Blog Archives

Rewriting and Editing is Not for Sissies!

 

Dream Landscape 1 by Chris H index17 sxcLast week I started reading my first draft of The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 after months of creation without looking back to do any rewrites or edits. I took the advice of seasoned authors and wrote with the single-minded goal to finish the story and not check back on what I’d written (as I’d done with my other works) until it was time to do a rewrite. And what I discovered took my breath away!

I’m a Pantster. I do not outline or have a storyboard with cards and post-its all over my wall. I have one notebook which I use to remind myself of particular details I need to include in the story relating to characters or descriptions or vital plot twists that will make the story better and more exciting. Those thoughts come to me when I’m not writing but doing other things completely unrelated to the craft like brushing my teeth, washing dishes, watching TV, or when I’m just about to fall asleep – the latter being the best time to come up with great ideas. When I sit at my computer I allow the story to tell itself without any interference from my perfectionist brain. I do not have a muse (that I know of), but I do believe that my stories come from a place I cannot describe, a place where the magic happens – that source you cannot explain to someone who has never had the privilege of creating magic with words.

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

Whenever I write and allow this inexplicable process to take over, I am always left dumbfounded by what comes out of me. So, when I began reading from the beginning, I was amazed with the incredible detail and power and beauty of the story. “Did I write that?” I frequently asked myself as I tightened up my style, got rid of extraneous words and redundancies, and checked spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I have been drawn into the story anew; I experience the turmoil and chaos of the battle scenes, the love stories, the grief and joy of the characters I fell in love with – the characters that are so much a part of me that to say goodbye to them is a special kind agony reserved only for storytellers, I believe.

Rewriting is hard work; it requires an unemotional approach because it is meant to remove the detritus that accumulates, the bad habits that have crept into my writing I’m still trying to get rid of, and the stuff I know my readers won’t be interested in. Sometimes its a brutal process, especially when you have to get rid of entire scenes or delete a sub-character you really love. But it is necessary in order to create a product as close to perfect as possible. (You do know that no work is ever perfect, right? That would remove the soul of any story.) Rewriting and editing polishes up the frenzied creating that went before, that first ‘pen to paper’ moment when the fire in your belly and brain is urging you to create just like an addict’s urge to satisfy his cravings. The latter is the most exciting part of writing – for me, anyway. I have no inhibitions, I do not concern myself with perfect spelling, grammar, punctuation (my typing skills are not fantastic as it is), and I do not get in the way of whatever/whoever is working through me. And that is when the magic happens!!

Pen on Paper

My readers are going to be blown away by the final book, but before they get their hands on it, it’s my responsibility to make it a smooth experience for them. It is my duty to make sure nothing creates a bump as they lose themselves in the story. My goal is to take them in so deep, to hypnotise them so completely, that when they are rudely pulled back into reality by the demands of normal life, they cannot remember the passing of time. All they do remember are the emotions of getting lost in a story so completely that time stood still for a little while.

Don’t you want power like that? I do. I have never received a greater compliment than when one of my readers tells me they couldn’t put my book down until they finished it – all 700 pages!

Rewriting is not for sissies, it isn’t for those who are only interested in the emotional aspect and who do not care enough about the quality of their craft. I have posted on this before: Balance between passion and knowledge is vital. It takes experience and patience to rewrite in a way that keeps the passion/emotion/magic in the story alive and then compliments it with great grammar, punctuation, and style. If we can learn to find the balance then we can be better storytellers. I make sure I learn something new ever day to improve my craft. I encourage you to do the same.

I love reading your thoughts! Do you agree with having balance between passion (that first frenzied, magical draft) and knowledge (the more emotionally removed process of rewriting and editing)?

Advertisements

Life’s Craziness Can Lead to Great Productivity and Progress . . . If You Take the Time to Rest

 

Life gets crazy sometimes!!!

Life gets crazy sometimes!!!

What a week!!! What with finishing NaNoWriMo before the deadline, and then chaos erupting in my life as though it was waiting in the shadows for days, watching and preparing for an all-out assault, it didn’t get me down when it finally attacked! Instead, it showed me that no matter how tough things appear they’re not really so bad. All I have to do is stop and breathe.

Since last week Wednesday, when we had an insane storm with hail the size of tennis balls sending Joburg into chaos, hubby and I experienced the added fun of the following: first, his hard drive decided it was done with life and shut down permanently, therefore we had to fork out money for another; secondly, our internet went down and knowing how notoriously slow our phone company is we phoned them with pretty low expectations. And our fears were justified when, five days later, we finally got the internet back only to be told that we now need a new modem because they’d upgraded our line to make it faster and the old one was no longer compatible! Aaarrgh! Another lot of money gone just before Christmas!! Then, (I think this is fourthly?!!) our outside drain decided to get blocked and our delightfully friendly chairlady of the Body Corporate told us it was our drain and at first she wasn’t prepared to do anything about it and basically told us to sort it out ourselves. That is until I got all huffy (hubby is way too nice!) and explained why it couldn’t be our drain as it was spewing out huge amounts of toilet paper, brown water, which smelled a lot like sewage, and cigarette buts – but we don’t smoke, she does!!! Eventually, she called out the complex’s plumber, who quickly discovered that the blockage was being caused by roots and he sorted it out at cost to the complex not us! Hallelujah!!

Jaque by asterisc21 sxc

Now, it’s so easy when things like this happen in quick succession to think that life and everything about it sucks, but when we realised that what we got out of it was a new powerful hard drive, a new powerful modem and faster internet, and a clean drain at no cost, hubby and I were very grateful, indeed. Sure, we are out of a pocket a bit, but my in-laws helped us out with the modem so, fortunately, we managed financially better than expected. All good!

Drawing a lesson from this chaotic, unexpected week, if I viewed the bad days – the frustrations and slogging that writing and promoting and selling my books sometimes bring me – I can either choose to wallow in misery or I can use my irritation to rethink and refocus, even if it means taking a few days off from writing (something I hate to do); I can step back and view my situation from a fresh perspective with a clear head.

It’s important to recognise when you need to step back instead of focusing on what’s not working. The act of such intense focus on what you don’t want will bring down your mood and mess with your creativity and clarity of thought.

I’ve blogged about this before: rest is as vital to your writing process after weeks of intensive writing – like NaNoWriMo brought you. If you have that novel done, or even the start of one, then step back and take your time assessing what you did and rest from the insane, nonstop process to allow yourself to breathe and really see what you’ve created.

Everything you do has the potential to be brilliant - but if you're too tired to see it then you and your readers won't experience the magic you've created!

Everything you do has the potential to be brilliant – but if you’re too tired to see it then you and your readers won’t experience the magic you’ve created!

As the holidays approach, make time for yourself by going to a spa or for long walks or spending time with your family, who no doubt hardly saw you during November – if you did NaNo 🙂

I have the first draft The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 to finish, and I’d like to do it before next year, but I’m not going to push too hard, not after I wrote most of Part 3 during NaNo and got pretty far. It’s the end of the story and it needs me to be fresh and clearheaded and excited and re-energised to write the ending of a powerful, incredible story that has taken me four years to write! I plan to do it slowly and to do it well, and I urge you to follow my example and rest, then approach it with love and respect and a fresh perspective that will enable you to finish another masterpiece 🙂

I love reading your thoughts! Please leave a comment and tell us about your creative process and if you agree with me or not about resting in order to produce better results.

You can find my works here! Great 5-star reviews for Books 1-3 and my sci-fi short story, The Door. Enjoy!

Passion, Knowledge, Failure, and Success – What I Learned About Writing

“I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because, as you will read below, passion must always be balanced with knowledge!”

Writing Inspiration

I never had a clue! Going into my first ever major writing project held great excitement, and my passion was never in question. I was, however, keenly aware of my lack of knowledge when it came to punctuation, which was (and still is) a constant challenge to get just right, including other details regarding grammar and style.

I did have one thing going for me, though, and that was the enormous amount of reading I’d done since I could read as a child, and the conscious, and unconscious laser-like attention I paid to how a writer wrote, how he/she brought across his/her story, and how he/she pulled me in by using only words and no pictures. I was fascinated with the ‘how’ every time, and it didn’t take me long to realise that I had developed a burning desire to do what they were doing, too.

The Six Golden Rules of Writing

But the last time I went to school was over twenty years ago, and there was no way I remembered all that boring English stuff. So, I had to start from scratch and pay more attention while I read. To my great advantage, the writers whose works I read were superb in their craft, masters and word technicians to envy, and that is literally (pun intended:) ) where my re-schooling began.

Paging through my first novel, I sometimes cringe when I come across things that I now know – with my vastly increased knowledge – that need to be rewritten and changed and re-edited. Grrrr! Why didn’t I see that when I wrote it? I ask myself. Because you just didn’t know there was a better way, I remind myself.

Now, I could rant and rave and die of embarrassment, or I can laugh about it, learn from it, and simply become better. And that, dear friends, is what I decided to do. The Sword bearers: Book 1 is fantastic story – to which my 4 and 5 star reviews will attest – and that’s what gives me peace and encouragement about being a storyteller. I am good at it and my readers love what I create and how I deliver it, but I can always be better at it!

I have spoken often in my blogs about having a balance between passion and knowledge and I still stand by that. I write my first draft with my heart leading the way, and then when I rewrite and edit I let my mind, and all the knowledge it has gained to this point, take control and make it sharper, clearer, tighter, and even more fantastic.

I, for one, don’t write for the critics. I have always been passionate about making my readers excited and enthralling them and taking them on a journey they will never forget. I’m good at that; I’m a natural storyteller. However, the nitty-gritty is what makes my books greater. I have to pay attention to the details – the punctuation, the flow, the style, the correct language usage in the right way. Simply put, how I present my work to the world is as important as the story if I want to make my mark on the world.

Re Criticism for Writers

I don’t actually see the small mistakes in Book 1 as failures; I see them as learning curves, and I encourage you to do the same. It’s easy to give in to feelings of regret and embarrassment, but once you go down that path it is very difficult to see yourself as a talented, significant writer with something important to say and share with the world.
My first novel is brilliant the way it is because it represents all of me and who I was at the time. It contains my heart and soul, tears and blood and as such cannot be better than what it is.

People might be quick to criticise and point out the faults in your work, but don’t listen to them unless their observations are valid and you can improve your writing as a result. As an example, when I published my first sci-fi short story, The Door, and another author read it, he was quick to point out that I used the word ‘wander’ instead of ‘wonder’ and it appeared on the very first page. I was mortified and angry with myself for missing it during editing and I quickly corrected it, feeling much better and relieved for doing so. Now, initially I was peeved about someone pointing out my mistake because my ego loves to wallow in self-pity and self-recrimination, but then I told myself to grow up! This man had helped me improve my writing and had helped me become more dogged in finding such errors, ergo be a lot more meticulous in the future. Because of him I now pay more attention to all those words that look so similar.

The point is, when you learn from your mistakes then you are already a success. When your writing improves because you listened and took note of constructive criticism, then you are a success. You only fail when you refuse to pay attention, when you allow your ego to control you, because then you can move forward instead of standing still!

It takes a lot of conscious effort to not allow my past lack of knowledge affect me now when I am so much better at what I do. And I am getting stronger and better every single day I sit in front of my computer and write! You’ve got to believe in your ability to grow and learn because when you do there is only one direction you can go from where you currently find yourself: Up, up, and away to greater success!

Freedom!

Have you allowed past mistakes to affect you? Do you cringe and berate yourself because of them or do you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge what can cripple your creativity and keep you from becoming a master of your craft if you let it?

I love reading your thoughts. Please share your personal experiences with us.

The Hidden Sadness of Joyful Things

Praying Hands

Feebledum and Feebledee

my brain it says to me,

“I’ve had no fun these past gone days,

to rant and rant and spree!”

*

I try not listen too much to brain

’cause I’m in pain, you see;

No cash to pay yon fickle hand

that reaches for its fee.

*

Learning how to change my thoughts

without the brain’s aware,

makes it a tricky, sticky thing

enlightenment to dare.

*

‘Believe in truth: you are a god!’

makes conscious brain a-freak!

“Such blasphemy I cannot take!”

is its constant tweet!

*

If I such power do possess,

new teachings reveal to me,

then how can this god make it work

when self-suff”ring’s all I see?

*

Here I sit all a-scare

’cause faith’s what makes all right;

but when one’s bills cry “Feed me now!”

my heart beats tight with fright.

*

Writing may my pleasure be

but tears bills do not get,

faith’s all good and glorious ‘t seems,

yet still no relief, not yet.

*

Blood and sweat and tears made book

and heart’s still filled with joy;

I wonder tho’ when faith will work

and reveal Universe’s real ploy.

*

If I am great then believe I must

for love and faith are real;

trust in god and God’s silent trust

in me to finally feel.

*

We’re great, you know, listen well,

all artists big and small,

if times tough are and seem unfair,

then listen to heart’s squall.

*

Feebledum and feebledee,

your brain might say to thee;

listen not to dark mumblings there

’cause power lies not in see.

*

Your power lies down in yon heart,

in trust in your deity;

make no mistake believe in faith (unseen)

and it will set you free!

*

Muse or God or god or self,

whate’er belief thou declare,

make sure your skill and talent divine

no suffering it ever bare.

by Monique Rockliffe

 

So, you can tell by this contemplative poem that my days of woe are many!!! Nah, being overly dramatic is all, but, boy, sometimes it’s tough when all I want to do is make a living writing and things seem like they’re just not working out. But, hey, those days come and, thank goodness, they go! Although today I’m in the ‘darkness’ at least it produced an amateurish poem that I hope gives you some hope (and even some amusement) if you’re facing a tough day or situation.

Don't ever doubt the magic within you!

Don’t ever doubt the magic within you!

The bottom line is, don’t give up on your dreams or aspirations or goals, especially on the bleakest of days, because that’s when you need to keep your chin up and keep writing, or doing whatever makes your soul sing, with every bit of creative power you have. Whether it’s faith or love or the joy found in nature, a friendship or a pet, grab onto it, hold it close, and just keep going. Everything passes eventually, my friend. And you can always tell me about it if you feel like having a rant, and we can first mope and then get over it together. So drop me a line and share what’s up with you, even if it’s good news. It’ll lift my spirits and give me the encouragement I need to get through one of life’s tougher days.

Happy creating!

 

Are You a Giver or a Trader?

"Please, God, I'll do anything! I don't need to be happy just rich and famous!"

“Please, God, I’ll do anything! I don’t need to be happy just rich and famous!”

If you had the opportunity, would you do anything to become a famous author, even if it destroys your soul?

I’ve just finished watching a fantastic programme called “Tapping the Source”, and one of the lessons I learned from this inspiring programme (one of many, let me tell you!) was doing something without expecting anything in return. That’s a very hard thing to do never mind to even consider, and it’s a good ol’ smack in the face for our egos because since when in these tough lives of ours do we do anything without hoping for or expecting something in return? I mean, we give cash to receive the things we desire, be it food, clothes, toys, that new iPhone, so we grow up learning that when we give something to someone then it is our right to get something in return.

The ironic thing is, though, that in reality if you want the great results in life like joy, abundance, success and even fame, it requires you to be thankful for everything you already have – whether you like those things in your life or not – and to give without expecting or demanding something in return. Your ego screams at you, “No, no, no! Don’t be an idiot! The next thing you’ll have people walking all over you and abusing your generosity. Are you insane?!”

Who's in control of your life, your arrogant, self-serving ego or the giving, loving person you were created to be? One destroys, the other creates.

Who’s in control of your life: your arrogant, self-serving ego or the giving, loving person you were created to be? One destroys, the other creates.

It’s true. As a ‘normal’ human being, brought up by well-meaning parents, I was taught that you don’t just give away what you’ve worked so hard for. Nothing’s for free! In order to get something you have to earn it – pay for it in some fashion. In other words, unless you trade something that’s precious to you then you will never get like in return and you learn to expect the same from others.

It’s very difficult for us to give away what we’ve poured sweat and tears into, what we’ve poured our very souls into. Like our books. For most of us it takes months of writing, then a couple more to revise, then a couple more to get edited, proofread, compiled, and then, finally, almost a year later, published. Now I must just give it away without getting anything in return? you ask. Are you nuts?!!

If you had to be honest with yourself, whenever you have those fabulous Amazon Select days when your precious work is available for free, you must feel a little cheated when hundreds of copies get downloaded (after you’ve only sold about twenty to thirty at .99c so far) and you know you will never see a dime; you will never get anything in return for the precious gift you’ve given to those hundreds of people. What exactly are your expectations going in? Do you ask yourself questions like: “Geez, can’t anyone just afford .99c, for goodness sake?” or “Are they buying it because I’m a great writer or because it’s free? Do they even know who I am? Do they even know what other books I’ve written?” Your ego steps in to protect and defend you with teeth bared. You feel despair, and that awful feeling of unfairness, of being done a great wrong, creeps into your gut and starts chomping away. Was the give-away as satisfying as you’d imagined, then?

The question you need to ask is this: What was my motivation for doing it?

If your motivation was to get a hundred reviews, and all those people demanding more of you and your writing, then okay. But what does it do to you when you don’t get that exact return on your investment? Do you begin to lose hope? Do you begin to doubt yourself and your abilities? Do you begin to think that everything you’ve done has been a waste of time, that an entire year of effort has been for naught and that it and you are now worthless and, in fact, completely invisible to the millions of readers out there?

I certainly hope not, dear writer!!!

I guess it boils down to expectation. But there’s the rub (I apologise for the copious clichés). When you give your beloved work away what exactly are your expectations? Do you expect to receive the same value back that you so generously put in? Or do you do it out of love – to share your work and passion and talent with the world and become wonderfully elated in the divine act of giving and sharing freely?

Having balance is always the wisest choice

Having perfect balance in your life and work is always the wisest choice

My advice would be to create a balance, because that’s what makes life so enjoyable and fulfilling. Have one give-away as an act of love and as your gift to the world to feed your soul with the joy it deserves, and then do a give-away where you work really hard to encourage people to get to know you and your work, to encourage them to spend money on you next time because you’re so incredibly worth it.

You are worth getting paid for what you do, but you are also worth the joy, love, and fulfilment sharing and giving without the expectation of receiving will bring your heart and soul. Find balance and your rewards will be beyond your wildest expectations.

The choice, dear writer, is yours.

I love hearing your thoughts! Please leave a comment and tell me about your experiences and what you think about giving without expecting anything in return, especially if it involves the sacrifice of your most precious gifts.

Images courtesy of eyebiz, wgroesel, and sradion

Related Articles:

Don’t Sell Yourself Too Cheaply – You are of Great Worth (moniquerockliffe.wordpress.com)

What Keeps Me Going When Hiding Looks So Darn Good?

Flu1 by evah sxc

As you can tell by the heading, I’m feeling fed up, and having a cold doesn’t help matters at all!! It’s more than just feeling tired and gross that has me feeling like throwing in the towel, though, and here is that reason:

Are all my efforts paying off? Are all the hours spent editing my third book, and promoting and marketing the first two and the soon to be released third, actually going to make a difference to me or the world? Will I ever see my sales skyrocket? Will I ever be on a best-seller list? Do my 2,360 followers on Twitter and over 1000 fans on Facebook actually care what I’m writing? Do they even know that I’m writing?

The answer: I dunno!!!

Next question: Does it matter?

Answer: Yes…and no.

Yes because it’s my responsibility as a self-published author to reach my followers on Twitter and fans on Facebook through self-promotion and marketing. It’s my responsibility to make people notice me and learn about me and my work and to educate them on what I do. It is my job to learn how to do all of this effectively in the minimum amount of time.

When I decided to go Indie I accepted the challenge to do everything myself, therefore it most certainly is my responsibility to train and educate myself on how to go about it, and then to get on with it! My unique personality is what attracts more attention; my relationship with friends, fans, and followers across the entire Social Media platform is what draws them to me and ultimately my work.

Hand Shake1 by pixelstar sxc

Trust is key. I cannot earn trust without building relationships – relationships that are powerful, significant, and influential. Be smart, I always say to myself, not busy. Doing too much can become as ineffectual as doing nothing at all. Learn from those who are successful and listen to your intuition when it comes to what information to use for your specific situation and goal.

So, yes, it does matter – but only when I’m smart and spend less time doing too much of the superficial stuff and more time doing what’s deeply effective, personal, and more attentive towards those that are potential readers of my work. The focus should be on them. I now believe that being too inwardly focused is damaging to my relationships and, as a result, my work. I need to focus more on the hearts of my potential readers than in trying to ram my novels down their throats. Maybe then I’ll get the attention I want.

Now, the answer to the question is also no because when it comes right down to it I am mainly writing for the privilege of being able to create an incredible, unique story of thrilling adventures and filled with so much emotion, fantastic characters, and detailed experiences that I am always left amazed when I read my first draft after all the writing’s done. “I made that,” I often exclaim in astonishment, and once again I am humbled by the indescribable gift of storytelling I’ve been given.

I may never be a best-seller or rate up there with Stephen King and Terry Brooks, but I most certainly will produce the best piece if fantasy literature I can achieve on my journey at this moment in time.

Of course, all the effort is worth. I have to learn to be more efficient, less long-winded in all my promotion and marketing, and more attentive and faithful to my potential readers.

And never, ever must I give in to the feelings of helplessness, despondency, and doubt that attack me when I least expect it. Those tough moments are delivered to me with love, and within them are lessons to be learned and encouragements and urgings to review what I’ve done in the past and move on from those things that are not working.

Cover of "Carrie"

Cover of Carrie

No effort is ever wasted. Those sincere attempts might not be as potent and productive as they could be but they always count – whether you’re learning how to do it better or finding out what’s not important. If what you’re doing isn’t producing results then change it or discard it or it will eat away your enthusiasm like bubbling acid until there’s nothing left and you feel like giving up and throwing your work in the bin. Remember what happened to Stephen King? He threw Carrie in the dustbin and his wife fished it out, told him to finish it, and then submit it. It was his first novel and he got over $200, 000.00 for it!! He never looked back after that! Thank goodness his wife never accepted the despondency and discouragement of her husband. Can you imagine what would have happened to King if he’d done that with all his later manuscripts?

Oh, and never make judgements and decisions about editing/writing when you’re tired, hungry, or sick!

Hope this helps you in some way. My personal situation has certainly taught me a lot these past few weeks and finding a balance between caring and not caring – caring about what works and not caring about what appears to be failing (when it actually isn’t) – is the most important place to be as a writer at all times. Being aware of potential failures and things that don’t work and never will is a good place to be because at least then you can recognise the dangers and steer clear of them. Go after what rings true to your heart and spirit and trust in your best Friend – your Muse/God/the Universe – who always faithfully carries you through the tough times, even when you aren’t aware of it!

Dreams in Pi 2 by ugaldew sxc

I love hearing from you, so share your ‘dark’ moments with us so that we can be encouraged and our enthusiasm boosted to continue on with our beautiful craft!

 

First Image Courtesy of evah

Second Image courtesy of pixelstar

Fourth image (Dreams in Pi 2) courtesy of ugaldev

NaNoWriMo Done, Dusted, and Conquered! Now Book 3 Awaits!

The Cover for Book 3: The Sword Bearer's Awakening

The Cover Image for Book 3: The Sword Bearer’s Awakening

Yup, yup, yup, I did it! I beat the NaNo deadline by three days, and while the story is not yet finished I have an almost complete novel in my hands that I can publish around mid 2013 after I’ve published Book 3 in my Sword Bearers tetralogy titled The Sword Bearer’s Awakening.

Honestly, I wondered if I could put together an entire novel in one month when it took me three to five months to write the first draft of The Sword Bearers and The Sword Bearer’s Journey – for each book! As I said to one of the reviewers for my sci-fi short story, The Door, after she suggested I turn it into a novel ‘cause it had a tad too much detail for a short story, I am one for a lot of detail – not rambling, I must stress, because I don’t do that – but I like to make sure the reader doesn’t miss any vital information that, if left out, could spoil the story. When I took up the challenge to write an entire story in one month I almost gave into the little voice that kept reminding me how long it took to write my epic fantasy (I’m consistently producing one book a year)! But what excited me about NaNo was the possibility that I actually could do it. I wasn’t lacking for a fantastic idea (based on a very vivid dream I had) and I’m very good at “pantsing”, as people call it – writing off the seat of my pants. The scenes and characters always take care of themselves; without fail they are born without my conscious help and the story develops as if by magic. Yes, I had a rough outline and I knew my characters’ names and personalities, but that was all I had before starting. I knew how the story began and how it ended; the “in between” flowed from my mind through my fingers onto the screen in that process none of us writers can truly explain to a non-writer.

The result: Avalin: A Vampyric Legend, something totally unique in that I have not read similar ideas anywhere yet, and I can only hope it stays that way.

My experiment to fuse different genres actually worked – as I mentioned in my last couple of posts – and I believe I have produced a work of fiction lovers of romance, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and action will all enjoy. Of course, I will let you know when it’s ready for publication in 2013, so watch this space!!

The Door Cover KB

Now that The Door is published and available on Amazon and Smashwords for you to enjoy, my focus is on The Sword Bearer’s Awakening. This is the third instalment of my Epic Fantasy and I’m thrilled to return to it after more than a month’s break. The characters are so much a part of me that I’ve missed them like I miss very close friends I haven’t visited for ages.

KC, the protagonist, and the antagonist, the arch demon Drakoor s’et, are headed for the Final Battle, a mighty confrontation prophesied about for centuries across the entire galaxy of N’varda and beyond. In this book KC, the Bearer of the Sword of Heaven, is trying to recover from a terrible loss that nearly destroys her mind and has shredded her heart, and as she struggles daily with the lust for revenge that consumes her every waking moment, she knows that her family are depending on her to protect them from the wave of devastation Drakoor s’et has unleashed on N’varda, for if she fails in her duty, if she fails to stop this great evil, then the Universe will forever be enslaved by the demon and his kind.

I hope I’ve whetted your appetite with that little peek into KC’s world. Book 3 promises to be not only about battles between worlds, with u’mans pitted against aliens and demons, but about the battle of the mind and heart, about right and wrong, about what each individual believes is happening in their world and in their heart. It’s about choices and the terrible or wonderful consequences that follow, and about the power of love, truth, trust, and the deep understanding of one’s self.

I think the most wonderful stories exist out there as a result of NaNo, and I can’t wait to read some of them. Allowing the magic to flow unfettered and unencumbered by too much thought or concern about detail and perfect grammar and spelling and just ‘letting go’ has produced those brilliant stories you hear about, the ones that will take people on journeys they never forget and, in some cases, never recover from.

Magic Book!

Even in the editing and rewriting process may I encourage you to not mess with the magic? Don’t think too long or too hard about the ‘feel’ of it; just let it be and build around it with the knowledge you possess. If you sense that it is losing its magic then let it be for a while until it calls you back, and then continue slowly. There’s no rush, after all. You need to decide what’s more important: passion or knowledge, or a perfect balance of both.

Any NaNo tales? Leave them here!

How Coffee and Cake Make Me a Better Writer

 

Beside the absolute joy and immense pleasure I get consuming a good cup of coffee and a yummy slice of rich cake, it also makes me feel completely relaxed and at peace with the world, as if nothing matters more than that exact delicious moment. Every muscle in my body eases and I gaze out at the world with confidence, filled with an awareness of everything around me with great clarity.

Yes, yes, I know you’re all thinking the same thing: That’s pretty farfetched, Monique, and I agree with you, but . . . maybe not as farfetched as you might think. We can all agree, I’m sure, that when we partake in the greatest pleasures of our lives (and I mean all the greatest pleasures:)) we have moments of great tranquillity and inner joy and a warm physical sensation we can only describe as happiness and contentment because as endorphins, or ‘happy chemicals’ as I like to call them, are released into our systems, very frequently we have moments of incredible clarity and awareness. We pay attention to the people around us, what we and they are doing, what we’re saying, and what we’re feeling. In other words, we become intensely aware of our existence and we pay attention to the minutest detail.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

Yup! Writing does the same thing for me, just like dancing did when I was still performing. Writing makes my spirit soar and fills me with a joy I can only describe as euphoric. No wonder I tell people I’m totally addicted to storytelling – there’s no bigger rush for me! When I sit down at my laptop and begin expressing myself and allowing the magic to flow unchecked, then I become intensely aware of every detail, every nuance, every shift in storyline and what my characters are doing – this includes what’s not working and how to fix it.

The thing is – and here’s why I’m writing this – you have to allow those moments of absolute joy to overtake you if you want to enjoy the full benefits of what the Universe/your Muse/God wants to show you. If for some reason you stop the flow, or you don’t give in to it completely, you miss something vital that could make a huge difference in the long run, a difference that could turn your good book into a great book.

In life, embrace those glorious ‘Coffee and Cake’ moments and look around: notice others, notice yourself, notice what you’re feeling and thinking and then pursue it like a starving person, because in those moments you are more of your true self than you’ll ever be at any other time.

And this is what you need to do when you’re writing!

I know you all feel the passion and joy I’m speaking of when you create because then you wouldn’t do it. It’s so obvious to me when, for example, I read authors’ self-promo’s for their newest releases. I can feel the joy and passion in their words and in the way the invite you to share in it with them.

My goal today is to encourage you to fully embrace that almost mindless exhilaration you feel when you make magic at your computer/typewriter/notebook, and to never be afraid of it – because IT IS ALL YOU! I’ve had moments of not fear per se but that scary feeling you get when you’re falling, and I’ve paused in my creating and pulled back from it because I’ve entered another level of ‘power’ I’ve never experience before. But over time I’ve learned to trust those feelings and allowed them full reign over me and the creation process because I’ve come to recognise that what I’m experiencing is, in fact, FULLY me! And why should I fear myself?

I believe that we need to work everyday towards allowing the Universe/our Muses/God – whatever your personal belief of where your power comes from – to take full control of us in our everyday lives and when we write. I don’t think we yet fully understand just how much power we possess as creators, but what I do believe is that in those moments when our heart rates increase and adrenaline pumps through our veins like fire and our eyes open to a greater understanding of the story we are currently working on, then we MUST give it full control and we must not fear it!! Those are the moments we become truly alive and truly great! Trust in those moments and don’t pull back from them but embrace them eagerly because you are embracing your true self!

Coffee and cake come close to what I feel when I write, but nothing beats the combination of me, my laptop, and my Source coming into perfect alignment and making magic!!

Tell me about your own experiences of full awareness, and those moments when everything became so clear you knew you were on the cusp of greatness! I love hearing from you.

Images courtesy of stock.xchng

 

The Fact that ‘Ordinary’ People Don’t Understand Us Artists Is So True!

Polina Seminova

I just hate it when someone speaks about writing or dancing as if they know what it really entails when, in fact, they don’t have a dang clue!!

I have met people in my life who are so clueless about artists that they think they know everything about them! Know what I mean? They sprout such nonsense, and speak such lies with straight-faced confidence, heck, I’m almost convinced they know what they’re talking about!

As a young kid and later a teenager, already firmly established in my dancing and with complete understanding of how much hard work it entailed, and I told new friends and their parents what I did, my pet peeve was when they asked me to please show them something. “You know, do a twirl or something,” they’d twang, and I’d cringe inside and brim with annoyance, but I’d just smile and (with as little sarcasm as possible) tell them it was impossible because I didn’t have any space. I mean, did they really expect me to do grand jetés (split leaps) and pirouettes (turns) in a room full of furniture and break my neck? Yup!!

I know someone who recently told my husband – who knows very well that I danced professionally – that all it takes to be a dancer is to move your body to music, and that it didn’t require any special skill or much work, whereas professional rugby and cricket took years of dedication and immense skill, talent, and training. Now, only one of those statements is true, and as to the other, well, it showed how utterly ignorant the man was about what it takes to be an artist, and that he thought that sport and dancing didn’t compare. According to him, dancing can never be taken seriously while sport was a god to be worshipped! (My biased interpretation 🙂 ) That dance is called a sport by some infuriates me to no end! Yes, a dancer is an athlete in regards to physical exertion, but that’s where the one and only comparison ends!

Now, if I had been present, firstly, he wouldn’t have dared say something like that (I can be snarky when I get defensive!) and, secondly, I would have given him a very sharp lecture on exactly what it took to become a professional dancer – the long hours everyday of your life; sacrificing parties, holidays, and other social events to do exams, festivals, competitions, and spend more time in the studio learning how to control your body (in a way that is completely unnatural to the way the human form is put together); the physical pain and bleeding feet and pulled muscles and swollen joints; the disappointments and failures before the winnings and successes; the never-ending commitment because missing one week of dancing was like losing an entire month of training!! I could go on and on, and I would’ve eventually had him on his knees begging for my forgiveness before I’d finished with him!

*

(Sidebar)

Okay, so this is my explanation regarding dance. It is NOT an anti-sport statement because I LOVE sport and watch the Olympics with as much fervour as anyone else. This is an earnest comparison; you, dear reader, can draw your own conclusions:

Ethereal Beauty!

Yes, I understand that sport also takes heaps of commitment, especially if one wants to do it professionally, BUT training to become a professional dancer begins the day you walk into a studio at around three years old; kids with aspirations and talent to become professional sportsmen/sportswomen only begin serious training when they’re teenagers, and then the training they do only requires them to train what their bodies can already do naturally. (What follows includes sports like gymnastics, tumbling, ice-skating – anything that can be linked to dance and that requires artistry) With ballet everything you do is beyond the norm for the body: turn-out; spinal rotation beyond the norm of the human spine; co-ordination of the entire body while moving to music; listening to phrasing; interpreting the music; facial expression and performance; acting; spatial awareness; correct weight placement; elevation with stretched legs and feet while holding the body still in the air and expressing perfect line, style, and quality; flexibility (WAY beyond the natural uses of the human body, not required in sport); strength to elevate the legs, these days, to almost a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree angle to the floor; arched feet (the girls have to train to balance and turn en pointe for years – and professionals will tell you, the training for that never stops!); perfect balance – these are but some of the requirements for a dancer. Tell me where a sportsman or woman has to do all these things SIMULTANEOUSLY everyday of their lives?

Shirley Maclaine – a consummate artist!

*

I recently read a blog by a mom who is a serious writer with a firm goal to one day earn a living as a novelist. She is already a journalist and does a lot of other writing jobs when she isn’t working on her novel. But being a mom requires her full attention, and as a result of her working at home her kids think she does nothing all day but sit at home, then only leaves to fetch them from school and take them to extra-mural sporty activities. They even write on their school forms that she’s a ‘stay-at-home-mom’ because they don’t think that writing is a job. Her solution? To treat her writing like it is one – leave the house at 9am, go somewhere like a library or a coffee shop or somewhere quiet to write, then return home at 5pm. She discovered it was the only way she could find the time to get done what she needed to, and get it through to her kids that what she did was serious work, and that when she worked then she was off-limits, so to speak.

In short, I found this story very sad, and it brought out all the feelings of frustration and, yes, even anger that I earlier expressed. What is it with the ‘normal’ world that doesn’t get us? Why is it so difficult for them to see us as creators and designers and artists, something that they could never be because they were gifted with other skills that do not require out-of-the-box thinking?

A very wise man! He understood the necessity of Magic!

As artists we are borderless and limitless. We are visionaries and dreamers, and we only live on this earth because the laws of physics say we have to (for now, anyway!!). If we had a choice we would rush at the chance to explore the Universe – inside us and out there – without fear because we believe that dreams are more important for our continued survival as creator-beings and for earth and it’s inhabitants to evolve!

The kind of people I mentioned above – the ones that think dreaming and allowing magic to lead us and dictate how we should approach and live our lives is rubbish – do not understand that without us dreamers and visionaries they wouldn’t have music and movies and art and dance and design and technology and, when you get right down to it, without us they wouldn’t see any progress as the human race. In their blind arrogance (which is simply ignorance) they think they can have everything in their lives without us. But if they just stopped and looked, and took the time to understand what it takes to write a story that came from a place us authors could never explain; to understand what it takes for a dancer to be so magnificent in her performance that it brings tears to an observer’s eyes and makes it difficult to breathe; to understand that an artist can paint something so beautiful that it can render its observer immobile for hours because of its power and beauty; to understand that a piece of music can make grown men cry and can turn a five-year old into one of the most brilliant composers of all time (Mozart)!

I admit, this post is a bit of a rant, but, as with just about all my posts, I believe my goal as a blogger and an author is to inspire you, dear reader and writer, to never, ever think of yourself as anything less than your partner who has a ‘real’ job and cannot understand your obsession with writing, or your kids that do sport and can’t understand why you spend so much time writing when you don’t earn anything for it, or your friends who have boring, uneventful, safe desk jobs and who can’t understand that you would give up parties and social events to spend more time tweaking your novel so that it can be ready for publication in a few weeks.

Be proud, is what I’m saying, for without you they would not know magic! They would never even be aware of its existence!

You are an artist! You are Magic incarnate! Keep producing and keep conjuring your masterpieces and being the creator-being you were meant to be. Teach those that do not understand, that do not get it, how much work and skill and talent and dedication it takes to be good at what you do, and that even if they don’t see the results – or as in the case of this man who didn’t have a clue about what being a brilliant dancer was all about – it doesn’t mean that those results are not there, it just means that these people don’t know what good or brilliant is! Or even what art is, for that matter! They don’t understand the power or joy or reverence or exuberance writing brings you. Perhaps just be a little more patient in your explanations than I would have been with that clueless man; after all, I am quite cheeky when I want to be 🙂 And now that I am a writer I feel it is my duty to defend us authors against those that scorn and misunderstand us, just as much as I continue to defend dancers who have a reputation for being stupid and uneducated!

Please leave a comment! I love hearing from you! And you can rant all you like – against or for!!

Rest Weary Spirit, Reignite Your Fiery Heart – A Contemplation

This week has been extremely busy and downright exhausting for me, and usually when I’m this tired I find it difficult to write or do rewrites because my concentration levels are just not where they need to be in order to attain my personal standards of performance and achievement in every area of my life. Even though writing never fails to excite me, I find that when I’m tired it becomes more of an effort and like work instead of the easy flow and joy I experience when I’m rested and my mind is uncluttered.

When I’m this tired my mind shuts down, and where writing my Fantasy series can still happen rather easily because of my eternal, almost preternatural, passion for it, writing a blog takes more energy. When I blog I am having a conversation with my friends, but as my hubby knows, when I’m tired I don’t like talking too much. But I am committed to you guys and the relationships I have built up with you, and that to me is never an effort; the act of writing, however, can be. So, all I did today was take a few minutes to sit in front of my laptop and look out the window and allow my mind to wander where it wanted.

Now, I have, and always will be, a fiction writer. I have tried my hand at poetry many times and had reasonable success with it in school, but I’ve never really gotten into it. Karen Robiscoe writes fabulous poetry, and I follow her blog, Charron’s Chatter, with great enjoyment. Frequently her poems are hilarious, but I just know that I will never be able to write like her!! She is a poet; I am not!

*snicker* *snort* (slightly embarrassed look) But today I have tried! This is what my tired brain came up with as it meandered through the messy tangle of limp thoughts drowning in a river of fatigue inside my head (he-he, pretty good, yes??), and personally I think it’s a silly ditty but lots of fun! Give it a bash, even if poetry isn’t your thing, because at least you’ll get a giggle out of it at my expense!! Enjoy!

Let Rested Soul Magic’s Flame Reignite

When words do dwell in shadows’ knell,

and heart and mind reach forth from cell,

yet doors remain closed here within,

and make my soul and spirit dim.

*

When passion sleeps – a deep, drowning swirl,

and dreams come fast yet nil reveal,

I lay a-pant and wish and long

for more of that which once magic spun.

*

Magic eludes my heart and mind,

only bringing forth the dark’s unkind,

when I listen not to Source’s trill within,

and harken only to soulless din.

*

Now I remind kindly me and you . . .

*

How can you scribe and not hear well,

when heart and mind and soul do tell,

to open up your inner-Sun

and give that golden power Gun?

*

By nature, Gun must burn and fire,

for soul and heart and mind to flower!

Its sparks must shower upon that within,

that creates and births the magic din.

*

For absent magic cannot glory make,

neither golden page nor moving tale,

that brings tear or joy or laughter true

to reader, writer, listener . . . or you.

*

Find rest, dear writer, yon weary soul,

to keep alive yon glorious goal.

Make time for love, light, joy, and fun,

and don’t forget to fire that Gun!

*

Magic needs fiery Source-born Gun

to make its energy flare and words become spun.

Seek Muse in rest then write as though

your tale shall become this world’s greatest show!

*

For Gun and Muse and Magic must flare;

three united yon goal shall easily ensnare

each reader, writer, listener and you;

no looking back once choice to fire Gun comes true.

*

Listen well, dear writer, to heart’s quiet plea

to rest, to find magic, to make magic in thee.

All exists already there in soul’s warm glare,

just trust in the Magic and make Gun flare!

by Monique Rockliffe

Will I ever become a famous poet? Nah, don’t think so! But I had fun writing it even though it’s quite possibly just awful! He-he!

Share your ditties here and there will be no judgement! Promise!! I love hearing from you!

P.S. Wishing all the countries participating in the Olympics all the very best, and to all my blog friends, may your country perform to your greatest satisfaction! Good luck/Break a leg/Chukkas etc!
Both Images courtesy of stock.xchng

%d bloggers like this: