Old Stories and New Writing…

The scariest moment is always just before you start. Stephen King

Oh yes indeed it is – especially when you sit down to write with no idea of what you will write about. That is what I am facing in one and a half days time – with Camp Nano starting and me having no ideas. Aside from my first ever Nano in 2008 I have always known what I was going to write about come Nov 1st (or June 1st, or in this case August 1st).  Last Camp – in June – Inspiration struck several days before hand. I was watching the sun set, admiring the red sky and thought of the line “Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight!” Instantly I had a story – the whole story- there in my mind. It changed slightly as I wrote it, but I knew from the start where it was headed, the details of the main characters and the mystery behind the female main character’s past.

I sit here now – with 35 hours and 59 minutes to go (to be exact!), and have no clue. But I’m going to start anyway. I’m going to sit down on the 1st August (35 hours 58 minutes to go now) and I am going to write. And if all goes well – I will achieve this:

“The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page, and suddenly it all makes sense and you know what it’s about and why you’re doing it and what these people are saying and doing, and you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising… and it’s magic and wonderful and strange.” – Neil Gaiman

This is what I felt while writing ‘Red Sky’. And I’ve felt it with other novels too, but never with the same intensity, never the whole way through, never from beginning to end.

So wish me luck! And I return the wishes to all out there participating in Camp Nano (and even if you are not – good luck with your writing also!)

And in case you are wondering about the title of this post – Old Stories and New Writing – I have a new page on my blog – with the first story I ever published. ‘Sacred Circle’ was written as an exercise in description in my Grade 12 Class, 13 years ago. It was published two years later.

Affinity by LaVerne Clark – Review

Some of you may remember me posting an invite to the Online Release Party of the above book – Affinity by LaVerne Clark.

Here is my (very belated) review!

Affinity is a paranormal romance and I love that extra element to the story. It tells the story of Jenna, a woman of Japanese descent who has the ability to call creatures and take on their attributes at will. Her talent is hereditary, passed down through her father’s line.

As an adult Jenna has managed to hide the truth about herself, but when she uses her abilities to rescue a young boy she finds herself getting more attention than she hoped for from sexy policeman Nick. Nick is troubled by his work as a cop. When he meets Jenna he knows she is hiding something, and follows his instinct to find out what it is. Their relationship quickly blooms, but as Jenna’s ability suddenly evolves to include humans as well, Nick is scared off.

When Jenna’s heroic rescue is reported in all parts of the globe, a man with ulterior motives seeks to obtain control over Jenna and her abilities. When other attempts fail, he kidnaps Nick forcing Jenna to give herself up in order to save the man she loves.

This ebook is published by The Wild Rose Press, if you’d like to read Affinity go to the website and purchase a copy for yourself. And while you’re there – you can pick up LaVerne’s first ebook – ‘Guardian of the Jewel’. http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=841&zenid=a675f0743df82dabd40bb26bf09e201b

Beloved Books

If I had one wish, it would be for the ability to freeze time as I pleased so that I might stop and enjoy a book – whether an old friend or new adventure – whenever I felt the urge.

I compiled a list of my most beloved books to add as a page here on my blog. I imagined it would be a brief list, but I found I couldn’t  pick favourites! In the end I have come up with three lists: Most Beloved Books, Other Favourites, and Favourites from my Children’s Collection. But in the process of browsing through my bookshelf I found I wanted to read them all again! And I still have an ever growing list of books I haven’t yet read once!  And lets not forget the stories I have simmering away inside me, waiting to be written!  People say they would not like to live forever! How else will we have time for all these stories, if we don’t ! (Note: anyone out there with either the secret of immortality or the ability to pause time, feel free to contact me!)

And before I forget. I have also added a new page (a few weeks ago now) of my publications. It’s only very short at present – with a bit of luck it will soon grow!

Mercury Retrograde

Mercury is retrograde. Communication is backward, confusion arises. Misunderstandings lead to hurt.

The telling of tales is a form of communication, is it not? It doesn’t bode well for the story-teller, the writer.

I’ve started a new story – a short one for a competition that closes early next month. I started it several days ago and all seemed to be going well, but then I became distracted – facebook, email, and various other websites that take up my time seem to be taking even more of it. I look at my story, write a few words, a paragraph maybe, then find myself suddenly elsewhere. And now the story that flowed so well to begin with feels stilted. I know where I want it to go. I know how I want it to end, but getting there seems nigh impossible. (And it needs only be 1200 words away!).

In my procrastinating – and googling – I read a horoscope that spoke of Mercury being retrograde till early August. It seems a reasonable excuse. But can I really blame the stars do you think? Or is that just a poor excuse for my current lack of focus and discipline?

 

How to get good? Write 10 novels.

I have read several times over that the best way to become a successful author is to write 10 novels. Not publish – write. After 10 novels, the story goes, you are practiced and proficient enough to get it right. One author said she never bothered editing the first 9 – she just reread them to see where she’d gone wrong, and aimed to fix that problem in the next one. By the 10th novel she felt satisfied it was a good one and sent it off with virtually no editing at all and it was published and became a best seller.

So – from that understanding – how far away am I from being published?

Lets see:

Novel #1 Sacred Circle – YA Fantasy – started in college and finished during the holidays between my first and second year of uni( 2001) just over 50,000 words

Novel #2 Discovering Sarah’s Story – YA – Nano 2008, my first Nano! just over 50,000 words

Novel #3 Sarah’s Story – a historical novel – 2009 –  based on bits of what I wrote for the above, just over 50,000 words

Novel #4 Your Charity Pray – horror – Nano 2009, 62,000 words

Novel #5 Holle and Eogann – fantasy – Nano 2010, just over 50,000 words, though after a few edits it has ended up being around 60,000.

Novel #6 Sad Sunshine – fantasy – Nano 2011 – 100,000 words

Novella #7 Faery Dream – fantasy – 2012 – 16,000 words

Novel #8 Red Sky – historical fantasy – Camp Nano 2012 – 50,000 words

Two to go!! lol.

The first few on that list I doubt will ever be published, though Sarah’s Story is one I hope to get back to one day, once I’ve managed to do more research on Sarah and her life (and hopefully I’ll come up with a better title in the process…). Holle and Eogann has been submitted, Sad Sunshine is massive – one that will require a significant amount of editing – before I would be happy to share it with others (on saying that – I have not yet read back over Sad Sunshine – maybe it will be better than I think). Faery Dream is going through the editing process as I write, and Red Sky is going through it’s period of fermenting – I finished it about 3 weeks ago, so now it will sit awhile before I return for the read through. But I have a good feeling about Red Sky – there’s something a little different about it – I like it.

With August Camp Nano coming up in only a few weeks, and of course regular Nano in November – I could well have finished writing my 10th Novel by the end of the year… hmm….

A gift fit for a writer…

It was my birthday recently. My awesome man gave me the best present ever – a medieval style leather bound journal – look at all those pages just waiting to be filled!!

Why I Write

I recently discovered I have George Orwell’s essay Why I Write on my bookshelf. I bought it as part of the Penguin Great Idea’s Series, at least 6 years ago, alongside other gems I still haven’t read, such as Friederich Nietzsche’ Why I am So Wise, and Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. I’ve always known they were there – I see them almost every day after all, but somehow I managed to overlook them – to forget about them. And so I now have more books to add to my list of books to read – and as they are on my shelf I really have no excuse for not reading them. But on to George’s essay…

In Why I Write, Orwell is not writing solely about his own motivations, but the motivations of all authors. He says:

“Putting aside the need to earn a living… there are four great motives for writing… They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time…”

They are:

Egoism – “The desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death”.

Aesethetic Enthusiasm – “Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story”.

Historical Impulse – “Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity”.

Political Purpose – “Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people’s idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.”

Clearly for Orwell Political Purpose was a big motivation in his writing, a glance at Animal Farm is enough to see thisthough he says had he lived in another, more peaceful time his political motivations would have been almost nil, but the world he lived in shaped his writing.

So why do I write? In an attempt to look at my motives honestly, I don’t think my main reason for writing is included in his list. I write because their are words in my head that I have to get down on paper. Words that need to be made physically real through the act of writing. For even when I am not writing fiction I write in other ways: diaries, letters, blog posts! I do love it when words flow, when they fit together to create rhyme and rhythm, when they create images in the mind that with different words would not be as clear. So Aesthetic Enthuisiasm is definitely a secondary reason for writing. And of course egosim is part of my writing too – for otherwise I would be content to allow my writing to remain hidden away on my own bookshelves, and I would not be concerned with getting my work out there onto the bookshelves of others.

As for the remaining reasons – they have influenced me in the past. Certainly when I write historical fiction I have a desire to find a historical truth, or as close to such a thing as can be found. And I have written a story or two (in my early years at uni) that contained thinly veiled political statements, which I cringed over as I reread them, years later (and to be honest, I think I destroyed those ones).

So now I ask the question. Why do YOU write? Do you think Orwell has it covered, or are there other reasons you are compelled to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and fill the page with words?

Alif the Unseen – G Willow Wilson

Recently I won a proof copy of Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson.

All I can say is WOW. What a book. G Willow Wilson has created a world that is at once contemporary and fantastical, a world in which the unseen world of the djinn (or genie) is as real as our own. The story is set in current day, somewhere in the Persian Gulf, where Alif is a young hacker protesting against the system in the only way he knows how – through his computer. Alif’s world is one in which his love for fellow hacker Intisar can never be realised, for she is a full-blooded Arab, and Alif with his part Indian heritage would never be an acceptable partner.

Intisar is soon engaged to a more suitable partner, equally-full-blooded Arab Abbas Al-Shebab and Alif is devastated, but as a parting gift Intisar sends Alif an ancient looking book – The Thousand and One Days. This book belongs to the djinn, it is their stories, their tales, stolen from them by a man many centuries earlier. As Alif begins the search to learn more about the book, and struggles to figure out why Intisar sent it to him a whole new world opens up – one so few of his people imagined real.

This book covers all the things we aren’t supposed to talk about in polite company – politics, religion and sex (though not so much of the latter). It gives an insight into life in the Arab world, the struggles of those who live there, and even more interesting – how they might view those of us living in the Western World.

A brilliant read – I highly recommend this book to others – it’s so different; philosophical, entertaining, clever! Read it!!