A bit of fun!

I thought I’d wrap up the weekend with a new post of a slightly different variety. There is a series of questions doing the rounds among authors at the moment that reveal their reading secrets. Thanks to Natasha Lester for inviting me along.

There are rules!!! So here’s the official bit:

  1. Post these rules
  2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover File:OnBeautybookcover.jpg
  3. Answer the questions below
  4. Tag a few people to answer them too
  5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
  6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

Now here’s the fun bit:

What are you reading right now?

The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak. I am so close to the end but I love the book so much that I don’t want it to end so I am trying to drag it out by reading slowly.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

Undecided as this one will be a tough act to follow. Probably Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites or Zadie Smith’s NW.

What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to

  1. Ulysses – I’ve started it before but never seem to finish it.
  2. Stalingrad by Antony Beevor
  3. Grace by Robert Drewe
  4. The Inheritance of Loss by Hiran Desai
  5. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/ lounge right now?

House and Garden – we are slowly renovating our old cottage so I am always looking for ideas.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

I’m not sure I have one. There are books I didn’t particularly like but ‘worst ever’ seems a bit harsh!

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?

Harry Potter – too much hype put me off.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Where do you usually get your books?

Anywhere really; library, bookshop, second hand store. I love the big charity book sales that take over massive halls – I can spend all day looking around.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

I loved Anne of Green Gables and many of Roald Dahl’s books. I would read just about anything though. I used to get busted by my mum hiding under the doona at 3am with a torch so I could read way past my bedtime!

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?

The Book Thief until I realised that meant I was approaching the end too quickly

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

Ulysses again, started but never finished

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

The Vintage Classics edition of The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

What book changed your life?

White Teeth by Zadie Smith – I was studying creative writing at the time it was published and her novel was so descriptive and well written. I dreamed of being able to write like her.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

Once upon a time…

Who are your top five favourite authors?

  1. Zadie Smith
  2. Sebastian Faulks
  3. Craig Silvey
  4. Alison Weir
  5. Barbara Kingsolver

What book has no one heard about but should read?

The Six Wives of Henry the XIII by Alison Weir

What books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

What are your favourite books by a first time author?

Rubarb by Craig Silvey

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman

What is your favourite classic book?

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Five other notable mentions?

  1. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
  2. The Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy
  3. Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime by Mark Haddon
  5. Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks

I am going to tag Bridget Tombleson, Kara Pisconeri and Mel Berry. You don’t have to be tagged to take part. Feel free to post a link to your answers in the comments section so others can have a look. Thanks again to Natasha for tagging me.


A Creative Stuck

I have no idea how to write a book and there have been many times over the past couple of months while trying to produce something vaguely readable that I have questioned the mental capacity of the judges at the ASA for giving me this mentorship. I have also written many an apology letter in my head to my lovely editor who is stuck reading my sentimental, clichéd rubbish when surely she has something far more enjoyable to do.

And then, because I was procrastinating more than it is healthy for any one person to do, I came across an article about getting stuck in the creative process, about hating every single thing you have written, about wanting to find the closest shredder (although it would be a virtual shredder these days) and line your chicken coop with the strips of torn paper so the hens can crap all over the garbage you have written! So someone else has felt like me at some point. And not just one someone but a whole lot of them. They didn’t all succumb to alcoholism or drugs in true literary fashion either! Six local authors just wrote blog posts addressing what they do when they are feeling discouraged about what they are working on. Dawn Barker talks about a ‘cycle of euphoria and despair’. Emma Chapman recommends reading about how other writer’s cope and Natasha Lester voices my worst enemy, that old procrastination, when I would rather clean the toilet than sit in front of the computer.

Although it is a horrible feeling that I wouldn’t wish on anyone I am finding comfort in the fact that so many other writers out there have been exactly where I am now. So what I am going to do? I am going to plough on, word by word. I have added a few new inspirational quotes to the cork board in front of me. I allowed myself time off to sweep the house – which I’m sure has you scratching your head in wonder but getting up and doing something active helped. And I’m going to accept that there will be ups and downs and that actually I love writing so what have I got to complain about!

Just in case you are an emerging author and you stumble across this while procrastinating about your own work – have faith, read and it will get better (I hope!)

Less Hiding in the Library Stacks, More Trips to the Maldives

I’ve been thinking more about research lately. Five months ago I put all of the text books and journals away as I wanted to get my word count moving rather than get caught in character development hell. Now though I feel like I need to know more before I can improve my story. I’ve been reading lots of blogs and online forums to get a feel for how people would handle the situations that arise in my manuscript. I also work two days a week in an office that receives thousands of calls, each one different, each person with their own reason for calling, which gives me amazing access to a huge variety of people and their responses to a given situation. None of those situations relate to my characters, but the emotions people experience are similar and how they deal with those emotions and stressful situations varies greatly.

Yesterday as I was leaving work someone asked me if today was my writing day. A big fist pump as affirmation and they asked how many words I was likely to get out in a day. They were horrified at my response due to the low figure rather than a high one! ‘What do you do all day then?’ was the next question.

Make an Effort

‘Make an effort to seek out people who love writing and make friends with them. It helps to confirm your writing life.’ Natalie Goldberg

I keep hearing from emerging writers how important their writers groups have been to them but I have had trouble finding one of my own. I had a semi formal group at university that fell apart when a large section of the group graduated. I didn’t have writing colleagues in London so I hadn’t been a part of a group for years. There are so many writing groups to choose from in Perth but I was specific about what I wanted to gain from the group;

  • people working on a full length piece with the intention of publishing it
  • members with a writing background rather than writers just starting out
  • writers I could relate to, whom I felt would give me honest feedback, but whom I also liked as people.

These may sound a bit unfair, especially the one about writers who are just getting started as many would argue, myself included, that everyone needs support in their writing and those just starting out probably have the most trouble finding avenues to get their work heard. However, in this case I decided to be selfish, especially after attending a few groups with a large beginner contingent.

I started my search looking at WritingWA as they list a large number of groups throughout Perth as well as the Writers Centres. I did try out one of the groups from their list. The participants were friendly and experienced, however the group was also long term established and I wasn’t sure I was going to break my way into their clique. I probably would’ve persevered but for their daytime meeting resulting in a requirement for babysitting every time I wanted to attend.

Secrets to Publishing Success (not mine!)

I have made it through the chaos of Easter egg hunts and I am out of the other side with some words and ideas up my sleeve. I am beginning to get used to the idea of having dedicated writing time but am still not so good at pigeon holing my social media time. I’m thinking I should probably set aside xxx number of hours each week/day dedicated to social media and then stop at that (or think about what else I could do if I’m not using it up)!

Anyway, last time I promised to fill you in on the publishing course I attended a while ago – the result being the reason you are reading this in that one of the topics covered early on was social media and the importance of a writers platform. I have attended a few courses through UWA Extension before and all had been well run. Last November/December I enrolled in a four week course called ‘Nailing the Novel’ with WA Author Natasha Lester. This course was the catalyst I needed to complete some serious work on my manuscript, the result of which was my submission to the ASA and the mentorship. So you can imagine how pleased I was to discover early this year that the lovely Natasha was running another course, this time entitled ‘Secrets to Publishing Success‘.

She said yes!

In my last post I left you as I was eagerly waiting for a reply from my first choice of mentor. Well she said yes! I’m going to have a chance to work with Julia Stiles – Editor Extraordinaire! She has a very impressive bio (more on that later) and I’m honoured that she is interested in my project (although she has only read 10 pages so the other 300 odd might be pants). As I was lounging around in Eagle Bay last week I haven’t had the chance to have a chat with her yet but I am looking forward to that later this week.

Eagle Bay

Life’s pretty straight without mentees…

I’m sitting in the library on what is supposed to be my writing day – the one day a week I get eight hours uninterrupted writing as opposed to snippets on the other days. Today though I am procrastinating. I am just a little bit excited that the announcements have come out for the Australian Society of Authors Emerging Writers Mentorships and I am one of the winners! All of a sudden I am being asked for headshots, press release details and literary bios – something that as an unpublished author I have never had to think about before.

For a while now I have been wondering what on earth I would have to write about in a blog and last night my clever husband suggested that the concept had just fallen in my lap – I could write about my experience as an emerging writer in the mentor program. So here I am, two coffees down, not a lot achieved on my novel, Linkedin page created and first blog post being bashed out.