Archive for the General Category

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

Posted in General with tags , , , , , on June 29, 2017 by Kate Jack

 

…why do people do it?

My twitter profile used to say I didn’t want any spam messages. This request was ignored, so I just put up with it and deleted them. But today I received one which actually made my jaw drop, due to its arrogance. It went as follows: Thank you for following me (this person followed me first) please follow me on Facebook and Instagram as well. Yes, your bloody majesty, of course I will (not).

The sheer arrogance, possibly unintended, due to the “please”, took my breath away. And of course, no hint of reciprocation, just the links to this person’s Instagram and Facebook pages. This sheer, unthinking, self absorbed attitude could only bring about one reaction from me, I immediately unfollowed this person. The aim of sites like Twitter and Facebook is social interaction and mutual  exchanges. It never ceases to amaze me that people expect everything their own way and blindly refuse to believe that all they achieve is unpopularity. Well, maybe my unfollowing this person might teach them a lesson, but I highly doubt it. Like love, arrogance is blind.

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Busy, busy, busy!

Posted in General with tags , , , , , on June 28, 2017 by Kate Jack

These days, I seem to be busier than ever, there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Take yesterday, for instance: I had to take the car in for its MOT, which it passed, attend a hospital appointment, squeeze in some writing, and finally tackle the next module of an online course in marketing, I’m doing.

All this was a little slowed down by having to take the bus to and from the garage to go home after delivering the car and then go pick it up. I don’t live far from the garage, but can’t walk it, because of my dodgy foot. I’d not used to getting the bus, as I normally drive everywhere. I’d forgotten what a pain in the rear public transport is. I explained to the peculiarly unhelpful bus driver that I’d not used my electronic pass before and he simply stared straight ahead, whilst I swiped the damn thing over the pad and it failed to respond. After the 3rd attempt it worked. Embarrassed and angry, I limped to a seat and swore continuously under my breath at the driver, cursing him and his descendants for decades to come.

That said, the rest of the day went really well. I got quite a lot of writing done and sailed through the course module with ease. I’ve found, these days, that it’s becoming increasingly easier to set goals and stick to them. I’ve discovered a newfound determination to succeed and hopefully I will. 😀

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What’s in a story?

Posted in General with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2017 by Kate Jack

When a writer begins a new book, what elements do they want to incorporate into their story: adventure, fantasy, romance? – the possibilities are almost endless. Of course it does depend on the genre, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll go with the genre I write in, which is YA urban fantasy.

The Silver Flute Trilogy

This is the genre I’m most comfortable with; I’ve always found writing in other genres extremely hard.When I tried, it became so onerous that I considered giving up writing. Rather foolishly I’d taken the advice of a well meaning friend and tried to write about “real” things. Well, for those who have the talent to write in a more realistic style, this is fine, but all I managed to do was bore myself. I also unwittingly copied the style of other writers and therefore had no voice of my own and readers recognised this and probably thought, “same old, same old.”

One of the essentials a writer needs, in order to write well and engage their readers, is to write what they themselves would enjoy reading. If you hate what you’re producing, how can you expect others to like it? This realisation came to me somewhat late, as I struggled to produce “realistic” stories and failed miserably. They were hackneyed, incoherent and quite frankly, crap! Why? Because I rushed through them as fast as I possibly could, diving for the finish line at the speed of light. Again, why? The answer is simple. I despised what I was doing, but the urge to write, even during this dark period, persisted.

I continued to love fantasy, but even that palled after awhile. They all seemed very much alike, with heroes fulfilling their destiny by fighting dragons, or dark lords, and so on. I hasten to add that there’s nothing wrong with these elements, there’re some great classic fantasy writers, such as Robin Hobb, who uses all these ingredients, really, really well. Her books, The Farseer Trilogy, whilst containing magic, dragons, swords and sorcery, are created in such a way as to make them standout in a sea of similar elements contained in myriad other novels. And that’s what I wanted to do. I still wanted to write fantasy, but I wanted to do it in a different way. 

I stumbled on for a few years, lurching from genre to genre, never really finding my writing life purpose, until I was introduced to YA urban fantasy. It was as though someone had switched on a light! At last I could see past the fog that had filled my head for years. There was a glimmer at the end of the tunnel and I ran towards it, arms outspread to embrace my destiny! Yes, I know, I’m being a bit dramatic, but it was a wonderful moment for me when I realised I’d finally found my niche 😀

So, to answer the question of “What’s in a story?” In my opinion it should be a writer’s heart, soul, and above all, their love. 🙂

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A journey through the desert

Posted in General with tags on June 4, 2017 by Kate Jack

Writers sometimes enter a period where the inspiration, even the desire to write, dries up. I’ve been going through this drought for nearly a year now, but am gradually returning to what I see as my purpose in life. But there’s no doubt about it – it’s hard – very hard. I can only compare it to the god Sisyphus, who was doomed to roll a boulder up the side of a mountain, only for it to roll to the bottom again.

The annoying part of going through this kind of thing, is that you find yourself going around in circles. You don’t want to write, because it’s too much effort, but you also do want to write and can’t think about anything else! It dominates every moment of every day, almost to the point of insanity. 

Writing, for me, is like a drug – a legal high – if you will. I always experience a glow of satisfaction and achievement when I’ve managed to get some words down on paper. So what’s the problem? I think it’s because, basically, I’m mentally lazy; I don’t like having to use my brain. Having to think up plots, characters, so on, fills me with dread, especially at the beginning of a new project. That said, once I do, my mind seems to pick up the pace and the story almost writes itself.

The fatal point, for me, is that once I’ve written a few thousand words, I feel as though I’ve earned a rest and I’m not talking about a coffee break here. Once I stop, it turns into a marathon and takes me ages to pick up the baton again. Even if I’m on a roll that little devil, perched on my shoulder, keeps muttering, “stop now. Put your feet up, you’ve earned it.” I wish the little sod would – well – just sod off!

Anyway, all this can be overcome, simply because if you’re a writer, in any genre, it’s your reason for being and to paraphrase: I write, therefore I am 🙂

tweeting

 

 

Life influences

Posted in General with tags on June 3, 2017 by Kate Jack

As a writer, I sometimes use bits of my own life and background in my writing. An example of this is that the city in the first book of The Silver Flute Trilogy Land of Midnight Days, was partially based on elements of my home town, Liverpool. Not, I hasten to add, that Liverpool is as dark and gloomy as the city portrayed in the book 🙂

As for the characters, whilst none of them are based directly on my personality, there are traits of me embedded in their story. My childhood was up and down, emotion wise. I seemed to live in a constant state of trauma, self-doubt and mood swings that made a roller coaster look stable!

I am mixed race and this made me a target for a lot of racism, back in the 60’s & 70’s, especially at school, which made me retreat deep into my inner self. I wanted nothing to do with other kids, or adults, as I both despised and hated their attitude towards anyone who didn’t fit into their narrow minded world. This in turn made me gravitate towards writing, so despite being somewhat isolated, both by other people and self imposed, it turned out to be a blessing.

The general advice given to writers is to write about what you know. This is true, even for speculative fiction. Given that fantasy is based on elements such as: magic, witches, dragons, and so on, the writer must still make their characters believable, which perhaps means basing them on people they know or have seen in a film, or on TV. It also means giving them a story that the reader can easily empathise with and emotions and situations that can engage the imagination and draw sympathy, joy, love and even hatred.

Life lessons play a huge part in the writing game and should be utilised whenever possible. So if you reach a point where you lack inspiration, maybe a trip down memory lane will help 🙂

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A place to be, for you and me.

Posted in General with tags , , , , on April 29, 2017 by Kate Jack

What kind of people are you and me?

Where do we come from, what caused us to be?

We’re all the same, under the skin,

in what we are and how we begin.

We are citizens of the world, 

we’re all kith and kin.

We should not be enemies, you and I.

We belong to humanity, under the same sky.

So let’s  join hands and support the cause,

of one for all without any pause.

https://goo.gl/2n1vKl AMZN UK 

https://goo.gl/Eq0rhl AMZN US

Why do people do it?

Posted in General with tags , , , , on April 14, 2017 by Kate Jack

Why is that when you follow someone on Twitter, who’s just followed you, some of them immediately send spam messages, asking you to read/promote their books or products? Some even positively demand you like their Facebook page, or follow them on Instagram with no hint of reciprocating. For instance, I received a message from one such person, asking that I “share the love” by liking them on Facebook. What love? Yes, they’d followed me, and because I liked the look of their tweets, I followed back; I always do if I like what I see. But there was no offer of reciprocation, Facebook wise, and no enquiry as to whether I had an Instagram account.

If someone retweets my tweets, or asks for a mutual exchange of likes on Facebook, I always return the favour. If I would like to hopefully engage with someone, I will like and retweet, without messaging them. If they return the favour, great, if they don’t that’s fine. I was always taught to offer something first and to never, ever demand that someone does something for me first; it’s just good manners.

It also drives me mad how many “buy twitter follower” follows I get. I have no intention of spending my hard earned money on such rubbish. I want genuine followers, not phantoms who may, or more likely not, follow me. I always, without exception, block these con artists. Almost as bad, are people who follow me and then a short time later unfollow me, once I’ve followed them back. My theory on this is that some of them, not all, do this to increase the number of followers they have. Unfortunately for them, I have an app that keeps me informed of my twitter stats and if anyone does the above, I also block them.

Twitter has been a mostly positive experience for me and I get on very well with the majority of people I engage with. I try to be generous with my retweets, but regrettably there will always be the few that try to take advantage. However, I will continue to engage with those happy to engage with me, but I will never allow anyone to try and use  me solely for their own ends. So people, share and share alike, it’s to our mutual benefit after all. 🙂

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