Colour Contributions

When a character grabs me by the scruff of the neck and says “Write me damn it,” the first thing I do is look them in the eyes. What do their eyes tell me about their personality? Hmmm. How do I find that right shade of blue, green, grey, brown or mauve?

If you are as nuts as I am about getting the right colour without it being clichéd then you already know to look at magazines, look to nature, paint palettes and to study the people you deal with every day. My children are always asking me, “Why are you staring at me like that?” It’s nothing creepy. No matter how rude they are, naughty they are being or pulling the I hate you right now glare, their big brown eyes still have a warm glow about them. I know I’m getting a cuddle afterwards.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I have three other ways of researching and finding a unique eye colour.

1)      Try a book about crystals and gems. The books that not only give you the physical attributes but the spiritual and healing powers as well. Subtext, gotta love it.

2)      Makeup. You heard me. Don’t use it much myself but they do come out with interesting names. Look at the names of eye shadows, lipsticks and my favourite, nail polishes. (Found the perfect name for a character because of a hue of a nail polish. What a pity I don’t have a story for her yet.)

3)      Go to your local hardware store or house paint supplier and pick colour sample sheets, the paper ones. Just don’t tell them the real reason you’re there, they might think you’re weird or something. Just looking to paint your living room, that’s all. Just looking. Can’t make up your mind whether you want Torrent Blueberry or Beagle Brown for the feature wall. (I just made those colours up, but they do sound good.)

This has been a tasty morsel by,

E. J. McLaughlin

P.S. Don’t let the non-writer in the family find your stash of colour charts. You might have to start your collection all over again. Or worse still, you’ve inspired them to repaint the house. Damn it!

I just know when the sales assistant sees me coming towards the front door of their paint shop they’re thinking, not that nutbag again. But as a writer, I’ll do just about anything to get my character’s eyes right. At least it gets those pesky characters you’re not ready to write yet off your case—for a little while.


What’s That Thing I’m Striving For?

I am not a fortune teller or a psychic. I can’t read minds, (although there are many out there who think I can) so where am I going with this? I can’t foretell my future. I wish I could because then I would be prepared. However, life has a habit of smacking the back of my head with the entire collection of Britannica Encyclopedias. One thick volume after the other, tha-kud-tha-kud-tha-kud, and my poor frazzled mind is so tender and sore that I can’t even begin to imagine that there is ever going to be a future in the writing industry for me. Am I going to throw myself in front of a cement truck? I think not. But I should stop the driver and ask him for a couple of teaspoons of his finest mixture and when he asks what’s it for, I will tell him, I need to harden up, stiffen my quivering upper lip. And if he says, lady you’re weird, I will simply tell him, I can make it weirder if you like.

So what could possibly be gnawing at me like a starving piranha? What has life done to me that has me feeling sorry for the anorexic carnivorous fish that I allow it to keep on chomping on my life-immersed fingers?

I now work fulltime as a receptionist from home.

That’s easy you say. That would be a dream job. But let me tell you. Try writing when you’re expecting to be interrupted at any moment or as soon as you get emotionally connected with your character and ring-ring. The call might only last a couple of minutes but when I sit back down … blank, blank, blank …

What was I doing again?


I sit back down and realise that the character I was just working on is upset with me. According to her I haven’t given her the time of day. The people on the other end of the phone are somehow viewed as more important than her. Not to mention that I’ve left her stranded on the side of the road with a busted radio when all she wanted was to party for the first time in her twenty-four year old life? Don’t I care that her needs, although they are a little selfish, are just as important as my need to earn a living, regardless where the income is coming from?

Give me a break.

I do try to listen, to understand, but the emotional investment I need for Miranda Petunia Sump has been depleted like my chocolate biscuit stash. I just stare and stare at the crumbs on the plate (I’m shocked that there are actually crumbs left) and then at the screen. Ah heck! There were crumbs on the screen page as well. I had accidentally rested my finger on the full stop key. It looked something like this……………………………………………………… only it was two and a half pages long.

What was that thing I was striving for?

My thirst for writing my second horror/urban fantasy novel (I haven’t made up my mind yet) had evaporated. So as a writer who has many ideas tucked away, I decided to write a first draft of a fantasy story that I had been mind mapping. Two pages in, bring, bring. (Sorry but I got sick of writing ring, ring.)

I need to take a nanny nap. I need to find a way of keeping my sanity on the straight and narrow because in time I will find a routine suitable to my new unexpected lifestyle. I guess this pig-poop-covered curve ball of change made me step back more than a few steps because I knew that I was ready for my writing career to advance. I had been working hard to get it up and running.

I have to remember, as long as I write, I am still a writer. Yes I am a mother, wife, writer and now receptionist, book-keeper and according to some a mind reader. (You know that thing on the thingy that is like the other thing …) You get the picture. I know there are successful writers out there who have had it tougher than me. I would like to take the time to thank them for keeping me focused and working towards a future in the writing business. It’s funny, when we are faced with such a stinky curve ball we actually don’t see the positive that can come out of such a strike. We focus on the stink and that’s all.

Writing this post has somewhat settled the nerves.

As for that anorexic piranha chomping on my middle finger; he’s just choked on a knuckle.

If only the encyclopedias could have imprinted my brain with all that knowledge instead of flattening the back of my head and giving me a permanent bad hair day.

The not so amused muse infused. (What a mouthful.)

E. J. McLaughlin