Assorted Pick And Mix 1

Hello again! We are into February, hurrah! Spring is just about in the air, and the snowdrops are bobbing their heads in the hedgerows as the wind picks up speed for the coming storm we have been warned about here in Scotland. We are all tucked up in here waiting within our burrows, and as I type, it is just beginning to gust outside. Now, there has been no overarching theme in my mind for a post over the last few weeks, so I thought I would begin a series of more disparate musings on a variety of experiences or thoughts, a little like a random harvest but more varied smaller snippets, like a bag of assorted sweets from days gone by, picked individually then popped into a paper bag to go home with. So here goes, and in no particular order:

 Foot trouble:

I have had something called plantar fasciitis in my left foot over the last few weeks. This is pain in the heel caused by a strained ligament, namely the plantar fascia which connects the heel to the toes. Did I do this running a marathon? Did I do it by skiing down a treacherous Alpine slope? Or going on a long and punishing trek? Oh no. I caused this by just standing and shuffling around an outdoor museum, just before Christmas, on a freezing day in a pair of ankle boots with my sister and my mother using her new four-wheeled stroller for the first time. Such is life. And then I discovered that at least two friends have also had this ‘affliction’, where the heel hurts both when you walk around on it for too long and  after you rest it – a no win situation. We must wear cushioned soles, do stretching exercises etc etc. So where is the tasty sweet here, you may ask?  Well, not to be deterred, I have treated myself to two new pairs of trainers, one pair for my jogging efforts, and another more robust pair for walking in the fields. I’m planning ahead for those gorgeous days to come where I am driven to get out into the fields and see the wind stir the tips of barley in restless rhythms of visual delight. So the foot will have to heal!

 Book reviews and  giveaway:

It’s been very slow going, but I’ve now been rewarded by a few favourable reviews for After Black. A new publication always needs a few vital initial pushes from others to get your wee paper boat sailing on the lake in the park, setting off on its journey to wherever it is destined to go, however long it takes. And I’m so truly grateful for the help.

I also decided to do an ebook giveaway with Goodreads over the last few weeks. The system has changed considerably since I did one for Turtle Beach, when it cost the author nothing but postal costs for the paperback to the ‘lucky’ winners. It is now open only to American residents to enter and the author has to pay a fee. If you live in the UK, giving away free ebook copies is the only really viable choice, which is a shame as it’s nice to send signed paperback copies  for a more personal touch. Spending money on promotion is not something I do lightly, but it felt right for this book, and I’ll let you know how I get on with it for those of you writers who may be wondering what positive benefits it may have.

Also on the subject of After Black – I latterly discovered a few grammar problems. I know this happens to many writers, traditionally published as well as independently published, or so I’ve heard. I can’t afford an editor or a proof reader so I do venture to do it myself. Time is the answer here. So for anyone reading it right now, please be assured my standards in this respect are high and I’ve now tuned it up to be the best it can be. Do I take this in my stride? Absolutely not, but I’m learning to!

Genre decisions:

I’ve been told twice now, by a writer I really respect, that my genre is literary fiction, and that’s despite After Black having a significant plotline which I believed makes it more mainstream. While I suspected I write literary fiction, because I love language, description, and reflecting the inner life of characters, who I want to see go through some personal transformative change for the good, I didn’t really see any point in naming it as such, because I believe that many non-writer readers just don’t know what ‘literary fiction’ means. I was talking to a reader friend yesterday who certainly didn’t know, so I explained it to her. Here are the essential features from Wiki which happen to cover it well:

Characteristics of literary fiction generally include one or more of the following:

1. A concern with social commentary, political criticism, or reflection on the human condition.

2. A focus on “introspective, in-depth character studies” of “interesting, complex and developed” characters, whose “inner stories” drive the plot, with detailed motivations to elicit “emotional involvement” in the reader.

3. A slower pace than popular fiction(…), literary fiction, by its nature, allows itself to dawdle, to linger on stray beauties even at the risk of losing its way.

(And this slower pace  can be a significant criticism of literary fiction for many readers who want faster moving plots)

4. A concern with the style and complexity of the writing… ‘lyrical, and … layered’

5. Unlike genre fiction, plot is not the central concern.

(and this can be worrying and a risky strategy from a writer’s perspective)

6. The tone of literary fiction can be darker than genre fiction.

So, because I love all of the above, and because my writing training focused on teaching many of these aspects, I’ve decided to own the genre now, and I’ve joined a literary fiction facebook group and I’m finding I fit right in.  But this is as far as it goes, because I don’t believe in putting any art form into strict definitions or cookie cutter shapes, and to a massive degree the theme of the novel may best decide the genre as far as the reader is concerned, and they are the people who really count.

And on to painting:

My current painting work in progress is a partner to the previous one I shared here. It’s going to be a purple opium poppy with a millefiori abstract background in lemon tones and greens (complementary colours to purple on the colour wheel, for a good zing!)

The best way to begin any realistic or illustrative (ie non-abstract) painting is to begin with a well composed drawing and then to begin painting in the centre of your composition and work outwards from there. This is so fundamental for good results and yet the most often not adhered to by beginners in painting classes. So it’s best to always work from the inside out, whether it’s a human portrait, an animal, or a grouping of flowers, and build up at least three tones of light, medium, and dark from there.

Here is the sketch of the poppy on canvas -a terribly lit photo, but you can get the idea. Pencil can be dirty on canvas, but it will be covered up by the paint, so no probs. You can see I’ve done some rough shading to help me later on with the shadow areas.

I began with the poppy’s ovary and stamens, and will be moving onto the small petals around it in pale purple for the lightest tones, before developing it further with more saturated tones.

Back into writing with novel 3:

After a bit of procrastination, telling myself I had to read over the chapters I’d already written a couple of times (instead of reading them just the once), it actually feels great. I’m not as hard on myself as I used to be, and I allow a flow to come into the creative writing process which I have more faith in than in the past. Entering the world you have created is such a magical feeling, and directing a story in that place with characters you have created yourself and who you are invested in, is for me what writing fiction is all about. I am imagining and describing events occurring in a fictional rural town called Hardcastle, close to ‘the city’, with a New Town area and an Old Town area – for the characters to meet, engage with one another, and work through their conflicts together. I’m going back to separate strands for each of the main characters for early chapters, which will later join up. This is a structure I really enjoy and which I used in Turtle Beach. So I have those lovely positive feelings that are so characteristically part of the early stages of writing a novel.

I made some soup!

I love food, but not cooking. I don’t enjoy the prepping or the timing, which is why pans can boil over or toast can burn in our house. I used to bake, but me and hubby just don’t need those kind of calories. So over to soup making with lentils and veg, with my adjusted recipe from a few years ago when I did some soup making back then. (Yes, I’m sure you get the picture on the frequency of my efforts, and  my stock cubes and bags of pulses can so easily go out of date). But I am now resolved to make more effort to incorporate soup making into my weekly life routine. My plan was to fill at least three soup pot containers (the size you get fresh soup in from the supermarkets) for the freezer, but I only managed to fill two. Where does all the liquid go when the soup cools? So I now have to master the ingredients to liquid stock ratio. Any tips most welcome! I also ordered online a new set of soup bowls to go with my fresh start so there’s no turning back now…

And last, but far from least, what I’m reading:

The Alchemist by Paulo  Coelho, is forcing me to slow down my reading and relish a simplicity of style redolent of a deeply symbolic parable. I’m bang in the middle of a camel train expedition heading towards the pyramids of Egypt, and I’m relishing the journey with the intrepid shepherd, Santiago, seeking his treasure.

After this, it will be Margaret Atwood’s eagerly awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, namely, The Testements, which is winging its way to me right now.

Here’s wishing you all well, and some productive creative play for projects to come – to come into being perhaps this year, perhaps the next. Rest assured, it really doesn’t matter when :>)


















About lynnefisher

Writer and visual artist living in Scotland, INFJ type Writer's blog: Art: Twitter @writeartblog Writers page Facebook Artists page Facebook
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24 Responses to Assorted Pick And Mix 1

  1. Hi Lynne, love your post on literary fiction and how it differs from the standard genre. Wow, you are a painter also? Beautiful flower!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bryan Wagner says:

    The Alchemist is a great book!
    I think everyone who writes strives for that semi perfect publication but alas I edit and design my books so I’m always finding stuff that needs fixing. Sigh. I am looking forward to reading After Black.
    Keep going!! That’s my self encouragement. Keep going then keep going some more.
    Big Bow to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A.P. says:

    Lynne, I’m one of the lucky old runners who has never had plantar fasciitis. But a friend of mine got it fairly recently. It took some time for him to recover, but it eventually went away. He said it was worst in the mornings when getting up, and sometimes at night before bedtime. Otherwise, I don’t know anything about it from personal experience, but it strikes almost every runner at least once in life. Kinda sucks that you got it the way you did. Good luck in your recovery.

    Congrats on getting favorable reviews for After Black! I also am glad you delineated the characteristics of “literary fiction.” Seems to be down my alley as well, as opposed to “popular fiction.” Not sure what kind of analog that would have with playwriting — but it kinda makes me feel like finally writing a novel.

    On that note, I went on a date with a novelist on Saturday night. (Yes – believe it or not – a date!) We got a long very well, and she has some interesting writing practices. I left off thinking I could learn a lot from her, and — well, more on that later.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Lyne, I think literary fiction is the only fiction worth reading !
    To me it has depths, is thoughtful, intelligent, delves below the surface, is beautifully written, and feels as though it’s worth rereading to savour the writing and the thoughts and insights..
    These are all the reasons I enjoy reading your blog

    Liked by 2 people

    • lynnefisher says:

      Oh hello there, Valerie! it’s great to hear from you again. Thank you for this, I totally agree with you on the literary fiction and when a book i’m reading has been classed as such, I usually rub my hands together in glee, knowing I’m bound to be in for a good read. I think these writers are less prolific, but that has to make sense really, doesn’t it? Cheers, Valerie!


  5. G. J. Jolly says:

    After reading your small bit on literary fiction, it was obvious that I was under
    informed as to what it really is. Thanks for including it in your bits and pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. anne54 says:

    Your poppy is looking beautiful, Lynne. (I am sure you know that you can use a kneadable eraser to remove pencil ~ better than an ordinary rubber that can damage the fine watercolour paper.)
    Deciding what genre of fiction you are must be difficult ~ does it pigeon hole you? I imagine you worry that if you are in one box you miss out on readers who would enjoy your work but don’t fancy literary fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Hi Anne! Yes, I know about the kneadable erasers, they help a great deal – I got some fresh ones to use on canvas and they are especially perfect for paper. Yes, your thoughts on genre are spot on, because it can pigeon hole you, if you allow it too. That’s why I’ve been using ‘womens fiction’ as a broader term. It’s the story that counts for reader attraction, and the theme within, so that’s what I am guided by most with any marketing. Cheers, Anne :>)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well look at that, I’m a literary fiction aficionado! (I’m not generally a lover of place holders and titles and genres and all that – I like to be freer in my movements – but I recognise my reading preferences in that description) I’ve just started After Black and haven’t hit any grammatical errors as yet. I am intolerant of mistakes in published books, so I’m hoping not to get hit by too many. I’ve been known to throw books in the rubbish bin that are poorly edited, but might hesitate to go that far with my kindle 🙂 Interestingly I am currently working on things like intolerance within myself as part of my intention to raise myself up a tad and be a kinder and more loving person in the world. You know, as it’s the only thing I can do to make visible the change I wish to see in the world, is to change myself. Now I’m hoping I might find some errors and have the opportunity to deal kindly with any inclination to irritation 🙂 So, this is great – quite serendipitous all in all 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Well Pauline, it’s exactly because of my own intolerance of poorly edited books that I hate it when some faults slip through with mine. So far, people have said they spotted nothing but one or two small ones, and my first reader before publishing didn’t pick up on what I picked up on later. So that’s a good sign. No-one told me to read through it all again, I decided to and I’m so glad I did. Once you know they are there, you have to fix them! And they now are. I hope you still enjoy the book, I don’t think they will get in the way for you in that respect. Actually, talking of lessons, this happening is also a good lesson for me to go easier on myself for making mistakes and wanting perfection. I think that’s why I owned up to it – with me working on that side of myself too! Serendipity indeed! :>)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of course I immediately found one – very small and not one that makes me feel intolerant anyway – I think it was a missing ‘be’ early in the second chapter. It mattered so little – you just reread that sentence twice, stick the missing word in and carry on. For me major issues arise with unnecessary repetitions, poorly constructed sentences – and obvious fillers enrage me (But, remember I’m working on that) 😀 When I was teaching English I had my young students swap work to proofread as so often they would read what they intended to write not what they actually wrote. It was often an eye-opening moment for them. I think as an adult it is still what we do – unless a bit of time has elapsed and we come new again to the prose. I’m getting into ‘After Black’ now and really don’t care for Janet – she is so accurately drawn and reminds me of someone I once knew. And myself when I’m being judgemental and unloving ……… Now there’s some fine serendipity! I’m eager to see what you do with her.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lynnefisher says:

        Hi Pauline, I did think twice about owning up to it! Another writer had done this in a post they wrote recently and I thought that was brave, so I kind of owned up to it for this reason. I think it must be relatively common and when you realise you’ve done it yourself, believe he it hurts. And yes, it’s a great practice to proof read someone else’s work, that’s why I got my husband to do it and I still went through it all again. My mother has read it and she used to be a teacher, she only found two or three. I read a novel by someone recently, the story was great, but there were so many errors on almost every page they really did get in the way of a great story, I wanted to wade in and fix them. I haven’t told this person because obviously nobody else has, and it’s not going to be me. I used ‘the shadow side’ of us humans for Janet in the early chapters, and she certainly isn’t meant to be likeable, that was a risk I chose, but plenty happens…I’ll say no more! I’m just grateful you are giving it a chance. What annoys me most in the books I read is lack of depth, lack of world building – those are my intolerances. Thanks for sharing, Pauline, and I do appreciate it :>)


      • ‘… and it’s not going to be me’ made me smile wryly. I know I should wait until I’m asked but invariably I just wade in and share my thoughts ……. I’m inclined to blame it on being now in my eighth decade and not having that much longer to do so 🙂 Thank you for being patient with me. And I’m glad you owned up to it, it made finding the one missing word humorous instead of an itch.

        I thought it was a brave decision to make the chief protagonist unlikeable – but also clearly this story is going somewhere as all this is contained in the first chapter and most readers would realise that I think. Plus of course there is the chance to see what karma throws at her – or if there is a satisfactory redemption along the way. The thing I like about your characters, whether I actually ‘like’ them or not – is that they are real people. I know, or have known, people like them – they are recognisable types with all their public quirks and personas and their secret lives that molded them into what they are. And therefore an immediate connection is made that draws me into the story. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • lynnefisher says:

        Thank you, Pauline – that’s grand (I don’t know where that word popped up from but it fits for me) I’m glad we’ve talked about this, I think I needed to talk to someone about it actually and I didn’t want anyone I know itching! As for that book that needed so many tweaks, if the first few readers weren’t going to say something then age and experience spoke to me over leaving my particular itch well alone. One of the things I love about aging generally is both more patience for some things , but also more intolerance for others (my rages are cruelty to animals, injustice, and the planet issues), so no worries. I also have little patience for foot injuries – I stubbornly went on a 3 mile fast walk the other day because my heel felt fine, but afterwards my heel was worse than ever with my having to hobble around the house. Well, I hope you enjoy finding out why Janet is the way she is. She first came into being on my writing courses and I just had to do something with her. I wasn’t particularly close to her at first, then I grew to like her and now I miss her! My next novel’s main character is a thoroughly likeable man called Jim and it’s freshing writing from a male perspective. Cheers, Pauline :>)

        Liked by 1 person

      • I share your rage issues – which is the main reason I decided to take seriously the need to work on my own habitual responses to the world – I have to tell you it’s not going well at the moment. I’m in the phase where it gets worse before it gets better and the universe is throwing everything at me. That foot injury sounds horrible. A friend of mine has just had her second foot operated on. Luckily she only has two! Can you fix yours without surgical intervention? I have read quite a bit more of the book (avoiding life, I climb into bed and read) and am warming towards Janet, slowly, but a definite warming. Due to the little hints dropped about the husband and mother mainly. I quite fancy reading about a thoroughly likeable man called Jim – that’s not something often found in modern writing outside of romance (which is a genre I don’t read).

        Liked by 1 person

      • lynnefisher says:

        Thanks, Pauline. Yes, it certainly can seem as if things to be intolerant of pile up all at the same time. I struggle too! I’m hoping the foot will improve now I’m looking after it properly – as of yesterday. I’m in this facebook group for middle-aged women and it came up on there – so common, more so in my age group and in women, but they are great for sharing tips! I don’t read the romance genre either (never, ever), but it seems to weave in sometimes with fiction as part of life. Then I can go with it, but not as the main focus. Cheers for now :>)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m glad you’ve found a genre peg to hang your hat on. In the end, the reader either likes what you have written or they don’t – all without knowing what type of story it is supposed to be.

    Regarding soup – I make a big batch every week. It keeps my grocery bill down and provides my required servings of vegetables! Alas – my baking went by the wayside too, but it keeps my blood sugar under control and my weight down. I’m not a big fan of ageing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Exactly, Alexander! It’s the writers who feel they must define their genre and write with that genre’s expectations in mind. But those rules/expectations only really come from the publishing industry, not so much the readers who just want a good read. As for soup, yes, healthy, and I can eat less meat that way too which is a current aim. Also filling, so helps with quantity of food intake and calories. I’m no fan of ageing either!

      Liked by 2 people

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