Friday, July 20, 2007

A little chat at the end of a long week....

I'm having a bit of a brain drain this week. Over the last couple of weeks I've had to fine tune a logo design, create a publicity flyer and research/develop a handbook for the local Little Athletics Club. At work, I've been creating and finetuning several flyers, webpages, and information packages for various events and arts programs. In between all that creating I've been researching local community arts for the community arts journal I edit, looking for inspiration for an editorial for said journal as well as scouring the countryside for public art.

It's been challenging and fun, but at the end of the week [like right now] I'm at a loss for something to actually write about. So, I'm just going to chat a bit about what else I'm up to.

In a few weeks I go off to a writer's retreat in the mountains to work on, and get lots of advice on, the novel I've been trying to offload onto agents and publishers for the last couple of years. This is my last expenditure of time on this particular piece of work. I will polish it off and do the round of publishers/agents and then I shall move on.

I have a novella which I've been considering posting here. However, it is not professionally edited so I'm still thinking about that one. What else does one do with completed novels that publishers aren't interested in?

The above two novels are set in the USA. One completely spec fic and the other more speculative thriller [if there is such a thing]. One modern-day, the other set in the second half of the 1800s.

My third novel is set in Australia, Sydney to be specific, cause that's where I live and it's much easier to write a story set on your home turf. I haven't submitted it to that many places yet. Mainly because I'm not sure it's quite ready, but can't decide and so it sits on my hard drive waiting. I gave a copy to a friend today. I'm not sure why I did that. Last time I shared, really all the times I've shared, the story either doesn't get read or I don't hear back whether or not they actually liked it. Frustrating! Anyway, I've done it and am keeping a lid on expectations.

That's it for the moment as I have a sport-filled weekend approaching - not to mention a trip to the bookstore with my eldest child for the final instalment of Harry Potter first thing in the morning.

Good wishes to you all

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I first heard this word a couple of years ago when I was talking to a colleague about Australian Aboriginal culture and philosophy. The word can be a bit of a tongue-twister (though perhaps that's just me) but the meaning behind it fascinated me. I also found out, after some research, that although I hadn't heard this particular term before, the concept was not new (to me) and is often the backbone behind most religions. It seems that, at times, our major religions and their followers have forgotten this fundamental tenet.

What it means, in a most basic sense, is "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and "pay it back". That is, if someone does you a service or gives you a gift - tangible or intangible, then that "giving" should be returned. It makes perfect sense and I try to follow this philosophy to my utmost.

You may find the thought rather simple. The best ones often are. But imagine if everyone paid back a kindness with a kindness, respect with respect, service with service, how much happier we would be as a whole society. Levels of bitterness would drop and caring would rise. Ignorance would recede and learning come forth. The world's population needs reciprocity. You, dear Reader, need it. I need it.

Here are a few quotes from various religions (and via Wikipedia) that express their philosophy of reciprocity.

 "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD." — Torah Leviticus 19:18
 "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." — Jesus (c. 5 B.C.E. - C.E. 32 ) in the Gospels, Matthew 7:12, Matthew 22:39, Luke 6:31, Luke 10:27
 "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." — Torah Leviticus 19:33-34
 "This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you." — Mahabharata (5:15:17) (c. 500 B.C.E.)
 "What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others." — Confucius (ca. 551 - 479 B.C.E.)
 "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man." — Hillel (ca. 50 B.C.E. - C.E. 10)
 "None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." — Muhammad (c. C.E. 571 - 632), Hadith 13 of al-Nawawi's Forty Hadith.

I'm not sure I like the wording of all the above, but I'm not a big fan of dogma at any time. I came to my understanding of reciprocity without the benefit of religious learning as I'm sure many of us do. After all, it's so simple and I think it's simple because it's a human instinct - too often warped by ignorance and wrong-learning - but an instinct nevertheless. Perhaps I'm naïve - nothing wrong with a little bit of naivety.

Yes, there are varying interpretations of this concept, but let's not over-analyse it. That's a cop-out. If someone does something for you then you should do something for them. Not exactly the same thing, but something, even if it's as easy as a well-meant and sincere thank-you.


PS: If you're interested in performing some random acts of kindness then the Dare To Be An Angel website has lots of links for just this sort of thing.

PPS. The boomerang image is from the cover of a book entitled, Boomerang. For more information visit the Singapore Institute of Management.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I've already written an article on my dyslexic fingers. If you've read it, you may have thought I was joking. I've decided to write this entire article without editing any of it.

1. this will show you how bad my "condition" can be. I am a trained touch-typist capable of around 80 - 90 words per minute on a good day and used to be able to attain that level without a single eorror.

2. I hope to also show readers, especially beginner writers, that the good published work you read, you know the stuff you compare your own work to, starts in a fairly similar way to this article - in dire need of editing

now. You may be thinking that I'm not doing too bad so far. And okay, I haven't mucked anything major up, but I'm still warming up and a certain part of me is e… oops, I just edited out a word without thinking. As I was saying part of me is editing ias I go and it's very hard to stop it. For instance I tend to slow down when to think about what I want to say. That's good too, in every other article except this one. Also, Word keeps turning my - oops, did it again. I was going gto say little letter I's and then thought how immature, it should be lowercase i. Look at that, didn't do it.

Another thing you may notice is that I tend to ramble even more than usual. I find that in order to stop editing myself atuomatically I must attempt to free write. In other words sjust top thinking. It must be working notice the increase of typographical errors.

Critics might like to suggest that I just couldn't think of anything else to write about. They could be write I suppose but I have been thinking about this exericse of a couple of days now which suggests at least some forward planning on my part… I hope.

The point of this readers is that while you should read as much as you can on lots of topics, especially anything in your preferred writing genere, you really shouldn't be comparing your rought draft [no matter how many times you've rewritten it] to an already published piece. The difference between your work and ther published is, oc course, the services of an editor. At some time between when you've finished reading, I mean writing your great novel, and the time it gets put on the bookshelves and selling out over night t in order to make you a billionaire and household name, an editor has been employed. The editor [this was going to be one really long sentence but I just couldn't do it to you] picks up all the spelling mistakes, grammatical and punctuational errors and any other necessary fixer-uppers, and, well, fixes them so that you have a lovely polished work of art to present to your admising public.

Until the day you an actually afford a top-notch editor, you will need to do a bit of editing yourself. The better you get at this, the better your work will be. Do note one little detail though, sneaky little typos nearly always get in somewhere. If editing isn't your strong point, there a re plenty of books around on the subject. Read ca couple. Pay attention to what they say and take the time to read over your work. Use a ruler as aguide under each line, follow each word with a pen. Some people read th elines backward. I've tried this but only succeeded in making myself confused.

Make use of spellcheck but don't rely on them completely. After all, the y are computer progarms not reading humans and what makes sense to them will bmaboozle the rest of us. Bambaoozled yet? I'm actually a very good speller too. Where were we… ah, yes - also pay attention to cadence which will be altered quite quickly if the punctuationis in the wrong spot or missing entirely. Repetitions are a real story-stopper and anything that stops the flow of story is bad, bad, bad. If you say the same word more than twice in once sentence or even in one paragraph there had better be an excellent reason. If the word is unuusual and you say it in more than one chapter, tehre had also better be a good reason. And it's not just word repetition - phrases and terms used over and over bog good stories down.

Sentence length is another important point. Variable is best. Too many long sentences and thes tory gets boring. Too many short and the story gets lost and then boring. Paragarphs are best varied too. Readers can only take so much solid blocks of text at one time before their eyes get sore, eyelids droop and before htye know it they've closed the book and gone off for a nana-nap.

These a re just a few tips to get you started. The rest is up to you!

One little reminder, the article above has been deliberately left (mostly) unedited and while I would dearly love to tidy it up and cut a lot of it out, that would destroy the point of the exercise.

If you need drastic help tidying up your words, contact me at with a description of your work and what sort of editing or critique you need. I'll get back to you with a quote post haste!

cheers - TrishA

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Apple Branch: a path to celtic ritual

I'm researching for a new novel and thought I'd share a few notes on the books I'm using. So, if you're interested in Celtic culture & history, this one's for you:

The Apple Branch: a path to celtic ritual
written by Alexei Kondratiev and published by The Collins Press, Ireland - 1998
ISBN: 1-898256-420X

This is a serious book for people really interested in bringing celtic ritual into their lives. It is not a new-age, self-help, "pop" publication.

The book starts off with a detailed and well-researched history of the Celts, including their movement around Europe, their evolving society and the flexible, family-oriented laws they lived by. Social connections were judged by who a person was related to rather than how much they owned or their position within the society. Family groups were often self-ruling, separated by fields from the other families in their tribe. This self-reliance encouraged strong individualism in the warrior class and was the opposite of the centralised "states" they would later fight against. Even if you're not that into Celtic ritual, the historical chapters alone are worth the read.

I am truly bothered about cultural borrowings: take the good bits, ignore the bad bits and don't bother to make a deep commitment to the culture you're borrowing from. I do not display Native American dreamcatchers on my walls or any other "borrowed" paraphenalia. It's not my culture, though I am deeply fascinated by it, and I have no intention of changing religions or lifestyles, so I won't use their symbols in my life. The writer of "The Apple Branch", seems to feel the same way.

He talks about the need to study language when involving oneself in another's culture because only through a knowledge of the language can one truly understand, appreciate and interpret the culture. Learning about celtic culture but not learning the language is like paying shallow lip-service to the depth and meaning of being celtic.

When it comes to ritual, "The Apple Branch" goes first into history and meaning, and then into procedure and words.

"Every activity of the Tribe involves, in the end an interaction with the Land." And this world view is interlaced with every ritual, step and song. The relationship with the Land is all important in Celtic culture. Each ritual is connected to a cycle - between Earth and Sun, the Moon, Events and the Tribe - and fits into the seasonal pattern of life. All outlined and explained to great affect.

The passages on the Druids were very informative and cut right through fable and myth to give the reader a realistic picture of their purpose within Celtic life.

If you are researching or studying this culture, or the history of the six modern-day Celtic nations (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall and the Isle of Mann) then I recommend this book to help you along. It will be worth the search at your local library.

If you'd like to add "The Apple Branch" to your personal library, then Amazon currently have two copies available.

For more information on things Celtic and for articles written by Mr Kondratiev, stroll along to The Celtic League and The Celtic League, America. To find out more on Alexei Kondratieve, just enter his name into your favourite search engine and you will find entries from Wikipedia as well as several other websites.

Oh, and I found it quite helpful for my research purposes. The symbolism of the apple tree and the cycle of the moon, in particular.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

I wish...

that I had the time (and peace and quiet) to read every book on my "To Read" list

that I had the patience to sit down and teach myself to play a musical instrument

that I could know for sure that everything I am teaching my children is the right stuff to be teaching them

that I could put 100% effort into everything instead of divvying it all up

that wine didn't make me tipsy after the second glass

that I could understand what I'm doing at places like MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, StumbleUpon, etc instead of just muddling on through a bit at a time

that I could spend hours wandering around art galleries and museums, and not think about anything else apart from art and history

that I could write and read and write and read... and someone would pay me for that

that a literary agent or publisher would discover my work without my having to "pound the pavement" to get their attention

that I could paint, draw, knit, watch old movies, and read books, and still have time to write and have the family I aim to have

that I still sang and danced around the house the way I used to.

I wish...

We all have lots of wishes, for more time, for some recognition, for knowledge, but those wishes won't and cannot come true without some planning and effort on our part. We can through ourselves to the Universe as much as we like, but opening ourselves to possibility, planning how we can achieve our goals and working toward them one step at a time has much more chance at success than passively wishing on a star.

Lisa Gates, over at Design Your Writing Life, has some wonderful words to help set you on the right path, and you don't have to be a writer to benefit. What she has to share can be used for whichever path you're aiming for. Go and take a look. It's worth it.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Editing your work

When I wrote this piece, I was aiming it at high school students. However, the information can help anyone whether they're still at school, at university or (like me) are well and truly out of the education system.

Remember, that if you'd like to borrow any of my articles for your own web-site or simply to pass along to a friend, take my bio as well. My name and the url to Beginnings, Middles, Ends is fine. If you want more, grab a full bio from my profile.
cheers all

Editing your work.

You've done the research. You have pages full of writing. The next step is to edit all your words into a manageable, easy to read work that not only covers all the requirements of the assignment, it leaves the teacher smiling.

You'll need two things: highlighter pens in different colours and the ability to be ruthless.

1. Print your work out and then read through the whole piece.

2. Read through it again, but this time highlight the points that directly relate to the assignment question.

3. Read again and, with a different colour pen, highlight the paragraphs that support your answers or arguments. Hopefully, this will include an introduction and conclusion, but don't worry too much if it doesn't. You can add them in later.

4. Go back to your computer, open up your workfile and click "save as". Change the name of the file slightly by calling it "edit1" or "draft1" - whatever works for you really - but keep the original title in the new name.

5. In your newly named copy, delete all the sections that are not highlighted on your print out.

6. Start again with your new streamlined piece and this time, correct any clunky sentances, repetitions, overly passive statements, weak sentance beginnings, etc

7. Make sure your arguments are strong.

8. Polish off the intro and conclusion, or write them now if they didn't survive the first cut. Your intro should answer the questions and show how you plan to support your answers. The conclusions should show how you answered and supported your answers.

9. Print it out and read through again. Highlight anything that still needs adjusting.

10. With any luck this is your final draft. Make adjustments according to your last brush with the highlighters. Read it. Yes, again! Make sure it says what the teacher wants it to say. If it does and you're happy with it, add your name to the top, print it out and take it to the teacher.

You're done!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Writing in temperatures...

If you're in the southern hemisphere of planet Earth, I hope you enjoyed a reasonably happy winter solstice and Yule. For those north of the equator, greetings on the recent summer solstice is in order. Hope the warm weather is treating you well. If you're not on the planet earth, thanks for reading and I hope the weather's great wherever you are.

As I alternate typing with keeping my fingers warm by wrapping them around a hot cup of tea, I contemplate the difference that weather, and temperature, make to writing. Specifically, the ideas created for articles.

Does a writer whose fingers are shaking in time to their chattering teeth, prefer to tackle warm weather topics? Perhaps they might wander off to sunnier climes, at least in their imagination anyway. Does the pounding of wind on the windows effect or affect the writer's mood enough to shape the words that flow from the keyboard?

I find that when it's cold [like right now if you're in Sydney, Australia] I tend to let my mind hover on deserts and tropical islands. Sweaty, high temperature days seem much more appealing in the middle of winter than they are when you're sweltering through them. In summer, if I can bear to be at my computer at all, I write about flash floods and snow storms and can bring them to mind clear enough that I almost shiver. Almost! Summer in Sydney is a bit hard to shiver through.

That's in fiction. Articles seem to be a different matter. I guess that would be because the goals are different, outlines are more specific. And quite possibly, at least for me, because I'm writing from a list of ideas that has been developed over a period of time. This time covering all seasons and the ideas covering experiences and knowledge that I've gathered along the way.

Getting my fingers to move properly and hit the right keys is another story.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

3. Non-fiction

Third and final part of Being a Writer

Articles, books, essays, letter-writing [presumably] may be your interest. That's great! Start with articles and develop a list of things that interest you and/or that you know a lot about. Stop right there if you're thinking you know nothing! My first article idea list ever garnered me over 30 possible projects from childcare and women's health to travel and writing. Mridu Khullar's website has some good articles on article writing. A simple web search will find you hundreds of helpful articles, tips and ebooks. As a starting point for a relaxed and friendly writing style, edit everything you produce for mistakes and ensure your facts are facts not fiction. If you would like to publish there are plenty of free article directories on the web. You don't get paid but you do have the pleasure of seeing your name and work in "print" so to speak and you can track your articles to see where they end up.

All writing requires some level of research. Non-fiction books especially. Readers expect to be reading the truth backed up with reliable resources. You will need things like bibliographies, expert's quotes, possibly some images, diagrams and tables. Don't be put off, non-fiction writing is just as creative as fiction and equally satisfying for the writer. Read up on things like developing outlines that will help you plan your work and how to research and keep records. You don't want to lose any scrap of information in the process through sloppy files or note-taking.

You don't have to be an "expert" to write non-fiction, but be prepared to have become one by the time you are finished. Good research skills and dedication will get you most of the way there. Good writing will carry you through the rest.

It doesn't really matter whether you're published and earning money from writing, whether you blog or keep a journal, write letters or that no one other than you reads your work. If at the end of the day, writing makes you happy in some way and you do it regardless of other outside outcomes, then you are a writer. Whether you take your craft out of the hobby arena and into the semi or full professional is up to you and other interests/ambitions you may have. Being a writer is something you are born with. Writing well and being able to craft a piece that is interesting and has an impact on its audience is something you learn along the way. You don't have to sign up for university. You do have to be prepared to work at it, learn, and keep practicing.

The way to better writing is to keep writing.

My ebook - Plan to Write, Plan to Succeed - has some articles in it you may find of interest to further you along your writing path. It's available free by emailing me at - - and putting "plan to write" in the subject line.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Feedback for Plan to Write, Plan to Succeed

I've received some great feedback for my first ever ebook and wanted to share it with you. Writing takes more than talent and knowledge, it takes "butt in seat" work and a fair bit of determination. I'm so happy that I finally have something to show for the hours of typing and researching and planning...

Hi Trish,

I've just finished your e-book. Very informative and thanks for the mention! It must have taken you ages. Well done. It does tend to make me realise what a sloppy writer I am in terms of organisation.... Anyway, enjoyed the read and hope plenty of people get to read it and benefit from your experience.


and this one,

Hi Trish
Had to let you know I found your e-book interesting and informative,
espec for me in the Keeping Records section. My bete-noire!
Thanks for the chance to read it.

Thanks Jo and Sheryl. I appreciate the time you've taken to share your thoughts.

If anyone else would like a) a copy of Plan to Write, Plan to Succeed or b) to leave some feedback, just drop me a line at

2. Fiction

Pretty much the same goes for stories as it does for poetry. Pick up a pen or open a word processing document and write. Your first draft will form the basis from which you can add bits, take away other bits and work on things like plot, characters and dialogue. Everything we write needs a beginning, middle and an end so get an idea of what yours will be and write it down. This is your outline and will give you some direction and act as a reminder for where you want your story to go.

I can't suggest strongly enough how useful it will be to pick up a few books on writing fiction. Plot development, characters and dialogue takes planning. Books on writing abound so start at your local library until you get a feel for what you want. Stephen King's "On Writing" is popular, easy to read and understand, and inspiring. There are hundreds, if not thousands, to choose from.

Join a writing group; online if you're a bit nervous about real live people. Check as many out as you can first and go with the groups that sound the friendliest and helpful. Another form of writing group to consider is via fan fiction. Fan fiction is fiction written by fans of television shows and movies. The stories in these groups go where the screen versions don't go. You can usually pick up a few beta-readers or editors connected to the group that will help you develop your story or, at least, point out grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors.

If you're worried about spelling, word-use or any technical aspect of writing, there are books to cover that as well. Start with a dictionary and thesaurus. Next consider a book or two on word usage. That is, something that explains the difference between words such as "lay" and "lie", when to use them, etc. Bill Bryson's "Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words" is a good start.

If you have a growing pile of short stories that have been polished as close to perfection as you can manage try submitting them off to a few competitions. You can find lists of competition information through various writing newsletters and groups, or join your local writing centre. Writing centre's provide access to groups, courses, competitions and information for writers of all abilities. To find the one closest to you either do a web search or inquire at your local library.

You will go through stages of thinking that your writing is not good enough. You will compare it to the work of other writers and consider it lacking. We all do this at some point or another. Welcome to the world of the creative artist! Mull over your apparent lack of talent for a bit, then get over it and get back to writing. If you seriously feel you need extra help in a specific area, ask for it via a critique or writing group. Work on your weak areas and they will grow stronger.
This post has just come up at Modern Matriarch. Go visit her blog for some samples of spoken poetry. This is a great idea and I hope it really catches on.

Modern Matriarch

Poetry: the Spoken Word
Wednesday, June 27th, 2007 in reading, audio clips, literature, poetry, writing, blogging

Poetry is an artform ment to be spoken; ment to be heard with the ear not scanned with the eyes. Hearing the words roll off the lips of the poet gives the poetry a new dimension. There is a texture in the emphasis, in the rhythm, in the pregnant pause that can not be duplicated on paper.

A fellow poet from Editred recorded some of her poetry on a my music page. A myspace service originally intended for indie musicians, my music has been co-opted by poets seeking an outlet for their spoken word. It’s a fascinating trend that I hope will gain ground, perhaps even inspire a dedicated service (please let me know if there is already one I don’t know about).