A simple post this week for several reasons I won't bore you with.
I've posted some photos from New London and the museum outside Submarine Base New London, the setting for The Code. My visit there last year was wonderful - joyous and to a degree overwhelming. To see the place I'd written about and where my characters live really was indescribable. We didn't have much time there, and as you can see the weather wasn't the greatest for sightseeing. I saw enough to be content with my descriptions.
For those who have read the first two books in the series, I hope you can see the characters here the way I could.
I’ve always loved Facebook. It’s given me the chance to connect with old friends and overseas relatives, plus those closer to home. I’ve also made lots of friends in the Australian and international writing community, something I would never have been able to do otherwise.
Facebook isn’t so friendly these days. There’s the data mining issue that has become big news in the past few days and then there’s the news feed issue. I’m not referring to the algorithm and its effect on Pages, but my personal news feed. Facebook has decided it knows what my important posts are and puts them at the top. I prefer to see the most recent first, and I can change my feed to reflect that. And I do. Every. Single. Time. As soon as I move off my news feed, Facebook changes it back and I can’t stop it happening. Sigh.
I’m not taking my Page down nor am I going to reduce my posting on it. For all its current flaws I still love Facebook. I’m going to be adding to it instead—with Instagram.
I’ve always loved Instagram too. I’m a visual learner and love images, and now I’m going to focus more on using them. One of the beauties of Instagram is the ease of sharing between it and Facebook. By using Instagram more, I’ll be using Facebook more, too.
Will that mean there will be more posts on my blog as well? I don’t know at this point in time. If there is one thing I’ve learned about writing, social media, and blogging, it’s that it is all fluid and can change (and will!).
A reminder about my newsletter. The next one will head out on March 31st with an exclusive look at my new book, and yes, there will be free chapters to read! Interested? You can sign up using the form on this blog, or here.
It’s a topic that’s been on my mind over the last week or so. I’m preparing for the launch of my next book and it’s a real goodbye scenario—it’s the third and final novel of the New London books.
The series is wrapped up and I’m happy with the way things ended, but it is the end. I have no plans to write about the characters ever again and I feel a little sad. I know I can write about them at any time I want to, but when a story’s done, a story’s done. They will go on to lead their fictitious lives and I will meddle with another lot of characters fates instead. They no longer need me, or I them. I guess it’s hard to let go, just like friends when they choose another direction and you part, or the end of a particularly wonderful holiday. I’ll miss them.
There is also a large element of satisfaction. I have written a complete series—not a small thing to achieve. The New London books were unexpected. I knew I’d write Seeing Red, but I was adamant it would be a single, stand-alone book with no sequel. Adamant! And then come that scene in my head of Andrew sitting in his study and getting a call for help from Nell. So much for adamant. I wouldn’t have missed the journey with these characters and there are no regrets.
The final book will be coming out late April and I will make announcements and reveal the cover and story-line closer to the date. Stay tuned!
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You know how people say it’s good to learn something new every day? Or the one about every cloud having a silver lining? I was debating which of the two best suited this post and I think both do. The silver lining on a metaphorical cloud can teach me thinks—useful things.
About ten days ago I woke up with a sore eye. Not terribly sore, but red and a bit teary. It became worse as the day went on, so I went to my doctor. After a thorough examination (if my eye wasn’t red before, it was after!) he diagnosed conjunctivitis. He suggested some drops to use, and I went on my way.
Two nights later, I was in bad pain. My eye burned and the upper lid and brow ached. It was as though I’d been punched—not that I really know what that feels like, thankfully. To cut a long story short, I ended up at an eye specialist who took a quick look and diagnosed Acute Anterior Uveitis. More drops, and I’m thrilled to say I’m healing.
And yes, there is a silver lining to this that I have learned from. I’m a writer and I can use the experience one day in a book (probably on a character I don’t like). I’ve learned what it’s like to have extreme photosensitivity (I still have my screen brightness turned right down), doctors poking around my eye, and the fear of damage to my eye causing vision loss. I spent a little time wondering how I would write if the worst happened. Please note I never gave one thought to work, driving, and generally seeing, just the writing (there are audiobooks, so I had reading covered). I learned something useful and turned it into a partially positive experience.
It’s a blessing in some ways to want to store up the information, sensations, and emotions that go with life. Perhaps not so much in the moment when there is pain, physical or emotional, but not all of life’s experiences are like that. I’m slowly getting a little treasure trove of information I can use.
Oh, and if you need the name of a good GP or eye specialist in Hobart, drop me a line!
The past few weeks have brought the real world colliding with my fiction one. I’ve been following the growing drama surrounding the FBI with dismay and at times, anger.
I’ll say right from the beginning that my fiction FBI is not perfect. It has its problems and corruption, but overall it is staffed by people of integrity who are dedicated to the people they serve. The real FBI has, to me, existed in a similar way – imperfect, but with genuine intent to serve well.
The building campaign over the past year or more to discredit the real FBI has interested, and then alarmed me. The questioning of investigations, sackings, negative comments, and blatant attempts to discredit the FBI has tainted my fictional organisation. The two no longer run side by side in their real/fictional states in harmony. One still is as I make it, the other is under attack. It’s a hard thing to reconcile.
The problem comes from my genuine attachment to the real FBI. When I wrote Roses I spent a lot of time researching the FBI from its structure, its mission, they way it operates, the roles within it, processes – you name it, I read about it. And I still do. Each time I write a White Rose book I revisit and learn new things about the FBI. I’m fond of them, I have a connection with them. I imagine most of you are well aware of this. My trip to the US last October had seeing the FBI headquarters as the highlight.
It’s was tough reading about the Nunes memo, and the vitriol of many subsequent comments directed at the FBI, really stung. And then I read the responses from some current and past FBI personnel, and was comforted. The dignity and determination to keep the work of the real FBI going, regardless of attack, confirmed my faith in them as an organisation. Still not perfect, but trying hard. The article I quote below resonated with me as I felt the actions of Josh Campbell was something one of my characters would do. At the very least it echoes their sentiments.
And it reconciled my two FBIs once more.
Excerpt from ‘Why I Am Leaving the FBI’, by Josh Campbell, 2/2/2018, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/opinion/leaving-the-fbi.html
“After more than a decade of service, which included investigating terrorism, working to rescue kidnapping victims overseas and being special assistant to the director, I am reluctantly turning in my badge and leaving an organization I love. Why? So I can join the growing chorus of people who believe that the relentless attacks on the bureau undermine not just America’s premier law enforcement agency but also the nation’s security. My resignation is painful, but the alternative of remaining quiet while the bureau is tarnished for political gain is impossible.
A small number of my current and retired colleagues have said that we should simply keep our heads down until the storm passes. I say this with the greatest respect: They are wrong. If those who know the agency best remain silent, it will be defined by those with partisan agendas.”
I don’t know what the future holds in regards to the real FBI. I imagine there will be more times when reality impacts on fiction, but I will continue to have faith and find ways to find peace with my two FBIs.
I have a lot of great resources I dip into when I’m writing, and I received another one for Christmas. It sits on my desk at my day job and feeds me information on a daily basis. Yes, you picked it, it’s a calendar.
The calendar is called ‘Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operatives Guide to Surviving Any Dangerous Situation and Being Prepared For Any Disaster 2018 Calendar’. Quite a mouthful, and quite a calendar!
Let me give you an example. Today’s page of the calendar talks about magnetic navigation and how to make a compass. Later in the week there’s information about crossing an enemies border. Even if I can’t use all the information in my writing, its entertainment value is huge!
Here’s a selection of the lessons I have coming my way this year:
Plenty of story inspiration in this lot…
And yes, I’m keeping the good ones for future reference.
Just a gentle reminder – Facebook’s algorithm is changing and you may find my posts disappear from your feed. If you want to make sure you catch all the news, plus be in the running for competitions, get free stuff, and more, give my monthly newsletter, Writing Roundup, a go. Interested? You can sign up here.
As is customary at this time of year, I’ve spent some hours over the past week thinking back over the year that’s almost finished.
And it’s been quite a year.
The highlight was, of course, the dream trip to the USA to visit the settings for my books. It’s been two months since I returned and I still think about it every day. And yes, I want to go back.
I’ve published another two books, Secrets Within and Bombshell, written three books, several short stories, over 60 blog posts, plus other bits of writing (my recent ‘random writing’ equalled one third of a novel). Not a bad effort.
Then there’s the thirty-seven books I’ve read—there’s been one more added to the list since my blog post last week. I also taught myself how to use InDesign (to a degree) and learned more special effects on Photoshop (which included a bit of frustration and the occasional swear word).
I learned how to deal with my personal physical limitations when it comes to actual writing, aka not pushing the dodgy hand so far that it spasms and hurts.
And I’ve had several more story ideas. Still no writer’s block!
What’s on the cards for 2018?
I will publish at least one book, hopefully two. One of the books is the third and final book for the New London books, and I’ll be celebrating that milestone with a launch party/celebration with family and friends. I hope you’ll think about coming along, but more about that later in the year!
My newsletter – Writing Roundup. The first edition of Writing Roundup is currently in the final stages of preparation for launch on this coming Sunday. I’ll be focusing a fair amount of effort on it each month as it will be my main way of giving back to my supporters.
I will write at least two new books. Depends on the hand.
I also want to do some professional development, particularly relating to book cover design. I have a course in mind and it should be fun to play around with techniques and ideas.
I think that’s enough goals to start with. No doubt the year ahead will throw up its own challenges and I’ll deal with those as they arise.
I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and 2018 is kind to you!
I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again—I see ideas and inspiration everywhere.
Take the past week or two, for instance. I’m trying to get things together so I can launch another book (announcement coming soon) and it’s not going my way.
First, I uploaded some files, ordered a hard copy proof, and when it arrived said “Well, that’s not going to work”. Tweaking and uploading of new files happened, and then the electronic proof had the page numbers off line. “Hmm,” says I. “That won’t work either.” More tweaking, another upload, and lo and behold—the page numbers hadn’t moved! Checked my file, checked the proof. Then followed a politely worded email along the lines of “Can you check that you used the latest file?”
Response arrived along the lines of “I’ve moved it to review and we’ll check the correct file is being used. Come back in 24-48hrs.”
Sound reasonable? I guess so. Or not. I’ve had reviews completed in two hours, but it’s a busy time of year. And I have a date looming…and what if there’s a bigger issue that will take longer to fix?
Then my writer’s brain kicked in.
Imagine a writer who has worked long and hard on their book only to be frustrated by delays. They take matters into their own hands…. Okay, not me. Seriously, I won’t be doing more than waiting and checking my email.
But I bet I could make it work.
Make a note of that...
This short talk is incredibly powerful.
Ric Elias was on Flight 1549 when it landed on the Hudson River, and this is what he learned.
What would you change?
I know I’ve talked about writing with passion on previous occasions, but I want to revisit it this week.
There’s been a recurring theme with my Facebook writing communities these past few days, and in a few other articles I’ve read—a writer needs to write with passion.
Conventional writing advice says to write what you know. I don’t always agree with that, and I’ve said so, but I’ve realised I do follow it because what I know is my passion for certain things, places, and people. When you’re passionate about something you tend to want to know more about it and you learn all you can. It doesn’t mean you know everything or always have, it means you feel it.
And what better to focus my writing on than something I feel passionate about?
I’ve always known that I write about law enforcement and the military because of my past life in the Army Reserve and Air Force. My recent visits to the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery reinforced that. Dramatically. I felt passionate about both places. It spoke to something deep inside that I hadn’t realised still existed. It reminded me of the community, the family of the defence force that bound me to my fellow service personnel. Nostalgia? Possibly. Whatever it was, I felt it.
I’ve started what I currently refer to a random writing—writing with no real purpose other than to let out the story growing in my mind. I have no intention of publishing it or letting anyone else read it. The story is of course, based around what I feel passionate about, and that’s what I know. I feel this story, and with that comes freedom and inspiration. I loving it, and who knows what come from the release of my creative juices!
I never liked the rule, write what you know, because to me writing rules restrict my writing. It’s not turned out that way. My stories have all been about what I know, and they've all come from my imagination and my emotions. Maybe I’m not the rule breaker I thought I was!
What's it about?
My thoughts on writing, the research I do, and what interests and inspires me as a writer.
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