Thursday, February 28, 2013

It Is DONE!!!!

Hip Hip Hooray and a loud Huzzah for the SFD (or Shitty First Draft as Jessica Hart calls it) is finished!

I finished it this morning and it's currently sitting at 53, 236 words which I am quite please with.  I have enough surplus to form a nice buffer zone for editing purposes - enough to trim and then add more where it is needed.

I see a lot of that in my not too distant future - trimming and adding.

And while I have had a bit of time and distance from the beginning of the book that I could probably go back and start editing now, I am going to reward myself by doing a little more work on my Jane Austen single title.

Of course I let Sandy know I'd finished.  This is what she thought of my effort:

 Well, maybe not that great - but I appreciate the sentiment :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

When Your Writing Makes You Cry

I suppose there are two interpretations of that title - and I've been through both.

I've sat in front of my computer and wished that it were possible to tear computer screens into pieces because what I wrote was just that bad.  At those moments, I doubt my abilities the most.

I distinctly recall the look on one Aunt's face when I told her that I was going to be a writer.  She recoiled and I instantly wondered if I'd had one of those moments where you think "wouldn't it be funny to say: 'I'm going to be a hooker'" and instead of just thinking about it, you accidently say it.  Well I hadn't.  Not on that occasion anyway!  No she was just appalled that I wasn't intending on pursuing a 'real' job.  When I have bad writing blues, and think every word I have ever written is a smear on the literary world, I remember the look on her face and sometimes I think: "she was right".

Then I smack myself (sometimes it stings too) and play an inspiring song.  Beyonce's I Was Here does it for me every time.

But actually what I meant by the title of this post was that I have reached the end of my MS and the Hero is telling the Heroine about his childhood and why he is the way he is.  Now, I knew all this from the beginning when I worked out why he reacted to her and approached life the way he did.  But then I really got lost in what he was telling her and I was imagining this little boy and whammo! the tears started.

To be honest I felt a little silly.  It's like a singer buying their own CD and saying "Man this is the BEST song evah!" or an actor going to see their own movie and saying "I rock!"

Isn't it?

Perhaps now would be a good time to tell you that I also laugh at my own jokes.  One word: hopeless.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Sexy Writer's Diet

Okay so Christmas........I don't know about your family but food is a very important part of, well actually, every single one of our gatherings.  There are always favourites that are requested (aka demanded) and new recipes to try out on unsuspecting willling consumers.  Anyway you look at it there is always lots of food.  And every year I say hello to a few kilos, they hang around for a few weeks months and I end up doing some dreadful things to my body in an attempt to get rid of them.

Stop reading now if you have a delicate stomach.

I diet.


I exercise.

I know.  Hideous isn't it?  But the sad fact is that writing is a pretty stationary sort of job.  Yes, there are times when I leap passionately from my chair, gesticulating like some Italian on methamphetamines, swearing profusely (but always grammatically correct) at my characters, but mostly I just sit.  And because of my inactivity my extra ponderosity (oooh I just love that word) remains.  And I hate it.  I feel sluggish and frumpy and Not. Sexy.

It's hard to write sexy when you don't feel sexy.

So I decided to come up with The Sexy Writer's Diet.  Feel free to follow it (at your own risk).

Day 1: In order to cleanse your system of harmful toxins and other nasty stuff, you will drink nothing but cocktails, high in alcohol content.  For those who are cocktail intolerant *two handed face fan*, champagne is an acceptable substitute.

Warning: after the third (or perhaps if you are an experienced dieter, after the fourth) cocktail you may start to feel a little woozy.  This is normal and your wooziness should increase as the day progresses if you are dieting correctly.  During this phase, you should turn on your favourite music and after a few minutes of gettin' down wid your bad self, use the music to fuel an intense session of day dreaming.  As legibly as possible, write down your ideas - use pictures if you need to (cutting them out of magazines is not recommened as scissors are sharp!) - stick drawings will suffice.

Day 2: After such a physically gruelling day, you should rest as much as possible today.  Lie prone amongst as many cushions as you can pile on your bed - the silkier/satinier/sexier the better.  Be kind to your digestive system and only eat soft food today.  Suggestions include: cupcakes, brownies (but only those without nuts), cream buns, banoffee pie and mousse.  Read back through your notes and try and translate them. 

Warning: You may feel a surge of energy after you ingest the first few delectable delicacies - this is your body's way of telling you that it appreciates what you are doing for it.  Ten or so minutes later you may feel lethargic and tired - this is your body's way of telling you that it is worried you don't love it anymore.  Show your body how much you care and scoff another donut.

Day 3: By now you should have a good supply of ideas and you need to pick one or two to start on.  In order to fuel this intensively focussed activity you will need your brain to be alert and working at its optimum.  From when you wake until lunch time, only eat chocolate.  Pure chocolate.  Unpolluted by anything else.  No candy coatings.  No wafer biscuits.  No chewy caramel.  No whipped nougat.  Just chocolate.  It won't be easy, but you must be strong.

After lunchtime you will need to allow your overtaxed brain to relax.  Milkshakes and cookies ought to do the trick nicely.  Thickshakes are recommended for those who are feeling particularly brain strained - the act of sucking so hard that your cheeks meet inside your mouth has a proven meditative affect on the Squidgish Writermus - the part of the brain that governs writing books.

Day 4: In order to fire up the passions before tackling the serious business of writing, one looks to age old proven adages, specifically my all time fav: You are what you eat.  You wanna write hot, spicy, sexy stuff, then you gotta eat hot, spicy, sexy stuff.  So follow your own personal preferences for today: Mexican, Thai, Creole, Sichuan or Cajun - eat up.  And let the heat steam up the pages of your manuscript.

Day 5: There is both Yin and Yang present in this diet.  Therefore today will be the day to cool your overheated lil self.  Ice cream.  Frappes.  Ice chocolates and Ice Coffees.  Frozen yoghurt (if you must and only if nothing else is available).  In order to stave off those pesky headaches that plague those who indulge in cool consumables, it is important to balance your chilled intake with something a little sassy and offbeat.  Try dipping french fries in your soft serve ice cream, or pretzels into your Ice Chocolate.  Trust in the Zen of The Sexy Writer's Diet - today you will devise the most devious plot twists imaginable.



Day 6: Following our theory of ingestion parallels production today we are sassy, snappy and zippy.  Which equates to crunch.  Source crunchy food from wherever it lurks, leaving no supermarket unshopped.  Potato chips, M&Ms, cookies, sugar covered almonds are all acoustically suitable choices.

Warning: Crunchy food has a nasty habit of making one thirsty - stay hydrated by ensuring you have everything on hand to make a bucket sized daquiri.  Note: you may need to purchase a very long straw to reach the bottom of your bucket.   Please remember that Sexy Writers NEVER drink staight from the bucket - that's just tacky.

Day 7: Stay strong you are almost finished your goal of becoming A Sexy Writer.  Today your tansformation will be complete.  Your mind must be set free and this can only be accomplished if it is as light as air.  Today you will consume air infused food: popcorn, fairy floss (or cotton candy), champagne (yes it is a food), marshmallows, mousse, whipped cream, zabaione, angel food cake.  Your writing will escape the dark, dreariness that drags so many other writers down, miring their manuscripts in heavy, uninspiring prose; your work will lift the reader, spiritually and emotionally, to another plane of pleasure and enjoyment.

This diet is scientifically proven to improve your writing, your health and your Sexiness*

*Actually it probably wont.  But it sure would be fun huh?  

Just remember you are Sexy no matter what you eat or don't eat, what size you are, what you wear, or where you are.  Sexy is as Sexy does folks.  But if you have any tips on how to Sexify your writing and what works for you, or doesn't, feel free to submit them and we may include them in our next version of this diet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Finding The Positive

One thing that strikes me as I read through both published and unpublished writer's blogs is that a lot of them are confessing to the same thing: they doubt themselves.

They doubt if they are any good at writing, they doubt if they are ever going to finish a manuscript, they doubt if they will ever get it published, that anyone will read it, that anyone will like it, that they will ever be able to write another book.....rinse and repeat.

It is a fear that I have felt myself - only not about my writing.  Now before you strain something from rolling your eyes so much, I don't have a big head (but then again, if I was egotistical, I would say that, wouldn't I?).  I'm not a literary giant or some genius, I just happen to think that writing is a talent I started with and by working hard, I have added skill to that talent and as a result, my writing is good.  Not great, and certainly not perfect and maybe not even publishable, but good nonetheless. 

It pains me to read blog posts from people I have been following for quite some time, who suffer from pangs of insecurity when I know that their writing is something that I would absolutely buy if it were on a book shelf. 

I think there is a social stigma that says if you admit publicily that you're good at something, then everyone is going to think you're arrogant or full of yourself.  In Australia we use the term "Tall Poppy Syndrome" whereby it's almost mandatory for the average Joe to deride or mock people who have acheived fame or fortune - thus bringing them back down to earth.  No one wants to be the recipient of that kind of attention or be labelled as big headed or snobbish so we undermine our skills and talents and make little of our achievements.  But of course that doesn't stop some people who believe that they were the true deservers of the "good luck" that smiled on another (even when that "good luck" is a result of years of hard work). 

As an example, I can recall a writing competition I entered a few years ago, and it turned out that one of the winners had self published or something before entering the competition.  Many people believed that this was in violation of the rules and even though the competition administrators ruled that it was in line with the T&Cs, several people were unconvinced.  Now instead of mentally shrugging their shoulders, looking at the writer's work and trying to see how it had nabbed the judges' attention (ie learning from her) they decided to post snide and hurtful (and in some cases, nasty) comments on a public forum.

I saw it as the literary equivalent of bullying - someone making themselves feel better by making someone else feel small.

It's just not cricket, people.

With that kind of reception waiting for you, it's no wonder some people are scared out of their bloomers at the idea of making their writing public.  They see it as an invitation for mockery, criticism and rejection.  I agree it's a pretty wild and yet somehow thrilling idea - kind of like the first time you have sex with someone.  You know they like you enough to go home with you (they buy your book) they like you enough to start removing clothes (they start reading) but the whole time, part of your brain is wondering "Are they turned off by my cellulite?  Do my wobbly bits freak them out? Are they wondering how to get the hell out of dodge right now?"  Well there's not much you can do about any of that except work out a bit more, diet and accept that you're never going to look like a broom handle (and frankly, who'd want to?)  From a writer's point of view, read more, write more, learn more, publish more and accept that you're not the next E.L James (and at the risk of repeating myself, who'd want to?)

My advice: find the positive.  It might be a self-help book, it might be joining a crit lit group that can ease you into accepting criticism and learning to shake off the nasty comments made by jealous bullies, it might be repeating positive affirmations: "I can do this.  I am a writer.  I will be published.  Gerard Butler will leave his Argentinian supermodel for me....."  ummmm, well maybe that one is just for....well let's just move on shall we?

There's lots of good advice out there in InternetWorld and urge you to seek it out and apply whatever appeals to you. 

But please, don't give up.  Somewhere out there, there is a person who is just waiting, even though they don't know it, to read your book.  It will change their world, or their mind, or their opinion, or the way they view something.  And if you don't write it, they will be left hanging. 

Don't let them down.  Don't let yourself down.  Now go and write!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fifty Shades of Romance

I was reading an article recently, in which four intelligent, professional, respectable women were reviewing Fifty Shades of Grey.  Now I will be upfront and say I haven't read any of E.L James' books.  It's not because I'm a prude - well I am in some respects I suppose - but I have nothing against erotic literature.  I haven't read the book because everyone I've spoken to about it has panned it.  Sure, they say, there's lots of great sex scenes but the writing itself is apalling.  Even the old lady who works in the takeway at my local shopping centre said the writing was rubbish.  So I thought - why bother?

Now back to the reviewers - this is what caught my eye:

Journalist Miranda Devine said: "The kinky sex in Fifty Shades is just an alibi to make Mills & Boon acceptable.  After all, what modern babe worth her salt would admit to reading bodice rippers in which helpless damsels pine for brooding, wealthy, achingly handsome heroes to sweep them off their feet?  Yet reading E.L. James's erotic thriller gives you an excuse to indulge in romantic schmaltz.  It's the flip side of the old line that blokes only read Playboy for the articles.  Women might say they are only reading Fifty Shades for the sex, but what keeps them pages turning is the age-old narrative of male dominance that feminism  has rendered out of bounds.  Then there's the sex.  Lots of it."

Hmmmm where to start?

I'll follow Julie Andrew's advice a la Maria from Sound of Music and "start at the very beginning".

  •  "Fifty Shades is just an alibi to make Mills & Boon acceptable."  Ummm.  No.  Acceptable to whom?  And just what is acceptable?  Tolstoy? Hemmingway?  And why are they, or others, more acceptable than romance?  Is it because the head is more valued than the heart?  That thinking is more acceptable than feeling?  Are women who read books that incite an emotional response worth less salt than their more "modern" sisters who immerse themselves in literature that only stimulates the brain (which I feel I need to point out, has been quoted as being the largest/powerful sex organ in the human body)?
  • "what modern babe worth her salt would admit to reading bodice rippers in which helpless damsels pine for brooding, wealthy, achingly handsome heroes to sweep them off their feet?"  I think the interesting word in this question is 'admit'.  We know that the category romance industry is huge and has become so in response to the demands of the public.  But there remains this stigma attached to reading category - and that stigma, I think, draws heavily on stereotypes (the stereotyped writer and the stereotyped reader) neither of which are realities. And don't get me started on the whole 'helpless' cliche.  I'm afraid Ms Devine's comments only prove her ignorance of modern romances. The fact is, Ms Devine that plenty of modern babes dream of devastatingly handsome heroes who rescue them from the mundaneness or harsh reality of their everyday lives and whisk them away into some luxurious idyll where they are loved (both physically and emotionally) for who they really are.  Does a movie called Pretty Woman ring any bells?  Grossed over $463 million world wide and you can't tell me all of those people (be they male or female) went to see the movie just for the music, or the costumes or the setting design. 
I think it's sad that we live in a society where romance is deemed 'schmaltzy'.  To me, it's essential.  Like oxygen.  And if it's not in my life for real, then I'll take it anyway I can get it:
  • at the movies,
  • in a book, 
  • vicariously through my girlfriends, or
  • through my own imagination
Because you can NEVER have too much romance in your life.  If that makes me an unmodern babe, then so be it.  So if you're listening Gerard, I'm still available okay?

Is that a yes?

Friday, January 11, 2013

A New Year Of Committment

Well I told you I'd be back - I just didn't think it would take so long!

But life has a way of just throwing everything she has at you at the same time.  Who knew that Christmas happened at the same time EVERY year?!  In my looooong list of priorities, it was unfortunate that writing came in behind buying groceries, buying presents, turning groceries into food for LOTS of people, wrapping those presents and then turning up to pre- during- and post-Christmas gatherings and the less than pleasant task of cleaning up.

Fast forward to now and I have just managed to start writing again......


it's a different manuscript.

I know, I know.  I should be finishing the category romance manuscript seeings it's so close to being able to write The End but this other manuscript is my other love - Jane Austen.  It's not fan fiction because it's not about any of Jane's characters but Jane herself does get quite a few mentions.

If you haven't been watching them already - set yourself aside a few days - and start watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  I say a few days - you could probably watch all the vlog episodes in a few hours but they're so addictive and you get so caught up in them and the actors are so good that you will have to watch most of them more than once.  And you HAVE to read the comments.  The vlog is a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and it's brilliant.  I have to admit that it has shocked me that some people haven't read P&P but their comments are delicious in their ignorance of what's coming up next.  And even the people who are familiar with the plot are getting all squeally with excitement.

Which has made me realise just how important characters are.  I know Pride and Prejudic quite well.  I've read it many, many, many times.  I know the plot.  I know the characters.  Despite all of this, because of how the writers for this vlog have crafted the characters, I'm on the edge of my seat, twice a week waiting for the next episode.  I can't wait to see what happens next, even though I already know what's going to happen.

That's good writing.

I want to write like that.  It's the electronic version of a real page turner and it makes my insides all quivery just thinking about it.

Now let's talk about Commitment.  You'll note I've spelled it with a capital C.  That's because it's my word for the year.  I'm Committing to things this year and one of them is this blog.  I received quite a little shock when I realised that I've had this blog for two and a half years now and I really haven't had a blogging schedule to speak of, so this year, this is it.  I'm Committing to two posts a week.  I'm going to try new things like giveaways and competitions and stuff like that - try and get my readership up a little so when (not if - because I'm Committed) I'm published, I'll have a few lovely people on my side who might, if I beg nicely enough, buy my book.

I'm Committing to writing every day.  I'm Committed to submitting.  And because my single title isn't being submitted to a publishing house that accepts unsolicited manuscripts, I guess I had better Commit to finding an agent too. 

But before all of that -  I need to Commit to finishing the book.  Well books actually.  Welcome to my journey. 

By the end of the year, I may need to be Committed