The Art of Blogging – An Art Form I Have Yet to Master as I Try and Get My Life Together

I must admit I have struggled this month to find a theme, and it hasn’t helped that I haven’t posted for a couple of months thanks to the general shenanigans of real life. Nothing is more telling than the state of my blog/website where my last post is from November 2016 which basically said, ‘I’m lost, please bear with me’.

But with a new year, I am starting to get my groove back starting with this post… little steps! I’m writing again and am in the process of revamping the aforementioned unloved blog/website. Now this brings me to where my ramblings are headed. Blogs, more specifically authors’ blogs. As I work with someone to update my website, I find myself bombarded with page after page of advice about what should be in a blog, how often you should post, how to drive traffic your way and various other topics that have me running to hide under my duvet. Working with my new designer, I basically only had one real thing I didn’t want and that was white writing on a dark background (my eyes just can’t take it), but the rest I’m happy to negotiate. New banner, layout menus will all be on the agenda, along with gentle hand holding about web hosting and figuring out if I want .org or a .com.

I often hear about an author’s brand. I use my ‘R’ across all platforms, it’s pretty simple and identifiable but this is just a part of a brand. As I’ve been contemplating what to do with my website I thought what can I do about this branding malarkey. I tend to write across many genres but at the same time most people probably know me from my historical series, so I’ve plans to set up regular posting about fun historical facts. Below is the sort of thing I have in mind. I recently received rights back for ‘Captain Merric’ my first published story so I have a legitimate excuse for researching pirates. Here’s an interesting titbit about the sort of agreement pirates had between themselves, this between Captain George Lowther and his company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But another specific thing about me, and so maybe also useful for this branding stuff, is I’m an ex-pat Brit living in Switzerland. So as well as the historical stuff I thought I could post regularly on life overseas in Basel, the challenges and highs of living away from your home country. Like learning a new language and being equally entertained and annoyed by day-to-day life. For instance,if someone had told me when we left London that I would willing get up at 3 am to watch a load of people march around playing drums and piccolos in the dark, I’d have laughed in their face. Nor would I have believed I would be willing stand on a pavement waiting for giant clown creatures (known as Waggis) to throw confetti over me. But you can see from the photo below, that’s just what I did for Basel’s spring carnival, known as Fasnacht.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, I guess I’m starting to get my act together. And hopefully my regular blogging here and at my new website (once it is finally resurrected) will put me back on track. Watch this this space, I’m definitely going to try to be better…

 

REBECCA COHEN is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

Contacts:

Blog: http://rebeccacohenwrites.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710

Twitter: http://twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes

Losing the Way… Sometimes Getting Lost Isn’t a Bad Thing by Rebecca Cohen

It has been said that I have the directional capabilities of a dead wombat, my rudimentary map reading skills have gotten me and various travelling companions lost on many occasions. It could possibility be claimed that our SatNav prevented a messy divorce, and now days my hubby asks if I mean my left or his left when it comes to taking the next turn. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that I’ve been known to take the odd wrong turn when I’m writing. Sometimes it’s starting the wrong place, or incorrectly estimating the length of the journey, or even having to scrap the travel plans altogether and start again.

I thought I’d share a few of my adventures, especially in light of what is going on with my current project. This WIP is a contemporary novella set in Switzerland and it was meant to be submitted on the 1st Dec – that didn’t happen. I’d been blocked, the story grinding to a halt, and then I suddenly had a flash of realisation that I’d started it in the wrong place! We’re up and running again and like a few of my other mis-directions below I think it’s going to work out just fine.

 

I thought the journey was over, but when I started the next leg I realised I’d been going the wrong way

servitudefsMy first published novel, Servitude, is a high fantasy adventure that took over seven years to write. This ridiculous length of time is from having three complete rewrites, the most painful of which saw me shelving 120K words and starting again. I thought the book was done, ready to send out into the world, but then I started writing the sequel and I realised my main character’s personality was completely wrong, and there was no way I could keep him as he was originally written and have the rest of the series pan out as it was supposed to. So I started again and Lornyc Reagalos was reborn into the stubborn, sassy bastard that he needed to be. I have to say I love the new version – he is still one of my favourite characters. But, boy, that decision hurt!

 

 

It was meant to be a quick pop to the local shops and I end up half way around the world

actorearl-final-coverBack in 2011 I had an idea for a quick and easy novella. A bit of fun which would get an idea out of my head and let me get back to writing something else I had planned. The idea was to write say 25K words about a young Elizabethan actor managing to bluff his way through pretending to be his twin sister to fool a noble. Yeah, well, that didn’t quite end up like that… so instead of one short novella The Actor and the Earl happened, and the Crofton universe was born. Currently there are 3 novels from Sebastian Hewel’s, the actor, point of view (The Crofton Chronicles) and a modern and spinoff – oh and a whole new side series is in the works where we’ll explore the Redbourn family through the eyes of four of the earls through history.

 

I’d read the map wrong… I was only one quarter of the way there

lifeintheland_origI wrote a short story call The Artichoke Avenger and Sprout Boy and submitted to an anthology (I can’t even remember the particular anthology), but it didn’t make the cut. But I got feedback saying they liked the idea and wanted me to consider revising and making it longer. A bit of head scratching and wondering what else to do, I ended up adding 3 more parts and the novella Life in the Land, where my hero has the super power of being able to manipulate plans, emerged.

 

 

I guess I’m saying, that while I usually like to know where I’m going, and consider myself a plotter when it comes to working out where the book should be going, it is not the time to panic when a journey doesn’t go to plan. In fact, in some cases it is the best thing that can happen to the story. Some punches are meant to be rolled with.

 

REBECCA COHEN is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

 

Contacts:

Blog: http://rebeccacohenwrites.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710

Twitter: http://twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes

 

 

 

 

Not All Characters are Flesh and Blood by Rebecca Cohen

 

This is my first post for Author’s Speak and I’m very happy to be here. Those of you who have read my stories know I’m not one to stick to a particular genre, but today I’m wearing my historical hat. I’d like to share my obsession with one of my favourites characters, not one of flesh and blood, but Crofton Hall, the stately home belonging to my Earls of Crofton (the Redbourn Family), and the inspiration behind it.

So without out further ado let me introduce you to Hatfield House, the home of Lord Salisbury – isn’t she magnificent?

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Built in 1611 by Robert Cecil, Hatfield House is a smidgen too young to exactly be the original Crofton Hall (since Crofton Hall was built in the 1570s and later extended) but Hatfield House’s architecture and design still fits the bill and is certainly what I envisage for the stories that will be set after the original Crofton Chronicles series.

Like any great character, Hatfield House has changed through the years. Each generation added to the sumptuous décor which set my imagination racing with what could have happened within the walls of the manor house and how the lives of those who lives there were moulded.

Here are three of the many photos I took on my last visit. I bet you can see why Hatfield House inspires me so much!

The Long Gallery
rc1Here I imagine the flash of blades and the shuffling of feet as swords clash and a gentleman’s honour is defended. Did a miss-spoken word lead to bloodshed? Were friendships forged and lost at the tip of a rapier?

 

 

 

The Gardens
rc2Hiding behind hedges were sweethearts wooed? Breathy trysts undertaken away from the ever- watching eyes of the house? How many tears were shed? How many hearts were broken? Were lovers once put asunder reunited in a secret space?

 

 

 

The Victorian era kitchen

20160910_141053The kitchens of any large house are busy, loud and chaotic at times. Hatfield House’s kitchen were remodelled in the Victoria era and the same for Crofton Hall, but for Crofton Hall they were updated for a very different reason. I imagine the earl dabbling too much with his new-fangled science experiments, pushing the limits of his knowledge one step too far and the resulting explosion leaving him with the need for new kitchens.

 

I hope you can see from this brief insight into this beautiful building why I might be more than a little bit in love with Hatfield House, and why the Crofton Hall I created from it is more than just a structure but a character in her own right.

Are there any building that inspire you?

 

REBECCA COHEN is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

 

Contacts:

Blog: http://rebeccacohenwrites.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710

Twitter: http://twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes