Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Ernest Hemingway - I'm Listening

Life, as usual for me, has been pretty hectic lately. So what do I do? I enrol on a Creative Writing MA, of course. A mountain of reading to get through, lectures to attend, workshops to take part in and not to mention the homework.

One of my big projects, and it pains me to say this, has taken a back seat because of the hecticness, hectivity? I'm talking about finishing my second novel. I stopped writing it this summer and haven't been able to get back to it. I've written lots of other things so I can't put it down to writer's block. I thought it was because I didn't think the idea strong enough but since starting the MA, the creative juices are flowing and I'm missing those charaters terribly. I want to find out what happens to them. I'm still convinced I have a good story there.
English: Hemingway posing for a dust jacket ph...
But how to begin - again? Enter Ernest Hemingway. 

You might be familiar with his writing tips but one in particular stands out and could be the tip that helps me get that elusive second novel written.

Hemingway suggests you read what you've written before from the start and then continue from there

The best way is to read it all every day from the start, correcting as you go along, then go on from where you stopped the day before. When it gets so long that you can’t do this every day read back two or three chapters each day; then each week read it all from the start. That’s how you make it all of one piece.
So that's what I will do and I will post my progress as I go. Who knows, I may have writtien the first draft by Christmas!

What is your writing challenge? Post it here and we can all encourage each other by visiting blogs and giving words of encouragement.

Good Luck fellow writer!

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Monday, 14 October 2013

Guest Post - G. L. Tysk

It is my pleasure to welcome author G. L. Tysk as my guest as she discusses her latest novel The Sea-God at Sunrise

I didn't set out to write a book that needed a sequel. I actually tried my hardest to write a book that didn't need one, a book that stood on its own with no need for an epilogue, a book where the characters would fade off into the sunset like fond memories. That was part of why The Sea-God at Sunrise was so long. When I finished it, I thought that was it. I'd told everything that needed to be told.

Then I realized I'd only told about one-fourth of the story.

I based The Sea-God at Sunrise on the story of John Manjiro. Manjiro was a young Japanese fisherman rescued by American whalemen in 1841 from a typhoon. He grew up in southern Massachusetts, and in his late teens embarked on another journey around the world in the opposite direction, returning to Japan and later becoming one of the shogun's English interpreters during Commodore Perry's opening of Japan to the West. When Sea-God was little more than a concept, I was fascinated with Manjiro's tenacity and open-ness to new cultures, heading out for a strange land and a strange language without second thought.

After my novel was published, I had some time to reflect on Manjiro and his comrades aboard the real whaling ship. Manjiro had four friends aboard his little fishing boat when the typhoon hit. He was the only one who made it to America. What happened to the rest of the four? When the whaling ship docked in Hawaii - the Sandwich Islands, as it was known then - they went ashore and settled in Honolulu. Two of them returned with Manjiro to Japan (they were arrested when they arrived, a very warm welcome). But the other two stayed.

I always wondered about the ones who stayed. One of them was very ill and eventually passed away, so he had no choice in the matter. But the other guy had no health problems; he stayed because he had married a Hawaiian girl. He'd built a life there, just as Manjiro had built his elsewhere.

It became clear to me as I wrote The Sea-God at Sunrise that Shima was not really a Manjiro-type character. Unlike his brother Takao, he's reluctant to trust foreigners, he's not great at language learning, and he has a hard time leaving the old life behind. In the sequel, set in 1849, about eight years after the first novel, I wanted to explore how Shima and Takao had both changed. Did the lives they built for themselves outside of Japan have room to let their birthplace back in? Would they think about returning? Or would they not consider that possibility, and want to stay in the new world?

A lot happens in eight years. Even if Shima's and Takao's lives had never moved on, the world did - historically, 1849 is the first year of the American Gold Rush. I was faced with doing more research for a sequel that I had never thought would happen, and then integrating that new research seamlessly into the world of the first book, which is harder than it sounds. It's frustrating to want to introduce huge dumps of information in the first few chapters. It's more frustrating to realize that you can't, for the sake of the narrative flow. My hat is off to authors who write book series and deal with this all the time. Whaling vs. the Gold Rush sounds interesting in theory, but is hard to write in practice.

At the same time, writing this sequel is like coming home. Even though it's been a while, Shima and Takao and Ellis and the rest of the crew haven't changed so much as to be unrecognizable. Sometimes as I'm writing I slip back into old habits, but I have to remind myself that it's been eight years, and everyone changes over time (if only jobs and fashion sense). I'm faced with the conundrum that all historical fiction authors must face at some point: where do I take them from here? At what point do I diverge from the historical context and create my own narrative?

I'm still trying to answer those questions, but a lot of other questions are, happily, resolved. The first book takes place, except for two chapters, exclusively at sea. The second one, by comparison, will explore a lot more of the land. I can say that the Gold Rush will play a large part in the overarching narrative, but not a huge part in the day-to-day lives of the characters as the story continues. I'll explore more of the old city of Honolulu and its people as well, as we return to the Sandwich Islands.

In the end, writing a sequel is just as much work as writing the first novel. I've also learned that I missed these characters, and I'm glad to have them back. I hope all authors feel this way when writing a sequel, because it's definitely warm and fuzzy and I like it. New friends will be made, old friends find each other again, and there is definitely whaling. Wherever my protaganists go, the sea-god is never far behind.


Ger Tysk is the author of The Sea-God at Sunrise and is currently working on the sequel. She lives in Boston with her husband and a menagerie of plush whales.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Writers - Develop Your Craft With This New Site

Offering Free On-Line Writing Courses, Writers Web TV launched a new site this autumn.

WritersWebTV is a new web TV e-learning channel which helps writers to improve their writing skills and to get on the path to publication by connecting them with bestselling authors in an engaging live online format.  Our platform creates a new model of writer education, designed to make education more interesting, entertaining, meaningful and lifelong. We combine high-quality content, expert teaching, live discussion, exercises, feedback, peer-to-peer collaboration and social media interaction in a TV style format which delivers actionable insights and better learning outcomes.

Best-selling women’s fiction authors Claudia Carroll, Sheila O’Flanagan and Julie Cohen will be ready to arm aspiring authors with all the best writing tips, tricks and methods on October 15th at the upcoming WritersWebTV workshop, Getting to the Heart of It: Writing Women’s Fiction.

This free-to-watch-live, online workshop will cover all aspects of women’s fiction and viewers will be able to interact with those in studio to help them develop their skills. WritersWebTV has developed a world-first innovation in online education for writers by providing livestreamed interactive workshops to a global audience, featuring Irish and international best-selling writers and industry professionals.

The one-day workshops are streamed live from a multi-camera broadcast studio in Dublin. Bestselling authors interact with an in-studio audience of aspiring writers, who present their work for critique. Online viewers can communicate with those in the studio using Twitter, Facebook or email. They can ask a question, take part in a workshop exercise, comment online and benefit from on-screen feedback from the authors in-studio.
Led by experienced workshop facilitator Vanessa O’Loughlin, founder of writing.ie, the panel will consider the key elements of fiction writing and furnish viewers with tips, advice and actionable insights to help them improve their writing and get it on the path to publication.
Other upcoming courses include Crime Pays: Writing Crime Fiction on Wednesday, October 30th, and Getting Published on Saturday, November 9th.

Viewers can watch the full one-day workshops for free when they watch them live. If they want to download a workshop or watch it later, they can pay to keep the course.

Make a note of those dates!
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Thursday, 10 October 2013

Author Interview - JamieLynn Boothe

Women's Fiction (although some may hate the term) is not restricted to female writers. I have pleasure in introducing JamieLynn Boothe who will talk to us today about The Journey and Nightmares and Dreams which both fit the genre.

What was the thing that influenced you to start writing? 

Becoming a writer is something I have dreamed about ever since I was a teenager. I went through life for many, many years not following my dream because of personal hardships. Without saying exactly what it was I will say that I was unable to do what I feel I was born to do because of what was happening in my life for so long. However, my life has changed for the better over the past few years and I am now working on my dream as hard as I can. Because of my life experiences and the places and things I have seen I am able to write about things close to my heart. I love writing about romance, women who show their tender side but their strengths as well. Nightmares and Dreams was difficult to write because of what the main character had to go through, but it was beautiful to write about her outcome and personality. Also I have always been a serious reader and I love reading Nicholas Sparks and Dean Koontz and Tiffany Carmouche’s work as well as a few others.

Tell me your success stories in terms of publishing/self publishing? 

I haven’t reached the financial success as of yet, but the fact that I achieved my dream as far as being a published author is very rewarding for me spiritually and emotionally. I hear great things from some that have read my work and that in itself is very beautiful to hear.

What are your top writing tips for any aspiring writer? 

Never give up and write daily. Even if you only write 100 words, write. Do something for your book that you are writing. If it’s research, writing a synopsis, an outline or just writing out one small paragraph, then do it. Everyday do something for it.

What are you working on now? 

I am currently working on the sequel to The Journey.

What do you draw on for inspiration? 

Life itself and others in my life, past or present.

Please tell me anything else you'd like the reader to know about you. 

Well honestly I’m not sure what to say on that one. I’m a laid back guy who is easy-going. I love movies, reading, music, art, cats, friendship and true love. Currently however I am single. I know that life can be hard at times but I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and take it One Day At A Time. For me I love the small things, especially in relationships. I also firmly believe that actions speak louder than words.

Thank you JamieLynn

To find out more about JamieLynn please click here

To purchase JamieLynn's books please click here or here

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Author Interview - Hunter S. Jones

Today's guest author is the talented Hunter S. Jones who will talk about her writing and her new book, September Ends

Vintage Ms Jones

What was the thing that influenced you to start writing?

My mother’s cancer returned earlier this year. As I had to spend a great deal of time with her on our family farm in Tennessee, a poet I met through a writer’s group decided to work with me on SEPTEMBER ENDS. It’s been my lifeboat during a stormy sea. It’s not easy watching your own mother die. This book has given me something positive and creative to work on during a very difficult episode.

An Anonymous English Poet

Tell me your success stories in terms of publishing/self publishing?

I will when I have one! Just writing a book and completing it is a success story, isn’t it?

What are your top writing tips for any aspiring writer?

1. Write
2. Write
3. Write
4. Write
5. Don’t quit your day job

What are you working on now?

The stage is set for Book 2 of The September Story

What do you draw on for inspiration?

You never really know what will inspire your craft. The characters inspire me more than anything. That and the stars. The stars at night give me some type of feel of infinity that we all share. Something divinely immortal that we can actually see.

Thank you Hunter!

To find out more about this author visit her site at www.huntersjones.com

September Ends is available on Amazon- just click here



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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Problem With Editors...

As I get closer to being a published author, I learn a little bit more about the business and slowly all the glamour of being a published author wears off.

Don't get me wrong - I'm going to be published and I couldn't be more pleased but I didn't know what to expect when I came across an editor I felt didn't quite know where I was coming from.

I wanted my Caribbean characters to speak with authentic dialect. I went to great pains to choose dialogue that was authentic but could be understood by anyone reading the book. My editor, however, insisted that at certain points my characters speech read like mistakes on the page. I was dumbfounded. I really couldn't see it and in the end I made a couple of adjustments that watered my dialogue down. My editor insisted that I was being unreasonable and that my book was for the readers and not for me.

I would so love to open this out to other writers to see how they coped when they didn't agree with their editor. I don't have an agent so I felt well and truly up against it and a bit like a naughty child stamping her foot. That's how he made me feel. I still don't think I was wrong to insist on sticking to my guns. Especially since reading acclaimed novels like The White Woman on a Green
Bicycle by Monique Roffey, The Lond Song by Andrea Levy and even the Colour Purple stayed true to how people really speak. No-one complained. I know I'm not a 'big' writer like the above and maybe haven't earned the right to complain but one of the compelling parts of their work was the authenticity in dialogue.

In literature, aren't we writers always told to keep it realistic?

So if you read my novel Holding Paradise (when it finally comes out - details to follow) I would love to hear your views. And, indeed, has this been a problem for any of you?

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