Sunday, 25 January 2015

Band Themed Project Week 3

 The latter part of this week has been difficult emotionally, as it was the 18th anniversary of my late husband's death on Friday and would have been his 53rd birthday yesterday. It's funny how some years it's more difficult to cope with these anniversaries than others.

I've found it more difficult to be inspired this week, too. It's interesting that the more obscure bands people have nominated are easier to write about. The more well known bands are harder, as are those bands that I've been a fan of for years (e.g. Ozric Tentacles).

Monday's band was Roxy Music, nominated by Janet O'Kane, whom I met at last year's Harrogate Crime Writers' Festival. I wrote a sad story of just over 1,000 words, called Angel Eyes and based on Bryan Ferry's parents. I managed to reference a few of Roxy's song lyrics, too, but the story focuses on a middle-aged couple who rekindle their relationship after their adult children have left home.

Tuesday's band was The Moody Blues. I chose to write about a mother whose child has been abducted. It's called Go Now. I still haven't finished it. The story currently stands at about 850 words. I got carried away with the story and have hardly referenced the band or their song lyrics at all. That's probably why I got stuck! Janice Rosser nominated this band.

I could have throttled my old friend from teenage years, Louise Tadiar, when she nominated Public Enemy! I can't stand hip-hop and rap music. I made a whole page of notes, including lyrics and song titles and came up with a piece of Flash Fiction of about 450 words. The story was more fun to write than I'd expected. I'm not sure what Louise thought of it (not much, I suspect), as she still hasn't got back to me.
The Who story was great fun to write, too. Again, I wrote a shorter piece of 862 words and managed to finish it in one hit during a half an hour session with my writing buddy. Celia Joy Anderson nominated this band and she said the end result made her laugh and suggested I send it to Roger Daltrey. I'd referenced a lot of Who lyrics in this one and set the story in the early 60s when the Mods and Rockers clashed on Brighton beach.

And then it was Friday and Ozric Tentacles, nominated by Dr Suzanne Conboy-Hill. Ozrics are one of my favourite bands and there's a lot of emotional baggage attached to them in that I was first introduced to their music by my late husband, Phill and it was the 18th anniversary of his untimely death on Friday. Marry those two facts together and you can imagine the emotional fall-out. As an extra twist, my husband, Nige first introduced the band to Phill and has always been a huge Ozrics fan. We even got to meet them once, backstage at Rock City, Nottingham. I started a story, which was semi-autobiographical and it became so painful to write, that after 724 words, I had to stop. I can't even 'go there' even after all this time.
So, it was with some relief that I wrote about Siouxsie and The Banshees for the Write Invite Competition yesterday. It was a mad, bonkers story, probably reflecting my mad, bonkers mood. I felt so negative yesterday that I convinced myself that I was the worst writer in the world and why on earth was I continuing with this stupid band project anyway? Celia Brayfield, one of my all-time writing heroines, nominated this band and I've no idea what she's going to think when she reads it!! 

Thankfully, I felt so much better today and more positive. I had fun researching and writing The Sensational Alex Harvey Band story for Phill's cousin, Paul Good. I wrote a crazy dream-sequence Flash Fiction piece in just twenty minutes using all the prompts and notes I'd made. I hope Paul likes it!

And to finish off... some good news! The story I wrote based on Gay Bykers On Acid came 3rd in last week's Write Invite. I didn't won any money, but gained a few more points on the league table. This is the first of my band stories to enjoy success. Let's hope there'll be a few more.

Oh, and I still haven't finished my Thin Lizzy story nor the one based on Big Country, which looks like the beginning of a novel! I really need to address those two bands this week. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Band Themed Short Story Project Week Two

The Beatles with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
I admit I've found this week more difficult! I have managed to write seven stories, but two are unfinished and I may have to finish those off tomorrow.

Monday's band was The Beatles. Their history is so well documented and well known, that I found it very difficult to come up with an original story. I chose to write around the song title, Dear Prudence. The band was chosen by Diana Forrester, a fellow writer from the US. She was kind enough to give me feedback and said that she loved the viewpoint character I'd chosen (Cynthia Lennon), but it was an emotional story and the emotion didn't come through. Oh dear. Something I need to work on before submitting that story, then. I must admit, I was feeling a little emotionally drained by Monday!

Tuesday's band was Nirvana nominated by fellow writer, Cally Taylor. I found this very easy to write. It ended up as a piece of Flash Fiction of around 450 words. Cally hasn't got back to me on this yet, which is worrying, but my writing buddy loved it.

I really enjoyed writing The Big Country story on Wednesday. I still haven't finished that one, as I need to spend more time developing the characters and injecting a good dollop of emotion. My Facebook friend, Tracy Routledge nominated this band, as her partner is a big fan. I haven't actually written about the band, but have used a lot of their song lyrics and album titles throughout.
Big Country
I didn't know much about Big Country, but their story is both fascinating and tragic. I think they're still touring, as when I took my son to the Hertfordshire University Open Day a couple of years ago, their gig at The Forum was being advertised. I know one or two people who've seen them live and have said how good they are.

The Flight of the Conchords
Thursday's band was The Flight Of The Conchords. I'd never heard of them! This band was nominated by Lynne Cobine. I found it difficult to find out what this band were really all about. I guess the closest comparison is that they're the New Zealand equivalent of The Barron Knights (remember them?). I wrote a story about them sacking their manager, cribbed from a You Tube clip of the comedy duo in a sketch they did for TV. I haven't got round to sending it to Lynne yet. 

The Red Hot Chili Peppers
I enjoyed writing a story about Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers on Friday, as I'm a big fan of the band. I chose some prompts from one of my favourite songs of theirs, Zephyr Song. I was quite pleased with the story, which I finished yesterday. This band was nominated by Julie Louise Phillips and I hope to send her the story this evening. I always worry about what the reader's reaction is going to be, but it's usually positive.

Yesterday's story was based on the Eighties band, Gay Bykers On Acid. Again, I'd never heard of them. I chose to write this story during the Write Invite live competition in the space of half an hour. It was tough. I also had to use one of the three Write Invite prompts. I chose 'Flying High'. The story is probably one of the most bonkers stories I've ever written. I'm not proud! Charlie Charlfont nominated this psychedelic rock band from Leicester.

Thin Lizzy
Last band of the week was Thin Lizzy nominated by Bee Rawlinson. I wanted to write an historical story set in Dublin in the 1930s. I haven't finished it yet, but my writing buddy really likes what I've written so far and says it's probably going to be her favourite of the seven bands of Week 2.

I admit this project is testing my stamina, but writing a new story each day is very good discipline. It's wonderful to have large stock of new stories to draw from when I come to enter competitions and I've already submitted two to the womags. Wish me luck for Week 3!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Band Theme Short Story Project Part 2

I started on the Bon Jovi story nominated by my husband's ex work colleague on Thursday. I didn't manage to complete until today (Sunday). It's a longer story of 2,450 words and for some reason it didn't speak to me enough to get it written in one go. One more read-through and then it's going off to Dawn. I hope she likes it. It really was a struggle, that one, but I feel it might appeal to one of the womags.

Tid, who nominated the Cream story, got back to me and said it made her giggle. That made my day!

For most of the day on Friday I was glued to BBC News Live to see what the outcome of the two sieges in France would be. What an extraordinary week it was for news and freedom of speech. I did manage to add to the Bon Jovi story and my writing buddy commented how sad it was. Oh dear! Maybe my choice of viewing on Friday rubbed off on me.

 Yesterday was a most productive day! During the half hour writing session with my writing buddy, I managed to write a complete story based on Elbow. The story didn't have much at all to do with the band, but I did manage to squeeze in the Philip Marlow quote from The Singing Detective, apparently where the band got their name from: 'Elbow. The loveliest word in the English language.'

It was also Write Invite Competition day yesterday, so I decided to enter and try to fit a story about The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band around one of the prompts. I was lucky. One of the prompts was: Control Room. Where better to set the story than in a recording studio? I had a lot of fun with this story and managed to write 996 words in just less than half an hour, which must be a record for me. Exercising my writing muscle every day has certainly made me write faster! I was so thrilled I managed to get two of my band themed stories written in one day. That definitely put me back on track.

Tracy, who nominated Elbow, loved the story and wanted to know how I went about writing it. I tend to google the band, look at a few images, read a bit about them and look at some lyrics. Something usually jumps out at me and triggers an idea. I sent Bee Rawlinson the Bonzo Dog story today and her comment was 'brilliant!'. It's so nice to have satisfied customers!

Today I wrote the Prefab Sprout story - again in half an hour. It didn't take much editing so I was able to fire it off to Jackie Sayle within an hour of writing it. She enjoyed it. I've had quite a lot of Facebook friends getting in touch to ask where they can read all of the stories, so I've emailed them to people individually. I'd love to be able to publish them all in a collection, but I'm not sure that would be viable. So far, I've had fifty-eight nominations. That's a lot of stories.

So, it's the end of the first week of this band themed writeathon, and I'm pleased I've managed to write seven new stories. In total I've written 10, 636 words. Tomorrow kicks off with The Beatles.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Band Theme Short Story Project Week 1 (Part One)

Sorry about the long break! December is never a good month for me. Let's just say I'm not a fan of Christmas and the New Year celebrations.

Anyway, at the weekend I had a whacky idea. I needed something to get me motivated to write every day and felt I could do with, not only a purpose, but a ready-made audience. I created a Facebook status update, outlining my idea and had a terrific response. This is the status:

From Monday 5th January and every day for the next twelve months, I will write a short story based around a band nominated by you, my Facebook friends. The day after I've written the story, I will edit it, then post it to the friend who nominated the band. I will retain copyright on each story and plan to submit the stories to various literary competitions and/or magazines. Each day from Monday I'll keep you posted as to which band story I'm working on. So…. please start now. Go ahead and nominate a band for me.

Within twenty-four hours I'd received over fifty nominations. I was gobsmacked. I decided that the story didn't have to be about the band. I would just use the band name as a starting point. However, in some cases, I will write about the band or base the story on one of their songs, so pretty much a loose interpretation of the theme, otherwise it would get very boring!

My husband got in first and nominated his own band, Visitation. I was so excited about the project that I started on Sunday evening. I had such fun writing about Visitation, most of it based on fact. I wanted to write something tongue-in-cheek, which would make my husband laugh. I didn't realise that the drummer and his girlfriend would also want to read it, so once I'd finished it, I sent it to them, too. Thankfully, they enjoyed it and said it made them laugh. So, that was the first story out of the way. It was such a relief that it had been well received. (Bryan's using an electronic kit in the photo, as it was a particularly small pub!)

Visitation at The Squirrel, 15th November 2014

The second nomination came from Sharon Needham, whom I met at the Onboard The Craft Festival last September. Her husband, Martyn Hasbeen plays in a band called Captain Roswell and The Lost Alien Tribe and Sharon nominated this band for me. Thanks, Sharon! I found this one difficult, as I'm not a sci-fi fan, but I did a bit of research and I found the whole Roswell/UFO thing very interesting. I'm not sure the story works. I think it does and I'll be emailing it to Sharon later.

Captain Roswell and The Lost Alien Tribe

The third nomination came from our friend, Astrid Jones, who drums with another Rugby band, Stonefire. She suggested Cream. Now, I could have cheated here, as last year I wrote a flash piece based on Cream's song, The White Room. However, I decided to write a completely different piece and that's almost finished.


I have a method of working, which involves researching the next band and their songs, while finishing off and editing the previous story. That keeps the momentum going. It's Bon Jovi next, nominated by Dawn, a former work colleague of my husbands. I plan to write a story set in the 1980s.

In other news my story, Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire, which was shortlisted in the first Black Pear Press Competition, has been published in their anthology, Seaglass and Other Stories, which is available to purchase here at a cost of £8.66 including postage. I'm in good company, as it features stories by my friends, Diane Simmons and Alison Wassell.

If you'd like to nominate a band for me, please go over to my Facebook profile or leave a comment below. Many thanks!