May 292015
 
Photo by Terry Madeley, via Flickr

Photo by Terry Madeley, via Flickr

I don’t think I’ve met a writer who doesn’t know what “Morning Pages” are—but just in case, here’s a footnote1.

I haven’t written Morning Pages in years, but reading Kathryn Craft’s new book, The Far End of Happy, reminded me of this practice. Kathryn’s main protagonist, Ronnie, is a freelance writer and an ardent morning-pager (although it’s not referenced as such). Ronnie frequently wakes early in order to “center herself” by journaling.

A long-suffering friend, this journal, taking everything she’d thrown at it. The questions. The tortured answers. The pros. The cons. Moments rich with beauty. The long slow death of a dream... Today, more than any other, in these last precious moments before her sons awoke, Ronnie needed the ink to offer up its ever-flowing possibilities.”
~ Kathryn Craft, The Far End of Happy ~

I have numerous excuses for not continuing with Morning Pages since motherhood ate my schedule (along with the dog’s homework), but I’m considering resuming a mini-version that proved useful when I was delivering two blog posts per week: writing one page longhand on a particular topic. Pre-kids, I would decide on the topic the night before, sleep on it, and then free-write the article when I woke. These days I’m lucky if I get to sleep on anything, let alone an idea, and I’m left with the longhand option because my darlings have appropriated my computer.

This time I’m toying with the idea of writing flash-fiction during my computer-gone time. That is, if I can write to the tune of the Peppa Pig theme song...

What about you? Do you still write Morning Pages? Do you manage three pages every day, or is that a stretch? Do you do them on the computer instead of by hand? Do you choose to write something you can use (a blog post or your wip) instead of stream of consciousness musings?


1 Morning Pages are the brain-child of writer and artist Julia Cameron. They are three pages written longhand of whatever enters the writer’s mind (the pages could even be filled with “I don’t know what to write” or shopping and to-do lists). The idea is to clear the mind of the mundane to prepare it for a session of real creative work. Eventually (Cameron contends a minimum of 90 days) the pages become both a journal of subconscious perspective and a brain-training system for sharpening focus and exercising free-writing.

Share
Apr 292015
 
weakest-link--Hernan-Pinera

Image by Hernán Piñera

No matter how crucial a scene may be to your plot, if it makes you go “ick”, don’t lead with it.

It seems obvious to me after it was pointed out, but at the time of writing and revising a particular story, it made sense to start at the “beginning”, even though I always found myself thinking and wanting to tell people, “Just wait until you get to Chapter Two. Chapter One’s not really how the story’s going to continue; it’s just establishing the start of the protagonist’s character arc.” Yeah. Lesson learnt.

Start with the first of your good bits (we’ll call this the “Just Wait Until... Point” or JWUP). These days of instant gratification and high-speed everything, an author has much less time than ever before to hook a reader. That doesn’t mean you should start in media res without orienting the reader first. The difference nowadays is that your  orientation (a view of the characters’ “normal” before everything changes) can and should only be a few paragraphs at the most. The inciting incident, which needs to be compelling, must occur in the first page or two, or you risk being put down.

There’s an easy (“easy”) fix way to judge this for yourself: if your Amazon Look Inside sample breaks before it gets to the JWUP, cut your beginning until the break happens immediately after the JWUP.

Share
May 062014
 

My teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin has been published on Kindle, and will be available in print later in the month.

Just for fun, and a leap out of my comfort zone, I made a video of me reading an extract from "Maddie". Enjoy.

Share
Jan 212014
 

Find Rise of the Machines at Amazon.com (affiliate links)

Rise of the Machines from Amazon.comRise of the Machines : Human Authors in a Digital World is the latest book by social networking expert Kristen Lamb. If you are familiar with Kristen Lamb's blog, you will recognise some of her wisdom and advice in this book, which acts as a consolidation of her tips on the social networking approach to marketing and promoting your author platform. Purchasing her book is a great way to thank her for the extensive advice she provides for free and to have all the best of her information in one place in an easy-to-read, follow, and implement guide.

Rise of the Machines covers much of what is still pertinent in Ms. Lamb's previous books on social networking and blogging (We Are Not Alone : The Writer's Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It's Me, Writer) plus contains new information and research, a healthy dose of history, and a serving of philosophy, all delivered with Kristen Lamb's tongue-in-cheek sense of humour and highly-readable narrative style honed through her dedication to posting on her blog five times per week for several years. In fact, she suggests such a rigorous blogging schedule as a training ground for developing a professional pace that will enable a writer to keep up with, and perhaps exceed, reader expectations of a minimum of one book per year.

Being yourself is key to using social media to develop a platform, and Kristen Lamb is sincere and genuine, warm and funny, and well worth spending some time with.

Share
Aug 232013
 

The following post is sponsored by Grammarly. I also ran this post through their grammar check just for fun, because I knew it would trip over my grammar blunder examples. I’m wicked that way! See my results below.

Grammarly Analysis

Grammarly Analysis of This Post

Writing has become more conversational than ever before thanks to blogging and social media. But does this mean grammatical standards should be tossed out the window completely with the defence of “I write like I speak”? It pays to be aware of how your conversational style is perceived internationally. Are these quirky variances tripping you up?

Using Different as a Comparison

“Different [than]” instead of “Different to

Comparisons involve three “steps”:
good, better, best
happy, happier, happiest

...whereas a judgement, statement, or opinion is specific to a single option:
different
unique Continue reading »

Share
Jun 082013
 

Madison Lane Cover Sketch - Artwork by Sandra SalsburyMy teen science-fantasy book, Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin, will be out later in the year - at this stage I anticipate September or October. This is a very first sketch for the cover illustration by the talented Sandra Salsbury.

Here is the blurb for the book:

Be careful what you wish for.

When Madison Lane is given a magic wand, she wishes for the thing she wants the most – or so she thinks. As she tries to reverse the consequences of her wish she is pulled into another world and a quest to compensate for using the Wand of Rasputin. It is there that she discovers the real, terrifying cost of making a wish. And how impossible it is to control her own thoughts. One more wish and she loses everyone and everything she loves.

And now someone else is after the wand. Someone who will stop at nothing to get it. Someone with an unfair advantage.

Please join my mailing list here (or by filling in the form to your right) if you would like to receive updates, sneak peeks, and other happy news :-)

Share
Jan 232013
 

Dancing Children, photo by Valerie EverettIt was a day for dancing, Eloise thought. A week of rain and now weak sunlight trickled through the dissolving clouds and everything sparkled. But she had vowed never to dance again.

She looked down at her purple fairy gumboots as she squelched through the muddy grass. What a wonderful sound they made. Not as nice as the clack, clack sound Trina was making on the pathway. Eloise turned her head and grinned at her sister.

“I wish there was some way to tell them apart,” the lady at the grocer’s had once said to their mother. That was before the accident, of course. Now they were The Normal One and The One in the Wheelchair.

But today Trina had legs. Shiny metal legs that went clack, clack on the pathway. Faster and faster she went until Eloise could feel joy-thrill-wonder-relief coming from her the way she could sometimes feel a tiny bit of the worst of her pain. The clack, clack was the beat of a song, now. Eloise stepped onto the pathway and took her sister’s hands.

And they danced.


This story was written for all the paralympic athletes and others who inspire by overcoming the difficulties they face, and was prompted by this gorgeous photo of Cody McCasland and his carbon blades.

Photo credit: Dancing Children by Valerie Everett

Share
Jan 112013
 

Musee Mecanique Fortune Teller Reading Tarot Cards

Musee Mecanique Fortune Teller Reading Tarot Cards, by Vicki MacLeod

I'm in the revision phase of my middle grade fantasy novel. I love this part. Revision is layering. It's the search for symbolism and metaphor and meaning. It's digging into the richness of what I've written and discovering that my planning and outlining paid off when I allowed the writing of the first draft to flow organically.

This book stumped me for a while in the search for its theme. Almost unbelievably, it was staring me right in the face. I had to change two characters to find it, but the wealth of additional subtext that opened up was so worth the extra work. It forms part of one of the book's twists, so I don't want to reveal too much, but the main theme is "taking responsibility for what you create" - very apt for me right now, on many levels from my writing to raising my children. Last year was a hard one, parenting-wise, and my son and I need to do some revision on our relationship this year, too.
Continue reading »

photo by: MRS.HART
Share