Categories
Books The writing process

Catching Up

Apologies. I’ve been busy with this all month:

And now it’s over.

Yes, I won. But because of that, I didn’t tell you about this:

Verdant, the poetry anthology that contains my poem, The Palm, is reduced with the code BFCM30. But the offer ends today, so you need to hurry to

https://bit.ly/VerdantPB.

That’s all for now. I’m about to put on my editing hat. I hope you’re keeping busy, too. And healthy.

Categories
Books The writing process

Confidence

We all make mistakes, sometimes. We all need to listen to advice, sometimes, especially when that advice comes from a voice of experience.

But equally important is the notion that we need to have confidence in our own abilities to think, so that, after listening to advice and learning all we can, we are able to make and follow our own decisions.

I’ve just made a decision about one of my books, one that I should and would have made sooner if I’d had more confidence to follow the path I’d chosen. Because no matter who the person is who advised changing direction, the final decision should have been mine.

I’m not going to explain any more now, but in about three months I’ll refer back to this post.

In the meantime, the message of this post is universal:

You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.

Rosalynn Carter

Writing is tough. Life is tough. But we can do it.

Categories
Books The writing process

Conversations in My Head

I just came across this article. Have a read – it’s not long.

Apart from being a fascinating read, it made me think:

Maybe I’m normal, after all.

Because it says that not only do most writers have conversations with their characters, but most people have conversations in their heads with people they know.

The picture above shows me talking to Asaf, one of the characters in the novel I’m still planning. We haven’t really spoken much, but I expect we will once the writing gets underway.

According to the article, most people have conversations in their heads with real people. I do that, too. The conversations in my head are never like real life because they flow much better than the real ones do. Hmm. I guess that means I’m not normal. Yeah, I knew that really.

Categories
Social anxiety The writing process

Of Technical Issues and Imaginary Pets…

…and something else.

I want to tell you a story, starting at the end. The lovely, kind, patient, funny, talented author, David W. Robinson, interviewed me here. David has written lots of books, the latest being The Anagramist, which you can read about here.

The Anagramist

Where does the story begin? It could start with my relationship with interviews, although I think that’s really backstory. In my previous life, my experience of face-to-face interviews was with job interviews. Frankly, the fact that I did get accepted for some jobs was probably despite those interviews.

I think the story should begin last Sunday, when David sent me the interview questions, but then I need to add a bit more backstory. Of course, if I were writing the story properly, I would begin at the beginning of the story itself and seamlessly weave in the backstory. As I’m not telling it properly, I’ll fill you in now. David originally told us authors that those who wanted to take part would create a video with our answers and he would add his part of the chat afterwards. I thought, I can do that; it’s like creating any video. And I volunteered. It was a bad decision, it turned out.

I’m still in the backstory, because at some point David realised it would be much easier for him to just record an online chat, using Skype or Zoom. This is when I should definitely have backed down, but I didn’t. I thought, I’ll work out the answers in advance, so surely it can’t be that hard. That’s me. I’ve never had that pre-event anxiety that’s supposed to be part of social anxiety. That’s not necessarily a positive trait.

Right. Finally, I can begin the story. David sent me the questions, I sent him my answers and we arranged a time for the interview on Zoom. I decided to use my mobile phone, because the camera on my laptop is too low down, and makes me look cross-eyed. But the phone, it turned out, created more problems than it solved. We weren’t synchronised, we had problems understanding each other and that wasn’t just because of David’s hearing difficulties and my lack of familiarity with the Yorkshire accent.

So we went back to the previously suggested method. I made my video (videos, actually, but let’s not get into that) and sent it to David. But he discovered that he couldn’t add his part without taking over the whole screen, rather than having us side by side all the time. So we eventually scrapped the video idea and David put the interview out as a written one. End of story?

Creating Videos

Yes, but I’ve missed something out. Although David was super kind and blamed everything on the technical problems on both sides, it must have been clear to him, as it was to me when I watched the videos, that my performance left a lot to be desired. While his part was polished and flowed easily, mine was hesitant and unnatural, as it used to be in job interviews, as I often sound when simply chatting. I’ve decided before that I don’t want to do video interviews because of that. Why did I let myself volunteer to be interviewed yet again? Because this is part of being an author in the 21st century. Because I think I need to crack this and always imagine that next time it’ll work better.

And how do I manage to give presentations? By practising beforehand and learning whole texts off by heart. Or by reading passages from the page. A presentation isn’t a chat; sometimes you can get away with that.

The imaginary pets? All part of David’s wonderful humour in our numerous emails. He made up cats and dogs, which led me to think of the rain we probably won’t see in Israel for five months, which led him to talk of droughts. And then there was a budgie (or there wasn’t). Maybe I should give up on being an author and open a pet shop with imaginary pets.

Categories
Books Poetry Rhymes The writing process

Crooked Cat Author of the Week – The Question Post

It’s time for a change.

I’ve changed my profile photo over social media. I’ve also changed various cover photos.

Miriam Drori

I have news, but I can’t divulge it yet.

And, in conjunction with the featuring of me on Crooked Cat’s website from tomorrow, 7th March, this post is the one you should use to ask me questions. You can ask me anything at all. I don’t promise to answer everything, but I’ll do my best!

So, do watch the (possibly unusual) video and read the extra stuff, all on Crooked Cat’s home page. And then come back here to ask about me, my life, my books, my writing, even… Shock   …my poetry.

OK, your turn, go to the comments
OK, your turn, go to the comments
OK, your turn, go to the comments

Important: My Kindle titles are reduced for this week. That’s CULTIVATING A FUJI and SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED.

Two Books On Sale

OK, your turn, go to the comments
OK, your turn, go to the comments me page, you have to click Comments at the top
(But if you’re reading this from the Home page, you have to click Comments at the top )

Categories
Holidays memories The writing process

Something You Didn’t Know

I hadn’t thought of that momentous day for ages, but when Lorraine Mace included this in her interview of me: “Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know”, I was reminded of something good that happened to me when I was twelve.

I won a bicycle!

There was a competition in my girls’ magazine. I had to answer questions on the rules of riding on roads. I even asked my mother whether she thought I should send in my answers and she said yes, never expecting me to win, but I did.

I had asked for a bike before. My parents hadn’t agreed. They said it was too dangerous. Yet my brother had always ridden a bike. I remembered the story of how my dad had taught him, running with him. I never saw my dad run and he didn’t teach me. (I learned to ride on the bike of a friend’s little brother. It was so low to the ground that I wasn’t afraid of falling off.)

“That was different,” they said in answer to my pleas. “We lived in the country, then.”

It was always different for him. The country, the boarding school, being a boy.

But I won a bicycle and so my parents couldn’t stop me from getting one. I remember we ordered a bike suitable for my height, but the one that arrived was adult-sized and so it lasted for years.

Bicycles
Cycling in Devon, UK

I don’t have a bike in hilly Jerusalem, but I’ve enjoyed some good times riding, over the years.

Categories
Books The writing process

Learning from Cheating

I admit it. For the first time, I cheated  this year at NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo? You know – that month when crazy people all over the world try to write a novel in a month?

True, I typed every word, but they weren’t all new words. I was rewriting my debut novel, changing third person to first and past tense to present, adding more thoughts and new scenes. I love the way it turned out, although it still needs more work.

The Rewrite Process

In NaNoWriMo terms, I “won” easily. I reached the target of 50,000 words on 19th November. Then I continued to the end of the story, and even found time to go back and add things that were left out.

I’m clearly not the only cheat. The NaNoWriMo site even has a name for cheats: NaNo Rebel. Yay!

I'm a NaNo Rebel

Despite cheating, or maybe because of it, I learned new things.

What I learned

  • I have plenty of time to devote to writing. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to “win” every year.
  • I write best and fastest on my own at home.
  • I still love write-ins, where we discuss our novels and also write together.
  • I can write with background noise, but get distracted by songs I know and love.
  • I need a detailed plan. It takes me too long to create new scenes as I write, if I haven’t planned properly.
  • I love NaNoWriMo. Yeah, I knew that before.

For those who still don’t get it, don’t be put off by the words “write a novel in a month.” We all know we won’t end up with a completed novel. It’s only a first draft, and even that won’t be complete, as most novels are longer than 50,000 words. But, even if you don’t “win,” you end the month with something to work on. It’s much better than a blank page.

Categories
Books Israel The writing process

In One Month

It’s the beginning of October. That means it’s less than a month to…

NaNoWriMo Writer

…NaNoWriMo! (That month when people all over the world go a bit crazy, trying to write 50,000 words, all in November.)

The question, this year, was never whether I was going to join in. I didn’t even consider missing out on all the fun (and hard work). It was what I was going to write.

NaNo2Small.jpg
At a NaNoWriMo Meetup in Jerusalem, 2018

I decided on something. I created the book on the new NaNoWriMo website, complete with cover, description, Pinterest board and playlist.

Then I changed my mind. I’m going to rewrite my novel, Neither Here Nor There. When I’ve reached the end, at a date that hopefully will coincide with the end of November, I’ll examine the two versions and decide which parts to keep and which to discard.

Now I have to do some plotting. I’ve already made one decision: the title is going to change. The current title is One Foot. But I might have second thoughts about that. Or third thoughts. The cover will definitely change.

OneFootCover
Temporary cover for a probably temporary title

Categories
Books The writing process

Word Tip 10: Keyboard Shortcuts

Microsoft Word Tips for Authors

Welcome to the next in a series of tips on using Microsoft Word, geared towards authors.
Most Word advice is rather complicated and full of things you’ll never need to know.
I shall do my best to keep it simple, because you’re not stupid… just busy.
Please note: 
– Not all versions of Word are the same, but most are near enough.
– There are different ways of doing the same thing. I shall demonstrate just one (or two).

I expect you all know about Ctrl/C, Ctrl/X, Ctrl/V and Ctrl/S. But do you know about Ctrl/B – bold, Ctrl/I – italics and Ctrl/U – underline?

To see lists of all the keyboard shortcuts, search for keyboard shortcuts in Help.

There are other ways of performing these actions, but if you know the keyboard shortcut, it can save time.

Here’s one that I’ve found very useful: Shift/F3. Select a string and press Shift/F3. It has three modes: lower case, UPPER CASE and Title Case.

Links to Previous Word Tips

  • Tip 1: A Matter of Style
    About heading styles.
  • Tip 2: Make Your Novel a Trampoline
    How to jump swiftly and gracefully between chapters.
  • Tip 3: That’s Not What I Wrote
    How to stop Word making changes you don’t want.
  • Tip 4: How Not to Jump to a New Page
    Press Enter until a new page appears? Please don’t.
  • Tip 5: How Not to Indent a Line
    The space bar is not for indentation.
  • Tip 6: Track and Compare
    About Track Changes, Compare and Combine.
  • Tip 7: Replacement Operation
    Pitfalls of find and replace.
  • Tip 8: Automatic Saves
    The different ways of saving a document
  • Tip 9: Accents / Diacritic Marks and Apostrophes
    Inserting acutes, graves, umlauts and the rest. Also, getting apostrophes the right way round.

What next? Is there anything else you’d like me to explain about Microsoft Word?

Categories
Books The writing process

Word Tip 9: Accents / Diacritic Marks and Apostrophes

Microsoft Word Tips for Authors

Welcome to the next in a series of tips on using Microsoft Word, geared towards authors.
Most Word advice is rather complicated and full of things you’ll never need to know.
I shall do my best to keep it simple, because you’re not stupid… just busy.
Please note: 
– Not all versions of Word are the same, but most are near enough.
– There are different ways of doing the same thing. I shall demonstrate just one (or two).

How do you write the word café? Or über? Or soupçon? Or Señor?

Word has a list showing how to write each diacritic mark. It’s the sort of list you can remember because it’s really quite guessable. Here it is: (I accessed this by clicking Help, searching for ‘diacritic’ and choosing Keyboard shortcuts for international characters.)

To insert this Press
à, è, ì, ò, ù,
À, È, Ì, Ò, Ù
CTRL+` (ACCENT GRAVE), the letter
á, é, í, ó, ú, ý
Á, É, Í, Ó, Ú, Ý
CTRL+’ (APOSTROPHE), the letter
â, ê, î, ô, û
Â, Ê, Î, Ô, Û
CTRL+SHIFT+^ (CARET), the letter
ã, ñ, õ
Ã, Ñ, Õ
CTRL+SHIFT+~ (TILDE), the letter
ä, ë, ï, ö, ü, ÿ,
Ä, Ë, Ï, Ö, Ü, Ÿ
CTRL+SHIFT+: (COLON), the letter
å, Å CTRL+SHIFT+@, a or A
æ, Æ CTRL+SHIFT+&, a or A
œ, Œ CTRL+SHIFT+&, o or O
ç, Ç CTRL+, (COMMA), c or C
ð, Ð CTRL+’ (APOSTROPHE), d or D
ø, Ø CTRL+/, o or O
¿ ALT+CTRL+SHIFT+?
¡ ALT+CTRL+SHIFT+!
ß CTRL+SHIFT+&, s

So, for example, to type the word café, type c a f, hold down Ctrl and press  (apostrophe), then release the Ctrl button and press e. Voila!

While we’re on the subject of apostrophes, have you noticed how apostophes at the beginning of words in novels and other writing often appear the wrong way round?

That’s because… I should backtrack. You probably have smart quotes set up. That’s the feature that makes quotation marks at the beginning and end of a quote mirror each other.  To see whether you have smart quotes set up, and to change the setting:

FileOptionsProofingAutoCorrect OptionsAutoFormat As You Type

Under Replace as you type, the option “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” should be ticked (checked).

That brings us back to the problem of words that start with apostrophes.

Microsoft Word Apostrophe Problem

Well, I happen to think it is. But it’s easily fixed. Word got it wrong because it thinks your apostrophe is a quote mark. All you need to do is a simple copy and paste, using an apostrophe that’s the right way round.

Next week… ooh, I’ve reached the end of the posts I planned, but there must be more possibilities. What did you always want to do with Word but didn’t know how? What would you like to be able to do in Word? You might find the option exists, but you didn’t know about it. Now is the time to ask me. Really – don’t be shy!

Links to Previous Word Tips

  • Tip 1: A Matter of Style
    About heading styles.
  • Tip 2: Make Your Novel a Trampoline
    How to jump swiftly and gracefully between chapters.
  • Tip 3: That’s Not What I Wrote
    How to stop Word making changes you don’t want.
  • Tip 4: How Not to Jump to a New Page
    Press Enter until a new page appears? Please don’t.
  • Tip 5: How Not to Indent a Line
    The space bar is not for indentation.
  • Tip 6: Track and Compare
    About Track Changes, Compare and Combine.
  • Tip 7: Replacement Operation
    Pitfalls of find and replace.
  • Tip 8: Automatic Saves
    The different ways of saving a document