Author Talk: Deborah Burrows.

Tonight my daughter and I attended an author talk at our local library. I find these evenings very interesting, and as we are both aspiring writers we like to get to as many author talks as we can.

Tonight we listened to Deborah Burrows, author of Ambulance Girls (genre: Historical fiction), I had read about Deborah before tonight, finding out she is a lawyer by day and writer by night. A Perth girl, with a love for Oxford as well (lived there 2014-16). Listening to her tonight you can see and hear her love for history especially World War II.

debburrows

Deborah started the talk with the sound, of what we would have heard every night during the London Blitz, the warning sirens, the planes coming over, the gun shots from the ground to the bombs being dropped. We were asked to close our eyes and really listen to the sounds. For me the sounds were scary, intimidating and we were only listening to a recording and its 2017, not 1940. I loved how Deborah spoke of her main character, Lily (Australian),  you could see in her eyes the awe Deborah had  for her,  her tenacity, her courage and strength. Deborah drew you into the statistics of the London Blitz, which were amazing and scary to hear. Ambulance Girls will definitely be a book that will be on my to read list and to make its forever home on my book shelf, very soon.

I took away from tonight’s talk, the depth of her character, Deborah’s love for her character, and the history that it is set. As an aspiring writer, spending time listening to authors talk is of such necessity for learning and understanding for myself and my own writing. With a couple of tips taken and notes made, I look forward to continued pursuit of my own first novel, and a historical fiction myself.

Until next time, have a wonderful night.

Characters

I am working on my manuscript, and my third main character of said manuscript, just wouldn’t lend herself to talking with me as deeply as I needed her to. Then I hit a wall as I was writing today. There seems not enough depth to her was going over and over in my mind. She wasn’t talking to me as much as the other two main characters had. I understand she is an introvert and not overly talkative, but after 3 hours and 1300 words I stopped. After another hour of not writing, and going back to work, I paced around, and then sat down with pen and paper to see if I could write something that would fit better about her into the story line. I started with her career that she had, the relationship with her twins, and then it hit me…

I started to see an angle I hadn’t seen earlier in the day to where this character could have the depth that I was looking for. I have seen, with her career as it is such an important part of her life, that she can expand on it and see where her relationship with her girls has strained. I have to say that it was so much easier writing my other two characters than this particular one, even though I know where she leads to, to meet with the other main characters, its still not as easy as I thought it might have been. For me, and like I mentioned to someone at work tonight (who knows that I am writing) said that the characters need to speak to you, not you speak for them in the physical sense of the words that you want them to say and do, but its actually the characters that you embody, and they do talk to you as you write their words. As much as this sounds somewhat weird it has become my truth with the way I write.

Lessons learnt today, for when characters aren’t playing nice, pen and paper will help bring the necessary new angles to add depth to them allowing the writer to feel more of the character than tapping on the keys to no avail. Characters will let you know when they are ready to tell the story, and teach you patience as well. Oh and over thinking the situation that is causing the frustration won’t help either.

So with luck tomorrow night after work, I will be able to sit and chat with my character at length and in depth about her situations to help move the story along. I can see the last quarter of the novel is close insight and how I tie the three main characters together, which to me is exciting as I draw nearer to the time when I can write “The End” on my first draft of my very first novel.

Words, Words and more words.

Words, words, words, they have been flowing like a river that has broken it banks in a rain storm. Before this week I have had issues with so called writers block (I am currently reading Writing The Dream; A Serenity Press Anthology, where Jennifer Scoullar shares her opinion on writers block and I agree with what she says, ‘Its vital to keep reading, in and out of your genre, fiction and non-fiction. Reading fills up the creative well, and is just the tonic of a mild case of writer’s block. (I don’t believe in writer’s block per se. It is a malady that generally strikes when you’ve written yourself into a corner, and don’t know where the story is going next.’ When I read this the other night I looked back on the three weeks that I felt like I couldn’t write, but its wasn’t that I didn’t have any words, I did, I had hit a dead end in the story and couldn’t maneuver my characters in the way I wanted to. I also had a fair amount of everyday stress happening in my life as well, which I know can put a holt to any writing at during that time.

writing the dream

Well low and behold this past week, I have managed to spend the last six days writing, and making it a necessary part of my day. Monday 13th March I had a day off of work (my weekend) I got bits of time to sit at my desk, slowly the words came, not all in a hurry, but they trickled out onto the screen of my laptop. My total word count for Monday was 475. Tuesday back to my work routine, nothing much really happened during the day, though I could feel and see parts of my story continuing in my mind and was eager to get home and start writing. Nine o’clock I sit at my desk and the flood gates cracked 1111 words done in about an hour and a half and I was ready for bed and some reading to finish my night. Wednesday, a long day at work, feeling tired by the time I got home at 9:30pm I managed just under and hour to write, 243 words came to meet me. Thursday; a busy yet frustrating day had at work, though I made up for it at home with 630 words added and feeling good. The story was moving forward and I was feeling confident that I would have a good finish to the week. Friday an early start to a longer day as per usual. A good day had at work and feeling continuity from last nights writing, I was still on a roll with another 665 words in the manuscript bank account. Saturday, my favourite day, I start work at 8:30am I have a break from 12:30pm till 4:45pm where I can sit in my favourite café next to work, have great food, awesome coffee and write my day away, before going back to work for the rest of my shift. I was exhausted by the time I finished my writing, banking an awesome 2760 words for the day. I was ecstatic to have a balance of 5884 words for the week and the best part was I hit another milestone and clocked just over 70,000 words.

Sunday I have decided at this point to have a bit of a rest from my manuscript, and up date my blog, spend some time in the garden, maybe do a bit of research and really relax, though I think a little bit of writing tonight might be a good thing, keep the words flowing and the motion of moving my story forward, as I have 10 weeks, to have the first draft completed in, before resting her while I am away on holidays. It might be a good time to write my synopsis for my novel, that way I have part of the next phase started, as I managed to research publishers and what is needed once I get to the point of pitching my novel.

manuscript

Writing for me has become a lesson on life, patience in writing the story, patience when it comes to editing, patience when pitching and waiting for responses from publishers or agents. I have never really had a lot of patience growing up and going through life, now writing is teaching me that patience is a good thing, even though it can be frustrating at the same time.

 

 

Until next we meet, have a great week that is to come.

Goals

With just 11 weeks tomorrow, I fly from Perth to the other side of the world, and in nine weeks I turn 46 years old, on the 14th May, which is also Mother’s Day here, plus it will be my turn to work the Sunday. I now have between 9 – 11 weeks to get my ‘shitty’ first draft done, as originally I wanted to have my first draft completely by my birthday, but I don’t quite thing that will happen, as I know there are going to be some long days at work coming my way between now and the time I step foot on the plane at Perth International Airport.

Currently I have banked 65,609 words, I have a target of 100,000 words to get done before either my birthday or my trip. My reasoning for this time frame is that I can leave said ‘shitty first draft’ at home and I can start editing once I return from my trip, with fresh eyes and mind. Plus with part of my trip I am going to be in London (part of the setting of novel), Scotland and Ireland, that being in these locations I might get a little more insight into the place that part of my novel is set.

So here is my break down, over the next 11 weeks I need to have banked 3,127 words per week, which equals 1,043 words per 3 writing sessions per week, which is more than do-able, though hard part, is booking in the time in my calendar to make sure I get these words down. Most of the last part of the novel is planned out and bits are already hand written, just a matter of putting fingers to computer keys and getting them on the screen and filling in the necessary gaps.

Next goal on the return of my trip, will be to get ‘shitty first draft’ edited and first rewrite done within the first month back (July). Second edit and rewrite I hope to have done in August and if I am lucky enough and feel that its ready, to have the opportunity to pitch to some publishers at a Writers Conference in Rockingham on the 16th September, though if it isn’t ready I will work further on the manuscript and hopefully have it ready for submission by January 2018.

Also sitting in my mind and note book, a trilogy, genre I am looking at is historical fiction for these little beauties, which I am really looking forward to researching and writing. Maybe with my up coming trip to Ireland I could start my research early and possibly look at some places for a setting…mind working in over drive already. So many ideas can run through my mind, but its the ones that truly stick, where I see the story in my mind multiple times, that these are the ones I feel that need to be written.

My question tonight is, how do you know which book ideas to write and which ones not to?

Have a great week that is a head of us all.

The Week Ahead…

Right it has worked, I have had writers block for about 2-3 weeks, which has caused some serious frustration on top of general life frustrations. So decision was made on Friday to have my manuscript to date printed out. Thankfully my daughter has her drivers licence and headed to our closest Officeworks to get it printed and a nice new blue display file to put it all in, while I was busy at work. As said in previous post ‘The Week That Was’ I sat on my break for my split shift at work in the café next to work, put the pages into my file and read through the last four pages to reground myself in my story and where I could move on in the right direction. I sat with pen and paper and wrote every scene that was coming to mind. I managed to get to what will be the last chapter that still needs to be planned with the words ‘The End’.

I still had Sunday to get through at work (9 hour shift on my own. Retail), in hot and humid conditions. I was eager to make a start with the words again, to make another big dent into the 100,000+ final word target for said first manuscript of ‘Blue Rose Cottage’. I had my main character all worked out, it has been the two secondary characters that have been harder to work on. I finished work on Sunday night at 7pm, eager to get home, but made sure I didn’t start any writing as I was going to need to be in bed early as I had a 2.5 kilometre open water swim ahead of me in the morning.

Swim was excellent the freshness of the salt water and the cool temperature helped me steady my mind ready for an afternoon of writing. Home from the swim, body was aching and muscles hot (love the feeling of lactic acid in muscles), feeling tired as I hadn’t slept as well as I intended due to high humidity, and making sure I wouldn’t sleep in. Time to open the laptop, open Outlook, open Facebook, and open my Word doc to keep going. Well it wasn’t as easy as I expected, feeling tired, I think was more the issue than anything else, though by the evening 6:30pm I had 463 words added. I decided to head for bed and get a good night sleep…7:30pm out like a light.

Tuesday (today), I dropped my husband at the train station, came home after having a coffee at favourite café. I had one writing buddy laying on the floor by my feet, and the curtains open to see my garden. The words started, and they flowed better today, and even tonight, once I finish my post I will return for a few more paragraphs. So far today my word count is…873. Writer’s Block is now gone, printing and planning has made all the difference, now back on track for another day tomorrow of writing.

I know we all write differently, though writer’s block is a common thing (I guess, I always hear that most writers at some point will get it), I found that when my home/work life was getting too hard, I would end up with writers block to go with it. I was 63000 words in I knew I could write, I would sit at the computer, but nothing, not a single syllable would come forth and start the roll. I guess by printing out what I had done (all 63,000 words/80+ A4 pages) and allow myself the time to reread a few of the last pages written, to fall back into the story and revive the imagination. The bonus and excitement was also in seeing just how much I had actually written over the last ten months. There is definitely some changes that will need to be made when editing which is another part of the writing process I am really looking forward to.

Then we will get to Thursday, back to work, bonus is I only have a 3 day week before my next weekend on Sunday and Monday, to be back in the writers seat. I am allowing myself the days that I work (I start my shift at midday and finish and get home by 8:45pm), if I don’t get words down, then its alright and I shouldn’t put the extra pressure on myself, or the block might just start again, and I definitely don’t want that. The other part that keeps me going and I hang out for is my favourite podcast “So You Want To Be A Writer” with Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait. Every Thursday I listen, laugh and learn so much from these two lovely ladies and the authors that they interview each week.

Friday another day at work, which then leads to Saturday a split shift and I get an awesome 4 hours of writing to be had in the café next to work, before going back to serve my awesome customers as they pick their favourite alcoholic beverage of choice for the evening or weekend. Then bring on Sunday coffee and well nothing more than the rest of the day to write. So Sunday and Monday being my weekend I have Monday to myself with my adorable German Shepherd puppy by my feet to keep me company. It looks like a great week ahead.

writers with dogs

Until next time, have an awesome week….

The Week that was…

abc-news-storms

Take from ABC News Facebook

So the week that was this week, with still two days to go. All I can really say is…Hot, Stormy, Humid, Grumpy, Grumpy, Hot, Frustrated, Writers Block, Reading, Book Review, Instagram, Procrastination, more Frustration…and the list goes on. Life’s stresses got a little too much this week and my writing has not happened, so at this point I am behind on my goal of having first draft done by 14th May, unless I put my head down, bum up and spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of my long weekend writing and “NO” procrastination allowed.

I have a plan…a cunning plan….

Check list:
* Snack food.
* drinks (non alcoholic…preferably watermelon cordial).
* writing buddy (2 year old German Shepherd, named Abbie).
* first 80+ pages printed (hard copy) to help me keep to where I need to be.
* peace and quiet and no interruptions
* No Facebook, Instagram allowed for proof of working on novel.
* Word count, as many as I can possibly get done in 3 days.

Well that should do it. I am planning for starting time on Monday at 12 noon as I have a 2.5km open water swim at Leighton Beach to attend and accomplish as well. It should freshen the soul and help open the mind to the words that I need to write. It is onwards and upwards from a couple of weeks of writers block and frustration as well. Just need to get back into the swing and all will be good again.

Just before I say goodnight, here is another photo from ABC News from the storms over Perth on Wednesday night. Have a great weekend everyone.

ABC storms-1.jpg

Book Review: The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold.

the-lovely-bones-book

The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold. A stunning novel. Moving, mesmerising, beautifully written. Chapter One: ‘My name was Salmon, like the fish, first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.’ I was entrapped immediately into the questionsof who, where, why and how? I had to continue to read, chapter after chapter, hard to put down, as I read only at night to wind down from a long day at work, I would read until I could not focus on the words anymore. Though as I would fall asleep I was finding I was still in the story in my mind. I would feel at different times when I was asleep that I was standing with Susie watching what she was until I fell into a deep sleep.

I found Alice Sebold’s style of writing very easy to get caught up in, entwined in with the story. Her balance of writing with all the characters is amazing, and the pace that she holds from fast to slow and all the in between are stunning. As an aspiring writer myself I would love to be able to have the ability to write with such elegance, richness and emotion on so many levels of the characters and settings. Alice’s balance of going between past and present tense is immaculate and easy to follow. I love how Alice narrates the story from Susie Salmon from the start, and after her murder. The way it follows herself, her parents, siblings, friends, neighbours and even her murderer. I would recommend to anyone from the age of 14 and upwards to read this beautifully written novel on such a story that is dark, yet with such bright light as well within the pages.

Alice Sebold is an American writer and bestselling author of the book The Lovely Bones, hailed as the most successful debut novel since Gone With the Wind.

On reading Alice Sebold’s bio, she, herself surviving being raped in 1980 in New York while attending University, to go through a life of a dysfunctional family, rape and drugs, to come out the other side to be a Number One Bestseller on debut and to find true love and, she seems to have moved on from such a dark part of her own life to one filled with hope and dreams.
http://www.biography.com/people/alice-sebold-20702765

I am looking forward to reading her Memoir ‘Lucky’ and her second novel ‘The Almost Moon’ in the future. I can not say it enough, if you have not read this amazing book, ‘The Lovely Bones’ please do!

Until next time, have a great day…