On January 23rd, I received the Versatile Blogger Award. It’s been just over a year since I entered Blogland. Although I had enrolled with caution because I was unsure if I’d enjoy blogging, my fears were unwarranted. I love blogging and hope to continue doing it for many years to come.
Recipients of the Versatile Blogger award must follow three rules.
1) Thank the person who did the nominating and link to their website.
It’s easy to write a novel. Just ask anyone who hasn’t written one. They’ll tell you when they retire, they’ll write one and published it. They say this with such ease you’d think it was as simple as rising in the morning and dressing. After all, everyone who can put a few words on paper can write, so they’d be able to string together a few thousand words and write a novel. No problem.
And it isn’t a problem until they sit down to begin that first chapter.
Nova Scotia indie author Thea Atkinson has a challenge for blog readers. She wants to accumulate 100 followers by Christmas. With 68 already, it’s not an impossible number to reach for. She’s even offered an incentive: if the goal is reached, a random subscriber will receive one complete Thea ebook package. AND if she exceeds expectations and gains 200 followers of her blog by December 24th, a random subscriber wins the ebook package plus a $25 Amazon gift coupon.
About a month ago, I decided the family needed a change. I wanted to shake things up a bit and in the process, stir up some inspiration dust. I also decided my kids needed pets to hang around, but it wasn’t going to be your standard guinea-pig-in-a-cage pet. It was at that time, I began to understand why some folks look at me and wonder about how many crayons are in my Crayola box.
I was looking through the Weekly Press yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to see a write-up on a local indie author. I dropped everything – including the column I had been working on – and sat to read the article.
I first met Art Burton of Latties Brook, Hants County, Nova Scotia at our local writers group about a year or so ago. At that time, we discussed self-publishing and the price of a finished soft cover novel. I had unwittingly said that $18 for a novel was way too much. After all, I can pick up my favourite fantasy novel for ten dollars or less. And I had purchased novels for my children for around the same amount. A novel only inches away from a lovely green twenty was out of my price range.
Later, I explored the local book store where I usually made my purchases. Certainly, the novels I had bought were around the ten dollar range, but some novels were in the high teens or slightly over twenty dollars. Obviously, I hadn’t done my homework before making that comment to Art. I have since corrected my views on the price of novels and told Art about my discovery.
Once again, “Sorry, Art.”
The article in the Weekly Press talks about Art’s current publication, For Hire, Messenger of God. But this isn’t his first published work. He’s well-known for his creative non-fiction Hoboes I Have Known.
To read the full article, visit the Weekly Press or if you’re local, pick up a copy of the newspaper. It’s on stands until Tuesday March 15th.
Art recently began a blog where he posts his experience as a self-published author. Drop by, have a look around and subscribe.
I opened my inbox this morning and found an interesting blog post by Christi Corbett. She had written about pictures that inspired her, got her into the mindset of her characters and set the scene. She asked, “How about you?” Do you use images for writing inspiration?
My answer was a loud, “Yes!”
I’m a very visual person. When I’m writing dialogue, I can picture in my mind the character, what he/she’s wearing, their dialect, stance and hand motions. I know when an eye brow goes up or a lip is curled. My characters scratch their heads and their butts and put their hands in their pockets.
I often sketch my characters to better see their faces. Sometimes, I stumble upon an image that cries out, “I’m Anna!” I snatch it, print it and stare at it when I’m writing.
For example, last year, while googling my name to see where it appeared on the Internet, I came upon a page
containing a black and white image. The intense stare spoke to me. It said, “Hello there. I’m Tam. It’s been a hard day at the castle. My brother’s being a wingnut again, the lords are asking for tighter security and the plumbing is backed up in the guard house. I just need a cold one to relax.”
I saved the photo to my hard drive, naming it ‘Tam Mulryan’.
Searching the page further, I discovered it was Gerard Butler’s face I had stolen. But why was my name on the same web page as his? Oh, I had written a review of Nym’s Island several years ago and he was one of the stars. Little did I know that little review would link me with the photo I’d use to identify with one of my characters.
I googled Gerard Butler’s name to see if I could find Tam in another setting. Jackpot! Butler had starred in Timeline, a movie in which the characters travelled back in time to the age of sword fighting and castles. I found Tam in rugged
clothing with longer hair and a thicker beard. Almost perfect.
While living at the castle, Tam was clean cut with a short beard, but while hiding out on the trail, he’d become a little rough around the edges with longer, shaggier hair. The intense stare in this new photograph was perfect for Tam. He thought more than he spoke.
Printed and posted on the wall behind my computer, this photograph of Tam keeps an eye on my writing, making sure I write him true to character. Whenever I need inspiration for him, I just stare into his eyes and he lets me know what I must do.
I wasn’t aware there were awards for blogging – I’m that new to Blogland. So when Laura Best bestowed The Stylish Blogger Award on me, I was quite surprised. Thank you, Laura.
Upon receiving this award, I’m to share five of my most favourite things. I’m going to skip the obvious – family, friends, writing – and move into my other five favourite things, things I’d like to enjoy every day, but don’t always get the chance to.
1) Sunshine: Whether it’s pouring through the windows, dancing on the water, revealing magic dust on minute snowflakes, highlighting my children’s hair, dappling the forest floor or cascading on my skin, I love it.
2) Cranberries: Cranberry sandwiches every day for all my school years have not turned me against this wonderful berry. I still love it. I eat them as a sauce in a bowl or on bread, in loaves and muffins, squeezed into juice and when nothing else is available, from a can. But the best way to eat a cranberry is in the fall when they are ripe and ready to burst. I love to pick one, put it in my mouth and test the strength of the skin until it explodes with flavour.
3) Music: It makes me laugh, curse out loud, smile, cry, think and dance. In 3.20 minutes, a song can make me consider another way of thinking, give me ideas or make me happy. Life without music would be unbearable.
4) My camera: My love for photography is as old as my love for writing. After all these years, I’m still fascinated by the fact that I can capture an image in a fraction of a second. My many thousands of photographs remind me of a life that has passed. Long after the day turns into history, I can look at the pictures and remember my children as they were when they were toddlers beneath the table covered in Jello powder or surrounded by their stuffed animals the first day they moved from a crib to a real bed.
5) My pencil: It records my imagination in words and images. My first novel was written in pencil in a coiled notebook. Pencils of various quality and abilities have a special spot on my desk for quick notes, entries into my day planner and to work out a scene in a novel. My pencil creates visuals of my characters, reminds me with a quick sketch that they have long hair, wear their sword on the left or are missing a finger. I will never master the pencil, but I certainly have fun trying.
Now I have the pleasure of passing on The Stylish Blogger Award to five bloggers.
Sandra Phinney: Sandra is an amazing writer based in Nova Scotia. She’s published in many formats including book, newspaper and magazine. I was fortunate to meet Sandra in 1999, just when she was getting started and I was dreaming of getting started. She has always been an inspiration to me.
Jodi DeLong: Jodi is a garden writer based in Nova Scotia, author of Plants for Atlantic Gardens. I’ve been reading her gardening articles for many years in different publications.
Thea Atkinson: Author of The Secret Language of Crows, Pray for Reign and others. Thea is based in Nova Scotia.
Tracy: I recently discovered Tracy’s blog. I find her posts interesting and make me stop and think about my own life.
Genevieve Graham-Sawchyn: Genevieve is a historical fiction author and editor based in Nova Scotia. Her posts contain helpful editing tips among other things.
Some days I feel cursed. Other days, I can’t believe I’m this lucky. As the tenth of eleven children raised by parents both born in the 1920s, I was exposed to many different genres of music. As a result, on my MP3 player, you’ll find John Denver snuggled beside Bonnie Tyler, Loverboy and Rod Stewart squished between Donna Fargo and Buddy Wasisname, and Anne Murray rubbing shoulders with Helix and Andy Stewart.
Music has always influenced me in one way or another. It can enhance or change my mood depending on the day and the attention I give it. The melody of a song can set a mood, but it’s the words that can make me laugh, dance or shed a tear. The degrees of these emotions depend on whether I’m listening to the song or singing along.
But let’s get this out of the way first: I don’t sing well. However, I sing often.
Hearing someone sing their heart out may not tug on your aorta, but that may change if you put their words in your mouth. Personally, I can sit and listen to Son Run to the Spring by Cal Smith and ignore the story within the melody, but I can’t sing it with a dry eye. I become that boy who must run to the spring for water while my mother spares me from witnessing her silent death due to a long term illness.
Feeling the music can only be accomplished by putting yourself in the shoes of the song’s character. That’s not to say you’re Dean Brody, standing on stage in front of thousands of fans. You are the boy who must watch your older brother go off to war and wait for him to return (Brothers) and the young man who wonders about the lives of his high school girlfriend, his college friends and the girl who gave him up for adoption (Trail of Life).
Of course, you get the good parts, too. You’re basking in the sun on the Santa Maria (Trooper) and bragging about Who Wouldn’t Wanna be Me (Keith Urban).
Sure, you can just sit and listen, but you won’t feel the full effects of getting into character unless you sing those words.
Breathing life into the words you’ve written is done exactly the same way.
Before I submit anything, I always read it aloud. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 400-word blog or a 100,000-word novel, reading every word is the last step in editing. Actually, if I get stuck on a section of writing, I read it aloud. Often, it is all that’s needed to find that perfect word or the next sentence.
When I read, I take on the characteristics of the character. If I’m angry, I speak with anger. If I’m stumbling over my dialogue, then I stutter. Sometimes, I’ll use a Scottish or English accent, just to hear the story with fresh ears. It doesn’t matter if I get the accent right; the point is to make it different than how I usually speak.
Reading it aloud will point out problems in rhythm, uncover those words that sound too much alike and find words that have been accidentally left out.
In my novel, Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove, two of the main characters were Ellis and Alice. On paper, these names are easily distinguished. However, when you read them out loud in a sentence, they sound very similar – too similar for characters who will spend a lot of time together in a novel. In the end, I changed Alice’s name to Shona.
If reading your words doesn’t create the emotions you want to convey, then consider making changes. You don’t want to giggle in the middle of a tragedy and you don’t want readers to think a character is angry when he’s really trying to sweet talk his lover.
If you’ve never read your work aloud, give it a shot. Feel those words, make them yours. Guaranteed you’ll hear things from a new prospective – your character’s.
Goals trigger actions. This year, one of my goals is to begin a blog. So here I am . . . my first step in Blogland. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll write about but many things come to mind. Although I am a writer in the heart, a dreamer in the soul, I’ve experienced many things over the years and held many positions in the workforce. All those floors I’ve mopped and seedlings I’ve planted seem necessary to create the characters in my stories.
But first, let me introduce myself.
I’m Diane Lynn Tibert, native of Cole Harbour, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, Canada. My roots have grown in this soil for more than 250 years and stretch across the Atlantic to Scotland, England, Ireland and Germany.
I’ve been a writer my entire life even when I didn’t know it. The earliest stories were created in grade one. I’d write about the adventures my friends and I enjoyed in the woods surrounding our homes. By the time I was in grade three, my friend, Beverley Davis, and I were writing plays in Campfire Notebooks. I’m not sure how many we filled, and I don’t know what happened to them, but for one day, I wish I could sit and read them.
High school was a mix of homework, hanging out with friends and writing novels. Back then, I dreamt of getting published but was terrified to share my writing with anyone. After graduation, physical work consumed my days, and years passed before I realised the many jobs that never satisfied me were simply keeping me from what I truly needed to do: write.
My first piece, an article about gardening, appeared in 1998. Since then, my by-line has appeared hundreds of times in newspapers and magazines. My interests have changed over the years but the nice thing about writing is that regardless of how I feel, what I’m doing or where I’m at in life, I can write about it. Just as I can’t remember when the spark of writing began in my life, neither can I see the spark fading. It is one constant in life I can always turn to.
My blog will be about writing, the writing world and whatever inspires me to do what I do within that world. The writing business is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Just when you think you know enough to get it right, you learn you need to know more. Then you learn you must unlearn things taught to you while in school – how crazy is that?
So here’s the newest blogget’s first footprint in Blogland. I hope the weather is . . . unpredictable.