Writing: Is The Novel Becoming Obsolete? (Poll)

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Fantastical Friday: Harry Potter

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,  the first book in an iconic fantasy series, was released on 26 June 1997, and boy did it change everything.

Then comes the movie (released 2001) and a whole new magical world is opened up for both kids and adults alike.

 

I enjoy reading and watching series of all kinds, but I’m a HUGE fan of Harry Potter’s!

 

What about you?  Do you have a favorite book or movie series?

 

What If My Writing Isn’t Good Enough?

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This month’s question:  What if my writing isn’t good enough?

 

This group (also endearingly known as IWSG) is all about insecurities; and gosh, I have a boat-load of them!

 

Where even to begin?

 

I’ve battled with insecurities all my life, and they’ve filtered over in to my writing life.

 

You’ll never be good enough. 

You’re worthless.

Don’t bother even trying.

 

There are so many ideas running through my head.  And I have written many of them…but, they usually die (or get placed in the trash).

I have published several items (all short ones) so that is something, I suppose.

 

But…

 

I keep feeling like I’m missing something.

Or, there is a story somewhere within that needs to be written and then released to the world.

 

But…

 

In the past, in my previous work life, I had this nasty habit of self-sabotaging myself.

Not allowing myself to experience success of any kind.

And this is quite prevalent in my life as it is in my writing life.

It’s like I feel like I don’t deserve it.

 

You’ll never be good enough.

You’re worthless.

Don’t bother even trying.

 

 

A lot of this stem from childhood abuse.  Others from a progressive disability.

Excuses, I suppose.

But they’re the Goliath in my life, and I’m the puny boy with no sling-shot or weapon of any kind.

Just a pen.

 

 

I’ve heard that a pen holds power.  I just don’t have any faith in the holder of this particular pen.

 

Am I good enough?

Will I ever be?

Do I even bother trying?

Writing: The Power Behind Words

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This month’s question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

 

This was a difficult question.  I couldn’t think of any one thing specifically but just the knowing that writing in of itself has been incredibly valuable for me.  Without it, I don’t think I’d be as “put-together” emotionally and mentally as I am.

Even though I’ve been writing for a number of years now, and have several of my short works published,  I’m not famous or rich.

In fact, most people have no clue who I am.

I suppose that’s okay.

What matters to me is that the words I write impact people in some way.

So, yeah, I write for myself first but I also write to give voice (or try to) to those who cannot speak.

For me, writing is therapeutic.

Which means words matter.

And I want it to matter to the reader as well.

In the end, I can think of a particular lesson that writing has taught me.

Compassion for others.

And empathy.

Writing offers a way to let others know that they are not alone in feeling the way they’re feeling.

And for that one reader, the writer’s words can make all the difference in the world.

Favorite Friday: Ray Bradbury (on leaving behind a legacy)

 

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

You Tube Tuesday: Stephen King

 

(*YouTube Tuesday idea originally came from the Martians Attack blog)

 

I came across this video recently and loved how he presented some of the tips as well as how he came up with the story idea for Cujo.

Have you read any of his books?  Which one is your favorite?

If you’d like to participate in YouTube Tuesday, post something from YouTube that you enjoyed and tell us a bit about it.  Don’t forget to include the link to this post in yours so I can check it out.  Also, if you’re on Twitter, Tweet about it using the hashtag #YouTubeTuesday.

Favorite Friday: Mirror by Sylvia Plath

 

Mirror

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
What ever you see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful—
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Writing: Should I Find a Niche?

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For this month’s IWSG Blog Hop, my question is this: As a writer, should I settle with a “niche”?

I discovered writing by “accident” at the age of eleven, and been writing on and off ever since.  In 2007, my first (short) story was published.  Now that I’m a full-time homemaker, I write almost every day.

Yet, I haven’t decided which form or genre or niche to settle on.

I’ve dabbled in poetry,  screenwriting, essays, journaling/memoir, serial fiction, flash and short stories and have written in almost every genre (except for historical fiction).

What’s my problem?

I enjoy writing all of them.

I’ve been told that I should write whatever my heart and soul desire.

So, why am I so conflicted?

Although I have published many forms of writing but they’ve all been “short” (meaning under 10,000 words), I still have hope to publish a novel one day and that’s my dilemma.

If I write and publish a book in a particular genre, does that mean I’m stuck with that genre in the foreseeable future?  Or, can I jump around from one genre to another? My main concern is confusing my readers especially if they enjoy reading only that particular genre and not the others.

Or, perhaps I’m making a huge mountain out of a molehill?

 

 

Author Interview With Jeanne Blasberg

Today we have a very special guest, Jeanne Blasberg, as she tells us a bit about herself and her DEBUT novel! 

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve kept a journal all my life and have always loved to read. My favorite book as a child was Harriet the Spy. Being an only child who spent a lot of time alone, I got scarily close to emulating Harriet’s spying ways.

My passion is fiction, but my early professional life had me writing business case studies and articles on the retailing industry. My first serious pursuit of creative writing involved memoir and essays based on personal experience, but I always knew I had a book in me.

Once my three children moved out of the house, things got quiet and my mind could slow down. I used that time to write and study the craft. My husband and I also love to travel, and I blog about it on my website. In the last nine months I have been to South Africa, Uganda, Patagonia, the Canadian Rockies, and Iceland.

 

What aspects of your life led you to writing the kind of stories you write?

I have always been fascinated by family dynamics. What is spoken and often unspoken between siblings (which I can only imagine, having always wanted to be a sister) and how bonds strengthen or deteriorate between generations are things I think about.

I have also witnessed (as well as read and thought about) the way behaviours get passed down from generation to generation, especially painful ones such as addictions and secret keeping.

 

 

You have a new book coming out soon. Tell us about it.

EDEN is the story of a family matriarch in her late seventies who, after the death of her husband, decides to introduce her family to the daughter she gave up for adoption fifty years earlier. The setting is their grand summer home, built by her industrial tycoon father, in a fancy summer community on the coast of southern Rhode Island. The chapters describing the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, as relatives arrive, and our matriarch prepares to make her announcement, are alternated with chapters revealing the 80-year history of the family. Four generations of women are introduced, each with secrets of their own.

 

What inspired you to write it?

The idea was born after my husband discovered he had a brother who had been given up for adoption. In getting to know this newly discovered brother and having conversations with him and his wife, I understood something about how the mystery around his birth had been bound to his self-identity. I related to this immediately. The product of a hasty marriage, I was ten years old when I did the math on my fingers to figure out I was a mistake, something a could never quite shake. I never stopped thinking about the different choices our mothers had (or didn’t have) and also the residual effect on the children.

 

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

I spend time meditating or quieting my mind and then I think about the scene I am writing until I just know how a character would react. Sometimes, I get it wrong and in the editing process I think “no, no, no, that’s not quite right.” My characters are evolving and so getting it right sometimes requires writing an entire first draft and then going back to refine them. I understand my characters so much better when I know the ending.

I often think about my characters when I’m out in the world. I might notice a woman’s clothes and think that is something Becca would wear. Or overhear a conversation and think that is something Camilla would say.

 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing female writers today?

Maybe the same obstacles face men as well as women, I’m not sure. I am a debut author and don’t feel I have a very knowledgeable opinion on this topic. But the one thing I have noticed in the process of launching EDEN is that there are a lot of books being released each season and there are a lot in the genre I am writing…. By Women For Women.  Is the obstacle one of continually feeling relevant and original?  I have found the communities of women authors that I have become a part of to be extremely helpful and supportive. So whatever issues we have as a gender, there is a big movement around taking them on!

 

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?

Here are 5 good writing tips for a satisfying writing life:

1) Consistent routine, for 8 out of 10 people morning energy is best – take advantage of that time and don’t give it away

2) Meditate – unclutter the mind

3) Find a community of writers and hold each other accountable

4) Be generous – with yourself and others

5) good writing has a lot to do with intuition – trust it

 

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Synopsis of the book: “Becca Meister Fitzpatrick―wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community―is the dutiful steward of her family’s iconic summer tradition . . . until she discovers her recently deceased husband squandered their nest egg. As she struggles to accept that this is likely her last season in Long Harbor, Becca is inspired by her granddaughter’s boldness in the face of impending single-motherhood, and summons the courage to reveal a secret she was forced to bury long ago: the existence of a daughter she gave up fifty years ago. The question now is how her other daughter, Rachel―with whom Becca has always had a strained relationship―will react.” 

 

Jeanne can be found at the following sites:

Author’s Website

Twitter

Facebook

 

Writing: Chapter Names

In your opinion, is it beneficial to name chapters in a book?

 

Author Interview: Judy Walters

We have a very special guest today!  Please welcome Women’s Fiction author, Judy Walters! 

Tell us what first drew you to writing.

I’ve always written, since I was a little girl. I always knew I wanted to be a writer.  It’s just something I’ve always done, and I don’t know why, but I don’t feel complete without my writing.

What do you write?

 Women’s Fiction, stories about common people struggling with uncommon situations, many of my novels have some kind of medical twist.  

You were an editor in your previous life. How much has the publishing industry changed since you left?

I was an editor a long time ago — I stopped working in publishing about 19 years ago, right before my younger daughter was born. At that time, and people will laugh now, my office was just setting up email and I was afraid I would never learn how to use it!  

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories?

I like to write about families struggling with unusual but not unheard of problems. In A Million Ordinary Days, a woman is struggling with Multiple Sclerosis, and that struggle extends to her family. Other books I’ve written focus on families struggling with Autism, adoption, and infertility.

You have a new book coming out soon. Tell us about it.

My latest book is called A Million Ordinary Days, and it’s due out March 14. It’s the story of one woman’s fight against Multiple Sclerosis to try to live a normal life both with her career — working with pregnant teenagers — and raising her teenage daughter.

Which do you prefer: traditional, self publishing, or both?

I’m not one of those people who strongly prefers one way or another. Both are valid ways to publish. All of my books have been self published so far, but if I ever had the chance to have the traditional publishing experience, I think that would be great, too.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today?

One of the biggest obstacles is the ability to get published. People with wonderful novels can’t find publishers and feel uncomfortable or unsure of self publishing.  People who had great publishers lose their contracts for a variety of reasons and then don’t know how to publish their next books.

Allison Wheeler is fighting a war inside her body, a war with Multiple Sclerosis that she doesn’t want to acknowledge and certainly doesn’t want other people to see.

As Allison’s health deteriorates, she tries desperately to hold on to all that is important to her – her family, her career as a social worker for pregnant teens, and most of all, her independence. As her ex-husband and two daughters rally around her, they’re fighting their own demons – Glenn, in a new relationship, is afraid of shifting the comfortable companionship that he and Allison have built since their divorce fifteen years back. Melanie, whose sad past haunts her, is an adult realizing that adult life is not all it’s cracked up to be, and Hailey, a junior in high school, is debating how she can go off  to college knowing that even though she desperately wants to spread her wings and fly, her mother may be too ill for her to go. Just when they all think they’ve made peace with their lives, they must readjust to a “new” normal – or risk losing everything they’ve struggled to hold onto.

Release Date: March 14th, 2017

Want more info on this book?  Go to Judy’s website

The Journey of Rediscovering a Lost Story

Click on the image to access this group's official page

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

March IWSG Day Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Over the years, I’ve written several stories (both short and book-length), and for various reasons, I set them to one side never to go back to them.

Time passes…

Voices of one of those abandoned projects begin to cry out to me…

Please tell my story.

Complete me so I can rest in peace.

Finish what you’ve started so that the world may know what happened.

Someone somewhere need to hear this.

Come back to me.

Eventually, I give in.

I have to.

These voices give me no choice; just an ultimatum.

Write, or completely lose my mind.

Or, my soul.

Both are bad in my opinion.

The challenges?

Choosing which one to pick up and continue.

And…

How should this particular story end?

Especially since I may not have set eyes on it for a number of years.  I find that I have to get to know the character(s) all over again (which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing).  I enjoy rediscoveries.  Sometimes I look at a story and ask myself-what was I thinking of when I wrote this?  Was I possibly possessed????

Nah, someone else wrote this one.  Couldn’t be me.

Then slowly, the memories return as well as the excitement.

I pick up the pen, and begin once more.

*To answer the question above…I am currently working on an old story with the hope of one day finding a “home” for it.

Q&A with Author Alison Morton

alison-morton-author-interview

I’m so excited to have a very special guest here with us today: Alison Morton who is the author to the alternative history series called Roma Nova.  Be sure to check out her sites below! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been fascinated by the Romans since I was 11 and that’s a while ago! In between normal life events – earlier career in various sectors, marriage, raising our son, running my own business – I spent many of my vacations clambering over Roman Europe.

These days I live in France with my husband, write thrillers, cultivate a Roman herb garden and drink wine.

What aspects of your life led you to writing the kind of books you write?

I have a masters’ in history, six years’ military service and I love a good thriller.  And I’ve always believed that a woman could run things as well as any man.

After the novel writing bug was triggered by a terrible film, all these came together and resulted in the Roma Nova thriller series.

What’s your favorite part about being a writer?

Two things: firstly, the research and the way you become diverted into looking up stuff totally unrelated to your work in progress and secondly, receiving an email or review from a reader who totally gets what you are trying to say in your books.

alison-morton-in-rome

Tell us more about your books.

They’re adventure thrillers set in a modern Roman society run by strong women (Roma Nova). Of course, our heroines are fallible and of course they have strong love interests, but it’s the women who lead the action and call the shots. While the books are thrillers, there are no dripping body parts. 

The first one, INCEPTIO, starts in New York when an ordinary girl, Karen Brown, is hunted by a government enforcer. But in steps an attractive Roma Novan spy who helps her escape. But Karen finds it isn’t just gratitude she feels towards him.

She discovers her Roma Nova heritage and her true name. Her new life in Roma Nova is shattered a few months later when the government enforcer crosses the Atlantic and comes after her. He has a very personal reason to pursue her …

inceptio-book-by-alison-morton

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just sent the sixth book in the series to the copy editor and that will be out this April. Now I’m developing a novella, also set in Roma Nova.

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

I close my eyes and let them have conversations with each other. And sometimes I let them run around in my head acting out scenes. It’s important to establish each character’s separate personality from the start. Many people find it helpful to write out character profiles. Stories, whatever their setting and purpose, are all about people in the end.

What’s your favorite traveling destination?  Any place you haven’t visited and would love to?

Rome is my absolute favourite – impressive in so many ways.

In 2015, we visited the US and Canada for seven weeks seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Washington DC, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Beverly Hills, New York, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Quebec and a lot else! Last year I did ten trips to the UK to speak at events as well as two here in France. In March I’m off to the London Book Fair and then to Dublin, Ireland to speak in June. That’s plenty of travel at present!

What do you see in the future for women in general?

I think we’ll keep nudging towards a more egalitarian world, but there’s a long way to go. We must continue to stand up for a truly equal place in the world and chisel away at ingrained and subconscious acceptance of stereotypes that surround us.

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?

If you’re a writer keep writing and be persistent. Make your work the best it can be – no compromise! If you’re a reader, the best thing you can do when you read a wonderful book is to leave a review.

Social media links

Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site

Facebook author page

Twitter:  @alison-morton

Goodreads

Alison’s Amazon page

alison-morton-books

Writing: A New Endeavor

There is a new serial fiction in town!

This idea pretty much tortured me for well over a year, and I figured the holiday season was a good time to start it.  It’s mainly a fantasy story, but it also has zombies, werewolves, elves, and other magical creatures.  And yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus but that particular aspect of the story will be unlike the one we now have in this world.

 

Not Your Usual Christmas Story

Click on image for the original story site

Click on image for the original story site

 

 

Can also be found on Juke Pop Serials and Wattpad

Early next year, I plan to create a “book” trailer so stay tuned for that!

Synopsis:

(Fantasy/Horror)

Samantha Dunham lost everything, her husband and her young son, to a virulent pandemic that’s sweeping the world.

Struggling to find the will to survive, she finds herself swept up with a small group of survivors made up of mostly children who have been placed in her charge. Along with Lieutenant Lance Shirley, they all will soon find themselves journeying to another realm that will prove to be fantastical as well as terrifying.

Collaborative Writing (Poll)

Writing: Looking Way Ahead

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Click on the image to access this group’s official page

The question for December: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

Wow, my first month with the group and they just had to ask this question.  What is a writing career?  I have always considered a career as something you get paid for while you pursue a passion or an occupational path which leads to promotions and higher pay grades.

I have hung up that “hat” in January 2015.  You see, I have a progressive disability called Usher Syndrome (where I’m slowly losing my vision coupled with moderate hearing loss); and because of this, I “retired” and went on Social Security.  And because I receive the SS disability benefits, I’m not to earn an income.

I’m only 45.

And believe me, I still have lots to live for!

So, back to the question.

In order to clear my conscience and help me figure out my answer, I consulted a dictionary and here what it had to say about the word, career:

“An occupation or profession, especially one requiring special training, followed as one’s lifework.”

Hmm, still having trouble with applying this word to my situation.  Let’s see what else I can find.

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.”-Maya Angelou

That’s it!  A writing career to me isn’t about “making a living” but “making a life.”

Now that I’m feeling better about things, let’s move on.

For the first part of the question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now?

Though I’ve been regularly writing and publishing (short stuff) since 2007, I still haven’t found that niche. I desire to have a book of some sort traditionally published in five years, but whether it’ll be the fiction or nonfiction sort, I haven’t a clue.  I have dabbled in all forms and nearly all genres, and I’m still in the dark.

Does this mean I should try to be one of those multi-genre/format kind of writer?

Or, should I continue to try and narrow down the area or areas of “expertise” for myself?

I’m starting to wonder if maybe I need to find a mentor to help guide me on this journey.

Sheesh, I’m all over the place.  See what you did, IWSG?  😉

On to the second part of the question: what’s your plan to get there?

At this juncture, I plan to continue what I’m currently doing: craft the kind of fictional stories that I’d want to read, and then find a home for them; plus write micropoems and essays about my various life experiences (have been dealt with a lot of losses that I’m still trying to work through).

Whew.

Survived this one.

What about you?  Where do you see yourself, as a writer, in five years?