Meet Caroline Noe

This post, it is my pleasure to feature an Indie Author who is not just talented and bent on working hard at her own career but is someone keen on supporting others as she follows her chosen path.  The further I go into this whole writing scene the more I am convinced that doing well is nothing unless you are part of something bigger, and I don’t just mean within the writing community. You stand taller if you are willing to help others, you learn so much more and so much quicker, you gain something hard to put into words when you encourage others and see how much it strengthens them. Somehow it strengthens us as well, keeps our own motivation high. This is how people achieve goals.

Anyway, I feel blessed that I get to introduce people like Caroline, and hear a little bit about their lives before and during writing. I am totally chuffed there will be more like her over this coming year. For you as readers it means a gourmet of genres and new writers, and as a reader myself I am so excited.

 

Meet Caroline Noe

Carrie 1 goodreads

I’ve had a fascination with books ever since my seven-year-old sister taught me to read Winnie The Pooh when I was three. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe cemented a love of fantasy that would encompass science fiction with the arrival of Star Wars. I still harbour a desire to run off with Luke Skywalker and marshal the force.

 

Having obtained a degree in drama, I became an actor and singer, swiftly learning the difference between dreaming and hard graft. Glamorous it wasn’t. I remember performing in one show where the audience comprised a handful of people and a guide dog. The dog was the only one interested. On the up side, I was in a tour of schools with Shakespeare for Kidz which was a wonderful, if tiring, experience. I saw first-hand how creativity is essential for the self-esteem of children.

In between, I earned my crust with an array of jobs, such as tour guide for London’s Wembley Stadium, a shoe salesman, dog walker and keyboard jockey.

These days, I’m a keen photographer. I’ve found that it’s taught me to slow down, notice what’s around me and see things from different angles; something that is difficult for the driven.

Both of my published books, Firestone Key and Canellian Eye: Prophecy, have gone through a number of incarnations, including adaptation for screenplays. In the end, I returned to the original novel concepts, albeit with a new take on them. I believe in putting your creations through callisthenics; try them as a song, a poem, a sculpture, different genres. It all adds different perspectives and enriches your work.

Although the tagline for Firestone Key is ‘Every evil has an origin’, it could equally be ‘Every action has a consequence’. At the heart of the story is my fascination with the pivotal moments around which life revolves and transforms. Decisions we make not only change our own lives but have a ripple out effect on those around us. Despite the dark elements, there is a lot of humour in the novel, particularly surrounding the rural community and their fight against dark magic. In that respect, I went against the current trend of viewing magic as a good thing, depicting it as similar to an addiction.

The Canellian Eye trilogy, once complete, will explore the slippery and sometimes savage nature of destiny. Does it exist at all? If it does, can it be lost? I received a comment recently that fate and destiny amount to the same thing. I don’t agree. For me, fate just happens – ‘whatever will be, will be’ – and is static. Destiny, on the other hand, requires compliance and action to ‘seize the day’. Even then, the concept is complicated. There may be a false notion of how destiny should play out or suffer from misinterpretation. Then there’s no guarantee that destiny is kind. In Prophecy, I deliberately made the prophet Quaylan a teenager to make the reader wonder whether such a heavy burden should rest on anyone’s shoulders, let alone one so young. As we pass through the trilogy, that prophecy goes through multiple interpretations, including a burden, a savage joke and a beacon of hope. Canellian Eye: Rebellion will follow later this year, with the final part, Chosen, due early next year.

Now a published Independent Author, I have discovered that the hardest part of the whole process is marketing; placing your books before the eyes of potential readers. A few months ago, I decided that I would try to assist other ‘indies’ by reading and reviewing their work under the banner of support, not competition. To date, I have posted reviews for 25 books, which have proved to me how vibrant the indie author community is.

Contact Caroline at:

https://www.facebook.com/carrieauthor/

 www.carolinenoe.org

 https://www.instagram.com/carrieauthor/

I love the way Caroline has thrown herself into helping other Indie authors.  Do you have something you do to show support for those you admire or care for? Please feel free to come and share what you do,

Barb

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Self-publishing, validation or just idle thoughts

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Another birthday has come and gone but I’m not the least bit bothered. I am doing things and age can’t and won’t get in the way. Three years ago, I took the plunge into self-publishing and even though I haven’t hit a best seller list, and may never do so, I can’t complain because I love what I do and I have earned the right to do it.

I still get the occasional niggling question – why not a traditional publisher? Or my favourite, why did you give your character that name? I still cringe at the words (internally), but I choose silence (externally). In any case, what could I say?

Of course, I would love a publisher to find me, but it’s not like I decide I want it to happen and magically someone offers me a contract. And to be honest, I like not stressing over query letters, a synopsis or an outline, or that awful wait for someone to get back to you. And I may have to do a lot alone, but at least I dance to the beat of my own drum. (I didn’t pick the names of my characters, they introduced themselves and I had to lump it, just in case you wanted to know.)

There is an insane belief that we can question the actions of a self-published author in a very personal way. I am beginning to believe it is because we explain ourselves. I know I have, and frankly I have done it far too often. At first, I did it because I wanted to share the process. It helped me clarify what I was doing. Secondly, I wanted to encourage others out there to have a go at whatever they felt they wanted to do. Both were and are great reasons but somewhere in there I found myself sharing too much and wondering if I was undermining the necessary belief in the self that keeps us going. I decided I wanted to re-think and re-process.

Thinking Linda Xu

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One of the perks with self-publishing is being able to re-evaluate based on input, and then re-edit and re-publish. Controlling what we do is amazing. We pick when and where. So as I said, I documented the journey, all of it – the first publication, the re-edit, publishing again and so forth. I can truly say I did it in good faith, wanting readers to understand I knew changes were needed.

But I wonder if it wasn’t also way of excusing myself, showing myself in a positive light. I mean, it would demonstrate how thoughtful I was, how self-aware, wouldn’t it? Emotional blackmail of sorts?  I don’t think that’s true, at least not intentionally, but I have decided perhaps an element of this existed and exists, and perhaps sharing needs limits. Readers need their illusions as well, and it seems wrong to pull them into our mistakes. And it also feeds the writer a constant diet of subconscious self-doubt.

chris saur unsplash australiana

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The truth is good or bad, independent authors rock. Putting ourselves out there to fulfil a potential in our lives is brave given normal avenues for whatever reasons are not open to us, and we stand alone. Being a wordsmith (working with words), a fellow Australian author Jill Staunton would say, is incredibly satisfying. I also think it a little dangerous. Words are fuelled by thoughts. And sometimes there is a clashing between life and the manuscript we need to be wary of. This quote from Frank Outlaw (his background appeared complicated but I like the quote Mareo McCraken chose in his post and went with it) says it all.

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

These words led me back to re-read three posts I had written fail early, fail often and fail forward not so long ago.  The posts shed a light I didn’t want. I discovered that without meaning to, a part of me was documenting far too often not to be seeking to validate my less than perfect outcomes. But, validation is a means of gratifying the moment, and then what? My destiny was becoming more re-write blow-by-blow orientated instead of new project orientated. I forgot to fail forward. Acceptance of errors is the way we improve. I don’t need to explain. I need to improve.

Kelsie Engen in a recent post says she has learned three valuable lessons as a writer.

  1. Most obviously, I’ve learned to be a better writer. With complete honesty she tells us that looking back on her earliest writing she shudders until she sees how far she has come.
  2. Writing takes you beyond writing. One of her examples was writing about a horse jockey when she had never spent time on a track. I know what she means. As readers we see this all the time. I have had to learn to research in ways I never dreamed of for just one word. I am Italian, my characters are Italian but that is not enough to ensure correctness. Kelsie says, “There needs to be a vein of truth.” She’s right; readers connect to truth.
  3. Writing taught me to accept who I am. In agreement. Writing brings out the truth in us and we can’t run from it. We can learn.
nik mcmillan washing machine

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My mind lives in the spin of a never-ending washing machine cycle of words but you know what, that’s okay to share.

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See you next time,

Barb

 

 

The consistency Equation

In the mirror

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Not so long ago I attended a function. As often happens at this sort of event we had speakers. One in particular impressed me because the discussion was along the lines of something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I mean I have been having some deep and meaningfuls with the person in the mirror.  What do I want, I ask my reflection, and can I achieve it? What do I have to do to get where I want to go?

I would love to have the things I do to have meaning, and that others may enjoy or gain something from it. It’s why I teach English as a Second language to migrants. Knowing I have helped them in some way to communicate is humbling. Communication is empowering. That part of my life I seem to understand really well but other parts are up and down.  Can you guess what I am explaining on the whiteboard?

Romeo and Juliet

However like most of us I have many balls in the air to balance and all without ever having juggling lessons. Is that the problem? Attempting too much? But, why shouldn’t we?  Is it so terrible to want a variety of areas in our lives to go right? Or is the problem something much simpler?

The speaker at the luncheon had the theory that the problem was the image we present and the person we are doesn’t always mesh. At first I thought this a little superficial for aren’t we so much more than we appear? Yet on deeper reflection I got it.  Your personal image and how you manage it, decides whether you are mediocre or a star, even a tiny one. First impressions do matter.

The image you present is like opening the front door to your home.  It says this is me and when the door opens it needs to be consistent and representative of that me.  If what they see is a mess then you are asking clients, friends or family to see you through that mess.  It isn’t fair to them. It’s your mess and one you can’t be bothered cleaning up. How will they ever believe you will do a good job (whatever the circumstance or situation) for them, if you don’t respect yourself enough to do it for you?

When I am teaching English as a communication medium I think about what I wear (I use the colours, the shapes for description), I think about preparation and presentation in terms of what the students will relate to and what works best for me because I am the presenter. I juggle (even without juggling lessons) these aspects and always reflect on what can be improved by asking, by allowing them to see I don’t know it all. Why is it easier in one situation than another? Why isn’t there an easier transference?

What is there that needs to be transferred? The answer is everything. Things work when we are consistent, consistent in our approach whether it be taking care with our appearance, the work we are preparing and the attitude we have in delivering. Consistency is the fly in the ointment, the worm in flour, the mould in the bread. Not consistency itself but the lack of.

We can’t measure our success by what we do in one place; it has to be reflected in all we do and the only way to achieve this is to recognise the importance of consistency as part of an equation for a more productive and happier life.  We don’t have to be perfect.  We just need to build creativity, capability, credibility into our lives as consistent habits. Together they spell professionalism and if we work to maintain this, the rewards come in the form of satisfaction in our job, life, friendships and they way we look.  It builds confidence (more about this in a later post).

A recent video I watched about Navy SEALS in training gave making the bed a whole new meaning. Getting things right, Admiral William H. McRaven (fascinating speaker and video clip) informed us, can start with the habit of making our bed every day, one small completed task done right, can be the springboard for many more. How can we get the big things right if we don’t do the little things? And the added bonus – knowing we have a comfortable refuge at the end of a hard day. It reminded me of my own days in the Defence Services. Our beds had to be perfect enough to be able to bounce a 20 cents coin (we had to have the old hospital corner thing going or we were in serious trouble).  It took me forever but I did it, and back then, believe me, we needed the comfort because to our young innocent minds and bodies the days were very long.

To be honest my mother taught me how to make the bed. The Army taught be how to make it quicker,  but the Navy SEALS taught me to appreciate the consistency of having a nice place to go back to. Maybe I already knew that last bit but for me and the SEALS to have something in common is not an event I can pass up mentioning.

On a more serious note, its the little things that form the base from which to change the world.  After all, it is about consistency, isn’t it?

Ci vediamo

Barbara

Do you need to shed some curves? Are the balls too heavy?

 

What do you do when life throws constant curve balls right at your face? Hey, I’m talking heavy duty, lots of kilos, knock you down balls.

Well? You find a way to dodge, and swerve until they go away, and they will.

Determination and a strong desire to achieve on their own are not a guarantee for success but they can be the driving force in seeking solutions, solutions to suit that particular individual.

Phillipa Nefri Clark , an author in a writing group I belong to, shared a great post about her first chaotic months in the industry. A fledgling gets bombarded with so many ideas on how to succeed.  Most of them are costly, confusing and often conflicting. Phillipa’s itemised list reminded me of the film The Birds.  You know that scary moment wings flutter madly on feathered bodies as they prepare to swoop. Imagine those beaks pecking at you while you struggle to decide what to protect.birds

As if formatting, choosing covers and editing isn’t enough to worry about we also have to deliberate on who to publish with and the possible limitations that may or may not arise from that choice and then choose a method to promote the book. What if you are not technologically gifted, or only have a measured ability? Seriously, this could be a ….breaker (‘deal’ fits in here but if you remember the curve ball analogy then you might prefer that word instead.

Having followed numerous authors for years as I am an avid reader (I am addicted to the euphoric feel I get turning pages), and having religiously reviewed their books I assumed the same would follow once I changed hats, giving me a head start into what really is a chaotic world. It wasn’t that simple as I found out. You have to think wider.

Promoting is a complex and consuming operation and not everyone understands to share and to like is vital, and those that do often don’t have a lot of time to spare. And, it is often also perceived as a commitment to an opinion, and it scares people. For me, it is a commitment to what a person is trying to achieve. I realised I needed help, independent help.

After a lot of research and reflection I chose Sylvia as my way to work at my writing with a clearer and happier mind.  Although she lives in the UK her promptness and efficiency, her creativity and her flexibility to work with me and offer direction has allowed me to draw breath. Her services range  from helping with websites, editing, creating images and posting to media, and Sylv also runs a blog where she interviews authors and gives insight into their work.

Having an author PA has freed me up considerably. I can now concentrate on Unexpected Passion, Book 2 of The Unexpected Series and a short story I hope to be able to offer free, and still continue the fine tuning (endless by the way) the craft requires. I have to do things consecutively. My age and circumstance in life dictates I need the required steps under control before I can move to the next step. Promotion, and media were slowing me down and impacting on confidence. It is not one of my strengths.

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I don’t mind admitting I was nervous when I made the decision to trial a three-month-special with Sylv (me have a PA, a personal assistant?).  Then I was nervous when I saw my novel come up too often on media for my liking (see how confidence was down) but I swallowed my fears and kept the faith. I had to trust I had made a good decision. I needed the book out there. I needed to experiment, to trial. The result has been a world of knowledge that continues to grow every day.

Sensing my insecurities Sylv went all out to show me different possibilities. My book trailer is a great example. My cover is modern; the trailer had more of an old world feel. My book is edgy but I also believe it is very romantic. Again we experimented.  Sylv wants her authors happy and listens. When the second book is released we may change things up a bit, or not. Curve ball = learning curve =flexibility.

We are currently working on a plan that will suit me with affordability and consistency, and showcases my poetry book Emotions in Eruption, as well continuing to promote the novel whilst setting up what is needed for the second book in my series. Sounds scary, right?

I love it.  I now have a means to feel less pressured and maintain focus.   Sylv encourages working together (and that means all her clients). Writing is a large umbrella and an author has to remain pro-active and also network. Professional help is not someone doing it all for you.  It is someone helping you help yourself.

Is it all coming together? Slowly. Am I less worried? Yes! I have real back up. Would it suit you? I think you may be surprised but I can’t guarantee it.  I can only reiterate how much easier my life is these days with Sylv onside. Check out www.sylv.net or contact her at sylv@sylv.net.

Until we meet again

Barb

Paying it forward is not always easy

butterfly-shoulder-tattoo-croppedDo you ever get fixated on something? For me there are two things, butterflies and the whole idea of paying it forward. These two items are a song in my head, a tune that haunts me, delights me and often astounds me. The music can also disappoint the hell out of me but then that’s life.

Let’s take butterflies.  They are beautiful, fragile creatures with a short life span. Yet within that short period of time they change from something ordinary to something quite extraordinary.  My love affair with butterflies began with a television series I can’t remember the name of about a city with eight million stories to tell. There is only one place in the world where that might apply – New York. And, as we were living there at the time I think the show may have been The Naked City. I googled and it is the only one that fits. What would we do without Google?

New York was the first time I saw snow. It was a place where in winter children wore hoods where only the eyes and mouth were visible, wore gloves and beanies to cover the other two extremities, and thus the colour of skin was rendered irrelevant. New York was Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn where the smells of foods from all over the world blended, and co-existed before the word multi-cultural existed.

I remember that in the series the main detective’s wife could neither speak nor hear; an unusual casting for the era where inclusion was a word yet to be invented. He was investigating a murder that involved a tattoo parlour, something which the detective explained to his wife via sign language. At the end of the show the wife surprises him with a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder. A few years later Goldie Hawn starred in a movie where butterflies represented freedom. I recalled this too when at age 40 I walked into a tattoo parlour and asked for a butterfly.

My mother threw her hands in the air (she was Italian) and be-moaned the fact before the event – that people would talk and I would be considered a fallen woman.  I am still waiting as it may have lent a certain excitement to my life it lacks. I have time I guess.

I have never been sorry, the butterflies roam around my books and give Lia reason to remember her mother, and a butterfly sits on and will continue to sit on the front cover of my first and last book in The Unexpected Series. This is by virtue of Chris Brunton, my very talented artist (he has two links which I have provided) who understood I needed this and was very creative with it.

Why do we fixate on particular points or things? I don’t know but the same thing occurred when I watched the film Paying it Forward. The whole premise fascinated me and still does.  It too has a kind of fragile beauty that makes people afraid to reach out and be a part of the world it represents. Can something good be frightening? Yet if we all paid forward imagine what would return to us in bucket loads. With authors, paying it forward comes in the form of support for other writers, and for their readers.

By re-tweeting their tweets, liking them on Facebook, reading their books and reviewing them, writers help other writers stay buoyant in a competitive world. Writers support their readers by trying incredibly hard to improve on what they do. Readers support by reading and reviewing and recommending, and if we are lucky, by following us. It’s a cycle and a beautiful one when it flows. I love being a reader as much as being a writer especially when I come across books that I enjoy.  Shifter's Magic

I have another two this post, both rural and both full of warmth, family feeling, romance and naughty behaviours that people indulge in when they find the one they truly love. I have no hesitation recommending them and have provided links. The first, Shifter’s Magic, had such a lovely flow of feeling. I wanted to live in that community.  The second Finding Home was tender and sweet and full of nice people.  I wanted to live there as well. These two books were very different but both had people paying it forward in their own distinct fashion.

Finding HomeIn life strangely enough paying it forward is pretty much the same. We support our families and friends, the people around us, and we teach our young to be generous, helpful and loving, and they spread the word and teach their young the same.  My one-year-old grandson can already blow me kisses. It isn’t hard to be a community yet somehow we make it so by being too busy with our own thing, our own lives. We fixate on that rather than finding butterflies. I think I would rather the butterflies, lots and lots of them.

What do you find fascinating and how does it impact on you and your world? I’d love to know.

Alla prossima

Barb

Henkou, a lovely word

j4You will find as you know me better that I have a deep fascination for other cultures and traditions. Japanese culture is bold, simple, stylish and minimal without compromising rich and colourful intensity. As you follow my series (please) you will find that essentially my characters come from a variety of backgrounds.  Their interactions reflect this and I hope the diversity adds flavour to my stories.

 The word henkou comes from the Japanese.  It means alteration, a change or a modification but not a dismissal of previous ideas.   A lot of literature coming my way continues to put an almost disparaging slant on both eBooks and self-publishing, and it niggles. I get that there is a certain status involved with publishing houses choosing you, and I also comprehend the beauty of the printed page. On the other hand I can’t deny the evidence to show eBooks form an essential and increasingly important part of every retailer’s inventory.

  My kindle is almost ten years old so eBooks have been a part of my life for a long time. I’m not alone in this. I read somewhere that romance readers can read a book a day. Reading gives knowledge, reading gives pleasure and reading provides time away to recoup from the harsh reality of the world.  Reading can also be expensive and eBooks are considerably cheaper to acquire. I am grateful for this possibility. It widens my purchasing power.

 I still buy the traditional book.  I still love the feel and smell of the printed copy.  Nothing can replace the thrill of the page turn.  It provides a solid vehicle of transportation to magical places when coupled with beautiful images. As a teacher I find it sad that technology has replaced the textbook in the classroom but I don’t underestimate its value to the learning process. I had to alter my thinking.  At a practical level I have arthritis in my hands and a kindle is so much easier to manipulate.  It holds a tremendous amount of books yet weighs almost nothing, and takes up very little space.  For many of us the convenience of eBooks has meant more shoes and clothes in our bags at holiday time.

 I am not sure the eBook is the problem. To me it seems the relationship the eBook has to self-publishing is the real culprit. It is the discord centre. The online ease of self-publishing means not all books are subject to stringent quality control.  It also means quality or not, the huge amount of books flood an already crowded marketplace.  However, there are some pretty awful, traditionally published books out there (perfect grammar and all). Instead of resisting change we need to adjust our thinking to finding ways to improve what happens in that market place.  The eBook is here to stay.  Self-publishing is here to stay.  Let’s find a way to make it work instead of casting aspersions.  I womder why traditionalists seem to have a problem with henkou?

The world of the word is no longer ruled by an elite and privileged few.  Those critical of indie authors seem to forget that this means readers now have an amazing diversity of works to choose from. EBooks go one step further, they offer the wonderful opportunity to sample before you buy.  Henkou thinking here encourages trust in our readers, enough trust to believe they are smart enough to weed out what isn’t good. Reviews serve a great purpose, not to destroy an author’s confidence or boost it falsely, but to encourage a change for the better in their writing.  I know my novel had some grammar issues and I have taken on board comments and adjusted accordingly. It still won’t make it everyone’s taste but the fact I police my work as do so many others, counts in giving the publication credibility.  We need to value this.

humphreyI am the worst traveller. Motion sickness is my middle name.  Once in Morocco I got so sick I had a black tongue. Don’t ask.  Fortunately, a fellow tour member was a doctor. The crossing back to Spain was a nightmare.  I threw up enough for a lifetime even when the sea was still (never happened, I swear). Yes, I still travelled after that horrible experience.  Why?  Because, I went to Casablanca.  Anyone who is a Humphrey Bogart fan will not ask silly questions at this point. So why the travel discussion?

Travel was and is an obsession but I lost count of the times I wished I was the one in charge of the boat, the bus or the train. Having responsibility pushes weakness aside.  Performances rise when others are at risk. My altered perception shows me indie authors have chosen to be in the driver’s seat despite suffering nausea. Captaining a small boat on a changeable sea is considered brave.  I may never be a success in the traditional sense, both in publishing terms and life but my modified thinking measures things differently. I have always trusted in the reader out there but my altered self demands I trust even more.  When I came across my beautiful word I took it on board as a sign to alter my responses and the result has been unexpected.  Thank you, Robert Okaji, for your wonderful blog O at the Edges, and for the post that led me to henkou.  A tweak in our thinking brings peace of mind, and an improvement to our lives.

img064Alla prossima

Barb