Author's Blog and Latest News

Sunday
Jul082018

Author update

Writing

I've finally finished the first (very rough) draft of my latest manuscript - an adult psychological thriller (with a slight paranormal twist). I wrote like a maniac last week and finally typed the last word ("keep") on Thursday. It's taken me a year to write and it's around 95k words but there's still a lot of revising and rewriting to do, plus an epilogue to add, so that word count may well rise or fall. This book was a tricky one to write - so many clues to plant and hide, inserting the odd red herring but playing fair with the reader when it comes to having enough information to solve the mystery, and keeping a delicate rein on the possibly supernatural elements.

 

I've started rewrites and when I've added in and taken out and fixed up and polished, I'll send it off to my beta readers and editor. I also realized last week that I hadn't commissioned a cover - so now that's in the pipeline, too. Watch this space...

 

My Writing mascots

Years ago, when I was writing Turtle Walk (which would be my first published novel), I was moseying around an artsy-fartsy shop in Johannesburg and spotted this turtle. I immediately bought him, took him home and made him my writing mascot.

 My collection of tortoises and turtles has grown over the years, and all the while these little guys - wood, stone, iron, shell, beaded, blinged and painted - have accompanied me on my writing journey. 

They remind me to stay grounded, to pace myself (slow and steady wins the race), that I need a thick skin (or shell!) in this business, and that perseverance and patience are vital. In some cultures, legend has it that the world is built on the back of a giant tortoise and it pleases me to think that the creative worlds of my novels are built with my little shelled creatures by my side :)

Do you have a lucky mascot for any of your endeavors? Does it help? Let's chat on on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (@Joannemacgregor_author) or by reply email - I love hearing from you!

 

- Joanne

Sunday
Jul082018

Podcast

Writer on air

I was recently featured on blogger Angie Noll's podcast, The Not Starving Artist. If you're interested in hearing me ramble on about wearing multiple professional hats, and my best tips to writers, you can listen here: The Not Starving Artist  or  Itunes or  RSS

Sunday
Jul082018

Author update

It's been a busy couple of weeks where I've had my nose to the writing grindstone. I'm busy writing an adult psychological thriller (with a slight paranormal twist) and I'm at the 78k words point. The novel will probably be around 90-100k words. Of course, this is only the first draft so it's a mess, not even the story if consolidated but someone wise once said, "All writing is rewriting," - so I'll fix it all in revisions.

To motivate myself, I've reverted to bribing myself with Turkish Delight candy, plus I'm borrowing a method from my teenage daughter where I color in an block for every hour of solid writing. It's kind of like a star-chart for adults, and I'm amazed at how motivating it is to see all those empty blocks getting filled in! Here's a pic of my progress chart, which is stuck on the wall above my desk :)

I've had a great idea for a YA series, which I hope to start writing in a month or two when my current project is finished. I'm superstitious about sharing too much about it, but I will say that I think it will give me scope to write all kinds of stories with varying characters and themes - which is what I like! Perhaps it's the Gemini in me, but I get bored writing the same sort of thing over and over again, and cannot see myself sticking to one genre only.

Right, I need to get back to BOCHOK (butt on chair, hands on keyboard), so cheers from me until the end of the month. Be sure to check out the special offers listed below and feel free to reach out to me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (@Joannemacgregor_author) or by reply email - I love hearing from you!

Sunday
Jul082018

My two faces :)

I recently spoke to Sue Holmes (who is a wonderful book blogger - you should totally check out her site, Crushing Cinders!) about juggling my twin jobs as a psychologist and an author. I often get questions about this and if you're interested, read on!

 Writers always bring themselves — their hopes, fears, experiences — to their stories, and I am no exception. By profession, I’m a Counselling Psychologist in private practice, dealing primarily with adult victims of crime and trauma. It’s tough work and to combat creeping burnout, I started writing fiction several years ago. 

I think that being a psychologist helps me have a deeper understanding of human nature, and the problems that can occur. Many of my characters (like many people in real life) have problems of, for example, anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress.

And I think I write more accurately about this because I know what it looks and feels like. I think (I hope!) that my writing, guided by my learning and experience, is deeper, more nuanced, more complex and realistic when it comes to psychological issues.

Because I live in a society with high rates of inter-personal violence, I’ve heard the accounts of people who’ve experienced the real thing (or have relatives who have). I no longer have the stomach for graphic violence in books — the sort of “torture porn” that puts you in an almost complicit ride-along with the evil serial killer as he mutilates and brutalizes. I won’t write those books either.

Rather, I like to explore the character’s life and psyche after the event, showing the psychological and emotional consequences that victims of trauma are left to deal with. This aspect is often neglected in genre fiction — too often characters are bereaved, tortured, assaulted and experience all kinds of dramatic agonies, but are up and running, and pretty much back to normal by the next chapter. Take it from someone who listens to pain for a living: that’s not how it works in real life.

While my characters are informed by my knowledge of personality types, psychological traumas and psychopathology in general, I’m religious about keeping the specifics of my therapeutic work and my fiction-writing completely separate. My clients’ confidences are sacrosanct – they go into a locked vault in my brain and will never appear in one of my fictional characters or stories. What happens in therapy stays in therapy! I have no difficulty keeping them separate. My parallel jobs of writer and psychologist occupy very different head-spaces in me. I do them in separate physical locations, use different parts of my brain, and even do them on different days of the week.

My own training and experience as a psychologist obviously also influences how I write therapy scenes in my fiction — those, too, are regularly portrayed in very inaccurate ways in fiction.  

I do get a kick out of writing characters who are psychologists, and who are not themselves unhinged, callous, or unprofessional in any of the clichéd ways so popular in fiction and Hollywood tropes. My psychologists are ethical experts, though flawed and inevitably impacted by the weight of the pain and cruelty they hear and absorb on a daily basis. It has always bothered me that psychologists in books and movies are so often portrayed as severely dysfunctional, sexually predatory and unethical. Most of us are really nice, compassionate, responsible and (mostly) sane professionals!

Here is a picture of exactly what I don't look like when I'm in writing mode:

Sunday
Jul082018

Kingsmead Book Festival

In May, I was one of the authors invited to be on a panel at the wonderful Kingsmead Book Fair in Johannesburg, South Africa. Fellow author, Fiona Snyckers, and I chatted "Freaks and Geeks" - the theme of the outcast and misfit in YA fiction.

We had a great audience and my take-away from the session is that different readers read for different reasons, and want different things in a book - angsty issues or heartwarming stories, entertainment or education, fast-paced action or humor.

There truly is a book for every reader!

There's never enough time to answer all the audience questions, but there's always time afterwards! Fellow panelist and author Fiona Snyckers and I chat to a couple of readers. (I'm the tall girl, lol.)