Welcome to Catherine Fearns, my next guest on my new feature – Isolation For Writers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Catherine coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is her answer:
Hi everyone, I’m Catherine Fearns and I’m a writer. I have published three Amazon best-selling crime thrillers with Crooked Cat Books/Darkstroke, and I also write as a music journalist.
Thank you very much to Marjorie Mallon for hosting me on the blog today to write about my personal experience of writing during coronavirus lockdown…
For many people, coping with isolation has been the hardest challenge of these times. But some of us have had to adapt to the loss of isolation. With four school-age children and a husband who worked long hours and travelled extensively, I was used to spending long days, and long evenings, alone in my own world. And I loved it. Now I have a house full of noisy people, twenty-four hours a day, all needing a lot of attention. Not to mention home-schooling. And it’s wonderful too, so much so that I feel guilty about all the terrible things happening in the outside world when we are safe in our family bubble. But finding time to write is a challenge.
Before corona hit, I was finishing the edits on my fourth novel, and at the exciting stage where I had just come up with the concept for my fifth book and ready to get started. Then I was suddenly thrust into this new and very confined world. It’s difficult to get into the right headspace for novel-writing when you can only snatch a few minutes to yourself here and there – you really need long stretches alone to think. But even for writers without children, concentrating is a challenge at the moment.
Are you finding it hard to focus on reading a book? To tear yourself away from the news, from social media?
Low-level yet constant anxiety has become a way of life for everyone. When you’re living with such uncertainty, worrying about vulnerable family members, friends losing their jobs, wondering when this will be over and what the world will be like afterwards…
I found an experimental strategy to keep myself writing. I decided to start writing my new novel as a serial, and to let readers experience the process in real-time. I post two new chapters every week on my website, bite-size so readers have time to read them, and I have time to write them! Readers can even interact if they wish, by adding comments and suggestions. This concept actually works perfectly for the dystopian theme of the book, and I have been using a variety of media to tell the story, including audio files, images, video and letters.
I do feel a little reckless, posting my unedited work for readers to see, but it has also been liberating and confidence-building. Most importantly, putting that pressure on myself means that I have to get the words down every day. I try and wake up an hour before the kids, and if I still need more time, I suggest that we all have a reading and writing hour after lunch.
I’m aware that none of this makes financial sense. I may be shooting myself in the foot by making a whole book available for free when I could have waited and published traditionally. But I don’t think I would have had the discipline or concentration to write during this period otherwise. And I wanted to offer something, however small, to readers who might just need an extra little activity in their day.
Nobody should feel they have to achieve things during this time of corona. It’s ok to just be – to stay safe, spend time with family, read and relax. But my personal coping strategy has been to create a little something every day. And I have to admit that one of the things I’m looking forward to most when this is over is to spend a day alone!
Welcome, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the latest members of my Author/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club.
The Rainbow Support Club endeavours to provide a friendly and welcoming community of like-minded bloggers, book reviewers and authors who support each other in every which way we can to promote and nurture our love of books, and writing.
First up to Team Awesome is Colleen Chesebro. Colleen is a totally supportive angel, and I’d like to nominate her as person extraordinaire of the club! I can vouch for Colleen’s worthiness, and angelic qualities as she is currently helping me with my manuscript – The Curse of Time – and doing an amazing job. 🙂 Author, Colleen Chesebro has recently released her first book: The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy, which I had the delight of reading and reviewing recently: My 5 * Review of The Heartstone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy by Colleen Chesebro. She has an awesome blog which I strongly advise you to follow: https://colleenchesebro.com/. Colleen and I have become great friends and have discovered that we have a wealth of shared interests. I enjoy joining in with her weekly Tanka Challenge so much: https://colleenchesebro.com/category/tanka-tuesday/.
Colleen is happy to help other authors by sharing their writing, editing, etc, and also will support them with posts about new book releases. In other words, if these lovely peeps write about writing, she will gladly take guest posts from them. Colleen strongly believes that writing about your own experiences helps other authors learn.
Colleen is an experienced book reviewer, but due to her huge TBR pile she is unable to take on any further reviews at present but her reviews to date are accessible via this link: Colleen Chesebro Reviews. Colleen shares lots of interesting and informative material under the heading: Authors Supporting Authors, and also has a second blog: A Mindful Journey which is full of tips about weight loss, and balance in life so do investigate to find out more.
Karen Oberlaenderis my next member, Karen is a dedicated reader and book blogger who blogsat: My Train of Thoughts On. Karen writes about her favourite quotes, the word of the day, ten statements from authors and has a section where you can add your book review blog to her website: Add Your Blog – Book Reviewers
Her personal motto is:
Smile! Don’t look back in anger.
Her first book – ‘In a Small Compass, Vol. 1’ comprises 15 contemporary short fiction stories with paranormal streaks which take you on a journey to Boston, Dublin, Dundrum, Galway, Heidelberg, London, Munich, Nuremberg, Skerries, and other places.
In a Small Compass, Vol. 1 is currently available on Smashwords:
Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the author of Young Adult, African-American Literature and Poetry. The author of nine books, most notably The Stella Trilogy, Yecheilyah is also a Blogger and Book Reviewer and offers free Author Services through her blog: The PBS Blog Author Services. Yecheilyah is currently working on her next book series, “The Nora White Story. Yecheilyah Ysrayl blogs at PBS – Pearls Before Swine: The PBS Blog: To Support An Author. She reviews books on her blog, and adds these books to the Indie Author Page of her blog, and promotes author’s books through her email list. All for free. The PBS Blog: Free Author Services.
Author Allan Hudson supports many of his author friends on his blog by hosting guest author opportunities at his blog South Branch Scribbler. Allan has written: Dark Side of A Promise, Shorts: Volume 1 – four tantalising stories, and Shorts: Volume 2 – five tantalising tales, and Shorts: Volume 3 – Five tantalising tales. He believes as I do that ‘We are all in this together,’ and he ‘enjoys helping other writers find a new audience.’ Allan blogs at: www.southbranchscribbler.ca.
Vashti Q blogs at The Writer Next Door. Vashti is very friendly and oh so chatty and I always get the feeling that she really is the girl next door! Vashti takes part in many of my favourite link ups and shares my love of haiku. She enjoys doing author interviews, book/author spotlights, cover reveals and feature book releases. Her novel The Basement (Suspense/Thriller,) is aimed at the pre-teen/teen audience. To discover more about her writing follow the link: About The Basement.
Mathematics is all around us. We use it every day for a wide range of purposes; from deciding on the sequence…
Annika Perry and I have been supporting each other for a good long while and have become blogging friends. She has a lovely, friendly blog which I urge you to follow. Her ‘interests include books,’ and ‘she is an avid reader with a book or two constantly on the go.’ In her words: ‘Life without books would seem unbearable.’ I couldn’t agree more!!
Annika’slove of books is evident in the depth of thought that goes into her excellent book reviews, so do pop over to her blog to find out more:
Author Elise E. Rawls Author of Bleeding Heart – A collection of faith-based short stories/poems/riddles by the author about life’s journey, wonder and trial.Every writing is a little story taking you somewhere. Elise is also in the final proofreading stage with regards to her Science Fiction & Fantasy / Speculative Fiction entitled Strayborn, Book #1 (V. Chronicles.) and has written an amusing personal account: Revising A Manuscript is Like Cleaning A Castle. Elise has been known to promote authors by doing author interviews on her blog. She offers this opportunity to (fantasy and sci-fi genres, and books that are clean reads). Follow the link to find out more: Author Interviews. Also, she hosts guest posts about fantasy, sci-fi, and writing topics, Guest Posts, Book Reveals, and Musing Reviews.
Phew… quite a few folks have now signed up for the club!!! In fact, I had to make sure that I didn’t forget anyone… I hope I didn’t – if I did I apologise profusely. It’s because my old brain cells don’t work as well as they used to, so if I have missed anyone out please don’t hesitate to give me a good old nudge!
In total, we now have 21 awesome members, including me! LOL !!
Kyrosmagica blog continues to support authors in whatever way I can by writing reviews, author/blogger spotlights and interviews, so please don’t be shy, do get in touch if you’d like to be featured on Kyrosmagica.
If you’d like to join the group and feature on my next listing please do get in touch by leaving a message here or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is such a pleasure to extend a hearty Kyrosmagica Welcome to my good friend, author, blogger, Hugh W. Roberts.
Hugh W. Robert’s debut short story book Glimpses has just been launched in time for Christmas. Isn’t that just too wonderful for words? You can see from Hugh’s face that he is speechless. But, I’ll be coaxing him with lots and lots of questions and Hugh will be spilling the beans on what it’s like to hold a copy of your very first book.
Hugh, unfold those arms…. and proudly take a copy in your hands.
Here it is in all its loveliness, isn’t that cover just so eye-catching? Excuse the pun. But it really is. I do so love a pretty book cover.
Glimpses – Synopsis
After publishing some of his short stories on his blog, Hugh W. Roberts, who suffers from dyslexia, received numerous requests to publish his short stories in a book.
Here, at last, are 28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns.
‘Glimpses’ allows the reader a peek into the lives of everyday people who are about to have life lead them on an unpredicted path. From a mysterious deadly iPad app, to a hole in the fence that is not all it seems, to a strange lipstick that appears to have a life of its own, you will encounter terror, laughter, sadness, shock and many other emotions on journeys which promise a thrilling and gripping climax.
If you are a lover of shows such as ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’, then you’re in for a real treat with this first collection of short stories from Hugh.
Dare you take a glimpse into the lives of these unsuspecting characters?
Author Question time….
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: Who is author, (isn’t that exciting!) Hugh W Roberts?
I’m a 50 something dyslexic man who recently moved back to my homeland, Wales. I live with my civil partner, John, (we’ve been together for 23 years and became civil partners in 2006) and our Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Toby. We now live in Swansea, but during my life I have lived in various parts of the UK, including London where I lived for 27 years. I’m retired and spend most of my time writing. I also enjoy photography, walking, cycling, food, watching TV, and the odd glass or two of red wine.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: How did you feel when you held your book Glimpses for the first time?
It was an amazing feeling. Unfortunately, I was the only one in the house when it arrived, but I could not stop myself from opening the package and seeing my book. Seeing your name on the front cover of the book you’ve worked so hard on is one of the best experiences of my life. From the title of an ABBA song, ‘I had a dream,’ as a young child I had a dream to write a book. Being dyslexic stopped me, but when I discovered the world of blogging in 2014, my dream opened a new door.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: I love your book cover art, Hugh, what made you choose this particular design?
George, my book cover designer, was introduced to me by Geoff Le Pard. I had all sorts of crazy ideas of what I wanted on the cover, but George came up with the idea of a bookcase and an eye which completely captured the idea of the title of the book. I loved it, and all the ideas I had were shot down. I’ve had fantastic comments about the cover. I only hope that the book can carry on and get the same praise.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: Tell me all about the writing process that culminated in Glimpses.
It started back in April 2014 when I published my first short story on my blog. The story, ‘Last Train to Aldwych’, is the first story in the book. It got some amazing comments and I was asked to write some more. Gradually, I built up over 30 more, but it wasn’t until my short story ‘The Truth App, went viral that the idea of putting all the stories into a book came to me. Yes, people had asked me if I was going to publish the stories in a book, but I honestly thought people were just being polite. How wrong I was.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: I believe there are 28 stories in various genres, what made you write such an eclectic mix?
Like my blog, I wanted the stories to be a variety of genres. Most of them show the dark side of my writing, but that doesn’t mean to say I had to stick to writing horror or supernatural stories.
I weaved my trademark ‘unexpected ending’s into drama, comedy and fantasy and people loved them. I’ve always believed that variety is the spice of life, so I’m hoping the book will appeal to lots of people and not just those who stick to a certain genre.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: Are you a plotter or a pantser? What style suits you best and why?
Without a doubt, I’m a panster. Sometimes, I know what the ending of a story is going to be and I then go about writing it from the end to the start. However, most of the stories I have written start with an idea and I’ve no idea where the story is going to take me. For example, ‘The Truth App’, was meant to be a short story of around 1,200 words, but I ended up writing another nine parts which I published on a weekly basis because readers had such a big appetite for it. During those nine weeks, I had no idea where the story was going until it finally concluded in part 10.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: Has blogging influenced your writing style?
Yes. If it wasn’t for blogging then I would have never written any of the short stories in Glimpses, let alone all those posts over on my blog. I owe blogging a lot and will be forever grateful for the turn in direction it offered me.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: I’d love to find out more about some of the stories included. Do you have a favourite snippet you could share?
That’s a tough question, Marje. A favourite? Well, as it’s you, here’s a snippet from a story I wrote as part of a writing challenge I participated in. The challenge was a photo of a big old wooden chest and participants were asked to write a piece of fiction or poem about it. I called the story ‘Gloria’s Chest.’ I wonder if you can guess where the story is going?
Let me take you on a journey to a magical place. This is a place where many come. Some even make a return visit. It’s a beautiful location and a place where you will receive the friendliest of welcomes.
Meet Gloria. Isn’t she beautiful? Look at those deep blue eyes and her lovely long, white dress. It’s made from paper. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s the softest paper you’ll ever find.
What’s that? Oh, I thought you’d ask about that. The gem stone that hangs from the chain around Gloria’s neck is the Swarthmore stone. It’s believed to have been unearthed in the year 1568, in the Furness area of the county of Cumbria, in north west England. Everybody that comes here asks about it.
Let’s follow Gloria. She has something very important she wants to show you. While we walk please feel free to admire the surroundings and take in the relaxing atmosphere. I promise you that you’ll never see such a beautiful place as the one you are in right now.
Is Gloria a ghost? No, I can assure you she’s not. She’s exactly the same as you and me. I know it looks as if she’s floating, but she’s real. Can you hear the beautiful singing? It’s Gloria who is singing. It’s one of her favourite Beatles songs. She’s happy today that you’ve come to visit her.
Here we are at our final destination. Everything you see here is just as real as what you’ve already seen. I know that old chest looks out of place, but it’s what Gloria wants to show you. Please step forward and stand next to her and she’ll open the lid.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: Hugh, that’s such an extraordinarily enticing snippet and your photos are so amusing! But, it’s time for another question…
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: Which character from your stories are you most proud of and why?
I love all of them, but if I had to pick one then it would be ‘Rusty Balls’ from my story ‘Rusty’. Rusty is not who you think she is and was created from another writing challenge I participated in. I can’t remember what the prompt was but it may have been to write about something that was not all it seemed to be. I don’t think anyone could dislike Rusty (the person). When you read the story, you may feel very sorry for her, but Rusty is a determined lady and she’ll do all she can to carry on being the star of the show. People love her because she makes them laugh and forget about the parts of everyday life that we all often find ourselves in and wish we could be away from. I’ve been asked to bring Rusty back into some more stories. It’s something I’m working on.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: Rusty sounds fantastic, can’t wait to read about her…
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: Like all writers you must have met the odd brick wall of frustration from time to time. How did you deal with it?
I get up and go for a walk. I’ll go and watch TV, or read. What I don’t do is get all frustrated and angry about it. It happens to all writers but, for me, getting angry and shouting and screaming about it is negative and I’m a firm believer than negativity leads to even more negativity. It’s probably easy for me to say because I’ve always been a positive person, but I find taking a break away from writing usually helps oil the creativity clogs and, before I know it, they’re turning again.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: Promotion – Harrods have named their Christmas bear after you. What an honour wouldn’t you agree?
Well, I’d love to think this year’s Harrods Christmas Bear was named after me but, truth be known, I rather think somebody in their marketing department probably has a son, nephew, dad, uncle, or granddad named Hugh. When I first heard, he was called Hugh, I thought the person telling me was having a joke, but then my partner got the bear for me and, sure enough, his tag says ‘Hugh’. Yes, quite an honour, especially as it’s happened the same year that I have published my first book.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: Tell me about inspiration, perhaps certain authors or individuals have inspired you, do tell.
I’ve already mentioned writing challenges and most do inspire me to write. In fact, I also believe they can help when it comes to overcoming writer’s block. I love looking at photographs because I can often see a story hidden within them. If I had to choose an author who inspired me then it would be Armistead Mauplin who wrote the ‘Tales of the City’ series. Rod Serling, creator of ‘The Twilight Zone’ is also somebody who inspires my writing and whom I admire.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: I hear that you are a big fan of Christmas, the Harrods’s bear, told me! Was it your intention to publish during the festive season?
Yes, big time. I’ve always enjoyed the festive season. December is my favourite month and I was determined to publish my first book during it.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: As a dyslexic writer what would you say to fellow dyslexic creatives considering publishing a book?
Don’t allow dyslexia to stop you from writing and publishing a book. I allowed it to stop me from writing for far too long. There are many reasons why I did that, but there is so much support and encouragement out there for people with dyslexia to write Anybody with the condition should never be afraid in showing off their writing. Once you do it, not only will you amaze yourself, but you’ll be an encouragement to other dyslexic writers and will help them in pursuing their dreams of becoming a writer.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica: What advice would you give to bloggers contemplating joining in the next Bloggers Bash?
Don’t be afraid in coming to the event. It’s great making friends online, but nothing beats meeting fellow bloggers for the first time and giving them a hug. I think we should have the bloggers bash at least twice a year, but don’t tell the other committee members that!
Great answers Hugh, and I agree so much with your last two comments, don’t let anything stop you writing and we definitely should make the Bloggers Bash, a biannual event.