Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Characters not caricatures.

When writing a novel a writer should create living people, people not characters.

A character is a caricature.

Ernest Hemingway.


Last week my sister in law borrowed two DVD's from the library. I hadn't seen either of these movies before, but the first was an incredibly popular film in the 70's.

I'd often seen it on the library shelves but had never picked it up, simply because I had tried reading the book and found it oh so boring.

It was titled Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Most of you will remember this title from John Le Carre, who also authored The Constant Gardener.

I found myself not only enjoying the movie, but drawn to the characters. Told in flashback form, it was a story of betrayal, murder and greed.

The second movie was called The Debt and starred Helen Mirren. Another movie written about spies and everything that goes with it. Because it starred Helen Mirren, I saved it to  last. There's something about Mirren that I find compelling. She brings her own style and influence into every role.

In this particular instance, I was quite let down. Don't get me wrong, the performances were good, very much so, but the story itself, for me, was unbelievable.

Mirren's character, one of three Mossad spies who embark on capturing a sadistic doctor responsible for the death of thousands of Jews, is bland and unappetising. I couldn't reconcile my thoughts of spies, Mossad spies at that, being so…emotional. Surely spies should unemotional, bent on getting the job done at all costs?

In every book I've read, or every movie I've watched, the characters which draw me in and hold me long after the end are the ones steeped in reality. They share similar traits with us, which help us identify with them.

What makes characters such as spies or serial killers chilling is their charm. We can easily imagine them committing atrocities simply because we can picture them, and their quirks, as our neighbour, odd relative, or dare I say…close friend? After all, how well do we really know someone?

Caring enough about your characters to study the intricacies associated with their lives, or learning more about what makes them tick, is how you'll find readers falling helplessly head-over-heels in love with them, and you.

In John Le Carre's interview he said, "Stories are the ultimate escape: the fictional world is the one in which you really want to live”.

If this is the world our readers want, then it's up to us to make it as real as possible for them.


What lengths would you go to so your characters become people?


Lee Franklin lives in a small country town, where every one of her neighbours could possibly be a serial killer, either in real life or in her imagination. It's a good thing she doesn't mind things that go bump in the night, but it does help to have three dogs guarding you...just in case.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Your Story Matters

I recently went to a woman’s night – you know the kind – where aching (probably calloused) feet relax in a bubbling foot spa, eyelashes are tinted, sore backs are massaged, giggling is heard and copious amounts of chocolate and desserts are consumed. It was a tired mother’s haven.
   When the initial catch up was over, spot prizes were given out. Questions were asked in order to match up the recipient with each gift. There was the gift ‘for the woman who cannot live without lists’, ‘the woman who is always rushing’, and so on.
   Finally, when the pile of prettily-wrapped parcels had dwindled, there was a pause. “This gift is for a woman who encourages others by sharing her story, her struggles.”
   Everyone was silent until my friend Helen cast a sly smile. She began pointing at me and giggling. I accepted the gift, wondering what I would receive as I peeled back the packaging.
   The little decorated block of wood really made me grin. The meaning for me went far beyond what had been intended. My story matters.

   As writers we sometimes wonder why we do what we do. Are we insane, agonising over a single word choice, staying up all hours to edit one section, pouring out our pain for the sake of unknown others, staring at the page wondering how to impart what an imaginary person is feeling?
   I think not. This particular night I was reminded by this sweet ‘coincidental’ gift, that my story matters. The label may have a different meaning to others, but as a fiction writer I look at that little block of wood and remember that what I am doing, matters. Somewhere, sometime, someone is going to be impacted by my story.
What if you are not a writer? The message is the same. Jesus used stories (parables) to impart meaning and hope to the world. Every one of us has a story, a testimony to share. You just never know what impact your story will have, who will be forever changed because you took the risk of sharing a part of yourself.

Do you need reminding? Let me tell you today – your story does matter.
I’d love to hear some of your stories – those little ‘coincidences’ that reminded you that your story matters, that your writing matters.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Okay, It's THAT Time!

What happened to my day - where did it go?  Sound familiar?

This a head-shaking question I ask myself all too often, usually as my phone alarm resounds a bothersome ‘STOP what you are doing and get the kids from school Mrs Author/Illustrator MUM!’ 

Then there are the times I notice my work day creep into ‘THAT’ time.  You know - THAT time, which is apparently important to the three hungry wolves sniffing at the door dividing my work area and the kitchen. I hear sounds not dissimilar to that of my companion toy poodle – Boaz, when separated from his first love (me). The whimpering and sniffing noises inevitably invade my space and interrupt my concentration.  Their tummies on a timer and smack on time too!

My mind is reluctant to free itself from the allure of the word-littered screen or pencil lines on paper, but sensing something akin to a Myer Stock Take Sale crowd about to burst through my studio door, I’m reminded of the demands of motherhood and its associated time restraints.  The will impedes the process and the battle of right and left side of the brain begins.  

I feel the shift but it returns long enough to envisage my 3 little wolves (the little pigs arrive only after food is served) licking the kitchen side handle and possibly devouring it any moment.  “Sorry kids I didn’t notice the time, I’m coming, just one more ...” …  STOP!  I switch worlds and land on the left side of the brain with a jolt.  

Ah the delights of working from home.  At least my kiddies (mostly) honour the boundaries of mum’s creative space – it only took 3 years to instil in them!

But isn’t it wonderful to have a job that captures us so much? Don’t get me wrong, I love my family time, but I love my job too.  I don’t know about you, but I have spent too much of my life waisted on the mediocre, feeling void of life when my creative inner self is kept on hold for too long.  There was a time I stopped creating but God’s Spirit told me to use the gift I was given so I searched for the direction through Him.  But once started, I soon saw His lead and got very excited.  Turning off the visionary mind isn’t easy.  Fuelled and motioned by enthusiasm it builds like steam in a pressure cooker.  

As I microwave my coffee a third time I thought, there is something about creativity that gratifies our soul and is a necessary in our life.  Is it because we are made in the image of a creator?
“Mum, is it dinner time yet?”
Whoops  – “Sorry, I’m coming now!”

Kayleen West is a children's book Author and Illustrator from Victoria. Her new picture book Adoptive Father can be found at

Her portfolio can be seen at:

Monday, 18 February 2013

Storytelling - an interview with Naomi Reed.

Naomi Reed is one of Australia's favourite writers and storytellers. With several award winning books and even more speaking appearances, it's sometimes hard to pin Naomi down for a chat. But I had the opportunity recently to ask her a few questions and, generous as always, she was eager to talk about her love of story! 

Penny Reeve: You’ve been writing for 8 years now, and one of the things I’ve often heard people say about you is that you are a ‘natural storyteller’. Do you believe storytelling came naturally for you? 

Naomi Reed: Well, that’s a difficult question to answer. For me, storytelling came out of desperation. We were living in Nepal, working with INF, and I was homeschooling our three boys – through our seventh monsoon and a civil war… so I started to write stories in an attempt not to go mad. And then I really enjoyed the process and I kept going. At the same time, people began to read my writing and they gave me a variety of feedback, some of it was good, some of it wasn’t. The tricky thing was that we were living on a rainy Himalayan ridge, with little internet access, or workshops to go to, so instead of googling the answers to my problems, I went hunting for second-hand books on writing, in book stores in Kathmandu. And then I kept practicing and noticing what worked and what didn’t work.

PR: So you sort of fell into it, and then realised you love it. Beautiful! I wonder if storytelling is something we all have the potential for, that it's an innate part of who we are in God's image? What do you think, can we all grow in our ability to communicate using story?

NR: Maybe the question is, do we really love telling stories? Do we delight in presenting God’s love and faithfulness in fresh and surprising ways? If we do, then we keep writing and we keep telling stories and we keep practicing because we can’t not do it. And then one day we wake up and remember that this natural thing that we do, is a gift from God himself, to be used for his glory, to be used wisely and well, in the place he’s allowed us to be. And then we want to improve even more!

PR: I've notice on your webpage that you're running several workshops titled: The Art of Storytelling. Is it your belief about storytelling that inspired you to present these workshops?

NR: Yes, I think storytelling is a wonderful means to present the gospel – to show people what it means to be known and forgiven and made right by a holy God – to show those truths with skin on. We all know that stories have the power to transport us, and delight us, and challenge us, and motivate us but they also connect us as human beings to each other and get beneath our defenses. Here we all are, in post-modern 2013, where it’s all about being real and vulnerable and connected, so we need to share our stories! And we need to do that as well as we possibly can – both the stories of God’s saving love for us and the stories of our ongoing human responses. Thirty years after reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, I can still ‘see’ her meeting the SS guard, years after the war. I can imagine her standing there, unable to hold out her hand, bitter and angry, yet praying. I can feel her hand by her side, but I can also feel God’s answer, his forgiveness, the love that comes from him. And thirty years later, after hearing hundreds of sermons on forgiveness, it’s Corrie’s story that moves me the most. It makes me realize that the world’s healing doesn't depend on my ability to dredge up nice-ness, but on God’s forgiveness through Jesus. My dream is that we all continue to tell stories like that, in ways that stay with people, that move them, that lead them into a deeper walk with God.   

PR: What do you believe writers can get from attending workshops on storytelling?

NR: Practice! There’s always more to learn about storytelling, and to put into practice. I think that the more we put pen to paper, or words in our mouths, and hear the way they come out, the more we improve. We may naturally have a sense of timing and pace and conflict and resolution, but it always helps to polish it or notice how these factors are at play in our work. It also helps to get feedback and listen to each other’s stories. In these day sessions, we’ll have time to do this. In the mornings, we’ll be learning how to craft and tell Bible stories, both in third-person and first-person, and then in the afternoons we’ll work on our own stories of faith. The exciting thing is that we now have bookings for six Storytelling days this year – Rooty Hill, Sylvania, Launceston, Central Coast, Melbourne and Tamworth. Wonderful!

PR: I agree. Thank you for your time, Naomi, and the inspiration you give us to keep writing and telling the stories of faith God has given us! But now, the big question... can you give us a hint at what you’re writing now?

NR: Yes, I can give you a very small hint. It’s got something to do with olives.  

PR: Hmm... sounds, tasty!  I'm looking forward to it. Will you hang around our blog for a few days in case people would like to ask you a question about storytelling and your workshops?

NR: I'd love to!

Penny Reeve is a children's author currently living in western Sydney. She became friends with Naomi Reed during the years they shared in Nepal (read Naomi's No Ordinary View and you might meet Penny's husband Richard desperately escaping a swarm of bees!).  

More information about Naomi Reed, her books and The Art of Storytelling workshops is available from her website. 

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Plot Thickens

The Plot Thickens

If only we could plan our lives as easily as constructing a plot graph for a story. I had a discussion with a friend about prayer the other day and she said prayer is a process, not just a one off event. Pray=result. Done! Instead, she suggested this equation:


She said we begin with a promise. God has given us many promises in our lives and we believe them. A big problem comes along and we call out to God. We wait. More problems come along. It looks worse than it did before, often for months or years. We give up and lose faith at a moment of intense crisis. We lose heart and try to figure things out, forget God and try to force a resolution.

If we were able to write the plot for our own life story, we would begin with the exposition, describing the setting and background to our character. Then, we would give ourselves a few challenges, conflicts and problems to overcome and create a satisfying resolution. A very neat, tidy process.

I’m sure we would be easier on ourselves than our fictional characters. In fiction, we can create the most amazing scenarios. However, in real life, our problems and conflicts defy imagination and can take us to the edge of despair and sanity. Sometimes, we are not even the author of the problems that come our way.

Creating a plot and completing a book are processes. We plot, we sketch out details, begin to write and develop the ideas. We reach the end of the first draft with a sigh of satisfaction, only to enter the next phase-editing, rewriting and reworking, which takes longer than writing the first draft. The manuscript then goes through many more conflicts before reaching the climax when we scream, ‘I can’t do this anymore!’

This is where we often give up, as writers and in life generally. 

‘It’s too hard.’ 
‘It’s taking too long.’ 
‘I can’t even remember why I thought this was a good idea.’ 
‘God gave me the inspiration to write but the cost is too great.’

If we quit right there and put the manuscript away in a box, the process will not be complete. The resolution will not be satisfying.

Isn’t this how we deal with some things in life? Along come problems, conflicts and crises and we wonder what is going on. If we quit or avoid the process, we will not feel satisfied. In the short term we may feel relief from the pain, however, bitterness, disappointment and hurt will be there under the surface.

In writing and life, we need to persevere in the process. This harks back to the old Creation, Fall, Redemption story in the Bible. God is the original author and he created a plot graph with a process. Our part is to trust in the process and to do the work required. 

Provision or resolution comes when the plot is played out. Psalm 31:24 says, Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon.

Ah, the struggles of life and writing. It was never promised life would be easy, but the sweetest stories are those where the characters have lived through hardship and suffering and see the provision come.

Elaine Fraser

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Defeating the Blank Faced Monster

Writer’s block – surely a writer’s worst nightmare.

The blank piece of paper or the white, spotless screen stares back at you, your fingers are poised, you stare and the white expanse mocks you as your mind is as blank as the screen. Too often I find myself researching a topic meticulously, mulling over the issues and teasing out its implications while constantly putting off the actual writing process. The blank page seems to create its own inertia. And sometimes the ideas just freeze.

Is there any writer that hasn't experienced this? At least once?

My most vivid memory of writer’s block was in the middle of Old Testament exam at Bible College. It had been a stressful night with little sleep due to an unexpected midnight clash with someone close and dear to me. Not now, I thought, I have an exam tomorrow. During perusal time, I marked the questions I thought I had prepared the best, jotting down some ideas and then on the first question I wrote too much – I knew I was spending too much time, but I kept on writing twice as long as I should. When I came to the second question my mind went blank though I knew the answer well. No matter how much I bludgeoned, pleaded with it, my brain could come up with nothing, zero, zip. The page stared back at me smugly and I began to panic. I sent up a quick arrow prayer, took some deep breaths and swept that question aside and went on to the next. Suddenly the ideas began to flow again and the white emptiness was filled with my increasingly crazy handwriting.

Writer’s block – I confess that up until 4 hours ago that was not what I was going to write about. From the time I wrote Saints, Seekers and Sleepers in December last year, I fully intended to write a follow on piece. I have done some research, made some notes, mulled over ideas. I had a good idea and basic outline of what I wanted to write – but travel, family commitments, study deadlines etc has made this a busy couple of months. Last week I submitted my 3000 word major assignment (On Slaying Education Dragons) for the unit I’m studying (phew) which left the weekly post due on Tuesday and this blog, due today. I finished the post on Monday with time to spare, ready to tackle the blog on Tuesday – only to wake up with a grade 8 migraine which was still pounding my head and nauseating me this morning. The pain has begun to subside this evening but my brain could not, would not think. As I tried to pull my thoughts together, I prayed– Lord, please give me the words to type, the ideas to explore – as I metaphorically speaking stared at a mind numbing blank page. Writer’s Block. 

Why not write on Writer’s block?

So, God willing, I will write my follow-on piece – but maybe in April when, hopefully, my mind is less in a migrainous hang-over and in the meantime I have a few thoughts on what do when writer’s block or its ugly twin, procrastination (aided and abetted by Facebook) rears its sardonic head and stares you in the face. And I would love to hear of your strategies too of how you deal with this blank faced monster.

Here are some of the strategies I find helpful:
  • Taking time to pray, giving the idea or concept to God, asking for inspiration and direction.
  • Writing an outline with main topics and sub points and breaking down the task into smaller units – concentrating on a smaller achievable goal one step at a time.
  •  Starting to write without worrying too much what comes out or about getting a perfect introductory sentence or about being precisely on topic.  I can go back and review, fine tune and trim later but I can’t edit a blank page.
  • It may help me to stretch, take a break, relax, and go for a walk or to play some upbeat music. 
  • Do a short warm up writing exercise or (with my novels or longer pieces) reread what I have already written.
  • If one section is giving me writers block, I can move to another section and come back to the one giving trouble later. (Hint – that’s what I’m doing at the moment.)
  • Having a dedicated space to write in – I often write best when I get away from the house – with all the chores staring at me – and find a spot in cafe or library.
  •  Writing regularly and often.
  •  Nip the negative self-talk in the bud – and believe that I can do it.

So here we are – with a page nicely filled. Just as with my Old Testament exam – I didn’t get the best mark I’ve ever earned, but I more than passed. And this may not be the most brilliant of posts but I have a hunch it is one that will resonate with many of you. With some divine nudging and a little inspiration the writing paralysis is overcome and Writer’s Block slinks away defeated.

What about you – what works best for you?

Jeanette O'Hagan
Lives in Brisbane with her family, writes fantasy, blogs and other things.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Treat your story as a gift

Photo courtesy of "anankkml"/
The contract was signed and now we had to complete the final draft. Lion Fiction had kindly provided me with an experienced editor to work with to tighten the manuscript. In addition, I had to lose an additional 20% of it, that being 30,000 words or 60 pages.
It was now 8 years since the first 700-page draft. It’s incredible how many scenes and characters I’ve deleted including entire sub-plots. I hope one day some of those characters may make a re-appearance. In particular, there were a number of angels and demons that I let go. I think of this culling process like the casting call for a movie or TV show. Some actors get the nod, many don’t. Those that missed out were just not right for this publication but may well be in a future one.
My experience of working with editors has been exceptionally rewarding. Both Claire, who worked on the original draft, and Jan, on the latest one, took the opportunity to teach me how to write. They re-wrote a small sample of the manuscript, say a few pages, explaining why they made each change. I was then able to incorporate those methods in the rest of the manuscript.
Significant Re-work
Over the years the manuscript had passed through many “readers” of the various publishing houses who reviewed it, rarely was any comment made about needing to change plot or story elements. Typically all the queries related to the language and writing style. Accordingly, it came as somewhat of a surprise when I received Jan’s first five pages of review notes as they addressed the story, and the story alone.
Some very key elements of the story weren’t good enough.
I must have re-read those five pages and, the key scenes Jan was referencing, a hundred times that day. After swallowing my pride it soon dawned on me I had a lot of work to do. This wasn’t an edit. This was a re-write.
I was back at the beginning having to re-create scenes from scratch. So besides losing 20% of the manuscript I estimated I had to significantly amend 50% of the rest.
The final manuscript was due in Oxford by New Year’s Eve. Three months and counting.
I seriously questioned whether I could do it.
Let go of your story
One morning as I prayed prior to starting work on a particularly challenging scene that required major modification, I sensed this quiet nudge from the Lord: “Angelguard isn’t yours, Ian, it’s mine. I’ve invited you to write it. Do you think I’d abandon you now, this close to publication?”
Peace settled in my heart.
I can do this. Or more to the point He can do it. My executive editor is the Creator of the universe.
As the day passed and the new scene came together, I was able to reflect on the following:
“Our stories are His and He invites us to write them.”
This was incredible encouragement for me as I motored along each day. I was amazed how I was able to rapidly engineer new scenes, perform major surgeries on others plus modify characters with this fresh perspective.
I had set myself a target of mid-December so I could put the novel down for a few days before Christmas. Then give it a final read after Boxing Day before sending it off on 31 December.
It was a great feeling to reach that target.
If you’re struggling with your story may I encourage you to let it go. Thank God for the story by handing it back to Him. He might give it back. Maybe He won’t, because He has other stories in mind.  As challenging as that may be, press into Him and believe He will guide you.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, releases this month in the USA/Canada, UK in March and finally home sweet Oz, in May. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website and on his author Facebook page.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Terrible Curse of Harry Pharee

Harry was a lovely young man. He’d given his heart to the Lord when he was just a child and despite the various temptations of youth had come through the teenage years without having succumbed to the lure of alcohol, drugs or sex. He was proud of his accomplishment, and didn’t try to hide his religious fervour. ‘When I marry,’ he’d told his scoffing peers, ‘I will marry a virgin.’
He went from high school to university and joined the Christian’s on campus group. He stayed well away from all the left-winged activist groups, and took a strong stand for moral issues.
Then he met Caroline. Carrie was pretty much like Harry. She’d had a squeaky clean childhood, and sailed through the tumultuous teenage years without being effected too much. They fell in love and Harry asked Carrie to marry him. It was a beautiful wedding. They had their parent’s blessing, they shared their first communion together as man and wife. Carrie was proud of the fact that her white dress really did indicate that she was pure. They were the perfect Christian couple.
Without waiting too long, Harry and Carrie got involved with the local church youth ministry. They worked hard, and felt they were good role models to the younger people at church. They shared all sorts of strong tips on how to stay pure and live righteously. They rose in church leadership, and were widely accepted as a good, moral couple who reflected all the ways of God.
Then Jesus came to town.
Harry was quite upset to find out that Jesus didn’t have their church on his ministry schedule. In fact he didn’t have any of the churches on his ministry schedule. When they looked up to see how they could hear him speak they saw he was only to be found in the most worldly places. A pub, a nightclub, at one of those shocking street marches, he was on campus at a couple of places, but he was with those awful immoral crowd.
‘He’s trying to give us a message, I suppose,’ Carrie speculated. ‘I guess he’s trying to tell us to reach out to those in the world.’
‘Yes, I suppose you’re right,’ Harry agreed.
‘Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt.’
‘No I suppose not.’
So Harry and Carrie got some of their clean-living friends together and went down to the notorious red-light district where they heard Jesus was speaking.
‘It’s a shame how these people live,’ Carrie said sadly. ‘I’m glad I’ve never lived a life like that.’
‘I suppose we could help out with those soup kitchen people,’ Harry said. ‘They do a good job for these sorts of people.’
‘Yes, I think we could manage it a couple of times a month.’
‘And then we could bring a film crew down here so that we can record all the good work to encourage others.’
But when they went to offer their help at the soup kitchen, the leader of the group, frowned at them. ‘I’m not really sure you would be very much help’, he said.
‘Well, I never,’ Carrie was offended.
‘What could you expect from a man who is covered in tattoos? I’m not sure how he came to be in charge of a Christian ministry anyway. He’s divorced and has a criminal record.’
‘Yes, I think we would do better to pray for these poor folks. I’m not really sure they want to change.’

Poor old Harry and Carrie. They had spent their whole lives doing what they believed to be right. They’d lived righteously. But what they hadn’t noticed was how sin creeps into all hearts, including theirs. The more they did right, the more proud they felt about their self-control and their accomplishment of a pure record. The more they displayed that, the further away they were from the heart of the gospel.
Jesus didn’t come to show the sinners how bad they were. He came to show them how much he loved them, and how he had made a way of salvation for them. The problem was, Harry and Carrie missed the fact that they too were sinners. The more they considered how much good they were doing, the further away from the truth of salvation they were drifting.
Perhaps you think I’m a bit tough on Harry and Carrie Pharee. I guess you picked I was talking about the Pharisees, that group of religious people who Jesus got most annoyed with. The thing is, I don’t think the Pharisees are dead and gone. I think the curse of Harry Pharee lives on. How do I know this? Perhaps I relate to Harry and Carrie more than you know. In fact that’s why I call it a curse, because just when I think I’ve got it all sorted: when I recognise that I’m a sinner saved by grace the same as every other human on earth, I pat myself on the back and think, ‘aren’t I clever to have seen this?’
Doh! And back to square one I go.
I hope you chuckle at this and realise, like me, that we are all, every last one of us, on a journey of grace, where we need to be mindful of the magnificent love and sacrifice of Christ poured out for us. And that if we are going to show the love of Christ we have to be less pleased with our own achievements and more pleased with His.

Meredith Resce
Author of ‘The Heart of Green Valley’ Series, ‘Mellington Hall’ and other novels.

Monday, 4 February 2013

There is one think I don't like

There is one thing I don't like and that is series. It is always nice to have a series, but if you are buying books, it cost you more and can get expensive.

I have one series of seven books. I do have many other series, (3,4 ,5). There was one series I was glad I never started buying as I know there was more than 40. That would break my bank, and also having somewhere to put them.

I have self-published my first book  last year. I hadn't thought about doing a series (trilogy) As I was editing Rosewood, two other characters were telling me their stories had to be told.

I am writing book 2 now. I am happy it is a stand-alone book. The epilogue in Rosewood (book 1).kind of leads into it ,but it isn't needed to be read. I do have that people will want to read all three books in the series. That is mainly because i am to get sales.

Do you prefer series of single books? I do enjoy series as a reader you can get involved in the character's lives. If I don't have to buy the books (or get a special) it is great. It's when you realise the series is long is harder, especially on your wallet. You might be lucky if you local library carries a series of book you want to read. (Geelong library was great).

I don't buy many paper book at the moment as i now have a kindle. It is a lot cheaper to buy series on that.e
I have stand-alone books and series in my collection at home. I have enjoyed some of the series and didn't begrudge having to buy more than one book.

What do you prefer? and what do you write? How do you chose what buy and/or read?

Friday, 1 February 2013

A Trail of Ideas

Photo by Melanie Martinelli
One of the most common questions I am asked with regards to my writing is, 'where do you get your ideas?' Inspiration for a full length novel as a whole can come from various sources, such as dreams, historical facts that send of the imagination, or a particular set of circumstances that make me think 'what if?'
But lately, I've been noticing another kind of leading. The kind of inspiration that happens throughout the process of writing a story. Like a trail of sweet breadcrumbs which lead me on to the next tantalising idea and so on.
Sometimes it can be a photo I happen across on Facebook which could be applied to the current scene in my book. Or someone tells me a little anecdote which fits perfectly with my character's life, perhaps with a slight change or two. Even a song on the radio might have lyrics which stir something I can use in my story.
Then there are the ideas that come from sitting in church, listening to the sermon. It may sound rather irreligious (Amanda, weren't you paying attention in church?!), but sometimes I realise the message could be applied to my character's current issues and I see, all of a sudden, how he/she can deal with them.
It amazes me that all these tiny details seem to happen right when I need them in my current work in progress. Perhaps it is the Holy Spirit's guidance in some instances. And I guess, in some ways, it comes from always having my novel burning gently in the background of my consciousness, no matter what I'm doing.
So, how about you? What kind of things lead your story onward, developing it and giving it depth?

Amanda Deed resides in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne where she fills her time with work, raising a family, church activities and writing historical romance novels. Her new novel, Black Forest Redemption, was released on the 1st of October, 2012. For more information, see: