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

‘THE STORY BEHIND THE BOOK’ MAGIC FISH DREAMING

A wonderful reflection from the talented Helene Magisson, looking at behind the scenes of the creation of Magic Fish Dreaming.

Magic Fish Dreaming

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It has been a bit more than one year now, since June Perkins contacted me to illustrate Magic Fish Dreaming, a series of poems describing, with softness, mystery and humour, the beauty and richness of a region of Australia: the Far North Queensland.

This project immediately appealed to me for four reasons.

  1. June’s approach suggested a rich and elegant personality which, I felt, I would have a lot of pleasure to work with.
  2.  I like poetry especially when it targets children. It is a wonderful way to tell things, and a book of poetry is full of stories to be read and listened to. Words play with sounds and images play with words.
  3.  I love Australia, a country I discovered 5 years ago. This is one of the few countries that still offers completely wild and pristine areas. A country in which we can be easily and…

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World Building with Marianne de Pierres.

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Marianne in action

On the weekend I attended an inspiring workshop in the Writelinks Workshop Series with Marianne de Pierres.

“She is the award winning author of the acclaimed Parrish Plessis, Sentients of Orion and Peacemaker science fiction series. Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and three galahs. Her Night Creatures series, Burn Bright, Angel Arias and Shine Light has been very popular among young adult fiction readers. Marianne is also the Davitt award-winning author of the Tara Sharp humourous crime series under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt. (From Good Reads)

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During our two hour workshop we focused  on developing ‘settings as characters’ and how to make them best reflect our characters’ emotions.

We examined the ‘strengths and pitfalls of tropes'(they can easily become cliches), the central importance of story even as we work on settings and we gained experience ‘tethering our landscapes to emotions and character.’

Marianne engaged us to listen and pay attention to the topics she was raising through not only the content but the style of her delivery.  She did not stand still in one spot at the front but walked up and down the room to engage with us as a group.   She was keen to show us, not just tell us about the concepts she was explaining. Her face and hands were expressive.

We read examples silently and aloud.  She encouraged us always to be ‘critical readers’.

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Participants engaging with the topic

Marianne explained the concepts of setting as characters using: examples, question and answer and practicals exercises.  She had us spend about ten minutes during the session thinking of our own setting and writing it using some of the principles she had introduced us to.

As a group we suggested settings as character and one example that came up was the Tardis! We felt the tardis is an interesting character that is; protective, reliable, unreliable, mysterious, contradictory.

The Secret Garden was another example of a powerful setting reflecting the transformation of its central character’s emotional journey.

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Participants in the Workhop, asking questions

Marianne gave us choices of what we might like her  to cover towards the end of the session. We chose ‘transmedia’ from the options.

She ended her workshop sharing the many opportunities for writers to develop their stories across platforms in a world where ‘transmedia’ is the future of storytelling.

I’d say this was one of the best discussions and explanations I have heard for personification and am inspired to adopt this into my writing and do some more critical reading looking out for writers who do it well.

A participant asked why people write things that might be challenging to them, that require research, and not just what they know, and to that Marianne, responded with her story of her immense love of astronomy even though it is not her field of expertise and that she just loves writing it.

She encouraged us to surround ourselves with ‘expert friends, ‘ who can educate us about their passions which we share and want to convey in books,  rather than just books and online research. Sometimes it is just so much easier to ask someone who knows the field you are trying to write about and they will fill you in on details you need to get right.

Research is an important skill for speculative fiction writers, but it is important not to get ‘lost down the well of research.’  As some point you have to write.  Some writers like to research as they go, not before they start writing.

As many of us were writers for children and young adults, she told us how important for us to not make silly mistakes when writing about things we are not expert in but want to have as settings for our books.  Children not only deserve that respect but will pick up any mistakes if it is something they love.

I definitely want to read JG Ballard after this workshop!

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Here is what I wrote in the session:

First Draft

My cocoon of glow wormed light swaddles me as if first born,
so quiet, it’s full of heart beats,
and it lights my way to safety within its cold cave walls.
Those outside can’t see it,
because the grass haired roof would confuse them.
 It is camouflaged and the oasis of cool within the searing heat
would remain hidden, unless
they knew just where the doorway sang.

(c) June Perkins

I am loving the writer’s workshops through Writelinks, and feel they give me a lot of support to keep developing my writing skills.

I highly recommend  this workshop series and have enjoyed the presenters we have had this year.  This week I will apply some of the learning from the weekend into a series of short stories, possibly novellas, that I am working on.

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Sam Sochacka presenting thank you certificate.

 

Precious Painting; Precious Times

youngjune2bA catch up on life this year. Making head way with my writing! Thanks so much to those who have been supporting and following the journey!

Following the Crow Song

youngjune2b Me as Young Artist – by Edward Broomhall

I was delighted to receive this photograph of attending an art class in my childhood from our art teacher at that time.

Thanks Edward!

I remember this experience and this jumper so well.

It was one of my favourite jumpers, due to the multicoloured randomness of the pattern, and the soft feel of the wool.

I remember painting a self portrait of myself in the jumper to capture how special it was to me as well, and never forgot it or the painting day.

I think that will be a poem one day for sure.

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I have written my early childhood up to when I was twenty and am letting that peculate for a while before deciding where to finish the story of growing up or whether to continue into student hood for my first book.

Work progresses on Magic Fish…

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A Long Way From Misery

Jacqui Halpin, Jack Turner, A Long Way from Misery, Book   Launch-1

Jacqui Halpin is an Australian children’s author whose stories have won prizes in writing competitions and been published in anthologies. She attributes her love of storytelling to her father, Jack Turner. ‘Listening to the amazing adventures Dad had growing up stirred my imagination and transported me back to his world,’ Jacqui says. Jacqui has co-written her father’s memoir, A LONG WAY FROM MISERY, which is a rollicking journey through the Australia of yesteryear with a true Aussie larrikin who grew up on a farm called Misery.

 Jacqui is passionate about preserving the social history of Australia for future generations and is currently writing a series of historical junior fiction novels inspired by her father’s adventures growing up.

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June: Can you give us a short synopsis of the book?

Jacqui: A Long Way from Misery takes you on a rollicking journey through the Australia of yesteryear with Jack Turner, the larrikin shearer, as he rescues his brother from being drowned by a kangaroo, rides a wild steer through the house, and leaps off a moving train. But these misadventures are nothing compared to his mother wielding a carving knife.

Born in 1926, Jack lived in a different time, but the way he sees it, they were better days. He loved his childhood growing up with his siblings and mates on a farm called Misery, and retells it with delight.

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June:  Tell us a bit more about your Dad.

Jacqui: Dad has entertained many friends, family, and acquaintances over his long life with the tales of his younger years. He is a quick-witted larrikin who loves to laugh and make others laugh.

He was born in Rylstone, New South Wales in 1926, and raised on a farm called Misery. He moved to Queensland in 1956 and lives in Brisbane with his wife of 53 years, his three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A former shearer with no education and a rough and ready upbringing, Jack’s ‘that’ll do me’ attitude has stayed with him throughout his long life and seen him through many a scrape. Hard-working, and with the ingenuity born from being raised in the bush, Jack has built and fixed everything from houses to toys.

He has had too many jobs to mention, met too many people to remember, and had too many adventures to record. He has lived an ordinary life full of extraordinary stories.

June: How long have you been working on Long Way from Misery?

Jacqui : It’s 12 years this month since my dad first gave me the audio tapes of the stories he could remember from his childhood and youth and I said I’d turn them into a book.

June: What was it like working with your Dad on writing the book?  Highlights? Challenges?  Any funny stories?

Jacqui:I don’t regret one minute that I’ve spent with Dad working on ‘the book’. I do regret that I has taken me this long, and now two of his brothers will never get to read it. If I knew back then what I know now it would have been published in half the time. One of the challenges was to put some sort of order to Dad’s stories.

He had a lot of stories (there wasn’t room for them all in the book) but he didn’t remember them in chronological order, if he had it would have made my job a hell of a lot easier.

We had so many laughs creating this book. I can’t remember what about exactly but just sitting round the kitchen table at Mum and Dad’s place laughing at what Dad was saying. Mum, too, has a great sense of humour. She has made countless cups of tea and lunches for me while we were working, and looked up the spelling of many obscure places that Dad shore at. And not with the aid of google, with a map and a magnifying glass.

One of the highlights while putting this book together was that Dad and I went to Rylstone and he guided me out to Misery Farm. It’s not called that now. Only the real old timers remember it as that. But dad found his way out there and I got to have a look around his old hut and take photos and get a better idea of how they lived. It’s falling down, which is a shame.

It was great to see Rylstone and walk with him on the streets that he walked as a child. And visit the pubs and the dance halls and the shearing sheds he had many an adventure in. I even got to meet some of his old mates too.

 June: What were your emotions on the launch day?  Where did you hold it and why?  What was the program?

Jacqui: Launch Day was a lot of work but well worth it. It was a celebration of all the hard work. A rejoicing for what we had accomplished. I could not have done it without the help of my family who were helping out all day.

My daughter, Emily, even had shirts made for the occasion. There was a great turn out of people. It was so uplifting to see so many friends and family there supporting us. Dad had a smile on his face all day.

It was held in Decker Park at Brighton because that’s where Dad and his family camped when they first moved up to Queensland. We had tea and damper and Hard Timer biscuits just like Dad’s mother made whenever visitors turned up at Misery. They were a hit. So many people asked for the recipe. I’ve now put the recipe on our blog.

Book Signing, Jacqui Halpin

 June: Why was it important for you to publish this book and set up your own press to do so?

Jacqui: I’d tried for several years to get a publisher, and although we had some interest, an agent read the first two chapters in 21/2 hours and asked for more, but no one would commit. Dad will be 90 this year. I couldn’t wait any longer. Besides, as Dad always says, ‘If you want something done, do it yourself.’ So that’s what we did.

 June: What role have writing buddies played in assisting you through the journey of writing, editing, and publication?

Jacqui: I have had a tremendous amount of help from my Write Link friends with this project. Their advice in self-publishing has been invaluable. Seeing the success of self-published authors like Karen Tyrrell, Charmaine Clancy and Nickolas and Alison Lochel, showed me that it was possible to do this self-publishing thing and do it well. I went through Book Cover Café and I could not have done it without them either. Anthony and his team were brilliant. I mean, you just have to look at the cover. I love the cover of our book! Anthony designed that.

A Long Way from Misery is available on Amazon or, for signed copies, through the authors at crownmountainpress@yahoo.com

For more information about Jacqui and her writing please visit her website:

jacquihalpin.com or follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/jacquihalpinwriter

Jacqui Halpin, Jack Turner, A Long Way from Misery, Book   Signing-1

Congratulations Jacqui, and thanks so much for your visit to the blog!