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Going deep

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Went to the movies the other night to see Jasper Jones, which is one of my favorite novels of all time. The acting was superb, especially the youngsters that portrayed so faithfully Charlie, Jasper and Eliza. What made the whole experience more than just a movie night was the Q&A with Craig Silvey that came after.

I listened with interest to the questions asked and with more interest to the answers. But it wasn’t until I left the cinema on my way home did it occur to me how much focus was placed on one topic explored in the novel and none to another.

While both topics make for compelling discussion it was the latter (the mysteriously ignored topic) that had resounded through me long after I finished the book.

Makes me wonder if the reason for its admission in the discussion was because it’s not as topical or that it touches on a dark, taboo side of our society, something that happens being closed doors and in the heart of the family.

Who knows? But thank you Craig Silvey for such a fantastic book, and I’m looking forward to the next.

 

Tx

Time. Gimme, gimme, gimme

 

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When my daughter was really young she loved stories or movies that involved magic, Harry Potter, Sabrina the teenage witch. Afterwards she always asked me what would be the first thing I would do if I were magic. We would then go on to count all the exciting things we could do. Hers were always such small and innocent wishes like making the small statue of the panther she saw in a shop window appear in her bedroom, which was so endearing because mine where always so grandiose and, dare I say at times, greedy.

But I’m totally diverging here from what I wanted to say. Who feels they are not getting ahead? The days pass and I don’t stop doing and yet I still feel I’m far from what I want to achieve. Both my hands are in the air.

Why is it the geniuses that developed time only gave us twenty-four hours in a day, especially since some of that time must be wasted sleeping? Right now, if my daughter asked me what I would do with that magic wand, you guessed it, I would ask for more time. OR I would chose to became a Cullen. I don’t want to be a vampire but needing no sleep would be a really handy thing. I sometimes pretend I don’t need to sleep and stay up doing until the early hours of the morning, but it never works as the next day is wasted when I fall asleep every time I sit down.

I want to write more than I can. I want to read more than I do. I want to finish that course I paid for and haven’t even started yet. I want to get ahead on my business side of writing. I want to spend time with my kids these holidays because I’m acutely aware of how fast they are growing—soon I will only get captured moments of time with them squeezed in between their busy young adult lives. The house work, well forget about that. The house can rot for all I care—but everyone else in the house, especially my husband, doesn’t hold my opinion (truth be told, neither do I really. I can only leave mess for so long before it needs to be gone). At some point I need to fit in my husband as he gets pretty lonely on the couch all by himself night after night while I’m punching the keyboard. There are friends lurking too, in the background somewhere that pop up every so often and say, ‘hey, remember us.’

What I need is a schedule. And what I need is to follow that schedule for more than a week. In fact, what I need most of all is a personality change. I need to morph into that person who develops order not chaos, operates as a systemic machine not a emotional human being. Perhaps that’s too much to wish for. How about another me. An almost perfect copy of me that can do the boring bits, the heavy slog and free me up for the fun stuff, everything that stimulates me and makes me feel alive (sadly those times are quite often squashed between the cracks of all the other important stuff).

None of the above is going to happen any time soon, so I guess I’ll just have to settle for being really tired, unless anyone can give me some suggestions.

 

TJ x

Finding unity

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I love attending writing conferences. It’s the best way to connect with the writing community. If the conference is local, better still. Yesterday myself and three hills author buddies traveled down to Rockingham to attend the Rockingham Writers Conference.

I was impressed with the amount of effort a small writing centre put into creating a big event. They’d managed to attract the attention of an eastern states agent and local publishers, which gave many a chance to showcase their work with the potential for a contract. The workshops were insightful and the publishing panel enlightening, touching on such issues as the publishing industry, what’s the next hot genre—answer, you tell me—and many more.

These sorts of events are invaluable in keeping the passion of many aspiring writers alive. They help foster a community of like minded people and create a much needed and enjoyable diversion in a career that is by its nature solitary. But solitary need not mean alone. At a conference like this I never see someone standing by themselves for long. The zeal that writers have for chatting about all things writing means solitary soon turns to solidarity.

If you find yourself with the inkling to scratch a few words on the page or flex your fingers across the keyboard, then I strongly suggest seeking out a place where writers gather to chat and learn, look into what’s available in your local area, or on the internet. You need never be alone. The friendships you form will prove constructive, supportive and enduring.

Happy writing

TJ Adams x

 

 

Leaving the old behind

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Recently I aborted my manuscript 50, 000 words in. I loved the premise, plotted like mad, launched in and before I knew it 50, 000 appeared on the page. And then the doubt set in. To tell you the truth, those irritating niggles that say this is not right, dogged me since the beginning. I ignored them because I was on a roll.

Finally, one day while cleaning my house, the real manuscript, not the pretend one masquerading as the real for the last 50, 000 words, came to me. I tried to padlock the idea away. I didn’t want to rewrite, not with all the words I had.

I had two choices. Keep what I had, perhaps try and rework for a little more zing, or go with my gut instincts and abandon ship. As any writer knows, there is more than one way to write your tale, and sadly my first approach was not the best possible way to tell my story. So I did the dreaded, I opened a new project on scrivener and started again.

I’m settled into it now and glad I did the swap. This version feels right, I’m exploring the themes in depth and having more fun. Occasionally I flip over to my previous manuscript and borrow a few sentences here and there, but on the whole I’ve left that one behind and feeling happier for it.

Happy writing everyone xx

TJ Adams

 

 

 

 

It’s your choice how to write

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I recently read a blog post where the author discussed the literary style of The Hunger Games. In summation the blog author claimed writers needed to write minimalist sentences, small paragraphs, and short chapters if we wanted stellar bestsellers like Suzanne Collins.

In saying that I believe the author of the blog post took a reductionist attitude to popular fiction, or any fiction for that matter. Sentences alone do not taketh the novel. With a treasure trove of literary devices available, Suzanne Collins raided pretty much all of them to create her extremely successful series.

Collin’s killer premise, kids forced to kill each other as TV entertainment for a vengeful, dictatorial government, is both appalling and fascinating combined. She tapped into the reader’s desire for the visceral experience by developing memorable and real characters set in a world that came alive. Okay, so no one wants to be caught in Katniss’s shoes, really, but we all know what it’s like to be afraid, find our courage, follow our truth and fight for what we believe is right.

Themes such as power, strength and skill, society and class, politics, sacrifice—the list goes on—are presented in such a unique and compelling way. Her tight structuring, hanging every significant moment on a well planned blue print, tightening the screws with every page, creating enough questions and scattering them through her novel  without producing ambiguity, kept readers turning the page.

Her terse sentences just happened to fit her character, which is the point of good fiction—you tell the story in your character’s POV, minimizing narrator intrusion as much as possible.

Looking at another extremely popular YA series around that time, Twilight, and you could very well argue that the short sentence is not the key to popularity. Twilight’s long, wordy sentences and over bloated chapters are in direct contract to The Hunger Games, but, hey, we all loved it, because again it took us to a world far beyond our own (only perhaps this time we all wanted to be in Belle’s shoes).

I say learn your craft and learn it very well, then with the knowledge behind you, write what you want to write, how you want to write.

TJ Adams xx

Once upon a time I was fearless

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Once upon a time I was fearless. Well, almost. My girlfriend and I were the ones that would be found way offshore body surfing the waves, surrounded by surfers—Geez, I bet they hated that—and I was only ten years old.

I hated the idea I would miss out on life, that some adventure would pass me by and I failed to try it. Hanging from a rock face while climbing cliffs on the rough coastline of south Western Australia was near the top of my extreme fun; camping under the stars while on camel safari through Rajasthan, India, was exotic; freezing my butt while on the Karakoram Range, Pakistan, was as close to miserable as it came; listening to the roar of lions outside my tent in the Serengeti National Park, Kenya, was character building; but bungee jumping over the Zambezi was just plain mad. That wasn’t enough. So I learnt to fly and spent a lot of time in the northern deserts of Western Australia flying supplies into small aboriginal communities.

But life changes. People unfortunately have to grow up and responsibility kicks in. Somewhere along the way I lost my fearlessness. The insidious creep took me by surprise. Now I’m the nervous flyer, the one in the lift whizzing to the top of the Eiffel Tower with my head buried in my husband’s shirt sleeve, counting to ten with slow deep breaths. When and how did that happen?

I’ve recently returned from a camping trip with my children. We hiked to a natural wonder, a massive rock face rising out of the forest like a Arthurian fortress. We’d heard about the skywalk that wrapped its way around the rock and felt drawn to give it a try. The skywalk, aptly named, was nothing more than a steel grille below our feet and glass paneling to the side. Large bolts jutting from the rock, the only thing keeping us afloat.

Needless to say I froze at the start of the walk. Stretching tens of meters below my feet was nothing but jagged rock and forest. Images flashed through my mind of the bolts buckling and giving way and me plummeting to the ground. Once those thoughts appear, nothing seems to remove them. Retreat! my mind yelled. But farther in front my children were joking around, taking funny photos of each other and having a great time, filled with the same sort of zest for adventure I once owned.

At that moment I decided my fear would not turn my feet around. I was not going to scurry back to safety. I was not going to lose this moment, because I may never come this way again. I completed the walk. I hated it. My fingers turned white with restricted blood flow because I held the railing so tight. I forced myself to stand at the end and look out over the massive drop, all the while wanting to through up. We all took photos of each other in silly poses. I even smiled. Once over I scurried back to safety.

I suffered flash backs and lots of ‘oh my god, what ifs’, but I did it. That was the most important thing.

I hope you keep doing the amazing, the scary, the challenging. Life gives you one chance: take it.

TJ Adams x

 

The genius at work again

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My cover artists Yvonne Less at art4artists has done it once again.

Bound was the first novel I ever wrote. It was contracted two years ago. Unfortunately some behind the scenes alchemy meant my manuscript remained untouched for that time.

A little more alchemy saw my edits completed and a cover arrive, but the magic was not enough to progress it down the line to publication. I then took the generous offer made by the new owners of the company and took my rights back.

And here she is. A dazzling new cover from Yvonne, and my first ever baby ready to go.

It will be appearing on amazon soon. Introductory offer FREE.

TJ Adams x