Balance in the Life of A Writer

I was at a party once where a well-established mystery novelist told me she was lucky if she managed to write for an hour or two a day, the bulk of her schedule being consumed with book promotions, Twitter, Facebook, newsletters, her blog. Seems that many writers are performing the same high-wire act. Without a social media presence, without Bookbub, 99 cent promotions, Goodreads competitions, mailing lists, and all that ongoing effort, chances are that even the best-crafted novel will languish, lost and crying out unnoticed, in the wasteland of Amazon’s millions of fiction books. Well, boo-hoo, I can almost hear you say. After all, this isn’t high school English – no hoary old professor is forcing us to come up with the next Ellie Campbell book. And juggling time is nothing new for writers. Most of the literary greats had to fit in their artistic endeavors with full-time jobs, squeezing precious hours out of the early dawn or burning the midnight oil.

But still I wistfully think – wouldn’t it be nice to get a sense of balance? And have a life beyond the laptop? Are we all being forced to multi-task way beyond our natural capacity, checking our emails while sitting on the toilet while brushing our teeth? Lifting your nose from your mesmerizing screen only to discover six hours have vasalesnished, the husband has walked in the door and dinner is still a frozen chicken and a bag of groceries lying unpacked on the counter along with the breakfast dishes. We all have responsibilities shrieking for our attention: children, elderly parents, pets that need feeding or walking, even horses, (some of us). We have bodies that ought to be exercised more, friends that are feeling neglected, the guilty sense that however we spend our precious time, there is so much out there being left undone…

Read more at Take Five Authors blog

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Right now for this week’s fabulous competition.  Too good to let it go by.  It’s the humor giveaway at Authors XP and it runs through to Nov 7th and includes our very own Looking for La La. We would love our blog followers or newsletter subscribers to win one or more of these fabulous novels.

Win Up To 20+ Humor eBooks!

(2) Grand Prize Kindle “Gift Baskets” of ALL eBooks!
(20+) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)
Nov. 1-7

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Learning from the master

Anyone up for a writing course?

Take Five Authors

One of my favourite writers - and a master at character and dialogue. And plot. And humour... and ... One of my favourite writers – and a master at character and dialogue. And plot. And humour… and …

I’m having a bit of a fan girl thing at the moment – and in between blinking in awe at the light bulb moments, I’m learning a fair bit about how to write. I’ve written ten books (eight published and two more on their way), and won a few awards, but that’s not enough to make me think I know it all – or even that I know a lot. A bit… I think I know a bit about writing, but I’m always looking to learn more.

When signing up for a writing course, or looking for a mentor, I think it’s important that person be someone whose work you admire. If that person’s work is so good it takes your breath away – literally – then that’s even better. So…

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Creating characters: do babies count?

Creating characters. Do babies count? Thanks Jenny!

Take Five Authors

booteesIt’s been a funny few days. Just over a week ago, my world was turned topsy turvy by a phone call from my son to tell us that his wife had gone into labour – eight weeks early – and was about to have an emergency C-section. Cue panic, a rush to the hospital and a call six minutes later to tell us we were already grandparents!

Since then, understandably, it has been a bit of an anxious time. The wait to be sure that mother and baby were all right (they were), a great many checks to find out why the wee one decided it was the right moment to come into the world, and the day-to-day rollercoaster  of monitoring progress, waiting by the incubator and simply watching, have been all-encompassing. So my mind hadn’t really been much on writing this week – but when I sat down to pen this…

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Win up to 18 Novels in the General Fiction Giveaway!

Just a quickie today as we can’t let this week go by without letting you guys know about this fabulous giveaway.  Free to enter!

Win Up To 18 General/Womens/Historical Fiction Novels!

(2) Grand Prize Kindle “Gift Baskets” of ALL eBooks!

(18) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

Keeping our fingers crossed for y’all!

Pam and Lorraine (Ellie Campbell)

Into the wilds of Mongolia

Well, I promised I’d report back on my Mongolian trekking trip and, yes, it was quite the fantastic adventure.  From Ulaan battar, the capital, we travelled 2 and a half days overland, passing Erdene Zuu Monastery along the way.img_6149

The first two nights we stayed in tourist camps where we were accommodated in gers (yurts) and and bathed in a communal washing blocks, our last showers for quite a while.  This was our pink palace with wood-burning stove.  We also got entertainment the second night – you haven’t lived until you’d heard famed Mongolian throat singing.mongolia-pink-gerThe next day we arrived at our horse camp in the Zavkhan province, 1,104 Km from the capital. We had a day to get used to our chosen mounts and from there our sturdy, tough and half-wild Mongolian horses took us over 120 miles (200+ km), through bogs and rivers, across the wide open steppes and over snowy mountain passes, a lot of which looked surprising like Colorado.  Only without the hikers and joggers.
mongolia-horses-grazingWe visited nomadic families in their gers, tried such local delicacies as milk curds and mares’ milk vodka brewed in a home-made still. Yum!mongolia-ger

We slept in tents, camped by rivers and lakes, basked in gorgeous sunsets and woke to a thick layer of morning frost.  Zavkahn has some of the coldest winter temperatures in Mongolia, having been recorded as low as as low as −52.9 °C (−63.2 °F) but luckily this was September and we only had one day of snow.mongolia-rainbowFood, you ask?  It was mutton for dinner.  Yep, every night.  With vegetable curry for the non-meat eaters.  Our wranglers killed a sheep on the first day of our trip and its carcase provided our main meal with nary a bit wasted.  Here it’s prepared with hot rocks. mongolia-lamb-dinnerEverything cooked on an open fire or portable stove, even our delicious bread.mongolia-stove17 days of no technology, bathing in chilly rivers (for those so inclined) and rustic bathroom facilities.toilet-mongoliaWe met bands of roaming horses, got chased by a jealous stallion, heard wolves howl, encountered eagles, marmots, deer, and of course herds of sheep, goats, and yaks.  In 2005, Zavkhan was home to 2,1 million head of livestock, among them 1,03 million sheep,  861,000 goats, 107,000  cattle and yaks, 101,000 horses and 6,300 camels (of the two-humped Bactrian variety).  What didn’t we see?  City lights, roads, or tourists.mongolia-camelsAnd I fulfilled my dream of galloping across the Mongolian steppes,  thanks to my small but feisty ex-racehorse that I christened Snowflake.  Stopping was a different challenge.14344869_10154144625392182_7645542630260860595_nAnd then when our adventure was done, they turned the horses loose, to fend for themselves, wandering free in this unfenced land that seemed to stretch forever.  And we returned to civilization, thankful to Zavkhan Trekking for organizing an amazing trip.

 

horse-herd-mongolia

The editing cave

All about editing. Janet Gover’s great post 😀

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I’ve been in my editing cave for the past three weeks. It’s sort of like a bear being in their hibernation cave… except bears tend to lose weight during hibernation. There is a shared reputation for being cranky when disturbed though…

Writing The End on the last page of a manuscript is NOT the end. It’s far from it. Every writer’s process is different. There’s no right way or wrong way, there’s just the way that works for the writer. So I thought I’d give you a bit of a look at my editing process… which explains my absence from Twitter and Facebook and the kitchen. It doesn’t explain why my office is messy though – my office is always messy.

Editing needs both old and new technology ... and many cups of tea. Editing needs both old and new technology … and many cups of tea.

I tend to do a lot of editing as I go, so my first draft of…

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Win Up To 40 Romance Novels!

Win Up To 40 Romance Novels!

(2) Grand Prize Kindle “Gift Baskets” of ALL eBooks (sweet or spicy!)!

+ Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)!

Share At Your Own Peril?

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angry-1296476_960_720

Friendships with authors should carry a warning: anything you say or do risks ending up in print and should be shared with caution. I mheartburnentioned in my last blog post that my early magazine stories were often inspired by my personal romantic disasters. Changing humiliation to triumph and inventing nasty fictional misfortunes on London lotharios who dumped me was hugely satisfying to my wounded pride, much like Nora Ephron who got revenge on her unfaithful husband, Carl Bernstein, with her bestselling novel Heartburn. But when your nearest and dearest start prefacing conversations with ‘If I tell you this, promise you won’t use it in a story’, even a fledgling writer has to learn discretion.

Writers turn to real events all the time for inspiration. Stuff happens to people that your imagination couldn’t make up even if you squeezed it through a juice press. Alice Sebold used a young…

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Historical fiction: alive and kicking in Oxford

Want to know what happens at the Historical Novel Society Conference? Jenny Harper fills us in on Take Five Authors blog

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Friday 2nd September saw me clambering on a train headed for Oxford, and my first Historical Novel Society Conference. This was my third writing-related conference this year (first Scottish Association of Writers, then Romantic Novelists’ Association), and I was not at all sure what to expect or whether I would be wasting my time.

Held in the modern and well-appointed Andrew Wiles building, which houses Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute, I quickly discovered I knew a great many writers there, and made a number of new friends.

fay Fay Weldon (centre), with sessions chair Carol McGrath (left) and author Jo Baker.

We were thrown straight into proceedings with a panel discussion between Jo Baker and the inimitable Fay Weldon. The following day Lord Melvyn Bragg delivered an excellent keynote speech centred on his novel, Now is the Time. And on Sunday, we were treated to a delightfully self-deprecating speech by one of…

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Win up to 40 Cozy Mystery Novels in the Mega Giveaway!

Win Up To 40 Cozy Mystery Novels!

(2) Grand Prize Kindle “Gift Baskets” of ALL 40 eBooks!

(35) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)