Author Archives: izzyrobertson

The Faeries’ Bazaar

“Have you ever seen it? The path, I mean? It changes and it moves, so it’s hard to find, even if you’re looking for it. Because you never really know what you’re looking for…”

In two weeks time, on the 16th September in fact, the path will lead to Thorncombe Village Hall where you’ll find The Faeries’ Bazaar.

It’s a mystical narrative of interlinking pieces that leads you through the Bazaar and introduces you to the various shopkeepers and characters to be found there. From the Apothecary to the Bookseller, the three sisters in the Sewing Room to Amily the street magician, each has a tale to weave around you.

angel faery

 

My older son Jed has composed a beautiful soundtrack that laces all the stories together. He plays as I read; he is the Troubador.

 

Younger son Zack, who is a most excellent chef, is the Innkeeper, while my husband Brian is our troubleshooter and all round good guy.

All proceeds from this performance will go to The Word Forest Organisation, carrying out amazing reforestation and educational work in Kenya. Check out what they do here: wordforest.org

So, if you’re local (or even if you’re not) please join us for an evening of music and storytelling.

For more details, contact me via my Facebook page:  IzzyRobertsonAuthor/events

Or you can book tickets here: wordforest.org/faeries-bazaar

Hope to see you there!

Life between worlds – writing a novel

notebook, pen, laptopYou can get a bit lost in writing a book; it’s a long process and quite isolated too. You spend a lot of time with your characters, immersed in their world. Sometimes the real world is a welcome relief, sometimes it’s an irritating distraction. At times it can seem quite distant. The story grows and develops; it follows you even when you’re not actually writing. Your protagonists and antagonists feed you information, not always at the most opportune moments (mine often decide that the best time to tell me something vital is when I’m driving, usually with nowhere I can pull over to scribble it down). It’s as if you’re living in two different realms at the same time, each as tangible as the other.

You try hard to get the writing right, to let the characters have their say but also to keep the story flowing the way it should be. You cheer when it goes well and the words pour from your fingertips; you groan, procrastinate and drink far too much tea when the plot sticks or your characters decide to go off and do their own thing without telling you. And they do do that. Without so much as a ‘by your leave’ and then you find that they’ve changed the timeline or reconfigured the plot without so much as even conferring with you or asking what you think. Well, why should they? You’re only the author after all.

Eventually, eventually you get to the end.

Of the first draft.

But that’s not the end as a writer. Because the first draft is the basis but it always needs lots of work; editing and reworking paragraphs and dialogue, adjusting timeline inconsistencies, ensuring continuity of all sorts of things from the colour of people’s eyes to who has a dog and who likes what music. And then there are the typos and the grammatical errors and the repetition of words and phrases that need to be corrected.

So you plough through again, rewriting, amending, tightening up the prose and getting it closer to how you know it needs to be. And when you’ve finished the second draft, you go through it all again a third time, just to make sure.

Phew!

You’d think that’d be it then, wouldn’t you?

Alas, no!

It’s usually when I’ve got to the end of the third draft that I ask my lovely band of pre-readers to read through it and feed back to me anything that doesn’t fit right or hold true, anything that seems superfluous or out of place, anything that they think needs altered or adjusted. With these invaluable critiques it’s time for – you’ve guessed it – draft number four.

By the end of the fourth draft, hopefully the manuscript is as near finished as possible and as good as it’s going to get. This is usually the point where, having been living and breathing it for however long and having read and reread the story countless times, I usually think “This is complete and utter rubbish. Why did I bother? I might as well just dump it in the recycling bin and do everyone a favour.”

At that point I know it’s time to consign draft four to my virtual drawer and ignore it for a month or two. When I come back to it, it’s usually not as bad as I’d thought. Usually needs a few tweaks but generally it’s OK.

That’s the scary point. Time to unleash it…

Capturing the Transient

multi coloured beadsWe see them. We hear them. We don’t always pay attention to them but they’re there. Those little moments of awe and wonder just waiting to be savoured before they’re gone. A whole string of them every single day, like a beautiful bead necklace, if we’d only take the time to notice. And when we do take heed, how we long to hang on to them, to store them away in that secret treasure box of memory so we can pull them out on a bad day and think “See. There is a point after all.”

But how to capture them, truly? How do you keep hold of that sudden drift of honeyed air as you pass jasmine on a summer evening, the hug your friend gave you or the eerie mist of bluebells through the trees? What about the heavy silence of pristine snow and the melting sweetness of a square of chocolate on your tongue, moonlight dancing on a calm sea, good coffee or the touch of warm sunshine on your skin after the winter cold? How about the languorous buzz of the bees in flowers and the twilight chorus as the dusk paints the sky in subtle pink and lavender.

Allow yourself to notice. Allow yourself to stop and really notice. Breathe it in, let it immerse you, settle inside you. It’s only a moment, but this moment, every moment, is all that we have.

hummingbird and flowerHere’s a moment from my memory treasure box. I was on Corfu, walking back from the beach when I saw a bumble bee visiting a flower in a patch of scrub by the path. Except it wasn’t a bee, it was the tiniest hummingbird imagineable and I watched it for a good five minutes before it flew away.

 

False Friends and True – a poem

Hope in Scrabble lettersI wrote this poem around the end of 2015/beginning of 2016 and last Saturday night I read it out as part of the performance poetry entertainment at the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize Awards Ceremony. I was touched and humbled when several people came up to me to say that they enjoyed it and how much they related to the emotional journey it portrays. They asked me if it was published! They also told me that they thought other people might find it helpful.

With that in mind I am putting it on here. Please feel free to share it if you want to. Wishing you all much love and light.

FALSE FRIENDS AND TRUE

 

My friend Paranoia came round the other day

I hadn’t seen him for a while; he said he’d been away.

My new friends Joy and Self-esteem don’t like him at all

They say I change when he’s about, I’m at his beck and call.

 

Anyway, he asked me if I would let him stay

He’d nowhere else to go, he said, he’d not get in my way.

I said no to start with. He said I was a grouch.

How could I just let him sleep on someone else’s couch?

 

“It’s only for a little while,” he wheedled with a grin

I felt my resolve crumble: should I let him in?

I recalled last time he said this, and I let him stay

A few days turned to months and months, he wouldn’t go away.

 

So I said no again and then he stormed off in a huff

Self-esteem was proud of me. “I knew you’d had enough.”

Then Paranoia played his trump. He sent his best friend Guilt,

To plead his case, and at her words I couldn’t help but wilt.

 

“How can you be so mean?” she asked. “He’s always stuck by you.

He’s never, ever let you down, it’s the least that you can do.”

I can deal with Paranoia, but Guilt is hard to fight.

I gave in; he came to stay, but only for the night.

 

Supposedly…

  

Because when Paranoia’s there, Guilt hangs around as well,

And she brings along Self-loathing, who is as mean as hell.

The three of them get really loud and they give me no peace.

Then I can’t hear anything else and there is no release.

 

I realise I see less and less of Joy and Self-esteem

They pop in every now and then but I hardly know they’ve been.

Paranoia said that it’s because they never really liked me

They pretended, to be kind, but they’re better off without me.

 

Self-loathing told me that I am a really crappy friend.

“You’re lucky we put up with you, don’t bother to pretend

You’re doing us a favour by giving us house room.

No one else would bother with a nasty girl like you.”

 

“Yes, you’re lucky,” Guilt agreed. Her voice held quiet danger.

“We won’t desert you, leave you alone, let you become a stranger.

Another friend is moving in, don’t bother with your protests,

Because she’s been here all along and you haven’t even noticed.”

 

It was true; when I looked, Fear was curled up in the armchair.

I knew I couldn’t shift her now that she was settled there.

I wondered how she’d got in; through the back door, I suppose.

No matter how I try it seems impossible to close.

 

So now I was just overwhelmed and there was no escape,

I could only stand and watch my world disintegrate.

The four of them joined forces to wear away at me,

And together they are surely a formidable enemy.

 

Helpless before the onslaught I retreated to my room,

Curled small beneath the bedclothes amidst the deepening gloom.

It was then I heard it; a whisper through the air

So faint and yet I hadn’t just imagined it was there.

 

I couldn’t help but follow the almost silent call

It made me walk across the room to the mirror on the wall.

It was then that I saw Hope beside me standing strong.

I’d been so blind but now I knew he’d been there all along.

 

Somehow I’d forgotten Hope but he didn’t seem to mind.

He very gently took my hand, his touch so warm and kind.

Hope had not forsaken me but he has a quiet voice

And I just had not heard it over all the other noise.

 

I realised I felt calmer, more than I had in days

I knew that Hope would help me in so many different ways.

“We’re still here,” he told me, “Joy, Self-esteem and I.

But it’s hard to reach you when you’re with those other guys.”

 

“I’m sorry,” I said sadly, as I began to weep

“But I just don’t know what to do, I’m in far too deep.”

“You can let us help you to find your strength again.”

Hope was reassuring; I knew he saw my pain.

 

I let him lead me down the stairs and through the noisy four,

They didn’t like that he was there; I tailed him to the door.

“Open it,” he told me, “I’ve got you a surprise.”

Joy and Self-esteem were waiting on the other side.

 

“It’s really good to see you.” Words came with an embrace.

“Now let’s get this lot sorted out, and give you back your space.”

Paranoia grumbled as he left, Self-loathing raged and ranted,

Fear screamed and whimpered as she was forcibly decanted.

 

Guilt was the hardest one to shift; she went eventually.

“OK, I’m off for now,” she smirked, “but look, I’ve kept your key.”

Self-esteem just laughed at her. “The locks will all be changed.

She has true friends around her now, and you should be ashamed.”

 

Guilt was dawdling on the path; Hope turned me to the room

To Joy and Trust and Happiness and Love and Light and Truth.

Self-esteem brought Confidence, quiet and assured

And Gratitude is also here, helping me applaud.

 

So next time Paranoia knocks, I’ll have the strength to fight.

Next time I will be saying no. I’m claiming back my life.

 

 

 

 

 

Publication Day!

Today is a very exciting day. My second novel, Three Words is officially published and it’s a thrilling feeling. For an avid reader who as a child ate books for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and decided aged 9 that she wanted to write them, to have one novel published was a dream come true. To have another one out seems nothing short of miraculous. I’ve written on here about the magic of books before but I think it’s worth revisiting.

open book with mermaid

From the reader’s perspective, each book we open is an adventure, a journey into another world full of new people and situations. As we read, that world becomes real in our minds; we see and feel it, become part of it, if only for a few hours or days. When we finish the book and put it back on the shelf, the real world is just that little bit altered by the experience that we have had.

From the writer’s perspective, a story just needs to escape from the head onto the page. All writers work differently so I can only speak for myself, but my characters are very insistent that their stories are told. Their world becomes as real to me as my own; I can see them, hear them, I know what they’re thinking and feeling. Somehow I have to get that down on paper or screen. It doesn’t always go to plan, it’s not always easy, but I owe it to them to complete the tale, to give them their freedom.

And when those thoughts and ideas then become an actual physical entity, a real book, that’s extraordinary. That’s magic.

I’ll leave you with this wonderful quote from the scientist and author Carl Sagan:

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

Three Words

Three Words coverOn 14th February 2017 my second book will be making its way into the big wide world. It took me two years to write Three Words and get it to the point where I was happy to submit it to my publishers, Magic Oxygen. They’ve also put a lot of time, effort and love into it, from the editing to the amazing cover photography and much more besides. A big thank you is due.

It’s a romance at heart, exploring love and those things that pretend to be love but are very far from it; possessiveness, manipulation, guilt etc. It also encompasses love and relationships in the wider sense of friendship and family.

And of course there’s a magical element – because how could there not be? It’s very (and I do mean VERY) loosely based on The Little Mermaid, but the fairy tale rather than the film.

If you want to read the blurb on the back cover, click on the picture above. For now, here’s an excerpt to hopefully whet your appetite.

 

Tia and Serena left the cavern and swam through the wild ocean in silence, overawed. Tia was the first to speak.

“Did it hurt?” she asked. “When you gave up your magic?”

“A little,” Serena said. “I feel empty now, hollow. Room for a soul, no doubt.”

“Are you afraid?” Tia’s eyes were worried.

“Yes,” Serena confessed. “But I know this is the right thing to do. The only thing to do, for me. I’ll never meet the expectations of the mer, I’ll always be found wanting. At least this way I have a chance. I know you understand.”

“I will miss you,” said Tia.

“And I you,” Serena replied. “But I will always remember, all of you but especially you, Tia. I think you’re the only one that’s really ever understood me. Don’t think that some of the love I hope to find over there won’t be held for you.”

Tia said nothing but she didn’t have to. The crystal tears that slipped from her eyes told their own tale.

MOLP – The Literary Prize That Changes Lives

MOLP 3The Magic Oxygen Literary Prize (MOLP as it’s more familiarly known) opened for the third time on the 1st September 2016. Previously attracting entries from over 20 countries, it offers a generous prize fund for each of its two categories, poems of up to 50 lines and short stories of up to 4,000 words. Winning and shortlisted entries are published in an anthology. It’s always exciting for a writer to see their work in print – but these are not the only lives that have been changed by this competition.

Since its inception, MOLP has planted a tree for EVERY entry received in the competition, creating the Word Forest which is now 11 times the size of Wembley Stadium.  This has been planted in Bore, Kenya, an area that had previously been massively deforested; the project has been led by international forestry expert Ru Hartwell. Not only does this benefit the planet in terms of long term CO2 capture but it helps the community of Bore, as the trees will also provide them with food, medicines, shelter and protection from the elements and reintroduce biodiversity. In time, it could generate an income for them too.

Children at Kundeni Primary SchoolMOLP has also funded a second classroom at Kundeni Primary School in Bore, which was completed this year. Previously, the 300 students had only had one classroom and so many had had to study outside in the heat.

Magic Oxygen Publishing remain committed to supporting the Word Forest and the community of Bore. The literary prize AND the Word Forest continue to grow. Be a part of it – pick up your pen and start writing your entry now. You’ve got until midnight on the 31st December to get your story or poem in and become a part of something truly life changing.

For more details, please visit http://www.magicoxygen.co.uk/molp/

Earth Pathways

Earth Pathways Diary

Cover image by Ruth Gray

I am very proud to say that I have had a poem accepted and published in the 2017 Earth Pathways Diary. If you haven’t come across this wonderful diary, produced by a small cooperative of friends in the most sustainable and earth friendly way possible, please go and have a look at their website.

https://www.earthpathwaysdiary.uk/

It’s a beautiful thing and a joy to open each day, with gorgeous artwork and uplifting thoughts. Treat yourself and enjoy!

Beauty

In the very near future Nixa, the story teller that you met here last Halloween, will have her own page of stories. In the meantime, here’s a poem.

mandala

Image by elena-botoeva

BEAUTY

Sculpt me in marble, carve me in wood

Play me on strings and drums

Sing me aloud

I am all around

Let me catch you by surprise

Unveil your eyes

Show you wonders in the everyday

I am anywhere, everywhere

In swaying corn and storm clouds

City streets and kindness

The centre of a flower

The edge of the world

I am in moonlight and

The warm touch of the sun

Or one hand in another

Beauty

You will find me when you learn to see

A Fairy Tale

drawing of cottageOnce upon a time, in a land far away, there was an old lady who lived in a little cottage in the woods. One day, when she was out collecting sticks for her fire, she noticed a baby, wrapped up and left under a shelter of leaves by the stream. The woman looked around but could see no one, so she went over and picked the baby up. He was a strange looking child with a wide face, big teeth and wild hair. His right eye was blue and his left eye was green and she realised that he was a troll. But he smiled happily up at her and waved his chubby arms and she thought that he was lovely. She waited with him for a long time but nobody came, so she took him home with her and looked after him from then on.

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