Making wine, or making vinegar – the difference is in the fine tuning

pink-wine-1964457__340There are days when I feel so frustrated with the world of writing that I wish I had never started. The reality of it all, the hoping for reviews, hoping for readers, the media, working on follow up books, both in The Unexpected Series and my Emotions poetry trilogy has meant feeling overwhelmed. Don’t misunderstand. I love writing but it is hard work and so reliant on what others think, much like the creation of fine wine.

Age or time if used wisely improves the process but like first-time winemakers you need to hone your craft by taking on board the reactions of others.  If you haven’t handled the process carefully then vinegar is the result. It doesn’t mean you give up however you do need to add a bit more thought, to your approach.

I’m Italian and I grew up to the stomping of grapes in the cleverly designed concrete contraption housed in our garage. I lived in Sydney so options for my father and uncles were limited.  They made their own, contraptions that is, contraptions that included a still (an amazing construction of dubious metals) as well as the area that housed the bare-feet grape-bashing once a year gathering of relatives.  In the early years the ensuing results were often foul, at least compared to the wines I enjoy these days, but other times they held a certain appeal and the dregs of those good moments extended into a grape jelly I have yet to taste the equal of.

Why the differences in outcome?  It may have been due to numerous work constraints (real jobs I mean) with available helpers, or perhaps it was the type of grapes purchased.  As time passed and I grew older and understood more, I saw the improvements in the equipment and resulting product as someone new to the growing brood of relatives, added their suggestions to the mix.  My father was many things I was often at odds with (cultural differences) but there was one thing he did that stood out I truly hope he passed on to me – he was a willing learner.

Am I ready for real critique, ready to find out whether the product is wine or vinegar? Who wants to drink vinegar?  Isn’t it good for you? I’m sure I read that somewhere. Regardless the journey has been one of bountiful information. I have learned writers build a bridge to what is often unrelated ideas in order to present a truth.   I have learned how hard it is to do this in a unique and novel way. What I didn’t know was how much of a see-saw writing would turn out to be emotionally, and how hard it would be to wait and see if the end product is vinegar or a fine bottle of red (or white but red sounds better).

Actually, I did know emotions would rise and cause havoc but the colour of our truth is grey and not the black and white we presume.  As Antonio says to his daughter Lia, in Unexpected Obsession:

“What happened isn’t black and white, the truth isn’t black and white. Maybe the facts are, this happened, that happened but the reasons are more complicated, full of grey areas. It’s hard to be open to that but Lia, grey softens the edges, helps us clarify what is important.”

I recalled a writer’s workshop I attended held by the Queensland Writers Centre on honing the realities of marketing. This is the behind the scenes hard work to get the created work out there, a time-consuming and confronting operation. If you didn’t love what you did then you would never attempt writing as a profession.  It is a demanding and selfish task master during the process, and in the necessary extensions of the process. Yet that perfect glass of wine does happen but not if you let things get in the way especially the things that may not be palatable.

Self-publishing has been a little harrowing. Yet it was also a liberating experience as ultimately it is the readers, we will answer to so cutting out the middle man seems fair. Jane Davis says the following:

“Self-publishing is the mechanism that freed me to be more ambitious in terms of where I wanted to take my fiction. Instead of being dictated to, I am free to write about the issues I’m passionate about and fascinated by – the big subjects. Remove the pressure of trying of to mold something to fit the current market – which agents admit is risk-averse and overly-commercialised – and it grows wings. For authors of literary fiction, creative control isn’t just a plus. Increasingly it’s becoming a must.

I don’t know about that, but I do know that I want to make wine and am hoping fervently that readers will take advantage of the current $0.99 sale of my e-Books extended now until the end of March, and that they favour me with a review. I am willing to accept vinegar if I end up making fine wine in the long run. I’m here for the duration but I need your support by way of input and that can only come from reviews.

Till next time

Ciao

Barb

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Butterflies

Butterfly Child (3)

www.pixabay.com

I wrote this originally for my youngest child. She has never been difficult, not as a baby, a teenager or as an adult. I always felt truly blessed because the pregnancy and birth were traumatic. Yet I knew the moment she arrived everything would be as it should be. To me she has been the butterfly, a light touch only needed to guide her to becoming an adult. She was born knowing she had to pick her flowers carefully and then to land softly and with great care.

Butterflies have always held a fascination and so years later, I found myself writing a poem for this incredible child, and linking them, the butterflies, to her incredible softness. Then years later again, I found myself weaving not the words of the poem but the feelings evoked, into Lia’s personality when I was writing Unexpected Obsession.

Lia has that same softness, but there is also a thread of steel blending with the care and consideration she gives to others. In so many ways she became my child too. I grew her into a personality able to take on a man like Nico. Each book will see a little more of her growth because like him I have fallen into love with this amazing woman who has and will continue to have an effect on the people around her.  I hope you enjoy my words.

Butterfly Child (Lia’s song)

Because of you

I feel the lightest touch of soft satin wings.

I see the rainbow in all things.

If I could contain you upon my hand,

you would be as delicate as grains of sand.

Finely formed, reflecting the glimmer of summer shine,

sweet of temper and pure of soul,

such a strong straight line.

 

You are the best of me.

You are the gift only of

the Butterfly that I am and so

you are the softness of my wings and

the rainbow colours that I wear I

bequeath to you because in

you they flourish.

And

so, I think it only fair to for you to know

when I am long gone from you and

you see a butterfly, passing by,

that

it will be me that you do not see

and it will be me reminding you, that

every day in every way

I loved you more

than I knew to say.

 

GetBook.at/unexpected1
 Unexpected Obsession Kobo
 Unexpected Obsession Barnes and Noble
 Unexpected Obsession Smashwords

Bye for now,

Barb

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Lucid Tranquillity

Sometimes our fears can hold us back from what makes us grow. Voices from the past remind us of our mistakes. We need to ignore them and instead go forward. We need more faith in ourselves, we need to believe in the voices of the future.

lucid

www.pixabay.com

Lucid Tranquillity

I hear You.
But, those voices,
those escalating influences
call me and I falter.
Your echo is far better.
It triggers a spiritual spiral
towards a lucidity
so often escaping my notice.
To be calm,
to be tranquil shudders
me into splintered fragile
snowflakes of melting
emotional madness.
I know I am the creator.
I know my power but
still I am hostage to
silvered slides of
syntax makers, who want
their universal limitations,
 to rule supreme
over others, others
who do not understand
the glory of manifestation
and sadly, cowardly
bend to the collector.
I am left frozen,
the withered wraith
of a broken spirit
bereft of presence,
a diminished  aura
of splattered, faded and
crumbling colours
never to blend.
I hear You.
I know what You say.
Be patience generous,
for I am
only now unfurling
from
my embryonic
prison.

 

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Barb

Cartoons to Romance, let’s look at art

Been giving a lot of thought to keeping the blog fresh and the one thing I keep coming back to is the people I meet in this career I have embarked on. I am a great believer in paying it forward and the people I meet every day encourage me to do just that and thankfully the blog allows me the space. Last month my focus was Australian author Jill Staunton and her wonderful book Reiver’s Moon and this month I want to introduce you to my cover artist, Christopher Brunton.

Pic 6Chris is a graphic artist and illustrator with nearly 30 years print media and advertising experience. He was formerly the Art Director for North Queensland Newspapers, but decided he was ready to branch out into freelancing, and here it is seven years later. Chris enjoys the fact that working for himself has offered an opportunity for a wider creative challenge. Although he is my cover artist Chris also does many other different things including some wonderful work with cartoons.

Chris original finish 1

I know through my own experience with him that he goes with the client need but doesn’t hesitate to offer input. I asked for something pretty for my poetry books and he provided exactly what I asked for. I wanted something soft on the eye because my poetry deals with life issues, and the things around us and I felt I needed to reflect this.

Chris original finish green 1 AmazonI loved the fact that he understood and gave my covers that softness I wanted.  At the end of the day you want someone that listens to you. Cover art is a partnership, any form of art is a partnership between the artist and the client.  I was so nervous, and it turned out I had no need to be.

When I made the decision to self-publish I felt I was taking a leap off a cliff; and trust me I am no bungee jumper. My son did give it a try, but I don’t want to think about that. Anyway, I had to make some decisions involving what I could do myself and what I couldn’t. The cover was the hardest thing to decide on, and I made a few mistakes trying to get my head around things. Finding Chris has made the process so easy. I tell him my ideas, he throws things back at me, and then it comes together.  All my eBook covers have been a very smooth experience.

unnamed (2)Later, working on a print copy of the cover for my romance novel we managed to encounter a few problems and he was amazing. So much had to go backwards, and forwards because of a glitch in the system (the actual self-publishing) and I just wanted to give up. He didn’t, and we got it done. I felt supported and writers need this as we are an emotional mess at times about our work. Putting pen to paper is such a personal thing and having someone listen about our work makes such a difference.

Chris has two passions, the gym and working with people to create artwork that makes them happy. The interesting thing is I have never met Chris and all our work together has been online, and the fact the process worked so well says a lot about his attitude to life and his profession. I am so happy to be able to feature both his online illustration portfolio, and his graphic art portfolio. They demonstrate his versatility (see the cover below).

Pic 1

I have provided links below for other samples of work. I hope you take the time to peruse them.

Online illustration portfolio:  www.cjbrunton.wix.com/brunton-illustration

Online graphic art portfolio:  www.cjbrunton.wix.com/brunton-graphics

Till next time,

Barb

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Il Volo and a little bit of Italy

I am totally in love with the Sicilian group, Il Volo. The truth is I love anything Italian but these voices are magnificent, individually unique and yet they blend perfectly. You will find I will choose Il Volo often because of the emotion they are able to express so beautifully. Someone suggested I translate the words for reader ease. I am far from an expert and the Italian language does have a very distinct way of expressing emotions, but I have tried to the best of my ability to translate without losing the meaning. (see below)

This song came to mind when my lead Nico made the decision it would be better to exclude Lia from his life. I believe the words and music, even in Italian reflect a mood that can be felt without translating. There is a certain poignancy that speaks for itself.

Lia knows something is wrong, that perhaps the changes have been too much for Nico to cope with. She thinks given time she can change the status quo but unlike the song where the lyrics speak of the sadness, and of the change in the emotion the lover displays, Lia doesn’t say the words, or ask the questions, and doesn’t beg the lover not to leave, not to act. Sometimes we fear honesty. In choosing silence Lia doesn’t anticipate that the growing anxiety will lead Nico into a rash act that will hurt everyone involved.Lia 1 - CopyDoes it all sound ambiguous? Well, maybe I planned it this way just a little, so you may be tempted to seek out the book for answers.

Till next time,

Ciao,

Barb

In English for those that have the need

We are here all alone
Like every night
But you’re sadder
And I know
Because maybe you want to tell me
You’re not happy
That I’m changing
And you want to leave me

I don’t know how to live
more than an hour without you
How can I last a lifetime
without You
You’re mine
You’re mine
Nothing ever can separate us

Come here to me and listen
I love you
Please stay here with me
I don’t know how to live
More than…

 

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The Buds

The Buds

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Can anyone relate to the frustrated desire to fix things when they go wrong and end up taking that desire too far? I mean as in wasting time too far?  Sometimes we have to prove we can make it right even after understanding the mistake is there, and it’s too far gone to fix. Call it stubboness, foolishness, correction fixation or whatever word best suits you but ultimately it is a waste of time when better things are waiting.

 Hanging onto a job you hate, a marriage or a relationship that is hurting you, buying six other pieces of clothing to make the pants work that should not have been bought in the first place, living the ‘j’ word over and over (you know, justifying) are all self-harming but we do it. Maybe, we shouldn’t, maybe it’s time to say stop and let another Spring begin instead. What do you think?

The buds
 Rustling winds call my name
and awaken me to play the game.
I slowly dress
and to myself confess
though the rules seem less,
nothing seems the same.
Whirling wheels of distant blame
Reluctantly decide to claim
the fading lights
of long-lost flights,
and unwanted plights
leading back to covert shame.
To the recesses of yesterday
I banish all dead flowers.
Let them rest where they may
And allow new buds their untried powers.

GetBook.at/EmotionsinEruption

A piu presto,

Barb

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Evolution of Failure – falling forward

 

lifting weights

www.unsplash.com  photo by allora griffiths

Continuing to live or exist in the environment where you are certain to fail takes a special kind of courage. Going into battle is brave, fighting for rights and beliefs is brave but improving on what you do and accepting that you may fail again seems more an act of crazy than heroic, masochistic even, unless your failure is forward. What exactly does this mean?

If you don’t understand what failing forward means I can say, you are not alone.  It has taken me forever to get it. Failing forward means you willingly, enter the reaching the limits, zone. This is the place where constant exhaustion of the heart and head is certain. Both Will Smith and Denzel Washington, describe it as the place you live, where you are almost certain, to fail. Think of being at a gym and adding the extra kilos to the weight you have successfully lifted. You know it will be impossible to go the next step, you have already reached you limit but you try anyway. Guess what happens? Your body adapts, perhaps not that day but soon after. We are practising controlled failure and that is evolution.

Denzel Washington sheds positivity on what has long been a negative concept. Failure is a way of achieving true success. I know it sounds strange but think of it in this fashion – to succeed you need talent but talent isn’t enough; you need more. Success needs the guts to fail. Denzel says if you don’t fail, you are not really bothering to try. You are staying safe. You are doing the known, following a tried formula, and the penalty is never knowing the true success that is failing – that incredible moment you take one more step into the unknown. You see, that step leads to evolution, the evolution of the person you want to be, the one you become despite the fierce heart and soul wrenching pain.

Evolution is not comfortable and you will feel like the salmon swimming upstream, against that battering current, and you have to accept you may never find that special place but you are truly alive, truly challenged. You’re not just any ordinary fish. You are one that has found exaltation, affirmation and true satisfaction, a gift from yourself to yourself.

Talking of fish, food is another area where we minimise risks by playing it safe and following recipes to the last grain of salt, after all lasagne is lasagna (Italian spelling). If that were true a vegetarian lasagne would not exist, and neither would the lasagne I made using slices of bread (don’t judge, it was cold, and I didn’t want to go out to the shops, and I was out of lasagne sheets). It was better than delicious, but in all honesty, I was surprised it turned out so well. And, I don’t want to analyse what that may mean.

lasagnapixabay

www.pixabay.com

I have been trying to find a way to better explain, not just to any reader out there, but to myself, what it means to understand this falling forward concept. I recently read an interesting article in Writers helping Writers about mindsets. In it, Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor of psychology and author of the book, Mindset, sayswinning is not a place you arrive; it’s a way you behave. And the most successful writers behave with a growth mindset.” This made sense to me – it is a position you place yourself where you are open and flexible, and more importantly, willing to learn so of course you are constantly risking failure. It’s hardly an easy place to be.

Achieving a growth mindset that has us failing forward is surprisingly easy.

  • acknowledge the areas where we can do better
  • keep learning, read books and blogs, go to lectures, partner with like-minded people or find a coach
  • consider the fact that bringing visions to life has impact and this means thinking about impacts along the way and not just the end-goal
  • focus on constantly mastering your craft
  • be grateful for the people beside you because they ease your travels

It’s about going the extra mile, and remember when you are failing forward that it took failing early and failing often to get you to this place.

What is your take on all this? Let me know as I would love to understand more.

Alla prossima

Barb