A rare and beautiful moment.

Every now and then, as a reader, I experience an incredible moment of revelation when I take in an expression or image of something that is so powerful, it takes my breath away.

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Reading Wonder

Every now and then, as a reader, I experience an incredible moment of revelation when I take in an expression or image of something that is so powerful, it takes my breath away.

Today, I started reading as book called ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ by Eric Tanafon.

No sooner had I started reading this book than I had to stop and catch my breath. I had just read an extraordinarily beautiful sentence: “The forest clearing was a web of moonlight and shadows.”

What perfect imagery! It is simple and direct, but powerfully evocative at the same time.

In that moment, I was there. I had been transported to that forest clearing and drawn into the world of the story, even before I knew anything else about it.

This is the magic a writer works when wielding the wand that is their pen.

The Power of the Posse.

Being an Indie author is a huge learning curve.

There are so many things you need to get right. When I started out, I knew nothing about marketing, very little about social media strategies, and had no idea how hard it is to promote a book and achieve sales.

There is one factor, more than any other, to which I attribute my survival and gradual success.

I have a group of “Indie sisters” who are the most incredible support, help, encouragement and backup anyone could ask for.Buddy The Gang Love Friendship Joy Funny

They’re all still learning, like I am. Individually, we’ve encountered pitfalls we never imagined, but we got through them with our integrity and sanity intact because of the support we’ve given each other. Together, we’ve done things that would have seemed near impossible on our own.

We’re selling books. We run Facebook groups for support, encouragement, and co-promotion for Indie authors. We’ve run events for Indie Authors Day, Valentine’s Day, book launches, author takeovers, cover reveals, and done a radio/podcast show. We’ve got websites, blogs, twitter and Instagram accounts, and multiple Facebook pages.

It all sounds too good to be true. To be honest, if you’d told me a year ago that five friends whom I had not yet met and I would be achieving these things, I’d have laughed. They probably would have, too.

The secret to what we’re achieving is not simply the sum total of our efforts. We have tapped into what I like to think of as ‘The Power of the Posse’. 

It’s incredibly encouraging to know, with absolute confidence, that on the days one of us feels like a failure or can’t see the way forward, the others have their back. We all know that if there’s a challenge, we are in it together. We sincerely and joyfully celebrate each other’s victories and achievements. We talk every day, about all sorts of things, simply because we enjoy each other’s company. We defend each other, and we’d willingly go down fighting to protect each other.

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I know, it sounds unreal. But the magic of the “Indie Fabs” goes way beyond our own group. We believe in paying it forward. We read and review other people’s books. We are free with advice and words of experience for those who ask for them. We answer the call when another Indie author – quite often, one who isn’t part of our team – needs help. And we will not ask for payment, except that those we help also pay it forward by helping others out when they get the chance.

I can’t imagine doing all this without Jeannie, Renee, Aliya, Eva and Lyra. I don’t even want to contemplate how I might.

One organisation I know of tried to allocate author teams for their members. Mine, and many others, never got off the ground because it’s simply not possible to manufacture the kind of relationship and teamwork that is required for a posse to work the way it should.

I am absolutely convinced that life/fate/destiny/the literary gods chose my posse for me, and me for them. What we have is magic.

Power of the Posse

So how, you ask, can you get a posse of your own?

  • Join and participate in author’s groups on Facebook. There are hundreds of them – you can choose by genre, location, particular events or affiliation with a certain group.  Engage with the people there. Sooner or later, you’ll find the ones with whom you have an affinity.
  • Encourage and help others. Share posts, read and review books, offer help when it’s needed. Those who reciprocate and help you – they’re the ones you want to consider as potential members of your posse.
  • Introduce your author friends to each other. Groups will naturally form. Don’t be exclusive, but nurture the closer working/team relationships and see what grows.
  • Demonstrate integrity. Do what you say you will. Be honest in your encouragement and support for others. That really gets noticed, especially in online communities where so many people are out for themselves.
  • Take responsibility. Be honest about things you haven’t done well, or things you feel others haven’t done well, but take care to be constructive in the way you communicate that.
  • Give it time. It probably isn’t going to happen immediately. When the time is right though, you’ll find yourself in the midst of a group of authors who work well together, include each other in things, and have complementary strengths.
When you find them, treasure them. Encourage, praise and nurture them.
If they do the same for you, you’ve found your posse.
Bravo!

Not a bad night’s work!

Tonight I launched my new book of short stories, ‘New Horizons’ into the largely unsuspecting literary world and, at the same time, won first prize  in a poetry contest at AllPoetry for my poem ‘Fusion’, based on Emily Bronte’s classic novel, ‘Wuthering Heights’.

Multitasking at its finest, perhaps!

‘New Horizons’ has also received some rather lovely reviews today.
It is rather nice to feel so affirmed as a writer. I think I’ll keep going.

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Indie Author Day Discussions

October 8th is Indie Author Day.
I’m part of a group of writers who are hosting a 24 hour event on Facebook, where there are discussions, book giveaways, and lots of fun to be had…

October 8th is Indie Author Day.

I’m part of a group of writers who are hosting a 24 hour event on Facebook, where there are discussions, book giveaways, and lots of fun to be had.

It’s been really encouraging to be part of the first six hours of the event. People have been so friendly and positive, and it feels great to know that we are experiencing similar things on our various journeys of writing and authorship.

Things got a little quiet earlier on, so I told my fellow writers about the picture of the centuries-old wine cups and accompanying information board that my friend sent me from a museum in Singapore with the caption, “I await the writing!”

The cups and the information really were lovely, and I found them to be inspirational.
Before the end of the night, I had crafted a poem for my friend that I could be proud of.

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Their responses were delightful.

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How can I be anything other than encouraged?

Thank you, Vicki, Shelley, and Susan.
I hope my readers and followers will look up your books, too!

The perils of creativity.

I’ve had a really productive and creative month, especially in my writing. This is a good thing in one way, but I’ve often observed that I am at my most creative when I feel oppressed or angry about something.  This has, in fact, caused me to wonder what sort of mood I’d have to be in, and for how long, if I were to actually try to write a whole book.

Perhaps luckily for my family and friends,, that’s not what I’ve been inspired to write. More than ever before, I’ve become really serious about writing poetry. There have been times when the ideas and words just poured out of me and landed on the page rather effectively. There have also been plenty of times when the writing and crafting of meaning was far more labour intensive because I wanted to make sure it was exactly right.

Last week, as I was driving home from somewhere – I can’t quite remember which day it was – the thought struck me that I should try my hand at a more conventional classical ballad style of poetry, like so many of the longer poems that I know and love. I’ve spent my life loving the work of poets such as Tennyson and Wordsworth, and while I am not pretending for a moment that I am anywhere near as good as them, the rich narrative style of their poems is something I thought I’d like to try to emulate.

Inspiration struck as I saw a picture in my mind’s eye and decided to develop it as an allegorical ballad with a fairy tale feeling and style about it.  Parts of the poem have flowed quite naturally, and others have been painstakingly written and rewritten.  At one point, I nearly threw the whole thing away and gave up on the whole thing as a ridiculously bad idea. I had hit the cold, hard barrier of writer’s block, and for several days this unfinished piece taunted me. Who was I kidding, anyway? I might be good with words, but I would never be that good.

In typical fashion, this famine of ideas turned out to be the ironic part of my life having a good old laugh at my own expense.  At the end of a week where I had three very long days at work, survived a stressful meeting, and was playing cordial host to a four-day-long tension headache, my brain woke me at 2am on Saturday with some lines that I had to either write down that instant or lose them forever.

I wrote those lines rather clumsily into my phone, hoping that autocorrect and my headachey,sleep deprived eye-finger coordination didn’t play merry hell with what I thought I was writing. You can imagine my surprise the following day when those lines actually turned out to be just what I had wanted. 

The poem isn’t finished yet. I am not sure how long it will take before I am happy enough to publish it. When I do, though, it won’t matter if nobody else likes it or understands it, or if it is not hailed as a work of literary genius. I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. What matters is what the poem means to me. 

For now, it’s a labour of love.  Hopefully I will be ready to share it with the world soon. 

Encountering Inspiration.

My students are discussing various ideas about the ways in which people encounter and respond to conflict as part of our Year 12 English course.

As I observe their interactions and tune into different conversations around the room, I am so impressed by the maturity and thoughtfulness they are bringing to these discussions. They are taking this really seriously. They are asking questions that I might never have thought to ask.

I had hoped that they would inspire and encourage each other to extend their thinking through this exercise.
They have gone further than that – they are inspiring me.

I am a very blessed teacher.