Chinese Whisperings Questions

For Chinese Whisperings we’ve compiled a list of 25 questions from which we’re asking our writers to choose five to answer in our Featured Writer section.  I could easily answer all twenty plus questions  if I had the time and the inclination to do so … but that’s not the point.

I’m listing the questions here and am going to ask my readers, Facebook friends and Twitter mates if they’ll help me choose the five questions I’ll answer.

So from the list which five questions would you like to see me answer for Chinese Whisperings?  Leave your selection in the comments section.

Chinese Whisperings “Take Five” Question List

1.    Pick one book from each decade of your life. Who would you like to give that book to and why?

2.    Which book do you wish you had written?

3.    Would you rather have critical acclaim, or commercial success?

4.    What was the first story you remember doing for the sheer joy of writing (ie. It wasn’t a school project or homework!) and how old were you?

5.    Pick one book from each decade of your life. Who would you like to give that book to and why?

6.    What was it that you read that made you want to write your own fiction? Why do you think it had that effect on you?

7.    Looking at the fiction you’ve written to date, what kind of things does your work explore?

8.    Do you write for a living or do you have a day job?

9.    What do you love about writing?

10.    Are there any other writers in your family?

11.    What was the last book you read and why did you choose it?

12.    What book are you currently reading? What do you like/hate most about it?

13.    What is your favourite short story and why?

14.    Do you have a favourite place to write?  If so where is it?

15.    What has been your favourite story to write to date?

16.    Where do you get your inspiration for stories and characters?

17.    Which has been your favourite character to bring to life?  What is it about that character you are most drawn to?

18.    What is the worst “knock” you’ve had to recover from as a writer?

19.    Who have been your mentors?

20.    When do you normally do your writing? What do you most like/dislike about writing then?

21.    If you could meet any published writer (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

22.    Who are your favourite authors and why?

23.    If you could trade places with any fictional character (yours or someone else’s) who would it be and why?

24.    What is the easiest element of writing for you? What is the hardest?

25.    What advice would you gift your 18 year old self about writing?

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Back Home Again

DSC01794For a crazy moment my post title made me think of the kid’s TV show The Backyardigans … just we’re the Back Homeagains! No actually – it sounds crap ….

The Moutains were just what I needed.  While heading off sick wasn’t the greatest start, nor spending all of Tuesday in bed recovering from the trip there, it did allow for time snuggled up in bed or by the fire with a book.  While I didn’t redraft Light Years or The Stamford/Lea, and I didn’t read Finding Aphrodite (which in my fever addled haze I managed to pack!) or even turn my computer on until the last full day there and when I tried to put down one of the stories I had been carrying around in my head for weeks it came out crap…

It was inevitable – the reading and the thinking.  Without the distraction of TV or the internet and once the sun had gone down, it was get lost in someone else’s thoughts or travel the windy path of my own.  Being sick made me feel as though I was enmeshed in my thoughts, ones which were circular and not always pleasant, making reading a very necessary diversion.  As I got better though I was able to take stock of where I had travelled as a writer in the last few years.

Our last trip to the Bunya Mountains was in August 2007.  It was a few months after I had weaned Dylan (which was a topic in the forefront of my mind after writing two articles about it for Type A Mom the week before we went away) and I was just starting to find my feet again, ekking out some time and space for myself.  Less than a month after we were there at Pitta Place, I made the decision, or should I say, the decision came onto me, that I would take the path of a writer, resolving years of indecision about “what to do next?”

I spent the few days back there in August 2007 scribbling in my journal.  It had been my intention to take said journal with me to read over my musings, but the fever on the day we left didn’t allow for extended searches of my old diaries and journals, much less tracking down their actual location in the house. I do remember time and freedom being key themes.

This time around I was able to think about how far I had come since that August two years ago.  About choosing to write, and what to write about.  My battles with writing versus editing, non-fiction versus fiction. How my style has evolved, how I have become more adventurous in what I write and how I write. Thinking back on how obviously autobiographical my early work was, but how I’ve managed to move on and when I do write fact into fiction, it is far more subtle than it was.

I have had a short story published.  I have entered my first competition.  I have completed to NaNoWriMos successfully.  I have returned to reading with a vengence. I am able to call myself a writer now without flinching or blushing. I am half way through the ambitious Chinese Whisperings Anthology with nine fellow writers. I am gathering confidence in my critiquing. My family accepts the fact I need to write – that no one’s life is agreeable if I am kept from doing this. I have kept up a regular ritual of morning pages for just over 18 months. I have completed The Artist’s Way three times and shared it with many others. I co-write with others. When I read On Writing again I wont want to curl up into a tiny ball and believe I am the world’s worst writer.

So much to celebrate!

In my weekly Write Anything column, live tomorrow, I list a whole heap of questions to strike up your productive nostaliga. I may be back tomorrow with a few answers to some of the questions – or I might just be productive nostaligia-ed out.

Heading West

It will be quiet around here for the next week as we all head off to the Bunya Mountains on holiday.  Only a few weeks ago I wrote in my Write Anything column about Writer’s Paradise – how one of my phan’tasytical writing places is the Bunya Mountains.  It is wonderful what you manifest with your thoughts … voila a few weeks later we’re heading off there.

We had contemplated an overseas holiday and decided it was too much energy and effort, we were looking for a quite relax.  And I am glad for the decision.  I’ve spent the entire day in bed with a horrendous head cold. I knew it was coming but had been fighting it off all week while I prepared Dylan’s birthday party (which was a huge success and worth the time and effort put in!)

My plan is to get some writing done, enjoy a good book by the fire and all the other trapping of a family holiday.  I am hoping to get a couple of stories re-written. The Bunya’s seems to be a good place to tackle a rewrite for Light Years and for the unnamed novella which starts with the Lea and Stamford stories. And I will be taking along both my previous NaNo projects for a read over. Neither have had an eye cast over them since the end bell of the November write-a-thon!

And good news – I got a story edited up and submitted into the Editor Unleashed/Smash Words competition. I was the 251st entry which means a little over 1 in 6 chances of winning a spot. First prize in $500 and there are another 39 prizes of $25 and publication in an anthology. I like my story, it cuts in interesting directions and got glowing comments from both Edwina and Paul.  So fingers crossed.

But for now … the bear went over the mountain …

Musings on Fiction Friday for this Week

fiction fridayIt is Thursday.  This time last week I had a clear vision in my head of what I was going to write for Fiction Friday.  This week I’m struggling – not with having no idea, but too many ideas.  The prompt:

Include this line in your story – The piano accordian player slumped forward.

Annie who is providing the prompts for [Fiction] Friday in the month of June, told me when I got a sneak peak a few weeks ago of the prompts, she wanted me to write about Celia … who I graced the very first FF this year.  I keep meaning to get back to her story, but as luck would have it, this year has been fertile ideas and lots of new characters have coming knocking on my door to share their stories.

Celia is patient though.  Her story has been in a holding pattern since 2000 when I first ventured to a short story writing class and a rather awful backstory came out.  After Googling “air raids Germany” I’ve come up with the final pieces of Celia’s story, the problem is however, I would love to do a little more research before I start writing. Even when I remind myself, first draft, no editing, blood on the paper.  The research will be simply filling in the details after all.  So Celia’s story it will be this week, if I can find the time among the birthday party preparations.

Which leaves Dirk Hartog one very unhappy character.  I tried really hard to wind an accordian player into Hartog’s world … I really did.  I even came up with a Gary Larson kind of take, where by criminals were forced to make and carry piano accordians for their punishment .. but it was just a little bit silly.  However, remove the piano accordian and I *do* have Hartog’s story for this week.

It is just a matter of trying to make Hartog understand he’s not number one dog around here … I have a small man who is so excited about his first ever birthday party, a holiday to pack and plan for, a kindy disco to go to tomorrow night, flights to book for later this month, a sponge bob squarepants cake to make … oh and the list goes on. At least you get where I am coming from.  Hartog will understand sooner or later – he has to share!

Lifeline Bookfest Redux

Because once is never enough, we were back at the Lifeline Bookfest again today.  The bonuses being:

  1. I actually went in there to enjoy browsing (rather than having an hour tacked onto the end of Dave’s three hours browsing and my three hours of entertaining Dylan)
  2. It was the last day so hardly anyone was there
  3. Because it was the last day there were bargain galore – 1/2 price in the high quality section and $10 bags in the mid priced section.

My combined effort on the fiction front (and this is the first trip where my fiction purchases have outnumbered my non fiction purchses – yes the shift is happening!) are

pile-of-booksMy Beautiful Friend Venero Armano
Behind the Scenes at the Museum Kate Atkinson
One Richard Bach
The Forests of Avalon Marion Zimmer Bradley
Sahara Clive Cussler
Bachelor Kisses Nick Earls
Head Games Nick Earls
The Bride Stripped Bare Anonymous/Nikki Gemmel
Shiver Nikki Gemmel
Lord of the Flies William Golding
Lovers’ Knots Marion Halligan
Skinny Dip Carl Hiaasen
Lightning Dean Koontz
Quiver Tobsha Lerner
Leaning Towards Infinity Sue Woolfe
The Secret Cure Sue Woolfe

The two books by Sue Woolfe were the the find of the fest though.  I have been looking for them in the local bookstores and have been unable to find them (they’re on the special order list) and as an impulse book buyer – special order goes against my purchasing philosophies. To find not just one, but two, was a blessing.

The Marion Halligan book looks interesting.  She is an Australia writer (as in Venero [Veny] Amarno, Nick Earles, Nikki Gemmel and Sue Woolfe!) It was the only book I picked up and kept as an unknown writer to me.  I am certain she is the same “Marion” my writing friends were talking about at our last meeting – but maybe I’m wrong.

I was pleased to discover Quiver by Tobsha Lerner is 12 interlaced short stories.  I read her book The Witch of Colgna and after writing the article at Write Anything on writing sex scenes, I’ve been keen to get some of her erotic fiction. Paul commented earlier tonight if I wished I had written all the 10 stories in Chinese Whisperings … given the idea for the anthology seeded from my desire to write my NaNo project as interwoven short stories in 2007 but Iwas afraid I wasn’t up to the task.  And the idea never went away. Now I’m seriously contemplating it for NaNo 09, so will be reading Quiver with much anticipation to see how one writer achieves it.

The Forests of Avalon is an anomaly of a book.  It was first printed as The Forest House (and this is the version I read ten years ago). It was reprinted as The Forests of Avalon No wonder I was totally bamboozled trying to track down Forest House. I’ve now discovered that The Priestess of Avalon which I picked up and then put down again is a different book.  Oh well. I bought Forests… for the wedding scene – to refresh my memory for something I want to insert into a short story (currently unnamed) I am working on. Now I’m wondering if it was in The Priestess of Avalon – well obviously only one way to find out.

With 14 books there – I have guaranteed reading for the next seven months at this rate … not counting the pile of books already on my night stand.

(1000 words a day: I’ve just made it over again today between my two blog postings here and the additional bits written for my Type A Mom article.  Tomorrow I can go and play fiction!)

An Anniversary of Birthing

1day2go2I’m taking time out from writing about writing, books and publishing to celebrate the fact, this time five years ago, I was in the throes of labour, welcoming my son (who I thought at the time was a daughter!) one contraction at a time. He was born at home in just under four hours, with an independent midwife in attendence, supported by a doula and the whole thing photgraphed by a wonderful student photographer.

I have just spent the last ten minutes butting my head against the hard drive of my computer searching out Dylan’s birth story to repost here.  As it turns out it was never transferred from my old computer to my new computer three years ago (note to self to get hard drive taken out of old computer and put into one of those nifty mobile hard drive holders) AND I have lent the copy of the magazine it was published in to a friend so I can’t even do the tedious task of retyping it.

Why I wanted to post the birth story was it is pivotal in so many ways.

Firstly, setting Dylan’s birth story down in words was the first big piece of writing I had done in many years. It took me quite a few goes to get started, but when I did it flowed and I struggled to keep up – as I was handwriting it in the back of an old lecture notebook.  Putting down the story was important in me understanding at a deeper level why I had chosen to birth at home. Up until that point I hadn’t got it at that level.

Secondly, Dylan’s birth story was the first piece of writing I had published (in Down to Birth magazine). I got such a kick out of seeing it in print, with all our beautiful photographs … and the number of people who commented on the story.  I was lucky enough to have it published in an issue containing wonderful articles on blessingways. dylan llewellyn harris

Thirdly it got me on first name terms with the women who were working on Down to Birth then, through whom I learnt there was a position vacant for someone to do the layout. From little things big things grow.  I started off teaching myself Adobe Pagemaker to fulfil my role in layout and design, then moved into the editing role (keeping the layout duties) and I got my first taste of editing and publishing – which it seems will never leave me.  Chinese Whisperings had it’s very roots in my three years at Down to Birth.

Lastly though, it was through the process of becoming a mother, of understand the importance of creative living, that I returned to roost in my own creative dreams from childhood. It was also by being a stay at home mother I had for the first time in my life a chance to focus on writing, without the worry of having to put a roof over my head and food on the table. I will always be eternally thanksful to Dave for giving me the opportunity to do this.

I have much to be grateful for …. and I wont even mention the relief of having 24 iced and decorated cup cakes to hit the kindy class tomorrow.  Oops – I just did!

Make Me Smile: Writers Digest

twitterAfter being cautious about Twitter, then downright annoyed and bamboozled by it, I have finally hit my stride.  It takes time and effort to cultivate the contacts you want to follow via Twitter – lesson one for young players.  Only in the last week have I weeded out the marketers and really sought out and connected with writers.  It seems to have paid off.

I just found out Jane Friedman of Writers Digest mentioned one of my tweets from last week in her weekly blog post Best Tweets for Writers.

The link was to an article, Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully in Ten Minutes by Stephen King. I found it via Stumble and tweeted it on a whim. The article is basically a highly condensed version of On Writing – and certainly no substitute for reading it, but interesting none the less.

It would be good to hit such a jackpot again with one of my own articles … yes Universe, consider me having officially put “it out there.”