I’ve just spent the last twenty minutes trying to come up with a blog post that people might find interesting, that won’t get me into trouble or trolled, or isn’t about my dog’s gastrointestinal reactions to the new dog biscuits we’re giving her (it can get quite ‘atmospheric’ in my study at the moment). I could write about my upcoming new book, but I want to save that for the next post. So, here’s a summary of the other things that have been going on at my writing desk lately.
I’ve completed three courses with the Australian Writers Centre: Copywriting, Content Writing, and Freelance Writing. I’m not quite sure where these might take my writing, but at the very least I’m hoping to get some more guest blog post gigs. I’ll let you know how that goes.
I’ve recently returned to my old website on Weebly. I’d moved to Wix and gone for a darker look, but the cost of renewing was more than I was willing to pay. Weebly had a good deal, and my website has had a revamp and is up and running. The bonus to returning is that my old blog is still there, so I get all of that back again! I did think about going to WordPress, but every time I’ve tried WordPress in the past it’s made me cry with frustration. Weebly is better. Weebly doesn’t make me cry!
I’ve been starting to gather more information about the FBI in preparation for re-writing the book I wrote last year. I don’t want to say too much, but it’s a new series I’m planning and I’m pretty excited. I’d love to go on a rant about the accusations being flung the FBI’s way right now, but I’m going to button my lip. I’ll let my stories do the talking.
That’s about it for now. Don’t forget—if you’d like to pre-order a copy of Focus, let me know! You can find out more about it HERE.
I started this year with a promise to myself to slow down. It was going to be a hard start to the year on my day job front (I wasn’t wrong there!) and I had to look after myself. So I let the blog go to nothing much, and late yesterday I realised that I have let all of my social media fun go as well. I don’t know if it was because of being busy in other areas, or whether it was plain forgetfulness, but I woke this morning feeling as though I haven’t written much for a long time. Sure, I’ve been editing, but that never stopped me writing other stuff before.
I never stopped before because for me, writing is soul food. It allows me to escape inside my head and let the inner me out. I’m always happier when I’m writing. So why have I stopped? Well, there’s the work thing, though that is settling down, and I wanted to get my next book ready for publication. Okay. Hmm even so, there was time for writing, but nothing happening… In my mind I keep returning to my blog. There are lots of reasons why I stopped putting up regular posts, but the expectation I put on myself to blog each week or fortnight kept me writing. And it wasn’t only blog posts. I wrote micro fiction and short stories, too. Maybe I’m not suited to the drifting, taking it easy on myself life I’ve allowed to develop. I think I need structure to thrive.
One thing I love about my time in the RAAF is the structure and lack of drifting. I like routine, and I like rules and boundaries. It gives me freedom. I know that can sound kinda weird, but it’s the truth. When I know where I stand, I can roam freely within that structure—freedom with support and a strong base. And I believe that’s where my writing wheels have fallen off—lack of routine, and no deadlines.
That routine and deadline thing is now back in effect (gulp). I have to push myself to get back in the habit of writing. It may be hard to do, but if I stick to my routine things will get easier. I have some ideas already of topics: the FBI, crime, forensics—just the usual stuff that grabs my interest and relates to my writing in some way. They may not interest everyone, but they interest me. And if nothing grabs my interest that week, then I’ll share news from the writing side of my life.
Okay, now the boring stuff. I will link each blog post to Facebook and Twitter and I will put up something on Instagram to remind you (though no link—you’ll need to navigate to my blog on your own due to how Instagram works). You can also subscribe to my blog and get each post delivered to your Inbox. If you choose this option, you will only get blog posts and nothing else, and there will be an unsubscribe link on every email. If you’d like to subscribe, use this link to do so.
One other thing—if you have a question or want to suggest a blog topic, contact me and let me know! I’d be more than happy to write about what interests you.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. I appreciate the support!
Over the weekend I attended an online writing conference, one of those that manifests as a series of posts or videos you can access at will. I dropped in on a few presentations, but there was one that gave me an epiphany of giant proportions. To explain I’ll need to take you back a bit…
First, a couple of definitions, in case you don’t know what these two terms mean.
Pantser: a writer who writes without a plan or plot outline, i.e. writing by the seat of their pants
Plotter: a writer who plots out the story before they start.
When I wrote Roses, I had no intention of letting anyone read it, let alone publishing it. I wrote it with joyous abandon, doing a chapter here, and then leaping forward in time and writing another chapter, and finally cobbling it all together into one story. There was no plot outline, no plan of where it would go, it just went.
Next up was Retribution. I finished Roses and almost immediately began writing the next book. Again, I started with no plot outline of idea of where it would go. I reached about the one third point and came up against a wall. I had no idea of where the story was going or what would happen next. So, I stopped pantsing and drafted a plot line for the rest of the book.
The next book was Seeing Red. This was another one like Roses in that I’d had the story developing in my head for a while, so I started writing with confidence. Then the wall again, followed by a plot outline.
And so it went for all books I’ve written since. Last year when I was writing I really struggled to get the creative flow happening and I vowed that in future I would spend time plotting an outline so that I would have something to refer to when writing. I wouldn’t get stuck any more. It seems logical and would allow me to let the creativity flow.
Then came yesterday’s session with Dean Wesley Smith. His presentation was called ‘Trusting the Creative Process: How to Write a Novel Without an Outline’. I was going to follow it up with another about creating an outline before you start, giving me both sides of the argument of Pantser vs Plotter. I really believed that plotting was the way for me to go, but I wanted to hear what Dean had to say. Also, Dean is the husband of another writer I follow, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who gives out great solid advice, so I knew Dean would be worth listening to.
Well. It was as though he’d been watching my writing process. He talked about how he starts without a firm idea and lets his creativity take over. He talked about hitting the ‘I don’t know what happens next’ wall and how he deals with it. And he said he writes like he is reading the book himself – he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next, and that it’s exciting to write that way. He believes that writers who prefer the pantsing style often hit the wall and give up without allowing their creativity time to come up with the next idea, or next sentence, out of fear. That panic that hits when you get stuck. His advice? Write one sentence. Then write another sentence. And your creativity will take it from there.
I listened to him at it felt like a huge load had been lifted. I like to be organised, but I’ve always found the pantsing style more exhilarating when writing. Writing seems to be the antithesis of the other aspects of my life. I like rules, schedules, and planning—except when I write. I think it’s healthy for me to be able to let go of the need to control things. It feels weird, but when writing, it feels right. It feels joyous. And now I use Scrivener for writing, I can be organised in terms of research, characters, and more – the best of both worlds.
Where to from here? I had already decided I wanted to rewrite large chunks of the book I wrote last year, changing the plot a little and the female protagonist a lot. In the spirit of pantsing, I’ve now archived the book in its entirety and I’m going to rewrite all of it. Okay, it won’t be true pantsing as I do know the basic plotline, but I guess that is now open to change as well.
No fear. Just write.
The Australian International Airshow has been run at Avalon over the past week, and finishes today. It is the largest airshow of its kind in the southern hemisphere and features not only displays and aerial shows for the public, but it is a huge trade and military exposition as well.
And a trip down memory lane.
I’ve wanted to go to the Airshow for years. From the moment we walked in I was hit with nostalgia. First up was the Air Force tent full of giveaways (seriously, I don’t know why I picked up the cheap pencils with RAAF rondel erases, but I have five). Then there was the RAAF dog handler’s tent, complete with 8-month-old Belgian Shepherd Malinois puppies, and aircraft, aircraft, aircraft – from tiny two seat trainers, through the new F-35 Lightening fighter jet, up to a Globemaster and B-52 bomber. There were also helicopters of all kinds, luxury jets, vintage planes, a Qantas 747, and a used-planes for sale section (I kid you not).
The aerial displays were good, on the whole. The NZ air force put on an incredible show with their Hercules, and to see the roulettes performing one of their last shows in the current P-9 aircraft, accompanied by four of their new planes, the P-21, was amazing. There were some large gaps (up to an hour) between performers, and that, coupled with the extreme heat (around 40 degrees and little shade) had us leaving a little earlier than we intended.
And the memories. My time in the Army Reserve and Air Force left me with some great memories, and though it’s been many years since I left it will always be an important part of my life, and of me. When you’ve been part of something special, it never leaves you. It influences my attitude to many things and plays a large role in my writing. The US military and law enforcement provide the background for my books, which flows onto many of my short stories, and will continue to do so.
Did I get any ideas for future stories at the airshow? What do you think?
Of course I did, but you’ll have to wait to find out what they were!
This week I had a good idea, a dilemma, and a rethink.
First the good idea. The package I have for my website comes with the ability to set up an online store. There are a few issues with this—I can’t have postage or tax calculated during the order process as my plan doesn’t reach that far. I could upgrade—for about US$300, but I can’t quite come at that. I’m not that keen to have a fully functioning store. I could set my prices to include postage and only sell to Aussies, but what if someone wants to purchase more than one book? The postage would be cheaper for that, but there’s no ability to deal with it. Good idea, but what to do with it?
(Stick with me, there is a point to all of this)
Then there was the dilemma of web hosting and emails. I currently use a different company to host my website (HostGo) than the one I use to create it (Weebly). I could change the hosting over, but then I would have to move my emails over and to be honest, there were a few people on the community board who were having issues with the email package offered. I imagine there are many, many more who aren’t, but I’m wary of problems. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! So why did I want to move the hosting over? Because of SSL, the security side of my website. I needed it enabled (and thought it was, but no) and switching the hosting over would make that an easy process. It’s a long story and I won’t bore you.
Time to rethink. I had a look at my current orders page and it seems to offer and say all I need it to. I don’t get a lot of my sales via my webpage, so why change it? I was, and still am, considering offering other things such as coffee mugs and library/tote bags. Perhaps I will still use the store that’s in my package. All of this can be thought over and decided later.
The SSL can’t wait though.
One of the great things about Weebly are the instructions they have available. There was an option to get your hosting people to change some settings and enable the SSL. I thought I’d done that—I’m not that tech savvy, so maybe it was something else I did. So, I decided to work it out myself. The instructions were clear about what I needed to do, so I took a deep breath, logged into my control panel, and gave it a go. I had to change the DNS settings (actually, I had to find them first!) and add a couple of A records (no, I don’t know what that all means) and then wait up to 48 hours to see if it worked.
My point in all of this? I had to go way out of my comfort zone and have faith in myself to do something to resolve an issue. I didn’t rely on anyone else, I didn’t ask my webhosting company (or my tech savvy son) for help. I read the instructions and nutted it out. And was successful.
And all it took was belief and a bit of confidence.
Is there something you want to do, or need to do, but haven’t because you’re lacking faith in your abilities? Maybe you should give it a go. Believe in yourself!
Forget Pride and Prejudice, forget Emma, Persuasion is hands-down my favourite Jane Austen book.
I first came across the story when I found a copy of the 1995 movie. The longing and heartache grabbed hold of me and I’ve loved the story ever since. It is truly a wonderful, romantic story of two people who were once secretly engaged, but one (Anne) being persuaded to give up her love (Captain Wentworth) by a close friend. When the Captain’s family become tenants at Anne’s family home, eight years after the break-up, the two meet again. As the story unfolds they are thrown together more and more, but the path to reconciliation seems too difficult, with too many obstacles. Finally, Captain Wentworth writes Anne the most romantic letter I’ve ever come across.
“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half-agony, half-hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever…”
Sigh. It gets me every time.
Persuasion is on my writing challenge as the book I have lied about reading. I’ve read chunks of it before, but never from start to finish. It did not disappoint. If you love Regency romance, or just romance, I recommend this book to you. If you’ve never read Austen before, this book is a good place to start as it is one of the shorter Austen stories.
Do you ever want to say ‘to heck with it’ and just walk away from things? Life can be hard and discouraging. You know what you want, but there’s that wall in the way. The end goal is there, but you can’t work out how to get around/through/past the obstacles in the way? You can’t even really tell what the obstacles are at times. There’s a vague name that groups a whole lot of stuff together and you can’t sort it out to even begin to find a solution. Or someone offers advice that you know you can’t take.
I’ve been sitting at my desk in the study, browsing through Pinterest, looking for an answer to a question I can’t think of.
Yep, I’m trying to write. I can feel the urge to write—sort of—and I know what I can write, but it’s just not coming. Okay, let’s be honest. I could make myself write. I’ve done it before, more times than I can remember. Tonight? I opened the file, re-read the last few paragraphs, thought about what could happen next, and then stared at the screen for ten minutes before shutting it down and opening Pinterest.
I want to write, but not at the moment. I could make myself…and round I go again!
My characters are waiting for me to get on with it and tell their story. The characters in the next book are starting to put ideas in my head. And yet here I am writing about not writing, instead of writing. I procrastinate, thinking about how easy it would be to churn out the books if I was a full-time writer. Wondering how I could possibly find a way to do that. Ponder other income sources that would enable me to quit full-time work and become a writer with a side-business. Not that I would do that, because I have too many responsibilities and, quite frankly, the thought of giving up my nice, secure job terrifies me.
Back to square one. And I still haven’t added a word to the story I’m working on.
Ever wondered what it can be like to write?
Don’t get me wrong—I love writing. I love the incredible feeling I get from creating. But like everything else, there are ups and downs. That’s reality. And there’s always tomorrow. I will, in the end, get myself going. I always do. In the meantime, I will to ignore the frustration and cut myself a little more slack.
Time to check out YouTube.
Post script: Since writing this post there has been progress on the story. Not a whole lot, but it's happening.
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