IWSG post–is our writing ever good enough? There’s help out there!

Aren’t we all somewhat insecure about our writing? Well, duh, that’s the whole point of IWSG!  I’ve never yet met a writer who wasn’t stricken with self-doubt somewhere along the line. So a perfect antidote is to attend a masterclass with someone whose past students got published after attending her classes and many ended up on the New York Times Best-selling List. I could live with that!

Facebookers amongst us will know that I’ve been attending a Margie Lawson Immersion Class for 5 days, where 8 lucky writers who were the first to sign up spent 12 hours a day learning at the seat of the master editor and make-your-novel-amazing Margie from Colorado.

The mornings were spent learning how to make our manuscripts sing louder, through more visceral writing and amplification, and the afternoons were spent writing, analyzing our manuscripts and the biggie–one-on-one sessions with Margie.

Absorbing her edit system (which of course I can’t share due to copyright) was the most awesome thing about the retreat, held in a gorgeous home in a leafy suburb of Brisbane. I also picked up 2 fab critique partners, both romance writers: Tania and Sheila in the centre of the above pic. According to Margie, we’re a good fit. They’re a couple of dynamos!

Margie has asked me to host an Immersion Class at our beach house in March ’17. I’m considering it.

No, Margie didn’t hire me as her publicist, but I’m so excited about what I’ve learned that I thought I’d share it for the #IWSG.

So I’ll just share one example of mine with you. You have to have a ms under your arm when you turn up. I brought along my 45,000 word ms for ‘Carpe Diem—Love and Art in Paris’ (WORKING TITLE).  I never got further than a few pages with Margie as she was bursting her creativity all over those opening pages (and my major turning point). I went away from the one-on-one and rewrote my opening line…and my first two chapters several times.

Here’s the opening line on my original ms:

OPENING LINE:

The stranger props himself on a bar stool in front of me like he owns the place.

(cringe-worthy much?)
REWORKING:

I watch the tall Frenchman push his way into Marcel’s Bar in Pigalle, Paris’s naughty end of town.
(After a session with Margie. Less cringe-worthy?)

Now, it still has room for improvement, of course, writing always does, but now that I’ve been Margie-fied, I have learned a few more ways to tempt the reader.

NOW after visiting other IWSGers, I see I was supposed to answer the question: how do I find the time to write in my busy day…well, lately I’ve been getting up early and writing for a couple of hours before anyone else wakes up…it’s just me, my laptop and the sea view. Then I grab two hour sessions throughout the day. I’d say at the moment I’m averaging about six hours a day writing. That’s what Hemingway did, and Dean Koontz does…

Thanks a whole bunch of koalas, Margie!

Margie Lawson's profile photo

www.MargieLawson.com

Lawson Writer’s Academy

Twitter: @margielawson

Facebook: Margie Lawson

This has been a post for the Insecure Writers Support Group. Go HERE to sign up or read more posts.

Visit the co-hosts!

  1. Lee McKenzie,Rachel Pattison,Elizabeth Seckman,Stephanie Faris, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata! 

    And a heads-up for the October Write…Edit…Publish. The theme is CONSTELLATIONS, so get your little sci-fi, fantasy brains around that one. More details soon! Should be a double hoot!
  2. WRITE..EDIT...PUBLISH - JOIN US!
  • How about you? Have you attended a writers’ retreat?

  • Do you know Margie Lawson?

  • Do you have any editing tips to share with us?

Poetry in Notion – Does poetry help us in times of need?

Hello!

Poetry is the go-to in times of need for many of us, but does it help? If we look at social media, yes, yes, yes.

After the Orlando massacre, Maggie Smith’s poem went viral. It’s not about Orlando per se, but about life being brutish and short–

“No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

Thomas Hobbes.

A woman lights a candle during a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.

Good Bones

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine

in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,

a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways

I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least

fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative

estimate, though I keep this from my children.

For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.

For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,

sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world

is at least half terrible, and for every kind

stranger, there is one who would break you,

though I keep this from my children. I am trying

to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,

walking you through a real shithole, chirps on

about good bones: This place could be beautiful,

right? You could make this place beautiful.

BY MAGGIE SMITH

***

Events can seem too incomprehensible for ordinary language, so poetry can speak to us in precise language that fits the purpose.

It can be the language of defiance and protest, which is my favourite genre of poetry. I love poetry that packs a powerful message (who doesn’t get Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise?) — ‘you may trod me in the very dirt/But still, like dust, I rise,’ as relevant today as when she penned it in 1978. Okay, most of us know and love that poem, but when Serena Williams went on *youtube to read Angelou’s poem, it went viral.

In August last year, a Sydney activist for peace wrote an anti-racism poem then had to retreat due to the negative reaction.

Second Earth

In another world

Just like this one,

Parallel to mine,

Is a life where I never met you.

And for that I am grateful.

Stella Smith (not her real name)

***

We have in our blogger-midst some amazing poets such as multi-published Nilanjana Bose who many discovered through the A to Z. I’ve known Nila since the world began, or close enough. She joined RomanticFridayWriters in 2010, now WEP. (She won the latest WEP challenge, GARDENS! with her amazing Point me to…) Her poems always blow my mind, so I asked her to share one with us which she wrote in the aftermath of the #ParisAttacks of 2015.

Image result

All the world’s a war zone

The flowers dry, the candles burn;

both reach their ends. The world still turns.

The streets are full, the café chat

is about revenge, tit for tat,

air-strikes, mortal wounds, ground combat.

I cannot take in any of that.

I only know she won’t return.

Although each time the doorbell rings

my heart leaps once, instantly sings

then is brought to the days before.

She’ll never be back at my door.

The talk is thick with migrants, war,

how exactly to settle the score.

But I can’t relate to those things.

I just know that flowers dry rough,

that candles aren’t warm enough.

I just know my room’s gone cold,

my heart is shrivelled and grown old;

she’ll never again cross this threshold

whatever events might unfold.

That’s my truth, the rest’s just stuff.

***

The old classicist, William Wordsworth said: ‘…thoughts … often lie too deep for tears.’ A good poet can help put those thoughts into words…

As much as we hate poetry, we really love it, don’t we? Even when we don’t understand it completely. It can make a thing of beauty out of ordinary things (even tennis!)

*

Thanks for coming by. I don’t get to read much about poetry around the blogs so I’ve been thinking on this topic and shared my thoughts, random as they are. I think in the digital age, poets can fire off powerful words to encapsulate the horror, the capriciousness of life, the landscape of a world in turmoil.

  • What’s your take on poetry? Love it? Hate it? Indifferent?

#WEPff story, GARDENS challenge. The Coming of the Immortals, a #fairytale, a #myth

Hi all!

Write…Edit…Publish has been on hiatus, but this week we’re back! WEP is a group of writers, some permanent aficionados, some who casually grab an opportunity to participate as the mood and time allows, and who return or not, but all of us have fun and grow a little more as we craft our entries and are inspired by each other. 

Yolanda Renee, a mad keen gardener, came up with the GARDENS challenge. I’m an indifferent gardener, so I drew a wide net when trying to hit on a workable idea. 

Writing for WEP this month has led to many influences for me. Inspired by a Marlena de Blasi story I read set in Sicily , inspired by a poem by Matthew Arnold, and inspired by a Greek myth which fits the theme so well. What better atmosphere to set my tale but around the story of the goddess of the Harvest herself?

There are many versions of this Greek myth, so bear with me as I retell my version…with embellishments…

What forms are these coming

So white through the gloom?

What garments out-glistening

The gold-flower’d broom?

Matthew Arnold

Sicily has a long history which is seared into the minds of everyone who lives on this island, part of Italy, yet with its own stories, its own rhythms.

A road paved with sun-bleached stones and whorls of yellow sand leads to the top of the island. Reaching the top, you see a hamlet made of heaped-up stones, huddled in the cleft of a shaly mountain. Beneath, the ruins of a temple. Above the hamlet, a high plateau of wheat forms a bronze curtain. Down on the meadows, sheep and goats graze. The only water close by the hamlet is a metallic smudge where bleached sky collides with yellow earth. The only waves are the wheat with its shuddering golden stalks roaring like the sea and crashing in the goddess-blown winds. There are Stone Age myrtles, wild marjoram and thyme meandering the steep grades.

Life in the hamlet is the life lived for millennia. From time immemorial, nothing has been lost, forgotten or left to languish. Past and present congregate, living together in the harmonic song nature sings.

Here you wander in the ruin of Demeter’s ancient temple. Demeter, the goddess of the Harvest, is responsible for the nourishment of all life-giving plants that grow on the earth. You can tramp amongst the great fluted columns as they lie supine, lustrous under the moon or glinting in the sun, while your feet bruise the wild thyme and marjoram and the air fills with their sweet, spicy scent. But if you look down, far below, you see a miraculous sight.

You see a meadow completely covered in the twining legume, purple vetch. Beyond that, you see acres of gardens amidst turrets and crenelated towers and Juliet balconies. But it is the roofs that catch your eye—the red and yellow porcelain tiles and mansard roofs set ablaze by a fiery sun. As you hurry down the hill, anxious to explore, the gaudy scent of roses and ripe oranges clog your nostrils.

Pausing to breathe in the magical elixir, you are shocked to see hollyhocks. Hollyhocks do not grow in the desert, but hundreds and hundreds of their red satin blossoms line a winding stone path which leads to an ornate iron gate. You press against the gate and see astonishing sweeping gardens—roses of all hues, but predominantly ivory and white and butter cream. They energetically climb trellises, sprawl lazily in beds, spill and ramble and entwine willfully. They are either a sun-struck illusion or…you have entered a fairyland.

It was here in these mountains that the Greek goddess of grain and fertility and motherhood once held forth. She does still. It was Demeter who illuminated the magic of sowing seeds beneath the earth, protecting them, feeding them, growing them into ripeness much as the seeds planted in the female womb grow to fruition.

Under Demeter’s will, the harvests flourished. She conjured the sun, the rain, the breezes at her pleasure. All was Elysium until it happened…

The grim king Hades had seen fair maids enough in the gloomy underworld over which he ruled, but his heart had never been touched. Now he was enchanted. Before him was a blossoming valley, and along its edge a charming girl gathered flowers. She was Persephone, daughter of Demeter, goddess of the harvest.

Persephone had strayed from her companions, and now that her basket overflowed with blossoms, she was filling her apron with lilies and violets. Hades looked at Persephone and was smitten by an arrow to his heart. With one sweep of his arm he caught her up and drove swiftly away where she became the Queen of the Dead.

‘Mother!’ she screamed to the uncaring wind, while the flowers fell from her apron and strewed the ground. ‘Mother!’

But only the immortals heard her cries.

Persephone had been trapped in a beautiful, divine trap. The flowers had been planted to ensnare her. The flowers were the work of Zeus and put there for ‘a girl with a flower’s beauty.’ The trigger for the trap was an irresistible flower with one hundred stems of fragrant blossoms. When Persephone reached out with both hands to pluck the flower, the earth opened at her feet and Hades roared forth in his golden chariot to seize her.

Demeter gnashed the sun, keeping the mountain villages and the fertile fields—and the world itself—in darkness until she made a pact with Zeus. This is what they decided. Half the year her daughter would be restored to her, half the year she would be with Hades in the underworld. With Persephone by her side, the goddess rekindled the sun and tipped warm rain down over the parched earth. For a season, the trees, plants and flowers flourished.

Then Persephone returned to Hades and the earth returned to darkness and infertility.

In Sicily this story is still told, with all the wonder and anguish of an event that only just took place. Allegiance to the goddess with the crown of woven corn husks never fades; each season she is remembered, especially at the time of Harvest.

868 words

CRITIQUE: Go for your life!

I hope you enjoyed my tale, my entry in this month’s WEP writing challenge. I’m posting early so you might be encouraged to post for the GARDENS challenge. There is wide-open scope to write, post a photo, pen a poem, write a non-fiction piece…(well, I’ve sort of done all!!) but whatever you like, any genre you like. Sign up in my right sidebar or go HERE for more information.

If you like my story, please hit my buttons…social media buttons! 

Thank you as always for taking the time to read/skim/spot check my story! Now, if you still have time, please read any WEP story on the list with a DL (direct link) next to the blogger’s name. That means they’ve posted their entry.

I’m travelling again so may not get right back to you. When I return from my trip, I’ll be attending a 5-day Margie Lawson Immersion Class on editing. Yummo! One busy August for sure.

Why writers should help writers #amwriting

Featured Image -- 419

A very thoughtful post on helping each other in our writing.

I came across the video below during a leadership training course. At first there might not seem to be an obvious connection between writing and leadership…but stick with me🙂

The  Ted Talk reminds us how important positive feedback is. All too often in life we focus on what is wrong. How often is it that bad service prompts you to complain? And how often after good service do you take the time to tell the company or individual? All too often it is the complaint that drives us to action, and all too often we fail to praise what is good.

Most of us will be quick to point out that we offer good feedback sometimes, but do we offer it often enough?

Feedback on Writing

Writing a review is such a simple and easy way to show the writer that you enjoyed their work. Sure you can drop a star rating on a…

View original post 239 more words

Do you have goals bloghop. Novels, novellas, short stories, travel articles…how has June been for you?

Earlier this year I joined this regular monthly Friday bloghop hosted by Misha Gericke and Beth Fred. It’s a steadily growing list as writers realise it’s a good motivation.

The reason I joined this hop was to keep myself honest, and honestly, reflecting on my goals for the month is a good motivation to push myself. So here it’s the last Friday of June, ridiculous, so it’s time again…

You’re more than welcome to join this bloghop. All you need to do is read and follow the guidelines then SIGN UP HERE

Your goal is the link title. Not your name or your blog’s. This is so we can keep track of who’s doing what.

I signed up as Number 13,  ‘publish a novel and submit short stories’ this year.

MY WRITING LIFE IN JUNE 2016

MY PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVELLA, BOOK TWO – The Vendemmia (The Harvest)

I am into the sequel to the second story in my  series Under the Tuscan Moon. Sorry for taking so long for those of you who have asked where is the second novella, but the research is taking longer than I’d planned. I hate reading sequels that are rubbish, written under duress, so bear with me.
 
In the sequel, my two ‘loveable’, ahem, vamps, Vipunin and Cuchulcain, have returned to Vipunin’s castello where he lived before he was turned. Here Vipunin intends to be a very disruptive influence at harvest time. Ciassia and Sibon  are unaware they harbour a monster in their midst, a monster who will do anything to get what he wants…and he wants Ciassia.
SHORT STORY UPDATE
Last time I gave an update on one of my Paris short stories, Carpe Diem, it was at 25,000 words. This story is lighting up my life and sending electricity through my fingertips as I type, so it is now at 30K+. So I figure my protagonists, Saskia and her lover Raphael, are demanding nothing less than novel length. When you meet these two, you’ll know what I mean…

A quick mock up to give you the idea
Currently I’m sorting the chapters as there’s a PAST and PRESENT element. I have a further motivation to get the structure right (even as I continue to write up their marriage in country France). I’m lucky to be attending a Margie Lawson immersion class in Brisbane in early August. I’ve worked through some of her online tutorials and this woman knows a thing or two about writing/editing.  As Margie says on her web page: “EXPECT to work for three full days (plus the afternoon and evening you arrive) dissecting, analyzing, and deep editing.” I feel very blessed to have strong-armed my way into her seminar. I’m going to use Carpe Diem as my piece to work on with Margie.
WRITING ABOUT TRAVEL
As regular visitors and blogger friends know, I wear a travel writer’s hat. Well, I’ve been travelling again…to tropical North Queensland, so haven’t achieved more than taking photos and making notes. No time to work on my travel articles, but it won’t take long to rectify this now that I’m back home.
MY PARIS COOKERY SCHOOL NOVEL
This is still waiting for November’s NaNoWriMo.
WRITE…EDIT…PUBLISH
JOIN US FOR THE AUGUST CHALLENGE!
Have done some guest posts, at Chrys Fey’s in particular, in which I mention WEP’s August challenge, GARDENS. I spent some time meandering around the Remembrance Gardens in Townsville. I felt a story coming on…Please join us in August if you love gardens–flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photographs, artwork…
WRAPPING UP…
So overall, June has been very low key as far as writing goes, but you’ve got to live your life. Major renovations at our beach house (next year our principal residence) are slowing me down writing-wise. I’m helping with the painting now. It’ll be worth it when I can lock myself away in Den’s Den which is about to be painted. Filling the bookshelves will be delightful.
READING
I READ A LOT but haven’t reviewed much this month. I’m concentrating on bloggers’ books on my kindle. Just finished The House by the Lake by Ella Carey, an Aussie writer. Delightful! Already topped some of Amazon’s best-seller lists. Set in Berlin and the US and follows her Paris Time Capsule based on the true story of an abandoned apartment in Paris.
AIM HIGH

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.– Ray Bradbury

How are you going with your 2016 goals? I’d love to hear from you. Please share in comments or join the hop.

#IWSG post–Chrys Fey gjves us 5 steps to defeat insecurities and also launches her latest release with The Wild Rose Press, Seismic Crimes–and a GIVEAWAY!

Time for us to throw our insecurity hats into the ring for the month of June, or to tell us how to overcome our insecurities.

First Wed of Every Month
Many thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh and his awesome co-hosts for the June 1 posting of the IWSG will be Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, Chemist Ken, and Heather Gardner! 


Over to my special guest, Chrys Fey…

Tips to Defeat the Insecurity Monster

Writers are no strangers to insecurity. That’s why Alex created this nifty group, right? That’s also why there’s so many of us.

During the course of writing and publishing a book, we can encounter many insecurities. We question our writing skills, agonize over our lack of writing time and even our writing speed. Then we stress over revisions, critiques, and edits. Querying and submitting brings an all new insecurity to the table with the threat of rejections and the torturous waiting game. Once we move on to the publishing gig, new insecurities dawn: release day, marketing, finding readers, getting reviews, and stressing over sales and bad reviews. It is a lot to deal with, especially back-after-back, but the good news is that none of these are insurmountable.

Every write experiences these same insecurities and struggles. While knowing that doesn’t help us in the moment or show us how to deal with them, it should relieve us in knowing that we’re not alone. And because we’re not the first (and won’t be the last) to face these insecurities, there are countless writers/authors out there who can offer us guidance, advice, and help when we need it. One good place to look for that is within our group.

When I was insecure about the release of Seismic Crimes, many IWSGers signed up for my release day promo, blog tour and supported my Thunderclap campaign. In the past, IWSGers rooted me on when I was going through personal problems, offered to beta read for me when I had no one and gave me courage.

I wish there was a sure-fire way to beat insecurities as they come, but there isn’t. There are, however, some techniques you can do to help you move past them.

  1. Take a deep breath.

You’re stronger than any insecurity you will ever encounter.

  1. Give yourself a break.

We’re not perfect. We make mistakes, and we have to learn.

  1. Take a step back.

Put your book away for a few days so you can return to it with fresh eyes. Also try to look at it as an outsider (a reader, not the writer).

  1. Make a plan.

When you’re facing an obstacle that seems bigger than you, break it down into smaller (manageable) steps. Then tackle each one at a time.

  1. Ask for help.

After you’ve done all you could with editing, promoting and marketing, it’s time to seek help. There’s no shame in doing this. It’ll take a lot of stress off you, and you’ll be surprised at how many people want to support you.

While writing and preparing for the release of Seismic Crimes, I did each of these techniques for every insecurity I encountered. And guess what? I’m secure now! There are some things in the future that may bring new insecurities (book signings/events, etc.), but I’ll do these steps and I’ll defeat it!

Title: Seismic Crimes

Author: Chrys Fey

Series: Disaster Crimes Series (Book Two)

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Format: Digital and Print

Page Count: 282

DIGITAL LINKS:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

NOOK / KOBO / All Romance eBooks

PRINT LINKS:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

 The Wild Rose Press

BLURB:

An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.

Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.

When a tip reveals the killer’s location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?

BIO: 

My Photo

Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes, Book One in the Disaster Crimes series, as well as these releases from The Wild Rose Press: 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. She is an administrator for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and has participated in the Blogging from April A to Z Challenge. 

When Fey was six years old, she realized she wanted to be a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. 

Fey lives in Florida and is always on the lookout for hurricanes. She has four adopted cats who keep her entertained with their antics, and three nephews who keep her entertained with their antics. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and through her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers! 

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter

HURRICANE CRIMES 99¢ SALE!

DIGITAL LINKS:

Amazon US / Amazon UK

Amazon CA / NOOK / KOBO

All Romance eBooks

The Wild Rose Press

CLICK on the link below for the Rafflecopter and you will be entered in the draw for the GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for talking to us about insecurities, Chrys. Here’s my best wishes to you for an avalanche of sales for Seismic Crimes! 

Please leave a comment and wish Chrys well!

 

Do you have goals bloghop. Novels, novellas, short stories, travel articles, monetising your blog…what are you writing

Earlier this year I joined this regular monthly Friday bloghop hosted by Misha Gericke and Beth Fred. I was thinking of taking my name off the list because who gives a toss what I’m writing/not writing? But then I re-read the comments to my March post and found them quite kind and encouraging.

The reason I joined this hop in the first place was to keep myself honest, and honestly, reflecting on my goals for the month is a good motivation to write more. So here it’s the last Friday of May, ridiculous, so it’s time again…

You’re more than welcome to join this bloghop. All you need to do is read and follow the guidelines then SIGN UP HERE

1) Beth and I Misha will be co-hosts of this list.
2) If you do enter your link into the list, please be supportive of the other entrants.
3) Keep us up to date with how you’re doing. Update Day is on the last Friday of every month. Even if you don’t think you achieved much or anything, write a quick post to say so. We can’t encourage if we don’t know.
4) When you enter your blog’s address write your goal as the link title. For example, my link’s title will be “earn $7500 per month.” Not your name or your blog’s. This is so we can keep track of who’s doing what.

I signed up as Number 13,  ‘publish a novel and submit short stories’ this year. Check out the participants at the bottom.

MY WRITING LIFE IN MAY 2016

MY PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVELLA, BOOK TWO – The Vendemmia (The Harvest)

I am really into the sequel to the second story in my  series Under the Tuscan Moon. Sorry for taking so long for those of you who have asked where is the second novella, but the research took longer than I’d planned.
 
(SIDEBAR: If you’ve read Under the Tuscan Moon, I’d love a review. Thanks to the lovely people who have reviewed it on Amazon and Goodreads and given 4 and 5 stars! If you haven’t read it and would like to, please drop 99 cents in my begging basket at Amazon and go for your life; if you don’t want to spend that outrageous sum of money, please email me and I will send you a free kindle copy if you’d like to review it.) 
The subtitle of this one is The Vendemmia (Italian for The Harvest, in this case, the grape harvest). My two ‘loveable’, ahem, vamps, Vipunin and Cuchulcain, have returned to Vipunin’s castello where he lived before he was turned. Here Vipunin intends to be a very disruptive influence at harvest time. Ciassia and Sibon  are unaware they harbour a monster in their midst, a monster who will do anything to get what he wants…and he wants Ciassia.
SHORT STORY UPDATE
Last time I gave an update on one of my Paris short stories, Carpe Diem, it was at 12,000 words. This story is lighting up my life and sending electricity through my fingertips as I type, so it is now at 25,000 words. So I figure my protagonists, Saskia and Raphael, are demanding nothing less than novel length. When you meet Raphael, you’ll know what I mean…
Currently the lovers have driven south-west of Paris to La France Profonde (deep in the country), to the tiny village of Les Salles Lavauguyon, so Saskia can meet Raphael’s parents and plan their marriage in the glorious Romanesque church (after the civil ceremony of course). But what’s with the parents? They are nothing like Raphael described them.
As I said in my previous update on this story, it has grown from a 1,000 word flash fiction originally published for #fridayflash. It’s been messing with my head for 5 years! So I have added flesh to the bones. And I have a French translator standing by waiting for me to finish! Now that’s motivation!

What’s with the motorbikes? Try this extract…

“With her arms around Raphael’s waist and her face pressed between his shoulder blades, her adrenaline soared as he roared into the Paris night, accelerating full throttle up the hill from Pigalle, past the windmills, then through the slick, dark streets of Montmartre. By the time he braked at the door of her 17th century pension, revving the engine twice just for fun, she was in love.”

WRITING ABOUT TRAVEL 
As regular visitors and blogger friends know, I wear a travel writer’s hat. I have recently returned from a subsidised trip to China so that demands many articles.  For this China series, I am hoping to break into more online travel magazines to add to the print mags. So it’s a wonder I’ve written any fiction at all, but I’m being honest when I say, except for NaNoWriMo, I’ve never written so much non-fiction or fiction in my life in a month.
MY PARIS COOKERY SCHOOL NOVEL
Sadly, I haven’t been able to work on my Paris Cookery School novel and it languishes at 25,000 words. But look out when I get a chance. I may finish it this November.
WRAPPING UP…
So overall, May has been a very successful, wonderful writing month even though as I said we embarked on major renovations at our beach house. I skedaddle off to the library and peace and quiet when the noise-makers are at work. I’ll join them when we reach the painting stage.
I rather liked my philosophical bent at the end of March’s update, so being short of time, I’ll leave it there and hopefully have time to get ever so clever next month!
And I READ A LOT but need a jolt to review what I read. I’m really trying! But I’ve read 50 books so far this year (most in January holidays) so when I get your book read, I’ll do the right thing by you!!

AIM HIGH
It’s always a good idea to set yourself achievable goals, but it’s even better to use the turbo power of imagination to help you get there. For example, you may decide that you’d be happy to have your body in better shape. Instead of just thinking: ‘I’m going to tone and trim my waistline’, bring on the drama. Try rephrasing that into something like: ‘I want to turn heads as I walk down the street and wow people when I walk into a room’. Remember, when you use colourful, vibrant imagery it will be easier to achieve your goal and turn your dream into reality.

So…when you dream of your finished story…instead of just wishing you could reach the finish line, add drama. ‘I want to write the most riveting, amazing story that people will love so much they will say to everyone in their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads–‘You’ve got to read this story!’ Imagine that!

I’m sure this Shanghai migrant worker has a goal!

How are you going with your 2016 Writing Goals? I’d love to hear from you. Please share in comments or join the hop.

1. … earn $7500 per month for a year 2. Sell 500 Books per Month
3. To get a novel finished and published 4. create a publishing company setting standards for excellence.
5. Write a million little words 6. publish at least 2 novels in the next 4 years.
7. Write and Publish 2-3 Books/Novellas and short works 8. Publish two decent-selling book series
9. Publish two books a year 10. Complete and publish The Paper Duchess Series
11. Accomplish My Goals By End of 2016 12. Sell an average of seven books a day
13. Publish a novel and submit short stories 14. Publish The Missing Girls Series in 2016
15. earn $2500 per month by December 16. get rejected (by a editor or agent) 24 times this year
17. Richard P Hughes 18. Finish editing my novel before NaNoWriMo2016
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Short travel post number one — China, the Great Wall — and some bonus photos.

Several of you asked for more pics of my trip to China and I’m happy to oblige. Today I’m starting with a few outtakes from travel articles I’ve written since returning home. I’ll start my first ‘proper’ China post back at the Great Wall after a little detour.

TRAVEL ‘FIRSTS’

Travellers the world over share the heady anticipation of ‘firsts’—the first time they see Rocamadour, (the town of the Black Madonna and foie gras) built into the cliff face not far from Bordeaux in France, the first time they make it to Everest Main Camp, the first time they make a pilgrimage to Machu Picchu.

 
Glorious Rocamadour didn’t disappoint!

Yet some ‘firsts’ can be disappointing. Think about this…As I entered the hallowed halls of the Vatican to gaze upon Michelangelo’s painted ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, a much-anticipated ‘first’, it was not the ceiling but the floor that dominated the scene—wall to wall tourists lying on their backs pointing cameras with lenses as long as their arms to the ceiling while nattily-dressed security guards danced over the inert bodies screaming, ‘No photo! No photo!’

But my last ‘first’ exploded every expectation I’d held since I saw newspaper photos of President Nixon and Mao Zedong on the Great Wall of China in the ’70s—my own ‘first’ visit to the Great Wall, the foremost example of ancient architecture on the planet.

 
What I dubbed Base Camp at the Juyong Pass Great Wall section.
After climbing the wall, it was good to mosey around here while the thighs tried to stop wobbling.




Getting ready to rock! That mountain top looks a long way away!
Heading for the watchtower at the top of the mountain. Those stairs were full-on killers. We’re all giddily happy to be climbing the wall. Some tell me it was a long-cherished dream, impossible to fulfill when China was closed to foreigners, (wàiguó rén, or ‘big noses’).


This wall is mighty steep and goes forever. It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll!!

 


The top of the section. Sadly, I didn’t make it this far, but the hubs is far more competitive than I am…of course he had to take photos for me!

  • How about you? Do you have any travel ‘firsts’ that never leave your mind?

Thanks for coming by.

I hope you enjoyed travelling with me.

Next post will be on Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City.

Misha Gericke reveals her writing insecurities for #IWSG. Endless blog tour post. And a China sneak-peek–the Great Wall of China.

Welcome to the May #IWSG posts. Many of you will be battle fatigued after participating in the A – Z Challenge. I was busy touring China, so I’m not sure which was the most exhausting. I’ll give you a pic or two of China at the end of the post for those who have been begging to see some, but today my blog belongs to Misha Gericke who is sharing her insecurities on writing then introducing us to her new book.
Thank you to Alex J Cavanaugh and the team of co-hosts for May!
 We have: Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris! If you have time, visit each one and say hi!

***********************************************************************
Now, take it away, Misha!

About Insecurities

The first time I managed to finish a book, it was a huge, almost terrifying tome that took me six months only to figure out the concept.

So when the time came for me to write Endless, my second story, I was terrified of starting it.

All because it felt like I didn’t have enough understanding of the story to write it. Endless started as a concept; more than two years before that I only thought of tangentially while drafting The Vanished Knight and The Heir’s Choice. Sort of: “I wish I could write a story about an amnesiac immortal.”

Then I had a sudden blast of inspiration right before NaNoWriMo. I didn’t have anything else to write, so obviously Endless was the best option. But I didn’t think about the world. Didn’t even know any of the characters. (Which was a new experience for me.)

I freaked out for the whole week before NaNoWriMo started, which of course meant that I couldn’t figure anything out either.

This sounds like the recipe for a disaster, doesn’t it?

Well… actually…

I started on November 1 with no clue other than the main character having amnesia.

I finished the rough draft in fifteen days. (Which was my personal record from November 2011 to September 2015.)

The rewrite took me three weeks. (I rough draft in pen.)

The book basically wrote itself. Twice.

Which does go to show you.

Sometimes, we really freak out about the stupidest things.

What has caused you to be insecure about your writing, only to turn out not to be worth worrying about?

About the Book


“First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals.

Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay,

Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them.

Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless.

Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.

Amazon US | Amazon Universal | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

About the Author


Misha Gerrick lives near Cape Town, South Africa, and can usually be found staring at her surroundings while figuring out her next book.

If you’d like to see what Misha’s up to at the moment, you can find her on these social networks:

Tumblr | Twitter | Google Plus | Writing Blog

Excerpt

This had to be what dying felt like. Floating outside my body, waiting for that final link to my life to be severed, only vaguely aware of indescribable pain. More screams than I could count rose up around me. Hundreds of footsteps beat against tiles. I couldn’t open my eyes if I wanted to. Not when it was easier to listen and wait. People shouted for a doctor or an IV, or a thousand other things that made no sense. I listened to all the chaos, trying to untangle it in my thoughts.

Soon, I could go. The peace around me was so relaxing, completely out of place in the clamor I heard. I wanted it. To rest forever in that peace. Why not? There was a very good reason, but I couldn’t call it to mind.

A numb buzz shot through my body and shattered my serenity.

It happened again. Only this time was more of a sharp pulse. The third time jolted like lightning. The fourth…Hell. Suddenly, the screams were coming from me. My heart’s relentless thundering added to my torment.

Pain.

Everywhere.

My chest burned like fire. It hurt to breathe. Cold air drove down my throat and into my lungs, amplifying the inferno in my chest. My skin felt scorched. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t right.

I had to see. I had to understand why pain dominated my existence like this. My eyes were fused shut. My breaths grew shallow, trying to draw air when there was none. I tried to clench my teeth. I bit hard plastic. A pipe. Cold air suddenly forced back into my lungs, out of time with my own breathing. This was wrong. It wasn’t safe. I had to see. The best I got was a little fluttering of my lashes.

A high-pitched beep shot through my head. It repeated again and again. I wanted to reach over and slam my fist into its source. My arm wouldn’t lift. Something kept it trapped. A scream rose up from the depths of my soul, but the pipe jammed inside my throat stifled the sound. I only managed a whimper, trying my best not to gag. More air blasted into my lungs against my will. What was going on? I was trapped in my own body, but why?

I needed to move. I had to move. Now. Before… Even… Even though… Panic gripped me. The beeps increased at a frenetic pace. I needed to move. To be gone. Didn’t matter where. Just not here. Not defenseless. Not trapped.

The air sucked out of my lungs. I gasped, choking on nothing, strangled by invisible fingers. I tried to convulse my body. To twist myself free of what’s holding me.

Nothing.

The air rushed back in a cold flood. Seconds later it left, only to return in the same amount of time.

There was a rhythm to the air. In… out… in… out… The breaths were slow—sleep-like. I concentrated on this rhythm, striving to clear my head. If I wanted out, I needed to think. Calmly. Clearly. Eventually, those irritating beeps slowed. I tried to focus past the sound.

Voices buzzed about me, adding to my need to see, to do something to protect myself. No one seemed to pay attention to me. Good. I could use that to my advantage.

I centered my every thought on moving my little finger. It finally jerked, but collided against something solid. So the thing trapping my arm was physical and too heavy for me to lift. It was better to be trapped than paralyzed. With luck I could escape my restraints. I tried my other hand, but it was cemented stuck as well. Right leg. Left leg. Damn it! Both trapped. I had to move!

No.

No, I needed to stay calm. I tried to make larger movements, biting the pipe in my mouth against the urge to scream in pain. There was no wiggle room.

Fearing that I might be blindfolded, I focused on blinking. It worked. My eyes opened and the blur faded, revealing ceiling tiles. Why would there be tiles? Where was the canvas of hospital tents? The distant sounds of bombs dropping? The power of their explosions rushing through my blood?

No. That wasn’t right. I wasn’t there.

Where was I, then?

I hope you enjoyed visiting with Misha today and that her new book has captured your imagination. Please leave an encouraging reply for Misha. You know how insecure we writers can get.

And here are a few China pics of the Great Wall of China–that climb is a truly exhilarating, yet at times terrifying experience. Coming down is just as dangerous as going up! But I’m glad I’ve had the experience. For those of you who’ve asked for more pics/stories, they will be forthcoming in my next post!

 
Where I climbed the wall.
Base camp at the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall of China
in the Guangou Valley. Upgraded during the Ming Dynasty.
Here Genghis Khan passed through on his thunderous journey to Beijing.
 
From my vantage point on the Wall–looking down on the village below. I climbed the largest ancient structure on the planet!! Go me!

Are you too old for a writing career?

Here’s a question. It bugs me. Perhaps it bugs you too. I’m well past my first flush of youth, and life passes at a terrifying lightning pace. Do you feel that there’s not enough time left to accomplish all your goals? Do you feel that, (being realistic, not sexist), as a woman, you get far too little time to write? Is it any easier if you’re male?

I’ve read about writers with young children who can tap out the words on the kitchen table while havoc rules the house. That’s some of you. That’s not me. I like to shut myself away when I write, or take myself off to a cafe or library.

An author I greatly admire, Virginia Woolf, said in her essay, A room of one’s own, (free e-book link), ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.’ I’ll be fine when the remodelling is done, but up till now, I’ve made do.

How do you sit with that one?

No question we’re living in a youth-obsessed society. We celebrate and idolize young people who succeed in sports, business, and the arts. Facebook and Twitter feeds go viral with videos of impossibly young people doing impossibly impressive things. It stands to reason that we writers – who are, let’s face it, an insecure species, might feel some pressure to succeed before… well, before it’s too late.

Tick! Tick! Tick!

Bottom line, once you’re into your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s even, and have not yet been published – or perhaps have not yet finished your first book — age  becomes an increasing concern. Wracked with insecurity, we ask ourselves:

Is it too late? Am I too old to be published? Did I miss my shot?

SO IF YOU’RE A WRITER, DOES AGE MATTER?

Some say not as much as you think. But ageism is real. It exerts pressure on us in many aspects of our lives. But does it have to have that big an effect on us as writers? Maybe there actually are advantages to being an older writer. Huh? Say again!

 
ADVANTAGES OF HAVING SOME MILES ON THE CLOCK.

The Shell SeekersThey actually occasionally have panels at writing conferences with discussions such as “Debuting Over 40.” And if you look around at conferences, not everyone is young and incredibly attractive. Some are even older that we are!

I’m a big fan of Rosamunde Pilcher who successfully debuted at…80!! (After a successful media career). And if you check the link you’ll see she went on to write copious novels, most of which I’ve read.

So…is there any advantage to debuting after 40?

I don’t know about you. I always knew I was going to be a writer, but I struggled to find my writing voice in my 20s and 30s. I’d send off submissions to magazines and they told me to keep going which was all the encouragement I needed. But I felt I lacked life experience, so back to university for another course or two…then marriage and children and a teaching career,,,pens away for quite a few years.

By the time we sit down and seriously write, many of us have been through some pretty major highs and lows: illness, death, war, job failures and successes, raising children, moving house, time in the ‘clink’, a bad relationship – or two, or three, or four. All of this informs our world view, along with our writing.

I’m not putting down people who have been roaring successes at an early age – from Mary Shelley to Norman Mailer to the Beatles. Some people have already lived extraordinary lives before they’re 20, or are incredibly talented or got the breaks. But I think the average 40-year-old has a deeper emotional well to draw from than the average 20-something.
But beyond life experience, there are other advantages to being an older writer. Maybe you have developed some deep expertise that you can use in your storytelling like Tom Clancy with his techie details to essentially create a new genre of thriller. (BTW, he was in his late 30s when he debuted.) Perhaps your experiences, expertise and social connections have given you a basis for the dreaded P word: platform. You also might have more savvy business skills, and therefore better equipped for the unique challenges and hurdles you’ll face in the ever-changing business of publishing.
Seeing headlines about yet another 20-something wunderkind who just signed a bazillion-dollar book deal can be daunting (okay, even flat-out soul-crushing, and insecurity inducing). But if you started later – or who are simply taking longer to get where you want to go – give yourself a break. Instead of worrying about being too old, try thinking of yourself as aging like a fine wine.

Love that image!

WRITERS ARE A SPECIES APART

Beauty is an advantage in ALL aspects of life – that’s just a given. But I think it’s different for writers. Here’s why: unlike other areas of the arts – particularly music, TV and film – writers are not under as much pressure to be young and beautiful. That’s because the focus is not so much on what writers look like as on the stories that they create. Sure, youth, beauty and charisma can help a writer, and some publishers can be swayed by a pretty young face, but it’s generally understood that most writers are behind-the-scenes people, not rock stars.
Think about it.

Nora Roberts is a chain-smoking 65-year-old grandmother.
Clive Cussler is 84 and people still buy his books, even though now ghost writers do the writing, I hear.
Janet Evanovich is 72
James Patterson is 68.

Readers don’t seem to think any of them are too old to write something they’d like to read. And Patterson published his first novel at the age of 29, but he didn’t quit his day job and start writing full time until he was 49.

So…if you’re young and gorgeous, work it. Absolutely. If you’re old and gorgeous, work it. But if you don’t consider yourself gorgeous, don’t write yourself off. Your STORY is what’s important.
Here are some great links I found when researching for this article:

It’s Never Too Late: On Becoming a Writer at 50

  • How about you? Are you young, gorgeous and a successful author?
  • Do you sometimes wonder if it’s worth trying to have a successful writing career?
  • Do you think age matters if you’re a writer?
  • If you’re a successful mature writer, do you have any tips for those less successful than you are?