Ground your writing in a sense of place, whether landscape or cityscape. How often have you heard someone say of a book they loved: ‘I felt like I was there’.
Even if you relocate the poodle tied to a fake-cane chair, the sound of a game of tennis, the table of older men after their regular Sunday match at the café overlooking the tennis courts at Cooper Park that you drank a lemongrass and ginger tea at in Sydney into a café in a story in another state and time, the story will have originality and believability. ‘But that café was in Sydney, I can’t transport it to Adelaide.’ But you can. You can have flexibility with specific detail. The mind is able to transport details, but using actual places that you experienced will give your writing authenticity and truthfulness. It grounds your work in place, giving life and vitality to your writing, rather than a whole lot of exposition that floats in the air.
If you don’t create evocative settings, your characters seem to have their conversations in vacuums or in some beige nowhere-in-particular. – Jerome Stern
Creation of the physical world is as important to your story as action and dialogue. If your readers can be made to see the hand-knitted socks or the row of vitamins on the kitchen bench top, the scene becomes alive. Readers pay attention. Touch, sound, taste, and smell make readers feel as if their own feet are warm under the cold sheets.
Place situates the story in your reader’s mind. Fiction that seems to happen in no particular place often seems not to take place at all. – Jerome Stern
Here is the back cover blurb for STORIES FROM BONDI due for September release by Ginninderra Press. What do you think?
Libby Sommer’s sensitively-drawn characters live and breathe within the echoes of the everyday. Stories from Bondi centre on women – their joys, doubts, loves and realisations. The foibles of human nature, with all their pathos and humour, are laid bare for the reader.
“From the opening story ‘Art and the Mermaid’, to a moving piece set in a health retreat that closes the collection, these stories beautifully capture the intimacies of women. Like My Year With Sammy and The Crystal Ballroom, this is classic Sommer.” – SUSANNE GERVAY OAM, author.
So what is a book blurb?
A blurb is a short promotional piece accompanying a piece of creative work. It may be written by the author or publisher or quote praise from others. Blurbs were originally printed on the back or rear dust-jacket of a book, and are now found on web portals and news websites. – Wikipedia
A big thank you to fellow author Roslyn McFarland for giving me feedback on the blurb. I’d only reworked it about a thousand times, but still Ros was able to help me make it clearer.
In the final stretch now towards publication next month of STORIES FROM BONDI. I received final proofs from the publisher Ginninderra Press. They are now being read by another set of eyes before posting back to Adelaide. 19 contemporary stories about men and women and life and the whole damn thing set mostly in and around Bondi.
There will be a launch of the book in the Blue Mountains on 2 November. Details to follow.
So what are final proofs?
‘Proofs created by the printer for approval by the publisher before going to press are called final proofs. At this stage in production, all mistakes are supposed to have been corrected and the pages are set up in imposition for folding and cutting on the press. To correct a mistake at this stage entails an extra cost per page, so authors are discouraged from making many changes to final proofs, while last-minute corrections by the in-house publishing staff may be accepted.
‘In the final proof stage, page layouts are examined closely. Additionally, because final page proofs contain the final pagination, if an index was not compiled at an earlier stage in production, this pagination facilitates compiling a book’s index and correcting its table of contents.’ – Wikipedia
I’m very excited and can’t help boasting that this is my fourth book in four years. Phew. What a marathon it’s been!
Such a thrill to see my name in the list of contributors to ‘Glass Walls’, stories of tolerance and intolerance from the Indian Subcontinent and Australia, alongside famous authors including David Malouf, Elizabeth Jolley, Bruce Pascoe, Debra Adelaide, Roanna Gonsalves.
‘Glass Walls’ had a pre-launch at SAFAL (South Asian Festival of Art and Literature) at the weekend. At the event I was invited to read my short story ‘Henry’ (first published in Quadrant). Am honoured to have my work in this important book published by Orient BlackSwan, edited by Meenakshi Bharat and Sharon Rundle. The book will be released this month. It will be fully launched at the Australian Short Story Festival 2019 in Melbourne October 18-20.
‘Glass Walls’ challenges readers to look deeply into their own prejudices and reveals how small intimacies of intolerance become the bedrock of world tragedies that tear humanity apart. A powerful anthology.’ – Susanne Gervay OAM