The Writer’s [Inner] Journey

Merr-pensiveThe Writer’s Inner Journey is an essential confidence-boosting blog by Meredith Resnick. She describes herself as: “I’m an artist and writer; a right-handed right-brain type who responds beautifully to deadlines… Creativity PRN is the intuitive work I do to help creatives and writers unblock. And always seeking ways to prove, see and understand that “the process” is different for everyone.”

Blog posts I have enjoyed include:

“Pull up a chair. You’re here because you’re fascinated by the creative process. Showed up because you’re intrigued by the breadth of originality of contemporary writers. And mostly because you, too, have a voice that is original and pure. You’ve got a pocket (or drawer, safe, trunk, notebook, mind) full of stories you want to write (tell, share, draw, paint, collage, or sing). And, yes, you want those stories to be heard. 

On The Writer’s [Inner] Journey, we relate. My hypothesis was simple: There is no one way—one right way—to create, to write.”

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http://writersinnerjourney.com

P.S. Sorry, comments are off on this post, as I prepare for NaNoWriMo

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morale boost

 

Book of the Month: How I Overcame My Writer’s Block

uycs3dI researched and wrote a course on creativity, to overcome my writer’s block. I could argue over whether it was actually writer’s block or a complete lack of motivation, however, to overcome the problem, I wound up researching and writing a complete course on how creativity works! That course is now being taught to Seniors Australia wide, and I have had the pleasure of teaching it locally. As the course was so helpful to both myself and the students, it became an ebook. It’s enjoyed great reviews.

“Thanks, I enjoyed opening up to my creativity interesting that when I started looking into my own creativity I found a dearth of information and help just kind of flowed to me.”

“Very enjoyable course; inspiring and motivating.”

This e-book will help you turn your dreams into reality. It explores the process and practical aspects of creativity: the mental processing; philosophies that drive how we think about and assess our creative worth; creative character traits; historical role models; an extensive bibliography and web link list and more. The content is practical, not just analytical. It will give you ideas on how to move forward in your creative life.

Topics covered include:

  • Capturing the Muse
  • Quieting the Internal Censor
  • Building A Creative Space
  • Working With Failure
  • Finding Direction
  • Techniques To Use

To order in pdf or Amazon Kindle format, please visit this link.


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes images and text usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

The Rules

Cate Russell-Cole:

Common sense for your writer’s survival kit. We all need to hear this message from Jo Robinson. Thanks Jo!

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Originally posted on Lit World Interviews:

Jo Robinson
Jo Robinson

A lot of indie authors are pretty rigid with their writing rules. There’s nothing wrong with this when it’s your style, and self-imposed. You’ll have problems though if rigid rules don’t fit well with your character, and you’ve only inflicted them on yourself because a successful and well known writer said that that’s what you should be doing if you ever want to succeed. “Must” is often the word lurking behind procrastination in any field, and when it comes to creative souls, I believe it could shut down production pretty well.

The minute we’re told we must do something, our subconscious goes into overdrive, bombarding us with all the ways we could fail, and settles like a lump in your mind, effectively blocking all those wonderful sentences that had been champing at the bit to leap onto your pages. This fear can be good in small doses. When…

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Caught in the Prologue Cross Fire? When to Hit Delete and When to Save Them

iStock_000018797284XSmallEveryone tends to like things to be done a certain way, generally their way! That’s not necessarily problematic, it’s a matter of placing your own mark on what you’re achieving. Some of the best novels have broken the rules, some of worst ones have decimated the rules. Fashions governing what is acceptable also change over time, leaving writers sitting in the middle of raging arguments, wondering which direction they should be taking and what it will do to their sales.

One of the debates I’ve been reading up on, is “forget about writing prologues, no one reads them anyway. They are just a frustrating delay.” I can see the point, but I am still scratching my head and considering that to be a sweeping generalisation, rather than solid advice. Could prologue bashing be part of the reason why are turned off them? If we keep seeing them reported as bad writing, the force of repetition can lead to us adopting the same negative view, whether it is biased, erroneous, or not. We need to think for ourselves.

A well-written prologue can be an effective story hook. I always read the prologue and epilogue. I’ve always liked them. They can set the scene for a story and contain gems of information I can’t understand the book without. I particularly like the ones which talk about a future event, that motivate me to dive into the novel to see how it comes about. My curiosity is aroused. Please note the words well-written. Actually, note them again. Poor writing is the entire basis of the prologue problem.

Have a think about this further. Television programs, such as The Big Bang Theory, are structured to include parts that act very much like a prologue and epilogue. If you are an avid television watcher, you are being conditioned to expect that structure. There is a ‘prologue,’ or teaser at the start; the front credits roll and then the body of the episode begins. At the very end, there is a small, comedic part you never want to miss, which works as an epilogue. Every episode is the same. You expect it to be.

The quickest way to determine the effectiveness of a prologue, on a fair book-by-book basis, is if you can give just your prologue to a reader and they start to care about the characters and want to read more to see what happens or happened, it’s working for you.

Below is a summary of all the arguments about prologues so you can determine your own fate.

Pro Prologue

  • You can put specific events under a spotlight to emphasize their importance.
  • You can talk to the reader from a different point of view than the rest of the novel is written in. For example, instead of third person, you may speak from first person as an onlooker, or one of the characters.
  • You can start to build solid characterisation, motivation, suspense and plot with a focus on one pivotal element.
  • If, like me, you are a science fiction and/or fantasy writer and need to world build, a prologue can familiarise your reader with place, science and customs. Just keep it interesting and adding benefit to the story. Don’t info dump! If there are parts of the world you can’t introduce through dialogue, this may be an effective way to set the scene.

Anti Prologue

  • They can be used as lazy information dumps, rather than building proper story. For example, you can write far too much about a character’s past, bypassing show don’t tell and boring your reader. Try a glossary or build these elements into your story properly.
  • IMG_0182If it doesn’t make you care about the characters or get you interested in the story, cull it!
  • If you can understand the story without the prologue, you don’t need it, you are wasting time and paper.
  • Due to the abuse of prologues, many traditional editors may reject your work as you have included one.
  • If you put in plot points which leave the reader hanging for a very long time before the answers are revealed, you can divide their attention and frustrate them.

 

Effective Prologues

  • Keep it short and write in active voice, not passive terms. Prologues can be a single paragraph or a single sentence. Length is up to you.
  • It must be written in the same spirit and style as the novel, or it looks out of place.
  • It was stated in one article that it should read like a short story, but without an ending. The ending is your novel.
  • Both the prologue and chapter one must hook the reader in, just as powerfully. Both have to work hard, or they don’t work at all.
  • It must be distinctive from the rest of the novel in terms of time or point of view, otherwise it’s a chapter you stashed in a silly place.

So what parts of a novel do I skip? Prefaces, Forwards, Dedications, Acknowledgements and most Introductions, especially lengthy ones. They have no story value and unless I adore the author and they can teach me more about them, I skip over the pages. I’ve always seen them as the part that is written for the Author’s benefit or as a courtesy. But that’s just me…


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Getting Your Characters Help! The Character Therapist

BLOG BUTTONThis is one of the most original writer’s resource blogs I have discovered, and it’s a goldmine of information on many topics including:

  • romantic scenes, break ups and all the soppy stuff
  • amnesia
  • mental illnesses of all kinds, including some you’ve never heard of
  • attachment
  • character archetypes
  • body image
  • backstory
  • character flaws and criminology
  • comic relief
  • conflict, defence mechanisms etc
  • social issues such as domestic violence, cults,
  • physical illnesses including autism, Down’s Syndrome and many things
  • dialogue and character inconsistency
  • emotional revolution
  • marital issues

… and if those haven’t piqued your interest, go look up Fascination by Mystique, countertransference, the Cotard Delusion, Nazism and Paris Syndrome. Plus, it is Christian friendly.

Screen-shot-2013-03-13-at-9.20.59-PMLink: http://charactertherapist.blogspot.com.au

The blog and accompanying services are run by Jeannie Campbell, who is a licensed and highly experienced marriage and family therapist. She has turned her skills into a helpful resource where she “diagnoses make-believe people” to assist novelists. Jeannie also has a newsletter you can sign up for.


Need more help?

“Creating and Resolving Conflict in Fiction,” dissects conflict into its component parts; looks at how it works and helps you generate conflict plot-lines and themes which will add richness and realism to your work. The principles apply to any kind of fiction, regardless of the length, characters or genre.

CRCF4DimCover3lowresThis book is not a “how to write” text. It is a user-friendly, introductory reference on the topics covered, which will enable you to write about them effectively. You don’t have to read it from cover to cover, it can be used as needed.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • How to Fuel Conflicts and Misunderstandings
  • What Character Traits Go With What Type of Person?
  • Human Behaviour Is All About Patterns
  • Using Power Dynamics
  • Making or Breaking Character Relationships

Available in Kindle and pdf formats from this site: http://virtual-desk.com.au/conflict_in_fiction.html


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Your First Novel Will Stink! True or False?

Dragon Tree Cover5aaMonths ago I wrote a post talking about why I deliberately stayed away from how-to-write advice, until I got the first draft of my novel written. It was an advantageous decision, as I was able to write without doubts, shoulds and too much technique being stuck in my head. Since then, I have been reading the advice which is available and it’s been a buzzkill.

It’s incredibly hard to finish the last edits on The Dragon Tree, with people yelling “first novels always stink, shelve them and forget it.” Isn’t it funny how you never notice advice like that, until you are in the position where it may apply to you? Then the words appear to be attacking you from all directions.

As much as I love these coaches, I am surprised that I am being told that I’ll be useless at mastering the craft of fiction, until I’ve written a million words, or a few more books. Of course our writing improves over time. Authors should not presume that they will be perfect on their first trip around the sun. However, there is no written rule that first time novelists are inevitably destined to be utter failures, or mediocre shelf-fillers. Leave us with some sense of hope!

I’ve conceived ten books, seven courses, many appalling pieces of poetry, a number of short stories and many articles. I’ve been published and plagiarised all over the globe. Does that count? Apparently not. They are non-fiction. This will be my first novel. The words are jammed in my head. #1 novel = garbage!

Being me, I decided to rebel and look at the other side of the argument. There are many successful first novels which are best sellers, Pulitzer Prize winners and have been made into movies. Here’s a short list:

  • Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
  • Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason’s The Rule of Four.
  • Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  • Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
  • Janet Fitch’s White Oleander
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise
  • Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe
  • Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain
  • Do I bother or not?
    To bother or not to bother? That is my question.

    David Guterson’s Snow Fall on Cedars

  • Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Melinda Hayes’s Mother of Pearl
  • Marjorie Kellogg’s Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon
  • Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees
  • Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies
  • Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Jay McInernay’s Bright Lights, Big City
  • Brad Meltzer’s The Tenth Justice
  • Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
  • Laurie Notaro’s Idiot Girls Action Adventure Club
  • Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago
  • Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar
  • Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things
  • Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones
  • Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty
  • Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep
  • Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook
  • John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada
  • Rebecca Well’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
  • Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • Wuthering Heights
  • The Help
  • The Devil Wears Prada

So what’s your stand on the issue? What success did you have with your first novel? I’d like to hear your answers.


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The book lists in this post come from several sources, including Book Market.com and Stylist Magazine.

This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes images and text usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Writer Beware

Gold class sites

http://www.accrispin.blogspot.com.au

“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.”


REBLOGS WELCOMED

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.

Eye Strain Reducing Editing for Writers – #amediting #amwriting

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The amount of time we spend hunched over computers, tablet devices and ebook readers isn’t good for our eyes, necks, shoulders or wrists, but it’s essential. I have noticed a steady increase in the number of migraine sufferers I have met, who are writers. I am wondering if this is an occupational hazard, rather than an accident.

In writing and editing the first drafts of The Dragon Tree, while trying to cope with my frequent migraines, I stumbled across a few tips which may also help you, whether electronic screens give you headaches or not. These methods have given me much more writing time.

The biggest problem is the harsh contrast between black text and a white page. Of course, turning down screen brightness helps, but that is not enough. I found that a soft green or a blue text colour, was much easier on my vision. Also, changing colours between drafts gave my brain a shock. I was able to pick up many hidden errors, such as ‘or’ not ‘of’, ‘become’ not ‘became’… all those things that the spell checker misses.

The examples shown here are deliberately fuzzy as this is my WIP, but you can see how the colours affect your own eyes. When you are staring at text for hours, a simple select all and font colour change can help you enormously.

format edit exampleI got to a point where I had messed up my formatting with so many edits, that I needed to turn on the dreaded show all characters. I have always found this savage on my sight. I needed just the markers, not text and on experimenting, found that changing the text colour so the contrast was high, made the character marks pop out. One less headache… yes!

Another hint I picked up from a web site was to never edit with justified text. The extra spaces between the words make proof reading impossibly hard. Double spacing is critical for proof reading, or you wind up reading one sentence on top of the other! For a great post on the difference between proofreading and editing, please visit the Writers in the Storm blog.

For ease, I began writing on my iPad, as I was able to get hold of a word processor app with a darker background. It helped, but the sheer number of spelling mistakes generated lost me masses of time in needless correction. This is all the space I had to work with and it drove me crazy. Most tablet word processors are similar, so in the end, I abandoned their use, except on the worst days.

Update: thanks to Patricia de Hemricourt ( @epublishabook)  for sending me to this post on Computer Vision Syndrome. It’s exceptionally helpful.

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Textkraft EN is available through iTunes.

REBLOGS WELCOMED


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

Word Count Meters and Tight Writing Resources

2014-10-19_22-42-59A few people have been asking me where I source my pretty word count meter from. They are available in multiple colours and come from this blog: http://svenjaliv.com/resources/wordmeter/ Svenja also has themed, word count spreadsheets you can download. She’s a talented lady! Each year, she updates her spreadsheets, so her site is always bookmarked.

Over the years I have worked as a freelance feature writer, course writer and editor. It was drummed into me with each one: write tight. Do not waffle, remove absolutely every extraneous word or sentence and cut everything back to the bone; to the marrow if you can. I can cut and slash pieces written, to get them down to a word limit with cold, hard malice. (Resources on how to do that are below.) The ebooks which I currently sell are very brief. They get straight to the point, because that is how I have been told to write. My blog posts come in under the recommended work limit. Essentially, I have boxed myself in out of habit and I am now learning to be free.

2014-06-03_10-33-42I have been reading Victoria Grefer’s book, Writing for You. I have followed Victoria’s blog for a long time and have been enjoying the relaxed, conversational style of her book. It is nothing like mine. All my writing ebooks are quick-read, start from any chapter, writer’s companions. Standing next to other books in their category, they may look anorexic, but they are designed to save the reader time. You can put your finger on the topic: task accomplished! That is beneficial for some, but it is not the best way to write a novel. While we need to write with excellence, dot point detail novels are not good reads.

There is definitely a place for writing tight, by this I mean corset strength tight, not just writing well. To be able to edit your work down to the wire and say what needs saying in a succinct, precise form is a valuable skill, however, don’t let it limit you as I did. I love Kristen Lamb’s Warrior Writers blog posts, they break every blog rule on length, but I don’t care how long they are. They make me feel good and strengthen my craft. If something is worth reading, regardless of how long or short it is, it will be read and appreciated.

This has been a great lesson in breaking free of my self-imposed boxes. I didn’t even know I was in them. I’m enthusiastic about seeing what old habits I can break out of next.



3hi91daojioResources on how to write tight and cut out word, or phrase, redundancies:



Quick-read, writer’s companions.

These ebooks are available at the lowest prices I was able to set. You can purchase them through my web site as a .pdf or through Amazon Kindle. Please click on the cover for contents and ordering information.

conflict_in_fiction.html    Building Emotionally Realistic Characters Cover    conquering_writing_stress.html        

You don’t have to own a Kindle device to enjoy Amazon’s Kindle e-books. Here are the Support and Download links for the free Kindle Readers for a range of devices: Windows PCs, Windows Phone, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Andoid Tablet, Android Phone, and Blackberry.


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

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.


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

Are Writers Poisoning Their Future? Tough Love On Bad News Overloads

The online writing community has it’s positive and negative aspects, one negative being that tightly packed communities can pass along nasty diseases. As seemingly protected as we are behind our individual monitors, we are still subject to catching poisonous attitudes and becoming dis-abled, dis-empowered and dis-enchanted by what ails others.

For the past eight weeks, I’ve been having a ball writing “The Dragon Tree.” Sure it’s tricky and I am an old dog that’s a little blurred with painkillers; but it’s been a voyage of discovery and I’ve only thrown hissy fits at typos I have missed for the fifteenth time! However, every time I read up on something I need to know, for example, first drafts, most of what I find is a mind-bending, hdededefheifuhq3118047108ehoowling chorus of negativity against putting pen to paper, or keyboard to pixel. First drafts are supposed to be the scourge of the writer, the substance of hell itself! I had fun. Is something wrong with me?

Writing is fulfilling. That is why we do it. We profess our love, yet, we sink into the negative aspects of the craft too easily.

Ask yourself this: are we putting ourselves and other writers off the craft of writing, by generating excessive clouds of negativity?

How many great books won’t be finished or published, as someone/s have shrunk back under the perceived external pressures of too hard? Why? Because the Internet has become overloaded with bad news about how terrible the life of the writer is. We are sneezing the plague over each other.

There is a difference between, “does anyone know how to handle this? and “I can’t cope, it’s awful…” I know it’s tough being an author, my sales stink too. There are some aspects to life which are a love/hate relationship. I know I fall into the same traps you all do and  I’d love to write posts that would make it all better; but at this point I am standing back and asking, has needing constant support and broadcasting our creative issues become a way of life that is pulling us all down? Is my negativity feeding yours, then do you pass it on?

Are we in a needless negativity trap out of habit?

So I made a creative decision for the sake of my sanity. I stayed offline. In other words, I put on my gas mask and got fresh air into my lungs. There is a lot to be said for writing alone. I have 69,000+ words and my work is growing in a healthy environment of, “yes, I can!” It may be awhile before I decide to come back online properly.

I am not alone in being sick of all this. The Indie Writers Monthly blog has started an interesting series on lies writers tell each other. It’s intriguing, a little complex, but worth reading and evaluating if you are falling into some of these traps of thought such as, “your first book will be unsellable.” Why do we tell each other things like that? Do we believe them ourselves as we’ve read the same thing in so many places, erroneously?

The repetition of the negative needs to stop. We can do better than this!


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

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

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!

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A Call for Understanding Amongst International Writers

This is a purchase iStock photo which you are not legally allowed to use for your own purposes, private or otherwise.

I was thumbing through novels last night, noting the differences in the way various authors, or publishing houses, format their books. It was hard not to notice the many ‘mistakes’ in these books. The question is, are they really mistakes? It depends on where you’re sitting.

There are profound differences in punctuation and layout styles between the British spelling and United States spelling countries: let alone the rest of the world. I know some fellow Australian writers, who have been savagely attacked for this in their book reviews. “Full of errors.” No, just written in Australian English which uses ‘our’ not ‘or’ and ‘s’ not ‘z.’

Great is the temptation to become a grammar or punctuation Nazi! I am finding myself, that reading books from the United States sometimes irritates me. My Aussie eyes see things they have been trained to edit out and it’s hard to move past them. I have read books which do contain outright errors. Ebooks seem to be littered with them and I find as many in books from traditional publishing houses, as I do from Independently published authors. Multiple spellings in word processor dictionaries allow these errors to go unnoticed, except by the most eagle eyed proofreaders. They seem to be on a permanent lunch break…

We need to be kind to each other, that is a fact, but do we also have to guard against lazy punctuation? I read through one of Terry Pratchett’s books last night. Had I handed in an assignment with that punctuation when I was working through my editing certificate, I would have failed. Had I used it when editing for a University I worked with, I would have had my butt handed to me and none too politely. Using dashes – instead of commas – is outright wrong: if that is your training. I have no problems with people writing dialogue to match the manner people speak in. And if the sentence starts with and or but, that’s fine, but some editors go nuts over that.

My spell checker and I fight frequently. I need to use double ‘L’ in some words, it won’t switch to Australian spelling and demands one ‘L.’ I honestly wonder, are we abbreviating everything for ease?  I don’t know and the answer may be different for each person. I have used computers for years and years. I have seen the differences in the dictionaries they use and the standards are definitely morphing. The list of issues seems to grow. Do we hyphenate words that belong together such as easy-speak. Apple’s Page’s grammar checker says no, but the grammar checker here on WordPress says yes! Who do you believe?

You can let it all drive you crazy, or you can shrug it off and say, “that’s just the way the globe spins, folks!” I think that is the better option. I clearly remember being attacked by a memoir student who accused me of deliberately not using Australian research sources, favouring the Americans instead! She was firmly told I went to the authors with the best reference material, I didn’t give a fig where they were from and frankly, that attitude is racist. It still hurt me though. She had been particularly nasty in a public forum. Let’s not be like that. We need to support each other and show compassion. We all have our own personal style sheet in our heads. We all do things differently. As long as we’re moving forwards and improving our skills, there isn’t necessarily nothing wrong with that.


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

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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 http://slashdot.org/faq/bookreviews.shtml 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.


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Please do not reblog this post.

The suggestions in this blog post are Copyright Slashdot.org. 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.” http://slashdot.org