10 Declarations to Inspire, Motivate and Propel You Onward.

If you are feeling a little’ bogged’ down lately which is affecting your motivation to write, then maybe it’s time for a fresh start – beginning with your mindset.

Jon Bard and his team from WriteForKids.org have come up with

10 Declarations to Inspire, Motivate and Propel You Onward.

Here’s what Jon has to say:

It’s time for a fresh start.    

For the moment, forget apps and ebooks.  Forget query letters and page counts. Let’s focus on the one thing that will make or break your career writing for children.  

YOU.  

To give you the boost you may need right now, we’ve created something we’d like to share with you. A few words that may help you catch a glimpse your own potential.  

We call it 10 Declarations for the 21st Century Children’s Author, and we think it’s something everyone who writes for children needs to read.  We hope you’ll agree.

Read it, download it, tape it to your wall where you write if you like — and, please, feel free to share it with everyone!

Link here: http://writeforkids.org/2014/03/10-declarations-for-the-21st-century-childrens-author/

***

I think this declaration can help (maybe with a little tweaking) any writer of any genre, and anyone with a dream.  It really is up to YOU.

Now, with that said, you will probably notice that all my images and similar have disappeared from my right hand bar.

Aarrrggghh!!

I registered for the 14 day Daily Post challenge 201 – Blogging: branding and growth which was one of the reasons I was rethinking my blog branding and theme.

Yes,  I was fiddling around previewing different themes for my blog.  And as my fingers flitted here and there, I inadvertently ‘activated’ a theme and all my images disappeared before I could say, “Jiminy Cricket!”

So I am likely to be a little quiet on the blogging front for a wee while as I (take a deep breath,  Helen) work through reinstalling all my images (book covers, etc.) and links.

And hopefully, I will have refreshed my site.

 

April is National Poetry Writing Month!

There are so many writing challenges out there. But if you feel you need a motivating force to begin, continue or improve your poetry writing (regardless of your style), then this challenge may be for you.

April is NaPoWriMo – National Poetry Writing Month!

To participate in NaPoWriMo 2014 your challenge is to write a poem each day this month – 30 poems in 30 days.

Unfolding in the tradition of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, held in November), NaPoWriMo founder Maureen Thorson will post daily prompts on the NaPoWriMo site to inspire your creative juices, and give you a kick start each morning.

The Daily Post (WordPress.com) will also post prompts.

For more information on NaPoWriMo, please click on:

http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/napowrimo-2014/

And if you are interested in improving in the art and craft of blogging, you might wish to sign up to The Daily Post at https://dailypost.wordpress.com  to receive their regular newsletters. I find their tips inspiring and helpful.

Launch of How to Promote Your Children’s Book by Katie Davis

Children’s author/illustrator and authorpreneur Katie Davis has just released her second edition of her ebook How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller. 

How to promote Your Chlidren's Book by Katie Davis 2nd Edition

I bought the first edition last year and found it a wonderful resource. However, the updated second edition is jam packed with more tips on how to promote your children’s book.

When you think of all aspects related to book promotion, it can actually do your head in, especially when working out how to go about it. It does mine! However, Katie has thought of all the important areas. And she explains everything clearly, without jargon and includes lots of essential links.

In How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller  Katie covers aspects such as:

  • Plotting your strategy
  • Social Media
  • Your website
  • Building SEO
  • Mailing lists
  • Newsletters
  • Blogging
  • Book festivals
  • School visits
  • Virtual visits
  • Teacher guides
  • Importance of using video
  • Book trailers
  • YouTube

And much, much more.

Though the book is titled How to Promote Your Children’s Book  (for authors and illustrators) I think that authors of any genre would find this a wonderful resource.

Now before I go on … 

No, I am not receiving any affiliated commission on singing the praises of this book. I did however sign up (along with many other authors and illustrators) to help promote Katie’s book and by reviewing it (for free) before it was officially published on Amazon.

All Katie asked is that readers give an honest review on Amazon (which I have done).

And I genuinely think it is a wonderful resource.

This is what Emma Dryden, founder of drydenbks, LLC, and the former Vice President and Publisher of Simon & Schuster, has to say:

 “Every writer should be using this tool!”  (taken from Katie Davis’s website).

How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller was launched on 25 March 2014.   Unfortunately I couldn’t blog about this earlier as I have just returned from Melbourne, and had trouble logging on whilst I was down there.

However if you do decide to purchase this ebook by 31 March, you will receive $125 worth of ‘thank yous’ during the launch.

Anyone who buys the book and submits the receipt to support@katiedavis.com through till 31 March gets the following thank you bonuses:

  • $40 coupon off Katie’s course, Video Idiot Boot Camp
  • Her Twitter for Beginners package
  • The audio version of the first edition of the book
  • How to Create Buzz-Worthy Infographics eBook
  • Kindle GoldRush eBook

That’s $125 in bonuses FREE for buying the eBook for Katie’s ‘I’m-Thanking-My-Early-Adopters Price’ of $4.99.

Apparently that price will be going up shortly.

All Katie asks is that if you like the book, please consider leaving an honest review for it.

For more information, please visit her site at: http://katiedavis.com/virtual-launch-party-how-to-promote-your-childrens-book/

OR

You can purchase the ebook on Amazon here: HowToPromoteYourChildrensBook.com.

You may also wish to sign up for Katie’s newsletter to receive her latest tips.

Her web: http://katiedavis.com/

ALSO

Katie wants to teach authors and illustrators just how powerful video is.  Her FREE webinar was held on 27 March.  But don’t despair.
Her webinar  has been recorded and I believe you can still have access the replay (for the next couple of days anyway) but you must register first!! Click here to register.
The video includes:
 
  • Why video is a must-use tool for ALL writers
  • 10 ways to use video to promote your books, apps and engage with your readers
  • How videos help millions of people find you online (search engines love video)
  • Four secret sources for free content you can use to make your videos amazing.

And if you are interested in purchasing Katie’s ebook, I would head over to Amazon now to take advantage of her ‘early bird’ bonuses.

***
That’s it for now.
Helen x

Webinar on authors as entrepreneurs

We all know of the changes in the publishing world. With that (unless we are outrageously famous and have a publisher bending over backwards for us), we as writers cannot just concentrate on writing our next book or collection of poems, or traversing the backwaters of who-knows-where in the name of research. We have to promote ourselves and our books (Oh, if only we could just concentrate on our writing). It is even encouraged that writers begin building an author’s profile before their first book is released.

And if you actually want to earn a living from your writing and writing-related activities or services, we actually have to become business like. In other words, entrepreneurs, and start to think outside the box! Can business and creativity actually do the tango together?

You only have to surf the Almighty Google to be inundated with posts and information on raising your author platform (a term that I loathe), and about the importance of becoming business like and entrepreneurial/authorpreneurial. Yes, it can do your head in. I do agree it is important to let readers know you are out there, and treat your writing as a business. Even if you don’t wish to offer ‘writerly’ services (such as editing, workshops, writing retreats, and similar) you do need to raise your profile. How else can potential readers know you are out there. And there are so many social media platforms (again that dreaded ‘p’ word) to choose from.

So if you do eventually want to earn a living from your writing and writing-related activities (regardless of your genre, or whether you are traditional published, self-published, e-published, or a hybrid published author) you may be interested in the following webinar.

Fellow children’s author and freelance writer, Julie Hedlund is speaking on the topic – the need for authors (and illustrators) to treat their writing as a business – at an upcoming webinar sponsored by SCBWI-MI. Julie will discuss how to become the CEO of your career – not just WHY but HOW.

Julie promises that ‘the business side of writing does NOT need to be a horrible, sleazy, back-breaking, time-sucking black hole that will prevent you from ever writing another book again.’

Julie is a published author and founder of the 12×12 picture book writing challenge, a writer’s retreat in Florence (Italy), and much, much more. She is living her dream, and making a living from writing. She has become an authorpreneur.

So if you are interested, head on over to: http://on.fb.me/1lhFuqZ

Oh, there’s more.

SCBWI-MI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators -Michigan) are offering to give away one free registration for the webinar (or refund your fee if you’ve already signed up). To enter, just share about the webinar in any of the ways provided in the Rafflecopter via http://on.fb.me/1lhFuqZ by 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, March 28th.

 

Chatting with author, Morgen Bailey

Today, I welcome the lovely Morgen Bailey to my blogging corner. Morgen must be one of the busiest writers I ‘know’.  And when I say ‘busy’, I am sure after reading this, you will agree that this is certainly an understatement. This then  begs the obvious question: When does Morgen find time to sleep? Being so passionate about anything literary and supporting other writers, Morgen is normally the one doing the interviewing.  So I appreciate Morgen taking some time out, so we can find out a little about her writing journey.

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor/critiquer, Chair of NWG (Northampton Literature Group,which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local council. Morgen is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/, is consumed by all things literary.

Wow!  But she doesn’t stop there.  Morgen is currently writing her eighth novel, a departure from the crime genre; its protagonist is Henry, a talking dog with attitude.

I have many questions for Morgen, so please take a break at any time to grab a cuppa. And I have bought cake. Oh, and if any naughty gremlins have got in and caused problems with any of the links, could you kindly copy and paste into your browser.

So without further ado …

Welcome Morgen.

Morgen Bailey Dec 2013

Morgen, thank you so much for taking valuable time out to chat with me.  You are normally on the other side interviewing writers/poets, so thought it time to find out a little about your own writing journey, and why you are so passionate about all things literary.

So to start off, could you tell us a little about yourself?  Did you always want to be a writer?  If not, what did you want to be?

Hi Helen. Thank you for inviting me. I’m a 40-something female who wears glasses because I used to read Stephen King by torchlight under the duvet in my teens (so it’s all his fault!). I originate from Buckinghamshire, England but have lived in Northampton since the early 1990s where I share a house with my ever-patient Jack Russell/Cairn-cross dog and two lodgers (housemates).

To-date I’ve interviewed c. 1,000 authors (yourself included) and when asked this question, about half say they’ve always wanted to be a writer, the other half have (mostly) said they stumbled upon it. That’s what happened to me. The short version is that I moved to a new area and took up evening classes. After computing and languages (French and German), I then spotted (January 2005) creative writing… and I’ve been a freelancer now since March 2012 and a part-time creative writing tutor for my local county council since January. I used to be jealous (in a good way) of those who’d always known they wanted to write but then I remind myself I have all those years’ experience to write about. Plus it’s FAR easier being an author these days (internet search engines, social media, self-publishing etc.).

When did you start writing, and what was the spark that inspired this passion?

I wrote constantly since starting the college classes but they stopped a couple of years later so it fizzled out (no incentive) but the passion was always there. I bumped into (not literally) one of the other students in early 2008 and we said it was a shame it wasn’t still going (we’d both almost stopped writing), so I said, half-seriously, “Why don’t we have it at my house?” To which she said, “OK then” so I did – every other (then every) Monday night from March 2008 to January 2013 when my other commitments proved too much, and one of the other members took over running it at her house. I met up with them early December 2013 and nothing’s changed, only the venue.

As a child, were you an avid reader?  If so, what was your favourite book? If answer is yes, what do you love about burying your head in a good book? Do you read a lot these days?

I do remember being a bookworm but the only book I remember the title of was Russell Hoban’s The Mouse and His Child. Sadly he died last year. I would have liked to have met him.

As for ‘these days’, I wish. I love reading novels but I tend to be a bit sporadic so have to keep backtracking. I’ve tried joining book clubs three times to get me reading more but as soon I see the to-be-read lists, I think, “I don’t have time to read something I probably won’t like”. Anna Karenina was the one that made me realise that book groups aren’t for me. History was my worst subject at school so a 700+-pager classic made me go cold (sorry any Tolstoy fans reading this). I’d started writing short stories before I turned to novels (if I had to make the choice, shorts would still win) so I’ve been reviewing them (individually or as collections) on my blog and am booked up for the next four months so there are plenty of writers out there wanting theirs read (which is great!).

The great thing about reading is the escapism. It’s a chance to switch off from the real world and be excited, appalled, thrilled and everywhere in between. A good book teaches you something and makes you think when you’ve finished reading it. If you’re laughing or crying during or at least by the end of it, then the writer’s done their job.

What writers do you think have influenced you?

Without a doubt, Roald Dahl. I love writing twist-in-the-tail short stories/flash fiction and apart from reading his books, I was an avid watcher of his ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ TV series. Stephen King was my other ‘hero’ back then so I’ve always had a dark side, although I’ve mellowed now to crime and humour and love whatever Kate Atkinson writes, especially her quirky short stories.

Is there one person you can think of who has played a significant part in your writing career? If so, can you elaborate?

Crime writer Sally Spedding lead the writing workshop I started in and apart from almost putting me off it completely the first session (by rightly pulling apart a poem on the first night), she’s never failed to encourage me. I really do owe it all to her.

Some writers have a preferred writing schedule.  Do you? And, do you have a favorite place to write?

I tend to write when I can, which isn’t as often as I’d like (as well as a blogger, I’m also a freelance editor and tutor). I’m much quicker on my computer (my desk overlooks my back garden so a quiet atmosphere, only accompanied by classical music and my snoring dog!) although I often write or come up with ideas when I’m walking the aforementioned dog.

What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?

A bit of everything, especially for my short stories although they often have dead bodies in there somewhere. I’ve written seven and a bit novels to-date: lad lit, mystery, chick lit, sort of lad lit (the ‘bit’) then three crime novels, and most recently the beginning (50k) of a not-sure-the-genre-yet-possibly-humour novel about a talking dog with attitude. The literary agent Judith Murdoch said to me at a pitch session, “You’re a crime writer, you need to write crime,” and it turns out that I do. Not sure how she got that from the chick lit and mystery novels I was pitching but she was right. As for other novel genres, I think it’s unlikely I’d write historical or sci-fi/fantasy because I don’t read them (or have any interest in reading them) but the short stories I’ve written in those genres have ended up being readers’ favourites so maybe I’ll surprise myself. I can write very quickly – I wrote the first draft of my chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List (TSDSL) for NaNoWriMo 2009 and did 117,540 words in the month, 28 days actually). As long as the ideas flood out, and I’m very fortunate in that they do, my fingers can usually keep up (I was a secretary for 20 years).

What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person, second or third person?

I LOVE LOVE LOVE second person. Normally I use a mixture, I suppose mostly third person, but my heart always beats a little faster when I write second. For anyone not reading this I’d say please do give it a go (let me know if you need help) or take a look at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2ppov.

Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?

A bit of both. Like most of my interviewees have said, I’ve had a nugget and gone with it, seeing what comes out. I did plot my first novel and it sort of stuck with what I had in mind but there were a few going off at tangents along the way so I didn’t plan too much for the subsequent ones (at all, for TSDSL) although it would have helped with my serial killer series as I got stuck a few times but generally I’m happy with the first draft… but then I am with most of them. The subsequent drafts is where the hard work really starts.

Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?

It depends what I’m writing. If it’s from a picture (a tool I use when teaching) then I’ll just look at it and see what I think the person’s name is, otherwise I’ll either pick a name from the air or it’ll just come to me as I write the piece, sometimes I change them if it doesn’t suit. I do look at baby name websites which really I should perhaps refer to more often as I want to call all my characters Elliot (the men anyway, unless it’s a surname). Not sure where that desire comes from other than being the surname of a school friend, Natasha.

Do you have a favourite of your stories, books or characters?  What have you had published to-date?

Ah. I’m rather rubbish at submitting (I don’t!). The first thing professionally published was a 60-worder (below) in Woman’s Weekly in October 2006. They stopped publishing them within a month or two (was it something I said?). I’ve also had a few articles and short story (Goldilocks with a twist) published in the NAWG’s LINK magazines and have appeared a various places online. I list everything I do/have achieved on my ‘Morgen With An E’ blog page.

Deep Pan Payback (published as Payback)

“Deep-pan 12-inch Hawaiian, delivered, please”. Alex was starving. Moving house, he’d skipped lunch. He thought of his ex-girlfriend, Jane, and sighed. Landing a high-powered job had gone to her head and she’d kicked him out of her flat. His doorbell rang. He got his money and opened the door. The delivery driver, horrified, dropped the pizza. Alex smiled. “Hello Jane.”

Yes, I love the twist!

Morgen, do you have a preference for traditional publishing, independent publishing, ebooks, etc? And why?

I’m sure every author would love to have their books traditionally published and in every bookshop in the globe but it’s one of the toughest things going. I tried the agent route (admittedly only to a dozen or so) before going with eBooks. Creating eBooks is really easy (I have a free guide on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/ebooks/how-to-create-an-ebook) but there’s nothing quite like seeing your name on a book cover. I’ve yet to have that, although I’ve been in a charity anthology which was thrilling. I should submit more but again it’s a time thing. Yes, I know, priorities, Morgen!

I do plan by the end of this year to have re-edited my own novels and get them to my editor, Rachel, either for eBooking or out to agents. I have a publisher interested in one of my standalones so I’m currently working on getting that out to them.

Have you encountered any obstacles during the writing or publishing process of your books?

Agents saying “no” is the biggest. It’s why I went down the eBook route but I’d like to be traditionally published. You just have to keep going and most writers find that once writing grabs them they don’t want to ‘give up’. Not that self-publishing is giving up. I did it for various reasons: freedom of control (cover design, content, pricing, etc.) and I know several authors who are doing really well out of it and others who have turned down big dollar/pound contracts because it wasn’t right for them (I turned down a couple for TSDSL for the same reason).

Having said earlier that my words flow so easily, there are of course times when I get to a point in a story when I don’t know what happens next so I move on to something else, or at least have a breather for a while (a dog walk is a good distraction) then I can usually pick up when I get back to it.

Morgen, you now work full time as a writer?  What services do you provide for other writers?

I do. I gave up my day job March 2012 and while it’s been hard (only going broke once!) I don’t regret it. There’s nothing like being your own boss, although I do obviously have a few options listed on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/writer-for-hire but editing (and / or proofreading / feedbacking) is the one that keeps me in bread and water (the former is granary, the latter is flavoured… I really push the clichéd boat out!). I also build blogs, record short stories, type up manuscripts etc. – and am planning on getting my courses online – anything to do with writing, really.

Morgen, you are doing what your love, so that is wonderful.

What do you love the most about your writing life?

The writing itself: easy. Never knowing what’s going to come out. I know it’s come from my sub-conscious but it surprises me all the time. I love it when characters take over… and they do.

I also love editing because I get paid to pull apart other people’s novels (and short stories)… in a firm but fair way. So, technically I read a lot of novels but it’s more analysis so a different kind of read. I enjoy helping people, and pretty much everyone I’ve worked with has said my feedback has helped their writing ongoing.

Is there a least enjoyable aspect of your writing life?

Least favourite is not having enough time. My life is 90% writing-related (with 10% thinking about writing or going to the cinema etc.) so I can’t complain but an extra couple of hours (days) here and there would be good. I love leap years for that very reason.

Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?

I don’t but I’d love one. They do prefer series and now I’m settled into writing crime, I plan to send all those (and the other ones) to my editor and take my writing more seriously. They’re not any good to anyone sitting in files.

How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’? Why does it seem to be so vital these days?

All of it but I’m enjoying it. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and many others, and of course my blog helps get my name known. Authors have to have an online presence. I had an email this week from a 74-year-old who’s just published his first (non-fiction) book and his publisher has pointed him in my direction to help him get a blog built.

Yes, having an online presence is so important these days.  Gone are the days when a publisher would do the marketing/PR.

You certainly have your finger on the pulse in relation to writing/poetry competitions.  Do you enter any of these?  Do you think this a good idea?

I think it’s a great idea to enter competitions, especially themed ones because it invariably gets you (me) writing something new which, if it doesn’t get anywhere, means you still have it to do something else with. They also help the editing process because if you’ve written a 3,000-word story but the limit (and do always read the rules – it’s all too easy to get disqualified) is 2,500 then you have to find at least 500 words to chop… and don’t think they’ll accept 2,501 words, they won’t.

Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?

I run two writing groups; one critique, the other a writing workshop and I love them both. I’m lucky and have a great bunch of people, some of whom (two) come to both sessions. I’ve also been teaching from January 2014; five creative writing courses and initially three I.T. courses (eBooking, blogging and social networking) but I’ve just submitted my courses and dates for 2014/15 academic year and have removed the social networking but added four more writing courses – details on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/courses.

I love going to lit fests, workshops talks etc. and you (I) never stop learning. I live and breathe writing – it’s always a pleasure never a chore, as Hugh Laurie said to Joely Richardson in ‘Maybe Baby’ (if you’ve never seen it, do, it’s hilarious… especially Rowan Atkinson and Dawn French). And do see ‘Stranger than Fiction’. It’s my favourite film of all time and most people have never heard of it.

I haven’t seen these movies, so will definitely check them out. And you are right – you never stop learning. And when you do something you love, it isn’t a chore.

Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?

I am on most things going: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ are four that my blog posts to automatically (when I post on it, of course) as well as Pinterest, Tumblr, about.me etc. Unfortunately it’s very time-consuming so other than the automated aspects, I’m not on them much.

Could you give any tips for writers about the writing process or the path to publishing?

I have a page of writing tips on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/writing-101. Every time I think of something else, I add it, so do keep checking back.

What projects are you working on now?

Of mine, I’m editing my old stuff, mainly. I’m currently editing a client’s 79,000-word mystery novel and it’s really interesting (and I’m not just saying that, I’m a tough crowd!). She’s planning on sending me a horror so I have that to look forward to (with a one directly from a publisher in between, not sure of what genre yet and I have two others in the pipeline).

What attributes do you feel are necessary to be a successful author?

Determination definitely, and the ability to accept a ‘no’, even if it’s wrapped up as a nice ‘no’. I can almost feel my skin thicken with every rejection but you have to have that. Horror writer Dean Koontz had over 500 rejections so I bear that in mind, although I’m also a competition judge so I know what works and what doesn’t, in other authors’ writing certainly. It always takes a second pair of eyes to spot anomalies, and reading our work out loud… which is where writing groups are invaluable.

Morgen, what do you think the future holds for a writer?

I am SO excited by where we’re at right now and I’m so glad that I didn’t try to get loads of work out when I first started. (a) because it was probably dire, although looking back there are some redeemable nuggets and (b) because we can now do what we like, under hopefully editors’ guidance. I know of a writer who finished his/her novel one day and self-published it the next. That’s the worst thing they could do. Even if they don’t get anyone else’s opinion, they should leave the first draft for at least a month, do at least another edit thereafter and put it up only if it’s good as it can be… for a non-second pair of eyes novel, anyway.

Yes, it is exciting times for an author.

Now for a very important question.     Do you have any favourite snacks on hand when you write?

Oh dear. You’ve found me out. Yes, I’m a terrible snacker. I’ve let weight creep on over the past few years (worse since I gave up work) but I’ve lost nearly four stone (26kg) since June 2013 so I’m determined to keep it off… and if I can, lose another 10kg to get back to my 2001 weight.

To answer your question, I love crisps, mints, and satsumas.

Morgen, what words best describe you?

Dedicated, determined, passionate, helpful.

Do you have a favourite word, phrase or quote?

‘Cuddle’ is my all-time favourite word. My favourite quote is “I write for the same reason I breathe … because if I didn’t, I would die.” Isaac Asimov. It’s often how I feel.

Aside from writing, do you have any other passions?

Is there anything else? Sorry, obsessive part of my brain took over there.

HA! I can relate to that also.

So where can we buy your books?

At the moment just online – see http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine for all the links. I do plan to paperback my chick lit novel, The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, this summer.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2

Would you like to add anything else?

Just to say thank you very much for inviting me. It’s certainly made a change to be on the other side of the desk (near the radiator too, much appreciated).

And Morgen, just to finish up, could you please complete the following?

My earliest memoryoh gosh. This is a tough one. I remember getting a dog (an Alsatian/Lassie-cross called Dinah), two guinea pigs (Starsky & Hutch) and my mum hurting her leg which were both pre-eleven because we moved house then but I remember very little else. I think it’s because I had such an ordinary childhood that only certain events stick in my sponge of a brain.

At school I wasusually alone. Certainly in secondary school (the two friends I’d made at first day registration were together in a different class). It’s probably why I don’t mind it now. I certainly take after my father rather than mother – she hates being alone and is a great gardener. I don’t garden, I deforest. :)

When I was a child I wanted to I relax byprobably reading. I don’t remember going outside much so it would have been a great way to spend my time. Now it’s going to the cinema or reading. They’re the only times I sit still and do ‘nothing’, although my editor’s brain is still switched on and I can’t help analysis either/both. Walking my dog is also therapeutic, although I’m usually reading/writing/editing as I walk (a trick I mastered out of necessity as every minute in my life counts).

It’s not fashionable butI wear men’s shoes often than women’s but mainly because I’m an eight and a half (42/43) so there’s very little choice (trainers, loafers or boots) despite me living in a town that used to be renowned for its shoes (and why our football team is the Cobblers). Oh, and I don’t ‘do’ pink. I’ve never been a girlie girl, probably because I grew up with an older brother and no sisters, but I’m eternally grateful to him for my love of technology.

If only I could competewith JK Rowling in book sales, and quiz champions for their brilliant memories. I love the film ‘Limitless’ for that very reason. It’s the film (as well as my favourite, ‘Stranger than Fiction’) that I wish I’d written.

In the movie of my life I’d be playedby Daryl Hannah or Steffi Graf. I’ve been told I look like them so definitely a compliment.

I’m always being askedfor help. I’ve just had a phone call from one of my writers’ husbands who needed to retitle a blog post. In a ten-minute conversation, I also helped him create a new page and add links.

I’m always being told – that people don’t know how I fit everything in. I do; it’s called not having a life outside writing. I gave up my job in March 2012 and while I despair at my sad bank balance, I’m living the dream.

Full website links:

Main blog: http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Morgen-Bailey/e/B007SNIBF8

Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Morgen-Bailey/e/B007SNIBF8

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/morgenbailey

Interview-only (WordPress): http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com

Interview-only (Blogspot): http://morgensauthorinterviews.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/morgenwriteruk and https://twitter.com/NtonWritingGrps

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/morgenwriteruk http://www.facebook.com/MorgenBaileyAuthor

Online writing groups (blogs/Facebook):

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/MorgenBailey

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5313774.Morgen_Bailey

LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/morgen-bailey/26/933/866

Tumblr: http://morgenbailey.tumblr.com

about.me: http://about.me/morgenbailey

Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/MorgenBailey

Blogs about my writing: http://morgenbaileywriter.wordpress.com and http://morgenbailey.weebly.com

eNewspapers: http://paper.li/morgenwriteruk/1318769216 and http://www.scoop.it/t/morgen-bailey-daily

Forum: http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org

My books: http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine

***

Synopsis of novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List

31 men in 31 days – what could possibly go wrong?

Isobel MacFarlane is a recently-turned-40 journalist who usually writes a technology column for a newspaper based in Northampton, England, but her somewhat-intimidating boss, William, has set her the task of meeting 31 men, via a local internet dating site, all within a month. Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend and ‘Health & Beauty’ colleague Donna, she knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts, and starts ticking them off as she meets Mr Could Be Right Except For, Mr Not Bad, Mr Oh My Goodness and Mr Oh So Very Wrong. Follow the ups (there are a few) and downs (there are many) of the dating process and intertwined with her experiences, get to know her colleague and family, including her niece Lola who, apart from being an amazing storyteller, can eat ambidextrously whilst wearing a Princess glove puppet on her right hand, and Baby, William’s non-too-healthy African Grey parrot.

***

Extract from novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List

I shake my head, attempt a smile and watch him clear the plate. Finally, he picks up the chicken bones and I expect him to eat them whole, but he just licks them clean and drops them back on the plate. He issues another belch, this time apologising as he realises it was loud enough to draw attention to himself, as if the devouring of an African family’s monthly intake wasn’t bad enough. Throughout the whole episode, there’s not been a word of proper chat between us. He’s been too busy eating and I’ve been concentrating on keeping my hotpot down.

As the last morsel of food disappears into the black hole, the waitress heads for our table, I assume to clear the platter away, but she’s holding a plate above her left shoulder. I’m relieved it’s not big enough to be another meal for two, although I wouldn’t put it past him, but more like a standard sized dinner plate. I will it to be nothing I would normally eat, but am sorely disappointed as laid before me is a double helping of, the waitress announces, “homemade Banoffee pie”. I could cry.

I smile less than half-heartedly at the waitress who looks sympathetically at me before retreating to the kitchen, I assume to gossip about Table 14. At the thought of the beautiful dessert being dismembered in such a way, I look at Tim’s eyebrows. I can’t bear to look any further down as his nose is running and it’s close to meeting the barbecue sauce on his upper lip. I’ve finally had enough and blurt out, “I’m sorry, but I’ve just remembered I’ve left my oven on.” But then I recall Duncan’s battle to lose weight and feel guilty, until Tim’s mouth gapes open revealing a mixture of toffee syrup and pastry, which threaten to spill over the edge like a coin cascade at a fair, and I can’t bear to look at him anymore.

As I get up to leave, he splutters a, “so, do you want to meet again?” and I don’t know what to say without hurting his feelings. I mumble a non-committal, “I’ll message you” and almost do a Usain-Bolt-sprint down the stairs.

***

Thank you, Helen.

Morgen, it was great to have you drop by. You are so inspiring – you are living your dream by making it happen. And I have to reiterate – I don’t know how you fit in everything you do.

Thank you again.

Helen Ross writes interviews Morgen Bailey 19 March 2014

Don’t wait for your muse

My writing friend, Dianne (Di) Bates, has been authoring books (120+) for over 30 years, and has been making a living from being a full-time author for over ten years.

And instead of putting her feet up once a manuscript has been sent to a publisher,   Di is hard at work planning the next book/project. No wonder she has authored that many books.  Di  doesn’t wait for the muse to visit and sprinkle creative fairy dust.  She believes in hard work.  And it obviously pays off.

So I thought I’d share a link to her post that describes her pro-active (and productive) approach to starting a book or a book series.  Regardless of the genre you write in, I am sure you will find it inspiring. I certainly have.

Link to her post here:

http://diannedibates.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/starting-new-book.html

And whilst on the topic of ‘Making your book happen’, I thought this quote was apt:

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ― Jack London

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/3309-you-can-t-wait-for-inspiration-you-have-to-go-

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

This week’s ‘The Daily Post’ photo challenge is threes.

So my photos are based on the ‘Three Picture Stories’ (storytelling with images) that I posted about last Tuesday.

All these photos were taken at my local park, except the last set.  I think I am a little hooked on the ‘three picture story’ ideas (with some variations in interpretations).  I haven’t included any captions, as I think they are self explanatory (I hope).

(Of course, just click on the first picture to enlarge, and see as individual slide shows).

This last ‘three picture story’ was taken during a trip to Port Douglas (North Queensland) two years ago.  My husband and I took the rail up to Kuranda.  Although I did take a few other photos, I think you can tell what was my sole purpose for going into the Kuranda Koala Gardens. I have now crossed that one off my ‘live life’ list.

All photography © Helen Ross (http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com)

Looking back on 2013

Since my foray into the blogging world in 2009, each year (except for last year) I have posted about my previous year’s achievements (as many bloggers do).  I think it is important to reflect and be grateful (regardless of your religious or spiritual leanings) for the wonderful moments and milestones in your life (no matter how small or large).  As days tick by, and months tumble past (much like being on a train watching the landscape and towns flash by), it is easy to forget the good and the little things that touch our heart, leaving an imprint for a lifetime.  Generally our lives are much richer than we realise. When I moan about the bills, my husband will quickly remind me of where we have come from, and what we have. And somehow the bills get paid. Yes, I should be grateful.

Also, reflecting (albeit quickly) on the not-so-proud or those cringe-worthy moments are also opportunities to reflect, learn and grow. Then, hopefully, move on. It is all part of life.

Last February, when reflecting on 2012, I  decided not to outline my achievements in terms of what projects or activities I completed. Instead I reflected on what I was grateful for, and what I had learnt. This was brought home by the passing of my dear mother in mid 2012 (at 89 ½ years young).

So this year, will be a combination of some of my writing milestones and fondest family memories (holidays, family births, etc.).

Don’t focus on what didn’t happen (that elusive contract, the unfinished manuscript, the holiday that didn’t happen, etc. Yes, the list could go on.) but on the good that happened and the wonderful things and people that are in your life at this current time.

Maybe you didn’t get that book contract. If not, maybe 2014 is the year. At least you have found your passion, and you are doing something you love. Some people don’t ever find theirs, or make excuses for not doing so.  We should  be grateful that we have found something we love to do. It is at least a wonderful start to achieving any dreams we may have.

Anyway,  here’s some (in other words – what I can remember) of my most fondest memories, and milestones (regardless of the degree).

JANUARY

  • Invited to conduct school writing workshops – all grade levels: 1-6

FEBRUARY

  • Signed a contract with a UK publisher to have one of my children’s picture book manuscripts published as an interactive reader. Yay!  Alas, I haven’t heard anything since then. Will have to follow this up.
  • On  10 February, I joined nine other poets in a wonderful ginko (haiku walk), hosted by the talented poet, Graham Nunn. It was a lovely way to spend  some time and just ‘be’ with the surrounds of Karawatha State Forest (Brisbane).
  • Some of the haiku composed as a result of our walking, contemplation, and sharing of our experiences, are still available on Graham’s blog:

http://anotherlostshark.com/2013/02/11/summer-ginko-karawatha-state-forest/

Then from that time till mid April the group worked on a renga (collaborative poem) using the following form: [SU = summer; A = autumn; W = winter; SP = spring; Misc. = non-seasonal references -- usually about people or feelings or places; Love]

It was a great experience working with these talented poets with a diversity of voices. It certainly unearthed me from my comfort zone of writing humorous poetry for children. It helped stretch me as a poet of haiku (I’m still very much a novice) and Graham’s advice was always invaluable. I learnt so much from this experience.

Links below – posted on Graham’s blog, Another Lost Shark.

Part 1:
http://anotherlostshark.com/2013/02/23/snake-weather-a-summer-renga/

Part 2:
http://anotherlostshark.com/2013/03/05/snake-weather-a-summer-renga-part-ii/

Part 3:
http://anotherlostshark.com/2013/03/26/snake-weather-a-summer-renga-part-iii/

Part 4
http://anotherlostshark.com/2013/04/18/snake-weather-a-summer-renga-part-iv/

As I was in Japan at the time that we were working on the final quarter (April) you will notice my Japanese inspired contribution (couldn’t help but be inspired by the beautiful cherry blossoms).

Inspired by the Cherry blossoms: Taken in Nara, Japan.

IMG_4760IMG_4745

IMG_4538

APRIL – SEOUL/JAPAN/SEOUL – 2 weeks in Japan (Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Tokyo). 4 days in Seoul (1 night on way to Japan and 3 on way back to Australia).

  • My husband and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary on 4 April in Japan.
  • My huband’s eldest son married his lovely Japanese bride in a Shinto temple in Nara, Japan (on 6 April). It  was a traditional ceremony – just beautiful. Unfortunately we were not able to take photos in the temple.

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Cutting the cake:

IMG_4880 Cutting cake at reception

Unfortunately I haven’t as yet blogged about this holiday but hopefully I will make time  to do so this year.  However, I will add that we loved Japan. The people are just beautiful. But that doesn’t mean to say we didn’t enjoy Seoul (we did).

  • Received a ‘surprise’ email –  Independent Education Union of Australia invited me (yes, it was a shock to me also) to be their guest presenter at their 2013 Literary awards ceremony (Brisbane) on 16 October.  This was to involve a ten minute speech and handing out of certificates to the winning students in a number of categories. And payment. Yay!

Of course I said ‘YES’.  Was I nervous thinking about it? – YES.  Was I shocked to be asked?  Of course.

MAY

  • In May/June I returned to casual ESL teaching – to a teaching  Institute that I hadn’t worked at before  (humbug). It was actually a moment of desperation (oh the bills!). Though this wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences (nothing to do with the students) I think I had to do it (lasted six weeks through my choice) for me to realise that my ESL (teaching English as a second language to adults) days were well behind me. After 17 years of tertiary teaching it was now time to be brave, and start my own business (conducting school writing and poetry workshops) which I have been wanting to do for some time.  Now, how do I do this?
  • So I researched and  applied for a Government grant (similar to a small business grant) to commence and operate my own business.  Completed a very detailed application form. Yikes! Fingers, toes and eyes were crossed!
  • Wrote a post based on a quote by Henri Matisse – Creativity takes courage.  This post received a lot of views and was actually my first post to be reblogged – EVER! (reblogged later on in the year – thanks Bea).

Link at:

http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/creativity-takes-courage/

JUNE

  • Once again I facilitated at the ASA’s (Australian Society of Authors.) Brisbane’s OWOD (One Word One Day) event.  This time it was held at The Edge, State Library Queensland on Wednesday 26 June – with two Queensland groups participating on the day: Brisbane and Cairns.

Write up and pics at: http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/owod-illustrator-event-brisbane/

JULY

  • I completed my four year term as a RADF (Regional Arts Development Fund) committee member for the Logan City Council, representing the portfolio of writing. I was appointed in September of 2009.

Link at: http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/end-of-a-radf-chapter/

Includes pics of my lovely gift.

  • My co-authored picture book A Christmas Tail  (co-authored by Victorian children’s writer, Donna Smith) was pre-launched to coincide  with Christmas In July celebrations. Illustrations by the talented Aaron Pocock.

Link at: http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/celebrate-christmas-in-july-with-peter-mouse/

Crosley, the ‘star’ of Sands Hetherington’s award winning Night Buddies Adventure series, held a wacky words competition to seek some wacky new words to add t’ his wacky vocabulary. Entrants had to come up with a new word and say what it means.

Well, I came second. Yay! And as second place winner I was to receive both titles signed by the author, Sands Hetherington.  I actually didn’t receive both titles: only one unsigned copy.  But this will be addressed in a future blog post (coming soon).

To see my word, and that of the other winners, please click the link here: http://familiesmatter2us.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/winners-of-wacky-words-contest.html

  • Received Government funding to commence my own business.  Yes, received a phone call (weeks after sending in the application) saying I was successful.  I had actually forgotten all about it. Acceptance involved completion of a Certificate IV in Small Business Management and  subsequent year’s funding (for set up and marketing purposes) and mentoring.  Yippee yi ay!
  • Death of my only living Uncle (my late dad’s brother – passed away at 83 year’s young). Thankfully we had kept in contact with each other since my mum’s death.
  • Commencement of Certificate IV Small Business Management to begin early July. Yay!

AUGUST

  • Going to Italy was really a spur of the moment idea.  I just had the urge to travel at this time (my husband has passport, so will travel). Sam (Samantha), our lovely travel agent came up with a wonderful holiday idea based on our preferences. My husband and I had planned to return to Japan in January 2014 and I had  tucked away money from my previous year’s tax return.  We used this to go to Italy. And just as well.  You’ll find out why under SEPTEMBER.  This holiday was organised a couple of weeks before finding out that I had received Government  funding.
  • Italy here we come!

What a fabulous time we had – five nights in Rome, three nights in Florence and four nights (pay for three) in Venice – plus a good airfare deal thrown in the mix. It was meraviglioso -“wonderful” in Italian.

Sightseeing in Rome

Links to posts and pics at:

http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/sightseeing-in-rome-roma/

http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/sightseeing-rome-from-a-bus/

http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/sightseeing-rome-from-a-bus/

http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/out-italian-holiday-continued-naples-and-pompeii/

As I hit the pavement running (so to speak) upon my return to Brisbane I haven’t as yet got around to writing up our adventures in Florence and Venice.  On the 2014 ‘TO DO’ list.

  • Upon return to Brisbane I resumed study in Cert IV Small Business management.

SEPTEMBER

  • 20 September – I am a step-grandmother again. Little Kichi was born on 20 September. A very healthy boy (was a bit of a whopper from all accounts). (Ki Chi: Good luck in Japanese).
  • Completed Certificate IV Small Business Management (part of my Government grant). Yay! I was given about 12 weeks to complete but completed in about 5 weeks. Worked like a dog but wanted to get most of it out of the way before going to Italy. Completed a very detailed Business Plan.

After signing the contract to start my business, I found out that I can’t leave Australia (unless it is part of my business) for 12 months, in view of receiving Government funding.  Fair enough.  Just as well we holidayed in Italy (and had a holiday to Japan).

OCTOBER

  • Our picture book, A Christmas Tail was featured in Creative Kids Tales October Pitch—Ya-Book.

Link at:

http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/a-christmas-tail-features-in-ckts-october-pitch-ya-book/

  • Attended the awards ceremony where I was guest speaker and award presenter. The annual competition is open to students from Year 6 through to Year 12, and teachers, and is judged by members of the English Teachers’ Association of Queensland.  I was gobsmacked by the talent. Yes, I was nervous but all went without a hitch.  Got a little chuffed when a mother and her daughter sought me out for a photograph after the ceremony; saying that my speech was inspirational.  I was touched.
  • From October – December, A Christmas Tail  received wonderful book reviews. Can be found at Spider Ink’s Website: http://spiderinkpress.com/book-reviews/
  • On 10 October, officially began my business.
  • Conducted workshops in Melbourne and Canberra.

As I hadn’t been to Canberra (Australia’s capital) my husband and I thought we’d make a short holiday out of it, and drive down. Enjoyed it immensely.  Visited the Australian War Memorial. And the Boutique Hotel we stayed at (literally 500 yards from the school that I was conducting workshops) was just gorgeous.

NOVEMBER.

  • Registered for another year (month of November) for PiBoldMo (Picture Book Idea Month).  Founded by children’s author, Tara Lazar, November’s challenge was to create 30 picture book concepts in 30 days.  It didn’t have to be a manuscript or potential best-seller ideas. Just ideas to build upon, or spark other ideas for potential stories. Information at: http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/

Yay, I created 35 picture book ideas for November’s PiBoldMo (picture book idea month).

  • Celebrated another November birthday.
  • Due to a referral and  wonderful feedback from the Canberra workshops I presented, an event agent for school holiday programs contacted me to see if I would ‘join’ her books. Saves me doing the hunting for work during holiday time so I said ‘Yes’.  Will see what 2014 brings.

DECEMBER

  • From October – December, A Christmas Tail  received wonderful book reviews. Can be found at Spider Ink Website: http://spiderinkpress.com/book-reviews/
  • A Christmas Tail officially launched.  Link at:

http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/youre-invited-to-a-christmas-tail-cyer-launch-party-2-6-dec/

  • Visited Melbourne – Opportunity to play the doting grandmother to Kichi, and deliver Christmas presents.  He is just adorable. Couldn’t stop cuddling him.

Well, that’s it. Or what the memory allows.

Feel free to give me  your link to your 2013 in review (just add in the comment section). Happy to pop over and see what you got up to.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2014.

xHelen

Helen visits Susie Caron’s blog

Last month, the lovely  Susie Caron visited my blog corner as part of her busy virtual  tour celebrating  the release of her books, Twee’ and I Am Twee’  which are part of her ‘Between You and Me’ series of children’s books.

Susie kindly invited me to visit her blog.   It turned out to be fortuitous timing, as I am also celebrating the release of a new children’s picture book, A Christmas Tail co-authored with award winning children’s author, Donna Smith.

It was enjoyable ‘chatting’ with Susie about my writing journey, current writing projects,  favourite books,  and of course the new children’s picture book release.

To view our ‘chat’, just click on the following link.

http://www.susiecaron.com/1/post/2013/12/guest-author-interview-with-helen-ross.html

Thanks again Susie.  I had a lot of fun. x

Chatting with Aaron Pocock, illustrator of A Christmas Tail

Aaron Pocock, the very talented illustrator of  our children’s Christmas picture book, A Christmas Tail drops by Spider Ink Press today.

You will also see Aaron sketch (via YouTube) one of the characters from our book.

So please pop on over.  If you can make it now, that  would be wonderful. 

http://spiderinkpress.com/2013/12/04/chatting-with-aaron-pocock-illustrator-of-a-christmas-tail/

Hope you are having an inspirational day.

xHelen