When your characters really come alive

fortune-cookie-elena-koycheva-40lenneek-on-unsplash.jpg
Elena Koycheva @lenneek on Unsplash

Connor turns from the window where he has been gazing out onto the empty street. “You’re the author, Ms Hall; we’re entirely in your hands.” He fiddles with the change in his trouser pockets. “But well, we were wondering, when exactly is our book coming out?”

I stare back at him, not comprehending the situation. My gaze travels around the room. Next to me, dressed in a blue silk caftan, legs curled up underneath her on the couch, is Cynthia. She is busy examining her beautifully manicured nails. Opposite sits Lucy, long blonde hair glowing.

“It’s just that it’s been so long,” Lucy says, a little breathlessly. “I mean…” her voice trails off and Pierre, her boyfriend, who is perched on the arm of her chair, squeezes her shoulder gently.

Lucy turns to Gina who is sitting in the matching armchair next to her. I notice she is fiddling with a shiny new ring on her third finger. The light catches the bright solitaire diamond sending patterns flashing across the worn Persian rug where Asmar, Cynthia’s cat, is lounging. He dabs at the flickering light with a casual golden paw. The blaring of a televised football match filters down from the flat upstairs where Gary, Gina’s boyfriend fiancé now? must be watching.

Gina sits forward and leans towards me. “It’s not that we’re ungrateful. We’ve loved our story. It was so exciting!” She pauses for a moment. “Well, mostly.” She frowns momentarily. “It all turned out all right in the end though,” she adds, grinning. “It’s just that, I’m sorry to have to say this, but we feel like we’re in limbo.”

I look around the room at these people whom I know so well; these people with whom I’ve spent so many hours.

Connor clears his throat. “Time waits for no man… or woman.” He takes his hands out of his pockets and puffs out his chest. “I have had a second slim volume of my poetry accepted for publication since you finished our manuscript.”

I gave you an agent, I think to myself. I fiddle with the pen I’m holding and glance down to see my notebook open on my lap.

Connor darts forward and grabs it. “Oh no, Ms Hall. No more changes. It’s done. Finished. You told everyone so.”

I hold my hands up. “I know. And it is. Finished I mean.” I sigh, my hands dropping into my lap. “I’m just waiting for the artwork for the cover.”

Connor nods gravely.

At that moment there is a knock at the door.

“It’s open,” calls Cynthia.

Tony Wong, whose flat is across the hall and who is landlord to Cynthia, Gina and Lucy, smiles and enters. He pads over the rug and holds out a bowl stacked high with pale brown crackers. “Would you like a fortune cookie, Ms Hall?”

I take one and pull out the little paper message, but it’s like one of those plot-halting moments. I can’t read a single word.


A true-life story of an author and her characters 😉

Advice for Authors: your online presence

Here’s some very sound advice for authors which I came across on J.I. (Jenn) Rogers’ Facebook author page – head over and have a look there are some really interesting and useful nuggets!

The article is by Anne R. Allen and is entitled ‘Your Online Presence: 10 Mistakes for Authors to Avoid’. Here’s the link  to this useful article (which includes another cute cat pic).

Food for thought. The article, not the cat.

The White Elephant

white elephants

Teresa, The Haunted Wordsmith, is holding a ‘White Elephant’ party throughout December and since Teresa very kindly gifted a beautiful time-turner to me yesterday, I’m continuing with three gifts of my own.


The first gift goes to Sadje of Keep it Alive and I’m giving her a display cabinet in which to keep all her well-deserved blogger awards:

Display Cabinet


Now, I actually got two of these in a Black Friday sale, so the second gift of a display cabinet goes to Salted Caramel for exactly the same reason. She also gets a second silly gift of a bowl of salted caramel flavour popcorn because I know she likes it and you can’t have too much of a good thing!

Salted Caramel Popcorn


And finally, my third gift goes  to The Dark Netizen  and I have chosen to give a him a lightsaber as I’m excited to know what he’ll do with it!

Lightsaber

Author Reviews: how do you feel?

I come across this article by one of my favourite authors, Kate Atkinson, which she wrote in response to a review of her latest novel by the American novelist Jonathan Dee in the New Yorker.

You can read the full article for yourself by following the the link below, but as I was reading, I was initially incensed on her behalf by Dee describing her as ‘matronly’. I mean, how dare he? (Note that Ms Atkinson is a contemporary of mine, even down to having grown up in the same city, not that we knew each other).

In his review, Dee makes much of a comparison with the work of Rachel Cusk, who is an exponent of “autofiction” (a form of fictionalised autobiography). There’s a further link in the main article to a piece about this form of expression, which is apparently gaining in popularity. It’s not something I’d care to explore; writing from the imagination seems to me to be the whole point of novel writing.

But back to the point about authors reviewing authors. Reviews are important, and I’m very grateful for the lovely reviews I’ve received on my published work so far. I believe that we should try to support each other and if we really don’t like a book, maybe just keep our opinions private.

Some food for thought here. What’s your view?


Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd

Kate Atkinson calls authors reviewing their peers a ‘callous art’

British novelist who recently published latest book “Transcription” says she tries not to read bad reviews

Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson, Author (and not at all matronly)

The literary world is packed with novelists reviewing the books of their colleagues but it is not something Kate Atkinson would do, calling it a “callous art”.

 

 

The Importance of Editing

Good article. I’ve also found that commenting and helping to edit other people’s writing has made me more conscious of the way I write. There are some good examples of ‘tightening’ up too.

A Writer's Path

by Doug Lewars

If you want to become a better writer, become a better editor.

If you want to become a better editor, edit work that is not your own.

I recently joined a local writers’ group and was requested to comment on various extracts from group members completed and in-progress work. I quickly found a number of recommendations I could make for improvement, but what came as a bit of a surprise, was when I went back and started editing some of my own work, I found exactly the same things there. One common mistake is using names too frequently when a pronoun would suffice.

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How Goodreads Can Make You a Better Writer

Do have a look at this post! Nicole makes some great points.
I’ve become an avid reviewer on Goodreads and totally agree that being positive about another person’s work is important. As a writer, I guess you just have to take reviews on the chin, as with anyone who puts their work out there. I have some experience of the other side of this having worked as a curator in an art gallery. It’s never easy rejecting people’s submissions.

WordMothers

Nicole Melanson ~

Sculpture of boy whispering to woman “Seen that last review yet?”

If you want to strike fear into the heart of any author, sidle up alongside them at a party and whisper, “Goodreeeeadsssss” in their ear.

For the uninitiated, Goodreads is a platform where readers rate books and recommend them to other readers—readers being the key word. Goodreads was never intended for authors, yet authors can’t resist snooping around in there. On rare occasions, the end result is a burst of pride, but more often than not, the author slinks away with a bruised ego—or rather, the wise author slinks away with a bruised ego; the Devil-may-care ones roll up their sleeves and fight.

Insider tip: this fighting from an author on behalf of her book? It’s not a good look. Not under any circumstances. Nope. Never. Sorry. Even if the reader is totally wrong about the novel you’ve devoted 10 years…

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How to Protect Against Plagiarism If You Post Fiction Online

A very important issue. Some useful guidance for those of you who like me are posting their work online.

A Writer's Path

by Sarah Pesce

Let me start this off by saying plagiarists are the WORST.

Unfortunately, plagiarism is made easier than ever with self-publishing these days. If you post your work online – on fanfic forums, on Wattpad, on critique sites, on your own website, etc. – you run the risk of that work being stolen and put up for sale as an ebook, with someone else potentially making money off of your labour.

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Philip Pullman: ‘My Writing Day’

I came across this article written by the wonderful author, Philip Pullman. I found it very entertaining. It’s mostly about his writing space. Interesting. What’s yours like?

Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd

Philip Pullman interview lunaslonline

Philip Pullman: ‘I use coloured pencils to show which key I’m writing in – D minor, at the moment’

The author on the importance of desk height, watching birds and Myriorama cards

I get to my desk (in a very small room at the top of the house) at about 10, and fiddle about with the height of the desk and the chair until I’m comfortable. I have a desk that I can raise or lower according to the state of my aching back. Sometimes I stand at it, and sometimes I have it high up to write at, and sometimes a bit lower to type.

The desk is covered by an ancient kilim, because it looks nice, but that’s not a good surface to write on, so I have one of those green safety cutting mats to support the paper I use, which is A4 narrow lined, with two holes. I love the shape of the A paper sizes. It’s the only one of Andrea Palladios recommended architectural shapes (the ratios of room length to width, and so on) that contains an irrational number, in this case the ratio of one to the square root of two. Very handy for illustrating Pythagoras’s famous theorem, in fact.

Nearby is a basket full of coloured pencils, including some of the best of all, the Berol Karisma range, now unfortunately discontinued. For each book I write, the paper is authorised for writing on by means of a coloured stripe along the top edge. I fan the sheets out and colour a stack at a time. The current book is a warm blend of Karisma Pumpkin Orange and Faber Castell Venetian Red. I sometimes think I should make it clear which key I’m writing a particular passage in – D minor, at the moment – but that would be silly, unlike colouring the pages, which makes perfect sense.

To read on, click here