Friday, January 16, 2009

Interview with Author Diana Jay - Part 1

Diana Jay is the author of the books The Drums of Siyapila and A New Beginning at Mokweni. Both these books are free to read on this blog and I thought that it would be a good idea to find out a little more about her. Below are some of the questions she answered for the blog.

Q: Where do you currently live and have you lived there all your life?

I currently live in Austria, Europe, but I was born in South Africa, and worked and lived in Namibia and China.

Q: When in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was ten years old, I was fortunate to have a wonderful primary school teacher who travelled the world and who told us all about her experiences. She also encouraged us to read, and that opened up new horizons for me. I wanted to see the world and then tell people about it.

Q: At what age did you start writing novels?

I wrote my first story (for children) when I was eleven.

Q: Any chance that the readers will be able to read that first story?

I only showed it to my best friend to read after she insisted. At school, I always had to read my essays aloud and she wanted to read what I wrote in the exercise book. At that age, the fear of rejection was too much to have anyone else read it. The handwritten story disappeared after a couple of years.

Q: Where do you get the inspiration for your characters in the novels?

It is actually the places that I have visited which inspire me to write a story. The characters then fall into place.

Q: Can we expect more novels from your pen in the near future?

Yes. I am currently re-writing my first novel set in Kenya. It is, after The Drums of Siyapila, my favorite. I am also busy with a new story that will take my readers to the South China Sea.

Q: Who is your favorite author(s) and why?

I enjoy any romance novel, but my favorite author is Nora Roberts.

She is a versatile writer that pushed the boundaries of genre writing by impressing her own style on all her books.


New! Free Online Reads

After hunting through numerous sites to find my favorite writer's work on, I decided to post it here in sequence - chapter by chapter as it appears - under Free Reads. It is frustrating to know there is another chapter, but searching for it just takes too long.

Anyone may suggest an author whose work they feel is worthy of putting on the blog and send me a message to take a look. If it is good enough, I will include it in the free reads section. Please also remember to send me the link to the site where it is published.

I hope you enjoy the stories here as much as I do and please feel free to share this site with your friends.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Where to get information to improve my writing

A first time writer usually gets down to writing a novel in the language style she or he finds comfortable. In my opinion, this is the correct way to do it. However, and this is a big BUT, this is usually not the style the publishers want. There are certain rules they expect all authors to obey and finding these rules can be a daunting task.

In the previous post, I referred to books to read on the subject, but afforded no details. I can only comment on the books and resources I read and used to try further my education in the writing business. First, as I said previously, you need to join a writer's forum where you can get advice from other writers and some honest critique on your work. I found My Writer's Circle an invaluable source of advice and the pool of knowledge is extensive. There are many other forums like this and many other blogs offering advice. It really pays to read them. It also pays to read other people's writing and take note of the comments they receive.

James N Frey wrote a series of books dealing the pain of writing a publishable novel. He wrote these books in non-technical language, easy to understand even if your first language is not English, and offer a step-by-step guide to writing better fiction. For a novice, like me, the first read almost make you want to throw in the towel, thinking you will never get it right. On the second read and when you start applying the techniques, the task becomes a bit more manageable.

There are probably thousands of books like these in the shops and some may even offer better advice. Do your research and learn as much as you can.

Above all - KEEP ON WRITING!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

How to Get Ideas for a Novel

All stories start with an idea. Ideas are easy to find - just look around you and take notice of the environment, but mostly the people. Peculiar habits of friends, family and strangers often spark an idea for a character in a novel or short story. A family member or friend who reacts predictably to his or her environment affords the writer a wealth of information upon which a character can be build. Take notice of the manner in which people talk and gesture. In short - pay attention to others and the ideas for a new character will flow.

Characters are not enough to build a story on. You also need a plot or story line. In other words, what is the story about? You need to be able to summarize in one sentence what the central theme of the story would be. If someone reads the story, he or she must be able to identify the central theme. A romance novel's theme would for example be "friendship grows into love" or "helping someone in need leads to love". This central idea is the 'premise' of the story.

Most people think finding an original premise is an impossible task to accomplish, as there are thousands of romance novels, mysteries and science fiction books for sale. Even if your idea involves the classic romance between teenage sweethearts who grew apart over the years only to find each other later in life, it would still be your own unique characters with their own personality doing the romancing. Your characters will develop the story in their own way and if you stay true to the personality you gave the character, there will be no duplication of another novel.

Once you have the idea or premise of the story, you can begin to develop characters for the story and plot an outline of how the story will develop. Some people do not create an outline for a novel and choose to write and see where the story takes them in their imagination. Although this works for some, you may easily find yourself, after having written a couple of thousand words, in a corner and not knowing how to proceed with the story. The internet contains several free downloadable software packages to assist in planning the outline of the novel as well as writing the actual story - yWriter4 is a free program and can be of value to a novice writer.

Above all, read as many books on the subject of writing as you possibly can and visit free online forums for tips and ideas.