Guest posts

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I've been thinking a lot lately about my chosen topics and genres. I know I'm not writing things that are going to be top sellers because they aren't what people are reading at the moment and while I believe I'm a good writer and I write readable and enjoyable books, I don't believe my stories are going to be the next Harry Potter or Twilight in terms of originality and scope. My fantasy isn't dystopian or filled with vampires (although my sequel to Cleah has some really hideous Dark things that kill people and devour souls), and I don't write romance because it just doesn't call to me, and my YA mystery is edgy to some degree but the herione isn't popular or trendy. I also don't write cozies or adult murder mysteries. My short stories are each different, but they are about surviving despite the odds and they don't always have the nicest of lead characters.

So, I can't help but ask myself this question: "Hey Brenda, if you want to write books that sell, why don't you pick topics that people are reading?" Well, I have to reply to myself "I don't really know." I do know that the stories that pop into my head just seem to arrive without warning. One day they aren't there and the next day they are. My short stories felt like I was channeling, as did the first Cleah (this second book is much more work - no invisible winged muse sitting on my shoulder and channeling the words to me on this one). I wrote the YA with the topic of a foster child as the heroine because of the kind of work I do - I wanted foster children to have a character in a book who was like them - there aren't many out there.

I also know that if you pick a topic to be on the band wagon you have to write quickly because that wagon passes by before you can blink - or in the case of us struggling writers - faster than you can get an agent and a book deal. That means that if I picked a YA fantasy of dystopian worlds or vampires that trend would be gone by the time my book saw print. I also know that I am limited by my own reality - I am who I am and I want to tell my stories, not alternate versions of others.

I'm not saying that the reason I'm not a best seller is because I write the wrong story line and that those of you who are more successful are just riding a trend - I truly don't mean that - but I do believe that for myself - a good writer but not a Charles Dickens or an Emily Bronte or JK Rowling in terms of innovation and scope - I just sometimes wonder if I shouldn't be more attentive to the current reading habits of my prospective target audience.

Well, I don't have an answer for myself. What about you?

Monday, June 27, 2011

I have four fiction books -one not up on Kindle yet- in four different genres. I intend to write sequels to the Cleah Chronicles and to the Shay James Mystery, and I'd like to finish a mystery I started a few years ago about a coroner (I was a coroner for three years - my favorite job I've ever had). I realize, however, that successful writers aka writers who actually make a living at writing - tend to stick to one genre and get known in that. They build a following and create a niche for themselves. Why don't I do that? Do you?

I don't do it because I have different stories floating around in my head and I want to tell them all. I guess they will be stuck there for some time to come because I don't have any writing time in my day - and don't tell me to get up at 5 a.m. to write because I already get up then to do other stuff that's necessary in my day. Anyway, I'm currently 1/3 of the way through the next Cleah book and I feel a strong need to finish that. It feels like the characters are taking up space in my brain and I need the room. Does that sound too weird to you? Do you ever feel like that? No, it isn't any form of psychosis - I know they aren't real - but the neurons they inhabit have energy and flow and exist in time and space even if that space is my grey matter.

Well, maybe I should just buckle down and do it!!!

Have your best day possible!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Self identification...

I continue to think, when I have time to think, about what it means to self identify as a writer. the Merriam Webster online dictionary defines a writer as: 

Definition of WRITER

: one that writes: asa : authorb : one who writes stock options

and author as 


 noun \ˈȯ-thər\
a : one that originates or creates : source <software authors> <film authors> <the author of this crime>b capitalized : god 1
: the writer of a literary work (as a book)
I guess I fit the definitions - I've written self help books in my professional field and I've written, and continue to write, fiction. I love to write - or, maybe I don't love to write as much as I feel discomforted when I'm not writing. I guess that means I need to write, likely because of some twists and turns in my neural pathways that formed in utero or through my early childhood experiences. Who knows and who cares?
It's easier to self identify as other characters in my life. I called myself a mom as soon as I had a child. I didn't think I had to have a certain number of children to qualify for the title although I went on to have 13 more. I called myself as a therapist as soon as I had the degrees and training to acquire the licensing and professional qualifications to do so. I didn't wait till I had a particular number of clients and I didn't wait till I determined if I was any good at it. 
Yet, I hesitate to call myself a writer, or an author, and I don't know why. In some part of my mind I have the weird belief that I can't take on that title until I make my living at it - or at least the majority of my living. Where did that idea come from? Again, who knows and who cares, it's just there. 
I also question why I need to call myself anything - okay, I know that one - it's because I'm a practical type who likes labels and categories and diagnoses and so forth. And it's because writing is what I want to do and a writer, whatever that means and however I become one in my own mind, is what I want to be. 
This picture is of Charlotte Bronte - author of my favourite book - Jane Eyre - against all odds she self identified as a writer. 
Do you call yourself a writer? When did you accept that as a means of self identification?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I am a writer.... I think....

Yesterday I was doing a lot of running around - felt like the proverbial headless chicken - as I try to get my house and acreage ready to sell. I had lots of short trips in the car and so lots of time for thinking short thoughts- and what went through my worn out and overly stressed neuronal pathways was a real awareness that I don't actually seem to consider any writing I do as real writing unless it's on a novel. 

I'm 1/3 of the way through the second book of the Cleah: The Lost Fury Chronicles but there simply isn't time in my overbooked days to work on it. So, I have a perspective that I'm not writing and I get myself all tied up in knots over that. However, in the later afternoon yesterday I was on one of my trips to pick up some bark mulch to improve the looks of a garden area and it hit me that I have to stop being so elitist with myself and accept that I have other writing platforms and the words I contribute there really do count as writing. For example, I'm a parenting expert at an ezine and I write two articles a month for them. I do a couple of other sites like that as well, and I have another blog. 

Of course, that doesn't give life to the stories that live in my head - but it's still writing. I need to keep repeating that to myself and entrench the concept in my neural fibres. I am a writer, I am a writer, I am a writer, I am a writer - nope - not there yet but I'll keeping working on it.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Interview with Australian author and blogger - Jayne Fordham

My guest today is Jayne Fordham. Jayne is an Australian writer and psychologist who has just released her YA fantasy romance - A Season of Transformation. She is also a freelance writer specializing in health, lifestyle, and travel. On her blog The Australian Bookshelf - she promotes the Australian book and publishing industry as well as highlighting well established and upcoming Australian authors - Jayne doesn't limit herself to Australia - she enjoys books from Irish, American and English authors as well. 

What finally got you started on writing a book?

Years and years of reading! During my first couple of years at University I didn’t read very much because I was studying and then finally I really got back into it. I remember finishing a book one day and thinking, I could write a book. I loved to write as a child and just threw myself back into it. After testing out a couple of genres and writing short stories, I had some ideas come to mind and A Season Of Transformation just came alive.

Is there a theme that runs through your writing?

Definitely romance. It is unlikely that a story (unless it is outstanding) will hold my attention unless it has a hint of romance whether it is the main storyline or a sub-plot. In recent years, my writing seems to have taken on the fantasy, paranormal and scifi elements which have opened up many exciting areas to explore.

What writers influenced you?

I have such an eclectic reading style that it would be difficult to pinpoint specific writers that influence me. Those that stand out for me are Jane Austen and various Australian authors whom I respect such as Monica McInerney, John Marsden and Maureen McCarthy.

How has your writing evolved over time?

Well I hope that it has improved over time! I am not a ‘trained writer,’ I am a professional and so almost everything I have learnt about writing has been self-taught. I have also undergone short writing workshops and for my novel A Season Of Transformation I also sought the help of a mentor and manuscript assessor which provided me with invaluable feedback to improve my writing style. I am working on an adult fantasy, scifi novel at the moment and I can already see how my writing has changed since writing the YA novel.

You are a professional and a writer. How do you manage to find the time for both of these time consuming aspects of your life?

This is definitely the hardest part! I work full-time as a psychologist and then I come home at the end of the day, spend up to an hour writing and another hour responding to emails, blogging and networking. Most of my weekends are taken up doing this. When I get the chance I also do some freelance writing on the side, but I haven’t been able to do this lately because of my schedule. Although book promotion, marketing and networking can be hard work at times, I don’t see writing that way. It can be difficult for me to get into a routine where I do write regularly, but when I do I find it very rewarding. I guess it is a form of ‘self-care’ for me as a professional but it comes with many other benefits. I hope that one day I will be able to find a better balance and spend more time writing, perhaps drop hours in my professional role.

How do you promote your books?

I use various social networking platforms, but I have found the best way to promote my book is to enlist reviewers and have them promote it for me on their blogs- that way I reach plenty more readers. To do this I organised a two month long book blog tour (currently running) by contacting over 20 bloggers who have agreed to do reviews, giveaways, interviews and/ or guest posts during the tour. This has been very time consuming but I hope it will pay off in the long run with more and more people being exposed to my book.

How do you promote your blog?

Well I have definitely gotten on the social marketing bandwagon! I promote my blog via Twitter Facebook, Goodreads & Bookblogs.

Please add anything else you think would interest the readers including pictures of you.
Thank you for having me Brenda; it has been so nice talking with another writer who has a similar professional background. It is lovely to see that we writers come from various backgrounds and walks of life.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Finding your inner Shakespeare...

I wonder if anyone ever "becomes a writer" or if we simply start that way but wait till something triggers us to actually start putting the words on paper (or computer)? I always knew I wanted to write - I knew I was good at it and even though I got A's in English and Creative Writing in high school, I was never encouraged to follow that. Don't get me wrong - I received lots of encouragement to go after whatever I was in the mood to pursue that day or week, and when I finally settled on first nursing and then later going back to school to become a mental health clinician everyone seemed to think that was the best fit for me. Still, I wanted to write.
I look back over my life now and I wonder why the hell I didn't go into Creative Writing at the start? It couldn't have been because I was afraid of failure - at that stage of my life I was so naive and arrogant that failure never entered my mind. It couldn't have been because I was afraid of not making enough money  because again, at that stage in my life I assumed I would do well at anything and everything (life has since taught me otherwise).
I finally got the kick to put my first book together - a self-help about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder - when I realized there were no books on the topic - this was back in the early 90's - and I thought someone - me - had better write one. I didn't get around to fiction until several years later and I'm only now doing anything about marketing them. I do understand that delay - the writing is the easy part - finding the time to do the rest of it is time-consuming and with 14 children and a full-time career - time is the most valued and limited commodity in my life.
What finally got you moving  - or are you young enough and smart enough to know that you are a writer now?
Well, whatever your process and wherever you are in your writing - have your best day possible.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A new way to write...?

According to their site this is a new way for very young writers to get their work published and read. It's  certainly innovative and will make the creators some money - what do you think of it?

Fiction Express is an entirely new concept in fiction publishing for tweens and teens. It enables readers to engage with their favourite authors in a unique and original way by allowing them to contribute to the plot. Each episode is available to be read at 3.30 pm (UK time) every Friday. At the end of each chapter are a number of options on which readers can vote. The option with the most votes is the one the author writes in time for issue on the next Friday. All Fiction Express e-books run for 11 weeks. You will be able to begin buying chapters of an e-book at any point during the 11 weeks. After that time, the e-book will no longer be available to new customers.

If you have bought all of the chapters of the e-book, it will remain available on your 'My e-fiction' page for a fixed term of 5 years.  If you have purchased some chapters from the e-book but not all of them, you will have up to 3 months from the date upon which the last chapter is released to purchase the remaining chapters. After this time, you will no longer be able to purchase chapters.
Fiction Express credits are purchased using Paypal. You can either pay through a Paypal account or by using a credit or debit card. The Paypal payment system uses cutting-edge data encryption, fraud detection tools and all kinds of other advanced techniques to ensure that payments are secure.