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someone is reading my book April 30, 2010

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.. and I am very excited.

There is that saying – it isn’t what you know it is who you know. Sadly, when it comes to the book world, I don’t that many people. I know a lot of writers, but people in the industry? Not so many.

My father is a published author, and he knows a few people in the industry. He introduced me to a lovely lady in the book buying industry, after telling her about his son who ‘likes to write those fantasy books’. I thought that was cute.

She offered to show my manuscript, all 80 000 words of it, to an award-winning novelist to read and give feedback. This was a HUGE thing for me. I will admit that was one of the great days I have had in a while. A meeting with a lady in the business, who knew the business of writing – yes it is 12 point roman font, double spaced. There is my synopsis etc… we swapped business cards, she said she would have someone I knew and respected look at it. I then went to a cafe and wrote. I felt like a writer that day. That was awesome.

Another thing about the writing industry. Things do not move quickly. I know this, I was prepared for this. Unfortunately the author was, and is, extremely busy. Good luck to him and his new work he is producing. He is unable to read my work.

That’s okay, he handed it to his friend to read and look at. I have had a phone call and discussed my book, my work, my goals etc, on a crowded train in peak hour. Here I am saying – yes it is the first book in a five book series… yes, I am currently writing book 5. Yes, the other four books are written. On a train, where the public can hear me. Nice.

I say that because there is thing about me, wanting to be a writer, which I am reminded of. People who know me, my friends, who have read my work tell me I am a good writer. I run a writing group and encourage others to write and fulfill their potential.

But when it comes to myself, I have a lack of self-belief. I will say – I am scared of the next step, but I only say that because others have said that of me previously. I want to be a writer. I want to be published and have many people read my work. And yet, I very rarely put myself out in the world for that to happen. There is a fear there.

What that fear is of can be debated. Fear of success? Failure? Being taken seriously? Actually having real talent? (No disrespect to my friends who already believe in me…) Being a fraud?

In the background to all this are the many tarot readings I have had over the years which continually say – you will succeed with your writing. Even a great Tarot reader/teacher of mine saw this massive fear of mine and was aghast at it thinking what are you afraid of?

But it is there. This is one of the reasons I have this blog. This is me, getting myself out there some more. As a writer, or more as a person I guess, since I am not posting my work here, yet.

So, back to the title of this blog. The original author he passed my manuscript to his friend. We talked on the phone, and now I have received an email from him. He has told me he is not going to be a passive mentor. He will set me exercises in areas he feels I need to improve!

I have just landed myself a mentor? I like this. I really do like that. I like the feeling it gives me, of wanting to impress him, to not disappoint him, to show him that I am serious. I want to show those closest to me the same, but this feels different.

The first excercise he has given me is to re-write my synopsis, but remove all adverbs and adjectives. Make it first person, with very little character background. Just put it there, cold harsh, short sharp and shiny.

The second exercise is to write a scene entirely of dialogue. Nothing else. If a scene cannot be carried forward with dialogue, then there is something wrong with it. Well, not wrong, but, you know what I mean.

I will do these exercises. I am going to take myself seriously. And I will do this for the Rumble Kitty, who tends to believe in me more than I do.

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The tune to write to April 28, 2010

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I think this idea started as a way to procrastinate. Music can put you in a mood. And I wanted to get in the mood to write. So what music would put me in the mood to write? Of course, I then had to listen to some songs and think – is this making me feel like I want to write?

I’ve written to music before. I have some noise canceling headphones I sometimes wear while writing. Shutting out ambient noise from the house and the big-engined cars on the quiet suburban back streets can help me focus. But then I have every little sound of breathing, of the blood pumping through my ears. So some music is good to cancel out the silence.

This led me to search for people with similar issues, and I found this website – Music to Write By. I like the idea of an anchor song, the starting music to the movie which is your book; the song that inspires you. I can hear the Rocky theme in my head, playing that and pumping myself up to write.

I can hear that, but it doesn’t really inspire me.

I like the idea of music that puts you in the mood, but this, again, would require me to go through my music collection and make multiple play lists.

Procrastination again?

I can call it preparation. I can do it now, and then the next time I have a romance scene, out comes Michael Buble, or Dean Martin. Car chase? A fast paced song such as Stop the Rock, by Apollo 440? And I just love this piece by Juno Reactor – Conga Fury (Animatrix Edit) for a fight scene.

In her article Indra also suggested Baroque music, classical stuff which wont distract the mind with lyrics. I like the idea of writing to classical music. When I Was younger I purchased a four-pack of CD’s which were Mood Music collections. Classical pieces with a mood collated onto one CD. I like that. Knowing very little about this genre of music, having someone suggest and make the play list for me was great. And, as such, Indra’s suggestion of Vivaldi influenced my retail decisions to purchase one of his albums. I have yet to write to any of his music, so I will give you an update.

Another great suggestion for music while writing is movie sound tracks. Not the collection of rocks songs, such as The Crow Soundtrack had, which is an awesome album. When I have had my heart broken, I know I am getting better when I can listen to ‘It Wont Rain All The Time’ and it doesn’t bring me to tears. And I have just added that song to my ‘sad songs’ play list.

The movie sound track albums I am speaking of are the classical scores. The Bladerunner sound track is magnificent. So too, for me, the Gladiator sound track. But, again, this is an area I am not very familiar with. I ask for suggestions from friends, and this is leading me through many strange doors. I think Hans Zimmer might be on my most wanted list for movie sound tracks.

And I then come back to the Anchor Song idea. For me, I always know that once I am writing, I enjoy it and I can keep writing. Its that first step, the hook that catches me, something which can drag me down on to the page that i need. I know i have many shiny things distracting me. So, to have an awesome song that makes me want to write?

Wouldn’t that be the proverbial pot of gold?

It is not up to a song to make me write. It is up to me to make me write. But, find a great song, write while the song is playing, who knows, I may keep writing once I hit the ‘repeat’ button.

Its just a video game April 26, 2010

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I am a gamer. I enjoy playing games. I have a PS2, a Wii, a Nintendo DS and my PC. All are gaming platforms for me. While I do write on here, I also play games on here. I do have my Eee PC which is my writing computer. No games will be installed on it. Ever.

It is a well known idea that playing games is a distraction. Rocking out to Guitar Hero does not really help in the writing, in any way that I know. Neither does owning the court with NBA 2k9. But damn they’re fun.

But I also know that for the meatier games, role playing games and such, there is writing behind them. A story is there to propel you forward, to keep you playing. There are also ‘Easter eggs’ and secret things that make you keep playing just to get 100%. This is a notion I also like to employ in my writing. Keep reading and you will find something new and exciting! But, not chocolate. Sorry.

I really enjoy role playing games. I have played Dungeons and Dragons and Rifts, a bit of classical sword and sorcery, some post apocalypse with space ships thrown in for good measure. I enjoyed being a character creating a story as we went, sharing that story with friends live, as it happens. And still we relive the battle of the tower where we ‘almost’ died, our monk slid down the wall and brought up the rear, our fire-obsessed magic user held off the guards with his wall of fire while our ranger shot arrows which, once they went through the wall of fire, had added fire damage. And me, using the last of my barbarian strength before dying, caused a critical hit on their general, and slaying him. Awesome. It reads like a great Conan story, doesn’t it?

I also enjoy playing computer role playing games. Again, a story that needs to draw you along. Someone had to have written that. Okay, I get the idea with computer games, many people get involved to write it, but still, it is a story that was written, voice acted, played out by you. If the story is any good, you actually have emotional ties to the characters, to the choices they have to make. Good games can make you make choices your real self would never do. And then, there is that opportunity to commit acts and behave in ways that your real self never would, could never do in real life.

I am playing Fallout 3 at the moment, with all the Down-loadable content and a bunch of User created MODS to make things fun. Running around the wastelands of Washington DC dressed in Terminator Armour? Fantastic.

I digress.

I finished one of the down loaded adventures today- The Pitt. This is a classic case of you helping the slaves over turn their slave masters in the industrial hell hole that used to be Pittsburgh. Already, just that one sentence is a hook for a great story. This side quest has you stripped of all your weapons and armour, forcing you to survive and battle your way up from insignificance and help the slaves rebel against their masters. You must find the Cure to a radiation plague afflicting the slaves, turning them into ‘troggs’, mindless flesh eating ghouls who were once the slaves themselves.

I will not spoil it for anyone playing the game, but when you find out what the ‘cure’ is you are left with an amazing moral choice. And even though I know it was a game, I had to stop playing for a while and think about the choice I was going to make. A computer game made me pause and think about consequences. I love when that happens.

In this day and age that is a rare thing. Have gun will shot the bad guy.

Anyway, I made a choice, sided with the slaves, although I didn’t like them as much as I did before, completed the quest, got my experience points, got my loots, and headed off into the proverbial sunset.

Looking back at my post about inspiration from reading, I now have another source for inspiration. Something I will file away for later use. The black and white battle of slaves versus slavers was painted a shade of grey during my play. And this is something I am creating in my characters. No one is truly GOOD or truly BAD. Each of us has varying amounts of both in us.

However, I read stories where the hero is GOOD and the villain is BAD. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good villain who is just bad ass. No hope for redemption, just all out evil. They can be a lot of fun. But for characterisation, I prefer mine to have shades of both. One of my bad guys in my current novel has a holo-recording of his mother which plays through his apartment. He relives conversations and past times with his mother. A soft spot for a bad man, that he misses his mother so much, he cannot let her go, cannot move on. He must relive her through computer art.

And my hero wasn’t above stealing from the bad guys when he had the opportunity. Small bad, but bad none the less. He has also shot the odd person or two. It happens, surely.

So, from today’s game play, I have taken away the delicious idea of the victims being selfish. That if given the chance of freedom, they may just be as bad as their oppressors, or resort to any underhanded tactic to get what they want. You may look at me and say- well that’s just human nature! And yeah it is, but when you are writing stories, you want to reader to go- oh you poor dear. Free them! Liberate the oppressed!

Now I want them to go- oh, hang on a moment, do we really want to free these people? They’re not nice. But they are nicer than the people oppressing them. But is that because the oppressors have more power? Oh, this is complicated. I must read on. Perhaps there will be an Easter Egg, a surprise, in a few chapters time

bite sized writing April 22, 2010

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It has been a while since I have been here. This is one habit I am still trying to form. To regularly blog.  I am writing regularly, but not so much with the blog. I must remember to do this.

I have got back into the habit of writing at lunch time. This is something I do during Nanowrimo, write on the train ride in to work, at lunch time and home from work. I find I hit my daily word count target easily during the day, and it shows that I can write, during the day, and squeeze it in where I can.

So this is what I am doing. Small nibbles to my book at lunch time. Half an hour, a couple of pages. SLow, I know, but it is moving along nicely.

However, today I noticed something which, while making me a little worried, I am not too concerned about. I have read here and there about getting into the writing zone, how writing 750 words, or doing the morning pages, getting the writing brain exercised. I know this works, as I know the longer I write, the more into the zone I get. What I have noticed is, while I am in the area, the half hour I write at lunch does not get me to the zone.

I am writing okay stuff, getting some foundation down. But I can just tell it isn’t strong enough. I am writing a scene where the disenfranchised good guys are planning where to start the war. There needs to be a stirring speech, but I just can’t get myself into that place.

The reason I am not so worried as I know i would have been earlier in life, is the fact I know I am not there. I am able to see when I am not writing the polished work that I feel I should be writing. But at least I am getting it down the ideas that I want. Not altogether exactly how I see it, but, in the area. When I come back through it with more thinking time on my hands, then I will be able to take the scene out of the book, know that General needs to make a speech, the pirate Bobject needs to say his nasty piece, everyone to agree, and then there will be the arrival of other characters. The tail ends of the scene are set. It’s the middle which needs work. But that is okay

I will continue taking my laptop to work, and writing at lunch. I will the come home and tidy up the grammar and spelling, which open office seems to blithely ignore. I will then make the rough a little shinier before storming on through with the story.

Get something down. Even if it looks like a stick figure, two black dots for eyes and a big curl for a smile. It might look simple, but you can still point and say- that is a picture of a person, in the same way I can point at my rough work and say- this is a critical plot point where things of importance happen. And I will add flourish later

My Writing Hat April 8, 2010

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I mentioned in my blog back here that I have a writing hat. It is my purple and orange jesters hat, with bells. When people who know I am a writer see me wearing this hat, they know I am writing. You could call it my ‘do not disturb’ sign, although seeing someone in a cafe wearing this hat, you may think they already are disturbed.

Now, I had lost this hat, or rather, misplaced it. It was not where the rest of my hats were. This bugged me for some time, until last night I was quite frantic. I announced on Facebook I had lost my writing hat, and set out to find it. Almost an hour of determined moving of things, I found it. I was quite ecstatic!

I declared to Facebook I had found my writing hat, and then wrote for a good 2 hours.

I find myself in an amusing predicament here. I know that it is me, the person, who is the writer. It is I who has to turn up to the page and create. There are no gimmicks, magic spells or items that will make me wwrite. I, the person, the creator, is the one who will write.

And yet, purely because I found my writing hat, I celebrated this fact by writing. I have not, and will not, study this too closely, what attachment I have to this hat, or why it drives me. For the moment, I am just happy I have found the hat, and if it prompts me to write, then it cannot be a bad thing.

And, as a side note. The stuff I wrote while wearing my hat? Unlike my last post, I did not delete any of it. Oh, only the bit where my character thought about her predicament. I deleted that and made her talk about it with someone else. While doing a kickboxing workout. Move the dialogue with action.

I was happy.

Writers block + Procrastination April 2, 2010

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I have not been here in a while. As the title states, I have had a heady mix of writer’s block and procrastination. Struggled to write my own work, had to push myself to do some freelance work, and as such, felt i had nothing to contribute here.

I have had some awesome sinus issues of late. Pain right between the eyes, or behind the eyeballs. I have rodents in my walls, either rats or possums, or both. Scratching and running through the roof cavity, keeping me awake, not letting me get any sleep.

I did try to write during all this. During Nanowrimo there is this sense of wondrous abandon – you write, and even if it sucks, you keep writing and come back later! At the moment, I don’t have that. I am writing and looking at all I write and wondering is it good enough? I wrote a passage, hated it, deleted and started again. Did this three or four times, and the passage was barely one page long. I then gave up, tired, or in pain, miserable, and did no writing.

Through all of that, or perhaps because of it, I have felt I had nothing to contribute here, so I have not been writing here. Catch 22? Or a vicious circle? I don’t know. I did decide, in the end, that everyone goes through these stages. Everyone goes through writer’s block, or just cannot get it into gear to work, to play, or to create.

And this is all a part of the journey that is a writer. I am, currently, not paid to be a writer. It is something that I love to do, enjoy doing and enjoy sharing. But sometimes, you just cant do it. The nine to five day just sucks the energy out of you. Evil furry creatures in the walls keep you up all night and drain you the next day.

It can happen. I don’t like it. I would like to be able to take days off to write and be productive, but I understand that this isn’t happening, at the moment.

So here I am, very little in the way of writing done in the past couple of weeks. I do feel bad and guilty, but I am writing today. So there’s a thing. I have done a daily 750 words, come here to get back on this horse, and now I will go and write my characters from point A to point B, and not re-write it.

Amusingly, this morning there was an update from Tribal Writer – Ten hard lessons about breaking through writers block. Teasingly, she has only included the first 4.

I like number 4- mix it up. So, tomorrow I am taking my laptop somewhere to write. Mix it up. I would do it today, but being Good Friday, there is nothing open.

My tip for writer’s block is to move. Go for a walk, jump up and down, get the body active, heart pumping, get more oxygen flowing through your blood and into your brain. It has worked for me previously.

I also like the tip to Chunk it Up. I am going to do some of that now.