Thursday, December 23, 2010

Writing a prologue

I have decided to begin my new story with a prologue. I played around with the words for days on end, striving to get it "Just Right".

But why did I spend so long on it?

  • The beginning of a story needs to be gripping. It needs to draw the reader in or they won't get beyond Page 1. 
  • I needed the prologue to set the scene immediately. In very few words I needed to inform the reader of place, time and character personality.
  • I wanted to introduce some made-up words that are important to my story. If the reader learns their meaning straight away, there is less room for confusion later on.
Once I had written the prologue I emailed it to my boyfriend and asked him what he thought. He knows that if it is not up to scratch, he can offer me criticism and I'll be prepared to re-write it from scratch. Four drafts later I might just be happy with it.

Now it's back to my research and character profiles until I am happy enough to begin the first draft!

The latest addition to my growing family

Those of you who follow me on Twitter would know by now that I took impulse buying to a whole new level, and came home from grocery shopping one day with a brand new kitten. My reasoning was simple: He was cute and my current cat is getting weird from being alone too often. I cannot be home all the time to keep her company, so I thought she might like a new friend as a Christmas present.


She is currently sulking in my study, a room she wouldn't ordinarily set foot in unless I am in there with her.

He is sleeping by my feet, oblivious to the death stares she is sending his way.

At least she has stopped growling at him for now. Everywhere I went in the house, they would both sprint after me. Then they would have a spitting match at my feet. Urgh, it's like being single at a night club all over again!

So by now the writer within me is perking up and saying: Hang on, maybe you can use this for in your story. What a marvelous idea! My character is, after all, the daughter of a farmer and would be no stranger to the foibles of cats.

Or maybe my heroine can come across a crazy cat lady on her journey? Or maybe not, that may seem a little close to home...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Unforseen events in my heroine's life

I can't believe how long it took me to realise that the blindingly painful headaches I have been experiencing of late are a result of my over-bright computer screen. All it took was for me to change a few minor settings, and I am as right as rain.

This got me thinking. If there are things in my life that are directly affecting my comfort and well-being; these things which I am ignorant of, surely my characters would have similar experiences.

As I have been developing my character profiles, I became aware of the fact that I know things about my heroine that she doesn't know about herself. So will she act in a certain way due to an invisible factor, or am I just thinking that she would? If so, would the actions of the heroine confuse the reader?

So much to ponder! Am I over thinking this? Should I just let my character act for herself? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

How do I make my characters seem convincing?

I have recently been thinking about/ dreaming about a new concept I have for a fantasy fiction story. It is based on some Welsh mythology - a topic that is very close to my heart. Because I will be writing about some characters that are well known in Celtic folk tales, I recognise the need to be careful with how I portray them in my story. So how can I make sure my characters are going to be realistic?

Research, research, research I have spent the past couple of weeks researching the era. I have read countless folk tales, websites about witches and magic, and a myriad of other books. I have enjoyed this process because I love to learn, but it is still a hard slog.

Character names I need to make sure the names of my characters are both authentic AND translatable to modern times. The reader shouldn't have to stumble over a pile of odd, unpronounceable names.  My way of doing this is to show my partner the names and ask him what he thinks. If he can't get his head around the Welsh spelling, then Johnny Normal won't be able to either.

Character profiles Before I begin to map out my story I need to know my characters inside and out. I will sit down and write all the insignificant details about all of the characters, even the man behind the bar that doesn't warrant a mention in the text. This will help me decide how each character would act in different situations. I don't want my heroine to do something completely out of form. I have read too many books that left me thinking "But she simply wouldn't do something that stupid!" to make me cautious about making the same mistake.

Write from the heart The story I am writing has, no doubt, be told many times before. A young woman's journey to save her people and discover herself along the way is old hat. But it has never been told by me before so I had damn well better make it my own. If I write from the soul it will be 100% my story.

And so onward and upwards with this new journey of mine. I was tempted to wait until my Children's Story is complete before I began, but I feel I need the time to walk away and come back to it with a fresh perspective. Off I trot to do some more research!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The best of 2010

As the year is winding down, I am starting to reflect on the past 12 months. Here are some of my ten 'best ofs' for 2010:

Best decision: To strive towards a new career
Best purchase: Probably my PS3, or maybe my Christmas tree
Best song I heard for the first time: Paolo Nutini's "New Shoes"
Best place visited: Mt Dandenong 1920's Cottage with my favourite person in the world
Best culinary moment: Making lasagna for the first time just like my Mum makes
Best childish moment: Being caught in the supermarket doing a dance of excitement
Best stupid moment: Kicking a soccer ball in the house and breaking several items
Best book read: Hands down Anne Bishop's "Black Jewels" trilogy
Best movie: Harry Potter, because it met my expectations so well
Best discovery: It turns out there's a beautiful botanical garden around the corner from me

The year 2010 was a huge one for me. I have struggled through being promoted in only my second year of teaching, I have picked up my pen again to hone my writing skills, I have enrolled at University for some post-graduate studies, I have had various unlucky health-issues and I have changed direction with my career.

Image via:

I have achieved so much in such a short space of time, and I think I need to be careful to remember that. Thank goodness I have such a beautiful, supportive boyfriend who is only ever a call away, and loving parents who accept me no matter what I do in life.

I am excited for 2011. I'm hoping to finish one of my Children's Novels, find success in my studies, and find a new job. So many changes, so little time!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thoughts About Self-Publishing

I recently went to a social networking event with my better half. The speaker was from "Blurb", a self-publishing company. They will publish anything from a wedding photo book ,to a house wife's (or husband's, I don't discriminate) book of recipes, to an aspiring author's novel.

This got me thinking about the merits of self-publishing and whether or not I could pull it off. Obviously, as a Children's Writer, I probably couldn't self-publish, but what about my other writings? For example, could I self-publish my fantasy fiction novel? At roughly $3.50 per book it seems cheap enough, but what else is involved?

I guess the first stumbling block is editing. We writers have read the pages again and again and again. This means that we will miss any minor mistakes. If you are as anal as I am this will really go against the grain. Months, years worth of work, only to have blemishes throughout the print. It will cost money to get a professional to edit your work, money I just do not have. 

Okay, hypothetically speaking I have printed my book and I have boxes and boxes of them sitting in my lounge room. Herein lies the next stumbling block - selling the things. How do you sell a book when you are an unknown entity? My local bookshop may purchase one or two out of sympathy, but bigger book selling companies won't touch them. It would require the company to register the book on their system', something they will not do if they cannot be guaranteed that they would be able to sell hundreds of copies of the book. It's a waste of their time and they don't need you. So I would have to sell to my unsuspecting family members, work colleagues and friends. Christmas, after all, is coming up soon. Then I would have to try and sell from my website. I would have to market myself with no backing. I may be a confident public speaker, but I'm not that good.

This all seems like an awful lot of work, and I don't exactly have a whole lot of spare time on my hands. I think self-publishing could work well for a lot of people, but I don't think it would be my own first port of call. I think I would like to do every thing I can to get it published by a set company first, and then self-publish if I knew for certain that it was the absolute best work I could produce.

I am aware that I am only considering hard copies of books here. ePublishing is a whole other ball game, and is something I have yet to look into. I guess I like the idea of having a copy of my very own book in my hands, with crisp white paper and that smell that must surely come from heaven itself. 

I would love to hear your thoughts/ideas/opinions on self-publishing.

...oh, and I did smooze well enough to be given a $50 voucher to publish my very own "Blurb" book. I am having a lot of fun putting together a photo book for my boyfriend for Christmas!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Inspiration - Mountain Forests

As I am writing away on my Children's story I am being reminded, again and again, of my childhood. It is even creeping into my dreams. I had a very fruitful childhood, and was so lucky with everything I had. With three brothers, there was always someone to hang out with, even if I was having friendship problems at school.

Most importantly, there was always someone around to listen to my stories. My little brother, in particular, used to hang on to my every word. He was my audience for puppet shows I wrote. He was also the first person to ever read one of my stories when I was about 10 years old. I never really appreciated that.

Some of the fondest memories I have is that of climbing trees and exploring the forest behind my grandparents' house. Mountain Ash trees are difficult to climb, not having any branches, but we gave it a go. Bruises, scrapes and scratches; all a part of our active childhood and not considered a hindrance at all. We would build bark huts. pretend to build a camp fire, and imagine ourselves in other times, places or worlds. I know I am a storyteller because of those times.  The tales just rolled off my tongue, as natural as breathing.

You might say I was bossy; I say I had initiative. Although I often conferred with my older brothers I led the way more often than not, and let my wild imagination run wild.

I wish I could go back to that forest. Give me a week up there and I think I would have a completed novel. I don't think it's a coincidence that, when I had offers of jobs thrown at me, I chose to commute every day to work in a place in the heart of a mountain forest. It helps me breathe easier, and I feel more alive. 

Hmmm, me and my nostalgia. Maybe I'll go for a drive to the mountains this weekend?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Your help is needed!

So here is my [most recent] problem:

In the Children's story that I am currently writing I have a character who is a mean, grumpy teacher, ambiguous age, who upsets my main character. As a teacher myself I am struggling to create this character. I know too many teachers, and all of my colleagues are wonderful, fantastic, hard working, passionate teachers.

Here is where you come in:
  • Please, please, please share your nasty teacher stories with me so that I can have something to bounce off from.
I'm sure they must be out there somewhere!!

I would be very grateful for your input on this :)


Thursday, August 19, 2010


Hello all and welcome to my new website! Visit my home page to learn more about what I am trying to do here, or alternatively read my bio to find out a bit more about me.

Life is an adventure and I intend to live my life to the full. When I travel the world next year I will relate my escapades to you here. For now I will write about the trivialities of life. 

I hope you enjoy!