What I learned in 2013: The one about writing

This January, I am looking at what I learned last year, so I can do better this year.  The first post was about Christmas, but now the festive season is well and truly over.  Epiphany (the feast of) has come and gone, the Christmas decorations have been put away (with the exception of the one that got missed, which will now sit on the windowsill until Michaelmas*) and it’s time to think seriously about what 2013 has taught me about writing and what that means for 2014.

*I don’t know when that is either. But it’s a long time from Christmas and it sounds good!

First, partly because it’s the most recent lesson, and because it encompasses some other things I’ve learned about me and writing this year, I have learned that…

…NaNoWriMo is not for me (don’t all faint at once).

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month.  It’s a joint effort where people around the world commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in November.  People do it as a way to encourage them to write.  The idea is to give yourself a challenging word count every day for a limited time as a spur to persist, push through and get down some words.

It sounds like a good idea and for several years now, I’ve given it a go.  In none of them, have I got anywhere near writing 50,000 words.  More to the point, I think I would have written more in November if I hadn’t attempted it.  And here’s why:

  • Arbitrary goals set by someone else (or even set by myself) with a ‘win’ or ‘lose’ status attached to them get my back up.  There are a few reasons for this.  One is that I think I’m naturally ornery.  I don’t like being told what to do.  Even when it’s good for me.  Maybe especially when it’s good for me.  But it also stems from my long and disastrous relationship with weight-loss dieting.  I have learned the hard way that diets don’t work.  They set you up by making you obsessed with food, then telling you not to eat.  They divorce you from your natural relationship with hunger, by dictating what, and sometimes when, you will eat, with no reference to individuality or circumstances.  They make you crazy.  (There is a much bigger post – indeed, thesis – in this, but I’m restraining myself because that’s not what THIS one is about.)
    And I worked out this year that NaNoWriMo feels like a ‘diet’ to me.  An arbitrary set of rules, that may or may not mean anything useful, that you ‘win’ if you follow and ‘lose’ if you don’t.  This makes me cross.  It Continue reading

Combatting Writer’s Bottom with Jane Wenham-Jones

100 Ways to Fight the Flab by Jane Wenham-Jones

If you’re reading this, chances are you are something of a ‘sitter’.  Either because you are a writer, or a reader, or both.

Now, while it’s completely possible to be a writer a reader and a triathlete, I suspect that most of us who are the first two are not the last.  So to at least some extent we are all at risk of ‘writer’s bottom’.

I love this term and would like to introduce you to the writer who coined it, Jane Wenham-Jones.  (Take note, she wants credit, against the day that ‘Writer’s Bottom’ becomes a recognised condition. 😉 )

I discovered Jane and her book on the blog of the lovely and helpful Catherine, Caffeinated (otherwise known as Catherine Ryan Howard and whom ).

I was immediately interested and hied me over to Amazon and got a copy and was delighted to find it was very good. Continue reading

Starring me as a social butterfly with real estate fantasies…

I am really getting around this week.  On Monday I was being interviewed by my lovely colleague Juliet over at the RWA blog.

Today, I am visiting the Lovecats Downunder.  The Lovecats are a delightful bunch of romance writers who very kindly invited me to visit their blog and said I could talk about ANYTHING (which shows they’re brave as well as lovely, dontcha think?)

I decided to talk about setting in Rules are for Breaking (debut novel out now, forgive me but I never get tired of saying that!) and in the process discovered that I have a scarily long memory and that I am obsessed with setting.

I know people who do long complicated ‘interview’s with their characters before they begin writing a book.  They find out who their best friend was when they were five, what their mother said when they were a teenager that scarred them for life and the like.  The idea of doing this both bores and terrifies me to tears.

Yet, I will happily take a whole day to wander around inner-city Melbourne looking for a building that looks right and is on the right tram line for my heroine to live in.  Or drive two hours to a pub by the sea that I want to set an important scene in (different novel, in case you were wondering).  I wonder if there’s a name for this condition?  Apart from real estate obsession?

Anyway, if you’d like to know a bit more about my weirdness and how it percolates into my novels, do feel free to to come and visit the Lovecats with me.

And don’t forget, if you’d like to go into the draw for a pretty bracelet and a free copy of the book, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter.  It’s free, infrequent and I will never sell or otherwise distribute your details.  Ever.

Thanks for visiting and haveagoodweekend!

Giving Thanks

Today (their time) my American friends (and, if I think about it, a whole bunch of Americans I don’t know) are celebrating Thanksgiving.

It’s not a holiday we observe in Australia but I’ve always liked the idea of it.  I like the idea of sitting down with loved ones and taking a moment to be thankful (and, from what I can tell, eat oneself into a coma, but that’s standard holiday behaviour).

So, although, sadly, there will be no Turducken on my table today, I would like to take a moment to give thanks.

I am thankful for:

Continue reading

First Friday Wordfest gets down and back up again

I have been neglecting the wordfeasting of late, I have realised.  So I thought I’d come back with a bang, so to speak.  (Pun will become clear later.  I hope. Otherwise you’ll just stay confused!)

It all started when I was reading some pages from a draft of a friend’s novel.  It was a very dramatic scene, in which the protagonist was holding his lover in his arms, unconscious and bleeding and looking near to death.  (In case you’re wondering, it was his lover who was unconscious and bleeding.  It’s very hard to hold anything when you’re unconscious. And I, at any rate, tend to lose my grip on things while bleeding.  It’s the sewer’s and cook’s instinct not to bleed on the product. But I digress…)

Dog, Supine

Anyway, it was very moving, until I came to the bit where the writer had inadvertently said (it was a draft, remember) that the unconscious and bleeding one was lying prone in his arms.

Now, many people might not have thought anything of it, as prone is often used to mean ‘lying down’.  But it actually means lying on one’s stomach.  So suddenly, this terribly moving scene was invaded, in my head by a mental image of the hero holding his love face down as she bled out.

The tender-hearted of you will be glad to know that I pointed this out to the writer.  I couldn’t in all conscience let her proceed, only to have every doctor (say) who ever read her book, burst out in inappropriate giggles in the middle of her death scene.  (I say doctor because I have found they tend to be both familiar with words with Latin roots and particular about distinguishing between fronts and backs of people.)

Continue reading

What I Learned from Offline October

Those of you who follow this blog (may blessing rain upon you for making a writer happy) might remember that, at the start of October, I decided to try to go light on the internet during that month.

Specifically, the idea was to limit online time to an hour per day, so as to have time to engage in offline pursuits that ‘fill the well’ of creativity, partly to inform NaNoWriMo in November.

As far as the stated aim of an hour a day went, I would have to say it was a colossal failure.  (I appreciate you keeping the laughs down to a polite tittering.  Your manners are valued.)

But, as an exercise in working out where the time goes and making  a plan for the future, it has been, I think, very successful.

Here’s what I discovered:

There are three main ways that I lose time to the internet.  The first is when I am avoiding jobs that I think are going to be difficult, scary or boring – or classic procrastination, in other words.  The second is in genuine work, which needs to be done, either for business, personal or volunteer reasons.  The third is in due to the fundamentally interconnected, diffuse and non-focussed nature of the way I interact with it.

So, how can I deal with these issues?

Continue reading

Search Engine Funtimes

On this blog’s dashboard, there is a section that tells you what people typed into search engines that led them to this blog.  Often, mine are quite ordinary.  People have googled my name or something equally unsurprising.

But this week, I have had a bumper crop of search engine terms that made me wonder.

What, for example, were these people looking for, and did they find it?

How did juan antonio samaranch inspiration women

wordplay made from great gatsby

I can kind of understand how

x files coat

led them here, (I do love a good coat) and I know what post

Fairy tales of women salons

led to, but I’m a long way from knowing what they really meant by it.

I hope that

women who made their blogs well known

is prophetic and I was quite delighted to find

Girl with books in hand

led to me.

But I am at a loss to understand why Mr Google thought that the people who typed in:

smiles for email sexy

mansexy cop

would want to come here.

But none of these are a patch on my favourite (I swear I didn’t make this up):

Full fathom five+pollock

So, what weird search terms have you come across?  Or what weird results have you got while googling?  I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg…

And while you’re thinking, here’s a little Friday tune to bop you into the weekend…

Photo from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

An interview and a recipe (to come)…

I was all fired up to post a recipe today, then I realised that I don’t have a photo of the finished dish to show you – and you really should see it in all its chocolately goodness.

So I am going out to get the ingredients and I will make one tonight and take a picture, just so you can see it… what?  You don’t believe that I am making chocolate pie just for your benefit?  Oh ye of little faith! 😉

But in the meantime, you might want to read my guest interview over at my friend Jenn J McLeod’s blog, in which I mention chocolate pie.  She’s running a great series of interviews with Aussie writers, so check them out.  You might find a new favourite!

I’m off to the shops – come back later and there will be pie!


On Life as a Work in Progress

For what is I think the third week in a row (no, not looking it up, it will only depress me and waste time I don’t have) I am getting my Monday on Writing post up on Tuesday.


You know, all my life, I have been looking for the perfect system, the perfect plan.  I love a plan, me.  I love making a list and feeling like I know what is going on.  (Which, incidentally makes it a little weird that I started writing as a full-on pantser, but that’s a topic for another time.)

The problem is that my life resolutely refuses to co-operate with my careful plans.  On the day I plan to get five thousand words done on my WIP, my child comes down with some foul lurgy and I have to run around to the doctor and suchlike.  On the day I plan to start my brand new, healthy life plan, I wake up really not in the mood for the bircher muesli I so carefully soaked the night before.

So I have decided – not for the first time, it seems to be a lesson I need to learn over and over – Continue reading

Little known facts about well known bloggers…

Well, I guess I’m not that well-known, but still, I reckon this is something you didn’t know about me:

I am a Romance Writer of the Apocalypse.

A little while ago, some of my writer friends banded together to form the Romance Writers of the Apocalypse.  It seemed appropriate, due to their propensity to write about the end of the world and what happens after.

Then, sweet things that they are, they invited me to join.

And because they’re lovely and I like their books, I gladly accepted even though I’m not very apocalyptic.  But then it came to be my turn to write a post for the RWoftheA blog and I started to wonder about ulterior motives and…
Well, you can read about it here.  See what you think.  I’ll be under the bed.