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Category: Writing
Tags: Writers Abroad writing writers

You know that thing where you look at the WA planner and realise itís your turn to write the weekly blog post and youíve been occupied with visitors all week and your head is devoid of ideas and other members seem to have far better ones than you do. That.

So I sat down to chew over what I could write about. After a few minutes looking at a mental blank sheet of paper, my thoughts turned to other things. Chief among them was an author session Iíve been invited to do at a literary festival soon. Iíve done a few of those in recent years (pic of me above signing copies at one) and I always enjoy the opportunity to talk with readers and other writers in person. You get some great insights and they are an excellent sounding board.

Occasionally, though, you come across someone who wrong foots you with an undiplomatic or just slightly daft remark. These are the ones that leave me struggling for a response.

So, today Iím imagining that I have carte blanche to be honest with impunity. Here are five selected observations/questions Ė all of which have been addressed to me Ė and my imaginary responses.

Will I like your book?

Since I donít know what you like to read, itís hard for me to answer that. Naturally, I hope you will, but if you donít, please donít give it one star on Goodreads without saying what didnít appeal to you about it.

How much money do you make from writing?

I think you might object if I asked you what you earn. You would be surprised at how low the figure is, anyway, at least for fiction. Very few authors make a living from writing fiction.

I lent my copy of your book to all my friends.

I hope your friends enjoy it, too. And if they do, perhaps they will buy it as a present for their friends and family.

Iíd love to have a copy of your book! (I.e. please give me one).

Iím so pleased youíd like to read it, and you can buy it from these retail outlets (list).

Iíve just finished a novel. Would you read it for me?

I lead a busy life. I work, write and have plenty of other activities to keep me occupied. I also do this for a number of writing colleagues already. So, no, Iím afraid I donít have time. And if I criticised it you would probably be very unhappy. I suggest you find a writing buddy/buddies and/or a writing group and share your work with them.

This is all tongue in cheek, of course, and the vast majority of the time one has sensible and enlightening conversations with readers.

As fellow writers, what tactless questions have you had to parry? And how did you reply?†

This week on WA 17th July
Category: Site News
Tags: Writers Abroad ex-pat writers writing

Dianne has posted this weekís Monday Muses, a great selection with something for everyone. An image will follow later today.

Jill has written a fascinating blog post about how her extensive travels have inspired her writing, both fiction and non-fiction, and that she derives more inspiration from far-away places than those on her doorstep. Some of the people sheís met while travelling may appear in stories (that sounds familiar!).

The Bragging stool is groaning under the combined weight of the members occupying it this week. I think we had better invest in a bragging sofa.

  • No less than 5 members have stories in the Ad Hoc line-up this week: Angela, Crilly, Chris N, Laura and Sue (how many is that in a row, Sue?);
  • Sue is on a roll with her story ĎTrip of a Lifetimeí shortlisted in Writing Mag;
  • Angela also continues her winning streak with a highly commended and a place in Stringybarkís anthology for ĎCaged Birdsí;
  • Lauraís spooky story was awarded third place in Morgen Baileyís 100-word comp; and
  • Lesley read out via Skype her story during the launch of Chris Fieldenís Nonsense Challenge Book.

Phew! Have I missed anyone? Huge congrats to all. Thatís a fabulous result for WA.

The July Challenges and Opportunities are up, with something for everyone, but feel free to add competitions or writing opportunities. And there are some pieces for critiquing.

WA Magazine. Although itís now a while since publication, the mag is still current, so please do let people know about it if you get the chance.

Membersí writing visions. A number of us have now posted up our visions of where we see ourselves in 5 yearsí time and what part WA can play in getting us there. Itís not always easy to plan so far in advance, but none of it has to be engraved in stone and I found it a useful exercise. It will also give us more clarity in recruiting new members. So if you havenít done it yet, have a think about where you want to be Ė and get some inspiration from the visions already posted.

Thatís all this week. If Iíve missed anything or got anything wrong please let me know.

Happy writing week.

Coming to your senses Tags: Writers Abroad writing senses in writing

I find it hard enough to think of a topic when itís my turn to write the weekly blog post. Itís even harder today in the aftermath of yet more terrorist attacks in London and Kabul. In the end, I decided to focus on something very close to home: using our senses in writing.†

When I first wrote fiction, I described my storiesí settings using only sights and sounds. I portrayed what I fancied my characters could see or hear in their settings. But, of course, in real life we experience our environments with the other three senses, too, even if we donít consciously acknowledge it.

I had a light bulb moment when I read an article (which I canít now find) about describing what all the senses could experience in a fictional setting. Character and plot are the most important elements in fiction, but the setting and how your characters experience it are significant, too. Your readers get a more complete view of the space in which the story takes place and your characters are more rounded if you can evoke what they smell, touch and taste.

Itís not always easy to remember to do this, but a seminar by the novelist Tracey Warr at our local writing group a while ago has helped. One of her exercises particularly resonated with me.

Tracey got us to stroll around the village for 10 minutes, noting everything about the environment and how we experienced it. I noticed the sights and sounds first: the yellow French post van, children shouting and screaming in the school playground, two elderly ladies chatting in the middle of the road, a cat rolling in the dust.

As I focused more deeply, the other senses tuned in. And so I perceived the rough gravel under my sandals, the warmth of the stone bench I sat on, the scent of cut grass, the cool touch of the village fountain and the slight smell of chlorine in the water. I almost picked up and licked one of the pebbles that line the fountain but then I remembered the chlorine.

This exercise reinforced for me the sensorial aspect of writing. Moreover, it sparked off ideas to use in my stories.

So try the wandering about exercise sometime. You can do it alone or with someone else so that you can compare what you found. Itís inspirational and Ö it gets you away from the computer, the internet and too many mugs of coffee!

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Writers Abroad's Bookshelf

The House at Zaronza
tagged: writers, abroad, vanessa, couchman, historical, and fiction
Love is All You Need: Ten tales of love from The Sophie King Prize
tagged: writers, abroad, sophie, king, prize, alyson, and hillbourne
Out of Control
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, croft, members, and publications
The Duke's Shadow
tagged: the, duke-s, shadow, louise, charles, debut, and novel
Foreign & Far Away
tagged: writers, abroad, amanda, hodkinson, books, charity, anthology, 2013...
Losing Control
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
Enchantment
tagged: nina, croft, writes, and abroad
Conversations with S. Teri O'Type
tagged: writers, abroad, christopher, and allen
Break Out
tagged: writers, abroad, ninca, and croft
Deadly Pursuit
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
The Calling
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
Big Book of New Short Horror
tagged: featuring, wa, member, alyson, and hillbourne
Tiger of Talmare
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft

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