Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

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.

From Chapter Thirty-Four – Distorted Perceptions (WIP) — February 4, 2020

From Chapter Thirty-Four – Distorted Perceptions (WIP)

paula-novelpaula-writerKeeping in mind that I’m veggie (although not vegan) myself…Made this fun to write.

From Distorted Perceptions, Novel Extract

Background: Lucy and her younger sister, Sarah, have gone for a meal at Cynthia Jackson’s. Cynthia’s daughter, Hannah, is married to Lucy and Sarah’s brother, Danny. Hannah’s brother, Phil, is in town, and Danny and Hannah are trying to encourage a Lucy/Phil romance.  

 

   “I’ve made vegetable curry,” said Cynthia. “I hope that’s fine with you all. What with Hannah being vegetarian, and Phil vegan, I thought it best to make something we could all enjoy. I’m as sure as I can be that everything’s vegan.”

   Okay – so, as if his sister being veggie wasn’t enough, Phil Jackson had to take just bloody awkward to new heights, and insist upon being vegan.

   “I’d love to be vegetarian or vegan,” said Sarah. “I’ve often thought of it.”

   I rolled my eyes. “You have? You surprise me, Sarah. I can’t see you giving up your McDonald’s – hamburger or milkshake.”

   “I hardly ever have McDonald’s any more.” My sister was blushing. I had to be right about this: Sarah liked Phil.

   Well, he was an improvement on Farooq, at any rate.

   Trouble was, Phil wasn’t looking at Sarah. He couldn’t take his eyes off me. And Danny and Hannah, for their part, couldn’t stop looking hopefully, from one of us to the other. They clearly had their hearts set on a Phil and Lucy romance.

   “Veggie curry is fine, Cynthia,” I said.

More about the forthcoming novel

Details of recent short story and poetry publications

about-distorted-perceptions-the-novel

Writing Romance and Women’s Fiction; Modern Historical and Contemporary — January 30, 2020

Writing Romance and Women’s Fiction; Modern Historical and Contemporary

 

paula-writerI’m currently revising my novel, Distorted Perceptions.

This story doesn’t exactly fit easily into any genre or category. It’s also a Modern Historical, set primarily in the 1980s.

I don’t always know where/how to “position” my work, which I can deal with, but it can also become frustrating.

I don’t feel that my fiction has a “literary” style, but will describe it as General/Literary, where this seems to be the most appropriate option. This doesn’t feel entirely accurate. More of a compromise, I suppose.

I’ve always resisted writing genre fiction.

My reading has fluctuated wildly, and I’ve not consistently read a favourite genre, or type of fiction.

But lately, I’ve found much of the Horror and darker Crime, that I used to love, as a reader, much too triggering. So, I’m focusing upon reading Romance, along with some Women’s Fiction and classics.

Even though I wrote a blog post called Writing Romance (Even When You Don’t), I’m currently experimenting. I’m hoping to develop the Romance and Women’s Fiction side of my writing.

I’m also open to writing Contemporary, as well as Modern Historical.

And I would like to explore different story lengths.

My current WIP is 84k, as it stands. I’ve written a very limited number of short stories, most of which I would describe as flash fiction, although some are over 1k, and that technically makes them shorter short stories, but not quite flash fiction. At any rate, not by some definitions.

I would actually like to work on slightly longer short stories, and possibly novellas. At this point, that appeals to me. I honestly don’t want to write another 84k novel in a hurry, once I’m done with Distorted Perceptions.

I definitely hope to blog more, once Distorted Perceptions is complete.

I’ve missed it. But I’ve not been able to do it all, especially taking into account various ongoing health and life issues. That’s just the reality of the situation.

 

Keep believing. More from the Paula Writes blog soon, I hope.

 

Physical and Mental Illness: Fiction Writing Perspective — November 28, 2019

Physical and Mental Illness: Fiction Writing Perspective

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I’m in the middle of creating a series of posts, relating to mental health, from a fiction writer’s perspective. See my previous post, in which I shared some thoughts regarding research. Now, I’m going to cover an area that’s particularly close to my heart.

As someone with both mental and physical health issues, I face many specific difficulties: one of which is feeling that I’m never quite represented, by organisations, awareness campaigns, and so on, which tend to focus upon one or the other.

And the fact is that, at this point, there is actually more of a tendency, within mental health communities, to be tactless and insensitive about physical disability, than occurs the other way around. Yes, I said that.

I’m not a wheelchair user myself, but do have multiple physical health issues, and am fed-up, to put it mildly, with seeing images of crossed out wheelchairs on social media images, relating to mental health awareness.

Yes, it’s true that many people out there do assume that terms such as “disability” refer exclusively to physical disabilities, and of course that is wrong. But, as the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right. In this case, that is certainly applicable.

Making people with physical health issues feel unwelcome within mental health communities is simply not acceptable.

It is also an unhelpful generalisation that all physical illness is visible, and that the opposite is true for mental health.

Can you see a migraine? Would you necessarily know, simply to look at me, that I have dyspraxia?

And are self-harm scars invisible? Or the extreme weight loss associated with anorexia nervosa? In fact, eating disorders, and many addictions, such as drug addiction and alcoholism, are, by definition, both physical and mental health conditions.

Cancer doesn’t avoid us because we have a mental illness. People who use wheelchairs may also be struggling with mental health issues. Assumptions are harmful.

And how does this relate to us specifically, as fiction writers?

Well, we should ensure that we take this into consideration. I myself feel that I probably neglect physical illness in my stories, certainly compared to mental illness, and hopefully, simply becoming aware of this, will plant a seed in my mind.

I would like to be able to say that I cover both, and that I represent the challenges faced by many of us, who struggle daily with mental and physical health issues. That matters to me.

 

Researching Mental Illness as a Fiction Writer —

Researching Mental Illness as a Fiction Writer

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Research is vital, when it comes to writing about mental health issues, in a fictional context.

I can’t place enough emphasis upon this point. We need to get the facts right, whether or not, as I mentioned previously, we have personal experience of struggling with mental illness – because each case is different.

In an area where there is already much stigma and misunderstanding, it’s of particular importance not to make matters worse, by spreading inaccurate information.

Research should not be limited to official sources.

It should definitely include them, but not exclusively.

Personal accounts, from a variety of sources, sufferers and also carers, are essential.

One of the many resources that can help with this is You Tube, where many people openly discuss their own mental health journeys.

Books, blogs, and talking to people you already know, who have “been there” – all of these are readily available, and can provide so much insight and inspiration.

Of course, you shouldn’t actually use any particular person’s actual story, in any way that is identifiable, but listening to various people, who are willing to open up about their struggles with mental illness, will help you to deepen your understanding of mental health issues in general.

The reality certainly cannot be reflected in dry academic accounts alone.

 

Latest post: Physical and Mental Health: Fiction Writing Perspective

Personal Experience, and Addressing Mental Health Issues Through Fiction — November 27, 2019

Personal Experience, and Addressing Mental Health Issues Through Fiction

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Refer to my previous post, in which I discuss why writers should consider addressing mental health themes, through their fiction.

I’m now hoping to expand upon this, and create a series of connected blog posts, and this, therefore, is the second post.

I’ve covered aspects of the subject before, but felt that it deserved more specific attention.

Of course, when it comes to why we might want to address the subject of mental illness in our fiction, often personal experience will be a factor.

Certainly, in my own case, my personal experiences of both mental and physical health issues do motivate me, and make me especially determined to not only cover, but do justice to, the subjects of mental and physical illness.

I definitely don’t want to limit my writing to what I’ve been through.

My characters aren’t me. In fact, they experience many mental health issues that are similar to mine, and many that are not.

I feel that, having been through mental illness of any kind, does make us more compassionate, and able to relate more readily, to many of the extreme emotions, much of the deep distress, associated with other conditions.

In combination with research, this natural sense of empathy and understanding will be invaluable to us, as writers.

Never more so than when it comes to exploring less familiar mental health symptoms, in our own work.

Many mental illnesses are very similar, in certain respects. If you’ve had problems with alcohol, or even eating disorders, this can help you to relate to aspects of heroin addiction, even though you would obviously need to thoroughly research the subject, in order to do it justice.

Also, OCD has a great deal in common with, for example, BPD and Bipolar Disorder – so don’t assume that you necessarily understand very little about a particular mental health problem, merely because you have never had a particular diagnosis.

I would actually advocate thorough research, even if you do have the same mental illness as one or more of your characters, because every case is different. Additionally, not every diagnosis given is even accurate, or as clear-cut and definite as may have been implied by health professionals.

More about research methods.

 

Please also read my recent update about my novel, Distorted Perceptions.

Why Address Mental Health Themes in Fiction? —

Why Address Mental Health Themes in Fiction?

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Let’s begin at the logical starting point, and ask why.

Why should we address mental health themes at all, in our fiction?

The subject tends, after all, to be controversial, and often dark. And in truth, not every work of fiction does need to address mental health themes.

Yet, mental illness is a part of life.

It happens. It has a huge impact upon, not only sufferers but carers, and many others. It has an impact upon both individuals, and society in a wider sense. It needs to be addressed, and to ignore it is damaging, and potentially dangerous.

Fiction, whether it takes the form of a novel, novella, short story, screenplay, or any other type of story, is a powerful art form.

The need for characters, within our fiction, to reflect the true diversity of people that make up society – in terms of, for instance, race, religious beliefs, sexuality, and class background – is, increasingly, being recognised.

We all deserve to find characters, within the fiction we consume and enjoy, with whom we can identify, for a variety of reasons.

The fact is that, within real communities, people do struggle with mental health issues. If far fewer characters apparently deal with similar challenges, we need to examine why this is – and begin to rectify the situation, through our own stories.

 

I aim to address the subject of mental health in fiction in future posts, on this blog.

I continue to make slow but steady progress on revisions for my novel, Distorted Perceptions, and this novel does address mental health themes.

Why Your Story’s Theme Matters — August 16, 2019

Why Your Story’s Theme Matters

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Your story’s theme is not the same as its plot.

Theme is the deeper meaning, the underlying message, behind your story, and much more Universal.

In three of Jane Austen’s novels, the themes are right there in the titles: “Pride and Prejudice”, “Persuasion”, and “Sense and Sensibility”.

When attempting to define your own themes, think in terms of a phrase, or sentence. Maybe two sentences, but rarely more.

Theme isn’t reserved for Literary Fiction, or any particular genre.

Ideally, theme should be identifiable in any story we create.

Sometimes, our own themes will be obvious to us, but at other times, not at all. We tend to bury the deeper meaning, and may find it difficult to pinpoint.

Whilst it’s possible to tell a great story without specifically considering the theme, it does help to know the intentions, reason, and purpose, behind what we’re doing, as writers.

What compels us to complete a particular novel? What, ultimately, are we hoping to achieve through our works in progress?

Theme is essential, because it’s what makes your work special. Unique.

A plot is a series of connected events.

Characters are of central importance, because they are the people aspect, and the particular people experiencing the events in question.

But, to tie the whole together, there’s going to be a why.

Why should readers be following these specific people, as they go through these specific life events?

What can the reader expect to gain from reading your work?

What will they learn, on an emotional, or even spiritual, level, that can be applied beyond the limited scope of the story world?

 

These are some brief thoughts, on the subject of theme in stories. Hopefully, this will help you, as you begin to consider and explore your own themes.

 

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Characters and the Role of Pets — May 22, 2019

Characters and the Role of Pets

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Does your MC have any pets?

How about your other characters, starting with major characters? If not, why not? And did they ever have pets?

And let’s be as specific as possible.

Two dogs, yes. But try two Labradors. Okay, one Black Labrador, and one Chocolate. Names?

Dog people. Cat people. Someone with a house full of parrots. The fact is that animals are important in many of our lives.

A pet can even become, effectively, another character.

At any rate, the relationships between our fictional people and their pets can speak volumes. It can help from a character development point of view.

If your MC has a pet rabbit and you yourself never have, research pet rabbits, as if you were planning to buy one yourself.

It might not seem necessary, if the rabbit doesn’t actually play a significant role in your story, but knowing such details about aspects of the character’s daily life does matter.

The more effort you put into these areas, the more you will ultimately connect, and come to understand, your protagonist, and other main (and even minor) characters.

In conclusion then, do take the time to consider pets.

This seemingly small tip is one that can actually make a significant different, if you’ve created characters, but they feel somewhat distant, or like cardboard cut-out archetypes.

Pets can give characters the edge, and transform them from names, ages, and traits, into actual people: people readers can believe in, and care about.

Inspirational Quotes for Writers — April 10, 2019

Inspirational Quotes for Writers

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Searching for inspirational and motivational quotes for writers?

If you’re a writer, hoping to find positive quotes, then this post is for you. These are some of my personal favourites.

I have to start with the central message of the Paula Writes blog, and associated social media accounts: Believe in yourself and your dreams.

Believe in yourself and your dreams.

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View more Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams images on a specific post, dedicated to these.

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem

writing-is-the-only-thing

“What doesn’t kill us gives us something new to write about.” – Julie Wright

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“A writer is simply a photographer of thoughts.” – Brandon A. Trean

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“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” – Gustave Flaubert

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“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your own stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott

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“I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still.” – Sylvia Plath

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“Poetry is my deepest health.” – Sylvia Plath

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“Poems are moments’ monuments.” – Sylvia Plath

poems-moments

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

creative-self-doubt

“You must stay drunk on writing, so reality cannot destroy you.” – Ray Bradbury

drunk-writing-reality

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” – Ernest Hemingway

write-hard-clear

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

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“When writing a novel, a writer should create living people: people, not characters. A character is a caricature.” – Ernest Hemingway

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“Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.” – Octavia E. Butler

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Keep believing, always.

For many more inspirational quotes and words of wisdom, follow me on: Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

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