Chatting with Authors: Meet Lisa Wolstenholme.

Its always exciting to be able to meet a fellow author and I was sad to miss the launch of Lisa Wolstenholme’s book The Sunrise Girl which was held on December 7th at Katharine  Sussanah Pritchard Writers Centre. By all accounts, it was a lively fun event  Luckily Lisa has kindly answered some questions from me about the book and her writing process.

Lisa Wolstenholme
Lisa Wolstenholme launching her book The Sunrise girl.

The Book is on my To Be Read List. When you read the description you can see why!

The Sunrise Girl By Lisa Wolstenholme

The Sunrise Girl

Paperback, 328 pages
Published December 7th 2019 by MMH Press
ISBN
0648728005 (ISBN13: 9780648728009)
Edition Language
English
QUESTIONS.

Lisa, can you tell us a bit about your background?

I’m from the UK and grew up travelling a fair bit due to my dad being in the Royal Air Force. I gained a degree in computing and spent a good ten years in the industry, but always felt drawn to healing modalities so studied counselling. I ended up working in a crisis service in Leeds, which I loved, but when I came to Perth, I found I couldn’t use my qualifications to work here as a counsellor. I twiddled my thumbs for several years as my daughter went through primary school, and finally joined KSP Writers’ Centre back in 2014.

Have you always wanted to write?

Absolutely. I’ve always loved reading and have a very active imagination, so writing was the outlet I needed to tie those things together.

You have just released a book, tell us a bit about that.

It’s my debut novel, The Sunrise Girl, about Lucy Fraser, a thirty-something woman who, along with her best friend Em, has spent her twenties partying hard. When she eventually gets married to Joe Morris, she soon realises that settling down is not what she wants. Joe dies, and it’s Lucy’s fault, and the desire to escape her woes is so strong that when Em suggests they go on holiday to the party island of Ibiza, Lucy can’t resist. But Ibiza fuels her hedonistic desires further, so Lucy must figure out what makes her tick and what she truly wants. The key themes in the story are conquering guilt, escapism, addiction, authenticity, and doing what we ‘want rather than what we ‘should’ do.

What inspired it?

I’ve supported many people who struggled with a variety of issues such as addiction and escapist tendencies, so I wanted a character who was heavily flawed and struggling with things that people could relate to. I’ve also witnessed several of my friends go through rocky relationships and marriage breakdowns, so I wondered what made the relationships fail, and how much each person gives up being part of a couple. I wanted to write something relatable in terms of everyday issue and vices, such as drinking heavily and smoking, and what purposes those addictions fulfilled, to make the characters more authentic.

How long did it take to write?

The ideas and ‘scenes’ have been floating around in my head since around 2011, but I didn’t start writing it until 2014. By that time, it was like a movie playing in my mind, so writing it was pretty quick. The rewriting, on the other hand, well-thank God I joined a writing group and learnt how to write properly! And here we are, eight years later!

How do you capture your ideas?

I’m a visual person, so I’ll see something that then sets off a chain of events in my head and images start popping left, right and centre. It can take a while to get them organised, but once an idea comes, it takes hold until I’ve got it out of my system.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished going through the second round of edits on my Paw Prints of Love anthology story for Gumnut Press, and after a short writing break over the summer, I plan to get back into writing The Sunset Girl to tell Em’s story.

Do you work on more than one thing at once?

For sure. I’m easily distracted! What is the best and worst advice you received as a writer?

The best advice is to just write regardless of your level of expertise. Chloe Higgins held a workshop at KSP entitled, ‘How to Vomit a Novella’. It was basically telling us to get over ourselves and our hang-ups and just get stuff written. It doesn’t matter how badly written it is-rewrites and edits can help with that-it’s vital to get those creative ideas down on paper.

The worst advice I’ve been given is to ‘show don’t tell’ all the time. I agree with showing not telling in general, but too much of it can stifle the pace of a story and make it way too descriptive, leaving little room for the reader’s imagination to come into play.

Comment by Sonia- that kind of advice re-show don’t tell can leave a beginner quite baffled!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write as often as you can, and it doesn’t matter if you think it’s shit. Join a writing group to meet like-minded souls. Read. Read. Read.

Favourite authors?

Paulo Coehlo, Gillian Flynn and Elizabeth Gilbert are a few.

Thank you and congratulations  on  your book

Thank you for interviewing me. 😊

I hope that I  asked Lisa the questions that you would have asked .

You can find her on Facebook  Lisa Wolstenholme Author.

 

 

Which Books Did I Read in October 2019?

Inexplicably October wasn’t a good month for reading for me, as I only managed to read four books

Reading for pleasure is a pure joy!

It rare for me  to read biography or autobiography , but I made and excpetion for Michelle Obama’s Becoming

 

Becoming
An Iconic First Lady in her own words.

 

As Becoming was getting rave review and I was curious about the Obama presidency  I chose to read Becoming. It was surprising to me how candid Michelle Obama was and how she spoke of the difficulties and challenges of acclimatising to the loss of privacy.

I had always seen her as someone who was quite reserved and even  a  bit stand-offish so her  frankness was surprisng.-  She talks of her upbringing  in a decent and  loving  but poor working class family.  She acknowledges the strength of kinship and extended family. Her own good fortune was in  being intelligent and in having  encouraging and supportive parents.They gave her confidence in her abilities and higher aspirations. Her rise as  a lawyer, working hard .She was always aware  that she was a flag bearer for others. How she and Barrack first met, his easy going attitude that charmed ,but at times irritated her. She speaks of their courtship and eventual marriage. She doesn’t paint him as a paragon, revealing that he’s messy, overcommits and at that time was smoking. I loved the honesty of the book.  Michelle reveals that she was reluctant for Barrack to try for the presidency, fearing the  loss of privacy,  as well as the effect it would have on their childen.Later there was the weight of expectation at being the first black First Lady of The United States of America. Although they served with grace and dignity  it is obvious that she would relish the return to their  previous less public life. The autobigraphy is humanised her frankness in discussing their struggles to start a family as well as their hopes and losses as well as sucesses. Destined to become an important  historical document.

Sanctuary by Judy Nunn.

Sanctuary

As I was soon to attend a talk by this immensely popular author, I wanted to read at least one of her books. Sanctuary was inspired by a real-life event when a fishing boat filled with asylum seekers pulled up at Geraldton in West Australia’s north.  This is not their story, but a story of a similar group of people who land on an uninhabited island. The issue of asylum seekers is a contentious one in Australia and has been politicised. Here we learn of the reasons these desperate people have taken the life-threatening risk to try and make it to Australia. In my opinion Judy Nunn establishes sympathy for them while allowing voices of prejudice to also speak. She set up a situation where I feared for the happiness of them all and left us with them facing an uncertain future.

 

Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In Another LIfe

I  applaud the clever premise of this book, but for me, it didn’t quite come off. Initially, it was okay, and I enjoyed the contrast, but the further into the book I got, then the more confused I became. Maybe in part, this was because I was not able to read for long stretches at a time. The book has been compared to the film Sliding Doors, and I wonder if perhaps it might be easier to convey the dual timeline visually.

The Shelley Bay Ladies Swimming Club by Sophie Green

 

Shelley Bay

Explores the growing friendship between four diverse women who may never have connected at all but for swimming. Elaine, an unhappily relocated British ex-pat has come with her surgeon husband who is an Australian. She misses her adult sons and her English life Leanne, shy, self-contained except around children her past hides a painful secret, one she is unwilling to share. Marie, the doyenne of the group, a lifetime swimmer now widowed. Her two loves are ocean swimming and Charlie Brown, her dog. Theresa, overworked mother of two with a neglectful husband who steals time for herself with a precious early morning swim. The four women forge bonds of friendship that in time go far beyond the superficial. Topics include loneliness, isolation, starting life again, illness and infidelity. Believable it had some tense and tender moments- perfect for a book club discussion.

 

 

Let’s Talk About Writer Envy.

You  like  to think that you are a good person.You dont hate people or resent them, until  an acquaintance has a stroke of writing luck.

woman carrying im here you not plank on front of waterfalls
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

 

Until, someone  you know wins a contest, has a piece published, writes a book or simply seems to be everywhere . They  are on websites, giving interviews in magazines and book shops ,they are the next big thing and you tell yourself you are happy for them and you are. BUT…..

Not Quite So Happy?

You are shocked at how you feel.

But there is  voice in your head that isn’t quite so happy at all. An inner voice that  says  ‘but what about me?’ Eventually, you realise that you are suffering from writer envy. You want what he or she has got. You whine inwardly because it seems to have been so easy for them.

And because we are all good people, you don’t talk about it or mention it to anyone. Gradually,  you realise you are envious because what they have matters to you. If they were climbing mountains or being a successful investor, that wouldn’t cause you to envy them. But writing, that’s your thing, your passion.

Talking Writing with Writers

group of people sitting on sofa while discussing
Talking with trusted friends can provide support and answers

I recently brought this up in an online writer’s forum and most people were happy to acknowledge that yes, they felt it too. There was compassion and wise advice posted in the comments. Many adniited feeling the same. One piece of advice  was  ‘ be yourself- everyone  else is taken.’ Their is wisdom in that, we each have our own lived experience and perceptions. So we have a unique perspetive .

Taking it further Here is the dictionary definition of envy from dictionary,.com

Envy a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

Similar: jealousy enviousness covetousness desire resentment resentfulness bitterness discontent spite the green-eyed monster.

woman staring through window
Envy can leave us feeling stuck.

So, knowing we do feel envy ,what do we do about it? How do we use it creatively? How do we avoid bitter envy,  and don’t say or even think those things?

Envy+ Action.

Take action instead and use the feeling to spur you on. What did they do that you didn’t?

If they won a contest that you didn’t enter that might encourage you to enter next time. They submitted their work to a publisher while yours is still in a drawer. They got a lucky break, yes, but they were out there in the writing community .Being there,they met people, heard of opportunities.

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Go for walk , clear your head and brainstorm ideas,

Let envy encourage you to take action.  You may never sweep into a book talk with an entourage of publicist, bookseller and adoring fans as some succesful authors do. But rememeber that even the most successful writer began somewhere- with blank sheet of paper and in an idea.

 

How Much Does It Cost To Be A Writer?

If only this simple question had a equally simple answer. The answer is, it depends on what  sort of writer you want to be.

 

art materials blank business coffee
At its simplest pencils and notebook

At its simplest- you write, therefore you are a writer.

You can get away with a pen or pencil and a notebook or paper.

The costs are fairly minimal.

Perhaps you are more ambitious, you’d like to see your name in print, to be published somehow, so at a minimum you need the following.

Microsoft Word or it’s equivalent.

close up photo of black typewriter
These days you need more than a typewriter.

A computer or at least computer access. Internet connection or access to one

Depending on how you choose to submit you may need

Computer paper. Access to a printer, or your own printer.

Ink cartridges.

A  concentration of writers’?

More ambitious still? Ready to submit for publication.?

Membership of the relevant professional association for your genre of writing.

Subscription to a writing magazine.  Courses to improve your skills.

Convention attendance. Business cards,

Competition entries Blog start-up and hosting costs.

Writing group membership ( if applicable) Books on writing.

The list can  go on.What has been your biggest writing expense?

 

How much does it cost? A lot or a little ? That depends on how far you choose to take it.

 

What Is the Top Question That Authors Get Asked?         

 

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Photpgraph courtesy of Armadale Public Library.

I presented an author talk on Friday The Art of Publishing a Romance and it was lots of fun and I think the audience enjoyed it too.

Then we came to the questions and answer session and the first question was the one that all authors expect and at times dread.

‘Where do you get your ideas?’

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? If only we could say ‘well, I pop down to the ideas store and see what they have saved for me.’  Wouldn’t that be fabulous? A store of ideas curated just for you.

So how do you explain the creative process, or more specifcially ,your own creative process?

close up photography of eyeglasses near crumpled papers
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

 

For me it is partly research, looking at things that interest me, but equally it could be daydreaming..That aimless, letting your mind run free. It could be a tv program that I   watched ,or a snippet of conversation I  heard.

Ages ago I asked New York Time Bestselling author Natasha Lester a similar question.

‘How do you know you have enough of a topic to make a novel?’

Her reply really resonated with me.M/s Lester told me that she took two unrelated ideas and combined them. Four very successful books later, her latest being The Paris    Seamstress  AKA The Paris Orphan in the US I know she has a winning  formula.

It followed that advice when I combined ice dancing and Norway with a time slip romance with a Viking age past that led to my book Fire & Ice.

So, ideas need to permeate, they need to resonate and then suddenly you realise that you have the right idea and that you are eager to write.

 

 

 

 

Vanity Publishing- Writer Beware.

You may not have heard the term Vanity Publishers and they themselves don’t advertise as such, but they are out there and are a danger to both your self-esteem and your bank account.

 

A warning sign you should heed. Photo by Erica Nilsson

 What are vanity publishers and how do they differ from hybrid or assisted self – publishers?

Quality Control- is totally unselective with vanity publishers because their business model isn’t about the quality of your writing or its saleability. That doesn’t matter as a vanity publisher would happily publish your shopping list and tell you it was great if you paid them. They often approach you directly and you think you have hit gold. How do they find you?  Maybe you won a contest or signed up for a course or a newsletter.

Wrong way Neobrand
Don’t let it put you off course. Photo by NeOBRAND

I personally signed up for a free writing course, a week of writing prompts and interaction with the course leader. She was a personable and engaging personality. The course was interesting, and some exercises worked, but then the hard sell began. There was a contest for a mentoring spot. An ‘associate’ called me to say that unfortunately I’d not won, but I had placed high, and I had so much potential. They could offer me a spot at a reduced price of $3,500. I politely declined saying that while I was sure it was an excellent opportunity it was way out of my budget and comfort zone.

It didn’t end there. There were a couple more phone calls, a blend of flattery –‘you have so much going for you,’ to warnings, ‘time  is running out,’ and ‘we can’t hold a spot for you much longer.’ The price was reduced to $2000, and it was suggested that maybe I had savings or could take out a loan. Warning bells ringing loud and clear  I thanked them but still said ‘ no’.Their final call offered me the whole course for $ 397. They said it was bargain I couldn’t refuse. But I did refuse, and I haven’t heard from them since.

Austin Chan the sign you;'ve been looking for
Keep your wits about you! Photo by Austin Chan

This is the kind of intense pressure which encourages people to sign up with a vanity publisher. Vanity publishing is all about selling you, the writer, a service at inflated costs. As well as persuading you to buy tons of copies of your book. They don’t need to bother with marketing your book, because they made their money from you. Getting out and promoting the book is up to you. They may offer to put the book up on Amazon, but you can do that yourself if you self- published.

If you can, check out other books from the publisher, what’s the quality like? Also, be careful as their contract may take away your copyright and author rights. Buyer beware! Contact their authors and ask about their publishing experience.

The American Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association keep an updated list of publishers to beware of- it doesn’t hurt to go online to check it. Even if you simply do an internet search for Vanity publishers you will find that a heap of names come up.

Hybrid and subsidised publishing are legitimate and do charge you for partial costs but as always you need to be careful and compare costings and even research the company name to check complaints about them.

As always if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is! Save your dollars and your peace of mind by doing a little checking.

 

What Was I reading in September 201(?

For some reason, September was a slow reading month for me as I only managed to read five books.  There was another non- fiction which I gave up on so let’s not talk about that!

woman in blue striped flannel shirt holding a book indoors
The pleasure of reading a good book.

 

I also dipped into a childhood favourite Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree in preparation for an author talk I am presenting later this month. That threw up many memories as well as reflections on how life had changed in the intervening years-. Then the children were routinely expected to help around the house and garden and were served bread and jam and milk for tea.

I have always loved reading.

The other books were a mixed bag of recommendations and whimsical choices

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen.

The Victory Garden.

I spotted this at the local library and having read her On Her Majesties Secret Service was inspired to give it a try. Set in WW1  Britain it offers a glimpse into a forgotten time. For whatever reason, it did not have the same bite and light touch of that series. The story focussed on Emily and Australian pilot Robbie lovers met only to be parted. It focussed on how the privileged young woman defied her parents and went on to make a life for herself. I was a little sceptical that delicately reared Emily could fit so easily into the back-breaking work of a land-girl. That her parents would disown her for defying them was more easily believable. Knowing the British class structure her gradual friendship with Lady Charlton was quite credible. In the second part, of the book, Emily is living in what is known as ‘the witch’s cottage ‘ and practising herbalism.

 

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael RobothamGood Girl Bad Girl

 

Deserves every ounce of praise it received. An intriguing story and one that explores the many preconceptions we have about people. I  found some of the details a bit grisly but the major characters ( Cyrus and Evie )both fascinating and I wanted to know more about them. Thinking all the time how did they survive the traumas in their lives? A bonus for me was it was set in Nottingham the former home of skaters Torvill and Dean and had a bit about ice skating too.

 

Everything Publishing by Karen Mc Dermott.

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Subtitled the Ultimate publishing guide and it is. All your publishing questions are answered here and explained in simplified form by someone who knows what she is talking about and who has indeed built a successful publishing empire.

 

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Reid Jenkins

Loved that 70s vibe of the cover

 

Allegedly based on Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, the book reminded me of the movie A Star is Born. Although Daisy Jones started out having it all, looks, money and attitude. Through the multiple perspectives is an interesting way to tell a story. Each tells their own version of ‘the truth’ so the lies, evasion, jealousies are all exposed to scrutiny. And of course, as readers we ask – are they revising as they go? is this the truth as it was then? The songbook at the end of the book adds another layer of authenticity. I kept flicking back to read the songs as they were referred to and imagined them being performed, Camilla Billy’s wife doesn’t appear much in the book, but there is a sense of her presence in the background and perhaps she was the strongest of them all. It reads true.  Did the book live up to the hype? In my opinion, yes it did.

 

 

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle HarrisonA Pinch of MAgic

 

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. This is a mid-grade children’s novel. I would have loved this book as a child, and I enjoyed it now. The Widdershins sisters are a force to be reckoned with. Don’t you love the choice of name? They are brave, resilient and resourceful. They face challenges that are quite a bit worse than they and perhaps we would have liked. I especially liked the dual timeline story and how the two timelines merged.