A thought for the day

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2017 by Kate Jack

Why is it, as writers, that we procrastinate? There’re times when we’d rather do anything other than write; and yet, at the same time, we can think of nothing else, other than writing. Nearly everything we see and hear is a prompt to compose and create; but we don’t. Not writing makes me unhappy and I’m constantly tormented by the mantra, I’ll do it later, or maybe tomorrow. The excuses pile up, until they become a potential avalanche that threatens our mental well-being.

Making resolutions, and even drawing up schedules are just as bad, because they’re rarely adhered to. The irony, of course, is that when we do start to write again, we immediately feel happy and fulfilled. There’s something inherently satisfying about creating new places and new faces.

Then again, there are genuine distractions and situations that stop us from fully focusing on our chosen occupation: work, family, politics, especially the recent general election just held here in the UK. I spent most of my time watching the news, or scrolling through Facebook, trying to keep track of which party was in the lead. As for work, I can no longer claim that as a distraction, since I took early retirement back in May 😀

That said, I have been writing more, focusing mainly on my current wip, the first book in The Songstress Trilogy and I’ve never felt happier. Now that my time’s my own, I have the inclination and energy to do what I really want and that is to write 😀 That said, I did manage to write and have three books published, whilst I was still working, so for all of you who are still employed, it’s not an excuse to put off creating until you retire 🙂

The Silver Flute Trilogy

For me, the pen writes on, albeit slightly faster now 🙂

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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 🙂

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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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Become a Millionaire Selling Books on Amazon (Or Not)

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28, 2017 by Kate Jack

A great article from author Tricia Drammeh.

Creative State of Mind

ID-100170519 Photo credit: “Pack Of Money” by Gualberto107 via Free Digital Photos.net

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a book on Kindle that promised authors they could make a million dollars selling books on Amazon. A quick search yielded dozens of titles promising writers they can easily become best-selling authors, or promising to teach them how to write a best-selling book in 30 days. There are even books that tell people that publishing a book is “easy money” and good way to generate “passive income” because their published book will continue to bring in a steady income month after month without the author having to do anything at all!

I can already hear the grumbling and grinding of teeth from those of you who know how difficult it can be to write a book, much less publish and promote it. I’ve read many well-written, engaging books (self-published and traditionally published)…

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Too Many Newsletters

Posted in Uncategorized on May 18, 2017 by Kate Jack

Something for writers to think about.

Creative State of Mind

A year or two ago, I wrote an article called Five Easy Ways to Declutter your Email to help people (including myself) who struggle with an overwhelming inbox. Over the past week, I’ve revisited the advice laid out in this article because once again my email inbox has gotten out of control. It seems that every time I open my email, there are at least two dozen new messages for me to delete.

Over the holidays, I did a lot of online shopping and consequently, I landed on a billion different mailing lists. I unsubscribed from all of those. I also got serious about kicking actual spam (mail from unsolicited sources) into the spam folder where it belongs.

I was surprised to see that one of my biggest problems seems to be newsletters – specifically author newsletters. Over the years, I’ve subscribed to many newsletters. Dozens, I thought. Or maybe hundreds…

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… shortest post ever …

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2017 by Kate Jack

Course of Mirrors

Broke and happy … please help the story to spiral out to readers … available  worldwide.

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