BLOG BREAK

In the last full week of EVERY month, I’ve decided to take a break from blogging to focus on writing.

So there won’t be any blog posts this week.

Sorry for any disappointment, but if you need a writing tips’ fix, Janice Hardy has a great blog at The Other Side of the Story and agent, Rachelle Gardner has great posts and discussions on being a writer/agent/publisher at her blog

Literary Rambles is another favourite of mine.

I hope you have a great writing week and if there are any topics you want raised on this blog, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section of this post.

Thanks and Happy Writing:)

Dee

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BEIJING TAI TAI – The “Eat, Pray, Love” for Mums

To me, a writing voice is strong when it makes you feel like you have the author or the main character sitting in your lounge room across from you, telling their story. That’s how I felt when I read Tania McCartney’s Beijing Tai Tai.

It’s a memoir about four years Tania spent living in Beijing with her husband and two small children. To me, that’s a brave move and Tania’s account of their time is also brave and honest. She exposes her own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and uses tongue-in-cheek humour to show how she coped with the cultural and lifestyle differences in China’s capital.

Even though I have never been to China, I could relate to Beijing Tai Tai – to worrying about how your kids will cope, missing your home and friends and family, and finding things overwhelming at times.

There is so much love, life and laughter in this book along with beautiful writing. I felt like I was there in Beijing, breathing in the heat and pollution, the tastes and smells of the Beijing lifestyle.

It not only takes great courage to embrace a lifestyle like this, but also to share your experiences with the world. Tania uses humour to show how she dealt with some of the more difficult aspects, but she doesn’t make light of the issues themselves.

Beijing Tai Tai is not a political manifesto. It does introduce the readers to problems of living in China, but not in a ‘hit you over the head with them’ kind of way. You experience them through the eyes of Tania and her family. It really helped me to understand some of the many differences between Eastern and Western thinking.

Beijing Tai Tai is the Eat Love Pray for mothers, and whether you’re planning a trip to China or not, you’ll find it an entertaining read.

BOOK LAUNCH TOMORROW

Tomorrow (18th April) Tania will be launching Beijing Tai Tai at the bookshop of the National Library of Australia in Canberra from 7.30pm to 9.00 pm.

Cost: Free

More information and bookings: https://register.eventarc.com/7614/book-launch-beijing-tai-tai-tania-mccartney

FRIDAY FEEDBACK – CASSIE SONNE

Today’s Friday Feedback piece is thanks to Cassie Sonne. It’s from a young adult fantasy novel.

Iris slipped down the icy mountainside towards a more hollowed out area in the mountain, one where she could be sure of firm footing. The minute Iris reached this place, she allowed herself to sink down to the ground, pulling out her blanket. Shaking and shivering, she let out all the tears she’d been withholding the past few days, letting them wet her face and clog her throat. Not even the lone hawk, circling the sky, seemed to notice Iris. And that was how she wanted it.

Had she bothered to look behind her, Iris would have seen the rising sun, beginning to warm the world with its rays. But her head was tucked between her knees, staring at the white ground, with the perfectly circular splash marks dotting it. How, Iris wondered, could something so perfect come from her pain? It seemed wrong, as though nature was mocking her.

Cassie, you have created vivid images here and you have given the reader insight into your character’s emotional state so that they can develop empathy with her.

I’m not sure if this piece comes at the start of your book, but you’ve also done a good job of raising questions for the reader. Who is this person and why is she so upset? Where is she? These are all great hooks to keep the reader turning the pages.

I’ve made a couple of suggestions where you could tighten the text up a bit…just by trying to omit word repetition. For example, your opening sentence could be reworked to something like this.

Iris slid down to a hollowed out area in the icy mountain, where she could be sure of firm footing. She pulled out her blanket and allowed herself to sink  to the ground.

Your setting descriptions are very vivid but sometimes I found myself needing more specific detail so that I could picture exactly where Iris was. For example, when she slips down the mountain, does she land on some sort of ledge? It sounds like it must be quite large, but I wasn’t sure. Also, is the ground white with snow? Is it cold? Is she sitting in snow or does she sit on her blanket? Does the cold seep through it?

I’ve suggested you pare the words back in the next bit too in order to make the text tighter

Shaking and shivering (Cassie, you might only need one of these descriptions, not both) , she let out all the tears she’d been withholding the past few day. They wet her face and clogged her throat.

In the next part I felt like I needed a bit more specific description so I could picture what Iris was doing.

Had she bothered to look behind her, Iris would have seen the rising sun, beginning to warm the world with its rays.

Is Iris sitting facing the mountain here because even if she was looking down, she would probably feel the sun on her head? I’m wondering if you could relate the warmth of the sun directly to Iris to bring the focus back to her.

But her head was tucked between her knees, staring at the white ground, with the perfectly circular splash marks dotting it.

Are these splashes from Iris’ tears? If the mountain was icy as you described earlier, would this happen – or would they make a mark like this in powder snow? Would splashes from tears be perfectly circular? The clearer your descriptions, the easier it is for your reader to visualise them.

We know that the thoughts are taking place in Iris’s head so I would probably tighten up the last sentence a bit to read something like this:

How, Iris wondered, could something so perfect come from her pain? Nature was mocking her.

Cassie, I really like the way you have incorporated your setting as part of the action so it does more than just provide information. I’m interested to know who Iris is and what will happen to her next.

Good luck with your story and thanks for sharing your WIP with our blog readers. I hope you’ve found my comments helpful.

If anyone else has some constructive suggestions to make about Cassie’s piece of writing, please leave your feedback in the comments section of this post.

If you’d like to submit 150 words for Friday Feedback, please email it to Dee*at*Deescribe*dot*com*au 

Happy Writing:)

Dee

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