Thursday, 30 June 2011

A Conversation with Fighter Writer JC Martin

It was my pleasure to interview the lovely JC Martin, founding member of 'Stories for Sendai' Japan Fundraiser.  I caught up with JC behind the scenes in a local London cafe, and we took a stroll along the famous river Thames and talked about writing, Kung-Fu, and living in a city that was far from both our home countries.

Fighter Writer, JC Martin
TL:  Lovely to meet you JC!  Let's start with your writing, what inspires you to write your chosen genre?
JC: And lovely to meet you too!  I write Crime at the moment, and my inspiration?  It's what I read the most of, -my current WIP is set around the London Olympics, its about several Greek inspired murders during the lead up to the Olympics.
TL: Is your main character male or female?
JC:  Male and a detective, so there's going to be a bit around police procedures in the story.
TL: When did you realise that you wanted to pursue writing?
JC:  As a kid I drew comics for my younger brother, I enjoyed writing at school, I liked stories and essays.  And a few years ago I started writing fan fiction, -that's when I started thinking may be I should start pursuing it seriously.

TL: So you've written some fan fiction?
JC: Er...yeah, actually two pieces 
TL: Okay, are you going to share that or...?   (We both burst into laughter here)
JC: (hesitant)  They're actually online, not that I'm terribly proud of it, because I posted my first draft... but I seem to have a small following so yup....
TL: I have to admit, I've followed a couple of fan fictions and they're entertaining! 
(more laughter)

TL:  Do you have any favourite Crime Authors?
JC: Richard Watanabe, I like his books, they're really dark but brilliantly done.  And a couple of books by Boris Starling, my ideas are partly inspired by the way he writes.  I do read Non Crime books as well!
TL: Do tell us!
JC:  The Earth's Children Series by Jean Auel

TL:  Any advice for new aspiring writers?
JC:  (laughs)  I'm still aspiring myself, so it would be, don't give up and have faith in your work, normally writers are their own biggest critics but sooner or later, you have to get your work out there.
TL:  Your blog is called 'Fighter_Writer', can you tell us what inspired the title?
JC:  Yeah, on my website actually there's an 'About Me' section.  I like martial arts, reading, and writing, those are my three passions.  I often touch on fighting and martial arts on my blog posts and its a bit of an oxymoron itself, they say the pen is mightier than the sword. So fighting and writing in a way...
TL:  So is it Kung Fu, you teach?
JC: Wing Chun Kung Fu, it's what Bruce Lee started
TL:   In Karate you have belts, in Kung Fu...?
JC:  We have grades as well, and once you get your black belt, they're called degrees.
TL: So you're...?
JC: Second degree...
TL:  OOH, thats good, so you can...?
JC:  I like to think so...

TL:  What are your writing highlights this year?
JC:  Apart from that fact I'm nearly finished writing Oracle, my latest WIP...
TL:  Word count?
JC:  77,000 and two more chapters to go!  My highlight would be a couple of conferences, one in York, -the Festival of Writing.  It was a brilliant, I'd definitely go back, and I submitted the first chapter of another work which was accepted to be read out 'live' to everyone.
TL:  How exciting! (general squeeing from me)
JC:   It was a bit like X-Factor, there were three agents and you read it out and they gave their comments at the end.

TL: Stories for Sendai is a fantastic fundraiser for Japan, what was your motivation?
JC: There was a massive earthquake in SE Asia a few years ago on New Years, it hit a lot of countries were affected and at that time I was at University and I wanted to help but as a student I felt powerless.  This time around, it was still closer to home but I felt a bit more capable to help, I could do something about it.
TL: What were the key challenges with the submission process and did you have any particular criteria?  
JC:  We got 46 submissions, and the hardest part was picking the final 20.  The main criteria was that they should be uplifting stories about survival, hope and the human spirit.  In the beginning, the most work  just getting the word out that submissions were open, trying to raise awareness and advertising.
TL:  So the hardest part was more marketing and PR, raising awareness of what you were doing?
JC:  I put it out on the blog, and set-up the 'Stories for Sendai' website.  Its more time consuming now, leading up to publication, obviously with copy editing, reading, checking errors, formatting and getting the word out.
TL:  And most enjoyable aspect of the project?
JC: I really enjoyed reading all the stories.  I'd like to think we'll enjoy good sales.

TL:   I have a few random girly questions for my girly blog... 
Whats your favourite cocktail?
JC:  I don't drink!
TL:  (confused face)  Favourite tea?
JC:  Green Jasmine... wait tell a lie, I've a strawberry daiquiri once, I liked as it had little alcohol in it.
TL:   Jimmy Choo or Louboutins?  (we both fall about laughing again)
JC:  I don't know, I think being into martials arts I'm not that girly, I just wear Next...
TL:  Okay - favourite trainers?
JC:  My Adidas at the moment, with the pink stripes - thats girly isn't it?
TL: Pink stripes? I love that!  
Now, you're originally in Malaysia, living in London, -what do you miss about home?
JC:  I miss my family and I miss the food
TL: Favourite Malaysian dish?
JC: A local dish from home town, chicken broth and noodles and theres only one shop that does it well
TL: (hopeful)  In London?
JC: No.  In my hometown.
TL:  Are they any good Malaysian restaurants in London?
JC: In Chinatown, 'Kopitiam', translated it means Coffee Shop
TL: Favourite British Dish?
JC: Fish and Chips
TL:  Favourite writing snack?
JC: Nutella, straight from the jar!

Thank you JC, lovely to meet you!  Now, everyone - today is release date!  Go buy your copy of Stories for Sendai from Amazon or Createspace.  All proceeds go to these charities in Japan, -Global Giving, International Medical Corps and Save the Children.  Also, there is a competition to celebrate the release of the anthology.  Thank you for your support!

A/N: I hope you enjoyed the interview, it's alway good to meet fellow writers and hopefully I can keep on doing so.  I'm in Milan next week for work, but will aim to post Monday and Friday.  Happy weekend!  Talei xox

Monday, 27 June 2011

Writing Dangerously in the Nude

Have you ever stripped down before sitting at your desk to write?  Yes, your underwear...and do hold onto your garters, I'm not handing out lap dances!  I'm a terrible dancer.  Let me explain... its hot here in London, and air-conditioning is largely a myth, unless you live at the Ritz...even then, I'm not sure its tolerated.  In any case, this weekend I sat down and wrote.  In my underwear.  And let me tell you, due to the heat that evening, it wasn't so much liberating as a necessity.  Did it make a difference?  Well, ladies and gents, I finally finished my second draft of my current manuscript! So, it's a yes from me! And extra house points from my Muse.  She's happily sipping martinis beside the pond right now.  

Now, if you are hesitant to try this method yourself, remember, its practically an obligatory tradition amongst writers, -Victor Hugo did it,  Hemingway too, and this may surprise you - so did the late great Miss Agatha Christie.  So, my recommendation for unexpected heat waves?  Strip down and sit down and get writing dangerously.  You may just enjoy it!  I secretly did...well, not so secret now.  Just be careful to dash between windows if your shutters aren't closed...

Ruffles, essential for writing dangerously
photocredit via tumblr

A/N: Lets face it, if you're going to write in your underwear, make it something inspiring!  Happy writing this week.  It's still hot today, but apparently we are due thunderstorms - I LOVE thunderstorms!
Talei xox

Friday, 24 June 2011

Five Jollies for Friday

Why am I exceedingly ecstatic today?  Well, lets see - it's Friday, and I am a lady of leisure today * air punch, oh yes! *    So, what to do?  When time is my own, here's five of my favourite ways I like to get my jollies!

1.  A Darn Good Sleep-in.   Leave the shutters closed until midday, pull on an eyemask, and ignore the doorbell, when was the last time you did that?  Lately I've been keeping the hours of a Vampire but I do like a good lazy lie-in on weekends, where possible.  Must try harder.

2.  Indulging the Creative Muse.   For me, right now that's crafting my own manuscript, reading my blogging buddies books, shooting photos, or watching a good flick!  I like to switch off and let the muse takeover...

3. Crimping and Pimping.  After several hours (days-weeks) of hard work, I think one deserves a good pampering, so it's straight to the beauty spa, hair salon with you.  Just do it.  Or, have them come to you.  Even better.  It's the simple pleasures in life, I like to swim and steam myself silly.

4.  Feed Your Body, Mind and Soul...  I'm easily pleased, a Dim Sim lunch would be make my day.  *chopsticks at the ready*   Bring on the basket of little goodies, and the extra chilli sauce...

5.   Canapes and Cocktails... Friday drinkies are always enjoyable and so much more with good friends and tantalising gossip, ahem... I mean, canapes.  I love my drinks trolley and my name is not Betty Draper, although that lady often steals my look   *mutters to self*

Now do share, how do you like to get your jollies?
A Glamourous Eyemask Essential for Snoozing! 

photo courtesy via tumblr

A/N: Hello!  Another topsy-turvy week and my 'to-do' list has evolved into something otherworldly.  There's much to be done in the next few weeks.  I'll be posting reviews and interviews for several lovely and talented authors.  *loud applause* (for them, not me!)   Also, continuing final chapter edits on my current manuscript.  Have a lovely weekend all!
Talei xox

Monday, 20 June 2011

Eating for Art's Sake

"Hunger is good discipline and you learn from it" 
 - Ernest Hemingway,  A Moveable Feast

Does hunger feed your creative Muse?  Famous artists starve whilst pursuing the dream, best-selling novelists write in their birthday suits, and fanatical climbers sleep in hammocks precariously secured to cliff-tops.  All to satisfy their passion, that hunger which drives them to chase their dreams.  Myself, I love good food and wine, I get glassy-eyed over a fabulous supper and dream about it for weeks afterwards and rave about to everyone who crosses my path.  And, writing seems much-more-muchier on a full stomach.  So, do we really need to starve for our art, and is hunger-induced prose infinitely better than the literary musings of a fully-lined belly?

I pondered this question whilst sitting in a cigar and whiskey bar, dining on oysters, the most sublime truffle burger, and champagne.  I can unequivocally say that sometimes excess does improve the grey cells, and people are happier when indulging.  And at the risk of watching my Inner Bohemian throw herself on the floor in a weeping mess, I'll admit something else... I love all things vintage but physical starvation for creative juices is not a belief I follow.  

These days I think our artistic hunger comes from the deep recesses of our grey matter versus our bellies.  I hanker to finish my book, I need to write every day, I must have coffee and hot chocolate...and if I don't have champagne - I will die.  See, all these things are necessary evils in my publishing journey, and I am always hungry...and there's irony in this post.  Once I do start writing, I can't stop... I forget to eat and drink, I forget where I am, who I am...and sometimes I even forget to dress.

How about you?  Do you suffer for your creative Muse?

My Bohemian Muse...inconsolable in fire engine red.
She's so dramatic sometimes...
Photo courtesy via weheartit.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Confessions of a Wayward Writer

Oh the life of a disciplined writer.  Each day, we sit at our desks, writing, composing, crafting..and then its lunchtime.  We always achieve our daily writing goals, 'high-five' each other, share tissues over rejections and toast our successes.  Sounds wunderbar!  But, lets be honest here, are we all really writing so diligently every day?  Yes.  No...well, confession time.

My dear Writing Goddess,

It's been a while since my last confession...sometimes when I'm writing, I get distracted and what I actually do is this...

1. Sit at my writing desk, stare cross-eyed at my latest WIP for the longest period of time.  I sit without moving a limb, transfixed by the white screen and thousand word count.  *blinks*

2. Gaze wistfully outside the window, conveniently located next to said writing desk.  I watch the squirrels steal strawberries from hanging planters. I watch cats chase squirrels.  I watch foxes chase cats who chase squirrels.

3.  Open up as many Safari windows as possible.  Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, Gmail, Online Shopping...easily distracted, what are you talking about?  I am writing.

4.  Stalk My Favourites...I mean, I check out all my favourite follows on Twitter - oh yes. I do.  * Cue Theme Music from Psycho Shower Scene *  After Twitter,  I hit Facebook and repeat the same action.  And, then its Bloggers turn...see, this is a timely process.

Satisfied with stalking, its now mid-morning and ooh, coffee...anyone?

7.  Tackle the most important decision of a writers day - what/where to have/for lunch?  And, if I'm out for lunch, it gets dangerous, there are shops and I am weak...

8.  Having satiated shopping needs, I return to staring at my WIP, composing several wonderful always feels good after that so I high-five myself, hit shuffle on my playlist and turn the volume up! And, if I ever over achieve my daily word count?  Well, its time for a pony dance across the floor.  Just before cocktail hour...

So, you see, dear Muse, I am in need of assistance.  Please send PA-Secretary-Housekeeper-and supplies for at least two months, so I don't need to leave the house.

Yours forever,

Ms. A M Writing.

PS:  And, dear Muse, you know this is all hypothetical, right?  Good.

A.N:  Please feel free to unburden your writing confessions here.  I want to know, if you are always so diligent with your writing?
Have a wonderful weekend!
Talei xox

Monday, 13 June 2011

Little Miss Chatterbox Is Curious

We spend hours online these days, reading, networking, shopping, writing, and yet we don't often comment back on stories.  Is it our lifestyle being moulded by technology?  What's acceptable these days when flitting through blogs at a great rate of knots?  We can stumble across a gem of a story, with triple digit hits and maybe a handful of comments. Are we shy?  *shakes head*  No, we are not.  So, what is it about a story that entices comments?  Here's my top five reasons:

1.  Connection - what you say will get you comments.  I need to feel a connection, yes it's soppy but it's true.  Chemistry in your writing makes me want to comment.

2.  Humour me -  I LOVE to laugh, it makes me smile, it gives me that warm happy feeling... and without hesitation, I shall comment!

3.  Short and Sweet - I've got A LOT to say.  I do.  I really, really do.  But sometimes, what's left unsaid is best.  Sometimes if you waffle....people forget what you were trying to say.  

4. A Little Visual Stimulation, if you please.  No, don't strip off - unless of course, your genre and site requires this.  Personally, I like the pretty pictures.  Not every post but here and there - find the perfect balance.

5.  Voice - Yes, darlings...even for blogging.  Work that voice.  Don't be the blog that sends people to sleep. That's what lullabies are for, non?   If I love your voice, you could talk to me about the futures market on Himalayan Mountain Goat Droppings and I'd sit up straight.  Pick stimulating topics, points of interest and in the words of that great Drag Queen RuPaul 'Werk it!' 

A/N:  If you enjoy what you read online, show the writer some love, even a couple of words will do.  Go on, make a Chatterbox smile today.  And, please do share your thoughts! What makes you hit the 'post comment' button? 
Have a lovely week! 
Talei x

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Sweetest Things

It's been an incredibly busy week and I'm grateful that we have arrived at Friday.  Fabulous.  Frivolous. Friday.  This week, my blog received the 'Irresistibly Sweet Award' from the lovely Ann of 'The Book Gatherer.   *curtseys*  Thank you, Ann!  And, in the red envelope? Le rules on accepting this award, I must reveal seven sweets that I cannot resist.  Sound the cream cornets!  My top seven sweets, puddings, desserts, devilish delights are:

1.  A sexy warm Chocolate Souffle...oozy, gooey...mmm, did I mention the chocolate?

2. The hotly contested (Kiwis v. Aussies over ownership) Pavlova... think enormous meringue, slathered in cream, lovingly covered in kiwifruit, strawberries and ooh, passionfruit...true love.

3.  Desert Wine, 'stickies', a couple of my favourites, the St Leonards Semillon Late Harvest, and De Bortoli Noble One.  Do indulge!

4. Coconut lollies, as made by my dear Mama.  These treats are an old family favourite, rarely made as cooking is not my Mothers me.  She's terrible in the kitchen, and I mean that kindly.  So, when she does make them, we do savour the moment...

5. Creme brulee...a favourite with all the supermodels!  It's true.  They gorge themselves and then go home and take laxatives...but hey, they have Ah-Mah-zing taste in dessert! 

6.  Chocolate Eclairs...need I say more?

7.  Cactus enjoyed from a small vendor in the backstreets of Nice.

* I am passing this sweet award onto five lovely souls *

Mooderino @ Moody Writing
Lyn Kelley @ Lyn Kelley Random Acts of Writing
Baiba @ Baibas Blog
Kimberly Krey @ WriteGirl-Write Girl
Savannah @ Savannah Foxx

A/N:  Hope you are all well and enjoying your Friday! Plans for this weekend?  Relaxing, kicking back, writing, a birthday party and catching up with friends.  How about you? Have a wonderful weekend where ever you are on this lovely planet!
Talei xox

Monday, 6 June 2011

Orange Wellies

A pair of Veuve Clicquot wellies.  That's all I could think about....  Bestie and I held a jug of Pimms, carefully balanced drinks on each arm and were navigating a rain-sodden path to our seats, when two ladies in black uniform, VC orange wellies and matching aprons strode by.  Neigh, they practically skipped by in their super orange footwear.   Flaunting their ability to run through the rain and mud without hinderance.  Our eyes locked on the boots, and we both nodded approvingly.  We want!  If our hands and limbs weren't already handicapped by drinks and espadrille wedges, we may have tackled the ladies for a pair.

Yes, it rained at the Polo, it rained in the early afternoon, and all the way home, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, and I managed to snap a few frames during the matches.  All I can say is, well done to all the players who got out there in the wet weather.  Team Abu Dhabi was the overall winner, though Team New York may have won the hearts of a few spectators.  Devils on horsebacks, thundering down sidelines, breaking mallets, all under the coverage of a grey-rain-sodden-afternoon.  Call it dedication or madness, either way, it made me smile.  We writers understand that crazed, hungry look, right?

Team New York v. Team Moscow
Yes, that is a hat to the left...

Stomping le divets
A/N: A fun day at the Polo in the park, London.  These pictures don't quite do justice to the speed of the sport, it's really exhilarating to watch. Thundering horsemen, indeed.  I definitely recommend it for a fun day out!  Have a lovely week!
Talei xox

Ps: For those who are wondering what the devil 'wellies' are...check these boots out!

Friday, 3 June 2011

There Are Many Windows Open

It's June already? Mid-way between Christmas, and...Christmas -so soon?  I'd like a word with the train driver, we are travelling way too fast.  Sliding doors are great but the past few days have been so blurred.  If I'm honest, I have found flying in and out of windows easier, no time for doors!  Here's a couple of lovely bits from my week in London. 

Fashion for a good cause?  Yes please.  Tusk Trust's British Designers Charity Sale gave me reason to smile yesterday. I stumbled across sexy scarves ala animal prints, and my newest favourite hand candy, a stringray bracelet!  Fabulous.  Also, I picked up a fuschia pink dog collar for my hound. Pictures currently being negotiated...
A few of the lovely goodies

A Book Launch for An Indian Portia, Selected writings of Cornelia Sorabji (1866-1954)  Cornelia Sorabji was the first Indian woman to practice law in Britain, and the first woman in the world to read law at Oxford.  This book is a collection of selected writings by Cornelia, there are extracts from letters that she wrote home to her family.  I was fortunate enough to hear several on Wednesday evening, one told of her attendance at Lord Tennyson's funeral, another,-a letter to a Viceroy in India, and one, of her interview with Gandhi.  All very honest and quite delightful to read.  I bought the book, of course.

Cornelia Sorabji, An Indian Portia

Devils on Horseback anyone?  Polo in the Park is on this weekend in London, and if I'm very disciplined with my writing, I shall be popping along with friends and a picnic. It was exhilarating last year so I'm giddy with anticipation! 

A/N:  Well that's my week so far.  I shall report back on the Polo next week!  How's your week coming along?  Talei x