Tag: inspiration

Persistence – the unsexy secret to success

Today’s post is for the NaNoWriMo people amongst us and part of #NaNoInspo blog tour.

Hello NaNoers

It’s Day 7.

By now you’re probably over the initial blush of excitement which spurs on your Nano project.

If you’re lucky, the words are still flowing and you’re riding high.

But the fairy dust has probably fallen from your eyes and you’re staring into a white abyss with a stupid blinking cursor wondering what the fuck you signed up for.

I’ve done NaNoWriMo a bunch of times and for the first seven times, I flailed at about 20,000 word mark.

I learned the secret over time.

It’s not sexy.

It’s not cool.

It’s boring and hard and takes lots of time and it’s unrelenting.

But it’s the secret to writing success and probably the tip you don’t want to hear.

It’s the one thing that all successful writers have in common. No matter which genre.

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#29 – Lara Meone Savine – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 29 with Lara Meone Savine – writer & editor of Musae Mosiac

“I have to be creatively engaged everyday or I’d go insane.”

Episode 29 – Lara Meone Savine – Show Notes
  • Getting into a mindset and committing to a project
  • Friday Phrases #FP flash fiction. A mini release of creativity
  • The rewards as a host of word game prompts
  • Safety jacket, tea and K-Pop
  • The journey of the mind and the soul. Symbology of dreams
  • Hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) to focus energies
  • Tolkien, King, Chris Mahan, Keats, Coleridge
  • Developing “Neuro Creative Reinforcement” techniques
  • Musae Mosiac magazine, 200 Word Tuesday #200WT and community

“K-Pop is super important to my writing.”

“With a destructive mindset, I can’t be creative.”

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Hand-me-down superstitions: magpies, silver coins and calendars

What superstitions did your Gran or Mum hand down to you?

With my writing and research for Folklore Thursday, books I’m reading and ideas for a new story knocking round my head, I’m in a real folklorish and superstition-filled place at the moment.

My mum passed a few superstitions down to me. No shoes on the table, no open umbrellas inside and cutting crosses in brussel sprouts. So now, I’m curious what superstitions and folklore traditions other people inherited and still follow today.

I put a question out to the Folklore Thursday community

Here’s a summary of the responses…

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Borek, biryani and skyr: notes from flaneuring

I’m back at my writing desk after a four week break of flaneuring and flouncing about Europe.

From the buzz and crowds of sunny summer London. Pints on the pavement, sun-bathing in the park, striking a stony Tube face, history intermingling with hipster. A city uniting against tragedy, once again.

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Good scary versus bad scary – drawing the line in horror

I’ve got horror all around me at the moment. My current work-in-progress is a gothic horror novel, I’m watching a lot of Twin Peaks, enjoying Devil’s Candy and The Stone Tape, anticipating Raw and working my way through the back catalogue of Shirley Jackson.

My question today is why do I like some dark, spooky, scary stuff but not others.

Firstly, I’m curious. Why do we like to be scared?

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Guest posts round-up

I’ve been guest posting on various blogs to spread the word about Evangeline and the Spiritualist. Take a look at my posts below.

 

Recent reads – Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

Today I’m talking about Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley, a collection of personal essays by science fiction author Kameron Hurley, published by Tor in 2016.

Hurley is an award winning author and her personal essays covers feminism, geek and internet culture, the perils of being a writer, health and rebellion. Hurley critiques and challenges in a raw and honest way, drawing on her own personal experiences and life story.

Coincidence is a funny thing. I picked up this book right after finishing The Female Man by Joanna Russ (a feminist sci-fi novel I reviewed a few weeks ago). Hurley credits Joanna Russ with lighting her feminist fire. In fact, the book is dedicated to a “Joanna’.

The book is divided up into sections starting off with a section about writing and  the rollercoaster ride of a writers life. As a writer myself, I found this section heart-warming and depressing at the same time. My favourite essay was the first, named Persistence and the Long Con of Being a Successful Writer. The title says it all.

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Marty says you can ‘Finish the Damn Book!’

Apparently 80% of Americans want to be authors. Today I have a guest post from Martin McConnell. Marty is a writer and first-class motivator and he’s here to convince you (if you’re one of the 80%), that you can “Finish the Damn Book!” And if you read to the end, there’s a little treat for my blog reader. 

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First of all, I want to thank Madeleine for allowing me to write this post. In case you haven’t engaged with her directly, she’s a terrific person, and someone any writer would be lucky to count among their friends. Even though she’s an ocean away, I’m glad to have the honor of regular communication with her.

I’m here to talk about writing, maybe for those of you who have thought about writing a book someday, but are having trouble finding your muse, or maybe you think that you don’t have what it takes.

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Birching, medieval peasant life & Norse names: random writing research

I’m in the midst of Nanowrimo and closing in on 50k. Hoorah! I dip into research as I write and so I thought I’d share a few random links for interesting things I’ve researched during the past few days. My Nanowrimo manuscript is fantasy, so I’m going all medieval on your arse.

Birching

The use of birch rods for punishment and birches were always my favourite tree. I now look at them in a different way.

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Why I struggle with Halloween

I love the dark stuff. I love ghost and witches, vampires and werewolves, folk horror, the supernatural and everything spooky in between. I was a goth for gawd’s sake, brought up on a healthy diet of the Cure, Twin Peaks and black eyeliner in a place known for it’s own brand of gothic literature.

And yet, I have real troubles with Halloween as a celebration.

Maybe it’s cos I’m Australian.

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What book are you most grateful for?

I think I’ve established here, I’m a bit of a new age-y personal development type (in amongst the love of horror movies and heartless disdain for anything romantic).

As part of my routine, I keep a gratitude journal beside my bed and at the end of each day, I write down five things I’m grateful for. Sometimes the five things are puerile and short (coffee seems to feature often), other days they are fundamental and deep (being safe and empowered to make my own decisions in life).

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I stumbled across a “30 days of gratitude” infographic and I’m using these suggestions as a prompt for new things to remember to be grateful for.

I checked Day 8. – what book are you most grateful for?

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My novel writing process is like making a fancy layer cake  

I’m in the process of writing my umpteenth novel (I’ve no idea how many exist on dead computers or in notebooks probably recycled into toilet paper) but I’m still learning what my process is. I’ve decided my process is like making a real fancy layer cake.

Warning – this blog post is going get a bit hippy-dippy. You have been warned.

I can be a force of nature when I put my mind to something. Get out of my way, people. I can make anything happen through sheer will power and hard work. Until I can’t and I end up banging my forehead against a wall. The universe kicks me in the bum quite often and tells me I can’t force everything. Like creativity and inspiration.

But where’s the cake, you ask? I’ll get to it…

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What inspired The Antics of Evangeline – style

Today I’m talking more about the inspiration behind Evangeline and the Alchemist (coming in June 2016).

The book which sparked the whole Evangeline series was Blameless by Gail Carriger. (Yes, I read her series completely out of order.) Aside from being a cracking good read, I was struck by Carriger’s wit and the possibility of silliness within a Victorian world. As soon as I finished the last page, I was hit with an idea for a character, Evangeline.

I’ve tried writing urban fantasy before (vampire chef, anyone?) but it didn’t sit right with me. The humour felt forced and, to be frank, just plain dorky. Somehow in the artificial world of steampunk, I’ve felt the freedom to be silly and funny in an overblown and flowery way. Bring on the adjectives, chums! At first, this was a release from the more serious world of my Monolith series, but it has turned into something larger and Evangeline is now my first release as an independent author.

Aside from Carriger, I channelled some

  • Wodehouse,
  • with a little Hugh Lawrie as Prince George in Blackadder III,


All these style influences mixed around in my brain to create Evangeline and her Marvellous Melbourne world.
Next time, I’ll continue with my Evangeline inspirations and move onto the story itself.

What inspired Evangeline and the Alchemist – Place

Evangeline and the Alchemist, the first novella in my Mystery and Mayhem in steampunk Melbourne series, is almost ready to be launched upon the world.

Stay tuned for updates, but get ready to meet Evangeline in June 2016.

Today I’m focusing on what inspired Evangeline and the Alchemist and in this post, I’m focusing on place. The place is Melbourne and Melbourne is where I live.

The Antics of Evangeline are all set in Melbourne in 1882-83. In that period, Melbourne was the second largest city in the British Empire outside London.

After the Gold Rush of the 1850s, there was a flood of cash in Melbourne. The Government invested heavily in construction and infrastructure, and there was an ill-fated property boom. During the Victorian era, many beautiful and decorative buildings were constructed. Many of these buildings still exist today and I’m lucky enough to walk past them daily. A constant reminder of our Victorian past.

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Why I write steampunk?

In my last post, I proposed my own pithy definition of steampunk.

But why does steampunk appeal to me? Why do I write steampunk?

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What is steampunk? My pithy definition

When I tell people I’m writing a series of steampunk novellas (The Antics of Evangeline), the first question is often ‘what is steampunk?’ Not everyone appears to be familiar with the world of steampunk.

Here’s my pithy definition of steampunk.

Steampunk is a science-fiction genre based in the Victorian era but with anachronistic technology, generally steam-powered.

Steampunk is an alternate world where Victorian innovations are taken to new heights and fun inventions are inserted alongside the Victorian clichés of parasols, whiskers and London pea-soup fogs.

I hope this helps. Next up, I’ll post about “why I write steampunk?”

Further reading (with considerable more detail) on ‘what is steampunk’ including the history, the community, the elements of a steampunk story and of course, the fabulous fashion.

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Three reasons why I’m glad for my day job

In my dreams, I would be a full-time writer. But in reality, some days I’m glad to leave my writing at home and go to the day job.

Here’s three reasons why…

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Writer’s Residence in a Scottish Castle – interview with Margaret Skea

Hmm…who would like the opportunity to write for a month in a Scottish castle?

Um…me.

So when I heard that Margaret Skea – fabulous historical fiction writer – had secured a residency at Hawthornden Castle, I was overcome with jealousy.

I caught up with Margaret after her experience and she shares a glimpse into the writing fellowship program at Hawthornden Castle as well as the imposed periods of silence, broken boilers in February and eating porridge from a pewter bowl.

Hawthornden Castle

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My Top 3 Writing Podcasts

I like to walk. I like to listen to stuff while I walk.

I’ve been into podcasts for over ten years now, ever since my knitting obsessed days. Yes, there are knitting podcasts. Don’t you know, knitting is a thing – check out Ravelry with over 6 million subscribers. But I digress into knitting defensiveness. Back to podcasts.

I listen podcasts on various topics from personal development to exercise to the paranormal to current events to films and of course, writing. Today I’m sharing my top 3 writing podcasts (for today – podcasts come and go).

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How I “finished” – tip #2: Finding my tribe

Finding my tribe

Writing takes up loads of time and not everyone understands the highs and the lows. Sometimes I need someone to whinge to!

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While my off-line support team are brilliant, finding a tribe of writers online has been really helpful.

The Monthly Writing Challenge twitter group has especially helped with accountability, habit-forming and general encouragement.

They understand when I’m having a writing day where the words are like pulling a pineapple from an orifice.

Have you found a tribe?

Tomorrow – Tip #3 Marinate for 4 weeks.

 

Inspiration – indigenous people and the power of storytelling

My novel in progress, Return to the Monolith, has a plot line about indigenous people being forced off their tribal lands and ostracised. It also raises how colonials have ignored and discredited the wisdom of indigenous people. Their wisdom and knowledge of the land honed through thousands of years of living in the landscape

This week I saw this news story from ABC about scientists verifying the myths of the Aboriginal people explaining how palm trees got to Central Australia. This story has been handed down through generations for possibly 30,000 years. The power of storytelling?

The researcher mentions how science can learn from the knowledge of indigenous people. The researcher goes further to suggest that more Aboriginal myths, including those about mega fauna (and how I love my mega fauna!) should be analysed further for factual information.

Let’s hope there is more of this collaboration between indigenous people and scientists to share their knowledge. Science does not always know best.

Kicking Resistance in the nuts

Usually I’m annoyingly motivated. Since deciding to take this writing thing seriously, I turn up every day in front of my computer and write/edit for as much time as I have available. Sometimes thirty minutes at lunchtime, sometimes a whole day.

But this week, the Resistance monster has sniffing around, getting in the way. Despite some great feedback recently, the Resistance monster’s been telling me I’m rubbish, telling me I’m wasting my time with this writing malarkey and generally making me not want to write.  As Steven Pressfield says

“Resistance is always lying and always full of shit”.

Steven Pressfield talks a load about Resistance in his classic book “War of Art”, about how Resistance is everywhere. Pressfield believes Resistance is the main cause of unhappiness in the world as it stops everyone from achieving their true heart’s desires. In a recent blog post, he outlined how Resistance can even possess your loved ones, dissuading and sabotaging you from your truth path. The cure is “doing the work”. Sitting down every day and putting your fingers on the keys and just bloody writing.

I’ve felt the Resistance but done it anyway, yet I was still lacking in mojo. I felt I was only going through the motions of editing, the joy was not there.  Until yesterday.

What helped? Exercise. I smashed out a hard kettlebells session then took a long walk with no music or podcast distractions. My mind free to wander, ideas started to flow and the motivation started to creep back in. I got excited about my project again and couldn’t wait to get back to my keyboard and push through my edits.

Phew, I fought him off and kicked Resistance in the nuts.

This time.

But like any evil villain, he’ll be back….

www.american-buddha.com

Awesome Female Characters – my picks for #womeninfiction

Last week (last century in internet terms), the hot trending hashtag was #womeninfiction. Everyone chiming in with their favourite female characters. I jumped on the band wagon and here’s my picks in more than 140 characters.

In no particular order:

Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet M. Welsch, an eleven year old budding writer, who started jotting down everything she saw in a notebook. I’ve just reread the synopsis of the book and I can’t remember any of the rest of the plot! But her inquisitive ways, her bravery and her love of tomato sandwiches stuck with me to this day!

Lisbeth Salander – Steig Larsson

“Salander was the woman who hated men who hated women.”

A powerful messed-up character, who you cheer for, cringe with and cry for. Smart, stupid and stubborn. The only female character here written by a man.

www.thedebutanteball.com

Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren

“Don’t you worry about me, I’ll always come out on top.”

Free-spirited girl, strong and brave, clever and resourceful. A rocking role model for any girl.

VI Warshawski – Sara Paretsky

I went through ten years of avid crime reading. Then one day I woke up and seemed to have moved on. One of my earliest reads and loves was VI Warshaswki. VI was the original self-sufficient, tough, clever female private investigator.

Super exciting post script – Sara Paretsky tweeted me back to thank me for my nomination. Squeee!

I’m sure I’ve missed a million others, who are your #womeninfiction?

Top 5 dystopian movie influences

I like movies. I’ve seen a lot of movies (so many I can barely remember a lot of them).  Movies inspire me to write, I look back to various scenes, characters and worlds when creating my own little universes. It’s all storytelling in the end.

In the spirit of my favourite film podcast, Filmspotting, here’s five dystopian movies which have influenced me with their world building or premise. Some of these films are great, some are a bit dodgy but their settings or various scenes have influenced me.

Note: before you yell out at your screen, “hey you, where’s …?”, I ruled out anything from a famous book. This means Blade Runner, 1984, Farenheit 451, A Clockwork Orange etc are all out.

In no particular order….

Children of Men

The world where fertility is gone is a frightening premise. A great dystopian world which can be easily imagined from our current world, the familiar London streets, only grubbier, greyer and more violent. A few more things go wrong in our world and we could be facing into this.

Of course, there are the brilliant single shot sequences, the scrummy Clive Owen and a bit of Michael Caine to round it out.

Dead End Drive In

This is a weird Australian film where the dregs of society are locked inside a drive-in. The government is rounding up all the “no hopers” and locking them away. This is another familiar yet creative twist on 1980s Australia, when the economy was struggling and millions were out of work. The acting is dodgy, there are loads of explosions and heaps of 1980s Australian celebrity cameos. But what intrigued me is the premise of taking an everyday activity (like a drive-in) and turning it into a tool for tyranny.

www.fangirlmag.com

Alphaville

I found this film very cold, but love the mixture of hard boiled noir in a dystopian world. There are no out there sci-fi or futuristic sets or costumes. It’s 1960s France with a twist. The gravelly voice of Alpha 60, the sentenient computer system, is chilling and ingrained in my memory.

www.thefilmstage.com

Metropolis

How can you look past the grandmaster of all dystopian movies? The art design, the costumes, the story line. It rocks and it’s almost 80 years old. What else can I say?

www.uow.edu.au

The Omega Man

Controversial? Is this post apocalyptic or dystopian? The opening scenes are the most influential, empty Los Angeles with Charlton Heston driving around, watching the Woodstock doco in the abandoned theatre utterly alone. This was the first time, I felt the eeriness of a city with no people. Reminds me of a time I was in a London tube carriage all on my own. Spooky. Yes, this is based on I Am Legend, so I could be breaking my own rules here. Oops.

As you can see from this list, I’m a bit art-house, but I’m comfortable with that.

What other dystopian movies have influenced you?

Recent Reads – Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

After finishing Sunne in Splendour, I opened and closed three or four other novels before I found something which grabbed my attention. That book was Perdido Street Station by China Mieville.

The difficulty here is how to even describe this amazing novel. Highly imaginative with densely detailed world building, cinematic (although I challenge anyone to adapt to a live action movie!), moving, intellectual and sometimes confusing. The prose is so lush and beautiful, I restricted myself to one chapter per night to wallow in the description (until I got near the end and gobbled the rest up). This is not a book to read with the TV, it demands your attention. Even then I don’t know if I fully understood it, I plan to give it a second read some day.

OK, so what’s it actually about – a fat mad scientist is contracted by an outcast eagle-person without wings to help him to fly again, whilst the scientist’s insect artist lover is commissioned by a mongrel underworld figure to immortalise him in sculpture and the government are experimenting on some kind of top-secret moths, all happening in a multi-cultural, multi-species city of wildly different neighbourhoods and enclaves. It’s about individual freedom and drugs, love and rebirth, art and science.

This is the second Mieville novel I’ve read, his work is complex and odd. He makes me feel a bit dumb sometimes, but I like it. I did get lost in some of the descriptions of high maths and scientific experiments (not my forte), there is where the detail was too dense for me. I am still processing the ending, sad, moving and just.

This is an award winner, so it barely needs my recommendation, but I thoroughly enjoyed Perdido Street Station. If you’re a budding writer and you want a novel to inspire and discourage you, get your hands on this book.

www.sfreviews.net

Write on – why I love writing challenges

Tips on writing and quotes from famous writers are everywhere. I think most advice boils down to “sit there and write. Every day.”

But that’s easier than it sounds, it’s like “eat less, move more.” Easy in theory, but a different story when it’s chocolate o’clock. Writing challenges help me with discipline and build my daily writing habit.

I started with Nanowrimo – write a 50,000 word novel in November. This initially helped me to get into the habit of “vomit drafting”, just blurting it all out, writing without the inner critic and getting those words and thoughts down on the page. But a target of 1,667 per day is not sustainable in the long term for me. Nowadays Nanowrimo is not just for November, there are regular challenges throughout the year and for other forms. I’ve written four novels in Nanowrimos.

My current favourite is Monthly Writing Twitter Challenge with a target of 500 words per day or 1 hour editing. This is an achievable target without feeling overwhelming. And over the month, even with the minimum 500 words, I can amass at least 15,000 words. It’s a simple challenge with a great supportive community on Twitter and it was originally inspired by Dr Who! Join us and sign up for March!

The challenges keep me accountable, motivated and give me a sense of achievement.

What are your tips for building writing discipline?

www.iamerinbrown.com

How 70s Dr Who still inspires me – Leela

I’m a child of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker era Dr Who. I had the whole “hide behind the couch” childhood experience and the stories still resonate with me today. I see past the low production values and my imagination still runs wild inside the stories.

Now when it comes to my current writing, one of my characters is inspired by my 70s Dr Who experiences. I have an indigenous character, who is “wild” and “savage”. Who else to inspire this character but Leela….

www.kooltvblog.blogspot.com

Leela is a hunter, a warrior, a survivor, she acts on her instincts and she has a big cool knife. She is a “fish out of water” in the modern space world with the Doctor, willing to use violence in worlds where violence is not the first response. Her costume also inspired the clothing for my “savage” character, although my character is only in her mid-teens, so there’s a bit more fabric in her dresses. She’s not quite the “dad’s wet dream” that Leela is, but my character is clad similarly in leather and boots.

It’s no coincidence that Leela also appears in my all time favourite Dr Who episode; Talons of Weng Chiang.

Any Leela love out there?

An apocalypse? But I’ve got nothing to wear?

Last weekend I visited the Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. The exhibition itself was fun and exciting but also inspiring. JPG knows how to kit you out for the apocalypse.

Of course, he designed the costumes for the Fifth Element and the bandage look for Mila Jovovich.

www.theguardian.com

I found inspiration in his Ukrainian collection. My current writing takes place in a cold Nordic type world, where the native people continue with their ancient customs. I can now see them in heavily decorated folk art dresses, knitted cables or sheepskin hats and boots.

www.newyork.com

Now I know what I want to wear when the apocalypse comes…

www.telegraph.co.uk

Or perhaps this is more practical

www.fashionone.com

Now this is no fashionista blog, so what do I do with this inspiration? Well, I have Pinterest boards for character clothes (as well as locations). I pin images of clothing for my characters, this helps with better detailed descriptions of their clothing, and continuity.

For example, here’s a picture of a futuristic power suit, inspiring the outfits of one of my characters in my work-in-progress Intervention.

Balmain – not sure of photo source

For the writers out there, how do you dress your characters?

How to find your way home without breadcrumbs or GPS

Another world building inspiration post today, but quite different to my last post on city living. This week, I’m intrigued by natural navigation, how to read the landscape, whether using trees or animals or the more obvious sun and stars, to find your way home without maps or GPS or breadcrumbs (if you’re Hansel and Gretel).

This is information we’ve (city dwellers) lost and the people who’ve retained this ancient wisdom are now shrouded in mystery and awe – Aboriginal trackers from my side of the globe or Inuits reading ice formations or Bedouins understanding the direction of the wind from dune shapes. An interesting side note, the last official Aboriginal police tracker retired from the Queensland police force in 2014. The skills, whilst rare, are still vitally important when people go missing in the “wild”.

I stumbled across Tristan Gooley‘s work on a podcast. Gooley teaches natural navigation in his native UK but his website covers small tips even for the city dweller. For examples birds sitting on a rooftop will face away from the wind, trees grow thicker on the sunny side and spider webs are woven out of the wind.

www.wallpaperhi.comHe even has tips on navigating in a city – if it’s 8.30am and you’re looking for a train station, go against the flow of people and you’ll most likely find a station. Common sense, yes?

I’m currently writing about a fictitious native people who live closely associated with the land. This information inspires me when developing how they read their landscape and navigate through thick forests. But in my real life, I’m now watching the clouds whenever I walk outside, trying to understand where weather fronts are coming from, especially if I’ve forgotten my umbrella.

The Tower of David

I’m introducing a different segment of posts – inspiration. Interesting stuff sparking my imagination.

A central theme of my writing is how we humans are adapting to our changing world. Whether we like it or not, we are animals, but we are living in an alien world of the built environment. A world changing so fast, can we keep up?

I came across the story of the Tower of David (Centro Financiero Confinanzas) in Caracas, Venezuela, a half-finished abandoned skyscraper taken over by squatters. The squatters building their own homes with bricks, bringing in electricity, setting up businesses and growing a community. It appeared in an episode of the TV show Homeland.

www.hereisthecity.com

www.meridithkohut.photoshelter.com

www.we-heart.com

Known as the tallest slum in the world, the government moved the squatters out in July 2014 into new homes as part of their rehousing scheme.

I am interested in the way people scrape together shelter in a modern built environment, exactly as if they were living in nature, building a home out of whatever they can find. These skills still exist in the modern world.

The Tower of David is an interesting example of people “making do” when the economy and the government fails them. People falling back on their own resourcefulness.

More stunning pictures in The Atlantic.

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