Blogging · Up Close & Personal

Liebster Award.

When it comes to blogging, there can be times when you wonder what it’s all for, but every now and then something happens that makes it all worthwhile. It came as a surprise to be given an award for my blog once again, so a big THANK YOU goes to Adam at Write Thoughts for giving me the Liebster Award. I really do appreciate the recognition and it’s a great motivator to continue blogging. It’s good to know that my blogging efforts are appreciated. 🙂

Adam has asked me a couple of questions and some had certainly given me pause for thought! So this week, in answer to these questions, it’s time to get to know a bit more about the person behind the keyboard.

1.We’ve all heard of comfort foods. Do you have any comfort stories? Stories you go back to when you’re feeling vulnerable and you just need to laugh, or be reassured?

I have a couple of comfort books, which I go back to every now and again because I really enjoy them and it feels like visiting old friends. One is Dragonwyck by Anya Seton, a gothic novel set in New York during the 1840s; another is Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay, an Australian mystery/gothic set in 1900 that has basically gone down in Australian folklore and the last is the Poldark series by Winston Graham, set in Cornwall during the end of the 18th century.

2.Do you have any stories you generally recommend?

When I think stories, I think of the short story, so there are a few authors I recommend. As I grew up on Stephen King, I really enjoyed his short stories. More recently I’ve read some good ones from Daphne du Maurier, Susan Hill and Ramsey Campbell. As these stories are of the horror/paranormal/suspense genres, they may not be for everyone, but they are good examples of how to master the craft.

3.Have you ever found yourself in a situation so absurd that you had to stop and take a moment to recognize the absurdity of it? Or just burst out laughing?

Too many to mention! It doesn’t help that I can sometimes be the cause of it all as I have a tendency to either say or do something stupid. This usually happens when I’m amongst other people I may meet for the first time or still trying to get to know. I can have a tendency to say things before thinking things through and then laugh at myself. So I guess, when people first meet me they may think I’m a bit of an air-head, but I’d like to think I’m getting better at it as I get older. This is why I’m much more comfortable with writing. 😉

4.When having fun with friends, would you rather get up early and get started, or linger late into the night?

That has certainly changed over the years! After I left High School, I was a bit of a night owl and I would come home late at night (once arrived home after partying at 6am), and sleep until midday. These days though, I’m the complete opposite and prefer to get up early.

5.What was the last song that you heard for the first time and went, “Wow, this is something special”?

This is a tough one, as I haven’t listened to the radio for years (yes, it’s true) and can be a bit behind the times when it comes to music these days. However, after having heard ‘Chandelier’ by Sia for the first time I couldn’t get it out of my head.

6.What villain, super or otherwise, do you most feel a kinship with?

I’ve always been a strong advocate for the underdog, so ever since I read Frankenstein, I’ve always been sympathetic towards the monster. All he ever wanted was love and friendship, but instead received rejection through fear and misunderstanding. This kinship has only been strengthened by his portrayal on the television series Penny Dreadful.

7.Would you rather have the power to stop time (and not age during those frozen moments, but be able to interact with things), or live forever (not growing older, and gradually healing from any injury/malady)?

Given those two choices, I would have to say live forever. By stopping time, you might not always be in a good place (emotionally), so it would be nice to keep moving forward. By living forever, you have more time to do things/visit places and hopefully have a far lesser chance of regrets.

8.What’s a hobby or interest that most people would be surprised to learn you have?

I would have to say true crime; of special interest is murder and serial killers. I’ve always been fascinated by people’s reasons behind committing such acts, how their minds work, their M.Os, etc. This is why I watch a lot of crime shows and listen to podcasts and why I chose to work within the NSW Police Service upon leaving high school. During my first year of study at University, I even did a subject in criminology. The legal side of it put me off, whereas I prefer the psychological aspect of crime.

9.After writing, what would you say is your second passion?

That would have to be the paranormal, which is as much a part of me as writing. I’ve always been interested in the unexplained. I’ve inherited a belief in the spirit world from my Scottish father and I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), so I have a tendency to pick up on things a bit more than others. As a child, there was an incident that left me wondering if I had some special kind of ‘ability’ and in more recent years have had some ghostly encounters.

10.What first led you to consider/try blogging?

Back in the late 2000s, when blogs were really taking off, I read that in order to help build your platform, you ‘had’ to be on social media and that included having a blog. I began blogging in early 2009, but stopped shortly after, wondering if it was worth my time. However, a few short months later, I picked it up again and have continued to blog ever since.

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So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed finding out a little bit more about me as it certainly put my little grey cells to good use coming up with some of these answers. My thanks once again to Adam for this award and giving me the opportunity to share.

Are there any questions from Adam’s list that you would like to discuss? Have you ever been given an award for your blog? What do you consider some of the best aspects of blogging?

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Writing · Writing Process

When Self-Doubt Kills Productivity.

Recently, I’d been struck with a wave of self-doubt. As I worked on my re-writes, it began as a trickle; my first six chapters were a complete mess and felt I couldn’t continue until they were fixed. That was my internal editor speaking to me and as they kicked in; the self-doubt began to swirl around me until it stopped me in my tracks. I was doing nothing more than going around in circles. It was then that I stepped away from the keyboard.

It was also around this time that I was reading up on self-publishing. This coincided with reading about the odds of author success. I always knew that going down the road to self-publishing was not going to be easy, but I guess the reality of it all really hit home.

I’d been dealt a blow from the stick of truth (thanks South Park 😉 )!

The reality was that when it came to these re-writes, once again, I was stalling. I was using perfectionism as a crutch; going back over something I had already covered was not moving me forward and getting the work done. Editing prematurely was hampering my efforts. My self-doubt had turned into perfectionism and they fed into each other.

After taking some time away to gather my thoughts, I was reminded that when it comes to writing professionally, it is a marathon, not a sprint. We just have to keep on going, one small step at a time. Those moments when we encounter self-doubt, get rejections, when we’re told we’re not good enough or to get a ‘real job’, if we really want to succeed as writers, we have to keep going. Self-doubt will always hamper our progress and it is at these times that determination and perseverance will be our greatest asset.

The trouble with going over the same ground, I was too busy thinking of the end result, rather than enjoying the journey. I was considering the big picture, and instead needed to concentrate on what I can control (James Scott Bell has a helpful post on what to expect from your first novel). Thinking of my writing as a ‘business’, what I really need to focus on right now is my product; my writing (of-course, the key word there being focus). The best way to do that is to just keep writing my stories and focus on my craft; everything else is secondary.

It’s easy to let disappointments and doubts get the better of us, but by focusing on our goals and being held accountable, either through a writing buddy or a group, we can continue the momentum to keep moving forward.

Do you ever feel the need to edit before you finish a writing project? What things do you do to help you move forward and finish? Do you tend to focus on the end result rather than just enjoying the journey?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing · Writing Process

Writing in More than One Genre.

Before the end of last year, I began to consider writing in a different genre. I think it’s good for writers to experiment and find out what works and what doesn’t. It takes us out of our ‘comfort zones’ and gives that elusive muse plenty to work with. For quite some time writing a romance remained in the back of my mind and for someone that doesn’t always write happy endings, the thought had become quite a challenge.

I always envied those authors that chose one particular genre and stuck with it. My muse would jump from one idea to another, leaving me wondering what genre I actually wrote in and therefore making it difficult to ‘brand’ myself on social media.

More recently, though, the more I looked into my chosen genres, the more I realised that they all kind of blend in together. As I mainly write paranormal suspense, at least romance can always be included. My current work in progress is the ‘novel’ I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2015 and a romantic element plays a major role. Yes, it’s a mess, but I am having fun with it and could well be the longest thing I have written so far.

Recently I read a post from Cait Reynolds on Kristen Lamb’s blog regarding genre, which posed some interesting issues. If you haven’t already read it, it’s well worth a look. The main takeaway regarding genres is this – pick a genre and stick with it for about three years and keep other genres to a minimum. For someone who has had issues with plot bunnies for many years, this became a bit of a wake-up call.

Writing can be fun, especially if we give our muse free rein, which is great for those of us who write as a hobby or are just starting out. The thing is, though, if we are seriously considering publication, we may need to focus on one genre for a while (preferably the one that we get the most pleasure in). This allows us time to establish a readership.

Writing in one genre shouldn’t stop our muse completely; we just need to keep our ideas in different genres on the back burner for a little while before we can take our readers along for the ride.

Do you agree with sticking with one genre before trying something else? Do you struggle to control your plot bunnies? Have you published in different genres and how has that worked for you? If you write in more than one genre, are they similar genres or completely different?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

This Writer's Life · Writing Process

When a Writer Stops Reading.

For years, I’ve always considered myself a bookworm. Yes, one of those people who, despite having a pile of books on their shelves just can’t resist buying more, then wonders how they’re ever going to get all that reading in. In a household of gamers, I’d rather be curled up with a good book. In more recent months, however, my reading habits have dwindled.

Usually I have bouts where I’m an avid reader, but then I feel I’ve read too much and I need to take a break. The need to read returns once again and the cycle continues. This time around, I stopped reading and am finding it difficult to return. I’m currently alternating between two non-fiction books, but it has been a slow drip feed. My bookworm status has declined.

This is the longest I have gone without having a book or Kindle in my hand, so what’s gone wrong? I think there are two things at play. One is the fact that by getting Netflix, I have been getting my stories from a different medium. I have been watching both movies and television series, along with using Netflix to help with my research. This has helped me with my own writing, both in terms of ideas and craft.

The second issue I think is that by reading less, it has given me more time to focus on other things – like writing my own stories. This of course comes with its advantages and disadvantages. I am spending more time working on my current WIP, both in the writing and the planning process, as well as making plans towards self-publishing. Yet, as a writer I should also be reading, in order to help with my craft and discovering new books within my chosen genre.

Yes, this seems like a rather long hiatus, but I know that I will return to reading eventually. Perhaps it’s because this particular story I’m currently working on really needs to be written. Besides, doesn’t absence make the heart grow fonder? 😉

Are you a bookworm? Do you have long breaks between reading books? As a writer, do you find reading can be a distraction from your own writing?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Ghosts & The Paranormal · Movies/Television

Paranormal Investigation: Most Haunted.

Because of my fascination for all things paranormal, it is my habit of watching paranormal investigation shows. I come with an open mind; I am interested in the techniques used and what proof, if any, is found. After having experienced some ghostly encounters of my own, I am even more curious as to how such things are portrayed on television.

Recently, I binged watched some Netflix, including three seasons of Most Haunted. I have never seen this particular show before, so for those of you who have, bear with me. There are quite a few I haven’t seen and only Seasons 14-16 were available. Performing séances was probably as technical as it got during Season 14, however, the other two seasons they began using EVPs.

There was one episode in particular that really caught my attention. It was during the investigation of Annison’s Haunted Funeral Palour in Hull, England (you can read more about it here). During a séance, they believed they had picked up the spirit of a murdered girl who told them the name of her murderer. Not only did they pick up her spirit, but that of her murderer as well. When they mentioned the name, Fredrick Bailey Deeming, I was somewhat baffled as serial killers are of a particular interest of mine. Deeming murdered his first wife and four children in the U.K and is suspected of being Jack the Ripper. He murdered his second wife in Melbourne, burying her in one of the fireplaces in their home. He was convicted and executed for the crime and his bust is on display in Old Melbourne Gaol. How the spirit of a man who died here in Australia could travel back over to the U.K to haunt a building was beyond my comprehension. Maybe it’s just me, but I have to say I have never heard of that one before!

The last episode I saw was a two-part episode, which involved the investigators spending the night in a haunted suburban house. This particular house and its haunting was the basis for the movie When the Lights Went Out. The house was lauded as having the most ‘evil ghost in the world’. One was led to believe therefore that something really bad was going to happen. Sure a few things may have ‘happened’, but nothing quite as dramatic as one might have expected from such an evil entity. As the spirit is believed to be a priest, then why did he turn so bad? This was never explained and therefore made no sense to me. There is also a demonologist amongst the crew and if this house is supposed to have a real bad spirit there, I couldn’t help but wonder why he was not part of this particular investigation.

No actual spirits were caught on camera (although in a more recent episode, the team apparently filmed one, so I’ll let you be the judge of that) however some objects were shown to have moved. This can easily be explained away by trick photography. Objects were also thrown, but were usually done off camera. At one point, I thought it interesting that when an object fell from the ceiling, the cameraman did not point the camera in that direction – anywhere else but there it would seem.

All this this then begs the question that if these are actual haunted locations then where are the ghosts? Wouldn’t they have caught at least some real evidence while they were there? And if they did, would they be taken seriously? Yes, I do believe in the paranormal, but I also like to think rationally. I had previously watched a few seasons of Great British Ghosts, and I am therefore aware there have been reported incidents and sightings from people at some of these locations. I guess we may never know.

Yes, Most Haunted is not to be taken seriously and if given the chance, I probably would watch more of them, however, when it comes to more serious investigations though, I think I’ll look elsewhere.

Do you watch paranormal television shows? Do you keep an open mind when it comes to the paranormal or are you a sceptic? Do you find a lack of research jarring? Do you watch certain television shows for research purposes?

This Writer's Life · Writing

What Kind of Writer Do You Want to Be?

Many years ago, before the age of the internet, I was a great reader. As a writer, I used to envy particular authors the amount of books they had published. I would always make it a habit to look at the list of books a particular author had produced and whenever I saw a long list, I couldn’t help but envy them their output. That was the kind of writer I wanted to be.

These days, I would still love to be a prolific writer, but recently as I have taken a step back from social media, I have begun to look at things a bit differently. There is a life outside of writing; we have other interests, perhaps employment and a family and household to take care of. There is a lot of talk from ‘experts’ of what we writers should and shouldn’t do; that the only way to be successful is to keep on running on that hamster wheel.

Yes, there is a lot of good information out there; however, we also need to be aware of what kind of writers we really are. The majority of the conversation tends to be on writing novels, but not everyone can write one. A few years back I read a blog post from an indie author that basically said that writing short stories may be ‘fun’ but they are no way to build a ‘successful’ writing career. Now I get where this author was coming from, but this statement still managed to irk me. Who is to say that a short story writer cannot be successful? Besides, everyone’s idea of success is different, just like we are. What works for one person does not necessarily mean it will work for another.

The disadvantage to the internet is that there can be too much information out there, which is why it is important to take a step back occasionally. I was always one to devour blog posts from other writers, yet I felt the need to cut down on that too. It would appear I am not the only one feeling like my head is spinning from all that noise. Recently, author and blogger Kristen Lamb wrote a blog post stating that in this new age of publishing we have options – that it’s okay to take our time.

James Scott Bell had this to say recently on how to avoid burnout:-

The pressure comes when the writer who wants to make good dough at this thing (even a living) realizes that the only “formula” is to keep producing quality work at a steady pace. Notice that word, steady. I believe this is the key to avoiding writer burnout. Every writer has a sweet spot where production meets life and stays on its side of the fence.

I’ve found that spending less time on social media has been liberating and is gradually renewing my love for writing. As I’m unpublished, I have found social media has been great for networking and blogging has improved my writing skills, but now it’s time to take a step back and really focus on my stories. I want to go back to basics and do some courses (yes, I’m looking at you James Patterson) and brush up on my craft. As much as I’ve always wanted to be a prolific writer, I have also wanted my writing to be quality. As Mr Bell says, quality work at a steady pace.

Some authors may only produce one book or half a dozen in their lifetime, but their stories can create an impact upon their readers for generations to come (Jane Austen, the Brontes and Harper Lee to name a few).

If I could have a loyal fan base that felt that my writing was worth the wait, I’ll be a very happy writer. Anything else would be a bonus. 😉

Are you frustrated with all the advice out there? What kind of writer do you want to be? Have you felt the need to take a step back from the internet? What is your idea of success? Have you suffered from burnout?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

This Writer's Life

New Year, New Beginnings.

It would appear that Christmas came and went in barely a blink of an eye and now here we are almost at the end of January within the new year. I don’t know about time flying when you’re having fun; the time seems to fly on regardless!

Over the holidays, I’ve been sticking with my goal of spending less time on social media, which has allowed me to do other things. More time with family for one thing. I’ve been kept busy now that my son has finished studying and joined the workforce and have been getting things organised for my daughter to start her final years in High School. So there is a distinct change in the air within my household.

One of the things I have been doing is listening to podcasts and one in particular I have taken to is Casefile: True Crime Podcast. As I have an interest in crime, I have been listening to quite a few of these and I’m now about half way through. The podcast focuses on cases from Australia and around the world. It’s very well researched and has received awards and international recognition. So if you’re interested in true crime and haven’t listened to this podcast yet, I thoroughly recommend it.

I have also been spending some time watching Netflix. This has involved some family time watching such things as Stranger Things and all the Hunger Games films, but I have also been going through shows on true crime and the paranormal. Of-course, these endeavours are not a complete waste of time, because as these topics are of particular interest to me, they are a great help when it comes to research for my stories.

My writing itself has not been completed ignored. These past few weeks, I feel I have resolved a few issues and am now in the process of re-writing one of novels. Rather than multi-task, I know that I work best concentrating on one thing at a time, which has helped me plan my goals for the rest of the year. They are achievable, so long as I keep my head down. 😉

The holiday is over now folks; it’s time to get back to work!

What have you been doing over the holidays? It’s still early days, but how have your goals been progressing so far or have they had to be altered? Do you find yourself struggling to do other things when bingeing on things like, oh I don’t know, Netflix or listening to podcasts?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay