Tag Archives: Novel

It’s Here!

14 Oct

Current Status: Migraine-y

Food Consumed: My nerves

On The iPod: Page One; Katie Noonan & The Captain

Word Count: Lots of (longhand) pages!

Remember a while back I told you I’d won a place in a writing retreat? Well, the weekend of the retreat is finally here, and I’m a bundle of nervous energy.

My weekend of intensive writing starts tonight: the meet-and-greet retreat dinner. I’ve never been too good at dealing with meeting new people (hence part of the nervous energy), and I’ll be on my own, too, as opposed to being with my husband, who is only slightly better at meeting strangers than I am. If you’re anything like me – shy, awkward, doesn’t like public speaking or public scrutiny – then you’ll understand my trepidation.

I also get my manuscript report this evening – this is where most of the nervous bundle of energy comes in! I’m trying to prepare myself for the worst – that my novel is a big ol’ mess and is beyond repair – but there’s still a little voice in the back of my mind (or heart) that loves my novel so dearly that I can’t even begin to fathom why someone else can’t love it the same as me.

I have this sinking feeling that the night may end in tears: my tears.

I’ll let you know…

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Brain Fodder 2: Fisher Boy & Me

30 Sep

Roo smiles at me and lets the grass slip from his open palm. The torn strands catch on the faint breeze and float past me, earthless roots bobbing like tentacles on the wind. – Fisher Boy & Me, words from my WIP.

All images were collected from the lovely, inspirational site, WeHeartIt.com.

To see the first “Brain Fodder” post for my new WIP, click here.

Literary Censorship: On a Soapbox

23 Sep

This post has been brewing in me for a while. I didn’t want to write it angry, because then I tend to yell and come across as this crazy person who stands on her soapbox and shouts to force others to listen – anyway. So I waited until I was calmer, until I could get my point across clearly and without too much finger-pointing.

I should start by saying that this post isn’t about Ellen Hopkins at all, though it was the censorship of her books that spurred this post.

Ellen is a great advocate for YA literature that is a little left-of-centre, a little out-of-the-box, and since that’s where my literary interest lies, I have great respect for her as an author. I will admit that her books aren’t for everyone: they deal with very sensitive issues, and I get why some people are offended by them, why they don’t want their children to read these novels, why they think these books shouldn’t be available for just anyone on the shelves – I get it.

But this post isn’t about Ellen or her books (which, for the record, I adore). It’s about the censorship.

I’m going to use an analogy here. I’m going to use Vampire Diaries because, quite frankly, I’m obsessed with the show, and want any excuse to talk about it. Here in Australia, Vampire Diaries occupies an 8:30pm time slot. Back when I was a young teen, I was in bed by then. Most teens these days, however, are not, so they can access shows like Vampire Diaries (and other perhaps more risque shows that are on in a similar time slot), with sex and violence and issues that the younger end of the YA scale shouldn’t necessarily be subjected to. Yet we let our children watch shows with sex and violence and adult-type issues and we don’t really bat an eyelid about it.

Enter the controversial YA novel. It has sex. It has violence. It has issues that we perhaps don’t want our young teens to read about – drugs, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse – the list is endless. They’ve seen all this stuff with their own eyes in movies and on television shows. It looks real. They’re accustomed to it. Yet reading a novel with all this stuff they’ve already been exposed to in it is suddenly not acceptable.

We don’t want our kids to read books that explore the darker side of teen life; of life in general.

We don’t want our kids to be able to hire these books from a library.

We want to ban these books in case someone else’s child reads them and corrupts our children.

If you don’t want your child to read certain things, that’s fine – I understand. We’re all different and we’re all raising our children differently. I don’t hold you not wanting your child to read Ellen’s books – or books of a similar nature – against you. I really don’t. But don’t stop everyone else’s child from reading these “controversial” books just because you’ve decided your child can’t. That’s all I’m saying.

I know I’m probably not making my point very eloquently – forgive me. But I hope, in all of that rambling mess, you were able to see where I was coming from. Because it isn’t about Ellen’s books at all. It’s about the double-standard in the industry, and the cruel message that we’re sending to our authors: that’s it’s not okay to write these types of books, to write from the heart. That it’s not okay to write something that doesn’t have a happy ending or teaches teens that the world can be a dark place.

That it’s not okay to put a piece of our soul on a page – unless it’s a socially-accepted piece of our soul.

I Come Bearing Good News!

15 Sep

I got the news in the BP service station outside Caboolture. I was on my way to Brisbane for the writer’s festival, and it was the first time I’d had phone service since I’d left home.

I didn’t expect to get a place – in fact, I was so sure that I had no chance of winning that when the email came through – “delighted to let you know you have been accepted” – I was struck mute for at least a few minutes.

I had just won myself a place in a mentoring writer’s retreat.

I’ve wanted to tell you all this for a while now (I found out a couple of weeks ago), but I didn’t quite know how to put it into words before. I’m still not sure I’ve done the news justice. Sure, to some out there this may seem a bit like overkill: to get so excited over something that, when compared to a publishing contract or something of similar magnitude, is quite small. But to someone like me, someone who has previously been too afraid to even put my work out there for critique, someone who has been knocked back with short stories and poems, someone who has felt the lowest of writing lows (and more than once), someone who has doubted her skills almost at every turn, well, this is huge and exciting and I still can’t believe this happened to me. Is happening to me.

My completed novel, “Times of Bright” is already with the author who will be conducting the retreat in a month’s time. During the three days she will provide me with feedback on my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, in order to help me polish the manuscript into something I can then send away to agents and publishers for consideration.

I envisage many rewrites in my not-too-distant future, but that’s okay, because I’m on the track to publication now. And I can only go forward from here.

Brain Fodder 1: Fisher Boy & Me

12 Sep

There are so many blog posts I should be doing right now. I need to finish the second part of my time at Brisbane Writer’s Festival. I need to reveal the exciting news I have to tell you (it really is quite exciting, I swear!). Right now, I can’t find the words to do those blogs justice, and that’s probably because my brain is all abuzz over what I hope will soon be my new WIP.

Below is a collection of images I’ve saved to use as inspiration for my latest work. The title is an old one now – it was what I’d originally planned the novel to be when I first starting the initial plotting months ago. But since I’ve completed ‘Times of Bright’ and come back to this, the story has evolved so much, and while I have a new title and a new plot to go with it, I don’t want to reveal too many details about it just yet (for fear of jinxing my fickle muse, and also because it could change another half dozen times before I truly start writing).

What I can say (because this has remained a constant right from the start and will continue to be a constant until I finish the drafts to come), is that this novel is a love story about a girl and a boy and fishing.

All these images I have found on WeHeartIt.com (a truly heaven-sent site full of the most beautiful pictures you will ever find anywhere).

The End is Near

24 Aug

Current Status: Elated & emotional

Food Consumed: Nothin’

On The iPod: 9 Crimes; Damien Rice

Word Count: 4 pages (longhand)

I will be finished my novel-in-progress very soon. This week. Maybe even today.

Soon, my work-in-progress will no longer be a work-in-progress – it will be complete, whole, a piece of my soul in a bunch of jumbled up scenes that tell a story I hope you’ll all like. And although I’m yet to write the final scene (which is, coincidentally, perhaps the hardest scene I will have to write in this novel, that one pivotal moment where everything changes for my protag), I’ve already started to feel a bit teary – not because I can’t/don’t want to write this last scene, but because it’s so close to being over, and soon it really will be.

It’s been about 18 months sinceĀ  I properly started this novel (give or take a few months, I’ve never been good with numbers). Along the way I’ve loved and loathed many things about it, but one thing has always been a constant throughout the writing of this piece: I have always loved my characters, and I think I always will.

Now, the thought of letting them go – finally letting them go – is a little scary and almost too much to bear. I want to cling to them and never let them go, but if I do that then you will never get the chance to love them as much as I do, and I really want you all to love them, or at least have the opportunity to love them.

I’ve mentioned that I’m going to have a blog contest soon and give away something pretty to one of my lucky followers. I think I’ve been waiting for this moment – the moment I write “The End” on my novel for the very last time – to start the contest. It’s fitting, don’t you think?

I must get back to the words – I’m on a roll and I don’t want to stop! While I finish this novel and try ever so hard not to cry at the thought of saying goodbye to my characters, I’ll leave you with a mini-inspiration post, a few images that sum up my final scenes quite perfectly.

My Elevator Pitch

3 Aug

Aspiring author Karen Tyrrell recently wrote a thought-provoking post on elevator pitches and just what it takes to get your manuscript noticed by an agent or publisher. (If you haven’t read Karen’s post, you should! It contains lots of handy hints to get your pitch just right – read about it here).

It got me thinking: what could I possibly use as an elevator pitch for my manuscript? For a while there I was stumped. I literally kept drawing a blank whenever I thought about it – kinda like when I thought about writing my CV or my synopsis, total mind blank.

I started questioning what my novel was really about. I mean, it’s a post-apocalyptic tale set in Australia, with a young male protagonist and a whole lotta angst, but that’s not exactly the most eye-catching pitch ever developed, is it? And then it hit me in the shower this morning – my elevator pitch:

“Everybody is capable of killing. Fourteen-year-old Ollie just needed the right trigger.”

Okay, so it’s probably lame and it doesn’t make mention of the end of the world, which is kind of the whole premise, or where the story really begins anyway. But does it describe the basic undercurrent of the story? Does it highlight exactly what makes my novel tick? Yes, I think so. My elevator pitch is pretty much my novel, in a really tiny nutshell.

But what do you think? Does it grab your attention? Is it punchy enough to gain the interest of a literary agent or a publisher?

NB: I christened this post with a picture of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, simply because I want to look at him.

EDIT: I’ve updated this post with my new and improved elevator pitch, thanks to Karen Tyrrell’s lovely advice.