The Naked Ladies Writing Group part 8

NOTES: Here is part 8 of my book. It took a lot of research and conversations with my muse Calliope, to make all these choices for all these characters. This being a first draft, I definitely reserve the right to make any changes I want. I added all of the facts I’ve written here to my book bible, which should help me keep it all straight. I’m ready to continue with the story now I’ve made these decisions and recorded them.

Fia was a tiny bit annoyed that she had to speak first. She wasn’t prepared to start, the whole idea had been Ashleighs and so she should be going first.

“Welcome to my home,” she said. “This group was Ashleighs idea, so she should really be speaking first. I plan on writing a novel, even though I should be working on the next eBook for my business.”

“Good, good,” Ashleigh said. “What will your novel be about?”

“Ah, I’m not one hundred percent sure, but it will be set somewhere tropical and there will be a strong female lead character,” Fia said. “I know that much.”

“Great,” Ashleigh said.

“I’ll go next,” Ruby said and Ashleigh nodded to her. “I’ve decided to write a novel set in L.A.. I lived there for six months and it’s the perfect place for a fast-paced story.”

“Wow,” Mia said. “Your book sounds good already, Rue. I’m writing a novel about a witch, and she lives now, in our time, in a not-real village in the countryside in England.”

“A fictional village and a witch,” Ruby said. “that sounds like your style. Will she eat little children?”

Mia blushed and shook her head.

“Me next,” Betty said. “I’m writing a lesbian love story, but it’s set in the seventeen hundreds in Mesopotamia where lesbian relationships were allowed, unlike other parts of the world.”

“Just an introduction, Betty, not the entire story tonight,” Ruby said, crossing her legs and folding her arms.

Betty raised her eyebrows and mouthed Okay.

“I’m writing a novel with a positive body image message,” Alice said. “It will be set right here, and now, and when women read it they’ll feel great about themselves no matter their size or shape.”

“Will you be using a photograph of yourself on the cover?” Ruby asked, leaning forward.

“No idea,” Alice said, pulling her top down firmly over her shorts. “Will you?”

“Why would I do that?” Ruby asked.

“You said you lived in L.A., your story is set in L.A., is it all about you?” Alice asked.

“My turn,” Ashleigh said, holding a hand up. “And I have absolutely no idea what my novel will be about.”

“What?” Fia said, laughing. “This whole thing is your idea, and you don’t know what you’re going to write about? Doesn’t that seem strange? I would have thought you knew what you were doing, more than any of the rest of us here.”

“I know what you mean,” Ashleigh said. “But nope, absolutely not. I have no clue. I guess I’ll start writing and see what happens.”

“That’s so not like you, Ash,” said Mia. “You’re the queen of organisation. The most put together person I’ve ever known. Aren’t you scared you’ll have nothing to write about?”

“No,” Ashleigh said. “For once in my life I’m being spontaneous.”

“There’s spontaneous and then there’s you, girl,” Alice said. “I have to say I’m shocked.”

“You’re the girl who colour codes her wardrobe,” Mia said. “I love your colour-coded wardrobe.”

“What can I say, people?” Ashleigh said, placing her wine glass onto a coaster. “It’s time I got a little wild.”

“This is going to be a trip,” Betty said. “We’re all writing such different books. I can’t wait to start reading them.”

“Oh, me too,” Mia said. “Especially yours Betty. I’ve never read anything like that before.”

“I doubt any of us have,” Ruby said. She gave Betty a smooth smile.

“Let’s drink a toast,” Alice said, lifting her wine glass. “To all of us, women writing novels, may we be our most open, honest and naked selves as we write, and be our kindest selves when we read.”

“Oh, cheers to that,” Fia said.

“To The Naked Ladies Writing Group,” Ashleigh said.

The Naked Ladies Writing Group part 7

NOTES: Conflict time! I was meant to be writing the follow on from the section where the women were at Fia’s house and they were ready to start the very first meeting of The Naked Ladies Writing Group, when I had this powerful idea about Fia and a male entrepreneur and what he wanted from her and what she thought of that, so I had to get that started.

Fia had a brunch booked with another entrepreneur, which was the main reason she’d stayed sober last night. This guy had sought her out to see if they could do some work together. She was out the door and in her car by nine am. It wasn’t always a good idea to meet up with people who found her through the blog, but this guy seemed to know his stuff and Fia’s interest was piqued.

NOTES: who is this guy, the entrepreneur??? Name? Maybe Lance or… Zander, yes Zander Sharp. Haha I love that name.

She parked five blocks from the cafe, and knew she was lucky to find a space so close. Sundays were busy in the city, seriously busy people seeking coffee and maybe a croissant. Fia had never been to this cafe before but she wasn’t surprised to find every footpath table taken.

“Fia?” A tall man inside the cafe waved.. Fia waved back and made her way inside to his table.

“Hi,” she said, taking the chair he offered her.

“I’ve ordered our coffee already,” he said. Fia opened her mouth to question him, as in how did he know what kind of coffee she preferred? “I’ve been on your website this morning, to prepare for our meeting and in your bio it says you like a piccolo latte.”

“That’s exactly right,” Fia said, feeling mixed emotions. Sure, it was impressive that he’d done his research, but she’d forgotten that when the blog was rewritten, her assistant had asked a few personal questions, so she could seem warm and friendly. She preferred to feel like she had the upper hand in meetings, especially meetings with important new contacts.

“No mention of coffee on your website, that I saw.” She said, smiling to cover her awkwardness.

“I am a complete coffee addict,” he said. “Would you like something to eat as well?”

“No, thanks, coffee will be fine.” She said.

“I have an idea that would benefit both our businesses,” he said.

“Go for it,” she said.

“As you know, I own the biggest ? In the country. I employ fifteen people in my content creation section alone. They keep my many blogs and websites going, popular, and selling what we want to sell.”

Fia nodded and smiled as the waiter placed her little piccolo in front of her. She tore the top off a packet of artificial sweetener and added it to her coffee.

“You’re doing well.” She said.

“We are,” he said. “And I have an itch to grow in an area where you are doing well.”

Now he had her attention. His statement had the edge of a threat, or was she being paranoid?

“Keep going,” she said.

“I would like to not only branch out, but buy you out, as a starting point from which to dive off from.”

Fia wasn’t sure she’d heard him right. “Buy my company?” She said.

“I have a very generous offer in mind,” Zander finished his coffee and placed the glass back on its saucer. “Really generous. Considering how long you’ve been in business, how long since you really started to succeed.”

“You’ve been in business six months longer than I have, no longer.” She said, not even attempting to cover her irritation.

“I’ve hit a nerve, I can tell.” He said, holding his hands out in front of him. “Absolutely not my intention to offend or irritate you. The opposite really.”

“Why do you think I’d sell my company?” Fia said, crossing her legs.

“Nothing you’ve said or done has made me think that.” Zander shook his head. “I had an idea, I jumped at the chance to speak to you about it. I don’t want to put you out of business, unless I buy what you’ve already built up.”

“Put me out of business?” Fia had to calm herself before she said something unprofessional. “I love my company,” she said. “It’s a part of me, I grew it from nothing, up to what it is now.”

“Yes,” Zander said, leaning forward. “And what it is is a truly valuable asset. One that I believe I can grow exponentially in the coming year.”

“What makes you think I can’t grow it exponentially in the coming year?” Fia said. “How do you know that’s not my plan?”

“Oh, I have my spies,” Zander said, sitting back in his chair and lifting his left foot up to balance on his right knee.

“Spies?” Fia was shocked. “Spies in my company do you mean?”

“I can’t tell you a name, but yes Fia, someone in your own company who knows you’ve gone about as far as you can go alone. I haven’t even gotten to the generous salary package I’d offer you to stay on and run things, on top of the purchase of the business itself.”

Fia was doing a fast inner inventory of her staff. Who would do this? Everyone seemed so loyal. To her face at least. She’d fire all of them. Every single one.

“Zander,” she said. “You don’t know me. We’ve never met before. So I’ll excuse you for thinking I’d sell to you, because whoever you’ve been talking to is wrong. I’m far from finished with FiaQuinn.”

“It’s a cute name,” Zander said. “Your company has been on the verge of becoming the biggest of its kind for a year. Why do you keep dipping your toe in the ocean and then running back to the pond? What are you waiting for? I think you’re waiting to find someone to partner with who is completely at home in the ocean.”

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Fia said. “I love where I’m at, what I do, and the way we are growing.”

“Zsharp can help you, it’s as simple as that.” Zander said.

Fia was thinking about throwing the table over, smacking him in the face and walking out. It was hard to concentrate on formulating a reasonable reply.

“Who have you been talking to in my office?” She said.

“I can tell you, because they are leaving you to join my team,” Zander said. “It’s Cassie Wilson.”

“Cassie?” Fia said, her mouth staying open in surprise. “I can’t imagine,”

“You can imagine,” he interrupted. “Cassie has been trying to get you to listen to her for months, trying to suggest changes, growth strategies. You didn’t listen to her, and now she’s bringing her brilliant mind to Zsharp.”

“You reached out to her?” Fia said.

“Yes, I did the reaching out, but she was ready to go,” he said. “You should be proud of her, she nailed down a mean deal with me.”

“Go her,” Fia said. “You know what they say, once a deserter, always a deserter. You can never trust her.”

“I’m sure she’ll be great for as long as she works with us.” He said. “I don’t believe in holding onto people if they want to move on. Neither should you.”

“I’m not saying another word right now,” Fia said. “Good luck to you.” She left the cafe and made it to her car, where she turned the air conditioning on and made a phone call. Cassie answered on the first ring.

“Hi,” she said, sounding very different to Cassie from the office.

“Cassie,” Fia said. “I’ve just spoken to Zander.”

“He messaged me,” Cassie said. “There’s no point calling and chewing me out.”

“Not what this call is about,” Fia said. “I want you to stay.”

“You what?” Cassie said. “You want me to stay?”

“You’re a brilliant woman, an essential part of the team. Please stay, we can talk about a new salary package. I want to hear your ideas, I’ve been slack obviously.”

“I don’t know about this,” Cassie said. “I wasn’t expecting this. I thought you’d have people packing up my desk by now.”

“You underestimate how much we need you, how much I need you. You’re gold, your ideas are so different to mine, I need that, even if I don’t agree to implement every single one.”

There was silence on the other end and Fia knew she was in with a chance.

“Can we talk?” Fia said. “Like, now?”

More silence, and she let Cassie think.

“Okay,” Cassie said. “But that doesn’t mean I’ve changed my mind.”

“No,” Fia said, taking a deep breath. “Can I come over?”

“No, I can leave the kids here with Curtis, let me come to yours.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can, just leaving the cafe.” Fia said.

“See you soon, then.” Cassie said and ended the call.

When Fia pulled up at home, she couldn’t remember the drive, she’d been too busy going over every conversation she’d had with Cassie recently. There had been ideas she’d rejected without enough thought. There was definitely room for her to grow as a boss, and she was going to convince Cassie to teach her.

NOTES: Now I’m writing the first group meeting of TNLWG. How is it possible that characters I create, surprise me?

Character Development Notes

Character Development Notes:

Main Character: Sofia

Nickname: Fia

Hair: dusty blonde

Eyes: green

Job: Entrepreneur, YouTube Channel, Blog

Personality/character: Loner, driven and serious about growing her business, proud of the home she owns, close to her best friend Ashleigh, single, keeps busy mostly doing work related things

Quote: Work is my social life

Character: Ashleigh

Nickname: Ash

Hair: long, red, curly

Eyes: blue

Job: RN

Personality/character: passionate, cares a lot about friends and family, loves her husband Ryan

Quote: Never tell me I can’t do something

Character: Mia

Nickname: Meme

Hair: shoulder-length mid-brown

Eyes: brown

Job: kindergarten teacher

Personality/character: giving, loving, caring, kind, secretly wants to be tougher

Quote: kindness is my superpower

Character: Ruby

Nickname: Rubes

Hair: black sharp chin-length bob

Eyes: darkest brown

Job: real estate agent

Personality/character: tells it like it is, knows what she wants, impatient, generous

Quote: don’t ask me unless you want the truth

Character: Alice

Nickname: Ali

Hair: light brown layers around her face

Eyes: hazel

Job: marketing at a publisher, works with Betty

Personality/character: outgoing, big smile, seems confident on the outside, joker

Quote: happiness is your choice

Character: Betty

Nickname: Miss B

Hair: thick black fringe, blue at the back, long

Eyes: blue

Job: editor at a publisher, works with Alice

Personality/character: cheeky, happy, confident, loves a grunge pinup aesthetic

Quote: what new thing can I try next?

The Naked Ladies Writing Group part 6

NOTE: I’m sorry if this block of writing seems a little disjointed, I needed to get Fia’s home from inside my head onto the page. Now I can copy some of the description into my book bible for future reference. Enjoy!

Fia’s home was an inviting nest decorated in warm blues and soft golds. Her furniture looked cared for and cosy, and there were small framed paintings on almost every wall. In the entry area there was a hall stand painted the palest caramel, a navy blue umbrella with a gold duck head in one side and a gnarled old walking stick in the other. On the tiny shelf between the two, sat a faded photograph in a white frame, a tiny bowl filled with marbles and a tea light candle in a glass cup.

There were polished floorboards throughout the house, and Fia had placed soft rugs in neutral colours on the floor in each bedroom. 

From the entry, you could turn right and enter the roomy second bedroom that was decorated in a soft, pastel lilac colour, or turn left and walk directly into the lounge room. Fia always felt it was a flaw in the design that the previous owner had removed walls and taken away the old hall that had gone from the front door to the back door.

Visitors always had to walk through the main lounge room on their way to the kitchen, dining room and open living area.

Once you’d made your way to the back of the house, you were treated to the experience of the green room, as Fia called it. Running all the way across the back of the house and as deep as a bedroom, the green room was filled with lush, healthy indoor plants. From huge pots containing tall greenery to a vintage drinks cart topped with orchids and violets, the room was an impressive way to say hey, I have a green thumb.

A cane chair with a woven peacock back, as tall as the doorway, sat in pride of place at the furthest left wall and wore a stuffed cushion in emerald green. To the right, among the leaves, was a plain, functional park bench with two white cushions. A book lay on the bench, with a bookmark hanging out of the top.

The green room drew you to it so powerfully, that it was possible to miss the entry into the remaining hallway that led to the master bedroom, complete with ensuite, and walk-in wardrobe, three more bedrooms, the main bathroom, a decent sized laundry room and generous built-in cupboards.

Each bedroom was decorated in a different pale pastel colour, with the main being painted Fia’s favourite colour, blue. The others were lemon, peach and green. The main bathroom was all white, with stainless steel taps and fittings. Soft, white towels were stacked on shelves and a delicate fern in a wooden bowl softened the harshness of the room.

The third bedroom, decorated in peach, had the largest window and made a perfect home office. Fia did a lot of videoing in there, with her chair pulled up to the desk that faced the window.

She’d carefully decorated the wall behind her with simple things that wouldn’t distract from whatever message she was delivering. There was a bookcase, a fern in a basket, on a small table to the left and a framed quote on the right.

Her street was pretty quiet, thankfully, so she was able to record video’s whenever it suited her. She generally worked from home every Wednesday, recording a series of video’s, ready for her editor Clair to cut, add intro and extro, and splice in b-roll footage, which was recorded at the office and specific to the content. Clair made it seem so easy, that Fia never once doubted her choice to employ someone to do this task for her. Clair was a good amateur photographer as well and depending on the weather, would go out taking still photo’s for promotions and social media. Some days she texted Fia before work, asking her to bring in a certain outfit so she could wear it in photographs she had planned. The first time she’d done this, Fia had thought it a bit odd, and to be truthful, a bit much, until she’d seen the images. Then she’d told Clair to do it any damn time she pleased.

Her desk in the city office was the best place for ideas and research. Being in the office with her team gave her energy. She loved the way the team bounced ideas off one another, although like any boss, she was sure they could all breathe easier on her Wednesdays at home. Having the boss around had always changed her work flow, when she’d been the one who was employed.

Mia woke up with a doozy of a headache and a sick stomach. She wished she’d stuck to wine, or beer, or cider, because mixing the three had not been a great idea. Ruby had stuck to her like glue, which was starting to be a regular thing. Ever since Ruby had fired her last boyfriend, fired, her word, she’d been at a loose end and that never went well for Mia.

She lurched from the bed to the bathroom and put in some time leaning over the toilet bowl. Not a good look for a modern woman, she thought. Once she could stand without swaying side to side she took a long, hot shower. She hated to get out, but it was necessary.

She scrunched her hair as she held her hairdryer to it, creating long, wavy volume. Sunday hair, she thought.

She was determined to leave the house before Ruby showed up with some urgent reason for the both of them to spend another entire day together. Mia didn’t want to hurt Ruby’s feelings, although lately she’d begun to wonder if her friend had any feelings, other than anger and determination.

Mia noticed that last night she had attempted to set out clothes for today and had failed terribly. It was Sunday, so jeans and a pretty shirt, white runners, hair in a band, and her new yellow purse were in order. What she found draped on the soft chair in the corner of her bedroom was a black lace g-string, the t-shirt she’d worn to help Fia paint her house, a starched black pencil skirt and a pair of hot pink fluffy socks.

Mia shook her head and put each item away in her wardrobe. As she dressed she heard her phone receive two messages. No, no, she thought. I can make it.

She grabbed her purse, put her phone in it without checking her messages and made it out of the flat and into her car. She was cheering to herself as she put the car in reverse and looked in her rear view mirror. She backed out of her parking spot and drove into the street, joining the rest of humanity intent on enjoying as much of their Sunday as possible.

This really is the first day I’ve had to myself for a couple of weeks, she thought, and merged onto the road that led to the highway. A perfect opportunity to visit that gallery I’ve been meaning to get to, down the coast.

Mia turned the radio on and settled in for the drive.

Ruby couldn’t get onto Mia by phone, and it was driving her crazy. She’d almost hit a stupid bike rider who was taking up half her lane.

She had to get to Mia’s place before that woman went off doing some random thing. Left to herself, Mia could be very basic. Ruby felt it was her responsibility to make sure Mia learned how to be a real, modern woman and what better way to teach her than to show her by spending as much time together as possible. Now that Ruby didn’t have that loser boyfriend anymore, there was more time for Mia.

Her car wasn’t in her car space. Where was that woman, and why wasn’t she answering her phone? Ruby drove her car into Mia’s spot and punched her steering wheel. Maybe she was at the shops, grabbing a few groceries. Or visiting her Nanna in the eastern suburbs. Maybe she was visiting Fia, yeah, that would be it. Mia put the car in reverse and backed out, waited for the street to clear both ways and turned right.

Ashleigh and Ryan were up early with matching hangovers. Ryan had to work and Ashley had to drive him there or have no car all day. Ryan jumped into the shower and Ashley fried up bacon and eggs for sandwiches on the go.

“I need my own car,” Ashleigh said with her face in her hands.

“You used to have your own car,” Ryan said, picking up the sandwiches, which Ashleigh had wrapped in aluminium foil. “You sold it to save money.”

“I hate saving money, I want to sleep in. Argh.” Ashleigh said. “You drive us there, I’m sleeping.”

Ryan led the way out the door, grabbing his keys off the hall table. “You’ve got your keys?”

“Yes,”

“Your phone?”

“Yes,”

“Your bag?”

“No”

NOTE: Thanks for reading my blog.

The Naked Ladies Writing Group part 5

Fia was almost asleep when her phone chirped with a message. It was Ash, thanking her for a great surprise birthday. Fia replied with happy emojis and hearts. She spread out across her queen sized bed and went to sleep.

It was just as well that Fia’s cleaner came on Wednesdays, it made Fia more confident about having everyone over. The cleaner, Stacy, ran a tight ship and once Fia called and told her what was happening, Stacy reassured her that the house would be sparkling.

When Fia got home from work on Wednesday, there was even a tall vase filled with native greenery and flowers on the dining table. Beside it was a note, in Stacys handwriting. It urged Fia to check the fridge and when she did, she found a plate crowded with chocolate cupcakes, frosted and sprinkled. Stacy, you are an angel, Fia whispered to herself.

If you don’t have time for deep cleaning and baking, you should have a Stacy, Fia thought as she took the plate of cakes out of the fridge and placed them onto the bench to come to room temperature.

Wednesdays were usually a light day at work, and today had been typical.

NOTE: I haven’t decided what Sofia does for a living yet, and I need to do that. She lives in a house that she owns, I think I want her to have been that kid who saved every cent from an early age, and got a job as soon as she was old enough, like that, so that by age thirty she lived in a nice house in the city with a large but doable mortgage. So, maybe she works in finance? Oh, maybe she’s a stock market whiz? Or maybe she was, then she hopped on the YouTube trend and set herself up with a few passive income streams. I like that. Yep, she’s a YouTuber, but she’s set up so if YouTube ever dies, she has other income.

Today, maybe because it was quiet at the offices, Angus, Fia’s social media manager, had dragged the design and copy people into Fia’s office for an impromptu meeting on the decor of the place. When they’d moved into the warehouse space, it had been all go, with no time to call a painter, let alone a decorator, but now they’d been in there for six months, they felt it was time that the space reflected the brand.

Fia had agreed completely and stunned her employees by handing the job of sourcing a decorator and controlling the entire process over to them.

“If you’d like to choose everything yourselves,” She had said. “Go ahead. Or if you’d prefer to pick a decorator and hand the reigns to them, do it. I’m happy either way.”

Her people knew her well, they would make the space fantastic and they’d make choices that she would approve of.

She jumped into the shower, then chose an outfit, then changed, and changed again. Apparently she was more nervous about this than she’d realised, which was strange because she’d barely given tonight a thought. She settled on jeans and a Pink tour t-shirt. Bare feet and she simply pulled her hair back into a pony.

“You-hoo,” came a voice from the front of the house. “You forgot to lock the front door again.” Ashleigh said, putting a canvas bag on the floor next to the single seater lounge chair in the living room. “I thought I’d better be here first, I am first, yes?”

“Yes, you’re first.” Fia said.

“Oh those flowers, you shouldn’t have.” Ashleigh touched a flower.

“I didn’t!” Fia said “Stacy did.”

“That woman is wonderful,” Ashleigh said.

“If it wasn’t for Stacy we’d be sitting on dusty boxes.” Fia said.

“Don’t I know it.” Ashleigh said. “Here’s my food offering.” She lifted a cake box out of the canvas bag and lifted the lid so Fia could see rows of tiny quiches. “We can eat them cold.”

“Not really Italian,” Fia said, taking the container into the kitchen.

“Where do you want us?” Ashleigh said. “Table or lounge?”

“You’re in charge, and don’t pretend you’re not. You choose.” Fia said.

“I choose the lounge for tonight, then see if that works.” Ashleigh pulled a stack of notebooks out of her canvas bag. “I bought notebooks for everyone in case people forget to bring something.”

“You’re a control freak, you know that right?” Fia said.

“Haha Ms empire builder,” Ashleigh said. “Not sure I can take the crown for that.”

“I don’t control, I build.”

“Ah, sure.” Ashleigh looked around the loungeroom like she was seeing it for the first time. “I think I’ll sit on the floor there. That way there are enough seats for everyone else, assuming they show up.”

The sound of car doors closing sent Fia to the front door. She opened it to find Ruby giving Mia a whispered talking-to, pretended she hadn’t noticed and ushered them in. Headlights appeared at the end of the drive just as she was about to shut the door and so she waited for Alice to park her black VW beetle.

“Fia, I hope Ashleigh won’t mind but I’ve brought a friend from work.” Alice said. “This is Betty, she’s one of the editors and she’s writing her own book at the moment, isn’t that a coincidence?” She wrapped Fia in a hug and pulled her workmate into the house.

“Everyone, this is a friend from work,” Alice said.

“Oh, I didn’t know we were inviting anyone we wanted,” Ruby said.

“Chill, Ruby.” Ashleigh said.

“Hi all, I’m Betty,” Alice’s friend said. “I hope there’s a corkscrew in the house because this needs opening.” She held up a bottle of wine, waggling it, looking out from under her thick, black fringe, from person to person.

“Charming,” Ruby said. “We’ll want to keep a clear head for writing, am I right?”

“Haha,” Betty said, throwing her head back and laughing. “Good one. Our best work happens when we’re relaxed. A little wine won’t hurt at all, I promise.”

“Is that your professional opinion then?” Ruby took Mia by the arm and pulled her over to the two seater couch. “This looks like us, buddy.”

“Pretty much,” Betty said, and she held out the bottle to Fia. “This does not need to breathe.”

Fia laughed with her and went to the kitchen to get a corkscrew.

“This house is the best,” Betty said. “Retro and shabby, oh look, birds!” She had noticed Fia’s little collection of bird ornaments.

“Yes, kind of old-fashioned if you ask me.” Ruby said.

“This one is Art Deco, so pretty.” Betty said. I have a similar bird on the tattoo on my back.”

“Oh really?” Mia said. “I’d love to see that.”

“Sure,” Betty said.

“We’re here for writing,” Ruby said. “Not tattoos or ornaments.”

“Okay people, put your food in the kitchen, then back to the loungeroom.” Ashleigh said and Fia was relieved that Ash had taken charge. It seemed like Ruby was winding up for one of her tantrums.

Once everyone was settled, Ashleigh laid out her plan for Wednesday nights. Arrive at seven, eat and catch up for twenty minutes, then settle in for writing talk, reading work out loud, critique and end with plans for the following week.

Betty was the only stranger to the group, so Fia asked her to introduce herself.

“I’m Betty, well Elizabeth originally, I’m from Perth, I’m an editor at Howden House, I like a kind of rockabilly grunge aesthetic, tattoos, and I’m writing my own novel. It’s a fantasy story about two very different women and their journey of self discovery.”

“Thanks Betty, that sounds really interesting.” Ashleigh said.

Fia looked around the group, watching reactions to the newcomer.

“We should all introduce ourselves,” Fia said, looking to Ashleigh. “For Betty, really.”

“Okay,” Ashleigh said. “Your home, you start.”

NOTE: it’s time for me to research the look of each character and write facts about each one in my story bible. I will start by rereading everything I’ve already written and taking notes. I love this part of writing a book.

I just ate lunch and spent an hour on character development, and I’ll write what I’ve decided in my next post. When I write fiction, I choose a celebrity I know from tv or movies for the personality and voice, and this makes life so easy when I think of my character and go to put words in their mouths. The way I choose to write each person never ever comes out exactly like the person I chose to base them around. It’s more like a hook, a quick way into the mind and heart of my characters. I then choose an image from the internet to represent the physicality of each character, although this time one of my characters will be set after a certain celebrity in manner as well as looks.

I’ve been unhappy with the way I’ve written my main character so far and it’s because I hadn’t done this characterisation process. She will pop now, well not pop, but she will come to the fore as the main character. I hope.

I’m Doing NaNoWriMo 2020

It’s my very first NaNoWriMo and I’m excited. Scared and excited. All I’ve done is read their website, joined up, written my fingers to the bone and logged my first days word count, which was 1829 words.

What is NaNoWriMo?

So glad you asked. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place in November.

We humble participants do our best to write a fifty thousand word manuscript, which works out at an average of 1660 words per day. Does that sound insane? Yes, it does, but no-one ever accused a writer of being sane.

What Am I Writing?

I’m writing the novel I’d started, The Naked Ladies Writing Group, which seems like cheating, but I’m being up front about the fact that I had already written about a thousand words.

This means that I’ll be blogging daily in one way or another. Some of my word count will be pure first draft writing, but I’ll also be including my character notes, plot journaling, and anything else directly pertaining to the writing of my novel.

A Book Cover

Because I decided to join a few Facebook groups where people give and receive support during NaNoWriMo, I decided to do what a few others had done and create a book cover. It’s just a work-in-progress mock-up kind of thing, but I like it. I used the app called PicCollage to make it, and I use the paid version of that app so I get to use everything they have to offer.

My work-in-progress book cover.

Thanks for reading my post. Please let me know if you’re doing NaNoWriMo 2020 as well, or if you’ve done NaNoWriMo in the past. I hope you have a great day.

The Naked Ladies Writing Group part 4

NOTE: Welcome to part 4 of my novel. It’s a first draft, and the work has a long way to go. Writing dialogue is always daunting for me, not because of character voices or interactions, but because of the grammar. I could swear I was absent the day they taught about comma versus full stop in dialogue. Yesterday I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo, which is a writer challenge held every November. The goal is to write fifty thousand words in November, which is about 1660 each day. I’m counting my notes and character development writing, my plotting, and basically all the writing to do with this project. It’s exciting, and fun, I just hope it doesn’t start to hang over my head and bog me down. Okay, here’s part four, I hope you like it. (To refer to part 3 for context click here)

“Magpie, I’ll call her Maggie for short.” Ashleigh said, holding the tiny pup against her.

“Oh, that’s so cute.” Mia said.

“Let it lick the cake,” Hayden said.

“Yuck no.” Ashleigh said.

“Give it time,” Hayden said. “It will be eating off her plate, that’s what my sisters dog does.”


“I have a staffy, we’ll have to do a doggy date.” Ruby said.


“Only if you want a dead Magpie,” Hayden said. “Your dog is a raptor, Ruby.”


“She is not,” Ruby said. “People are always hating on staffies, but they’re actually great dogs.”


When nobody said anything, Ruby added. “Morticia is an idiot, not a monster.”

“Let’s get her used her new home before we start socialising he.” Ryan said. He squeezed Ashleigh’s shoulder.

“Thank you so much, Ryan, I just love her.” Ashleigh said. She lifted the puppy so she could see its face. “Such a precious little thing.”

“Okay, now you can open some other presents,” Ruby said. “We might have been in on the secret and bought you some things for the Magpie.”

“Maggie,” Ryan said. He shook his head at Ruby.

Ashleigh looked around at the party faces, appreciating the moment. She searched the small crowd until she found Fia, then waved her over.

“Here,” she said, holding the pup out to Fia. “You hold my baby and I’ll unwrap the rest of these gorgeous looking presents.”

“Your baby hey?” Fia said, laughing. She took the warm bundle into her arms.

“Yeah, the furry kind, never the naked kind thanks.” Ashleigh

“Here,” Mia said, reaching over the cake and holding out a very large black gift box tied with a silver bow. “Start with this.”

“It’s a dog bed,” Ruby said, folding her arms. Mia looked at her with her mouth open.

“What?” Ruby said. “It is,”

“You didn’t have to tell her.” Alice said from across the table. She looked away when Ruby glared at her. Mia sent her a small grateful smile.

River rescued the birthday cake, taking it to the kitchen so it could be sliced and put on plates. He loaded the dishwasher and tidied up the bench tops. His mobile buzzed, telling him he had a message, and he checked it and sent a reply assuring a friend he was going to leave his place soon, to attend their party. He left his kitchen in a pretty bad state, knowing he’d hit it sometime tomorrow, and went back out to the patio. 

Fia smiled at River as he reappeared and he came over and stood beside her. He leaned across and spoke to her as quietly as he could. “Come with me to Harry’s, once the excitement is over here.” He said.

“Oh,” Fia said. “Thanks for the invite, but I’ll probably stick with Ash until she goes home, and who knows when that will be. I’m pretty beat anyway, had a huge week, looking forward to a reasonably early night.”

“Okay, not a problem,” River said. “But you can change your mind anytime, the offer stands. Be great to have you there.”

“Thanks Riv,” Fia said. In a few hours she knew she’d regret her choice, but she still held a grudge against Harry after the way he’d dumped Mia.

Ashleigh unwrapped the stack of gifts that had been moved to the table in front of her. She got dog toys, dog outfits, a blanket, a rubber bone, a black collar with tiny silver stars, and a few things for the dog mum, like candles, a t-shirt, some books and a bum bag, which she held up, looking confused.

“The best thing to wear when walking the dog, I promise,” Jack said. “You put the poop bags in it.”

“If you have zero style,” Ruby said, shaking her head at Jack.

“Function over form, for sure.” Jack said.

“It’ll be very useful,” Ashleigh said. She wrapped it around her waist. “I can wear it under my top.”

“There ya go.” Jack said and he finished the beer he was holding.

“Now that the presents are out of the way, and I think the cake is ready, I think it’s time for a speech from the birthday girl,” Ryan said.

“We didn’t sing Happy Birthday yet,” a friend of Jacks said.

“Ah, we don’t do that,” Alice said. “Never.”

Over the top, someone called out “Yeah, speech, speech, speech,” and a few guys picked up the chant.

Fia was surprised when Ashleigh stood up, scooting her chair back.

“Yes,” Ashleigh said. “I know it’s not like me to be up for giving a speech, but I have an important announcement.”

“Really Ash?” Alice said. “Go you.”

“Come on now, a bit of shoosh for the birthday girl if you don’t mind.” Jack said.

“A bit of shoosh.” Hayden repeated and things quieted down.

“This should be good.” Ruby said.

“Having turned thirty, I want this year to count,” Ashleigh said. “There’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve put it off forever. I’m not putting it off another day. This year, I’m writing a book.”

The silence spoke volumes, but it didn’t deter Ashleigh. “I’m writing the novel I’ve had in my head for about four years. And also,”

“There’s more?” Fia said. She turned to Ashleigh, a shocked look on her face.

“Yes there’s more,” Ashleigh said. “I’m starting a women’s writing group, and if any of you feel the writing bug like I do, please join me and we’ll smash this thing.”

“Well count me in,” Ruby said, while everyone else was still processing. “Everyone knows I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

“Me of course!” Mia said, nodding.

“Come on Fia,” Ashleigh said. “We always talk about writing for real, not for work, and now is our time.”

“Yeah,” Fia said. “I guess so.”

“So much enthusiasm,” Ryan laughed. Fia gave him a fake mad glare.

“Alice,” Ashleigh said. “You have a book in you, and we need your expertise, you know, because you work in writing.”

“If you want me, I’m in, yeah for sure,” Alice said.

“So women only?” Hayden said. “No men allowed, isn’t that discrimination?”

“Yeah, unfair,” Jack said. “Boo.”

“No, let’s be real, it’s for self-preservation.” Fia said.

“It’s the best idea you’ve ever had, Ash.” River said. “Your book will be brilliant, all your books will be brilliant,”

“Yeah but no men?” Jack said.

“Get over it, man,” Hayden said and slapped Jack on the back.

“Now,” River said. “everyone go into the kitchen and get some cake, I’m not serving you guys.”

Once the cake was demolished, the party thinned out pretty fast. People had other, serious venues to get to.

River had asked Fia one more time if she’d go with him, no pressure, just checking, and she’d told him no again. He’d said goodbye and taken off in his car.

Ashleigh and her writing group were left around the stone table.

“When will we get together?” Mia said, draining a bottle of beer.

“Where will we get together?” Alice said.

“I’ve already thought about this stuff,” Ashleigh said.

“Why are we not surprised?” Mia said.

“We meet up every Wednesday night, at Fia’s place.” Ashleigh said.

“Oh, what?” Fia said. “My place isn’t really the best house.”

“Oh rubbish, and it’s roughly the same distance to all of our homes. And there’s parking. And you’re near a train station.” Ashleigh topped off her wine glass and took a sip.

“I can make Wednesdays,” Alice said.

“Me too,” Mia said.

“You’re all free Wednesday nights,” Ashleigh said.”I pay attention, you know.”

“Apparently,” Ruby said. “Well if we’re meeting at Fia’s, we’d better bring food. The girl never has food in the house.”

“Bring food, fine by me,” Fia said. “Extra points if it’s Italian.”

“Seven o’clock, Fia’s place, this Wednesday,” Ashleigh said.

“Wow, that’s soon,” Alice said.

“Bring food, and whatever you want to write on, paper, phone, tablet, laptop, whatever” Ashleigh said.

“We get it,” Alice said.

“So, all I have to do is be home,” Fia said. The women laughed.

“We should all commit to a writing project,” Ruby said. “And be prepared to share. And we will all commit to completely honest feedback.”

“Yikes, okay, I’m in,” Fia held her wine glass up.

“I’m in,” Alice said, raising a bottle of cider.

“We’re all in,” Ruby said and raised her beer.



“This is going to be awesome,” Alice said. “I know it is. We’re going to get writing and get real.”

“I’m always real,” Ruby said, frowning.

“Oh, we’ll see about that,” Alice said, standing up. “Hey, I know exactly what we can call the group.” She looked around the table and saw nods of encouragement. “We are going to write, and be real, and honest and open. We’ll be The Naked Ladies Writing Group.”

Mia choked and drink came out of her nose. “The naked who now?” She coughed.

“I like it,” Ashleigh said. “Balls to the wall, ladies.”

“Not writing in the nude, but as a group we’ll be as open and real and honest as we can be. Naked.” Alice said.

“Brutal,” Ruby smiled.

“So we’re going to write, then come to the group and share some of what we write, and everyone gets to tell us what they think?” Mia said. “Scary,”

“No pain, no gain,” Ruby said.

Fia smiled at Ashleigh and handed the puppy back. “Surely the dog needs to pee by now. Should I get her some water?”

“Oh, good idea,” Ashleigh said and walked the puppy over to Rivers garden and put her down so she could sniff and do what she needed to do.

Fia went into the kitchen and found a dish, she filled it with water and brought it back outside. The puppy was whining now, and Ashleigh was holding it out in front of her, asking it what the problem was.

“No-one ever accused Ash of being the motherly type,” Ruby said.

“I’m being a great mother,” Ashleigh said. “I’m asking it what it wants.”

“Here, try this,” Fia said, placing the dish of water on the pavers next to Ashleigh.

“She’s not thirsty for water,” Alice said. “Maybe she wants some of your wine?”

“She can’t have wine,” Ruby said.

Fia decided this was a good time to leave. She’d put in a good effort and had a great time. Ashleigh had had a good birthday, although Fia was doubtful that the puppy would end up being a good idea. Not that she’d say this to Ash.

Driving home, Fia was happy about two things. One, she’d hardly had a drink all night, and two she was glad to be the one without a new dog. As she put the key into the door at home, she sighed. There were definite benefits to living alone, and coming home after a huge day to shower and hit the sack without having to talk to anyone was right up there.

Mind My Creative Writing Muse She is Telling Me How To Write a Book

I’m Freaking Out

That’s right, reader, I’m going crazy imagining what the half a dozen people who might have read my novel so far, are thinking about me. I mean, what sort of lunatic writes a book on a blog? And we’re not talking the finished, polished product, no, no, we’re talking the first draft, all iffy and basic.

Somebody Stop Me

Please, someone have a word with my Muse. She’s always been a tad looney, and now she’s got me doing this thing, putting myself out there for anyone, well all half a dozen of you, to shake your heads and wonder what the frag?

Your Basic Muse

Haha, no, my muse is anything but basic. In fact she’s ten times cooler than me and doesn’t put up with any of my excuses or whining. To look at, she’s somewhere between Harley Quinn and Frida Kahlo, yes I know, not what you’d expect.

Her name is Calliope, and she is generous when I sit myself in front of my writing, any writing, and commit to getting the work done. She keeps me going, encourages my ideas and makes sitting alone in a room writing words a bit less lonely.

She guards my imagination and creativity against her writing partner, my Inner Editor.

My Inner Editor

Only once the first draft is written does Calliope disappear, off to do whatever imaginary friends do when you don’t need them. Then my Inner Editor cracks his knuckles and expects free reign over my writing. He pushes me to be logical, truthful and at times brutal about my writing, deleting what is unnecessary, improving what is essential.

Before My Muse and Editor Knew Their Places

– I used to write without acknowledging the importance of separating a first draft from an edit.

– I would try to write my best work right away.

– I put terrible pressure on myself to get it right in one go, and I thought that if I was any kind of decent writer, surely that would be the way it’s done.

This doesn’t work for me, even though a lot of my first draft will end up in the finished piece in one shape or another.

Reading About Writing

I read some books about writing:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Becoming A Writer by Dorothea Brande

Living The Writer’s Life by Eric Maisel, Ph.D.

How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich

I learned a lot reading these books, and none of them told me I had to get the words right in the first draft. Each author had their own way of writing and a lot of it was about showing up to the work on a regular basis.

The separate tasks of a writer became clear to me:

– writing

– rewriting, a lot

– editing

– proofreading

This seemed logical, which I liked, but a little bit cold, and I do love words and writing, so I decided to invite a fun, cool imaginary friend to help me with the first draft writing; my Muse, Calliope, and somehow by default she brought along a kind of parental and somewhat perfectionist Inner Editor. He’s jacket and tie and all business, and when I need him that’s fantastic.

For Calliope…

I know that millions of people write without needing imaginary friends, but this way suits me. If one of you six or so readers think of me at my desk writing, I invite you to send a smile Calliope’s way. She’s too cool to care, but deep down I know she likes the attention.