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#Challenges, #WritingLife, Uncategorized

Three Quotes, Three Days – Day 2

I screwed up – I broke the challenge streak. Which I swore to myself I wasn’t going to do, but kinda thought I might inadvertently. It’s not technically my fault but I’m not going to pretend like I had no choice but to disappear into my Netflix cave for a couple of days. There’s always a way to get at least some work done. I chose not to… My notebook charger chord was on the fritz & I got scared to turn it on lest I waste the battery & lose a bunch of work. So no blogging, or writing for two (or was it three) days & no editing & (beta) reading either – that part I blame on the first season of “Pretty Little Liars”, btw.

Long story short, the quote I picked for today is this one:

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I don’t know who said this. I found it online. But this resonates with me so much right now. This is my life. This is my Patreon. This is my writing. I’m putting it all out there. I’m going all in. Maybe someone will want to read it. Maybe someone will want to read it badly enough to put money towards that desire. Anyway. I can see this happening. I can see it all coming together, falling into place. I can see myself being a successful writer. As in: I can see my stories resonating with people, living in the minds of strangers – even if (right now) no one else can.

Tell me about your dream…

#Challenges, #WritingLife, Uncategorized

Three Quotes, Three Days – Day 1

A few days ago – it might have been a week, I’m a little behind on my blogging duties tbh – Jade from Jade Writes tagged me to participate in this cute little challenge. I happily accepted the tag & then of course forgot to follow through aka prioritized my writing over my blog as per usual (& let me tell you, it’s been hella sweet)… Anyway I’m finally getting down to it – fingers crossed I’ll even finish the challenge. Lord knows I’ve still an unpublished “Look everybody I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo!” Post in my drafts folder – I think publishing this one by now would just be embarrassing. Enough rambling, here’s quote #1:

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I chose this because it gives me hope knowing that someone as renowned as Ernest Hemingway was struggling with self-doubt. I read this whenever I wake up, afraid that my ability to tell stories may have vanished overnight – which is basically every bloody day of the year. Do you know that feeling by the way?

(Marketing professionals advise me never to publish blog posts in the same day but let’s face it, if I don’t publish this now, I probably never will…)

#Challenges, #The Daily Prompt, #WritingLife

What I think about, when I hear the word toxic…

When I read the word toxic, I think love before I think poison. Toxic relationships are a concept I didn’t learn about until I was in my twenties and I only ever applied this concept to my own experience since very recently. I’m not someone who seeks deeper meaning in my memories and interactions with people and memories of interactions with people. I only put those pieces together in my fiction and it’s usually a matter of writing a story, editing it and years later I’m like – Hold on! What happened? Did I really have this conversation? No, shit! But by then it’s usually too late and I move on.

One short story of mine in particular deals with a toxic relationship I didn’t even know I had. It is called “Love Is Cruel to the Sensitive Kind” and it takes place in the space of an evening. I wrote it in 2012 and lived it in 2009. I was young then, inexperienced and perhaps a little thick in matters of love. I put up with things, I wouldn’t put up with now. Continuous slights and tiny assaults against my self-esteem, I didn’t even notice as such until I saw them on the page. To be perfectly honest, not even then. It took me six years, publication by “The Dying Goose” and befriending and unfriending and refriending this person on Facebook to see our relationship for what it was – toxic.

Now I want to share with you an actual account that is also part of my story “Love Is Cruel to the Sensitive Kind”…

‘You brought crisps?’

You take the bag from me and start eating. I watch you as you cover your shirt in crumbs. I’m hungry too, but you don’t offer.

‘I haven’t eaten all day,’ you say through a mouthful of chips.

‘I could have come by earlier.’

‘I slept late. I felt sick all morning.’

‘Did you catch a cold?’

‘Yeah, and then I got smashed yesterday night.’

‘But now you feel all better?’

‘Mustn’t grumble,’ you spray me with wet crumbs as you say it.

I wait for you to look away and wipe at my face.

‘You kept calling me,’ you say.

‘I didn’t know you weren’t feeling well.’

‘So you kept calling?’

‘A couple more times. You picked up but I didn’t hear anything. I think your phone is broken.’

‘No,’ you stuff another handful of chips into your mouth.

‘But I didn’t hear you on the other end.’

‘You kept calling. So I picked up, threw the phone in the corner and went back to sleep.’

‘I thought it was broken.’

‘It probably is now.’

You texted me right after I had hung up. You called me mate. I didn’t call again.

Thank you for letting me share this with you, btw. If you want to read the full story, you can CLICK HERE! (This is not a buy link, fyi.)

Have you ever been in a toxic relationship? What made you realise it was toxic? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

 

#WIPChat, #WritingLife

WIP Chat: The inspiration behind my novel “Romka”.

My novel “Romka” grew out of a short story I wrote in November 2017. It was the first story I’d written after a three year hiatus, due to ill health. Going on this writing hiatus is the one thing I regret in my life and I’ve made some seriously dodgy choices – but I digress. It took me a little over a month to write and once finished, I put it away to rest until editing. Soon after though, I realised that the story of Romka’s disappearance, of her best friend Myriam and the campground she lives on, was far from told. I had moved on to another short story by then but I just went with my gut and got back to it – best decision I ever made, btw!

I was inspired to write this story by a picture on the cover of – wait for it! – Romka magazine, which sadly is in its last issue. I named my novel to pay tribute to my source of inspiration, fyi. On said cover was a young girl, an ordinary girl not a model, whose face and sly smile drew me in. I looked at her, wondering who she was and this wave of nostalgia swept over me. I started to think of myself at her age and about my friends then and how they’ve all disappeared from my life without warning and without a trace. From that point on the story unfolded in my mind, first it was just about this vague sense of losing someone who you were once so close to, you couldn’t imagine your life without them – eventually it mushroomed into a Coming-of-Age thriller and the embodiment of this sinking feeling you get, when you grow up the odd kid in a rural community, which tells you, you’ll never make it out of here (alive)…

There is a picture of a young girl on the screen, shoulder-length wispy hair, dark slanted eyes, Babushka cheeks, stubby nose, a shy smile exposing crooked teeth. (from Part 1 of “Romka”)

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The characters that populate the world of “Romka” are mostly inspired by people I knew when I was growing up. My grandparents, their friends, my friends and perhaps even me, a little or a lot. I can never tell how much of myself I put into my work but there’s always something or other I’m trying to work through between the pages. With this novel I stayed very close to home, both with the setting and the characters. I didn’t even bother changing any names. The people in question are either dead or out of my life and the characters I named after them don’t share many traits with their real life counterparts, physical or otherwise. So I’m pretty sure that I won’t get sued over this… 😉

A brief squabble ensues in which Jule brandishes his stick and Jaak uses his beer-belly as a weapon. (from Part 2 “Romka”)

The setting of “Romka” was inspired by the place I grew up in. Recently I moved back home and my writing went from urban to rural. The campground in question is an actual place, which makes it easy for me to trigger inspiration when I’m stuck – I just go over there and have a look around and in no time I’ll see my characters walking through the premises wreaking havoc and I’m back on track. The town adjacent to the campground is based on a nearby fishing town, almost exactly. I changed some of the infrastructure for ease of writing but whenever I reread those scenes during editing this 30k inhabitants town is what I see in my mind – perhaps my mind makes it a little grittier than it is in real life but that’s what happens to everything that inspires me. I plot and ponder over it and then I tease out the grunge…

The surface of the lake reflects stormy skies, black and blue like a battered bride on the verge of collapse. (from Part 2 of “Romka”)

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During my writing career so far, I have been inspired by lots of things, art, films and music – thin air on occasion 😉 – but never have I taken so much from memory as with this novel. “Romka” is the most autobiographical novel I have ever written. It may surprise you, once you read it but it is true. I don’t know what changed and made it possible for me to access these memories and turn them into fiction. Perhaps it was moving back to this place, if only for a while. Anyway, I’m glad my path brought me here – & thank you muses, for inspiring me!

If you’ve made it this far, I’ve a couple of questions for you, before you go…

What are you currently working on?

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Where do you get your inspiration from?

(This doesn’t just apply if you’re a writer, btw. Everyone is creative in their own right, whether you write or paint or cook or crochet, or whatever else is your jam – hey maybe you make jam?! – I want to hear from you!)


If this post has made you curious about my novel “Romka”, you can learn more about it right here on my website. Just click on the button below… 

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#JustLife

This writer & used books – A life-long love affair.

I love used books. I love the way they handle, the frayed edges, the scuffed covers. I love the way they smell, a little musty, smoky perhaps. New books are shiny and pristine, tempting me from the shop windows of the local Waterstones. But used books tell me a story, in addition to the one that’s printed on their pages. They tell their story, from the moment I pick them up and leaf through them, inhaling their unique scent when no one is looking (& still feeling a little weird, but that’s life). I’ve discovered hidden inscriptions on the inside cover, my favourite authors’ signature on a title page and bookmarks lost between the pages. A little present from the previous owner 😉 As a writer it’s these stories I treasure most. Newness has potential but it’s unused, unformed, uninteresting. I want frayed edges, coffee stained covers and cracks in the spines, of my books…

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My copy of “Music for torching” by AM Homes smells a little smoky… My copy of “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker has poems scribbled in the margins… My copy of “Room” by Emma Donoghue came with a postcard bookmark… My copy of “The Almost Moon” by Alice Sebold has her signature on the title page… I love these books. They tell a story, even when I’m not reading. 😀

 

 

 

 

#Patreon, #WritingLife

So you want to start a Patreon page?! Here’s 5 things to watch out for…

Patreon is an effective and straight-forward way for creators from all walks of life to build a regular income, perhaps even make a living, from their work. But how to go about setting up a successful page and running a campaign that converts fans into patrons? As a writer and Patreon creator I know how overwhelming it can all seem at the very beginning and how many obstacles can stand between you and the successful launch of your Patreon campaign. Which is why I put together these five steps for you to follow and ensure that you know what you’re doing before, during and after the launch of your Patreon page.

1. Build a backlog… A Patreon page is like a houseplant; you need to tend it, you need to water it – otherwise it will die. That is especially true in the first year. So you want to make sure that you can feed this new page of yours with content regularly. The best way to do that is by building up a backlog of work, at least six months’ worth of content. Everyone knows life can get in the way of your creative work sometimes. This way you will not have to put out low-quality content, just to keep the lights on. The same thing goes for rewards by the way, especially if you chose something you have to prepare in advance. A well-prepared creator makes for happy patrons and low stress levels during the first few months of your campaign.

2. Build a platform… This is the number one way to ensure your Patreon page will be a success right out of the gate. Patreon does not take care of this for you, by the way. The site features a search function but it is not one of their strong points. Unless you are a top grossing creator your page will most likely go unnoticed by anyone browsing the website. So be aware that your largest source of traffic to your Patreon page will be your website or social media presence. This is the reason why you want to get started on building that audience now. Start a blog or vlog, release some free content. This may sound counter-intuitive to someone looking to make a living wage but it’s a great way of introducing people to your art and getting them hooked. So once your Patreon page goes online, your fans will be eager to put their money toward your campaign and create an income for you.

3. Determine your Why… Before you build your page, tell your platform where to find it and start publishing content, you should take a minute to think about the why of it all. What do you want to achieve with your page? Do you strive for a regular income, a group of devoted beta-readers for your novel or just a safe space to share your work with like-minded people who can tip you a buck, if they feel like it. These distinctions are important because they determine how you set up your page, what content you publish there and how you market it once it is online. Go on, grab a pen and get brainstorming!

4. Build your page… You’re in luck, Patreon has made this step of the process really easy for you – even if you don’t know how to code or have no idea how to go about setting up a website. I will explain the nuts and bolts of setting up a Patreon page in a later post – so watch this space! But for now I will tell you what you need to have at the ready to start a page that converts fans into patrons. You will need a couple of photos of yourself and your work, one for your profile picture and one for your page header, a video of you talking about the who, why and what of your Patreon campaign and a Q&A style essay for your About-section that answers roughly the same questions as your video. It is essential to have both a video and a written introduction to reach the maximum conversion rate of fans into patrons. And everything else is pretty much self-explanatory.

5. Set a schedule (& stick to it!)… If you want your Patreon page to be successful and attract lots of patrons, you need to consistently put out content. Especially in the beginning you need to prove yourself by showing up for your patrons and delivering content and rewards on time. This way you show that you are a reliable creator as well as a trust-worthy human being and not just a con-artist who will take their patrons’ money and disappear into the night. Beloved creators may be able to get away with an occasional month of down-time and missed rewards. But you are only at the very beginning of your Patreon journey, so try to stick to a publishing schedule as much as possible. Nobody is perfect and life happens, meaning you might end up having to miss or post-pone a content post or a reward delivery. In this case it is important that you keep the lines of communication open. Your patrons will show understanding for a struggling artist, but not for a flake.

I hope this post has managed to shine some light on the sometimes confusing process of starting a Patreon page. Put these five steps into action, take your time to complete each one and you will be fine. Don’t try to do it all at once, starting a Patreon page without a platform is a lonely road and trying to catch up with demand for content and rewards, while keeping a day-job and maintaining a social life, is a surefire way to suck all the fun out of sharing your art. Be prepared, ask for help when you need it and don’t forget to give yourself a break every once in a while. Remember, your Patreon page is supposed to be a rewarding, if not life-changing experience. Stick to these five steps and you will be well on your way to running a successful Patreon campaign.


If you found this post helpful, please leave a tip in my virtual Tip Jar. Just click on the image below. It will take you to my Patreon page, where you can sign up for a $1/month contribution. So that I can keep making these posts and help you on your journey as an independent creative. Thank you!

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#Patreon, #WritingLife

Self-promotion is a four-letter word…

Did you know that Caith Esra Ulvar is writing stories on Patreon?!

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Yes! It’s true! And you can sign up for just $1 – that’s ONE DOLLAR. 

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Honest to God, I’m not. It’s just ONE DOLLAR. ONE DOLLAR! ONE DOLLAR! Say it with me!

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Okay. So that didn’t work. I get it. You people need convincing… So don’t take it from me. Let’s hear some testimonials from satisfied readers… 

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“I used to just give my loose change to buskers. And I don’t even like music. Caith Esra Ulvar has given me a great way to get rid of those extra dollars. And I get a story!

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“I had so much loose change lying around. I had to spend all my vacation days on trips to Rome, just so I could dump my coins in the Trevi Fountain. All that starchy food seriously threw off my diet. But then I discovered Caith Esra Ulvar and guess what, my skinny jeans fit again. And I get a story!

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“Lugging all that loose change around gave me man-arms. One night in bed I accidentally flexed. My fiance was so intimidated, he called off the wedding. Now that I’m giving my extra dollars to Caith Esra Ulvar my muscle tone is way down and I’m dating again. And I get a story! Caith Esra Ulvar is all I read.”

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Thank you, Caith Esra Ulvar!

Now if that doesn’t convince you to sign up for a $1 patreon pledge, I don’t know what will. Hey why don’t you go to Caith Esra Ulvar’s patreon page right now. I’ll be waiting here for you while you sign up…

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Don’t be a change-horder. Spend a dollar on Caith Esra Ulvar. And during the first month you’ll get four stories for the price of one. That’s $1 (ONE DOLLAR) for four stories. That’s too good of a deal to be true – No, that’s exactly what you’ll get. That’s truly a killer deal! Let me repeat that – that deal is A-mazing!

So head on over to patreon.com/caithesraulvar and claim your stories today!

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(My patreon-button is bigger than yours 😉 )