Dear Skyla Clarke, Sky Guardian of Tolla and Phoenix of Prayell.
I believe an apology is in order. I apologise for making you a temperamental and moody woman. As I wrote your story my own emotions at that time were mirrored in your character. Don't become angry please! I would rather not be on your bad side!
I hope you will forgive me for the pain I caused you so many times. You see, it caused drama and suspense. Basically, I refuse to present you as a perfect being. Sorry.
I apologise for giving you such a worry-wart for a boyfriend. Remember he is always thinking about you and try not get angry at him okay? You will need him so please don't strangle him in his sleep… Perhaps that won't be such an issue with his physique being a major distraction to you. Be thankful for that!
Sorry your past is so terrible. Was the future that I bestowed upon you an improvement? Probably not since you're now burdened with the fate of an entire country. I know you hate crowds and I presented you with the least favourable occupation in that sense. Sorry, but at least people accept you, right? (Well, at least some of them do).
Try to remember the cool powers I gave you. You possess some pretty awesome abilities; I wish I could manipulate fire! You have a terribly cute pet as well. Not to mention TWO horses and a wicked nickname (even though you hate it ). Now I'm starting to become jealous!
So, I'm sorry… Kind of. I love you. Please don't kill me!
Your loving and generous creator,
ps. I think I'll hide now as I write the next sector of your life in GUARDIAN CORE… You're really going to despise me…
Yes, that's right, I'm writing a post about my cat. Don't groan please… I'll add pictures!
Bella is a sixteen month old Ragdoll cat. I'm pleased to enlighten any of you that don't know your cat breeds. Ragdolls are playful, affectionate and (technically) docile cats that flop in your arms like a ragdoll (hence their name).
Bella is definitely playful, can be affectionate (occasionally giving my mother kisses and patting me on the face with her paw), but I'm not sure I would call her docile. Sure she can sleep a lot and will stretch out for a scratch but her creepy switch can flick just as often. Mid-rub she will suddenly stare at you wildly, expose her claws and latch on to your arm with a strength you wouldn't think a cat possessed, kicking at your arm with her back paws. She very rarely causes injury (but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt). Usually, at least once a day, we will hear a strange yowling and will slump down quietly so as not to disturb this crazy animal. That yowling signifies that true craziness has emerged. Soon after she will shoot in through her cat flap, sprint across the room to the other side of the house (where she will yowl again) then race back. If she notices you watching, her fur will stand on end, her eyes will widen, her tail will twitch then she will run at you sideways with her back arched. I cannot truly explain how CREEPY this is. My mother and I call it the 'Crab Run'.
Before Bella joined my family I had no idea cats could possess so much personality. She treats my mother as, well, her own since she provides her with what she needs (mainly food). I am like the annoying older sister that gives her too much attention and scolds her when she scratches at the carpet. My dad is the one to sit on since he allows her to cling to his arm while he watches TV. This is how she treats us:
Mum – Bella will sit next to my mum patiently but will not be man handled, yet she will poke her in the leg with her paw if she doesn't get attention (or food). When she becomes really impatient she will meow with a whine and you could swear she is saying "mum"! She will follow mum around the house like a duckling following the mother duck, often getting in the way of house chores; getting under the bed covers while they are being changed, sliding around in the bath and shower while the bathroom is being cleaned, and jumping on top of the toilet (she nearly fell in once when the lid was up!)
Dad – The only person she acts as a typical lap cat with is dad. She will curl up next to him or on his lap for a nap and a scratch. Sometimes her only reason for associating with him is to claw at his arm and chew his wrist. Luckily, his skin is like leather!
Me – I am the one who scolds her for scratching furniture and the carpet (and she knows it). I've come to realize that she does this to antagonize me. She will ignore my scolding until I stand to come after her. She will then sprint away, trying to get me to chase her. If I do and then attempt to walk back to my seat she will run at me and pounce on at my ankles. She resembles a ninja, one that likes to play tag.
Bella is always the center of attention; she makes it so. Either by whinging, antagonizing us, running about, or getting in our way. As a university student in my third year I have a lot of study that needs doing (I swear it will never be finished). Almost as soon as I sit down and get out my books and notes she will jump on the desk and sprawl out on my homework. If I move her she will try to chew my pen as I write or play with my other utensils so that I can't work. I think she knows exactly what she is doing.
The only times the world does not revolve around her is when she is asleep and when she hides in her boxes and bags. Sometimes she hides so well that you can't tell she is in them. You know, however, when a paw darts out of the box to swipe at your leg if you pass by too close. She is very territorial about her bags.
All of these things have only led us to love Bella, the mad queen of this castle, even more.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Recently a fellow writer mocked me for my writer's platform. He declared that he preferred “a direct approach” as he was "old school". By this, I assume he intends on sending out millions of queries without any prior marketing. I attempted to tell him that this is the way it is done now but I am not sure he understood entirely. Well, I am writing this post now in dedication of this writer in hope that it may enlighten him. If it doesn't, then hopefully this will give some of you other writers (and readers) out there an idea about why we need a writer's platform.
Wondering what a 'writer's platform' is? Basically, it is how writers promote themselves and their work to the world. How can we expect to sell our work if no one knows about us? Publishers also love authors who appear willing to market themselves. A writer's platform, nowadays, can consist of social media (such as Twitter and Facebook), a website, blog such as this, and public speaking. These are mostly internet based, a valuable tool that was not available back in the 'old days'. They are easily created and maintained if you're willing to put in a little time. So why not start?
Social media is the easiest way to promote yourself. I recommend this as a first step in forming your writer's platform. There are many different sites available, just a few of these being:
From my own experience, Twitter is an extraordinary tool for a writer. Masses of writers can connect on this site by 'tweeting' short comments. They can promote their book and themselves, their blogs and websites, and publicize events they may be attending or even speaking at. If they are 'retweeted' (RT) then greater numbers may see the tweet. In the very short time I have had Twitter I have gained 110 followers and my website has had the most views it has had since I created it. On top of being a great marketing tool, Twitter allows you to chat with, and obtain great tips, from other writers.
Facebook is another useful tool if a little more effort than Twitter. By creating a Facebook page for yourself you can begin collecting 'Likes'. Spending a little time each day to post something on the page allows your followers to get a peek at who you are as a person. I have found that a Facebook page, unlike Twitter, is more about connecting with your potential readers. Most of your posts must have entertainment value and give a little insight about your personality. I post funny pictures (mostly with cats in them) and inspirational quotes. Do post some information about your writing however or the purpose of the page will be lost. I post the odd drawing and description of my characters and links to my blog and website.
LinkedIn is a website used for professional networking. You can join groups where writers collaborate. They create 'Discussions' where they may ask questions and receive feedback from other writers. It can be a useful and informative tool. There is also the opportunity to link back to your work and share it with others.
The above three websites are the only social media sites I actively participate in at this time but I have found them to be extremely useful tools.
An author's website, unlike social media sites, is a place where writers can truly shine. We can post excerpts of our projects, samples, images, and links. We can speak about ourselves in greater detail than on social media sites. We can also talk about our plans for the future including upcoming books. This is also where readers can find our contact info. This is the ultimate collection of information on you as writer and your work.
Blog Well the blog is possibly to hardest to maintain (I'm saying this after only writing three posts? Ha!). It takes time, and effort, to keep updating with regular posts. You need your blog to sound professional or you could lose readers rather than gain them. This means grammar and spelling also matter. You need to come up with ideas to write about in your blog. Who would you like to read it? I hope to connect with more writers and potential readers with my blog. Therefore, I have chosen to give writing tips based on my own experience and share selected life stories to give readers more insight into the sort of person I am. Blogs don't just work as a marketing tool however, they are also personally satisfying. When you click the 'Publish' button you find yourself letting out a breath you didn't realize you were holding. You feel proud to be a writer. Writing regular posts also stimulates your creative muse by forcing you to think of subjects to write about. It keeps your mind churning over the information and memories in your brain bank. Every writer knows that the more you write
(and read) the better your writing becomes. Think of a blog as training yourself to be the best writer you can be.
"Ehem… " Public speaking isn't for everyone (it isn't for me). However, although I have yet to enter this (frightening) territory, I do know that this may be how to get your face known as well as your name. You can pitch your writing, meet other writers face to face, make friends and maybe gather new fans as well.
Hopefully this has given some of you an idea about the 'behind the scenes' work of a writer. We don't just sit back and type (or scribble) out a book. If you are not convinced, well I did what I could.
So, until next time…. SCARLETT OFFLINE! *click*
Writers, what does your platform involve? Feel free to post links in the comments section below!
Other blog posts about writer's platforms:
Building A Writer's Platform – Karen Woodward - http://blog.karenwoodward.org/p/building-writers-platform.html
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I am going to tell you a story of a nerd, an introvert, and a punching bag of social norms. That nerd is me. After finishing high school and entering university, I reflected on my time at school and pitied the young girl I was back then. Sounds sad? Well it isn't because I now realize that those experiences have helped to mould me into the person I am today.
As a young girl, in my primary school years, I was a loud, energetic, and often naughty child. I would climb things, jump on things, laugh a lot, and smile constantly. I was often rejected or ignored, people call it bullying, even back then but my naivety and ability to lose myself in my own world made me oblivious to it all and protected me for a time. My mind was my playground and what others did or said didn't matter. As I grew I began to lose that naivety, started to notice the goings on around me. That is when life for me began to change.
In high school, at first I was the girl who would make friends quickly. Some may say that is a good thing, in a sense I think it is too, but I gave away my trust too easily. I was caught up in cliques with high expectations, and because I was different, was often on the outside. If I didn't agree with what others said, if I voiced my own opinion, events would quickly get awkward. Of course, not all of my friends treated me this way, but over time I learnt not to speak in groups, I learnt that my opinion was unimportant, and I would fade into the background. By the time my final year, year 12, came around I was a complete introvert, the opposite of how I was as a child. My emotions became bottled up inside until I ran to my teachers or parents and just cried. During all this however, I became exceedingly proficient at understanding others, their emotions and motives. A number of my 'friends' discovered this and I became their personal psychologist. Having the weight of their problems on my shoulders didn't help my situation.
Requiring a release, I turned to writing. I attempted my first novel at the age of fourteen with the aid of my English teacher at the time (unfortunately the project flopped). I came up with the idea for SKY STONE the next year and throughout my high school years, that teacher continued to help me with my writing. I couldn't thank her enough! My emotions would flow out on to the page as I wrote and hence my leading lady, Skyla, was born.
How many people can say that they have written a novel (and are half way through a second)? Out of all my high school classmates I don't know of one that has done so. The same goes for my university friends. Without these experiences over my relatively short life, my writing would not have become what it is. All I can say is that I am excited for what is to come!
Since entering university I have met and become friends with people who understand and accept me for who I am. They laugh at my strange quirks and I at theirs. My comments don't offend them nor do they disregard my opinions. I know I can look to them in need and they will answer. If those friends are reading this, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You have helped me regain my feet and now I feel confident enough to tackle the world, as an adult, as a woman, as an adventurer, and as a writer.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Every writer experiences Writer's Block at some point in their creative life but don't get down if you find yourself floundering with, what seems like, no handhold. I for one have encountered this terrifying phenomenon numerous times, lurking in the recesses of my mind and threatening to devour every creative thought. It is a monster with quite the appetite and seems to grow stronger the longer one mulls over it.
So, there is your answer: don't give the Writer's Block attention. It is quite simple really. You might be shaking your head at the screen right now, thinking to yourself, "It isn't that simple," but truly it is once you know how. For the rest of this entry I'm going to run through a few ways which have helped me leap over the hump in the road known as the Writer's Block.
Number 1. Get away.
This is the easiest way to leave Writer's Block behind you and it can be done in a number of ways. The first step is to get away from the computer or the notebook or wherever you are writing. Second is up to you. You can go for a jog; not only will this clear your head but will make you feel energized and get those creative juices flowing. Another option is to do something relaxing that you love. This could be reading, listening to music, or drawing. I find those three activities extremely helpful. Reading your favourite book allows you to escape the world of your own writing and reboot your imagination as you picture the scenes the words depict. Listening to music often triggers my mind in to visualizing scenes from my writing and also new, in fact the initial idea for my novel Sky Stone arose while listening to music. Drawing is a recent pastime I have discovered. You don't have to be a particularly good artist for this help take your mind off of the Writer's Block. I enjoy drawing my own characters. Not only does this give me a visual reference of the characters but my mind begins to imagine new scenes they could be drawn in, and hence, new scenes to write about. Take a bath, make a cup of tea, make small talk with a friend, you could probably come up with hundreds of ways the get away.
Number 2. Jump ahead.
If getting away doesn't dislodge the claws of Writer's Block then you may have to leave that section of writing for a little while longer. Give your mind some time to think things through while you're not battering on its door looking for answers. The idea here is that you jump ahead (or back) to a future chapter in your novel and start writing. Most novelist have a few scenes stored in the back of their heads waiting to flow out in word form. Keeping a notebook nearby at all times allows you to jot down any sudden ideas you may have and call back on them when need be. I have employed this technique while working on my latest novel Guardian Core. This may be difficult if you are not writing a novel although starting up a new project, be it a short story or poem, may get past this issue.
Number 3. Read back.
When you literally have zero ideas and even jumping ahead isn't possible then you may need to read back. By going back over your novel you can reacquaint yourself with your characters and perhaps spark that needed flame of creativity. As an added bonus you get to proof read what you have already written and make it perfect (I know, I know, the dreaded 'proof reading').
I hope this helps some of you who have been grappling with the author's worst nightmare, the Writer's Block.
Do you have any other ways of dealing with Writer's Block?
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Other great articles on getting past writers block:
7 Ways to Overcome Writers Block - Writer's Digest
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
Subscribe to my blog to receive email updates of my latest posts.