Another amazon author review

In case you fancy a read of Marriage, A Journey and A Dog this is an example of an independent #review and the latest:

on 20 March 2017
I have been MIA for a while. Now I’m back with another wonderful author I have discovered- Brenda H. Sedgwick. I’ve been sharing my reviews of books by Indie authors on my blog. And I must say, I love to share the good ones. This is an enjoyable story about life; and let’s not forget the travel. The title is just right for this book. In the beginning, Natalie comes across as a scatter brain with little confidence. But as the story progresses, I begin to admire her and her journey. Let’s be clear here- she is on more than one journey and they make for an interesting story telling experience. I loved spending time with her new friends and the travel spots. As Natalie’s story was drawing to a close I felt a little sad at how things had ended at her 40th birthday. But you know what? I never liked Gerry anyway. I was lifted by her handling of the situation and I have to say, pretty proud. You go Natalie.
I love independent reviews, that’s why I don’t ask for them, and I love to know that people enjoy my book. http://tinyurl.com/l23v994
Happy writing to all those following the writing blogs.

Writing and Mental Health

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Seeing the world through a Mental Cage

I read this on the internet and it reminded me of the time I spent working with Mental Health patients an experience I think it might be worth blogging about:

How often do you sit at home and wish someone would ring you and suggest, well anything rather than these 4 walls? How many of you have had a night out planned, or arranged coffee with friends and suddenly “these 4 walls” seem the only safe haven because it’s the only place you don’t have to pretend you are ok, so you cancel. Or when you are invited out you tell them how terribly sorry you are but you’re already booked up that weekend, when you are actually just really busy holding it together in your safe box. And so the first problem starts, all by itself , people stop asking you and the isolation that at first wasn’t true becomes your only truth.
Mental Health Awareness!!

20 years ago Easleigh mental health unit got in touch and asked if I would run a writing class there. Happy to take on a challenge and with nothing to lose I started classes that continued for three years.

Moving, clever, sad and funny, the students turned up every week. I lacked understanding of mental illness so I went in with ideas and the group set the pace .

The results ranged from an apparent cure for agoraphobia to the sad loss of  two students through suicide. Somewhere in the middle was a great sense of achievement and a lot of laughter. These wonderful, brave, people gave a performance, reading their work at a local theatre,

Writing is more recognised as a therapeutic tool than it used to be, but there is lots more that can and is being done. If you have the opportunity to help someone by suggesting they write and share, is there anything to lose?

I greatly believe that life’s problems that affect us all can benefit from writing things down. Please read my earlier  six blogs on Writing for Therapy.

I’ll write blogs about the other groups I worked with – in prison and with the homeless.

Writing  two novels the second to come out in June, has provided a means of escaping into characters’ lives. Poetry is a means of expressing myself and the main goal with my writing is to entertain myself and other people. Perhaps you can do the same. If you teach Creative Writing in mental health areas, please do link up to this blog and share your experiences.
I loved writing this. It gave me so much pleasure to share it with so many people around the world.

Starting Creative Writing 5 of 6

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Poetry and language skills.

If you want to write creatively don’t underestimate the importance of writing poetry. Whether you are good at it or not there are benefits to be had from experimenting with this language skill regularly. People who write a poem every week, but are not recognised poets, do so because they know the advantage it gives them with all aspects of their writing.

This is why.

A poem should not waste words. It should not tell the reader everything, but leave them space to think. It is a medium to communicate a lot with a few words.

A poem is a place a writer can play with language skills and experiment with the use of words and punctuation.

Google ‘what is a poem’ and ‘how to write a poem’. There is no point in going over what is readily available online.

Find a small group to work on your words and improve your language skills with. When people critisise poetry or your writing it can feel like a personal insult – it isn’t, it is holding your hand on the stepping stones across a river of learning about how to write well.

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Writing a novel is an enormous challenge. Don’t believe the sites that tell you ‘you can be a writer’ without experience and years of hard work. You can write whatever you like and everybody should, but to be a writer is a profession that comes with a huge learning curve.

Writing can be enjoyed at many levels and as your written language skills get better you find it is a process that gives you self confidence.

Try reading ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. One reference book on grammar and writing isn’t enough, read lots, ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’ by Lynne Truss, is useful to keep on a shelf and refer to. Make grammar books your bedtime reading unless you’re a genius.

Read poetry, set a goal of at least one poem a week. Take a line or a word out of the poem and write your own.

Writing and not getting paid isn’t a waste of time. It helps life along like reading does. The more you do it the better you become.

Poetic skills that spill over into language skills;

Metaphors and similes

Assonance and alliteration

Use of unusual words

No wasted words

No unnecessary repetition only if it adds something

Show don’t tell

Get rid of those ‘ly’ words (carefully, happily, really etc, etc).

Write for a reader not always yourself

Write and rewrite, however many times it takes to get your words to the best they can be.

Don’t be in a hurry to finish a poem – it might take months or years to find just the right word or rhythm.

Ask google ‘what is a poem’ and read from some of the sites. Poetry forms and ideas can be found on this BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks2/english/reading/poetry/read/5/

Look up any poem you like on Poem Hunter.

You can add a poem in the comments if you like. All poems will be read before publication and no copyright exists. Write for the fun of it.

 

From the author of Marriage, a Journey and a Dog. Women’s fiction – romantic Comedy.

The Trinket Wife is coming out in June. Women’s fiction – romantic comedy.

Starting Creative Writing blog 4 of 6

th-4The Pleasure of Making up Stories

This is National Story Telling Week – a good time to write a new story?

Stories have entertained humans since communication began, and spread throughout the world before writing and the printing press. Stories were told on street corners and in plays, they were drawn in pictures and written on stones and in sand.

Now we listen or watch stories every day. Stories entertain, but are also reflections of life and a necessary part of the human thinking process. A story can try to make sense of something that we don’t understand.

There is no evidence of fiction in the animal kingdom except to mislead in the pursuit of food. Imagination – the ‘what if ?’ question is a part of the human brain. Storytelling and understanding sets us apart from the animal kingdom. We tell true stories to mirror an event, exaggerated stories to make them interesting and stories which are the product of pure imagination.

This  blog is a precursor or opposite of  Shed Loads of Money (3 of 6). It’s about making up stories and taking pleasure in the experience and  in sharing what you’ve written if you want to.

Great works of literature have come about and stories  have been made up just for the pleasure of doing so. Some have hung around in notebooks and others been consigned to waste bins. Sometimes they exist by word-of-mouth, like a children’s story  made up in families. Let’s look at some of the reasons to write, dance, act or paint stories.

Using Imagination

Exercising Creativity

A Fun Hobby

Keeping the brain active

Self expression

Communicate a message

Can you add more reasons?  (To tell a truth, to impart an idea)

Have you read fiction thinking ‘I could do that’? Well, give it a go. It isn’t as easy as it may seem but none the less a lot of fun.

The pleasure of story creation comes in the freedom and opportunity to do so.

Use triggers – focusing on a creative outcome improves with practice.

Stories can be reworked many times to improve them or develop new ideas within the structure.

If you would like to write a story about A Story Teller add it your blog and enter a link with the title and a 100 word synopsis in the comments so that other people can read it.

Blog 5 Next – Enjoy writing poetry and playing with language skills.

 

Starting Creative Writing 1 0f 6

Let’s start with a question. Why do you want to learn about Creative Writing? Here are some reasons that might be you.

A tool to learn English or another language.

To communicate a message in a creative and interesting way.

To make shed loads of money.

The pleasure of making up stories.

Enjoying writing poetry and playing with language skills.

Writing to feel better.

All of the above are possible, but what suits you? Today I am going to cover ‘To learn English or another language’, and follow through on the other topics in the coming weeks.

Why is Creative Writing different from a normal language lesson?

For Creative Writing your ideas and creativity are paramount – for a straight forward English lesson, you must learn facts about grammar and punctuation.

A Creative Writing project can give confidence with another language and you learn grammatical facts by the questions you ask as you go along. There isn’t a set pattern to the learning. A language lesson comes from books and teachers. Students learn better if they want to know the answers. For me, textbooks and teaching by instruction alone are secondary to a project that is student based.

If you are wanting to do Creative Writing start and keep going, don’t look for failures, but for achievements. You can do it alone, made so much easier with a computer to correct you on your way.

Groups work well with a creative project. A mixture of skills is of value. A student who is useless at grammar may have the best ideas. A team can feel the need to do their best to produce a worthwhile end product ready for presentation.

The spoken word is as important as the written word. If you are not good at writing try remembering and making things up on the spot.

Read plays, poetry, novels, short stories, news items, advertisements, read anything you can lay your hands on, not just a set book. Read aloud. Rewrite what you read in a style of your own.

Bring  items to prompt stories. Students are preparing for the class before they get there. If you train yourself to look for prompts to write about, you will find them everywhere.

Warning – Writing is addictive.

Groups work well with both children and adults. Find a writers’ group near you or join one online. You shouldn’t be asked to pay to join. Be aware of false promises.

My classrooms are noisy places unlike the straight English lessons. Students are encouraged to butt in and contribute. There is a listening and sharing time at the end when mistakes are corrected as a sharing experience, criticism is not encouraged. I might ask a question like ‘how do you think this would work?’ I make notes of general mistakes and we go over them. Vocabulary is ongoing.

You can work alone on your writing, it is good to have a time goal, i.e. use a prompt and write ‘something’ in 5 minutes. Write a short story in a week.

Students go home with a sense of achievement not only a list of corrections. Exploring an idea from your imagination is a goal in itself.

If you are starting to write creatively, a reminder that in some cultures it is a lonely place to be. I would never encourage anyone to disrespect their culture and matching this with an unleashing of ideas can be tricky. Novelists, poets, journalists etc. have paid a big price for expressing their thoughts. If you live in a free society  or a family that is open to discussing ideas from imagination, count yourself very lucky.

Here’s a thought for you today, What is a story?

Share your answers and don’t worry about mistakes unless it causes misunderstanding.

Writing and using our imaginations keeps our brains alive. If you don’t write for a long time you can lose your imagination and your language skills. It is important for young and old to write creatively.

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Let your imagination fly

5 more introductory lessons to go.

Add your poem

Please feel free to share your poem in the comment box. I will  check it out and put it up. You don’t have to be a great poet, but have something you want to say in verse. Lots of interesting poems are written, but never get shared or read. There is much talk about copyright, but what is the point of copyright on something that never gets read? This is an opportunity to share what you have written, for only the satisfaction of knowing that someone else has read it.If you want to put a link to your poetry publication you can.

The Fountain at the Temple of The Tooth

Sri Lanka is where I have spread the word about Creative Writing and enjoy being an observer of the culture here.

Three years ago I complained to our British foreign minister that this fountain was in a poor state of repair and so was the area around it. Sri Lanka had been through 20 years of civil war and a bomb blast at the temple.

The fountain was forged in Glasgow and it was put in situ in 1875 for the then Prince of Wales. He came here to look around against the advice of the UK government. Sri Lanka was not at  all like it is now. Sadly, HRH came here to shoot animals. Having a broken fountain doesn’t change that.

Now it has been beautifully restored and local people and visitors alike can enjoy it.

This is what I love about Sri Lanka. Someone needed to dry their washing and found a suitable spot.

p1030469When you stand in this spot the smell of the flower stalls selling jasmine and lotus flowers is

2014-07-11-06-50-27intoxicating.

 

The Indie Book Revolution

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Reach for the sky

I recently wrote a reply to an Indie author bemoaning  on Facebook they weren’t making sales on line.  I think my reply is worth sharing.

There are 1.5 million Indie books published in the US alone, every year. I wondered how many of these authors buy Indie books?

I buy 2 a month as that fills my reading time. Mostly I find them lively and interesting, the occasional one, not so.   No different from a traditionally published highly advertised book, they are not always great even if the grammar is pretty much guaranteed. To be a successful Indie author you have to be better than the best, even then you might not make it. It’s like agents who have turned down amazing works of literature many times over but they have gone on to be best selling novels, the reading public are doing the same thing, turning away from amazing possibilities. Don’t miss out on discovering a book that might be brilliant; buy loads of Indie books. How many agents turned down Beatrix Potter and J. K .Rowling etc. As an Indie author your experience may be like theirs and you have to keep marketing – and waiting, and hoping readers will cotton on to your amazing book.

In the meantime why not buy a few Indie books and enjoy the whole reading writing scene?

As a Creative Writing tutor I have read across genre, often reading genres I would not have freely chosen. Sometimes they have surprised me at how much I have enjoyed reading them, sometimes I have found them awkward and uninteresting. I am never sorry to have read them. The bad ones teach me how not to write a book and I think about the author who has embarked on a learning curve and , on day, they might become a great writer. Everyone starts somewhere.

From a writer’s perspective reaching the top rung of success can be an unrealistic goal. If you play tennis are you going to be a Wimbledon champion? Would you give up singing if you weren’t the winner of X Factor? You can enjoy playing tennis and singing at any level – you can enjoy writing at any level.

Make friends and meet people on line and through organisations; enjoy working on language skills, going to literary festivals etc. There is so much more to do when you are interested in writing than become famous. Even listening to related programmes on radio or analysing something you are watching on T.V. I would recommend a writer’s life to anyone.

Why do people ask, ‘Do you write? What have you published?’ Would we ask, ‘Do you play tennis? What tournaments have you won? If a writer is successful they will tell you without being asked!

It’s all about money for some potential authors. If that’s you and you’re starting out, make sure you have a good day job.

I have made a living out of writing. I started out earlier than most and this was a big advantage. From selling articles and poems to major magazines my writing career developed. I went into education and taught other people to write, I wrote Creative Writing examinations and marked them. This gave people a qualification that was recognised  in a subject they enjoyed and I loved teaching. Splitting the subject into communications and media studies at level 3 meant that adult students could use it for university entrance.

The aspect of my career I enjoyed the most was Creative Writing for rehab of mental health patients, for prisoners, and as a stepping stone for homeless people back into education.

Over the past few years I have been teaching Creative Writing in Sri Lanka (for free), a work/vacation. I’m lucky that writing has added so much to life, and I believe in can for others. Don’t be a  lone writer, get out there and join in things.

What I really have written this blog for, is to say to indie authors – buy indie books. If we all did this we could start an indie revolution.

As I sit looking at my cup of coffee I realise that for half the price of that coffee I can download an Indie book. For the whole cup – thats 2 books (I’m sure you worked that out). So what if I don’t enjoy them all? I will certainly enjoy most. Of all my reading this year one indie book stood out and I will always remember it. I bought it because I met the author at one of these social writing events and bought the paperback. Indie books can be better than the best.

My husband has met people at these indie events when he has tagged along with me. Occasionally he smiles at the daft book, but it made him smile and other times he has raved on about how good a book is. Because it’s indie he has been able to read their blog, join their twitter etc. and he has spoken to the author and might meet them again.

I write reviews when I’ve read a book, but if it is not my usual genre I say so, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a good review . If it really is bad then I don’t say anything. I’m sure a poor writer is capable of giving back what they get. When I do write a poor review it is for a highly publicised book and the story genuinely isn’t good. I  hate reading a traditional published book with the might of the media behind it and it could – no should be better. You can forgive indie books but not professional writers. Readers have often agreed with my review and said so. If I love it I do always say so, or if it’s good but not my type of book it may be worth 5*.

Christmas is coming and I’ve order my presents – I want paperback Indie books and they will cost under £10 They will give me several hours of pleasure when Christmas is over. ‘Which indie book,’ I’m asked. My reply, ‘Surprise me. You know me.’

I belong to BGS. If you are looking for an indie book join this site or something similar.

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See what other people are reading. Goodreads has indie books with reviews.

Be bold and make an Indie book a regular addition to a book club reading list. My Romantic Comedy is only 99p 5* reviews around the world. http://tinyurl.com/jd6bn9a