Thursday, 12 July 2018

Writing - Why we do it

"The road is loooooong," to quote the song "He Ain't Heavy".
And there is indeed many a winding road. And who knows where they may lead?

I see writers online struggling with their burden, wondering if it is worth carrying on.
So, I thought I'd address this question today.

The question stems from your reason for writing.
Are you writing to try to make money? If so, then perhaps you should quit. Very few people manage to make a living from writing.
Does a ballet dancer ever make copious quantities of money? Most don't. But they practice until their feet are deformed and bleeding, pushing themselves to new and harder limits. Why? Because they love it.

Dance and writing are art forms.
Artists practice their craft for the love of it. Because to not pursue it is inconceivable.
Writing is like breathing to me now. I can't not write. Whether people buy my books or not, I have to carry on.

Do I want more people to buy and enjoy my books?
Of course. But that's not why I write.
It is part of me, and I am part of it.

My friend, whom I've mentioned before, was a wonderful spiritual adviser.
"Keep on keeping on," she'd tell me.
This advice still rings in my ears. Through every struggle in my life, when I feel as if I can't continue one more step, I remember those sage words. I dig deep, and find the strength to carry on.

Bad sales figures can be disheartening. Negative reviews can feel soul destroying.
Don't let one person ruin your day.
Maybe you've had a bad day. It is not the same as having a bad life.
And beneath it all, we have our love for writing.
We continue to pour our souls onto the page as we have no other option.

It takes work. A lot of work.
I have been published for five years, and I am still learning, still building my audience.
Overnight success is a myth.
It takes time and effort to write, to hone your craft, to publicise your book/s, to garner interest.
This is a long game.
It takes drive, determination and stamina.
It takes every ounce you think you can give it, and then it demands more, this muse of writing.

Stories plague us, they taunt us, they dance in our heads until we think we will go quite mad.
And sometimes they hide as we put blocks in our own way. Our characters fall silent, refusing to speak.
I have written before about the struggles of procrastination, the crippling self doubt which can creep up on us, and of writer's block.
Then we have to relax. Take a step back. Distract ourselves until the story once more flows from our veins and drips through our fingertips.

What does success look like to you?
If you've pushed that big scary publish button; well done you. That's massive! Do you know how many people tell me, "I've been thinking about writing a book?" LOADS! Thinking is the operative word. They've not done it. They've not bared all, haven't yet had the courage to do what you have done. You're a success already!
If you've not published yet, but are writing...yep, you're a success too. You're following your passion, making headway. Keep going.

We all have our own path. Others have theirs.
Do not feel pain or envy at others' success. Celebrate it. It should give us hope, that perhaps we all have a chance after all. 
What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.
Keep learning different promotional ideas. Try them. Find what works for you. 

Everything is exactly as it should be. 
You are already walking your path. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Take that next step. 
You got this.

I still have stories to tell.
Do you?

Always in love & light,

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) & Manifestation for Writers, or Anyone Really

Yeah, so I'm one of those. The annoying positive thinking types. Don't groan like that please; it's not attractive 😉

Now, that doesn't mean it's easy, or that I go around in my fluffy cloud land permanently. Far from it.  I actually struggle with depression. There, I said it!
Where did you think the Darkness & Light Duology came from? 😉 Yes, I strive to balance both.

I do try to see the positives. The flower amongst the weeds is beautiful, delicate yet strong.

Count what you DO have, not what you have not.
Go on, take a minute now, I'll wait...
What blessings do you have?
Did you wake up this morning? Is there a safe roof over your head? Was there hot and cold running water in your taps? And food in your fridge?
So many things which we take for granted are seen by others as rich tresaures and luxuries.

We live in a capitalist world, consumerism runs riot.
We are bombarded by constant messages of "you need this in your life", "your life is incomplete without this product" etc.
Eurgh! So tiresome.
Then there's the images we're shown of digitally enhanced images of unattainable "beauty". Who's to say what's beautiful, anyway? We all are by the way. Our bodies are mini miracles floating around on this little rock hurtling through the vast cosmos.

Life is fleeting. It's a mere blink of an eye in universal terms.
What you do with it is up to you.
Yes, you have choice.

Life is full of frustrations, I get that. I really do.
But if we constantly tell ourselves we can't do something, then there is only ever going to be one result. We get in our way.

There's a problem? What's the solution?
I know this is very simplistic and not always that easy, by the way.
But that cringe-inducing phrase "they're not problems, they're challenges" really does hold some wisdom.
What can you do to resolve it?

I had a very Mondayish Monday this week.
I was actually in a really good mood, excited for the week as I got out of bed. But then I turned on my computer.
Uh oh!
I had the Merda Touch - it's like the Midas touch, but brown and smelly 😕
Everything I touched turned to poo!
My gut reaction was to run back to bed and hide under my duvet until Monday went away. This is AN option, for sure.
But, I chose a different path. I poured a larger cup of coffee, had a break, then gritted my teeth and hunkered down.
I systematically went through each problem, looking past the presenting problem and finding what was really behind it. Then tackled those.
I sent emails, I made calls, I social media'd. I did whatever it took to right the wrongs.
And I did. By the end of Monday, I was back on track.

Now, in my ethos, there's lessons in all things. It's really annoying, but I clearly accept I had to go through that stuff, that I have learned something. My resolve was strengthened, at least.
Do I wish it had been different? Hell yeah! But it wasn't. Nothing else to be done about it. On with the next day.

And that sums up life, doesn't it?
There's ups, there's downs. There's good times, which are shown all the better in contrast with the bad.
Buddhists will tell you there is no good, and there is no bad. Just experiences.
As much as I admire this, I've not managed to fully detach myself enough to live that way yet.
But I no longer take things so personally.

You know what? The world's not against you.
Sure, it feels that way sometimes. But the world is a busy place. It's not going to waste time vicitimising individuals.

So, in writing terms...
You may still be struggling to finish your first book. You don't get enough time. You're stuck. You don't know where the story's going.
Write when you can. That's all anyone asks. And if a story is desperately trying to break through, find time, amke it. Try to structure your day/week in a way that will give you a window. Does ALL the housework need to be done? Will that bit of dust kill you? Sometimes, just the basics are good enough.

Or maybe you've tried a marketing strategy, and floods of readers haven't bought your book?
Oh, I know this one intimately.
But, even if hundreds didn't make the purchase, how many SAW your advert?
Exposure for your book is always good. Your name is getting out there.
Slow and steady wins the race.

I often refer back to my article with advice for new authors
As snarky as it is, there are some important facts in there.
Nobody is ever really an overnight success.
Everybody has to work hard to achieve greatness.
JK Rowling's Harry Potter was turned down 12 times by publishers!
Go to the article for more fun stats like this btw. I know it often makes me feel betterer (my word!).

Stop putting so much pressure on yourself.
C'est la vie, and all that.

What's your goal?
Plan to achieve.

Try an Angel Board.
Put pictures of your goal on there, thanking the angels (or deity of your choosing) for (whatever it is you desire). Keep it in the present tense, as if you already have those things. And keep is SMART
Don't expect miracles to happen for you. Make things happen.
Keep going back to your board regularly. What steps have you taken that bring you closer to that goal?

My wonderful friend who is now with the angels, used to tell me...
"Keep on keeping on"
"Everything is exactly as it should be"
She's right. And yes, she still gets those messages through when I'm very mardy.

Keep dreaming. Dream big.
Dream. Believe. Acheive.
Reach for the moon, and you might just get the stars.
And all that jazz.

Always in love & light,

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

REVIEW - Fat Girl - faces future with sass

Date read: 12th June 2018

My rating: 4.5*

Genre I reckon: Self-discovery whilst dieting, humour

Buy link: Amazon

Now, to you, my lovely blog readers, I will make a little confession...
I read this book as I recently discovered this author online. She's a fabulous person, supporting her fellow authors.

When I learned she'd also written about a girl with weight issues I was worried.
Will it look like I copied her, when my WIP gets released?
I'm happy to report it won't.
I'd already started writing when I discovered her, for a start.
And although we cover the same topic, it's from different perspectives. Plus, y'know, US vs UK thought processes and spellings, oh, and culture.

So, my review of Fat Girl...

A very open and honest book about the struggles of Fat Girl.
Bless her, her self-loathing really has climaxed. And she's faced with having to deal with her issues.
But her therapy sessions go deeper and further than she expected.

I really liked Claire; a very flawed MC.
I'm British, so self-deprecation kinda goes with the territory, and I respected that aspect of her character.

It is not an easy read. As Claire punishes herself with her strict starvation and harsh exercise regime I was screaming, and almost throwing my Kindle across the room! "What are you doing?" I asked her. Strangely, the character didn't respond ;-)

Dating fiascos and family troubles run riot in this sombre yet funny novel.
And it is funny. There's a wry humour running throughout.

This is a great journey through self-discovery, taking the scenic road, bumpy hills included.

Any book reviewed on my blog comes with a genuine "recommend to a friend" status.
And this is no exception.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Author Dreamed of the Highlife - but remained Earth bound

I'm going to start by saying I totally nicked this idea from Angeline Trevena, who wrote an awesome article on her blog last week, about her own dream job.

Well, it may come as no surprise to discover yours truly has always had her head in the clouds.
From the age of about six, my dream job was to be an Air Hostess (as it was called then).
It was shortly after this ambition formed that I developed air sickness, on an extremely turbulent flight to New York. I was one of the last to be ill on the plane, but sadly, I was really young and impressionable and the association stuck with me.

Undeterred by such a minor setback, I carried on through childhood and adolescence with this goal in mind.
As I progressed through college, one snobby boyfriend told me I wouldn't ever be an 'air stewardess'. He saw it as menial work. I saw it as glamorous, and a way to travel the world, to set myself free.

I studied Leisure & Tourism at college, obtained an 'A' grade in my German GCSE, and also passed French. I learned the NATO phonetic alphabet, got a Saturday job in a travel agency. You name it, everything I could lay my young hands on to enhance my chances at achieving my dream, I grabbed it.

However, whilst I was studying I met the man who would become husband number one.
As I prepared to apply for a summer job at EuroDisney, he uttered the words, "I don't know if our relationship could survive if we were apart that long."

For years, I had repeated my mantra "Nothing is going to stop me."
Guess what, something did.
Yep, husband number one actually managed, somehow, to stop me even applying for my dream job.
I was being stupid anyway. I got airsick. My planned hypnotherapy to overcome that was expensive, and may not work. And why did I want to leave home when I was setting one up with my man?

It took many years for me to realise that relationship was failing.
And a few more for me to appreciate the effect it was having on my mental health.

Once I set myself free and got myself sorted, I thought it was time I tried.
I had drifted from job-to-job, never finding career satisfaction. Nothing matched up to my airline vision.

So, I applied for a job with British Airways. I even scored an interview.
But oh so much pressure had built up. So much hinged on that day. And the day was gruelling.
I didn't stand much of a chance. I was, by now, too old and too fat.
It was the...worst...interview...ever!
I managed to reach up to the required height easily enough, and navigated my way through the written test. But then came the role play. I hate role play! But that wasn't the worst.

Imagine yourself in a tatty, dim room with two women. One of whom is a complete harridan with NO facial expression whatsoever. None. Not scowling, not smiling. Completely impassive.
Now, said harridan asks you many interview questions.
It's fine, you've attended many interviews before. You've had practice.
Only, when she asks them there seems to be a hidden meaning.
You start to panic.
Suddenly, you think it's really funny to add, "and because I don't suit red," to your response to the question 'Why do you want to work for BA?'.
OMG, I think an actual tumbleweed blew past. You heard of a deathly silence? Yeah, this was one of those.

I waited for what felt like an eternity, but I finally got the rejection email.
It shouldn't have been a surprise, but I was absolutely devastated. And I mean that in its full sense.
A TL shaped puddle was all that was left.
There were wails of pain and anguish. Roars burst from my throat, directed to the skies.
Why? Why after all this time, after all I'd been through, was I still not able to fulfil my destiny?
It was too cruel.
How much misery is one supposed to endure?
This was indeed the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

Funny part coming up. Phew!

Now, I'm not particularly religious. But in that moment I made a bargain with God, the angels, whichever good deity wished to listen...
"If I don't win the lottery this weekend I will use the emergency exit. I will end my life."
I deeply meant it, from the bottom of my heart to the top of my soul.
I'd been through hell all my life, and wasn't prepared to go through more.
So, what happened? I won £10!
Not exactly the jackpot I was aiming for, and I could hear my angel chuckling. Smug git!
A deal's a deal, right? I honoured it (obviously).

And you know what?
Being a 'hostie' wasn't part of my plan.
It's a far different job now from what it was when I set my goal.
I wouldn't really want it now.
I can look up at the sky on a stormy day, and thank the Powers that I'm not in a bumpy plane.

Fate had a very different path in mind for me.
And I'm still walking down it.

Sometimes, we can make plans. And those plans don't work out the way we thought they would.
But it's OK.
Everything is exactly as it should be.
Sometimes, you just need to go with the flow.
New adventures are just around the bend.

Phew! That was a bit serious, huh? Thanks for sticking with me.
Maybe you know a bit more about me now.
It felt important to share that story, so I did.

Always in love & light,

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Writing Dialect and Accents in Dialogue

What do your characters sound like? 
Do they have their own characteristics? Or do they end up like the teacher in Peanuts? 

So, you may have deduced I'm British. What gave it away? ;-) 
I therefore write in 'British' English. I spell words like colour and aluminium. 
There is a whole debate on this, but I'm British, and so are most of my characters, so the hat fits. 

However, this doesn't tackle what my characters sound like. 
To the rest of the world, the English accent is the old BBC one, I think. Haw haw haw, what what. 
But we have many different accents in our beautiful country. And I will admit, even I don't understand them all (*blushes*). 

The good folks of Glasgow have a very strong Scottish accent. Have you watched Trainspotting? Hmm...Ewan McGregor...
(*coughs*) Sorry, where was I? Oh, Trainspotting. Right. So you've maybe watched the film. 
But have you read the book? 
OMG what?? It's actually written in "Scottish". 
Now, this hasn't harmed that, has it? 

Good old Thomas Hardy, author of novels such as Tess of the d'Urbervilles, wrote obviously in his ye olde English style but also used some local dialects from the countryside. Again, very popular. If a little hard to follow sometimes. 

Mark Twain is an example of an author who used the Southern American vernacular. 

We're a diverse world, so don't be afraid to show it. 

Now, a word of caution. This can very rapidly become overdone. Although the examples above are very popular books, a lot of readers are put off by them. So, we want to use it sparingly. After all, we don't want to end up sounding like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, do we? Cor blimey! 

Cerys in my own Darkness & Light Duology is Welsh. 
This is a hugely sweeping generalisation. Of course, there's many parts of Wales, and many dialects and accents. But I didn't want to write in Welsh, and wanted to keep it broad so people didn't locate the elinefae ;-) 
Some of her dialogue has a note, such as...
“Hmm…you are new.”
Shakira noted the sing-song lilt of the woman’s Welsh accent. But instead of the usual cheeriness that went along with that association, there was a gruffness too. 

In other places, I added some key Welsh words e.g. cwtch
He lifted his arm and wrapped her up in a proper cwtch; the most comforting type of hug you can find anywhere.

I even snuck in a 'popty ping' - which is a bit of a standing joke. Supposedly an alternative word for microwave. 

I digress. It's not like I'm saying I'm wonderful, follow me. I'm merely giving you an example. There's many ways to approach it. I happen to think less is more. The aim is to add flavour, but don't labour the point.

Adding accents/dialects is a fun way of differentiating 'character voice'.
Have a play! Writing should be fun.

btw, a distinction between terms:
Dialect - is when vocabulary/grammar changes e.g. Hampshire, England uses "nipper" as a term for child. "Alright, nipper?" is "Are you OK little one?" 
Accent - is the pronunciation of words e.g. the different way Americans pronounces vase as opposed to English personages

So there we have it, another wonderful blog post which will enlighten you.
Or just some TL brain vomit ;-) 

As always, feel free to comment below with your opinions and/or suggestions for future blog posts. 

Always in love & light,

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

REVIEW - Grampas Glasses - they're magickal!

Date read: 30th May 2018 (in 10mins)

My rating: 5*

Genre I reckon: Magickal Tales

Buy link: Amazon

I don't always read grown-up books!

I am very frustrated with myself right now. This book has been on my Kindle for ages, but as I forgot to put it on my GR TBR it fell off my radar. 😕

I am so pleased I've read it now.
A very short book aimed at the very young, but which holds magic for all who believe in unicorns.
Explains their realm in a very lovely way for children to understand.

A beautiful very quick read. Like 10mins.


Thursday, 24 May 2018

What Does it Mean to be British?

What springs to your mind when I tell you I'm British?
Do you automatically think of London, with its red buses, black cabs, and Queen Elizabeth Tower (which houses the bell Big Ben)?

Watching the royal wedding at the weekend, I felt something I've not done for a while; pride in my country.
We're going through tough times.
Don't worry, I'm going to try to keep this non-political. I may be quite mouthy about my views in my personal sphere of friends, but author me tries very hard not to be. Mainly because I want us all to get along, and politics can be divisive. And it has nothing to do with my work.

So, back to the topic...
Great Britain is a landmass, containing the countries of England, Scotland and Wales (the mainland/island).

The sovereign state is actually named the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
This is a bit of a mouthful, so it's usually called the UK.

Clockwise from top left: flags of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales

The countries England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales form the UK (at the time of writing, at least).

It was the Romans who named us Britannia, by the way.

We then add something called the British Isles, which include all of Ireland, Great Britain, The Isle of Man, The Isles of Scilly, The Channel Islands (which are made up of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark), and 6,000 smaller islands.
Phew! Still with me?

No wonder we're all a bit confused, eh?

By the way, the flag of the UK is the union flag. It only becomes the Union Jack when it's on board a Royal Navy ship (flown from the jackstaff).

Our nation has been invaded many times, by all sorts of folk.
We're a wonderful hotchpotch of influences and cultures. This has crept into our language and our cuisine. Hoorah!

Each of these countries has a diverse landscape and their own language.
Travel around, and you will hear a plethora of dialects and accents, and see a great variety of towns, villages, cities and countryside.
Some parts of the nation are very flat, some have rolling hills. There's lakes and coasts, caves and castles, valleys and cliffs.

My own photos of my trips around Britain

Very few of us now wear bowler hats, or carry umbrellas.
Most of our houses are really quite small. The great estates and mansions are slowly crumbling into disrepair (although organisations such as the National Trust and private families do a wonderful job of preservation).

But this is a writer's blog, I hear you cry.
Well, yes. Yes it is.
So...all this wonderful stuff that is Britain soaks into the pages of my books.
I am British and write about British people, so yes, I use British spelling.
My British, wry, dry, witty sense of humour leaks out through my characters.
The settings are often in the UK (but not always). You get a variety.
Even our beloved NHS is evidenced in my WIP, Self Love. As is curry, our national dish.

What makes me British?
Well, I am by birth and ancestry. My father would call me English, but I'm not so nitpicky.
But what does it mean?
I think it means I'm a bit of a crazy mongrel ;-)

Where are you from? And what epitomises your country?

Always in love & light,

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