Monday, 27 June 2011

Words don't come easy

I've read and asked many writers if they have writer's block.  Some say there is no such thing.  Others say it comes and goes.  Some suggest to just write whatever you can write and it will flow.

I don't have problems with writing.  I have learned to use prompts, for example reading a book, a magazine, writing in my journal, writing how I feel, etc. My problem is finding time to sit and write.  When I sit down in front of my computer to write, I just tap away.  Eventually of course I do find the time to write...then there's another problem - after finishing a few chapters of my first draft, I am usually not satisfied with it...is that even normal?  After finishing the whole first draft, I sometimes re-write and re-write and I don't get anywhere.  I don't think there's enough "showing" or that the descriptive words are sufficient.  I don't feel the magic.  I don't feel as inspired.  Because of this, I have learned to listen to my inner voice for inspiration.  When I get inspired, words flow.

When does inspiration come to me then?  It is when it is least expected.  Words come when I don't force them to come oozing.  They come when I'm feeding my son or laughing with my husband about something hilarious while in a supermarket. Or when I'm in bed listening to music or about to fall asleep (it's a pain when this happens I tell you).  Or when I'm sitting on a bench in the garden doing nothing.  Or I'm looking out the window when it's raining. Or when I'm sipping a cup of coffee and eating my favourite cheesecake.

Words come when I'm at peace.  When I have no care in the world.  When I'm daydreaming or absentmindedly thinking of my characters and talking to them in my mind.

That's when they come.

When it happens, I have to grab my pen to write them all down.  I have to be armed with a pen and a notepad at all times.  Pens and notebooks have to be everywhere in the house - on the coffee table, in dresser drawers, on the computer desk, on the dining table (yes, I won't spare the dining area!) And under no circumstances must I go out without them.  It's crazy sometimes when they come when I'm trying to have a meal and POP!  An idea for a scene suddenly comes into my head or some beautiful words in a sentence.

But most times, words don't come easy.  I write rubbish. I write nonsense. I write riffraff.  I write baloney.  I write crap.

How about you?  When does inspiration come to you?  Do you experience writer's block?  What do you do to snap out of it?


****


I found something on the net last year through blog browsing.  It might be useful to you.  It's an amazing tool to get writing prompts!  Try it, it's free!  Here's the link:   Writersparks

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Recommended Read: Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

Hello bloggie friends!  Thank you for all the comments on my book review of Breakthrough by Stephen Tremp.  I hope you don't get tired of my posts but today's post is another book recommendation that I feel I must tell you about because it is really a good one!

Hopefully, my next post will be more exciting than a book review *fingers crossed*

Hope you are having a beautiful Wednesday!!! 

To save your daughter
You must tell the world
You wish she'd never been born.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?


Back cover blurb:

Willow O'Keefe had seven broken bones before she took her first breath.

Now her life is lived on a knife-edge.  Born with brittle bone disease, she will never learn to skate like her sister.  Even walking can be dangerous:  one wrong step and she is back in a cast.

The medical bills are crippling her family.  So when a lawyer tells Charlotte, her mother,   that they might have a case to sue for wrongful birth, she feels bound to consider it.

Except that winning would mean losing her best friend - and telling the world that she wishes her much-longed for, adored daughter had never been born...

Why I like it:

I have read four other books of Jodi Picoult.  I must say, this, so far, is the best. Very beautifully written. So poetic from beginning to end. With the most impressive details, obviously a well-researched work. It's a story full of not just love, but 'heart' itself.

Willow, a 6-year old little girl is the character with osteogenesis imperfecta in this beautiful story. The prologue alone tore my heart to pieces. I must admit that it hit home. I saw myself in Charlotte. This is a must-read. Whether you are a mother or not, I think you will enjoy every page of this book. It has taught me a lot about a condition that was unknown to me. And it shows a life of a family with a child with special needs lead.

With an unexpected ending, I was left with a bleeding heart. Being a writer myself, what other way would I end a story like this but to give the main character a little bit of mercy? It wasn't the perfect ending. I didn't like it. In real life, it would have broken people's heart. But as a reader, it left me something to think about. And a question that Charlotte may be asking Sean, "What do we do now?"

******
More on Jodi Picoult's Handle with Care

I found this book trailer on you.tube, hope you'll like it:






Disclaimer:  I own a copy of the book 'Handle with Care.'  This is an honest review and I was not compensated for this.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Breakthrough by Stephen Tremp

Background:

A scientific breakthrough in Einstein-Rosen Bridges, or wormholes, is stolen by a group of misguided M.I.T. graduate students. They scheme to usher in a global science-based oligarchy. Greed, betrayal, murder, mayhem, spiritual contemplation, and unconditional love define the power-play struggle in this fast-paced suspense thriller of technology gone too far. As the death toll mounts, will Chase Manhattan and a multi-faceted cast of characters escape their hit list and destroy the discovery which threatens life as we know it? 



Why I like it:


Full of heart-stopping action!  Lots of chasing, suspense-filled book.  If you love Angelina Jolie's Lara Croft, you'll see a few Lara Croft-like women in this novel by Stephen Tremp.  Chase Manhattan, the main character, is surrounded by them.


What makes it interesting is how well-researched the book is.  It is amazing how it tells about parallell universes, wormholes and time-travel.  It left me wondering, asking myself the 'hows' and 'what-ifs.'  I love this kind of story.  It's fast-paced.  Yes, the kind that will take you to the edge of your seat.  I know it's a cliche but how else would you describe an exciting book such as this?



More Info:


Breakthrough, the first book in the Adventures of Chase Manhattan series, begins with a big bang and offers the audience exciting, unique, and diverse heroes and villains. The result is a fresh suspense thriller series integrating elements of greed, betrayal, passion, lust, unconditional love, coming of age, and hope. The action is swift. There are numerous  twists and turns that will keep the reader turning the pages and wanting more.


Breakthrough is available for download to the Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, Apple iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, and Google Android at Smashwords and for the Kindle at Amazon.


Disclaimer:  I received a free electronic copy of the book from the author for an honest review and I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A Nice Natter with Author Glynis Smy

It has been more than six years since the day I began blogging.  Around that time, I came across Author Glynis Smy and we became blog friends.  Then there was a gap somewhere and we lost touch.  When we found each other the second time around, it took awhile for me to realise that we had been friends for awhile!

Now, I am so honoured to have her on my blog!  I give to you, Author Glynis Smy!



Glynis Smy (GS):  Hello Len. Thank you for sharing me on your blog today.
Len:  Hello, Glynis! Thank you for sparing me some time for a cup of coffee, lots of cakes and a lovely chat! Here's my first question....What part of the world do you live and write in?
GS:  I was born in the UK and moved to Cyprus in 2005. I live in a hillside, rural village. My home is surrounded by vineyards, and I consider myself very fortunate. I did write an article about my new life if anyone is interested in reading it. http://trifter.com/europe/cyprus/village-life-polemi-and-stroumpi-paphos-pafos-cyprus/
I don't know why I want to ask you this but I'm curious...do you have any pets?
GS:  We most certainly do. When we emigrated we brought over our Cairn Terrier, Jakeyboy. We then did some voluntary work for a dog pound. We were captured by a tiny one-eyed dog we called, Ginny. Lucy captured our hearts the following month. Then we got a cat, Fluff. Along came Max, he was a hunter’s puppy who had been treated cruelly. He collapsed outside our home four years ago. Four dogs, one cat, an aviary and a fish tank. I bet you regret asking now!
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time when you are not writing?
GS:  One of my hobbies is card making. I raise money for a small hospice ward here in Cyprus by selling my greetings cards. I also cross stitch. During the summer I will swim and snorkel.
Who are the authors you emulate or that inspire you?
GS:  There are so many who inspire me. To name a few: Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Catherine Cookson, Barbara Erskine, Ken Follett and Jodi Picolt all weave stories I envy. I started out hoping to write like Catherine Cookson. However, I found my own style and it is nothing like her work at all.
Any favourite books? Favourite authors?  And why?
GS:  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I love the emotional waves in the book. Sadness from death and joy from kid gloves, the boy next door and other events, gave me equal amounts of wow factor while reading the book. I never found a flat moment. I envy her talent.
Any book on writing you'd like to recommend to aspiring authors out there?
GS:  I found The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass and turn to it often for clarification or inspiration. Recently I downloaded Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris, and have found it very useful. I am also big fan of the website The Grammar Girl.
Can you tell us about your books and the challenges you met on the road to publication?
GS:  When I turned 50 I held my first book in my hand. From My Heart Inside My Head. I had achieved a dream. It was a gift to myself, I self published my poetry as a private project. To my surprise I have sold several copies and not all to family. After I had finished the second,Sticky Sandwiches, I started scribbling notes for a short story. However, a little character called Chewy Chester crept into my brain and I had to write his little ABC story, Chewy Chester Meets Wallis Worm. It is not glamorous, but it was a little itch I had to scratch. I self published him and put the story to bed. I returned to my short story and realised it was going to be rather large for a short story. I had written 50, 000 words. I gave it a title and carried on writing. Ripper, My Love, ended up over 80,000 words long. It has just spent the past few weeks being torn apart. The edits have paid off and a stronger story has emerged. It is my hope to find an agent. If not I will self publish just to hold a copy in my hand.
One of my challenges was the fact I sadly lost my mentor to cancer. Jan had been my guide from short story to novel. Life is good though, I have some brilliant support now and have hope for RML. It is a Romance Suspense. It started out as an Historical Romance, but me being me, added a twist. The twist changed the genre.
My second novel, Maggie’s Child is a Historical Romance novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo. I love the story and am chomping at the bit to edit it, but it must wait its turn.
You write poetry, children's books and historical romance, how do you switch from one to another?
GS:  My poetry comes and goes depending on my mood. I work on the children’s stories when I am struggling with my adult work. They are so different it is like a change of scenery.
Do you have a special routine before and when you are writing?
GS:  I didn’t think I had, but now you ask I realise I do have a slight one. I get up and have breakfast with DH. While he is checking out his aviary, I rush around with fresh air spray, polish and disinfectant to con him I have cleaned house. The washing machine is stuffed to the gills and the dogs thrown around the vineyard. Another coffee is called for, then it is check email, log onto twitter and Facebook time. I Facebook a message to my three children. Then switch to my ‘author’ account, say hello to my writer friends. By about 9am I open my files and write. I come up for air and a play on Facebook every now and then. I am fortunate, my writing day is my own.
(Thank you for providing a photo of your very neat work space, Glynis!)



How do you deal with writer's block?
GS:  I write. As crazy as it sounds, I just write for half an hour, about anything. A fantasy shopping list, what I would buy if I had money. I literally write anything. It opens up the pathway and sometimes it produces a poem. When I have done that I go for a walk and draw in fresh air. It is amazing how the urge to get home and write comes back. If I am really struggling, I sit in the hills and just relax. I never let block get to me. However, I am not on a deadline so it is easy for me to say that.
Oh I love that idea, just write anything! Thank you, Glynis!  Anything you'd like to say to fellow writers and aspiring authors out there?
GS:  Thank you, Len.  I would like to say to all, follow your dream and enjoy it. Never make it a chore or you will lose the joy. Good luck to those who have agents, publishers or are self publishing. I wish you all high sales. To aspiring writers...write. Just write it down, never hesitate or hold back. Let it out. We are waiting to read your work.
Glynis, what a lovely way to end this interview.  All the best to you and your writing, too!  

Now, let me get some more coffee....and oh, would you like to try some cheesecake? It's yum! ☋

*****

If you aren't following Glynis yet, hop to her blog!  Please click HERE.
Note:  Glynis is also known as Nissi Peters.  Hop to Glynis' other blog HERE.


To purchase any of Glynis' books, please go to lulu.com


They are also available on Amazon.com


Sunday, 12 June 2011

My little piece of heaven

Some of you may already be aware that my son J has complex needs.  He doesn't walk.  He doesn't speak. I think I've written in one of my posts how I waited for milestones that never happened.  I waited and looked at the calendar each month, each year.  Then I stopped counting.

He was three years old when he held a feeding bottle.  He was four when he began to roll over.  Yes, when other three year olds and four year olds were learning to read and write, my son was only beginning to roll over.  Then he stopped doing them due to the intractable seizures.

I haven't given up though.  Because my husband and I talk to him each day and lately, we have been encouraging him to say 'Ahhh.'  This has been for a few days now, or maybe a week or so.

A few days ago, we got a response from him.

Yes.  A response.  After so many years of waiting.  I got a response.

He opened his mouth whilst in a lengthy gaze as I said 'ahhh' in front of him, asking him to copy me.  He moved his lips and opened his mouth like he was going to say 'ahhh'....but no sound came.  But he opened his mouth!  HE DID! Then he did it again, not once, not twice but several times.  With me.  Then with his Dad.

I got all misty-eyed.  I couldn't believe it! *Sigh*

I got a piece of heaven.

There's something there.  I know there is.  One day I know I'm going to see it.  It maybe wishful thinking but I know J is in there and he wants to come out.  I'd like to see it one day.  And hear his voice saying something.  Even if it's only to say 'Ahhh.'

Yes, that is heaven enough for me. And I'd like another piece of it someday.

"The most important things in life aren't things." -
Anthony J. D'Angelo


*******

Have you heard of Carly's story? I found it on the internet, let me share it with you:

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Fascinating Female Book Project


Trainer, Coach and Writer Michelle Alba-Lim has an invitation on Facebook that I'd like to repost here.  For those who are interested, please e-mail Michelle at
fascinatingfemales@yahoo.com.          
Or find her on Facebook:

Michelle


*******

Are you a fascinating female, or know someone who is? If so, you must read on.

In August 2010 I started compiling articles for a book entitled "Fascinating Females" which I had initially envisioned for publication before year end. It's now several months "overdue" and I need your help to get it done.

In retrospect I realize that I may have approached the project from the wrong end. I had singled out females whom I considered fascinating and invited them to send in articles. While some did respond quickly (with great articles), many others - for various reasons - have not yet sent anything in. One politely declined (and she is such an inspiring and fascinating female that I decided not to ask her why).

Instead of waiting for my "chosen ones" to eventually submit their articles, I'm now inviting anyone who has a fascinating story or article to share, to send it to fascinatingfemales@yahoo.com.

You may write it as a mini-biography, a snapshot, or a vignette. You can write about your adventures (or misadventures) in Mensa, Rotary, Toastmasters, the Red Cross, WOVI, ASTD, SHRM, IAC, the military, or any organization/s (or movements) you belong to. You can write about your life as a wife, a mom, a sister, a girlfriend, a daughter, a student, etc., or you can write about a single defining moment in your life, and so on.

Note that fascination, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, so what you may consider as a humdrum, boring life may be fascinating for others.

You will retain full copyright to whatever gets published, and can have your articles published again anywhere.

Articles can be anywhere from 1-4 pages of letter size (8-1/2 x 11), double-spaced, font 12, Times New Roman.

You may write in first person or third person (whichever you prefer). You may opt to use a pseudonym if you wish.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS JUNE 30, 2011.

Please email me at fascinatingfemales@yahoo.com if you have any questions or suggestions.

Looking forward to seeing some fascinating articles in my inbox very soon!

Michelle Alba-Lim

NOW THAT YOU'VE READ THIS, PLEASE SHARE IT WITH ALL YOUR FRIENDS. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

An Interview with Writer and Editor Lisa Stowe

As promised, I'm back with the promised interview post.  This interview should have been posted two months ago but as you already know, life happens sometimes. I apologise to Writer and Editor Lisa Stowe for the delay.  

Lisa has edited some of my writings, one of which was sent to a writing competition (my first time to enter a writing competition in the UK) and another one is going to be in an anthology in, hopefully, late 2011.  As a writer and aspiring author, I find Lisa to be so helpful.  She encourages me to continue to write and points out where I need to improve in a way that inspires.  Her comments are honest and constructive.  

I've enjoyed this interview so much and learned a lot.  Thank you, Lisa!
Note:  I've underlined and highlighted in colour my favourite parts of this interview.

What is your goal as an editor and how do you meet that goal?
Lisa Stowe (LS) :  I’m sure I’m expected to say that my goal is to help writers polish their work and hone their craft.  That’s part of it to be sure, but I absolutely love developing a friendship over the course of an editing project, of seeing a writer who, after getting their packet back, is excited and enthusiastic about their project.  There’s nothing worse than seeing a fellow writer discouraged.  I think those feelings of failure come from our nasty inner critics, and from harsh critiques.  I try to meet my goals by editing the way I’ve been edited, with empathy, respect, clarity, and concrete suggestions.
Does editing others work detract from your own writing?
LS:  Well to be honest, sometimes editing is an excuse to avoid my writing!  For the most part though, editing helps me improve my stories.  It’s kind of weird but I see things in other’s writing that I miss in mine.  Too close to the work I guess.  What’s also kind of weird is that when I leave a writer excited about their project, I end up just as excited about working on my project.  Like that enthusiasm is catching.
Do you edit in a different medium than you write?
LS:  I can edit other people’s work on the computer or with a hard copy.  My material though, is easier to edit on paper.  It’s like the computer screen is too small a window.  I think the difference is because with others I don’t know the story as intimately yet.  I also write to specific kinds of music but edit to silence.  It seems to create more of a working environment and less of an organic, flowing moment.
Does helping another writer improve not create competition for your own writing?
LS:  Not in the least.  How can there be competition when every voice is so unique and each story so individual?  Plus, the world is big enough for an infinite number of writers.  And think about the feeling you get when you realize the person you are talking to is also a writer.  That’s not competition, that’s kindred spirits.  Maybe if I was up in that rarified air where the top best sellers are I might be more worried about competition.  But down here on the ground floor I’m just happy to not be alone.
Tell us about your work space.  Do you have a special place at home where you write and edit?
LS:  Before I can write or edit I have to build a fire, light kerosene lamps, close the door on a tiny cabin, and try to ignore the creek, the woods, the mountains, the bears in the garbage can, and the raccoons on the roof.  I write while two stray cats that have moved in keep the mouse population from coming out of the walls.  I have a tea kettle on the wood stove for tea, and I’m very lucky that my husband gave me a laptop with a powerful battery.
Do you also provide a critique and not just editing of grammar, spelling, and the use of language?
LS:  Yes, and technically a person could hire me for one or the other.  A line edit with grammar, punctuation, etc., or a full edit with plot development, character arc, and so on.  I find it easier to do line edits on non-fiction.  It’s harder for me to do only a line edit on fiction though I do it if requested.  I get too wrapped up in the stories and end up wanting to dive in and do a full edit.
You are both writer and editor – which do you like best and why?
LS:  Oh, hard question Len.  When I can see a story coming, breathe it in, when the words are flowing, there’s nothing better than writing.  But editing makes me happy.  Not to sound corny or clich├ęd, but it does.  And it’s a different happiness than writing.  Imagine sitting down with your best friend over tea, and sharing something you both love deeply.  That’s what editing is for me.  Maybe writing is a private peace while editing is a social joy.
Do you edit any kind of genre?
LS:  Anything and everything.
When you receive a manuscript from a writer, what do you expect to see?
LS:  If someone has a first rough draft that they haven’t edited themselves yet, I prefer only a few chapters.  Rather than having the writer pay for a full edit they may not be ready for, I’d rather do a few chapters and let them see what is involved.  Then they can decide if they want to continue or wait until they have a more complete draft.  I also caution writers to think carefully before sending me something that’s not finished.  Many writers find that if they expose the story too soon, it dies and they’ll never finish it.  
How long have you been writing? And editing?
LS:  I’ve been telling stories since before I could write.  But the first one I remember writing was about age nine.  I wrote an adventure starring myself and my first crush, Huckleberry Finn.  The original fan fiction!  So I’ve been writing more than forty years.  But a lot of that was in secret, the result of being told I was no good.  No wonder I hate negative editors.  For editing, I’ve been doing that about ten years now.
For those interested in sending you their work, how can they contact you?
LS:  The website is being built slowly.  One brick at a time, I swear.  So for now, I can be reached by email at wordmuse@yahoo.com.  Put ‘edit’ in the subject line.  I also have a blog that has a page with more editing information.  That address is www.thestoryriver.wordpress.com
Any words of advice you’d like to tell aspiring authors out there? 
LS:  Sure, ‘do as I say, not as I do’!  As in, don’t give up, don’t listen to that inner critic, never be afraid of rejections, never be ashamed of being a writer.  And then try the things I have done, like building a trusted circle of fellow writers for support.
Thanks for interviewing me Len, and I’m still waiting to read your story again!
*******
Lisa,  again, thank you for this wonderful interview!  And please let me thank you for giving me the courage and confidence to enter a writing competition and for telling me other avenues to get published! It means a lot!
Don't forget to visit Lisa's blog and website:
*******
Coming up Next:  An interview with a writer from The Mediterranean island at the crossroads of three continents, Cyprus.  Don't miss it! 

Friday, 3 June 2011

Lenny Lee Fest




I'm spreading Lenny Lee Sunshine!  ☼ ☼ ☼
This post is for a dear bloggie friend,  Lenny Lee

I have written a poem for you, Lenny.

Today is a good day!
I'm spreading sunshine all the way!
Let's smile and stomp our feet
And dance in a cheerful beat!

Bloggers gather 'round!
Let's all make a happy sound!
Today let's celebrate
Coz Lenny is our mate!

The blogging world is so blessed
To have Lenny in its nest
Such a lovely lad, he is!
He is Number One on my list!

**********

Lenny, I hope my poem doesn't sound too terrible!
Hugs to you!