Category Archives: P.D. Martin

Bookings close soon

By PD Martin

Bookings close soon for my May master class at the inspiring Abbotsford Convent. The course is designed for new and emerging writers of all genres.

My goal is simple: to help get you published, sooner.

19-23 May, 9.30-3.30pm

Book now

Bookings close soon for my May master class at the inspiring Abbotsford Convent. The course is designed for new and emerging writers of all genres – to help take your writing to the next level. My goal is simple: to help get you published, sooner.

Book now

“By the time I completed Phillipa’s writing course, I had a solid first draft; the year after finishing my manuscript, I was signed to a great agent and publisher. Phillipa’s courses are a wonderful resource for writers – highly recommended!” Ellie Marney, 2011 student and author of Every Breath (Allen & Unwin 2013 & 2014)

And last week yet another of my past students received a publishing deal for the manuscript he was working on in my class.

19-23 May, 9.30-3.30pm.

More information and testimonials.

Via: P.D. Martin

    

Chapter 1

By PD Martin

I’m about to start a new novel and I thought it might be interesting (especially for aspiring writers!) for me to blog about the process. For a start, while I’ve titled this post ‘Chapter 1′ that’s not the first thing I’ve done. I very rarely start a book by sitting down and writing the first chapter without some preparation. And this new novel is no exception. I’m moving into a new genre (again!) and so my first step was to read some of the books selling in this space. What do I like about these novels? What do I LOVE about these novels? And what were the things I didn’t like so much?

Next I came up with about five ideas that would work as novels and wrote a paragraph or two about each one. Then it was decision time – I selected one idea to be the first in this new direction.

For this novel, my next step was to plot the novel out. While I don’t want to reveal the specific genre/style (yet) I will say that the most important element in the genre is to have a multitude of layers. So, in this case it made sense to look at plot first. I decided to keep it simple. Rather than using a plot tool like Blake Snyder’s beat sheet, or even the three-act structure I simply wrote out each chapter/scene in bullet points. This is different to the plot tools and techniques I’ve used before, but somehow it seemed right. There are two viewpoint characters that I’m alternating between, so it was literally the person’s name, then a few bullet points on what happened and/or how they felt in that scene.

Next (and this is where I’m at now) is character development. I’ve started with my female viewpoint character and I’m on istock.com looking at images that look like the girl I’ve got in my head. I’ve set up a lightbox called ‘Jodi’ (yes, that’s my main character’s name) and I’m filling it with photos. Soon I’ll narrow it down to 3-10 photos that capture the character or her mood. Maybe it will be the hair of this woman, with the sense of carefree attitude in this pic, but with the ability to stare into your soul in her calmer moments. We all have different faces, so no ONE photo will be the one. My character is going to experience highs and lows in the novel, so I like to have visual reminders of how she looks happy, thoughtful, sad, etc. These pics come together with the image I already have of her to form MY Jodi. It’s visual, but it’s also more than that.

This is my current lightbox (still working on it though!). It gives a good idea of the visual element of my character development process.

Next stop: My character questionnaire!

And here’s a summary for the cheats/time-poor writers out there

1. Research genre.

2. Come up with several ideas in that space and select the one that’s calling to you the most. (Note: 1 & 2 are often/usually done in the opposite order to my example…the idea comes first, then you research genre).

3. Use a plot technique that works for you to plot your novel (if you want to do it before you start writing).

4. Work on your characters – I recommend choosing photos that look like your projected image of him/her and also completing a character questionnaire to drill deep into the character’s personality and psyche.

I’ll let you know how I’m going on 1 May.

Via: P.D. Martin

    

Chapter 1

By PD Martin

I’m about to start a new novel and I thought it might be interesting (especially for aspiring writers!) for me to blog about the process. For a start, while I’ve titled this post ‘Chapter 1′ that’s not the first thing I’ve done. I very rarely start a book by sitting down and writing the first chapter without some preparation. And this new novel is no exception. I’m moving into a new genre (again!) and so my first step was to read some of the books selling in this space. What do I like about these novels? What do I LOVE about these novels? And what were the things I didn’t like so much?

Next I came up with about five ideas that would work as novels and wrote a paragraph or two about each one. Then it was decision time – I selected one idea to be the first in this new direction.

For this novel, my next step was to plot the novel out. While I don’t want to reveal the specific genre/style (yet) I will say that the most important element in the genre is to have a multitude of layers. So, in this case it made sense to look at plot first. I decided to keep it simple. Rather than using a plot tool like Blake Snyder’s beat sheet, or even the three-act structure I simply wrote out each chapter/scene in bullet points. This is different to the plot tools and techniques I’ve used before, but somehow it seemed right. There are two viewpoint characters that I’m alternating between, so it was literally the person’s name, then a few bullet points on what happened and/or how they felt in that scene.

Next (and this is where I’m at now) is character development. I’ve started with my female viewpoint character and I’m on istock.com looking at images that look like the girl I’ve got in my head. I’ve set up a lightbox called ‘Jodi’ (yes, that’s my main character’s name) and I’m filling it with photos. Soon I’ll narrow it down to 3-10 photos that capture the character or her mood. Maybe it will be the hair of this woman, with the sense of carefree attitude in this pic, but with the ability to stare into your soul in her calmer moments. We all have different faces, so no ONE photo will be the one. My character is going to experience highs and lows in the novel, so I like to have visual reminders of how she looks happy, thoughtful, sad, etc. These pics come together with the image I already have of her to form MY Jodi. It’s visual, but it’s also more than that.

This is my current lightbox (still working on it though!). It gives a good idea of the visual element of my character development process.

Next stop: My character questionnaire!

And here’s a summary for the cheats/time-poor writers out there

1. Research genre.

2. Come up with several ideas in that space and select the one that’s calling to you the most. (Note: 1 & 2 are often/usually done in the opposite order to my example…the idea comes first, then you research genre).

3. Use a plot technique that works for you to plot your novel (if you want to do it before you start writing).

4. Work on your characters – I recommend choosing photos that look like your projected image of him/her and also completing a character questionnaire to drill deep into the character’s personality and psyche.

I’ll let you know how I’m going on 1 May.

    

Intercountry adoption in Australia

By PD Martin

This week was a huge milestone for our family – our son’s adoption was finally legalised/finalised. This comes over five YEARS after submitting our application to adopt a second child and nearly 18 months after coming home with our son. The system sucks, big time! And now that we are Liam’s legal guardians I can finally break my silence without fear of retribution.

The truth is there are so many problems with the system that I don’t know where to start. Some of these are unavoidable. Yes, in one way it pisses me off that we had to go through the ringer for someone to deem us worthy parents, but I also understand that we’re talking about a child’s life, a child’s welfare and they MUST be protected. But what if every prospective parent had to prove themselves worthy parents before they could have a child? Children may well be better off, but of course, that’s not a viable option – we don’t want the government controlling our right to reproduce.

Probably the thing that annoys me the most is the timing. Yes, during our adoption process things were changing significantly in Korea and I strongly support the move to enable children to stay with their birth mothers wherever possible. I would need pages and pages to explain what’s happening in Korea at the moment and what’s causing the delays over there, but today I’m going to focus on what’s happening our end.

So, the timing. Some dates for you to ponder:

  1. 28 November 2008, we lodge our first round of paperwork to adopt a second child with the Victorian Government on. (This package consists of over 60 pages of documentation, including police checks, medical checks, financial information, seven different forms (varying from one page in length to 10 pages), our life stories, genograms, photos and certified copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate.)
  2. 28 November 2008 – April 2009 – application sits on someone’s desk waiting for review. That’s right six months.
  3. 28 April 2009 paperwork processed and on all subsequent documentation THIS date is noted as our date of application, not the November 2008 date.
  4. Home visits conducted by a social worker, report written and report finalised on 17 February 2010.
  5. 15 March 2010 – approved to adopt a child from Korea.

So it took the Victorian Government nearly 16 months to simply process our application. Need I say anything else? On the one hand, without this system we wouldn’t have our wonderful family. I’m forever in the debt of intercountry adoption and Korea for my gorgeous children. On the other hand…these time delays are completely unacceptable. We watched friends age-out (Korea has an age limit on adoptive parents) while they waited for the Victorian Government to process their forms. This stage for our counterparts in the US (where the system is privatised) normally takes 3-6 months.

At the moment the Australian Government is finally looking at a national system for intercountry adoption. In my view it also needs to be privatised. Competition is what makes people deliver superior service.

We’re also in a catch 22 with the countries we can adopt from. To adopt a child from overseas you must go through the state system, and it must be with one of the approved countries. You hear about the number of children in orphanages around the world yet Australians can’t adopt children from these countries. The basis of this is to protect the children’s rights (the country has to prove their commitment to basic human rights and prove that children aren’t being ‘sold’ by poverty-stricken parents) but the end result is mind-boggling. Here we have couples in Australia desperate to become parents, and children overseas in desperate need of parents. But the number of countries we can legally adopt from is shrinking. The Ethiopian program is closed, Korea is only open to families who have already adopted a child from Korea, the Thailand program is not accepting new applications, the China program has a seven-year backlog and the countries that are left on the approved list are very small programs.

This is a very complex issue, and one blog can really only touch the edges. But in terms of what’s going on our end, in Australia, my dates tell the story. I just hope the new, national system can deliver a better service.

Via: P.D. Martin

    

Intercountry adoption in Australia

By PD Martin

This week was a huge milestone for our family – our son’s adoption was finally legalised/finalised. This comes over five YEARS after submitting our application to adopt a second child and nearly 18 months after coming home with our son. The system sucks, big time! And now that we are Liam’s legal guardians I can finally break my silence without fear of retribution.

The truth is there are so many problems with the system that I don’t know where to start. Some of these are unavoidable. Yes, in one way it pisses me off that we had to go through the ringer for someone to deem us worthy parents, but I also understand that we’re talking about a child’s life, a child’s welfare and they MUST be protected. But what if every prospective parent had to prove themselves worthy parents before they could have a child? Children may well be better off, but of course, that’s not a viable option – we don’t want the government controlling our right to reproduce.

Probably the thing that annoys me the most is the timing. Yes, during our adoption process things were changing significantly in Korea and I strongly support the move to enable children to stay with their birth mothers wherever possible. I would need pages and pages to explain what’s happening in Korea at the moment and what’s causing the delays over there, but today I’m going to focus on what’s happening our end.

So, the timing. Some dates for you to ponder:

  1. 28 November 2008, we lodge our first round of paperwork to adopt a second child with the Victorian Government on. (This package consists of over 60 pages of documentation, including police checks, medical checks, financial information, seven different forms (varying from one page in length to 10 pages), our life stories, genograms, photos and certified copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate.)
  2. 28 November 2008 – April 2009 – application sits on someone’s desk waiting for review. That’s right six months.
  3. 28 April 2009 paperwork processed and on all subsequent documentation THIS date is noted as our date of application, not the November 2008 date.
  4. Home visits conducted by a social worker, report written and report finalised on 17 February 2010.
  5. 15 March 2010 – approved to adopt a child from Korea.

So it took the Victorian Government nearly 16 months to simply process our application. Need I say anything else? On the one hand, without this system we wouldn’t have our wonderful family. I’m forever in the debt of intercountry adoption and Korea for my gorgeous children. On the other hand…these time delays are completely unacceptable. We watched friends age-out (Korea has an age limit on adoptive parents) while they waited for the Victorian Government to process their forms. This stage for our counterparts in the US (where the system is privatised) normally takes 3-6 months.

At the moment the Australian Government is finally looking at a national system for intercountry adoption. In my view it also needs to be privatised. Competition is what makes people deliver superior service.

We’re also in a catch 22 with the countries we can adopt from. To adopt a child from overseas you must go through the state system, and it must be with one of the approved countries. You hear about the number of children in orphanages around the world yet Australians can’t adopt children from these countries. The basis of this is to protect the children’s rights (the country has to prove their commitment to basic human rights and prove that children aren’t being ‘sold’ by poverty-stricken parents) but the end result is mind-boggling. Here we have couples in Australia desperate to become parents, and children overseas in desperate need of parents. But the number of countries we can legally adopt from is shrinking. The Ethiopian program is closed, Korea is only open to families who have already adopted a child from Korea, the Thailand program is not accepting new applications, the China program has a seven-year backlog and the countries that are left on the approved list are very small programs.

This is a very complex issue, and one blog can really only touch the edges. But in terms of what’s going on our end, in Australia, my dates tell the story. I just hope the new, national system can deliver a better service.

    

February already?

By PD Martin

It’s hard to believe it’s February already. I missed my 1 January post completely (oops) and now it’s February. How did that happen? I know, I got sidetracked by life…my daughter’s birthday, Christmas, New Year, summer school holidays, etc. etc.

And now school’s back (as of Thursday) and I find myself more in my usual writing routine (if you can call it that when my time is scheduled around a 2yro!).

So, some big news coming soon from me. I’m branching out into my own creative writing training business. I’m finalising the venue at the moment, but this year I’ll be running some intensive writing courses and maybe a couple of other courses. I’m very excited about this new venture, although also wondering how I’ll publicise them! But I’ve got to finalise the details first.

This is the format for the week-long intensive course. It is during the week so people will need to take time off work but after meeting Fiona McIntosh at Clare Writers’ Festival and hearing about her courses, I know there’s a market there!

  • Monday-Friday, 9.30am-3.30pm
  • Five days of intensive training for complete creative immersion
  • Exclusive sessions capped at 12 people so you get individual attention
  • Creatively inspiring environment
  • Full catering so you can focus on the writing
  • Extensive notes
  • In-depth exercises to help you put theory into practice
  • A range of tools to make your novel the best it can be
  • Intensive work on characterisation and plot development (with application to your novel)
  • Access to internationally published author (that’s me!)
  • First 15 pages of your manuscript (12pt, Times New Roman, 1.5 spaced) edited/critiqued by PD Martin (me again!)

Anyway, more on this and my other courses soon. Hope all my readers have had a lovely January!

    

NaNoWriMo round up

By PD Martin

:)

It’s official…NaNoWriMo is done for 2013. This was my second time attempting NaNoWriMo and I’m afraid that once again I fell short.

Instead of meeting the 50,000 word target (or my personal target of 30,000-40,000 words), this year I managed only 20,212 words.

I have excuses, of course. Who doesn’t? But the truth is there were two days I had put aside for intensive writing sessions (two full days, the only full days I get each week) and instead of putting my foot on the accelerator I went for the brake. I’m still not sure why. Yes, it’s a crazy busy time of year for me. My daughter’s birthday is on 6 December so there are always celebrations to organise. I also went to the Clare Writers’ Festival from 29 November – 1 December and was busy preparing for that in the last week of November. (The Festival was fantastic, by the way!)

Also, the writing didn’t seem to flow as easily for this book (book 2 in a YA series) as it did for the first and I even wondered if the fact that I actually did some plot planning BEFORE writing made things worse. Instead of writing free-form, I was writing the scene I had designated as the next scene in Scrivener. But surely plotting should help move my writing forward, not hinder it.

The bottom line is I hit the brakes for some reason. But the good news is I got 20,000 words done of my next novel and if I hadn’t been pushing myself with NaNoWriMo perhaps it would have been a much less productive month.

Not sure yet if I’ll sign up in 2014, but I’m determined that one of these days I will do NaNoWriMo and actually finish it. Perhaps not when I’ve got a 2yro at home though

    

NaNoWriMo – take 2

By PD Martin

This year I’m trying NaNoWriMo again. For those of you who don’t know, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s basically a whole community of writers (both published and aspiring) getting together with the goal of writing 50,000 words in the month of November.

I tried it for the first time in 2011 and unfortunately only made it half-way. This year, I hope to get a bit closer to the 50,000 word target, however I am trying to fit it in around fairly limited chunks of writing time.

This year, I’m working on book 2 in a new YA series. I recently finished the first book and am doing the agent/publisher rounds but I thought in the meantime I’d spend November to get a chunk of book 2 written. It’s especially important for this series, because book 1 does end on a cliff hanger. Yes, there’s some resolution, but I know if I was reading it I’d want to pick up book 2 pretty much straight away because while the lead character just avert disaster in book 1, the novel ends with her ‘going into the lion’s den’ shall we say.

In the lead up, I’ve been doing a bit of planning. I tend to be more of a plot-as-you-go writer, but I thought in honour of NaNoWriMo (and because I had no idea where the plot would go!) I might actually do a basic structure before putting pen to paper. And I’m using a new-to-me theory…I’m trying the Blake Snyder beat sheet, which includes 15 ‘beats’ in a story. It’s made for screenplays, and some beats only last one page (e.g. the Opening Image) while other beats might last 25 pages (e.g. Fun and Games).

I’m also using Scrivener (which I use for all my writing now) and so I’ve written up scenes on index cards in Scrivener and I’ve customised the ‘Status’ section so it says which type of beat the scene (index card) is. This is what part of my structure looks like.

First time using this method and obviously first time using it with Scrivener so we’ll see how I go!

So, that’s my November. I did miss last month’s blog (naughty me) but I’ll check back in with a blog on 1 December to tell you all about my NaNoWriMo progress. Or you can see it in real-time at www.facebook.com/pdmartinauthor

Via: P.D. Martin

    

A celebratory month

By PD Martin

everybreath01

September is already a month of celebrations for me…and we’re only five days in! And maybe that’s why this blog is a little late, going up on 5 September instead of 1 September.

Anyway….

The first celebration was literally on the first of the month, when a large group of people gathered in the Yarra Valley to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. It was a fabulous day and Dad had people from all different aspects of his life there. We had a lot of speakers – yet everyone was so unique with wonderful insights that the day didn’t feel ‘heavy’ with speakers. In fact, it was fascinating. We had 14 people all up!

And 1 September was also Father’s Day, so we started the day with breakfast for my husband and presents from the kids.

September is also another big celebration for me. As some of you know, in 2010 I started teaching at Writers Victoria. This month marks a huge milestone in my role as a writing teacher, with one of my students entering the ranks of ‘published author’. Congratulations to Ellie Marney on the release of her debut young adult (YA) novel, Every Breath – the novel she was working on in my 2010 class!

I have to say, it’s extremely rewarding to see one of my students’ manuscripts come to life not only on the page, but then on the bookshelf. The official launch is next week, but it is in bookstores now. Congratulations to Ellie, and I hope she’s the first of many of my students to break into this crazy world!

About Every Breath (from the back of the book)

What if Sherlock Holmes was the boy next door?

Rachel Watts is an unwilling new arrival to Melbourne from the country. James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old genius with a passion for forensics. Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist when Mycroft wants her help investigating a murder.

And when Watts and Mycroft follow a trail to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally. A night at the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…

Via: P.D. Martin

    

It’s all about the characters

By PD Martin

peopleonchessboard

Even now, on my new once-a-month schedule, it seems that blogging comes around so quickly. But that’s more about last month’s blog on the fluidity of time and not today’s!

Today, I want to talk about characters. You see, I do think different types of books need different levels of characterisation. My Sophie books, as most people reading this know, are what I’d called forensic-based murder mysteries with a good dose of criminal psychology in the form of profiling. They are essentially whodunits and why-dunnit and these two questions are the driving force to keep the readers turning the page. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can ignore character and character development in thrillers or murder mysteries — in fact, readers will quickly put down a book if they don’t feel like they’re connecting to the main protagonist. Characters can never be cardboard cut-outs or two-dimensional. Every character, just like every person, has a story. However, I do think that the importance of characters and the relationships between characters is much more instrumental in novels that explore drama or family dynamics as their central theme and plot.

Last year I finished a book that I’d describe as a mainstream drama, not that dissimilar to Jodi Piccoult. And while I finished it last year, it has literally been sitting on my desktop gathering bytes (manuscripts don’t gather dust any more, do they?). Finally, late last year I paid for an assessment/developmental edit. Probably not such a common practice for a published author, but this book was so different to what I’d written before I felt the need to dig deeper and I felt like I needed professional and objective eyes.

But the process didn’t stop there…then I needed to let it stew for a bit. For a lot. I needed to get more objective myself and I needed to go back to the drawing board in terms of characterisation. It’s been an interesting process. Armed with David Corbett’s book, The Art of Character, I started again, as it were. I dug deeper into the characters, deeper into their psychological motivations.

With the new character work complete, I started edited. The editing process is taking me longer than I’d hoped (it always does!), but I’m up to chapter 5 and really happy with the changes in the first four chapters. I feel like I’m transforming this book, and making it so much better in the process.

Good writing is always about characters…but to me it’s about the balance of characters and plot. It’s about knowing when you need character development and when you need something to happen—and preferably you can bring both to the page simultaneously.

It will still be a couple of months before I have another draft to show for this latest spate of work, but already I’m looking forward to seeing the transformation on the remaining 25 chapters. I know I’ve still got a long way to go, but this story is worth the time and the effort.

Originally called Crossroads and Deadends, through my psychological delving I’ve come up with a new title — Adrift. I like it and I hope that one of these days it will make its way to readers.

Via: P.D. Martin

    

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