Posted in Inspiration

Inspired by…

…Disney!

Walter Elias Disney: (1901-1966)

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

~ Walt Disney

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I know it’s probably a little cliché, and massively uncool, to admit that I’m a Disney fan at nearly 30, but I don’t care. Disney movies never failed to entertain me as a child and can still awaken that child-like joy in me today.

I dressed up as one of the 101 Dalmations for fancy dress day at school. One of the few perks of being sick was getting to snuggle up on the couch watching Disney movies. One of my sisters is still ‘sick to the back teeth’ of Peter Pan because of the number of times I made her watch it!

There are so many to chose from but my favourite animated films from childhood include:

  • Peter Pan (obviously)
  • Tarzan
  • The Lion King
  • Jungle Book
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Robin Hood
  • The Aristocats
  • Hercules
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Other favourites that aren’t animated include: Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Hocus Pocus, Cool Runnings and James & the Giant Peach.

Obviously there have been equally amazing films brought out this century (Zootopia & Inside Out being two of my personal favourites), but I wanted to give special attention to those that influenced me as a child.

They helped shape my imagination. They taught to me think outside of my own world. They opened my mind to the weird and the wonderful. They taught me to love the outcast, root for the underdog, embrace my own oddities and forgive others’ flaws.

I love Disney. Not the princesses and love stories (they were never my favourites, although I wouldn’t say no to the library in Beauty & the Beast….) – but the struggles, the lessons, and the relatable triumphs over life and self. Things I still look for in movies and books decades later.

Useful Info…

…about Writing Exercises.

Business Author Writer Text Writing Paper Letter
…but only if I write.

From what I’ve seen during this brief month of writerly-ness, every writer out there has rough days. Writer’s block. Lack of motivation. Loss of inspiration. Writing yourself into a corner. Self-doubt. Fear. Countless other reasons…

It happens to everyone. Apparently. Yet, people are still out there writing. Getting published. Being awesome authors.

Which means you can too.

The most important advice floating around the interwebs is to WRITE. You are not a writer if you’re not writing. You’re just a dreamer.

So, here are a few suggestions for when you hit those inevitable ‘down days’:

  • Writing prompts – there are loads of blogs, websites, Twitter accounts that will happily provide you with writing prompts for free. Weekly, daily, sometimes hourly – take a look and see if any appeal to you. Then write.
  • Free writing – sometimes known as ‘stream of consciousness’, where you sit down with pen & paper/laptop & fingers and just write whatever comes to mind. It can be as random, weird, worrying or wonderful as you want. Try it.
  • Different POV – if you’re stuck with your current WIP, why not pick a scene and try writing it from a different character’s point of view? It might give you a different perspective/added in-sight and help shift that mental block.
  • Sprint writing – can be combined with any of the above ideas. Sit down, set a timer for 10/30/60 minutes (however long you want) and then write!

These are just a few ideas to get you writing each day, writer’s block or not. There are tons more out there if you can be bothered to go looking for them. This Writing Exercises website is a good place to start, and has some interesting ideas for you to try out.

Play around, try a few different ideas, see what works for you. But most importantly, WRITE.

Posted in Inspiration

Inspired by…

…Enid Blyton!

Enid Mary Blyton: (1897 – 1968) – Children’s author

The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping stones…laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.

~ Enid Blyton

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You may remember from my first post (if you’ve read that far back!) that some of my earliest memories of books stem from my parents reading to me at bedtime. Most, if not all, of those books were Enid Blyton’s.

Each evening, my sister and I would get ready for bed without any fuss, knowing that once we were settled one of our parents would come and sit between our beds, and read aloud the next chapter of our current book. It would usually be one of the Famous Five or Secret Seven stories. I can’t speak for my sister, but I loved learning about the latest mishaps, mysteries and misadventures of these fearless children, which often left my imagination buzzing and sleep a distant hope.

As I got older, my mum trusted me with some of her childhood books, and let me read her copies of the Naughtiest Girl and Malory Towers series’. The fact that they were ‘old’ books (sorry mum) were part of the charm – I’ve always had a soft spot for anything that looks like it could be from an age long before my own. I read these books over and over, falling in love time and again with the characters, settings and stories. I hope that someday, someone will feel the same way when they read my stories.

Useful Info…

…about ADVERBS!

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If you’re anything like me, you’re trying to read every useful bit of information on the internet that has anything to do with writing, in an attempt to improve your craft. Quite a few articles I’ve read recently have been about authors’ use of adverbs.

Apparently, a common mistake of newbie writers is the overuse of these tricksy little words. I’m assuming most other people are pretty confident in their understanding of adverbs, but for the few of you who, like me, are not quite so sure, here’s a quick overview:

An ADVERB is not the same as a verb, or an adjective (common mistake).

A verb is a ‘doing’ word (e.g. the dog barked).

An adjective modifies/describes nouns (e.g. the good dog).

An adverb modifies verbs/other adverbs/adjectives (e.g. the good dog barked playfully).

These are obviously very basic examples, but hopefully you’ll get the idea. Often, adverbs end in ‘-ly’, although there are exceptions to this, as shown in the picture above, of common adverbs.

Have a quick look at your manuscript (MS) and see how many adverbs you’ve used. There’s nothing wrong with a few here and there, but if they crop up all over the place, it might be worth going through and seeing if there is a better way to write what you’re trying to say. My WIP wasn’t too bad, but there were a few instances where I was able to make my sentences a little more concise.

Posted in Inspiration

Inspired by…

…Beatrix Potter!

Helen Beatrix Potter: (1866-1943) – Children’s author

Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.

~ Beatrix Potter

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One of my first book sets, and most treasured possessions, was a little box of Beatrix Potter tales, with stories of favourite characters such as Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-duck, Tom Kitten, and Squirrel Nutkin.

Some of my earliest bookish memories come from these stories, which helped shape a love of literature that has followed me throughout my life. Even though I was only young, I came to love the characters as though they were friends, and could dive back into their worlds and adventures with the same level of enthusiasm, no matter how many times they’d been visited before.

I treated these books like they were made out of porcelain, handling them carefully, almost reverently, with my tiny 6-year-old hands. I think (hope) that I still have this beautiful box set stored away somewhere in my parents garage, one day to passed on to any kids we may have, in the hope that they too learn to love the written word as much as I do.

Useful Info…

…about Planning.

planning

From what I’ve read on Twitter, and different blog posts/articles/opinion pieces by other writers, there are 2 (possibly 3) different styles of planning for a writing project.

These are known as:

  • Plotting
  • Pantsing
  • Hybrid

1) A Plotter (can also be referred to as an Architect…) is someone who is big on planning. These types of people like to get the world building, character profiles, story arc etc. done before they sit down to actually start writing their book.

2) A Pantser (can also be referred to as a Gardener…) is someone who prefers to start writing straight away and see where the story takes them. Structure, details and other key points are worked on/added in later drafts.

3) A Hybrid (not sure what else they’re called…) is pretty self-explanatory. These people combine the above methods, perhaps starting with a basic outline and then adding to it as they write and the ideas are flowing.

Personally, I think I’m probably more of a Plotter. I like to know who my characters are, where the story is going and what my fantasy world looks like before I start writing. Once I get going, I’m more than happy to be flexible and go off track if the story needs me to, but I like to have something I can look back at if I get stuck.

How about you? Are you a Plotter, a Pantser or a Hybrid?

Posted in Inspiration, Writing

Inspired by…

…WriteOnCon!

WriteOnCon: Online Writers’ Conference 2nd – 4th Feb 2017

WriteOnCon is a three-day online children’s book conference for writers and illustrators of picture books, middle grade, young adult, and even new adult.

~ WriteOnCon

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It was quite by chance that I found out about this online Writers’ conference. One of the awesome writerly tweeps I follow (@Writerology) posted a link the day before it was due to start. I don’t know why, because I’m not usually a spontaneous person, but I decided to sign up and quickly found myself registering for the standard access deal.

I’ve never participated in anything like this before, and as I’m still at the very beginning of my writing journey, I was more than a little nervous. So, the whole concept of being able to do this from the comfort of my own home, without having to ‘make eye-contact’ with other humans was a huge plus! 🙂

I had no idea what I was doing (and there were a few technical difficulties in the beginning), but I committed to taking the time to participate in the forums, explore each of the Blog/vlog events, take advantage of the free access to the Live Q&A sessions, and not cry over any feedback people took the time to leave on my work.

I’ll be honest: it was exhausting! There was so much amazing information to try and absorb, that my brain hurt. All of the posts were interesting and relevant, the Q&A sessions were always informative and my questions got answered 🙂

I got a couple of feedback(s?) on extracts of my WIP that I posted, which were a little disheartening at first. But after I got over the allowed 5-minute-pity-party, I realised they were right, and the problem was that I was trying to straddle the MG and YA categories, and it just wasn’t working.

I’ll post more about my epiphanies in an update post later, but long story short (probably too late for that now, I know), I’m going back to the drawing board and picking 1 age category that I can keep in mind and shape my writing for. It means I have to scrap pretty much all of the writing I’ve done so far, but I can at least keep most of the planning (eg. World Building) and just make a few changes on character profiles and plot points.

I know it’s the right decision because I’m more excited about this project than I have been in a long time. Ideas have been sparking left, right and centre, and the direction I want to go, and how I want to get there, have come into much clearer focus.

So, while it was a little painful at first, I am beyond grateful that I signed up to this event, and would enthusiastically recommend it to any aspiring authors out there, who feel a little stuck with their current WIP. Hopefully this happens again next year and I can be massively inspired all over again! 🙂