Sunday, March 27, 2011

Picking up the Pen

In November 2007 some 'things' happened in my life that reminded me

1.  Life is short
2.  Life is what you make it

With this in mind, I picked up a pen.

I'd always wanted to write - and never had. Why? Because I thought authors were pretty amazing people who oozed creativity and were somehow born with a quill in their hand. I had an inferiority complex (which occasionally still knocks the feet out from under my confidence) and never gave it a try.

It took a brief moment in time, when my life was suspended due to illness, and I thought "what the hell, there's only one way to find out if I can write". As the God Nike said - Just Do It.

The way you pick up the pen is your own business. I personally surfed the Internet and found Romance Writers of New Zealand. A number of competitions were advertised on their website - the Clendon Award aka Finish the Damn Book (deadline for entry February) and the Chapters Bookshop Short Story Competition (deadline for entry March).

Motivation found, I sat down and wrote my first 55,000 word manuscript. A Mills and Boon 'Sweet' set in New Zealand. I wrote it in one month  - I guess you could say 'I was on a mission'.

At this stage I hadn't had the confidence to venture along to a local area meeting of RWNZ so I sent the manuscript into the Clendon Awards with the best edit I could - namely a spell check :). Thank you to Barbara Clendon for the wonderful critique (I can't believe she persevered through the entire, overly descriptive text - a great story/very slow pace).

I then went to the February meeting of RWNZ, Waikato/BOP group, and found out what a real edit was (lol - too late to get my manuscript back). I talked with my new found, like minded, friends about my intention to enter the Chapters Short Story and received amazing support for the idea, including offers of critiques. With the knowledge that I was no longer going it alone I wrote my short story. Tui Feathers. I got it critiqued and found out about the words WAS and HAD and all the 'ing' mistakes that make great ideas weak on paper. Annoyingly these lovely ladies didn't re-write the story for me. They only told me the 'rules' that I naively broke. It improved my writing immeasurably within the first six months. The critiqued short story Tui Feathers won the Chapters Bookshop Short Story Comp and published in the Womans Day Magazine in 2008. Success.

I'm not a particularly amazing person and I don't think I absolutely ooze creativity.

I CAN write - because I picked up the pen.

I CAN be a successful author - because I keep picking up the pen.

My intention is to never put it down.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How does that work?

Okay - so I'm posing a question that I'd really like your opinion on.

Devastation has hit many places in the world so far this century. Devastation on a scale that's been seen before, but perhaps not so much at once (or am I too young to understand how much the wars last century devastated in a similar way?).

Places have been irrevocably lost - or are irreversibly changed - and yet in contemporary books they're still there. In fact, in many thousands of books, thanks to the talent of the writers, they're alive and thriving, vivid and exciting places, not touched by the horror - or even the inkling of horror - that's in their future.

How does that work for a reader who knows better? Can the reader slip into the world of a book - even though there's the fresh knowledge that a place no longer exists, and therefore realism can't be pretended?

Is that where historical and sci-fi/paranormal/steam punk have a much longer shelf life - because today's reality is already suspended?

What is the affect on those who write contemporary?

The disaster in Japan is on a scale of terrible that I find difficult to comprehend. I'm not sure how it would affect me if I was to sit down and read a beautiful romance, sited in Miyagi.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake

My heart breaks for Japan

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I'm sitting in my car outside Brownies - waiting to be allowed in (*giggle* my nine year old thinks she has  power) - and am mulling over a lovely conversation I had with one of our librarians this afternoon.  They're a cheerful lot (no grumps at all) and I tend to get asked "have you heard yet?" the minute I walk in the door.

Of course, I haven't heard yet - it's only been a few weeks - but I tell her I'm sure it'll be soon.  Then she asked me "what if they like it but don't."
My expression must have shown a little confusion because she went on to elaborate.
"What if they want changes - like - a whole chapter or character." (We've previously had indepth discussions about characters-we-hate so I knew what she meant).
I very quickly said "not a problem, I write to sell."
then she asked "but isn't that sacrilege? It's your baby."

The Highschool students demand attention before we can get into the topic but it made me think. So often, that's how readers/fans/followers react when a change is made they don't like. When an author takes their character on a tangent the fan thinks is plain WRONG - and then the word sacrilege comes into play.


I think that the majority of authors (at least the ones I listen to at RWNZ) WRITE to sell. They may love something the editor hates, but in the end - both parties do what's best for the book - to MAKE it sell. Sacrilege possibly needs to stay in the domain of the readers/fans/followers - those that LOVE or HATE. Authors, in the real world, who want to make a real GO of it - don't have that luxury.

I love my real world - so I'm flexible.

Down to business

I haven't been writing this week - aaaargh!

My whole body feels ting-ly - there's an itch in my writing brain that I can't scratch.

Life needs attention (for example, right now I'm at the Library with Daughter One, and pretty soon I'll be at Brownies with Daughter Two). Then dance training tonight because junior nationals is only five weeks away (I'm trying not to be a panicked mother but I haven't finished making the dresses yet), training again tomorrow night, full day competition on Saturday, judges workshop on Sunday...the list goes on.

So - my body tingles - and it'll just have to keep right on tingling-aling-aling until I get through this month.

Then...the real news...I'm finishing full-time work (with some pangs because I love my job) and I take on the wonderful world of part-time writer and part-time BULL farmer-ish thing-ee position-ee. Very, very excited - I'll be sending wonderfully big, strapping males out to service the girls of New Zealand (cows that is, in case you're not following me). I don't think it'll be grist for my books - not necessarily very romantic - but a good challenge to keep the brain well and truly ticking over.

Which reminds me, I need to go and buy some gumboots.  I wonder if they come glittered, or designed with music notes/buffy monograms...