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Ella Carey & Writer's Block

  Posted by Jemi , 17 October 2016 · 33 views

Please welcome Ella Carey back to the blog today!

Thank you once again, Jemi for having me here.

I want to write about something a bit different today.  I want to write about it because it’s annoying, but important. If I can give you some techniques to brainstorm in order to overcome this problem that we all might face at one time or another, then I hope that this will help you deal with what can be quite a frustrating thing.

Writers’ block.

So what is it and how can you cure it? I think I’ve found out a way of dealing with it that works for me- it may not work for you. It’s only a suggestion. But, I can honestly say that I’ve had a light bulb moment this week.

I don’t know if you’ve experienced writers’ block. I don’t know whether you believe it exists. Well. Either way, this is how it went down…

I spent five days at my computer. That was normal. But in that time, I wrote one paragraph. That was it. Didn’t get any further. I was stuck. Don’t get me wrong, I kept re-writing the paragraph. But I just couldn’t make it work.

Now, you see, this is extremely odd for me. I’m a 1,000 words per hour sort of person when I’m on a roll, and that is most of the time… I write every day.

And I love my work- in fact it’s not work, it’s just the best thing. The bees knees. I adore it. I am so grateful that I get to do this and earn a living from it. It’s perfect. I’m in my zone.

I’m sure you wouldn’t be reading this blog unless you felt the same way about your writing. If you are fitting writing time into a busy schedule without any anticipation that you are going to be paid to do so, then you are probably a born writer.

But what do you do when the words dry up?

I’ve realized that this has happened to me twice. Twice in the last five years. Which isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a good track record.

But when I just couldn’t get the words out, I had no idea why. And then I realized something. It wasn’t anything to do with my writing. I hadn’t forgotten how to write. It was something else entirely that was bothering me, and until that was resolved, my writing had stopped. That was it.

So, if ever you experience this strange phenomenon, just stop. Take a look at what’s going on with you, and check it out. If you don’t know what the problem is, then maybe brainstorm a list of things that are bothering you and see which ones you can resolve. It never ceases to amaze me how intertwined all the aspects of our lives are… if one thing is troubling you at any level, it could just affect something else… your health… your work. It’s as simple as that.

Of course you can’t go around solving all your problems before you write, but if you do get stuck, maybe try brainstorming what else is going on, work out what’s on your mind and what you’d like to resolve, and try to do so. It’s as if your subconscious is niggling you- you can’t write until you’ve sorted it out.

Thank you Jemi…

Ella xx

Ella Carey is a writer and Francophile who claims Paris as her second home. She has been studying French since the age of five, and she has degrees in music, majoring in classical piano, and English, majoring in nineteenth century women's fiction and in modern European history. Her debut novel, Paris Time Capsule, has captured global attention and her second novel, The House By The Lake, was released in March 2016, remaining in top 100 of all kindle books in the US for six months. Her third novel is From a Paris Balcony and is releasing in October, 2016. She lives in Australia.

Ella Carey on the web:        Facebook        Twitter        Author Page    Website

From A Paris Balcony

Heartbroken and alone, Boston art curator Sarah West is grieving the recent deaths of her parents and the end of her marriage. Ultrasensible by nature, she’s determined to stay the course to get her life back on track. But fate has something else in mind. While cleaning out her father’s closet, she finds a letter from the famous Parisian courtesan Marthe de Florian, dated 1895. The subject? Sarah’s great-great-aunt Louisa’s death. Legend has it Louisa committed suicide…but this letter implies there’s more to that story.
Determined to learn the truth, Sarah, against her nature, impulsively flies to Paris. There she’s drawn into the world of her flatmate, the brilliant artist Laurent Chartier. As she delves deep into the glittering Belle Époque to unravel the mystery, Sarah finds that her aunt’s story may offer her exactly what she needs to open up to love again.
Following Sarah in the present day and Louisa in the 1890s, this moving novel spans more than a century to tell the stories of two remarkable women.
Buy on:
Amazon Kindle         Amazon Paperback         Book Depository      B&N
You're very welcome, Ella - always glad to have you visit!

That's such great advice! Life is always crazy busy here and I've definitely been stalled in my writing because I was just too exhausted to be creative. 

How about you? Have things BESIDES the writing stalled you in your writing process?



IWSG & The Finish Line

  Posted by Jemi , 05 October 2016 · 38 views

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Question for October 5th: When do you know your story is ready?

Simple Answer: No clue!!!

Complex Answer:
I haven't published yet, so I really don't know when the story is ready. I'm a tinkerer and when I learn something new I want to apply it to the stories I've written. 

Which means --> REWRITE!

And driving myself crazy. I think I have 6 (or more???) stories that have been written that have potential to be published. BUT, none of them are ready. Some are a lot closer than others, but none are THERE.

Will they ever be?

Some days I doubt it, but more and more, I think I'm getting much closer to answering YES!

How about you? Are you a tinkerer? Can you let a story be, or do you always want to dive back in?



Rachael Thomas and The Art of Dialogue

  Posted by Jemi , 12 September 2016 · 46 views

Please welcome Rachael Thomas back to the block today!
The Art of Dialogue 

Well written dialogue will move your story forwards, allow the reader to really get to know the characters and allow you, the writer to show instead of telling. It also makes for a more attractive page within a book, one which isn’t a solid block of text and therefore more appealing to the reader. 

How to ensure your dialogue works hard in your story: 

  • There is no need to include all the normal everyday parts of dialogue. Take your reader straight to what matters and leave out things like hello or goodbye. You also don’t need every umm to make the conversation sound realistic. 
  • Use dialogue to show your character. Every time your character says something the words they chose and the way in which they speak will bring life to your character and enable the reader to get to know them. 
  • The use of dialogue tags, like he or she said, isn’t always necessary, but ensure it’s clear just who is talking. There is nothing worse than having to scan back up a page to work out just who is talking.  
  • Take care when you have more than two characters involved in a conversation. Use some dialogue tags and you do not always have to ensure each character takes their turn.  
  • Use your scene. Build in what’s happening around the characters and what actions they make as they talk. Make it a living breathing discussion instead of constant to and fro. When you want what is said to really stand out and make an impact use only the words the character said. 
  • Different characters will use different words. An old lady would not sound the same as a teenage girl. Think about your characters and how they would speak. Make each one unique and recognisable to the reader. 
  • Ensure your dialogue moves the story forward. It should reveal your character, show their emotion to the reader so chose your words carefully. Make each one count. 
  • Don’t allow a character to use long rambling speeches. Break their dialogue up with internal thoughts or actions going on around them or another character’s dialogue. 
  • Finally, read your dialogue out loud. Did it sound natural and flowing to read out? If not, think of how it can be changed, then read it again. 

I love escaping to distant shores with my characters, entering their glamorous world and feeling all the emotions they experience as they discover their love for one another. A love so strong it will overcome all obstacles eventually, leading to that promised happy ever after.
Connect with Rachael Thomas on the web:
Website         Blog        Facebook                Twitter              Goodreads


"When you've finished making offers for the bracelet, I have a proposition for you." 
Billionaire Liev Dragunov has spent a lifetime plotting revenge against those responsible for his family's ruin. Finally he has the way: Bianca Di Sione. 
She's denied their obvious attraction and coolly rebuffs every request to work for him—until he finds her weakness: a diamond bracelet she desperately needs! 
Bianca must become his fake fiancée if she wants her trinket! But the taste of revenge isn't as sweet as desire, and Liev discovers that she is innocent in more ways than one… 
Book 3 of The Billionaire's Legacy

Buy Links

Harlequin US      M&B UK        M&B Aust
B&N        iBooks

Thanks Rachael! I love both reading and writing dialogue and these are excellent tips! 

How about you? Are you a fan of writing dialogue? Do you read aloud and does your family think you're nuts (or is that just me???)?



IWSG & Time to Write

  Posted by Jemi , 07 September 2016 · 35 views

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

September 7 Question: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

That's a great question!

Like everyone else, my life is full to overflowing. Busy full time job (no spare time even during lunch for us!), homework for the job, family, house upkeep, treadmill & physio exercise, and then all the fun stuff.

Because of all of that, I rarely get uninterrupted writing time. A whole hour in a block is a thrill during the school year. Thankfully, I've trained myself to sink into the story without any rituals or warm up activities. As soon as I boot up the laptop, I'm ready to dive in. I can write in small blocks of time and then jump back in again after the interruption.

Elizabeth Spann Craig's blog is a fabulous source of hints for the busy writer and I've adopted and adapted a lot of her ideas to fit my own world.

How about you? Do you write in small chunks as well? Any hints to squeeze in more writing time?



Take Off Your Pants!

  Posted by Jemi , 29 August 2016 · 59 views

As many of you know, I do NOT have the brain of a plotter! I've never started writing a story with more than a few scenes in mind. I generally know the ending, the beginning, the backstories of the 2 MCs and maybe another scene. Because I know I'm working toward a happy ending, I have the end goal in sight and off I go.

There are several BIG problems with working this way, but the biggest is that editing takes forever and I never have much an overall game plan to guide me. I need more.

Recently, someone pointed me to Take Off Your Pants: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker.

As the title implies, it's a plotting books for people who don't plot. It's making sense (mostly) to my brain! YAY!

Some of it is a little too visual for a kinaesthetic learner like me (inverted triangles, I'm looking at you!), but I'm starting to get the hang of it.

I've followed the book through for an older story I knew wasn't working It didn't take long for me to realize the big issue in the story and it's helping me work out a way to solve it while keeping true to the story itself (which I love).

For the first time, I have some hope that I may be able to tighten up the pacing in my stories without driving myself completely crazy.

How about you? What resources do you use for plotting & outlining? Or, do you?



Olympic Moments

  Posted by Jemi , 22 August 2016 · 56 views

The Olympics are over - until next time.

Two weeks of emotional highs and lows. I always want everyone to achieve personal bests and to fulfill their dreams. :)

I love the athletes who are thrilled and awed to be there despite knowing they have no realistic chance to medal.
I love the camaraderie among many of the athletes despite the fact they're competing against each other.
I love learning fascinating tidbits about sports I've loved for a long time and sports that are new to me.

For me, there were many highlights, but a few stood out:
  • Watching the Men's Rugby 7s Team from Fiji listen to their national anthem after winning their country's first ever Olympic gold medal
  • A young Brazilian man achieving a personal best and surprising the field by winning the Gold in pole vault
  • Simone Biles
  • Usain Bolt
  • Our Canadian athletes - medaled and otherwise. So many amazing stories, so many incredible moments
  • Our fabulous Canadian television coverage. Three stations worked together to ensure coverage of a bazillion events. At many times I could access 7 channels all showing different events. 7!!! And not all focused on Canadian athletes. Instead, we were able to see a huge range of sports showcasing many different countries. Fantastic!
The Olympics always give me hope that Humanity is taking steps to be better, to work together, and to take peace seriously. Let's hope that's true!

Are you an Olympic junkie? What was your favourite moment?




  Posted by Jemi , 08 August 2016 · 71 views

2016 hasn't been an easy year, both in my personal corner and around the rest of the world.

It can be overwhelming and devastating.

We can't fix it.
We can't forget it.
We can't let it continue.

But, we often feel so powerless.

At school, we often have conversations about change. And that the only person's behaviour we have any control over, is our own.

We can change how we act.
How we react.
How we think.
How we help.
How we love.

Start small.
Change yourself for the better.
One small improvement leads to another.
One small example spreads.
One kind word or gesture can make a bigger difference than you'd ever expect.

Be kind.
Be thoughtful.
Be better.

Be the change you want to see in the world
~ Gandhi



IWSG & Star Trek & Floppy Disks

  Posted by Jemi , 03 August 2016 · 112 views

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. He, his clones, minions, friends, and fellow authors make it an amazing event every month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And we’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive! Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

AUGUST 03rd QUESTION: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

Okay, let's see..

I think this piece would count...

A long, long time ago, when the kids were still very young, I wrote a Star Trek TNG novel. For years, I'd been making Star Trek scripts in my head and I decided to type one out.

I actually don't remember much about it, except:

  • Geordi was the main character of the main plot line
  • The planet involved had no women's rights and some very barbaric customs
  • Geordi got involved with Jaya, a woman from the planet
  • Jaya was very tough, didn't trust easily, and was trying to change her world
  • Jaya was killed at the end
  • A sub-plot involved Deanna using her empathic senses to navigate through an underground prison
  • Deanna and Worf's relationship was developing

That's about it. As far as I remember it was extremely melodramatic and a bit (or a lot!) cheesy. I think it's probably languishing on a floppy disk somewhere. If I find it, I'll have to find a computer with an A drive! 

When I got brave enough to check out a copy of Writer's Digest from the library, I discovered that only "agented submissions" were accepted by the Star Trek people. I had NO idea what that meant, but it sounded very Hollywood-esque. I assumed only famous people had agents.

End of journey.

I knew less than nothing (obviously), but that novel niggled in the back of my head (and my heart) for a lot of years. When I finally decided to actually give this writing thing a go, I already knew I was capable of completing a draft. And THAT is worth something!

How about you? Any fan fiction writers out there? Anyone know what an A drive is? Where's your very first draft?



Laurel Garver & Fish Out of Water!

  Posted by Jemi , 18 July 2016 · 75 views

Please welcome one of my bloggy friends to the blog today -- Laurel Garver!
The amazing power of fish-out-of-water stories

Stories about a character forced into an unfamiliar context are a staple of creative narratives, from books to plays, TV
shows, and films. The most common kind of fish out of water is geographical—crossing the urban-rural divide or visiting a foreign land. Crossing socioeconomic or class divides is common in fairy tales, yet often with very little realistic nuance—going from pauper to prince overnight would actually be quite stressful! Other divides include ethnic (My Big, Fat Greek Wedding), religious (David & Layla), educational (Good Will Hunting), temporal (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court), and generational (Freaky Friday).

We love fish-out-of-water stories because they tell us about the human condition, and make us examine our own inner workings. Every one of us has places where we feel at home and places where we don’t. Those contrasts, if handled well, make for wonderful story tension. 

Here are some of the specific “powers” these kinds of stories have, as I discovered while writing my latest novel, Almost There, about an urban teen who, on the eve of a trip to Paris, gets stuck in her mother’s rural hometown. 

Reveal temperament
Characters’ reactions to unfamiliar environments shows how adaptable, accepting, or curious they are. Does the unfamiliar threaten or fascinate? How confidently or timidly do characters carry themselves among those unlike them? 

Weaknesses and fears that never come out in familiar, comfortable environments often show themselves in new venues. Conversely, the new experiences can cause unknown interests and strengths to emerge. 

When I dropped New Yorker Danielle in rural northern Pennsylvania, I found that her city-kid independence expressed itself as curiosity—and also made her seem a bit cocky to the locals. The wooded landscape initially frightens her, but also proves an inspiration for creating new art.

Reveal a comfort zone and sense of “normal”
Your concept of what is safe or dangerous, wonderful or disgusting, cool or weird is to a large degree colored by how unfamiliar things compare to life inside your comfort zone.
An urbanite will feel far more comfortable in man-made environments and in the press of a crowd. Put one in the woods, and they’ll likely find the environment deeply sinister. Sounds they can’t account for might be a dangerous predator; dirt could be full of gross, crawly things. 

As an outsider, a character might make striking or hilarious observations a local wouldn’t. For example, on arriving at her grandfather’s, Dani describes the summer hum of crickets chirping as “a threatening cacophony, reminding me that this is their crawly, leggy, wingy territory.”

Dani’s normal is multicultural and fairly unfazed by difference. When she learns the neighbor has been labeled with the ethnic slur “Mick,” she quips, “Seriously? Is being Irish considered weirdly ethnic here? In New York, you could have earlobes stretched to your shoulders and pierce your whole face with nails and hardly get a passing glance from anyone.” 

Reveal underlying biases 
Characters approach unfamiliar things with a set of expectations—sometimes even deep prejudices they didn’t know they held until put in proximity with this environment. 

For example, when an unfamiliar beater Volvo appears in her grandfather’s driveway, Dani assumes that only an elderly person would drive such a car, and this person must be “be a granny from Poppa’s church bringing us dinner. I hope it’s one of those epic tuna noodle casseroles with crushed potato chips on top that Mum always jokes about. I bet it’s as delicious as it is lowbrow.” It’s actually one of her New York friends, an additional shock because she’s accustomed to no one learning to drive until they’re 18 and no longer a restricted “junior learner”—rules peculiar to the five boroughs. 

Awakening to biases can become an instrument for change in a character. When Dani befriends a neighbor and sees the ways he struggles that she never has, she begins to re-evaluate her own life, and realizes just how privileged her upbringing has been. 

Reveal values
We all naturally make judgments about unfamiliar things. The familiar world will be held up as a model, and the unfamiliar measured against it as either inferior or superior. How a character makes value judgments about which culture is superior gives a very accurate window into their entire value system.

For example, Dani recognizes in the neighbor boy an entrepreneurial drive she’s never seen in her city friends. She notes that he acts “like a grown man” when seeking work and calls it “intriguing.” Rather than label him a boring workaholic, she admires his maturity. 

What is your favorite fish-out-of-water story? Why does it speak to you?

About the Author
Laurel Garver is a Philadelphia-based writer, editor, professor’s wife and mom to an arty teenager. An indie film enthusiast and incurable Anglophile, she enjoys geeking out about Harry Potter and Dr. Who, playing word games, singing in church choir, and taking long walks in Philly's Fairmount Park. You can follow her on her blog, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

About Almost There
Genre: Young Adult Inspirational

Paris, the City of Lights. To seventeen-year-old Dani Deane, it’s the Promised Land. There, her widowed mother’s depression will vanish and she will no longer fear losing her only parent, her arty New York life, or her devoted boyfriend.

But shortly before their Paris getaway, Dani’s tyrannical grandfather falls ill, pulling them to rural Pennsylvania to deal with his hoarder horror of a house. Among the piles, Dani finds disturbing truths that could make Mum completely unravel. Desperate to protect her from pain and escape to Paris, Dani hatches a plan with the flirtatious neighbor boy that only threatens the relationships she most wants to save. 

Why would God block all paths to Paris? Could real hope for healing be as close as a box tucked in the rafters?

Available here: Amazon  /  Barnes and Noble  /  Smashwords  / Apple iTunes   

Thanks Laurel!

I love fish-out-of-water scenes and stories. The story I'm currently attempting to plot plotting is going to have a strong element of this. 

Maybe my love goes back to my the first time I saw Wizard of Oz! 
How about you? What's your favourite Fish-out-of-Water story?



Visiting at The Insecure Writer's Support Group

  Posted by Jemi , 11 July 2016 · 64 views

Hi, everyone!

Today I'm honoured to be guest posting over at the IWSG blog. It's such a great group of people, I'm thrilled to be visiting. I hope you'll join me -- and bring your thoughts about kids today and their reading and writing habits!

You’re a teacher, correct? I’d love to see something that relates to young people reading. How to get them involved – as a parent, a teacher, a writer, etc.; how to get them excited about reading and writing; and what young people would most like to see in books today. You can reference any websites you need to. That sound good?

post for IWSG

As a teacher, I often hear adults telling me that it's such a shame that kids don't read or write anymore.


They haven't been to my school!

Of course, there are always kids who don't like to read, just as there are always kids who don't like to play volleyball, or study Science, or do long division. On the first day of school, I always ask who likes to read. Generally I get about two-thirds of the hands to go up, leaving me with one third I have to work to convert. When I tell them, they'll all like reading by Christmas, they give me sympathetic smiles and shake their heads.

They're almost always wrong.

Most of the people who don't love to read have some sort of struggle with it.
  • they struggle with phonics and/or sounding out words
  • they can't visualize in their heads as the story unfolds
  • they have no interest in fiction
  • they have some kind of learning difference or disability
  • they need glasses
  • they have low self-esteem or self-confidence
  • they're not risk takers
  • ... 
There are (obviously) many ways to solve all of the above troubles, but one of the best ways to encourage kids to love stories is to read aloud really good ones. I try to choose books that encourage conversation and are books they've never encountered before. I very, very rarely choose books that have been made into movies (and I get really annoyed when the powers who be turn one of my faves into a movie!). Maniac Magee. Underground to Canada. The Giver (BOO to the movie people!). Ranger's Apprentice. The Shadow Children.  And Then There Were None. Hatchet. Ice Dogs. And so many more.

Despite themselves, students get caught up in our stories and discussions. I NEVER turn a read aloud into an assignment. It's all about pleasure. 

I've had classes beg to hear the ends of stories. One class even insisted I read aloud on a bus ride because they HAD to know what happened next. I've had entire classes in tears when we got to THAT scene in The Outsiders. I've had students rage and argue about book endings (I'm looking at you, Lois Lowry!). I've had students write to authors on their own to talk about books. I've had students who professed to hate reading turn into some of the most passionate readers I know.

And I've had students create magic by writing their own stories.

Confidence starts early. By reading and hearing really good books, students learn how stories work. They inhale the rhythms of language and plot. They know the joy of the happy ending and the incredible power of a not-so-happy ending.

People are natural story-tellers, but we often have the squelch our innate tendencies as we learn to behave 'properly' in public. Kids are more willing to take risks, and, as adults, we often need to take ourselves out of their way and let them create.

Maybe one day, authors will be more filled with confidence than you and I, and we won't need wonderful sites like the IWSG! While that day isn't today, I have faith it won't be that far into the future!

So, tell me, do you have any memories of favourite books you had read to you?


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