Category: Thoughts


Social Media and Writers

OMG I can’t believe that happened.

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No this isn’t about Deadpool, by I needed a pic to show how some things make me feel.

Social media has made some amazing things possible. I was feeling frustrated and angry one day so I went to a writer whose work I love and asked for advice. Part of me didn’t expect a response but they got back to me, I may have squee’d. Today I thanked a writer for the gift their books gave me and they got back to me with thanks.

This post isn’t going to be about how to use social media to promote your author platform, this is about using it for interaction with others and how some authors do it right.

When I was growing up you could join fan clubs for popular kids books, you could even try to write to writers through publishers, there was no guarantee that your letter would get to them, though many did get responses.

Times have changed. Some say social media is bad, it causes isolation and negatively impacts people’s ability to interact one on one. Yes it can certainly do that. It can give you the feeling of interacting when in fact you are building a wall around the real you, a false persona to project to the world at large. It can also be a very useful tool.

When I was still involved in children’s bookselling, I used social media to connect to people in the publishing industry and authors. I built a network, and it is a network that still serves me well even though my career trajectory is very different and books (writing and reading) no longer provide my primary income.

Authors, or at least some, are quite willing to interact with readers.

With all the rigmarole that went on regarding my publisher I reached out one day to a favourite author. Now I was down and desperate, I just wanted to get it out of my system to someone who I thought would understand my frustration. Sure I hoped for a response but there was a part of me who realistically believed that would never happen. She did, and Tamora Pierce you have no idea what a boost it was to me to read your considered response of advice and encouragement.

I have favourite books, yes that is plural and I cannot nor would I want to, make that list down to one. One of these books is Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi. I love this book so much I have an image from it inked onto my skin.

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I shared the above pic with Tony and he liked it. That wasn’t the only interaction I’ve had with him. One day I messaged saying I knew he sold prints of some of his work and I wondered if he could tell me where I might be able to buy one from Kenny. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what would happen next. He asked me my address and sent me this ink sketch. It holds pride of place in my office. It to offers incredible inspiration, on those dark days I can look of it and hold onto the thought ‘never abandon imagination.’

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These are not my only interactions. Marianne DePierres had a small afternoon tea with some fans one afternoon that I was invited to, and I went out for a catch up with Michael Pryor when he was in town doing signings and school talks. Both of these authors were more than willing to listen and offer snippets of advice and encouragement.

Today I felt the need to thank Raymond E Feist. I was thinking of doing something really silly, and even as I thought of it I knew it was silly. Authors don’t really want you hitting them up on social media to read your book or promote your work. Think about it. What an imposition. It puts them in an awkward position. How do they let you down without in some way coming across as a dick? So I talked myself out of such a stupid action and instead thanked him for his influence on my life. He responded, immediately. I was kind of gobsmacked.

Here is the thing though. Here is where social media gets tricky. These people you look up to, do not know you. For the most part any way. Sometimes you get lucky and actually strike up a relationship, friendship or mentorship. Mostly though they are just words sent in response to something. Oh I wish I was friends with any number of these people but they have their lives and I have mine. I’d like to think though that knowing they have done something that has helped or been memorable to an aspiring author and fan, would be a positive thing.

 

Life is an Awfully Big Adventure

Well it is if you want it to be I suppose.
And I want it to be.
I love my family. I love my wacked out, crazy and at times surreal life. Of all things that could happen one of the things I would hate to become is boring.
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Don’t get me wrong, some parts of my life are incredibly boring.
A writers life can be, at times, very solitary, even when you have a family and a full time job. I’m simply not much of one for going out and partying. I would much rather stay home and curl up with my hubby watching something, with my head stuck in a good book, or with a pen in hand and a notebook in front of me. I like it like this but others would find it boring.
Of course for me writing is anything but. Writing gives me the chance to escape into some amazing and fantastical places and situations. I also like to practically choreograph my fight sequences and I am blessed with a hubby who is more than happy to work on that stuff with me. On any random night we could be working out some unarmed combat, a knife fight or a sword fight. So I suppose it’s not always boring.
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Life though continues to be fun though. It can be exhausting and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I work in a high stress job and I play in the land of celebrity and pop culture.
Volunteering at SupaNova is an amazing thing for me. I have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful actors and voice actors. I have some fun stories to tell. I have also been blessed to see fans meeting their favourite performers, it can be an incredibly touching thing. I would dare anyone to meet Peter Cullen (the voice of Optimus Prime and Eeyore), watch him with his fans and not become one yourself. I even now have a favourite dwarf. I have seen people cry and scream with delight. Say what you will about fan boys and girls but indulging in their fandom is an adventure for them and they will get the chance to say they have had moments of great joy.
It is also through this that I have made some incredible friends. In fact for me they have become very much another family to me. They get me, well bits of me that other people may not understand. That could be the key.
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In some ways many of us strive to be understood. We may say we want to be accepted but acceptance comes from understanding. Work people in my life understand parts of me, they allow me to be freer in regards to some parts of my personality than other work environments have. Let’s face it I do rather like the word ‘no’, and many jobs don’t like you using that word. Theatre people and Nova people understand the dramatic, and sometimes fangirly side of me. Of course people from both those sides accept the other side of me and it is that acceptance that really allows me to be free to enjoy the adventure in my life.
On nights like this I realise just how lucky I am. I wouldn’t say I have a lot of close friends but the ones I have are special. For those who have come into my life and who have opened their arms and accepted me, for all my quirks, moods and eccentricities, I thank you. As this year draws to an end and a new one begins, with the promise of some awesome new adventures, I look forward to sharing these with them.
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Pic2So this week some things happened which left me heading to work for a very early start feeling rather crap and somewhat sleep deprived. We all probably have had this happen at some point. There are times things just don’t work in your favour.
Anyway, long story short I was inspecting a vehicle when I had the weirdest flash of inspiration. It came to me in a succession of images, starting with a garden gnome. Needless to say I stood next to the vehicle laughing at nothing visible much to the confusion of the person with me. I informed him of what was going on in my head and his response was to shake his own and say in a befuddled tone, ‘I want to know what drugs you are on.’
Going back to my desk the idea evolved and I was still laughing at myself and other co-workers came to the same drug influenced conclusion. The story evolved over the course of the afternoon and so I considered my sleep deprivation a bonus in the end, though I still find it strange as I have never written a horror story in my life cheesy or no.
I think the point I’m trying to make is that ideas can come from the strangest of places and in the most normal of situations, it is up to us as the writer to embrace these moments that most find nonsensical and turn them into something. The something we end up with doesn’t have to be any more than a way for us to write something different and thus energise ourselves for our current project. Of course if you can come up with something awesome from a random idea then I think that would be pretty great too.
Write whenever you get a moment.

New Directions

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So this week bought with it one of those annoying curve balls.
Don’t you hate it when a sure thing becomes an impossibility. Or at least simply not going to happen at this time.
I do.
Thing is life goes on and you have a choice; you either let the crap dump all over you and beat you down or you scream and smash something then wash yourself off and start down a new path.
Me I think I’m just too damn stubborn to let the crap keep me down. I look at the steaming piles and have a tendency to shout at the world or no-one ‘is that all you’ve got! Well you’ll have to do better than that if you want to break me!’
So whilst reading something I’d started awhile ago I got an idea. A slight twist on an idea that’s simmering in the back of my mind. Well more of an addition really. I really want to do nothing more than stick my head down with a pen in my fingers and write for hours on end. The biggest problem with that is I’m tired and not really all that well. Also I have work, 5 days this week and 3 of those long ones (though one was because of family commitments). There is also the added complication of the curve ball, because that demands a lot of time now until this whole mess gets sorted out.
On the upside, when an idea is simmering in the back of your mind you are still creating. Characters are developing with every thought. Worlds are gaining dimensions and colours. Plots are twisting and layers are weaving over and through each other.
I want to write it but this story is not quite ready for that yet. Which is probably a good thing because I really just don’t have the time.
Oh and FYI I am still managing to work on my other project. Sometimes I wonder where I get the time, at least making progress only requires a few minutes to get a few sentences on paper.
A point worth remembering, progress can be measure in just the actions of a few moments.

My People

0xcastI had a meeting today for the upcoming SupaNova event. I’m volunteering this year because the person I was supposed to be working for is no longer able to make it over due to a sad string of events.
I thought I may know one person there today. A guy I’ve known for nearly 20 years now I come to think of it. He was there, we had the chance to have a brief hug. Then I found myself sitting next to someone I’d met at an author event over a year ago, so we got to chatting. In fact I inserted myself into a conversation she was having with someone else about NaNo before we made the connection.
That’s the thing though, I didn’t know anyone and yet I had some laughs, and some good convo about writing. Life is full of connections. You need to be open to them. At this time I’m thinking I’m going to be working a full week before the con and I’ll work all con so I’ll be pretty tired once it’s all over. I think it will be worth it though.
The con allows me to embrace that part of me that doesn’t really fit into work life. Don’t get my wrong, I love work, I often have quiet a laugh but the geeky part of me really has no place there. I can’t quote Firefly, Star Wars, or Labyrinth because no-one will know what I’m talking about. I’m okay with that though because the cheeky part of me gets plenty of workout.
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The geek part of me loves when it gets the chance to be let out. I love the chance to fan girl over tv actors/film actors and writers. I love being around people who know what I’m talking about if I say I’m doing NaNo this year. Or someone says ‘inconceivable’ and you reply ‘You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means’ and they laugh coz they know what you’re talking about.
We humans can often be made up of personality components but often we don’t feel comfortable revealing them to some people. It’s probably healthier though if we find ways to attend to all those aspects of ourselves. Me I have my cheeky/honest side that I can let out at work. That’s the side of me that can come out in the theatre too. I have my booky/geeky side that is seen by my friends and people who attend Cons and so on. And I have a fitness side that’s mostly kept to myself and my trainer (and those crazy few who are doing Tough Mudder with me). I also have a smoochy side that well that’s reserved for somewhere that’s not this blog.
What I’m trying to say is I think you probably get more out of life, or at least a little more happiness if you are honest with yourself about who you are. Don’t hide parts of yourself, find some way to bring them out to shine every now and then, it’s definitely worth it.

Addiction

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I am an addict.

This is no surprise to those who know me, I believe I have rather an addictive personality. The thing is though the things I’m addicted to don’t cause harm. They do effect those around me, it would be hard to deny it when the books are overflowing off my bookshelves and there are piles of them on the floor and more delivered nearly every week.

I am a book addict. I was before I got into book retail but selling the damn things only opened me up to so many more authors. Fortunately part of my addiction is supplemented by the fact that I get books sent to me to review. I am so thankful for this for a couple of reasons. Firstly that it helps keep the costs down and secondly it introduces me to new authors. I love discovering someone new. 

Books aren’t my only thing I can spend hours gaming if I’m not careful. Also I feel rather out of sorts if I don’t exercise for any length of time (I’m not sure that’s really got much to do with addiction it’s probably more to do with my body doing all it can not to get old).

There are things I definitely am not addicted to though and housewifey things (dusting, cleaning, ironing) probably top that list.

I am also rather addicted to creating. That is to say I get a little bit touchy if I go too long without putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard.

I need to write. Sure I want to finish a few books, get them published and make some money from them but as that hasn’t happened yet the logical thing to assume is that I am addicted to creating. The only thing I get from it is the act itself. It makes me happy to write. There is a feeling of accomplishment even though no-one else probably sees it that way.

Do I wish there were more hours in the day to feed my addictions, hell yes. Sometimes it is a battle within myself as to which addiction wins out at any one time. I have a pile of books to read for both pleasure and review, I have thousands of words that need to be put to a page, and I have games to clock with and without my hubby playing.

Right now my need to communicate is being fed. I like to blog, I like to think I’m communicating with like minded people. It helps me to get things off my chest, it might help others who don’t feel so comfortable getting these things off their chests to know they aren’t alone.

I could of course be just putting words into the ether and you know what, that’s fine. In an ideal world my blogs would help me connect to those who might one day want to read my books. But the fact no-one much may be paying attention, well that’s not enough to make me stop blogging. I need to write across a variety of formats, this fulfils something in me. I feel much better if I get my different targets met. It is cathartic and it helps me become more focussed for my fiction writing. This stuff clears out the thoughts, the rants, the frustrations and gives me a clearer run at the worlds of fiction.

In my case addiction serves its purpose, apart from filling in my time when I’m not at work. I am ever so glad that my addiction is not a destructive one. 

Now all I need to do is figure out which parts of my day tomorrow will go to which addiction.

Scattered Thoughts

Boy these last 12 weeks have been trying. The study component for my new job has been at times draining, frustrating and just plain puzzling.

Then there was the play which finished last weekend. I really sighed with relief once the last show was over. It was a good experience but truthfully maybe it was a bit much to take on during the study, then again maybe it was a good thing to get out to force myself to be creative.

Now I have a little time. I only have two weeks of study left, well a day less than that and then I start the 6 mths on the job stuff. That will be full of it’s own challenges of that I have no doubt but I will have some more time to do the things I want – like write.

Of course I suddenly realised that I have to use a writers mentor thingie that my lovely hubby got me for christmas last year before it runs out. Arrrgh!!!

The complete structural rewrite hasn’t come anywhere near as far as I had hoped. I think though it will be a good thing and I think the timing will turn out to be perfect because I have finished the school part of things and will be able to leave work at work from now on. When you are studying and getting assessed/ tested you can’t leave your work behind, it has to come home with you. Believe me I am glad to be leaving that. It has crimped not only my writing but also my reading. Fortunately my main review blog hasn’t really suffered.

I actually finished two books this week and by the time tomorrow is over that number will be three – this is a huge thing and for some reason I feel really good about this, more at ease with things and I think, when I actually do think about it, that I feel a bit more balanced.

It is hard to believe that this time last year I was in the midst of NaNoWriMo, something I totally couldn’t have tackled this year. It was such an intense creative period for me. Now it is a good day if I get 50 words on paper that don’t have something to do with legislation or the like.

I am hoping that the forced time away will mean once I settle into the job and my shift roster that the creative will kick in and things will flow insanely.

Yeah I know but a girl can always hope can’t she?

I’m Back

It has been a while. Sometimes life just gets the best of you, between children’s parties, deaths, work, job hunting and the rest that is life (oh and the internet going down for over a week) time has some how gotten away from me.

But for now I’m back and I’m posting today because I don’t know if I’ll feel like it on saturday after working all day at Supernova.

Several things have been on my mind at the moment. The one that has me most frustrated is the 50 shades of grey thing. I have not read it and have no desire to read it and quite frankly I don’t understand the hype. I am worried that so many people (women in particular) are obsessed with an erotic fiction tale where a young innocent girl is seduced and dominated by an older, troubled man. Is this where we find ourselves after struggling so long for some semblance of equality?

Oh I get the titillation idea, I just don’t understand the appeal of a reluctant submissive female character in a BDSM story. Also so many people are buying it without any idea of what it is about…I don’t get that either.

But enough of that I get more than I want of it when I’m at work.

On a happier note, my writing is progressing very well. I was inspired the other day and started side project, just a little thing that will probably see life as an ebook. It may sound silly but the truth is any little bit of money I may be able to make will help and this is a good way to do it. I’m not a well known person so picking up a contract for a short format book is almost impossible but epublishing makes so much more possible. It’s an option I am more than willing to embrace.

The other thing to consider is that sometimes a side project is just the thing you need to inspire the flagging muse of a more long term project.

Right now though I wonder how much these words make sense because I have been constantly interrupted by my munchkins demanding half a dozen different things.

So right now I’m going again. My next blog will probably have something to do with Supernova and fan girl things because a weekend at a con is exactly what my inner fan girl needs right now.

Jack West is an Aussie.

Today will be a few random thoughts.

We all know filmmakers sometimes use books as source material and avid readers can have very mixed reactions to this, sometimes the book transitions well and other times it is tragic. I’m sure we all have films that we think suck but we loved the books. I’m not about to begrudge authors, particularly favourite ones, an extra income stream, in fact I’m all for it.

Sometimes the problem is in the way the screen writers change the source material, for me the first time I realised this happened was when I went and saw The Neverending Story, it was one of my favourite books and I have very clear memories of walking out of the cinema complaining to my mother that certain things were wrong.

Sometimes the problem lies in the casting. The thing with a book is that when you read it you create an image of the characters and when someone else’e image isn’t the same as yours it can be quite off putting. I won’t get started on this, though Katherine H as Stephanie Plum well… no further comment.

Why am I thinking about this. I had a conversation with one of my favourite authors once about the wonderful news that book rights had been sold for a film. I would really like to see this happen but for me the casting of this is a big issue.

So right now I just want to put something out there. Matthew Reilly’s Jack West books have been optioned and Jack West is an Australian, I think it would be totally terrible for this character to be played by an American when we have so many wonderful local actors. My vote for Jack West is Sam Worthington. He had proved he has depth, he has also proved himself in action. Let’s keep this plum role with the locals. Oh how I would love to see these books on the big screen. I really would but please, please. please cast an Aussie in an Aussie role.

Sam Worthington for Jack West.

That is all.

Thank You Marianne de Pierres

This week I want to do something a little different, I would like to say a very big thank you to Marianne de Pierres. This lovely lady was in my hometown this week for a con, a lot of genre authors do this, I’m convinced it is an important part of the job description. Some obviously do this better than other.

For me I feel Ms de Pierres deserves a particular shout out simply because she did more than the con, she invite some fans, bloggers and friends to have a meal with her. This was a wonderful opportunity to meet others with similar interests and for me to connect with an author who’s work I admire. We talked about books, cons, music and travel. It was an intimate setting and I feel privileged to have shared that time with those wonderful people.

It got  me thinking though. As an ‘as-yet-unpublished’ author I need to think about ways to get myself and my product out there. Firstly agents and publishers often ask what you (the author) are prepared to do to help market your book/s and I think something a little different may not be a bad thing. Secondly, we live in an age of rising digital self publishing, if you (or I) chose to go that path we need to think about things like this for self-promotion purposes.

It seems to me that there are ways to push yourself above the plethora of other authors, especially if you are willing to see a little outside the square, sometimes it may be the little things (like a small intimate get together) will be what put you above the rest.

So once again, than you Marianne for helping me see a little outside the square and for your encouraging words.