I'd like to welcome the lovely Lisa G. to my blog today.
Who is Lisa G.?
In a nutshell…
I was born in Melbourne, lived in Beaconsfield Victoria then moved to Tassie at 6 yrs old. 8 years on, my family returned to Melbourne, before relocating to Gippsland, Traralgon as I entered my last year of high school. I have been here since and have no plans to leave other than for lots of holidays. I quite like not moving.
Married for 27 years, there are three cheeky boys in our home – one is my husband, and we all dote over our adorable Cheweenie, Lilly.
I am always thinking, creating and, even if I have no idea how to do it, on to a new project – which sometimes drives my family crazy.
I guess, I’m a little gypsy like. Other than writing, I have trouble sticking to one career – there’s just so many choices and too little time. I want to do it all and usually, in my own stubborn way! Retail, hospitality, banking, finance, managerial, legal, medical and education (Literacy and integration) have my name on them.
Though I enjoyed them all – and for different reasons, I can easily say, other than witnessing that light bulb moment when a child realises they can really do `it’, none have come remotely within coo-ee of the happiness, contentment and reward writing brings me.
How long have you been writing for? What did you first write? What genre?
Forever! It started with political poems based on my opinions of justice as a 12 year old. Inparticular, poverty and the lack of compassion in a world that has enough money that everyone can live well. At 14, I was writing lyrics and rhyme about heartbreak and love. For some time and after my first real boyfriend was killed in a car accident, poems of loss prevailed.
But my first serious foray into writing was with the emergence of rhyming children’s stories which turned everyday situations into magical adventures. That was at 16. The very first story is now the first in a series of five I have written, which I hope to one day publish.
Not until my early twenties did I attempt a novel. ‘Changing Faces’ was unfortunately corrupted by a virus and subsequently lost and I gave up on writing for a while. But being that writing is part of who I am, the moratorium wasn’t to be for long.
Writing took on a whole new meaning with the arrival of my first son. Composing during midnight feedings I fell totally in love with the beauty of night and the escapism of writing. And there spurned the pivotal moment my mind began the constant whirred of ideas, busy with creative projects, submitting editorials to papers (some published) and reigniting my desire and dreams, to not only write a “world class great read” novel but to be respected for my work.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Describe your light bulb moment?
Sitting under canopy of the large snowball tree at our Booran Road Caulfield home, a skip, hop and jump from ‘The Heath’ (Caulfield Racecourse), I dreamed of writing a novel. Emerging as I leaned back against the trunk admiring the blossoms, I was scribbling down prose for what was, unknown to me at the time, to be my first ever children’s book. I was 16. Every chance I had, it occurred to me that I was writing something, anything.
So, it wasn’t so much of a light bulb moment but a realisation that writing and I were synonymous – it felt very natural and words just seemed to come together for me. Writing was my home… where I felt totally at peace and free.
The fact that I didn’t think I was worthy or good enough to really pursue writing seriously when I was younger, I regret somewhat. Life would have certainly taken a different path if I had. Though RUMLA may have never happened – so the regret is not deep… RUMLA has given me great joy.
What are your core beliefs around reading and writing?
In short, I believe literacy is to life as air is to breath!
I am deeply entrenched that it is non-negotiable that everyone should be supported in developing the skills and literary comprehension to read, and of course, write. In addition to the daily challenges of living, a life without literacy robs our minds of idea’s, imagination and personal growth.
Reading and writing are powerful tools. They take us places, actions will never achieve. They propel us forward, drive our ambition and open our eyes. They provide entertainment and fulfillment. At times, they even console us. Literacy elevates everyone’s ability to communicate, to articulate and enriches our well-being, gifting us amazing journeys to share and providing a life beyond what we see.
Now to your book, Rumla. Where did the idea come from for this book?
Tricky question! Short answer – there was nothing specific. The words just came. RUMLA evolved.
RUMLA’s is however, a culmination of childhood experiences that birthed adult fascinations for the history and mystic of ancient old worlds and an admiration of strong, self assured characters; more specifically, those who see beauty and freedom of embracing their ‘you-ness’. These ingredients came together after spontaneous literacy task during a professional development session and much to my surprise, a strange little tale that had both my PD trainer and myself wondering.
Where the idea came from initially, I have no idea other than that the gloomy sky overhead gave me a starting point. It was some 12 months later I actually decided I’d see where this unique little story would go. Continuing on from where I’d left off, the ideas started flowing, the plot developed and the reasons for my motivation, the messages to deliver, defined themselves. Research followed, building depth and RUMLA became a kaleidoscope of purpose.
'A life without literacy robs our minds of idea’s, imagination and personal growth.' Lisa G.
Why did you write Rumla?
Originally, RUMLA was just for me.
I believed for the first time, I could maybe write that novel. The desire to make my teenage dreams a reality was strong. I literally thought, it wouldn’t hurt to try. Letting my imagination take me on a journey, there was never originally a higher moral purpose nor a deeper message.
In saying that however, I do love the simplicity of ancient wisdoms and it just happened that while researching Ashanti Twi culture, I literally stumbled across Adinkra; proverbial symbols which set were the original moral compass of ancient life for the Twi people. The ethics of Adinkra perfectly encapsulated the tone I wanted to covey. Incorporating the African symbolism as chapter headings (and an English translation of the Ashanti Twi name/proverb), Adinkra defines each chapter’s underlying message.
So there are many beautiful subtleties trailing throughout RUMLA and they are very much what makes RUMLA uniquely special and individual to each reader. Being that the messages are a part of the mystery, I will let you unravel them for yourself.
You have a lot of African mythology woven it throughout the story. How long did Rumla take to research and write?
From initial pen on paper to published – 8 years. Never did I have a self-imposed time line to realise my dream. A working wife and mum with quite a few commitments, writing fitted in very nicely around the goings on of family life. But really, RUMLA was my little escape and I enjoyed so much that part of me dreaded finishing.
With no direction and initially just writing to see where RUMLA would go, researching the historical, mythological and cultural kicked in about 18 months into writing. Investigations from then on never really stopped. This was predominantly because I was intrigued, but also because the ending wasn’t clear until it was almost upon me. So I was always searching, looking to add more depth and credibility to RUMLA– all be it on the pages of google!
What do you hope that people will take away from Rumla?
As they turn the last page of RUMLA, I hope readers have been intrigued, entertained and have felt a part of the adventure as if they were written into the story.
I hope that somewhere along the way, a little something is discovered that resonates, making it personal in a way that is unique to them.
In the end, my deepest wish is they get as lost in my imagination and in the world of RUMLA as I.
You love to encourage people and inspire people. What is your favourite life motto?
In my usual style, I am bucking the trend. I have two!
It always seems impossible until it’s done; a dreamer is a winner who never gives up!
In a world where you can be anything, choose to be kind.
3 fun facts about yourself:
1. I dance in the shower - every day, every time
2. I always, always, mix up aphorisms i.e. His room is like a pig’s breakfast. Dogs might fly!
3. I can NEVER be trusted with your chocolate - ever!
Thanks heaps, Lisa, for coming on my blog today. It has been entertaining and enlightening.
For more information on Lisa and her book, visit her website: www.lisagbooks.com
Like her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LisaGbooks and join the conversation.
You can also find her on:
What could she have to do with African tales of myth and legend, serpents and curses, of royal lines, the armies of rulers past, and a trail of clues hiding secrets of a
predestined prophecy? Absolutely everything!
Though she does not know, there are others that do. A sequence of exceptional events, see her desire to escape the boring grind of Rumlalian life granted with the adventure of her dreams. Though fearing where it may lead, an insatiable appetite to know all propels her deeper into the mystery in search of the secrets.
Before long, she comes to realise there was never a choice for her and that Rumla, protected by a complicated series of connections, was far from ordinary.
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by guest blogger Jacqui Johnson
Primary school teacher and author.
Can't see the forest for the trees? Are you lost in your story and don't know what is going wrong? Maybe it has something to do with your character's motivation. If so, read on.
As always, writer’s workshop this month was excellent! It’s such an encouragement getting together with fellow writers to support and inspire one another. I was pleased when we started the first meeting for the New Year by going over the groups official guidelines which were negotiated to ensure we get the best out of our meetings. This was inspired by Megan’s blog post on Creative Kids Tales about Writer’s Groups. Why be in One? How do You Start One?
We come together to share and critique each other’s work. Each month we choose an area of our writing which we would like to improve to focus on. As I was leading this month, I chose 'character motivation.'
There are times when writing that you are not sure if a character is doing all they should, or some of your minor characters can seem less or more realistic, these are perfect times to pause your text to ensure you fully understand their motivations.
Ahead are the three phases we worked through to find and improve our character's motivation.
"Do you understand what motivates your characters?"
In order to better understand this vast topic, initially we went through an article on the Writers Helping Writers website titled, ‘Character Motivation Thesaurus’. This article focuses on character goals (outer motivation), the human need driving the goal (inner motivation), methods for achieving the goal, how the character may prepare for this goal, possible sacrifices or costs associated with the goal, roadblocks which could prevent the goal being achieved, talents and skills to help the character, possible fallout if the goal is not met, and clichés to avoid.
We discussed how each element would help to better understand your character and drive elements of the plot. I discussed how the research into character motivation had help with editing a secondary text (that I am working on) ensuring motivations of the main character were being explored.
All too often, I just assume the audience will love my main characters as much as I do, so I don't always spend enough time explaining their drives, passions and motivations. Instead I feel the need to invest in secondary characters explaining who they are, and how they think in order for the audience to understand them and connect.
This can result in a main character the audience doesn't relate to, and a secondary character who the reader is more invested in and would prefer to read more about. A solution to this issue might be to ensure I’ve taken enough time to fully investigate each of the main characters and their motivations, factoring in how best to convey these and the way it will affect the plot.
We went on to summarize Kristen Kieffer’s article, How to Create Character Motivations that will Rivet Your Readers. In this article, Kristen looks at hooks and breaks it down to what it means. The article examines the craft of weaving good character motivations into a text. We discussed what is meant by a hook in detail.
Megan's two cents: Check it out. It helped me gain a better understanding of the all important hook. I knew that I needed one, but I never knew what having a 'hook' meant. Kristen explains it clearly. I no longer wonder what it means.
"Motivations work to grip the reader." Kristen Kieffer
We then completed a ‘character motivation activity’ based on selected randomly generated character motivations. We each selected one of the samples and built a character by following the guidelines of the ‘Character Motivation Thesaurus’ prompts. Below is my character based on the motivation prompt, ‘your character’s fondest wish is to take a new direction':
Goal: move/ re-create who he is
Need: safety, love and belonging
Method: quit job, search (seek & find) new direction
Proposed Character: Daniel Cooper, mid 30’s working off shore on an oil rig is questioning if the isolated routine he has is all there is in life. He wants to pursue photography, which he has always secretly loved to do and travel around Australia to key tourist destinations and find things that people often don’t notice and focus on them. He is in contact with his sister and her husband who are living in Melbourne, using this as a home base as he travels.
Preparation: quit his job, move in with sister, buys cameras, does TAFE course (meets possible love interest here), travels. The book he makes based on this will be called “What I found at the end of the road to no-where” (possible text title as well).
Sacrifices: initial and short term loss of income (he will need to eat thought a significant amount of savings) mates form job lost as they don’t understand him, arguments/strain on relationships with sister and new love interest as he travels.
Roadblocks: insecurities as he doubts his choices and abilities, car issues.
Talents & skills: handy (will be able to do seasonal farming to supplement income – staying for short burst in some places), ‘natural artists eye’ for photography, educated in a trade (electrician which is an employment he will return to).
What’s at stake: financial stability and relationships?
Cliché’s to avoid: that he creates a best seller (he creates a book but only published a few copies, publishers aren’t interested sending rejection letters, returns to electrical work - on shore developing relationships with love interest, sister. Sister gives a copy of book to good friend, a friend of theirs sees it and wants as they have links to publisher who becomes interested. Begins to take working holidays to do photography and does photography on demand whilst still doing electrical work. Art show).
Not only was this activity really entertaining, but as a group each of us found a whole new story unfolding simply by understanding a main characters motivation. This is an excellent activity to do when you are stuck for an idea of what next to write when between books or simply to challenge yourself creatively to get inside the mind and motivations of a character.
For further information please check out these great resources:
Character Motivation Thesaurus Example: Escape a killer
15 interesting motivations for heroes and villains
7 Tips for Character motivation
How to create believable characters
Let me know how you go with the activity in the comments.
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The writing life can be confusing, hard work, amazing, exciting, and not for everyone. How can a writer live a genuine writing life? Is it possible to keep up with the quickly changing publishing scene, as well as learn new technology? Who better to ask then someone who has been around the publishing scene for a long time, Hazel Edwards.
I met Hazel in Gippsland in 2015, when she re-visited the area where she had lived as a teenager and talked with a few of the people mentioned in her just released memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake’ Being an Author’. I wasn’t in the memoir, but I read and reviewed it, and blogged about my meeting with Hazel. We’ve kept in touch since.
Hi Hazel, and welcome to my blog. The first post for 2017. Yay! What a way to start an exciting new year.
Q. What are your writing projects for 2017?
A. Those writers, whom I’ve helped to finish their books, call themselves my ‘Hazelnuts’. I enjoy helping aspiring writers, so I’m offering a Non-Boring Finish Your Non-Fiction Book Project year long mentoring course with the Public Records Office. First Friday of each month 10-1pm and the aim is to FINISH each participant’s book by the December class.
It’s aimed at procrastinators doing family histories but can apply to anyone who benefits from having an opportunity to share book-length W.I.P. (work in progress), each month. (The PRO in North Melbourne also has free parking which is great for regional writers).
I’ve also switched to writing an adult murder series with a celebrant sleuth. So, I’m currently researching weddings, funerals and cross cultural celebrations. Interviewing florists, celebrants, retirement home staff and caterers. Plus, working on my plotting. Nothing quite like saying ‘My real son is getting married this year to a lovely girl and I’m working out how a murder might occur, in fiction, at a wedding’.
Our co-written ‘Hijabi Girl’ has been optioned for other media, so I will be involved in further stories for our feisty Melek in a hijab who may become Australia’s ‘Pippi Longstocking’ just like Astrid Lindgren’s Scandinavian girl, except our 8 year old Melek starts a girls’ footy team in a mainstream Australian school.
It is important for authors to ‘speak up’ about the ideas world they inhabit, as they are potential problem-solvers via their books suggesting more tolerant approaches to diversity. A book can take a reader into a different culture for the length of that story and maybe beyond. Compassionate humour is more effective than propaganda. And young readers become adults who think, then act. But they need the literacy skills to start.
Recently I was filmed in my study workplace by Channel 9 News and the Copyright Agency. A film clip which spreads around social media is a more strategic way of commenting on literacy or copyright issues for authors. But you do have to tidy up a bit and wear some makeup and a colourful ‘book’ jacket which looks ok on camera, even if you are NOT the glamorous type. Luckily, I have a wonderful author friend Krista Bell who picks out appropriate ‘camera’ jackets, as I have no dress sense and think in abstract.
Wow! That is a lot of exciting news. From mentoring aspiring writers, to starting to write adult murder mysteries, having Hijabi Girl’ be optioned for other media as well as working on further stories for Melek. You have a busy year ahead.
Q. What are your best hints for aspiring writers?
Try collaboration. Co-writing a project gives you an opportunity to learn new skills, a deadline and having fun together too. With technology, such as Skype, your co-writer can live anywhere. You can share the frustrations, rejections and the small triumphs as well as learn technology and new ways of sharing those stories.
Secondly, be businesslike. ‘Author’ is a brand. What are the words you’d like readers to associate with your name as an author, even if you write in different genres and formats? I’d like my author brand to be: Quirky humour, Issues based and Authorpreneurial.
Thirdly. Write. Don’t just talk about writing.
Great advice, Hazel.
"Write. Don’t just talk about writing."
Q. Could you share ‘behind the pages’ of your work?
My memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author’ was my candid sharing of the real life of a longterm author who also has a family and community involvement. One of my aims in 2017 is for the memoir to be audio recorded, as many readers now listen on various devices in transit.
But sometimes books take on ‘another life’.
In 2017 & 2018, my ‘Sir Edward ‘Weary ‘ Dunlop” Aussie Heroes series book is included in the ANZAC ‘Behind the Pages’ exhibition touring Brisbane and other libraries. Instigated by New Zealander Maria Gill, these war -themed collections of children’s books focus on Australian and New Zealand problem-solvers. Lots of educational resources provided. Stories can have long term lives in new formats, once they are written.
And a themed touring libraries and galleries exhibition could be relevant for other book subjects.
So back to the computer to write.
Thank you so much for coming onto my blog today, Hazel, and sharing your experiences with us.
Check out Hazel's website. It's jam packed with wisdom and insights, and you can keep up to date on where she is at and her books that are available.
e-books such as ‘Authorpreneurship; The Business of Creativity’ or 'Writing a Non Boring Family History’ are available here.
‘Hijabi Girl’ is available from BookPOD
Memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake; Being an Author’ is available from Booktopia who carry most of Hazel’s print titles.
Check out: 'Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages'
And if you want to know more about Non-Boring Finish Your Non-Fiction Book Project year long mentoring course with the Public Records Office, check out: Finish Writing Your Book with Hazel Edwards
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