (five and seven), they’ve had school swimming lessons, a Beach Education day at St Kilda (a thirty minute trip away in town) and one at the local jetty. Though learning to swim is vitally important, and especially in the different water environments we have on the Otago Peninsula, it’s been trying for a number of reasons. 1. I’m utterly sick of washing togs to get dry for the next day, 2. I’m not that confident in the sea myself and parents were required to be in the water, 3. Sand on the carpet, enough said. I also accompanied Miss Seven to Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua. We went on the Port to Port ferry service and the kids LOVED the boat ride. It’s such a special place – I can see the island from my office window at home, and I’d bet ninety percent of Dunedin residents haven’t been there. Oh how this trip reminded of what I loved about teaching, but it reminded me of the challenges too! It’s a very busy job mentally, keeping track of twenty kids, prompting, providing, reminding, answering questions, not falling over (I failed on that one), constant noise, and making sure everyone stays safe. We had a great day though, and I was lucky to be able to take part.
Right, how many days of writing time did I use up there? Three so far…
Poor old Miss Five has already had two tummy bugs, (pretty standard for a new school kid), and Miss Seven, one. Five days of children at home. Luckily Miss Five loves school, and, like her sister, is hungry to read! She comes home so proud that she’s learned new letters and reads me stories. There’s something special about that first read, when they open the book and just start. Let’s hope she never stops!
That big step I was looking toward last news has happened! I put myself forward for a leadership role that in the past I vowed I’d never even consider. I always thought, ‘too big, too much responsibility!’ In short, never say never. The universe hears you and says ‘we’ll see about that!’ I’m like that though, reluctant until I’m challenged to truly think about something in depth. Once I’ve got an ounce of encouragement, talked it through with others, and considered what my role will be, my mind flips and I see my capabilities and what I can bring to the opportunity. It’s a position of responsibility, one I always considered an honour for the holder, and to be honest, out of my league. It turns out it wasn’t, I just had to believe in myself and own what I’m capable of, and in the end, I was given the role. So yes, I’m honoured, and I’ll bring my best to the position. Time to get my game face on!
How does one write amongst the chaos?
What a mishmash I’m in work-wise! I had those romantic dreams of three blissful writing days per week, but oh how the universe likes to play games! It’s been musical chairs shifting days to fit around family commitments and school events. Then there were the school trips and illnesses. It’s meant juggling the rather full schedule of writing commitments I’ve set myself – trying to get blogs written, flash fiction and short stories ready to publish and market, AND doing my best to find time for working on The Weight of Expectation (click to view my inspiration board on Pinterest). Just when I think I’m getting into a routine, something else crops up. Such is life! I’m on track so far though, and exciting things are happening in my mind for my novel. Now to get them onto paper…
I am feeling more like a professional writer, and that I can claim that title authentically. The projects and deadlines I’ve set myself have increased my productivity. They’ve also boosted my sense of achievement. I’m learning how to grab little moments for quick tasks, like a quick social media session whilst the kids eat their morning tea, or making notes alongside them doing homework. As a result, I’ve got more works out there, being seen by more and more people. The idea that readers are entering the world of my stories is a wondrous thing!
It’s time for a new motto.
I think my motto needs to be ‘I can do this,’ whether it be roles of responsibility, or handling the schedule I’ve set myself, even when I’m feeling like I can barely keep up. I just have to remember I can. Sure, it’d be lovely to have a settled routine and very little responsibility outside of my own house, but where’s the life in that? Where’s the learning and the opportunity to grow? So I’m not a nine to fiver, I don’t commute to work, or work with loads of people day in, day out. No, I’m a mum that gets to help on school trips and other school roles (I wanted to be able to do that for my children, and I am!), and I don’t have to take a sick day when they’re sick; I’m an author with the responsibility of setting and achieving my own goals (how great is that?), and I’ve got a bunch of stories out there in the world with many more to come.
So, whatever I am, and whatever you are, we can achieve what we set out to, so long as we believe in ourselves. If you really want something, you’ll make it happen. Even when it’s hard and the world seems to be working against us, in time that will change, and we’ll smash it. I surely intend to!
So, for all of you out there feeling under the pump, like you’re climbing Everest in stilettos, don’t panic, take a breath, the chaos will calm, and you’ll get there.
Keep on keeping on,
Do you have any quotes or words of encouragement for others? Drop them in the comments! If you need some, visit my Pinterest Board and check out the 'Self Care' section, or 'Words that motivate and inspire me.'
Flash Fiction Friday - next week's story Late.
Another Quick Tip next week too!
Check out my Prompts By Emily Pinterest board for brand new story starters every weekend.
Looking ahead to April - New short story to be released!
On life in September:
This month started with massive applause when both of my girls having their turn on Otago Polyfest 2019 stage. My eldest and her school were first up in the programme on opening night. I’m a little glad that she’s in the middle row because she has a habit of doing odd things on stage – last year she hit herself in the face with her poi and scowled at it like it was the poi’s fault, this year she peered through the line in front of her looking for her family in the audience (hilarious, but a little distracting!). Hopefully she gets over this ‘cute’ stuff by next year; she’ll be too big to get away with it. Meanwhile Little Miss had a lunchtime performance on the Thursday (Polyfest has grown so much that it now lasts almost a week with performances starting in the morning and finishing late into the evening, and is livestreamed!). My girl had her first trip on a bus and I accompanied the class of 22 and their amazing teachers to help with costumes (my teaching experience still comes in handy now and then!). Oh my word, they were a world of cute with their little skirts and headbands. Besides how can children aged two to four on stage before a crowd in the hundreds not steal hearts and create laughs? From the gorgeous little lady with her late timing to the world’s cutest stage-runners, little waves when parents were spotted in the crowd to a re-run of one song when one little girl missed her turn to start them off, it was all super adorable (especially when a couple of littilies fell asleep on the bus on the way home! Check both my girls and their teams out here... CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH
Scroll through at the bottom (or watch every team!) - Big Miss’s performance from 0:2:20, Little Miss from 3:22:00. Enjoy!
Half the birthdays in the Larkins house fall in September (I’m in December and my youngest is in January), so we’ve been partying. Big Miss turned SEVEN early in the month and we hosted a family dinner to celebrate. You’d think when I say ‘family’ that there might be ten or fifteen, but we’ve grown over the years with partners and children so we number well over 25 when we’re all together. When we built the house we thought we’d created something pretty roomy, but our open lounge/dining/kitchen area bulges with that number, especially when a good proportion of the guests are small, loud, and on the move. Still, it astounds me how quickly the youngest members of the family are growing – the smallest will be one next month, and the eldest, my husband’s sister’s gorgeous daughter, will be fifteen! It’s insane! And they’re all so different in their talents, tastes, and personalities – I can hardly keep up! Next came Mr L’s birthday later in the month, the last of his thirties (he says don’t remind him). Next year is going to be spectacularly huge in milestones for my extended family with three fifth birthdays, a sweet sixteenth, a 30th, a 40th, a 60th, and a couple of 65ths in the mix. For an introvert, 2020’s going to be a definite social challenge, but making a fuss over all these wonderful people will be awesome!
As I write today, I glance out the window and see many, many lambs! We’ve been in our farmhouse for nearly five years, and I’m only just now really beginning to re-tune into knowing what I’m looking at. Ten years in town screwed my farm barometer when it comes to sheep and lambs that are fine compared to those who need help, those weeks off lambing and those with a couple of days to go, hours-old lambs and days-old, but it’s all coming back now. I know too when I can sort something easily myself, or when I need to call the big guns for backup. We’ve had a little lamb that struggles to get about, so I’ve been out on the hunt for Leo(nardo Dilambrio) morning and night, in wind and driving rain to make sure he’s alright. His mother’s getting crafty though, moving him to increasingly clever hiding spots, so clever that we often hear her calling out because she’s forgotten where she’s left him! Unfortunately, he’s one of those lambs with a question mark hanging above him. There’s a good chance he won’t make it, but we’re doing all we can to give him a chance.
Aaaand, cruise ship season looms imminent on the horizon here in Dunedin – the first is due on October the 1st, and with it will come my slight obsession looking across to Port Otago for visiting ships. I’ve already been through the schedule and noted each expected arrival in my diary, mostly so I can plan my very rare trips to town on days when we don’t have ships in. We’re expecting another record year – more ships and passengers than ever before. While it’s great for the city’s economy, it can be taxing on locals with slower trips to town (on top of the major road works that we’ve had for several years now working on widening the peninsula road, which are taxing in themselves, you’ve got to allow around forty minutes travel time each way), tourists stopped in random and sometimes dangerous spots to get that perfect photo, a crowed city centre, and the swelling of numbers at our most beautiful spots. Dunedin, and the Otago Peninsula (on which I live), is known for particularly stunning scenery and relatively close proximity to several colonies of wild (and in many cases endangered) animals. We’ve also got Larnach Castle, incredible beaches, cute and quirky little shops and galleries tucked about the place, and history galore. Oh, and the attraction that I’m just quietly pretty stoked about, Dunedin is a UNESCO City of Literature! If you’d like to know more about the awesome little city I live in, check us out on Wikipedia here:
or even better, on the Dunedin City website:
On writing in September...
I’ll be blunt and admit that I haven’t reached the goals I set for myself, well, not all of them. Sickness and all the extra activities the kids have had on haven’t helped, but the major contributor is PROCRASTINATION. Unfortunately, the supreme ability to procrastinate has been passed down to me. A family member, whom shan’t be identified but contributed to my DNA, continues to provide unintentional expert tuition on the subtle art, and I’ve learned the tricks of the trade well, for better or worse. Procrastination, too, is a commonly identified trait in writers, and unfortunately, I haven’t bucked the stereotype. This month, the main source of procrastination has come in the form of nearing the end of re-planning a novel I’ve drafted several times and haven’t yet found the right formula for combined with bursts of enthusiasm for sewing and crocheting. Nearing the end of planning means I actually have to sit down and write the book again (with concentrated effort to get it written in as short a time as possible so the story stays fresh), and overcome the fact that several efforts so far just weren’t right. So what’s the chance that I get it right this time? Previous efforts say small. The gift of a massive container of fabric from my aunt proves a tempting distraction, especially with my little niece’s birthday coming up – I plan to make her some dresses using said fabric. So, the sewing is for a good cause, but it gives valid reason to put the writing off – see the dilemma? This is the time when I need to visit my Pinterest board, words that motivate me, for a kick in the pants! Phrases that remind me to just blimmin’ get started might help, that you don’t succeed if you don’t do the work, unrelenting pursuit of goals being the path to success, and having control over attitude and effort will be good places to start! I’m determined to get under way, so I consider myself on the path…
I may not have written much, so to speak, but I have been plotting for the win! The fact that I’m not happy with any of my previous drafts leads me back to plot – that it’s not strong enough, and my tendency to ‘pants’ it (wing it, go off on a tangent) part way through are at the heart, I think. With this in mind I’ve been scouring pins on my Write: Plot Development board (Pinterest), in search of a plot formula that actually works for me. I’ve given several a go in the past that have been about three-quarters useful, but I haven’t hit the magic ONE yet. I’m all excited when I find something that feels good, but the actual sitting down and making my ideas fit the plot formula can be incredibly difficult. I usually get lost around three-quarters of the way through – the beginning is relatively easy, getting into the change is ok, but finding a way through to the climax and then what happens after gets all gritty. Until I actually know what really happens, I find it hard to plan for it. This time, however, with my subtle changes to a circular diagram I found, which I now call my ‘Plot Clock,’ I hope I’m closer to getting there. I’ve all but finished a plot outline and have started transferring these events to my manuscript document. When that’s done, I can go and fill in ideas, then get writing! Over past attempts I’ve collected a multitude of ideas on my Pinterest story board, and have decided a name change is in order from ‘Sounds of Home,’ to ‘The Weight of Expectation.’ Whether it’ll be named either is still up for mental debate, however, visiting this board helps me feel keen to get started. It helps me fall into the world with the characters, and with any luck, it’ll drive me forward. For anyone interested, I’m planning future posts on how I use my Pinterest account as an essential part of my author platform, stay tuned!
So, to sum up this month, it’s been a muddly puddle of family life and procrastination. There have been exciting moments, small wins, and a bit of grind through the writing process, but I doubt it really comes easily for anyone, no matter how much they claim it does. Perhaps on the tenth or twentieth novel??? (feel free to drop a comment if you’ve found the sweet spot!).
I’m hoping spring will give me the motivation I need, and perhaps a tidy of my writing room. I’ll keep you posted!
Until then, happy writing and reading!
Hi, I'm Emily,