Writing Challenges

March 4, 2019 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Australia, Mental Health, Publishing, self-publishing, Writing, Writing and Life | 16 Comments
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When I discovered I really could write creative fiction back in 2005 at the age of fifty-seven, a flood-gate opened and words poured from my pen (I write my drafts by hand). I lost count of the number of short stories, poems, articles and memoir items I wrote over the following few years. And then I decided to write a novel, aimed at 10-16-year-olds, and things changed.

 

I wrote the following reflection in July 2011, when that first novel was about to go out into the world:

 

It took me four years to write Ben’s Challenge. All the way through, from the idea (it was originally going to be a short story) to the completion I had to battle to get it done. No, it’s not that I can’t write, or that it took many revisions, or that I didn’t know where the story was going and what I wanted it to do. And it’s not that I don’t know my grammar, punctuation and spelling either – I grew up in an era when schools taught that kind of thing. No, the problem was deeper than any or all of those.

My problem was a lack of confidence in myself, which manifested itself in many ways. The main issue I had to overcome was procrastination; after all, if I didn’t write, nobody could say it was rubbish, could they – and that included myself.

A life-long struggle with depression also helped make my self-doubts into mountains I was certain I couldn’t climb. Even when my critique group expressed admiration for my style of writing and for the story, I wasn’t able to relax and go with the flow.

Funnily enough, it was during my eighteen months of treatments for breast cancer that I wrote the most easily and with the most confidence. I suppose writing was no longer my sole focus, so I took the pressure off myself. My doubts became background noise, which I could often ignore. . .

 

After publishing Ben’s Challenge, it took me a couple of years to start on my next novel, this one for Young Adults. I had to work up the courage to see if the first book was just a one-off or if I was a “real writer”. As I had in writing that first one, I battled through self-doubt, bouts of depression and procrastination – again in spite of my writing critique partners’ and my husband’s support and encouragement. One period of not writing lasted for a whole year. As a result, it again took about four years before the book was finished. Thursday’s Child was published in February 2018 and those who have read it say it is an amazing and wonderful story – even better than the first one.

I have an idea for a follow-up to Thursday’s Child – a strong story line and again, challenging themes. I have written a few chapters, but am struggling to get moving on it. There always seems to be something more important to do – that’s the usual problem of procrastination, I suppose. You’d think that, after two well-received books, I would have confidence in myself; that the words would flow as they did fourteen years ago, but they don’t. I am scared that I won’t be able to pull it off again.

I know that if I really want the story to see the light of day, I must, as with the other stories, fight my way through the self-doubts, the fear and insecurity, and get on with the job. Or maybe I’ll just wait until after I’ve delivered my part of a panel presentation on self-publishing at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival in a month’s time. Then I’ll get stuck into it. Oh, that sounds like more procrastination though, doesn’t it? Mmmmm…

 

Linda Visman, 4th March 2019

 

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Comments on Thursday’s Child

February 24, 2018 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Australia, Gratitude, Publishing, Writing | 2 Comments
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It is wonderful to receive feedback after somebody has read your book. I know that most readers will not write a comment or, even less likely, a full review. However, after the first three weeks since my book went live on Kindle and also as a hard copy, a few people have told me what they think of it and, I am pleased to say, they are all positive.

The first comment on Thursday’s Child was only two or three days after the Kindle version became available.  Janet Lang, the wife of a retired Presbyterian minister, sent me two words: “Brilliantly written!”

The next was from Jan Mitchell, a member of the writing group I belong to; our local Fellowship of Australian Writers group. “I loved it!” she said. “Well done.”

Then came a comment on my Facebook author page from Sirpa Agyik in Queensland: “Two days ago I received my book “Thursday’s Child” from Amazon. Well Linda, once I started to read it, I could not put it down. EXCELLENT , BRILLIANT. Loved every page. Linda you are very talented author. Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.”

The latest is a Customer Review on Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars Unflinching

By Alfergus on 21 February 2018

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

“This young adult novel tackles the tough issues faced by a typical teenager in the early 1960s following rape and unwanted pregnancy. The story plays out against a backdrop of a society at the cusp of social change. The events are portrayed unflinchingly yet in a way that is suitable for the target readership. I enjoyed the way that Tori, an impetuous hot-headed teen, learns to trust the kindness of strangers and, eventually, herself.”

Many thanks for these comments. As they are for any writer who puts their creations out in the world, they are validation of all the time and effort and creative endeavour that I put into Thursday’s Child. I hope there are others who will let me know what they think of it.

 

Linda Visman

 

 

 

 

 

I Suppose It’s What You’re Used To

February 8, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Publishing, Writing and Life | 15 Comments
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I was so happy when my novel, Thursday’s Child, became available on Kindle on the first of February. At last, all the effort and angst of writing it had taken on a certain reality. People could buy it and read it and, hopefully, let me and others know that they liked it. I know it was a real pleasure to see it download onto my own Kindle device.

However, it was when the printed books arrived, on the day after it appeared on Kindle, that I felt the reality of my book’s publication. There is nothing like holding your own work in your hands, feeling the weight of it, turning the pages and seeing the words printed on real pages. That is when I jumped about in excitement, my book raised in my hand, and my husband hugged me in congratulation.

IMG_6068

I am au fait with several types of technology, and have hundreds of books on my Kindle that I have really enjoyed reading. I know that many of my readers will also read my book on their electronic device. But, to me, born and growing up when all of this technology was almost unthinkable, it is the solidity of the printed word that makes it all real.

I have already had one Kindle reader enthusiastically tell me that my novel is “brilliantly written”. Wow, who can’t love that (thanks Janet)! Now I am waiting for the first reader of the paperback version to let me know what they think of my second literary child – Thursday’s Child.

If you have read my novel, or if you intend to read it, I would love to have you tell me your thoughts on it.

The electronic version of Thursday’s Child is available here

 

Linda Visman

Thursday’s Child is now available!

February 1, 2018 at 9:59 am | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Publishing, Society, Writing | 7 Comments
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Today, my novel for Young Adults,Thursday’s Child, is ready for download. If you have already ordered it on Kindle it will automatically download.

If not, you can order your copy now and get yourself or someone else who loves a coming-of-age story a great read. It is available on Kindle here, and as a print-on-demand book here.

If you don’t have a Kindle, there is an app on Amazon that allows you to read it on any platform.

Back cover

Settle in for a great story.

 

Linda Visman

Cover of my second novel

December 3, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Publishing, Reading, Social mores, Writing | 14 Comments
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I am excited!

I will shortly receive a proof copy of my second coming-of-age Young Adult novel, Thursday’s Child, to go through and make sure it is ready for publication.

Here is the cover for the book – back, spine and front.

 

Book Cover Preview on CreateSpace

It is always rather thrilling to get to this stage.

 

 

 

Books!

January 28, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Posted in History, Publishing, Reading, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 13 Comments
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stack of books 03   Most of the time, when I enter somebody’s home, I can immediately tell whether or not there are readers in the house.

There might be a book lying on a table or by a chair. There could be a bookshelf in the living room or a pile of books on the coffee table.

I know that anyone who comes into our home would know that we are dedicated readers, The crammed-full bookshelves around the walls, the books sitting on the coffee tables and the dining table, as well as tucked into nooks and crannies here and there would tell them.

I have never not had books in the house. I grew up with books and they became my delight and my escape. I am pleased to say that all our grown-up children also have books and they are passing that love onto our grandchildren.

One wall in my study

One wall in my study

In our house now, my husband and I have bookcases filled with books – lots of books – in every room but the bathroom. There are also boxes of books in our garage that we don’t have room for in the house. We have more books than we need, but I would never say there are more than we want.

stack of books 02I taught for some years in remote indigenous communities where books were foreign objects. You would never see a book in any of their homes. They had never been a part of the culture, because their culture was an oral one. But that oral culture has been breaking down for years.

stack of books 04One of my greatest delights was teaching the children to read. Another was helping the adults tell their stories and writing them down. We made books in class which the children illustrated. The children could then read them as well as listen to them, and they would not be lost amidst the tantalising enticements of television and movies.

Many years later, those children communicate with me and others through writing and reading. Some of them have travelled overseas to places they would not have known about but for their knowledge of reading.  Indeed, one person just today said how thankful she is to be able to read. I am sure that if I went into her home now, there would be at least a few books and magazines around. I am thankful for that.

Kindle-&books   The tremendous increase in electronic delivery of reading matter over the last couple of years has led, in some sections of the community, to a change in patterns of reading.

Many who once bought printed books now buy electronic books either instead of print or as well as. My husband and I buy both; digital books are very convenient for when we are travelling, though some types of books are still more suitable for print rather than digital format.

e-reader2

I have heard several people say they are getting rid of their print libraries and just having e-books that will no longer take up space, or “clutter” their homes. I can’t imagine not having print books. The feel, smell and delight in them cannot be replaced by a plastic screen as far as I am concerned.

However, it is almost inevitable (unless there is a major breakdown or change in the earth’s electrical environment) that most reading matter will eventually be delivered electronically.

When that happens, how will we be able to tell when we are entering the home of a book-lover?

(c) Linda Visman

Where do you stand on the print-digital spectrum in book formatting and reading? Do you prefer one over the other?

One Year Ends – A New One Begins

December 31, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Mental Health, Publishing, Writing, Writing and Life | 7 Comments
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Picture thanks to www.uberkate.com.au Facebook page

Picture thanks to http://www.uberkate.com.au Facebook page

I wanted to have finished my second novel by the end of this year – 2013, but I haven’t made it.

Many reasons.

My father’s illness and death in the first half of the year meant frequent trips away from home, for several weeks at a time.

Doing slow but steady, and heavy physical work on our backyard terracing often left little energy for creative thought.

Writing group commitments and creation of its newsletter/magazine took up some of the time I could have used for writing.

But the main reason was more than any of these.

I could have made much better use of my time.

I could have written much more had I not allowed myself to be side-tracked by social media. I could have been both creative and  productive had I ignored all the things that had me procrastinating: tiredness, laziness, unnecessary tasks, etc.

If you want to write

But mostly, if I had tackled my fears and uncertainties regarding my writing by getting pen in hand and words on paper, I would have not only created and built a story, but would have proved that I could build and write it.

So, with another 365 days ahead of me, my intention is to write! To complete the first draft of my novel, to edit it, and to get it ready for publication. And I will do this before June of 2014.

There are many other writing projects in the planning or partially executed that I will complete this year; the smaller ones that have been waiting to be published for a few years. And I will begin my next major project. Not “I hope to”, but “I will”.

Those 365 blank pages do not need to be tainted by my fears, or left blank by my procrastination.

I will go forth and write!

Don't wait for perfect time

(c) Linda Visman  31.12.2013

Latest Review of Ben’s Challenge

October 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Publishing, Reading, Writing, Writing and Life | 4 Comments
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It was lovely to receive this review from Brenda on Goodreads

Brenda’s review

4 of 5 stars
Read from August 09 to 10, 2013 — I own a copy

Ben lived with his Mum, Dad, brother Peter and sister Helen. At thirteen he was in first year high school in a small town in country Australia, where his German descent made him the butt for racist taunts and comments from a few members of the community. He was called “kraut” and “jerry” so often it bounced off him. His friend Joe fared no better, as he was a refugee along with his family. Even though they were hard workers, the common name-calling taunt was “reffo”. It hurt, but they were used to it.

The day which was to change Ben and his family’s life forever started the same as any other. But when Ben was waiting for his dad to return from work, waiting for the usual sound of his motorbike to come up the drive; the one which arrived caused him to frown in confusion – it had a completely different noise. The policeman at the front door spread terror through them all; their Dad had been hit by a car on his way home – it was a hit and run, and his Dad had not survived.

As the family struggled through their grief, Ben was frustrated by the efforts of the police. So Ben and his best friend Joe decided to take matters into their own hands. Ben started working in the small shop in town, delivering groceries and stacking shelves for Mr Fraser. As it was school holidays, the wonderful six week Christmas break, they had free time to explore, swim in the billabong and search for answers to questions that were always there.

Will Ben find the answers he is so desperate for? What will happen to the young friends in the heady days of summer in the 1950s when Elvis Presley was all the rage and racial prejudice a fact of life?

A thoroughly enjoyable novel of a young teenager’s strength, determination and courage in the face of terrible adversity. Highly recommended.

Promoting your book online

November 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Promotion, Publishing, Writing | 5 Comments
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The internet, with its abundance of social networking sites, makes it easier than ever before to get your name in front of prospective readers. However, you must remember that you are competing against millions of other writers to get your name and your work noticed. It takes time, effort and commitment to create and expand your on-line connections. Here are some suggestions on what you can do to establish an on-line presence.

Set up an author website:

–         this must be as professional and easy to navigate as possible;

–         create a page for each of your books, as well as an About page;

–         include book reviews and any recommendations about them;

–         add links to where the book/s can be purchased;

–         you can set up a blog on your website that will help you to get noticed;

–         if you are technologically savvy, upload video promos, readings, interviews, etc.

–         include links on your page to those of other websites or blogs that you find helpful.

Set up a blog:

–         as a stand-alone site, or as part of your author webpage;

–         make your blog posts interesting and relevant:

     o       about your book – the characters, setting, theme, anything that is relevant and interesting; include items about place, any related special interest, eg historical era, a medical condition, a war, poverty, travel, etc.

     o       why you wrote it; the writing process, the frustrations, your research, etc;

–         let people know when you have been interviewed, and provide links if possible;

–         include a Comments option for feedback (and hopefully praise) and to create interest in what you write; always answer all comments;

–         have Share buttons to social media sites you are a member of – Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Goodreads, etc;

–         host guest bloggers on your site, so you can then be a guest on theirs;

Become part of an online community:

–         read and comment on others’ blogs;

–         sign up as an author (apart from any personal membership) on social network sites and get as many Likes and Shares as you can;

–         register as an author on Amazon, Goodreads, etc;

–         mentor other writers – online or offline.

Go on a virtual book tour:

–         this is aimed at getting your name out in the virtual world; you want to be involved in as many other blogs, websites, radio and TV interviews, social network events, contests, giveaways, etc as possible;

–         these virtual tours take a lot of preparation, commitment and good organization;

–         you will find information online that will tell you how to set up a virtual book tour.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

Linda Visman is a member of Lake Macquarie Fellowship of Australian Writers, and loves to help other writers improve their skills. She writes fiction and non-fiction, and has a go at poetry too – with varied results. Linda has been published in several magazines and anthologies and is the author of Ben’s Challenge, a novel for Young Adults, set in the 1950s, that Baby Boomers love.

Promoting your book using traditional methods

November 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Posted in Promotion, Publishing, Writing | 5 Comments
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Having written a couple of items for my writing group on promoting your book, I thought it would be good to share them here. This is the first one. The second, Promoting your book using electronic methods, will appear in a few days.

Here are some suggestions on how to use traditional methods of creating an author presence.

Face-to-face:

–         book launch, book signings, book readings;

–         Attend book fairs and writing festivals;

–         Give author talks at schools, libraries, special interest groups, U3A, service clubs, youth groups, retirement villages, etc;

–         Make donations of your books to libraries, hospitals, retirement homes, prisons.

Writing:

–         send articles about your book, its background, reasons for writing your book, yourself (if you are interesting), the writing process,

–         write opinion pieces and submit them to the press;

–         always include a brief ‘signature’ at the end of a piece, saying you are an author, of (whatever) book, and where it can be found.

Promotion materials:

–         create bookmarks, business cards, mugs, T-shirts, pens, etc to promote your book;

–         run a competition, with the book and other promo material as prizes.

Book reviews:

–         get local newspapers and magazines to review your book – provide a review copy, a synopsis and details of the genre and intended audience.

Special Interest groups:

–         tap into any interest group that relates to your book. If you write a memoir about your experiences with cancer, find cancer support groups; other groups could relate to horses, motor bikes, the history of an area, genealogy, etc.

Become an expert:

–         on your topic, on the background of your novel – setting, history, theme, etc. You can then follow through with articles and talks on that/those topic/s.

Use local media:

–         push the personal interest – you as a local author or a person who grew up there;

–         send press release on your book launch- where you live now; where you grew up;

–         pitch to local radio and TV for an interview;

–         tie in your book to a relevant local event, celebration, historical commemoration, holiday, etc

Do book readings and book signings:

–         wherever you can: coffee shops, book shops, retirement community, library, school, etc

Prepare a 2-3 minute pitch for your book so you can use it at an appropriate time; take copies of your book wherever you go.

Linda Visman is a member of Lake Macquarie Fellowship of Australian Writers, and loves to help other writers improve their skills. She writes fiction and non-fiction, and has a go at poetry too – with varied results. Linda has been published in several magazines and anthologies and is the author of Ben’s Challenge, a novel for Young Adults, set in the 1950s, that Baby Boomers love.

 

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