As writers and authors, learning new skills, keeping ahead of genre evolution, trope changes and writing methods is vital for our continued improvement as a wordsmith. With the industry changing so quickly, we need to be ahead of the game.
The best ways to do this are:
Join a writing group
Read articles on the book industry
Take courses and workshops
Attend writing conferences
Subscribe to industry newsletters
How do you keep current with the writing industry?
This past weekend, I virtually attended When Words Collide and attended as many sessions as I could, while also being a co-presenter and panelist. Although, there was information I already knew, there were also those little nuggets of wisdom, insights and knowledge that made each session a gem. My notes were prolific and my follow up to action each gem will take several weeks.
There is always something to learn, whether you are just starting out on your writing career or have years of experience. We can have tunnel vision and ease into a ‘comfort zone’ so easily, when there are so many other calls on our time.
Some things can be scheduled monthly, such as updating your website or blog with current information. We don’t want a visitor to read upcoming events from 2018! Modify your bio to include your latest book, current WIP progression and appearances etc. Don’t leave your blog stagnant – post content regularly. (This can be once weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly – just a known routine, so followers will know when to expect you to post).
We all have several social media accounts, so make sure they reflect the latest news, images etc. so they are in line with your current activities. This makes your author platform current. Also check links to ensure they are working properly or direct to a new site, if a change occurred. Refresh content and images so your platform doesn’t look dated or tired. Renew your copyright dates for all content across platforms on 1st January each year – this is one that can be missed very easily.
Can you share tips on what you do to stay updated and improve your writing skills?
I think I am a romantic at heart, but also I love the idea of relationships because I truly believe that these are the essence of humanity. How people react to each other is like dancing, and the twirling of the steps can be hypnotic. I want to create worlds and lives that reflect these beautiful steps.
2. Which comes first – character or plot?
Sometimes its just the concept or idea, sometimes I can envisage a face or the feeling of a character. For me, the process doesn’t always start logically, but it pulls out and unravels like threads of silk. From there I weave it into a fine thread and make it into a story.
3. Are you a plotter or a panster?
Pantser – 100%! I have tried to plot, but I find it more difficult than just letting the words reveal themselves to me. Obviously with a trilogy I have a base concept of where the story is heading, but even them, the plot can change as the story develops.
4. How does the terrain, history and unique characters of Australia affect your writing?
There is a lush and yet arid beauty in Australia. As if when it was created, multiple worlds fought over the same space and so you have long stretches of sparsely filled desert like sands and plants, followed by fields of wheat, green fields and forests, and then long golden coasts. Its such a pleasure to discover new places and spaces that feel untouched by anyone else.
5. Can you tell us about the Eyre Writers Festival?
The festival was formed a few years ago as a way of engaging local writers and authors with the greater community. Not only do they offer some amazing guest authors and workshops, but they support local writers to engage in various forms of writing through their sessions. For me, its been an absolute joy to be surrounded by such talent and meet some best selling authors and learn their secrets.
6. Did you find anything surprising when writing the magical stories?
Always! The beauty of magic is that there are no limitations or hindrances. If you can imagine it, then magic can make it happen. How wonderful!
7. How was writing the paranormal romance different from your other narratives?
There is definitely a greater freedom in paranormal romance, because what you write can include elements of the ‘unreal’. You can have magic and other world abilities, that realistically are not possible in a general romance. So I have greatly enjoyed paranormal romance, and have many ideas and plans for more characters and worlds in this genre going forward.
8. How do you come up with your novel titles?
I would like to say there is a methodical process to it, but there isn’t. Sometimes I focus on the plot line to generate ideas, but largely I rely on general concepts. For more than one book, I already have the name of the book I just haven’t uncovered all the plot yet!
9. Where do you love to write?
Anywhere and everywhere. Coffee shops can create fabulous characters as you absorb the hum of the visitors around you, but a library brings forward fabulous ideas and worlds. So I try and move around and write in lots of different places, because I think they all bring their own benefits. If I had to pick just one, it would be a special writers retreat location that I go to with other author friends as often as time allows. I think the collective imagination takes hold and brings forward beautiful writing.
10. Can you tell us about your newest novel?
My next novel is The Heart of Nowhere, which is due out in October. Its the second book of a trilogy and brings the next part of the story forward. A Town Called Nowhere was the starting point, which introduced my two key were-panther characters – Dru, a famous race car driver escaping his notoriety and Nicci, a lone were-panther running from her past. They form a new pack in Nowhere, an abandoned town in remote Australia. But they soon find that they cant outrun their history or their destiny. For the second book, there are lots of action scenes which I hope will keep the readers on the edge of their seats!
I just want to thank my readership for their active and avid support. They are what keep me writing!
VK Tritschler is a native New Zealander/Canadian, who is now residing in Port Lincoln, South Australia. She had been a member of Eyre Writers (an established author and writers group) since 2010 and has been an active writer since youth. The Secret Life of Sarah Meads (Chic-Lit) was her first published book and utilized her background as a mother, woman, and degree in Psychology. Her novels include Magic and Mischief – Vital Impetus (Paranormal Anthology), The Risky Business of Romance (Romantic Suspense), and Trade Secrets (Rom-Com) and A Town Called Nowhere was released in April 2021.
I spent our ‘extra’ day, 29th February indulging in two writing workshops. One was a novel workshop, which will span four months. A group of writers email a number of chapters of their current work in progress for edits and suggestions to each other and then email them back for revisions.
The second workshop, held by The Writer’s Foundation of Strathcona County, was a monthly creative workshop, covering many aspects, styles and types of writing. As we are approaching poetry month in April, we covered different types of poetry. I have to admit poetry is not my forte, so it did stretch my creativity. We covered six styles. I am sharing my attempt of a coupled rhyme (rhyme in pairs AA BB CC). The words we had to incorporate were chosen at random. Clock, rock, storm, born, wall, tall. Five minutes later I achieved this:
The fisherman looked at the clock
Then walked to the big rock
He knew it was time with the storm
For the creature to be born
The waves rose up as a wall
And there the beast stood so tall
Do you have a certain style of poetry that you prefer?
Lavinia by Ursula K Le Guin – my review:
To be immersed again in ancient Italy was a joy for me. I learned Greek & Roman literature in school and was transported back to the world of gods, mythology and mystery.
A wonderfully written narrative, anyone would enjoy.
Though I have written children’s novels in the past, most of the writing I do now is non-fiction with a focus on self-esteem and personal empowerment – understanding the origin of self-defeating beliefs and breaking down self-imposed barriers.
2) How did you come up with the title?
The title Extreme Esteem came from the name of a self-esteem and personal empowerment workshop I had been conducting at the time. My editor, Carl and I came up with the name and after a Google search (with no hits), registered it as the official name for my workshop series. Over the years, the title has become popular and you’ll now see it everywhere. I think I can confidently say that Carl and I were the originators of the term.
3) Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In my book Extreme Esteem – the Four Factors, I want my readers to understand the origins of dysfunctional thinking and disempowering belief systems, how those systems are reinforced, how they can be broken down and ultimately, replaced with more positive, heart-centred ways of thinking and being.
4) How much of the book is realistic?
Much of the book is realistic. Most of the lessons start with real-life experiences. Some are from my history, but many have been shared with me by workshop participants and clients over the years. I am also an intuitive hypnotherapist and life coach, so I’ve heard many fascinating tales. I should mention, I have always asked permission before sharing an anecdote in my writing.
5) Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Characters are almost always based on people I’ve known or are an amalgam of various people I have met (or heard about) over the years. Sometimes, a character in a story is actually me reacting the way I would to a particular setting or situation.
6) Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
7)Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I am working on a sequel to Extreme Esteem – The Four Factors simply called Extreme Esteem – The Four Factors 2. (Pretty creative, eh?) And I’m working on a time-travel novel titled The Fence Post Philosopher combining down-home philosophy (and self-esteem building) with a science fiction premise.
8) Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
The favourite character that I created was from a young adult novel I wrote years ago called Power Glide. The character’s name is Verity Lambert. After the death of his father in a vehicle accident, Verity and his mother struggle to make ends meet. Following a brush with the law, Verity is sent to stay with his gentle, long-suffering grandmother and curmudgeonly grandfather for the summer. The two immediately dislike each other, and after a few days on the farm, Verity decides to run away. I won’t give the story away, but it’s a tale of a son who lost his father and a father who lost his son.
9) Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I enjoy writing stories that contain a life-lesson and speak to the heart — stories about loss and redemption, forgiveness, the healing journey and achievement despite enormous odds and obstacles. I love people stories – people are fascinating.
10) Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
It’s weird, I have an idea and will plant a mental “seed” in the fertile soil of my mind. Then I forget about it until I start getting those intuitive nudges that tell me the idea, the seed has germinated, and then I begin to capture everything that comes to mind in a notebook I always carry with me. I try to capture every idea no matter how crazy or absurd because who knows where it might lead or what it might produce.
11) What is your best marketing tip?
As far as a marketing tip, get out there and be seen – be noticed. I used to do a tremendous amount of speaking on the topic of self-esteem and personal empowerment for businesses, schools, colleges and universities and ultimately became known to many as The Self-Esteem Guy. Of course, I would always have my books for sale at every event. For me, it was important to become known for something significant. I once encountered a lady while leaving a restaurant with my family. She recognized me, so approached me and made a life-affirming comment, “You have no idea the difference you’re making in the world and how many lives you’ve touched.”
12) Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Social media well executed can be tremendously powerful. Poorly executed, it can be a hindrance and even discredit your work. Have a plan and follow it, allowing room for flexibility, innovation and of course, creativity.
OPTIONAL QUESTIONS What do you enjoy most about writing? I love words and the endless combination of ways you can put them together to inform, delight, encourage and inspire. I think I realized the power of words years ago when I wrote a story about my grandfather – the first story I sold. I read it to my writers’ group, and a couple of members were crying at the end. Even though they had never met my grandfather, they were moved by his simple, down-home wisdom and saddened by his passing. I feel that writing is my gift, my purpose. When I’m writing, I feel powerful, competent and capable. I feel good.
What age did you start writing stories/poems? My mother loved to read and shared that love with me. I started dictating stories to her (which she hand wrote in a notebook for me – she had beautiful handwriting) before I could write. I think I must have been four or five years old at the time. I would dictate them; then she would read them back to me so I could make the necessary edits and corrections.
What is your favourite writing space? I love spending time in my home office surrounded by all my books and childhood chotskies – old toys, old farm signs, plenty of Elvis paraphernalia and old mantle clocks. I collect and repair old clocks, so they’re all over the house, much to the chagrin of my poor wife.
If you could meet one favourite author, who would it be and why? My favourite author is Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone. I love the way he put thoughts and ideas together in ways (at the time) no-one had considered. Incredibly wise and intelligent, I can read Serling’s stories and words over and over again. I have had the good fortune of getting to know Rod’s daughter, Anne Serling who is an excellent writer.
Murray Fuhrer is a professional freelance writer and marketing consultant. Murray spent over 30 years in the broadcast industry, crafting award-winning advertising campaigns for a variety of businesses, large and small. He is a syndicated columnist and author of the popular self-help book Extreme Esteem – The Four Factors.
Murray has written over a million words of advertising copy and sold more than 1000 works to publications across the country. Over the past few years, his focus has broadened to include online advertising, social media marketing, graphic design and video production.
Tuesday is the date of my writing group’s meeting. Due to my on the spur of the moment road trip last month, I missed the last one – this doesn’t happen very often but a whole three days of writing, fantastic scenery and great companionship cannot be taken lightly or for granted. This month’s meeting will follow the usual format – announcements of events, calls for submissions for our newsletter and the Never Been Better page. Sharing of stories, constructive critique and general discussion on our current projects, Q&A on any writing related topics and suggestions for presentations or themes for the next meeting.
Every meeting is unique not just because of the topics or stories read but the attendees who may be regulars or new faces. We never know how many will turn up – some meetings the room is full to capacity and lively or others where only a select few attend, making the meetings intimate. No matter the number each meeting is geared to supporting and encouraging writers – any age, any stage of their writing career.
I attended Kurios – Cirque du Soleil’s steampunk show. It was stunning with many heart stopping moments as the acrobats performed routines that were mind blowing and incredible. Such skill, such strength and precision. For the safety of the performers no photography was allowed once the show started. All I can say is if you get a chance to go – then do it!
The costumes, the choreography and sheer organization it takes to put such a show on is extraordinary. The accordion man was one of my favorites. The costume moves just like the musical instrument. Check out the link for more images: https://www.google.ca/search?q=Kurios+costumes&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjh-ryaubHVAhXr7IMKHSSeCsAQ_AUICigB&biw=1216&bih=615#imgrc=OYk3AGT2sszZsM:
As a writer I also appreciated the show for the time traveler story line and the fantastic world the traveler witnessed.