Sunday, August 21, 2016

Writing A Book

You know, I'll tell you guys that I'm writing a book, and then you don't hear from me about it for a while; then I'll tell you I'm writing another one.

But it's not that easy.

Books are hard work.

First the idea you have to come up with. You have to come up with an idea that you've never seen before anywhere; and that's never easy. Or have to rework an idea that's been done before in such a way people don't see it coming.

Then you have your own style of writing it. Not everyone has the same writing style - no matter how many times a publisher will say to you that 'this is has been done before' they can't dictate to you exactly how it's been done. They can't tell you that your idea has been written exactly like Stephen King's or Peter Straub's or F. Scott Fitzgerald's. That idea may be similar to any one of them, but it's written in your style and that's what makes the difference.

Then - and here's the hard part - you have to leave your book alone for about a year. Don't touch it, go near it to edit or read it again. Once you have done that, go and read it and see where you've screwed up. Go and see where you can either save it or toss it. 
Yes this is a lot of work for probably nothing, but it's all about your work, your time and your style. If you don't want to be a writer, don't put in the time to write a book (or a series of books). This is how long it takes to write a book - and this is before it goes into the agent or the publisher; before you start spending money on getting it put through proofreaders, editors and other people who have never seen your work... people who will help you sound like you but more refined; these are people you pay to get you published.

This is where you start rewriting. Your first book will take between ten to twenty rewrites - because it's your first book and you'll screw up a lot. I know I did. My first book, 'Angie', never saw the publishers because it wasn't worth it. The idea was great, but the story, characters, the world ... it was all cardboard and when I went back to it to fix it? Well, it was too far gone to be salvageable. So, I left it alone and started on my next book. My next book took me fifteen years to write... I had to do some serious research to get it right. I had to travel overseas, read some sci-fi fantasy and get in and collect some books on sword-play and recipe books on what people ate, wore and customs of the Dark Ages (this was a world I never studied at high school because I never studied Modern History; instead I studied Ancient History - silly really). But I loved what I got into. I ended up at Medieval Fairs and enjoyed writing my world. 
However, when I finally went to finish the first book, I found my book wasn't finished; and it turned over into a second book - which never saw through to the end of Part One. The reason behind this was because I started writing a sci-fi action thriller right as the sci-fi fantasy one finished... I amazed myself. I went right from the Dark Ages straight into a world of Philip K Dick, where there wasn't a suit of armour to be seen anywhere!

Writing is a great outlet for anything you want to show others. You can take them on your own magic carpet ride anywhere you wish. You're the God of the Worlds you build, the King of your Kingdoms and the very person who can say who lives, who dies, who gets married, who can fly who doesn't and what happens right on these pages.

And if you do it right? Well, that's when the real magic happens.

Anyone can write a book... but it's a matter of knowing how to keep your reader interested in your book, along with yourself, that really matters. The idea is the first hook - it doesn't have to be original. What reels in your audience is how you make that idea fly.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Currently Reading

Now, I was going to start off this post with 'Killing Willis' by Todd Bridges... but I didn't want it look bad with the first word being 'Killing' on Google. So, I thought to make it a 'Currently Reading' post instead.

Here in Australia, on one of the free-to-air cable channels, we have 'Diff'rent Strokes' tv show from the 1980's. It was a standard show to watch in my family as it was a rag-to-riches kind of thing and my folks insisted my brother and I watched something of a broad range of shows when they were on offer. And when 'Diff'rent Strokes' came out, it was new, interesting and - well - different. It was about two African-American brothers - Arnold and Willis Jackson - from Harlem in New York City who had lost their parents in an accident who were adopted by a rich, white family uptown. Now, the white family weren't without their own problems. It was just a father and daughter and they wanted to have more to their family than just those two; and chose Arnold and Willis. This half-hour show turned into something of a weekly ritual for us to sit down and watch. I don't remember how many seasons there were or how long we watched into those seasons, but I do remember loving that show and having a huge crush on Todd Bridges - hey, I was young. And I still think he's not bad-looking.

Anyway, I was perusing a bookstore over the last year and found a book written by Todd Bridges called 'Killing Willis'. It was all about his life after 'Diff'rent Strokes' and what happened to him, how he felt when he was seen out in public and how fame affected not only him, but Dana Plato and Gary Coleman. Being child-stars affected each one of them in a different way. Gary had a major medical condition that caused him to stay pretty much the same size he was in the show for his whole life; and caused him to become a very bitter and angry person. Dana Plato turned to drugs and never came out of that downward spiral in the same way Todd did. He knew there was a way out of that and worked hard to be the person he is now. And this caused him to write this book about his life. 

But it wasn't until I picked up the book recently that I found it was a new edition with an afterward that Todd penned about Gary Coleman - about how misunderstood he was; and how the media turned Gary's life into something it really wasn't. I haven't read the whole book (I'm only two chapters into it) but from how far I'm into it now, I can say it's a very revealing, candid and honest story about somebody's life. I don't know if I've read anything like this before where the hurt, depression and need to be heard is so evident that I don't want to put this autobiography down. I haven't read a book like this since Danny Sugarman's book 'Wonderland Avenue'. I look forward to reading the rest of it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Tidy, Tidy!

I've been going through a huge decluttering phase in my life over the past 4 - 5 years; now that's huge! 

But it's been a great thing for me.

I have given away some of my books that I have zero interest in, have found books I thought I had lost and have started reading some books I thought I never thought I would. I have also begun writing a book about my books and what piqued my interest in books, writing and how it all began in the first place... now, this has interested my family the most. My Mum thought it was weird to start with, until she read the first few pages of 'The Red Ledger' (working title) and found it fascinating of how the inside of my mind worked.

However, she also found that when she came to my house she spotted a lot of books sitting around the corners of my house in places where they weren't supposed to be. For example: I have an autobiography of a famous book critic and another book about vampire stories in amongst my gardening books and journals in my living room. Exactly how they came to be there is still a mystery to me, and I didn't know they were there until Mum pointed them out to me; and I pulled them out of the collection there and brought up to the main book collection to place them where they were supposed to be. 

This was when a lot of other books kind of fell into view from all kinds of places. Yep, part of the tidying up in my house started with how many books I could find in my living room... it was kind of like playing 'Hide and Go See' book-style; and it was funny how many books I found! I filled a Green Bag with them all; and I'm still finding books around the place to bring up to the collection.

Yes, it looks like they've multiplied on me somehow. Oh well, I guess that's how books become collections, right? Until my next post, happy reading.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

InHouse Publishing Author's Day

Today, I was out and about at InHouse Publishing Author Day at Underwood. It was a beautiful Winter's day to be there - but I didn't get there until the speeches were halfway through. So, my socialising had to be cut short for a bit as people were taking the stage to talk about their journeys in the publishing world. 

However, as with most public places, there's always a bit of chatter in the background during those things. I was told by one of the authors to 'shush!' while I was catching up with an author friend of mine from Facebook I've known for a few years and hadn't been able to attend her book launch due to having laryngitis that week. I know that it's not always everything you want when you do a public thing, but sometimes, it's the public who do the rounds who are just there to network and aren't really there for the speeches. 

Don't get me wrong, authors talking about their journeys is great. However, I watched the interviews online; and felt as though I had heard everything all over again when they were talking today, so thought I didn't really need to hear it. But that was just me. 

I did talk to my share of authors and people there, collecting a nice pile of business cards. I also got talking to a local writer's group who doesn't have a horror writer; so I might drop into that one to see how I feel about joining in. Well, it was a great day for it all, but I didn't stay for too long... just enough to talk to some people, have an ice coffee and make a few connections along the way. Until my next post, happy reading.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Letter-Writing

The other night, I sat down and penned a letter to a dear friend of mine in Toowoomba. I love to write in longhand and she enjoys hearing from me. I also include a piles of photos when I post off my 4-7 page letters to her.

Now, you're going to ask me: why don't you email her? It's cheaper and she can download the photos in a sinch. 

Well, my friend is Joan Lane and she's 80. I've known her since I around 6 years old and holidaying at Brunswick Heads.  She's kind of like my second Grandmother and her and her now-late husband, Ted became close family friends of ours over the years.

Joan doesn't have the internet and wouldn't know how to turn on a computer; actually, these modern-new-fangled things scare her. So, when I learned of this, I decided to write her letters and post them to her. She loves receiving mail and I don't mind if she never writes back; as she's not all that great at writing letters.
So, about 3 times a year, I write Joan a lovely long letter, with photos included inside, telling her about what I've been up to in my life. She loves reading about it; and she shares the news and photos with her family. 

Do you still retain the skill of letter-writing? Do you have a collection of stationery at your disposal? Or do you sit and email all your friends; and if you have somebody who doesn't have a computer, you don't go near pen and paper for them? I love writing to Joan. It's reminds me of how tactile the act of letter-writing actually is and that we really shouldn't lose the skill of writing a really good letter to somebody we're friends with... it may be something we'll really treasure from somebody else someday. Until my next post, happy reading.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Poetry

Once in a while, I can't sleep. So, I'm up really late at night reading or writing to get myself tired enough to get to sleep. A lot of the time, whatever I write normally is just detail stuff on a book or a poem and it's something that's been bothering me since last week - silly really.

However, there are times I get in and write a poem. I think it's the silence of the unit complex, or the way my brain works when I haven't slept for a few nights. But I kick out a very cool poem or two before I turn out the light.

The problem is that I sometimes I misplace the books I have written the poems in for a few months; and then suddenly find them! And that's always like finding a piece of treasure when that happens, because I sit down and read what I've written from that sleepless night to find I've written either a lovely piece of writing, or something I wouldn't bother showing anyone!

Last night, I was working on my book about books and came up to the part where I wanted to talk about poetry. However, I didn't know how long I've been writing poetry for and had to dig around the office to find it all. Strangely, I've lost a few books. I know they're somewhere around the office; so seeing I don't throw out any of my work (which makes me a paper collector too), I'm sure to find all of my poetry at some point soon. 

So, do you write poetry? If so, what kind of work do you write? I'm a concise poet - a writer of word pictures, small poems which aren't too long, but strongly-worded. These are difficult to achieve, but I do enjoy getting in and doing them when I have the time because they're a challenge. I love to read sonnets, ballads and funny poetry (Pam Ayres is one who makes me laugh). Until my next post, happy reading.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Winter/Summer Reads

The cold snap has finally hit Australia and we've got snowfalls in the Australian Alps. Yep, everyone is feeling the chilliness all around. Last night, it was 3 degrees Celsius here in Brisbane and it's still cold here - and it's almost midday - why, right now, it's 15 degrees Celsius... and I don't think it's gonna get much warmer.

So, this calls for the Winter reads I'm going to get my nose into this year. I've already started 'The Stand' by Stephen King (an all-time favourite of mine). And I'm writing a book about books - which is going well. Then, I'm reading 'The Turning' by Tim Winton - short stories he's written; some of which were turned into three-minute films on the ABC. I didn't know until one day I saw them there by channel-surfing one day... very interesting.

I'm also looking through my art books and reading up on how to do some different types of art - as I'm working on another book-related painting. I'm actually hoping to get together an exhibition - but I'm not sure when I'll get into the gallery. 

I'm still reading copies of 'Good Reading' Magazine and enjoying looking up knitting patterns as well at this time of year - as it keeps my hands moving. Otherwise, I'm hoping to get in and read some of the books by my bed that have been there for a while. There's one by Dean Koontz about a family dog and another 'Dandelion Wine' by Ray Bradbury. Yep, it's good weather to catch up with all the reading I've been putting off as the mercury plummets. 

So, how about all of you out there? I know that as it's getting colder here in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere, it's becoming hotter elsewhere. What are you Summer Reads as you cool off in the shade of a sprawling Oak tree in the park? Or are you by the pool under the shade of a huge umbrella? Or are you fortunate enough to be by the beach and digging your toes into the sand while you've got your nose in a good book or two? Let us all know what you're reading and your opinions of your favourite authors at this time of year. Until my next post, happy reading.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Writing A New Book

I've come down with Laryngitis. Yep, I can't leave the house and I'm not allowed to talk... not fun.

So, I've been getting in and cleaning the house, throwing out rubbish and doing laundry; all in complete silence - well okay, the radio's going, but really it does get very boring with just that going.

But I have been writing again. I've written a flash fiction where my character had laryngitis; and the story was creepy too. It turned out to be a good story; I thought.
I'm also working on a new book at the moment I'm calling 'The Red Ledger'. It's a book about books I've read in my life, which are all in my collection and are from my reading list from over the last 13 years of reading. This book is mainly about how the books I've read have changed my life, how good or bad they are and how writing has become a way of life for me. 

It's going along well so far. 

Since the beginning of the week, I've written up around 10 pages in longhand - and that's good. Most of the time I've written that in bed before I turned out the light. This is where I get a lot of my thinking done about what I read. I've yet to go through my collection and find the books that I truly use from day to day and write about them in a big way. I'm only 15 pages into it - but I'm enjoying how it's being written; in longhand. It makes me think about how to write what I want to put out there instead of just typing it out.

Have you ever written something like this? If you have, what was it like? Did you enjoy talking about your books and your passion for reading and writing? Until my next post, happy reading.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Ultimate Reads

In my last post, I wrote about the great re-reads of my life... and why. This time, I want to ask you, my readers, what your most favourite books of all time are and how many times you've read them. Is there a reason why you go back to it - the characters, the storyline, the way it's written?

And I have another question as well: if there was an ultimate read you've been wanting and pining after what would it be? Have you been looking at that book in the bookstore, at the library, on Amazon and wished you could get your head around or you have it in your Mt To Be Read and just haven't gotten around to it - and don't know why. Tell us about it.

I have a few books that I have stored here in my collection which I'd love to just sit down and lose myself in; but it's finding the time to do just that I find is the problem. In between writing books, editing my current work and doing my craft, cleaning out my house and working on my garden, I think I have spread myself a little too thin. But I do love to just look at my books and recall where they come from (this is what I'm doing with one of my books I'm calling The Red Ledger; ie: the book ledger). It's a book about my writing and books I've read and have in my collection and how this collection came to be so big and why.

The ultimate reads in my collection are varied:

'A Suitable Boy' Vikram Seth
'The Dark Tower Series' by Stephen King
'The Portable Dorothy Parker' by Brendan Gill
'The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter'
'Wrestling With The Angel' by Michael King
'The Call of Cthulhu and other weird stories' by H.P Lovecraft

There's others, but these are my top six of my list... and yes, I know that the second one is a series of books (of which I'm up to book 4). This list doesn't vary much but I do enjoy getting in and working on it when I can.

So, do tell... what books are you ultimate reads, your whale, your mountain to climb? Until my next post, happy reading.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Great Re-Read List

Whenever I want to jump back into reading big books again, I'll reread something I have cracked the cover of for years. 

Dontcha just love doing that? I sure do!

Right now, I'm reading my all-time favourite book: 'The Stand' by Stephen King. This book normally gets me back into my reading mojo again - I don't know how it does, but I once I read it, it just gets me into another book and then another; and not necessarily by him.

There's always those books that do that to us, right? Well, I do have a few books I reread along with 'The Stand' to kick myself into reading again... and I usually get into doing this in Winter (yes! The best time to wallow well into a book is at the coldest time of the year) in my Reading Chair.

So, when do you get in and do the great reread of your favourite authors? Or are you one of those rare readers who, once you've read a book, you never reread it again? Until my next post, happy reading! 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

In the Movies

During the huge deluge of rain over the last few days, I watched 'The Stand' miniseries - made from the book of the same name by Stephen King. And speaking of Sai King himself, I noticed that this brilliant author shows up in this miniseries as Teddy Weizak; an everyday guy who survived Captain Trips and was on his way to Colorado with a convoy of other folks who had been having the same dream as he was - of Mother Abigail. 

But this isn't the first time we've seen this author in a movie which was made from his books. Stephen King has made a cameo in so many of the movies that sometimes you really have to look for him to realise it's him. It's easy to pick him in the early movies like 'The Langoliers', 'Pet Semetary' and he got to play a creepy part in 'Sons of Anarchy' where he was a dude who a 'Caregiver' or a cleaner... creepy - I think that was in season 3 or 4. But he played that part well.

Another famous person we all know showed up in his own movies was Alfred Hitchcock. He was a brilliant director who had a thing for blonds and enjoyed making cameo appearances in his own movies. You have to really watch for him in a lot of the movies as he isn't in the credits. In 'Rear Window', he was in the musician's apartment winding the clock. In 'The Birds', he was seen in the beginning of the film leaving a petshop with two of his own pets as the main character enters. I found a Wikipedia site which lists a lot of them (I don't often go through Wiki, but this is a big list) and so here it is for you to look at.

Have you seen writer or directors show up in films you've been watching and looked for them in the credits? If so, which ones? Until my next post, happy reading. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Book Buys???

Yeah, I didn't buy any books this month. 

Well, that's not exactly true. I received books, but I haven't bought any - does that make sense? I hope so. 

I've also begun to read some short stories before I turn out the light at night - so I'm getting back into reading again; after such a long stint of not reading and just writing (as you can read from a few posts below). 

But I'm still collecting and my office is starting to become cluttered with books again. Yes, this does mean I have to start on another lot of looking through the collection and figuring out which ones belong and which ones don't. Sad but true. But if I don't, I'll be the crazy book lady of my unit complex... and well, I don't want that.

Anyway, the author I'm reading is Kurt Vonnegut. He put out a few short story books and I found one at the Logan Art Gallery which they were keeping it for art projects and I rescued it! Yay! Now, I'm reading it. Okay, some idiot ripped out the first page of the first story, so I can't read that, but who cares? I'm reading the rest of them.
And besides, I have other books around the place which have poetry and novellas as well - just to get me back into the reading mode again. And I'm hoping to start saving up for another tattoo... this one is going to be book-related and I'm going to get it done next year sometime. 

Well, it's been a good month for me... I've been good in some aspects, bad in others, I'm reading again and I'm also writing some nice, short'n'sweet flash fictions (my last one was around 500 words long; and we had a word limit of 1,000 words). So, until my next post, happy reading!