Mick’s Musings

Mick’s Musings: Time Flies?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime flies…

But does it? Well, yes it does, but whether that means it crawls or streaks along is open to debate. I promised the good lady who lets me post on her Blog much more regular updates when I sent in my last entry and – goes down on bended knee – I haven’t lived up to that promise. I am very, very sorry Laura and hope that you’ll forgive me. I do have a good excuse, or at least, not a made up one, that I’ll let you judge me on.

Ever since I received my report back from the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, I’d been trying to get together my Query letter to submit to various Agents and Publishers and was just getting nowhere. I’ve spoken to a lot of people and done a lot of online research on this art and can very much agree that compared to writing the book, this is a much harder task. There are books out there that give you tips on how to write these things, but for me, the hardest part was undoubtedly convincing myself that the 6th, 7th, 8th (probably more) draft of the thing was as good as it was going to get and I should get it out there.

For even getting that far, I can only give my thanks to my fellow RNA members, both published and, like myself, hopeful. You know who you are, but they include Laura and Bella from Novel Kicks, Bernadette for giving me the ass-kicking I really needed and too many others to list here.

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Mick’s Musings: Time To Let The Baby Fly The Nest

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgNope, we’re not talking a variation on the Immaculate Conception, so don’t all line up wanting to become my manager. No ‘get rich quick’ scheme here. I’m referring to the fact that after getting my report back from the book I submitted to the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, I’ve now completed the changes/followed the advice that I was given and sent it off to the first publishing house yesterday. But it felt like letting my baby fledge and I admit to needing a little bit of a push to hit that ‘send’ button in my email. A little bit of procrastination reared its head. Asking a friend for advice, replying back, replying back, replying back…you get the picture, anything but admitting that I couldn’t quite get the back to finally send it off.

So, that’s the first one on the way. I was fortunate to get what could only be described as a very positive report. Ask my friends, I never ‘blow my own trumpet’, perhaps that’s down to a little lack in self-confidence, but what really made my mind up to crack along was meeting with the lovely ladies of the RNA Birmingham chapter the other week where they were all so enthusiastic after reading the report, and convinced me that it could barely have been any better. A time-line and two different meals were the only things I needed to change, apart from advice on the punctuation. I couldn’t believe my reader took the time to go through the whole manuscript to enter where they thought I needed better punctuation! Who was that ‘masked reader’? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s wonder reader!!! Sorry, silly hat off.

To say I was choked up when I plucked up the nerve to read the report would be an understatement. I’d worked myself up so much, that I was convinced it would be a couple of lines saying – ‘Step away from the computer. Never darken Word’s doorstep again. You can’t write.’ Okay, you get the picture. See above comment re confidence. Then what it actually said, taken with the lovely ladies of Birmingham RNA reactions and I hunkered down to make said changes. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Torn Between Two Stories.

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgThere should be a song in there somewhere. Set at some time from the seventies where all the ladies (and gentlemen) had big hair, knew it and weren’t ashamed (I know as I was one). Anyway, today’s story concerns a tale of two stories. Whilst waiting for the critique from the NWS reader – did I mention how wonderful they are? – I allowed myself to be persuaded to start the Children’s story I had the idea for a couple of years ago up in the Yorkshire Dales. I remember the day well, as my lady wife and I were on holiday and she was anxious to get an early start for a trip to (another) castle/ancient town/something else she wanted to see in case it fell down. I was sat at the breakfast bar whilst she was finishing getting ready and this single line came into my head from somewhere:

The Four Hedgehogs of the Apocalypse.

What followed was about thirty minutes of frantic scribbling as what came into my head, was desperately (and slightly illegibly) jotted down in a too small notepad; all the while with my lady wife looking over my shoulder and tapping her watch in a very meaningful way. Then, it got pretty much forgotten about until I’d finished the story that went off to the RNA NWS scheme. In the meantime, as happens, around three or four other ideas came from somewhere and vied for prime-spot in the ‘next to be written’ pile.

My heart and gut actually wants to write another romance, but I’ve decided to allow myself to give this children’s one a go. So far, there are only two and a half chapters written, so much slower than I was hoping for, but I think I’ve just had a minor ‘block’. I do love Walter the Henchtoad and his evil boss Greyback the Squirrel (grey of course), but I’m not exactly enamoured with a couple of the names I’ve given my hero Hedgehogs, but I guess they’ll do to let me keep writing, I can always change them later.

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Mick’s Musings – Better Late Than Never

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgMy first post for a couple of weeks. Better late than never – hopefully that’ll mean my blog boss won’t tell me off too much.

The reason for which is simple; I’ve been desperately putting the finishing touches to getting my one page synopsis down from a page and a half. I could easily write this post which wasn’t what I had planned, but let’s see where this actually does end up. So, welcome folks, step right this way for the Magical Mystery (Post) Tour. No buses, no Walruses, but perhaps plenty of flying pigs!

Please include a one page synopsis – only 6 words, a nice small sentence. Cue pulling out of hair, opening of that bottle of wine you swore you’d keep for that special occasion, making sure the fridge (it is hot at the moment) is full of your favourite chocolate – Milky Way Stars here please (any sponsors out there?). Now, pull out all those notes you have of what’s actually happening in your story and – SWEAR as loudly as you can. Who the heck decided this was a good idea???

Now, settle back and eat chocolate and drink wine until it comes out of your ears, you fall down and decide that yes, this is a good idea. You are now ready to condense your lovingly crafted story into one little page of paper (ok, screen). Sound easy? Of course it’s not. My latest is just under a page and a half and that was difficult enough – but it’s a nice page and a half. Wish it could stay at that length, but that’s the rules and this has to be ready to go out in three days time. So, now you know how I spent this lovely weekend, but if I want to become a published author, this is a cross to bear willingly.

That’s the rant over and I feel much better. Thank you to all of you who stayed with me.

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Mick’s Musings – Feeling Sorry For Myself

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgHi everyone and welcome to the week leading up to one of the most important dates of the year. Now, just in case my lady wife reads this entry, this does not include (in no particular order); your birthday, your sister’s birthday, our wedding anniversary (I am perfectly aware it will be 20 years next year btw) , the cat-who-must-not-be-named birthday, the multiple theatre dates on the calendar and of course, December 19th, when we first met (or a day or so either side.)

So what am I on about today? Well, whilst sat in my chair, trying to dedicate enough concentration in keeping anything I eat inside. I’m not feeling too well at the moment, had to go home from work yesterday and had an interesting night which didn’t involve much in the way of sleep. Of course, that gave me plenty of time in which to do a multitude of other things. I could have read War and Peace (ok, ignore that, me being silly as usual), or I could have continued writing a short story I’ve had on the go for a while, but it’s a little hard to balance a laptop whilst constantly trotting to the littlest room to throw up.

What did I do then? Even in this digital age, most of us will still have shelves full of bound bits of paper called, books. How wonderful it is to open a crisp new (or in this case, has been sitting there unread for a good while) tome and start to lose yourself in a new story. So, this’ll be a bit of a plug I suppose, but I feel no shame as it was a lovely little story. You will likely have heard of Michael Morpurgo, but this isn’t one of his most recent stories. This is from 1996 and is called ‘The Ghost of Grania O’Malley’ and for the first time I can recall, the heroine has cerebral palsy. Now, it’s not high-brow literature, there’s no real romance involved (after all the 2 leads are both young children) but it’s a sweet little story that I just couldn’t put down. The story brings together such topics as preserving nature, human greed for gold and ghost pirates; all the usual. But you’re rooting for Jessie and Jack from page 1 and I can’t recall 212 pages whizzing by so quickly. Got a few hours and want to relax the mind? Search out this book people. I’ve been a fan of Mr Morpurgo for a while now and if you’ve never read any of his books, you could do a lot worse than to start with this one. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings – What’s That Nice Feeling?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgWell, the psychotic cat from hell deciding not to sleep on your head for one. That wouldn’t be too bad if she didn’t dig her claws in when she dreams.

Opening a fresh bar of chocolate – I may be a man, but I’m still allowed that one ladies.

But, on this particular day, it comes from having finished the edit of my book (I’ll call it a novel if it’s ever published), including adding in the bit I’d forgotten when I first finished it. You know, that bit that is one of the things you first think of when you’re planning and only realise you haven’t actually written in until you’ve finished? You should have heard the language when I realised that. But, at least it doesn’t read like it’s been shoe-horned in. If it had, it would have to come out, no matter how much I love that bit.

So, officially as Happy Bunny here – or at least until my wonderful readers (yep, I am creeping again) come back and tell me what a complete load of rubbish it is. Still, at least I like the main characters in this one – don’t get me started on my lead from my first book. I hate her!! Still like the actual story and don’t think it’s too badly written, for a first attempt, but oh the lead. Very few redeeming characteristics which, possibly, I could get away with if I was an established writer, so it could perhaps be re-visited at some point? Here’s where that time-machine would come in handy again. Continue reading

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How are things going with the edit?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgThought it was about time I brought you up to date with how my ‘BIG’ edit is going. Well, so far the first eight chapters have gone out to my ever-so kind readers, who right at the moment, are ploughing valiantly ahead through the fog and mire of my writing. Honestly, if there were some kind of award that I could give for this service, I would. At least with a couple of them I have the honour and pleasure of returning the service.

I’ve found that when I open each chapter again, it’s like settling back into conversation with old friends. It’s not exactly been months since the words were written, but it’s the same kind of feeling you get when you’re walking down a street you’ve not been down for a while and approaching from the distance is a shape that’s familiar, yet at the same time somewhat of a stranger. So, open arms and embrace time.

Reading the words aloud gets me looks from my work colleagues when I do this at lunch-times, but I think most of them know what I write by now and have given up asking me where all the blood and gore is. That may be in the next one which is in the early planning stages – hello Mills and Boon Medical! And please don’t ask me where that idea came from. Actually, I think it was a song? BBC Radio 2 has a lot to answer for as I was driving in to work a while back and there was a Tina Turner song – Private Dancer – playing and I had to scribble down another idea when I got to work before I forgot.

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rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgRight, that’s the easy part over; coming up with the title of this Blog entry. So let me tell you why this is going to be my subject. As you will know if you’ve been following me, I’ve now finished my latest book and am in the process of going through an intense edit. Well, I was discussing it with a work colleague and friend at the end of last week and I asked him, “What did you think of that bit in the last chapter?” ‘What bit was that?”

You know that sinking feeling? You got it! When I came up with the idea for this book and was fortunately able to come up with the ending too, I came up with something that was a “MUST”. It would clearly show evidence of closure for my heroine’s journey. So, opening up the file again, I started reading but the closer I got to the end the deeper the feeling became in my stomach. Sure enough, guess what didn’t make it in. Okay, this will obviously be included when I get around to this chapter, but does this mean something?

Have I subconsciously left it out because Continue reading

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rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgAs writers, we’re always on the look-out for this, this flash – or ‘Pow’ as my friend Bella puts it – that will set off that spark which will ignite a new story. We don’t know where it comes from or what, if anything, it will bring. But when it comes, there’s this desperate need to grab what it brings with both hands and scribble it down.

I’m sat here listening to The Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ album. My all-time favourite. In fact, I have 4 separate single album versions of it, a 4-disc box-set and enough outtakes to sink the Titanic. It’s music I find easy to listen to and it relaxes my mind. But does it provide the ‘Inspiration’? It physically hurts me to admit it, but no, it doesn’t.

What did this week was driving into work on Tuesday and on came Tina Turner and Private Dancer. An idea well, the seed of an idea came into my head and I desperately kept hold of it until I got into work and then I typed down what I could remember. A cup of coffee later to settle the beating heart and there’s the idea for a story, about a situation I very much doubt I would ever have come up with without that moment.

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It’s Been A Strange Week

By Mick Arnold.

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x300.jpgIn my last column I said I was taking a wee break from my book, reading young Bella’s next chapters and then going back to starting an edit on my finished masterpiece (ok, that was part of a dream I won’t inflict upon you right now). Part one – check. part two – check and very enjoyable it was too. Now, we get to part three…I’ve got a good excuse though guv. Honest!

Well, it goes something like this. In the first chapter of the book ‘that-must-not-be-named’ (couldn’t resist it, sorry) there’s a scene which kind of inspired a (very) short story that went on Amazon over Christmas. I was just sitting down, minding my own business and before I knew it, there was the first draft of what turned out to be a Christmas Love/Ghost story. After about six or seven drafts and running it by the kind friends who beta/proof-read for me, I was happy with how it ended up and I was persuaded to put it up. As it was so short and it was meant to be a tester to see if anyone reviewed it and basically told me to go forth and multiply and ‘for heaven’s sake never pick up a pen again!’, it was put under the pen-name of Micah Arnold. Continue reading

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So You Think You’ve Finished?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x300.jpgThat elusive ending… 

I was sat in front of my PC a couple of days ago thinking, so what shall I write about in this my second Blog post? What pearls of wisdom shall I share? As usual when you have these thoughts, nothing comes to mind. Not really a surprise! Then, miracle of miracles, the clouds parted and blew away the cobwebs.

For about a week, I’ve been trying to write the ending of my second book, but I just couldn’t get that last paragraph right. No matter what was put down, it never looked or sounded ‘it’. Of course, what’s down now I’m not 100% happy with and I doubt if when I finally decide that I can’t make it any better that I will be either. But, it does mean that it’s finished. Approximately 6 – 7 months of toil. Okay, I did enjoy writing this much more than my first, but perhaps that’s because I actually like my lead character this time. Don’t ask me why I didn’t like her in the first, it just ended up that way and I’d rather not dwell on it.

So, it’s finished. Is it? Of course not, the hard work has only just begun. I believe there are those talented individuals out there Continue reading

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Musings of an Aspiring (Male) Romantic Writer

Mick Arnold

Mick Arnold

We’re happy to welcome Mick Arnold to his very own column, Mick’s Musings.

I suppose you could trace my writing aspirations back to Christmas 2010 when my wife had just finished reading what I generically termed a ‘Chick-lit’ book and insisted that I must read it and kept on persuading me until I relented. Two days and not much in the way of sleep later and I’d finished. Then I read it again; and again and after another two days, I woke up with this idea for a story in my head. I recall that I was reminded that I hadn’t eaten ten hours and about thirty (probably unreadable) pages of A4 later.

Annie Sanders; ladies, you have a lot to answer for. Prior to this book, I was likely an a typical male reader. You know the stuff. Science-fiction, fantasy. I still read Terry Pratchett, so I can still claim a degree of expected male testosterone, but now my shelves show a majority of Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley and Miranda Dickinson alongside Mr Pratchett. So perhaps, in hindsight, it’s not that surprising that I write in the genre I do. Whether these Continue reading

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