Archive for March, 2017

Writing conscience.

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , on March 30, 2017 by Kate Jack

When an author stops writing, for whatever reason, the lack of creativity is replaced by feelings of frustration. This is, of course, bad enough; but then guilt comes along to gang up on you too.

Guilt for not writing. 

Guilt for procrastinating.

Guilt for making oneself false promises; eg: “Oh I’ll start my new book tomorrow – definitely” – yeah, right. You know damn well that you’ll keep on avoiding your computer/pen paper, until the guilt grows to the size of Mount Vesuvius and you finally blow your top!

So why do writers put themselves through this torture? Your guess is as good as mine; maybe we’re all sadists. But what’s even more baffling is that when we do get our noses to the grindstone, the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction we gain far outweighs all the shenanigans we get up to, trying to avoid what we know must be done. The feeling of smugness, the self-satisfaction, and above all, the stroking of our egos when we write, what we consider to be a masterpiece, is sublime. 

What’s really annoying is it all starts out fine. We get a brilliant idea for a story. We plot it all out and then everything grinds to a halt. The idea’s there, the characters are formed, there’s nothing to stop the creation of a new piece of writing art; but then, and this is the maddening bit, we feel we can sit back on our laurels and let the ideas percolate, until we’re good and ready to start. Days turn into weeks, weeks to months and sometimes months can turn into years.

 

So come on people – listen to your writing conscience and stop sitting on your hands. Get up out of your chair, switch off the TV, lock the kids in the garden shed, send the old man/woman down the pub, and get WRITING! 😀

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t get involved with Spider Solitaire – it’s fatal!

The Silver Flute Trilogy

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Does a writer’s mind ever turn off?

Posted in General with tags , , , , on March 23, 2017 by Kate Jack

Well, in a word, no!

It seems to me that the musical score: Flight of the bumble bee  perfectly describes a writer’s thoughts. Frantic, scurrying about, always on the move, are also equally suitable metaphors to describe an author’s thought processes. 

From the moment I wake up, to the time I go to sleep, I keep thinking about the books I’ve already written, or my current work in progress. If not that, then I’m looking for fresh marketing strategies, ways to create new story lines and characters – on and on and on. Everything else, such as getting dressed, going to work, eating, drinking and sleeping are all done on autopilot.

Talking about seeking out inspiration for new story lines, anything’s fair game: overheard conversations, unusual names, places seen from the train or bus, news stories, and even people’s faces. The outside world is an endless resource for such things. A writer’s brain is hot wired to pick up anything that can be used as a writing tool and will home in on an opportunity to gather material like an Exocet missile 🙂

So far I’m not actually hearing voices, but the day may come when I will literally explode, as my brain overloads and then deflates like a balloon 😀

 

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Writing is a legal high…

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , on March 20, 2017 by Kate Jack

…and a lot better for you than actual drugs 🙂 The sensations of achievement and satisfaction a writer experiences, when a new story or novel is created,  can be wonderful – even euphoric! 

I think this is due to a feeling of power, engendered by the act of creating worlds and characters only the author can control. In general we have very little leeway over our outer lives, but by evolving places, situations, people, and so on, our inner lives come totally within our jurisdiction and  no one else’s. 

Having said that I have, from time to time, lost control slightly when my story line has deviated from the route I intended it to take. Characters have altered their own personalities and made their own decisions. Of course this is probably my subconscious prompting me down another, often better route. This can be annoying though, particularly when you think everything’s going swimmingly and you’re brought up short by these mental intrusions; but ignore such promptings at your peril. They will nag away at you, until you give in and at least try out the alternative suggested by your internal editor.

However, altering plots and characterisation halfway through, means you have to check and recheck the continuity of your work and make sure any alterations made gel with the rest of the manuscript. I’ve often made the mistake of altering a situation a character’s in, only to find that it doesn’t match up with what went on earlier in the story. So make absolutely sure that everything is linked properly and the story doesn’t become derailed by even a tiny change, because you can be certain the reader will spot it 🙂

Kate Jack Author Page

Land of Midnight Days review

 

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Magical books

Posted in Book review, Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 17, 2017 by Kate Jack

No, I’m not talking about spell books, or grimoires, but fiction books in general. They allow access to adventures, mysteries and places the reader has never seen or experienced; the possibilities are endless. Of course speculative fiction, such as I write, allows the use of magic to enhance a sense of wonder and enthralment not perhaps available in other genres. The bonus of urban fantasy is that it also allows a combination of the real and fantastical.

silver flute trilogy

 

 The Silver Flute Trilogy

An example of a mixture of the magical, mixed with realism, is one of the most unusual fantasy books I’ve ever read. Set in the 19th century this story is beautifully constructed, using a wonderful mixture of the author’s own characters and real, historical figures such as mad King George III and Lord Wellington.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

The story follows two English Magicians and their partnership as master and pupil, until a falling out sends them careening down divergent paths. The tale contains weird and wonderful creatures, from a world outside our own. There are elements of adventure, conflict, wickedness, tragedy, and reconciliation. To say that Susanna Clarke has produced a tale of wonder and enchantment, that completely draws the reader in, is an understatement. So it’s possible to combine genres successfully and satisfy readers who would not normally read historical fiction or fantasy.

The above illustrates that it’s perfectly possible to combine more than one genre and produce a book that will take readers’ breath away and send them spinning through a story that will immerse and engage with stunning effect.

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When is a writer like a sculptor?

Posted in General with tags , , , on March 16, 2017 by Kate Jack

The answer is that every time a writer puts pen to paper, or fingers to a keyboard, they are sculpting worlds and characters. Each time a story is moulded together, its creator is sharing their vision, displaying it to the world like a fine piece of art. 

And writers are artists, but instead of marble or paint their tools are words, used to create images in a reader’s head, sparking the imagination into life and filling the brain with strange, faraway places.

From the very first word written, until the end is reached, a writer endeavours to entice, to create emotions of love, hate, fear, and above all, draw the reader in. To imbue their words with life is an author’s aim and offers a special diversion to those who seek new horizons. 

tweeting

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Writer’s block…

Posted in Writing with tags , , , on March 15, 2017 by Kate Jack

… is an author’s worst nightmare. It’s when you’re bereft of inspiration and, no matter how hard you try, your imagination seems to have shut down. In fact the harder you try, the worse the situation can become. The emptiness echoes around your brain, spreading darkness and desolation, along with the odd tumbleweed. This in turn raises all kinds of doubts: Has your talent deserted you? Will you ever write again? The thought of not being able to create raises all kinds of fears and engenders a bleakness that fills your life with greyness.

I remember a post I put on my author’s page on  Facebook about writer’s block and someone commented on it. It was made, I suspect, by a rather brash young man. He stated there was no excuse for not writing – what a ridiculous, black and white thing to say! Authors do have a life outside writing and all the problems associated with day to day living: work, family, illness, breakups from the love of their lives, all of which can interrupt the creative flow. This naturally leaves people fed up and unable to free themselves from what seems like an unbreakable pattern. Kate Jack Author Page

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Writer’s block can be overcome. Personally I go on a reading spree, garnering inspiration from my favourite authors. I even mentally edit books as I read, and feel really smug when I reconstruct clumsy sentences and dialogue written by famous authors. This reassures me that even best selling writers can make small mistakes, so there’s hope for me. And if there’s hope for me, then there’s definitely hope for all you self doubters out there.

Inspiration will return, so never give up, never lose hope, but charge into the fray and write, write, write! 😀

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What’s in a name?

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on March 14, 2017 by Kate Jack

There are various ways of choosing names for your characters. For example calling them after someone you know, or perhaps a TV personality, film star, or even “collecting” names from gravestones, or consulting the Yellow pages and even the telephone directory 🙂

I once worked as a data processor for a famous catalogue, recording the details of people who’d entered a competition the company was holding at the time. Wow! What a treasure trove that turned out to be! Not only were there unusual names aplenty, there was also a plethora of location names to inspire story lines. This proved a great resource, but not wishing to infringe anyone’s privacy, I always altered names slightly to produce my own version and never used anyone’s actual location details. Instead I’d combine place names to come up with completely fictional scenarios.

The first book of The Silver Flute TrilogyLand of Midnight Days, was set in a city. I deliberately didn’t give it a name, but garnered the details of its streets and buildings from locations in Liverpool city centre, my own home town. One of them was St Luke’s church, as pictured above. This building was bombed during the Second World War. It’s always fascinated me because the damage caused was to the interior only, leaving the outer walls more or less intact.

Once I’d created a backdrop, I then moved onto creating the occupants of my fictional city. I decided to call my main protagonist Jeremiah Tully  and gifted him with the ability to play the flute. The reason for this was because I love the 70’s rock band, Jethro Tull. Once I’d decided on the direction the stories were going to take, I thought long and hard about the other characters’ names and decided on a “biblical” theme, in order to enhance the epic feel of the stories. For example: Zebediah and Ezra are two of the names I chose. However, I didn’t want the narrative to be bogged down by too many elaborate names and most of the other protagonists and antagonists have ordinary names such as Joseph, Helen, and so on. I also made up the names: Thrace, Sylvan, Questial and Elawyn. Since I write YA urban fantasy, I had a fair amount of freedom to embellish my characters with wide ranging monikers. 

Of course it does depend, to a certain degree, what names can be used, depending on the genre you write in. That said, there are millions of “real-life” beautiful and unusual names to pick from, in order to make your characters memorable to the reader. Along with great, three-dimensional personalities, a writer can make a huge impression, enabling people to engage with your work.

The Silver Flute Trilogy

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