Archive | June 2013

Shine on blog award

shine-on blog award

I’ve received this award nomination from the lovely Jade Reyner. The rules are:

1. Display the award on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. State 7 random facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers to receive the award.

So my 7 random facts are as follows:

1. I met my husband at a castle.
2. When I was growing up I was a massive fan of the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ books. And I still am. :)
3. My husband and I have a golden retriever called Dug who was extremely naughty and difficult as a puppy.
4. When I passed my driving test on the fourth attempt I couldn’t believe I’d actually managed it and the examiner seemed surprised that I was surprised!
5. I like all sorts of films from Bridget Jones’s Diary to Gladiator.
6. One of my favourite places to visit is Cornwall where all my mum’s family live.
7. I really want to go to San Francisco one day.

My list of nominees for this award are:

1. Amber Roettger
2. Cassandra Page
3. Celuth
4. Destiny Allison
5. Eden Mabee
6. E M Castellan
7. Ionia Martin
8. Jennifer M Eaton
9. Jessica Minyard
10. K L Schwengel
11. Kait Nolan
12. Kate Sparkes
13. L. Marie
14. Laekan Zea Kemp
15. Vicki Lemp Weavil

This entry was posted on June 30, 2013. 4 Comments

Finding the inspiration

Inspiration

Perhaps the title for my contribution to this week’s Thursday’s Children isn’t very original, since writing about where we find the inspiration for our writing is what we do every week for Thursday’s Children, right? But I’m not talking simply about where we find our inspiration but how to find it.

In terms of where we can find inspiration for our writing – well it’s all around us. In nature, in music, in film and in books, from our families – the list is endless. That’s all very well. But what about how we find inspiration? How do we tap in to all these infinite wells of inspiration and use them to shape and improve our writing?

I’ve found it very helpful to communicate with other writers, whether face to face or digitally when I need to know how to find inspiration. Other writers can give us perspective on our work, help us to see how we can turn that sentence around, so that we’re showing rather than telling. (Showing rather than telling is something I find really hard to do!) Or maybe another writer might tell us how we could improve the dialogue in that pesky scene we just can’t seem to get right.

Maybe you think I’m going off on a tangent here, but actually style in our writing is vital if we want to learn how to tap in to all this inspiration that’s around us. OK so you may be really inspired by the beauty of spring, but if you can’t write about it without your work looking and sounding clunky you won’t be going anywhere with it. Your work will be the opposite of inspired – it’ll be heavy and uninspiring.

Working on style in our writing is hugely important. If we perfect it enough, it can enable us to use what inspires us to make our work inspiring to our readers. Not enough adjectives and our work is lifeless, but use too many and it can be overkill. Not enough dialogue and our work can become dry and barren. Too much dialogue and our writing can end up feeling colourless because we haven’t set the scene. There has to be a happy medium.

So how else do we find the way to use the inspiration we have around us? It’s not easy but I believe that with writing the old saying is true: practice makes perfect. Yes I know it’s a cliche. But our writing will only improve if we keep on persevering with it. Our brains need exercising to keep them sharp and I think it’s true of our writing too. We need to do something towards our writing every day. Whether it’s adding a few more paragraphs or pages to our work in progress or updating our blogs as I’m doing now, to keep our writing fresh and interesting instead of stale and boring we need to be constantly practicing.

I’m sure there are many other ways of how to find inspiration for our writing. But the ones I’ve mentioned are certainly important and are some of the things I’m trying to think about in my own work. If you can think of others, please let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you would like to join in the blog hop fun that is Thursday’s Children, simply write a post on your blog about what is currently inspiring your writing. Then add your name to this linky. Big thanks go to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.

Not another WIPpet Wednesday!

wippetwednesday

OK I don’t really mean that. But I needed a catchy title for this week’s WIPpet Wednesday so I chose that one. And I have to say WIPpet Wednesday comes around so fast it’s as though it’s chasing me, saying ‘Another excerpt, another excerpt’. And then I have to think of a suitable one to share with you, one that doesn’t give away too much of the plot, one that is interesting etc.

So today being the 26th June, I’m going to share with you a little over 26 lines from chapter 6 where I left off last week. Here you go:

They followed him inside the restaurant which was large and opulent. The polished tables gleamed dully in the soft light and the chairs with their ruby red cushioned backs looked soft and inviting. Anna was glad she’d dressed up. This place oozed wealth. But hadn’t Peter said it was nothing special? Perhaps it wasn’t by London standards… A smartly dressed waiter approached them.

‘Good evening,’ he said. ‘Welcome to La Passione. Have you booked tonight?’ he asked.

‘No,’ Peter said, ‘but if it’s possible we’d like a table for three.’

‘One moment please sir, I’ll check.’ He disappeared for a moment then returned. ‘Yes we have a table for three. If you’d like to follow me. May I take your coats?’

‘So, Anna,’ Peter began as they waited for their starters, ‘tell me more about how your novel’s coming along.’

Anna could almost feel Melissa’s expectant gaze on her face. She felt a little bashful and almost shy. But as she began to speak, her enthusiasm for her work took over and the shyness that had been enveloping her slid off as though she were shedding a layer of clothing.

‘Well it’s coming along all right now after a slow start. My characters are starting to leap off the page at me as if they’re real. I’ve found that once that starts to happen it’s generally a sign that my story’s taking off. You know, it’s surreal how as an author the characters you create can take on a life of their own.’

Peter was nodding. ‘Yes, a lot of my clients say the same thing. It must be quite thrilling to have characters you’ve intended to do one thing suddenly do another.’

If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday, simply post on your blog an excerpt from you current WIP or something new that you’ve come up with which you’d like to share. The only condition is that it has to in some way relate to the date – so you could do as I’ve done and share 26 lines from chapter 6 (for the 26th June) or it could be 6 lines from chapter 13 (June 2013). You can be flexible. When you’ve done that add your name to this linky. Thanks goes to K.L. Schwengel as always for hosting.

Interview with Kate Frost

Kate FrostAlmost two weeks ago Kate Frost published her first novel The Butterfly Storm. She’s currently on a blog tour to promote it and as part of that I’ve been privileged enough to interview her about writing her novel and the challenges she faced along the way. Here is what she had to say.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

When I was seven. Following open-heart surgery for a hole in my heart I had home tuition for a few months. The two things I remember learning about were dinosaurs and punctuation. My tutor basically gave me the tools to write dialogue and stories, and that was it, from that moment on I was hooked.

How did you come up with the idea for The Butterfly Storm?

It all began with Greece as I knew that was where the setting of the novel, at least in part, was going to be and then my main character Sophie began to filter in when I started thinking about how and why someone would end up living in Greece. It just snowballed from there; I didn’t actually start writing it with any real structure in place. I knew of certain scenes that I wanted to include but I didn’t exactly know where it was heading and I certainly didn’t know the ending.

Did writing The Butterfly Storm require much research and if so what did that research
involve?

One of the main reasons why I began writing The Butterfly Storm when I did was because I didn’t want to write a novel that required much research. For the MA in Creative Writing I was doing at the time the main requirement was to write 40,000 words of a novel to publishable standard in less than 12 months and so I wanted a story that I could simply get stuck into rather than having to spend a chunk of time wrapped up in research. The fact that I’d spent time in Greece and north Norfolk, the two places that feature heavily in the novel, helped greatly in me being able to just put the words down, all 40,000 of them!

What’s the biggest challenge you faced while writing it?

To take on board the comments of an editor who was interested in publishing it and then having to start almost from scratch with it and be ruthless, cutting chapters that didn’t actually have a place in the story (originally there were flashback chapters), rewrite other sections and then write a handful of completely new chapters. It was a lot of hard work but it taught me so much. I now have no problem at all cutting words, sentences, paragraphs or even whole chapters that I know don’t work!

What have you found to be most helpful to your growth and development as a writer?

Without a doubt it’s been the time I’ve spent workshopping my work with other writers and getting constructive feedback on what works and what doesn’t, what sections are redundant and what doesn’t make sense. I think it’s so important to get feedback from others as a lot of the time you’re too wrapped up in the story you’ve created to look at it through unbiased eyes.

What has the experience of going through the self-publishing process been like for you?

It’s been an exciting one and one I’ve got more passionate about as I’ve gone along. At the time I started writing The Butterfly Storm (nine years ago) self-publishing was very much frowned upon and so it had taken me quite a long time to come around to the idea and be comfortable with the thought of publishing it myself. But I’m so pleased and proud that I have done and I certainly don’t feel that it’s second best. I’ve taken on board all the comments and advice I’ve had from the writers I workshopped the novel with and the feedback I got from agents and publishers and so I know I’ve got a decent novel. What self-publishing has given me is the ability to be in control of it, which is hard work, but very satisfying being able to choose the cover, arrange for it to be proofread and organise the marketing and promoting side of things. It’s been a very positive experience so far and hopefully it’s just the beginning.

Looking back over the whole process of writing The Butterfly Storm and publishing it, is
there anything you’d do differently?

Yes, I’d have more faith in myself and wouldn’t have left it nine years to get to this point! Having said that I’ve learnt an awful lot during this time and have grown as a writer so I certainly think The Butterfly Storm is a far stronger novel than it would have been if I’d published it five years ago.

The Butterfly Storm image

Have you got any tips for other aspiring writers?
To keep writing and improving and to not give up. Perseverance is key as is a thick skin if you send your work out to agents and publishers. Also write the story that you want to write. If you don’t enjoy writing it the chances are a reader won’t enjoy reading it either.

You can buy The Butterfly Storm from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

**Anyone who buys The Butterfly Storm between Friday 14th and Friday 28th June and emails the Amazon receipt to kactus@kate-frost.co.uk will be put into a prize draw to win one of two £5/$5 Amazon vouchers.

Books – Thursday’s Children

Books

I thought that for this week’s Thursday’s Children I would write a short piece on how books I’ve read have inspired my writing. I can’t remember if I’ve covered this ground before but I’m gonna go with it anyway!

I’ve read a lot of books in my life – a lot. But some have been more inspiring to me than others. When I was growing up I read voraciously. Some of my happiest reading memories are of walking around the corner from my family’s house to the mobile library. It was a sort of truck which contained a library inside – it was fantastic. I would go there with my mum and we’d choose books together for me to read. It was so much fun.

One of my favourite series of books was Anne of Green Gables. I loved those books so much as well as the TV series. They were fantastic. I really identified with Anne in all her troubles. OK so I’ve never dyed my hair green or found a mouse in a cooking sauce! But as a character, I found her sympathetic and I could visualise myself in some of the situations she found herself in.

I guess I can’t say that one single book I read as a child influences my writing today. But I do think that those books which, like Anne of Green Gables, had characters I could empathise with are the ones that really do have a bearing on what I write today. The stories where the MC is struggling, having to face people who may taunt them, having to deal with their insecurity or lack of self esteem.

thurschilbadgejpg

Those are the kind of stories which have stayed with me, which have stayed in my mind long after I’ve read the final chapter. A story such as Jane Eyre, where the heroine survives against all odds or another survivor such as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And they are the kind of story I’d love to be able to write, one that is memorable and stays in the mind of the reader for a long time after they’ve finished reading it.

If you would like to take part in Thursday’s Children, simply write on your blog about what inspires your writing. Then add your name to this linky. Thanks as always to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.

Meeting – WIPpet Wednesday

Meeting

The picture I’ve inserted in this post is not ideal but it’s the best I could come up with to go with the subject matter. I just fancied a change from the regular WIPpet Wednesday image as I’ve used that quite a bit lately. Anyway moving swiftly on, I’m sharing 19 lines from chapter 6 of my current WIP Reunion. Although I’ve said that’s the working title, I may well keep it as I think it works well with my story.

So onto the excerpt. I have a little fact to reveal about my main character Anna. She’s a published, full time author (original, huh??!!) and in this part of my story (almost up to as far as I’ve got with it) she’s going out for a meal in a swanky London restaurant with her new agent, who she met earlier in the day. Her best friend Melissa is with them. (Melissa has accompanied Anna to London so that they can have a mini holiday as well as Anna discussing business with Peter.)

‘Anna!’ he called. ‘And you must be Anna’s friend.’ Anna saw with relief that it was Peter Fletcher as he emerged into the soft orange glow of the streetlights. He held out his hand for Melissa to shake as he reached them. ‘I’m Peter Fletcher, Anna’s agent.’

‘Melissa Lyons,’ she replied. ‘It’s good to meet you.’

‘I’m glad I managed to find the right place,’ Anna said to him. ‘London’s so big.’

‘It certainly is, but even so I’ve found that it’s possible to find your way around if you live here long enough. Let’s get inside. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.’

They followed him inside the restaurant which was large and opulent. The polished tables gleamed dully in the soft light and the chairs with their ruby red cushioned backs looked soft and inviting. Anna was glad she’d dressed up. This place oozed wealth. But hadn’t Peter said it was nothing special? Perhaps it wasn’t by London standards… A smartly dressed waiter approached them.

There you are. And that’s all you’re getting for this week mwahahahaha! If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday simply post on your blog an excerpt from your current work in progress OR if you’re feeling creative/ have run out of stuff to share, something that you’ve written especially for WIPpet Wednesday. The only rule is that it has to relate in some way to the date – so it could be 19 words from chapter 6 or 6 paragraphs from chapter 19. Or just 19 lines from what you’ve written today. You can be flexible.

Then simply add your blog post to this linky. Thanks once more to K.L. Schwengel for hosting.

Friday feeling

Friday feeling

Hey Hey it’s Friday! Yay! Bring on the weekend. :)

OK I’ll keep this short cos it’s Friday evening and I’m completely knackered. Let’s just say it’s been a busy week, but an interesting one.

I’ve started looking into both proofreading and freelance writing as possible jobs I could do and I’m really excited about that. Plus my great friend Kate Frost has invited me to a book launch next Wednesday evening where I’ll hopefully get to meet some more lovely writer-types. :D

The weekend ahead looks fairly quiet which is fine by me. I’ve got a lovely meal with my parents-in-law to look forward to on Sunday, which is always wonderful because my in-laws are fabulous and my mother-in-law is a great cook. Good times! This weekend I really need to start filling in my application for a new passport as my old one has nearly expired. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off because it looks like a real faff. And also I won’t be able to get it all done this weekend as I need someone to prove to the powers that be that I am who I say I am and not a robot/alien! Gotta get that passport photo done too.

So that’s the not-so-nice part, but actually I should also be able to get on with some writing and continue apace with my new(ish) WIP Reunion. Added to that a couple of dog walks, and that’s how my weekend’s shaping up to be. Have to say that Reunion is going really well, but obviously this is only the first draft and I’m sure I’ll change plenty of it along the way.

All right, that really is all I can manage tonight. Looking forward to next week when I can join in with WIPpet Wednesday and Thursday’s Children once more and generally connect with all you lovely writers.

Have a great weekend.

E.

This entry was posted on June 14, 2013. 4 Comments

Nothing – Thursday’s Children

thurschilbadgejpg

I came up with this catchy (?) blog post title because I was feeling my wells of Thursday’s Children inspiration running dry. For weeks now I’ve been able to come up with something at least slightly different every time. Not today. So instead I thought I’d consider that word: ‘nothing’.

I guess you could say it’s a word that us writers dread. The feeling we – or certainly I – get when yearning for a bit of inspiration, but as we stare at the computer screen nothing comes to mind. We can’t focus; we may be able to write something but it’s not what we were intending to write, it’s not good enough for us. It’s nothing.

So I guess what I was thinking of making a point about is just this: how do we as writers get past the ‘nothing’ stage and reach the ‘something’ stage instead, the stage where we can actually write? Perhaps you think I’m talking about writer’s block and I suppose you could say that.  But it’s not simply writer’s block, I don’t think.  It’s not just that we can’t think of what to write.   It’s also that we’ve lost the ability to get our brains to focus and get out of this funk where we simply can’t see past the next paragraph.

I think at times like this there are a  number of things we can do.  And they don’t all involve writing or other writers.  Sometimes we just need time away from that computer.  Or manuscript.  It can be good to take a complete break, re-energize our ‘little grey cells’ as that famous fictional detective Hercule Poirot would say.  If you can afford it, why not have a short holiday?  Maybe a long weekend somewhere you’ve never been before.  It doesn’t have to be abroad; it could be somewhere in your own country you’ve never visited.  You might want to take a notepad and pen with you – but maybe leave it at that.

Don’t take the laptop, printout or detailed notes.  Have a rest – you’ve earned it.  Just focus on the real world around you for a change, not the one in your head.  Or if not a holiday, maybe change your daily routine a little if you can.  Try walking the kids to school instead of driving them.  Do what I often do and get off the bus a few stops early to walk the last quarter of a mile.  Get out and about on your bike if you have one.  Enjoy the great outdoors.

Because as hard as it may be, sometimes we need to escape from our writing.  We need time out to recharge our batteries.  I know it’s a well worn saying, but it’s true.  You could get out and see your friends more.  When you meet them, try not to talk writing.  Talk about your families, your hopes for the future (maybe keep writing out of your big plans for the future if you can), any future holidays you may have planned.  Hey you could even talk politics.  (Or maybe not if you don’t want a big argument with your best friend because you’ve discovered that politically at least you’re poles apart!!)

Read a book.  Choose one that’s a completely different genre from your own novel.  Because it can be so easy to just settle down into the same grooves, and read something that you’re comparing your work-in-progress to.  I find reading can be an escape.  Why not read a classic novel?  Maybe that might take your mind away from that early 21st century vampire novel you’re trying to write.  It could be a British novel from the nineteenth century.  Or perhaps an American novel from the 1920s.  Either way, escapism is key I think.

Then when you think you’ve had so much caffeine at those coffee shops with your friend that you’re never going to sleep again, or you’re broke after spending money you really didn’t have whilst on that quick getaway holiday, why not return to your work-in-progress.  You might just find that your ‘nothing’ has turned to ‘something’ after your time spent away from it.  As has this blog post for me. :)

If you would like to take part in Thursday’s Children, simply write a blog post about whatever inspires your writing.  Then add your name to this linky.  Thanks once again to the wonderful Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting.

A new start – WIPpet Wednesday

wippetwednesday

Hello fellow WIPpeteers! How’s your week been? Mine’s been interesting, lots of new developments including looking in to doing some proofreading for fellow authors… Anyway back to today. The excerpt that I’m sharing today is from my WIP which has the working title of ‘Reunion’. I’m sharing the opening 12 lines, it being the 12th June today. I have a feeling I shared the opening of this before BUT – and it’s a big but – I’ve been tweaking it, trying to make it grab the reader more from the beginning. Please let me know what you think. BTW big shout out to my good friend Kate Frost who’s publishing her novel The Butterfly Storm today. Yay for Kate!

‘That’s the last of them.’
Anna couldn’t answer. Her eyes were full of tears which obstinately refused to go away. Melissa looked at her with concern.
‘Are you OK, Anna?’
Anna shrugged by way of reply. Then gulping, she somehow found her voice. ‘I’m so glad you’re staying,’ she whispered. ‘It’s been pretty awful really.’
Melissa put an arm around her shoulder and squeezed. ‘Well it’s all in the past now. It’s a new start for both of us.’

If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday, all you have to do is post an excerpt from your blog which relates somehow to the date, so it being the 12th June I’ve shared 12 lines. Or it could be 12 paragraphs. Or 12 words. You could even get clever and take 12 lines from chapter 6! Go on, get creative. :) Then add your link to this linky. Thanks as always to K.L. Schwengel for hosting.

Proofreading

Proofreading

Hi all. I’ve been thinking about getting into proofreading. I’ve had a bit of practice at it for myself and others, and think I have a talent for it.

I’m thinking that to start off with I’d proofread a couple of manuscripts for free so that people can see what they think of my skills and go from there.

So if there’s any of you who would fancy having their manuscript proofread for free, please let me know. My email address is: elaine.jeremiah@gmail.com

Happy writing!

This entry was posted on June 9, 2013. 6 Comments