Monday, 23 February 2015

Writer workshop Canberra Australia, Sunday March 15, 2015

 
Get Motivated to Write with a Little INK-couragement with Debbie Richardson

11:30am–1:30pm Sunday 15 March

To succeed takes patience, persistence, and passion. But how do we stay patient, persistent, and passionate throughout our long and often lonely writing journey?

Today's author needs to be mentally prepared to battle through the multitude of writers that are appearing daily on the scene. I'll share with you helpful lessons I've learned throughout my writing career, plus you'll take home tips that will keep you fuelled to keep writing, keep writing, and keep writing.

This seminar will cover:
  • How to find more time to write by saying no (and not feel guilty about saying no)
  • How to turn rejection from a red light into a green light
  • How to find your inner determination to keep writing
  • How publishers and editors are thinking, and why you should think that way, too
  • How to apply everyday situations to improve your mental stamina
Debbie Richardson writes speculative fiction as D L Richardson. She began writing in 1996 at a time when Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice were her influences. Many of her earlier works remain unpublished but she never gave up doing what she loved. Her first short story was published in 2005, and she has had four more short stories published, four novels, one short story anthology, and a novella. She is currently working on a four book series.

Cost: $25 members, $40 non-members
Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

50 Shades vs Sex and the City

One of my favourite TV shows is Sex and the City. I have all the DVDs, the TV shows, the movies, I adore this show. I even have an etched SATC cosmopolitan glass with from when I worked at Paramount Pictures and it was used as marketing material.

So, considering how much I love Sex and the City, you'd think that I'd like 50 Shades of Grey. But I don't. The difference between the two is vast.

I cared about what happened to Charlotte, Carrie, Samantha, and Miranda. Sometimes they were selfish. Sometimes they were reckless. Sometimes I couldn't understand how it could be so difficult to find Mr Right. The thing is, I cared about what happened to them. I laughed with them. I cried with them. I wanted them to find the love of their life. I hated it when they fought and didn't talk to one another. And I freely admit I loved Big.




I didn't finish reading 50 Shades of Grey. And it had nothing to do with the writing. I just couldn't connect with either character and I didn't care what happened to them. They could have slipped off a cliff and I would have said, "Meh. Fish will get a feed tonight."

Both stories are uber-successful. Both writers are uber-successful. (Sex and the City is based in part on a book of the same name by Candice Bushnell). Both writers have the type of success all writers dream of.

When 50 Shades first came out, my husband asked why I didn't write something like that.

I don't begrudge E L James her success. Often, these mass widespread successes are driven by the market, not the publisher or marketing campaigns. In my opinion, this book came at a time when adults were fleeing the YA market (Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer) and these women wanted something to distance themselves from teenagers. What is more distant to a coming of age vampire novel than bondage. 

The market i.e the readers made 50 Shades the success it is. There's no point yelling at E L James. She wrote a book. It went supernova. Every writer on the planet wants their book to go supernova. But this does open up the question of whether a writer would write something they don't particularly care for if it sold books and made them money.

I don't even bother contemplating writing a book like 50 Shades. It's not what I write. It's not why I write. I much prefer the interaction between the SATC girls and their men than I do the interaction between Ana and Christian.

So would I be E L James for the money? Much to my husband's disappointment, the answer is no. Much like in love where there is a line that can be crossed where we settle for less than we want, I can't trade money for my conscience. Pity. I'd like a new house, new clothes, to give up work, new furniture...

Friday, 13 February 2015

At what point should you give up writing?

I started writing in 1996. I didn't know what I was doing and I've come a long way, yet I still consider everything up until now to be training. I now have six books published and I should be saying, yah for me, dream come true, that hard work has paid off, good on me for following my dreams. But instead, I stand at the crossroads wondering if I will ever find success.

I don't sell a lot of books. I advertise. Nothing. I promote. Nothing. I do blog tours. Nothing. The best success I've had selling books is in person at work or at the local markets. But this method of selling makes for a very long, hard slog if I am to sell twenty-five million copies. I'd need to be Katy Perry just to have one tenth of that number in the one room. And it would take a billion hours to personally talk to every single person.

So, should I give up? Should I give myself a deadline? Should I say, okay I'll finish the series I'm currently writing and then say, if I haven't sold a million copies, then I give up?


We've all heard the phrase never give up on your dreams. We've also heard how hard work pays off. We've read the success stories. Here's a great article on 9 famous people who will inspire you to never give up https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-famous-people-who-will-inspire-you-to-never-give-up

Stephen King was so poor he didn't have a telephone and he received 60 rejections before selling his short story for $35. J. K. Rowling was a single mother on government aid and had to manually type up her manuscripts to send to publishers.



Yet, many successful people are still the exceptions. There are thousands more writers who continue to submit manuscripts, continue to publish, and continue to face a hard slog selling their books. So is it better to fail, than to quit?

Michael Jordon once said, "I have missed 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

I saw the movie Wild the other week. It stars Reese Witherspoon and is based on the book by Cheryl Strayed and is a story of a woman who needed to get her head together so she walked a thousand miles in 94 days. She considered giving up a lot of times. Who wouldn't? At all points in this sort of journey there is a way out. And at some point there is also the road of no return - you've come so far you might as well keep going.

I think there's a huge difference between considering giving up and actually giving up. We should be asking ourselves if what we're doing is worth it? And if we walk away and say "yes it is", then we know not to give up.

Christopher Reeve, whom I loved as Superman, became a quadriplegic. He took a moment every day to  acknowledge his situation. "In the morning, I need twenty minutes to cry," he said. "To wake up and make that shift, you know, and just to say, 'This really sucks' to really allow yourself the feeling of loss." And then he would  say, "And now forward," and move on with his day. He didn't allow his situation to stop him. He took what he had and tried his best to help others. He never gave up. But then, super heroes don't.



Australian crime thriller author, Michael Robotham made a really great point when I saw him speak at the Sydney writers Festival last year. On writing and giving up he said, "If they banned writing and you hid in a basement to write while people overhead stomped around in the search of writers, then you should keep writing."

And so shall I. I don't begrudge people questioning my commitment. Do it! Bring it on! I dare you to motivate me. By questioning me, you help me to pause and reflect and realise that what I'm doing is worth it TO ME. I have a dream. I have a vision. I have a goal. And I will fail a thousand times rather than give up.

And so I will leave you with this piece of advice. Whatever dream you have, do it as if you are the only person who has the zombie cure and you won't rest until you have saved humanity or died trying.


 


About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.
You can check out her more about books at her website www.dlrichardson.com

Monday, 2 February 2015

Why writers should meet their readers in person

Writers like to live in their towers and conjure up stories of ogres and maidens, robots and renegades, damsels and scoundrels, killers and victims. The perfect image in my mind of a writer's haven in a quiet villa in the south of France or Tuscany or Greece or Spain. Isolation is key. But isolation can lead us down a dangerous path toward boring writing. We are writing about people's lives, people's adventures, and yet we're content to stay hidden in our tower. What are we afraid of?
writer's tower

Recently I decided to set up a stall at the local markets to sell some author stock and to get me out of my comfort zone or getting "out there" as I refer to it. Here's what happened:

I set up the stall and put up signs that read:

MEET LOCAL AUTHORS DEBBIE AND MIRREN
(I shared a stall with another writer to reduce costs)
SUPPORT LOCAL WRITERS
"I HAVE TOO MANY BOOKS" SAID NO READER EVER.

My books covered most of the table and Mirren's book was to the side of mine. One customer stood in front of my pile of The Bird with The Broken Wing and asked who the author was. I jumped up and said me. She shook my hand! (I was pleasantly surprised). She asked if I'd sign a book if she bought one and I said of course I would. I sign every book I personally sell (haven't met a person yet who bought a book from me without getting an autograph) and so she bought a copy. Then she took a photo of me and said she'd put it on Facebook. Wow, by now I'm feeling like I'm a famous author.

famous author Stephenie Meyer

Maybe a buyer shopping on line might have a similar reaction when buying my books (I can dream) but I'd never get to see their happy face. 

Another customer admired the books but said he owned a Kindle now., so I handed him a bookmark with my website address as all my books are on ebook. Maybe he'll buy a book. Maybe not. But I've connected with him and that is an important part of selling books.


http://www.amazon.com/Little-Red-Gem-ebook/dp/B00FUMQDUO/ref=la_B00717D7KU_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383280608&sr=1-1
bookmark

The most fascinating part of the day was when a teenage girl stopped at the stall and asked me if I remembered her. Yes, I did.

We met two years ago and she told me about a green parrot she had called Elf. I told her I loved that name and one day I'd put him in a book. So  while she was standing at the stall I picked up Little Red Gem and told her Elf was a character. You should have seen the way her entire body lit up.
depiction of whole body lighting up
She ran to her parents to get some more money to buy the book. So there are effectively two points to this particular part of the story. The first being that if I hadn't taken the time to speak to her in the first place I would have created a character, perhaps a dog, and every book has dogs, not many have pet parrots. And the second point is that if I had not have gone to the markets  that day I would not have run into her to tell her about Elf being immortalised in fiction. It's safe to say that Little Red Gem is now going to be her favourite book of all time. It's what I'd do.

And after that came another customer who admired the books and then left. She returned ten minutes later saying "I have to support local writers". My sign SUPPORT LOCAL WITERS had worked on a subconscious level and was the deciding factor for her purchase. If I had not been there she would have gone home or bought from another stall. Yet, by meeting the reader face to face, I made the connection and thus the sale.

So if you write about people's lives and adventures, then you should think about getting "out there" , get out of the tower and into the real world to meet these people whose lives and adventures you are writing about. Real people add real details to a story that we might overlook or consider of no significance (I still love that I have a parrot called Elf as a character). And getting "out there" has bolstered my confidence levels so that I can chase up workshops, manuscript submissions, book stores for book signings, all the other types of promotion that are can be done from a writer's tower but not as effectively.



About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.
You can check out her more about books at her website www.dlrichardson.com




Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The lost art of letter writing

Remember when we used to write letters? And I don't mean the cover letter for a job application or the complaint letter to the newspaper. I mean a heartfelt letter to someone we haven't seen for a while or may never see again. Perhaps a love letter, or a breakup letter. A letter to a soldier with news from back home, or from a soldier with news from the front. A letter to a long lost aunt about an orphaned child.

There is a beauty to be found in a personal letter that cannot be found in today's email. I'll show you some examples of what I mean.

Example of a letter from a gentlemen to a lady confessing a change of sentiment:

Your note has opened my eyes to the fully and wrong of the course I have pursued of late. All night I have been pacing my floor, trying to decide what course it was my duty to pursue, and I have decided to answer you as frankly as you desire. I will not attempt to excuse myself, for I deserve your anger, but I will only say that I was myself deceived in my own feelings. When I asked you to marry me, I believed that we were congenial, and that I could make you happy. I was not rich, but had sufficient, as I thought, for comfort, and thinking you would be content with a moderate competency, I invited you to share mine. Closer intimacy has proved my error. Your extravagant wishes are utterly beyond my means, and your bitter and sarcastic remarks upon those of your friends who are not wealthy prove that you covet a life of luxury.

To be honest, growing up I rarely wrote letters. I never had a pen pal because I never went anywhere to find one. I walked to school with my friends and we'd talk along the way. I wrote a few letters though. One to my father whom I didn't see that often and I wanted to update him on what was happening in my life (he didn't have a phone). One  letter I wrote to him never got posted.  It was about getting my first novel published and my new house on the coast. and spoke of how I wished we weren't so estranged. Sadly, I never posted this letter. It held a lot more emotion than the letter I did post, which is perhaps why I never posted it. When it comes to letter writing, I'm very secretive. What if someone read it?

This is the language we use now:

Hey, just checking that you’re free on the weekend for a catch up. I’m thinking either dinner or morning tea. Haven’t seen you for ages and I’ve got good news to share. Hope you can make it. Let me know. Love you and take care. Bye.

There is a vast difference between the tone and language of the two examples. Is it because technology provides us with the notion that 140 characters is all we are allowed to use to express ourselves? Or has our diamond (the verbose  and colourful language we used to partake in) been honed down so much that is resembles a pebble (catchya, LOL, BTW)?

It makes me wonder if we're happier now that the emotion is stripped out of the message. I used to panic that people would read my deepest thoughts and feelings. And judge me. Are we so afraid of people passing our letters around to others and mocking us? Are we so worried that these letters will be used as examples in future posts?

Are we missing out on connecting with our friends by leaving out the heartfelt emotion, whether it is anger or hurt or love? Are we denying our friends the opportunity to sit under a sunny sky and read a letter from afar? There are so many questions and nobody I can write to. in order to express my confusion, not like in the old days where I could have asked a long lost aunt.

We no longer talk. We text. So it's not the writing form of communication that we're revolting against. Perhaps it's the emotion. So what happened to the letter writing? And will it ever make a comeback? Perhaps they have been replaced with novels. I know there is no shortage of people wanting to share a story.

What was the last letter you ever wrote and how did you write it to? I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.


About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.



Friday, 23 January 2015

Everything I learned about blogging I learned from Carrie Bradshaw

Like all authors, I have an author platform. I blog and post on social media, yet up to now I've always been led to believe that everything I blog or post about should be about 'writing'. Let me tell you, this is very limiting, hence the reason I rarely blogged. What do I say about writing that's of interest to anyone other than another writer? And why would I only want to reach that audience? I only want to read about writing if I need to learn something such as when is it okay to kill off a character? and even then I Google it or I bring it up at an author's group.

It was after reading Kristen Lamb's book for authors, Rise of the Machines I realised that I was right to doubt it was only writers and avid readers who were my only audience. I receive Kristen's regular blog posts straight to my inbox and even though some of the content isn't my particular area of interest on that day, I read her articles because she's a fabulous storyteller.

I say article because I actually hate the word blog. It sounds like something is caught in the back of my throat. So I think of these as articles and that's how I approach writing them. But as I said, up to now the focus was on 'writing' only. Kristen's book highlighted to me that the optimum market for books isn't the avid book reader. It's everyone else. And when I was given the freedom to write about what interests me and what has so far shaped me as a person, the ideas began to flow. I keep a track of them all in a notebook. A conversation sparks an idea. Reading a newspaper article sparks an idea. I feel like Carrie Bradshaw - an idea sparks and off I run to my laptop.

I'll start first off by declaring my love for Sex and the City. I began watching it when I started dating my (now) husband. I used to come home after a date and want to bang my head against a wall and scream "what the hell is wrong with men?" Then I'd watch Sex and the City and I'd forget all about my man troubles and get swept up in their lives and somehow I knew everything would be okay. And it did work out okay. It's still one of my favourite TV shows.

 
Anyone familiar with the show knows that Carrie Bradshaw gets an article idea mostly from the conversations she has with Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte. There is a voice over throughout the show, only Carrie's POV as she is the central characters, and her voiceover says "I couldn't help but wonder..." and then we see Carrie in her New York apartment, sometimes smoking on a cigarette  and sometimes in her underwear, but always at her laptop typing up the article for her weekly column on dating and finding love. 




I wanted her lifestyle, sans the disastrous love life. Faced with their perilous pursuits, I think I'd prefer to stay single. anyway, Carrie was a paid columnist who became a bit of a celebrity. In today's environment you typically have to be a celebrity before you can get a column. Which is why I think blogging has become so prolific. Anyone can have a blog. Anyone can put their thoughts and ideas onto a page and share with others. If Sex and the City were written ten years later Carrie Bradshaw would probably be a blogger. There's a cute little post from a fashion blogger about Carrie and blogging if you'd like to read it. http://heartifb.com/2012/12/18/4-timeless-blogging-lessons-from-carrie-bradshaw/ and here's another post dedicated to Miss Bradshaw http://heartifb.com/2011/09/19/what-carrie-bradshaw-can-teach-you-about-blogging/

An important lesson I learned about blogging is that I need to invest ME into the project. These are MY thoughts and ideas. These are MY dreams and fears. And it's not all about writing because I'M not all about writing. Writing is what I do for about 40% of my life. The other 60% is made up of gardening, going to a 9-5 day job, catching up with friends and family, and the boring stuff like bathing, sleeping and eating. I have lots of interests that have shaped me as an author and that's what makes them relevant to readers. So I'll be posting articles about my personal interests from now on, as well as throwing the occasional blog about writing into the mix. I hope you can join me.




About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.




Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Is animal entertainment a prelude to The Hunger Games?

Those who know me are well aware of my stance on horse and dog racing. I am totally against it. They are cruel forms of entertainment that serve no purpose in the betterment of mankind. Yes, humans need entertainment, but surely we don't need to whip a horse and train it to ride itself to death to be entertained?

Last Melbourne Cup, there were two horses that died as a direct result of the race. one from a massive heart failure, and one from a broken leg when a spectator waved a flag which spooked the horse. These animals are flighty at the best of times, and race horses are bred to be highly spirited. So they spook easier than a two year old at Halloween.

A Palamino and her foal. The beauty of a horse is plain to see.

I fought back tears as I read the newspaper articles about the death of these two beautiful animals. I felt impotent. I felt hurt. I felt as if nobody cared. What sort of species are we humans that we don't care? It made me want to write a novel where we all die and animals take over the planet, but that's a form of running away. It would do nothing to tackle the issue.


Horse and jockey injured during a race. Guess which one gets euthanized if bones are broken?

I don't know how many times I've sat at a table with friends or strangers and the conversation has turned to something topical and everyone has a good old rant and then...nothing. Nothing is done but a lot of complaining and whining and hoping that somebody out there will do something. I call this the Superman syndrome, some poor sod always waiting for someone else to come along and fix the problems of the world.

Anyway, I decided to write letters to a few local newspapers and few national ones. I wrote a piece on Facebook and received supportive comments. I receive one response from a person in the racing industry who stated they loved the horses and were devastated about the deaths. Of course they are. And I'm being very cynical here, but when your cash-cow drops dead it's natural to be devastated.

I was totally surprised to receive a phone call from someone who had read one of the articles. Don't ask me how she tracked down my phone number but if you're going to act like the sheriff you have to be prepared to wear the badge. She called to say that she'd read the article and was so pleased to read it, and that more people should stand up against animal cruelty.

The interesting part of this conversation was that she said, "it's pity nothing can be done to change this industry, too many people are making too much money off it. One person can't make a difference, but thank you for writing the letter."

The other interesting part of this conversation was that she then went on to counter her own remark by saying, "Actually, we have changed the way industry works. We've now got free range eggs. The live trade export has undergone changes as a result of protests. Well, you keep going and good on you. I hope something can come of this letter."

And this is why books like To Kill A Mockingbird, Animal Farm, and The Hunger Games are so important to read. These books act like the mirror to which humanity judges itself. There's no point running around telling people they're doing something wrong. They just won't change. You have to get them to want to change.

The Hunger Games highlights the line that is there to be crossed, it lights it up like the emergency strips on an aircraft, and the real test of human strength is whether we cross that line. 


For example, my dog loves to run. You should see her on the beach. She gets an energy spurt and just goes nuts. It's funny to watch. Anyone else on the beach gets a kick out of it, too. But there is a line that I will never cross. I would never think to myself, people enjoy watching her run. I should train her, let people watch, and charge them money. Then, in order to train my dog I'll tie her to my car because other dogs will want to compete - more competitors equals more bums on seats equals more money - and she needs to be the winner.

You might think that's a far-fetched concept, but it's not. Dog racing, circus animals, horse racing, bear baiting, these are all forms of entertainment. They're cruel and unnecessary and humans do not benefit from it. There's nothing "sport" about it, there's certainly nothing educational. The strange thing is that many of us know right from wrong, we've just become so used to letting our justice system decide the difference between the two.

So when a book like The Hunger Games comes along, we start to question if such a world is possible and debate about the morality of such a world. Could we send people - teens or adults - into a ring to fight to the death for our entertainment?

No? Why not? It's been done before in the Roman coliseums. It's probably still going on in some seedy part of the globe.

Another perfect example, and one that takes on a literal sense of holding that mirror, is Snow White. The evil queen asks the magic mirror each day who is the fairest of them all. And each day the mirror replies that she is. Until one day, it decides that it has told the evil queen enough lies and now is the time to tell  her the truth that indeed there is someone fairer than her. I love how only the mirror can make her see the truth.

Books often act like mirrors. To Kill a Mockingbird holds the mirror up for us to see that racism was rampart in the court system. The Hunger Games holds the mirror up for us to see that there are lines that can be crossed when it comes to entertainment.

Writing can change the world. As the saying goes, the pen is mightier than the sword.



By the way, if you wish to support an organisation against animal cruelty there are plenty to choose from in your country or around the world. These are just a few:
PETA
RSPCA
Born Free Foundation

About the author:
Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.