Miriam Wakerly Revisits the Sixties – Secrets in Appley Green

 My guest today is the lovely Miriam Wakerly. You may remember her from other posts when we introduced her novels “Shades of Appley Green,” “Gypsies Stop tHere,” and “No Gypsies Served.” I’m happy to host Miriam again to tell you of her latest novel. portraitmw

Anneli has been sharing writerly tips for a while now over on the LoveaHappyEnding Lifestyle magazine. http://www.loveahappyending.com/category/writing-advice/ It’s wonderful how authors help each other. Thank you so much for having me on your website, Anneli.

I have started running writing workshops with the rather stupendous idea of covering all aspects of novel writing in three hours! The workshop preparation and process has rekindled in me a love of writing and all the challenges it poses. It is rather like learning to drive at first, with so many different things to think of, especially in those all-important opening lines, pages, and chapters.  Setting the scene, developing a style, introducing and growing  characters the reader will care about, planting credible hooks to keep the reader turning the pages, with the overall structure and way forward always there in the back of your mind – it’s daunting sometimes but wonderful when it all comes together. The best bit is when your characters begin to think and act for themselves in a given situation. Then you know they have become ‘real’, yet still creatures of fiction.

Going back to my teenage years, riding on a wave of nostalgia, made me think hard about the Sixties. How different 1960 was from the years that followed!  The attitudes and general way of life particularly fascinated me and made me ponder on how much those of us who can remember the Sixties have changed since then – apart from simply growing older. Having said that, human emotion pretty much endures – the pain of injustice, rejection, and lost love, the double-edged joy of being in love, the happiness friendship brings, the spirits uplifted on a sunny day in a lovely garden.

The setting is an English village, the same place as my first three novels. If you’ve read any of my other books, Gypsies Stop tHere, No Gypsies Served and Shades of Appley Green, you will recognise some of the older characters – as they were over fifty years ago!

Three naïve, but very different, Appley Green schoolgirls pledge to stick together forever, but when one of them gets pregnant, this pushes their promise to the edge.

A young girl in need of love is vulnerable to the charms of an older man with heartbreaking consequences.

These are Great Britain’s Sixties, an exciting era, gathering pace, then in full swing as social change sweeps aside past attitudes, laws, fashion, and culture. Youth is finding a voice as parents struggle to adjust.  Its characters span the full social spectrum and take us beyond Appley Green to Brighton, Margate, London, Vienna, and Paris.

Miriam Wakerly’s  Appley Green village stories all standalone and can be read in any order, but they are connected. This one can serve as a prequel to all three, especially Shades of Appley Green.

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I hope you enjoy Secrets in Appley Green – A 1960s village novel. The Kindle version is available on amazon outlets, paperback to follow within a few weeks.

Links: 

Blog: Miriam’s Ramblings 

Miriam’s books in the UK:  Amazon.co.uk  

Miriam’s books in the US and Canada: Amazon.com 

Llm link to articles about English village life:  

 

 

 

 

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The Rest of My Life – When is it time to stop running?

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And They Lived Happily Ever After

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The setting of my next novel.

Everyone loves a happy ending. At the end of a novel we want to read the equivalent of “And they lived happily ever after.” But is that realistic? Do we even want “realistic”? Maybe that happy ending is too predictable.

After months of agonizing over writer’s block, I have at last reached the end of the first draft of my next novel.

In writing the ending, I was conscious of trying to follow the storyline in a logical manner, and still craft an ending that the reader will find as satisfying as a perfect dessert after a  tasty meal at a five-star restaurant.

How can the author prepare such a gourmet dessert?

1. The events that wrap up the plot must be believable.

2. These events must follow in a logical sequence, while keeping the reader wondering if they will indeed happen.

3. The characters involved should have their character flaws redeemed and resolved by this time.

4. Our hero should be successful in his endeavours.

5. The villain should finally get what’s coming to him.

These steps would allow for a happy ending.

Of course, in real life, happy endings can often have twists. But do we want those twists to happen in a novel?

What do you think? Do you want that dessert to be perfect, or do you want some degree of reality weighing in?

Reality comes in many varieties. The dessert might be too sweet, too bland, too rich, or too ordinary. There might be a fly in it, or worse yet, a hair.

Think about some endings you have read. How do they make you feel? What kind of endings do you like?

Writing Partners

My guest today is Joanna Gawn, to tell us about herself and her writing partner Ron Dickerson.

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What happens when a series of synchronicities introduces a wannabe novelist to ‘subtle energies’ and a re-emergence of her highly sensitive self?

What happens when she meets a man whom she feels she’s known for decades (or even centuries?) and who, over time, becomes her best friend? One who offers her a new way of looking at life and relationships?

What happens when she uncovers an inspirational focus for her writing, and her new best friend gives her a little push into making her dream of writing a novel come true?

She writes her first novel, of course. And then her second. In partnership with said best friend, naturally. 🙂

And that’s a true and auto-biographical story, I swear. 🙂

From nowhere (or so it seemed) my husband’s long-term friend, Ron, was encouraging me to write – a fantasy tale incorporating the ‘natural magic’ I had begun to see and feel. As a natural healer himself, what I experience with my ‘attuned senses’ is quite understandable to him.

From nowhere, we began writing a book together. A novel about synchronicity, natural magic, stone circles, positive energies, unconditional love.  A story about leading from the heart-space, the inner voice, and doing the right thing. A book about working with light and energy and bringing positive change to the worlds (yes, more than one; Cordello is a parallel world).

So, now that we’ve been an official business partnership for nearly four years, with two novels and two short story ebooks published, how does the writing-and-editing aspect of our partnership work?

First of all, I sit and tune in, and start to write. Maybe 1000 words in a session, maybe more or less (it depends on my health at the time). If I’m already partway through a work, I’ll re-read and lightly edit what I produced in the previous session. This gets me back into the language, feel, and place of the story … my story-world experienced with all my senses.

Sometimes I’ll have no idea what I’m typing before I put fingers to keyboard. A whole scene may unravel onto the screen as I work, and at times I may be completely unaware of what my characters have been up to … until I stop typing and read what I’ve written. It truly is an adventure – and those surprises keep writing special and magical for me.

Once I have something to work with, Ron will take a look and offer his constructive suggestions, or query anything that doesn’t make sense to him, as a reader. He’s really good at finding holes in scenes or identifying something which doesn’t fit. Now and then, he’ll add something to ground the energies of the story. Without exception, our work is better with our joint input. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that’s for sure.

We work together using a cloud-based document system, so that we can both type (and see the other’s remarks) in a document simultaneously. Comments can be left, emailed, and replied to, as each knot and niggle is worked through. I can’t imagine how we could work together on our writing without this system – not efficiently, anyway. We live about 30 miles apart, so passing over printed sheets of text every so often isn’t really an option, and email alone – which we used in “the early days” of our partnership – got confusing and unwieldy. And now that we are both regularly writing pieces for Writers’ Circle, we need to keep on top of it all.

As with any combined work – particularly a creative one – it takes a huge amount of trust to edit each others’ writing in this way. And even with our best-friendship at the heart of our writing and business partnership, we are human and sometimes still say things that are misunderstood or difficult to clarify. Occasionally, we even upset one another! Trust is the key, and also the belief that we are both doing the best we can, and never with any intention to wound.

As much of what we write as a duo falls under the genre of Visionary and Metaphysical Fantasy, what we write and publish can redefine what’s possible – at least to those unfamiliar with the ideas and concepts. The genre offers a new (perhaps pioneering) way of thinking and living, and can upset the status quo. Some readers already resonate with our work; others find it stimulates their own ‘extraordinary sensing’ or ‘awakening’. However some readers may not be ready for that. I believe that the trust we share is essential to support the times when self-belief is rocked by someone who doesn’t understand what we’re sharing, or when I get wary of putting myself and my stories out into the world.

Would I change it?

I certainly don’t plan to! But it all depends on what I’m guided to write next … 🙂

Anneli, a big thank you for inviting us to write for your blog and your readers. 🙂

If you’re a writer, did something specific trigger your writing journey?

If you’re a reader, do you wonder where some of the stories you read come from?

~~~

Book Image Group (with extra)

            website: http://www.lazuli-portals.com/

            blog: http://lazuliportalswriting.wordpress.com/

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lazuliportalstrilogy

twitter: https://twitter.com/LazuliPortals

Keywords and Clustering

Writing is basically a way of putting thoughts on paper. Our aim is to organize those thoughts cohesively for the reader to understand. Over time, many methods have been developed to help us transfer thoughts from our brain to paper or computer screen, and into the brain of the reader.

As I struggled to come up with a plan for the next scene of my work in progress, I remembered a basic method that worked well for me in the past. When too many thoughts are crowding my head, I like to organize them using “clustering,” sometimes  called “webbing.” It has been around for a few decades, but it is still a wonderful tool.

We all know about keywords. We use them in web searches all the time. One main word will trigger many other related words and ideas. In clustering we use keywords to trigger associations. The beauty of using keywords is that you don’t have to write whole sentences in order to remember the thoughts associated with them.

To organize your thoughts, start with a keyword for the main topic of your scene. Close your eyes and imagine that word. What thoughts come to mind? Choose a keyword from one of those thoughts and write it down, Circle it and link it to the main keyword. Do this for each of the ideas that come to you when you think about the main keyword.

Below you can see how I used clustering to come up with ideas about Tenedos Bay, the setting of my scene. Associated with that keyword, I have come up with five lesser keywords (like subheadings): rocky islets, trail, other boats, shelter, and forest. When I think of each of these in turn, more ideas come to me and I jot those keywords down, linking them to the origin of the thought. Once I have done that for each of the main keywords, I end up with five groupings of ideas. Now I’m ready to write.

img750I may not use all of the ideas that I jotted down, but it’s better to have more than I need than not enough. If you were using this particular cluster map, you might want to make some sentences about the trail to Unwin Lake. You can follow the links in that series of mini clusters and build your sentence from the keywords, adding any of the associations that you had in mind as you wrote them down. Using “rocks, roots, well worn,” and “Unwin Lake” you might come up with a sentence like: I followed the well-worn rocky trail to Unwin Lake taking care not to trip over tree roots that crossed the path.

Two shorter sentences would probably be better, but you get the idea of using the cluster words in your writing. Once you have your basic idea written, you can play with the sentence to make it better until you’re happy with it.

You can elaborate on these ideas until you’ve reached into the farthest recesses of your mind to pull out every associated idea that you feel is relevant, and when you’ve finished, you have a paragraph of sentences that are all related to the keyword “trail.”

Each of the groupings will make a good paragraph. Your thoughts will be organized and no longer be mistaken for scrambled eggs in word form.

If you haven’t tried clustering, why not give it a try just for fun?

 

First Lines – First Impressions

Have you heard the expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, so it is with books.

Writing a book is a challenge, but getting people to read it can be even more difficult. It is the author’s job to turn that novel into a page turner. First, though, he has to get someone to start reading. The first page of a book can snag a reader’s interest or have him slap it shut and toss it away, never to be opened again.

A good book will hook the reader on the first page. An excellent book will hook the reader in the first paragraph, or even the first sentence. Authors must not underestimate the importance of that opening line. It is worth spending a lot of time on, if it means getting it right.

What should a first line, or at least a first paragraph, do?

Make the reader:

  • wonder what’s going on
  • wonder what happened and why
  • want to know what will happen next
  • want to know how the situation will be resolved
  • want to turn the page and read more.

The writer has only a few words to convince the reader that his book is worth reading. Please have a look at these opening lines and decide whether you would want to continue reading the book.

1. I knew I must have the wrong address. He was absolutely stunning. My heart fluttered and thudded frantically. Heat rose to my face. I ducked my head in embarrassment, but couldn’t keep my eyes off him. (The Wind Weeps – Anneli Purchase)

2 .I was born twice: first as a girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. (Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides)

3. Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. (Moby Dick – Herman Melville)

4. On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. Bridge. He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. (Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

5. They say ignorance is bliss. I can vouch for that. My life was humming along just fine until I received that letter. Afterwards, nothing was the same. (Orion’s Gift – Anneli Purchase)

6. Men’s voices, harsh and abrupt, sent a stab of fear through her. She peered cautiously up an alleyway towards the town square. (Julia’s Violinist – Anneli Purchase)

So, for the authors out there, you see that we have our work cut out for us. Let’s shine up our opening pages. Isn’t it worth doing after spending so much time writing a whole book?

 

Why Publish?

To publish means to issue for sale or distribution to the public. I’ve invited author Luanne Castle to share her thoughts about publishing and what it means to her.

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Luanne Castle

Anneli asked me to think about why writers want to get their work published. She said it can’t be about the money, so what is it about?

I do know writers who write for the money. Since I’m not acquainted with Stephen King or his ilk, the writers I know who have aspirations of big advances and even larger royalty checks, are in the not-yet-published category–and pretty clueless, to boot. That’s because–Anneli is correct–there is little money to be made in writing.

That makes writing perfect for me. I have a history of gravitating to low-pay-lotsa-work jobs. When I was starting out as a grad student in the English department, I went to find one of my professors in his office. He was tenured and had been with the department for many years. The door was closed and locked, but taped to the outside of the door was his paycheck stub.  And the pay was about the same that I was making working fulltime in retail.

I was still so new at grad school it would have been easy to back out and apply to law school. But do you think I paid any attention? One day, when I had years of grad school completed and was teaching college as a non-tenured and harried “freeway flyer,” I looked at my paycheck and remembered that warning I’d ignored.

Money is definitely not an incentive to me, although by now I’ve worked in both business and creative pursuits long enough to realize that the world is clearly divided into those who are motivated by money and those who are not.

So why do I want to publish? Having an audience of readers is a powerful incentive for writing. After all, writing is communication as is all art. If we don’t share our stories and poems and blog posts, we aren’t communicating, and communication is how we negotiate our way in the world and build a stronger world community.

I also like to bolster my weak self-esteem and build up my troubled ego by publishing stories and poems in journals and magazines. They rarely pay writers, but it’s nice to know that an editor or editorial panel liked my work enough to publish it. They put their seal of approval on my work by showcasing it in their magazines.

For example, although I plan to complete a book-length memoir, the literary journal Lunch Ticket, run by Antioch University’s MFA program, just published a chapter from my memoir, called “Nuclear Fallout.” You can read it online here, if you like.

Finally, I also think that when I do publish my book, it will make it easier to respond to the usual conversation with strangers.

Stranger:         “What do you do?”

Writer:                        “I’m a writer.”

Stranger:         “What have you published?”

Writer:                        “A memoir called Scrap: Salvaging a Family.”

Stranger:         “Where can I buy that?”

Writer:                        “Amazon, any book store, Target, Wal-Mart, everywhere.”

At least, that’s my fantasy. Now when I say I don’t have a book out yet, they tell me I’m not really a writer.

In the meantime, I’m over at Writer Site.  Thanks so much to Anneli for inviting me to explore the subject of publication over here!

***

*Note from Anneli:

If you write, you are a writer. Being published does not change that. Luanne is too modest. She’s an excellent writer. Be sure to check out her blog, Writer Site.

Also, please leave a comment and tell us what you think about publishing.

The Mailbox

This photo got my wheels turning. I could never look at it without stopping to think and wonder. So many possible stories hovered at the edge of my brain. Finally I wrote one down. It’s not a happy story. Even in the sunshine, this photo brought out melancholy feelings. Here is one story: ??????????

“I’ll write,” he said, but he didn’t make eye contact. Warren hated anything to do with pen and paper.

“But you could phone when you get to Duck Lake,” I said.

“Joe’s cabin doesn’t have a phone.”

“Well, then how did he get in touch with you to arrange the fishing trip?”

“He called from a neighbour’s place.” Warren set down his coffee cup, spilling some of it, and got up from the table.

“You could call me from there.”

“The neighbour’s house is about five miles from Joe’s place. I’ll write you a note.”

“Do you have to go for a whole month?” I hated the whine in my voice.

“Look! I haven’t had a holiday for months.” His voice was tight. “And anyway, we probably need a break from each other. Just don’t bug me. I’ll be back when I feel like coming back.”

“But—”

“And yes, I’ll do the shopping in Bozeman before I come home.” He strode across the room. “Get me the list. I gotta go pack.”

***

Ten minutes later, Warren rushed out the door and threw his duffle bag into the cab of the truck. I bent down to slip on a pair of runners on the veranda, then turned to wave goodbye but he was already peeling down the long driveway, tires spitting gravel into the cloud of dust he left behind. He raised a hand and waved through the cab window without turning his head.

I wiped the dust and a few stray tears from my eyes. I stood dumbstruck as I listened to the fading grumble of his truck tires on our country road.

I turned to go back into the house. Warren’s fishing rod mocked me from where he had leaned it in the corner of the room.  And I knew that my mailbox would remain empty.

***