Wednesday 22 January 2014

WEP-challenge for 22nd January 2014 - New Beginnings

Welcome to WEP's Blogfest for January [=Write-Edit-Publish, formerly 'Romantic Friday Writers'] Challenge for Wednesday 22nd January 2014 - 'New Beginnings':

'It's the uncertainty...'

It was a cold, icy morning in January with new snow blanketing the rural landscape after an unusually warm autumn and snowless Christmas. A woman dressed in winter boots, knitted hat and drab grey woolen overcoat, stepped out of a small blue car parked by the stone wall around the country church. She held a large brown envelope under her arm, as she knocked on the church door. The door was opened by a tall slender woman dressed in a black kaftan.

'How do you do, mrs Bly? Please come in. I'm Kristell Karlsson, assistent pastor. We spoke on the phone. I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. Would you like a cup of tea or coffee while we talk?'

'Yes, tea please,' replied mrs Bly, trying to catch her breath as she briskly followed pastor Karlsson to a smaller meeting room behind the sacristy. The two woman sat at a large and elegant wooden dining-room table decorated with lace doilies and a vase filled with dried flowers. Pastor Karlsson poured tea into two china cups and asked whether mrs Bly took sugar, and lemon or milk.

'How long has your daughter, Karla, been missing?'

'Since the day before yesterday.'

'And you've reported it to the police?'

'Yes. They've asked me all kinds of questions. They even want me to give them samples of fabric with her blood, disgarded bandages or stained sheets from a scraped knee. Just in case. It's not easy to find. That's not the sort of thing you save.'

'I see. Well, I hope they won't need them. They probably ask everybody that routinely. What do you have there?' asked Kristell, changing the subject by pointing at Sonja Bly's thick envelope.'

Mrs Bly opened the envelope and took out a poster with the photographic portrait of a smiling nine year old girl, with the caption, 'Have you seen our daughter, Karla?' above the photo image. 'Would it be alright if I posted one of these on the bulletin board here at church for people to see?'

'Yes, of course.  What an excellent idea. Did the police suggest this?'

'No, it was my own idea. I've been putting these up everywhere. I hope it helps. I'm thinking that maybe someone has seen her. And now that it's turned so cold, we may be running out of time. We need to find her fast.'

'Is there anything else I can do to help? I could write something in the weekly bulletin and say something in church on Sunday, unless she returns before then. There is still hope. She may even come home today.'

'That's what the police say. But so far we have not found a trace of her anywhere. And no one has claimed to have kidnapped her. No demands for ransom.'

'Is there anything else?'

'Yes. Please pray for Karla. It is so cold now. If she is out wandering about in the woods, she could freeze to death. After two search parties, no sign of her has been found.'

'Would you like to pray with me now?' asked Kristell gently. 

Sonja Bly took a sip of tea, put the cup down on the flaming birch table and then covered her face with her hands, 'Yes, let's pray. Prayer maybe the only thing we can do for her now.'

Before the prayer, Kristell Karlsson found a box of paper tissues and gave it to Sonja Bly, who had begun to weep.

Kristell held both of Sonja's hands and prayed for Karla's safe return.

She's only nine years old,' said Sonja and thought: Nine years old! Karla's not a toddler anymore, but what comfort is that? Nine years old is still very, very young. 

Sonja was grateful that Karla was small for her age and looked younger than her actual nine years. She remembered with horror newspaper articles about young girls who mature physically too early and look like they are about eighteen when they only are eleven, twelve or thirteen. 

'Thank you for your time, pastor,' said Sonja Bly as she rose from the table to leave.

'What are you going to do now?'

'I've got an appointment with a local radio station. The police are coming home to us this afternoon to discuss our next course of action.'

'Take this card, Sonja. It's the number to my privat mobil phone for unusual situations like this. I keep this phone in a special pocket near my heart. Call me anytime. If I don't answer, leave a text message.'

'Thank you pastor.'

'Call me Kristell.'


Word count according to WordCalc: 784

This text is fictional! Any resemblance to events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidencial.

Best wishes,

First Commenter:

Duck and Wheel With String

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group for January 8th, 2014

Anna Nordeman


Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting Insecure Writer's Support Group.

This is my eleventh post for IWSG. I actually posted on January first, but then went to Alex J. Cavanaugh's site and discovered that IWSG will not post until January 8th. Yippee! More time to write this post! So my post has reverted to a draft until January 8th.

For those who would like to see my list of how-to-write-books, please go here
[If what I write here is difficult to understand, go back to my IWSG-posts for August here, for September here, and for October here, for November here, for December here.]

For my January edition of IWSG I would like to continue looking at ideas and themes that can be found in novels, especially in children's literature. Last month, I looked at villians that appear and reappear in different novels, and compared J.K. Rowling's villian, Voldemort, to Bram Stoker's Dracula. 

For the January edition of IWSG I would like to return to the Harry Potter-series, to find examples of modern inventions that appear in magical disguise. 

One of my absolute favourite tools that Harry Potter is presented with, is the Map of  Hogwarts, that shows every individual's movement, within the castle. This wonderful piece of magic, that works well in several plots, was given to Harry by the older brothers of his best friend, Ron Weasley, the twins, George and Fred. There is nothing in our world, exactly like this beautiful piece of hand-lettered parchment. But a GPS-map comes close! 

The GPS-location system, without any disguise, plays an important role in several children´s stories, including the film, The Incredibles, and in Pagten, the Danish Christmas series about a family of gnomes.
Within Hogwarts, in Harry Potter's world (especially as seen in the films), everything seems to be done in an old-fashioned way, but with a little magic to speed things up. There is no electricity or central heating. Lighting is provided by candles or flaming torches. There are no typewriters. All writing is done by hand with ink and quill (unless you are the journalist and author, Rita Skeeter who has a magical, automatic pen). There are cameras and photographers, but all photographs (and even all oil paintings) move slightly, as if they were short video-clips.

The idea of magic, in the Harry Potter-series, could be interpreted as a symbol of the many inventions that we now make use of, that did not exist sixty years ago: Computers, the use of the Internet, mobile telephones and so much more, that I don't have time to list here. 

The magic wands that Harry and the other wizards and witches always have with them, exist partly, in our world: We have mobile phones and iphones and ipads, that allow us portable access to a world of information. In the 1960s, a comic book character named Dick Tracy, was admired by children at that time because he had a wrist watch that was a telephone!

I could go on and on comparing the recent past, a time that I myself once accepted as normal, with the 'Brave New World' in which we now live. But then I would have to use footnotes and document everything I say, when I just want to make conversation. I'm not writing an essay or trying to prove anything.

It is New Year's Day, and I really don't want to sink into a depression about the passage of time, and missing loved ones who are no longer here with me. I prefer to wish everyone who takes the time to visit my blog, a happy and safe 2014. Light a light, instead of cursing the darkness.

I have been reading Harry Bingham's book How to get Published, in between washing up, picking up and cleaning litter boxes for the cats. And it seems so hopeless. Will I ever get that far to even be able to use the advice in that book? I admire all of you who stick it out and finish writing your novel. 

There is one scene that I love above all others in the Harry Potters movies: It's when Harry and Professor Dumbledore call on Professor Slughorn finding him inside a house that is in complete shambles; it is Slughorn himself who has made the mess in order to hide from the Death-Eaters who want to recruit him. Professor Dumbledore suggests that they clean the place up, especially since the house belongs to a family away on a trip abroad. 

With a wave of his wand, Professor Dumbledore reverts all damage and sets everything to right. It is a wonderful example of special effects-filming. I don't know how they did it. It was probably computer-generated. For me, it is one of the happiest scenes in the entire film series. Magic put to good use!

When I look at my own kitchen sink, now, after the children have left again to celebrate New Year's with their father, I wish I had Professor Dumbledore's magic wand. Or perhaps just a new dish-washer?

It is January 8th and time to get back on the subject of writing books....

Is there a writing lesson to be learned from all of these gadgets and spells that abound in the Harry Potter Books? I think there is. J.K.Rowlings introduces her magical inventions in one book and lets them be used again and again in several of the following titles. The reader learns for example a spell in the first book that is used throughout the series. The GPS-like magical map of Hogwarts is introduced in book three and then used repeatedly until the end. 

This is an economical use of elements that help to hold the world of Harry Potter together. And this is something that is recomended in how-to-books on writing. Take, for example, Roz Morris, the author of Nail Your Novel. Roz Morris calls the reuse of elements for 'reincorporation'. According to Roz, many novel plots fail because the author has included too many elements that make it unmanageable (p.57ff). Roz advises: 'When you don't know what to do, or think you're inventing too much, lay your key elements out and see if there's something you can reincorporate.' 

The map, the cloak of invisiblity, the elder wand, and the resurrection stone, all help to tie the HP-series together at the end. J.K. Rowling makes good use of reincorporation thoughout the series. She is able to include many elements because she reuses them and renews them each time.

Something to think about when plotting your own novel!

Best wishes,

First Commenter:
Donna Hole

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