The Tower of London

Oh my goodness, I have so much to share with you but I haven’t had access to wifi for a while, so these updates are going to come well after the actual dates. But I hope this glimpse into my UK trip inspires your imagination as much as it does mine.

Last week when my partner flew over to London, we took some time to tour around and see the sights. One of the sights we went to was the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and many other gruesome things happened.

I took some time walking through the tower and observing all the armour displays. Below are some of the photos I took.

Selina at the Tower of London
Selina at the Tower of London

That’s me (above) and behind me is a wall of armour. It was a great room to visit and very surreal.

Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London

I also took time to see the Crown Jewels and appreciate the magnificence of workmanship that went into each piece. This was a great afternoon in London. Funny to say that since it was a place that has known such gruesome historical events.

I have to say, that I am not a historian, but my visit to the UK has been helping me to develop a deeper interest in learning more about history.

Also, learning about life in a castle is so helpful for my fantasy fiction story that I worked on during my week with David Farland. The course went really well and I met some fantastic authors – all with excellent story ideas. I’m very much looking forward to seeing each of them published in their chosen genre.

I will try to update my blog as I go, but as I said above, the wifi isn’t always reliable.

Today, I am in the Scottish highlands. I’ll write about that another day.

Dream Interpretation, Art & Writing

I’m starting this blog post off with some shameless self-promotion. Today I got inspired and made a youtube video on how you can use dream interpretation to help you with your art and writing.  Or … at the very least, I had a go at it.

Here’s the video.

I had loads of fun making it. I’m not sure I uploaded the first version with high enough definition but this is all about learning and growing into new skills.

I took a short course, How to Make a Great Talking Head Video (even when camera shy) by Lucy Lambrlex on Skillshare.com and this is my first attempt after the class.

I hope you enjoy it and pick up a tip or two that will help you with your creative expression.

Life and the act of creative writing

When life becomes stressful for me, one of the things I thoroughly enjoy doing is throwing my characters into conflict infested scenarios.  Then I sit there and wonder … how on earth are they going to get through this?

Sometimes writing fiction is as challenging as navigating life itself.

Life’s been very stressful for me this year. I can’t deny it. My brother and I have had to come to terms with our mother’s recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia and it is the most heart wrenching thing to see and experience. A truly cruel disease of the brain.

Mum Rodger n Me

My brother has been doing the most amazing job caring for our mum because this disease is tough. Tough on the carers. Tough on the family and friends too. It’s tough for the person going through the dementia too.

 

So grief, depression and anxiety have been my companions.

It’s hard for me to admit how much this situation is affecting me and I am struggling to put things in to words here because of how keenly personal things are.

So in October, I flew down to Canberra to see my mum. I loved seeing her but she had changed so much. My mum stood before me, physically the same person, at least on the outside, but on the inside … the brain damage she has sustained shattered my heart.

At times mum recognised me (I live in Queensland and she is in Canberra so we don’t see each other very often). At other times mum thought she had given birth to twin daughters and continued to tell me that she couldn’t remember giving birth to me. She also insisted that her real daughter lives in Queensland and as nice as I was … well, in her eyes I wasn’t her daughter.

Sometimes what mum said was funny, somethings it was devastating.

Anyway, it’s been an emotional roller coaster and I never know if mum is going to remember me when I ring her. But on the up side, I am doing my best to cherish  memories on her behalf and to remember my mum for the amazing, strong and beautiful woman she was as I grew up. My mum is still there and sometimes, in her lucid moments, she surfaces and it is a true delight!

Some people believe mum should just try harder to remember things but she can’t do that. She’s had mini-strokes. It means she has brain damage and she can’t remember. When I’ve heard well-meaning people tell my mum that she has to try harder to remember and that she’s always had memory issues, I just want to slap them in the head for being so ignorant, so arrogant, so farking lacking in compassion.

If someone has a broken leg and it’s bent at some odd angle, would it make sense to tell them to, “Just stand up and walk. Use your legs!”

FARK NO!

Sorry, I’m so frustrated by stupid statements like that. It’s ridiculous and causes anxiety for my mum and for her children.  But I do understand that the comments come from a place of wanting to help and trying to make sense of a disease that doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, since things have been so full-on emotionally, I’ve found myself doing quite a bit of creative writing. I’ve been working feverishly on The Living Death of Toddy James. I’ve spent some time plotting out a rough outline and now I’m elbows deep in writing the chapters. The act of writing helps me to compartmentalise the pain. But it doesn’t mean I don’t face and feel the pain, it just gives me a safe place to take a breather and I am so grateful.

So far I’ve written sixteen chapters and I’m drafting chapter seventeen now. I’ve been writing everyday and it’s been a twisting turning journey for Toddy James. I hope I’m doing her justice. But for now I’m not rewriting. I’m pushing forward because I promised myself I would finish this story and I will.

Writing is a passion for me. I can’t not do it. So is reading. I love to read and I’ve been getting into reading romance stories lately. I’m learning more about the romance genre which will help me with my own writing because all of my stories have romantic elements.

I think another reason I have been enjoying the romance genre lately is that I need something to lighten up my life and even though every story is filled to the brim with conflicts, romance is known for delivering happy-ever after endings and that’s a nice thing to look forward too.

I hope life is treating you well. I’m keeping on keeping on as they say and I’m writing but most of all I’m sending my mum and brother a tone of love because they are both incredibly precious to me.

 

Stephen King’s top tips for writers

StephenKing Image by the USO, via Flickr Commons_10968905154_140c71b403_m

Image by the USO, via Flickr Commons

I was surfing Facebook and found this great article on Open Culture. It was titled, Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers and I had to share it with you.

Of course I’ve read On Writing by Stephen King. It’s a must read for anyone with a passion for writing fiction (in my opinion). I loved reading it so much that I bought the audio book and enjoyed listening to him read his own work.

In the article by Open Culture, they list the top 20 rules Stephen King has for writers.

Below are four that resonate for me:

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what that writer is doing may seem.”

Just those four rules or tips make my heart burst with creative joy.  It feels like I’ve been given permission to go forth and be as creative as I like. Then when it comes to rewrites I’ll cut out what isn’t the story.  That is so freeing.

I also love how honest Stephen King is. He is his own person. He writes honestly, even in fiction and that’s cool.

If you skip across to Open Culture for a look-see, I hope you enjoy and that you find these rules/tips as inspiring for you as they have been for me.

Happy creative writing.

Learning the Art and Craft of Fiction

The Misadventures of Tuppence Weatherstom Manuscript - Phase 1My first novel manuscript has had an assessment by the brilliant editors from Brisbane Writers Workshop, and I couldn’t be happier with the guidance I have received.

I’ve received layers of feedback on the overall story, the plot, the theme, the characters, scenes that don’t do the story justice and those that do, and so much more.  This feedback is gold and it will assist me to become a much better fiction writer.

I have a great deal of work to do on developing my showing and not telling skills.  And there is a theme in my story that was identified that I hadn’t been aware of.  I’ll be focusing on bringing that out as I rewrite.  I’ll also be reworking scenes to stick to a tight plot and not go off on any tangents.

I’ll be taking all of this valuable feedback into account and pacing myself as I work through each part of the process rewriting my story.

You see, I believe that editors are brilliant people and professionals because they save writers from making fatal mistakes in our manuscripts before the story goes to publication.  Editors see things that I can’t see, and I like to think of them as an author’s guardian angel as they help us writers bring out the best of the story for the reader’s pleasure.

Sometimes feedback stings a little but it’s always meant to be of assistance to improve the manuscript for an audience.  I think it’s important to listen to expertise to create the best story I can write.  So, I’ve been swimming in my story, thinking about all the feedback and considering how I can put it to best use and chisel away the dross to create the best piece of art on the page that I can.

Today, I’ve also finished my first six-week writing course with Dean Wesley Smith – Depth in Writing. This course challenged and stretched my creative writing skills and reoriented my thinking as I learned a new way to approach writing story openings.

I learned how to use the five senses and character opinion to focus the depth in an opening.  This course was so beneficial to learning the art and craft of writing, and I’m so pleased I invested in it.   I’ll be saving up to do more courses with Dean Wesley Smith in the near future. Maybe sometime in 2017.  I’d like to do the Character Development, Plotting with Depth, and Writing Mysteries courses, just to name a few.

The week after next, David Farland will be here in Australia. He’s teaching a couple of writing courses, including Writing Million Dollar Outlines which equates to how to write stories that sell.

I’m pretty excited because I’ll finally have an opportunity to meet David Farland face-to-face.  I’ve been studying writing with him since December 2014 and what I’ve learned has been beneficial to developing my own creative writing style.  I’ve learned how to plot a story, flesh out characters, develop settings, think about theme and consider treatment too.

Then, on 9th October, I will have another opportunity to attend a course with Brisbane Writers Workshop as they will be holding a Polish and Publish course.  This course has a maximum of 4 to 6 people and will focus on giving each participant time to polish 1500 words of their work-in-progress manuscript.  I can’t wait for this course as it will really help me with my manuscript.

And, quite a few months ago, I signed up to another online writing course with Margie Lawson, called Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts.  This course starts 1st October, and is designed to teach the importance of visceral responses in writing and helps writers to move beyond cliches.

One day, I hope to have a story that will be published and people will truly enjoy reading.

Until then, I’ll keep learning the art and craft of fiction writing.  And when the hard moments hit and I want to turn away from the course I’ve stepped upon, I’ll continue because I do love to create and I love to write.

Joanna Penn – Thriller Author – On Writing

Last year, I had the opportunity to interview Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn.  She is a New York Times and USA Today best selling author of thrillers on the edge, as well as best selling non-fiction for authors, and a professional speaker on creative entrepreneurship, digital publishing and internet marketing.

Joanna Penn is also the host of The Creative Penn Podcast where you can listen to well over 200 interviews on writing, marketing and publishing.

She writes thrillers under J.F. Penn which are full of suspense, mystery, rich settings, theology and the paranormal.

I’ve had the opportunity to read a few of them, including Desecration and Day of the Vikings novella.  They’re fast-paced and filled with thrills, horror beats, adventure, action and a touch of wonder as J.F. Penn brings the settings to life in a rich way.

So, have a listen to the interview.  It is audio only but available on YouTube on my channel.

Joanna Penn has so much knowledge to share on the business of being an author and her fiction is great to read or listen to on audiobook. I hope you enjoy this interview.

If you enjoy thrillers, paranormal, suspense and mystery, then, I highly recommend checking out J.F. Penn.

Lauren Daniels notes from the Writers Group Convention 2016 Presentation

Lauren Daniels of the Brisbane Writers Workshop gave an excellent talk at the Writers Group Convention 2016 on the following topics:

  • The Marketing Side: 3 Elements of Your Publishing Pitch
  • 7 Tips: Strong Synopsis
  • Unpacking the Editor: What You Can Expect

I recommend checking out this blog post (link below) from the Writers Group Convention 2016 to find out more.

img_0052-e1442625413149
Lauren Daniels, BA MFA Creative Writing

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Thanks to Lauren Daniels of the Brisbane Writers Workshop for her excellent talk at the Writers Group Convention 2016. The Marketing Side: 3 Elements of Your Publishing Pitch Bio, marketing platfor…

Source: Lauren Daniels notes from Sunday 31st August 2016

Fiction Blitz with Brisbane Writers’ Workshop

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Image from Brisbane Writers’ Workshop

On Sunday 28th August 2016, I’ll be heading off to a Fiction Blitz workshop with Brisbane Writers’ Workshop.

I’m pretty excited because every time I attend a course run by Lauren Daniels and Josh Brockbank, I come away with a sense of creative delight, new ways of approaching story and practical tools that I can apply immediately to whatever I am working on.

Over the years, as I have continued to study how to write stories that pull a reader deeper and deeper into the life and conflicts of my characters, I have picked up numerous practical tips from the Brisbane Writers’ Workshop.   I’ve found that they make you feel welcome and your stories are valid and worthwhile no matter what you’re creative writing passion.

If I’ve not understood an aspect of the world of writing fiction, I found I could safely ask my questions of Lauren and Josh, and they were more than happy to help me develop my understanding.  They give lots of relevant examples and help writers pick up skills to apply to their creative writing projects.

Since attending one day courses with Brisbane Writers’ Workshop, I’ve learned so much, it’s hard to list out.  But here’s a few of the things I’ve pick up along the way:

  • The basics of writing a novel with rising action and tension.
  • How to unleash my own creative voice through simple writing prompts.
  • How to bring characters to life on the page by exploring their flaws and exploiting them, then writing those flaws into scenes where the characters are faced with the very thing they don’t want to admit about themselves.
  • How to use the enneagram to create complex character behavioural traits that live on in the minds of readers long after the last page has been read.
  • How to take an archetype and go beyond writing cliche characters.  Actually, this was one of the most interesting writing exercises I’ve done in a while and it sparked my imagination in new ways.  I’ve thought a great deal about ways I could use archetypes to write fulfilling characters in my own stories since doing this exercise.
  • And, I’ve learned about characterisation, voice, point of view, theme, narration, character roles, and heaps more.

Lauren Daniel and Josh Brockbank have introduced me to new ways of thinking about creative writing and helped me to grow into my own creative writing style.  Thanks so much for their ongoing support and dedication to creative writers.

So, yeah, I’m really looking forward to attending the next course in August because I always come away from the Brisbane Writers’ Workshop with a lively sense of excitement and creative drive that filters into my stories as I actively apply what I’ve learned from the course.

This next course, Fiction Blitz is going to focus on how to write hooks and style, and literary devices. And we’re going to examine the subtlety of rhetorical devices which is a relief because I really need to learn about that!  Especially as I’m close to finishing a novel and starting on the editing phase.

Anyway, if you’re interested in attending a Brisbane Writers’ Workshop or want to find out more, I suggest you check out their website.

Happy writing.  May your characters live long in the minds of your readers!

 

The Novelist’s Helper

Tonight, I’ve been writing up my outline cards for Chapters 1 through to 23 of The Misadventures of Tuppence Weatherstorm.

And I have a little helper.

Miss Poppy is The Novelist’s Helper!

I’m pretty sure she’s been giving me cat advice on the ragdoll cat in my story.


She tells me to relax and have fun writing.  Giving me a show of her belly.


Here she blesses my work in progress with her Ragdoll belly.


Lastly, she tells me, “yes, you may take my profile.  I shall sit here and hold the magic of your story on the cards for you, my human companion.”

I do love my furry companions.  I’m sure my poodle would be lying all over my outline cards if he had an opportunity, but tonight, it is Miss Poppy’s turn to shine and give the novelist at work some much needed feline encouragement.