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Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Today I am pleased to publish my third guest blog post. You too can have a post published on my blog. Just read the guidelines HERE. In the meantime, enjoy...

By: Gail Orbell

If we are new to writing, perhaps bashing away at our first novel, how do we know if it is any good? Where is our template? If we are members of a writers' group we can read our work and be assessed by other members. But, do the other members actually have any more of an idea than we do? And if we listen, are we going to chop and change our novel because someone else thinks it would work better, this way, or that way?

I had my first novel gestating for many years. On and off I would pull it out and look at it and put it back - then pull it out and look at it - you get the picture? Having listened to those wiser than me (in theory) I'd chopped and changed it until when my baby was actually born it wasn't the creature I'd been feeding and cherishing for all those years.

On another occasion, I had a short story critiqued, and, frankly, it was slammed. Apparently no one would 'get' it. And even if they did 'get' it, it was still all wrong. Now, I totally believed in that story and decided to swim against the swell of disapproval and entered it into a competition. It won first prize and came back with a lovely critque. So my question is, are all critiques worthy of note? And my answer is a resounding no!

I say, have your work critiqued by all means, BUT, make sure (as sure as you can be) that the person critiquing your work is worthy and is also familiar with the genre in which you write. An opinion here and there will just confuse you, and, like me, you will end up with a novel that is fragmented and trying to please everyone - and therefore actually pleases no one.

I have since pieced my novel back together and it now pleases me!

About Gail Orbell: I openly admit to having a deep love of nature and of most creatures, especially horses (no surprise there, considering Mulligan's Reach has as many equine characters as human characters) border collies, cats and chickens.

I ran my own riding establishment for some years. I think the love and respect of horses had been born into me. I know that from a very early age I had the desperate need to own a horse. And I've owned many. Some good, some not so good. One of the sweetest horses I ever owned was a little filly called Drummer's Dream. She won three races on the flat. She was a tiny little girl but had the heart of a lion.

I was married to a vet for some years (not now, divorced, Oops!) and had the pleasure of working with animals of all kinds. Most of it was a pleasure but obviously the sick and the dying brought with them a great sadness.

Dogs have also figured greatly in my life to date.My parents always had a dog of some description and so my childhood was spent learning how to attend to the needs of a living thing and not just my own. I have owned an English Setter (barmy!) and a Border Collie (almost human). Meg (Border Collie) and I used to 'do' competition obedience. She was a little star. She died 18 months ago and our lives were, for a time, devastated. I also groomed cats and dogs professionally for 12 years.

Right! That's enough about the animals in my life.

I love 'doing' tarot readings.
I'm a Scorpio (Extremists)
I have a partner (Richard) who puts up with me - The Lord knows how. I don't!
I'm a strict vegetarian.
I'm a member of The Grace Dieu Writers' Group
I have one son (of whom I'm extremely proud)
I prefer honest people who speak their minds and not people who tell you what they think you want to hear!
I like gardening. Baking cakes. Johnny Depp. Matt Damon. Country music (despite my scathing comments to Kane's music in Mulligan's Reach) Pink - Especially So What. Stephen Fry. Colin Firth. Gone with the Wind, True Grit (the original) and phew ... that's enough!

You now know me better than I know myself!

Oh yeah, just one more thing. Can't forget to tell you about Beautiful and Dust, my two chickens, who produce lovely eggs for all the cakes I bake - and wreck my garden!!

Facebook: Gail Orbell
Website: JennieOrbell
Amazon: Mulligan's reach

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