Monday, January 30, 2012

Creative BADASS! Ooo, I wanna be one! Good thing there's a 12 point plan!

Justine Musk has put out this article about ... how to be a creative badass: a 12-point plan.

What an excellent idea! This blog post is interesting because it sums up a lot of stuff I have learnt in the last few years, more specifically in the last two months about creativity and work and play.

It's also interesting to see an inherent 'trust the universe' kind of feel through the post, that if we're passionate enough, work hard enough, put ourselves OUT THERE enough, that what we want will eventually come to us.

This post is actually pretty brilliant for any one who wants to work consistently with their creativity, work honestly with their selves, and produce amazing work that people will want to read. Following or learning these steps will help you to be instantly creative, and help to slide past issues like writers block and the like.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rusch on Readers and Their Expectations

Via The Passive Voice I came across Kristine Kathryn Rusch's take on indie writers and their relationship with their readers. She has some interesting points to make as do the commenters relating to her post on The Passive Voice. I don't necessarily agree with all she has to say - in regard to what she has to say about writing volume I'm more in tune with some of the commenters, who point out that all writers are different. This, in turn, reminded me of the posts by Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi in support of G R R Martin when fans objected to how long he was taking to complete his series, Song of Fire and Ice. At the same time, her comments, as someone who has been published by big publishers and now is publishing independently, about the practices of both sides of the industry are always informative. Certainly worth looking at.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Place as Person

Over on her blog, Mary Victoria is hosting a series of guest blogs on the role of place as a character in novels. She has had some fascinating posts with authors ranging from Lisa Hannett, Angela Slatter, Alan Baxter, Gillian Polack, Helen Lowe, Tim Jones and Joshua Palmatier to name just a few and there are more to come. Place as a person or even as an actual character is a time honoured trope in novels and it's fascinating to read here how different authors use it in their writing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ian Irvine Reveals 41 Ways to Keep Readers Turning the Page! � Ripping Ozzie Reads

Ian Irvine Reveals 41 Ways to Keep Readers Turning the Page! � Ripping Ozzie Reads:

Ian Irvine has written what could be seen as a masterclass list of the things we use in writing, particularly novels. The list is quite expansive, and has a lot of great thoughts and ideas in it. Well worth a good read.

According to top New York literary agent Noah Lukeman (The Plot Thickens), if a writer can maintain suspense throughout the story, many readers will keep reading even if the characters are undeveloped and the plot is weak. Clearly, suspense is a vital tool, yet most books on writing only mention it in passing and few devote much space to its creation and development.

I’ve written 27 novels, and some of them have been rather successful, but Lukeman’s observation came as a revelation. Accordingly, I’ve scoured my writing notes for the past quarter century, and the books and articles I’ve read on storytelling, in order to compile a comprehensive list of ways to create suspense. Here it is. Sources and links are listed at the end.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Amazon and Publishing

Interesting blog post here on the role of Amazon in changing the publishing industry:

Marsheila Rockwell: 'Shaala, Made of Stone'

Marsheila Rockwell, whose novel 'Shaala, Made of Stone' will be published soon through Musa Publishing, has some interesting and insightful things to say about the Sword & Sorcery genre, how it differs from Epic Fantasy, and the desire to write strong female protagonists.
You can read her guest blog post at Musa here:

Patty Jansen On Starting in Self-publishing

Australian author, Patty Jansen embarked on self-publishing a year ago. She writes here about her experience. There are some very useful insights into the advantages and pitfalls of what - thanks to the new platforms available on-line not to mention e-readers - is becoming a popular way to get published without going the traditional route.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Critiques: they hurt so good � Comedy or Tragedy?

Miranda Sui shares how she deals with tough crits:

Critiques: they hurt so good � Comedy or Tragedy?: "Even someone with Supergirl Teflon feelings is going to feel the pain of a harsh critique now and again."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

This is awesome! I was handed this, as well as book 2 and 3 from Tehani due to a moving-house-clean out, and I'm glad I grabbed them!

This is paranormal romance with an interesting slant, and without a single vampire in sight! Yay! I can't explain how happy that made me! Not that I hate vampires, but it just seems that the focus is always on them and nothing new ever gets said. I really enjoyed this sensual journey into the mind of a were-leopard/jaguar/whatever and the decent from icy calm into chaotic love.

The writing is clear and sensual, and wonderful genre stuff. I really enjoyed this, and really liked the protagonists too. I also liked the way every one had their own clear goals, and the coalescing of those many into one goal was a lovely plot technique.

No more writing, time to read book 2!

Sarah P

Monday, January 9, 2012

Jeff Bezos Owns the Web in More Ways Than You Think | Magazine

Jeff Bezos Owns the Web in More Ways Than You Think | Magazine: While users of the iPad and the Fire will engage in many of the same activities—watching movies, reading books, playing Angry Birds—the philosophy behind the two tablets could not be more different. Apple is fundamentally a hardware company—91 percent of its revenue comes from sales of its coveted machines, compared to just 6 percent from iTunes. The iPad’s design, marketing, and product launches all emphasize the special character of the device itself, which the company views as a successor to the PC—complete with video-chat capabilities and word-processing software. Amazon, on the other hand, is a content-focused company—almost half of its revenue comes from sales of media like books, music, TV shows, and movies—and the fire-sale-priced Fire is designed to be primarily a passport to the large amount of that content that’s available digitally. The gadget comes preloaded with customers’ Amazon account information, and anyone who signs up for Amazon Prime, the company’s $79-a-year shipping service, will be able to access more than 12,000 (and counting) movies and TV shows on the Fire at no extra charge.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Applying For Grants - Lisa Hannett

I came across the first of these posts by Lisa Hannett just before Christmas and have been waiting for her to put up the third and final one.

Applying for grants is one of those incredibly frustrating things that writers do in an effort to be able to spend serious uninterrupted time on completing a project. It doesn't matter if you are an established author or a beginner, to have the luxury of a set amount of money actually coming into your bank account so you can concentrate on what you want to be doing - getting that story that's roiling in your mind down on the page - without having to worry about other mundanities like generating a regular income is a wonderful relief. The trouble is the pot of money is small and the number of applicants is large so anything that might improve your chances is worth paying attention to.

For those who haven't read some of her amazing fiction, Lisa Hannett has a long list of short story publications including The February Dragon co-written with Angela Slatter which won Best Fantasy Short Story in the 2010 Aurealis Awards and received an Honourable Mention in the 2010 Year's Best Horror (edited by Ellen Datlow). Her first collection of short stories Bluegrass Symphony was published by Ticonderoga Publications in 2011.

She has recently successfully applied for a grant from the South Australian Government and has documented what she has culled from the experience. Here are the links to her posts.

On Applying for Grants Part One, Part Two and Part Three

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts

I really wanted to like this book. Really, really wanted to.

I was hoping I'd feel pretty strongly about this book because Nora is so prolific, and I'm hoping that one day I, too, might be so prolific. I wanted to relate to the book and feel that quantity did not trump quality, and I was really hoping that as my first Nora Roberts book I would come away feeling some sort of warmth or understanding. However, it was not to be.

Maybe it's the book. Maybe it's me. Regardless, this is book four of a trilogy. Seth, the successful artist, returns home to the Quinn family, and meets a rich florist, Dru. Together they face down family issues to ... get married and live happily ever after? The book did not actually have the word ROMANCE written on it anywhere, so I was wondering if this was a bit of a literary kind of book or a romance kind of book, and it was a wondering that continued for the entire novel. Actually, I'm still not sure.

The story sort of wended around, dithered for a while, talked to the ghosts for a bit, and finally got down to some hot and heavy action. Thinking more on this, I found the tension to be completely lacking. I also found the style of writing to be very stop/start, like I was reading some one's shorthand notes. It was a lot like how I remember Barbara Cartland's style to be; lots of short declarative sentences with very little flow or rhythm. I found it hard to lose myself into the story as nothing tugged me along. Also, (and this may be a genre thing) I don't understand why the book is called Chesapeake Blue.

Despite my confusion, it's a popular book. Printed in 2002, it's been reprinted in 2003, 2005 (twice) and 2007 (twice) as far as this copy is concerned. It had things i find eternally fascinating - family, conscious families, communities and intentional community building... but this book just missed it's mark with me. I'll still read more Nora Roberts as I want to explore how she manages her creativity and sales, but I doubt I will remember having read this book by tomorrow.

Sarah P

Friday, January 6, 2012

The 'New Author Platform'

I'm currently attempting to get my head around the concept of author platform - what it means, how it has changed, and what a working 'platform' is actually comprised of.
I found this post helpful in clarifying all of the above - it doesn't seem quite so scary now (unless I think about it for too just to get into it!).
Being a bit on the reclusive side, it's also enthusing me for 'the new' as opposed to the conventional expectations of traditional print publishing, as I'm grasping how much publicity and reader connection, even down to book signings, can now take place from the cosy on-the sofa seclusion of online presence and interaction.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

'25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing'...

...from the Terrible Minds blog, a heartfelt list; have a read, a laugh and....get writing!

Following On - More On Depression

Sarah's last post on the prevalence of depression among writers and other creative folk had hardly hit the Internet when I discovered this post where The Bloggess, a Texas based blogger and author, reveals her battles with mental health issues. Those who follow her blog are well aware of her struggle with depression and anxiety but she has now expanded on it to include her issues involving self-harm. This post and the one prior to it are well worth the read for anyone who has to deal with any of these issues, whether personally or because they know someone who is a sufferer. Honest posts like this are infinitely valuable because they let sufferers know they are not alone. Just a warning though, if you decide to read further, you should know that her blog, while generally hilarious (serious posts like this are rare), is aimed at adults and although she doesn't in these posts, The Bloggess sometimes uses language that may offend.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Do You Do for Mental Health?

Writers tend to be a depressive bunch. Given we're constantly being rejected and searching for ways to gain validation and publications and (one day) a sale, it's not really a huge surprise. Various people have ideas and ways to stave off the downward slope, and it's an important thing to examine.

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about it in her TedTALK about creativity and inspiration. I rather like her suggestion that inspiration and creativity should be considered partially external, to share the burden, so to speak, of the success or failure of a creative endeavour.

I was wondering what other people do to handle the constant stresses of writing. Do you believe in your Muse? Do you somehow separate your work from yourself, and do so successfully? What ways do you avoid getting depressed from being a writer?