Walking out the Writing Beginning Blues

June Perkins. Taken on my phone

Dear Readers,

Walking and thinking are truly a cure for a bad case of procrastinating starting something new.

Recently I have been  constantly perched at my desk, and sometimes a lovely green recliner chair in front of the fish tank (that is when I can ‘rent’ some time from my daughter who just loves this chair) planning and planning a new novel, character by character,  scene by scene, and furiously studying how to build scenes through reading a text-book.

I’ve been researching setting (more still to do) and yet the first pages remained unwritten for several weeks.

I’ve been writing other things; four poems, a short prose piece,  a short observation piece; as well as editing several picture books.

I’ve been reading quite a few books for children, young adults and adults to see what I like in my own reading and what techniques I like from other writers.

I’ve been avoiding my novel project.

But a couple of days ago I knew I just had to start doing the hard yards of writing and completing my first novel, lest this become the novel unwritten!

I began to do more walking. Something about the fresh air, and moments to observe and day-dream suddenly lead to a productive writing session of the opening! As I walked the voice to open the novel became clear. That’s it!  I suddenly felt like the journey of writing this novel was on!

Now heading into my third day of writing I have four scenes,  and have established three central characters.  I have made a pledge not to miss a novel writing session every day, even if its short, it is the sticking at it that is going to get me through, together with some change of scenes, and thinking breaks when required throughout the day, and of course I do have other things to do, being a mum, running a household, being a tutor and conquering some other things in life to enable me to grow as a human being.

I am doing the first draft, and have a goal of when I would like to complete it.

The outline does make me feel more confident that I can do this, although the characters may do some dynamic things, but I have a compass for them to help us all make it to the end.

Switching from short forms to long forms and finishing long forms has been a bit of an issue for me, and a recent realisation that many of my short stories are novels, or novellas in the making is a jolt to the writing senses.  I have actually started three novels and not completed them.  I could sigh,  and say, ‘I just have to do this and make it through the first one!’  But I want a better attitude than that, and want that being in the flow writing experience. I do so love these characters and want to honour them!

On one of my trips out into the real world – I came across this random cafe poetry. It made me chuckle.   It reminded me this novel cannot be completed by being chained to my desk.

June Perkins. Taken on my phone

Wondering about the opening

Apathy sets in

Lingering on other tasks until

Kickstarting this dream with the first scene after a walk.

Well I can’t stop in too long to this blog because there is a novel waiting for its next scene and a few submissions to put in so as to earn a crust.

Yes, I am walking today, and who knows what novelistic ideas I will daydream whilst I walk through my next scene.

Have a brilliant week wherever you are, and don’t forget the power of a walk and dream session!

All the best,

June

How to Illustrate a Children’s Novel

Captain Astra

Regular visitors to my blog have met Karen, today’s guest, before but for those who haven’t I’ll introduce her.

Karen Tyrrell, is an award winning children’s resilience author who recently launched her second book in the Super Space Kids series, Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra, an action-packed FUN space adventure for kids 7-12 into the cosmos.

We first met at Writelinks a writing group for Children and Young Adults which we both attend; I have been following her writing and publishing journey ever since, as well as attending her fabulous workshops on writing, distribution, and publishing.

Karen is a dynamo, and her outlook on life infectious.  She inspires children, teachers, writers and countless more with her stories and I am proud to know her.

Today I was really interested in asking Karen how she found and worked with the illustrator of her Super Space Kids Series.

1.June: How did you locate a suitable illustrator for Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra?

Karen:  Luckily for me, Trevor Salter illustrated the animated cover of my children’s novel STOP the Bully.

AND he created the cover and the internal illustrations for Jo-Kin Battles the It , Book 1 in the Super Space Kids series. Kids loved these illustrations so much, I begged Trevor to illustrate Book 2, Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra, Trevor loves illustrating robots, monsters and aliens so he was keen to create my next heroes and villains.

If you are searching for a new illustrator, you can follow a process. First research what illustrative style suits your novel. Discover which illustrators portray your style and genre. Ask those in the know to recommend the most suitable and talented illustrators. Seek quotes from two or three illustrators by sending your brief of the intended project (details of the timeline and what you want the illustrator to do).

2.June: How did you choose which scenes to illustrate for Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra?

Karen: Select scenes that children will love and will add extra pizazz to your story. Children love to see what their favourite characters, monsters, robots and aliens look like. Choose scenes bursting with humour, action or on the brink of an exciting turning point.

Pic 1 Commander Nova pressures reluctant hero, Jo-Kin to leave school and to save his little sister Pandora and the galaxy.

Commander Nova & Jo-Kin

Pic 2 Meet Joshua’s embarrassing family: Dad, Mum, sister Stella and brother Marty.

Jo-Kin's wacky family

Pic 3 Meet Lord Terra in one of his evil disguises and his stinky side-kick Prince Poison.

Lord Terra ( in disguise) & Prince Poison

3. June: What’s the illustrative process from brief to publishing for Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra?

Karen: I created a detailed brief describing each scene and characters in detail so the illustrator had a clear picture of what to draw.

The illustrator roughly sketched each drawing, requesting my feedback. I then commented on how to improve the drawings so they reach my vision goal. When I was satisfied, the illustrator created a final high definition version.

4. June: What are your top tips to create the best illustrations?  

Karen:  1-Find the BEST illustrator you can afford, who suits your style and genre. 2-Choose the most exciting scenes to illustrate the text. Ones which will bring your story to life. 3- Visualise each scene.  4-Describe the characters and their emotions …and the scene in precise detail in the brief.

 

Terra OUT NOW

Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra, an illustrated humorous novel for kids 7-12 r is eceiving *5 STAR reviews. Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra, is available at Dymocks, Riverbend, The Book Garden, Angus & Robertson Mary Ryans, Amazon and selected stores.

Connect with Karen Tyrrell here:

Website Facebook  Twitter

9780994302137

Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra Blog Tour 23 May–I June

To celebrate Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra  launch Karen is hosting Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra Blog Tour and Book Giveaway. Co-hosts will share out-of-this-world book reviews, interviews and blog posts.

Karen will zoom away signed copies of her book Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra and galactic prizes via the websites below. Please leave a comment on the websites to WIN.

23 May Amazon & Blog Tour Launch www.karentyrrell.com

24 May Writing Kids Comedy, Melissa Wray http://melissawray.blogspot.com.au

25 May Create a Powerful Hero Character, Alison Stegert https://ali-stegert.com

From Vomit Draft to the Pull of Memorable Characters: Saturday Writing Sagas 1

work hair
EvilErin, Flickr Creative Commons – Work Hair

The second draft of my nanowrimo novel (2009) is calling out to me and saying, ‘why aren’t you writing me.’ I have many pat answers and excuses, but most of all it’s fear I don’t get rid of the right characters. There were so many sub plots and characters in the ‘vomit draft’ that I knew I had a series on my mind.

The long slog of planning an entire series was avoided, until in a workshop I planned it out on butcher’s paper. For a month I was excited to begin and then said to myself firmly ‘no, I’m just too busy.’ I think I had a photo exhibition at the time. This was followed by asking my draft readers (yes I crazily had draft readers on the nanowrimo novel) which characters they were attached to. More procrastination!

Lately I read book after book in the nanowrimo project genre and write almost anything else, whether it’s a blog, short story, children’s story, song, poem, article, memoir, and still that nanowrimo novel haunts me like a knock from some zombie on roller skates at my dreaming door, saying the problem is ‘you’re not centred and single minded girl.’

How to lean into the fear and just begin? Perhaps I should avoid reading the draft at all, and just write the characters that still call to me.

The books I love whatever their genre have amazing and enthralling characters that stay with you. You care about their fate; you want them to do well; you love their idiosyncrasies  They do not bore you; they often surprise you but paradoxically are steady and believable. What’s to fear – I want to create and have others meet characters like that.

My need to meet them overrides my fear.

(Originally written in response to a Write Practice challenge  http://thewritepractice.com/excited-about-rejection/)

Project Focus 1: Learning to Finish Things

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Pool of Creativity – June Perkins

There is so much going on in my creativity plans that I have to learn to FOCUS.  As if fate was taking a hand in this epiphany a friend posted a novel writing template today and encouraged people to finish their projects with it or any other PLAN.  I feel this is the perfect time for me to  do something well beyond the scope of my weekly blogs, guest blogs or a set creative project commissioned or voluntary for others.  I still want to make films and develop my photography, and I do need to do commissions for the cash, but one thing I can do regardless of money and equipment is get on with writing stories I am really passionate about and intrigued by – who knows one might even be a brilliant film idea and I will just know it when that happens and be passionate to devote even more time to it.

So with my friend’s  template in hand I am embarking on a quest to finish my projects!  The hardest thing in getting started is dipping into the pool of creativity and working out which half finished project to go back to, or whether to totally start from scratch.  Should it be:

1- Nanowrimo fantasy novel from 2009 and planned in a workshop.

2- Memoir pieces which I have been sporadically writing, and several which can be drawn from my blog.

3- Blogs of Cyclone Yasi (this one has been drafted so many times, its more editing and working out the best structure).

4- Historical fiction novel idea after a few days of brainstorming and looking for my story.

5-  Children’s poetry book (not a novel but in need of a polish for my ever patient illustrator).

6- A series of songs or poetry novel.

7- Historical fiction series for young readers I want to co-write with my hubby.

8- Several short stories – are they actually novel ideas????

9- Writing and creating short films, but with more of a script.

10- A Brilliant idea for a play I have had for 9 years and it is still itching in my head.

Which of the projects above in my list would you work on the most?

See told you my head was bursting with ideas – that’s not my problem, but focus! Hmmm………..

My old primary school teacher said – ‘you have enough for many years of projects’ and this is my challenge for the next two days – Work out which one is the most urgent, timely and one that I feel passionate enough about to stick it through the hard days and not feel I am on the wrong track.  No time for abandoning whatever I set out to do this time, it is the time to COMPLETE.

It occurs to me that a couple of projects are almost complete, maybe I could do those at the same time and have this primary project being driven along firmly by the template.  All it takes will be some serious work ethics and a don’t give up attitude.  Will this make me lose focus, or will completing those almost complete projects drive my determined project along even faster. I could see what a month teaches me and take it from there.

For relaxation – I will be doing  photography,  reading , and make short poetry films- which might find ways of driving my writing.   I will eat well and exercise (especially running!) to give myself energy to write.   Whatever happens in my life I want to keep on with my goal, so if I get a day job to help the family out or commissions I will still set time aside for this great propelling project.

What will I cut down on? Probably spending so much time on social networking, other than to touch base with sources that will encourage my writing project .  This is really neccessary as every second counts, and I need to find a daily rhythm.  Watching useless television to relax – replace with walking, reading, quality time with the kids and hubby, and good quality films.  As for blogging: a reflection on how I am going and a photograph here and there will be the way to go.  This is part of learning to FOCUS.

What else can I make more time for? Research trips to library and life to help me with the novel.  At least telephone chats or a coffee with close friends now and then and then back into the world of  finishing  a writing project.

So here we go,  let Project Focus begin.  Thanks to  all my friends who have been reading my sporadic writing efforts and the nanowrimo novel draft, as well as to Traditional Evolution.  

I am going to FOCUS now.

(c) June Perkins

Pandora’s Box of Imagination: Confessions of a Budding Novelist

Image: Leaf on Stair

So over the weekend my close writing confidant read the chapters I had already completed on the novel, and the verdict was close to my own, some settings and characters have to be saved for other books. I need to streamline. Imagine doing that with close personal friends who you know the whole history of. I can’t keep you my friend, not now anyway, for you are not forwarding my personal progress. I have to put you to one side and press onwards.  Bye, bye dear ‘wall paper. ‘  Yet as my friend says the wall paper can reappear, the characters can come back in new novels.  They can take centre stage where now they might be background.  I have to liberate them.  Goodness one might even say I have to place them into stasis for a while.  They are all having a collective coma, saying, ‘write me, write me…soon please finish that first novel so I can come alive.’

How special is it to have someone that has the patience to see the potential in something you are creating and not crush it, but say ‘keep going.’   Furthermore, to give you just the right sort of critical comment to make you construct a stronger text.  Honesty is important in the process as I would much rather that my reader from nanowrimo told me the truth – and didn’t just give me a comment that evaded the truth, better to have it now than from a publisher saying it needed so much more work, or they didn’t finish reading it.

So this is my week for plots and outlines, and my reader has to wait. The book will be transformed, but the quest will be the same. Some characters are for the future and so I bid farewell to them for a while. They will lie dormant as if in a Pandora’s box of creative writing.  I have to be careful not to open that box because the novel cannot have too many characters.  My readers simply will not cope.  I am carefully placing some characters and settings into that Pandora’s box of my own imagination and putting a big rock – probably one from my own childhood memories, on top of that box.  There, now I can’t open it for a while, and they can’t jump out.   It’s a new day and I can begin to write again!

(c) June Perkins, all rights reserved, words and image.