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Tag Archives: Fiction

Photos of You

When I started my own blogging, writing, indie publishing journey here on WordPress, I got to know a range of other bloggers and writers. A lot of whom were pursuing their own publishing dreams. One of my favorites over the years has been Tammy Robinson.

In 2013, she published her first book. Charlie and Pearl. It’s a tear-jerking story of love and loss. Once I read that story, I was absolutely hooked on what Tammy does even though, as I like to joke with Tammy, I am most certainly not the target audience for her stories. Cause you know, men aren’t supposed to like tear-jerkers. But the thing is, Tammy writes stories that create such a connection, such a feeling for the characters. Every story she has published is something that has left me both shaken and rejoicing by the end.

Over the years since Charlie and Pearl was released, Tammy independently published a few more books and eventually won herself a publishing contract with Hachette. The first book Hachette published was Differently Normal. The second was Photos of You, which was recently published in the United States.

Tammy lives in New Zealand, where the book was published first and it has ever so slowly moved across the globe, published in Australia, throughout Europe and, finally, landing on American shores earlier this month. It’s a book I’ve been waiting for, not so patiently, for more than a year.

I finished Photos of You last night and, once again, Tammy has done it. The book tells the story of Ava Green, a young woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer and beat it, only to be diagnosed with terminal cancer a few years later. She has barely begun to live her life before she receives this fatal diagnosis. Having spent her life imagining her wedding, she decides to have a wedding before she dies. Whether or not there is a groom involved. One thing leads to another and she meets the man of her dreams, and I’ll leave the story details right there. No spoilers here, but …

Here’s the thing. Once you’ve read a couple of Tammy’s books, you’ll know what’s coming. There aren’t necessarily any surprises. And on some level, that’s what makes her writing and her tales so incredible. Even though you know what’s coming, she draws characters and fills them with thoughts and feelings and experiences in a way that you can’t help but be sucked into their lives, and feel something for them while reading. When the inevitable ending comes, even though you knew what it was going to be, you can’t help but feel something deeply about the whole thing.

And this is what I feel when I read Tammy’s stories, including Photos of You. If you’re looking for the “happy ending,” you won’t find it with Photos of You, or just about anything else Tammy has put out there. What you will get though is real life, and characters who experience that life and still find something that we are all looking for before the end inevitably comes.

That is what I love about Tammy’s books and what brings me to tears whenever I have the good fortune to read her work. There is happiness in sadness and good things that happen even in the darkest of days.

Tammy — I hope you read this. You’ve once again written an incredible story that has left me in tears, but filled with hope. Don’t ever stop doing what you do.

An Update On The Irrepairable Past

Thirty-five purchases, and the reviews are starting.

 

And here’s the link on Amazon.

The Irrepairable Past is Live

From my writing blog

Or just go here (only for the Kindle now, paperback soon):

 

An Antidote …

,,, to The Worst Book Ever.

For every indie author who puts lousy product out there, I come across a handful that do much better work. Kevin Brennan is the gold standard. Tammy Robinson is right up there also.

Sidetrack here. Tammy was one of the first indie authors I “got to know” when I started blogging and publishing myself. Her first book Charlie and Pearl just absolutely knocked my socks off. She self-published a few more books, ending with Differently Normal. It was that book that got Tammy a two book publishing contract with a major publisher. The second book, Photos of You, was recently published in New Zealand (coming to other countries slowly) and went to #1 there. Such success couldn’t have come to a better person.

Anyway, there are plenty of others out there. Two who recently came to my attention are Audrey Driscoll and Berthold Gambrel.  Audrey and Berthold write in genres that I don’t read much of these days. As a result, I’m not going to try to “review” them in the true sense. Hell, I never really try to review books. I do reviews my own way.

The best description I can provide for Audrey’s work is supernatural, historical fiction. She’s been compared to H.P. Lovecraft. Not having read Lovecraft, I have no idea if the comparison is valid. But I have read two of Audrey’s books — The Friendship of Mortals and her most recent work, She Who Comes Forth. Both books are well written with fascinating characters. They also are clearly the result of study and research. It’s clear that Audrey cares about her craft and want to put quality in front of her readers.

Berthold writes in science fiction. Through the course of a novel and several short stories he is creating a future world that you might compare to the Star Trek world. I’ve read his novel The Directorate and just completed his long short story 1NG4, with another short story he published several months ago still unread, waiting quietly on my Kindle. I also, maybe, had the opportunity to grab a sneak peek at something that’s coming up.

What I like about Berthold’s stories, and I think I said this before when I posted a review of The Directorate, is that they are science fiction stories with real people in them. The people and their feelings and how they deal with things haven’t necessarily changed because they exist in a future world. No, they’re just like humans today — it’s just that the world has expanded to planets and solar systems and travel by light years. His stories also don’t overwhelm the reader with the technical realities of the future world. Those details are embedded in the story naturally as you go.

So, there you have it. Just in case you think all indie authors publish typo-filled, poorly written schlock … it ain’t true. Go to Amazon, give Audrey and Berthold a try and while you’re at it, check out Kevin Brennan and Tammy Robinson. I don’t think you could be disappointed by any of them.

 

A Lesson Learned

Regular readers will know that I have written quite a bit over the last few years about my struggle with writing fiction. What started around fifteen years ago and turned into an explosion of writing over an 8-10 year period has turned into a whimper. There has been barely a spark for the last few years as I have struggled with generating new ideas or making any progress on my various works in progress.

Some months I’m able to write about what I could write in a day or two back then. Some months I write even less. There are many causes of this deterioration in my writing ability.

Lack of energy — most work days I find myself drained at the end of the day and writing takes energy. Mental energy and emotional energy and creative energy. When I get home I want nothing more than to be able to do … not much. Which means with the hour or two I have each evening I end up surfing the internet. It’s easy, it doesn’t take much energy — at least not the kind writing takes. Which leads to …

Distractions — when I started writing, I wasn’t on FB, didn’t have a blog, Twitter didn’t exist. Nor did Instagram, Words with Friends, or so many other things. As I’ve developed my own social media habit, it is far easier to just cycle through those websites, social media outposts, blogs, and other places over and over again than to crack open a document and see what I can write. Why?

Internal Editor — as I have written more I have cared about the quality of my writing more. As I have written more I have found my writing function slowing down and being more careful. When I wrote that first novel, One Night in Bridgeport, I just wrote. My only requirement was to see whether I could actually write a novel. I just wrote. But once I did that and started having all sorts of other ideas about stories, both short and long, I started to care more about how I told the story and the crafting of the thing. The more I cared, the more the voice inside of me told me what I was writing was complete crap. That doesn’t really lead to an enjoyable experience. So, I shut down.

Motivation — having started writing fiction around when I turned 40 years old, I’m not a lifelong writer who considers it a fundamental part of who I have always been. I have struggled in recent years with the question of why I write and whether it is worth the time I have committed to it once I started writing. If I can’t figure out why I’m doing it, the impetus becomes harder to find.

Which has lead to my dearth of creativity, the lack of writing, the feeling that maybe my writing life has reached its end. I learned something yesterday. It may be that the distractions are the biggest cause of all this.

A couple of months ago, a fellow writer/blogger I first met around six years ago when I launched my self-publishing efforts asked me to consider contributing a story to a collection she wanted to publish. Fallacious Rose‘s idea was to collect short stories built around the idea of Utopia — as an antidote to all of the dystopian fiction that is written these days.

I said I would try but could make no guarantees.

After a couple of weeks, I came up with an idea and started working through it. I could write a couple of hundred words and then I’d get stuck and bored. And there are always those distractions to pull me away. Fallacious Rose wanted complete stories by this time with publication by mid-December.

By Friday, I had written 2,900 words, which breaks down to a few hundred words per week. That’s not really writing and no way to really get somewhere with a story. I knew I had at least a few more thousand words to go. I also wasn’t entirely sure how I would wind the thing down.

You see, the idea I had was really more dystopic than utopic. What I wanted to do was turn a dystopian situation into a utopian conclusion. Those first 2,900 words were all about the dystopia and I liked what I had done, but I was at the point where I was going to have to turn it around into the utopian ending.

People who read my fiction regularly comment that somebody always dies or why is it always so sad. I don’t do “happy” very well. “And everybody lived happily ever after” would likely be the worst line I could ever come up with. Or as I have told people numerous times, “there ain’t much drama in happy.”

I really wanted to see if I could do this and be a part of Fallacious Rose’s project, however, so I went into this weekend knowing that I either was going to get it done or I wasn’t. For the first time in my writing life I faced a deadline. An impending deadline for a story I still had no idea how I was going to wrap up.

I told the missus that this would be my focus this weekend. No making dinner Saturday, not doing much around the house. I was going to write and write and write some more.

Around the same time Fallacious Rose invited me to contribute, I also learned from Shannon Thompson, another writer blogger, about the Forest App. It’s a way to shut down the distractions. An app that blocks whatever websites you want for a specified period of time. The app isn’t fail safe. You can block it. On my laptop, it only works for Chrome, so I could still access anything I want using Internet Explorer. As a result, using the app requires a bit of commitment on my part.

I tried the app a couple of times. Each time for 45 minutes. Each time I was able to write a few hundred words during that time period. Each time I moved forward with the story.

Yesterday would be a real test. I’ve said before that I would be writing a lot and haven’t done it. But there was that deadline hanging out there for me now.

What did I learn yesterday? It’s really about the distractions — that’s the single biggest reason I haven’t been able to write. Yesterday, I had three different writing sessions between the time I woke up and we went out to dinner. Each session was 45-60 minutes long. I put the app on my laptop and my phone for all three sessions.

And … drum roll, please … by the time we stepped out of the house for dinner, I had written another 2,400 words and finished the story.

I have no idea if it’s any good. I also have no idea if it will fit Fallacious Rose’s theme. In my mind, it is more about every-day utopia and what can happen when a few people turn the tide. It’s not about a utopian society or a utopian vision of perfect humans acting perfectly.

But I did learn that I could focus and get something done. Which really hasn’t happened in far too long. It felt good. My internal editor has remained relatively quiet — although I feel like taking a little more time might have produced something better in those final 2,400 words.

We shall see. Whether or not Fallacious Rose accepts my story, at some point in the future, I’ll post it over on my writing blog. You’ll know it when you see it. It’s about the last two turtles in all the world.

By the way, thank you to Fallacious Rose for the invitation and providing the motivation for me to crack the door open again.

 

 

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