This is a belated update on the Dystonia Around the World challenge. With a final push we did it! As a team we managed to walk around the world for dystonia by clocking up 25,994 miles and raising £ 14,257 for Dystonia UK. As a small charity every little counts and I am so pleased to have been involved.
I did not manage to write 1000 miles as planned but limped in at 630. This would have got me to my ultimate destination, The Witchcraft Museum at Boscastle, via Bridlington, Haworth, and the atmospheric Mother Shipton’s cave but I would have had to hitchhike back.
Things I have learned during this challenge
2020 is consistent in derailing any plans it knows about including this one hence why my personal challenge was not completed in the time frame.
I am slow at writing and even slower at editing. Rather than an extensive range of flash fiction posted here, my phone and notebook is dotted with unedited and half finished short stories. They will be edited one day so you can read them despite the strong urge to hide them away.
Zoom is my friend and allows me to meet other people. The last couple of months it has allowed me to connect with other writers and those with dystonia including those at Dystonia UK’s first digital conference. I would always shy away from video calls but now I have embraced them.
I never remember how much the impact the colder seasons have on my dystonia ; I need to include and adjust goals accordingly.
Dopamine plays an important role in achieving goals, and what I could achieve last year is not the same as it is now I am on reduced medication. But then, as my headmistress always used to quote “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”* 630 exceeded my initial expectations as did my final total raised.
I have more people believing in me and writing than I imagined.
Thank you everyone who supported me.
Happy writing and stay safe
I am unsure who said that originally. Google has answers from Oscar Wilde, Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking to many others. If you know let me know.
Today I am excited to introduce Catherine Rull, the Australian author of paranormal romance, Guardian: Recruit as a guest on my blog. Her book is about guardian angels that watch over a psychiatric facility in London. She’s here for a quick chat to tell us more about world-building, and hitting those word counts.
Hi, Kate. Thanks for having me.
Hello. Shall we get started? Okay, so first up: how did you come up with the world for Guardian: Recruit?
Well, it actually came to me in a dream while I was pregnant in 2008. In my dream, I was driving and saw some small things flying around. When I got out of my car, I realised they were pixies. One of them was someone I knew as a child, but he’d died. And he told me, children’s souls got to grow up but as pixies. When I woke up, I wrote down the idea. But of course pixies aren’t really sexy so I went with angels.
Good choice. Was there anything else from your dream?
No. That was it. The rest, I had to figure out myself.
Well, the world in Guardian: Recruit’s quite fleshed out. Do you have any advice for other paranormal writers?
I think there are probably five things you’ll need to do to build your own world.
Base it on something real. Any novel requires a certain level of world building, regardless of the genre. I think the more you can ground your world in reality, the more believable it is. The setting for Guardian: Recruit is similar to the hospital school where I worked in London. Of course, it wasn’t creepy there at all but that’s the beauty of creating your own world. You add your imagination to the mix and hopefully create something vivid and realistic for your readers.
Research. Researching different aspects of your story (eg. your character’s job; angels from different cultures) often leads to more ideas for your books.
The new character. Another important tool in world building is to have a character who is new to the world. This allows you to explain some of the rules of the world to the reader in a more organic way. You see this all the time, including in Harry Potter. As someone who didn’t know he was a wizard, Harry had to be taught the way the wizarding world works and the reader learns about it with him.
Layering. If you have the time, I suggest editing the book with some breaks in between. This allows you to notice things you may not have realised before, or come up with new ideas to add to your world. This gives the book its many layers.
Series Bible. It’s important to keep track of the rules you’ve set for your world. I keep a “Series Bible” for all my books (not just the paranormal ones) to ensure continuity.
Thanks, Catherine. That’s a handy list. Did it take you long to write Guardian: Recruit?
I wrote about five pages in 2008. Then, in 2014, I picked it up again and set myself 800-words minimum a day until it was finished. And it wasn’t always easy. Sometimes, I would fall asleep at my laptop trying to hit my word count for the day and I would wake up to find a row of “bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb” where my hand rested while I was sleeping. But then I’d wake myself up and keep going till I reached that word count. There were times when I felt like what I was writing was absolutely terrible, but when it was time to edit, those parts were never as bad as I thought. Sometimes, they were actually quite good! Either way, it’s better to edit bad writing than to have a blank page.
I completed the first draft of Guardian: Recruit in about 8 weeks, and then I edited it lots of times. I’m a “pantser”—that means I like to write “by the seat of my pants”. I find that this gives me space to surprise myself. I personally find plotting very restrictive. “Pantsing” allows the characters the freedom to get themselves into trouble, instead of me plotting their challenges 😊
Anyway, after writing the first draft, I print out my manuscripts to edit on paper, input the changes to the digital copy, edit on the laptop and print again. I usually edit books between five to ten times in this way. But I editing is all part of making a tight story and a clean manuscript. In 2015, Guardian: Recruit was shortlisted in the UK’s Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition.
That’s great. Congratulations!
So, do you already have other books lined up after Guardian: Recruit?
Yes. I’ve already written Book 2 of the Guardian Series and have the basic premise for the third book. I think the sequel will come out some time in 2021. I am currently working on other projects as well—some sequels to the chick lit and rom com that have already come out this year: The Fat Chicks’ Club Series and my Swim Bike Run Series.
You sound very busy. Do you have a set routine or favourite drink while you’re writing?
Not so much a routine. Like most writers, I have a day job. Plus, I have young children so I fit my writing around my other responsibilities. However, before the lockdowns, I sometimes used to go to my local library to get away from the distractions at home. That was usually when I needed to write or edit something in time for a competition or a submission to an agent or editor.
As for a favourite drink. I’m a big kid, so I like cold drinks like bubble tea and frozen Cokes. I like to keep it fun. Writing brings me so much joy, and I hope my readers feel that in my stories. You know, even though Guardian: Recruit has a seemingly sombre premise, you’ll find there’s a lot of humour in it as well. I don’t think I’d like to write anything too sad or depressing—I like my characters to have a sense of humour. It’s important to be able to laugh at life.
That’s good advice. Well, all the best with all those projects!
Guardian: Recruit is the first book in the Guardian Series. It’s available in ebook and paperback from Amazon, Book Depository and Barnes & Noble.