Codswallop

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My poor neglected writerly blog! I have dusted off the cobwebs and shooed away the spiders (spiders, web, get it?….ah, nevermind πŸ™‚ ) and am happy to report I am once again back in the writing swing. And by that, I mean, I am starting tomorrow πŸ˜‰

In the meantime, I have been happily trawling the pages of a book I was recently sent. * I am under no obligation to provide a written review, other than the fact that they sent it to me for free, which, does not actually qualify anyone for a free review, as it happens to me all the time and I don’t write reviews on books I think are rubbish, even when they are sent to me for free.

There. Now that we have the technicalities out of the way, let’s talk about the book, shall we?

The book is called Curious English words and phrasesΒ and is written by Max Cryer, a New Zealander, I believe, but we won’t hold that against him πŸ™‚

Essentially, it’s a book which contains the explanations for lots and lots of words and phrases that we use all the time and don’t really know the meaning of. And if we know the meaning, I’m willing to bet none of us know the origin.

I am finding it fascinating. There are phrases like ‘bum’s rush’ (which I have never heard but for obvious reasons, was interested in the meaning!) and the origin of the phrase ‘all’s fair in love and war’ – it dates back to 1578! and words like ‘dishy’ and the good ole Aussie word, ‘shonky’.

It is well laid out, written in easy to read language and generally fun and informative. Once you’ve read it you will be suitably armed for dinner parties, stunning your host and other guests with your newly acquired knowledge of the English language as well as making sure your presence is requested for any self respecting Trivia night. What more could you want?

The only thing I wish it had, and it doesn’t, is an index. It would be handy to be able to quickly look up a word without rifling through the whole book. It is in alphabetical order though, so maybe I’m just lazy.

Now, the first one to comment with the correct meaning and origin of the word ‘codswallop’ wins a prize! Well, when I say prize, I really just mean you’ll get the kudos for being the first one… πŸ™‚

Ten reasons why extrovert-writers are doing it tough

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I see it mentioned frequently in books, blogs and other media that writers are mainly introverts. Be that as it may, there are some of us who aren’t. We’re extroverts. Now, normally, as an extrovert, I would talk up being an extrovert and try to tell all the introverts to be like us. It’s fun! we cry as introverts run with their hands blocking their ears into their caves, terrified of the party streamers and music we are playing on full volume.

Normally, being an extrovert is The. Best. Thing. In. The. World.

But!

Being an extroverted writer has it’s down side.

(Extroverts reading this: Bear with me. It’s shocking, I know, to contemplate there being anything remotely negative about being an extrovert.

Introverts reading this: I know you are all excited at the prospect that being an extrovert isn’t really ‘all that’ but I also know that deep down, you still wish you were like us.)

1. Being the party animals that we are, it is hard to find time to write, given that our social calendars are continuously overflowing.

2. When we are out, we talk to so many people and collect sooooo much fodder for stories that we start far too many projects to feasibly work on.

3. People call us. All the time. And I mean quite literally. I’m not exaggerating – my phone has rung four times just writing this post.

4. Because of our innate interest in everything around us and people’s desire for us to be involved in any and every conversation/happening in the house, we are never given a moments peace to put our fingers to the keyboard.

5. Social media is our cryptonite. I seriously start having heart palpitations if I am away from my computer for more than 22 minutes, clearly a major hazard to my health.

6. We have so many interesting, funny, moving things to either read to you from a blog or re-tell (adding our own unique flavour to it of course!) that we know you are just dying to hear about. Well, we don’t want to let you down, so instead of working on our MS, we are duty bound to sit down with a cuppa and entertain you, sometimes for hours on end.

7. There are so many pretty, shiny things on the net to look at, so many pictures of cats and babies to share on our fb wall, that research is virtually rendered impossible.

8. Unlike you introverts, spending hours on end, in our pyjamas, surrounded by dirty coffee cups, with stale breath and the slight smell of sweat in the air, is NOT our favourite way to spend a weekend.

9. The expectations on us are enormous. Extroverts are favoured by society. Imagine the fallout from turning into an introvert due to locking oneself away to write a book. We simply can’t take that risk.

10. We are so busy figuring out what we will wear to our book launch, where it will be held, who we will invite, which TV stations will we agree to be featured on, that sometimes, just sometimes, we forget to actually write aΒ book.

So you can see quite clearly, we are very hard-done-by, us extrovert writers. But don’t worry, introverts, we will soldier on. That’s just how amazing we are.

 

 

Staying on the wagon

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Today, I am delighted to have a guest spot on the fabulous Krissy Brady‘s blog.

I will be sharing some tips for staying on the writing wagon, so feel free to have a read and share any tips of your own in the comments section (I need all the tips I can get!).

See you over there!

And now presenting….(drum roll, please)

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My cyber friend/encourager/supporter, 4amwriter.com, kindly nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award! Thanks, 4amwriter πŸ™‚

This fun award was created to recognise blogs with fewer than 200 followers/subscribers. (One day, I hope to be out of the running!)

The Rules are:

Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them. (check!)

Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. (check – see below)

Post the award on your blog. (done)

Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogsphere – other bloggers. (oh yeah, I’m feelin’ it)

And, best of all – have fun and spread the blogging love. (ongoing)

My top 5 picks – I have no idea about how many followers or subscribers these blogs have, but they are worthy, and as I have never been too fond of rules, I’m quite happy to flaunt that particular one πŸ™‚

Karen S Elliot – the word shark. I have never met a more word savvy, information filled, freakishly smart about all things word-y person than this woman. That she is also kind, generous and full of useful tips and advice for a novice blogger like me is a bonus. Thanks for your support Karen!

Nancy Lauzon – the chick dick mysteries.Β I love Nancy’s blog because while it is predominately about writing, she also steps off that path to explore other wonderful things. And I love the Chick Dick Mysteries!

mapelba – the fairy tale asylum.Β Besides the fact that I just love the title of this blog, I am a fan of mapelba and have been happily hopping about with her from place to place. This is a fun blog (with wonderful writing) where you just never know what you might find.

Christi Craig. Christi’s previous page was called Writing Under Pressure which really attracted me to her site because I can identify with that! Christi’s blog is a great place to be reminded why we write, celebrate the highs and empathise with the struggles, as well as an occasional excellent author interview.

Tonia Marie Houston – passionfind.Β I think Tonia and I both started our blogs around the same sort of time, so I feel a sense of affiliation and connectedness based on that, together with the fact that we are both unpublished wannabe authors who are trying to juggle kids, life and our crazy idea of one day seeing our name on the spine of book. Besides that, Tonia’s blog is interesting, often heartfelt and always savvy. From one aspiring author to another – go Tonia!

I hope you have fun checking out these wonderful blogs. And, go ahead, make their day by leaving a comment about what you enjoyed πŸ™‚

 

Ho-hum, ho hum, no writing has been done.

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Well, I have not only fallen off the ‘words per day’ wagon, I gave it a nice push along and watched it careen off the road and smash into a cliff.
I’m not sure why. I’m pretty sure I don’t have a credible reason, I don’t really even have any good excuses at the ready. I just haven’t written. Full stop.
I have had some great, useful, constructive feedback. I haven’t been any busier than normal, and I am not perilously ill. I don’t feel ‘stuck’ or have the dreaded ‘writers block’.
See? No excuses at all.
So why, I ask myself, why have I not written?
If I really dig deep and examine myself, the only thing I can see that just might pass as a reason is that I am once again feeling overwhelmed by the whole process.
It seems insurmountable to finish this novel, to then do copious amounts of re-writes and editing, to then endure repeated rejections and knock backs from publishers.
It just seems like a completely unachievable thing.
But.
I then realise why I am writing it in the first place. Because the story I have in me, wants to be told.
And it really is as simple as that. And that, is why I will put my behind back in the chair again tomorrow and write.
Simple!

Read this…or do it later, your choice.

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I was going to write a post about procrastination but I’ll get around to it later….only kidding! I’m not that much of a procrastinator.

But I am often tempted to procrastinate when working on my MS. One of my favourite ways to procrastinate is what I am doing right now πŸ˜›

However, I have a full repertoire of procrastinate techniques which are many and varied:

β€’ I am often lured by fb scrabble, fb zuma blitz, fb bejewelled blitz (anyone noticing a theme…?)

β€’ I Β can be found wandering into teenager’s bedrooms, cup of tea in hand, looking for a chat

β€’ the folding of the washing will become a matter of huge importance and unable to be ignored

β€’ my husband finds he has more cups of coffee than he can drink and ends up not doing any work himself due to my ‘popping in’ to see how he is going

β€’ I decide I must research the origin of one word that I may or may not use in one sentence

Seriously people, I could go and on. How about you? What are your favourite ways to procrastinate? Because, obviously, I need a few more πŸ˜›

Writing up a storm

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There was some chatter recently over on the Writers Unboxed facebook page regarding writing our baddies and why it’s so much easier to write our antagonists over our protagonists.

I agree, writing my villains in fun and I enjoy that so much more than the ‘good’ characters. Not quite sure what that says about me, or writers in general as it seems to be the consensus, but I am happy to just go with it and not analyse it too much.

There have been some other posts from writers along the lines of “oooh, raining today – perfect writing weather!” Now, it is. We all like to stay cozied up inside on a rainy day with copious cups of tea and coffee and generally bunker down.

Same goes for windy weather with me. I love the sound of the wind. It’s probably because as a child I was never allowed out in it, due to asthma, and so my association with hearing the wind is finding something interesting to do inside and staying safe and warm while the wind rattled and howled outside.

So what is it about adverse weather conditions that make our creative juices flow? Is it just that it’s ‘stay indoors’ weather? Whereas on bright, beautiful, sunny days we feel we ought to be out enjoying it and not inside with our fingers tapping away at a keyboard? Maybe bad weather is like a free pass. No guilt required writing time.

For me, bliss is rain/wind plus being up to writing a villain scene. Developing a ‘nasty’ character while the rain pelts and the wind dances on the roof is simply wonderful.

After all, don’t we also associate bad events/people with bad weather? Nobody ever read “It was a dark and stormy night” and was cheered up or thought “Oh, nice, a lovely feel-good read”, now did they?

How about you? What weather conditions get you in the writerly mood?

Five things I learnt from Fiona McIntosh

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Wow. What a completely, mind-blowingly, fantastically, amazing workshop. I could listen to Fiona all day, every day for as long as she kept talking. Such generosity of sharing the craft of writing! I felt like I wanted to write down every single word she said because each one was a pearl. If I had rocked up and she said she was going to be talking about what she had for breakfast each day, I still would have been happy. The woman is pure gold.

I know, I know, my excitement about Fiona is bordering on scary stalker behaviour but seriously, she is fab.

Okay, gushing over, now down to business. What did I learn?

Here are just five of the things I learnt from the Fantasy Mistress:

β€’ Bring the five senses into your writing. So often I just use ‘sight’, closely followed by ‘sound’. Using smell, touch and taste is trickier but well worth the effort, adding richness and depth to writing.

β€’ No excuses for not writing. We have all been told such things as “just write” and “you can’t edit nothing” etc etc, but Fiona’s life when she wrote her first novel in ten weeks (I think it was ten – could be more, could be less) so closely mirrors mine that I really do have absolutely no excuse for not putting my bum in the seat and fingers on the keyboard day after day.

β€’ Treat the ‘world’ as another character. In fantasy writing, the world that is created is very important to give the whole story that ‘fantasy’ context. Treating it like another character was a light bulb moment for me – show just enough so readers get a sense of the world, and leave just enough mystery that their imaginations do the rest.

β€’ Give your villain a good attribute. Creating villains is fun! Adding a good character trait to them will make them three dimensional and real. No one is ever 100% evil, so your villain will be more believable and interesting if they show their soft side.

β€’ Plumb the depths of your own emotions. Stories are all about emotion. If you don’t ‘feel’ when you write, how will your reader? Confronting as it is, exploring my own emotions and translating them to my writing builds better, richer characters.

I could go on and on about all I learnt in just one day with Fiona McIntosh but these are the ones that are the most important for me right now with my story.

This workshop, that I went to with such high expectations, didn’t disappoint. So, thank you, Fiona McIntosh, aka the Fantasy Mistress, because even though I am terrified, insecure, and scared of finishing this damn book, I am also 100% determined to do it πŸ™‚

Me and Fiona McIntosh

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I am off to Canberra this weekend, partly to see our boy down there, partly to attend a one-day workshop with my favourite author, Fiona McIntosh.

I can’t wait!

The workshop is specifically on creating fantasy worlds and characters. Right up my alley. I am hoping to somehow just absorb every. single. thing. she says.

I can’t tell what I am more excited about – meeting Fiona McIntosh or actually being able to learn from her. Both are equally wonderful to me!

One of my concerns is being so starry eyed that I make a complete fool of myself and she ends up wondering if all her readers/fans are total twits like me. Β I don’t get too tongue-tied very often and am not overly swayed by ‘big names’.

But.

I have such enormous respect and admiration for this author, who is so generous with sharing writing craft, and who is so down to earth, that I am a little in awe. When I first started my MS, I sent her an email with some fantasy genre questions. I received a very thorough and detailed personal reply the next day. I was so excited that I could hardly contain myself. I immediately rang my best friend who aptly likened it to her receiving a personal email from Dr Phil (she is a psychologist). Yes. It was exactly like that for me.

So, the trick for me this weekend will be to try and act normal. Can I do it? I hope so but I will keep you posted!

Scrivener and me and my WIP

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Well, I have given Scrivener a good go. And I love it. I wish I had had it from the beginning of my WIP.

Firstly the tutorial is really thorough and easy to follow. I was a little overwhelmed, wondering how I would ever remember it all. But, you can go back to the tutorial as many times as you like, which is great.

Scrivener has soooooo many features I like.

I particularly like having everything in the one spot and all easily accessible.

The corkboard feature is great – with a synopsis of each scene and chapter.

One of the cool things is a character and place template. I haven’t used either of them, but I can see how, in the planning stages, they would be just fabulous.

One of my biggest issues when writing is the temptation to edit, over and over again. With Scrivener, because it is all chopped into scenes, that temptation is reduced. I can just re-read over that scene and keep writing, instead of being tempted to trawl through pages and pages. And, because the scenes all have names and a synopsis in the ‘inspector’ panel, I can easily see where I am up to, without having to re-read. This has meant that I have written far more each time I have opened my WIP, than I have in the past. Definite bonus.

It is also great when you need to check on something, say, what a character did or didn’t do in chapter two, you can just go straight there, and not have to scroll and scroll to the right bit. I love this. This also helps with the timeline factor – it’s so easy to double check when you wrote something happened and avoid time consuming mistakes further on.

When actually writing, the ‘compose’ button allows you to write in a blank space and keeps the cursor in the middle of the page, so there is no scrolling, page breaks etc. Lovely.

In the outline option, there is the ability to designate a word count target. I haven’t used that yet, but I like the idea of it πŸ™‚

There really is just so many cool functions available to use, many of which I have not played with yet, but which are all there if I need them.

I will definitely be buying the full version, and, no, I have no affinity with the company πŸ™‚

Whilst, obviously, a manuscript can be written without any such fancy program, having everything in one place, with the ability to then ‘compile’ it all together into whatever format you like, I can see will be a huge time saver when I come to the end and am ready to start sending it out.

I love it.