Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

Siblings in Fiction — October 31, 2020

Siblings in Fiction

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I’ve always enjoyed writing and reading about sibling relationships, which is ironic, given my own non-relationship with my brother, and the extreme stress caused by various family members, particularly in-laws. I definitely feel more comfortable with fictional families than real ones.

When it comes to writing about siblings, I find my inspiration to do so from within, from my reading, and from various experiences of relationships in general, including friendships.

Sibling relationships are fascinating and complex. Consider different family positions: eldest, youngest, middle children. One of two, three, four, or ten. Only children, where siblings are almost a presence through their very absence – and somehow, I can relate strongly to that one. Half and step siblings.

And of course, one of my favourites: twins. Also, triplets and beyond – something I would love to explore. I’ve written about identical and fraternal twins, but primarily the former. There are twin girls, Jade and Jessica, in my novel, Distorted Perceptions. Jade and Jess are very much a case of identical on the outside, but not so much in other respects.

And in fact, sibling relationships are important throughout Distorted Perceptions. Lucy, the protagonist, is the second youngest of five, with two older brothers, Matthew and Danny, an elder sister, Catherine, and a younger sister, Sarah. The twins just mentioned, Jade and Jessica – along with their elder sister, Bonnie – are Lucy’s nieces. Well, that may be a simplification, but I can’t say more without getting into spoilers.

I find that sibling relationships are an element that draws me in as a reader, too. Jane Austen does an excellent job of exploring sibling relations in her various works – most notably, for me, the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice, and Elinor and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility. And don’t forget that the Elinor and Marianne sister friendship is contrasted with the more difficult relationship with Elinor and Marianne’s half-brother, John, and his controlling wife. Going beyond Jane Austen, another sister relationship that I enjoy is the one between Dorothea and Celia in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. I must also admit that I grew up on Sweet Valley High books, and Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield definitely helped to fuel my interest in twin characters in fiction.


I’ve already discussed the importance of friendship in fiction, as well as romantic relationships, and this post is acknowledging that brothers and sisters can also play a vital role in our stories.

The Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim: Book Review — October 29, 2020

The Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim: Book Review

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Written and set in the 1920s, The Enchanted April is a truly beautiful novel. If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller, this book may not be for you. However, if you enjoy stories that focus upon characters, The Enchanted April definitely does this, and comes highly recommended.

The novel begins in a club in Hampstead, UK, where Lotty Wilkins and Rose Arbuthnot formally meet for the first time, although Lotty already knows Rose by sight. Both women are drawn to an advertisement in The Times, for a mediaeval castle in Italy, which will be available to rent in April.

Both Lotty and Rose are married, and neither is entirely content. Lotty, by nature painfully shy, tends to fear her husband, Mellersh. She also feels out of place with his work connections, friends, and family, who form the entire social circle in which the two of them mix. Rose has become estranged from her own husband, Frederick, who earns his living by writing memoirs about the mistresses of kings, a fact that his religious wife cannot accept.

Lotty and Rose write to enquire about the mediaeval castle, but discover that the rent is too expensive. They decide not to give up, but instead to advertise for two more women, with whom to share the holiday and expenses. They receive precisely two responses in total, from Mrs. Fisher and Lady Caroline Dester. And, after various difficulties with Mellersh, who strongly objects to the idea of his wife going away without him, the two women duly leave for Italy, expecting their guests to arrive later, although both Mrs. Fisher and Lady Caroline end up arriving early, intending to secure the best rooms.

Mrs. Fisher, a widow, is older than the other women, and initially appears abrasive and judgmental. Lady Caroline is extremely beautiful, and yet, disillusioned, and desperately wanting her holiday to function as a complete rest cure.

The descriptions of the beautiful house and gardens are a pleasure to read and, from a character development point of view, the novel is excellent. The female friendships remain central to the story, although the husbands, along with Thomas Briggs, the owner of the mediaeval castle, do join the ladies by the end of the book, and there are some romantic storylines.

I adore the characters in this novel, and find myself wondering about what happened to them after the story ended. I like to imagine that some of the friendships formed on this holiday would have endured.

Read an extract from my own novel, Distorted Perceptions. Also, my post about Danielle Steel novels may be of interest. And my review of Behind Closed Doors.

Why is Distorted Perceptions Free? — August 22, 2020

Why is Distorted Perceptions Free?

paula-writerIn case you didn’t already realise, my novel, released in April 2020, entitled Distorted Perceptions, can be download free of charge in ebook formats. Details of this, and my other available publications, can be found on my Paula’s Books page.

The novel is set primarily in the 1980s. Distorted Perceptions isn’t easy to place into a genre or category, and does address many issues that are close to my heart. These include: drug addiction, alcoholism, and problem drinking; mental health and suicide; rape and sexual abuse. I definitely don’t shy away from dark and controversial subjects, and there are strong autobiographical elements, but the story is not an autobiography or memoir, as I discuss in a post about the novel and its origins.

There is a paperback version of Distorted Perceptions, which I would encourage you to consider purchasing, if that interests you, and you would like, in a small way, to support what I’m doing. This edition, obviously, isn’t free. But all ebook versions are.

I’m aware that making my novel free – particularly given that it is a standalone title, as opposed to a series starter – could lead to potential readers and critics regarding Distorted Perceptions as less valuable. Yet, I have been through so much to bring this work into existence, and put my heart and soul into the project, which has not been short-term. I’ve done research. I’ve also lived through my own hell, which has informed much of what has resulted in the end product.

In the end, I felt that reaching readers – the book’s right, ideal readers – was my highest priority. I don’t believe that Distorted Perceptions is for everyone. But I believe that there are people out there who will deeply appreciate this novel. My hope and mission is to reach as many of them as possible. For that reason, the book is available, free of charge, in ebook formats.

Thank you to Obooko and Draft 2 Digital, without whom these ebooks would not be out there. And thank you to everyone who has, or ever will, read Distorted Perceptions or/and my other work.

 

Read my recent post about the direction of this blog.

The Paula Writes Blog: Direction — August 21, 2020

The Paula Writes Blog: Direction

paula-writerI’ve not been posting much at all on this blog, but it hasn’t been forgotten.

I did have to focus upon completing my novel, Distorted Perceptions, and other key projects. However, the main reason why I’m not posting much this year is the extent to which I’m struggling with health issues, and extreme life circumstances.

The direction of the blog may well shift over time, but the intention is that it will continue for as long as I myself am able to.

Keep believing in yourself and your dreams, and don’t let anyone convince you that your ambitions and goals are “unrealisitc”.

If you’re wondering why Distorted Perceptions is free in ebook formats, this hyperlinked post addresses the issue, and my personal reasons for making my novel available as a free download.

October 2020 update: Another possible new direction for this blog is book reviews. Read a review of The Enchanted April.

November 2020 update about this blog. Expanded upon in my post about the general sense of overwhelm and chaos I’ve been experiencing.

The Benefits of Writing Flash Fiction — May 30, 2020

The Benefits of Writing Flash Fiction

paula-writerSo, flash fiction. What does the term even mean?

And why should writers consider writing the form?

In April 2020, I published my novel, Distorted Perceptions, which turned out to be almost 83k words.

Currently, I’m not working on another novel, but am becoming increasingly interested in short stories. Not all of my short fiction is flash fiction, but much of it is, or comes close – depending upon where we draw the lines, in terms of word count.

Flash fiction is a term used to describe very short stories.

Precise word counts vary, according to different sources. Under 1k words is often quoted, although it isn’t unusual to hear that flash fiction should be under 800 words, or even lower.

Other terms and distinctions are often used to distinguish between different lengths, within the shortest (under 750 words) flash fiction stories. These include: the 6 word story, Twitterature (280 characters or less), microfiction, and sudden fiction. These are not, by any means, the only terms in use, but to explore these, and other variations, further is beyond the scope of this particular post.

I have heard 1.5k words mentioned, as a flash fiction upper limit, and must admit that I myself have often tended to write shorts that are in the 1k to 1.5k word count range.

Sometimes, it is stated that flash fiction must have a clear plot: a beginning, middle, and end.

The term vignette is applied to many slice of life or moment glimpsed type works.

However, there are novels that don’t even have conventional plots, and it’s not easy to draw the line, in many specific instances.

Flash fiction pieces will often conclude with plot twists, but this is not a requirement – simply one popular approach.

Flash fiction – and indeed, short fiction, more generally – is often viewed merely in terms of practice for novel writing.

Certainly, short fiction is an ideal way in which to learn more about the craft of storytelling. Writing it will definitely benefit you as a novelist.

And yet, different forms of writing each have their own unique values. Flash fiction is a fascinating form, in its own right, whether or not you write novels, or aspire to do so.

I initially began to write flash by chance, in that I started to find many of my short stories becoming very short.

My natural tendency does seem to be to write either novels or flash, although I’m developing the art of writing longer short stories. I might attempt to write novella length works in the future, as I sometimes appreciate reading novella length fiction myself.

Flash fiction is definitely an area I’m interested in exploring, both as a writer and a reader.

If you would like to read my flash fiction and short stories, my brief collection, Alternative Landscapes, can be downloaded, free of charge, as can the stories Sports’ Day and Second Chance. Alternative Landscapes is available via Obooko, or through various additional outlets. There is also a paperback version of this collection.

Future book links will be added to the Paula’s Books page, here on the blog, so definitely check that out, if you’re interested. Also, there is my short fiction blog.

Distorted Perceptions – Print Book Update — May 16, 2020

Distorted Perceptions – Print Book Update

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So, the position with the Distorted Perceptions print book is that my novel’s paperback edition was published on Lulu, and is technically available.

I was generally happy with it, except for an issue – Lulu’s end – involving words being meshed together, following instances of words I’d written in italics.

It doesn’t by any means happen right through the book, but does occur a few times, and needs to be fixed. The book isn’t unreadable, but the issue could potentially distract a reader.

However, Lulu are in the process of updating their website.

I can’t currently even access my account. My username, email, and passwords are all apparently invalid. Lulu’s Customer Services are currently inundated, and I haven’t received anything other than generated email replies to my queries.

KDP Print – I found simply overwhelming.

I just tried out Blurb, and my PDFs were apparently all the wrong sizes and dimensions.

I’m disappointed, as I had visions of creating hardback editions, along with the paperback. For now, however – I can only recommend the ebook versions. All are free to download. A recent post about the publication of the novel should clarify.

If you’re determined to own a Distorted Perceptions paperback, and are willing to overlook the minor technical issues described, the book is available to purchase via Lulu – if, that is, you have an account you can access. It isn’t available through Amazon and other sites, as I hadn’t got as far as setting up expanded distribution.

Bear with me on this. It’s incredibly frustrating, and disheartening. I’ve worked so hard on the project.

I Trusted The Open Office Word Counter! — April 20, 2020

I Trusted The Open Office Word Counter!

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Like, seriously? Trusting a facility on Open Office???

As for why I’ve been using Open Office – and am now back on WordPad – don’t ask.

Yes, I did pay money for Microsoft Word, the full package. It has been a nightmare, and the only advice I received was to download Open Office, and use that instead, as it apparently did everything that Word does and would suffice.

Anyway, it seems probable that Distorted Perceptions is nearer 82,934 words. And that’s fine, but it has caused confusion. See my last post about the release of my novel. I based that new statistic on information provided by Draft 2 Digital, but it’s also in line with data given by a free online word counter I used.

For more information on Distorted Perceptions, and other Paula Puddephatt publications, my Paula’s Books page is the best page to visit.

 

More from me soon, hopefully.

Distorted Perceptions Novel: Available Now — April 16, 2020

Distorted Perceptions Novel: Available Now

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So, Distorted Perceptions – where do I start?

Yes, Distorted Perceptions is finally published. It’s now available to download, free of charge, from various websites, in ebook formats. If you would like to know more about the origins of Distorted Perceptions, or read an extract, the check out the hyperlinked posts.

Details will be included later, in this post. Please do note, also, that there is a Paula’s Books page, and these links, along with others to Paula Puddephatt publications, can be found here.

The writing process for Distorted Perceptions has been long, and extremely challenging – often, overwhelming.

Software issues definitely did not help. Specifically, I refer to the failure of Microsoft to provide Word, even though this was paid for – and having to struggle instead with Open Office and WordPad.

The former ultimately caused so much stress that I’m actually back to using the latter, currently.

That said, I’m actually proud to have completed so many projects, making the best of what facilities I did have – including a novel of almost 85k words.

Ongoing health and personal issues have made the process still more difficult, and of course, 2020 happened, and we all know what that means. It’s beyond the scope of this particular post.

The publishing process has been stressful too, and almost too much.

I had to make some last minute continuity changes (minor but concerning enough to me). I would like to acknowledge the support of Tim from Obooko, in this area. He provided assistance via email, and implemented the needed changes efficiently. And they were changes I had previously failed to spot, and which I subsequently noticed, after having gone ahead and published.

I discovered today that one of the sites listing my ebook describes it as containing “82k words”, which is worrying. At the moment, I’m finding it all too difficult to cope with, so haven’t looked into it specifically, as yet.

Update: See my recent post about the word count of my novel.

But, for anyone who downloads my ebook, please know that it should contain the following: an IntroductionChapters One to Fifty-Four, and an Epilogue.

If your copy doesn’t contain all of these parts, please reach out to me through social media – preferably either Twitter or Instagram, because I tend to neglect the other sites. I will then rectify the situation, in any way I can manage. Alternatively, leave a comment, here on this blog.

In terms of where I’m at now, I feel burnt out, and unsure as to which direction to take, with my future writing. Hopefully, I will expand upon this soon, in another blog post.

I am working on the paperback edition of Distorted Perceptions, and will provide updates on this, when possible. Paperback latest position: Currently available through Lulu only. If I am able to do so, I will make it available via expanded distribution in the future, and am sorry that I’m not able to do this right now.

Links to Distorted Perceptions

Distorted Perceptions Ebook

Distorted Perceptions Ebook – Obooko

Distorted Perceptions – Print Book

Caught in a Nightmare – But Still Publishing My Novel — April 12, 2020

Caught in a Nightmare – But Still Publishing My Novel

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If someone could have thought of the worst OCD, Depression, Anxiety, IBS, PCOS, and Endometriosis nightmare, and forced me to live through it…

I’m terrified. And overwhelmed. And there is always another cruel plot twist, apparently.

And still, working on getting my novel out there.

I need to make another change to my files, and then, maybe – stop reading through, for a while. We’ll see. Draft 2 Digital, and the various sites, need to be able to catch up.

But, anyway – I’m determined. More from me soon.

 

About Distorted Perceptions, my novel. Or read an extract from the book.

 

Link to download the ebook to follow. Working on the print book, too.

Sorry for such a chaotic blog post. Hope to produce something more coherent soon.

 

Update: Distorted Perceptions is published!!!

Books: Vibrant Carousel, and Alternative Landscapes — March 20, 2020

Books: Vibrant Carousel, and Alternative Landscapes

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As many followers of, and regular visitors to, the Paula Writes blog will be aware – I’m currently revising my novel, Distorted Perceptions.

If you’d like to know more about the novel or/and read an extract from Distorted Perceptions, two of my recent posts should be able to help you.

To say that the process of writing my novel has been exhausting and extremely challenging, in so many ways, doesn’t begin to describe the process I’ve been through, to get to the current stage – which is advanced.

The purpose of this short post is to mention two of my additional publications.

I’ve recently produced a poetry mini-collection called Vibrant Carousel.

It was really a bonus project, and the ebook didn’t end up happening, because of the frustration levels involved – technical issues.

However, the print book is available through Lulu. It will hopefully soon be available through expanded distribution, also: Amazon, and other channels. Watch this space.

I also, towards the end of 2019, did publish a short story collection, entitled Alternative Landscapes.

This is free to download, in ebook format, and can also be purchased in paperback edition.

As there are multiple options for this one, it’s easier for me to link to my Paula Writes book page.

 

Hopefully, I’ll soon be able to provide more specific news, regarding Distorted Perceptions.

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