Thursday, 24 July 2014

2 in 2

2 posts in 2 weeks over on my new website....come and visit.

www.sandiedocker.com

this week - all about endings


S

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Moving Sale

OK. I don't really have anything for sale, unless someone wants to pay me for my wit and charm...no? But I am moving....

to a new website and blog.

You can now find me here www.sandiedocker.com

Pop over and say hello if you can! I'd love to see you there.

Sandie

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

How Do I Write


I was supposed to post this yesterday, but I think the whole school not going back till today thing threw me off a bit. Besides, it’s still Monday in the USA (just), so technically I’m not late. That’s my excuse and I’m a-sticking with it!

The lovely Sandie Will (what an awesome first name)asked if I wanted to participate in a blog tour on the writing process and I’ve never done a blog tour, so why not? Hopefully I can answer the questions without looking like a fool. Before I get started though, I’d like to thank Sandie for welcoming me to this opportunity and suggest you all take a look at her blog on How Do I Write?

So here we go...

What am I working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a piece of Contemporary Women’s Fiction with a working title of THIS SHADOW LIFE. (I stress this is a working title, though it is growing on me.) It is the story of Alice, a woman who fled her small town as a teenager and finds herself running a café in an equally small but vastly different town. When she opens her café one morning and finds a homeless girl in her pantry, Alice is forced to face her past and the secrets she left behind.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? This is a tough one. My work in general focusses on small Australian towns, but what I love exploring is how the past and present are so closely entwined, even if there’s no obvious connection. My first novel, THE POINT had two parallel stories woven through it and Shadow Life is doing the same, even more so. With Shadow Life, however, I’m playing with the structure of the novel, intending the ‘historical’ narrative to be told not in chronological order.

I think the other difference is that while my stories are Australian, they are not ‘ocker’ Aussie stories, if you get what I mean.

Why do I write what I do? Like most writers, I write because I have to. There is simply nothing else I can see myself doing. The type of stories I write are what I’d like to read; the interplay of past and present that fascinates me; small town settings I love (I grew up in what was then a small town); female protagonists who are past the ‘bridget jones’ stage of their life (I never could relate to characters like that – shh, I’m sure that’s sacrilege); and while there are romantic elements to my work, the pivotal relationships are not ‘girl meets boy’ and I write that because these other relationships are so darn rich.

How does my writing process work? I tend to start with a seed of an idea – a picture of a character or scene in my head, a sentence, a title, and just start writing, sometimes with very little idea of where the story is going, sometimes knowing where it ends, but not how it starts. With THIS SHADOW LIFE, for example, I had the end in my head, just a scene, and I’ve gone from there.

Once I’m abut 20k words in, when I’ve got a better understanding of my characters and their story, then I plan. I ask myself perhaps the two most important questions of all Why and How? until the story comes together. Then I write more.

I used to get hung up when I wasn’t sure where the story was taking me, or couldn’t resolve a plot or character issue. Now I write through it and go back later to sort it out and funnily enough, the solution has usually presented itself by then.

One interesting thing about how I write is, perhaps, that I write the old fashioned way; with pen and paper, before going to my computer. Something about that movement across the page just gets me going. Hey, there are worse things to get excited about.

Up next week:
I did have three writers lined up to blog next, but due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, not everyone can play along next week. So, if you’d like to focus all your love and attention on the wonderful Bianca Nogrady on Monday 6th May, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. I met Bianca at a writing course and her novel BIOHUNTER sounds like a cracking good read to me. She was a finalist with it in the recent Twitter Nestpitch competition, and I hope she gets picked up soon so I can find BIOHUNTER in my local bookstore.

BiancaNogrady is a freelance science journalist by day, non-fiction author by night, and aspiring fiction author in the twilight. When not writing about everything and anything in science and medicine, she reads and writes speculative fiction in all flavours and colours. She is querying her first novel BIOHUNTER  - an adult science fiction - and starting work on a second novel, an urban fantasy based on Greek mythology. Bianca writes, blogs and rants at www.biancanogrady.com

 

 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Well, Hello again!

I popped in here the other day to prepare for a blog tour I’m participating in next week, and was shocked to realise that it’s been almost a year since I've posted anything! Really? I knew I’d been neglecting my blog, but a year? That’s just a bit ridiculous. And I can’t claim alien abduction or being on a secret mission for the government all that time, because, well, let’s face it, that would be even more ridiculous. I can’t even claim that I’ve been soooo busy with my WIP that I just haven’t had time, because, while I have actually made significant progress with my latest WIP, we all know that there’s always time in the week we can find for these things.

Have I really had nothing to say for almost a year? That doesn’t sound like me. At all.

My original plan was to blog about this writing journey, but it turns out between queries and rejections and requests, there’s a lot of quiet time. A lot. Quick update on my querying stats to date: countless rejections (around 7,553,621 – or so it feels), 6 partials, 6 fulls (none of which have yet turned into an offer, though 1 is still outstanding – fingers, toes, eyes, intestines crossed).

So, if I am going to bring this blog back to life, how exactly am I going to it?

Already published authors can blog about their books, or tours or appearances, sneak peeks of up-coming works etc. And they have a group of people genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Some aspiring authors do book reviews, but I just can’t bring myself to go there, for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are so many review blogs out there, many of them really excellent, I’m not sure what I could add to the mix. Also, I believe if you’re going to review books, then you need to be completely honest or there’s no point and I have two problems with that. 1. The authors I’d be reviewing are published. I’m not. So who am I to criticise their work? Yes, I’m also a reader and entitled to an opinion, but so too am I a writer, which leads me to number 2. I’m a writer, so I know no matter how good or bad a book is, that author has given their soul to that work, and for that alone I couldn't say a bad word about them.

Of course, there’s always the option of being controversial, which usually results in high readerships, but I’m not the type of person that can (or will) be controversial for the sake of it, and I really don’t like stirring up trouble. The original peace-keeper I am.

So, where does that leave me?

I’m not quite sure. Next week, as I mentioned above, I’m participating in a blog tour on the writing process, and I’m hoping that gives me the kick up the proverbial to breathe some life back into this blog. The next few weeks and months will tell, I guess. Fingers, toes, eyes, and intestines crossed.

S
keep chasing those pavements

Next week : The Writing Process Blog Tour

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Never Judge a Book by its Cover?

As part of the Sydney’s Writers’ Festival and his appearance on 702Sydney, Jon Page @PnPBookseller from Pages and Pages (the best book store north of the Harbour Bridge), posed, among others, the question “How much do covers influence your decision to pick up a book?”

We all know the expression ‘never judge a book by its cover’, but in such a saturated market, do we have any other choice? Unless it’s an author we’re familiar with, or a book that’s been recommended by a friend, how else can we even begin to start searching for our next read?

Covers are the first and most prominent marketing tool book sellers have and I don’t really see what’s wrong with that. Let’s face it. My husband is probably never going to pick up a book with a hot pink, glittered high heel front and centre. And I’m unlikely to pick up a book with a cover depicting a dismembered body (actually, neither is my husband, probably). The cover tells you, very quickly, what genre the book is and who the target audience is.

Imagine if all the covers were blank, with just the title and author’s name.  

A book about a couple in their 60s (their twilight years), or a romance set at sunset?







a book about ships and storms that would appeal to men?









 is this a war story? Or a story about someone’s  grandmother?





Without covers we’d be lost. They help us navigate the endless titles out there. Help us find our way.

Don’t get me wrong though. Sometimes a book comes our way and the cover isn’t one that would normally compel us to pick up the book. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was recommended to my book club by our librarian and I’m not sure I would have picked it up from the shelf with it’s Australian cover (the US one was very different -  but that’s another blog post), and it is one of my favourite recent reads (other than the ending, hated that– another blog post, perhaps).

So do judge your book by its cover, but don’t be afraid to step outside your box once in a while and try something new. Who knows what you’ll find?

How about you? “How much do covers influence your decision to pick up a book?”

S
keep chasing those pavements
current status: 2 fulls out, 2 partials out, and a frightening number of rejections in  - in fact, let's stop counting those :)


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Calling it Quits?

I was watching The Voice last night (LOVE that show) and one of the contestants was there as his fiancé had given him an ultimatum to either make something of his singing or go get his law degree (*). The deadline is the end of this year. And this got me thinking…

At what point do you give up on your dream?

Personally I couldn’t grasp the concept of a partner not supporting a dream completely. Maybe I’m spoiled. My husband has never once given me a deadline to make this writing dream a reality, has never thrown the statistics in my face (only 1% of aspiring writers ‘make it’), has never told me to stop trying, so I can’t imagine not having his support in this venture.

Yes, we need to put food on the table and a roof over our heads, and no, rejections and failed auditions don’t pay the bills. But surely that’s no reason to stop chasing those pavements. We just have to do it ‘around’ our lives. We write or sing outside of our work hours, or when the kids are asleep, or between classes. It may not be the most direct route, or the fastest, but it doesn’t mean we won’t get there.

How many knock backs do we endure? And does it matter how long it takes?

So many of the contestants on The Voice say it’s their ‘last chance’ to make it, which I find so terribly sad. And it makes me think of three authors; one just starting and two very famous.

The first is my friend Jenn J Mcleod whose debut novel was released last month and is doing well. She tells how she gave herself a deadline of a certain important birthday (I won’t say which), and that if she hadn’t signed with an agent by then, she’d give up. She got “the call” the day before her birthday! But what if she hadn’t? What if that call was a month late? Or what if that agent was the next one on the list to query and it didn’t happen before her birthday? What would have become of “The House for all Seasons” then?

The second is Kathryn Stockett of “The Help” fame. She endured 60 rejections before agent 61 accepted her. And as she points out, what if she’d ‘given up after 15 rejections? Or 60?’

And the third is Mary Ann Shaffer, who wrote “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”. She was in her seventies when her novel got picked up. And while she didn’t live to see it published, she died knowing it was going to be; knowing she had achieved her dream.

Don’t ever let anyone else force you to give up your dream. Even if you have to take the longest, most convoluted path to get there. Don’t ever say it’s your last chance. How do you know the next agent you query, or the next audition you go to, isn’t going to be “the one”?  It doesn’t matter how many rejections you get. It only takes one ‘yes’.

As long we breathe, there’s hope. And in the case of Mary Ann Shaffer, even after.

NEVER give up chasing those pavements.
S
* edit - The contestant mentioned above has clarified that there was no ultimatum and the producers cut the story to make it appear that way. No reality in reality TV - go figure! So sorry to said contestant, but the question of when to give up is still one worth pondering.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Roller Coaster Capers

I think as a community of writers we need to come up with a better description than “roller coaster” when describing our journey, as roller coaster just doesn’t seem to cut it! The ups, downs, curves and twists are bigger, faster, slowere and stranger than any roller coaster I’ve been on. And I’ve done Space Mountain at Disneyland!

Last month was one heck of a ride on this ‘journey to publication or insanity’ (insanity seems to be winning at this point). I received a full request from an agent in New York (big deal for a writer from OZ); the original full request from London was finally passed on after a 3 month wait (cue tears); a phone call from said NY agent who had full saying she liked it but there were problems and can I revise and re-submit (exciting and scary at same time); a rejection from another agent who said I was nowhere near ready for publication and suggested I go find myself a writers’ group to join (ouch!); another full request from another NY agent (smiling again); and a partial request from one of the big agencies in NY who I didn’t think I had a chance with (yay!).

And all of that in the space of two weeks. The same two week period which also happens to coincide with my birthday and the worst day of the year on my calendar – my angel baby’s birthday! Although, the upside to that is at least while dealing with the personal sadness that is that time of year, it certainly keeps this book thing in perspective.

I’ve also been trying to get a handle on this social media thing, which I’m pretty sure I’m failing at, but I’m giving it a try at least; been slogging away at my new WIP in order to distract myself from the turmoil of the query process; and have been trying to find ever more creative ways to fend off questions from my book when they continue to ask why I haven’t read the month’s selection (this month - a book agented by ouch-agent above! – not kidding), as most of my book club don’t know I’m writing so I can’t really say to them that I feel if I have time to read, then I should be writing.

Can you believe I don’t drink?

And now the wait. Wait to see what the outstanding full and partial bring; wait for my reader (aka sister) to get back to me on the revised version so I can re-sub to that agent; and wait to see if the other handful of outstanding queries result in rejection, requests or suggestions I shouldn’t give up my day job!

And I still don’t drink!

Perhaps you can all help me while away the time and come up with alternatives to “roller coaster” and leave them in the comments section? Prize - my undying gratitude to anyone who makes me laugh.

S
keep chasing those pavements

current status: 2 fulls out, 1 partial out, and a frightening number of rejections in :)