Other writers’ companions

Following on from my earlier blog about how perfect cats are as a writer’s companion, I found this link about famous writers and their cats:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/harpercollins/16-famous-writers-and-their-cats-9npd#.jmmBOjZPN

Oh yes, and since it’s pouring today, not yet 9am, and I have had to open the full length windows in the bedroom and my study to let Twinkle in three times already, I may have to revise my opinion on this altogether! Just in case you were wondering, she has a great cat flap. In fact, after I let her in, chase her around with a towel, battle her squirming to dry her off, she goes straight out the great cat flap and around to the front of the house to be let in again. Three times!!

Putting it off

Today I have to start to re-write the first quarter of The Uncomfortable Glass slipper, not my favourite job as an author. Although I’m much happier with the new plan and know it’s the right thing to do, I’m putting it off. Writing from scratch is much more exciting to me. So, instead of my revisions I’ve done three loads of laundry, gone on Facebook a few times, checked my emails a few more times, and looked up articles on why writers procrastinate. Interestingly, there are lots of articles, so I feel a bit better about it. When I watched a radio interview with David Walliams recently, he said that he has to refuse himself treats until he hits a target eg he won’t have a biscuit or go to the bathroom until he’s finished a chapter. This technique works really well for me, but I’m out of biscuits today! One theory is that writers tended to do well in English classes so didn’t have to really work hard until the last minute while our classmates worked steadily throughout, and we have continued that habit into our working life. That makes sense to me, and I know that when I have a deadline, that’s when I’m at my best. That’s why I am so thrilled that my wonderful editor is expecting my completed manuscript in only a few weeks. Better get writing!

A Writer’s Companion

I am well underway with writing Sabrina Summers’ Second Saga, and having great fun plotting things to do to the Beast and to Witchy Wu. I am being kept company by Cleo, who has taken over the best chair in my study, and Twinkle, who has made a nest from the brown paper that wrapped up a delivery of the dyslexia-friendly version that arrived yesterday.

I recently wrote a short story for the New Zealand Society of Author’s Canterbury branch’s upcoming anthology on Cats. It was a diary of a typical day in the life of a writer who is kept company by her cats (I didn’t have to stretch too far to think of a subject matter!) But it started me thinking about how perfect cats are as companions for writers. They are someone to talk to (because I think it is slightly less crazy to discuss plot points with a cat than to talk to thin air, don’t you?); they add interest even if it is sitting in tiny boxes or standing next to a closed door and then walking away when you open it; and they love and appreciate you. Cleo and Twinkle were rescue cats, and as I say in the print versions of  “The Uncooperative Glass Slipper”, animal rescue centres are desperate for kind and loving homes for their charges, and I am sure that my two cats are happy to be with their forever family. And, because my cats are on an expensive diet food from the vets, they keep me working hard at my writing to pay for their needs!

Review from Bob Docherty

I was proud to be reviewed by Bob Docherty, who used to work for the New Zealand Library Service. He now visits schools and libraries and advises them about books their children would like to read. Check it out below.

Bobs Books Blog

Childrens and Young Adult Book Reviews by Bob Docherty

The Uncooperative Flying Carpet by Michele Clark McConnochie

May 15, 2015bobsbooksnzComments off

The Uncooperative Flying Carpet by Michele Clark McConnochie. https://www.mcmauthor.com 2015.

This clever, witty, imaginative novel is a self published work and is Saga 1 from a series titled The Strange Sagas of Sabrina Summers.

The father of Sabrina and Rory marries Bridget Bishop, a woman he met on the Internet, on a Friday 13th June. While they like her they think she is up to something strange and so they follow her one day with Sabrina’s friend Persis. By some magical spell they are transported into the magic land of Dralfynia (an anagram of Fairyland) along with Clyde, a horse and Olive a rich girl who is Sabrina’s enemy at school (she was barfing over the fence at the time)

In Dralfynia Sabrina resembles Rapunzel, Rory Ali Baba, Persis, Red Riding Hood, Olive, Cinderella and Clyde a unicorn. Interesting you say? It’s all part of the cleverness of this tale.

Dralfynia is a magic land in turmoil as the King and Queen have stood down to live ordinary lives and their son, The Beast with 9 Fingers has taken over in cahoots with goblins and Witchy Wu a nasty witch who lives in a gingerbread house. The true leader is the princess who has disappeared for 14 years. I can tell you no more you will have to read it to find out and you will not be disappointed.

Very well written in concise language and divided into 63 chapters of 2/3 pages each. You can pick it up and read for ten minutes then come back but you won’t it is too exciting for that.

Believable fantasy and behind it all is a sharp sense of humour that even adults will appreciate.

A book that demands to be read aloud to children from 8 – 13 years old.

Categories: Intermediate Fiction, Junior Fiction Tags: Friendship, Imagination, Magic

Words, Words, and longer words

A reader who is almost 13 recently asked me about the third word in “The Uncooperative Flying Carpet” which is “slanted”. I explained it meant that the rain came down in a slant because of the strong wind, but it started me thinking about extending readers by including words they haven’t come across before and using the context to work out the meaning. I chose to use mostly short and familiar words so that readers aged 8 to 12 would enjoy the story, but I left in a few longer words too, such as “noxious”. This was a deliberate decision because I realised that when I was growing up, my own vocabulary was extended because of the books I read. Like many pre-teen girls, I knew that “Titian” was a word used to describe red hair, because some descriptions of Nancy Drew  used that word. I had to wait a bit longer before I realised he was a real person, mind you! So anyway, I hope that some of my readers get to learn some new words or new uses for old words 🙂

Young Adult Fiction

One of the things I truly love about writing for children and (soon) for young adults is being able to read what else is out there. I’m almost at the end of Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, and although I want to know what happens, I also don’t what it to finish. It’s a terrific read on the surface, but thought provoking too. Tris and Four are love interest but their own characters too – just like having a real relationship, they have to find a middle ground. She addresses the issues teenagers face and think about on a grand scale. I picked up the books when my 12 year old step daughter was addicted to them. Not long until the movie of Insurgent is out, too, yay. I have also loved the Undead and Unfed novels by Kirsty McKay, undoubtedly two of the best teenager zombie books ever. I had them as talking books to listen to in the car, and couldn’t wait until I had to drive somewhere as a result. The recent boom in Young Adult Fiction has produced some amazing writing which lets Young Adults read just for fun or deal with the difficulties of growing up in the 21st Century. Next book? The Hunger Games!

Indie publishing for dyslexic readers

Having taught for some years, I am aware of the difficulties that dyslexic readers face and while I try to make my handouts accessible for my current creative writing students, including those who are dyslexic, I needed some up to date advice when it came to indie publishing. E-publishing was easy, as readers can change the font and screen to suit them, but when it came to print on demand hard copies, it was a different matter. I approached the Christchurch NZ branch of the Dyslexia Society, who are funded by Cookie Time, a local cookie company, and was given really helpful advice. Because of that, this post should be in comic sans, blue ink, size 14 font and  be in double line spacing. A specialist font called Dyslexie is also available, which was developed in the Netherlands.  I also contacted the team at Create Space, Amazon’s print on demand arm, who could accommodate almost everything I wanted to do so that I could have a dyslexia-friendly version of “The Uncooperative Flying Carpet”. That book will be available soon!

Location, Location, Location

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Lochmara Lodge

I’ve just been lucky enough to spend a week in the northern part of New Zealand’s beautiful South Island with my husband. We spent a night at Lochmara Lodge in Queen Charlotte Sound, which is stunningly beautiful, quirky and fascinating. You can only arrive by boat or by walking for some hours along the Queen Charlotte Track. They have a terrific eco presence, and have a couple of llamas, pigs, free range chickens, and breed endangered birds. I was thrilled to see glow worms for the first time in my life, and sea phosphorescence which looked like sparklers under the sea. I came away thinking “Wow, it would be a fantastic setting for an old fashioned murder mystery” but I’m sure their other guests were less gruesome than me.

Planning the Second Saga

While I am waiting for the first Saga to come back from the wonderful editor Sarah Nisbet (http://www.inkshededitorial.com/) I have started plotting the middle saga of the Dralfynia trilogy. At the moment, I am at the “what would happen if …” or “what would this character do if …” stage, which is very exciting. I am also choosing the traditional fairytale characters that the team of Sabrina, Olive, Persis and Rory become on their return to Dralfynia, and hope I am thinking ‘outside the square’ with some of my ideas. No spoiler alerts, though, because it’s all at the preliminary stages.  This trilogy has made me reflect on how popular the traditional stories are again. TV shows such as Grimm and Once Upon A Time, movies such as the upcoming Cinderella as well as old favourites such as  Enchanted (one of my personal favourites because my stepdaughter loved it when she was six years old and so I’ve watched it dozens of times) and Ella Enchanted, and newer movies like Into The Woods, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Mirror, Mirror are evidence that we still love a wicked witch, stories with magic, and good overcoming evil. There are plenty of twists on these stories which date back hundreds of years, but the Dralfynia Sagas are, I believe, the first trilogy where people from the modern world have to understand what it’s like to cope with being a fairytale character.  Some amazing actors have played the wicked witch and I wonder who would be a great choice for Witchy Wu!

 

100 Twitter Hashtags Every Writer Should Know

I found this article from last March really interesting. I’m definitely going to start using it – as all indie authors know, building an on-line presence takes about a year but is absolutely vital if you are serious about making any kind of a living from your books.

Click on the link below for great hashtags on books and reading, book industry news and publishing, hashtags to connect with other writers, epublishing and promotion and marketing.

http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2013/03/12/100-twitter-hashtags-every-writer-should-know/

Happy tweeting!