Meet- Author, Editor, Speaker – Teena Raffa Mulligan.

Writers talking about their writing. I am delighted to welcome author, editor , speaker . Teena Raffa Mulligan to tell us about her writing.

Teena Raffa Mulligan

1. As someone who writes both for children and adults how do you switch between the two?

I’ve always written in different styles and genres, whether poetry and fiction for adults and children or the diverse range of non-fiction I worked on during my years in journalism. It’s not a conscious intention to shift focus, so perhaps I do it instinctively. My voice doesn’t really change from one area of writing to the next, only the subject matter.

2 Do you work on more than one title at once?

Always! I am so impressed by writers who can focus on one project until it’s complete. I’m too much like a butterfly in the garden, flitting from flower to flower. In my case it’s going from one idea to another. I write whatever is in my mind at the time, so it might be a fragment of poetry, sections of a picture book, scenes from a short story or novel. The process works brilliantly for short things because I complete them quite quickly, especially if an idea takes hold and over a period of a few days won’t leave me alone. It’s an incredibly inefficient way to write novels, though, because I take such a long time to get to The End.

A question that need answering

3 You are a hybrid author- that is you are both traditionally published and self-published- what do you find are the benefits and pitfalls of each approach?

Ah! The big question. My preference as an author is to have a publisher pick up my manuscripts. The key benefit is being confident they know their business and will do the best they can to make my book a success. There is also still quite a widespread community perception that being published by a ‘proper’ publisher means you are a ‘real’ writer. Being published by one of the big publishers can open up opportunities that are less likely to be offered to self-publishers.

This title is popular with schools

As a self-publisher, I am a small business owner, responsible for every aspect from actual book production to admin, distribution, sales and marketing. My strength is in coming up with ideas and writing stories. To be a really successful self-publisher, you have to be a savvy business person and I don’t see myself wearing that role very well. I am learning but of course while I am reading blogs, watching videos, listening to podcasts and attending workshops about all the aspects of being a self-publisher I need to know, I am not writing. However, I love creating books and I have a number of unpublished manuscripts on file that I would like to see in print. The big plus of self-publishing is the control I have, the ease of print on demand production and how quickly I can release a book onto the market.

The Apostrophe Posse is an adventure story about a group of children whose good intentions create chaos in their small community.
 

That leads me to the biggest downside of traditional publishing. It can take a long time to find a traditional publisher, sometimes years. Even though I have had a dozen books published through traditional publishing, I still get more rejections than acceptances. It’s a competitive market. Even when I do get a manuscript picked up, there is usually another long wait between signing the contract and celebrating the book’s release.

With illustrated books I often have no input into the illustrations and in some cases don’t see finished artwork until the book is released. Some of the newer small publishers such as Serenity Press and Daisy Lane Publishing do encourage author and illustrator input or collaboration and that’s a bonus.

Then there’s the financial aspect. Unless your book happens to be a runaway best seller, there’s no point thinking of giving up the day job. The standard 10 per cent royalty on a recommended retail price (RRP) of 15.50 is only $1.55 per book sold. In some cases if it’s a picture book, that 10 per cent is split between the author and illustrator, so only five per cent each. Print runs in Australia are often small and many publishers don’t offer an advance. Children’s authors in particular usually rely on payments for author talks and workshops, plus the annual education and public lending rights payments to supplement income from royalties, whereas indie authors who promote themselves and their titles well can make a decent living from their writing.

 4 If you were starting now would you still be a hybrid author or would you choose one approach over the other?

I began submitting to publishers in the 1970s when the world of publishing was vastly different. It wasn’t as easy or affordable for authors to publish their own work, plus there was such a stigma about self-publishing, which was widely considered a vanity option for writers who weren’t good enough to get a contract. I wanted to be taken seriously as an author. I still do and like it or not, self-published authors are still seen as second best in some sectors of the industry.

I ventured into self-publishing because my stranger danger picture book was long out of print but I was still reading it during school visits and being asked by parents and teachers where they could get a copy. It seemed like a good idea to produce a new edition so I did. At the time I only intended to self-publish that one book but the changes in the publishing industry and the introduction of new technology led me to rethink that decision. Meeting the inspirational Karen McDermott of Serenity Press and Making Magic Happen Academy came at the right time and motivated me to stop thinking about publishing my own books and do it.

However, to answer your question, if I were starting now I would still choose to try for a traditional publishing contract first, with self-publishing as a backup option.

5. How do you capture your ideas?

Usually with pen and paper initially. I only go to the computer when I have something to get me started, even if it’s just the opening paragraph, a conversation or a scene. I keep notebooks and pens handy…though sometimes I leave the notebook from my handbag on my computer desk when I’ve been working from it. I have used napkins in a café to capture my idea, the back of shopping dockets, in fact anything I can write on. 

 6. What are you working on now?

I am writing a quirky story for young readers about a kid who hires a parent tamer. At first Talibut Vish looks like he will be the solution to Mike’s out of control mum and dad but the stranger’s special powers only escalate the chaos in his life. It’s a fun story but because I’m not a planner I get so far then don’t know what happens next. That’s when I go back to the short romance I’m writing for an anthology. It features a gorgeous Labrador with serious anxiety issues…and a mismatched couple, of course.

 

7 Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write in the way that works best for you. If that means having a nine to five working day five days a week and planning every aspect of your novel before you start writing, then do that. If your creativity works best with an unstructured, fluid approach, embrace it. After all, would you go for a long walk in a pair of shoes that didn’t fit? It’s difficult in this era of social media, but try to avoid measuring your productivity and achievements as a writer against anyone else’s. The creative spirit is sensitive — it needs a positive environment to flourish, so be gentle with yourself. Explore where your writing takes you and enjoy the journey.  

Bio: Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a reader, writer and daydream believer who believes there is magic in every day if you choose to find it. She discovered the wonderful world of storytelling as a child and decided to become a writer at an early age. Teena writes across genres and her publications include poetry and short stories for children and adults, picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels and romances. She shares her passion for books and writing by presenting talks and workshops to encourage people of all ages to write their own stories.

Teena’s February release is a lively collection of poems that  encourages young readers to enjoy poetry and marvel at the wonder of words. Funny, thoughtful, silly and serious, Sleepy Socks and Sometime Rhymes is a celebration of the everyday and the imaginary. It is ideal for home or classroom, for sharing or for quiet moments curled up in a comfy chair.

It is available from

https://www.amazon.com/Sleepy-Socks-Sometime-Rhymes-Classroom/dp/0648250385/

Website: www.teenaraffamulligan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeenaRaffaMulligan

Blog: https://intheirownwrite.wordpress.com

Grab Those Coloured Pencils and Improve Your Writing

  Do You Show or Tell in Your Writing?

 

It is often difficult to assess your own work, but there is a way to see what you are doing.

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Pencils to highlight your writing.Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Colouring! Yes really, grab yourself some coloured marker pens or coloured pencils and prepare to be enlightened.

I heard of this concept during a presentation that Natasha Lester author of The Paris Seamstress made during the Rockingham Writer’s convention. This is how she explained her system. By the way, this applies to all popular commercial fiction but not so much to literary fiction.

Action – Coloured PINK

Dialogue- Coloured-BLUE

Thought– Coloured YELLOW

Description-Coloured GREEN

Transitions—BLANK -NOT COLOURED

Back story-Coloured ORANGE.

She suggested colouring action and dialogue first  to show you the balance of those,

Ideally, they should be most of the page, at least 60% but not in huge blocks of colour. Interweave with other aspects of the story.

Doing this enables you to SEE what you need to change, to add or subtract.

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Photocopy a couple of pages of a favourite book. Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

 

If you feel this may be too confronting you can always photocopy two or three pages from a book and try it with them.

Your goal is not to emulate them, your goal is to see whether they get it right or wrong and to improve your own writing. The only person you need to compare yourself with is the self of yesterday are you learning, growing, progressing?

motivational quotes
Remind yourself how far you have Ncome.Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Technology Trauma.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are worse things than a computer crash, but its hard to think of them when one happens to you.

This week, it was my turn and not only did the computer crash, it crashed spectacularly. It completely wiped itself, even of Windows.

How? I don’t know.

Why? Still not sure if it was a virus, or something else.

At the moment I am in stage one of the classic stages of grief, denial. ‘This can’t be happening’

greyscale photography of woman wearing long sleeved top
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

BUT it is and my computer guy has had the machine since Monday and is no nearer to finding a solution.

I miss it. Worse, I was finalizing a submission for a writing contest with a cut off date of July 13th and I have lost almost a week.

Sure the laptop is dinky and cute, but I am used to my desktop and prefer it.

Still, I held out hope-maybe the expansion drive, would help restore files. It should have and it would have, if only it had been re-plugged in when I bought a new computer.

So, back up your work NOW, send it to One Drive or Dropbox, send it to a USB and if you have an expansion drive be sure that it is connected.

I may have lost almost a years worth of work, which is one hell of a reminder.

It’s Time You Listened To Your Writing!

 

Listening Something that I found recently has really improved my writing. I shared the information with some writing buddies and discovered that they hadn’t known about it either, They were impressed and I was inundated with effusive thanks.

people coffee meeting team
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

 Now I’m sharing it with you. It may not apply to all systems until recently I used Apache Open Office and I don’t think it is there. 

Then I switched to Microsoft Word and that’s where I found it. The Audio function. It is at the top left-hand corner of the page when you click over to tools. It says Read, Aloud Speech. For Mac users, there is a Speech function once you access System Preferences. I simply Googled that to find out.

Experimentally I tried it out. It has transformed my writing experience.

macbook apple woman computer
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Many of you will have been told to read your work out loud to allow you to spot errors and awkward phrasing. It is still good advice. Audio is better though, as the robotic voice disassociates you from your writing. We all fall a little in love with our words

red heart on a old opened book ii
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

It is easy to read your own work and see what you expect to see. I had proofread a document twice without noticing that scared had been typed sacred, Quite a different meaning!

Listening enables you to hear if your words flow, or if there is a section that needs work. It might be a good use of this function to run your document through it before you send it to an editor.

What makes a good writing group?

Questions to ask about a writing group.

Coloured pencils Jess Watters Unsplash

There many opinions on what makes a good writing group, but I think that we can agree on a few things.Most of us need the right sized group, one that meets at a convenient time and place and one that helps us to grow as writers and to achieve our aims.So, if you are considering joining a writing group it pays to ask a few questions.

  1. What is the composition of the group?Does it matter to you if it is a mixed or a single-sex group? Both types of groups can have advantages and disadvantages. A mixed group provides a microcosm of the potential readership for your stories or book. However, that can be challenging ii your stories are not mainstream.Crime and fantasy/sci-fi appeal to both genders, while other types of writing typically appeal more to one or the other. For example, romance writing has a mainly female authorship and readership; while war stories mostly appeal to men.
  2.  Does Age Matter?people-woman-coffee-meeting.jpgThe general age in the group may be a factor for you, although it is wise to be flexible about this. Talent is not confined to one age group and both younger and older members can contribute to the dynamic of a mixed age group.3. How friendly do you need the group to be?Many of us complete our best work inspired by a little ‘friendly’ competition. And the operative word is friendly. Many writers have a horror story or two to tell of savage criticism towards their work or even their personality( a real no, no!) which has wounded them and eroded their confidence in their writing abilities. A good facilitator should prevent this, reminding everyone that the focus is solely on the work. Any group that is not welcoming to new members and encouraging of them is not a place that you want or need to be.

    4 What do you want?Writng laptop thougth Catalogue

    A good writing group is a community of like-minded people, one that provides that ‘safe space’ in which to discuss your work. There is no need to bore your long-suffering family, instead talk to the people who understand the blow of rejection and the thrill of success. The members of a writing group near you.

    As I was writing this post I asked various group members about their experiences with our writing group. The group I attend meets weekly and is a mixed group.Members attend writing events and the group books authors as speakers.

    5. What Writing Group Members Say About Their Writing Group

    One member said’ I need the inspiration of others work, I am fascinated by the way that other people write and think’.

    This is an aspect of a writing group that is so intriguing, that there are so many different approaches to writing about one topic.

    Another commented’ each week I struggle and I am amazed when people say that I am improving.’As mentioned earlier, we may be the harshest critics of our own work and a group can provide objectivity.

    A third said ‘the group has inspired me to try different styles and ways of writing’

    A veteran of other groups noted that ‘some groups tend to be dominated by egos, which can be very stressful’

    A member who had not written since junior school commented that it was ‘right place, right time,’ adding cheekily the group picked me!’ She continued more seriously by saying that ‘written has been ( and is) challenging, yet stimulating’

    As for me, it is no exaggeration to say that joining a ringgit group changed my life. Writing group members encouraged me to apply for mature age university entrance. I was accepted and had some of the most challenging yet thrilling years of my life. Following on from that I submitted my writing and had some stories and articles published in national magazines. None of which I would have accomplished without the help and support of my writing group.

    So pluck up your courage and think about joining your local writing group. Your local library will most likely have the details of local groups

     

Question to Ask Yourself at Year’s End

One word for 2018 what will it be?

 Time for a bit of self-reflection?Writng Form Unpalsh by Green Chamelon

Did you do what you said you would this year?

Did you keep the promises that you made to yourself and to others?

Are you nearer your goal?

Are you proud of what you have achieved this year?

Did you use this precious year wisely?

OR did you fritter your time away?

For many of us, the end of the year is both a time of celebration, but also for self-reflection. Sparkler from Unspalsh

CHANGE BEGINS IN YOUR THOUGHTS.

I was already considering what I had achieved this year when a prompt popped up on my Facebook feed from Karen McDermott of Serenity Press 2018 Norwood themesShe asked a simple question.’ What is your word for 2018?’

The idea was to choose a single word that included all the concepts and things that you wanted to achieve in the next twelve months. Many people had replied with their word choice and many of their words resonated with me. Yet,none seemed exactly right 


It nagged away at me, I kept reading and thinking ,but my perfect word eluded me . It simmered away in my brain as words were tried and then discarded. While I applauded other people’s choices, no one word felt right to me.

My word appeared when I was writing my early morning pages. I noted down a few words, Progressing, Enjoying, Completing. And then suddenly I thought’ I need to focus,’ and there it was , my perfect word

focus-definition-means-explanation-sense-concentration-indicating-focused-46493786

Focus, to pay close attention

So focus on I want to achieve in my writing and in my personal life.

Reflecting on this year, it was easy to see that I had not focused .Instead, I had done things that appealed to me without asking do they further my ultimate goals?

So this year my writing focus is on completing the first draft of my novel and then editing it. After that? Who knows?

My personal focus is one shared by many, improving my health by losing weight. I haven’t been paying attention and it shows. Time to get back on track.

Will you choose Focus as your word of the year , or does something different appeal? Please let me know.

wallpaper.wiki-Free-Download-Focus-Backgrounds-PIC-WPB004440

 

Are You Being Productive Or Just Busy?

Some good questions to ask yourself are

Am I doing what I want to do? Am I getting closer towards my goal?

 

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Image Pinterest

Should I have a goal? The answer to the last question, by the way, is YES.

The Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland gave Alice this advice

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The Cheshire Cat image Pinterest

At the beginning of 2017, I made a list of the things I wanted to achieve with my writing, and as the year draws to a close I am reviewing it and assessing it. Here’s what I discovered.

The Good: I achieved far more than I originally intended

The Bad: While I did far more than previous years, I was not specific enough.

The Ugly Truth: I am no further towards my goal than I was at the beginning of the year

How did this happen?At the start of the year, I made a list of practical things I could do to extend my writing. Then the list held nine items, one of which was to start a blog.

At years end the list had grown to sixteen items, as I added things I thought would be interesting or fun to do.Everything on the list depended on me doing something. The only actions that I can control are my own. I cannot make readers or editors like my work. My task is to write and to improve and not try to second guess what others will think.

What did I achieve? I wrote a novella, a long short story, an 8-word story, I submitted to a couple of magazines, took some courses, attended some author talks and a writing convention and completed National Novel In Month.

A lot you might think  BUT I haven’t done much to achieve my real goal of completing a novel and getting it published. I have been busy, very busy and in one sense productive, but I have not got any nearer to my goal.

I scattered my efforts, and now I know this I intend to make another list for 2018. It will have fewer items but a bigger goal to finally write that book! The book that I have wanted to write for so long, but hesitated to do so. I am giving myself permission to try.

What do you want to achieve in 2018?  Maybe you should make a list of the steps to take to get you there. Let me know what you plan on achieving.