I enjoy taking part in 5 at the Mic @ Charli Mills Carrot Ranch Literary Community. It’s a great way to gain experience of reading your writing aloud! It’s a bit embarrassing too – you see all your flaws, etc, etc, and weird mannerisms! But, no matter… I can live with that.
The videos feature Ellen Best, D. Avery, Anne Goodwin, Paula Moyer, Susan Spitulnik, Bill Engelson, myself and Susan Budig.
Thanks so much to Sally for this wonderful author update. My poetry collection, Mr. Sagittarius with its latest review from Ruchira is shared along with great books from C. S. Boyack and Elizabeth Merry.
Ritu and I have met on several occasions at Blogging Bashes in London and we ‘clicked’ just as much in person as we do in our lovely ‘online,’ friendship.
So welcome Sis! When Ritu knew I was offering fellow writers a chance to join the online discussion about COVID19 – this crazy world we find ourselves in, she jumped at the chance.
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 Ritu coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is Ritu’s answer:
Coronavirus. COVID-19. Unprecendented. Social Distancing. Quarantine. Self-Isolation. Lockdown.
These are all words we have heard countless times in the last few weeks. What have they done? Brought a wave of panic into your life? Or are you someone who has taken to it rather calmly? Well, for me, it’s been a bit like this. When we first heard about this strange virus, schools were still open, yet I had students going off sick with mysterious illnesses for a week to ten days at a time. Then the government called for school closures, followed by social distancing, and the UK version of Lockdown. I say UK version because, though all non-essential businesses have been closed, we are still allowed out to exercise once a day, go shopping for food, and schools still need us teachers, but in a different capacity; as carers for the children of Keyworkers.
Once I got over the initial worry and shock of what was happening, I got excited. This meant more time for me to get creative, when I was home. Book two has been started but had been languishing for a couple of months, as the business of daily life took its toll. But, just because you have time, doesn’t mean you automatically switch to the creator of four thousand words a day – well, that doesn’t happen to me, anyway. My creativity has been hit-and-miss to be honest. I thought all this time would mean I could write, do some courses I signed up for but never got a chance to access, more promotion, lots of reading…
The reality has been quite different.
To start with, I am in school on a rota system, so I could be in for one or two days, but I don’t know more than a week in advance. And there is the joy of having both kids and Hubby Dearest at home as well, so no time was distraction-free time either.
I sit with my laptop open on one of my home days, WIP loaded up, ready to write up a storm. Nothing comes. I open a book to read. But I can’t get into it and put it down after a few pages. Then I remember those courses. So, I manage another couple of modules on a creative writing course. But no words. After the first ten days, we were in official Easter holiday mode. Technically no different to the last few days, but I felt, mentally, that I was on a break. I discovered online writing sprints on several Facebook groups that helped, and in a few days, I did double my wordcount.
The joy to read came back.
But then official term started again.
And I have now got online learning to do for school too, to justify us all being at home, even though we are still planning work for our children to do at home. As well as still needing to go in periodically.
Another killjoy to my writing spree.
I’m trying to be practical still have work, but I need my play too, which involves reading and writing. So, I have taken time to re-plan and structure my WIP, and while doing that, I have got my juices flowing, again, I think. My aim is to do school-based work in the mornings and use after lunch time to look at my creative projects, be it writing, courses or research for the WIP. The evening is filled with family time, walks, cooking, reading, watching films and TV, and if I feel inspired, a little more writing time. I’m under no illusions. At one point I thought I would end this period with a mainly finished first draft, but I don’t think that will happen. I’ve had up days, days where I have felt productive in all areas of my quiet life, then there have been days where I have barely wanted to leave my bed.
Those days are the days that suck my creative well dry. The days I watch the news and the world gives me nothing to be hopeful about. The days I had that call or message to say a loved one was ill, or had passed away (twice, so far). Still, I’m just thankful that I am okay, we are all healthy, and that, in itself, is the biggest thing. I’ll keep trying to write, but I won’t beat myself up if nothing comes. These are crazy times. Messing with our heads. If I can’t write my own words, I’ll read others. I’ll teach myself new things to make my words, when they do come, better.
But I won’t stop trying to write.
(Oh, and I discovered TikTok! Heaven help us all!)
Author Bio Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her. From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.
Welcome to Sharon Marchisello 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 Sharon coping with this enforced isolation?
Here’s her answer:
Thoughts About Isolation
I’m supposed to be on a cruise right now. But instead of lounging on our balcony, scanning the waves for dolphins and watching the sun sink below the horizon as the ship glides across the Atlantic, we’re watching the sun set behind the pine trees in our own backyard. First-world suffering, I know. We’re healthy and have plenty to eat; we even have enough toilet paper. We live in a community with an extensive network of golf-cart paths, and these remain open so residents have access to fresh air and exercise.
Another positive: we’re getting our house painted. We’ve been trying for several years to accomplish this task, but the contractors are always so busy. No one calls you back. In the past, we’ve even had painters come over and give us an estimate, schedule a date to get started, and then never show up. But now, they’re hungry for work. People are losing their jobs and putting off discretionary expenses—like home projects. Contractors are happy to negotiate with anyone who can still afford their services.
I’ve been retired since 2015, and like many writers, I’m an introvert, so staying home every day staring at my computer is normal. State-imposed isolation is almost welcome—it’s a good excuse to not have to go anywhere. What has changed about my life is my participation in extracurricular writer and volunteer activities, which used to occupy a lot of my time. I’m on the board of directors for the Fayette Humane Society; our meetings now take place on Zoom. We’ve canceled our public pet adoptions and fundraising events. Neither my book club nor my critique group has met for two months. My husband and I both are Master Gardener volunteers; our projects are all on hold, and our homeowner enrichment classes and team meetings now take place on Zoom. So, I’m saving travel time but I’m not sure I’m getting much more accomplished writing-wise or around the house. And in an online meeting, I don’t feel as connected as I do when we meet face to face.
When I started the blog at the end of 2015, I thought I’d publish once a week. That quickly changed to biweekly. Then a little less often than biweekly; soon it was more like monthly. And then it was just whenever I felt I had something to say. Since the pandemic started, I’ve been posting much more frequently; there’s a lot to say now. The economic fallout from this global pandemic might prove worse than the health crisis. Many of the principles I write about in my book—building an emergency fund, allocating investments among different asset types, conserving resources, looking for opportunities whether the market is up or down—are relevant now more than ever.
My publisher released my latest novel, Secrets of the Galapagos, just before the pandemic.
The usual occasions for connecting with new readers–conferences, signings in bookstores, talks in libraries—have all been canceled or postponed. Amazon has designated selling books as nonessential. I haven’t even held a launch party yet. Again, a selfish inconvenience. People are dying, families can’t pay their bills, and I’m fretting about lost book sales.
Here are the buy links for the Secrets of The Galapagos:
My emotions during this surreal period have been mixed. On one hand, I feel a heartwarming sense of solidarity with people all over the world who are experiencing the same fears and isolation, trying to adjust to the ever-changing norms of social distancing and personal protection. On the other hand, I’m frustrated by the constant bickering and politicizing of the crisis, the conflicting messages we get from leadership and the media. We’re making this up as we go along, acting on the best information we have at the time. It’s easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback, sit home and criticize the authorities for what they should or shouldn’t have done, for overreacting or for not acting soon or decisively enough. We could get through this crisis better if everyone would cut each other some slack and come together. One can only hope…
BIO: Sharon Marchisello is the author of two mysteries published by Sunbury Press: Going Home (2014) and Secrets of the Galapagos (2019).
Going Home is a whodunit inspired by her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, which prompted her to wonder what it would be like to interview a witness or a suspect who couldn’t rely on her memory. Secrets of the Galapagos is a mystery with a touch of romance set on a luxury cruise ship exploring the Galapagos islands. Her other publications include travel articles, corporate training manuals, short stories, book reviews, the blog Countdown to Financial Fitness, and a nonfiction book about personal finance, Live Well, Grow Wealth. She earned a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is an active member of Sisters in Crime. Retired from a 27-year career with Delta Air Lines, she now lives in Georgia and does volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society.
Welcome to Jackie Carreira, my next guest on my new feature – isolation for writers, creatives, artists and book bloggers. 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 award winning author, playwright, world citizen and huge movie fan Jackie Carreira coping with this enforced isolation?
Is she taking a leap of faith?
AN AUTHOR IN ISOLATION – Jackie Carreira
The day the lockdown began in the UK, I posted a comment on Twitter. It said: “I’m a writer. I self-isolate for a living!” In retrospect, that might have been a little trite; even unhelpful to those who are genuinely struggling with isolation, but the statement is true in essence. I’m used to spending days, even weeks sometimes, barely leaving the house. I even enjoy it.
What has changed? The answer is: Everything – but it took me a while to notice. For the first few days, I carried on working on a new novel as well as a couple of precious magazine commissions, but very soon found that I couldn’t write anymore. The planned projects, and even some new ideas, were still up there in my head, but I couldn’t get them out. It was impossible to focus and I didn’t understand why.
My husband is an actor. I’m used to him being at home when he’s ‘resting’ so it hasn’t been difficult having him around all the time since the theatres closed. We’re an unusual married couple, though. We actually enjoy each other’s company for extended periods of time! We have no children so the schools being closed made no difference, and earning an insecure living from the arts, we know how to be frugal and make cutbacks when needed. When most of our income vanished at the end of March, we turned the heating down to 15 degrees, put a big jumper on, and stopped throwing away that last piece of bread in the packet. On the upside, we’re saving a fortune in petrol and socialising, and every day I’m grateful that our lives are not tougher.
So, why couldn’t I write? I couldn’t work out what I was doing with all the extra hours, because I certainly wasn’t using them to sleep. I didn’t spend them cleaning the house either! However, I was speaking to people online and on the phone more, and that was an unexpected bonus. Friends I hadn’t spoken to for years were suddenly back in my life. The excuse of being too busy was gone and it was wonderful to reconnect.
Then a couple of weeks ago, on the first sunny day in ages, I had a breakthrough…
“That’s it!” I thought. “We’re all connected.” Somehow, we all know it but we so rarely get a chance to feel it. In these strange times, with planes grounded and factories closed and the streets eerily quiet, I was able to feel it in a new way. I knew that I had no personal reason to feel as anxious as those who are in far worse situations, and I wasn’t being overwhelmed by the extra responsibility that others now had, but we’re all connected because we’re all part of the human tribe. And, possibly for the first time in history, just about everyone on the planet is going through the same thing at the same time. It’s extraordinary. Maybe some of what I was feeling didn’t belong to me at all. I was simply picking it up from this human web that we’re all sitting on.
Armed with this thought, and being fortunate enough to have a garden, I took a new pad and a fresh cup of coffee and went outside. Perhaps all I had to do was START. After all, that was the only thing I wasn’t doing. I’m a huge movie fan and never tire of watching my favourites over and over. I remembered a scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… if you haven’t seen it, there’s a spoiler coming up! Near the end of the film, Indiana Jones is faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. He’s on one side of a huge chasm, too wide to jump. He must get to the other side to reach the Holy Grail and save his father’s life, but it looks impossible. Suddenly, he understands that it’s a leap of faith. He has to believe or all is lost. So, he closes his eyes, puts out a foot, and takes a big step onto…a bridge made of the same stone as the chasm! It’s totally solid. He leans over and looks from a different angle, realising that the bridge had been there the whole time. He just couldn’t see it from where he first stood. (A dramatic analogy, I must admit, but then I do also write plays for a living!)
Back in the garden, I took my own small leap of faith, hoping that something might come out if I just start. I put the pen to the paper and began writing anything that came into my head. It was just rough notes at first, then the notes turned into prose, then a whole chapter…and before I knew it, I was a writer again. It was such a relief. I’ve since been in contact with other writers to ask how it’s been for them. Some had been writing more, most had been writing less, for a few it had been business as usual. Interestingly, I discovered that many of those who had started off writing less after the lockdown had also had some kind of breakthrough around the exact same time that I did. Did I cause it, or did they? It doesn’t matter. We truly are all connected. I wasn’t alone.
You might be wondering how on earth this helps anyone who’s not a writer. Well, writing isn’t just my job, it’s what I love to do the most. And spending time doing what I love is the best coping mechanism I have. I would recommend it to anybody struggling with this lockdown, not knowing how to lift themselves out of the fog of it all. Switch off the news for a while and pick up something connected to what you love to do: a pen, a baking tray, a trowel, a paintbrush, a book to read to a child, a phone to call your best friend. Whatever it is, just take a leap of faith – find a way to start and then do as much of it as you can, when you can. Inspire yourself and you can inspire another. We truly are all connected. Put a tiny piece of what you love onto that web. It already has enough of everything else.
Stay safe. Stay well.
A SHORT BIOG: Jackie Carreira is an award-winning novelist, playwright, musician, designer, and co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company. She has twice been a winner of the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Writing. Originally a council-house-kid from Hackney, East London, she now lives a million miles away in Suffolk, England, with an actor, two cats, and more books than she can read in four lifetimes. She is currently working on her third novel (due for release in 2021, if a virus doesn’t get her first!) and is a proud patron of Halesworth Library.
What a fascinating interview with Jackie. Her thoughts mirror my own in so many ways.
I am so glad I started this series on Isolation during COVID19, it has given me focus and a sense of purpose to help promote and share fellow writers and authors during this time. And I am discovering new authors to read! Awesome, smiling.
I will be continuing with the series until my YA fantasy is ready to complete. It is currently with final beta readers.
Last year in May my daughters and I went to Montreal and treated ourselves to salon nail gels.
So, we thought as we’re in Lockdown why not do it this at home instead? We clubbed together to buy a gel nail set from Amazon complete with nail gel polish, base, and top coat.
Saturday 4th April we cheered ourselves up, by painting our nails.
It wasn’t quite salon luxury – I donned the necessary hygiene accessories: gloves, disinfectant wipes to clean, a fresh sheet of newspaper for each person, etc, and we were ready to go. (Don’t do this at home if anyone is ill – i.e. has a cough, sore throat or any symptoms of Coronavirus, or if you are at high risk of getting the virus, or have serious underlying health conditions.)
I pretended I was a professional! And we had a good laugh. We even joked with my hubby that he could have a go to but he declined.
When it came to my turn I chose a neon colour, I love jazzy nail shades. Inadvertently, I chose the same brightness of colour I had last year in Montreal, though the shade this time is more pink/red than pink/purple! My eldest daughter went for red and my youngest for a pink, plus she decided to paint one nail on each hand in glitter purple.
They turned out really well and took ages to do, so it’s a great way to spend time!
Poor hubby felt a bit left out. He disappeared in the garden with earphones to listen to music but when he saw our nails he said he thought they were very nice. And, he even said my longer hair, (which I normally get cut every 6 weeks,) suited me.
Later on I skyped mum and dad which really cheered me up too. My dad always says the nicest things – I think he thinks I’m perfect! Lol, so if I ever need a boost to my ego all I need is a five minute chat with him. Mum and dad are both staying fairly cheerful considering everything. Bless them.
A Frightening Dream
Last night I had the most frightening dream. I was on campus somewhere, (a mature student!) and these three young lads terrorised me, (one was only fifteen,) as I walked home one night, They taunted me with sexual innuendos and followed me all the way to my bus stop. Then they sat near me on the bus home. I was terrified that they were planning to get off at the same stop as me. By chance a friend of mine joined me on the bus, and they started chatting to her as if everything was normal. I asked her to move with me to the back of the bus, so I could tell her what happened without them hearing. She seemed a bit surprised by my request but did as I asked. As soon as we were seated I explained what had happened – how they had been suggestive, threatening and lewd. She was shocked to hear that. We were so relieved when they got off the bus before us.
If I was analysing this dream I’d say it shows the depth of my anxiety and uncertainty about life at the moment. We have no idea how long Lockdown will continue, how many people will become infected, or how many will die. It is so unsettling, upsetting and disturbing.
So, it’s even more important to focus on those things that will lift your mood and take your mind off the situation. Whatever makes you happy – whether it is pottering in the garden, drawing and painting, watching TV, reading a book, keeping fit, caring for your house plants, meditating, or painting your nails! Everything that makes you happy is so important right now.
From Richard Dees who is in self isolation in Devon – all his daughters are in the nursing profession – one daughter is a midwife, another one is a nurse in ITU, (her husband is a consultant,) and daughter three is in her third year nursing training. Do pop over to his blog to say hello. He has some books on sale: https:///another-week-has-passed/
Last day of Anne Allen’s promo #booklovers Bargain! The Guernsey Novels Books 1-3 boxset only 99p/99c until 5/4/20 drama/love/mystery on a beautiful island https://books2read.com/TheGuernseyNovels1-3 @AnneAllen21 #guernseynovels
I had a wonderful weekend at the SCBWI conference in Winchester and thought I’d share my experience with you.
It was a first time for me and I have to say it was such an amazing conference.
For newbies there is a wealth of support, including a SCBWI Newbies & Lone Rangers Facebook group which I joined a bit late, so here’s the link: Newbies & Lone Rangers SCBWI group
On the first day of the conference, Friday 1st of November, there were arrangements to meet up and gather newbies together to help them out. Unfortunately, I missed the earlier part of these, as I struggled to find my airbnb which was a little out of the centre of Winchester but I did catch up with the newbie crowd later at 5pm.
TIP: book your accommodation early and try to find a hotel, or airbnb in the centre of Winchester.
It’s a full-on conference with so many seminars and talks plus the invaluable one-to-ones with agents too.
TIP: keep an eye on your one-to-one times. If like me you get really engrossed listening to a speaker talking about i.e. your first page of your manuscript you might just miss your all important one-to-one like I did! That was so embarrassing! But, the lovely conference organisers managed to reschedule my one-to-one with agent Catherine Pellegrino who (was lovely.) We chatted after I’d sneaked away for a much needed calming down/don’t panic lunch. And wonder of wonders Catherine said that she liked my writing style and my characters, so I am submitting the first few chapters of my first novel and synopsis to her soon. Wish me luck!
All the conference goers, helpers, etc… are so friendly that it is easy to make new friends wherever you go and you might even find yourself dining with fellow authors you’ve never met before as I did prior to the fancy dress party on Saturday night. That was such fun! I love dressing up… I went as the black cat Shadow in my book.
TIP: talk to everyone!
Highlights for me were:
The Hook which was judged by the following agents: Amber Caraveo (Skylark,) Megan Carroll (Watson Little,) Gemma Cooper (The Bent Agency,) and Clare Wallace, (Darley Anderson.) They are looking for submissions particularly in the YA romance category.
All four hook contestants were amazing but my two favourites were YA authors: Helen MacKenzie SCBWI Scotland who was in my Friday night critique group (and she won first prize,) and Ellie Rose McKee.
I have come away with lots of positive vibes about the conference and the experience in general. Oh, and Winchester itself was a lovely place to visit, but the weather could have been better! Here I am looking particularly windswept and wet waiting for a bus…
Wait a minute… across from the bus stop I spotted this tree with its lovely heart.
Anyone can join in today’s party but there are a few guidelines if you want to take part in the read and review….
1. Buy a fellow member’s book. Read and review between 1st of December and 6th January and share on Amazon, Goodreads, and your blog if you have one. Link your review to your blog post party when you have completed it.
2. Share your blog post and reviews on Twitter using the hashtag #ABRSC
3. Try if possible to review someone’s book you haven’t read before or in a different genre from one you would normally read.
4. Link back to the last person who joins the party. So we have a chain effect of party goers! Don’t forget to bring music, cake and lots of cheer! Remember to include any Christmas news you wish to share.
5. You can buy and read more than one book if you want.
6. Write reviews that are fair but honest. Apply a star rating, and write as long or short a review as you wish.
7. Choose a date between 2nd December and 6th January to write your blog/review post and add it to the comments below. Select a person to review and the name of their book, add these to the comments below so we don’t get duplicate people being reviewed more than twice. One member per review. Please review #ABRSC members or honorary members (e.g. super supportive bloggers like Hugh https://hughsviewsandnews.com/.) If in doubt get in touch with me, Debby or Colleen – click on their photos below to see their blog links.
8. You may reblog other members posts on your blog if you wish, this may encourage new people to join the club which would be great!
Please feel free to leave your links below and don’t forget to say if you intend joining in the book review blog hop. Some dates to read and review are filling up so please comment with a few possible dates below.
Love ya! Many thanks, happy first day of Advent.
Bye for now,
My social media links: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club
Fellow Administrators of our Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club #ABRSC on Facebook, myself, my good friends Colleen Chesebro and Debby Gies. Click on Colleen’s and Debby’s photos to be directed to their awesome blogs. These ladies rock!