Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Stinking Dogs and School Socials

As I write different things, memories flood back and I keep notes of them in a file that I call "Letters to my Children". Someday it may form the basis for a memoirs. I found these notes from a Master Class I did with Kirsty Murray. They are a first draft only.

The door flew open we could read the fury on our mother’s face.

‘Get that stinking dog out of here.’

‘David let him in...’

She cut me off before I could finish. ‘He’s your dog and he’s rolled in something.’

‘Out.’ I yelled and pointed to the door she was still holding open oblivious to the swarm of blowflies that circled past her. That anger would wait.

Fido ,who had never done anything in a hurry looked back at me. He shared the same look as my mother. At the door he peered out and looked up at Mum as if to say, ‘Are you serious?’ Fido took his time, but before she could move her foot behind him and give his backside a nudge he shook. A long violent shake. Wet cow dung atomised, and bits and pieces of green and black goo speared from his black and white hide. A mist of stink landing on Mum, the door, the stove and the fridge. Everything within a metre copped it.

He might have gone to golf with mum that day, something he wasn’t welcome to do, but he always made sure he was home to greet David and I when we’d finished school. Fido was my dog and now more than ever I knew it. Mum would make sure of that.

She stormed out cursing all kinds of obscenities toward David me and the dog. She muttered about dress fittings and school socials and how she’d promised Mrs Gibb I’d go with Gwenda. That was fine, she and her brother Allen were mates. She insisted I would have to ask her to dance. Me dance, I have no rhythm or sense of timing and at thirteen I thought boys still got germs from girls. Well they did, didn’t they? Having to dance with any of the girls filled me with terror, there was no way I could do that, dancing was something different again.

But after the Fido incident, I was not in a position to refuse and at the end of it all of us had a good night.

Friday, 24 January 2014

I don't have Writer's Block, I'm Procrastinating

Since attending a writing workshop in August I have had trouble finding time to keep writing. Les Gillespie's Gold lies abandoned in a cobweb covered file on my desktop, and my Toby Farrier manuscript is craving for attention. I have written a few small short stories and spent a lot of time on research, but if I'm being honest with myself, all of that is procrastination.

I know that I pointed to the workshop as the trigger, but this is unfair. It was great to spend four days with intelligent and funny people all with the same ambition. Sure I was intimidated by their writing prowess and found myself in awe of their academic ability, but the real reason for my lack of word count was distraction. I was drawn away by other things. Oh and I had a simple excuse, I had writers block. What tripe, story ideas dance across my mind continually, I even jot down notes or dialogue that I can use. No, I was letting stuff get in the way.

Social media for me is the greatest trap of all when I am writing, it is too easy to click onto Facebook of follow a tweet. I can find plenty of time to promote and create awareness for my novel. I have developed complex plans for a dozen new projects, but again if I'm honest, this is just putting things off. Building and maintaining my author platform (which is what I am doing now) is the greatest consumer of my time and saps at my creativity. Oh and I can blame my self publishing and printing a substantial quantity of  my novel KUNDELA. This knowledge requires that I acknowledge the investment we have in unsold books, and therefore out of respect for the family finances I have a responsibility to introduce them to as many bookstores as possible. This too takes time.

I am from a sales and marketing background so I find calling on retailers familiar to me. However this field is new and all of the cold call fears and trepidation surface as I prepare to make a new contact.  More lost time as I build the courage to make a cold call. One thing I do know, is that I am able to present my product well enough for a bookstore manager to make a purchase, or at least take a few books on consignment. Thankfully all of these calls have resulted in more acceptances than knock-backs.

Another time investment for a writer are in-store promotions and author talks. These are fun events and everyone I know loves signing copies of their book. Talking to like minded people and listening to a reader enthuse about your work is great. We all want to get that affirmation and as often as we can and in my case, time to write gives way to this vanity. Again it is too easy to put off working on my manuscripts by saying that the existing book is more important.

Recognising these things that I use to justify not writing is easy to put aside, after all these are important things that must be done. Bull-dust to that, I am only making them important and as big as I make them, they really don't matter much. I just need to get some discipline and structure into my writing week.

To define my Writer's Block is easy.

Procrastination fuelled by fear.

The more I learn about writing the more I struggle to get it right before the words hit the screen, and then I ask myself, how would my author heroes frame the same passage? I waste hours on this. At the root of this procrastination is that I continually question my skill.
  • Is the story strong enough?
  • Are the characters believable?
  • Have I planned enough?
  • Did I spend too much time on planning?
I even know how and why I am procrastinating. Social media called, and I weakened to it's lure.

However there are some benefits. Analysing my problem has highlighted the traps, and if I can take one thing from this process, it is that everything I have learnt has challenged me to write in a purposeful fashion. Therefore the solution to my writer's block will be to make sure I build some structure in my writing day. I can do this by developing and working on the following points until they become a habit:
  • Spend no more than 10-20 minutes a day reviewing the story plan and character profiles.
  • Write for at least 3 hours before lunch every day without distraction, or a break.
  • Only check my e-mails after 3.00 pm.
  • Dedicate one full day a week to sales and promotion.
  • Limit Facebook and other social media until both manuscripts are completed.
  • Set the manuscripts aside for at least 6 months before beginning to edit.
I have taken the summer to re-read everything I've written and I must say I've become a bit impressed with myself. I know that sounds cocky, but after reading my first drafts I know the thing I have most to work on is self belief. I need to understand the strength of my writing and know anything out of place will be fixed during the edits. This affirmation is best summarised by the following points:
  • Let the characters develop unrestricted and have them take me on their journey.
  • Believe in the storyline, mostly the plot is strong and the subplots colourful.
  • Get the words down, any problems can be edited it later.
So why should I doubt myself? I don't need to.

Sorry got to go now, I can hear a character calling.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

It's funny what research turns up

We all agree that our planet seems to be suffering from dramatic climate events, none more real than the expanding deserts of Africa and into Asia.
Doing research for my novel Les Gillespie's Gold, I spoke to one of my daughters about one of the plot points and she sent the following link to me. It will mean revising that particular plot but what it has done is explain how we can save the great grass lands that we have lost over the years of ecology science.
In the eighties farmers in my home district of Orroroo began using minimum tillage farming as a means to increasing crop yield. This TED talk by Allan Savoy shows the science now being employed around the world to stop desertification. A lot of the techniques used duplicate what those marginal farmers from Perth to Adelaide were trying.
Take a look at the link, maybe it will cause us to rethink our views, change the way we manage stock numbers and even save a few endangered flora and fauna species in the process.

Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html?utm_source=email&source=email&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=ios-share

Saturday, 4 January 2014

KUNDELA is now avaiable as an e-book

I thought I’d let you know that my novel KUNDELA has now been released on Amazon’s e-book list and the good news is that for the next few days it is available for just $0.99.
You will need to act quickly though as on the 7th of January 2014 it reverts to the recommended retail price of $9.99. If you’d like to spoil yourself  with an entertaining holiday read, download it to your tablet, e-reader or desktop now.
I continue to be amazed by people who take time out of their day to let me know what they think of the story and this encouragement motivates me to finish the next book in the series.

Here is just one of the reviews I received last week.

Dear Terry,

I just finished your book Kundela, I actually started it last night and kept reading all day until it was finished - I just loved it.  Although having just returned from staying in Orroroo for the Carrieton rodeo and after travelling on the back roads via Hammond to Quorn, the images of that country were very fresh in my mind making the story very believable.

I can't believe a big publisher has not seen the potential in your work.


Cathryn Harris