ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

JOIN YOLANDA RENEE ON HER BLOG TOUR!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Ann Carbine Best's Memoir - In the Mirror about to be released!!

Many of you will know Ann from her blog, The Long Journey Home. You may have enjoyed her guest post for my recent Publication Party series. Ann still hadn't completed her publication journey at that point, so I've asked her to do a repeat performance. (I had to go back to my long posts for today. I hope you'll bear with us!)

Firstly, a little about Ann for those who do not know her, yet:

Born in 1940, I was privileged to live through what I call the great years of magazines that published a lot of fiction. The big publishers were in New York (some still are), and I dreamed of being an editor in the Big Apple and eventually a published writer. I was a dreamer and a romantic. Now at age seventy (seventy-one in May) I’m a realist. But I never relinquished, “The Dream.” I always wanted to publish a novel as over the years I wrote and published stories and poems, some winning prestigious awards. Yet, I never relinquished The Dream. Now my dream is about to become reality!



Ann's memoir, In the Mirror has received some wonderful advance praise. She already has her Amazon site. You can go there and order Ann's book soon. The release date is April 25, 2011.

Let me share some reviews with you. Read some/all, to get a feel for the quality book Ann has written:

This moving, inspiring, and candid memoir, In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets, is a simply told yet eloquent story of a woman whose mortal journey takes her through a series of life-shattering crises, each of which could break any one of us. An idealist and a dreamer, shaken by something amiss in her marriage, she turns to a brief flirtation with another man but quickly retreats, remaining faithful to her gay husband who is already acting out his choices with others. Then, the marriage ends and the silent heartbreak and ordeals continue as this mother of four struggles to provide for her children; a mother endowed with a "stiff upper lip" and a strong faith in herself and God that give her the ability to endure and prevail. Her mirror of well-intended choices becomes a cautionary tale about how bad choices shatter, crack and distort. . . mirrors and lives. It may not have been the story Ann Best had hoped to write, but it is the actual story of how she coped--and triumphed--on this fallen world we call Earth.

~Richard H. Cracroft, Nan Osmond Grass Professor in English and Emeritus at Brigham Young University; Author/editor of 13 books and over 250 articles on American literature; Chair of BYU's English Department and Dean of the College of Humanities.

How privileged I feel to have been invited along on Ann Best’s trip through her life. She portrays herself, and those who shared her journey, with unflinching honesty. That’s no easy task for the memoirist. Her paucity of description and her generous use of dialogue kept the story moving. Ultimately, I was left awed by the resiliency of this author’s spirit. In the Mirror is a must-read for anyone who thinks they can’t handle what life offers. Eternity is a long, long time. Ann Best has a firm grasp on its tail, and I don’t expect she will ever let go.

~Diane Marcou, Editor; Author, The Smuggler’s Ghost.

The quality that rings true through Ann Best's memoir is its fundamental honesty. Her spare yet gently compelling prose lays bare the thoughts and feelings of a woman left to deal with the aftermath when she discovers that her husband--the father of her children--is gay. By the time we've finished traveling with Ann Best on her personal journey of thirty-odd years, we feel that we've made a new and valued friend.

~Jonathan Langford, Author, No Going Back.

The sequential tragedies in this memoir seem almost impossible for one person to bear. The author encounters more tragedies and carries more burdens on her small body than most of us will ever know in our lifetimes, yet with each blow she finds ways to move forward, often with help from friends, occasionally through miracles. She portrays all of the “characters” so realistically that they are likable even in their weaknesses. The writing is brilliant, the dialogue natural and unforced. She portrays her experiences with such skill that I suspect readers who have never experienced a gay or alcoholic husband or a brain-injured daughter will be able to relate to her as she struggles to provide a stable center for her children in the midst of chaos.

~Colleen K. Whitley, English Professor; Editor, Brigham Young’s Homes; Co-editor, The Silver Queen, Worth Their Salt, Worth Their Salt, Too, and From the Ground Up: The History of Mining in Utah (Utah State University Press).

Welcome Ann! It's great to have you back again.

Ann: I’m excited to be here again! Thanks, Denise, for asking me to come back.So I’m here today to answer some questions that weren’t covered last time. Since I was hosted here on February24th as a guest at Denise’s Publication Party, exciting things have been happening since. I’ve received the cover of my book and the final galleys.

Denise: When I was last speaking to you, you were waiting for your cover. It was quite a long wait. Tell us how you felt when it arrived.

Ann: I knew my publisher, WiDo, was working on a lot of great titles, so I knew it would be awhile before I got the cover. That didn’t make the wait any easier! It was so good when it finally came.

Denise: How do they decide on the design for the cover? These days covers are so important in selling a book and there are some magnificent covers out there.

Ann: Since my book is a memoir, my editor wanted some personal pictures. Fortunately, I had kept some black and whites from my first marriage, which is the center of the book, and was told that since my story and characters are “true,” I’d get to preview the cover. So you can imagine how nervously I was waiting for its arrival. When I saw it, well, wow! It was spooky to see my family the way we were about thirty-five years ago staring out at me!

Denise: Were you happy with the end result?

Ann: Yes, I was pleased with the cover. I think the designer did a great job. I’m looking at the photographs and thinking: Isn’t life strange. On my wedding night I had no idea what was coming: divorce, a second troubled marriage, a catastrophic accident.

Denise: That has been a lot to come through. Where did your writing figure amongst all the pain and turmoil?

Ann: There was always my dream. I started writing in elementary school, and always wanted to publish a book. I always worked towards that. I never lost sight of my dream. That has been a long journey, too!

Denise: How do you fit all this in your life while being a caregiver to Jen and now you're making plans to travel to  help another daughter who’s having neck surgery?

Ann: Like many people I’ve got a lot going on right now. Besides my care-giving duties as Jen’s mother (most of my blogger friends know Jen,) my younger brother recently died. My only brother. My only and younger sister died 15 months ago. They abandoned me! He lived in Utah, I’m in Virginia, so I’ve been calling a lot of friends and relatives out west, trying to help my brother’s three children as they’ve been dealing with all of this. He was divorced, but I’m close to his ex-wife, too. I can tell you that he’s also the star of my memoir in progress: how I rescued him from the homeless shelter…


But, meanwhile, I’ve got to get my current memoir finished.


Denise: Oh, your next memoir sounds intriguing. So now you have the galleys of your current memoir. It must have been high excitement when they arrived. How does it feel to be at this point? Perhaps there’re some newbies who’re not sure what you even mean by galleys. What are galley proofs, and at what stage do you get them? How long is the process expected to take?

Ann: The galley is the last stage in the process. A galley: In the “old” days it was large sheets of paper. Today, it’s a digital printout that you read on the computer screen. I’m reading 14-point Times New Roman. The large font and the wide spread tremendously help me catch those “little” details that I missed in earlier drafts. This is the stage where you look for punctuation errors and those few remaining rough sentences. I think this is the most fun part of the process.

Denise: Fun, Ann? I don’t think I’ve ever heard an author describe reading the galleys as fun.

Ann: Well, I’m having fun! I’m about to finish a second read-through of the book’s galleys, and that’s it. Maybe that’s part of the fun. Knowing I’m NEARLY THERE!! I’ve been working on them intensively for two full days. This is at the end of almost a year of editing five complete drafts. I’ve read about how the late Maxwell Perkins, famous editor who worked with Thomas Wolfe and others, went through the massive drafts Wolfe put out. Editing can be a very long process! Until some excellent “second eyes” started working with me on my early drafts, my book was far from a finished and publishable product.
Denise: So Ann, when will you finish this and hand over your baby?

Ann: Today (Tuesday, March 29th) it’ll be done! I’ll email the changes to my editor. (I love all this awesome technology.) (Denise butts in - UPDATE! Ann just emailed to say she's finished the galleys and has sent them off into the ether er, to the editor!) Barring publishing problems (that can occur), the release date for In the Mirror is April 25th. Wow! Gives me the shivers. I can’t believe this is almost a done deal. Suddenly, it all seems to be going so fast--like my life.

Denise: Ann you make no secret of your age – nearly 71. How did you get the energy to go through this grueling process? Other people might be thinking about chilling out and not doing much of anything.

Ann: I’m finding that the older you get, time flies on swift wings. But I’m enjoying the ride, enjoying the journey. The journey is what this is all about. I’m looking forward to my next memoir, and my next…

And so are we, Ann. Thank you for sharing with us today and every best wish for great success with In the Mirror.






Monday, 28 March 2011

Birthday Twittering - are you Twittering yet?



Do you know how old Twitter is? Well you may or may not care, but I was surprised to read that Twitter turned 5 last Monday. Why it doesn't seem to be that old is because Twitter has had a growth spurt in the last 12 months with many people only just opening Twitter accounts recently. I've had an account for ages, but took ages to recognise its worth. I use it more and more each day. It works great with other social networking sites. For example, the A - Z challenge people have been twittering away on #atozchallenge for ages. Want news of the challenge? Go there.I think #hashtags are one of the best things about Twitter.

Here are some Twitter milestones:

  • it took 18 months for Twitter to go from its first tweet (characteristically short, with poor spelling and no punctuation: "just setting up my twttr" sent by co-founder Jack Dorsey,) to get to 500,000 users.
  • today, 500,000 new accounts are registered daily
  • it took over 3 years to get to the billionth tweet, now a billion tweets are sent every eight days
Twitter has caused individuals to lose their jobs because of tweets deemed controversial by their employers.

It has added words and phrases to our language - "fail whale" when Twitter crashes (no wonder with that many messages happening!), plus "to follow", "to unfollow", "to tweet", "to retweet", and of course to be a bit of a "Twit," but I've been using that one forever.

The New York Times has been trying to shut down a registered user of Twitter. Why? After the NYTimes announced the details of its paywall, letting readers know how much they'd pay to read articles online, holes were punched in the wall by a new Twitter account. @FreeNYTimes vowed to tweet every link to every story in the paper for free. Trouble is, if the NYTimes is successful in shutting down "@Free..." new accounts are sure to open hourly which is a terrible shame. The newspaper must need the money honey.



Friday, 25 March 2011

Electronic Publishing Bingo - would Jeffrey Archer play?


See, I'm practising doing shorter posts for A - Z Challenge, so I thought after hearing Jeffrey Archer talk about e-Publishing this morning I'd trot this out. I think it's hilarious, tongue-in-cheek and lots of fun with a grain or two of truth. Found it at  John Scalzi's Whatever.

One of the commenters could place more in the squares. David Numez added:

“Focus on building a Platform.” (whatever that means)
“Apps are more [insert ANY adjective here] than ePub”
“Apple [will/won't] hold onto their lead for long! Better [ignore/be ready for] Android Tablets”
“Tech companies don’t get the publishing industry.” and “The publishing industry doesn’t get tech.”
“The only budgets for book apps is in the marketing department”
“[insert insulting development budget] should be more than enough to develop our [insert bloated book app here]”
“Offshore development, keep ‘creative’ local” (because, you know, developers aren’t ‘creative’)

These guys aren't dissing e-publishing, just saying that it's not all wine and roses. I totally get the humour. Do you? What do you think?

Oh BTW, Jeffrey Archer (Brit who has sold over a squillion books and just flew in and out of Oz and NZ to promote his new book Only Time Will Tell), says his publisher told him that 7% of his sales were digital. His publisher also said in a few years time to expect his digital sales to be 50%. We knew that already, didn't we? Mwhmwhmwhaaa!



Thursday, 24 March 2011

A - Z Blogging Challenge - Handy hints for those of us who "get by with a little help from our friends..,"



This is not called a Challenge for nothing. It's going to be quite an ask to post every day except Sunday, so we do need 'a little help from our friends...' April 1 (they don't call it April Fools Day for nothing!) is nearly upon us - over 500 mad bloggers who will be posting feverishly daily! (Is that two adverbs?  Swoon!)

I saw a wonderful post at The Words Crafter recently and I so wished I'd written it to share with my followers. Next best thing, I asked the Crafter if I could use it and being 'Her Loveliness,' she said (double quotes to keep N R Williams happy) "go for it you lazy laid-back good-for-nothing Australian, help yourself." I was quite shocked as being a teacher she should understand that we teachers don't believe in re-inventing the wheel, lol, so I've ignored her harsh judgemental culturally-specific words and used some of her Crafty Crafter's post with a little input of my own just to keep from fully plagarising. (Ooh, I hope you don't believe any of my Tall Story - some days I'm full of Irish blarney!)

Over to The Words Crafter (if she still speaks after the above):

Several bloggers have posted tips on how to make the A to Z challenge more efficient.
Some of those tips are: 
  • disable word verification
  • use a pop up window for comments
  • keep posts short
  • preschedule posts as much as possible
  • begin going through the list of participants now to see how many bloggers you can realistically visit in one day
And I'm sure there are many, many more that I've missed.

Ahem, over to L'Aussie:

WORD VERIFICATION: Myself, I turned off word verification a long time ago. It slows down comments in a seriously bad way. I've never had spam. Plenty of us don't use it. It makes it so much quicker to get in and out.
POP UP COMMENT BOX: If at all possible change to pop up rather than have comments after your post. Once again, it allows several pop up boxes to be opened at once. I find myself zipping from link to link. Wonderful. Now scrolling down to comment No 67, then finding your way home I hate.
SHORT POSTS: Well I'm sorry, I find this hard, but for the challenge I'm aiming to slash my words to little chunks. My posts are on my travel blog as indicated in my right sidebar so each will be on a country or travel-related. I hope to see you there, well, on my blog and in my travels.
PRE-SCHEDULED POSTS: This is a great idea. I've done my first week of posts and some (like Alex J Cavanaugh) say they've done them all! Awesome! Bit showoffy.
VISITING OTHER BLOGS: I'll be zipping between A - Z posts every morning for an hour or so. I'll be bookmarking some and randomly hit others. There is a list available on the blogs of judges such as Alex J Cavanaugh, Arlee Bird, Jeffrey Beesler et al. I have a time-zone advantage or disadvantage. When does April 1 start? In USA? UK? Australia? NZ?
Sounds like a lot of work, or is it fun?

Back to The Words Crafter:

A couple things The Words Crafter/asked of her followers. I'm posting it in full. Some of it is not relevant to me but it may help you.
Let me know if my page is easier to comment on/load. Really! (I echo this too! Really!) 
  1. Go to settings and enable mobile viewing. I can visit at least 3 or 4 blogs on my Blackberry during my lunch break (it takes a bit to load, my phone is old). However, some blogs I try to visit won't let me comment....I'm not sure why.....? If you know the answer to this, please let me know.
  2. You may also want to see who you're allowing to comment. Mine is Registered Users. If there is a better solution, let me know. Do any of you allow anonymous users to comment?
  3. If you would like to use your cell phone and have a limited plan, such as 2 G's per month or so, William turned me on to this: www.google.com/gwt/n. This will load a blog (or any website)....without the pictures! All you have to do is put in the address you wish to visit. Just be sure to click Hide Images. This should greatly cut down on your monthly allowance usage while also allowing you to visit a few blogs on your phone. Having no pictures to load greatly speeds up the loading process, too.
  4. If you do decide to use your phone and for some reason, you aren't allowed to comment, don't forget email. If the link is available, use it to leave your response/comment. ****Bloggers: Make sure your email address is available!!!****
Well, there you have it. A couple simple suggestions and a couple questions. Let me know if this works for you, feedback is always welcome here!

Now, I'm off to schedule a few more posts and this evening, I want to begin going through that giant list :)





Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Second Crusader Challenge - Flash Fiction FREEDOM RIDERS

Thanks to Rach Writes we have a second crusader challenge, ending March 25. This time we have to write a flash fiction piece of 100 words starting with the words - "The goldfish bowl teetered...". Rach also suggests that we write in the genre we used when we signed up as a crusader. I signed up in two groups - Romantic Suspense and Romance. No romance at the beginning, but who knows where this story might end:

FREEDOM RIDERS


The goldfish bowl teetered on the edge of the display table. Rosie spun around to see a flood of water splattering onto the tiled floor. She tried to grab the lip of the bowl, but too late.  The whole shebang went crashing – the greenery, the little pebbles, the pump and the surprised-looking goldie.

“What the hell have you done now, loser?”
Rosie hung her head. The goldfish was gasping for air, riding the low tide, swimming to the front door and freedom.

Why not?
“Loser!”
No, I’m a winner, she chuckled to herself as she slammed the door behind her.

THE END

After you leave a comment, please go here to read some more.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Show me the voice blogfest. Thanks for the critiques. Here's my new improved model...


I thought I'd post my edited version after so many lovely followers helped me with suggestions on how to improve my novel beginning. The cliches were easy to fix, the POV is always a problem but I'm working on it and I appreciated your suggestions on how to improve overall. Talli made me work the hardest, saying she'd like to see some action - too static as it was. I've listened and thought of ways to amp it up. I hope you like this version better...although I'm still open to suggestions...


RUBY


The moment Ruby stepped outside the observation lounge she saw him.

He leaned against the deck rail, mesmerized by the humpbacks. Ruby thought the sight of the glorious creatures in the final throes of breaching in the Pacific waters was enough to take her breath away, even if the sight of the captain in his pristine whites hadn’t already achieved that.

He turned towards her and she was lost, lost in eyes that had the ocean in their depths. In the gathering dusk, his long lashes were the colour of sand, no doubt bleached by days at sea. Curls of the same colour peeked from under his hat.  

A wave slapped against the boat, spraying them in warm froth. Ruby grabbed for the bar.

"Are you okay?" he asked, reaching out his hand.

"I’m fine," Ruby laughed, surprised at the small book in his hand, a finger holding the place.

"What a glorious day." He stepped closer, slipping the book into his pocket.

"Oui, ah, yes, it is very beautiful."

She noticed a flicker in his eyes.

"Are you enjoying your visit?"

"I’m not just visiting," Ruby tried to talk like an Aussie, afraid her French accent had turned him off. "I have come here to live. At Noosa."

 "Noosa, ah...’"

 "You like Noosa?"

"I’ve travelled the world and I always come back."

"Je m’apelle Ruby." She held out her hand.


He lifted her tiny hand to his lips. "Is this a French custom?"

"Non, but I like it."
***
Ooh la la. There you have it. Sizzle, sizzle...So why did she speak French when she introduced herself? She was so swept off her feet she forgot...



Monday, 21 March 2011

Show Me The Voice Blogfest Contest - the first 250 words of my mss...


Hi there! I'm fresh from a weekend up at the Sunshine Coast and see I'm not too late to help Brenda Drake celebrate her birthday. She is hosting the Show Me The Voice Blogfest Contest. The deal is you have to post the first 250 words of a completed mss. Your followers are to critique it, then you polish it some more and email it to Brenda. It is then judged by agent Natalie Fisher from  Adventures in Agentland. Natalie is all about the voice. When critiquing we are to look for voice and keep our comments nice and helpful, not snarky.

I'd love it if you would comment on my entry and if you would give me some helpful hints to improve it...thanks!

Name: Denise Covey
Title:   Ruby
Genre: Sweet Romance

RUBY

The moment Ruby laid eyes on him she was smitten.

He stood motionless at the rail on the deck of the slick Eco-Pacific, mesmerized by the humpbacks’ antics. Following his gaze, Ruby thought the sight of the glorious creatures in the final throes of breaching in the Pacific waters was enough to take her breath away, even if the sight of the captain in his pristine whites hadn’t already achieved that.

He turned towards her, leaning against the rail. She was lost, lost in eyes as blue as the ocean. In the gathering dusk she could see he had long lashes the colour of sand, no doubt bleached by days at sea. Curls of the same colour peeked from under his hat.  

Ruby reached for the support of the deck rail while at the same time edging closer to him.

Slowly he straightened to his full height and looked down at her, a question in his upraised eyebrows. Blue eyes locked with sparkling green.

‘What a glorious day,’ he said as he smiled at her, stepping closer.

Oui, ah, yes, it is very beautiful.’

She saw the flash of disappointment in his eyes. ‘Are you enjoying your visit?’ he asked politely.

She was crushed. He was speaking to her like she was just another tourist.

 ‘I’m not just visiting,’ Ruby said, trying hard to talk like an Aussie. ‘I have come here to live. At Noosa.’

 ‘Noosa, ah, I’ve travelled the world and it still beats most places hands down. Good choice.’

So there you have it. I'd really appreciate your input.



Thursday, 17 March 2011

St Patrick's Day! March 17, Aussie style! A Photo Essay for you...

Don't we just love St Patrick's Day! It is celebrated in most every country of the world because most every country has their share of Irish immigrants. During its history Ireland has had some tragic circumstances, whether war or starvation or crime (often a by product of the previous two causes), which have led to a general diaspora.




A couple of little Irish lads stepping out

Australia has her fair share of the wonderful Irish. As some of you may know, tra la, we were first populated by convicts transported from the shores of England when their waters overflowed with convict hulks (no wonder, if they imprisoned people for stealing a loaf of bread!) Anyway, Australia was populated by the English and those escaping England's shores for whatever reason.


Came across this Colonial family. Been here since 1860. Women in their crinolines and a couple of Irish 2nd offender convicts. They arrived here (at Redcliffe) in the 1820s. The Government was looking for a second settlement after Botany Bay (Sydney) got a bit overloaded 'cause they just kept coming!  This settlement only lasted for 3 and a half years, then it moved to Brisbane Town.

I don't have any convicts in my ancestry. My ancestors are English, German, Scots and IRISH. I usually play up the Irish quarter as I like a bit of blarney. So my Irish ancestors are from County Armagh, Enniskillen way.

So now that you know I have a legit reason for going Irish on you, I'm proud to post some great pics I snapped on the St Patrick's Day Parade last Saturday 12th (well, you know the Irish...you can't exactly parade down the city streets on Thursday at peak hour!)



The Irish kids have gone all out. Great costumes guys!


These cheeky Colleens getting ready to put on their stilts.


Did you know we have Mounted Police in Australia? Pretty useful in controlling these boisterous Irish when they're celebrating! In case you're wondering at these 'old' buildings. The parade assembled in the historic end of town, mid city. All of the buildings are Victorian. That's the old Treasury building behind the ponies. It is now the Treasury Casino and I guess a few coppers were won or lost here after the parade.


Colonial mother and child, circa 1860.


This is a Sub Inspector of Police as they appeared in the 1860s. Little wild Irish boy about to catch him unawares.


The best place to watch the parade is of course from the balcony of the Irish Pub in Elizabeth Street.


Here come the little Irish dancers.


The Sub Inspector escorts a Colonial woman and child. Love that stroller!


Little Irish dancers were everywhere strutting their stuff!


Here we have a truckload of Irish singing their drinking songs, heading off for the pub.


Queen Victoria is not amused!

I've been up at the Queen Street Mall most of the day listening to a fabulous local Irish band, Murphy's Pigs, rockin' the place. Wow! So that got me to thinking, fancy posting about St Pat's Day with no music!

I'll leave you with my favourite Irish boys, U2, singing The Edge's Van Dieman's Land (Australian's earliest name.)


I hope you enjoyed sharing the Brisbane St Patrick's Day Parade with me.







Sunday, 13 March 2011

Roland D Yeomans - PART 11: THE INFLUENCES THAT SHAPED MY WRITING STYLE - plus a review by Ann Best. BROKEN HEARTS BLOGFEST

Firstly, if you're looking for my Broken Hearts Blogfest entry, go here.
***

Welcome back everyone! I hope you enjoyed the first interview I held with Roland, the author of The Bear with Two Shadows. I'm so pleased to see you all again.

Let's think about this question...what draws us to write? We plug away day after day, devoting a large chunk of our lives to putting words on the page. Why do we do it? What influences do we bring to it? These are the questions I pose to guest blogger and author Roland D Yeomans.

PART 11: THE INFLUENCES THAT SHAPED MY WRITING STYLE

Roland, I know you're a great believer in 'listening to the voices.' What voices are speaking inside your head?

Writing is a solitary sojourn. Most of us will never receive world acclaim ...nor do we expect it. So what then propels us on this journey? Denise, what swept you up when you first started to read for yourself? How often do you find a book which conjures that same spirit within you now?

Hmm...
Not often I'd wager.

I believe we write to create that world which spellbound us into reading in the first place. What voices called to us then? What lessons did they teach us?

Each of us heed different voices. I don't know what voices called to you, but for me the voices were :

Magic,
Horror,
and Otherworld Beauty

These three sirens dominated my solitary reading of choice during my high school years. And their voices can be heard in the background of all that I write today. Like the three fates, they weave the tapestry of my unconscious muse.

What particular books influenced you in your early days?

As a young child, I wandered alone into Edith Hamilton's MYTHOLOGY. In junior high, I joined the League of Five and group reading with BEAU GESTE and DR. FU MANCHU. In high school, I was alone again in my reading, open to any influence that caught my fancy.

The authors of those years were my unknowing mentors in how to write well. And oddly enough it was an artist who led me in the land where they all dwelt : Frank Frazetta. And he painted the first road sign on my path to becoming a writer :

I've heard other writers say that they are hugely influenced by artworks and some (like N. R. Williams) are also artists. I'd like to hear more about Frank Frazetta's influence on your writing.

OTHERWORLD BEAUTY WILL HAUNT YOU, BRINGING YOU BACK TO THE BEGINNING. {AND DON'T FORGET THE EYES.}

EERIE #23 : THE EGYPTIAN PRINCESS

When I spotted the cover to EERIE#23 with Frazetta's "Egyptian Princess" in a used book store, I was spellbound. Yes, she was clothing-challenged. But it was her eyes that ensnared me. And my encounter with her made me quite a few dollars lighter. EERIE #23, even back then when dinosaurs roamed the earth, was a collector's item.

From that moment on, I noticed eyes : weary ones , dull ones, evaluating ones, and those who were black windows into the nothingness that lived in the souls of those who possessed them.

As I began to write, I realized eyes could be the shorthand definition of the characters owning them. I noticed that when the eyes of strangers boldly met mine, it often meant the same thing as when Nixon proclaimed, "I am not a crook." I started counting my silverware.

But back to Frazetta. His art was vibrant, moody, and on-fire all at once. His paperback book covers led me to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and even to H.P. Lovecraft. And those three authors sketched the second sign post.

And that would be?

HISTORY. HISTORY IS NOT WHAT WE THINK - THERE IS MYSTERY AND MAGIC UNDER THE TOMBSTONES.

UNDER THE PYRAMIDS by H.P. Lovecraft (with Harry Houdini)

My hands went into warp speed when I saw the Frazetta cover emblazoned with that title. Frazetta. Harry Houdini. Wow. I didn't know this Lovecraft fellow, but I had to see what kind of supernatural trouble Houdini had gotten into in his Egyptian travels.

And I wasn't disappointed :

The first sentence : "Mystery attracts mystery."

I was hooked.
From Frazetta, Burroughs, Howard, and Lovecraft ... I learned how history can be made alive and alluring ... and supernatural.

I've read sometime on your blog that ROGER ZELAZNY'S LORD OF LIGHT was a great influence:

You're right there. I found it in the used bookstore shelf right next to a Frazetta cover of a Conan novel. This was the book that taught me that prose could be beautiful and evocative. I read the first paragraph :

"His followers called him Mahasamatman, and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam.

He never claimed to be a god. But then, he never claimed not to be a god. Circumstances being what they were, neither admission could be of any benefit. Silence, though, could.
Therefore, there was mystery about him."

{It is no accident that my own hero is called Sam.}

Mystery. Evocative imagery. I was hooked.

I became his student -- through his books, his essays, and his poetry.

Some of his words :

"No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words."


"I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words,


"Occasionally as an author, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don't know which.


You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the firstplace.


Trust your demon."


"I try to sit down at the typewriter four times a day, even if it's only five minutes, and write three sentences. It seems to get the job done. I've written a lot of novels."

You mentioned Ernest Hemingway yesterday Denise. It was Roger Zelazny who led me to this quote by Ernest Hemingway years before it made its way into the latest PREDATOR movie :

"There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter."

Thank you Roland. Awesome writing journey...I assure you the voices I've listened to have nowhere near the resonance of yours.

I posted the synopsis yesterday (see previous post.) Today I'm posting an Amazon review by Ann Best from The Long Journey Home: 

This is a poetic novel, one of the most beautiful stories I have read in a very long time! Such wisdom from the mouth of Hibbs, the Great Bear, a powerful figure, to me, of man on his journey toward Death. Yet along the path, Hibbs voices thoughts that I kept writing in my notebook, thoughts that lift me beyond the darkness and into the Light. At one point I had my own thought: Step into the darkness to see the light.


Hibbs says, "Seeing the light is one thing, while seeing BY the light is something else (emphasis mine)." Might as well enjoy the view "while we walk to death," he says. I enjoy the view as I journey with Hibbs, and such beautiful descriptions as this: "He had been wandering alone to greet the coming twilight, a time when he could enjoy the burst of color from the sun clawing to keep its fiery head above the horizon. The dying sunlight streamed through the hovering branches like glowing arrows, the grass beneath his bare feet was gray, and the spiderwebs gleamed silver. Life pulsed all about him. Spring was coming."

I love the "characters," especially Hibbs the Bear, Surt the fire, Little Brother the Hawk, Leandra the Sidhe, GrandMother the Turquoise Woman. They are as real, even more real, than the two-legged creatures around me. And as in great literature, there is the underlying theme of good versus evil, and light versus darkness (the Darklings). That Hibbs is a healer further endears him to me. For don't we all, in a dangerous world, need to heal and be healed?

In my opinion, this is a five star plus plus book. Roland Yeomans, the author, truly captures its essence in his synopsis. Read the book! You'll be glad you did.

Everyone, I know you'd like to win Roland's book, but Roland is offering it at a discounted price of $1.99 during the blog tour.Grab it now using the link! Roland is offering some AMAZING signed editions to all of you! So don't forget to leave your email in the comments section. JUST LOOK AT THESE BOOKS! DID YOU GET THAT THEY'RE SIGNED!!!! BY THE AUTHORS!!!!! DON'T YOU WANT ONE???

A comment offers one entry per host. Another two entries for linking the book to twitter or Facebook. Make sure to email Roland @ rxena77@yahoo.com And any blogger who posts a legitimate review on Amazon by March 31st will get three entries into the drawing. Believe me you don't want to miss out on any of these amazing signed books. Drawing will be on April 1st.

Please join Roland's tour tomorrow. I believe his next stop is at Jody Henry's  for the next two days - 14th and 15th.





Saturday, 12 March 2011

Roland D Yeomans Blog Tour - PART 1: THE GENESIS OF MY WRITING STYLE

Today I am honoured to host an interview with a blogger who has intrigued me ever since I arrived in the blogoverse. His name is of course Roland D Yeomans, who hails from Lafayette, New Orleans way. He survived Katrina and now he has to survive a blog tour.

Roland is very generous in his blog posts. Any time you can read wonderful prose as he continues the adventures of his characters Sam McCord and Victor Standish et al. But now he has taken the step that so many of us have been waiting for - he has published his first e-book, The Bear With Two Shadows, a Native American Lord of the Rings tale.


PART 1: THE GENESIS OF ROLAND'S WRITING STYLE

Roland, your writing style has always intrigued me. I would describe it as 'lush.' Could you explain where your style comes from? I think it is quite unique.

Denise, you ask if I have any idea why I write as I do. You say it is lush. And I guess it is. But isn't the world around us lush? So textured, so multi-layered. Each strand in the web of life interconnected with the beating heart next to it.

Are you alluding to your Lakota heritage?

Yes, it is the Lakota way of looking at the world. My blood is only part Lakota, but my mother made certain my worldview was fully Lakota.

It is why I write like I do.

What things or people have been your main influences in your writing?

The sound of my mother's voice ...

in the darkness as she read to five young boys about heroes, monsters, and the importance of never giving up ... on yourself or on life. Go here to read more about The League of Five.

Loneliness and loveliness :

An only city child transported to a lush, humid country setting, alone but not alone -- wild thickets filled with birds, deer, dogs, wild cats, and the sense of the heavenly Father watching from the cloud-painted vault of the sky.

The South :

It had a slower pace with people who behaved, at least in Lafayette, with an old school grace and courtesty. I learned that the way you held yourself and regarded people were important. I noticed people in a way I might not have had I stayed in the faster paced North -- where to protect your sanity from the crowds, you withdrew within yourself.

David the shepherd boy :

It was the combination of the South, the vibrant world of the country, and the isolation that made me feel a bond with young David the shepherd boy. And so I knew that somehow nothing would come upon me that The Father hadn't already spotted and knew I could handle. No Goliath without the stone close-by to put into my sling.

Does where you live still influence your writing on a day-to-day basis?
 
I live in the back of my apartment complex by a meandering bayou.

Two white egrets sail gracefully through the eye-aching blue sky to settle in the swaying branches of the cypress trees. It is hard not to have this beauty soak into you ... and into your writing.

Your style is reminiscent of poetry. When I'm reading your book I keep feeling I'm reading an epic poem. 

I love poetry. That love is reflected in the way I write. The echo of the Lakota teaching tales can be heard in the meter of my prose like the singing of the old songs.

Those stories and songs were about the land.

The land becomes a character?

The land was living and intelligent in those stories. A winter storm had a personality : blustery, full of himself, and ultimately deflated at the end. The summer wind was persuasive, seductive ... convincing all the blades of grass to dance in the same manner all at once.

So when I glance up, seeing winter gathering her cloud armies to send storming across the horizon, I feel connected to them. The summer breeze ruffling my hair is The Father's hand playing with one of his sons.

My eyes always go to the land.

Ernest Hemingway is a favourite writer of mine. He soaked up the influences around him, yet his re-telling was very clipped at times. I read where he could spend a day editing a page, getting it just so...


Ernest Hemingway pared his writing to the bone, preferring the reader to fill in the blanks. But each of my characters sees the world around him or her in ways distinctive to their personalities.

That is reflected in how they describe the events and people in their lives. I am certainly no Hemingway. But then, I think a book written tersely like a telegram becomes old after awhile.

Share with us from your novel a favourite excerpt where you demonstrate some of these concepts we've been discussing: 

In my novel, Leandra Dagda studies Hibbs the bear with two shadows as she feigns sleep. Her nature dictates how she sees the bear :

It was the bear's eyes that ensnared the Sidhe. Those eyes.

There was great humor in those deep eyes. But beneath the gentle laughter swam dark, haunted flickerings. It was a lonely melancholy that flashed out from their depths, quick as a nose-wrinkling rabbit from its hidden lair. And almost as hard to catch.

Leandra falls in love with Hibbs soon after :

She smiled cruel. Not that she would let him know, of course. He would have to earn the right to look within her heart. Her smile was a thing of nightmares. It might even be the death of him.

But do not judge her too harshly for such thoughts. For she was neither monster nor mortal. She was something much, much finer and infinitely worse. She was Sidhe.

I'd like to leave you all with a synopsis of The Bear with Two Shadows...

To this day the Lakota still whisper an ancient legend around the campfire. They whisper lest Estanatlehi, The Turquoise Woman, overhears and visits her sorrow and her wrath upon the talebearer for speaking words long, long forbidden.
Then why speak them at all?
Why?
Listen to the sigh of the world in the winter winds. It is the sad nature of all Two-Leggeds that the forbidden tale is the very one most hard not to hear -- or to pass on.
And it begins, as most forbidden tales do, with a woman.
The Turquoise Woman.
She whose cold and remote thoughts some see in the sky as the Northern Lights. Not that she cannot love.
But her love is both haunting and terrible beyond any singing of it, as Hibbs, the Bear with Two Shadows, discovers.


Thank you Roland. You've given us much to ponder and some beautiful prose to consider. See you here tomorrow where we'll give the folks Part 11 - THE INFLUENCES THAT SHAPED MY WRITING STYLE.

Everyone, Roland is offering some AMAZING signed editions to all of you! So don't forget to leave you email in the comments section. JUST LOOK AT THESE BOOKS! DID YOU GET THAT THEY'RE SIGNED!!!! BY THE AUTHORS!!!!!
A comment offers one entry per host. Another two entries for linking the book to twitter or Facebook. Make sure to email Roland @ rxena77@yahoo.com And any blogger who posts a legitimate review on Amazon by March 31st will get three entries into the drawing. Believe me you don't want to miss out on any of these amazing signed books. Drawing will be on April 1st.




I hope you can come by tomorrow, for the second part of this interview.



Friday, 11 March 2011

STOP PRESS! Japan earthquake, changes to Roland D Yeoman's Blog Stops, Contest finals, Awards, the footy!!!

coFirstly, another disaster for our world and its people. Poor Japan hit by a massive earthquake/tsunami. Many countries are in the path of the tsunami. Hopefully no more damage will occur. That footage of the tsunami was like a sci-fi movie!
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So down to blog biz. I hope I grab you before you go into weekend hibernation. I've just heard that my blog tour with Roland has been bumped forwards. Now I'm hosting Roland over the weekend. So if you have a little down time, please come by Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th to check out Roland's influences on his writing style. I can tell you that it's going to have you riveted. He's over at Becky's @ The Rainy Day Wanderer again today.

More news...I entered the Race for 200 Contest where you were asked to write about 300 words on a race for survival. I entered a short extract from one of my short stories I've got pending in a magazine and IT MADE THE FINAL CUT, woo hoo. I'm amongst fine writers. If you want to read the 6 finalists; entries go here. I'm not a 'Vote for me' gal. I'm just letting you know so if you're interested in checking out 6 short short stories you might appreciate the heads up.

I got my short story sent off to Open Heart Publishing yesterday. If you intend entering your story of 3,000 - 6,000 words, entries are open until 15 March. Click on the badge in my right sidebar.

Today I was awarded the Friends for the Journey Blog Encouragement Award from the lovely Lynda R Young. Thank you Lynda, fellow Aussie mate. I'll be passing this award along as I see fit.

Just now Jai Joshi at the Tulsi Tree contacted me to say she has awarded me the Stylish Blogger Award for holding the Publication Parties. Thank you Jai. You're a legend.

Have a great weekend! (I know, I know, you're not thinking of the weekend but it's nearly 'beer o'clock' Friday afternoon over here at the bottom of the earth. The weekend is about to kick off, oh, it's the footy season kick off too, and my Rugby League team, the Broncos, is playing the North Queensland Cowboys at the stadium just over the hill from here TONIGHT!



Well I know I'm going to have a great weekend! Go Broncos!



Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Blog Tour of blogger/author Roland D Yeomans - The Bear With Two Shadows

I'm so excited to announce the blog tour of fellow blogger/author Roland D Yoemans. Let's hear it for Roland, who has published his novel The Bear With Two Shadows on Kindle ($3.99)..


Today starts Roland's Blog Book Tour at Michael DiGesu (In Time). Be sure to check out all the other stops on the tour.

CURRENT SCHEDULE

1. Michael DiGesu (In Time) ... March 8th ... The man behind the prose. Part One

2. Michael @ In Time ... March 9th ... The man behind the prose. Part Two

3. Words Crafter (Rainy Day Wanderer) March 10th ... My personal reactions to the publication of THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS

4. Words Crafter @ Rainy Day Wanderer March 11th ... Her personal take on the publication of THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS

5. L'Aussie Denise March 12th ... Part I. of the genesis of my writing style

6. Denise @ L'Aussie March 13th ... Part II. The influences which shaped the style of my writing in THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS.

7. NR Williams March 16th ... Myth and world myth melding in THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS

 8.Roland himself doing a Hibbs and St. Patrick's Day post March 17th

9. NR Williams March 18th ... Part II. How the Dreaming runs through THE BEAR WITH 2 SHADOWS.

10. Donna Hole March 21st The spiritual Native American message and reflections in THE BEAR WITH 2 SHADOWS.

11. There will be more blog hosts to join in and become fellow musketeers, storming the Bastille of the Publication World. (If any of my fab followers would like to host Roland, please leave a request in the comments or contact Roland directly.)

So try to get along and follow Roland's tour. In his words: My blog tour will be fun, mysterious, and legendary. There are books autographed by Dean Koontz, Neil Gaiman, and Jim Butcher to win. There are maidens to save, monsters to slay, and Gypsy to feed.