Tag Archives: fiction

Feedback

23 Jan

….is food for the writer. It even has the word ‘feed’ in it. As a writer/author feedback is very important for your growth, but also for the growth of your story. Every draft you write takes you closer to the version that it was meant to be in the first place. It’s like creating a sculpture out of lifeless lump of clay. You can see what it’s supposed to be, and it will take a while to get it there.

After almost two years of being swallowed up by my new work, querying has taken a backseat. But now that I feel like I’ve got the hang of that thing we call Real Life, I’m back in the game. As I’m still querying the first novel in my cosy mystery, I’m already working on the second. At first I thought that was pointless, because I haven’t even published my first novel yet. I have the luxury, however, of being able to work on multiple stories, so it’s not like I can’t query more novels as a plan B. Also, I let a very critical friend read it and her boyfriend heard about the story and wanted to read it too. Now they’re both hooked and he kept asking me when I’d write the second novel. If that isn’t motivational, I don’t know what is. I also considered it a good exercise of my writing muscles without the pressure of knowing I want an agent to look at it. So I put finger to keyboard and mind to page and here I am…I have a murder in a hotel, an emotional mystery writer, and a love interest who is getting closer to making his move. Yay, the excitement.

What’s even more exciting is the feedback. I mean, after not playing with my characters for a while, it’s nice to know I still got it. And hearing that it’s well-written and just drags you in is just the thing you need to hear. Not just as an ego boost but also because it’s important to know when you’re on the right track. That’s equally important to knowing you’re not. Also, because my beta readers are impatient, I send them a few chapters each time so when they pick up on an inconsistency, I can immediately change it. I’m still going to let more beta readers ravage it, but only after I’m done. In the meantime I’m so happy to reconnect to my characters and let them grow even more.

More murders, more fun. Wait, that sounded psycho. I really must be a writer, then.

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Themes Make the Story Go Around

19 Feb

Like a carousel with haunting horses and dark chariots.

Some people might think that themes are unnecessary creativity stifling monsters that force you to actually think about your story and go deep, but since when are those bad things? There’s something to be said for just writing, and thinking can sometimes block you. However, there will be moments, especially at the start of a story, that your mind will block because you HAVEN’T thought about your story. Every character needs a main reason to do what they do and be who they are. It’s the same for the story itself. What drives the story? Including all its characters combined. It’s the base, the centre. Without that, the story won’t spin around.

I’ll give an example. At some point a writing bug caught me and I started working on a story involving a weird circus. I was inspired by an image and really wanted to create something wondrous to do that image justice. However, I was stuck after four pages. Why? Because of the theme. What was this story about? What did I want the characters to learn? To achieve? What was the point of it all? I’d put the curious girl and her fearful friend in the circus. They’d seen exotic animals without leashes, a mirror hall that showed strange reflections, and circus people that could give Lady Gaga a run for her money. But what was I going to do with them afterwards? I had just thrown them in there without instructions. Poor characters.

I find it difficult to think of a theme. I find it extremely difficult to think of where they are going. Yet, if I want to do my story justice (and I do), then I have to brainstorm on this. I have to figure them out. I have to put the story and its characters on that sofa and ask them psychologist-y questions, travel deep into their minds with pickaxes because that is kind of what writers do. And isn’t it wonderful?

Move It

20 Dec

I like to move it, move it…to a new home. It’s been a few weeks since I left the nest and set up camp in my very own apartment (with a balcony and French doors, thank you very much). I have tasted freedom before so now that I have a steady income you can imagine my joy that finally I could find my own place. Don’t get me started on my pet dragons. Initially they don’t like change but now they’re flying around the place like butterflies on drugs.

It does mean that writing has taken a back seat and it is not happy about that. It keeps asking me if we’re there yet and sulks like nobody’s business. I feel guilty, but contrary to popular belief, writers are human and sometimes life locks our characters in the basement and swallows the key.

Dust settles, however. And before you’ve even taken out the key, creativity is already seeping through the keyhole. What you bottle up, must always come out. So here’s to a new home and to new stories.

Meet A Writer: Cassandra Newbould

27 Jul

Dear readers,

Please allow me to introduce to you: writer Cassandra Newbould. If you like what you hear feel free to drink virtual coffee with her on Twitter: @elusi0n

Question Time: 

#1. When did you start writing and why?

Well, I guess after I became pregnant at 21. Once my daughter was born I would make up stories when I was nursing her or putting her to sleep. As she got older, she, along with my other two, convinced me to start writing them down. almost 16 years later, I sorta feel like a writer, finally.

#2. What do you write? And why that genre?

I love writing young adult: fantasy and contemporary. When I write I want it to be something my kids can enjoy, whether it’s the make believe of fantasy, or something that really hits home in contemporary.

#3. What is your writing process?

I just open up a blank screen and let my thoughts have free rein. I’ve tried outlining or mapping stuff out, and for me, it never works. Usually I start at the start and just continue on till I reach the end. Once I’m done that, the fun part is over, and the editing begins. Wheeee! 🙂

#4. What is your favourite character that you’ve written? And why?

It would be a toss up between Haley and Coda from Signal Against Noise. I wrote Haley to be all of the things I want my daughter to look up to. Tough, strong, caring. Someone who can take charge and not be afraid to say what’s in her head. Someone who can love, but doesn’t depend on a partner to “fix” things for her. I wrote Coda as Haley’s companion. It’s a tribute to my own Coda; a 13 yr old white German Shepherd who’s been my protector and my best friend. He’s getting to be an old man, and I wanted his legacy to live on once he’s gone.

#5. What are you most proud of regarding your writing? My novel, The Monster Ate My Clubhouse. It’s a story about a family who lives with the constant struggle of their dad being bipolar. And how, even through the bad times, and man, are there some bad times, they still remain a family. They love each other for their good and bad, and find a way to get by day after day. It really was cathartic when I wrote this because I co-wrote it with my daughter. My husband/her dad is bipolar and I felt a weight lift off me once I put it down on paper. Plus, to share that experience with my daughter is something I will never forget.

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#6. What is your biggest struggle when it comes to writing?

COMMAS! If literature could kill me, I swear it would be by a misplaced comma, straight through the heart.

#7. What are you working on right now?

A female version of a take on Treasure Island. Not that Treasure Island isn’t awesome enough as it is, but I wanted one where a girl gets to go on the adventures. She’s an internet pirate who finds a treasure map online that leads her to a real life pirate ship and that’s when the fun really begins. It’s been a blast writing it so far.

#8. Are you agent hunting? What are your future plans?

Slowly. I’m about to start querying The Monster Ate My Clubhouse sometime in the fall, after PitchWars probably. It’s really nerve-wracking to think about it being out there for all eyes to see but I feel it’s a story that needs to be told, absorbed. Something to give other families struggling with bipolar some hope. Future plans? Just keep trucking I guess. Hope my daydreams and imagination never run out.

#9. Any tips for other writers?

Never give up, never give in, and never think you’re not good enough. If you’ve a story to tell, somewhere in this universe, or perhaps the next, there’s a listener out there, somewhere, just waiting to read it. You just have to stay strong until you find them.

#10. Final question: tea or coffee when writing?

My English husband, and his very English family would insist upon tea, however, I prefer coffee when writing, in an IV drip, straight to my bloodstream. Or, wine. Lots and lots of lovely, free flowing, beautiful wine.

Your Voice

22 Jul

I remember when I first started writing – I mean really writing, not dabbling – I was quite lost. Not because of the writing itself, but because of the writing’s link with myself. As I was getting serious I was thinking about the kind of writer I wanted to be. The kind of writer I wanted to be known for. And that is one of the trickiest things to uncover. Just like with real life, isn’t finding out who you really are the toughest time? I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

And you know what? I think I still haven’t figured it quite out. Why? Because my writing develops, and therefore so do I as a writer. I think people are always discovering who they are. Maybe that is what being alive means. To have all these questions and to enjoy asking them. To enjoy the journey towards that elusive answer. Whether we get to learn it or not. As long as we are asking ourselves who we want to be I think we’re on the right track. It means we are always evaluating ourselves and trying to be the best version of ourselves and that is never a bad thing, especially with writing. Writing is important because it allows us to touch the hearts of people that we will never even meet. We get to awaken something in them, even if we won’t ever know what. Our voices matter, because even as we still search for it, we have one and perhaps one day we will blessed enough to hear what our voice has meant for someone.

Branding_Voice

Summer Holiday

15 Jul

Finally. *slurps apple juice and leans back in chair* After months of hard work I can finally dust off my characters and play with them again. Working hard is rewarding, especially now that it means that I have a second MA and a kick-ass job. However, it was at the expense of grumpy characters who were eager to share with me the beginnings of new stories.

Sorry, characters. I’m about to make it up to you and I’m not sure you’ll like it. *gets out torture devices* On the agenda as well is possibly re-editing the slightly older magical realism novel that first I’ll be sending out to beta readers. That one was inspired by the Addams Family and involves a peculiar mansion on a hill, with even stranger people who have certain responsibilities regarding dead people.

Other than that of course I’m going to have fun and enjoy my freedom. I might start new novels, or work on older drafts, because man, have I missed writing! What are your plans for the summer?

writing beach

Writing Prompts: StRaNgE

4 Oct

Who doesn’t like a bit of weird? I know my pet dragons do so I’m dedicating this post to them. The following writing prompts will hopefully spark an incredible journey in your mind, because I find that the best journeys are usually weird.

1.  You are invited to a party but you don’t know who invited you. You still go because you just got dumped and need the distraction. When you arrive, to your surprise, it turns out to have a twenties theme. Since you are not properly dressed you decide to leave but when you step outside you realise you are actually in 1920. What is your next move?

2. Not only do you find out you have an aunt that your family has kept secret, you also find out that she died and left her estate to YOU. When you arrive in her home town you fully intend to sell the place, but things take a different turn when you discover what she has in her basement.

3. You follow a strange creature in the woods behind your house and discover something extremely unusual.

4. It’s been a while since your last relationship and you finally decide to take the plunge and go online dating. You hit it off with the first guy you encounter and decide to go on a blind date. Though he seems to have told you the truth about who he is, there is one big thing he hasn’t yet told you.

5. You find a strange coin and make a wish as you pass the fountain in the town square. When you wake up the next day you find that your wish came true, but at a price. Everybody you know, including yourself, is an animation figure.

strange

Good luck and keep it strange, because somewhere among the strange lies the wonderful.

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