Up Close & Personal

My Very First Writing Award.

Since joining the Writers’ Platform Building Campaign, I’ve been receiving quite a few comments on my blog, and I was quite surprised to receive one that said I was the recipient of The Versatile Blogger Award.  When I explained the award to my husband he said ‘Oh, a chain letter’, but I don’t look upon it that way.  I feel that after all these years of blogging, making numerous changes and wondering if anyone out there is actually reading what I have to say, I finally know that people are and I’m getting rewarded for my efforts.  So I give a big hearty thank you to Elizabeth Ann at ElizabethAnnWrites.

Now, like any grateful recipient, I have prepared my speech.  So, here are seven random facts about me, you probably just didn’t want to know:-

  1. My favourite colour is royal blue.
  2. I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher when I left school, but I didn’t get the marks to get in (I guess writing was my real calling).
  3. Sport doesn’t really do much for me.  Walking and playing on the Wii Fit is the best you’ll get from me these days.
  4. I hate clowns; always have.  I think they’re creepy.  I just have to think of John Wayne Gacy, which just about says it all really!
  5. I once won $100 on my first attempt at playing the poker machines.  I was happy to take the money and never play again.
  6. In my house, I’m the Zoo Keeper and Bejeweled Twist champion.
  7. I’m a tea person, not a coffee person.  I hate the smell of coffee and it gives me headaches (yet I can consume chocolate by the truckload – go figure)!

Now we come to the hardest part of receiving this award.  I have been visiting so many great blogs lately, I find it difficult to narrow my nominations down.  So because, like a good many of you, I’m flexible.  So here are my twelve nominations for this award:-

  1. Nicole Zoltack at Where Fantasy and Love Take Flight
  2. Susanna Leonard Hill
  3. Charmaine Clancy at Wagging Tales
  4. Renee at Books for Little Hands
  5. Helen Anderson at Helen Writes
  6. Cally Jackson
  7. Pauline at Pauline’s Prose
  8. Dawn Malone at Here’s the Story
  9. E. L. Schneider
  10. Heather at My Demon Spirits
  11. Dimity Powell at Dim’s Write Stuff
  12. Sabrina Llave at Little Red Writing Hood

I hope you’ll all take the time to visit these blogs.  As I’ve said there are many worthy blogs out there (too many to just narrow it down to so few), I aim to compile a list of other writing blogs in a future post.

I thank you and good night! 🙂

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A Breath of Spring Air.

It’s my favourite time of the year once again!  Spring is in the air, and there is a definite bounce in my step.

The season has gone off with a terrific start.  Signing up for the Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign has proved rather hectic with all the groups I have signed up for, but it has been fun meeting a whole bunch of wonderful writers I would never have met otherwise.  Thank you to all my fellow campaigners who have stopped by here to introduce themselves and/or subscribed to my blog.  Throughout the campaign, I aim to visit each and everyone of you, comment (although I find this difficult with some blogs I visit), and subscribe.  I would have to admit, visiting some of these other blogs has made me feel a bit of an amateur!  Because of the season and the inspiration I am getting from other campaigners, I’ve even changed the look of my blog/website.

For the past couple of weeks I have made some progress with the re-writes/edits of my first YA novel, Deception.  I was having difficulties with getting the voice right for one of my main protagonists, but with some tweaking, I think I’ve got it now.  I have managed to add about another 6,000 words during that time.  When I eventually finish with these re-writes, I hope to find some critique partners/beta readers.  If I recall, Rachael Harrie has mentioned something about this on her blog, so maybe I could be critiquing with some of you. 🙂

As always, with the arrival of spring, I go over my progress for the past twelve months and re-assess my goals.  I have plenty of ideas for novels and short stories (what’s writer’s block again?) and I have three complete novels to re-write/edit; my problem, as always is juggling my time.  I need to get my priorities right and make some sacrifices, but I’ll talk about that next week.

How has your writing been going lately – have you made good progress?

Image by Debbie Johansson.


The Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign.

Whilst trying out my new writing schedule of going onto social networks after I’ve finished my writing for the day, I recently came across Rachel Harrie’s Writer’s Platform-Building Campaign through Google+.

This is Rachel’s third time in running this campaign, where the aim is to connect other writers and help build their platforms.  I carefully considered joining this, as my main concern was – do I have the time to dedicate myself to it, even if it is only for a couple of months?  As I’m not studying during this semester, I didn’t hesitate too long.  I believe it is a great way to meet other writers through various social networks and via my blog.  I can read the blogs of other writers and they can read mine, so I won’t feel as if I’m talking to myself anymore! 😉

The campaign began on 22 August, 2011 and runs until 31 October, 2011.  If you want to join in and become a part of this great campaign, you don’t have much time left.  The list of campaigners will close on 31 August, 2011.  If you’re interested in joining me, you’ll find me under these categories:  Picture Books/Chapter Books/Early Readers/MG/YA, Horror, Paranormal, Suspense/Thrillers, Short Stories, Australian/New Zealand Writers.  Okay, granted, I went a little crazy, but I wanted to make sure I had all my bases covered, right?  A big thank you to those of you in the campaign who’ve already stopped by on my blog and introduced yourselves.  I intend to return the favour shortly – as you can see I have a lot to get through.

So, now I’m back to my original dilemma – trying to make sure that I don’t let these social networks interfere with my writing time!

Author Interviews/Guest Bloggers

When Failure is Not an Option.

To help celebrate the release of her Totally Twins series, Aleesah Darlison is embarking on a blog tour.  Today, I’m honoured to have her as a guest blogger to talk about rejection and perseverance.  Thank you Aleesah!

One of my all-time favourite quotes is by American actress, Mary Pickford (1893-1979). I keep her words of wisdom taped beside my computer where I work every day and I’ve often used them to motivate me through the tough writing times I’ve faced.

‘If you have made mistakes… there is always another chance for you… you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.’

I get a lump in my throat every time I read that quote. It’s so brilliant, so inspiring, so true. And every time I read it, it makes me want to pick myself up, dust myself off and keep going.

I’ve been writing for children for about four and a half years now. During that time, I’ve received over 400 rejections. It’s true, I kid you not. Following the advice of Di Bates, well-known Australian  children’s author and mentor to many aspiring writers over the years, I keep a record of all my submissions to publishers, competitions and magazines in a detailed spreadsheet.

To me, 400 rejections equals 400 failures.

How do I deal with that?

Well, I try not to focus on the failures. They’re all learning experiences. They’re all the attempts I’ve tried to improve my work. And the more failures you have, the more triumphs you are likely to achieve. It’s a numbers game. Right?

What I focus on instead, are the triumphs. The acceptances. Sure, they were non-existent at first and even now I’m a (newly!) published author they seem only to ever trickle in and I still get loads of rejections. But I don’t let them get me down. Not for too long, anyway. There’s always an element, no matter how brief, of grieving the loss of another publication-hope. There’s always that hint of ‘what’s wrong with my story?’ or ‘what’s wrong with me as an author?’.

But you can’t give in to those feelings. They will only hold you back.

Besides, writing is such a subjective field. What one publisher hates, another will love. If one publisher rejects your manuscript, well, it’s an opportunity to send it to someone else.

Believe this, it’s true.

Of course, there were times when I doubted I’d ever make it. There were times, as I watched friends and members of my writers’ group get published and I didn’t, that I thought I’d always be lost in the world of nearly-published, that I’d be forced to spend my life living on the periphery and waiting in vain hope. But I kept going. I had to. All I wanted to do was write. Whether someone published my work or not, my stories still flowed. What else could I do, but keep trying?

Are there sacrifices? Definitely. Like sunny days spent inside my tiny office tapping away at the computer instead of sunbaking by the pool. Like long, wintery nights spent inside my tiny office tapping away at the computer instead of being tucked up in bed. Like hours missed watching my children grow and laugh and frolic. That’s probably the one that hurts the most because I know how quickly their lives can rush by into adulthood. Still, I try to find a balance and still I know I crave this life of a writer so much that I must make it happen. The sacrifices, for me, if balanced well, are worth it.

My first book, Puggle’s Problem, was released in July 2010. It’s a picture book about a baby echidna, a puggle, who can’t get his spines. My second book, Totally Twins: Musical Mayhem, was released in September. It’s about identical twins, Persephone and Portia Pinchgut and is the first book in the Totally Twins series. Both books are selling well.

Now I’ve achieved my dream of becoming a published author, I probably spend less time writing and more time promoting my books. I’m ‘on the circuit’ as an author friend said to me, conducting school visits, author talks, appearing at festivals, running workshops, organising book launches and tours, and driving my own publicity. True, the marketing side of this ‘business’ steals writing time from me, but it’s become a crucial part in the modern author’s artillery to help establish your name and stand out from the crowd.

And I can’t say I don’t love it. Being able to talk to children and adults about my work, having them as enthusiastic and passionate about the stories I write and the themes I address in my books, is amazing and delightful and totally surprising. It’s kind of addictive in a way, this performance side to being an author and again, I must find a balance. I must find some way to fit it all into my life.

I don’t want to think about the wasted years not spent driving myself towards my writing goal. I’m no teen-author, that’s for sure, I’m not even a twenty-something author. But I still have a few good years in me and a few good stories, I hope. So, I won’t look back at the failures or the lost years, I’ll only look forward to the next submission I make and to living in hope that it will be a ‘yes’ this time.

And next time you receive a rejection don’t dwell on it too long, for your time is precious. Just remember my 400 failures and remember Mary Pickford’s words:

‘…this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.’

Aleesah writes picture books and novels for children in the fantasy and contemporary fiction genres. She also reviews books for The Sun Herald. Aleesah’s stories have appeared in the black dog books Short & Scary anthology, The School Magazine and Little Ears. She has won numerous awards for her writing. In 2009, she was awarded an ASA mentorship and was runner-up in the CBCA (NSW) Frustrated Writers Program.

To find out more about Aleesah, visit her website at: www.aleesahdarlison.com.

Next stop on Aleesah’s blog tour is Susan Stephenson’s, The Book Chook blogspot at: www.thebookchook.blogspot.com/ where Aleesah will talk about ‘What’s the Go with Pokemon?’

Images courtesy of Aleesah Darlison