Monday, 29 October 2012

Are Sweet Dreams Made of This?

    As someone who has a vivid and sometimes wild imagination, whilst I'm awake; it should be of no surprise to me that I also have realistic dreams. It certainly isn't a shock to my partner, or close family, when I recount my slightly bizarre, sleep induced visions. Often, eagerly trying to make some sense of it all.

    Some of these dreams I have written down immediately on getting up out of bed. My plan being that I might base a story round them, but so far, I haven't actually done so.

    Therefore when the words aren't quite flowing as freely as they should, I wonder if it would be worthwhile investing the time to keep a diary of my dreams. After all Stephanie Meyers said that her novel, Twilight, evolved from a dream and there's no need for me to recount her story.

    So on listening to a rendition of, the 1983 hit song, originally sung by Eurhythmics, Sweet Dreams (are Made of This); it struck me that it was something that I really should try. Because maybe my sweet dreams of having a bestseller one day, are made of this!

    Is this something you do? Is it something you've thought about doing? Please share your thoughts, on the subject.

Friday, 26 October 2012

'Sticks and Stones'

    "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." My grandmother taught this nursery rhyme to me at an early age. These words supposedly help a child ignore the insults targeted at them by others. However, taunts do hurt, and a retort in the form of verse is unlikely to suppress the pain caused by cruel gibes. 

    Bullying is not just about mocking remarks, though, is it? Young adults especially suffer from bullying in many other forms:

  • The surreptitious threats, in class.
  • Deliberate exclusion from a group they thought of as friends.
  • The silent, anonymous calls they answer on their cell.
  • The abusive content they receive by text, or via a social networking site.
  • The stealing of their identity and the use of it via a social networking site in a malicious manner.
    Unfortunately, the list goes on, and I haven't even touched on the bullying that some experience from those a little closer to home.

    Without a doubt, campaigns such as ‘National Bullying Prevention Month’ organized by Pacer, taking place in the USA this month and Bullying UK, who campaign regularly in the UK, are of great importance to these victims.Their websites offer wonderful guidance for victims, parents, and schools. Although it's not just about websites either, it's the continuous awareness programmes, that they also organize. Keeping the public interested is the hard part.

    Bullying is not a new problem, but the means we now have to communicate with each other can help tackle it on a worldwide basis. An example of how organizations can reach out to those who are affected are the author-based videos made by Open Road Media. Where the authors discuss their own experiences with bullies and bullying. By talking about this problem openly, those suffering may realize that there is no need to suffer in silence, and being victimized is nothing to be ashamed of.

    Importantly, these campaigns may even educate tormentors, that bullying is wrong.


Sunday, 21 October 2012

What Goes Into A Name?

    In days gone by, Christian names given to girls' and boys' had meaning. The origins of these names were mostly, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Celtic, or Teutonic.

    For example: Abigail (Hebrew): a father's delight.

                         Patrick (Latin)  : of noble birth.

    However, as we became more celebrity focused, so have our kids' names. Celebrities seem to go out of their way to ignore source. In fact, it appears that they may even be trying to shock us with the names they give to their children.

    So as authors, do we throw caution to the wind when we choose our characters' names? Making up weird and wonderful ones as we go along. Alternatively, do we think long and hard about our choice? Unlike reality, in the case of our fictional characters we can perhaps give them a name befitting their actions, as we do know the consequences of them.

    Generally, I pick my characters' names in the same way as I would have if they were my own kids. I try to use authentic, fairly simple ones. Although occasionally, I do throw in a few outlandish ones, just for good measure; after all, I do write fantasy.

    I find it fascinating as to what goes into a name. I would love you to share your thought process of choosing your characters' names with me, and the readers of my blog. Please leave a comment.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

It's Not Always As Easy As ABC

    This week Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), have been celebrating 'Teen Read Week' in libraries throughout the world. They're hoping to encourage young adults to take up reading.

    It's one of the few things in this life that costs nothing. It's also a versatile pastime; one that can be done any place, any time, and with no expensive specialist equipment needed. The only thing required is a library card.

    The card being, the key that opens the door of a whole new world. One where we can laugh, cry, love, hate, or quake in our boots. A world we can share with others, or just keep as our own little secret.

    But this week is part of a bigger awareness programme, one that should wake us up to the fact that not all of us are fortunate enough to have literacy skills. This can be because of lack of education, or a difficulty such as dyslexia.

    I can't even begin to imagine my world without being able to read. It's not all about reading a book though, is it? Apart from educating us about our own, or other cultures; being able to read increases our vocabulary, and helps us to communicate with others.

    Whether that's communicating with our friends, potential employer, tutors, bank, or doctor; the list is endless. Not forgetting, the cooking instructions on a ready meal, and the need to complete a tax, or social security form. It's not just as easy as ABC.

    We can all help celebrate National Day on Writing, with NCTE, New York Times, Learning Network, the National Writing project and others, on October 19th, by Tweeting #WhatIWrite.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The World Gets Even Bigger

    Amazon announced at the end of last week that they were extending their lending library to Kindle owners in the UK, Germany and France. Something that our friends in the U.S.A, are already familiar with.

     Launching first in the UK, late October 2012. In time for the launch of the 'Paperwhite' Kindle, November 2012, and Christmas shopping.

    To participate you have to be an Amazon Prime Member. So what will that fee of £49.99 get you, the member?

  • Access to 200,000 titles, including best selling titles, such as Harry Potter.
  • Allow the member to borrow one book per month for free.
  • Discounted delivery on other goods purchased via Amazon.
  • No late fees
  • If you like to scribble down the margins, or in between the lines of the text; you don't need to worry any longer about defacing a book. You can make your notes/highlights via the facility on the Kindle, and if you liked the book so much that you want to re borrow it, your notes will still be there when you download it again. 
     I see this news as something that both readers, and authors alike should applaud. For the reader in addition to the above, will be able to read books that they previously may have deemed too expensive.
    The author, both indie published via KDP Select, and those published through participating publishers hopefully will be winners too. After all their book is now more accessible to a much larger audience and of course, the increased royalty payments from Amazon I'm sure won't go amiss either.

    Do you have a view that you want to share?

Friday, 12 October 2012

Are You Taking Part?

    As most of you will be aware NaNoWriMo starts 1st November and continues until the 30th. So if you're planning to take part, you have approximately 20 days to get yourself organised. The plan of course, being that you write 50,000 words in a month.

    I personally have never signed up, and I'm totally intrigued by those of you who do. I've checked out a few forums, and there is a real air of excitement with regards to the event.

    People seem to have various reasons for wanting to take part. Some want to start a new project, some want to finally finish their WIP, and others just want to join in because the pressure  motivates them.

    Apart from the fact that I wouldn't have time to procrastinate, the other benefit I can see from taking part, is that for once I wouldn't be working alone. We all know it's a solitary occupation, and on occasions I think it would be nice to have work colleagues in the same room; especially when there are no words on the screen!

   Are you taking part? Why?





Monday, 8 October 2012

Don't Take The Kid Into The Candy Store

    Saturdays are the one day of the week that I try to take some time away from anything related to writing. Which means I either go shopping, catch up with chores, or catch up with friends and family.

    The weekend that has just ended was no different, and I wanted to not only start with the Christmas gift shopping. But I wanted to purchase birthday gifts for my two best friends who have a birthday at that time of year too.

   "Good fresh air gives you roses in your cheeks." My gran use to say, and stuck in front of a PC, or reading books doesn't really lend itself to that.  So as it was a gorgeous autumnal day, it was the perfect day to go out and about. Hopefully not only to buy a multitude of fabulous gifts, but exchange my pallor for one that belonged to someone in a slightly healthier occupation, than a writer.

    Only a short drive away, takes me to various large shopping malls. Therefore I'm kind of spoilt for choice. But as the weather was extremely nice I chose one which is located in an idyllic setting, and there is plenty good air to be had. I arrived there at around 10.30 a.m. The mall was pretty quiet, I inwardly cheered at the thought of not being pushed and jostled, or having to queue in line at the cash desks.

    I planned to head straight for one of the larger stores first. In the belief that if I didn't get all my gifts there, I could then work my way through the various other smaller ones on my way back to where my car was parked.
    The route I chose through the mall happened to take me past my favourite book/stationary store.  'Mm', I thought, 'I could get the girls a diary for a stocking  filler. It wouldn't do any harm to go in here first.' It's no use boooring you with the details of my purchases in the book store, but I never did see the inside of the store where I was going to make my planned purchases. I spent my whole time in the book store; all three hours. When I go into a book, or stationary store, it's like taking a kid into a candy, or toy store, I just can't tear myself away.

    So does anyone know of an accurate, long range, weather forecast website? Because it looks like next Saturday I'm going in search of Christmas and birthday gifts.



Friday, 5 October 2012

Love Them, Or Hate Them?

    I read a few blogs this week, all posing the same question. Should we have empathy for literary agents?

    Personally, I do. Which is surprising since I don't have one. Like many thousands of other authors, and aspiring ones, I've received a generic rejection letter, or just been ignored on many occasions.

    So why would I empathise with them? Let me explain; in my life before becoming a full time writer, I worked in the finance world. I underwrote personal loans, and mortgages. But please don't blame me for the state the world is in, I left before it all went wrong.

   Now when a prospective client applied for a finance product, firstly I'd: examine the completed loan/mortgage application form. Agent: reads query letter. Secondly: credit score. Agent: reads synopsis/ 5pages. Thirdly: examine wage slips, rent/mortgage payments etc. Agent: reads full, or partial ms.
Fourthly: decided if it made good business sense to do, and did it fit company business model. Approve/decline finance. Agent: decides if it makes good business sense to do, and does it fit company/their business model. Offer/ reject representation.

    My decision to approve finance was made on what I had in front of me, and an agent can only do the same. That decision is based on, bottom line, about making money.

    It doesn't mean there isn't an agent out there for you, or me. Just as when I declined a finance product it didn't mean that the customer would never get a loan/mortgage. But it it has to make business sense for the agent. They're not a charity.  That's why I empathise.

    Do you empathise?


Monday, 1 October 2012

Meet the Editor

    The Acquisition Editor informed me that my assigned Editor would be in touch. Filled with apprehension, mixed with excitement, I kept checking my inbox. Then, there it was, the email I had been waiting for. It was time to get down to business and meet my Editor.

    Physically it was impossible to do so, as my publishing company is in New York and I'm based in the UK. But as you know it's so easy to communicate by email, it doesn't make any real difference that there's the small matter of the Atlantic between us.

    This being the first time I've worked with an Editor, I didn't really know what to expect. At the offset my Editor asked me how I would like to proceed. But it doesn't matter how many books, blogs, or websites I've read on the subject, I knew I was a novice and there was no point in pretending otherwise.

    Suddenly I felt I was back at kindergarten, dependent on others to show me the way. But I have to say that the respect that's been shown to me, and the courteous manner in which the edits proceeded, the feelings of apprehension I had, quickly dissolved.

    Painlessly, I grabbed hold of the outstretched hand to help guide me along the way. That doesn't mean she has been easy on me, no sir. But, sometimes we need to be challenged and that brings the best out of us. That's what I've enjoyed about meeting the Editor.