I jump into worlds that I know little or nothing about and write about them like I've lived in them all my life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Write...Edit...Publish flash fiction - TAKING CHANCES - Macbeth fan fiction



 Hi everyone!

Today I'm having a little fun with the WEP challenge. I've been teaching Macbeth for years--and here we go again--I'll be teaching it for the next few months. I wrote this flash at writing group, but it is barely recognisable. I've Macbeth-ed it up.

If you'd like to have a little flash fiction fun, or non-fiction fun, you're welcome to add your name to the list in my sidebar and post a story by Friday.


Taking Chances

Alicia was waiting with her group of besties, blocking the top of the stairway outside homeroom. I had to pass these weird sisters to get to my next class. Not that I was overly afraid--Alicia I could handle--but flanked by Natalie and Phoebe, she looked scary indeed, even without a beard. I would need to be crafty to survive.

‘Something bothering you, Michelle?’ Alicia’s voice wafted down the stairs like a bad smell. ‘I was just saying to the girls that something wicked this way comes. You look like you’re going to puke. Come along. Puke on my boots if you dare.’

I massaged the banister knob with my left hand, feeling the silkiness of the aged wood smooth underneath my skin. I liked this place, even though it was a school. I could glide up the stairs and float right through the lot of them, bitch slapping them while I passed, but my cred would be shot if I took that route. I’d finally found a school where I wanted to belong. Or so I’d thought. That was before I met Alicia. Every school has its ghoul!

‘Come on up, girlfriend. We’re waiting. New girls have to pass the test.’

‘What test?’ Oh, why didn’t I keep my big mouth shut? She couldn’t wait to get her long claws into me.

‘The test to see if you belong.’

Did they all suspect I didn’t belong? I shouldn’t have deliberately stepped on her shiny black Doc Martens when I cut her off at the classroom door. But that was pretty tame considering the way she’d baited me all the way through the Shakespeare class, jealous little cow. Not my fault I knew all the answers to Lady Macbeth’s questions. Well, Ms Opine acted like Lady Macbeth in her sleepwalking stage, floating about the room in her long skirt, stroking her long red tresses, curling her dark red lips in distain at the students’ stumbling answers to her questions about Macbeth’s motivations. To tell you the truth, all she was missing was the candle in her hands. She was one of the most frightening sights I’ve seen in awhile, and I’ve been around a looong time. Bet she’d faint if she knew that I’d met old William personally. Used to chat after the show; helped him clean up the mess. I even suggested a few characters in history he might use for his next play. That’s where he got the idea for Macbeth and King Duncan. Yep. I know every one of the Bard’s plays by heart, in ye Olde English, not the modern stuff they read these days.

‘Get off my boot, you weirdo,’ had been Alicia’s reaction to my little stomp attack. ‘Take that!’ She’d swung her long blond mane (yes, she was very horsey, not unusual in an English public school) and delivered a stunning blow to my solar plexus.

‘Ouch!’ I yelled, surprised at the power in her dainty little fight move. She gave me a strange look. Did she feel my flesh was as hard and bony as her elbow? Is that what gave me away? Still, I couldn’t resist another stomp on her boots, grinding my rubber soles as hard as I could without breaking her foot. If you’ve ever tried to hurt someone by stomping on their Docs, you’d know it takes a lot of girl power. Those babies have pretty good toe protection. I put as much power as I dared behind that stomp/kick/grind move. Alicia’s face turned as white as mine and her jagged breath concerned me for a minute as I wondered if I’d gone too far. The tears in her big baby blues were a bonus. But she was a tough chick for a human, or kind of human. The tears stayed where they hovered on her smoky fake eyelashes. The fire in her blue eyes was enough to set the door alight. Now, she’d brought the reinforcements.

Oh, great! They were gathered against me, to destroy me. I have to think fast or my first day will be my last day here. If I use too much power, I’m out. Too little, and these weird sisters will make my life a misery just like the hags did to Macbeth.

Was it worth taking the ‘test’, or should I refuse to listen to them, get back on my horse and gallop away?

As Alicia and I played at outstaring each other, I thought of another school, another Alicia. Turned out that chick was a vamp just like me. She didn’t want any competition, so she demanded I take the test. I’d refused, but lived to regret it. Well, I don’t have much choice, do I? I’m here forever. If I’d passed the ‘test’ I would have been Head Girl at Willoughby by now. There was once a chance I didn’t take…hmm.

*Avaunt! I raced up the stairs, two at a time, nearly tripping on my ridiculously long serge skirt which weighed a ton. What was it about my face that had the weird sisters stepping back as if they’d seen a ghost? Bet they’d never bullied a girl like me before. Bring it on!

I’m taking a chance today.

Soon I’ll be Head Girl of Dunsinane.

                                             

Thanks for reading my story. No critique necessary. I just wrote this for some YA enjoyment and for WEP. You can tell me if you enjoyed it though!

And don't forget to check out the blogfests in my sidebar. Deniz Bevan has a few more in her current post.

*advance 

WEP AUGUST CHALLENGE
Please click on the names in the sidebar to read more entries
 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How times have changed...in the publishing world! From Daphne du Maurier to today.



Hi everyone!

I've been busy with the River City Writers Conference, (a few of you 'liked' some of the trillion facebook posts), a single day dedicated to writing workshops, networking, launching/buying books, chatting with editors and publishers...and eating and drinking and being merry!

Photo: Vaanguard Writers Group members @ River City Writers Conference. Thank you Raelene Purtill.
Members of Vannguard Writers Group @ the conference - 
Raelene, myself, Charmaine and Nas. 
(Nas is an honorary member of our Brisbane group)

We had some great presenters - Helene Young, pilot and author of a series of excellent romantic suspense single titles set in Queensland's wild, empty north where surveillance is key - Karen Tyrrell, author of 'resilience' books...2 adult (on overcoming mental illness) and 2 for children...one especially successful title Stop the Bully has gained her entree into schools and libraries - Antony Puttee, who runs an uber successful self-publishing one-stop-shop, Book Cover Cafe, who ran an awesome session on how to get your self-published book out there and how to get high Amazon sales - then our very own Nas Dean, helped me judge the flash fiction competition which ran in conjunction with the conference. Nas then presented her session on editing.

Nas Dean presenting on editing in the modern age

Nas' session on editing had some of the died-in-the-wool old-school publishing houses (who sent representatives to the conference to receive pitches from writers) screaming in frustration, claiming publishers did all the things the presenters had been claiming all day that writers did -- editing, promoting, book covers etc. This caused much merriment from those who had already told their story of the hard road of promotion even after being contracted to a publishing house. Obviously these guys have no idea how hard writers are doing it before submitting manuscripts in the faint hope of being picked up, and how little it is perceived that the traditional publishers do after buying rights to your book...(I'm no expert on this, having never submitted anything to an agent or publishing house!)

CLASSIC BOOKS Vs MODERN BOOKS

...Which brings me to some of the changes I see when comparing classic books to modern books. I read a lot of stories of how the old publishing houses used to treat favoured authors--the army of editors who went through the novel after submission, the pampering, the promotion etc. Don't many of us think these oldies were just pure genius? Well, it took a lot of help to polish that genius.

Today, many traditionally-published authors and self-published authors are doing it all/mostly by themselves, some by choice and some because they can't afford/don't see the need for even one editor. (My  opinion is everyone needs an editor, and most savvy readers can tell when this important step has been skipped). I've shared this before, but Margaret Mitchell (author of Gone With the Wind) re-wrote her first chapter 60 times. So these oldies but goodies still did the hard yards themselves before they were touted as overnight/on-going successes.


Along with several other books, I'm currently reading Daphne du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek, (1941). (Well, it does have French... in the title). This book is a classic passionate romance/adventure, one of her most popular novels -- on the best-selling list for thirty years!! But the beautiful Lady Dona and her French pirate adventurer would have been severely edited today.

We modern writers get slapped on the wrist if we carelessly 'head hop' even once in our stories - du Maurier and plenty of her contemporaries did this as a matter of course, and even modern best-sellling author Nora Roberts, a great favourite of mine, does it A LOT, especially in her romances.

Dialogue has changed too. Now we go through our manuscripts with a magnifying glass trying to find/slay most, if not all, dialogue tags, turning them into actions instead.

"Don't touch that!" Jack said to Kiddly Bop. ... becomes...
Jack ran across the room. "Don't touch that!" Kiddly Bop snatched his hand away from the grinding machine just before his arm was lopped off.
(I used the exclamation mark to upset all the 'no exclamation marks' modern rule!! as I think it is quite probable that Jack yelled in this situation.) 

But on p.62 of Frenchman's Creek I found this dialogue...exactly reproduced:
  'William, you are a genius,' she [Lady Dona] said, and he bowed, permitting himself a smile. 'I am pleased you are glad, my lady.'
  'How do I look? Will your master approve?' she asked him, turning on her heels. 'He will make no comment, my lady,' replied the servant, 'but I do not think he will be entirely indifferent to your appearance.'
So...if you don't know what's odd about the above, I'll leave you blissfully unaware. But I'll just say it caused me to be 'taken out of the story' which is the criticism I receive from critique partners whose job it is to make sure we don't commit such writerly sins.

Photo: Another book for my collection...FEMME , by Delia Strange. So pretty...Book launch @ #River City Writers Conference, Brisbane. @#writebytheriver #authorhappiness.
And of course I bought a book - Delia Strange's
FEMME. I'm quite liking the sci-fi romance genre.

  • Methinks it was somewhat easier to be an author in the olden days. What do you think? (And I don't mean -- of course it's not, it's a lot easier today to be an author as you can just self publish). I'm talking about the old style, the third person onmisicient POV etc. as compared to today's more stringent rules about everything.


Nas snapped us heading out to breakfast
Yes, the last bite of Winter was in the air.

Had a great weekend with Nas and Rajesh staying with us... and attending the River City Writers Conference. How was your weekend?


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What gives you energy when you're on a writing marathon?




Hi everybody!

I'm tweaking my blog posts a little. Today I'm sharing with you another passion of mine -- food. When my children were little, I began studying Naturopathy. I've always been interested in nutrition and once subscribed to several health magazines such as Prevention, but Google changed all that. I didn't finish the course, but I'm happy to share that one of my daughters is currently studying Naturopathy and has opened her own vegan, vegetarian, organic cafe, which has taken off like a rocket!

Photo: | In the cabinet | Gluten free black bean brownies | Chocolatey deliciousness |
Gluten free black bean brownies -- I love how you
can have your cake and eat it too when it's made
from healthy ingredients!
Anyway, my lifelong study of food science has never wavered. I throw out the faddish ideas and concentrate on what really works -- remember those days when everything was bad for you -- eggs being the top of the list. Well, some of you may still think so as egg white omelettes continue to do the rounds of the brekkie cafe culture, but I'm for whole food!

Where's this going? Well, I've shared the occasional recipe here, mainly Christmas plonk and Toblerone Cheesecake (swoon!) -- chocolate is so good for you, hahahahahah! (I also subscribe to the belief that moderation never killed anyone, but it is hard to be moderate with chocolate).

Today I want to share a healthy recipe that keeps me going when I write. I make it nearly every day. Gives me such a {{{zing}}} and saves me from endless cups of tea and snacks. I've always been a lover of smoothies, but this one takes the cake...or saves me from cake...


My green smoothie in its healthy setting --
the greenhouse outside my kitchen sink with
the aloe vera within arm's reach

GREEN SMOOTHIE

Throw all the following ingredients in a super blender (I have a Bio Chef), then enjoy throughout the day.

INGREDIENTS - (Don't get precious. Adjust portions according to your likes/dislikes)

- half cup chilled water
- half cup coconut water (no added sugar variety of course) 
- dash of aloe vera juice or squeeze a little fresh aloe vera from your plant - don't have it every day
- 2 heaped tablespoons protein powder of your choice 
- a good portion of fresh ginger (I use about an inch) - or add a teaspoon of ground ginger
- a small portion of fresh tumeric (I use about an inch) - or use a teaspoon of tumeric powder
- 1 teaspoon spirulina powder (organic if possible)
- 1 dessertspoon flaxseed oil (keep in its carton in fridge - the darker the better or it will oxidise and then it's bad for you)
- half a fresh avocado, nice and ripe
- between half a cup and a full cup of fresh or frozen blueberries (I usually use frozen as blueberries aren't grown locally and cost a fortune fresh here. Frozen are still good nutrition).

That's it folks! This makes a super healthy breakfast and a constant source of energy throughout the day. Don't keep it too long or it will oxidise and be bad for you!

So let's drink to long writing days and sizzling good health!

In a few days I will be having Nas Dean staying at my place. On Saturday we're attending a Writer's Conference in Brisbane where Nas will be presenting her editing tips. A fun few days!! I may share a few gems with you next week. 

I wonder if I'll convince Nas and Ragesh to join me in a green smoothie for breakfast??

BOOK REVIEWS

Many people confessed they don't like book reviews/launches on blogs, well, I did one here for Australian self-published debut author, Ella Carey, The Paris Time Capsule, mainly because I'd read it and IT ROCKED!! And just last week I saw this:

Photo: Yay! Woot! Woot! Congratulations to Ella Carey on the #1 Best Seller in Women's Romance Fiction! Look at that yellow sticker!

Ella reached #1 Best Seller in Women's Romance Fiction!! 


If you'd like to read my interview with Ella on her books' debut, go here... Maybe your book might be next!!

And for those of you who now have all that excess energy, perhaps you'll find the time to post for Write...Edit...Publish's August challenge -- anything using TAKING CHANCES. Check it out in my sidebar. Love to have you! We've just started signing up...




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG post - Do you consider romance writers purveyors of 'Mummy Porn' or do you consider us serious writers?

Hello everyone! 

Where do the months go? Already time for the August IWSG and to take our writer's temperature. What are we secure/insecure about this month? What can we share with each other in the common goal of improving our writing experience?

Thanks to the many who joined the discussion re blogging. I've determined to aim for more interesting posts and to keep my writing craft posts to a minimum. And I'm posting more photos which Deniz Bevan reminded me about. Ironically, I've had several requests to participate in book launches since posting, and some I have agreed to, but I will be trying my hardest not to be posting generic information and making sure I've read/enjoyed the book the author is selling.


This is my own edited photo of arriving on the Fijian island
 I chose (and renamed) as a setting for my romance novel

Most of my writing for the past few months has been plugging away at an editor's suggested re-writes on my Fijian Princess novel to fit the Harlequin Desire category. I feel like I  have to justify my choice to write romance when the corner of the blogosphere I move in seems to be peopled with sci-fi, fantasy, YA and MG authors. 

I've never understood why it was acceptable to have the James Bond fantasy for the 'boys', but the mainly female authors of Harleqin Mills and Boon et al are often considered a pre-conceived stereotype. Well, they're laughing all the way to the bank. Attending a Romance Writer's Conference is a Happily Ever After experience! The BIGGIE is in Sydney this coming weekend. No, I'm not attending, but Nas Dean is, and afterwards she is coming to stay with me, as she's a presenter at the River City Writer's Conference here in Brisbane which I am helping with.


Some Interesting Facts About the Romance Genre:


  • There are more romance novels sold than any other genre, even though there's a perception that it's not a genre for serious authors - there's Romance Writers Versus Everyone Else. 
  • There were an estimated $1.35 billion in global sales last year.
  • Over half of all books sold globally are romance.
  • Modern romance novels embrace reality, fantasy, paranormal--everything that 'other' fiction does.
  • This genre continually morphs to satisfy their huge readership. There are all sexual persuasions (authors choose what category they wish to write in), there are teen stories, there are all ethnicities, ages, economic backgrounds, issues. Every sub-genre you can think of is represented - rural, historical, suspense, medical, erotic,...you name it, Harlequin et al has it. Even sci-fi!! There you go!
  • The heroine must be feisty, intelligent, no one's victim--a kick-ass heroine in other words. 
  • The hero doesn't have to be a billionaire, but it helps, as long as he turns out to be a fabulous guy under that aura of entitlement.
  • There must be a Happily-Ever-After (HEA), but the story doesn't have to end with marriage.
                                                                            

Sipping kava in Fiji in the interests of authenticity for the kava party in my novel. My reaction is the same as my hero's.




So what do you think? Do you consider romance writers purveyors of 'Mummy Porn'?, formulaic storylines, the boring HEA ending, or do you consider romance writers serious writers? 

If you're interested in this topic, my post was inspired by reading an article by Kate Belle, romance author. You can read it here. 
Click on the badge to access other IWSG posts.
Thank you Alex and this month's hosts.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blogging again! How can we promote more imaginatively? Do we exclude new bloggers from the blogosphere?

Hi everyone!

When I posted about blogging here recently, I've never had so many LONG comments in all my time blogging. There are many concerns in the blogosphere, as bloggers adjust to more competitive social media, all of which seem to have morphed into selling machines. Twitter, Facebook etc, and blogging are cluttered with cover reveals, blog tours, book launches. While bloggers who have/have not published books understand the need for promo, it would be sensible to tone it down somewhat. Bloggers are weary of it--not just me.

Does the one-size-fits-all approach of social media promo blind authors to other ways of selling their books? Not so long ago I posted about how my Amazon Gift Card was so fat and unwieldy, I was in the market to buy books. I asked that authors recommend their book to me--ah, no one did. Strange...missed opportunities...

But I can't let all those comments go to waste. Please go to the post if you didn't visit it, but there were many comments on topics such as promo, about what we should blog about, and sadly, new bloggers who feel they can't break in to a tightly-established community, even though they tried the A-Z.

Alex J Cavanaugh: Talking about life is always interesting. Constantly talking about one's books is not...I do intend to adjust what I post about. You're right, too many cover reveals and such. I'll still do Ninja News, letting people know about new releases, but I'd like to shift back to more movies, music, games, and science fiction stuff. And trivia! It's been so long since I did any trivia.

Hilary Melton-Bucher wrote one of the longest comments. One said: I do get bored with repetitive posts as I move from one blogger to another … blog tours I guess are a necessary evil though .. but I wish people could be creative and just not regurgitate information … 

Southpaw: Blog Tours are weird too. So many of them repeat the same thing over and over. - Ha, so I decided to have one myself. I'm trying really hard to change up the tour idea so that I don't bore people

M Pax: I don't think the blasts are a waste. The author is trying to be seen and each blog gets readers the author couldn't otherwise reach.

Stephanie Faris:  I do wish more people would focus on content rather than book reviews and book blurbs. We all have to support each other, but every post doesn't have to be a book review. 

klahanie: Call me cynical, but a number of bloggers make out they are part of a sharing, caring community when all they really want is to accumulate superficial blog follower totals. I find that very sad.

Anne Gallagher: I skip posts of cover reveals and reviews. I skip posts that are too personal (some people overshare). I skip posts that don't appeal to me. As I'm sure that's why people skip my posts as well. (I know Anne is happy for her books to slowly sell themselves. I read that on her blog awhile ago).

Medeia Sharif: I'm having a harder time reciprocating comments, but by the end of the week I'm caught up. When I visit blogs I prefer short posts. If a post is long, it needs to be very interesting to hold my attention. I've stopped visiting some blogs because of excessive wordiness. 

Michael de GesuEbook publishing has changed our world DRAMATICALLY... Now authors are publishing two-twenty books a year. It's overwhelming. Who can possibly keep up...Plus I don't really see the need for COVER REVEALS...Yes, I know they are the Craze, and God only knows how many I have featured, BUT I put some creativity into the event and if Bloggers only chose THREE MAX bloggers to feature their cover that would be MORE than enough to get the word out. Being selective would give so much more meaning to this event.

AND to do them months before the release day, to me, is crazy. Why? If you want to do a reveal do it a week before, or even a few days, Get the community excited about it, then when your book launches we will be there celebrating with you.

Nilanjana Bose: ...I did participate in the A-Z this year, and I loved the work involved and grew as a poet and blogger, but as far as community building goes I don't think much happened. Blogging communities are pretty much established by now and tend to be tightly knit, and newcomers can feel out of place.

So there you have a selection of comments. Do you agree/disagree with some points of view? How can we make blogging more interesting again? I still LOVE blogging BTW. These posts are simply about where do we go from here?

I know some author blogs are set up just to sell their books, so all posts are about their books. This is interesting, maybe, if you're really into their books, but many aren't really hosted by the author, they're hosted by a paid tech-savvy blogger. Try getting a comment returned from one of them!!

We'll never satisfy everyone--I LOVE long posts which have something to say, helping me learn more about writing, but many skip long posts due to time constraints. I find so much of interest at Anne R Allen's blog and Karen Woodward's blog--check out my blogroll in my sidebar if you haven't visited them. I keep my blogroll up to date with those bloggers who interest me. If you're not on the list, don't worry. I probably visit you all the time anyway.

I always reciprocate comments. While I'm on someone's blog, I hit a random commenter I've not met before and pay them a visit. Sometimes I find a delightful blog, other times it's all about science fiction, lol! More I keep on a blogroll at Write...Edit...Publish.