Lost Sister: Holly Lukas

Last seen in her bed asleep beside her little sister.

hollyFull Name: Holly Lukas

Age: 15

Height & Weight:  “Holly’s leggy frame held its own against the Head Girl’s height.”

Hair Colour:  “…the teased-out auburn do alone added at least half a foot.  Every copper strand of her chaotically styled hair crackled with energy.”

Eye Colour:  “Dark brown like her brother’s which had always made the two siblings stand out.  Gingers didn’t normally have such dark eyes, as many people pointed out to them over the years.”

Last Seen Wearing:  “wild-hair, tight, low shirt and skinny jeans—a modern day Magdalene.”

The Lukas family would do anything to recover their Lost Sister.  Holly is known to be aggressive and violent and should therefore be approached with caution.  Information on Holly’s whereabouts should be reported to the family at the Dog and Dragon Alehouse, Joniston Cold.

Disclaimer: Holly Lukas is a fictional character from A Circle of Lost Sisters.  Illustration by Elizabeth Snider.

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Lost Sister: Ingrid Meade

Last seen being led forcibly out of the Music Department by Leighton Jacobs.

ingridFull Name: Ingrid Olivia Meade

Age: 14

Height & Weight: Most of Ingrid was not Ingrid’s by nature: dyed hair, sprayed skin, painted nails, painted face, body sculpted by hard work and good products. ”  

Hair Colour:  “…champagne blonde hair straightened to within an inch of its life.” 

Eye Colour:  ” Only her eyes were her own: jade green untouched by artifice.  Ingrid knew this obsession with her appearance struck most people as the worst kind of vanity, but she didn’t see it that way.  Some artists worked in clay, some in pastels: Ingrid worked in Ingrid.”

Last Seen Wearing:  “…a denim miniskirt, indigo tights and a primrose cardigan.” 

Catherine Meade is offering cash reward for information leading to the recovery of this Lost Sister.  Her daughter Ingrid is a popular and vivacious girl who is seldom seen without a collection of friends.  A recent injury and lengthy illness may be a contributing factor.

Disclaimer: Ingrid Meade is a fictional character from A Circle of Lost Sisters.  Illustration by Elizabeth Snider.

A Novel is Not a Sock

I read an interview once with Terry Pratchett—he was the subject of the interview not my reading partner.   The journalist asked what advice Sir Terry would give aspiring writers.  “Write something,” was the author’s two word response.   “And show it to people,” added Sir Terry.

I remember being quite annoyed by this advice.  Easy for him to say—him with a hundred published works to his name.  “Write something and show it to people?”  What a useless bloody comment, Sir.  Just Write Something.  That’s up there with Just Say No or Just Do It—the two most useless catch phrases in the history of ink.

Of course, it isn’t bad advice at all.  It’s brilliant advice actually.  But perhaps I am only saying that because I followed it and it changed my life.

Cheers, Sir Terry!

I have been a writer since childhood.  I can do other things, but not as well as I can write.  For ten years I have been a teacher and I am not bad but there are many other teachers who are much better.  I’m an OK parent, not an outstanding one and I have stopped trying to be.  I sing, but that is the minimum musical requirement in my absurdly talented circle of family and friends.  I bake well but have neither the skill nor patience to be as good as my Aunt Margaret or my friend Jo.   I can’t program a computer, do math, navigate, draw recognisable pictures or DIY anything the way many of my blood and chosen beloveds can.

I can craft good sentences.  I know when to start a new paragraph and use punctuation with fair dexterity.  I write better than I do anything else.  I work hard at my writing.  I practise daily, am never satisfied with first choices of language and enjoy playing around with structure.  This brings me to another bad piece of advice for writers, one which never ceases to irritate me.  Actually, it’s not so much advice as a myth—a really irritating myth.

“Everyone has a novel in them.”

Perhaps this myth exists to encourage latent creativity—to dispel the idea that writing is an activity of the privileged.  I am all in favour of de-mystifying artistic labour but I can’t help finding this idea insulting.  Everyone has a novel in them.  As if writing were simply a missing sock which, if you found it, could unlock your magic potential.  By this argument, maybe everyone has a symphony in them—even those who cannot read music, understand orchestrations or know about key signatures. Maybe I have a sculpture in me, though my spatial awareness sucks, I have no experience with shaping materials and never held a chisel in my life.

I resent the idea that “everyone has a novel in them.”  It makes what I do seem cheap.  Art takes time, practise and discipline.  YoYo Ma did not just pick up a cello one day and become a great player.  Michaelangelo did not make David the first time he faced a block of marble.  Dancers train for years in hopes of being good enough just to audition for the Royal Ballet.

Art is work.

Why should writing be any different than these art forms?  Writers read widely to understand how different forms work; we experiment with language and practise our craft over and over again to get it right.  A novel is not a sock—it’s the sheep you breed to make the wool you card, spin then knit into something which might be someday be fit to warm somebody.

Authorial Intent: a rock song

(You have to imagine a loud electric guitar—something Joan Jett or Chilli Peppers.)

Staring down the barrel of 40

Had a lousy day at work

Satisfact’ry just ain’t good enough

Think I’ll go and write me a book.

 (Here’s the chorus bit where even the drummer who can’t sing joins in)

I think I’ll write a book.

Maybe write a book…

Could I just write a book?

Done some poetries and some essays,

Even wrote some daily news

After thirty years of killing pens

Reckon that I’ve paid my dues.

I could write a book…

Why not just write a book?

Wanna write a book.

 (This is the bridge which may or may not be rapped)

 JK in her cafe

EL and her porn

Meyer got a movie deal

Why am I even torn?

I could be Prachett

I could be Gaimon

Gimme half a chance

Bet I sell a ton.

(This final chorus repeats a capella with the audience clapping while the lead singer pans a microphone around the crowd)

If I just write a book.

Wanna write a book.

Gonna write a book.

Shut up and write that book!

(lead singer screams this final line at the mosh pit before leaping into it)

Saga of a Lost Sister

After a bad day at work, on the cusp of my fortieth birthday, I began a journey back to the person I wanted to be when I grew up: a writer.  I never doubted I would end up at the end of a keyboard someday…once Life stopped getting in the way (Life being things like education, employment, marriage, children, tea drinking).  Life never did stop getting in the way of course, so I simply chose to change my Life.  No, I did  not get rid of my family or job and I certainly did not get rid of the tea.  I just made room.  And I stopped making excuses.

On this blog you will find extracts of my writing, scraps of inspiration, works in progress, reviews, theories and regular status reports on my epic struggle to get my novel to your shelves.