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It’s exhilarating when something you’ve been working on starts to come together.
Any author will tell you that some works are much more difficult than others to write. This is true in every genre and every style of writing. It’s true for other artists, too, and in most walks of life.
As a poet, I deliberate over every word choice, I measure the rhythm and listen to the music of each poem. They’re all different. Some rhyme, some don’t. My poems vary in length, subject, tone and style. They all demand to be written. And some are really challenging.
There is one poem I’ve been writing since May 2nd this year. I knew when I started it wasn’t going to be easy – it’s a medieval fantasy narrative poem, for crying out loud, so that was never going to happen overnight. It’s not ‘The Lady of Shallot’, but I suspect I may have a fair idea of what Tennyson might have experienced while writing it. It has developed in bits and pieces, sometimes just one or two lines at a time, while at other times it’s just been a matter of reading through what I’ve written and changing one or two words, while the rest remained incomplete.
It really has been like doing a complicated jigsaw puzzle. I had an image in my mind that I wanted to create through the narrative of the poem, and planning the stages of the poem was a little like finding all the edge pieces and joining them together to form the frame. Then it was a matter of finding pieces that matched and fit together, and bringing the story to life bit by bit. It’s been slow and steady work, but it’s also incredibly exciting when the different sections link up and the whole thing starts to take shape.
Today was the day that the “big picture” of my poem started to come together. That which has been difficult and frustrating is now exhilarating. My motivation has had a boost, and I feel as though I am cheering myself – and my heroine – on from the sidelines.
It’s not finished yet, but it’s getting closer. I can smell victory in the air. And it’s fair to say I’m more than a little in love with this poem.
My friend Helen and I completed this puzzle together on a rainy Sunday afternoon,a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the completed image.
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Indie Pride Day 2018: A Fantastic Way To Celebrate Being Indie!
July 1 was Indie Pride Day, on which Indie authors worldwide posted selfies with their books to show the world what we have achieved. Posts were made with key hashtags to get those tags trending and get attention across all social media platforms.
It’s just one way we can stand up and say “we’re here!” to a world that still focuses on traditional publishing and looks down its nose at Indie authors, even though Indie artists and musicians are almost revered as artistic heroes – which, of course, they are.
The encouragement I’ve received from other Indie authors today has been incredible. I’ve seen people following other writers on social media, sharing other authors’ pictures, leaving encouraging comments, and cheering one another on. It has been an enormous wave of positive reinforcement, friendship and camaraderie that any other industry would, and should, envy.
So, while my social media posts for Indie Pride Day may at first glance appear as though I’m trying to sell my books, that’s not my intention. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think putting my face beside anything is going to help sell it. Those pictures of me with my books are intended to be an encouragement to others to be loud and proud about what we do, and to encourage writers to embrace Indie as a viable and legitimate route toward getting their work read by audiences worldwide.
It’s also fair to say that, having made a mission of going out to take themed photos, I had quite a bit of fun doing it. These shots didn’t make the final cut, but they’re actually some of the ones I like best.
And all you readers out there? If you choose to bypass books because they’re Indie, you’re missing out on some truly excellent reads.
Wide distribution is a boon for Indie authors and for readers.
I’ve never been a believer in keeping all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. I use more than one bank. I store my important files in more than one place. And I have always had my books available in more than one place.
In recent months, I’ve become more and more thankful that Amazon is not my sole venue for book distribution.
As far as I know, I am the only Joanne Van Leerdam selling books in any of those stores. If you search for me, you’ll find me.
Amazon doesn’t necessarily make life as an Indie author smooth sailing. Sure, they’re the biggest beast in the eBook zoo… but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one that should be fed.
So, I’m going to start favouring different distributors when I buy eBooks, and still give the same support to my fellow Indie Authors through buying, reading and reviewing their books.
I’d love to see more people doing this, just to show we’re not reliant on a company that thinks it can do whatever it pleases, without consequence.
Let’s face it, if a dog bites your hand enough times, you’ll stop patting it. And if that dog doesn’t learn not to bite, it’s likely to end up very lonely. The only people who can teach it that lesson are the people with the option to pat the dog or not.
Personally, I think I’m going to make Kobo my first choice. Some may see it as the proverbial runt of the litter, but that just makes me want to support them. And in 24 months of working with them, I’ve never had anything but excellent service.
I’m also going to try to encourage others to buy my books somewhere other than Amazon.
In addition to adjusting my advertising and promotions, I think I may create a slight price advantage for those who buy from a non-Zon source. That’s easily achieved through my Draft2Digital account, and it might just drive some increased interest in my books on the other platforms. An additional advantage of using Draft2Digital is that their payment threshold is $10, not $100 as it is on Amazon.
On a final note, please don’t think I’m single-handedly trying to bring Amazon down. I’m not, at all. I’ve had good sales there and I’ve bought many, many books there, too.
I’m just very disappointed in some of their “developments” of late, and happy to find alternatives that don’t screw myself or my fellow Indie authors over at all.
This is what happens when you marry a book nerd.
We live in a small town where my husband knows absolutely everyone.
This morning as we drove down our road, he commented on a block of land that sold recently.
Him: Somebody named Finch bought that block.
Me: Was it Atticus?
Him, suddenly doubtful of his local knowledge: I don’t know.
Me: Never mind. Probably wasn’t.
This is what happens when you don’t read anything but live with a book nerd. Poor bloke.
As of July 1, Australians can only buy from their Amazon’s AU store. Guess who profits?
As of today, Amazon’s new rule about Australians only buying from their AU store will apply. Yet again, it seems that living at the arse end of the earth isn’t enough of a disadvantage. We already have to pay more to go anywhere and to send things overseas in the mail. Having anything delivered from overseas is ridiculously expensive. Now this.
I’ve yet to see how the new rule will affect my ability to actually buy kindle books and leave reviews for them.
I’ve definitely spent the required $50 in the US store, so I should still be able to leave reviews if it doesn’t happen automatically. It’s just an extra thing I’m going to have to do if I want to leave a review.
Are they going to make me spend another $50 in the AU store before I can leave reviews there, though? That remains to be seen, but I’m guessing so.
I feel as though I’m being screwed over by the Zon, yet again.
I’m so thankful that I have all my universal book links and custom shortlinks set up as part of my own branding.
At least none of that will have to change.
One quick virtual tour through the AU store confirms what I already suspected – prices for everything are higher, even factoring in the exchange rate. I can tell you where I won’t be shopping for anything other than eBooks! And if the books I want to read are available elsewhere, I’ll be giving the fine folks at Kobo some business.
We’ve all seen those images of the long-distance runners at the Olympics who can barely move their limbs, and have to keep jerking their arms and legs to get over the finish line, where they fall into a sobbing heap, barely able to think or breathe.
That was me this week, although not in any track and field event. With a final burst of grim determination and a fair degree of operating on ‘autopilot’, I staggered over the finish line of an 11 week school term. Exams done and graded, reports written, special reporting for students with disabilities completed, and reporting software glitches dealt with, it was all I could do to get home without actually falling in a heap.
Then I was reminded by my very extroverted husband that we had to go out for dinner to farewell a friend who is returning to The Netherlands. The very last thing I wanted to do was move, let alone have to talk to anyone.
“Do I really have to go?” I asked. I’d like to say there was hope in my voice, but it was more like desperation laced with the abject misery of the tears I was blinking back.
“Yes!” replied favourite ‘social butterfly’. “We won’t stay long.”
I can’t believe I fell for that – again. Why do I always believe him when he says that?
Anyway, I went along and made a valiant attempt to both stay awake and wear a happy face. Despite the fabulous array of food on the table, I managed to eat some potato and a sausage. I was too tired to contemplate chewing anything, so not even the marinated steak managed to tempt me. I had reached the point when I just didn’t care.
It was after 9pm when we got hom. I went to bed and, surprise surprise, found it impossible to fall asleep. Instead, I just lay there in a fuzzy daze of not-quite-asleep limbo for hours, occasionally weeping a little when I had to move one of my limbs. I had my regular talkback radio shows on, and I know I listened, but I don’t think I took anything in. Of course, given that the last time I went to bed and fell straight to sleep may have been when I was about three years old, this is completely normal for me. But oh! how I wanted to sleep.
Today, I feel like I’ve been hit by an even bigger truck than usual. My Fibromyalgia is keeping a constant check on my pulse and my dodgy spine is being a drama queen every time I move.
So far, I’ve managed to avoid taking any codeine, which I wouldn’t have been able to do before my conch piercings. Despite enormous temptation to overdose on coffee, I’ve only had one, and am focusing on just drinking water and resting as much as I can today so that this doesn’t continue for days and eat up half of my term break. I have writing that I want to do, and work for school that I must do, so that’s not an option.
Today is a pyjama day. Tomorrow, I’m going to dress up, put makeup on, and go out to take bookselfies for Indie Pride Day. Trust me, you wouldn’t want me doing that today, even with makeup and proper clothes.
For now, I’m going to snuggle in my comfy chair and cuddle my enormous sense of satisfaction at having not only survived, but also having met every work requirement and deadline, rehearsed and performed in a play, and then auditioned, cast and started rehearsals for HMS Pinafore in September. And all of that without killing anyone – other than fictionally, of course. Go, me!
Some people think you can write any old thing and call it a poem.
That’s not how it works.
©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam
These students prove that exams can be positive learning experiences.
Am I supposed to enjoy marking exams quite so much?
These kids are awesome!
Life is demanding… and sometimes, something’s got to give.
I’ve been reminded of something important over the last few weeks: I can’t always actually do everything that I think I can. Well… at least, not all at the same time.
The past few weeks have been like someone who started juggling three or four cute, colourful hackey-sacks that could be dropped occasionally and picked up again without causing any trouble, and ended up trying to juggle five or six chainsaws that were both running and on fire at the same time.
Something had to give. And logically, that something could neither be my work, the show I was performing in, nor my mental health.
I knew things were going to get busy, so I tried to get extra work requirements out of the way early. As it turned out, it was actually a really good thing I did that, because it enabled me to find the time for the extra stuff that I hadn’t anticipated.
The show went off brilliantly, thanks to the efforts of cast, crew and a fabulous director who all worked incredibly hard to deliver a production that made showbiz look effortless. Even though last night was my first Monday evening at home in months, I spent most of it feeling sad that there was no rehearsal to go to, and missing my fellow cast members.
Even so, it’s a good thing ithat particular flaming chainsaw has finished it’s run, because the music director and I have already been running auditions for our school musical for the past two Thursday afternoons.
Rehearsals for that start in two weeks – at about the same time our semester reports are due to be ready for proofreading. No pressure, though.
All of this is why I haven’t blogged, read anything except my students’ assignments or written any book reviews. My social media has been reduced to that which I have planned and scheduled in advance, and I am very conscious of my poor engagement with others on those platforms. For that, I sincerely apologise.
Still, it’s all I can do to keep my head above water, so it is what it is. Those things will resume when I get my other priorities under control.
This week, I am going to attempt to conquer the out- of-control pile of papers on my desk that need to be graded, recorded and commented on in writing as constructive feedback for my students.
I’m also going to try to get one of my priority reads finished and reviewed.
I may even finish a poem that I’ve been working on in dribs and drabs when I’ve had a few spare minutes here and there.
Those may not sound like significant achievements, but each of them will be.
Here’s to setting goals and hopefully achieving them.
I’ve passed my Goodreads Challenge 2018 goal, and the books I’ve read are worth talking about!
At the beginning of the year, I set my Goodreads Challenge goal at 40 books for the year. I figured that was a fair goal, given that I work four days a week at a job that easily takes more than four days a week, and I have other commitments – writing my own books, for example, and rehearsing with the theatre company for a show in May/June before directing and rehearsing my school musical from June to September.
By mid-April, I had read 40 books and extended that goal to 75. There were two reasons for this.
First, being busy, I selected a lot of novellas and short story reads that I could slot in around my busy schedule. A lot of them could be read in the space of thirty minutes to an hour, so they fit into a lunch break really nicely and gave my brain some much needed down time.
Secondly, I hit a patch of writer’s block that hasn’t entirely disappeared yet. Rather than stressing about it, I decided to fuel my imagination and my soul with some great books. I’m still writing poetry, but the fiction brain is on vacation somewhere, and I’m just waiting patiently for it to come back.
So far this year, I’m at the point where I’ve read 77 of 75 books. That’s 77 great Indie authors whose books have received a review and free regular promotion not just on Goodreads and Amazon, but also on the Book Squirrel blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Every single one of them is a verified purchase review on Amazon. I’m not saying that in the interests of receiving praise or adulation – instead, I’m rather chuffed at being able to do that for authors whose work I admire. I know how hard it is to get someone to review a book, even if they’ve really enjoyed it.
I also want to tell you how good these books I’ve read are. I deliberately included some reads that I wouldn’t normally select for myself just to broaden the horizons of my book blog. Some weren’t to my preference genre or content wise, but that doesn’t stop me recognising great writing when I see it. I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed them. There is definitely something for everyone on this list.
You can read my reviews of any books you’re interested in on the Book Squirrel blog, or on Goodreads or Amazon simply by searching for the book.
So take a look at these fabulous books, see what interests you, and check out some great new reads.
Clicking on the image will take you directly to my Goodreads Challenge 2018, where you can find details on each book’s author, genre, audience, and publication.