The flow of the pen
I read once that different parts of the brain are activated depending on if you are using a pen or a typewriter. Apparently, they did studies to see what parts of the brain lit up on a scan when a person wrote with a pen as opposed to writing on a keyboard. But I was wondering as I read the results, did they use the same writing prompt at the same time of day with the same person for both, ensuring that they had eaten and drunken the exact same amount of food at the time?
Why the questions, you might rightfully ask. But let's be honest here team; as an author, one single sip of coffee can affect a story. The way light bounces off a table in the afternoon or the changing mood of the writer at the time. All of these affect how the pen flows on my page. One morning I can have a wonderful idea, but a mere half hour and two sips of coffee later I can find clarity on its pitfalls. So I was wondering if they allowed for this when they did the testing? Did they randomize to account for the lack of caffeine? I suspect not. But then, I have admitted to struggling to read my own handwriting at the best of times, so perhaps I have a reason to expect the worst. But one morning I will try again. And then grab a coffee and rewrite it all anyway. So let's find out how our authors write this month...
This month's authors:
Tara defines herself as an Australian author, blogger, and quirky queen. Intrigued, I wanted to find out what makes the quirk and here's what she told me.
How do you find your education in professional writing and other languages help or hinder your writing?
In a nutshell, my education in professional writing made me a better writer. It taught me to be precise with my vocabulary and how to be a more ruthless editor; it pushed me to write every day and read often, adhere to deadlines, and expanded my imagination. It allowed me to explore genres outside of my comfort zones and discover a talent for styles I mightn’t have realized otherwise. But perhaps most importantly, it introduced me to other writers, editors, publishers, and artists from Australia and all over the world, and taught me the importance of having a professional network. Writing can be an isolating profession, so surrounding yourself with people you can learn from and share ideas with is highly beneficial. My education in other languages has helped my writing by improving my overall understanding of the English language, such as sentence structure, grammar, idioms, and dialect, and the relationship between languages in general. I have also found that studying other languages goes hand in hand with learning about other cultures and their histories, which can be a rich resource for story ideas or fantasy world-building.
What inspired your last book?
I had been reading a lot of “chick lit” books about party girls in their late 20s/ early 30s, which brought back a lot of memories from my own wild party days, and it occurred to me that the themes in these books – such as taking responsibility for your actions, learning that your mistakes have long term consequences, forging an identity away from your friends - would have more impact on a younger audience. Most YA novels focus on the high school experience and can be somewhat wholesome compared to the reality of being a young adult in Australia; I wanted to write a realistic portrayal of that “between” stage in life when we are suddenly handling the freedoms and responsibilities of an adult while still having the impulsive mentality of a teenager.
Who is your favorite character (either one you created or one you have read about and why?
I love quirky misfits, especially characters who use their eccentricities and insight into life on the outskirts to help others. Officially, my favorite character is Tyrion Lannister from GRR Martin’s Game of Thrones. He is witty and intelligent, but I mostly love how he is aware of himself and owns his faults and mistakes. Unofficially, my favorite character is Lark Noble from the Sisters of Blood and Spirit series by Kady Cross. She is the perfect balance of spunky and vulnerable, and I love the relationship she has with her grandmother.
How do you plan a book or story, and what process do you go through as you write it?
Because I write for different genres, the way I approach writing a story differs depending on what I am writing. Usually, though, I start with a blurb-sized idea for a story (and maybe a handful of characters and a few scenes as well) and just start to write. I research as I write unless a major plot point or character trait is beyond my area of expertise, then I gather just enough information to start writing and keep researching as I need. I usually write a minimum of eight drafts for a story before even considering it for publication; the first two drafts are just me figuring the story out for myself, followed by two drafts where I fix any factual plot or character points through research, three drafts to refine the plot, themes, and character development, then three beta readers proofread for grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and plot consistency, before a final draft where I apply any suggested changes. To combat writer’s block, I will write around the sentence, paragraph or scene giving me trouble and come back to it later, often leaving notes such as “insert character emotion here” to give myself a rough idea of what I want to write when my brain starts to work again; these notes are also particularly helpful when I have had a long break from a project and forgotten where I was going with a particular scene.
Tara loves to catch up with her readers via her website at:
I hope you can take a moment to offer support for her by checking them out, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
Dale is a rural author, who tackles the tough challenge of grass-roots Australian history with gusto. As a combination of writer and researcher, I was keen to find out what she does and how she does it.
What are the pros and cons of writing in rural Australia?
To my mind, there are mostly pros. I love the peace and quiet of sitting in my little hut, specially made for me and my writing, watching the bush and the birds. No barking dogs or noisy neighbors. It’s where the magic happens. Cons are not being able to easily access author events in the city. Brisbane is my closest, although it is close enough for those ‘must-see’ events. My township of Maleny has a very vibrant book/author scene, so I really don’t miss out on much. What does your typical writing day entail?
It begins with a cuppa in bed while I catch up on social media. I am usually in my hut by 9 am, although I find the ideas and words don’t flow until afternoon. I spend the morning doing admin (emails etc), research and reading over what I wrote the day before. This is my first edit. I then begin serious writing after lunch (spent reading) and work through till 6 pm. If I am at the pointy end of the manuscript, I will return to my hut after dinner until bedtime.
How do you decide what to write next and what inspires you the most?
I have a few ideas in the pipeline. My books invariably grow out of a story/situation/place that grabs my imagination and won’t let go. Life is full of stories, but you know when the right one surfaces. It is the grass-roots stories, usually Australian history, that inspire me. Of all the stories you have told, which is your favorite and why?
This is easy to answer. Being Lucy. When I heard of the woman who lived alone in a hut in the High Country of the Victorian East Gippsland, I knew I had to tell her story. I wrote it in the first person – the only way I could get inside Lucy’s mind. I absolutely love the story and am pretty pleased with how it evolved, and the wonderful feedback I have received.
Dale loves to attend local markets once a month where she actually gets to talk, face-to-face, with readers. She also has a webpage: www.dalelornajacobsen.com and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dalelornajacobsenauthor/.
I hope you can take a moment to offer support for her by checking it out, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler