Tag Archives: writing

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: A Quick Update on Writing 

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Those of you who also follow me on Twitter already know that I haven’t been feeling my best. I’m definitely not at my lowest but changing medications to try to get on top of my migraines and RLS has left me feeling subpar.
I know that I’m not that bad because when I get time to sit down and write it still comes readily. Even if I feel like total shit, the moment I open the Scrivener file my fingers start typing. When I am at my lowest I simply can’t access the things needed for writing. I’m just too empty. 
On Friday I was quite teary. My medication had been increased the day before but it takes a couple of weeks before the increase works. And I thought that I was too upset and jittery to write. I looked at the clock and I only had thirty minutes until I had to pick my daughter up from school. This made me more upset. I’d gone a whole day without writing AND I’d had time to do it. It wasn’t because of being too busy with the kids, I just hadn’t. I felt hopeless and like a failure.
And then it hit me, my POV character hits a point where she is utterly shattered and feels like she’s an utter failure. I could write that scene. I use Scrivener so I can write out of order and easily slip it into place. And so I did just that. I opened up my Scrivener file for my WIP and just typed and cried. I did this for 25 minutes. At the end I had 950 words. That’s fast for me. Normally for novel writing it’s around 500 words in that time.
So good news, I’m still no where near my worst and feel much lighter. And maybe that idea might help somebody else? Maybe you’ve been holding off writing because you feel utterly shit? Try writing a scene where the POV character feels the same. They’ll be feeling broken for a different reason than you, but hopefully you can still use the shared feeling to get to the heart of the scene.
Good luck and happy writing.

Read about my thoughts on being a dyslexic writer here.
Read about my thoughts on author branding here.
Buy my shit here.

If you or someone you know has postnatal depression you can find good resources on the following sites:

  1. Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/
  2. PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/
  3. PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/
  4. Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
  5. Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/ 
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Toni Jordan on Character and Dialogue at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre

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Toni Jordan is actually more radiant in person

Once upon a time there was a writer locked in a tower. She did not grow her hair long, she did not dream of a knight so bold to rescue her. Instead she sat and thought about characters and dialogue and how she would like to declare war on adverbs. She didn’t want it to be a short and relatively peaceful war. No, she wanted all adverbs to be captured and interrogated and then inevitably executed. Maybe 2% of them would live, but the rest would die. And so one day, when she had escaped her tower, she came unto the Callan Park Centre of Writerly Deeds, and there she did enlist the help of peasant writers to join her in her war. The writer’s name was Toni Jordan, and this is the story of the day she taught a Character and Dialogue class at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre.

 

Toni Jordan strode through the doors of the Judith Wright room, drew her mighty whiteboard marker and declared, “Today we wage war, who is with me!”

 

A gentlemen opposite me adjusted his glasses and gulped. I dusted the biscuit crumbs off my woolly vest and stood up.

 

‘Ummm, okay…. Will we be back in time for morning tea?’

 

There was a murmur of agreement around the room. Morning tea was important.

 

‘What is food when our minds be starving?’ Toni stabbed her marker higher into the air.

 

‘What about lunch?’ a lady in the far corner managed to pop down a hot cuppa to say. ‘There’ll be lunch right.’

 

‘We’ll definitely need lunch,’ the woman sitting next to me managed to say around a mouthful of sugar snap peas. ‘I get super cranky if I don’t eat.’

 

‘Yeah, same.’ I nod knowingly at the green bean machine to my side. ‘I love a good literary war as much as the next person but could we perhaps declare it after lunch?’

 

Toni Jordan seemed to deflate on the spot, her marker sank to her side.

 

‘Why’s it always so fucking hard here?’ She’s not even looking at us, she’s staring at the ground as if hoping it will answer her. And truth be told it’s probably more sensible than the rest of us. ‘In Melbourne we have literary wars and cocktails more often then I change my underpants.’ An older gentleman at the back of the room begins to snigger a little. ‘WHICH IS A LOT! I change them very often, thank you very much. My underwear aren’t the problem. It’s not me, it’s you. You’re all so bloody interested in biscuits.’

 

‘Would you like one?’ I say.

 

Toni shrugs, I take it to mean yes, and pull out one of the seven packets I have brought. Our great lecturer sits down at her desk and begins to mournfully chew her way through a Belgian chocolate virtuoso.

 

‘Alright, let’s just do a workshop.’

 

And so began one of the best workshops of my life. Okay, part of the above may have been made up, but Toni Jordan did come to the New South Wales Writers’ Centre, she did teach us about character and dialogue, and she does hate adverbs. She really does.

 

I know at this point I am supposed to give you all the hot tips that she gave us, but quite frankly, I don’t want to because I just don’t think I would do the course justice. This was the best dialogue course I have ever done and for you to really get the benefit of it, you really should attend a workshop with Toni Jordan, or get a mentorship with her.

I’ll list a few things, but my mind is still going a mile a minute trying to process everything. It really was an extraordinary course. I think it was because we had the opportunity to do several writing tasks on the same thing, character, but focusing on different strategies each time. I guess that’s why you really had to be there. I’ll slap down a few general pointers for you, but, as I have said eleventy billion times, you really need to do a course with Toni Jordan yourself.

 

Tips

  • Multiple protagonists makes your job harder and don’t often make the story better
  • A weakness in your writing is not an excuse to shove in more protagonists
  • Readers can relate to characters without them having to be the protagonist (Ron, Hermione)
  • Your protagonist should either be skilled, in jeopardy, elicit sympathy, or be likeable
  • Avoid having your character being still and alone where possible
  • Always have subtext
  • Every character matters
  • Inconsistencies in character can help bring them to life
  • Dialogue is to reveal character
  • Dialogue for each character needs to be so distinct that you can pick it without dialogue tags
  • Believability is more important than accuracy
  • BAN ADVERBS! (But #notalladverbs, you can keep some)

 

I’m writing historical fantasy at the moment, what are you working on right now?

Toni Jordan is the only author in Australia known to have a dedicated fan page to her socks on Pinterest.

Toni Jordan’s website can be found here.

Toni Jordan twitter account can be found here.

Toni Jordan Facebook page can be found here.

 

Find the New South Wales Writers’ Centre  here.

Find the New South Wales Writers’ Centre on Facebook here

Find the New South Wales Writers’ Centre on Twitter here.

 

 

Nice Things People Have Said About My Memoir

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I am feeling so lucky that people I have never had the pleasure of meeting in real life are connecting with my book about postnatal depression. I could use #blessed right now without being ironic. The list even includes authors and bloggers who I have admired from afar, which utterly blows my mind. I went for a deliberately conversational tone, that tired minds could soak in, and dumped any highbrow existentialism in favour of being awkwardly and messily me. I am so glad it worked and people are able to connect so easily with my book. I’m going to share some of the comments from people… I’m not crying… okay, maybe I’m a little misty eyed.

 

‘The result was a funny, real, and sometimes confronting look at something many women deal with.’ Lauren Ingram, The Daily Mail

 

‘A potpourri of confessions, wise advice (not just for those suffering PND), hilarious parenting and cleaning tips, and compelling stories. CONFESSIONS OF A MAD MOOER is told with honesty and humour, and will make you want to join Robin’s girl tribe.’ Tania Chandler, Author of Please Don’t Leave Me Here and Dead in the Water, review on GoodReads

 

‘This book had me laughing out loud, holding my breath, and restarting my heart. The recognition of familiar situations, the descriptions of stereotypical reactions, the responses of well-meaning people…all conveyed in a no-nonsense account that is full of practical advice and suggestions, and most importantly, lots of non-judgemental support.’ Cass Moriarty, author of The Promise Seed, review on GoodReads

 

‘One might think that as this book covers the very important topic of PND (and I am well and truly out of the ‘post natal’ zone, with my ‘babies’ now staring down the barrel of adolescence), it’s no longer relevant to me. But the tough issues that mothers constantly face: (anxiety, yeh – definitely anxiety), the pressure to be that perfect parent, or worrying that your less-desirable parenting skills are going to outweigh the ones you’re proud of – never seem to go away. This book helped me see with a clarity (which I’ve really only learned to appreciate over more recent years), that those early years can be hard. Really hard. It’s ok to admit that, and it’s ok to ask for help. This book gives permission for mothers to do that, in the most humorous, honest way.’ Marie McLean, blogger and banterer, review on GoodReads

 

‘Robin’s voice is witty & unfiltered, but she also manages to hit home on some very big, often taboo subjects. I will be recommending this to all my mum friends, if not buying a few copies to share around.’ Kirsty Dummin Smith, blogger and very tired mum of a newborn, review on GoodReads

 

And can I just give a special shout out to John Hunter Hospital! There are a group of nurses their who bought like 10 copies of my book. You guys are awesome. Let’s all blow a big kiss to John Hunter’s Paediatric Ward. Mwah!

Find out where to grab my book here. OR just ask your local bookshop to order it in. They all have accounts with Ingram Australia / Lightening Source who distribute my book so you can get it anywhere in Oz. And they have deals OS too so check it out.

I’ve Started a Support Group… For MYSELF!

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Full confession, I am a chronic self sabotager and procrastinator of the highest order. I’ve had both Book Club Part 3 and Confessions of a Mad Mooer sitting, ready, waiting to go to the copy editor and haven’t sent them. Every time I go to send them I have an anxiety attack, feel like I’m going to have a heart attack, and my stomach fills with acid. I’ve read through them both many times, I am happy with them, others have read them, likewise happy, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to hit send. This week I did it. I did it by setting myself a ridiculously hard goal to achieve which has lit a fire under the seat of my pants… I’m currently pantsless with a scorched A.

I have a dream, to hand the great JByrne a print copy of Confessions of a Mad Mooer, my recap of my time in the psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression, at the final taping of the Book Club ABC for this year. And by give, I mean leap over security and throw it at her screaming, “I love you,” before dashing off ninja style into the night. It’s in December. Luckily I engaged my cover artist months ago, before the dread sunk in, so I’m not completely toast. But given my self sabotagesque approach to life I have started a support group for myself on FB called Self Sabotage and Procrastination to get me through.

Yes, you read right, I’ve started a support group, not for the good of a marginalised group, for myself. I am a wretched toad of a thing. It’s a place we’re people can yell encouraging things at me, suggest blurbs, tell my cover artist that she’s a genius, read the draft, and generally be nice, to make me feel good and not dissolve into a puddle of self loathing.

So… hopefully in December I’ll have some pretty books that you can buy AND high self esteem. Wouldn’t that be nice? (Crawls off to corner and sobs.)

Different Drummer: #Robinpedia

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Different Drummer in Glebe

As Earnest Hemingway famously said, “write drunk, edit sober,” forever solidifying the place of liquor in writing. Let’s be honest, it was pretty intrinsically linked prior to Hemingway. Aeschylus, anyone? The modern drink of the writer is whiskey courtesy of the likes of William Faulkner, Raymond Chandler, and Dylan Thomas. However, thanks to Ashley Kalagian Blunt I have been introduced to cocktail writing. Enter the Different Drummer in Glebe.

The Different Drummer is a tapas and cocktail bar in Glebe, New South Wales. What makes it so attractive to writerly folk? Firstly, it’s in Glebe, which is an awesome suburb.  Secondly, happy hour from 6pm – 7:30pm daily. This involves two cocktails for the price of one. That’s a 90 minute opportunity to smash down drinks and smash out words at half the price. Remember that writers are all either poor, or tight with the pennies, or both.

You may think cocktails are a little full-on for writing, but might I remind you that Hemingway drank Absinthe, so this is positively tame. I have tried to write on Absinthe… it did not go well. The cocktails, however, went down a treat. Always listen to Ashley Kalagian Blunt (ALAKB). And my writing was fine.

The Different Drummer has a drink called The Last Word which consists of gin, chatreause, marschino liqueur and lime. I’d imagine that is their most writery of writerly drinks. Personally I had the Passionatefruit Collins, delicious and the Amaretto Sour, amazeballpointpens. So, happy hour, happy writing, at Different Drummer. I secretly hope they add more cocktails to their list in honour of the sacred craft of writinghood.

Find the Different Drummer’s website here.

Find the Different Drummer on Facebook here.

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What was that? You want me to drink you?

Just to be clear, this is not a sponsored post, I doubt the staff or owners know I exist. Robinpedia is a labour of love, not for money. However, should anyone wish to sponsor me, I like moscato, semi-soft blue cheese, pens and tea, so definitely happy to accept any companies that want to give me free wine, cheese, tea, pens. Notebooks and laptops, also good. Just putting it out there… I also like money, money is probably my favourite, so feel free to give me that too. Call me. Actually, don’t call me, I never answer, text me.

Find out more about Robinpedia here.

If there is any information you have a burning desire to be added to this entry, please leave it in the comment section.

You Don’t Have to be a Millionaire to Support Authors

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Not long ago I blogged about how Walter Mason inspired the spirit of fandom in me. For those of you not familiar with Walter Mason, he’s probably the most charismatic person in the Australian book industry. And let’s be honest, there’s lots of competition, so this means he’s pretty spectacular. Today I’d like to speak about the spirit of fandom a little bit more and how that actually helps authors.

We always hear “buy books, if you truly want to support authors than just buy their damn BOOK! For god’s sake open that wallet, they need to pay rent!!!” Which is fair enough, buying books directly funds authors. It’s even better if you do it through your local bookshop, but  we don’t all have the money to buy books everyday. Fortunately, for those of us that want to love more than our budget allows, that doesn’t mean you can’t support an author every single day if you should want too. There are lots of ways you can help out authors you love that don’t cost an arm and a leg. 
When people love a movie they sometimes pay to see it many times but many simply can’t afford that but they still help out by providing much needed enthusiasm through raving to friends, tweeting, making fan art, blogging and generally being fanatical. We can do the same thing for books. Let’s bring the spirit of fandom to the book industry.

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Read and interact with an author’s blog. Most authors have a blog. Commenting on their blog and letting them know that you like what they’re on about helps provide a moral boost and let’s them know what their readers do and don’t like. Writing can be very solitary and knowing there are people out there loving your work helps. If you are a blogger write your own blog entry about how a book or author has inspired or moved you. Shout out your appreciation loud and clear, let your enthusiasm become contagious. Write a review.

Rave to your friends about your favourite authors. I’m far more likely to read a book recommended by a friend than by looking at an advert. They’re my friends so I respect their opinion. I started reading Kate Forsyth books after a friend loaned me a copy of Dragon Claw. I have now gone on to buy myself, and friends, over 30 copies of her books. One loan resulted in mutiple purchases. And the books of hers that I have gifted to friends have resulted in even more readers. So never feel like you’re cheating an author by loaning their book out, you could be getting them a loyal reader.

Connect with authors on twitter. Who doesn’t love a compliment? Who doesn’t work better with a little enthusiasm to warm their soul. Knowing that your writing has touched someone has power. Last night I received a tweet from Michael Williams, a person that I respect and admire very much, and it meant just as much to me as a book sale. No it doesn’t pay the rent but it does help keep the depression at bay and depression is a mind killer so it’s just as vital.

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Follow authors and interact with them on any of their social media platforms. Most authors aren’t guaranteed their next book will be published. If they have a strong fan base they seem like a safer bet to publishers. If publishers can already see that people love their work and connect with what they write then that’s a big vote of confidence. Show your confidence in your favourite authors by doing so publicly if you dare.

How about some fan art. Show what those words look like in your mind. Show just how much books have touched you by inspiring you to create your own art. Not an artist? Me neither. I like to create memes instead. I spend far too much time on imgflip. But I just love putting beautiful words on beautiful pictures and sharing my love. Feel free to give it a go. It’s easy and fun.

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Attend author workshops. Many authors earn most of their income through teaching. So attend their events if you have the means.

And of course, yes, buy their books when you can. (Note: there are a few authors who only appreciate this method of support so will probably feel bombarded by the above suggestions, so don’t do those to them, but most appreciate some enthusiasm.)

You certainly don’t have to support an author every day, but you can if you want too without going into poverty. What are some of the different ways that you like to show support?

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Edit: I’ve started using #auslitlove on my tweets that are about loving Australian authors so that I can keep track of who I’m loving and make sure I spread the love around far and wide.

Fabulously Creative With Walter Mason ( @walterm )

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I love attending Walter Mason workshops because he is the writing equivalent of viagra. We writers can be a terribly insecure and depressive bunch, much inclined to wallowing and procrastination. Walter Mason is the antidote. An encounter with Walter never fails to send blood rushing to the brain and joy spurting from the fingertips to splatter words onto paper.

Those closest to me know that at the moment I’m not exactly winning my battles with depression. Hey, it’s a war, so I’m sure I’ll get there, but right now I’m just flat, tired, and not winning. These flat times make not only eating and moving hard, but also writing. These glorious notions of depression creating exquisite pain to tap into emotional brilliance aren’t entirely true. Sure, you need light and shade to truly feel and you want that in your writing but being in a depressed state isn’t really conducive of writing. It’s grey, not fifty shades of grey, just one shade of grey. And hard to climb out of or write from. Writing once out of it is easy. The stereotypes ring true, once out of the pit, not so much in it. So a pick me up is vital.

So if you need some inspiration or an extra dose of fabulous, I do urge you to attend a Walter Mason event or read either of his travel memoirs, Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia. Everybody needs a pick me up every now and then.  Especially creative types.

For more information please visit:
http://www.waltermason.com/

P.S. when is a travel show going to pick Walter Mason up? Getaway, Sydney Weekender, I’m not fussy, but this man needs to be on television.