The Ghost at Willow Creek · The Story Behind the Story

Turning a Poem into a Short Story.

Some years ago, despite not being a big fan of poetry, I tried my hand at writing a few; even going so far as to get a couple of them published in a small publication. I even wrote a bush poem. This bush poem would ultimately go on to become my first published short story, The Ghost at Willow Creek.

Some years ago, while visiting relations on their property, I encountered an old grave of a six-year-old boy. Apparently, he had drowned in a nearby creek during a flood. This child was no relation of ours, but my cousins had planned on doing up the grave and taking care of it. Straight away all sorts of questions came into my head. The writer within me thought of the many hardships encountered by our pioneering women and no sooner had I returned home, but I was jotting down ideas.

The loss of a child had attracted me, for having two children of my own (neither one of them easy births), I became empathetic to the parents of this unknown child, especially the mother. The history and the landscape drew me in, and as it would always seem, my fascination with death and the afterlife. I have always had an interest in graves and cemeteries, often finding inspiration amongst them.

Wednesday Addams at Red Riding Hood’s grave.

As luck would have it, a writing competition soon came up and I thought of writing a bush poem inspired by this piece of history. Before entering, I had even sought the advice of a local poet. After reading my piece, she had suggested that the poem could become a short story. In the back of my mind, I had to agree with this idea because I felt there was more to this story than what could be relayed in a bush poem. In that respect, I was grateful that my poem ultimately, was unsuccessful.

As I wrote The Ghost at Willow Creek, it was not only the death of a young child that got to me, but the effects such a tragic loss would have upon the parents and their marriage. Being a wife and mother, I was following the old writing advice of ‘write what you know’.

The Ghost at Willow Creek is ultimately a story of love, loss and things that go bump in the night. A story my husband labelled my best yet, so I’m pretty happy with that! 😉

Have you ever turned a poem into a story? Do you experiment with different writing styles? Where do you get some of your writing inspiration from?

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IWSG · This Writer's Life

IWSG: Are Your Fears Preventing You from Meeting Deadlines?

In August, my daughter and I were sick with the flu for some weeks and it wasn’t until I began to feel better that I began thinking of deadlines. The trouble is, despite my desire to self-publish, my fear has been preventing me from moving forward.

As someone who plans on self/indie publishing I have the luxury of setting my own deadlines. If truth be told, I have changed my deadline to self-publish a number of times now. I have been telling myself this entire year that I will self-publish this year and not later. I don’t want to put it off any longer. I have also been blogging about the prospect of self-publishing for a while now, so I don’t wish to come across as someone who says they will publish, but never do. I don’t want to be someone who is all talk and no action and sounding like a complete fraud.

To be perfectly honest, I’m afraid of pushing the ‘publish’ button and exposing myself to the world.

When I thought about deadlines, it also got me thinking about how much do we tell our readers? Mainly, is it better for self-publishers to give them a release date or announce our book’s release once it is actually up and running? If we give our readers a release date that we can no longer meet due to circumstances beyond our control, it could create problems. I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter if you are self-published.

Now that we’re in September (how did that happen?) and the year is coming to an end, I’ve decided upon a date (birthdays are always a good time aren’t they? 😉 ). Now it’s just a matter of sticking with it. The time for procrastination is over, and besides, I’m not getting any younger!

Does fear prevent you from meeting deadlines? If you’re self-published, do you prefer to give your readers a release date or give them a pleasant surprise? How do you deal with deadlines when life throws you a curveball?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

This Writer's Life · Writing Process

How are Your 2019 Plans Going?

It’s difficult to believe that we are already over half-way through 2019, which is the time when one can sometimes stop and take stock of how one’s plans for the year are progressing.

For the past few weeks, thanks in part to the winter school holidays, I have been assessing my writing goals for the year. Some goals I have achieved, others I have yet to reach, while others have changed completely. Some of the goals I had made towards the end of 2018 have changed because I have changed. I have been reflecting on who I am as a writer and as a person; what my passions are and what’s important in life.

Previously I had talked about focusing on what we can control, as well as recognising the fact that I am a highly sensitive writer. I guess you could say that lately I have been doing a lot of self-reflection. 😉

Self-publishing is still my No.1 priority for the year, however, I need to remind myself that despite the enthusiasm for experimenting with different genres, I need to remain focused upon just the one for now. This early in the process, I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself and take things one day at a time.

There may be times when our smaller paths may change, but the destination remains the same. Sometimes we need to take a step back before moving forward.

How are your plans for 2019 progressing? Have you needed to take a step back and reassess your writing goals?

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IWSG · Writing

IWSG: Creativity is in Your Control.

For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights; I’d like to move forward with my writing, but fear keeps me in place. I’m planning on self-publishing this year and with every small step forward I tend to come to an abrupt halt. Lately, I began to worry about things that were out of my control.

Once our work is out there, there are a lot of expectations that go along with it. With all the pressure on writers to maintain a regular output, I worry that I may not be able to meet that expectation of others. Once I press that ‘publish’ button (which is my greatest fear of all), I fear I will be proven correct that I’m not as good at this writing gig as I think I might be.

It was fortunate then, that I made a few recent discoveries. I read a recent article on JA Konrath’s blog on why your book marketing plan won’t work. I found it an interesting read from someone who has made a success from self-publishing and there are plenty of things to consider. Not only did I get some good advice, but one of the big takeaways I got from it was to stop worrying about what was out of your control.

The other discovery was while I listened to an interview with author Jane Harper on the podcast, So You Want to be a Writer? (yeah, it was a while ago, but I’ve been a bit behind 😉). She mentioned a talk she had given where she gives advice to other creatives. I’ve found her advice helpful and have included the video of it below. She, too, advises to concentrate on the things you can control.

As recently as last week, it took me about fifteen minutes to write an short email of a few lines to my editor, asking for an endorsement for one of my short stories. Yes, I agonised over every word, but I sent it anyway, coming to the decision that there was no harm in asking. I received a reply that same day, saying simply ‘Of-course!’ (Happy Dance! 😊)

Fear has held me back my entire life and I tend to agonise over many things, yet I have found over the years that sometimes when I ignore the fear and do it anyway, things are not half as bad as I thought they would be. The saying is true that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.

We can’t control if other people will like our writing or not and if they don’t, then perhaps, they’re not our audience. Focusing on what we can control, that is our writing, makes for a less stressful and more enjoyable journey.

Do you worry about things out of your control? Have you found that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’? Have you found advice recently that has helped you to move forward?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing · Writing Process

5 Lessons from James Patterson’s Masterclass.

Before the end of 2018, I was given an early Christmas present. It was for James Patterson’s Masterclass. I had heard about this course for some time and had been wanting to do it for a while. I was introduced to James Patterson some years back, when I read his first book, Along Came a Spider, the first in the Alex Cross series. Since then he has produced so many books, it’s been difficult to keep up! It’s no wonder he has gone on to become the world’s bestselling author.

The course covers a lot of information and is great for new writers and for writers like myself, who already have some writing knowledge, but could do with more advice. With that in mind, here are five of the best things I learned from the Masterclass:-

1. Write Fast

In order to get the story down, you need to crash through. If you’re struggling, don’t torture yourself, just write ‘to be done’ and move on. This is helpful to avoid the dreaded writer’s block. The more you write, the better you get.

2. Work with an Outline

Everything needs to be in the outline. The outline should have lots of promise, so you can’t wait to write each scene. When you’re writing an outline, you’re thinking about the story. Write the story! James demonstrates this process in a detailed outline guide, and you will need to do the course in order to learn more.

3. Create Complex Characters

You want readers to love your characters or hate them; make the reader ‘feel’. Create characters the reader is not going to forget. In order to understand your character, you need to see the other side to that character by making them more complex and well-rounded. Villains need to be smart, clever and need to surprise you. The more you humanise the villain, the better.

4. Keep Raising the Stakes

Know your genre – know what’s out there in order to avoid it. Don’t write stuff that’s already out there, put a new twist on it. Find something that’s fresh and new. One of the biggest secrets of suspense is setting up questions the reader must have answered. Keep raising the stakes. Keep the reader guessing. Don’t give the answer away too quick; give it away slowly. Don’t assume that anyone is safe.

5. Stay Positive While Editing

Don’t start re-writing until you’ve written one draft. With the first re-write, try to get to the heart of your story. Keep moving forward; make it so that the pages turn themselves. Stay positive during the edit, break it down into parts to make it manageable. Think of editing as making it better. You didn’t make a mistake; you’re making it closer to what it should be.

The biggest take-aways for me were writing fast and working with an outline. Because I tend to think too much over my ideas, by the time I get to write them down, I can sometimes lose interest and look for the new shiny. 😉 Outlines have always been a part of my writing routines, but after doing this course, I’ve been using James’ method ever since.

The course comes with video and workbook, and you can work through them at your own pace. The video contains about twenty-four lessons and the course also contains access to the Masterclass community, so that you can share work and join the discussion with other students.

Because the course covers a wide range, some information you may have heard already, but it does contain advice you may never have heard of before, let alone considered (the gender breakdown of his readership, and how that influences his content is one example).

I felt one of the drawbacks was that James focused on writing thrillers, which is understandable as that is his genre, but it may not be what writers of different genres want to know about. Also, the course covers the topic on writing for Hollywood, which may be interesting, but not necessarily helpful to writers who don’t plan on going down this path.

If you haven’t done the course and you want to know more about it, you can read this helpful post to find out if it is worth your money or you can jump right in and sign up for the Masterclass.

‘If you don’t love it, you’re not going to finish the book. That’s okay. That’s telling you that’s not what you’re going to do. You have an interest in it, but you’re not that passionate about it. If you are passionate about it, you can’t help yourself; you have to write it. You’ve got to write that book’.

Have you done the Masterclass with James Patterson or are you thinking of doing so? What were your main take-aways from the course? What course have you done recently that you found beneficial to your writing?

This Writer's Life · Writing

6 Signs You May be a Writer.

Lately, I’ve been working on my current work in progress and now I can finally say that I’ve finished!

It’s the longest piece I’ve ever done, so it has been quite a challenge. I have wrestled self-doubt and there were times when I didn’t think I would actually make it, but I finally got there. This got me thinking about the writer’s life in general and some of our special habits. 😉

You know you’re a writer when:-

1. You’d rather be with your imaginary friends than with real people.

2. You have a habit of staring out your window to solve some of your problems (or even just to daydream).

3. You keep adding books to your ‘to be read’ pile (besides, some of that is research).

4.You have a love-hate relationship with paper.

5. You collect various stationary, even if you don’t need it (but it sure looks pretty).

6. You’d rather write than be in a ‘real’ job (whether you have one or not).

What do you think are some of the special quirks of being a writer? Do you consider yourself to be a ‘slow’ writer in a fast-moving world? Have you managed to achieve your writing goals this year?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing · Writing Process

A Writing Update.

She’s baaack! Well, sort of. 😉

I have been absent for a few weeks and sadly, I have been neglecting my blog as well as all of you, but I have not been neglecting my current work in progress. In fact, I have become so engrossed with my current writing project, that it’s all I can think about. So, this is a quick post you keep you up to date with what’s been happening.

I’m still working on the novel I’ve been working on since earlier this year, but after writing the longest piece of writing I’ve ever done at around 80k, I was not happy with how it turned out. I went over my plot outline and reworked it so much, that I’ve basically had to start from scratch. I deleted an awful lot of words, and yes, it was painful to do, but it was completely necessary.

I began writing a paranormal and my original intention was for my protagonist’s love interest to be the antagonist (no happy ever after here, thank you very much). The thing was, that he was not happy about that at all – he wanted to be a good guy. The more I thought about it, the better my plot became, and I had a more suitable antagonist. So, okay, a paranormal romance it is then.

Now I know I wrote not that long ago, that I don’t like telling others what I’m writing; that I prefer to write with the door closed. And that’s where I will leave it; that I am still working on my work in progress and that it is a paranormal romance.

So lately I’ve been travelling in uncharted waters, but I’m having a lot of fun! And isn’t that what being a writer is all about? 😉

What have you been up to lately? How is your own writing going? Do you listen to what your characters tell you?

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