I would like to thank the readers who have downloaded my recent short stories. ‘Malaika’ has had the highest number of downloads at 83, followed by and ‘A Letter to the Universe’ at 69. If you like them, it would be great if you could go to Smashwords and rate them. Thank you.
This was not an easy story to write. It skirted around the edges of something very painful and focussed more on the uplifting. Confronting and writing about that time is soon to come, in a unit I am about to embark on at uni which I want to do. It is something I must do for myself but for now I find it easier to focus on the happier outcomes. Short description:
Inspired by true events, this story highlights the mysterious motives of life. Why is life so brutal and yet so kind? Is everything determined by ‘fate’. This story tells of a tragedy that left a woman devastated and disillusioned with life. And yet, it injects hope, when, through a strange set of circumstances, this event leads her back to someone she has been searching for, her one true love.
I hope you enjoy reading this. It is available for download, free of charge, at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/286211
Here is my next short story publication:
Short description: This piece of flash fiction delves into a chance meeting on a traumatic day during World War II in Belgium. It was inspired by true events.
Available at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/285562
I have just published another short story: ‘The Universal Seam’. I started writing a novel in 1990 then it went on a shelf, never to be completed. Recently I used this novel as an inspiration for a short story and here it is …
Short description: A Science Fiction Fantasy answering the age old question of who am I? Lara had always wondered about her place in the world . Her disillusionment at finding the answer led her on a trail half way across the world and beyond discovering long lost secrets and loves. As she unravelled the truth, her identity and destiny became clear.
You can download this for free at:
I have just published a new short story at Smashwords.com. This is one of my oldest short stories and was inspired by my love for history and romance. You can download it free of charge at:
The short description goes as follows:
A movie sparks a memory buried deep in the recesses of a young woman’s mind; a memory of a life once lived in another time, another place. How will the realisations of wrong decisions set her on a course of discovery?
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This is a follow up from my last blog ‘Artists understand …’
Something I used to look at: if you already have a career but it’s not you and you know it ―how do you change it? How do you throw away the stability of a salary-paying job when you have a mortgage, car loan and other commitments? I felt trapped by ‘having to work’ in something I didn’t enjoy. I desperately wanted to pursue my passion of writing and I felt, if given a chance, I could make far more money doing what I love.
It wasn’t as difficult as I thought. I’m a writer―I’ve always known it and I’ve always written stories but I had this idea that it had to be a hobby – that it couldn’t be a career. As I grew older, I started looking at it more and more, especially with shifts in technology and the internet. There are so many opportunities for writers now that never existed before. I started to look at the idea that I could start moving over into producing in the area I loved. I initially went from working in general business to taking on a local community magazine. I was editor, ad designer, writer, creator and publisher. It was a step in the right direction; I was at least working in a creative field, but as my magazine was self-financed I seemed to spend more time selling advertising than anything else. And with all the hats I wore in the business and a monthly deadline to meet, it was a lot of hard work. I found it took over my life and I didn’t want that. I sold it and with a change in circumstances moved back to Australia. This prompted figuring out what I was going to do in Australia. I had been in England for a few years. It was a new start and I wanted to make sure that this new start involved following my goals as a writer, and not getting stuck in another job that didn’t quite fit me.
This is when I decided to go to university. I felt this would not only fill me with inspiration and provide challenges for me, but would also introduce me to the world of writers. Sometimes meeting like-minded people, or people already in the industry, is the first stepping stone to achieving your own goals. I embarked in a Creative Writing Degree and an English degree so I could study from both viewpoints: that of a writer and that of a reader of literature. This degree exceeded all my expectations. My writing has grown in leaps and bounds, I have been introduced to different fields of writing in the community, I have met published authors and I am constantly updated on what is going on in the local writing community that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
I am almost at the end of my degree and now have direction. I will become a freelance writer this year and have an exact plan on how I will be doing this. I know how to market myself as a writer and I know what to promote. My professional writing will sustain me while I finish my first novel and move onto my ultimate goal of publishing novels.
It has been a progression from general business to a professional writing career. I’ve done it over four years whilst also working part-time and bringing up a family. It can be done! I am not saying that everyone should go and get a degree to achieve their artist goals – I know this doesn’t suit everyone. This was the route I chose. It is really a case of looking at what you would need to do once you have your goal firmly established. It rarely happens overnight. It needs to be worked on. It may just be a case of putting aside a certain amount of time each week to your artform, whilst maintaining your current income and gradually working towards being able to do your artform full-time. It may be a case of joining a group that gives you contacts in the industry or taking some short courses or volunteering in the industry. The main thing is to start doing something that gets your foot in the door, that gets you an audience. Maybe if you’re a painter you could volunteer in an art gallery part-time and at some point suggest the art gallery do a showing of your paintings. These are just ideas and there are always ideas that can start you in the direction of your ultimate goal.
As it is quite a passion of mine to help others get onto doing in life what they really want to do, please don’t hesitate to message me with your story and I may just be able to think of some ideas to help you.
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I have come across an interesting phenomena: if you didn’t begin your artist’s career directly after leaving school or you’re not highly successful, i.e. your name up in lights and making lots of money as an artist, it seems impossible to convince certain people that you are an artist. It seems that success and ability is measured by money or recognition and if you haven’t got that, then you can’t be an artist. This may not apply to everyone but I have certainly run into this and I know others that have.
I think what these people don’t understand is that being an artist is who you are. It isn’t a job, it’s a passion, an identity, something that embodies you, it is you. When someone negates this with ‘Oh so you don’t make any money from e.g. writing – well what do you do for a job?’ – almost like identity is defined by a well-paying job – it makes less of who you are and seems to demand you announce being something else . I’m not saying artists are not well paid either. Many are and others are not.
I have done many other jobs but when I look back, in every job I had, I gravitated towards something to do with writing, whether I wrote the company’s newsletter, or I was composing marketing letters, I was always writing. And at home, I always had a story on the go.
My circumstances changed and I was finally in a position where I could choose what I wanted to do and I made a decision that ‘enough was enough’ – doing jobs I wasn’t passionate about. I wanted to produce in the area that I love and the area that represents me – which is writing. I come alive when I write. Passion pours into my stories that comes from somewhere deep within. It’s something I never get bored of. There seems to be an endless stream of words itching to get out onto paper. My mind is constantly filled with ideas and creations. It is an absolute pleasure to be doing what I love on a full-time basis. I have been studying at uni which has demanded many creative pieces. I know some people think ‘studying’ writing is a waste of time but it really hasn’t been like that for me. It more provides inspiration, then you are left to your own devices to write your own creation, in your own style. I have seen vast improvements in my own creative writing, but also I have learned discipline and practical things, like how to apply literary techniques to my work or how to market myself as a writer. Studying English, also, has allowed me to read many other writers and appreciate the huge differences in writing styles and how they can all work and reach a particular audience. There is always an audience – no matter what type of writing you like. I am coming to the end of my degree and after doing some writing projects in the community – biography writing and history writing, I am filled with ideas of what I can do as a professional writer whilst I also complete my novel. I am becoming more and more confident when people ask me what I do. I now say: ‘I am a writer’. It is a very satisfying feeling to announce this, without somehow being apologetic or adding a list of other things that I do just to be ‘socially acceptable’!
Something else to remember is – small things most often grow into big things. So, for example, a ‘writer’ doesn’t need to produce a novel to consider himself/herself a ‘writer’. You can produce a series of short stories and enter them in competitions. There are many ways to get going while you work on your ultimate goal of maybe a novel or whatever you aspire to. The key is to get producing on that thing you love and don’t wait.
What I really wanted to impart with this blog is – don’t apologise for being who you are – be it and announce it. It is amazing but the more you put it out there ‘this is who I am’ and the more agreement and acceptance you will achieve and, funnily enough, you will find, before long, you are producing in the area that is you.
Beyond Skies and Plains is a story of adventure and love set in the backdrop of Africa, a place very dear to my heart. The story draws on some of my own experiences and impressions of Kenya as a young English girl, growing up and going to school in Nairobi. The vibrancy and spirit of this country was so different to my own – it deeply touched me and filled me with a sense of wonder that has never disappeared. I feel a passion towards the setting of my story as I recall the observations of a child. The story is, of course, fictional but the landscapes are very much alive in my mind. I hope you enjoy reading ‘Beyond Skies and Plains’.
Look out for my next short story: ‘Beyond Captive Seas’.
You can find ‘Beyond Skies and Plains’ at: www.smashwords.com/books/view/165776
Having your work read by someone else is a really good exercise. Sometimes, after I have read and re-read my work, I can’t ‘see’ anymore. It seems too perfect and I can’t change it, nor can I see grammatical errors that are actually staring me in the face. A different pair of eyes, and someone reading from a ‘reader’ viewpoint can pick out inconsistencies in the story, too much repetition, things that don’t work, grammatical errors and so on. I don’t mind another’s criticism. I don’t always take all the advice on board but I usually find at least two or three things that another suggests that I quite like. I use it to improve my story and I really think it does. I also find leaving my work for a few days or longer is also successful. I come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes and all of a sudden things jump out at me that I need to change, new ideas arise, or I think of better ways to communicate a concept.
I highly recommend peer reviewing.
Here is a summary of my last three blogs:
1 The first draft – just write what comes, don’t self-censor, let your mind run free and let the story take you where it wants to go.
2 Drafting – now we come to improving the story. It is time to work on perfecting the piece, playing with literary techniques to improve the quality of the story and finally fixing up grammar.
3 Peer reviewing – when you feel like you can’t change anything else, get someone else to look at it. They will ‘see’ things that you cannot and this can add a new element to your story that you never thought of.