The ‘To and Fro’ of Writing

If the dream of being a published author includes the ‘hideaway’ at the bottom of the perfect garden in full bloom on a summer’s day with bees buzzing between the flowers, think again.

When the vision is of a long desk with a deep leather chair set in front of a panoramic window showing the view of the beach and a long stretch of sand leading to the palest blue water ever seen, my advice is to reconsider.

If the picture is of the writer tapping away at the keyboard, making notes on paper, taking the occasional call from his or her agent and smiling in ill-disguised pleasure over a glass of wine at the end of a writing day while reading the latest heartwarming review over the last release, alter those ideas.

Most published authors still need to work on a part-time if not full-time basis. Even if they can write full-time, life isn’t all roses and champagne.

I haven’t blogged about writing for a while so thought this was an apt post. My teenage dream was not as fanciful, and mostly composed of finishing a single work, sending it away, having it edited, published, and while…yes, maybe having to attend books signings, working on the next novel. I never envisioned the back and forth, to and fro, hop from one foot to the other, mental swings and roundabouts of working on several stories at once.

I’ve edits on one work and have to return the galley proof to a deadline, trying to write a full novel (to a personal deadline), trying to write/edit a short story that’s needed ASAP, and trying to draft a proposal for yet another idea for a potential novel. Oh…and I’d also like to be working on a few short stories I’m considering sending out and/or putting together in an anthology. There are many pitfalls linked to the dream of becoming a published author, many of which no one warns about, and working on more than one project simultaneously is one.

I’m not even going to pretend to enjoy it. On the rare and fortunate occasions when the work flows the last thing a writer wants is to have that stream interrupted, to throw a mental switch, and to perform a intellectual feat of dexterity. That’s what makes leaving a story at long last nagging to be written to rest, to work on something you’ve possibly read and edited thirty times, so torturous.

Sometimes I read something I wish I’d written myself. Often it’s a book. This time it’s a blog. No one can express what I’m trying to put across more than this post by author Kate Douglas. It’s an oldie but goodie so I’ll let her speak for writers everywhere:http://lisapietsch.com/2010/04/20/kate-douglas-delivers-the-essential-author-101/

Guest Post: Clarissa Johal ‘Whispers in the Woods’

I don’t usually blog twice in one day but for Clarissa Johal I’ll make an exception. Please welcome her to my blog. I’m currently reading her book, Between.
Book Details:
Title: Whispers in the Wood
Genre: Paranormal Dark Fantasy
Author: Clarissa Johal
Editor: Frank Moore
Publisher: Faeriemoon Press

 

ISBN-13: 9781721036677
ISBN-10: 1721036679
ASIN: B07F9TBTNS
 
 
About Whispers in the Wood:
It all began with an acorn.
 
There are some places you shouldn’t disturb, places where history lingers. When Rowan travels to England, she finds a remote village, hidden in the shadow of an ancient forest. Vague warnings from the local people aren’t enough to stop her from venturing into the trees, or from picking up a single acorn. It seemed a simple action. But when a stranger emerges from the forest claiming the acorn belongs to him, Rowan finds herself pulled into something both centuries old and deadly.
 
Excerpt from Whispers in the Wood:

Stars dotted an inky sky and the moon cut a path across the pastures like water. It would have been a beautiful night in other circumstances, one where she would have been happy to go for a midnight walk. But tonight, her senses were on edge and she startled at every sound. Rowan’s feet made sloshing sounds in the wet grass as she hurried towards the church.

The standing stone reflected the moonlight like a beacon. The churchyard beyond it appeared empty, its gravestones pointing like accusing fingers towards the sky. The silence was oppressive and she resisted the urge to whistle. She stole up the steps to the church itself, hoping the teens would be inside.

Pressing her ear against the door, she breathed the pungent scent of burnt wood. Hesitant, Rowan tried the handle. The door gave way and opened with a long, drawn-out creak.

A giggle sounded behind her.

Whipping around, her gaze swept the darkness. The sound was coming from the graveyard itself. A shiver trailed down her spine like icy fingers. “Hello?”

A low whisper drifted with the breeze, followed by another giggle.

“Fiona? Will? Jennifer, Jonathan? C’mon, you guys. Not funny.” She waited for the teens to show themselves. “I’m not going with you to the forest, by the way. I don’t think you should go either.” She walked to where the sound came from and steeled herself for a ‘gotcha’ moment.

Expecting to see the teens hiding behind a gravestone, she was surprised instead by scattered flowers, left like offerings. She picked one up and twirled it in her fingers. The flower’s petals reflected alabaster in the moonlight like finger bones. Freshly picked, the scent of the plucked stem was still strong. Rowan began to toss it aside when she was hit with an icy gust of wind. Her vision clouded and she felt a jarring shift in her surroundings.

She kicked up debris as her feet pounded the forest floor. The trees were a wild blur, as were the smells. The strong scent of greenery mixed with the scent of blood. Her blood. Heart pounding, she saw a bright spot in the distance. Escape. The bright spot grew larger and larger as she tore through the overgrowth towards it. Suddenly, she was jerked off her feet and dragged backward. A scream ripped her throat and everything went black. A sharp pain cut through her spine. Unable to move her arms and legs, she tried to take a breath. Panic welled in her throat like bile.

* * * *
Buy Links:
 
Available via Kindle Unlimited
About the Author:
 
Clarissa Johal is the bestselling author of paranormal novels, Whispers in the Wood, Poppy, The Island, Voices, Struck and Between. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing, taking pictures of gargoyles, or swinging from a trapeze. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters, and every stray animal that darkens their doorstep. 
 
 
Find Clarissa Online:
 

Regard Fear as the Enemy

A little over a year ago I did a guest spot on Southern Writers. Several months on this seems a perfect moment to reproduce that blog here, though an introduction explaining why won’t hurt.

Writers everywhere get days when they would like nothing more than to remain in bed, and to draw the pillow over their heads. Despite the longed-for dream, not everything about writing is fun. I always look at writing and publishing as two different ‘beasts’. This is one of those not-so-fun instances.

I’ve moved. We’ve work to do in the house, and this being the biggest relocation of our lives (so far), we’ve much to organise. I’d love to be one of those people who can compartmentalise, push everything to the back of my mind and write. I’m much better at getting everything finished and then concentrating on one thing at a time. No way in publishing can that happen. Right now I’ve a book to finish I wanted to sub at the end of January. I’ve another in a trilogy that requires approximately another 20k of words and I should send in…oh about now. There’s no set deadline, but I’m trying to reach readers, publisher, and my expectations. Then I’ve another, and, in many ways, far more important book to finish that needs a whole subplot adding to it. I’m swamped.

At the weekend I walked away from it all. I took a time out I couldn’t afford because something was going to snap; bad enough it should be my temper but I didn’t want it to be me. All that leads me into the subject because writers live with a good deal of fear. Fear they won’t meet deadlines. Fear they won’t be able to finish a book. Terror each new work won’t be received as well as their last. Fear of taking on new projects, especially those outside of their comfort zone, and the temptation to walk away from it all.

While the books I refer to below are currently unavailable I’m working on other projects that feel as terrifying, maybe more so. Add to that the dread of days that end in what feels like a blink and a bed and a pillow seems evermore enticing. The trouble with that temptation like so many types of avoidance, it cures nothing.

I wish I could write an encouraging ‘how-to’ narrative revealing all the secrets of mastering the writing craft. Such a missive might make the task easier and eliminate writer anxiety. My own included. My advice? Be afraid but grasp opportunities, anyway.

The secret is there is no secret. What may work for one author may not work for another, same for genre or market. There’s no specific wrong or right way to write, wrong or right way to market (though spamming is never a good thing). There’s no yet revealed way to kill the worry of finding the next idea, the right publisher, receiving a bad review, or jumping in and trying something new. I’ve learned to view the occasional fluke as providence.

I try anything, and file that which doesn’t work now in case something becomes useful. This goes for stories as much as promoting. I find stories often by ‘accident’. I’ll begin with two seemingly unconnected incidents, a vague idea of characters or places, or a single occurrence. I’ve even created stories from a title idea, a phrase, or a random selection of words, tried many genres. Some markets I stumbled into because an idea nagged me to write it, or because I was searching for submission calls. That’s when accident bridges the gap to intent. Where one formula won’t work for one writer, it may do so for another. Where a blueprint doesn’t apply to one genre, another must be rigid. Study the market. It’s amazing how many writers still send the wrong material to the wrong editor or publication. A horror publisher doesn’t want romance or vice versa. Pay attention to guidelines.

I read anything and everything; have too many interests, so with writing it was hardly surprising I wanted to run in all directions. I called myself a multi-genre author little knowing I was making an already difficult task more problematic. Branding is important, possibly imperative. My stories appear from the mysterious well of my imagination working together with a brain that seems to tuck away the quirkiest detail; I sometimes feel as if I’m fooling myself if I think I’m anyway in control of them. There’s no knowing where I’ll head next, so I keep my options open. That’s why my next publication will take me to Jupiter where there are dragons.

Being willing to make ‘accidental’ connections both in real life and in my storytelling is how I got embroiled in the steampunk world of Space 1889. I received an invitation. I quietly panicked. Then I took a breath, started reading and researching. Now I have three titles (one co-authored) in a series that is a little part of history. Regard fear as the enemy.

Guest Spot: Chantal Noordeloos

Today in honour of my upcoming Dark Fiction release, I’m purposely throwing the spotlight on author Chantal Noordeloos as a writer who is as in tune with my sensibilities as she is also apart from them. I understand her intentions behind her darker work, as she would no doubt understand mine. As her biography states, she’s a writer born in the Hague, lives in the Netherlands, with what strikes me as the perfect balance of family: a husband who shares the right level of unconventionality and a wily daughter as amusing as she is ingenious — a word that suits the whole Noordeloos ensemble and zeal for life. It is this love of life that may make one question why Chantal visits such dark realms in her writing: one of those cases where the question itself may supply the answer, for these tales face our darkest fears and often drive back the shadows or, at least, greet what lurks within them head-on.

Wrath begins with a first-person telling of a vicious attack on an unknown woman, but what may seem like the end of her journey turns into another beginning…with choices only the wrathful can make. This is a thought-provoking story in the second of this author’s contribution to her ‘seven deadly sins’ series.
CN_Wrath
What immediately came to mind was the amount of unpleasant research done to get the atmosphere of this nasty little tale just right. The story plays out on many levels making the reader uncomfortable, questioning morality and even what constitutes ‘sin’. Some reading the story won’t agree, I’m sure, but it’s necessary to go deeper and consider the issues within to feel that greater sense of purpose. These layers are present from the outset. Not to give the story details away but a pre-set view of the main character forms before the truth comes to light and in this way made me question personal concepts; or in other words, I was too quick to impress my own view on the character and then surprised when I realised the actual circumstances, but this is a good thing, potentially making the reader self-aware of how ingrained preconceptions can be.

The story also highlights the plight of women around the world, how societies and even groups within societies view the issue of feminism (just another word for equality) and it does it at an emotional level that I hope will make both men and women squirm. If this story makes the reader uncomfortable, well it should. It should also make them question. On the negative side there were a couple of editing points, and although I found the end satisfying, it felt a little fast coming after a steady build-up. That’s why I award the story 4 out of 5 but I eagerly anticipate the rest of the series and these issues should be largely overlooked midst the bones of a provocative story.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Guest Spot: Chris Pavesic

A little late for Autumn, but anytime is cooking time, right?

Fantasy author Chris Pavesic is in the kitchen with her delicious and healthy addition to your dinner menu. The kitchen is all yours, Chris.

This recipe is one of the first I make during the fall season to go along with the bountiful harvest of apples available in my area of the Midwest.

 

Photo by kornnphoto

TeaOrganic Ginger Candy

I use organic ingredients whenever I can. I find that it improves the flavor and I think it is healthier for me and my family. However, this chutney can easily be made with non-organic ingredients as well. It is all up to you—the cook.

Traditionally apple chutney is a savory sauce made from apples, brown sugar, vinegar, onions and various herbs and spices. It has a sweet and tart flavor that complements meat dishes such as roast chicken, beef, ham and pork chops.

In my family, certain people are allergic to onions (myself included). So I adapt recipes to take these allergies into consideration. I thought I would share my recipe with you.

 
Easy Apple Chutney
⅔ cup brewed tea, warm*
8 organic ginger candies
5 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced.
1 cup celery, diced very fine
⅓ cup Key Lime Juice
¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup cider vinegar
1 tsp. dried mustard powder or 2 tsp. yellow mustard
1½ tsp. sea salt
¾ cup dried cherries

Partially dissolve the ginger candies in the tea. Do not be concerned if the ginger candies do not completely dissolve. They will continue to melt during the cooking.You can substitute 1 tbsp. powdered ginger or 2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger in place of the candies. If you do, increase the light brown sugar to 1 Cup, lightly packed.

Combine the tea mixture and all remaining ingredients into a Dutch Oven. Cover and simmer for 50 minutes on your stovetop, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover and cook for about another 20 minutes. You want the excess liquid to evaporate and the chutney to thicken.

Dutch OvenRemove from the Dutch Oven and set aside to cool. Store covered in the refrigerator.

I like recipes that can be made in Dutch Ovens and Crock Pots. They really save a lot of time/effort. This one is probably one of the more elaborate ones—and yet the prep time is only about 15 minutes.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 70 minutes

*I use Trader Joe’s Specialty Pomegranate White Tea made with Organic White Tea Leaves, Hibiscus Flowers, and Lemongrass.

 

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with any of the products/companies discussed in this post.)

Cheers!

Here is a brief introduction to Wonderland, the latest fantasy book by Chris Pavesic. Enjoy!

 

You may think you know her story.

You don’t.

Throughout her life Alice has faced fear and isolation, but she has never given up hope. In the City by the Bay she has one last chance to find happiness; one last chance to find friendship; one last chance to find Wonderland.

Click here to watch the YouTube video.

 

Read excerpts from all of the books written by Chris Pavesic on Amazon.

Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends. Learn more about Chris on her website.

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