The Writer’s Other Half – Job Description #Writer

Oh, my, Lucy Mitchell has absolutely NAILED this. Brilliant post, Lucy. I am shamelessly re-blogging it.

If you think being a writer is difficult…think about what your loved one or other half has to endure.

Can you imagine how they must feel listening to you huff and puff over the opening paragraph of your first chapter?

Ever wondered what it must be like to sit and watch the person you love spend their entire day editing the hell out of three sentences?

I think we can all agree on this, the writer’s other half is a special human being with many interesting qualities.

So, I have given some thought to what the job description might look like for the writer’s other half.

Job: Vacancy

About The Role:

An exciting romantic opportunity has arisen for a self motivated, patient and enthusiastic individual required to love a writer.

Hours:

Can change and will be dependent upon:

  • The writer’s love of social media. Hours will vary according to…

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A love letter to Australia

This was my love letter to Australia before a pandemic hit.
It’s still true.
We should still change the date.
We should not honour bigots and media autocrats with national honours.
We are still, on the whole, here for each other, both proud and ashamed and (mostly) resolute to change, to be our best selves, our best country.
At times we are hopeless, but almost always hopeful, with a sharp eye focused on a better future.
We have stayed at home to save lives, we have grieved those we’ve lost, and we are hopeful of a vaccine that will open up our world again.
We have wept for a ravaged land, hopeful of recovery but mourning loss of flora and fauna, some species gone forever.
We have stood up against injustice and, from afar, have watched our brothers and sisters across the world in their own suffering, hopeful of change that must come.

We have survived.
We will thrive again.
We will see you again.
We are Australia.

Off the Beaten Track

It is Australia Day 2020. January 26th is a contentious date, because it marks the arrival of the First Fleet―the first European settlers who arrived in Australia in 1788.

Of course, by commemorating this date, Australia ignores that in 1788 we were already populated by hundreds of nations of Indigenous Australians forming the world’s oldest civilisation. January 26th marks the date of an invasion and the beginning of a genocide.

This post isn’t about whether or not we should change the date of Australia Day, although we absolutely should. This post is a love letter to my home, my country, my Australia.

My Australia

My Australia is the person at the tram stop who sees that you’re lost and points you in the right direction with a smile. My Australia is the person at the party who draws the introverts into conversation, and makes sure everyone is heard. My Australia…

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CHRISTMASSY :: Q&A :: Sandy Barker

With huge thanks to Bookish Bron for having me!

BookishBron

A couple of years ago I did a little series of Q&As with authors where we talked about books and Christmas. It was so much fun that this year I’ve decided to bring them back!

First up to chat Christmas with me is the lovely Sandy Barker. Sandy has a new novel out called The Christmas Swap – it has been my favourite Christmassy read so far this year (you can see my review here). Here’s the blurb for The Christmas Swap – read on for our chat.

Chloe, Jules, and Lucy meet at a Maui resort kids’ club, aged 11, forging a lifelong friendship spanning two decades and three continents.
Twenty-two years later, they decide to swap Christmases, none of them expecting the hilarity and romantic escapades that will ensue.
Chloe from Melbourne spends her Christmas with Lucy’s mum and dad in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire…

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A Hero’s Journey – Furious Fiction May 2020

A breathtaking read from fellow Aussie author Nathan J Phillips for May’s Furious Fiction with the Australian Writer’s Centre.

So good I just had to share.

Nathan J Phillips

I haven’t shared a Furious Fiction story for a little while – quite frankly, they didn’t make it past the internal Quality Control assessments to justify making them public.

This story was different for a couple reasons – first of all, it felt like it hit all the buttons I wanted it to, so that was nice. Secondly, it managed to make the Long List for the month, which is a first for me and still has me giddy with excitement! But without further ado (ad while I quickly double check the list again to make sure I haven’t imagined this), here are the conditions and the story!

Conditions:

The story’s first word had to be FIVE.

The story had to include something being replaced.

The story had to include the phrase A/THE SILVER LINING

A Hero’s Journey

Five faces stare at me through the hatch. Relief washes over them…

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Where the winds take you

In 2016, Ben and I took another sailing trip around the Greek Islands. Here’s that tale.

Off the Beaten Track

A year ago, Ben and I were about to embark on a journey back to the Greek Islands, revisiting some of the places we discovered together in 2006 – when we met.

Our skipper from the sailing trip in ’06, Patrick, would be at the helm again. We’d get to see new places, we’d make new friends, and we’d celebrate a decade since we first met on the pier in Santorini.

This is about where the winds take you…

There’s something rather magical about going where the wind takes you, quite literally. The cares and stresses of everyday life ebb away, and the present becomes everything. Briny air, inky blue swells, and a wind that carries you and your fellow sailors to the next port. It’s freeing.

Seven people, one yacht, five Greek islands and one incredible week.

Group pic - sailing tripDay One

We meet with eager faces at the port of Vlychada…

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Celebrating the Launch of my #RomanceBook #IFFILA #NewAuthor

A huge congratulations to one of my dear writer friends, Lucy Mitchell, on the launch of Instructions for Falling in Love Again. I read an advanced copy of this wonderful drama-comedy-romance. It’s beautifully written and it will lift your soul – highly recommended.

15 books in 15 minutes

I came across this post from 10 years ago.
15 books that have stuck with me…I may need to revisit this meme.

What are yours?

Off the Beaten Track

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I love to read. In fact, I have discovered that my desire to write is affected greatly by whether or not I am reading regularly. When I read less, because I am too busy to carve out the time, I write less. When I make time to read – and I read diversely – I find that creative impulses kick in more frequently. I even write stuff in the middle of the night, if that is when inspiration strikes (like last night).

This meme, as with many of the others I have done, comes from Charlotte, whose humor and insight also inspire me.

The task: Name 15 books that ‘stick’ with me – in 15 minutes. Okay, so this took me 45 minutes (sorry Charlotte).

IT by Stephen King Truly the most terrifying book I have ever picked up. I could only read it in daylight, because it scared…

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Character Description Must-Haves

Brilliant advice for writers from KM Allan.

K.M. Allan

There’s a lot of elements that go into writing a book, and each one has their own set of must-haves.

Take character descriptions, for example. Obviously, the easiest way to create a picture in someone’s mind is to list the physical characteristics. Often it’ll be something like; “She was tall, with long black hair and bangs that sat above her blue eyes, clashing with her pale skin.”

Do you create a picture? Sure, but unless you’re from the Nine-Nine putting out an APB for your solve (can you tell I’ve just discovered the TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine?), describing your characters like a police description doesn’t do you any favors.

Instead, try digging a little deeper. Think of new ways to work in height, weight, eye color, etc, and mix up the accurate facts with vivid details. Ones that touch on the five senses and include some of these character…

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Drama Queen: Becoming a Novelist

Since I can remember, I’ve loved writing. I still have my Year 4 composition book and I was quite the short storyist (I also like to make up words). In my teens I wrote a gripping satirical piece on public toilets and started a novel (to date, still unfinished).

At university, while studying a BA in English and majoring in Literature and Theatre Arts, I wrote piercing exposes about sexism in classic novels and the sexualisation of men in Glam Rock – I know, also gripping stuff. I wrote angst-ridden monologues, which were somewhat sophomoric considering I was in my early twenties and no longer a sulking teen.

I kept a journal from age twelve, one of those small, but fat diaries with a gold lock that my eight year-old sister could easily pick. I upgraded to bigger and better journals, but stopped journalling about fifteen years ago when I realised I spent more time writing about my life than living it.

All of these writings and musings are where I cut my teeth as an author, but the one thing that has served me best as an author is Drama – my time studying performance and plays, my time on stage, and my time as a Drama teacher.

Drama taught me invaluable lessons I draw on every time I write.

Character motivations

Characters must have a motivation. It’s that simple. They must want something, even if they don’t (yet) know that they want it. Characters can also be their own antagonist – just think of how many people you know who self-sabotage. Any time my writing stalls, I ask myself, what does this character want and what will they do to get it?

Character arcs

Not only do characters need a motivation, they must move – and I don’t mean that they need to join a dance class or change their address. Characters – particularly the protagonist – must develop, grow, or change in some way. They must have an arc. They should be different at the end of the story from when the reader first meets them. It’s good for me as a writer to be able to articulate that continuum of growth, that arc.

Back stories

Acting taught me of the importance of back stories. Characters – again, particularly protagonists – need to be as fully fleshed out as possible. They should have histories and there should be reasons for their personality traits, their motivations, their flaws, their relationships. As a writer, I must create histories for my characters, so they ring true to readers.

Setting

In a play, there’s a great deal of attention to setting – how characters interact with it, how it’s referred to and how it is staged. On paper, a richly-developed setting can become almost a character in itself. And how characters engage with the setting can evoke a specific tone or mood. As I travel avidly, I tend to write about places I know well and aim to capture what it is like to be in those places.

Dialogue

I have received some terrific feedback on the realism of my dialogue, which I greatly appreciate because I tend to use a lot of it and I work hard to make it sound A) true to each character and B) natural and realistic.

Writing plays in the noughties helped me develop this skill. I was teaching at a girls’ school and was seeking out plays for student productions. There’s a dearth of well-written, easy-to-stage ensemble pieces which are appropriate for high school students – especially for an all-female cast. So, I wrote plays. (They have since been published on Drama Notebook in the US and have been performed by schools in Australia, the UK and the US.)

I also hone this skill every time I work on one of my novels. Once I finish a conversation, I read it aloud as the characters (with voices – I can’t help myself), and tweak the phrasing, words, tone and inflections. My aim is to make it seem like a real conversation that I happened to capture in print.

Scenes

I follow a lot of authors on social media through Twitter, Facebook, blogs and websites, and I’ve been pleased to see more and more discussions about writing in scenes. Rather than focussing on chapters, the author focuses on a scene where something specific happens – just like in a play. A scene could comprise a whole chapter, or it might be part of one.

I realised recently that as a novelist I always write in scenes – again, perhaps a throw-back to writing plays. It is easier for me to approach the over-arching story in smaller, self-contained chunks. As a reader, I’ve seen a shift in writing towards this format. Likely you’ve seen this too – authors denote the end of a scene within a chapter with a double space or a physical page break that looks something like this:

***

Where I used to have to finish reading a whole chapter before putting a book down, I can now get to the end of a scene and feel like I have a natural place to pause.

A quick nod to grammar

I mentioned that I studied Literature as well as Theatre Arts and it was through my Lit classes that I began my love affair all things grammar. I have since taught English and worked as a professional editor. It means I can conduct decent and thorough editorial passes at my own writing before handing off to a(nother) pro (always get another pair of eyes on a manuscript).

And a quick nod to my contemporaries

A good writer reads. A good writer reads widely. A good writer reads voraciously.

Reading teaches you what to do and what not to do – how to evoke time, place, passion, fear, love, loss and the human condition – how to avoid over-using a word – how to structure a phrase, a sentence, a chapter, a thought – how to make your readers laugh aloud and weep onto the page – how to play with words and ignore the rules for effect.

I want to be a good writer – sorry, make that a great writer – so I read. Every day. Across genres. Indie authors, emerging authors, well established authors, and sometimes super famous authors.