Today I’m sharing a little poetry and a guest blog post I wrote for Debbie Young on my love for Enid Blyton boarding school stories.
I’m a recent poetry convert. In the last weeks and months, I’ve been drawn to reading and writing poetry (Kathleen Raine, Yeats, Robin Robertson, Marissa Davis). Poetry writing has been a welcome and liberating change from my usual novella/novel writing. I’m also pairing my words with images and here is my latest dabbling ‘Shelter Feather’, inspired by Robert Macfarlane‘s Word of the Day tweets.
On to school stories…I was a bookish child – yes I know, hard to believe – and I especially loved boarding school stories. Debbie Young asked me to review (as an adult) one of my favourite boarding school books and consider how these stories have influenced my writing. My Favourite School Stories.
Ordinarily, Sandra’s courses are run face-to-face out of Dundee but due to the COVID-19 crisis, the course has moved online. Which is brilliant for me on the other side of the world, because now I can participate.
Each week, Sandra circulates materials on a folklore theme with prompts for creative projects. The themes to date have included water, trees and family stories.
Rather than writing novels or novellas (which is my usual comfy place), I’ve been playing with visuals and poetry.
In addition to the prompts, we have a weekly Zoom where the group discusses folklore and creativity. I’ve been blown away by the stories and creativity of my course-mates and look forward to the call each week.
It’s with an element of sadness that I announce the end of Write Through The Roof podcast.
After almost three years and 76 episodes, it’s time to do something new. But I’m really going to miss great conversations with interesting writers and having the opportunity to selfishly ask my writing heroes the questions I want to be answered.
So what I have learned about writing over the 76 interviews?
There is no right way to write
From meticulous spreadsheets of Oscar de Muriel to the pantsing of Rebecca Tope and everything in between, there is no right way to plot your novel.
Some write every day but many more wish they could. However, others see the definite need for rests to replenish their creative well. But discipline is the key and to finish what you start.
Take all writing advice with a pinch of salt.
Trusting yourself. You don’t have to write like other people.
Cherrypick techniques but develop your own style and process.
Do you writeevery day? I wish!
ROSALIE MORALES KEARNS
Don’t bore the reader. Don’t annoy the reader. Don’t confuse the reader.
Writers are generous and lovely people
Coffee runs in our veins
Writers like to read ‘like a fat kid at the
Thanks for the quote, Angela Slatter but all the writers I
spoke to love to read. The most popular inspiring authors were Stephen King,
Jane Austen, Neil Gaiman, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter and
Most writers are life-long learners
Aside from the amazing Karen Rose Smith with 100 romance
novels under her belt and a comfortable writing process, most of the writers I
spoke with were trying something new with each book and continually trying to
perfect their process.
So all things come to an end but I’d like to thank all the writers I spoke with!
My new novel is available now as an ebook on Amazon
Women of Wasps and War
The Sting of Justice
Agata, the Duchess of Ambrovna, was never meant to take the throne.
In a land where men rule, her sole purpose was to smile and curtsey.
However, when war left her land leaderless, the Fatherhood religion begrudgingly allowed a first; a woman to rule.
Now the war is over the men have returned more arrogant and cruel than ever, and the Duchess is shoved back into a life of needlework and silence.
But with her new
thirst for justice, Agata is reluctant to allow her country to return to its
Without her position of power, Agata and her circle of women look to the taboo wisdom of the Wasp Women for answers. But this ancient knowledge comes with consequences, and with death and treachery on the horizon, Agata must decide whether it is worth the risk.
Women of Wasps and War is a grim, gripping tale
of power and politics, and the heart-breaking struggle between love and honour.
Most of the time I need music for writing. And the right kind of music. Like books and stories, I’ve always had a passion for music.
This is a new series where I’ll be sharing what I’m listening to.
Today is dark and spooky music for dark and spooky moods.
Here are three artists to inspire your dark and spooky writing.
Lebanon Hanover is a German-British goth electric duo. Think New Order with Nico. Great music for taphophiles and recovering goths.
Bohren and der Club of Gore
Bohren and der Club of Gore are slow, languid, dark and jazzy. Known as ‘doom jazz’, this is reminiscent of smoky clubs, noir with a touch of Twin Peaks.
‘Horror-synth’ is another musical genre I gravitate towards when writing horror or general dark stuff. And John Carpenter is the grand-daddy of them all. His synth soundtracks create the perfect sense of dread.
I hope you enjoy these atmosphere-creating tunes.
If you’re writing something dark and spooky, what music do you listen to?
Edit: I’ve created a Spotify playlist featuring the artists above.
I need your help with the title for an upcoming book.
The novel is a second world historical fantasy with strong feminist themes and no dragons.
The Five Rivers Civil War is over and the men are back triumphant.
The naïve Duchess hopes for a new era of equality and the downtrodden slum wife hopes her husband doesn’t return at all. But both are shoved back in their place as the men return more oppressive and cruel than ever.
With no resources, the women must resort to the old ways, the Wasp women, to fight back and right the wrongs. But who should have the right to decide who lives and who dies?
Which title do you like best?
The Wasp Women of Ambrovna (50%, 2 Votes)
The Sting of Justice (25%, 1 Votes)
None (25%, 1 Votes)
Women of Wasps and War (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 4
If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.
And for news about the ‘unnamed’ novel in 2019, make sure you’re on the mailing list.
And coming later in October, I’m launching my writing craft podcast ‘Write Through the Roof’. The process of learning how to produce a podcast has been surprisingly fun and I’m reminded of how I used to play ‘radio stations’ with my cassette recorder in the 1980s. It’s reinforced the theory that your passions lie in the things you liked to do as a child.
And don’t forget if you like the Evangeline stories, please vote in the Christmas story poll. At the moment, it’s neck and neck between three side kicks!
Join Evangeline as she investigates strange phenomenon in the Melbourne night skies with her usual supply of inventions, mayhem and sweet goodies. Here’s a sneak peek of page one to whet your appetite.
And if you’re new to Evangeline and her adventures, all four novellas are now available in a single collection The Antics of Evangeline (in both ebook and paperback).
I hope you enjoy.
And if you do, please leave a review and share the word on Evangeline.
Which side-kick should join Evangeline in a Christmas adventure?
As a little Christmas present to my mailing list subscribers, I’m writing a new short story adventure for Evangeline with the usual hijink and baked goodies, but I need your help, dear reader.
Which side-kick should join Evangeline?
Have your say in the poll below.
And one more question on format. Would you prefer to read the story yourself or listen to the story (read by me)?
I’ve been personally bingeing on audiobooks and M.R James’ Ghost Stories for Christmas.
Evangeline’s Christmas Adventure (short story) will be available before Christmas as a present to my mailing list subscribers. So if you don’t want to miss out, make sure your name is on the list (or sign-up below).
I realised something today. One of my main characters is influencing my life.
I write fiction. I make stuff. I make people up. My main character in The Antics of Evangeline series is Evangeline. She’s a busy-body feisty teen in an action-adventure series, solving mysteries and kicking derriere.
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.
The use of birch rods for punishment and birches were always my favourite tree. I now look at them in a different way.
I still don’t have my writing process down pat. This has become bleeding obvious with my two most recent projects.
The Production – a high gothic YA novel – was a constant struggle, getting out 60k words was like passing a kidney stone. Whereas my current Nanowrimo project – The Ravens of Ambrovna: fantasy – is flowing out like maple syrup.
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).
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?
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.
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).
I am boringly conscientious. It was always on my school report…Madeleine is a conscientious student. But stuff still distracts me from writing.
Noise, generally power tools
I live in an area filled with older homes under renovation. If the gentle roar of power tools isn’t coming from my own house, it’s one of my neighbours drilling, sawing or generally banging loudly.
Headphones are good.
Social media & the internet
I’m not alone. I know the blasted internet and social media call to us all. Distract me. Validate me. Just check the weather. Maybe someone liked my tweet. A quick look at the news. Next thing I know, it’s thirty minutes later. Damned instant access to everything ever.
The day job
Unfortunately I’m not independently wealthy or a kept woman, so I have to work. This is a major distraction from writing. Although perhaps with more time on my hands to write, there’d be more opportunity for other distractions to creep in.
People – reminders I need to have a life too.
Note to self – occasionally stop writing and socialise. While Mr Madeleine and friends are a lovely distraction, if they interrupt at the wrong moment, they are in danger of encountering extreme grumpiness. As with many things, timing is important.
I often talk about Resistance. The little evil man on my shoulder telling me I’m crap and I’m wasting my time with this writing stuff. He is the root cause of most of my writing distractions.Some days he is stronger than others. I try to ignore his little snarks and keep putting my fingers on the keyboard.
What distracts you from your writing (or other goals)?
A professional needs their tools. The two tools which really helped me to compile and edit my unwieldy lump of words were Scrivener and Speech Function/Text to Speech.
Scrivener is software designed for writers to easily format long documents. It has lots of nifty features. My favourite is the left hand navigation where you can save chapters or scenes in folders and easily swap things around. I also love the target word count feature, with a satisfying little “ping” to congratulate me on reaching my daily word count. I’m probably only using a fifth of the features, but now it’s an essential part of my writing.
Speech Function/Text to Speech reads my words aloud to me. This is invaluable in the editing process. Read aloud, it’s easier to locate missing words, typos and clumsy phrases invisible to the eye. There is also a choice of voices, so I swap between an older British woman to a younger American man depending on my mood.
Resistance is the evil force standing between me and everything I want. He’s the naughty voice in my ear telling me stay on the couch, just another episode or have another slice, you deserve it.
Resistance is mean and wily. He changed tactics and got stronger the closer I got to finishing. He told me I was wasting my time and I’m no good. He filled my head with fears I was going to stuff up my manuscript and I don’t have the talent to finish this.
Once I became conscious of Resistance and his mean tricks (thanks to War of Art), I am vigilant. I know what he’s up to.