Posted by Elizabeth Mills Thu, April 03, 2014 12:37:10
Always a late-developer, I didn't learn to swim until I was forced to at the age of forty-something. It was the promise of a free holiday that motivated me, and I learnt with the help of my boss at the time, who taught me in the swimming pool of the hotel where I worked. So, under his guidance, I got to grips with the basics, and conquered my fear, and off we went on the trip to Majorca.
Every day, we would set out in his yacht and find a nice bay to moor, and I would put my new skill into use. But after only a couple of days, I got into difficulties while learning to use a snorkel - put simply, I breathed in a lungful of water and began to panic. I was literally going down for the third and final time when I felt a strong arm supporting me, and my boss's voice telling me to stop struggling. It is true to say that he saved my life.
So much is happening in my life at the moment that this poor old brain of mine is floundering; and though it is not as real as my drowning attempt, it feels as though I am only just keeping my head above water. True to my policy of 'you are never too old to make a fool of yourself', I am busilly learning new things, mostly to do with technology and the internet.
For a start, I have a new book out - 'Natalie Tereshchenko, The Other Side' (see my web page at www.itsliz.net
for more on that) with all the excitement and pressure that are part of the birthing process. Coupled with that, there is also an exciting development in the publishing world that I have been able to experience thanks to Smashwords' founder Mark Coker. Called Scribd, it is a new way for readers to have access to a huge library of e-books, rather in the same way that subscribers to movie networks like Lovefilm can choose from hundreds of films on their computers. Mark has negotiated a deal through which Smashwords authors allow their books to be shared on Scribd, and in return we receive a free first-year membership. This means that my books are now available to a whole new market, and that I can access all the books on Scribd to read on my smartphone or tablet or computer. How cool is that?
On the same day that I was setting up my Scribd account, and finding my way around that new environment, a friend also alerted me to the world of Twitter. So I now have a Twitter account, and I am tweeting like a maniacal canary. I have absolutely no idea what I am doing, but hey, what's new?
Posted by Elizabeth Mills Thu, November 28, 2013 12:26:23
Of course, that's not all I do. I cook and keep house and look after my husband, and I socialise and go shopping and deal with the Town Hall and the utility companies. But it is by my writing that I release my creative urges, and by which I like to be identified. If I could not write I would draw, or play music, both of which I have enjoyed in the past, but writing has proved to be the path by which my inner self finds greatest release.
Writing is not for everyone - the gestation period is often longer than childbirth, the skills to be learnt are as challenging as astronomy or economics, and the rewards as elusive as the Golden Fleece. Besides, there are other talents, and we each have our gifts. I admire people who devote themselves to caring professions - I couldn't do it; I derive pleasure from talented entertainers; I love to ponder good art. Everyone should find their gift and use it, because, if there is any meaning to life, that is what you are here to do.
So, I write. I try to find quiet time each day to concentrate - if I am to do it, I must do it well - and I neglect my housework. Then, when a book is finished, I set it free; I publish it, and wait to see how the world reacts. It reacts with indifference.
Publishing is like watching as a child leaves home. As a parent, I have done all I can; I am not sure it's the right time, I want to wait a little while, to protect it, help it, but I cannot keep it to my bosom any longer, it must make its own way. Afterwards, the house feels empty, and before long I get broody - I need to have another baby - and so it begins again.
Posted by Elizabeth Mills Mon, November 25, 2013 22:12:15
'A Song For Joey' grew organically as I wrote it. So, when sex happened, as it does, I let it flow, as part of the growth of my characters. But that created a duality, a conflict, between the heart of the story - which was the development of popular music told in the life of one young woman - and the readership who would most enjoy it - teens and young adults. Because of the explicit sexual scenes, I had to declare that the book 'includes adult content' and thus disenfranchise my target readership.
After a lot of thought I have carefully removed some of the coarser, more explicit sexual content, while trying to still retain enough reality to the love between my characters. My intention is to open up the book, and I hope I have achieved that balance. It is still quite raunchy in places, but just a tiny bit less graphic.
As a result, I have been able to classify 'A Song For Joey' as Teen/Young Adult, and hope to find a new audience.
Posted by Elizabeth Mills Thu, October 31, 2013 23:11:26
A friend and gifted author, Lauren Scharhag, keeps a blog in which she reviews the work of independent authors; her review of 'Natalie Tereshchenko - Lady in Waiting' is one I treasure. It is hard for me to express how much I admire Lauren, for her tireless work in promoting other authors, for her honesty in her reviews, and for her own books, which are superb.
Her blog is at ... http://www.bluehousereview.blogspot.co.uk/
... I sincerely recommend you to take a look, it will be an enlightening experience.
Posted by Elizabeth Mills Fri, October 04, 2013 08:24:06
Writing in the first person creates an opportunity to place the reader directly into the story, but it also presents some special challenges. I love the discipline of having to provide the reader with only the information that the main character receives, and it is a great way to filter the facts. But one of the hardest things, when more than one book is told in this way, is to create and maintain a distinctive 'voice' for each character, so readers get to know the personality of a character from his or her narration style.
Both 'A Song For Joey' and 'Natalie Tereshchenko, Lady in Waiting' are narrated by the main characters, yet each has her own, clear voice. Belinda is insecure and nervous, but covers up with a hard shell; Joey taught her how to do that. Natalie, on the other hand, has the confidence that comes from a comfortable upbringing, but learnt, by observing those around her, to avoid the arrogance of thinking she is superior to anyone.
How does a writer keep the voice of a character true? Well, I don't know what others do, but I pin each of my main characters to someone real, someone who has the kind of personality I want to portray. Then, as the story unfolds, that real person 'acts' the part of the character for me, in my head. I hear their voice when my character speaks, and see them react to the situations I put them into.
Posted by Elizabeth Mills Sun, September 01, 2013 09:59:14
Writers write, actors act, singers sing, and musicians ... er ... muse.
What I'm trying to say is that we each tend to do our thing, wear our personal blinkers, like the zombies you see walking around texting and playing games on their phones, failing to see the world around them. We hide ourselves away in our workshops, studios, studies, and if we socialise, we tend to seek out others like us, people who will empathise.
But we are all artists, all driven to bare our souls before the world, and, in fact, many of us are multi-disciplined. I sing (badly) write (reasonably well) play bass guitar (ok, actually I just love to prance around on stage) and loads of other things.
So I came up with this idea for a Facebook group where artists of all kinds can rub shoulders, make new friends, understand each other. As far as I know, it's unique in Facebook as an open door for artists of every kind. If you like the idea, look in and see what you think - apply to join, if it appeals to you, invite your friends.
Follow this link ... https://www.facebook.com/groups/688665924494877/
Posted by Elizabeth Mills Wed, July 17, 2013 08:21:51
Today, July 17th, is the anniversary of the slaughter in 1918 of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, his wife, the Empress Alexandra, and their four children, Maria, Tatiana, Anastasia and Aleksey, on the orders of the revolutionary leader Valdimir Ilyich Lenin. My book, 'Natalie Tereshchenko - Lady In Waiting' tells the story of the last months of the Russian monarchy, from the viewpoint of a servant in the royal household, as she follows them into exile, imprisonment and, ultimately, their murder.
Resentment against the Tsar had been building for years. His cruel suppression of the working classes and his disastrous military policies had left the country emaciated, and in February 1917 began the final acts of defiance by the citizens. Strikes and street demonstrations quickly turned into revolution, and the Tsar was forced to abdicate. It was the beginning of the end.
For several tense months, the family was held under guard in one of the royal palaces near Saint Petersburg, stoically believing that they would be rescued. Then they were taken into exile in the Ural mountains, where conditions slowly deteriorated further, and finally to the city of Yekaterinberg, where, in the early hours of July 18th, they were taken to a cellar and shot.
In an attempt to disguise their bodies, they were burnt, then thrown into a well. The servants who were with them were also killed, and, over the next few days, other members of the royal family were rounded up and murdered.
Some years later, a young woman gained fame following her claim to be Anastasia, the youngest daughter, alleging that she had survived the shooting. An investigation allegedly disproved her claim.
Read 'Natalie Tereshchenko - Lady In Waiting' to experience the last months of the Russian royal family first hand, as recounted by one of the servants who stayed with them to the end. http://itsliz.net/natalie.html
Posted by Elizabeth Mills Fri, July 05, 2013 22:15:03
Authors write books, right? So how is it that the book I am supposed to be writing is languishing while I am redesigning my website?
Marketing, that's the reason. When you don't have a publishing house working to promote your book, you have to do it yourself, using whatever facilities you can find. Having a website is good, because people can search the ether and find out all they want to know, like what the books are about, where they can buy them, and what other people have to say about them. And if, like me, the author belongs to GoodReads and/or Facebook and/or BookPulse, then links to those places are good too.
The trouble is that the basic web-building tools soon become inadequate, and the ambitious writer finds herself becoming frustrated with its limitations. And, one day recently, she decided that the only answer is to learn how to write in the language of websites - HTML - along with CSS, Java and loads of other stuff ... not to mention figuring out how to use the editors and graphical building tools.
Then she discovers SEO - Search Engine Optimisation - the secret to getting as many hits as possible on the website.
So I am writing, maybe, two-or-three-hundred words a day into my latest book, instead of a thousand, and in between I am reading tutorials and fiddling with the new pages of the website. I am about halfway through, and you can see the joins, but I would love it if you would visit and give me some feedback. Pop over to www.itsliz.net and see what you think.
Love and hugs