Become a Story Weaver, NOT a Story Mechanic!

I think we’ll all wholeheartedly agree with the truths presented here and be inspired by this video. It’s overflowing with practical advice. If you have a Youtube log in, this is a great channel to follow.

I see myself

Writer Beware

Gold class sites

“Writer Beware® is the public face of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Committee on Writing Scams. We also receive sponsorship from the Mystery Writers of America. Like many genre-focused writers’ groups, SFWA and MWA are concerned not just with issues that affect professional authors, but with the problems and pitfalls that face aspiring writers. Writer Beware, founded in 1998, reflects that concern.

Although SFWA and MWA are US-based organizations of professional fiction authors, Writer Beware’s efforts aren’t limited by country, genre, or publication history. The Writer Beware website and blog can be used by any writer, new or established, regardless of subject, style, genre, or nationality.”


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

A Quick World Building Tip: Map Building in #Fantasy / #SciFi

When I have a story idea that I need to churn over in my head, I will often use a prompt image as a desktop and/or iPad wallpaper. The images engage my subconscious mind. It works well for character costume creation, scene settings and this map of Asgard produced a valuable aha!

Source unknown.

Source unknown.

It isn’t as clear here, but on my iMac screen, this image shows very clearly where parts of the image (water mainly) have been painted, how the streets were drawn in to form a triquetra… and the coastline looked oddly familiar. Google maps anyone? It has to be a composite of existing land images.

I have been buying graph pads and putting off drawing in coastlines and the more tedious geographical features, but using fragments of Google maps gives me a helping hand and keeps my work true to natural formations such as cliffs, beaches, rivers, sand bars and their location etc. You won’t be able to read the writing on the top right, but someone has marked in wheat fields.

I went into Google maps and bought up part of Ireland’s coast, just the way I wanted it: long beach and then a cliff-faced cove. Problem solved. It won’t be on a cover, so it doesn’t have to be properly Photoshopped together. It is solely for my own use, so I am not breaking copyright. A simple series of screen shots is helpful enough for me. It may also work well for you too.

Image courtesy of Google maps, cliffs courtesy of the last ice age as the glaciers cut out the coast; sand courtesy of rock erosion. Original design by God.

Image courtesy of Google maps, cliffs courtesy of the last ice age as the glaciers cut out the coast; sand courtesy of rock erosion; water, well water is just great! Original design by God. (He doesn’t mind me using this, I asked. Google may not be quite that generous though…)

If you have any other world building tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments. Next, I have eight astronomy DVDs to plough through to ensure my solar system is built correctly. Watching those will be a pleasure though.

Happy writing.

Creative Commons License
This work, created and Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Support an Author: Grab that Book You’ve Been Wanting ~ #saam14

There is a pie shop near here that has the slogan, “Buy one so we both don’t go hungry.” It is one of the best advertising slogans I’ve seen. Books feed both the reader’s and the writer’s soul in so many ways. So, you know you’ve been meaning to… this week, your love task for Support an Author Month is to go buy that book you’ve planned to get, but didn’t get around to.

Don’t forget, wherever you buy your books from, leave some love!

 Please note: this is a pre-scheduled post. Comments are off.


Support an Author: How to Write a Book Review

To sell books, we all need reviews… as much as we sometimes dread them! One of the best ways to support any author is to write a well-crafted review. I had to do a lot of searching online to find out how. Most of the information you get off the Internet is about F.o.r.m.a.l. college-type reviews, technical journals and things that scare my hair off. So to save us all, I have “borrowed,” and slightly modified these awesome tips. They are user-friendly. So please, write a book review this week… unless you hate the book. In that case, just walk away quietly and leave the world a more peaceful place.

The source of the wisdom below is I took out the negative parts of writing a critique, as this is support, not tear apart, month!

  • writing spinesDid you like previous works from the same author or series?
  • Where and when does the story take place?
  • Is this book part of a series?
  • Is there an identifiable central conflict, or a complex of conflicts?
  • What is the tone and style? Is it frightening? Clinical? Amusing? Scattered?
  • Do you like the characters? What about them makes them believable, dynamic or static?
  • From whose viewpoint is the story told, and how does that affect the narrative?
  • Does the book remind you of others by the same author, or in the same genre?
  • Do any twists particularly inspire? (Don’t give away too much, of course.)
  • If you really have to, don’t ‘pan’ a book without specifying your context and expectations. I did ask you nicely not to though, so please, walk away…

If you can add more suggestions, please do in the comments below. Plus, as one commenter pointed out, if someone asks you to write a review, don’t say that in the review! It looks rigged.


Please do not reblog this post.

The suggestions in this blog post are Copyright Only a very small part of their entire page has been reproduced here. (It is massive.)

“Slashdot welcomes readers’ book reviews. In particular, we’re interested in reviews of books on programming, computer security, the history of technology and anything else (including Science Fiction, cyberpunk, etc.) that fits under the “News for Nerds” umbrella.”

Support an Author Month: Love a Blogger! ~ #saam14

support an author month2014

This month is Support an Author Month here on CommuniCATE. The aim is to spread the love… It’s a time to put away competition and give each other a hand onwards and upwards! We are stronger as a unified community.

Most posts this month will be geared towards that goal, with call to action posts every Friday.

This week, your call to action is to visit a favourite blog; locate a post that inspired you and leave a comment saying, “This is my favourite post or blog. Thank you!” Be sure to Tweet, Facebook or share it on G+ so the author knows you’ve spread the word.

#bestpostever or #bestblogever

You are also welcome to leave a link in the comments here and recommend a blog, if not a specific post.

Cheers everyone!

Thinking Inside the Frame: Using Photographs to Tell Your Story

When I teach memoir writing, my students are mostly women. Whenever we have a male in the classroom, the whole dynamic changes. Often, they don’t want to get too touchy-feely or pour their souls out for a public audience. That’s fine. There are as many types of memoir, as there are memoir writers.


The exhibition.

In 2004 the Queensland Art Gallery purchased a collection of photographic images by the Australian society photographer, William Yang. These photos are a striking contrast to the gilt framed oils and quirky modern works throughout the gallery. They are a series of 30 black and white photographs, with one short paragraph hand-written under each photo: memoir in a new form… and even better, memoir in a strikingly simple and non-judgemental form. I took my class to view it, including our not so touchy-feely male (who was actually very warm and pleasant off paper.) Everyone walked out of the gallery inspired, considering how they could communicate conflicts and complex issues as easily.

William’s exhibition highlighted where his family had lived, their beliefs, their morals and their values. At no time was he ever judgemental about a family member or situation. He did release some skeletons from the family closet, but they were all his skeletons to set free. Out of respect, he waited until his close relatives were deceased before he did so. The picture he painted was realistic, but sensitive. I noticed that he honored his late mother in a simple and special way.

I was able to attend William's lecture at the gallery. He is inspirational in many ways.

I was able to attend William’s lecture at the gallery. He is inspirational in many ways.

As the Art Gallery owns the collection, they allowed me to take the photo shown above; but due to copyright, I cannot reproduce the works in an easier to see form. You can view their page on William here. Below is some of the text which was with the photos.

“In 1979 I had a bad case of hepatitis and I came back to the house of my mother to recuperate. My mother liked having me at home under her control. But I felt the life I had chosen to lead was not in Brisbane, and when I was half better, I went back to Sydney.”

“In his day your father was a very dashing man. He played saxophone in a dance band, and he wore silk shirts. He wouldn’t let me iron them, he did them himself. I couldn’t iron them good enough” I stared at my mother in disbelief. “He wasn’t like you know him.” She said.”

“Frances was my father’s favorite. She was the apple of his eye. I was my mother’s favorite child. There was a friction between my mother and my sister. They were both strong women.”

You can see how simple, but strong the message is. There are no angst-ridden emotional dissections, or lengthy one-sided speeches that could cause family arguments to erupt, or lose your interest amid the details. William got straight to the point. He chose the most important aspects of his family life and how they had affected him. That is always a safe place to focus on controversial topics: how they affected you, rather than who committed what sin.

So when you are writing, whatever your gender, use your freedom to be creative and original. Memoir doesn’t have to be a series of dates or plain paragraphs in a book. You can communicate through art, scrapbooking, photos, story quilts, music etc: it’s up to you. Any form of memoir should reflect your personality and interests in life. It should be representative of the main character: you.

It is your story to tell. Tell it your way.

Creative Commons License
This work, created and Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.