Embracing All Forms of Writing

There was once a time I considered myself a novel writer and a novel writer only. It was what I wanted to do and it was my comfort zone. I will probably always be happiest when lost inside the numerous drafts it takes to construct a novel. I’m confident with this form of writing, and a few years ago I would never have considered any other.

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Of course, that attitude had to change when I started publishing. I soon noticed that all authors had a blog or website and I shyly embraced this as a way of sharing my writing and gaining followers. It took me a while to get into the spirit of it, but it’s fair to say, once I found my feet, I began to relish writing my blog posts, and most of the time I’ve been fairly good at writing on a weekly basis.

As my attitude to blog writing changed, so did my attitude towards other types of writing. Back when I considered myself just a novel writer, I would never have considered trying my hand at writing articles. But somewhere along the line, I gained the confidence and started submitting articles about writing to Author’s Publish. This style of writing did not come naturally for me and I spent a lot of time reading and analysing their previous articles in order to work out what was wanted. When I had the first few accepted, I was over the moon. It was a real confidence boost.

Short stories were another form I once dismissed. I write such long books, that writing something short just seemed impossible. However, when someone mentioned writing short stories to compliment your books, I did get excited. This eventually led to Bird People and Other Stories, and now that I’m more practiced, short stories are a regular thing for me and I hope to have another collection out this year.

Screenwriting was another form of writing I never would have tried a few years back, despite how much I’ve always longed any of my books to be made into films or TV programmes. In fact, I often write as if imagining a real scene and pen my dialogue this way. Last year, when I had the new material for The Boy With The Thorn In His Side filling my head, I was reluctant to do anything about it but decided writing the material in screenplay form would be quick and fun and would help get it out of my head. It became ridiculously addictive! I read a few books about screenwriting and downloaded Scrivener, and off I went. Writing the book as a screenplay first was so much fun, and as I carried the notebook around with me everywhere, I got it done really quickly. Just recently I completed a free Introduction To Screenwriting course with Futurelearn, and I absolutely loved it!

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And just lately, I’ve been playing around with another form of writing I once turned away from. Poetry. When I was a young teenager, I did go through a poetry and song-writing phase. But I was put off by the poetry we had to study at school. It was so wonderful and complex, it just made me feel I could never compete, so why bother?

Poetry was not my thing, or so I told myself. But something weird happened very recently. I started getting ideas, or thoughts, quite randomly, which were really all just things I wanted to say. They were too short, random and weird for blog posts, articles or short stories though, so I started writing them in note style, like poems. I also starting re-reading a Bukowski poetry book I have, one of the only poetry books I’ve really enjoyed, and his style encourages you to have a go. I don’t think he followed any rules or was ever taught how to structure a poem, he just did it. He just wrote what he thought and felt. There is something really raw and beautiful about that and I think people should be encouraged to do it.

Once I started writing, more started to flow. I’ve nearly filled a notebook now and I’ve even decided to put some of them in my next short story collection and make a short story and poetry collection instead. I don’t try to force them or rush them, and they all seem to come from an emotional place, rather than a descriptive or rational place. Which is weird, and interesting.

I thought I would be really brave and share two of them with you today. These are two of the really early ones that came to me when this poetry thing started. These are first drafts and I’ve not messed with them or edited them since I wrote them, so please bear this in mind! I’m looking out for a local poetry workshop to go to, as I’d like to learn more and get my poems as well crafted as I can.

As always feel free to comment and share! How do you gain the courage to try new things? Do you have a comfort zone you wish to edge out of?

 

Murder

The crows were pissed off today

Fury in their hacking call

Feet pounding, heart racing

Breath hissing

Because I am not as young 

As I used to be

The crows took flight

Reluctant, squawking rage

Lifting and falling

Silhouettes in the black bones

of trees

The crows were pissed off today

Do they plot murder?

They say they hold funerals for their fallen

If this is true

What might be in store for us?

The crows were pissed off today

As I ran on

But I am not the one

Who shoots them with a gun

So that they live their lives

With one eye trained down

No wonder they screech and cry and hack

I’m pissing them off just being here

On the way back

A rasping sound

Like they are dying

Maybe they know

That everything is

Things You Don’t Want To Do

What’s that tangled mess in your belly?

For no reason

‘Cause nothing is wrong

Yet, it’s there like a disease

Writhing and tightening

Til you can’t breathe

With the weight of it all 

Following you around

Maybe it’s just the fear

Of the unknown

Of death in a metal mess

Of breathing your last

Ragged breath

Or maybe it’s just

All the things you don’t want to do

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Author Interview; Gail Aldwin

Hello and welcome to another author interview! This time I have the pleasure of hosting Gail Aldwin, a prize-winning writer of short fiction and poetry. She has lived in Australia, Spain and Papua New Guinea and is now based in Dorset. Her new collection of short fiction Paisley Shirt is published by Chapeltown Books. You can purchase a Kindle edition on Amazon (the paperback will follow soon).

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Can you tell us what inspired this collection of stories?

I looked for commonalities in the range of short fiction I had written over time. I noticed a thread of resilience woven through the stories and selected the best. Paisley Shirt is a collection of short fiction that tells of the obstacles encountered in life and how it is possible to overcome them.

I understand you are also working on a novel. What do you find harder? Short stories or novel writing?

All writing is a pleasure and a challenge. I like being able to work on short fiction alongside novel writing. The timescale for finishing a longer piece of work means that it’s good to have other projects on the go where there is satisfaction in knowing the story is complete.

Can you tell us about your novel? What is it about and when will it be released?

I wrote a novel called The String Games as part of studies in creative writing with the University of South Wales. It is the story of the abduction and murder of a sibling told from the older sister’s viewpoint. Rather than a crime novel, the story focuses on the legacy of loss for the protagonist, as she moves from childhood to the teenage years and into adulthood. Last year, I entered the novel into a competition and although I didn’t win and wasn’t placed, one of the judges was a literary agent and offered me representation. This was a lovely experience but it didn’t last long! My agent took maternity leave and decided not to return to work, so I continue to seek a home for this novel.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I’ve been interested in writing for over twenty years but as I child I didn’t like books. I experienced intermittent hearing loss, which meant it was difficult to learn to read, as I couldn’t distinguish the phonic sounds. Reading was hard work and it took until my teenage years to see books as a source of pleasure and enjoyment. My interest in writing started when I lived overseas and enjoyed writing letters. This grew into a love of writing short fiction and then novels, scripts and poetry.

Do you have a day job and if so what is it?

I currently work as a visiting tutor to creative writing students at Arts University Bournemouth. I love my job! It is a joy to watch students develop new skills and confidence. I am also Chair of the Dorset Writers Network. With the steering group, I work to inspire writers across the county by connecting creative communities.

Can you describe your writing process? 

When I get an idea, I muse on it for a while, then I decide which style of writing the content is suited to. Fragments or moments lend themselves to poetry, short fiction needs a story arc, I usually work collaboratively to develop scripts and novels are a home-alone process. The first draft of anything is about getting the words on the page, then the fun begins: shaping, deepening, layering through drafting and redrafting. For the first time ever, the novel I’m currently working on has been fully plotted. This Much I Know gives a child’s eye view of the interaction between adults in a suburban community where a paedophile is housed. The trick in writing from a child’s viewpoint is to exploit the gap in understanding between the child and the actions of adults around them. It’s a lot of fun playing around with strategies and techniques to capture the voice of a young child.

Tell us about your marketing and self-promotion approach

I am new to marketing and promotion so I refer to books with practical advice on how to move forward. I’ve learnt how to write a press release, have made contacts with local press and cultivated friendships on social media. I am hoping there are others like you, Chantelle, who are willing to interview me and review Paisley Shirt.

Where to find Gail:

Email:             gailaldwin@btinternet.com

Twitter:           @gailaldwin

Facebook:      https://www.facebook.com/gailaldwinwriter/

Blog:              The Writer is a Lonely Hunter

Chair DWN:    http://www.dorsetwritersnetwork.co.uk

Author Interview with Joel Dennstedt

This week’s blog post comes to you a few days early and in the form of an author interview! I last chatted to indie author Joel Dennstedt around a year ago. Since then he’s been travelling, writing and professionally reviewing books. Here he is talking about his travels, and the inspiration behind his latest release, horror collection, When Dolls Talk

1) Can you tell us where in the world you are right now, and where you are heading to next?

I am back where I began: my hometown of San Diego, California. Five years non-stop trekking through Mexico and Central and South America brought me home to visit family and to re-gear up for 5 more years. I plan to visit Scotland for the Scotch/Whiskey tour, then head to Eastern Europe and across Central Asia into Southeast Asia.

2) Has your travelling inspired any of the books you have written or are working on, and if so, in what way?

Traveling inspired my SF novel,  GuanjoN, , which happens on a planet resembling the Amazon. However, I reached the Amazon after the book was written. So, maybe future thoughts prompted this eerie adventure about Earth natives endangered by indigenous aliens.

3) How has travelling changed you as a person and as a writer?

Oddly, travelling made the authentic me emerge. The true me as a writer. Travelling fulltime gave me the freedom to become myself. Transformation, while challenging, results in total liberation. And travelling is fun.

4) You have a new book out. A horror collection. How did this come about?

This doll spoke to me. Rather, a photo of this creepy doll. She wanted me to write her story. So I did. After that, they just came out of the woodwork.

5) Are you a fan of horror yourself? Who is your favourite horror writer?

Yes, I’m a fan and a follower. My style is inspired by Edgar Allen Poe with a contemporary twist. H.P. Lovecraft has a say for darkness. I worship Stephen King. I never miss a Dean Koontz debut. Overall, I prefer my horror on the literary side, and definitely with a dash of dark humor.

6) Where did the ideas come from for these stories?

Those damn dolls. Actually, I searched out individual creepy photographs to inspire each story. Then I let my fearful imagination go. I’ve posted the photographs on Facebook and in the Bonus Gift Pack that came with every pre-order.

7) I understand you first posted these stories on Wattpad. How useful was that for gaining comments and a potential audience for the book?

Wattpad has a unique audience to itself. They rarely buy the final book. But they keep me encouraged to keep on writing, they offer wonderfully perceptive observations, and they often provide desperately needed Amazon Reviews.

8) Is there a message in this collection? Or in any of your books? Something you wish the world to know? Only to this extent – a

Only to this extent – a marvellous author friend made the following observation about these stories: “So much more depth to them than just scary bump in the night stuff. They’re scary all right, but more about the scary human condition and experience, parables, metaphors, etc.” That is – the real horror in life comes from us humans being human.

9) What can we expect from you next?

Lord, I wish I knew. I want to write a sequel to Guanjo. I plan to write Book 2 of these short horror stories. I need to work on my literary novel, which is still a decade in the making. And I need to keep working on my book of travel short stories based on true events.

10) Is there any genre you would never attempt to write in and if so, why?

I don’t write in genres I don’t read. I don’t read much fantasy. I don’t read hot romance. I wrote a quirky little romance called Hermit, but nothing with muscled men and naked women on the front. But I’m already in trouble with the crowd who says you must pick a genre and stick with it. I cannot do that.

11) How has your journey as an indie writer progressed since we last chatted? Any highs and lows?

It’s a roller coaster; you know that. All highs and lows. More is never enough. The next good thing makes you manic. In the end, it really, truly, MUST be all about the writing. But … it never stays that way. So, I paid my ticket. I’m on the ride. Hanging on.

12) I know you review books professionally. Please give us your top three books so far! What have you read and reviewed that we really don’t want to miss?

That is difficult to answer. I’ll give you my personal favorites, but my taste is not yours. However, I have read many great books by Indie Authors, when I did not expect to do so.

1. Decline – by Jared Kane A perfect little book, a poetic literary

style – understated post-apocalyptic

tale.

2. The Finest Hat in the Whole World – by Colleen Parkinson

Resonates with the feeling and style of

To Kill a Mockingbird. Masterful attention to the details.

3. 602 Brigade – by Musashi Miyamoto

Like Decline, a poetic literary style.

A post-apocalyptic, anti-war tale.

Thanks so much for chatting with me again, Joel!

If you’d like to find out more about Joel, his writing and his travels, here are his links;

Website: http://www.joelrdennstedt.com

Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Joel-R.-Dennstedt/e/B008VJZ6RE

Independent Book Reviews: https://www.facebook.com/independentbookreviews

Author Interview: Q.L Pearce

Q. L Pearce is the author of over 120 books for middle grade and young adult readers, and I was lucky enough to receive a copy of her latest short story collection, Spinechillers to review. I enjoyed this book immensely and can’t wait to delve into more books by Q.L. Q.L also kindly agreed to be interview for my blog, and here she talks about her writing and publishing journey, what attracts her to scary stories, where her ideas come from and more! Enjoy!

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1) What attracts you to the spooky and the paranormal? What makes it your favourite genre?

As a reader I am drawn to plot-driven books. That doesn’t mean that the characters aren’t important, but the central story is what I love. I have found that paranormal tales often have a strong plot at the core. As a writer, middle grade to YA horror, sci-fi and mystery are my favorites. I enjoy the world building and the suspension of disbelief required in a ghost story. Things that go bump in the night are part of my British heritage and I enjoy researching creepy tales and urban legends.

2) Who are your favourite authors and why?

Ray Bradbury, George Orwell and Roald Dahl are among my favorite classic masters. I love Bradbury’s writing style and, of course, he was amazing when it came to short stories. The clarity and intelligence of Orwell’s work, and his focus on social injustice places him at the top of my list. Animal Farm is an all time favorite book for me. Roald Dahl’s books for children worked on so many levels and he wrote some of my favorite children’s books, like The Witches and The Twits. His work could be sweet and sentimental, whimsical or darkly humorous. Sometimes all in the same book.

Neil Gaiman, Holly Black and Ransom Riggs are some of my favorites modern authors. They are all so great at world building and creating unique characters. Coraline and The Graveyard Book are a couple of books that I wish I had written.

3) Can you tell us where you get your ideas from?

Ideas come from everywhere…magazines, newspapers, travel. An offbeat article about Scottish castles or crop circles might catch my eye. I might see a strangely shaped tree while on a hike and wonder what lurks at its roots. I enjoy prowling through antique stores for curious objects or photographs that might spark an idea, or hiking around in new environments to use as settings. My dear friend, author Tamara Thorne, and I sometimes take road trips. We visit haunted hotels, abandoned buildings and ghost towns, all for inspiration.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing since I could first scribble a story on paper. I won my first school writing contest in third grade and my first city sponsored contest at age eleven. I actually got into a little trouble when I was a kid for telling scary stories that frightened my friends.

 

5) Can you tell us a bit about your writing and publishing journey so far?

When I was in my twenties I decides to start sending short stories to magazines. Once I began seriously submitting I gathered an extensive collection of rejections. Over the course of ten years or so the rejections went from definite “no” to “no, but keep submitting.” My first contract with a major publisher was for an activity book about dinosaurs. It was with Price Stern Sloan. My first contract for fiction also came from Price Stern Sloan when they published Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs. It did very well and I wrote quite a few books in the series.

To date I have written more than 120 books for young readers including educational, nonfiction, biography, and fiction for all age ranges. Spinechillers is my latest. It is a collection of short stories that includes classic ghosts, a monster or two, urban legends and one tale that is an homage to The Twilight Zone. The stories are perfect for reading aloud at a sleep-over, or under the covers with a flashlight. The book is in the tradition of Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs. Spinechillers is for a new generation of tweens to teens.

6) What would you say have been the highs and the lows? What are you excited about?

I like all of the elements of the writing process. I enjoy the research, “meeting” my characters for the first time and getting to know them, sketching out the first draft, and shifting the elements like pieces of a puzzle.

Some of the best memories in my career are meeting young fans of my books. Red Bird Sings is a title that stands out for me. It is an adaptation of the autobiographical works of Zitkala Sa, an important Native American writer and activist. My co-author and illustrator, Gina Capaldi and I worked hard to honor her story. I’m very proud of the book and it received many awards including the Carter G. Woodson gold medal for picture books.

The down side of writing is rejection. I’ve had manuscripts turned down, books in work cancelled, and negative reviews. I try to find the lesson in each rejection that can make my work stronger. I’ve developed a thick skin over the years.

I think as writers we can learn from every review, good or bad as long as you don’t take it personally. You have to use what helps you to grow and leave the rest. I remember when Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs came out it received a “bad” review early on. The reviewer said that it seemed that before writing the collection I had downed a bottle of wine and watched a Twilight Zone marathon. I actually took that as a compliment since I loved Rod Serling. The series went on to sell in the millions.

7) What is the scariest story/book you have ever come across?

I can’t decide between two books. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is so dark and atmospheric. I think it’s one of the best haunted house stories ever written because it leaves so much to the reader. It has all the elements of a ghost story but there is an underlying question about the true nature of the haunting.

One of Stephen King’s early books, Salem’s Lot, terrified me! It’s a vampire novel and I was only able to read it during the day. For a while I also kept a nightlight on because I was so creeped out.

8) What is a normal writing day like for you? Tell us about the process

When I write I usually sit at my dining room table. I have an actual home office with a desk, but my dogs prefer the main room and I like to work with them close by. I begin my day with meditation even before my first cup of coffee. I start my reading and research mid-morning then spend two or three hours writing. My dogs take me out for walks a couple of times a day and I use that time to brainstorm. I usually write for another hour or so at the end of the day.

I hate an empty page so when I’m working on a first draft I just keep going. I write anything as long as words are going on the page. Once I have something to work with I can go back and edit and tweak the manuscript into shape. Sometimes that approach can take your work in surprising directions.

9) What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a few things including the next volume of Spinechillers. I have three fact-based fiction picturebooks in work with coauthor/illustrator Gina Capaldi, a middle grade mystery adventure with coauthor Francesca Rusackas, and a YA horror novel.

10) What advice would you give to other writers who enjoy writing creepy stories?

The advice I give to working writers is finish what you start. I have several manuscripts that are sitting in a file folder because I didn’t push through when I hit a weak spot. Once that happens I start second-guessing and lose momentum.

The advice I would give to those who enjoy writing horror is to let the readers do some of the work. The unknown is deeply emotional. Provide the story, the characters, atmosphere, the dread, but don’t fill in every detail. Leave some room for the reader’s imagination to personalize the fear.

11) What are your plans and dreams for the future?

My husband is a physiologist and a huge sci-fi fan. We have a plan to someday write a book together. I remember one night we went out to dinner and spent the evening coming up with an alien world and determining what sort of species would populate such a planet. We wrote notes on napkins. It was a fabulous evening!

Recently I was thrilled to be join Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross as co-host for YA nights on Thorne and Cross Haunted Nights LIVE, part of the Authors on the Air: Radio Network. I’m looking forward to inviting some terrific authors to be the show!

12) Tell us three interesting things about yourself

Years ago I was an assistant SCUBA instructor. That’s how I met my husband.

I’m not happy about flying but I love to travel. In the past couple of years we’ve visited Florence, Vancouver, Shanghai, Lhasa, and Cambridge, England.

I’m currently completing my meditation teacher training. I would like to work with writers and other creative people who want to be able to find a calm inner space when faced with deadlines, rejections, blank pages and other stressors.

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed, Q. L! 

You can find out more about Q.L Pearce below!

About Q.L Pearce

Q.L.Pearce is the author of more than 120 books for young readers, from picture books to YA, as well as film tie-in books for the Fox animated film Titan AE and the Universal animated series Land Before Time. Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala Sa (Carolrhoda Books, with co-author and illustrator, Gina Capaldi), received several awards including a Carter G. Woodson Book Award gold medal from NCSS and a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award gold medal. Her fiction includes the popular middle grade series, Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs italisize (Price, Stern, Sloan). Q believes strongly in the value of scary books for young readers. When asked what credentials she has which qualify her as an expert in this area she replies, “I was a child once. That was very scary.”

Link to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RedBirdSings

Buy Links: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spine-Chillers-Hair-Raising-Tales-Book-ebook/dp/B01M7U859N/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477782518&sr=8-1&keywords=ql+pearce+spine+chillers

Author Info:

Author’s contact info: contact@bamliterature.com or http://www.qlpearce.com/contact

Author’s social media links:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Q.-L.-Pearce/e/B001H9RTXO

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db4aQLSyKMg&feature=youtu.be

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ql.pearce

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/q-l-pearce-7926604