Monday, 29 September 2014

The Power of Storytelling

When I tell people I study creative writing, they usually respond that it must be a nice hobby. While I do enjoy creative writing, I have never seen it as just a hobby. It annoys me they consider it a frivolous activity to study because they assume it does not have a practical use in our society. 

That's not the case. Storytelling performs many important functions. For example, the narratives of the Aboriginal peoples played an integral role in bringing the Stolen Generations to the forefront of Australian consciousness. Storytelling is also valued in business, politics and in human rights campaigns. 

The ability to tell a good story is a part of what makes us human. It shows that vulnerability is a necessary part of dealing with our emotions, and it provides a window into the souls of those who are different from us. 

Stories are important. And that goes for romance as well.
What does this mean for romance fiction? What does it mean for all fiction written to entertain? Watch this short video about a man who found a life for himself through Star Trek.

It’s a touching scene. Like all popular genres, science fiction is meant to be entertaining. However, the power within it lies in the ability of storytelling to facilitate emotional connection. We connect with each other through story.
Romance as a genre is uniquely placed to convey the emotional connection of storytelling.
Think about Anne Gracie’s work. I’m not sure how many books she has published but her readers are devoted. Many of them say her stories are important because they add value to their own lives. Scroll down to the fifth myth on this page

Whether or not stories are meant to entertain, they are important; they convey representations of our dreams, our fears and our fantasies in the past, present and future.
What do you think?
Are your personal stories important? What book or story have you read recently that has had an impact on you or someone else? Imagine a world without storytelling or romance fiction. What would it be like? 

Love to love: eating icing out of the bowl.

Love to laugh: sitting on a banana peel my son had left on the lounge.

Love to learn: Robert McKee’s Story HarperCollins E-book.


Monday, 22 September 2014

Positives and Perils of the Internet - Part 1

with Enisa Haines

Used to be, when I chose a setting for a story, I'd visit the place to get a clear picture. When I decided on a protagonist's profession, I'd locate a member of that profession and arrange for a face-to-face interview. For anything more, the local library was nearby. Used to be I did a lot of walking.

Then the Internet arrived. Wondrous invention. 

World Wide Web Stock Photo
Image courtesy of digitalart at

A quick touch of my fingers on the computer keyboard was all that was needed to visualise my settings, or learn about my characters' jobs, about the conflicts that could tear them apart. Indeed, via the Internet and the World Wide Web, I could access any information I needed. The world, long a mystery to many, was now revealed to all.

But with good comes bad. Many times I've clicked on a website in pursuit of information, only to be inundated with advertisements that lure me to purchase the 'really-you-must-have' products for sale, and banners that vie for my attention. Occasionally a pop-up will appear advising me that either I will win $10,000 or my computer will be cleaned of the 1000+ dirty files that are slowing it down. All I am requested to do is click on the link.

I ignore the ads and banners. Without a prompt from me, they continue to appear, as if nagging at me to take notice. Frustration rises. Annoyance strikes. I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing I could wipe the ads from the computer screen with a single swipe of my hand.

Curses let loose when I see a pop-up. Fury overwhelms. The $10,000 win is bogus. Warnings abound everywhere telling me this. Daily scans indicate my computer is clean, dirty files non-existent.

More often than not, pop-ups are malware, viruses, or scams and phishing disguised as innocent-appearing ads to lure potential victims into revealing personal details such as identity or bank account numbers.

Paranoia, some might say. Possibly. I was once a victim of credit card fraud so now I'm extra-cautious. And, really, everyone should be. The Internet is rife with hackers and scammers infiltrating websites, blogs, emails and social media, and growing more daring daily.

My worries ease knowing tools for blocking advertisements, banners and pop-ups exist. AdBlock (download cost - donation) is one I recommend. It allows me to surf the Web, read emails, watch a video on YouTube or check a Facebook page without being bombarded by advertising.


To protect against online threat, I downloaded WOT (Web of Trust), a free-download tool amassing the ratings of a multitude of websites. These ratings (votes by a global community of service users) indicate whether a website is safe to use, if it can be trusted with personal information, or if anti-virus companies have blacklisted it.


Now I can focus on my emails or a website or social media worry-free. 

Are there others out there like me? I'd love to hear your stories.

Love to Love - My favourite time of day is night when I gaze up at the moon and wonder if anyone is out there.

hyun america39s star 03 hq pictures
Photo courtesy of at

Love to Laugh - My 'to-be-read pile', or should I say, my 'to-be-read, 3-book-deep, bulging bookcase'. I love to read, but every spare moment, I write. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Love to Learn - I've learned a lot about getting ahead in life via inspirational quotes. One of my favourites is Napoleon Hill's "A goal is a dream with a deadline."

Monday, 15 September 2014

Jumping In At The Deep (POV) End

with Marilyn Forsyth

A lot has been written about Deep Point of View (DPOV) and I think I’ve read most of it in my efforts to create an emotionally fulfilling story. But there is a difference between reading about it and mastering it in your own writing. If you’ve found yourself at sea in that same boat, read on; I may just have located a bailing bucket.

Basically, DPOV and ‘show, don’t tell’ are different sides of the same coin. By employing the DPOV technique you are showing, not telling, thus eliminating author intrusion and delivering that emotional punch we’re all after. The aim is for the reader to experience everything our point-of-view character sees, feels, hears and smells, as he or she experiences those sensations.
'Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader - not the fact it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.'
E. L. Doctorow

The big question is: How?

I’m a huge fan of Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View. It’s a great introduction to DPOV, with tips, examples, and a wealth of exercises to test your new-found understanding of the concept.

However Marcy Kennedy’s Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction (from her 'Busy Writer’s Guides' series) goes that little bit further. Only 52 pages long, it’s jam-packed with practical tips on how to recognise ‘telling’ in your own writing and a guide on how to make the necessary changes (keeping in mind that telling isn’t always wrong). A perfect blend of theory and practice.

Marcy guides you step by step through your work in progress to find where you’ve been telling not showing, using lists of words in different categories (e.g. telling-style dialogue tags, sensory filter words) you should be aware of as indicators of ‘telling’. Genius.

When you purchase the e-book it comes with a password enabling you to print these particular pages. Links to recommended sites are also provided. At around $4.00, it’s a steal.

Do you, like me, experience problems with telling rather than showing? I'd love to know if you've come across any other great books on DPOV or ‘show, don’t tell’. Please feel free to share.

This week I’m:

LOVING my pink giraffe-print onesie. Perfect for cold-weather writing.

LAUGHING out loud at this:

LEARNING more about DPOV.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Inspiration and the Muse Fairy

One of the most common questions authors are asked in interviews is, ‘where do you get your inspiration?’ Or, ‘Where do your ideas come from?’

These are great questions actually and the answer is always different. Inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere in many varied guises. Let’s have a look at a few.


Creative people dream a lot. And it’s not just when they are asleep. Much gazing out of windows is done and believe me it is time usually well spent. Dreams are a rich source of inspiration, unconscious as it may be at the time. The curse, of course, is that sometimes we can’t recall the dream upon waking, but if it is strong and vivid enough the important part of the dream will stay with you, haunt you even, until you write it down.

Stephanie Meyers, author of the Twilight books, has often explained that the inspiration for Twilight came from a dream of a beautiful boy who later became Edward Cullen, the main character in her book.

The News

The News can be a very rich source of information. Articles on people, places, and situations all over the world can be the spark that sets off a new story idea. Stephen King has said reading the newspaper or watching the News on TV has often given him a story idea. What an author does with the information they get from these news articles is the magic part - the ‘what if’ that comes into play.

In quiet places

You will be surprised how many ideas form in the shower, in the car by yourself and in other quiet places. I think it is because you can let go of your other thoughts and set your imagination free. There is a reason why many writers are also walkers. 

 Poems, song lyrics, and quotes

I confess that I have often used lines from poems, song lyrics and quotes as inspiration. When you read a line and your mind starts sparking it is a wonderful thing. When pictures form in your head of a place, a character or a situation that then turns into your story you know you have been blessed by the muse fairy.

Where in your life do you find inspiration?

Love to love - this quote was the inspiration for my current work in progress currently titled 'The Collector of Hearts', where my hero vows never to be a fool in love again.

Love to learn –about how other writers work and get their inspiration. I've just read

A Year of Writing Dangerously, 365 days of Inspiration and Encouragement by Barbara Abercrombie and found it full of gems to keep you going.

Love to laugh – at romantic comedies. One of my favourites is Bridget Jones's Diary.

~ Cassandra Samuels debut book, A Scandalous Wager, will be available for purchase on the 8th of November, 2014 from Escape Publishing and all good e-book retailers.