Writer’s Awakening- Richard Fisher

Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the 5th episode of Writer’s Awakenings. Today, we have author Richard Fisher with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Richard.

Richard: Hi! Thank you so much for inviting me!

Moonlake: My pleasure actually since I get to hear stories about how authors start.

Richard: My journey actually began long before I began the actual process of writing, only I was unaware of it. My imagination has always gotten me into various degrees of trouble, especially when I was in elementary school.

My mind wandered and meandered so much! So, I jumped into reading to keep it busy and I was hooked on the written word! It began with C.S. Lewis actually and by the 6th or 7th grade I was reading James Clavell and his Shogun novels.

Moonlake: Ah, I think I’ve heard the same before from other authors, very natural for a child whose mind is creative in a completely unhindered way. And yes, we all tend to be book lovers!

Richard: I believed everyone’s imaginations were just as active. I just hadn’t found the outlet yet.

I then jumped to wanting to pursue illustration, but sadly my skills in artistry were lacking…. and that was one of those hidden blessings. Thankfully!

Moonlake: Well, we can’t all be jacks of all trades. I also can’t draw.

Richard: Nope, I’m horrible at guitar, too!

Moonlake: Ditto on music. So when was it that you first decided to pursue writing in a serious way and what was the circumstances associated with it?

Richard: Actually I wanted to give it a try about 25 years ago, but was discouraged from it by my then girlfriend, who wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. So I just headed back to school for a little while, and learned that I didn’t want to chase either of those and quit and began “kind of” learning how to properly outline a book.

Moonlake: Learning through what means?

Richard: Back in those days it was via the libraries. Just read what I could find, but there really wasn’t much out there on the topic of writing, so I kind of gave up.

Moonlake: Oh, I see, reading self-helps.

Richard: I then discovered Writers’ Digest! I loooooove that magazine!

Moonlake: Ah, the turning point. Where to next?

Richard: Then life got in the way. The only thing I wrote seriously was a short story on a dare in 2000. I had an individual who worked for me tell me that I couldn’t, so I wrote a story called “The Huntress” for her.

I actually have that one on my blog as a reminder for me.

It was the only story I wrote until recently, since I was busy working and couldn’t figure out how to work in a social life, job and everything else life throws at us.

Moonlake: A bet as a start, that’s interesting, but any start is a good start. So the ball started rolling from that initial short story?

Richard: Not really. I put off writing for keeping up with life, actually. Then came Feb 2016. I got laid off from the oil and gas industry, where I was working and decided that it was the perfect time to write my Great American Novel.

Moonlake: Ah, a stressful happening financial-wise and if you are like me, mentally. But an opportune development for your writing.

Richard: Absolutely!

Moonlake: So what prompted the focus back into writing?

Richard: Kind of a weird path. I began writing “Reapers of Souls & Magic” in April of last year and completed it this past May.

Moonlake: You’re very quick. This novel went very smoothly for you? What is it about?

Richard: I love epic fantasy! This story explores the premise of “fallen” dieties and how they become fallen. I gave the gods a desire, they gave my creationist race a purpose, and they totally messed everything up! LOL

Moonlake: So you think it’s basically the story coinciding with your own reading interests that made it a smooth sailing?

Richard: Oh absolutely! If you’re an avid reader, I’m sure you will see hints of the authors that impacted me!

I think CS Lewis, Michael Moorcock, L. Ron Hubbard, R.A. Salvatore as well as Asminov, Bradbury, Clavell and Lovecraft.

Moonlake: Well, I love epic fantasy myself and LOTR. But I must admit that deities is a bit of a trope that I don’t enjoy in fantasy series. Basically sick of every epic struggle being ultimately a divine struggle and mortals were the pawns in this divine game. I mean, can’t humans get into trouble fighting each other without divine interference?

Richard: The Gods here just started the ball rolling…and it follows the Greek Myths in that those in my realm give them power over the other Gods. But they are not heavily involved.

Moonlake: Okay, I like that type of divine involvement in fantasy series.

Richard: The book is mostly about the choices, good and bad, and why we make them, or those that circumstances force us to make. Only in a fantasy world where they have more impact and repercussion.

Moonlake: Yep, love books that explore such a theme, that’s one of the reasons why I love fantasy.

Richard: I wanted to explore the “human condition” through “non-humans”.

Moonlake: Ah, so that’s your own new twist on fantasy, is it?

Richard: Kind of. I also use it to explore the “what ifs” of science….multiverses as well.

Moonlake: Okay, I see. So this work also has part sci-fi elements?

Richard: There is a VERY TINY amount of sci-fi so I can introduce the characters from our world into theirs. But the impact travels throughout ALL of the multiverses.

The “butterfly effect” throughout existence! LOL

Moonlake: Okay, the multiverse concept reminds me of Moorcock certainly who you mentioned were one of your inspirations.

Richard: Yes. Absolutely!

Moonlake: So when is it due out?

Richard: It’s scheduled for a September 30th release date. We are halfway through the formal editing process now.

Moonlake: Now, if you were to look back, would you have done anything in your writer’s journey differently and if so, what?

Richard: I would have ignored everything and everyone else and started doing it way back in my teens…. I think I would be much further along in my knowledge of the writing craft itself.

Moonlake: Right, you would have less life experiences back then but to make up for it, more time to learn and experiment. Is that the only regret?

Richard: I think I’m very lucky to have gotten this far this quickly, frankly.

That’s very true! Absolutely…but as one gains experience in life, is one able to write about it freely without worry of “the other people”? Or does that stay with us forever?

I believe that even the young have valid things to say. Will they say it in a relatable manner? Maybe, maybe not. Kind of depends upon each individual, don’t you think?

Beside, my youth was pretty dramatic…LOL

Moonlake: Well, I think there are two sides to this. That’s the emotion side which tends to cool as time goes on from the initial happening of an event, an experience. But writing is also about perspective, and while a young perspective is as interesting as an elder one with more life experiences, I think that the wisdom that comes with ages potentially allows you to dig deeper into things. But yeah, like you said, depends on the individual really.

Richard: I agree with you 100%!

Moonlake: So overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point?

Richard: Tremendously! I actually finished a book! Not a lot of people can actually say that, so that was like a journey across country. LOL Long and arduous…lol. But very satisfying!

Moonlake: Yep, agreed.

Richard: I’ve been asked to get another ready for Oct and then the sequel to Reapers comes out in Jan/Feb timeframe, so I’ll be very busy the next few months! Continuing my journey, but going globetrotting now! LOL

Moonlake: Sounds like exciting prospects publication wise. Now, if we want to follow you, how can we do that?

Richard: Thanks for asking! I have an author’s page on FB, a WordPress blog, and I am active on Twitter as well!

https://www.facebook.com/REFisherAuthor/

https://twitter.com/REFisher_writer

https://refisherblog.wordpress.com/

Moonlake: Okay then, our interview today’s drawing to a close and I would like to thank Richard for your time today.

Richard: Thank you so much for asking me to share with you! I hope you enjoy the read when my book comes out!

Moonlake: Sure, and thanks to our readers today. Till next week!

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 16 July 2017

Mon 10/07/2017

Real life and unexpected Internet connection loss held me up.

Tue 11/07/2017

  1. Finished Chap 32
  2. Fleshed out Scene 1, chap 33 (previously a floating scene)
  3. 20 grids filled for Sin Sin

Wed 12/07/2017

  1. Rough gist for scene 2, chap 33
  2. Scene 1, chap 34

Thu 13/07/2017

  1. Scene 2, chap 33

Fri 14/07/2017

  1. Expanded scene 1, chap 34
  2. Sorted out coming plot point for chap 35
  3. Chap 34 done

Sat 15/07/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 35
  2. Chap 35 done

Sun 16/07/2017

  1. Started 2nd iteration of outline, collapsed and moved around some scenes (equivalent to 2 achievements)
  2. Rough gist for new chapter featuring cousin more (2nd iteration)

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends. Finish book 1 outlining (3.5 chapters).

Week Tally: 1.8 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends

Sum story progress: 3.5 chapters. Also, started on 2nd iteration.

Against last week:  Substantial Improvement from last week on weekdays and mild improvement on weekends

Writer’s Awakening- Samantha Beardon

Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the 4th episode of Writer’s Awakenings. Today, we have author Samantha Beardon with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Sam.

Sam: I am a qualified nurse with a long career working mostly in the UK. I also paint and dye silk. I started writing seriously two and a half years ago when I wrote a novel. I had always wanted to write but life got in the way. Marriage and a career as a nurse took up my time. I wrote but mostly essays for courses and research for my masters. I had hobbies of an artistic nature but never seriously found the time to write.

Moonlake: So what are the circumstances that first drove you to pursue writing in a serious way?

Sam: What spurred me into action was talking to people on a word game site and finding the parallel life of internet relationships and sexting. I found it amazing that people playing a recreational word game should talk and fall in love without ever meeting. That unhappy people in failed relationships should think the ideal partner was waiting online, with no baggage or ulterior motives.

Moonlake: It’s an interesting phenomenon, one that I wasn’t aware of. What exactly is sexting? Never came across the term before.

Sam: Basically men wanting to chat with the idea of either a sexual meet or a cyber sex event.

Moonlake: Well, one learns something new every day. Sorry for the interruption over definition, now please continue on with the story on how this observation over a real life phenomenon led you into writing.

Sam: I listened to many people’s stories, witnessed lots of unhappiness and even got hit upon by predatory males. I have done a fair bit of studying around beliefs, behaviour and relationships and it gave me the idea to write a novel based in that cyber world. I know now that the behaviour is happening on most internet sites.

Once I had started writing and forming my characters, one wrote poetry. Poetry is not something I have read or taken an interest in particularly. I decided to write some for Eve and found I could put together a pretty good poem. So that launched my career as a poet. I have since produced a poetry book called Caught in Passion and I am about to produce a second book. I am choosing the poems now.

Moonlake: That’s interesting that you started a poet career based off the characters for a story instead of working on the story itself. So what happened to this story? Did that just fall by the wayside?

Sam: No, I finished the novel I just talked about. I wrote the poetry alongside it and still write a poem most days.

Moonlake: Okay, it’s good to hear that poetry and story writing are complementing each other in your case. And now I would like to hear more about your reflection on that first novel.

Sam: Well, I did not do a writing course, I had read lots of books and just wanted to write the story, that was in my head. I outlined the four main characters roughly. My premise was of a man chatting to several women on line, just for fun. Following these relationships and having him fall in love with one of the women unexpectedly. I had decided who it would be and I made her the main character in the story.

That was the totality of my planning. Off I went writing a chapter at a time each, from the view of one of the characters. All went well until one of the lesser characters became a stalker unexpectedly. Not only did I have to stop and research stalking …that is scary! I had rethink the dynamics of my work. This meant changing the lead character Rick to become the main character. It meant rewriting portions of the completed manuscript and changing chapter orders.

Moonlake: Wow, that’s a lot of work but you expect that for a major re-write.

Sam: If I had produced a story outline with more planning, I might not have had to do that, a lightbulb moment!

Moonlake: I’ve always been a planner but then you can always plan more. So what happened next?

Sam: Completed the manuscript and proof read it 50 times, always finding mistakes I had missed. Confident I was on top of it I gave it to beta readers and got mainly good feedback. So I published the book on Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace. It sold some copies and I started thinking about book two. I decided to do a belated writing course because I knew I had made the writing process hard on myself.

Having started the course, I realised there were still fundamental issues with the book. The book had surprisingly, a handful of good reviews. But the issues started to niggle me and so I have taken the book off sale and I employed a professional editor to go through it. I am in the process of considering her suggestions and implementing them. Then I will re-release.

Moonlake: Are you still going to do book 2 based off the sexting idea?

Sam: Yes, I am although this is a fairly low key part of the book. I am continuing the lives of two of the protagonists and there is a thriller element within book two. Their conversations including some sexting is part of the story.

Moonlake: Okay, sounds interesting. Actually, I thought book 1 had already turned into part thriller given the stalker character.

Sam: Yes, it has. The protagonist in book 1 is an ex special forces operative with the Australian army sniper and surveillance, he now works as a financial advisor in Perth. But has continued doing special ops occasionally. In book two he is involved in a special operation in London.

Moonlake: Interesting. Do you have an idea when the re-release of book 1 will be and how publication-ready is book 2?

Sam: Book two is about three quarters written so probably six months. I am undecided whether to re release book one in a month or to hang on for another two and issue it free on kindle for ten days as a taster before the release if work two. I think that is the most likely scenario.

Moonlake: Yeah, I would go for the latter route too though I don’t have much personal experience myself. But that sounds good. Now, looking back, how would you have done things differently or would you have done things differently?

Sam: Would I do things differently yes. I would always use an editor. The process of producing a good book is only partly about having a great story. Good editing is essential. I would also choose my beta readers with more care. I will plan more as I learnt that solid planning is important, but I am a panster more than a planner and I will always let my story go the way my characters wish it.

Moonlake: So overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point?

Sam: I have been and l am still on a huge learning curve and adoring every minute of it. The craft and skill of authorship are huge and my skills are developing.

Moonlake: Okay, I think that brings us to the conclusion of this interview. Thank you for your time today, Sam. And I learnt something new today.

Sam: Thank you for inviting me to share time on your blog, Moonlake Ku. It has been a pleasure to talk to you. Both reading and writing gives one the chance to meet nice people that one otherwise would never meet in this world.

Moonlake: Agreed. Thanks to our readers today. We will meet again another time.

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 9 July 2017

Mon 3/07/2017

Took a break

Tue 4/07/2017

  1. Amended chap 25

Wed 5/07/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 26
  2. Chap 26 done

Thu 6/07/2017

  1. Scene 2, chap 27 partially written

Fri 7/07/2017

Train problem, took a break today

Sat 8/07/2017

  1. 20 grids filled for Lee Won

Sun 9/07/2017

  1. 21 grids filled for Lee Won (goal=20)
  2. 20 grids filled for Chan Sarn
  3. 20 grids filled for Chan Lok

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends. Finish book 1 outlining (5 chapters).

Week Tally: 0.8 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends

Sum story progress: more than 1.5, less than 2 Chapters

Against last week: Stuck so decided to turn to character grids.  Fair progress given the various circumstances.  

Writer’s Awakening- Lyman Rate

Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the 3rd episode of Writer’s Awakenings. Today, we have author Lyman Rate with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Lyman.

Lyman: My name is Lyman Rate and I am from Kansas. I didn’t really start writing until 2014 and I did it merely at the challenge of my wife who was my girlfriend at the time. She challenged me to try and write a 50,000 word book during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November) and I felt I wanted to try it.

Moonlake: And what happened to that first NaNo book?

Lyman: That first book become the first book of my military Series – Ghost One and is titled Operation: Jaguar.

Moonlake: Oh great, wasn’t expecting that as most writers usually have false starts. But for you, it seems like your way into writing was a pretty smooth one once you decided to try it!

Lyman: I took time to think about what I wanted to write and I decided to use my military background as a catalyst.

Moonlake: Ah, the write what you know. So when is it that you first decided to pursue writing in a serious way and what are the circumstances?

Lyman: I really looked at it seriously when I finished the first book and was about 2/3rd the way through writing book two. I knew I was enjoying writing and as such I wanted to keep writing.

Moonlake: Now, your journey into writing itself sounded smooth and easy. How about the transition to a writer from whatever job you were doing- are you a FT writer now?, was that as smooth and easy as the journey into writing?

Lyman: I wouldn’t say I’m a full time writer yet. I would love to be, but right now I need my full time job and use that to supplement my writing. So far, I’ve had to make adjustments in my writing schedule to work around my full work schedule, but it’s been manageable.

Moonlake: That’s heartening to hear. What are some of your tricks in terms of time management? A lot of people with a passion for writing and FT job at the same time often cite lack of time as an obstacle for them so I’m asking on their behalf.

Lyman: The key is looking at the schedule you have (be it work, school, etc) and then finding a time when you can dedicate to writing. For me I work evenings and I set 2 hours after I get off work to write. I’m awake enough and wired after work this fits me well. If I can’t write after I get off, I resort to option 2 or 3.

Option 2 is to get up early and write for an hour and option 3 is to stop everything I’m doing 1.5 hours before I go to work and that is my writing time. Having multiple options is huge as it allows me to have another means to still find time to write.

Moonlake: Okay, sounds like a sensible and not hard to implement procedure.
Looking back, how would you have done things differently or would you have done things differently?

Lyman: I’m a pantser, so I write as I go and do very little planning. That being said, there have been times I wished I would do more planning, so I do that when I need it. That is the biggest difference.

Moonlake: Interesting, would love to know more about planning versus pantsing but that will be worthy of an entire interview on its own. So onto the concluding part of this interview: Overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point?

Lyman: From the initial point, I have learned quite a bit about grammar and writing techniques. I have also become very aware of how to write with emotion whereas I wasn’t doing that very much when I first started. My writing style and technique have both improved and that shows in the edits I receive back from the editor each time I finish a book.

Moonlake: On the writing with emotion, have you found a trick that allows you to do them more easily or do you think this is an ability that came to you through practice?

Lyman: Writing with emotion wasn’t easy. Someone finally spoke to me in a simple way that it just finally clicked. They said: “Write like you speak and feel. Make yourself be your character in some form and use their body and voice to mimic yours. How would you feel in situations? When you know, write it out how you feel it.”

Moonlake: I see, wise words. So what have you been working on lately?

Lyman: Currently I am working on my newest series, War of A Thousand Years. It is a fantasy series that currently is projected to be a six or seven book series. This series will follow the Chosen One as she becomes of age, learns about her duties as the Chosen One, and her objective to end the thousand year war that has been going on.

Moonlake: Sounds like an epic, which is my main staple in terms of book consumption. How is that going in terms of publication-readiness?

Lyman: I was fortunate to find a publisher and currently the first book is with the editor for the second round. The hope is the first book will be available towards the end of this year. If not, will be ready and available beginning of 2018.

Moonlake: Sounds great, I look forward to its official release. Now, if we want to follow you, how can we do that?

Lyman: You could follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlymanrate/
On twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorLymanRate
or my website: http://www.authorlymanrate.com

Moonlake: Okay then, all the best for your forthcoming release and this brings our interview today to a close. Thank you, Lyman, for your time.

Lyman: Thank you very much! It was a pleasure to do it!

Moonlake: Mine pleasure as the interviewer too. Thanks also to our readers today. See you all next time.

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 2 July 2017

Mon 26/06/2017

  1. Decided on rough gist of chaps 21-25, 31-35
  2. Scene 1, chap 21 (half)
  3. A floating scene but will definitely be incorporated somewhere in these 10 chapters

Tue 27/06/2017

  1. Completed scene 1, chap 21
  2. Chap 21 done
  3. Pegged down the floating scene
  4. Decided on rough gist of Chap 31
  5. Scene 1, chap 22
  6. Chap 22 done
  7. Plotted out main gist of chap 23

Wed 28/06/2017

  1. Expanded scene 2, chap 22
  2. Rough gist of chap 24
  3. Very rough gist for chap 25
  4. Scene 1, chap 23

Thu 29/06/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 24
  2. Chap 24 done

Fri 30/06/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 25
  2. Chap 25 done

Sat 1/07/2017

Took a break to refresh self

Sun 2/07/2017

Took a break to refresh self

At this stage, I had only 10 more chapters to outline and I was rushing for the finishing line as they say.

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends. Up to Chapter 25 outlined (5 chapters).

Week Tally: 3.6 achievement on average on weekdays and 0 on weekends

Sum story progress: 5 Chapters

Against last week: Really pushed myself on the weekdays because I had monthly goal set as well

Writer’s Awakening- Helen Patrice

Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the second episode of Writer’s Awakenings. Today, we have author Helen Patrice with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Helen.

Helen: It started with me loving being read to as a little girl, and then once I learned to read, starting to soak up books. I laugh now to think that I was put in the Remedial Reading Programme, because it was thought I couldn’t read, when in fact, I was just too shy to read out loud in class, even to the teacher. But I first wrote a story at age 10, I think, when I saw the movie PLANET OF THE APES on TV, and both loved it to bits, and thought there was a lack of women in it (what a proto-feminist, Bechdel tester I was, even in 1974). So next day, I sat down and rewrote the story so that the female astronaut lived and was much smarter than Charlton Heston. From there, it wasn’t much of leap to try my hand at my own version of ‘Wuthering Heights’, followed by ‘The Great Houdini’ telemovie. I soaked up TV, and turned it into what I wanted. I didn’t know this was fan fiction.

Moonlake: When did you actually find out, about the term fan fiction?

Helen: I discovered fan fiction proper age 16, through a Star Trek fanzine called SPOCK, and wrote for it until about age 30, I think. Issues 21-60 anyway. It was a great place to practice storytelling, and iron out a lot of my narrative hiccoughs. Eventually, I wanted my own characters, so I moved on from fan fiction. I’ll never regret those years though. I had the time of my life as a fan writer, and in fandom in general.

Moonlake: Is that all of the writing you’ve been doing in that time?

Helen: No, I was first professionally published in The Age, in 1981, age 17, and just shy of my last HSC exam. Ms Bighead Helen was convinced she’d be running The Age by 1985, and nearly failed her Politics exam as a result of ‘not needing to study’. I didn’t get published again until 1984 (rather sobering), and my first pro fiction not until perhaps 1986.

I had a steady rate of publication in literary journals after that, until 1989, when I became a mother, and it blew my writing career out of the water.

Moonlake: How long did the motherhood hold up your writing career and what was the recovery like?

Helen: How long? That’s a debatable answer. On some levels, I’d say a few years. On others, it’s still ongoing. Certainly, post-natal depression exacerbated what seems to be a tendency to depression anyway. Possibly a genetic predisposition, as I think my mother was depressed, and quite possibly my grandmother. Certain female members of my extended family have also suffered repeated, or occacional bouts of depression. Post-natal depression segued into chronic ongoing depression, as I wasn’t diagnosed until 2008, and had my first baby in 1989.

Moonlake: Oh, that’s a long period! But I guess your recovery didn’t take that long? You did come back to writing before 08?

Helen: Those early years with small babies are tough on every parent, but I felt I’d been totally denatured, down pas the cellular level and into sub-atomic particles. Who I was prior to December 1989 disappeared into a sea of nappies, and who I became was a long process of re-discovery. I was so shattered in 1990 and 1991 that my best friend and mentor Rosemary Nissen (later Rosemary Nissen Wade) suggested that I write haiku, just as a way of keeping touch with myself. I did try that, and started keeping a journal around 1993 I think. I wrote some articles then for Mother And Baby, and Melbourne Child, which were well-received.

Moonlake: I see, well short prose like haikus keep you in touch with writing and it’s a good thing that Rosemary suggested it. Same with article writing. So, what happened next?

Helen: Later, I enrolled first in the Myths and Symbols class at Holmesglen Tafe, as a way of…I dunno…I said it was a way of feeding my non-existent writing, but really, it was somewhere to go once a week that didn’t involve children. I started saving my own life, and mind. I started a post-apocalyptic novel set in Melbourne, but it never went beyond a few thousand words. I had a lot to say, but it wasn’t going to be science fiction. My daughter was diagnosed with a severe-profound hearing impairment and I entered the world of disability, hearing aids, ears, and Taralye Early Intervention Centre.

My son was diagnosed with a hearing impairment at 5 months, so by the end of 1992, I was totally immersed in this strange, foreign world of disability. I enrolled in Short Story Writing after Myths and Symbols, both with legendary tutor Mike Slusher, and he helped me keep my writing alive for a while.

I wrote some short stories, some of which were published in Aurealis and ASIM. I guess I could continue going through the long litany of what I wrote, and when, but I’m not sure that’s called for. I have eked out a writing life along the edges of survival. I’ve raised two kids as a single mother. My daughter is now 27, my other adult offspring is 25. I have three grandchildren by my daughter. My other child also has autism, and a mild intellectual impairment. I’ve written a memoir about raising the younger one, but that’s on hiatus. It’s difficult to write and revise a memoir about something that you’re still living.

Moonlake: Helen, I think the next part of the interview is already partially covered by your previous answers. But to delve into things in more specific details, I’m going to ask you what are the circumstances in which you first decided to pursue writing in a serious way?

 

Helen: A question that makes me squirm a little. In my arrogant youth, I was all about publication, and went about it in an almost robotic fashion. Write the story, rewrite the story, send it out, send it out, send it out, bingo, publication. The rejection slips didn’t bother me. It was just part of the business.

Once I became a mother, and suffered pretty severe post-natal depression, it was like that tough dinosaur hide was torn off me, and these days, it’s much harder for me to send anything out into the world. If I’d kept going the way I was, I dunno, maybe I’d be a Carmel Bird, or a Marge Piercy by now. Who knows.

But I didn’t, and in a lot of ways, I’m still a beginner. My yoga practice helps me constantly return to beginner’s mind.

Of late, and by that I mean the last six months, I’ve been following Angela Slatter online, since reading her excellent book VIGIL. I am enamoured not only of her talent, but her business-like way of going about her writing. She’s a ‘write every day’ author, and far-seeing in terms of her plans. Even as her second book is coming out, she is well into the third, and still submitting stories, as well as appearing at science fiction and fantasy conventions. She’s inspired me to finally, at age 53, get serious again, and decide that if I want even a quarter of the success of an Angela, a Carmel, a Marge, then I need to get my arse into gear.

It hasn’t hurt, either, that various tarot readings in the past four years, and a couple of tea leaf readings recently have all shouted ‘get your arse in gear, woman!’ either.

Moonlake: Now, looking back, would you have done anything differently, and what?

Hmm, that’s a tough one, because so much of what I did revolves around my mental state, and if I hadn’t become a mother, then I wouldn’t have had all that incredible life-at-the-coalface experience, I wouldn’t have my two great children, nor my wonderful grandchildren. Sure, I wish I hadn’t copped post-natal depression. I wish I didn’t have depression, and anxiety, and fibromyalgia. But I do, and that’s that.

I wish perhaps I’d kept up my storytelling short fiction, and been braver there. I wish I’d written through those early years as a mother and gotten serious much sooner. But I didn’t, and I’m here now, and if I’m lucky, I have another 40 years or so to go full tilt at my writing, and see where it takes me.

Moonlake: Overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point?

Helen: How long is a piece of string? I’m no longer writing little fan fictions and keeping them in a school suitcase under the bed, so that’s something. I made quite a name for myself as a fan writer in the 80’s, and was nominated for Best Fan Writer a few times. I dabbled in Harry Potter fan fiction in that long period between books 4 and 5, and had a lot of fun on fanfic.net for a while. I had a very big following in Scandinavia, with fans begging for new stories that messed with all the beloved fan tropes. Oh, I do love messing with tropes.

Moonlake: Wow, a Scandinavian fans base!

Helen: Yeah, I’d get the most entertaining and bizarre feedback on my fan fiction stories from that part of the world. I had quite the following of people waiting for my next story. I dunno. Maybe with all those long cold dark months, there’s not much else to do but read fan fiction? I also had a bundle of fans in the States. They liked my actual writing more, but didn’t so much like me sending up their beloved tropes.

Moonlake: Think we went off base a little, we were talking about your overall progress from the initial point.

Helen: Well, I’m not as successful as I’d like to be, but I’ll get there. I think it’s a continuous journey without an end point.

Moonlake: Yep, it’s definitely a journey as life is a journey. I love this way of conceptualising things. So that brings us to the conclusion of this interview. Thank you for your time today, Helen. Readers, see you all till next time

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 25 June 2017

Mon 19/06/2017

  1. Decided on how to proceed by switching pace of alternating narration

Tue 20/06/2017

  1. Amended scene 2 of chap 20

Wed 21/06/2017

  1. Removing 2 chapters’ worth of scenes from chaps 11-20 to fix up timing bug

Thu 22/06/2017

  1. Completely restructured sequence of scenes by switching the order of narrative alternation
  2. Scene 1, chap 9

Fri 23/06/2017

  1. Scene 2, chap 9
  2. Main gist of chap 10

Sat 24/06/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 10
  2. Chap 10 done

Sun 25/06/2017

  1. Scene reorganisation between chap 10 and 21
  2. Expanded scene 1, chap 21 (but stuck)
  3. Noted down crucial plot points for chaps 21-25, 31-35 and early ideas

Some time between last recorded period and this one, I encountered a major stumble block which was the events were occurring out of sequence in the book. So basically this entire week was spent correcting this.

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends. Up to Chapter 20 outlined (1 chapter).

Week Tally: 1.4 achievement on average on weekdays and 2.5 on weekends

Sum story progress: a bit over 2 chapters (redid one chapter from last week)

Against last week: Got rid of cold so speed picking up again.

Writer’s Awakening- Renee Wiseman

Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the first episode of Writer’s Awakening. Today, we have author Renee Wiseman with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Renee.

Renee: My journey into writing was a twisted one, because I actually started as a kid. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I started writing to escape my life, especially as things grew worse. As my mom’s condition deteriorated I poured a huge amount of energy into creating a science fiction universe. It was an escape from a reality where the person who meant the most to me was failing and preparing to leave the world. She passed away when I was 14, and by that time I had a novel about half written (I thought.) I finished the novel and tried sending it to some publishers with a query letter I found online. This was in the 90s when the internet was still relatively new, and resources scarce.

Moonlake: How was this first novel received by publishers?

Renee: I got personal responses back from several of the publishers. In hindsight, I should have framed those! One in particular I remember just asked me to expand it by a few thousand words and resubmit. But I was a fragile kid who had just lost her mother and was suffering from low self-esteem. I gave up and poured my writing energy into online roleplaying games instead. I created new worlds that way and spent hours a day on them. They really honed my characterization and world building skills. My interests also shifted from Science Fiction to the fantasy genre. About two years ago it became more difficult to find other players and many of the games I was in closed down. I was left with time on my hands and found an old copy of my manuscript from when I was 15. I cringed when I read some parts of it, but got a niggling idea that maybe I should try it again.

Moonlake: Wow, this sounds amazing, Renee. Just so you know, I’ve recently become a player in a dedicated weekly gaming group but I’m not a Game Master (GM) like you, just a player. But really, it amazes me that as a teenager, you already recognize that being a writer is what you want to be enough that you would actually query agents/publishers.

Renee: I remember it took me over 4 hours to print my book on an old fashioned dot matrix printer. I enclosed the envelope so they’d return the manuscript because it cost so much money for me to produce it. I spent more time on those queries than I spent on my college admission essays.

Moonlake: Oh okay, so you were about 18 when you did the querying? But still amazing.

Renee: 16. I started querying at 16.

Moonlake: Oh, you stuck at querying for 2 years?! Wow, you were very persistent back then.

Renee: My dad always told me I was stubborn.

Moonlake: Lol, stubborn is good when it’s for a good cause. So what eventually happened to this first project?

Renee: Well, eventually I gave it up. I got enough rejections I decided it wasn’t good enough, especially with those around me telling me the same. I put it away. That novel was lost in a hard drive crash years ago, though I still have a paper copy of the manuscript.

Moonlake: Have you looked through this first manuscript since you gave it up just to see how far you’ve come since then and maybe plan about giving it a re-write?

Renee: I did actually. Most writers cringe when they look at something they wrote years ago. I didn’t cringe when I read that one, I fled in terror! That book had its place, but it’ll never see print in anything close to its current form. It helped me confront life issues that I was much too young to deal with. I confronted death in that book, and doing so helped me come to terms with what was happening in my real life. I know now that the world was underdeveloped and many of the characters were superficial. I’m not saying I’ll never rewrite it, in fact my husband wants me to, but I’m much more interested in the fantasy genre now, and I have no shortage of stories there to tell.

Moonlake: On looking through old work, actually I’m someone who routinely goes through old writing of mine just to see them with fresh eyes.  But I can see that if that initial project was just a means for you to deal with your real life situation at that specific time and like you said, the core ideas are under-developed and your interest had moved on, then it’s best to just keep it as a memorandum. So when is it that you first decided to pursue writing in a serious way and what are the circumstances?

Renee: I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was a kid part of me knew that I was supposed to be doing this. For the past 15 years or so I was content to just share it with a small group of my friends in the form of those online games, but about 2 years ago something in me changed, and I wanted to do something more serious, and more lengthy than a play by email post. I’ve always constructed massive storylines in my games and I just took that to the next level and began doing it largely for myself. Something inspired me, and I began making the time and pouring my energy in that direction instead. Now I have a completed 125K word novel to show for it, with plans for a second book.

Moonlake: Just out of personal curiosity, you said earlier you’ve sunk a lot of your energy into gaming, would you be able to describe more specifically how much time you spent on it?

Renee: At one point I was playing in 22 games, and GMing 5. I spent a ridiculous amount of time on those online games, really. Even now, a group of those friends and I are gaming together in the world I’m creating in my novel. They’re all really excited to read it. Three of them already have.

Moonlake: So I guess the gaming also gives you some natural fans to begin with?

Renee: Yes, it seems I do! And I make sure to put references to those games throughout my works. They are subtle, and things only those involved in the games or plots would recognize. Names of characters or places, or events that happened. As a matter of fact, the plot for my new novel is a plot I ran in one of my RPGs about 10 years ago. I just repurposed, redeveloped and expanded it tremendously.

Moonlake: Ah, additional benefit: recycling of story elements. I’m always fond of recycling too. Now, looking back, how would you have done things differently or would you have done things differently?

Renee: Looking back I would have slapped my teenage self and told her to expand that novel and get it out! I truly regret the time I lost, though I can’t say I fully regret my online gaming years. I have many good friends and great memories that came out of that experience, and working with many characters in one scene taught me how to juggle different voices and points of view. Putting together plots for the games taught me about making plots for books. My settings, descriptions and characterization are all stronger from the input I got from those amazing friends. Looking at my writing then and now I can see how much those skills benefited me. I’m a stronger writer for it.

Moonlake: So overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point?

Renee: More than I can easily quantify. When I was a teenager writing that first book, I was learning so much. That was really the first fiction I ever wrote. As part of my Master’s degree I had to write a nonfiction book on history, and doing so taught me many of the technical aspects of writing a book, but holding my work in hard bound form also taught me a feeling of pride and accomplishment that made my gaming experience pale in comparison. That was really my ‘ah hah!’ moment when I said “I love this!” I’m now a far more experienced and sophisticated writer than when I wrote that first book as a teenager.

Moonlake: In terms of your foray into fantasy, how far have you gone in terms publishing? And maybe share your WIP?

Renee: Well, I’m proud to say I have a short story in the upcoming Monsters Vs. Zombies anthology from Stitched Smile Publications. That is due in October. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my novel, tentatively titled “Ayneria’s Call”. This one is about a girl who was born a slave in an empire resembling our historical Rome. She is selected by the Goddess of the Fae to lead the tribes, which leads to a conflict, since she was born and raised among humans, she only wants to be human. But Goddesses aren’t easily turned down, now are they?  I’m currently looking for an agent to represent my novel.

Moonlake: Sounds great, those developments. Now, if we want to follow you on social media, how can we find you?

Renee: https://twitter.com/ReneeMWiseman

https://www.facebook.com/ReneeMWiseman/

Moonlake: Okay then, best of luck for the novel. I think that about wraps up the interview. Thanks for your time today.

Renee: My pleasure.

Moonlake: That’s all for today. Thanks to all of those who read this through.

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 18 June 2017

Mon 12/06/2017

Long weekend plus still down with cold so took a day off.

Tue 13/06/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 20

Wed 14/06/2017

Doc appointment day, took it off

Thu 15/06/2017

Resting at home to recover from sickness

Fri 16/06/2017

  1. Relocated part of a scene to later

Sat 17/06/2017

  1. Chap 20 done

Sun 18/06/2017

Took a day off, indecision over how to proceed after catching a bug in timing of events.

Week Goal: Up to Chapter 20 outlined (1 chapter).

Week Tally: 0.4 achievement on average on weekdays and 0.5 on weekends

Sum story progress: 1 chapter

Against last week: Still recovering from cold so don’t expect much progress. But did manage this week’s goal so that’s fair progress.