Thursday, March 25, 2010


A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I had to rewrite the first page of my book because it was basically BORING.

After reading Stephan King's 'On Writing' which advises the writer to show rather than tell, I realised the first nine pages had to go as well. I was telling the reader far too much. It was time to just get on with the story.

Far too busy

Yes, I know I have not written a new post for a long time. I have been so busy with kids' stuff: basketball, parent teacher interviews, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, kindy fundraisers, Jack's kindergarten birthday, robotics... Just to name a few!

Finally I get to sit down today in front of my computer for nearly four hours and hopefully be inspired to write.

One month ago I felt I was about six weeks off finishing my book - the rate I am going it will be six years!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Money, money, money

Yesterday I spent nearly $100 getting my almost-finished manuscript printed so I can give copies to friends to review. I am hoping that I actually get a book deal one of these days, otherwise I will have to get into the pinata business (using my hundreds of old drafts)!

I also had afternoon tea with some girlfriends yesterday and read the opening page from my manuscript hot off the press. Oh my God! When I read it aloud, I realised that this crucial piece of writing ( first page needs to hook the reader) was one of my most boring. I need to rethink things QUICKLY.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hopefully one day I will be remembered for my writing (rather than my crying!)

How wonderful...I woke this morning to find an email from the British owners of the house I rented in the French village of Alet during my adventure around the world.

I laughed at Steve's words, "Your visit to Alet is remembered with great affection by Freha, Christophe and Anne (and by us although we didn't actually get to meet you)!" because although we never met, they were victim to my melodramatic personality when I rang begging to return to their house as seen in the following extract from my book:

The next morning in a bid to change my unhappy disposition I rang the owners of my old house, a lovely couple from Bristol in England and explained that I had already paid for my apartment in Esperaza but was prepared to forfeit my money if they could give me a reduced rate for another two week stay back at their beautiful home in Alet. Very kindly they agreed, which I believe was due in part to the fact that my request was made in between loud and uncontrollable sobbing. I was so thrilled and rang Christophe, who having already been informed of my plight (as had the rest of the village) assured me that he would be there in half an hour to collect us (apparently Nicolas on his way home the previous evening from dinner with me had stopped at Christophe’s where another party was being held and declared to all that, “Rebekah needed saving!” All present informed him of their desire to help my cause and as a result I was to dwell no longer in my current house of gloom).

Friday, March 12, 2010

I can write but can't talk!

Managed to write for three wonderful uninterrupted hours this morning. However, the deep concentration turned my brain to mush for the rest of the day and when I picked up Jack for lunch I told him to, "Stop eating with food in your mouth."

I think I need some sleep!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Having a date with Elizabeth Gilbert

Yippee! Just booked tickets to see Elizabeth Gilbert who is coming here in May as part of the New Zealand Writers' Festival.

The sympathetic booking agent booked seats for my friends and me with a single vacant seat next to mine and promised to place a nice single guy in it if the chance arose!

Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The kindness of strangers

During our adventure around the world, the boys and I spent four glorious weeks on England's beautiful Isle of Wight. In my book I describe Christine, the owner of the bed and breakfast where we stayed. But recently a friend criticized my work, saying that although I wrote about all the kind and charitable gestures that she did for the boys and I, there was not enough detailed description about Christine herself.

No offence to my friend, whose ideas I value greatly, but I stand by my words, because I believe that recounting the kindness of someone speaks volumes. Christine may or may not have been happily married; she may or may not have had children; she may or may not have been attractive. These may be interesting facts I agree, but at the end of the day, the description of Christine’s kind actions tells the reader that she is a selfless and caring character.

To reiterate my thoughts on the idea that a person's deeds can describe their character, I will use the example of my lovely neighbours, Mary Anne and Jim. I have only recently gotten to know this American couple who leave their home town of Seattle each winter to live in New Zealand and enjoy its summer. They live on the beach near me and as a result are always part of the beach parties that my friends and I have on a regular basis.

Jim and Mary Anne value their family and friends and because they see that my boys have only ME (I have no parents and Marco's father and family live overseas) they turn up at events that family members are likely to attend. This occurred today when they surprised my eldest son Marco by coming to a morning tea at his school in honour of him receiving top marks on his report card. Jim and Mary Anne gave up their morning which could have been spent relaxing on the beach, to make Marco feel special. It worked. And I am extremely grateful for their kindness.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Stephan King is just about to change my writing for the better

I am so excited... I have just received the highly recommended book, 'On Writing' by Stephan King. Am off to make a cup of tea and absorb all his wonderful words of wisdom regarding writing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Finding time to write as a single mum of two young boys has been difficult (to say the least).

Marco being twelve is relatively independent, but Jack is only four and as a result still demands much of my time.

Actual time Jack is at Kindergarten each week = 17 hours

Now, this sounds like a reasonable amount of time to do my writing, but let's be real and subtract parenting tasks from those hours:

Time to walk Jack to and from Kindergarten = 5 hours
Time to go on Kindy trip to aquarium = 4 hours
Time to wash Jack's sheets that he wet during the night (because in my state of fatigue, I forgot to put a night time nappy on) = 1 hour

This leaves seven hours of free time (as long as I am not tempted to go up the road for a coffee with my good friend Julie, or spend time writing my blog, which I admit I am becoming a little obsessed about).

So here are my excuses for taking so long to finish my book. Better get cracking...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Can't see the wood for the trees

A tutor at University gave me one very important piece of advice regarding writing: CUT AND PASTE (literally).

Because I have been writing my book for such a long time (over a year), I often do not see parts of my story that need editing; When a third party reads my work they often point out things I have not noticed, like the repetition of subject matter.

Yesterday, I sat down with two pages of my opening chapter and before I cut the paragraphs (literally), I colour coded the themes:

Red = reservations I had about my travel
Yellow = benefits of travel
Blue = inspiring others

As a result, I clearly noticed that I repeated all three themes in two or three places throughout the chapter. So I edited the work using the following method:

1) Cut each coloured paragraph
2) Placed the pieces beside each other spread out on the floor
3) Cut and paste the pieces (on the computer)

Voila, now I had a chapter that flowed.

Shame we can't do this rearranging with our PERSONAL LIFE!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


My oldest and dearest friend Fiona, whom I met at the age of eleven, met me in a city cafe for an editing session, the main subject of our meeting being my 'desires'. We got straight down to business over strong coffee.

As I said in my profile, my book is not just a travel memoir, but it has also become a book about my unsatisfied desires, which, let's face it, everybody has (whether you are a twenty-two year old mechanic or an eighty-three year old grandmother). However, Fiona had some very strong opinions regarding the way I was portraying myself in relation to these desires, specifically my desire for SOMEONE TO GIVE DAMN:

"Perhaps you need to ask for it [help]! This sounds like a really miserable life and might make the reader wonder why you have no friends? They might then presume that you are or could be ‘unlikeable’ and you could lose the readers’ sympathy. This is so far from the truth as you are sooooo likeable, have a multitude of friends who do really ‘give a damn’ and aren’t some loser that nobody wants to know! Maybe try and read these from a reader’s perspective who only has what’s written here on which to form a picture of who you are and what you’re like. You don’t do yourself justice – you aren’t making yourself very appealing or empowered".

Well, she certainly said it as it was, but I really appreciated her honesty. After all, Fiona knows me better than anyone. She was right. I do have lots of fantastic friends and I am a fun, assertive, enthusiastic and strong woman who loves her life (most of the time).

I guess, I wanted to emphasise my feelings of despair at times to give a more honest portrayal of life as a single mum. Because, although most days my smile is genuine, there are times when I just want to run away from the loneliness I feel.

Fiona's reality check made me acknowledge that I needed to get rid of the hundreds of POOR ME violins playing in the background of my story.

At this point of the discussion, our Eggs Benedict arrived, fulfilling one of my most important desires - TO RELISH

Monday, March 1, 2010

The help of friends - Part II

As I said in my last post, Caroline and I rushed home to put on our bikinis. WOW. We looked amazing. It was a miracle - overnight all of our tummy rolls had simply disappeared and we were stunning.

Our new found beauty must have caught the eye of the handsome stranger looking my way. He stood there in the waves that were pounding his glistening wet skin. He was perfect. He smiled and then beckoned for me to come to him. How could I refuse? This was the one.

At this point, I had better mention another piece of advice that Caroline had given me during our editing session (prior to being distracted).


The help of friends - Part I

I have many wonderful friends, who wanting me to be successful, are always willing to give me their valuable advice. After all, they are my market audience, so it always good to get their opinions, even though they are often conflicting.

FRIEND #1. SARAH - We catch up regularly to work on the editing of my book. last week the weather was fine, so Sarah thought it might be nice to take a flask of coffee and biscuits to a local park so her dog could get some exercise while we worked(I had no idea that this patch of green was doggie paradise - there were hundreds of the little barkers).

In between barks we started to discuss the idea of having a screenplay style introduction of the three main characters (the boys and I) and because I am film-obsessed I thought this was a great idea.

Much to my disappointment, our discussion got cut short by the humping dogs that we could no longer stomach, which along with a female stranger who started to lean over my shoulder to eavesdrop on our conversation caused us to pack up our bags and do a runner (while trying to dodge the dog poop all over the grass).

FRIEND #2. CAROLINE - Because Caroline lives near the sea we thought we would meet for our editing session on the beach, this time with a flask of tea.

Caroline told me that she felt I did not offer the reader detailed descriptions of the people we met on our travels. I agreed and told her that I would use my new Dictaphone (my new best friend) to help with this.

Unfortunately, like my session with Sarah, the outdoors would interrupt our talk, because out of the corner of her eye, Caroline spotted about six gorgeous half-naked hunks in the water tackling each other playing ball (what is it about men, balls and grabbing each other?). Unable to concentrate, we went home to get our swimsuits. Editing could wait.