First (or maybe 2nd) attempt at a Novel February 24th 2013

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I wanted to share with you guys my fiction writing journey and chronicle how I made the switch to write fiction despite my more non-fiction focused and blog/article based reading preference.

Back in 2013 I had a vague notion of perhaps writing a book for teens. I wanted to draw on certain aspects of my own life and tell a story. It surprises me to see that back then I used the names Jack and Serena, it’s like these characters have been sat dormant inside of me waiting to be released.

This is not a reflection of my writing style, it’s more my attempt at writing for teens in a colloquial, casual manner. This does not come close to my writing style for my next book Welcome to Wonderland. I am after all a self-confessed Literary Babe.

I just wanted to share this with you so you can join me on my Author’s Journey and someday when my debut novel gets released we can sit back and chuckle at this extract and see how my writing has come a long way. I hope it delivers a feeling of nostalgia akin to looking back at old high school photos.

I only wrote exactly 2,360 words and that was it. The story remained untouched and completely forgotten about. At the time I wasn’t even thinking of it as a book or becoming a Novelist I just wanted to sit down and write and set myself the challenge of writing the amount required for a manuscript. It was more a question of how does one face the mammoth task of writing 50,000+ words? Then wandering if I could do it. In some ways it was more of a way to cultivate a new hobby.

Below is just a sample of those 2,000 (ish) words.

“As with many things in life it stops and starts but the journey however imperfect continues…”

Sunday 24th February 2013

(From my old Mac computer it says this fiction file was created 24/2/13 11:33 and last modified 24/2/13 15:11)


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I woke up at the crack of dawn today feeling restless. My eyes were heavy with the deep need to sleep but my mind was racing with silly thoughts of yesterday and things I needed to do later in the week.  Then came the unanswerable question. Why didn’t I have a boyfriend yet? My mind raced back to my last non-boyfriend boyfriend. He was so handsome. I loved him and I loved him but he never loved me. The pain and thwarted passion lingers every single day.

I’m still in bed. It’s 5am on a Sunday morning. I know I don’t have to get up for work today so I snuggle into the duvet cover and feel the plush duvet envelope me. I think back to how Jack would put his arm around me as we sat on the park bench on our dates. He was so physically perfect you know the kind. That 6ft 3 well built Taylor Lautner-esque physique like the hot guy you see in movies who has the manly arms to hold you closely and make you truly feel safe.

I breathed in deeply and smelt the soft scent of my bed and pot porri on my bed stand nearby.

Why did he let me go? Why can’t a day go by when I don’t think of him. I think back to when we met up in the summer after a semester of college.

I recall one June afternoon when we stood under an oak tree in the shade. We finally kissed after a couple of months of not seeing each other because we studied in different cities. I look up at him and he looked back at me with such want and passion and he slowly leaned in and our lips gently met and he kissed me.

Our lips parted and we felt a cool gentle breeze. I looked back into his baby blue eyes and he spoke of how he was so glad we had the summer together and how he enjoys the feel of my lips against his. He murmured that my small mouth had full lips that felt like a cushion on his.

Jack and I still live in the same city. We broke up a year ago. Well actually he ended it and I was left devastated. We’re both 22 years old and I work in a bookshop and he works for an IT company. I should’ve known it wouldn’t last as we were so different. I was from a wealthy family and he wasn’t. I had dark hair and eyes and he was a blue-eyed blonde. Opposites attract and it can be awfully hard for them to part.

We met when we were nineteen. I was at work in the bookshop and he was over by the sports books. I was simply walking past on my way to the staff room as I’d finished my shift. I just happened to turn my head for no reason. I noticed that he was looking at me. I saw him for the first time then. He had a tight white Henley shirt and was holding a hardback copy of TK. So I instantly saw his huge muscles and the outline of his well-built physique. He had blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He was so handsome. I quickly looked away. I could feel my cheeks gently blush a soft pink shade. I slowly opened the door to the staff room and was taken aback by his virility and how handsome he was. He was the type of man you just have to look at. I didn’t want to take my eyes off him. The first sight of him was etched in my mind. I quickly got my handbag and belongings from my locker. Popped into the ladies to smear on some lip-gloss and another lashing of mascara just in case I’d see him again.

I went back onto the shopfloor and there he was still in the same spot. I really wanted him to approach me. I knew he wanted me. I knew there was an instant attraction. I  walked over to a colleague at the till. The till was near where he was.

bookseller

“I’ll see you tomorrow Serena” I quickly blurted.

“Yeah see you then.”

I took just two steps away from the till counter and could feel a presence behind me suddenly I heard a deep voice say “Excuse me.” I stopped dead in my tracks. The voice was still behind me and I still had not yet turned round. Could it be.? Was man following me. Making his first attempt to pursue me?

I turned around and an attractive tall, dark young man had a pleased expression on his face. I sighed and noticed the blonde guy in the corner of my eye.

I automatically asked “Can I help you?” As I would normally ask a customer whilst working.

“You were the girl who recommended TK for me. You were right it’s truly wonderful.” “Oh yeah, I’m glad you liked it,” I utter in a strained tone. He continued whittling away. I was about to make a polite excuse to leave when suddenly a man said “Is he troubling you? A beautiful lady like yourself shouldn’t be harassed by such an imbecile.” I was a little shocked that he’d describe a complete stranger an imbecile but pleased he was speaking to me. I was wondering what to say back. I opened my mouth slightly ready to reply only I didn’t know what to say. “Oh not at all.” I lied.

The two guys looked at each other and chuckled. “Mate, leave her alone she’s mine,” the tall blonde one said. Gosh he has such a forthright sense of humor. The tall guy told me that the two of them were old buddies then the blonde guy took his hand out towards me to shake hands. I feebly reached my hand forward too. “I’m Jack, this is my mate Scott.” “Oh hi.” Wtf am I suddenly saying hi for mid conversation? “I’m Catherine nice to meet you. You know we’re both about to grab a coffee would you care to join us?” I was standing there stunned. He’s a total stranger OMG what do I do?

“Oh gosh I really must be off I’ve got a bus to catch. Nice to meet you both ,”I quickly mutter and am just about to turn and dash off when Jack says: “When can I see you again?”

“Oh I don’t know. I mean well…you know I work here. So you know where to find me.” I smile knowingly.

“Can I have your number?”

“Um sorry but I’m not too sure about that. Was nice to see you both but I must go now my bus leaves in 3 minutes.

I walk and head towards the staircase and rush out the store doors.

I must confess the following day at 4pm when I finish my shift I did secretly hope that I’d run into him  again. That he wants to hunt me down. But no sign of him.

However the next day practically bang on 4 o’clock as I walk out of the doors of B & N I look up and he’s there’s in front of me walking back into the store. I looked stunned to see him.

“Well fancy seeing you here?”

I blush. “Hi.”

“How about you take me up on that offer for coffee?”

I feel totally compelled to say yes to this beautiful stranger. He’s so tall and manly and I feel dainty in his presence.

“Okay sure.”

We then both head towards the nearby Starbucks. He pulls open the door for me then let’s me walk ahead of him to the barista. I feel very aware of how I look. Thank God I put some perfume on earlier. Chance by Chanel-my absolute fave!

“What would you like?” I’ll have my grande white choclate mocha with cream and… I’d like that carrot cake.”

“Ok I’ll get you it. How was work today?”

“It was fine thanks.” I feel so shy around him I feel stuck on what to say.

“So do you study part-time or anything?”

“Ummm I’m on a gap year. Well actually it’s not really a gap year because a gap year would involve travel and having fun and getting wasted on a beach in Thailand… And well I’ve just been working non-stop.”

“Haha. I just dove right into uni. Doing a degree in Psychology right now.”

“Oh cool.”

Our drinks are ready, he carries them to a cosy table with the sofa seats. I sit on the sofa side and pop my bag down next to me. I’m surprised to see Jack choosing to sit next to me. I lean back into the sofa to get a little space. He leans in too.

Starbucks mug

I reach forward to my mocha drink and take a quick sip almost as a subconscious effort to edge away from him. I burn my tongue instantly. Ow,” I quietly mutter.

“Easy now, there’s no need to rush. Are you ok?”

“Yeah.” I lie.

He rubs my back as he says this.

“So where do you study?”

“In London. I have family that live their so I’m back and forth a lot.”

“Oh, that’s kinda far.”

“Yeah but the London night life is great and there’s lot’s of places to see and museums to visit.”

“Museums?” I ask interestedly.

“Yeah I’m really into… and …” [TK insert noteworthy places he’d be into.]

I think I fall in love just a little. He’s handsome, athlectic and into the arts.

And for the next 45 mins or so it just all flows. The conversation is easy and interesting. I just feel like I’ve known him my whole life. It’s not that we have a whole lot in common we’re just in sync and there’s no awkwardness at all given that we’re strangers.

I took a quick look at his IWC watch* and noticed I’d have to dash.

“I’ve really had a nice time with you today.”

“You’re heading off?”

“Yeah.”

I pick up my handbag and am ready to get up when he asks for my number. I pause and take in the exciting fact that this gorgeous guy wants to see me again. It feels good. I tell him my number trying to play it a little cool and then I make way out of the coffee shop.

I’m back home and by the time I’ve showered and eaten dinner I notice a text on my phone.

It’s Jack! Wow he likes me. Can’t believe I’m finally getting close to a guy who actually likes me. I’ve spent 19 years practically single. And now I’m certain this is a sure thing. I know that sounds crazy. I don’t even know him.

 


Even back then I knew I’d use the names Jack and Serena in my book someday… Notably those characters are not in anyway similar to the Jack & Serena of Welcome to Wonderland. It’s funny how things brew in your mind and how it takes a while for them to manifest fittingly.

The love interest Jack was definitely based on the guy in my poem called 2am.

If you’d like to read this poem then sign-up to Pop-up Mailing List.

However the real 2am guy does not make an appearance in my novels because he has no bohemian credibility. We were opposites and as I declared in the above passage: “Opposites attract and it can be awfully hard for them to part.”

 

*Slight inconsistency with him wearing an IWC watch-LOL!


Facebook: /CatherineVaughanWriter
Twitter: @CattVaughan
www.CatherineVaughan.com
My other blog: Boho.blog

 

 

 

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Marketing Fundamentals Workshop, Skylon Court, Rotherwas Hereford

Workshop lead by Ben Kinnaird Twitter:@BenKinnaird an Event speaker for Fastershire (Twitter: @Fastershire) plus Jack McCaughtrie (Twitter: @Jack_Mac100)

In the newly opened Skylon Court I found this workshop via Hereford Business Solutions Centre. This location is sleek, spacious and provides places to rent for office use.

Here is an overview of the key points discussed as well as my own notes from the exercises we did. Notably this was a 2 hour free workshop on Friday 27th May 2016 12-2pm.

Key Points:

  • Cultivate an elevator pitch meaning a short soundbite that accurately and effectively describes what your business is. The term derives from the scenario where one is in a lift with someone whereby you only have 30 seconds to inform and impress someone about your work. It should only be a few sentences around 30 sec – a couple minutes to utter.

Application:

I brought my Hello Kitty A4 notepad and gave a scribble of my thoughts. We were advised to keep the following in mind in order to fully assess all the components of our business/work and then streamline it into a en elevator pitch.

  1. Assess everything you do in company/work.
  2. Explain how your company/work benefits people.
  3. What would people like about what you do?

I jotted down these answers:

1- I write and sell multi-genre fiction and non-fiction books for young adults with a creative, caring and sharing perspective.

2- Help people feel less alone and feel connected and inspired through literature.

3- People like my honesty, creativity and enthusiasm.

They also suggested creating an alternative pitch if you customer based is mixed e.g. age/country/gender.

  • It was suggested to have the Company’s Marketing account emails under Gmail as it can be linked to Adwords and Mailchimp accounts and as it’s a Google ‘product/service’ it ranks better with SEO (Search Engine Optimization.)
  • They also stressed the importance of having a LinkedIn account.

Tips about building/maintaining your website(s).

Include a page that fully explains 1) What you do? 2) How you help people? 3) How to contact you?

They mentioned “Google Search Console” which helps determine how your website works i.e. keywords used to find your site. (I had never heard of this Google tool before so that was useful to discover.)

There was an activity where the websites of a couple attendees were put on the screen so they could get feedback on where their sites may require tweaking to improve it’s SEO and tips of that nature. 

It does not apply to my line of work but Herefordshire businesses would be advised to be have a Google Business page i.e. so when a search enquiry is Googled such as “Hereford cafe” you see those search entries of a business with ratings and link on Google Map presented first.

Screenshot (167)

Final notes:

  • All company/business LOGO/PHOTOS/VIDEOS be kept in a x1 folder on computer
  • Cyber security tip, share info on two mediums. E.g. if hiring a web designer to change site and they require login send username on email and password on another platform e.g. mobile text! (Excellent tip!)
  • Attendees also emailed the presentation slides too!

So all in all I was pleased with what I’ve learnt at the workshop and it’s all very relevant and accessible to use for my creative business as an author. Lunch was also provided and it was scrumptious. A relaxed, informative and very helpful workshop that i would recommend for others to attend. 

Photos of this workshop taken by Local Photographer Sally Corrick found here.

Please do visit the Twitter sites of the Workshop speakers at the start of the article and I would very much encourage people to look out for upcoming events/workshops provided by Hereford Business Solution Centre because they have speakers covering a range of topics from a variety of company’s all across the Midlands. Hereford Business Solutions Centre is run by the team responsible for the highly successful Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre, based at the University of Wolverhampton Science Park.

Book review: It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be: The world’s best selling book

This Tuesday I spent the day in Cardiff and mooched about in various shops. I popped into Urban Outfitters and discovered this book; a beautiful, compact and monochromatic guide on success by Phaidon publishers.

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be: The world’s best selling book

I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the book but here are the Top 5 golden lines:

  • Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity
  • Have you noticed how the cleverest people at school are not those who make it in life?
  • If you get stuck, draw with a different pen
  • When it can’t be done, do it. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t exist.

  • Present on Tuesday

#NeverGiveUp

Tough, strong and intelligent people are not the ones who had it easy and pursued a seamless path. They have the exact opposite and they come out on the other side with all the shine and glory because they earned it.

You can’t whine when it’s tough you just have to keep going and sometimes to keep on keeping on does mean a pause, it does include reflection or worse taking a step backwards and falling down. You stop, you are crushed but you never lose sight of the person you were supposed to be. The biggest regret one has in life is not becoming the person they were supposed to be, for not using all their God-given traits to give them an edge in someway whether it be good looks, intellect, a flair for creativity or a way with numbers.

No matter what challenges we face we always have something incredible inside us and some desirable feature. In Kyle Maynard’s case he is physically disabled but he is handsome and comes from a loving family. He has gone on to accomplish so much more than full-bodied people born with a naturally athletic physique and perfect limbs. He has a book, speaking gigs, he has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Even on those paths to glory and achievement he has understandably faced defeat from certain limitations of his body alongside any other angst we mere mortals face. But he kept going and he kept focused in achieving goals and reaching dreams and dreaming bigger each time.

God does not make mistakes. Every human is valuable and the only thing preventing you from achieving some form of greatness is to paraphrase this paraplegic is your “E-X-C-U-S-E-S!”