Category Archives: reviews

Aspiring authors; make a pact.

I was visiting Ollin’s site, Courage to Create this morning, and remembered an important part of my journey towards publication. It happened a long time ago, took seconds, but I suspect it was a pivotal moment.

I’d joined a writing group. I think there were about ten of us; all keen and excited to be working on our manuscripts, looking for useful advice and hopefully some positive feedback and encouragement.

Slowly, the numbers dwindled.  Some left after a rejection from a publisher. Or because life can get hectic and writing can start to look like a self-indulgent hobby. For all kinds of reasons.

In the end, it was just me, and Stephen.  We were both passionate about writing, absolutely determined in our desire to improve our work and stubbornly fixed in our quest to find a publisher.  Over a glass of red wine one night we shook hands and made a pact.

To never quit. Not ever.

Not when the rejection letter came in. Not when we couldn’t see a way to write the ending or improve one of the sagging chapters in the middle.  Not when we read a brilliant book and feared we’d never be good enough to scrape the mud from this author’s boots.

We sent each other interesting articles on writing. {Thank you Ste for the McKee book} We commiserated when we got rejected. And celebrated the wins. We gave each other stern talkings-to if one of us wavered and wanted to quit.

And we did it.

The books we were originally working on when we met were put aside and we started new ones. We were working at different speeds, trying different approaches, contacting different publishers, writing different genres, but somehow, in a weird twist of fate, we somehow managed to have our novels come out in exactly the same month: June this year.

So, here’s my question, writing friends; who can you make a pact with? If no one comes to mind, then perhaps it’s time to reach out and find some like-minded literary types to connect with.

Then, once you have your buddy ready….

… just hold out your hand [virtually is fine too] and shake hands, and make the same pact Stephen and I did all those years ago.

To never quit. Not ever.

I wish you all success and joy along the way.

xxx

Lisa

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Filed under authors, book launch, books, champagne, editors, fiction, I should be editing right now, opportunity for writers, Reading, red wine, reviews, tips for writers, writers, Writing

The most important question to ask while visiting earth

Writing can be a very healing, somewhat cathartic experience; hence the popularity of blogging.  We need to get things out of us and down on paper (or on-screen) in order to make sense of them. It’s like the difference between hearing directions to a destination, as opposed to seeing the map laid out before you (if you’re auditory, rather than visual, of course, you may prefer to hear the directions.)

The past twelve months have seen my life change in quite major ways and with these changes a question has been forming in my mind.  I think it’s an important question.

Is the world hostile, or friendly?

The immediate answer most people would give is that the world is both. Sometimes friendly, sometimes not. Perhaps it depends on where you live.  Or  it might change from day-to-day. Sun shining, love blooming, birds singing or planes crashing, lovers leaving, rain pouring.

I’m not talking about people living in abject poverty, or in war zones, or in the midst of a personal tragedy, although even people here have found ways to elevate their consciousness above their cruel circumstances (truly inspiring folk), but those of us who live in a relatively wealthy country, who have fresh water at the turn of the tap, food always available, a place to sleep, friends to confide in. What world do we inhabit?

Let us consider these two worlds for a moment, because they create very different experiences:

The world is hostile. Do we think that everyone is out to get us, that we never get a break, that Life isn’t fair, that no one cares, that it’s not safe to trust anyone, that life is hard, a struggle, one thing after another?

This is a sad place to be. I’ve visited this place many times. I went there during my divorce. I went there when my health declined. When my manuscript got rejected. I wrapped this sad place around my shoulders and dragged it around after me. I experienced a true heaviness of spirit. Everything goes wrong when you believe the world is hostile. Birds still sing, but you don’t hear them. Parking places are still there, but you miss them. Friends still love you, but you might not feel it.

stock photo Left behind

The world is friendly: Do we give and receive smiles easily, appreciate the simple things in life, notice beauty in our surroundings, make time to spend with the people we love, believe that everything happens for a good reason, treat ourselves with kindness and compassion?

This is heaven, this place; it can be worn as easily and lightly as Summer. I visited here after I got sick and tired of the other hostile world. I heard the birds singing, opportunities came to me without trying, I found the car parks, fell in love with everyone I encountered.

stock photo Bunch Of Roses

It started with a decision one day. With the question; is this place hostile or friendly?  I realised that life was a choice I had to make, it was not something that happened randomly to me. I made no conscious external changes (although they occurred without trying) but I did make a huge internal adjustment.  And that made all the difference.

I wish you all a friendly world.

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Should I be me or pretend to be someone better?

Milk Fever tiptoed into the book stores on Tuesday, and I thought long and hard about what image (or brand) I needed to project as a writer (many people have told me I need an image).

Right, an image.  I should probably try to look intellectual. [No more pink; my favourite colour].  Perhaps I should dye my blonde hair too?  My best friend claims to feel smarter now that she is a brunette.  Or do people just treat her differently? Not sure. I might experiment with that one.

My biggest fear is that I will say something ridiculous.  I am a blurter, you see.  I say whatever thought drops into my head in the moment, without censoring. I was born without the censoring chip.

Well, here is the list so far:

1. Dye blonde hair dark, people will assume I’m an intellectual.

2. Glasses?

3. Wear black more often, ditch the pink stuff.  Fortunately, I have a sleek looking black dress for the launch, although that leads me to number 4…

4. Observe a strict two glass limit on champagne in order to lessen blurting tendency. [I’m quite likely to blurt out things like, I love you, I don’t want to, Let’s go for it, That looks horrible etc. These are the mild ones.]

5. Do not engage in political conversations with anyone, ever, because this is an area where I can really show my ignorance. Stick to the weather.

6. Do not do a book reading when nervous, because nerves can make me dyslexic.

It’s not an inspiring list. I don’t feel like doing a happy dance when I read it. Although, it will probably keep me out of trouble. It’s what a lot of authors are, naturally, without trying.

Let’s see how I go.

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Is a book like a baby?

Books and babies can both be difficult to put down. They demand your attention when you have other things that need doing. They invoke a feeling of fierce loyalty when someone criticizes one you cherish.

An uncommon romance

And writing a book is a bit like being pregnant; morning sickness (nausea; when you discover that the words you wrote yesterday are not as brilliant as you suspected).  Fluid retention from sitting on your backside for hours and days at a time. Cravings for food, coffee, substances in an attempt to get the brain working.  And tiredness. Because using the brain and imagination can take up a lot of energy.

Then, the advance copy finally arrives in the mail; the moment you’ve been waiting for.

Holding the book in your hands after all the writing, stressing, rejections, stressing, re-writing, stressing, acceptance….stressing, editing, proofing, acknowledgments, stressing, photos, cover, is sheer heaven, and it’s quite likely that the baby won’t leave your hands for the rest of the day.

But tomorrow TODAY!! my baby is stepping out into the real world. Its first day of school. In the world of books. It will find its place on the shelves in the ‘R’ section. And I hope the other books will shuffle over a little to give it a place. I hope they are kind, because it’s still a bit wet behind the ears.

Hopefully, it will be read, and people will like it, although they might not, and that’s as it should be, because we all have such different tastes and I do respect diversity of opinion.

Yet, ultimately, we have to let our children go, out into the big wide world, no matter how scary that is, no matter how much we fear for them. And perhaps it’s scarier for mum than baby anyway. I do recall that I was the one who cried when my real child went to school for the first time; he, however, did not even look back. Sigh.

Not to worry, I think I’m pregnant again.

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Some people are natural detectives

Well, congratulations to the very clever blogger at:

shylockbooks…

for finding the editor, just a few heartbeats before I did.

My spirits soared when I saw that the blogger in question was a Jane Austen and Regency Period fan, like me. Check out the divine photo with the candle stick.

I want to be right there, in that dress, with my heart pounding, and the candle stick dripping wax on his hand, and the light making the night soft and golden.

All right, I got a bit carried away, but you must admit, it is divine.

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By jove, I think she’s done it!!

Wow, I think I’ve found him; the mysterious editor.

I was given the clue, ‘new romantics’ – an interesting group  and well worth perusing by the way, when I stumbled across a blog that I think belongs to Mr A.

I left a note on his blog (and an apology, in case I got it wrong) but I’m about 98% sure I’m right.

And you have to come clean if I’m right, buddy!

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How well do we understand our own writing?

Recently, a gentleman did a review on Milk Fever.  It was a complimentary review, which was a relief, but what surprised me most about it, was that he managed to find the very heart of what the story was about.

Why do I consider that strange?  Why was I surprised?

Well, because I didn’t know what the story was about myself.  If anyone asked me, I fumbled. That’s a terrible confession, I suspect, for an author to make; to not understand their own writing.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew a great deal about the characters, the setting, I could discuss the themes, point to the symbolism. I intentionally wrote the two main characters in different genre styles. I was aware of plot and technique; the nuts and bolts of writing.  But I had erected such a large structure, and my face was pressed close to the design, that I couldn’t see what I’d built.

Should I feel stupid for not seeing what was right in front of me and what someone else  easily discovered?  Possibly, but in truth, I’m just happy that the book’s heart has been found.  And I really don’t mind that I wasn’t the one to find it.

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