Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Me & Asperger's - the Masterclass venue

I am now going to post about what the venue was like for me as an Aspie. The pub called the Theodore Bullfrog is v near Charing Cross train station, but you couldn't hear the trains. It is down a side road, so you can't hear the traffic. But the room is above the working pub, so when it gets busy you can hear the customers downstairs, even with the doors shut. The room is quite big with room to walk around in and talk to others you know if you want to. The lighting is OK, it's not that dark. The only real noise you get is the clattering of the cooking in the kitchen which is upstairs too off the function room. So the staff often come in and out, through the room where you are. So, this might put some people off. I was OK with it as I have been there before so knew what to expect.

As I have said, it is v near the train station - just a couple of minutes walk down the road. Travelling isn't that bad, it being in a central location. That time of day (mid-morning and late afternoon), there weren't too many other passengers on the trains, so that wasn't bad either.

All in all. The location and venue of the talk is OK for me as an Aspie. The only gripe I had was the choice of food for me who is intolerant to dairy and gluten. All I could have and ordered was a bowl of cherry tomatoes and roasted peppers, which was OK and healthy. I took my own sandwiches and snacks.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

How to write funny for children

Last Saturday I went to Charing Cross to learn how to write funny books for children by Mo O'Hara. This was a SCBWI Masterclass. I learnt lots. I am only going to give you the main points I learnt as we were told we can't give out all the details. So here they are.

Keep asking questions. Keep saying yes. Eg if your character wants to run and win the marathon, they will do anything to get there.
Make your readers recognise your character in what they do.

1. No swearing
2. Can't talk about things that children won't understand. You have to look into children's world to see what's funny to them. Eg what makes sense to adults but children can think ludicrous.
3. Has to be the kid's pov, literally. Can be looking up to someone and seeing their nose.
3. Don't write mean comedy. Eg at someone's expense. Being fair is important to children. Don't put children down. Have justice and kind humour.

I got an idea how to write funny scenes in a series about asperkids I have in mind.

Writing funny has three main components: who, where (plot) and when (timing)

We were given exercises then to so.

Other components are: incongruity (someone out of their usual zone), status. So when you are writing, ask yourself: What is the status of my character? Do I have much variety in status?

We were given more exercises to do, which were fun. One of these gave me an idea for a possible series of picture books.

In series fiction the character only learns a bit, but in stand-alone they learn a lot.

Make it tough for the character. Think of worst thing that can happen and make it happen.

First draft - ask, is this character funny? Have I put them in a setting that's funny? If potential, make funnier.
Have a checklist for when you do your second draft. This should include: character who has fears, objectives and status, setting, confined space, comic potential and conflict potential.
Next edit should be the punch edit. Make more funnier. Think rule of 3: Punchline is at the third time.
Recurring theme/gag. Elude to it to get a big laugh.
Timing.
In dialogue, have repetition. Emphasis - strong, silence - for pausing.
Don't overuse asides. Only put in what the character would really do. Read it out. Use surprise.

I learnt a lot. But there was one thing I did come away with, and that was I do enjoy writing for children more than adults now. So, thanks, Mo. Great workshop.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Me & Asperger's - the RNA talk venue

I am now posting about what the venue was like as an Aspie. The journey wasn't too bad - there wasn't too many people on the train and tube when I went (different story coming home). I found the venue easily as I'd been there once before. Usually when I have been somewhere once and know I am going again, I remember the route. The talk was at the Sir John Balcombe pub in Marylebone. There is the pub upstairs with the function room downstairs. There was music going on in the pub but it wasn't too loud and you couldn't hear it from down below. There wasn't any music downstairs. It had twinkling lights on, so if you don't like lights then it wasn't for you. It was fine for me. No noise, low lights. The seats were spread about, so people talking didn't get too much for me.

All in all, except the travelling by bus, train and tube, the venue was OK for me as an Aspie. I will go there again.

Monday, 12 September 2016

How to stay in control of your story by Jean Fullerton

On Saturday I went to Marylebone to the RNA SE chapter meeting to listen to a talk by Jean Fullerton about how to stay control of your story esp romances. Here are the main points I wrote down:

1. It is about structure. You have to have a structure to your story.
2. You need an inciting moment
3. Then rising action
4. A turning point and black moment (doesn't have to be the main character's)
5. Lastly, falling action leading to the resolution

If you get stuck (usually about either Chapter 5 or 8), try going back to the start of the story and read it.

Ask what your main character's motivation/goal is.

If you want to include back story, drip feed it in, not do an info dump.

If you write in a certain genre or time period, readers will expect the rest of your books to be like that. Don't disappointment them.

It had been my first time to a chapter meeting this year, and I enjoyed it. Esp as I met a friend of mine there and we chatted as we walked back to the tube station. Might go again next time.

Next post will be about what the venue was like for an Aspie (me).

Monday, 5 September 2016

Me and Asperger's - Tone of voice

One of the challenges that people with Asperger's have is social communication, and that can mean their voice can sound rude or abrupt without intention. This happened to me last week at the local newsagent when I got the paper. I went in there, picked up the paper and went to pay for it behind another woman. I saw another older woman there who was choosing crisps. I also saw food on the counter which I thought belonged to the other woman in front of me. The older woman went to move in front of me and I said to her, I'm in the queue. I have just the paper and the exact money. The other woman turned round and accused me of being rude. She paid for her goods and left. I tried to explain by saying I have Asperger's but it was too late. The other woman let me pay for the paper. I apologised to her and she said I didn't need to. I left and went home. It upset me so much that it went round and round my head to the point I was in tears. When my mum came home, I asked her what she would have done, but she realised about the food on the counter and said that people do that there, buy some things, go and find more then pay later. Later on she said that if she had been with me she would have said a few choice words to that woman. Wanting to get it off my chest, I also mentioned it to a Facebook group of women with Asperger's to see what their reactions were. They all agreed that the first woman was rude not me. One comment I got, from the founder of the group, was that at times like that, she felt she needed to wear a T-shirt that said, 'I have Asperger's what is your reason for poor social skills.'. LOL. This gave me an idea. This all gave me peace of mind about the situation. It still upsets me to think about it, but I have decided a couple of things:

1. Not to try to get in that situation again.
2. Made me determined to raise awareness of Asperger's even more, esp about me.
3. I might buy a card that tells others that I am on the autism spectrum and what it means.

So I will be blogging more about Asperger's, writing more about it inc in short stories, and mention it a lot at my new book's launch in a few week's time along with hand-made cards and leaflets about ASD, and I will be posting on FB and Twitter about it too, sharing posts. I also am thinking of other merchandise to sell to raise awareness.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Turning a negative into a positive

Over the last weekend I finally published my new children's fiction book 'Billy and the Sparkling Socks' to Createspace. There were a few problems I had to sort out in the process, from discovering they don't accept 2-page spreads to cover problems, but I got there. But when I looked at what it would now look like according to their fixed PDF version, it didn't come out as I really wanted. How? I have small illustrations at the start and end of each chapter, and a few of the end ones appeared on separate pages. I tried to fix it by working it out but soon realised that it had to be like that. I wasn't happy with that as it wasn't ideal looking to me. But then I got thinking...the extra blank pages and space would be ideal for children if they wanted to draw their own socks or rainbows in the book, although the book is mainly for reading not drawing in. It has given me an idea for the rest of the series.

Cover reveal, I hope. Here is a link to the cover for Billy on Createspace. (Hope it works).

https://tsw.createspace.com/title/6528252

I really like it, and I hope children do too.

It is the first in a number of series of children's books about children with Asperger's and autism who find magic that teaches them how to be more confident and communicative.



Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Me and reading

Reading has been one of my favourite hobbies since I was a child at primary school. I remember being part of a reading group at school. We sat round a table in a separate room, reading our books, usually Janet and John. I can picture it now. I think it must have been in the library because I can visualise books on movable shelves at the side of the room. We would read out loud, and much to my parents' shock this carried on into home. lol. I had to read in another room when I did read. Thankfully, it didn't last and I soon read books silently to myself. I read Mr Men, Noddy, to Secret Seven and Famous Five, to horsey adventure books. Later on I went to the library and remember reading Catherine Cookson and Lena Kennedy.

I still read a lot, but both adult and children's fiction because I now write mainly for children. I also read women's magazines because I want to write stories for them, too. Oh, and yes, I do read silently still. The only time I would read aloud is when I read my stories for consistency, and then I have to be on my own.

So, do you remember reading at school? What did you read?