Becoming a Writer: My story journey through Trials, Trepidation and Exuberance.

In these past weeks, I have grown greatly as a writer. I have formally come out as a penman, one on a public page and another my website. There have been times in the past and sure there will be in the future I may fall, but as always I will pick myself up and dust off the negativity. Coming up soon will be my first lecture as a writer. It will be a co-lecture with my good friend Steven Bolin. Finding the time for my lecture, my blogs, my mother, my book and other things has been hard, but in the end, it has all been worth it.

This year did not start off as I wished it to be, my book had stalled and I started to lose my focus. Depression was overcoming my outlook on life, and I was faltering. I have suffered depression on and off for many years and I usually just power through. In the past, this would take between six to eight months to truly move ahead of it. This time, I knew I didn’t have the time to wait and see what happened At the end of February, I decided to look for help and I found it! With the help of my local GP, a great psychologist and the support of my friends and family, I started on the road mending my deep pit of depression. During this time I wrote another thirteen thousand words to bring me to the brink of thirty thousand. This was a great achievement. Never in my life have I ever reached this many words for one of my stories. Then with my treatment, I again started to gain momentum, but I still saw some issues for my book.

Firstly, I am a panser or free-former writer where everything is straight from my imagination to the page. I started to notice that my writing was lacking in the better sense of the word, I became lost in the story line. At this point, Lisa Chaplin walked into Writers Activation, where I volunteer, and after a little chat, she invited me to her Master-Class. In a previous blog is my review of this class, if you want to know more. While listening to Lisa, I learned some important stratagem to help with my writing, I decided to implement them into my creative process. This caused my most precious moment of 2016 (so far), the complete plotting out of my book! I exalt, I jump, I dance all with joy in my heart. This was my best experience of completing something. This helped with another achievement, my lecture which I will co-host on the 23rd of this month.

World-building, for fictional writers and campaign settings, is the name for my joint adventure into the writing world. It has been three weeks since Steve (aka Hobbit) and I started to plan for this. His lovely wife Kami helped us out by writing all our ramblings down so we could have a set plan on what we would talk about. Now it was time to write it! Kami did notice do something that I hadn’t realised before. This was that I have been telling and writing stories since I was six years old and with this revelation I concluded I have nearly thirty-one years of storytelling experience under my belt. This shocked me to the core. I felt that I was a novice and didn’t know better. Now I have embraced this, and it has been reflected in my interaction with other writers and authors. I am looking forward to this lecture, as it has been shown much interest and I am glad to give back to the community.

As I end this blog, I would like to give a shout out to my mother. From the beginning of my journey, she has been there for me. Even though she has issues with her health, this never stops her involvement in my life and writing. Every piece of work I do will be edited by my mum, who has over twenty-five years of experience as an English teacher. As I know she will be reading this, all I can do is thank her from the bottom of my heart and I will be always there for her. I am proud to be her son!

Doesn’t matter what life throws at you, just roll with the punches. Every day make me happy that I am moving toward completing my book.

My Night at Maria Lewis’s Q and A.

Here I am awake at 4 am in the morning, I just can’t shake the event of Maria Lewis I went to last night. So I guess, I have to write about it. Around a week ago, I saw that REaD Cafe has posted three new books based on events over the course of the weekend. As this weekend was also the Gold Coast Supanova, Vicki the owner of REaD secured someone every interesting. Her name was Maria Lewis, and her book is Who’s Afraid? When I read this name, without even knowing anything about it made me think of the ‘Big Bad Wolf’, and as this book is about Werewolves how right was I?

A few little tidbits I learned this night was that at the age of 21, Maria wrote this book and then spent the next six years searching and securing first a literary agent  and then a publisher. With six years under her belt, during this time she continued writing another three books of her five book series. I wonder if it would take me this long and would I try and follow the traditional path of publishing a book instead of my plan to self-publish? But I am not here to talk about my book, this is about Maria Lewis’s Q and A.   Another thing that was provided was small booklets on a fan based  gallery exhibition that showed the passions of her readers and her support of them. I really found some of the drawing and painting moving.

As I have not read her book, I found the session engaging and fun. Even though her questioner, Cath Webber an editor for the Gold Coast Bulletin  sort of little spoiler, it showed her own excitement in this novel. During this event, I found some more interesting questions. Firstly was why did Maria decided to write this. Maria is a journalist and has loved the urban fantasy genre  landscape but had found it to be lacking. Cath asked why did she write this novel and Maria responded by saying that the theme of adult female protagonists  has been   a steady change over the last twenty years. She talked about Buffy the Vampire slayer, Zena the Warrior Princess to name a few very strong and mature female lead roles. Now the landscape is filled with young teenage girls who’s skin rivals Snow White’s pale tone, who go off and   ‘save the world’. Her main character  Tommi Grayson is a twenty-something and of mixed heritage introduces a fresh perspective on this genre.

Originally this book was set on the coast but after talking to Matthew Reily, she changed it to another city which had the same feel as the Gold Coast. It was set in a city in Scotland called Dundee. This was done as opinions of Australian publishers has not wanted to roll the dice for a home based fantasy genre. Maria had procured a publisher  Hachette Australia, and was distributed here , Matthew’s advice was  very sound.

As I am not familiar with her tale, I thank you Wikipedia,  God of Knowlege. At the age of 22 Maria had a stroke. This would impact any other person strongly but, she used it as a drive to complete her work and then have it published. I think many of fans are quite grateful for this fact. Then she gave advice that vibrated to the core of my writer’s soul. As   you write your first book you will need the endurance to see yourself to the end. I hope I have some of the massive fortitude of this woman.

Now I could go on about this fantastic night, but as like everything, good things must come to an end. Listening to her last night showed similarities of her six years ago and me writing today, I’m not alone. If you like to see the Q and A, you just have to look on her facebook page in the below link and you will find the recording there. If you listen closely you can hear my booming laughter at the start of it. All I can say is that I really want to read this book . If it has only 1% of her personality and passion, it’s a must read!

The Authors that Have Inspired Me: Part One

I don’t have a top ten, but I do have between ten to twenty number ones, favourite authors. Each of these books and writers inspired me to love the written word. When I was young, I used to argue with my teachers about reading the ‘stupid’ learning to read books. I saw it a waste of my time as most lunches and recesses I went to the library to read books about dinosaurs and mythology.

It wasn’t till I moved to Tasmania when I picked up my first was a book called Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen Donaldson, I read this book when I was ten. Not a book I would suggest for someone that young but it was a book that opened my eyes to a different world. Before this, I made up stories of exotic lands and ideas, and have been doing this for years but to see that there were other people like me with the imagination and creativity to make a fully fleshed out world I was humbled. In a later blog, I will review this book.

After reading two trilogies of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I felt a bit weird, as an eleven-year-old coping with finding brilliance in literature, in particular, fantasy was hard as I was not exposed to too many different authors in Primary School. It wasn’t till I was 12 years old I discovered Dragonlance Chronicles, the first book was Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman. This lead me to becoming a role-player as well as me exploring this series of books. At the same time, there was another author which I found in my limited High School library was Homeland, by R.A. Salvator, a book set in another campaign setting called Forgotten Realms. I read these type of books throughout my High school years, these three authors created a vast number of books, and I love everyone. The Dragonlance Chronicles inspired my first attempted in writing a book, with a co-writer, my sister Sara. It was a carbon copy of this world with some interesting new ideas. One was the primary type of monster called a Piggy, an unfortunate nickname of a friend of mine during these years.

During this time, I became part of a gaming role-playing group too with my friends at high school. This drove me to only read the dungeon and dragons fantasy based books. I was very closed off to picking up a new author unless it was one of these above archetypes. On a Christmas when I was 16, my parents decided to buy some new author, one I never heard of. How dare they! I am to this day glad that they did this, as it was my first Australian fantasy author by the name of Sara Douglass. Her book was Battleaxe, at first, I look at like it was some sort of diseased rabid pile of rubbish. My mum gives me a look, you know that look, and I said ‘okay, I read it’ and mutter why couldn’t it be a good novel! How wrong I was, this book was fan-bloody-tastic. I devoured it! By 27th, I had already moved onto the second book, Enchanter. Sara opened my eyes that there was more than just d&d novels.

This is end of part one, next is what affected me during in my twenties

Review of Lisa Chaplin’s Master-Class

Review on Lisa Chaplin’s Triple Arc and Deep Point of View Master-Class

by Samuel Colbran 

Being a volunteer at Writers Activation in Southport, I have the pleasure of meeting many different people. One of these was Lisa Chaplin. After a lengthy chat, she invited me to come to her upcoming Master-Class which was held on the following day. The Master-Class was held at REaD Cafe on Paradise Island in Surfers Paradise. The hosting and catering for this class was outstanding and this added to the overall ambience of the day. I, myself felt extremely fortunate as this Master-Class gave me the opportunity not only to observe a talented writer but also gain insight into my own future becoming a successful author.

A few things I found out about Lisa during the course of the day. Firstly, she has had over twenty books published, most of these have been under her pen name Melissa James. And her most recent book is called Tide Watchers, which is a Historical Fiction based around the Napoleonic Era. Another interesting tidbit, she is mentoring eight writers and two of which are best sellers. She is also a fully trained nurse. During the Master-Class I was shown that Lisa is very knowledgeable about the art of writing and how easily she conveyed this to the people attending her class.

Joining me in the class were four lovely ladies, each with an unique drive to complete their own work. The day itself was split into two sections, the Triple Arc and the Deep Point of View. In the first arc, Lisa explained why you should understand your market, pitching to an editor and how to explain your book in a nutshell. After this we moved onto the second arc, which opens up the ‘character arc’. This is when you ask about your main character and his/her journey through their story. Lisa then carried into the story arc, and again we were made aware of the main question that drives a story, even if we had never asked about it which shows how much she was aware of her audience. Lisa took the time to explain and allowed us to experiment on our concepts in each of these areas. Then it was on to the third arc and, as I do not want to spoil anything I can say it is directed more so to a panser or free-form writers however, these strategies that were explained could be used by any type or level of writer. With examples from multiple genres and media, Lisa helped us to hone in on an understanding how this could help in your own writing style.

Then we moved on to Deep Point of View (POV), this section gave many different insights. First was the authors role in the story and the effect of your own interaction with it. How to lessen that impact and allow your characters, plot and story to have a life of their own. Lisa, step by step explains what creates an immortal character, how there is more than one sense and not to be scared of using emotion in your works. Lisa also shows the different levels of the POV, and how you need to interpreted them in your book. Another point made was the choice of words and how that effects your book. The ‘show not tell’, was a mystery to me before this master-class. I had heard it before in other workshops, but did not realise it is an important fundamental skill for any budding author. Lisa showed me in a way that was not over the top and understandable and relatable.

All in all I found this master-class informative, insightful and uplifting. Lisa not only showed a deep understanding of her audience, but also how to relate to their writing styles and genre. Many of her examples were relevant, incorporating exercises to experiment and to expand your own creative style. As most of her writing career is in Romance, and there is an ongoing theme for this Master-Class. Never at any given point did I find her information irrelevant to my own style. Even with this Lisa makes room for people of many different genres. The use of aromatic oils and music was a grateful addition as it allowed immersion into her Master-Class. I highly recommended Lisa Chaplin’s Master-class, it’s great value for money and is suited to not only fledgling writers but experienced authors ranging from both ends of the spectrum of writing styles; free-form writers to ridged planners. Keep an eye out for upcoming events held by Lisa, as attending any workshop of hers is a must!

Links:

REad Cafe, Writers Activation, Lisa Chaplin