The importance of deadlines

Focused

Deadlines give me something to focus on otherwise I’d get nothing done.

I think deadlines are very important and even though I am not a published author I still have deadlines. The most obvious one is Nanowrimo (for more information on what Nanowrimo is, follow this link NaNoWriMo versus Camp NaNoWriMo). But I also create them for myself. I do this by working out how much I need to write (roughly) and then give myself a time limit. At the end of the time limit I get a reward. It can be something simple like ringing my best friend for a chat (blog post reward) or more complex like a day away (finish my manuscript reward).

But I also have other deadlines created by entering competitions. I currently have a deadline that is the end of August and is for a short story competition. It is my first time entering a writing contest since I was a teenager so I’m a little bit nervous. But the upshot of it is, without these self imposed deadlines I would more than likely stuff around not getting much done (other than drinking lots of coffee and going on Instagram), so for me they are a very necessary part of my writing life. It is a way of enforcing discipline on myself.

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Once the deadline is met I reward myself and relax for a bit.

For those of you who don’t need that, sweet and good on you, but I need something to aim for that is tangible and deadlines do that for me.

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What’s in a name?

A lot of people know the quote from Shakespeare’s Juliet, ‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell so sweet.’  Or a variation of it, even if they don’t know that they are actually quoting Shakespeare. But really, what does a name matter?

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A rose would still smell sweet regardless of its name

I got to thinking about this after a lady in a Facebook group I belong to asked about cheesy names in a book. Apart from the obvious aspect of making sure your characters names fit the location and era your story is set in, a lot more can go into the naming of a character, as well as a town or city.

For example, the much loved and read Harry Potter series. Harry Potter is a pretty common English name and immediately sets the scene that Harry is just an ordinary boy like the reader, or at least that’s what the reader thinks to start with. And then there is Voldemort. In the second book (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), it is revealed that Tom Marvolo Riddle, a former student of Hogwarts is actually Voldemort. J.K Rowling does this through an anagram of Tom’s name. When the letters are rearranged they spell, I am Lord Voldemort. There was also the fact that no one spoke his name, years after he disappeared, for fear of conjuring him. That’s a pretty good argument that a name actually does mean something.

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J.K Rowling used Voldemort’s name to great effect in the Harry Potter series. 

In my own manuscript I take naming my characters  and locations seriously. Firstly to explain, my story is about two worlds, one forgotten and the delicate balance between the two. Consequently one of the Kingdom’s is named Leth-aon which means one half in Scots Gaelic. Then there is the character’s names. Lucian (which means light and is what his power is based on), Damona (inspired by the Celtic goddess for fertility and healing) and Benedict (means blessed, which is apt considering he is the Royal Spiritual Adviser). That’s just an example, there are many more in my story!

I put the same care into naming my children and I often think about the meaning of a person’s name when I am first introduced to someone (this is also so I don’t forget their name).  So while Shakespeare has a point, it is also a little naive of him. If we changed a rose’s name to something less pleasant smelling (a skunk for example) and vice versa, the meanings would change accordingly. I do get that he was making a point that people should be judged for themselves rather than on preconceived notions (Juliet was talking about her lover, a Montague and therefore an enemy to her family, but she loved him anyway). However, when we first hear someone’s name or understand what an object is called, we have preconceived ideas based on that word and it’s associated meanings.

So while you can call a rose by another name and it would still smell great, the connotations would not be the same. And remember, in a world where first impressions are everything a name is pretty important. No one wants to have the kind of name that people poke fun at long before they have spoken a word. It is why we can legally change our names if we want after all. Shakespeare, to answer your question, there actually is a lot in a name.

Morning tea and Liane Moriarty

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On Tuesday the 9th of August I found myself boarding the train into the city. I did this with some trepidation as I hadn’t caught the train for ages and I had never been to the Parmelia Hilton, my destination. Turned out that it was easy and the Parmelia Hilton was less than a 15 minute walk away from the train station. Consequently I arrived early and had time to sit down and have a coffee before the event, morning tea with Liane Moriarty, kicked off.

For those of you who don’t know of her, Liane Moriarty is the author of 6 bestselling novels and also a children’s series (written as L.M. Moriarty). She is the first Australian author to have reached number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in the first week of publication (Big Little Lies)  and that novel is currently being adapted for television by HBO, starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. She is a BIG deal in the world of writing.

For all of that I had never heard of her until about 2 weeks before the morning tea. I’m not sure why, perhaps because I don’t tend to read the sort of books she produces unless recommended by a friend. So with that in mind I decided to not read any of her work before attending. I wanted to see her as a person and not be influenced by how I perceive her writing style. I had read only 1 article about her shared on Facebook and that was it. I went to see an author I knew barely anything about.

It was illuminating. For a start I was sitting at a table with 8 other women who loved her books (except for one, who had read none of them but was there to support a friend). I was unsure how they would react to my being there but they were lovely, especially one in particular who I got talking to (the best thing about these events is the fans, they truly make or break it). The food was awesome (well done Parmelia Hilton, your staff were really nice as well) and the atmosphere on the whole was pretty good. During this time I also bought Liane’s latest book, Truly Madly Guilty. Then Liane and Amanda Ellis (West Australian Features Writer) started talking (kind of like an interview) and then Liane took questions from the audience.

She was nice, friendly and very patient. I was intrigued to see how she interacted with everyone and it was awesome to see this person who has had tremendous success still seem fairly down to earth and generally a pleasant person. Then time was up and we could line up to get our books signed by her. I did have a question to ask but couldn’t get the courage up in time to ask it in front of everyone. I figured I had lost a golden opportunity, but decided not to dwell on it, I had still enjoyed myself.

While in the line I decided to start reading her latest novel. The line moved along fairly quickly but I still managed to read 2 chapters before it was my turn (they aren’t that long and I’m also a quick reader). Before I knew it I was before Liane and my mouth opened and I asked her my question. “Would you still write if you didn’t have all this success?”

I think we were both surprised. I certainly hadn’t planned to ask and she took a moment to think before answering. She replied that she didn’t know, that the publishing contracts certainly gave her incentive and that she was happier when she was writing. She did say that she would definitely still write in her journal if nothing else. She also told me it was a good question, a very good question, which made me pretty happy.

So I came away thinking about that, surprised that she didn’t know the answer. I know that I would still write (not that I am anywhere near her here in regards to success!). It is a part of me and I thought it was the same for other writers. So that is my new mission when ever I get the chance, to find out if other writers would still write without success. I can’t wait to find out (FYI, the lady I got along with at the morning tea is a writer and would).

I think my morning tea with Liane Moriarty (and over 200 other people) was a success. I got to meet other people in the book community, I came away with a new book (always awesome) and I was inspired to find out more about authors and why they write. The only thing I was disappointed about was the fact that I didn’t think to ask her for a photo!

For those of you who like to know these sorts of things, the morning tea was organised by Dymocks Garden City.

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I had my copy signed for my alpha reader Kat. She lives in a remote part of Australia and this is a thank you for everything she does for me.

 

Inspiration: What is it and why can’t it be there on demand?

Ok, ok, first up I have to say that put simply inspiration is what ever gets you up off your butt and creating. It really can be different for everyone and although the same thing may inspire people it can do it in different ways. FASCINATING!

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Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Example: Troye Sivan’s song Wild with Alessia Cara. I hear it and start thinking of a story idea, my youngest daughter hears it and is inspired to dance like a manic (while in the car). We both heard it at the same time but reacted pretty differently.

Inspiration can come from a piece of artwork, a TV show or a conversation with a stranger. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just so long as it triggers that spark. Your job is then to turn it into a conflagration of creation. That has its own set of problems, but that is for a different time.

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Music is a big source of inspiration for me.

Once you have figured out what inspires you the most (for me this is music) you can then turn to it and hope to get hit with creative ideas when ever you need it. This is sometimes called having a muse. Pretty handy. Sometimes it can take ages to figure out what inspires you, I was 29 before I figured it out. The easiest way is to look at your work and think back to what you were doing when you first got the idea for it. Pretty soon a common factor will become apparent. But what do you do when you turn to your inspiration and nothing happens?

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This, quite frankly, sucks. But I think it means you need to take a break and simply let things rest for a bit. Hard to do, but necessary sometimes.  Like anything, go at it too hard or too often it will give out.  Also, from what I understand from talking to other people, your main source of inspiration can change. If this happens to me I will seriously cry like a 2 year old, complete with throwing myself on the ground, limbs flailing. I not long ago figured it out, I don’t want it to change!

To sum it up, inspiration is a bit like a wild animal that likes you. Happy to be there when it wants to be, but fleeting and easily scared off. What inspires you?

The Cursed Child Launch

Last Tuesday I decided that I really needed to get away from my computer screen and get out into the book community. What better place to start than the around the world launch of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?

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Waiting for the books

First up I couldn’t really find anywhere near me that was celebrating the launch and I really wanted to do something other than just buy the book (I can do that online and it kind of defeats the purpose of getting out into the book community). So after a bit of searching I stumbled across Dymocks Busselton. Busselton is about an hour and 40 minute drive away but we have friends there, so my husband and I decided to visit them at the same time.

So at 4:40 am on Sunday the 31st July, I woke up, got my kids ready and hopped in the car with my husband. The drive was entertaining as my husband and kids tried to catch Pokemon. Apparently I was driving to fast for them, I think they just couldn’t catch them.

Once I got there, hubby dropped me off and I got talking to a lovely lady who told me about the last time she lined up for a book launch. It was for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and she was in line for 2 hours! She was planning on having a Harry Potter movie marathon once she got home to entertain her young children while she read the Cursed Child. While we were chatting several more people turned up, ranging from about 6 years old  to 60+. Some where dressed up, some not, but all excited.

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The box is open!

Then it was time: 7:01 am. The ladies at Dymocks opened the boxes and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was revealed. It looked so shiny and new! The adults hung back while the kids got their copies and then I had mine. After paying I looked around at the decorations and games the ladies had done. The kids enjoyed it and so did the adults.

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After that I walked up the street to the bakery, bought breakfast and called my husband to come and get me. While I waited several people stopped to chat with me about Harry. It was obvious I had just been to the bookstore and everyone seemed to know why. They were lovely! One lady in particular told me about how she always bought the Potter books with her grandson. He has now grown up and lives in Melbourne, but they were still excited about the new release and she had just bought a copy to share with him.

All in all it was an early start to the day but worth it. One, I had a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and two, the fans. Potter fans the world over tend to be friendly people and it is awesome to connect with them. Yes, the story is fantastic and J.K Rowling is a great author, but the fans add that extra bit that make Harry Potter such a terrific experience. My recent foray into the book community was awesome and reminded me why I love it.