Tag Archives: Writer

The Idling Marathon Writer (#MyWritingProcess Blog Tour)

The little girl waiting for school bus in the 25 below, snowy dawn of Finnish countryside in 1960s wouldn’t have believed that almost 50 years later she’d be blogging about her writing process from a sunny beach in  distant “America”. In a language she had not yet heard of.

Cold winter morning in Finland

Had she been told how she’d land in that situation, she would’ve smiled in disbelief at the woman holding the crystal ball.  But had the woman told her that writing would be an integral part of her life, she would probably have accepted that as a possibility. The bag she was clutching held a treasure, her very first essay. It was in Finnish, of course, and detailed her first  adventure in Helsinki, the capital of the world.

It’s funny how life can turn out.  Lots of twists and turns.  So here I am a million miles later, on the beach, blogging away. I felt honored when Michelle, a gifted writer at The Green Study, invited me to participate in this blog tour. True to my Myers ENFP, I accepted without hesitation.  I value interactions with other writers and have already met a few new ones through this tour.

Roaming in Bahamas
Roaming the world

I’ve been writing all my life. It all started with that first school essay, followed by college papers, newsletter writing/editing and articles in journals and newspapers. And numerous white papers about intricacies in management and organizations. A few poems here and there. This was all in Finnish and/or Swedish, before my life in English began in my early 30s. That’s when I was thrown out into the big wild world. And I’ve been roaming ever since. Writing many more white papers, board papers, research publications and a couple of professional books too. We can call those “non-fiction”, although that might be a bit generous.

Anyway, three years ago I became my own boss. Now I can write papers of whatever color I like or none at all.  Consultants have that flexibility. To make money or not to make money.

My writing companion, Bumble
My writing companion, Bumble

So having that freedom, I allocated some time for bird watching, photography, walking on the beach… and started blogging in the summer of 2012.

After a year of interacting with many writers and reading their books, I caught the bug. Writing is contagious. I signed up for NaNoWriMo and wrote my first novel at the end of last year. In close collaboration with my little poodle, I might add, and cheered on by many blogging friends. Thanks friends for your support, you know who you are!

Each writer participating in this blog tour is invited to answer four specific questions. Here are my answers:

1) What am I working on right now? After my first novel came out earlier this year, I started working on two writing projects simultaneously: a poetry collection and an Africa-themed novel. I have a suspicion that my decision will turn out to be a mistake. None of the books might get finished any time soon. There is always something that needs to get done first to ensure bread on the table. Or something else that feels much more fun to write, such as reporting from the nature reserve. Writing books is hard work, and I know I’ll need to put much greater effort into my second novel than what I did previously. The bar is somehow much higher now.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Elephant Grass blue
Temporary cover for inspiration. Wishful thinking?

This is a difficult question to which I don’t have an answer. My first novel is a light-hearted tale of a rescue dog, told by a dog to dog lovers. And a little bit of advocacy and fund-raising for animal rescue too. It doesn’t fall neatly in any one genre. The second one will be very different. Literary fiction strongly influenced by personal experiences of the writer. But not a memoir. Unless I rewrite it from scratch. That might still happen, of course, I never know with myself. Settling into writing in one specific genre is an unlikely proposition for me.

As to my poetry, it’s only different in the sense that I try to keep it short, simple, inspirational and positive. I just can’t write dark or tragic verse.  And I’m not gifted enough to write complex forms of poetry.

3)     Why do I write what I do? I had four potential ideas when I thought about NaNoWriMo last year.  To be honest, “Confessions of a Rescue Dog” was by far the easiest story to write. I thought I might actually manage to complete that project.  Getting this first book out and interacting with readers has been a great learning experience. It has also given me a little more confidence. So now I’m working on a much more demanding story, but it’s the one I have the most passion for. Wish me luck.

My poetry and my general blog writing are products of my mood and the thoughts occupying my mind any given day. I think it’s obvious. Total lack of focus. I have accepted that I don’t fit neatly in any one pigeon-hole. I post when I have something to say and spend more time reading other blogs than writing on my own.

4)     How does my writing process work?

I am a “marathon writer”. I get my best results when I write in long focused stretches under a tight deadline, even a self-imposed one. I’m able to write almost 24/7 if need be. That goes for any type of writing I’m working on, I’ve always been like that.

Bumble book site
Illustration from “Confessions of a Rescue Dog”

I don’t produce much when I have “all the time in the world” to get it done. You see, I can always do it later, mañana My writing shoes tend to get lost in that kind of environment. My challenge is to get motivated enough to put on my writing shoes, get running and believe there’s a deadline to be met. When all that works, the writing marathon is on.

Editing is something I need to force myself to do. I do some light editing when I write, but always have to do several rounds after the main body of writing is done. I recall one particularly challenging “white paper” that had 26 versions. That’s probably my record. I did five rounds of editing on my book before it went to the editor, and a couple more after it came back to me.

Next Tour Stop. It is my pleasure to pass on the “hashtag” to two writers, one firmly established and published in several countries, and another one whose books we’ll soon be able to enjoy. They have kindly agreed to post for this tour in the week of May 19.

Tish Farrell writes fiction and non-fiction for young adults. In her first life she studied Prehistory, did a Masters degree in Social Anthropology and then worked in museum education, most notably at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire, UK, the place where the world’s industrial revolution began. In her second life, during the 1990s, she lived in Africa, mostly in Kenya but also briefly in Zambia. It was during this time that she began to write story books for the African children’s literature market, spurred on by a small, persistent fury that were too few books that reflected young Africans’ lives in their increasingly urbanised world. In Kenya at that time there was no free schooling. Parents had to pay all primary school expenses including books. Textbooks were deemed essential. Story books were not. Most African publishing houses, then and now, survive by producing textbooks not fiction. In Nairobi during the ‘90s the book shops stocked mainly dated European children’s fiction (Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew stories, Enid Blyton) together with school texts of oral traditions. There were no contemporary young African heroes to be seen here. Tish’s first children’s book, Jessicah the Mountain Slayer, and a picture book Flame Tree Market were first published by Zimbabwe Publishing House in 1995, and later also by Phoenix Publishing in Kenya. Both books won prizes at the 1996 International Zimbabwe Book Fair, and have remained in print ever since.

Tish
Tish

Next came Sea Running and Joe Sabuni P I for Macmillan Pacesetters and Heinemann Junior African Writers respectively. Joe Sabuni, a spoof detective story, has also been translated into 6 Zambian languages as part of a (belatedly realised) project that allows Zambians to learn to read in their mother tongue rather than in their second language English. Now in her third life, Tish lives in the ancient market of Much Wenlock in the English Midlands. Recent works, Mantrap and Stone Robbers for Ransom Publishing, are novelised short stories aimed at encouraging reluctant teens to read. The stories are of adult interest, but are fast-paced and brief. She has also recently self-published a Kindle book Losing Kui. This is a new edition of a novella originally published in Cicada Magazine in the U.S.

You can find Tish at http://tishfarrell.wordpress.com/ and at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Tish+Farrell Here are a few links to blog posts I believe will be useful reading for writers: http://wp.me/pKVAM-u0 Yum Kaax to the rescue? Or how to hook reluctant readers; http://wp.me/pKVAM-gm Elephants, E-Books and reluctant readers; http://wp.me/PKVAM-aW Writing Tips – Knowing your place. Tish has many more on her blog, make sure to visit!

JLPhillips
Jackie

Jackie Phillips lives in Alberta, Canada. She’s originally from the states, Wisconsin to be exact, although she has not lived there for many years. She lived in Texas for more than 20 years – and then moved to Canada’s land of cowboys and cattle! Jackie doesn’t have cattle, but she has a dog named Sam, her buddy, and two crazy cats. Jackie loves animals of all kinds and has been known to rescue some if they need it!

Jackie is a well known coffee addict, she loves it and needs it to function, especially in the mornings. She’s on a health kick right now, walking on her treadmill that she named Trudy, every day, eating healthier and exercising!

Jackie has been writing almost her whole life, first in journals, then short stories, poems, and now novels. Some of her short stories have been published at Etherbooks.com under the name JLPhillips. She has plans for the future (which she hasn’t revealed yet, but I’m sure they are awesome) and is getting ready for that at the moment.

Jackie started blogging 2 years ago and hasn’t looked back. She says she’s met some wonderful people on WordPress. Next week she’ll tell you what she’s working on right now!

Here are a few links to her blog and to some of her favorite posts. http://tobreatheistowrite.com/2014/04/09/weekly-writing-challenge-fifty/ and http://tobreatheistowrite.com/2012/09/25/the-taxi-dancer/ and http://tobreatheistowrite.com/2014/05/12/new-story-cc-and-the-fed/ . This last one is her new serial story! Don’t miss it!

I look forward to the tour stops next week in England and Canada! I hope you do too.

Birthday Cake!

It’s funny. Today is July 13th. It’s my first birthday!  Like most newborns, I didn’t have any specific expectations on life as a blogger. I didn’t worry about growing up, just existed from day today, happily scribbling away stories about the many places on mother earth I’ve been fortunate to live in or visit, the lions and gorillas I’ve had the pleasure to meet, tried some slightly humoristic pieces on life lessons, a few cooking stories, some explorations of nature and many more poems than I ever thought existed in this little newborn. I also like colorful illustrations, like most infants do, so I’ve been busy upgrading my skills in photography. Oh, and I almost forgot, I’ve also lent my laptop numerous times to my most faithful follower, Bumble the toy poodle.

It has been a fun, but not a completely smooth ride. In the cause of the past 12 months, I’ve caught all the common illnesses of early childhood. Like the urge to check the stats at least once a day and sometimes every few hours, constantly count the countries where my visitors came from, and for a while become dependent on sugar in the sweet likes. As luck would have it, I got healthy enough to survive for a full year. Much of the medicine that finally cured my baby bugs came in a bottle labeled “You’re into this for fun, as much and as long as you want to”.

So now I am a happy baby, just learning to walk and talk. Many words come out okay now and most people seem to understand what I’m saying. I already nibble in all kinds of foods, some more solid than others. But the best thing is that I am surrounded by my large and caring family. I have gradually learned to know them, distinguish the mother and father figures, aunts and uncles, grandparents, siblings, rowdy teens and the kids like me. I have to say that some of the members of my family are colorful characters. I love colors and there is so much for me to learn from all of them.

I truly love my family. All the diversity, all the skillful writers, storytellers, poets, photographers and artists all over the world. Can you imagine how many wonderful places I can visit when I get old enough to travel to see all of them? But there is one drawback. My family is not completely stable, it’s actually rather fluid. Suddenly someone disappears. They may or may not say goodbye. Sometimes a family member will tell me that they need to take a break, vacation on a beautiful island or have gotten married and will be moving on.  I will miss them, but it feels good to be able to wish them well. Sometimes they show up again, refreshed and full of energy. That’s party time, milk and cookies! A break can be a good thing. My running shoes edited (2)

But sometimes they just plainly disappear. Puff – they are gone. No waving goodbye or so long. In my little mind I get worried. I miss them and wonder what might have happened. But I guess such is life, growing pains included in the package. Change is the new normal, as I heard someone say. He is much wiser and older than me.

Now that I am one full year old, I look forward to my toddler years. Learning to run as a writer will be a blast! I’ll get faster everywhere. And probably hurt my knees a few times. Then, before I know it, I’ll go to kindergarten and real school – learning everything! Maybe I finally learn to focus my blog, it’s anyone’s guess. I’m also sure I’ll have my summer breaks and other vacations from blogging every now and then. Then I’ll soon become a teen, rebellious and all. Writing about controversial topics and getting hundreds of comments will be so cool.

Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself. Such a terribly wild imagination. But one thing is as sure as the feather like hair on my baby head, my evening prayer tonight will include giving thanks and asking for blessings for my family. After eating the candle. I promise I won’t forget.

The Poet

Dancer - a miniature painting

Writing poetry

gives a voice to those who lost it

whether to Laryngitis

sudden lack of confidence

or for whatever undisclosed reason.

And it mutes the loud mouths

to a degree at least

as the words stick on paper.

It allows the poet

to explode in emotion

to reveal the truth

maybe half of it

or hide it in plain sight

in flamboyant phrases.

It enables the poet to hit hard

without hearing the resulting fall

or to tip toe softly

ballet-like

dancing to unheard tunes

inviting everyone on the floor.

It lends the poet surprising powers

to express, mend and heal

to fall apart or to tease

to provide encouragement

with therapeutic words.

It grants an unprecedented freedom

to imagine and to create

as anything is possible

even plausible

in the world of the poet

in the wonderful realm of words.

Appreciation in Multitude!

In the last couple of weeks, just before and during my recent trip, I have received the honor of four award nominations – from four truly wonderful bloggers. Thank you so much! I am very happy and encouraged!

I received One Lovely Blog Award from Ivon at  http://ivonprefontaine.wordpress.com/. His blog Teacher as Transformer always offers words of wisdom with beautiful nature photos, and invites us to follow our personal path. His thoughts and poems make me quiet down and reflect on what is important. I read his blog regularly and invite you to discover it too!

I also received One Lovely Blog Award from http://exceedingspeed.wordpress.com/. I visit her blog every day for sharp and humorous observations and discussions about practically anything in life.  Always right on the money! She makes me laugh, smile and nod or shake my head. Her blog was recently Freshly Pressed – you have to check it out!

I was nominated for an award of my choice (see below!) by http://fortyteencandles.com/. Her blog is super interesting. She is a writer and I hope she’ll do the “Na.No.Wri.Slo” if not the “Na.No.Wri.Mo” to be on the N.Y. Times best seller list! I have followed her blog for quite a while, and you should pay a visit today too!

This week I was also nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award by http://healthyazblog.wordpress.com/. Her blog inspires us to live well, not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually! I have found her blog both interesting and inspiring. Lots of good stuff there! Please go visit her blog today!

Thank you all four great bloggers for these nominations!

Now, trying to follow the rules, I will need to tell something about me. Here we go with seven things that I don’t remember sharing previously:

  1. I have a granddaughter who is 2.5 years old. She is a bundle of joy – and energy! She loves music and recently entertained me with her own song and dance performance. I laughed so hard I got tears in my eyes.  XOXO to our little goof ball!
  2. I love nature (obvious from my blog, huh?), particularly wild animals of any kind, all kinds of waterways whether oceans, lakes, rivers, marshes, streams or just puddles, and beautiful trees and flowers. I also love mountains, and….yeah, basically all of it.
  3. I try to keep fit by walking a lot. My little dog loves it too so I have an eager walking buddy. And occasionally I force myself to go to the gym, but I am a lousy “enforcer” on that one…
  4. I have held driver’s permits from numerous countries/states. I wish I could have kept them as memorabilia…The one from Zambia was a “book” –  bigger than my passport, and when our son was about 3 years old, he used it to demonstrate he could write a huge capital A. On the second page – with a black permanent marker!  That’s the initial of my first name. A like in Tiny. I think he wanted to make sure everyone would know it was mine.
  5. I wish my first name was Ann, but it’s not. My name is so rare that when googled, all of me pops up. That’s a bit of a nuisance in this age of www-dot, so Tiny is better. And it’s polite too, Tiny like in small. I wish I was!
  6.  In second grade, I was hit by a baseball bat right on my nose during a practice session in the PE class. When I woke up I saw the classic view of my teachers and fellow pupils bending over me. Heads and blue sky. My nose was the size of a mountain for a long time, my eyes peering out just a little – outward in different directions on both sides. I got some free time in the middle of the term, great!
  7. I am continuously involved in one conversation or another, with family and friends (including blogging friends), but particularly with my inner self and with God.

Now, bending the rules a little bit again, I will nominate 15-20 very different blogs that I like to read for an award. There are many more wonderful blogs I enjoy and follow, but I have left out those blogs that have huge followings and some that I nominated/showcased just a little while ago.

Learning from my friend FortyteenCandles, the nominees can choose their award from those above!  Just display the award, tell something about yourself and share the encouragement further at your convenience! I’ve been following some of the nominated blogs for quite a while, but there are also some that I have discovered fairly recently. They are all very different, but inspiring in their own way, and definitely worth your visit!

http://retireediary.wordpress.com/ – beautiful photos and narratives from all over the world!

http://hikingphoto.com – stunning, gorgeous photography – and advice for “the advanced”!

http://christiansperka.wordpress.com/ – wonderful wildlife photography with narratives from Thanda Game Reserve in South Africa!

http://ivonprefontaine.wordpress.com/ – wisdom, poetry with photos, thoughtful reflections!

http://exceedingspeed.wordpress.com/ – humor, topical issues, sharp & quick – always!

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com/ – wonderful, imaginative short stories! Is there a book in the making soon?

http://mixolydianblog.wordpress.com/ – music and music stories!

http://everywhereonce.com/ – travel, beautiful photos, advice and observations!

http://lizziejoysphotosuite.com/ – recent discovery, divine photography!

http://livingtheseasons.com/ – new discovery, wonderful photography with narratives, lots of nature and flowers!

http://garyschollmeier.com/– beautiful observations in the form of photos on daily basis!

http://1001scribbles.wordpress.com/ – recent discovery, wonderful photos, videos from all over the place!

http://globalunison.wordpress.com/ – recent discovery, beautiful poetry, photos and stories!

http://hugmamma.com/ – always good stuff for soul and mind!

http://thispoet.wordpress.com/ – beautiful and thoughtful poetry!

http://fortyteencandles.com – take 20 minutes of your life back! And other good stuff!

http://healthyazblog.wordpress.com/– be encouraged and inspired to live well!

http://aleafinspringtime.wordpress.com/ – new discovery, wonderful stories, poems and photos for enjoyment!

Thank you to all nominees for sharing inspiring stories, photos and/or poetry! I greet you all with a “thank you flower” that gently bends over the path we travel. And wish you a beautiful day.