Friday, 30 November 2012

Thank You NaNoWriMo!

8pm, Friday 30th November - 50, 663 words

The End of NaNoWriMo - Did You Make It?

November 30th, the D-Day for all of us doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Was the month everything everyone expected? I'm guessing not.

My journey: not a smooth as I had planned. Yes, it was meant to be a breeze, work a bit longer, write just in the evenings... ah, so pleasant. Did not count on getting sick, family overload, and break down of my writing system.

Were they still some of the best things that could have happened to my writing?

Actually, probably.

Well, not the getting sick, or the family overload, but having my writing system break down on me for no discernible reason (at the time), and struggling with my purpose in life and place in the universe helped me to identify the issues and get back on track.

On November the 25th I hit 25,000 words, the halfway mark. Not really a good sign.

But since then I've been opening up a blank document everyday and just letting my subconscious go for it with as little interference from me as possible. My word speed has increased dramatically (back up around 2,000 words per hour), my enjoyment at writing is rebounding, and some new characters and events that I had never imagined have appeared and become much loved.

I'm particularly interested in the fact that my joy and excitement at writing has returned. Two days ago I even woke up and was reading a non-fiction book (Career Management for Creative People, reasonably interesting. When I've finished, will do a proper review). But then I got the feeling, that little prompting that said 'I don't want to be reading this, I want to be reading that other book I'm in at the moment.' And I was like 'what other book?' And my subconscious said 'you know, the one that feels like this...', 'and I was like, 'but I'm not reading any other book...' And then I realised: My subconscious wanted to keep reading the book I was writing! It wanted to find out what happened to my characters (even though I've actually written the last page, I think, but still)!

I had developed an emotional connection to my book that made me want to keep going. (Well, keep reading, but that involved writing, which is slightly harder).

And all that was because I let my subconscious write the story, rather than trying to wrestle it away and make it a more conscious creation. Of course, the conscious creation will come about when I have to edit it, but I will ahve a full manuscript by then.

And now it is the 30th of November, and I'm to 48,309!

I just have to go home and do 2,000 words more and I will have completed my first ever NaNoWriMo. So unless the world falls apart or something serious unlucky happens to me, I'm actually going to make it, and get a good night's sleep.

How did you go?

If you even managed to start, I'm counting that as a win. You have a story idea and an introduction. Now keep going!

To encourage you to keep going, whether you finished or not, I'm giving away a writing journal to anyone who lists below the word count (be it 100 or 100,000) they achieved during NaNoWriMo.
This is open until the end of the year (2012), so even if you are reading this a bit late, put your name down.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Twisting Metal: Fighting Your Subconscious.


I have finally identified one of the causes of why I've suddenly slowed down in my writing so much.

All of November I've been working on the same story, just trying to get to 50,000 words, and admittedly I was sick in there for a few days so didn't write anything. However, there were hours and hours where I was at my computer, working away, strive and struggling, and after an hour I would look at it would be 500 words, or 800 words. Where, oh where were the days of 2,000+ words an hour? Why had my muse abandoned me? 

And the writing was painful, not just slow, but every sentence I wrote I would delete and try again, it was like trying to straighten out a flat piece of metal that just kept trying to curl. I would tell myself 'No, that's not what that character sounds like, she should be feeling this right now'. And so re-write. 

Now when I say it like that, does the problem seem obvious? Well, it wasn't obvious to me until last night when walking home from church I was throwing a little tantrum saying I didn't want to do it if it was going to be so hard. 

I then just got the image: what if my subconscious was trying to write a flat piece of narrative, but I was constantly getting in the way trying to twist the metal to match my views on what the character should be?

So fine, I said, you win little subconscious, I'm going to go home, get my laptop, and just sit down and write whatever you want to come out with. I won't stop you at all. You just have fun in your own little way, and I'll be the good little typist. 

Well, it took a bit to stop my elder getting in the way and just let my youth mixed with my muse and genius jump right in. I found myself deleting a sentence thinking 'that will never work' and then I made myself stop and retype it and give my inner child a chance to explain why they had done that.

And in 15 minutes I had more than I had written in an hour that morning. By the end of an hour and a bit I had written over 3,000 words. 

So tonight I tried the same thing. I got home from work having worked overtime, with my head a bit dead, so I downloaded a mediation/relaxation app on my phone and did 20mins relaxation. Don't know if it helped, but it didn't seem to hurt it.

I then opened up a blank document, closed my eyes and went for it. Annoyingly, to me at least, I ended up re-writing a whole lot of scenes that I had painstakingly knocked out previously. But after 2 hours I had 5,500 words, and they were better words than the ones I had drawn forth from my body like I was pulling out my own intestines. 

I then went through and replaced all the scenes, and as I took out about 3,000 words, I sort of don't feel I'm much ahead in the word count. But the scenes themselves are much better. Though the characters and their interactions are not what I thought! 

This type of writing is so much more relaxing, enjoyable, encouraging than what I had been doing for the rest of the month. At the end I feel refreshed, and curious to see what will happen next. So, just keep reminding yourself:

I'm just the typist, and my subconscious is the one digging for gold.

Thanks Anne Lamott. 

Friday, 23 November 2012

Attack of the Hungry Koalas. Otherwise Known As I've Been Sick And They Wouldn't Give Me Drugs

The sad tale of my inability to become a drug addict started on Monday. I woke up with that itching, swelling sore throat that promises no good and a blocked nose that made it sound like I was trying to do a bad french accent. However, I soldiered on and went to work all the same. This might have been my first mistake. 

By the time I was heading home my nose was well and truly red, my eyes running, my throat painful, and my head foggy. And so, I did what normal people do in the situation, I stopped in at the pharmacy to pick up some nasal decongestants. 

Now, for all of you who are not Australians, let me briefly explain as I'm not sure that it is the same elsewhere in the world. I have used the brand Sudafed as my nasal decongestant all my life. The little pills taste horrible if you leave them for more than a second in your mouth (which as a child was quite upsetting as I was an awful tablet swallower.. actually, can even now tell how stressed and tired I am by how much trouble it takes me to get tablets down), but worked wonders. 

However, nefarious people it turns out had been using them to make meth, and so in their wisdom, the company brought out another version without the pseudoephedrine which made them great. According to testing the results should be the same, but of course to anyone using them, they are not. Now the good kind of drug can still be purchased, but they have to be specifically requested and can be denied. 

The only problem with this: whenever you need a nasal decongestant just happens to be the period in your life when you most look like a drug addict. 

So on Monday I went in, not thinking at my best, and asked for some Sudafed. I then followed this up with, 'but I want the good stuff.' This does not at all sound like some line out of a TV crime show. The lady kindly looks at me and then asks if I want Night and Day or just the ordinary tablets. This was a bit beyond my ability to decide, and I ended up saying 'I don't care, just give me the drugs.' I fully admit, now, this was not a great follow up.

At this point she asked for my drivers license. Not a great sign that I was instilling confidence. She then asked me if I was taking any other medication, and I told her of the medication I have been on and off for 15 years. She then looks at me and disappears to discuss with the pharmacist. He then comes out and in a very fatherly voice informs me that he is not going to give me the Sudafed, because there is a small chance it might react with my medication (pah! I've been taking both for 15 years! Not dead yet). Instead, he was going to give me some Eucalyptus Oil.

Eucalyptus Oil? Serious? I came in asking for drugs, and you give me aromatherapy? 

Of course I bought the oil, then went to the supermarket and bought the other Sudafed, grumbling to myself the whole time. 

The point of this story? Well, first that I'm a sucky drug addict. Second, I'm now afraid to go outside as I'm sure I'm going to be mobbed by hungry koalas, and third I apologise for not posting all week, I've been curled up in bed feeling sorry for myself. 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Hot Tip: Try Being An Underachiever

For the first time in my life, someone has told me to underachieve. And I like it.
Robert Kiyosaki in his ‘The Cashflow Quadrant’ (sequel to Rich Dad, Poor Dad in case you are wondering) informed me tonight that I should dream large, then set goals to underachieve. 

He gives the example of wanting the perfect body, but instead of going to the gym for an hour, commit to going just for 20 mins.

Why? Why would someone say that? After years of striving to be an overachiever in everything, how could some one just slap me in the face like that?

‘The result will be instead of being overwhelmed, you will feel underwhelmed. By feeling underwhelmed, I have found myself looking forward to going to the gym, or anything else I need to do or change in my life.’ (p. 186).

Speaking as someone who set a ridiculous goal, I can totally see the sense in this. Yes, I am amazingly proud that I managed to write two full-length drafts in two weeks each. However, since then I’ve wanted to curl up and cry with most of my drafts and the thought of having 7,500 words looming over me is quite terrifying. 

Now, because of my agreement with God I haven’t backed out, but if it weren’t for that I probably would have given up ages ago having burnt myself out.

So, you think you can write 2,000 words a day? Well, that’s great. Try writing 500.

Yes, 500 words a day is not very much, but it’s an awful lot more than none at all. And on good days you will get excited and find that a thousand words have come out, maybe two. On other days you will think, ‘It’s okay, it’s just 500 words’ and find you are actually able to sit down at your computer, rather than looking from across the room at it in fear and loathing.

So am I going to take my own advice? Yes, but not right now. In December I’m going to be looking back at the last six months, how everything has been going, and make any necessary adjustments.

Until then: long live NaNoWriMo! Am a little bit behind, but nothing horrific. Increased work taking its toll, and also just making silly choices like deciding to borrow TV series from home and break my ‘no TV’ rule. Also, had a bit of a personal set back on Friday which left me flattened for a few days. But will bounce back. You just watch.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Sad Truth That Tomorrow Will Not Be Better.

Okay, that title sounds really depressing but until you realise it is true it will detrimentally affect your life. In everything, but particularly writing, there is the great myth that somehow tomorrow will be a better day for whatever we plan. We all need to realise that right now is as good as it is going to get.

I'm a big one for looking to the future to turn up the perfect writing time. So far this month my excuses have included:

- This morning I'm really tired, so I'll sleep in now and write more this evening.
- This evening I've had a really stressful day at work, I'll feel more like writing in the morning.
- On my working days: when I get to my day off then I'll have time to catch up on the writing I'm missing now.
- On my day off: I need to catch up on washing, and sleeping, and shopping. It'll be much easier when I have a holiday and have nothing else to focus on but writing.
- Once I've stopped tutoring I will have all that extra time to write.
- Once I've gone through and caught up with all my friends, then I'll have time to write.
etc. etc.

So okay, yes, starting work at 10.30am instead of 9am did make a big difference to my writing, but consider two things:
- even going to work at 9am, I have at least 30 mins to write in the morning if I try (haven't really tried yet). This is possibly 500-1000 words (depending how into I can get). If I can just do that morning and night, I meet the NaNoWriMo targets. Do it just once a day, and I'll still write roughly three to four novels a year. 
- The only thing that begets writing is more writing. There is never a better time to start writing than right now, and nothing will make writing easier than already having written. 

As you can probably guess from this, I've been procrastinating in my writing, even with the reduced word count for NaNoWriMo. Yes, I have excuses, some of them quite valid. But I don't want excuses, I want novels! 

So, this is my call to action, my laying it all out before you and asking you to hold me accountable. 

I was just about to say 'starting tomorrow' then realise that it was sort of against the spirit of this entire post, so starting right now, I'm going to finish this post and then write my fitbuster.blogspot post (which I haven't done for a few too many days now), and then at least type up some of the ideas for scenes I've had for my story. 

Then, from Thursday 15th Nov, for the next week, I'm using you all to hold me accountable to write 2,000 words a day regardless of what is happening. If I have to stay up, I stay up. And I can't carry words over, I can't tell myself I will do 6,000 words on Saturday to make up for everything. It's an individual daily target. 

No more tomorrows! It's all about TODAY!

Are you with me? 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Why You Should Say Yes, Every Now And Again.

Dorothea Brande (I know, haven't mentioned her for a while, so it's about time for a refresh :D) in her book 'Wake Up and Live' has a list of 12 disciplines that everyone should cultivate in order to be a more engaged and observant member of society.
One of the 12 disciplines is spending a day saying 'yes' to any reasonable request.
Anyone who has seen Jim Carey's 'Yes Man' will know the possible (though extremely unlikely) consequences of this. It is not for the faint hearted.
But we are writers!
So, on the weekend I ended up saying 'yes' to a rather unusual request. Well, to be more honest, someone asked my sister to do something, and she said yes for both of us, while I was looking forward to curling up and writing.
Instead, I found myself in a friend's paddock learning about the facts of life: horse style.
Yes, I had been sucked into helping a mare be serviced by a stallion.
Evidently, along with the happy couple, this takes at least two people. Who'd guessed?
If I had been asked before the event, or had to write about it, I would have been rather vague, but probably would have let the two animals into the same paddock and let nature take its course.
As I now know, nature doesn't seem to get it right all that much, and for more definite results, humans are needed, along with tail ties, and stalls, and teasing, and all sorts of other things.
I suppose the most traumatic part for me (and here I'm putting a warning that there are going to be euphemisms of a sexual kind coming up) was when Holly (my sister's friend) was 'teasing' the two horses, by having the stallion in a stall, and walking the mare up to him on the other side of the gate to breathe each other in and get to know each other. My sister and I were standing at a distance (the mare did at one point get rather pissed off with the whole process and kick the door with her back legs and make a nice dent) and were told to let Holly know if the mare was 'winking'. I naively enough asked how we were going to know that, when she was facing the wrong way. Holly and Jenny both looked at me and informed me I was looking at the correct end. I'll leave you to work out the rest.
As it turns out, she didn't 'wink' which meant she wasn't really interested, though the fact that she did let him nip her a bit was a good sign, and they were going to try again today without me.
And now just think of the brilliant scene I can write where the man is a wild horse tamer, and the woman is a fiery damsel who thinks she knows everything, (she has flaming red hair and green eyes, he has a hairy chest and stubble), and they come together when she needs to breed her horse and wants some wild blood in it... Mills and Boon eat your heart out!
So, my message today is simple: say yes to some weird invitations, because you're a writer, and you need to know these things.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Discovering Plot - Being the Designated Typist

Was reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird this morning on the train and came across a wonderful description of how to do discovering writing.
She is discussing how to develop plot, and her major point is that plot should be discovered based on getting to know your characters and seeing what they do. She then continues:
P. 56.
‘This is how it works for me: I sit down in the morning and reread the work I did the day before. And then I wool-gather, staring at the blank page or off into space. I imagine my characters, and let myself daydream about them. A movie begins to play in my head, with emotion pulsing underneath it, and I stare at it in a trance like state, until words bounce around together and form a sentence. Then I do the menial work of getting it down on paper, because I’m the designated typist, and I’m also the person whose job it is to hold the lantern while the kid does the digging. What is the kid digging for? The stuff. Details and clues and images, invention, fresh ideas, an intuitive understanding of people. I tell you, the holder of the lantern doesn’t even know what the kid is digging for half the time – but she knows gold when she sees it.”
This is a method of writing which I practise so find her suggestion very useful.
And I know that there are writers who are extensive plotters, who like to have an entire outline before sitting down to write. However, I haven't actually come across a good description of this process in the writing books I've read so far. Particularly I'm interested to know whether it requires a full understanding of your characters before you start plotting? Is one of the dangers of this method that it will stifle the character as they must act along certain lines, or is that my bias as a discovery writer?
Anyone practise this method or read more about plotting and character?
As to my writing, I met up with friend and fellow writer Bec Butterworth this morning at Koko Black to write together for NaNoWriMo. (Bec's actually working as a writer, and has articles published and stuff! Check her out at Also she has an upcoming article in Women's Health.) 
Koko Black is a wonderful place for the inspiration, but not so good for the waist line, though I tried to stay away from the chocolate by having a coffee affrogato and then an iced tea (with strawberries and mint!). However when the very nice waiter brought us over two free chocolate dipped hazelnuts, I had it in my mouth before I remembered... and it would have just been rude to spit it out then. The nice waiter was also working on a novel, but thought the concept of NaNoWriMo was insane, so I didn't tell him about my two week drafts.
My writing time has been cut into as I've started going to work again at 9am (work needed people to do overtime, and I felt bad others were doing overtime when I was waltzing in at 10.30am, so good bye morning writing session until the end of the year, or I collapse). So what with handling the two blogs, and having my evenings cut into by family, friends, Bible studies, gym, etc., I'm only just keeping up with NaNoWriMo at the moment. I'm 12,000 words into my historical romance, but hope to get a bit ahead this weekend. That's the aim at least. Though with it all, I've also been cutting into my sleep which is going to come back and bite me soon.
Other WriMo's out there: one week down, how are you managing?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Book Launch: The Ephesus Scroll - By Ben Chenoweth (With A Giveaway!)

If you have been following this blog for a bit and have read through the comments, you will have seen Ben around giving great advice about writing. Ben has been living as a missionary in Russia for the last 9 years with his wife and two adorable daughters, after doing his Masters in New Testament studies. During this time he has been working on a novel concerned with the book of Revelations, set in ancient Asia Minor and modern day Russia. I know of no one who would be better qualified to write such an interesting book.

I am excited to announce that The Ephesus Scroll is now available on Smashwords and Amazon for download (e-book version only). 

In 93 AD, Loukas, the son of a wealthy Christian trader, is entrusted with a scroll to read in seven churches in Asia Minor. However, the scroll sparks rebellion wherever he goes and the Roman authorities attempt to track him down. But all Loukas wants to do is complete his mission and get back to Ephesus and his fiancée, Iounia.

In 2005 AD, Dima and Natasha, a young Russian couple from St. Petersburg, come across a stone box with a scroll inside, apparently found in Ephesus by Dima’s great-great-grandfather. The scroll is a complete – and early – copy of the book of Revelation. How did this scroll come to be found in Russia? And has it come to light at this very time for a reason?

The Ephesus Scroll is a novel that attempts to answer two questions. What did the book of Revelation mean to the people who first heard it? And what does it mean for us today?

In light of this exciting achievement, I asked him if he would like to answer a few questions about how this book was written and his writing process in general, to which he very kindly agreed. 
(To find out more, check out the book's blog which also has cool features such as an alternate beginning.)

1. What made you decide to dedicate hours and hours of your life to sitting behind a screen and touching little buttons?

As a computer programmer and computer support technician I was doing that already!  With writing, though, it's nice to tap into the creative part of my brain and generate something that non-computer programmers can enjoy.

I come to writing for two reasons.  The first is to entertain.  When I was at university my friend and I edited a youth magazine for our church.  We commissioned various people to write articles for the magazine but we probably wrote more than half of every issue.  We even wrote our own letters to the editor!  While some of what we wrote was to educate, most was to entertain.  My favourite thing we did for this magazine was a regular column entitled "The Diary of an Anonymous Christian Teenager", done very much in the style of Adrian Plass.  Incidentally, I wrote my first novel, Meeting of Minds as a birthday present for that other editor, although anyone who likes Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series should enjoy it.

The second reason I write is to teach.  After the novel, I wrote a play, Saul: First King of Israel, based on the Biblical book of 1 Samuel, although seen from King Saul's perspective.  This was an attempt to put some brilliant scholarly materials I had read as part of a Bachelor of Theology into a more popular form.  But for some strange reason I chose a play!  It has never been performed, by the way, and one of my long-term dreams is to see it on stage one day...

2. Describe your writing history until this point in 25 words or less.

 I appear to have covered this already.  Right now I am excited about the recent release of my second novel, The Ephesus Scroll.

3. What is your writing style: plot it all out or discovery writing? one draft or many? Little bits everyday or mammoth writing sessions?

I like to plot things out fairly generally so that I know where I am going.  But I don't usually include much detail which means there is still the occasional surprise along the way.  I usually only have one draft but that draft is constantly being revised.  I find myself going back over what I have already written and tweaking it before adding more new material.  This means that progress can be slow!  And I have very rarely had the time to write everyday, so it tends to be one-off writing sessions possibly once every one or two weeks.  The Ephesus Scroll took me more than six years to write!

4. Best piece of writing advice you have ever received or given.

I have been enjoying reading your writing blog and have learned more about writing from that than anything else. [See why I love this guy? Such a flatterer!]  In particular, I was challenged to stop revising as I go and concentrate on just getting words down.  I will definitely give that a try in the future!

5. Inspiration behind this novel?

Three things inspired me to write The Ephesus Scroll.  The first was a trip I made back in 2004 to Ephesus, in Turkey.  Walking around the ruins of this ancient city was an amazing experience.  To think that the Apostle Paul may have walked on the very flagstones I was now walking on!  To think that I was sitting in the Great Amphitheatre that once resounded to the cry "Artemis of the Ephesians" as the crowd called for Paul to be executed.  It really brought home to me the fact that the books of the Bible were written by real people to real people.

The second source of inspiration was a student in a high-school Bible class I was teaching who couldn't understand how someone who did not follow the teachings of the Left Behind series could be allowed to teach in a Christian school.  To him, there was only one possible way to interpret the book of Revelation and if you didn't follow that interpretation then you couldn't be a Christian.  That experience made me want to do what Tim La Haye had done: write a disguised commentary of the book of Revelation, but from a very different interpretational standpoint.

The third inspiration was living in St. Petersburg, Russia.  This beautiful city, with its stunning churches, spectacular museums and intricate Metro system, is the backdrop for half of my novel.

6. Do you have a favourite part of this novel?

A couple of amusing incidents come to mind, one involving some bad dates and another involving throwing a book out of a moving train.  You'll have to read the novel for more details!  There was also what I thought was a funny scene involving a Turkish coin seller which was based on an actual experience I had in Ephesus.  But this scene was in the opening of the first draft which got significantly changed later on and so it ended up on the cutting room floor.  However, when I was putting together a blog to promote the novel I included the original opening as a comparison of the final version, but also to rescue this one scene.  Check it out here:

There are also a couple of interesting theological discussions.  Actually, there are a lot of theological discussions, most of which - I hope - are interesting.  But there are two in particular that I really like, one critiquing the jigsaw approach to Biblical prophecy and the other discussing how fundamentals of Paul's theology might be applied in different contexts.

7. While you were writing this novel, you were working full time with a wife and two daughters and living in a foreign country: did you develop any good techniques for finding time, or is it always hard?

It is always hard.  Most of the novel was written on Sunday evenings when I would usually have a couple of hours to myself.

8. What are the top tips you have learned about self-publishing?

Self-publishing is the way of the future!  You will have seen the links to my books on Smashwords and I have been very impressed with this site.  Apparently, some of their authors are even making enough money to live off their writing!  (However, it helps to be in some very specific genres: paranormal, romance, erotica, paranormal romance, paranormal erotica, I think you get the picture...)  However, the reason I like Smashwords is that it solves the distribution problem.  True, they only distribute ebooks, but ebooks are only going to become more and more accessible as everyone and their dog ends up with a tablet or an e-reader.  I had been seeking a publisher for The Ephesus Scroll but after waiting more than a year for two publishers to make up their mind, I decided not to bother.  I want people to read the novel!  Now they can.

What Smashwords doesn't help with, however, is marketing.  My books are discoverable on the Nook, Sony readers and Apple devices.  But that doesn't mean people will automatically find them.  It certainly helps to make a book free.  My first novel is and always has been free and I have had nearly 800 downloads.  The play, on the other hand, costs money.  I think I have sold maybe 10 copies.  At one point, though, I made it free for some reason.  During that brief time is was downloaded more than 200 times.  The point is, people will try something for free.  If they like it, they will come back for more, even if it costs them money.  And this is how the authors who are making it on Smashwords operate.  Of course, it helps to have a series of books, something I don't currently have.

9. Any new projects on the horizons?

Funny you should ask!  I am planning on writing a three volume cyberpunk, thriller series.  I have plot overviews for the first two and a plot idea for the third.  I just need to find time to actually do the writing.  But having recently moved back to Australia, we are finding settling in more difficult than expected so it is taking longer than I had anticipated.  However, I would still like to have book one finished before I start my new job early in 2013.

10. Mystery questions: answer any question you feel I should have asked :D

Here's my mystery question: "Since marketing is the big problem with self-publishing, how can people help a struggling author out?"  In this day and age of social media just a little promotion may actually go a long way.  If you read one of my books, please take the time to rate it and maybe write a review.  I only have one review on Smashwords.  It's for my first novel and it says "A wonderful book. Very well written, entertaining and fun" and the reviewer gave it 5 stars.  I was really touched by that!  [It wasn't me if you were wondering...sorry.] And if more people left a rating and a comment then it might help other people to decide if they want to download the book and give it a try.  I would absolutely love it if The Ephesus Scroll went viral!  Not for the money (really!) but because then people would be reading it and hopefully learning something about the book of Revelation and what it means for us today.

Thanks Ben!


Think it sounds interesting? Thinking of giving it ago?

Well, today's your lucky day!

I'm giving away copies to readers that promise to write a review of it either on Amazon or Smashwords or both!

Just comment below with your name and/or email me (b_greentr (at) your email address (necessary so I can send you the gift copy from Smashwords) and I'll send it right out.


Ben with his wonderful wife Kylie and two daughters Kate (red sweater) and Eleanor outside Catherine the Great's Palace in Russia.

Me with Elly and Katie.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Gift of Being a Writer

To be completely honest, I’m loving the slower, less pressured pace of writing for NaNoWriMo. I’m not working to get ahead yet. Instead, I’m writing the minimum and then spending my time reading on writing and in my genre, and it feels really peaceful.
Along with reading Jane Eyre for inspiration, I’m also working through ‘Bird By Bird – Some Instructions on Writing and Life’ by Anne Lamott. First of all I recommend it because she is a hilarious writer. You read each sentence and think ‘yup, that was the best possible way that sentence could have been written’.
So, moving on from Ray Bradbury, I’m going to share some wisdom from Anne Lamott today.
One thing she just mentions in her introduction that gave me food for thought, and inspiration, was on the benefits of being a writer (rather than just writing).
(P. xii)
‘One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.’
It is one of those things you might have realized early on, one of the things that drew you to writing. It is something I knew, and even have commented on here, but still need to be reminded every once and again.
I remember when I was about 15 I was staying with my godmother (whom I loved dearly) but got dragged along to the Annual General Meeting of the Farmers Association (or some such). It was held in the small town’s pub and included dinner and lots of speeches. The only way I agreed to go (not holding out much hope for my godmother’s suggestion that perhaps there would be cute boys there) was if I could take my pad and paper with me.
I sat through the meeting describing the people around me. They really were very easy as it was almost as if they were caricatures rather than normal human beings, and my descriptions could only add more depth and character. I also noted down the conversations around me, though I felt rather bad about this because it was eavesdropping, and eavesdropping because I thought they were amusing. However, it made what would otherwise have been an extremely boring, lonely night, something of a game.
I was actually pretty pleased with myself when at one point in the evening a man asked me if I was a reporter. Why a reporter would bother to come to this meeting was beyond me, but I took it as a compliment that I looked like a real writer.
If I had gone there without my pen and paper, I would have just been a loner, out of place in a crowd. But give me my tools and I have purpose. My silence and isolation is to only better my great work.
So what I suppose I’m trying to say is that the curse of being a writer is that you spend lots of time alone. The gift of being a writer is that you never have to be lonely.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

November: Grow A Mo And Get Stuck Into Your Novel!

November is a great month to try and get something useful done for the year.
As always, I promote the growing of a moustache for Movember, not just because you get free burgers from Grilled (not sure they are still doing that this year) but also I see it as a release valve so all men can see what they look like with a moustache, realises exactly how disgusting the majority of them are, and shave it off come December.
November is also NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. I've joined up to the official site, and am excited about the events going on even in Melbourne. Particularly exciting is the fact that there are cities all over the world having 'Word Wars'. Evidently Melbourne has been challenged by Sydney (no surprise there), Brisbane (tell them their dreaming), and even a few American cities!
Mostly, I'm excited about writers being free to let down their hair, stock up on junk food and tell the world to leave them alone for a month! We are are throwing over the conventions of society and giving into our deeper, darker Liteary Angel of the Night (Gerard Butler, where are you?... long story).
So, even if the thought of writing an entire novel in a month is so large and scary that it makes your brain melt and come out your ears, set some goal, even if it is just to write every single day of November for 15 mins.