A Year of Blog Posts

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I honestly can’t believe it has been a year since I first clicked on that publish button and my first ever blog post was unleashed on the world. I remember my heart pounding as I waited to see what would happen. I was pleasantly surprised that no one hated what I wrote. True, only 12 people actually bothered to look at my first post but there was no outcry of how horrible it was and no one asked the question, ‘Who the hell do you think you are to write about writing?’

So I continued and have had a fantastic time. I’ve participated in a cover reveal and a blog tour. I’ve also met some fantastic Australian authors like Fiona McIntosh, Liane Moriarty and most recently Sara Foster and Natasha Lester.

I also tried my hand at a bullet journal and found out that although I think they’re cool, I’m really not very good at updating them. Many other things have also happened but it would take to long too list them all. What I’ve decided to do instead is compile a list of the top 5 most popular posts as viewed by you guys, the people who actually read what I write. So here they are 🙂

5. When Editing Hurts – this is my most recent post (apart from this one obviously) so I’m surprised that it’s actually on the list.

4. Getting the Words Down – in this post I share the 5 tips that help me get my word count up and hopefully they help you as well.

3. What is an alpha reader? – this one surprised me by being on the list, seeing as it was the third post I wrote. It’s about that person you trust most to read your writing.

2. The Solace Of Reading – A post about how reading helped me to rejuvenate my writing spirit.

1.Writing and the Body – Well, when I wrote this one I had absolutely no idea it would be my most popular post for the year. In it I pass on some tips about body posture and sitting at your desk. My own was terrible and was the reason for the post. It’s much better now, by the way, but is still a work in progress.

So that’s it, a year done and hopefully many more to come.

Have a happy and creative week people 🙂

When Editing Hurts

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I’ve edited my stories before (I’ve edited Balance so many times I’ve lost count), but this past week is the first time I can say that I got real about it. How so? I finally cut a scene that wasn’t really working but I was very attached to. I had left it alone because I’d written it awesomely. It hurt to chop it, I mean I had the perfect amount of emotion in it, the pace was right and it just shone! But it didn’t fit my story. And no matter how perfect a scene is, if it doesn’t gel with the rest it must be cut.

One of my Twitter friends reminded me that the pain is a good pain, making your story stronger. Another two gave me a very good tip and is one I want to pass on, keep all your cut pieces of writing and store them in a folder/file/whatever for they may come in handy later. I’m determined to use it somewhere down the track.

I don’t think you can say you have really edited your work until you have cut out a piece that you really love but know just isn’t working. It is this ruthlessness that makes the story work and really, you owe it to yourself and to what you are working on to give it strength and make it the best it can be.

So be brave, read the story like a reader and cut bits out, no matter how much you love them. Save them somewhere safe and who knows, maybe you’ll be able to use them again. Your story will thank you for it.

Let me know how you go about editing your favourite scenes in the comments below. Have a happy and creative week everyone 🙂

Chapter Length Stress

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During the week I ran into a bit of a problem with my Richell Prize entry, the dreaded chapters. You see I don’t use chapters when I write, I simply use natural breaks in the flow of the writing. However one of the submission guidelines for The Richell is having a chapter by chapter synopsis. Seeing as I want to actually win this thing I figure I better do what they ask. Then came the issue of where to insert the freaking chapters.

I started going round and round in circles in my mind, stressing myself out about chapter length. So I took to Twitter to get some advice and the people on there were lovely as I knew they would be. FYI I used the hashtag amwriting to get the attention of other writers.

The general consensus seemed to be about 2 500 words a chapter, but it was more important to follow the flow of the story and the natural breaks in it. So with that in mind I started to sort out my manuscript. A day later I had filled half my dining room table with my manuscript and I was happy. Yeah, some of the chapters are probably too long, but it’s where I think the chapters need to be and until an editor can give me a good reason to change them, that’s where they’re staying.

So what did I learn? To ask for help when I need it and trust my instincts. I already have breaks in my story, following the natural flow of it. Several of these breaks grouped together are a chapter and realising that makes me feel like I’ve conquered a writing mountain. But if I hadn’t asked other people with more experience I would have continued to stress about it and more than likely screwed it up somehow.

The writing community is fantastic and there is always someone willing to help out. Use it and help out in return, that way we all continue to grow in our craft. Which is good because it means more awesome books!

Have a happy and creative week everyone 🙂

P.S. I’m keen to hear what you guys think of chapters and their length. Let me know in the comments.

Change of Plans

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This school term I was determined to get the first draft of Rosie completed. I worked out how much I needed to write every week to achieve my target and set forth to conquer my goal. Then I hit a stumbling block. You see I also committed to entering The Richell Prize at the same time (to find out more about The Richell Prize click here). Now I figured out rather quickly that concentrating 100% on two projects is a difficult thing, but I stumbled pass that block and continued on my merry way until a friend reminded me I have a month until entries for The Richell close. Cue a minor freak out.

I was blissfully ignoring the deadline, wrapped up in Rosie because, hey, the new is fascinating and my entry for The Richell is something I have been working on for years. However not long after getting the timely reminder about the deadline, Rosie came to a ‘blinding’ stop. And I write blinding because I literally can not go any further with that story until I have done some research on the British royal court of 1342. That’s the problem with historical fantasy, some things you can’t make up, you actually have to get the facts. Don’t get me wrong, some facts I have twisted to suit the story, but I can’t make up a King and his court when they already exist. Time to take the blinkers off and deal with the real world with that story.

It works out though, because now I can focus on The Richell entry without thinking about Rosie. It’s like all the characters in that story have sat down for a rest in my mind, patiently waiting for me to finish my Richell entry and do some research on the side. And after a minor wrestle in my mind about not finishing Rosie this term, I’m already excitedly going over Balance and getting it organised for The Richell. The same freaking story that only half interested me before.

I should add that I wasn’t totally ignoring it so far, I’ve managed to get about 40% of it ready while focusing on Rosie, but now it’s got all my attention. This is life and the best laid plans often have to be adapted to get the end goal. And I will get my entry in. No excuses. What plans have you guys had to change to get to your goals? Let me know in the comments.

Have a great and creative week everyone 🙂

The Solace Of Reading

This week has not been the easiest of weeks for me because it has been very up and down. As some times happens, a lot of things demanded my time, but added to that stress was the fact that I couldn’t seem to write.

Now a lot of that is because time is limited, but some of it was because the few times I sat down to write I couldn’t focus. I’m not talking about the usual procrastination, but the lack of focus caused by the mind racing and unable to concentrate. This was heartbreaking for me as writing has always been my outlet at times like this and it wasn’t working. What did work however, was reading.

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Over three days I finished a self help book I started months ago, finished one romance novel and started another and I’ve started a fantasy one for the purpose of reviewing it down the track. Yes, I could have used this time for writing and editing, but I feel my time was better spent doing this. Why? Because it allowed my mind to rest. Ironic because reading gives me something to focus on while part of it works on whatever is bothering me. It’s not exactly rest as you know it, but I found that after several days I was ready to dive back into my writing world.

And I have with gusto. In the space of a day I have worked on my current first draft, my Richell Prize entry and written two blog posts. So my point is, take a break if you need it, it’s okay to rest. Just don’t give up.

Have a happy and creative week everyone!

Writing and the Body

One of the things I have noticed this week in regards to writing is, unbelievably, my body. The reason for this is because I was doing a little bit of yoga and it came to my attention that my shoulders are about as flexible as rocks. The reason for this is because I sit at the computer hunched over for long stretches at a time. Consequently they sit much closer to my ears than they should do. It is also the reason why the area across my shoulder blades aches. And it sucks.

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Incorrect posture on the left, correct posture on the right.

Now that I’m conscious of it, having correct posture while at the computer is hard a thing to do! Perhaps that’s not the case for most people, but for me it is and it’s not something I was aware of doing poorly. So naturally I researched it a bit, because I fully believe that we have only one body and we need to take care of it. Below are the best tips the internet could give me for people who sit at a desk for hours at a time not moving much.

  1. Take regular breaks. This means getting up and moving. Set a reminder on your phone if you have to and go for a brief walk every hour.
  2. Feet flat on the floor.
  3. Get a decent chair suitable for sitting in front of a computer for ages. Invest in a support pillow for correct curvature of the spine if needed. Also look at setting up your desk ergonomically. I suggest researching this because the options range from simple to complicated with angles etc.
  4. Stick a picture of correct posture where you can see it at your desk and regularly check your own against it.
  5. Stretches are your friend. The following are two YouTube clips with a few you can do at your desk. Desk Stretches and Proper Desk Posture.

I hope these tips help and remember, we only get one body so look after it! Have a great week and happy creating.

 

When Inspiration Strikes

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What do you do when inspiration strikes at a really inconvenient time? I know some people who carry a notebook with them everywhere so they can jot down ideas. Others use an app on their phone. Personally I just hope I remember it next time I sit down at the computer. Although I have been known to write it down on a scrap of paper if it really won’t leave me alone. The opening scene for Rosie was like that, disturbing my sleep until I got it out of  my head.

This blog post is also a bit like that. I first thought about it as I was drifting off to sleep last night. It was still there in the morning and I’m currently at the beach writing this on my phone (thank god for modern technology). The idea simply wouldn’t leave me alone until it’s written.

And I think that’s when you know it’s important to you because the idea/inspiration won’t disappear until you write it. It’s also, I think, how you know that writing really is something that is a part of you. It’s not so much about being published, but letting the words out so you can function. I’m very distracted when an idea is hanging around and I can’t write about it.

So what do you do when the ideas are flowing and you can’t stop what you are doing to write them down? Mentally I explore them so that when I do get to write them down I very rarely have to edit them. It’s such a relief to let the words out as well.

Let me know what you do and happy creating!