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!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Do you have goals bloghop...share them....Novels, novellas, short stories...

I joined this regular monthly Friday bloghop hosted by Misha Gericke and Beth Fred. The idea is simple. It's to keep us honest about what we hope to achieve in our writing. We post the last Friday of every month. Can you believe it's the last Friday of March today?!?

You're more than welcome to join this bloghop. All you need to do is read and follow the guidelines then SIGN UP HERE...

1) Beth and I Misha will be co-hosts of this list.
2) If you do enter your link into the list, please be supportive of the other entrants.
3) Keep us up to date with how you're doing. Update Day is on the last Friday of every month. Even if you don't think you achieved much or anything, write a quick post to say so. We can't encourage if we don't know. 
4) When you enter your blog's address write your goal as the link title. For example, my link's title will be "earn $7500 per month." Not your name or your blog's. This is so we can keep track of who's doing what. 

I signed up as 'publish a novel and submit short stories' this year.

MY WRITING GOALS for 2016 SO FAR...

MY PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVELLA, BOOK TWO - The Vendemmia (The Harvest)
I have continued researching for the second in my paranormal romance series to follow Under the Tuscan Moon and the adventures of Vipunin and Cuchulcain. I have tons of notes and have begun structuring the story. My favourite research was on the ancient wine presses used in the 16th Century. 

A basket press from the Provence region of southeast France.
SHORT STORY UPDATE

Well-oh-well. My Paris short story has grown from a 1,000 word flash fiction originally published for #fridayflash. When I picked it up again, it soon grew to 2,000, then 4,000 words and someone offered to translate it into French! Tres exciting! But after sending it off to a critique partner, I received several suggestions on expanding some scenes. They were excellent suggestions. As a result, I now have 12,000 words...no longer a short story by some reckonings, but heading for a 15,000 word novella. Well, will my translator still be interested? I'm so excited. I'm loving how this story is growing.
TRAVELLING AGAIN 中国
So...in late March/early April I am travelling to distant lands. More in my IWSG post next week. When I return to the land of Oz, I will be working on my own little NaAprWriMo again and write every day. Last April I wrote 25,000 words on a Paris Cookery novel and hope to pick it up again as I'm SO EXCITED about this book but haven't been able to get to it for months! But the research has been delicious! So I'm pretty busy. 

Overall, March has been a very successful, wonderful writing month even though we embarked on major renovations at our beach house. Somehow I've clawed more time into my schedule, so maybe this bloghop is helping. Dropping one teaching day has definitely helped.

AIM HIGH
It's always a good idea to set yourself achievable goals, but it's even better to use the turbo power of imagination to help you get there. For example, you may decide that you'd be happy to have your body in better shape. Instead of just thinking: 'I'm going to tone and trim my waistline', bring on the drama. Try rephrasing that into something like: 'I want to turn heads as I walk down the street and wow people when I walk into a room'. Remember, when you use colourful, vibrant imagery it will be easier to achieve your goal and turn your dream into reality.

So...when you dream of your finished story...instead of just wishing you could reach the finish line, add drama. 'I want to write the most riveting, amazing story that people will love so much they will say to everyone in their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads--'You've got to read this story!' Imagine that!

How are you going with your 2016 Writing Goals? Please share in comments below or join the hop.





Monday, 21 March 2016

Are you too old for a writing career?

Here's a question. It bugs me. Perhaps it bugs you too. I'm well past my first flush of youth, and life passes at a terrifying lightning pace. Do you feel that there's not enough time left to accomplish all your goals? Do you feel that, (being realistic, not sexist), as a woman, you get far too little time to write? Is it any easier if you're male?

This actually sounds like an Insecure Writers Support Group post, but it isn't. That's a couple of weeks away! 

I've read about writers with young children who can tap out the words on the kitchen table while havoc rules the house. That's some of you. That's not me. I like to shut myself away when I write, or take myself off to a cafe or library.

An author I greatly admire, Virginia Woolf, said in her essay, A room of one's own, (free e-book link), 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.' I'll be fine when the remodelling is done, but up till now, I've made do.

How do you sit with that one?


No question we're living in a youth-obsessed society. We celebrate and idolize young people who succeed in sports, business, and the arts. Facebook and Twitter feeds go viral with videos of impossibly young people doing impossibly impressive things. It stands to reason that we writers – who are, let’s face it, an insecure species, might feel some pressure to succeed before… well, before it’s too late.

Tick! Tick! Tick!
Bottom line, once you're into your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s even, and have not yet been published – or perhaps have not yet finished your first book -- age  becomes an increasing concern. Wracked with insecurity, we ask ourselves: 

Is it too late? Am I too old to be published? Did I miss my shot?

SO IF YOU'RE A WRITER, DOES AGE MATTER?

Some say not as much as you think. But ageism is real. It exerts pressure on us in many aspects of our lives. But does it have to have that big an effect on us as writers? Maybe there actually are advantages to being an older writer. Huh? Say again!


ADVANTAGES OF HAVING SOME MILES ON THE CLOCK.

The Shell SeekersThey actually occasionally have panels at writing conferences with discussions such as “Debuting Over 40.” And if you look around at conferences, not everyone is young and incredibly attractive. Some are even older that we are! 

I'm a big fan of Rosamunde Pilcher who successfully debuted at...80!! (After a successful media career). And if you check the link you'll see she went on to write copious novels, most of which I've read. 

So...is there any advantage to debuting after 40?

I don't know about you. I always knew I was going to be a writer, but I struggled to find my writing voice in my 20s and 30s. I'd send off submissions to magazines and they told me to keep going which was all the encouragement I needed. But I felt I lacked life experience, so back to university for another course or two...then marriage and children and a teaching career,,,pens away for quite a few years.

By the time we sit down and seriously write, many of us have been through some pretty major highs and lows: illness, death, war, job failures and successes, raising children, moving house, time in the 'clink', a bad relationship – or two, or three, or four. All of this informs our world view, along with our writing.
I'm not putting down people who have been roaring successes at an early age – from Mary Shelley to Norman Mailer to the Beatles. Some people have already lived extraordinary lives before they’re 20, or are incredibly talented or got the breaks. But I think the average 40-year-old has a deeper emotional well to draw from than the average 20-something.
But beyond life experience, there are other advantages to being an older writer. Maybe you have developed some deep expertise that you can use in your storytelling like Tom Clancy with his techie details to essentially create a new genre of thriller. (BTW, he was in his late 30s when he debuted.) Perhaps your experiences, expertise and social connections have given you a basis for the dreaded P word: platform. You also might have more savvy business skills, and therefore better equipped for the unique challenges and hurdles you’ll face in the ever-changing business of publishing.
Image result for image of bottle of aged wineSeeing headlines about yet another 20-something wunderkind who just signed a bazillion-dollar book deal can be daunting (okay, even flat-out soul-crushing, and insecurity inducing). But if you started later – or who are simply taking longer to get where you want to go – give yourself a break. Instead of worrying about being too old, try thinking of yourself as aging like a fine wine.

Love that image!

WRITERS ARE A SPECIES APART
Beauty is an advantage in ALL aspects of life – that’s just a given. But I think it’s different for writers. Here’s why: unlike other areas of the arts – particularly music, TV and film – writers are not under as much pressure to be young and beautiful. That’s because the focus is not so much on what writers look like as on the stories that they create. Sure, youth, beauty and charisma can help a writer, and some publishers can be swayed by a pretty young face, but it’s generally understood that most writers are behind-the-scenes people, not rock stars.
Think about it.

Nora Roberts is a chain-smoking 65-year-old grandmother.
Clive Cussler is 84 and people still buy his books.
Janet Evanovich is 72 and
James Patterson is 68.

Readers don’t seem to think any of them are too old to write something they’d like to read. And Patterson published his first novel at the age of 29, but he didn’t quit his day job and start writing full time until he was 49.
So...if you’re young and gorgeous, work it. Absolutely. If you’re old and gorgeous, work it. But if you don't consider yourself gorgeous, don’t write yourself off. Your STORY is what’s important.

Here are some great links I found when researching for this article:

It’s Never Too Late: On Becoming a Writer at 50


  • How about you? Are you young, gorgeous and a successful author?
  • Do you sometimes wonder if it's worth trying to have a successful writing career?
  • Do you think age matters if you're a writer?
  • If you're a successful mature writer, do you have any tips for those less successful than you are?



Wednesday, 16 March 2016

'Alaska. Why it speaks to me'. Yolanda Renee reveals a dark secret that has plagued her for years.

My guest today needs no introduction. Welcome Yolanda Renee and sincere congratulations on publishing the third in your murder series with Curiosity Quills Press. 

I warn you this is not your run-of-the-mill book tour post. Today Yolanda shares a dark secret which has haunted her for many years. No doubt it has had a deep impact on her writing. Take it away, my good friend and WEP partner...



Murder & Obsession Blog Tour

March 16, 2016         Denise Covey            Why Alaska

March 21, 2016         MichaelDi Gesu       Guest Post  
                               
March 25, 2016         StuartWest              Couples Counseling

March 28, 2016         AlexJ. Cavanaugh   It's All About Snark
      
March 30, 2016         Robyn Campbell        Character Interview

April 1 - 30                A to Z Challenge       Murder & Obsession


Why Alaska Speaks to Me

          Why is a fair question. Most all my work reflects the influence Alaska has had on me. Is it just the 'write what you know' tool or an obsession? I'm betting it's a little of both.
         
                 
           If you've ever seen any picture of Alaska, you can get a sense of the magnificence, but until you visit the state – there's no way to describe what such beauty does to your soul. I fell in love in a matter of minutes – the drive from the airport was enough for me to feel as though I'd come home. A feeling I'd never felt anywhere else, but I also realized that part of it was the distance from family and other worries that allowed me to breathe easy for the first time in years.
Alaska was a magnificent opportunity and one I grasped with both hands. I embraced each new adventure and found happiness, something I'd never known before to any degree. But in less than a year, I'd lost my soul...
Raped by my boss, a man I'd trusted, turned my new world upside down. And even though I completely suppressed the memory for over 10 years, I was changed. 
Drastically. 
Completely. 
Permanently.
          So why do I write about Murder occurring in such a lovely place? Because the ugliest things happen in the most beautiful places. Serial killers haunt all lands and Alaska is no exception. In 1984, Robert (Bob the Baker) Hanson was sentenced to 461 years for the rape and murder of four women. He confessed to the rape of 30 and the killing of 21. Most of the women were prostitutes. Hanson then flew them out into the bush (wilderness) where he let them go so he could hunt them down. He killed them with a high-powered rifle and left them to the animals. Unbelievable!

I lived in Anchorage during his reign. I walked past the area he trolled, 4th Avenue, on my way to work for Calista, a native corporation where I worked as an accountant. Such things leave an impression, and, I'm certain, come out in my writing. Life experiences, places, people I've met all influence my stories but I've chosen to write murder mysteries, romance, and horror because I find the genre closely fits with my own search for answers to some of life's most horrid questions.
In The Snowman, a WIP, I mention the Hanson killings, but in Murder & Obsession, my latest release, the antagonist has different goals -- he's in love with a woman he can't have, and determined that if he can't have her, no one else will.  
Here is an excerpt that speaks to his intent: This is a nightmare that haunts Steven as he flees incarceration and searches for answers.

A scenic trail, bright sunshine, and clear skies. Steven and Sarah followed the river south.
“You do realize we’ll take the same trail back,” Steven informed her after they’d stopped yet again to take photographs.
“I know, but not until after lunch. The light will be different then.”
“The middle of winter and you want to eat lunch in the cold.”
“I want to do more than eat lunch. This is a honeymoon, isn’t it? You brought a tent and sleeping bag for a reason.”
Steven laughed. His angel loved getting naked in the snow. Only half a mile later, Sarah stopped again to snap a few pictures of the valley laid out before them, and Steven had to admit, the day was perfect. No, he thought, she’s perfect. He gazed at his wife with admiration.
The red laser light of a rifle sight bounced off the white of her fur collar, and the fracture of a gunshot registered just as Sarah dropped to the ground.
Steven was instantly at her side, his gaze on the area where the blast originated.
The shooter stepped out from his hiding place, pocketed his gun, and declared, “If I can’t have her, neither will you. See how you enjoy life without Sarah by your side.”

*****
At one time adventure called to me and I answered. I learned to sleep under the midnight sun of Alaska, survive in below zero temperatures, and hike the Mountain Ranges. I've traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and the memories are some of my most valued. The wonders, mysteries, and incredible beauty that is Alaska has never left me and thus now influence my writing.
Despite my adventurous spirit, I achieved my educational goals, married, and I have two wonderful sons. Writing is now my focus, my newest adventure!
You can find Yolanda at:
Amazon
Thank you, Denise, for hosting me and allowing me to discuss my favorite place and its influence on my life and my writing.

A tweet to share, thank you! 
I would so appreciate it!


Murder & Obsession is now available. Please share my celebration - wine or chocolate - your choice! Salute!http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Obsession-Detective-Quaid-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B01CRYKNH6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

It would thrill Yolanda if you had a conversation with her here on my blog...Here are some prompts...

  • Do you read murder mysteries?
  • Do you ever wonder why authors choose to write about murder?
  • Do you have any specific question/s for Yolanda. She'd be happy to respond.



DEFENDING THE PEN



Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A writer of magnificent prose dies...R.I.P #PatConroy And a video tribute sent to me from Open Road Media.

I was so saddened to see that Pat Conroy died on March 4th, 2016 at 70 years of age. He was one of my favourite writers, and wrote my favourite book, Beach Music (1995). I re-read it at least once a year, which is the sign of a book that resonates. Each time I find something different to love. When I heard the news I was gutted that there'd be no more Conroy magnificence to adore. Selfish of me.

Image result for did pat conroy diedConroy himself said:
'Without music, life is a journey through a desert.'

So enamored am I about Beach Music that I shared it for the WEP challenge of Spectacular Settings in 2015. Any fan of Pat Conroy will know what I'm talking about. His poetic lyricism comes to the fore when he describes the settings he so loved--in Beach Music they are South Carolina and Italy. 





If I’d just opened a random page from this novel, I could have found some amazing setting to share with you. Chapter 1 begins with such a sensuous description of the Piazza Farnese in Rome you have to blink to make sure you’re not actually there, so strong is the smell of freshly-brewed coffee and so vivid the descriptions of the morning activity in the Piazza. And I’m sure South Carolina never had prettier words written to describe it. But the descriptions that never leave me are found in the Prologue. I have taken excerpts from pp. 19-23, where the teenage Jack is sky larking with a group of his graduate high-school classmates who have gathered in a condemned house on St Michael’s Island, South Carolina on the night it was predicted the house would break up and fall into the sea. This section is reminiscent of the whole novel, where Conroy, a master of setting as character, parallels the coming together of himself and his great love, Shyla, against the backdrop of the raging Atlantic Ocean. 

This of course, foreshadows one of many tragedies which are to come...

Here is an excerpt from the Prologue of Beach Music. I love Prologues when they're done this well! They capture my imagination and add suspense to the story.
"THE sea rose invisibly beneath us and the moon shone smooth and bright. A glossy flute of light, like velvet down a bridal aisle, lit the marlin scales and the backs of whales migrating a hundred miles at sea. The tides surged through the marsh and each wave that hit the beach came light-struck and broad-shouldered, with all the raw power the moon could bestow. Magically, an hour passed and we, ocean dancers and tide challengers, found ourselves listening to the sea directly beneath us as the waves began to crash in earnest against the house...
I looked around to see Shyla Fox in the moonlight. She looked as though she had dressed for this moment with the help of the moon…
We danced toward the central motion of our lives. The winds roared and a strange love rose like a tide between us and rested in the crown of waves that was loosening the frame of the house. Alone we danced beneath the full moon…
I heard the house shudder and push off as it took its first primal step towards the sea. The house tilted, then fell forward as though it were prostrating itself before the power of this tidal surge.
We went out to the newly imbalanced balcony, holding hands. The moon lit the sea in a freeway of papery light and we watched the boiling white caps feeding on the broken cement scattered beneath the house. We continued to dance while the house kept its appointment with the long tide and I blazed with the love of this young girl. 
Our love began and ended with seawater."

If you love this excerpt you can read the full Prologue here. 

“One of the greatest gifts you can get as a writer is to be born into an unhappy family,” Conroy said. And his childhood was mined mercilessly in his novels. Which is why they resonate.

Go with God, Mr Conroy. Thank you for the music.

  • Have you read any of Pat Conroy's books?
  • If you have read any of his books, what is your favourite?