Sarah Barnard

Magical Portals, Spaceships and flying cars….

Breathing in a new beginning.

Written By: Sarah - Apr• 21•15

Or: How many websites and blogs can one person keep running with any level of regularity, and quality of content?

OsierStruggling to keep up the separate identities, and voices, of the author and the publisher, I have decided to just be me. Over time The Osier Publishing blog will be left to fade and that site will transform into something different. Another iron is to be added to the fire, and that’s all I’m saying on that front for now, other than it will all run under a variant of the Osier name. I will also be consolidating twitter accounts and considering Facebook presences, and other online factors, as I go along. There’s still a fair bit of planning to do and structures to put in place before I can share. It’s good business sense to keep it under wraps until I’m clearer in my vision of how it’s going to be, how it all fits together.

Across the three strands there will be this blog and site for my work; the Osier Publishing site; and a new shop. They will all link to each other and complement one another. By defining the role of each domain, I’m hoping to support a clearer business vision, and that will help the organisation sharp in my head.

So, if you already read here, please do stay, new and exciting times are ahead! If you’re new, Welcome, there are new and exciting times ahead!

Autograph

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That elusive work-life balance

Written By: Sarah - Apr• 19•15

Or lack of balance in so many cases, including my own!

I’m working on it. It’s elusive for most people, don’t you think? How many of us wish we could spend more time with our families, in the garden, baking, reading, writing, knitting….

Over the past few years, life has become increasingly demanding and as a result my writing has suffered, as has my garden. Then, after Christmas last year, I started repainting the bathroom, then the upstairs landing, and the kids’ bedrooms. One of the bedrooms needs to be finished, but it’s all getting there. I want to work my way down the stairs and through the hallway, and my bedroom needs painting too. Then the sun came out and I cut the grass outside, started working on some growing space out there, weeded the fruit bushes, and started hacking into the very overgrown hedge at the back of the garden. The hedge needs cutting back really rather brutally so it can grow thicker and stronger from lower down. It’s a tall, thin, straggly thing at the moment, neglected for years even before we moved in.

But I digress, slightly. Last week, on a college course, I had to “add some text” to an image we’d been working on – it’s a photoshop course, lots of fun and I’m looking at redesigning my book covers with the stuff I’m learning. Off the top of my head, I threw some words onto the image. a new beginning

The following day, while waiting around for someone, I took a notebook and pen. Those words started something. I’m not sure where it’s going, who is involved, or how long it might be, but I’m enjoying the word flow.

A bit more garden, more writing, some business work – did you notice the new look? A new shop over at Osier Publishing – click the link up there that says, “Shop” it’ll take you over to the right pages. And a lot less chaos combined with more time spend at home with space for my head to clear and for the words to find their own path.

As the sun set, and mist rose from the incoming tide, she breathed in a new beginning.

 

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Cake baking, sewing, and words.

Written By: Sarah - Aug• 26•14

The computer got fixed, life stayed complicated. Writing slowed, but hasn’t stopped. It’s changed, though, it’s flowing but in a more measured, careful way.

I found myself an old Singer sewing machine. The modern(ish) electric ones don’t like me, and I can’t do a thing with them! But this 94-year-old beauty runs like a dream. I’ve made dolls, pin cushions, a sewing machine mat with built-in pin cushion – she was going to scratch my table! And today saw the beginning of a bed for my cats. They like to sleep in their carrier but it’s plastic, and I wanted something other than an old towel as bedding for them. So, layers of towel, filled with pillow stuffing and covered with upcycled fleece, and they’ll have a nice, comfy bed in there, when I finish it, probably tomorrow.

I threw together some cake mix, half chocolate and half plain, and shoved it in the slow cooker to bake. Easy, and makes excellent cake! Iced it, and it is a lovely and moist marbled sponge, Lily would be proud although shed raise an eyebrow at the oval shape.

While that was baking, and while assorted children were entertaining themselves, I wrote.

Susan and Matt are arguing, Kate is trying to keep the peace, Vic isn’t enjoying school but she’s (mis)using her magic to keep out of most trouble. The Naiad is asking the Darklings for help, and Gentian has her hands full with Hazel, Healer and Hiann. Many faces are missing and not yet mentioned.

Lily is sorely missed.

“However much we long for what once was, nothing can turn back the seasons.”

Naiad

Strangely, not by Kate, or Susan. Their lives have moved on, they found their peace. The void she left is felt more keenly on the other side, and it’s her magic that’s missed.

I’ve tried to write other things, other stories, but these Portal women keep coming back.

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It could have been worse…

Written By: Sarah - Aug• 06•14

A long, busy, day out of the house and once home again I was more than ready to settle down at the keyboard with a fresh mug of tea, and get some words typed.

I turned the computer on.

It turned off.

I blamed a power glitch, not an uncommon occurrence here.

I turned it back on.

It booted up, loaded emails, and turned itself off again.

Hmm…. Check the fuse box and other appliances – no issues.

I turned it back on, again.

Booted up fine, loaded stuff. After about 5 mins, it turned off.

I turned it back on again.

Windows ended abnormally, please choose… OK, hit “Start windows normally” it does that after a power cut too, not a problem. It booted up. I loaded in emails, powered up firefox.

It turned off again.

Uh oh.

That’s my work, emails, websites, writing files, family pics… Before anyone yells, “BACK-UP” at me, I know. Some files were backed up, but not everything. Importantly, the one file not backed up and accessible from anywhere other than the desktop hard-drive was my current work-in-progress – the next generation of Portal stories. I’ve been working on it for a while, and recently got back into the habit of writing every day. The characters were back in my head, the words were flowing. Kate is grey, and a grandmother. Hazel is pregnant. Hiann is… well, the story was developing nicely.

Then the words, the characters, and the stories, were locked away in a box under my desk that wouldn’t open long enough for me to find them!

I swore at the thing, dug out my laptop and swore again at the lost passwords, missing software that needed to be installed, and the barrage of updates the thing needed. But I got online and could at least catch up with some of my work. But the words were locked away.

Tuesday morning… the desktop was still refusing to work, so I took it to a repair shop. They promised to take a look, it was probably the fan tripping a thermal cut out, but they’d let me know by the end of the day.

The moral of this? The fan is fine, just filthy and clogged with several generations of spiders, webs, dust, hair, and other detritus from 2 houses, several furniture rearrangements, multiple desks, at least 3 sets of major building works…

Umm, folks? Take the side/back off your computer regularly and clean the thing. When I pick it up tomorrow I’ll be asking how to do that…. Oops. The one I had before this was easy. Flip a toggle thing, wiggle a bit, and the side came off. Pull out the muck, clean it, pop the side back on. This one isn’t so easy.

Sliver linings though: The computer is fine, no parts needing replacing, a small bill, and all my files and pics are fine.

Kate, Susan, and Gentian, will be there waiting for me tomorrow. I expect I’ll be writing.

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Writing it out.

Written By: Sarah - Aug• 02•14

When I started writing, I used it as a way to explore a situation I was going through – writing as therapy, you might say. Since then, I’ve used my characters to bounce ideas with, to allow things to play out on the page. I’ve put my characters into a situation and then just written word after word to see what happens.

Sometimes they surprise me.

In a way, I assume it’s allowing my thought process to work through whatever I need. I write through whatever I need to work through. Sometimes it makes for good writing! Now and then those writing exercises make it into a story in one form or another.

In recent months I’ve procrastinated with my writing. I’ve taught myself to crochet, taken up embroidery, started knitting a blanket. But stick with a writing project? Not been happening. Life got in the way. Every day there was something to be done, somewhere to be, demands on my time and energy which has meant by the end of each day I’ve not felt like writing. It’s been so hard to find the voices for characters.

All that is just excuses. I’ve been making excuses for too long. Time to get back in the writing saddle. I know, I’ve said that before. I’ll probably have to say it again.

Right now, though, I am feeling a pull I’ve not felt for a long time. You know when you reconnect with an old friend, discover their new life, the one they made without you while you were apart?

That.

Kate, her children all grown and flown the nest, some with children of their own, has wandered back into my head, ready to guide the next generation of Portal Mistresses as times and tides change and the need for the magic is back. Kate is grandmother to a teenager. Gentian is about to become a grandmother, her daughter, born at the end of Child of the Portal, is about to become a mother. Time has moved on for them, and calm has ruled where chaos once thrived.

A long shadow fell in the open doorway of the canvas sided yurt. Once dark hair fell in glorious curls past her broad shoulders. Gentian still made an imposing figure.

I have things I need to discuss with them, and Kate, as always, has most of the answers.

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Sometimes you just have to let it go.

Written By: Sarah - Mar• 06•14

Elois isn’t flowing. I’ve mapped out the storyline, I’ve made character notes, I’ve set myself word targets. Nothing is working. I’ve sat myself down and made the words happen and some days it starts to flow and it all feels good, then it stalls again.

I don’t think Elois is quite ready for her story to be told. Or maybe I’m not in the right frame of mind for a younger book.

So, there’s a decision to be made. Do I carry on working on Elois, or do I revisit a different project, or start something new? Or do I pick up an existing character group and run with them for a while?

This is the curse, and the blessing, of the self-published, self-employed author. I have total freedom to choose what to write next, no deadlines to adhere to, and no-one nagging me for a particular book. Most of the time that’s fantastic, and I love it. But sometimes I flounder and life gets in the way and nothing gets written.

New Years resolution 1 this year was to crack on and get the first draft of a new book ready by Easter. It looks like that’s not going to happen.

I’ve listened to this so many times and it rings true every single time. Whatever happens, go out and make your art, make good art, make it for yourself, make art you love, but make art. No matter how rubbish things get, if you can lift your implement of choice, then go and make some art. When the sun shines, when it rains, snows, if there’s a hurricane: Make Good Art.

Make mistakes, learn from them, use them. Mistakes are great. Mistakes are opportunities.

Writing is art. A pen and notepad, or the keyboard, are my implements of choice. I fully intend to make many mistakes, but I’ll be writing some words as I go.

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Getting to know you.

Written By: Sarah - Mar• 01•14

I’ve heard writers say they talk to their characters, that they can hear the character’s voice in their own heads. I’ve heard readers say that some fictional characters feel like old friends.

I have books like that on my own bookshelves.

The key to having your readers feel that way about the characters you invented, is getting to know them, really getting under the skin of each character you present.

You can do this in so many different ways. Some people like index cards with a set of notes on each character. Some people conduct lengthy interviews with each character. Some have notebooks, or files, with each character’s back-story. Some just try to hold in all in their heads. Some wing it, make it up as they go.

In many ways it really doesn’t matter what your method is, as long as each character you present for us to read, is fully fleshed and real. What matters is that the writer knows the character well, knows what makes them get up each morning, what makes them pull the covers over their head and refuse to get up. The writer needs to know why that song on the radio makes a character flinch, or smile.

If you don’t know the little things, then the character may as well be cut from cardboard, and the readers will lose interest.

Me? I’m off to weed my garden, and have a chat with Elois’ Dad….

If you’re in need of a book, mine are now available from here:

Osier Publishing

I’ll even sign them if you like, just ask in the comments section of your order.

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The Portal Series: Sample Sunday

Written By: Sarah - Feb• 23•14

What if you were a character in a book, and you knew it? For Twitter’s ongoing Sample Sunday campaign, this week, I’m reposting something I wrote in response to a challenge on Facebook – How would your characters describe you?

Child of the PortalThe knock at the door barely disturbed Lily, she knew who it would be. Sure enough the door opened behind her, and she didn’t bother turning round.
“What’s up?” Kate’s voice, concerned, as she moved through the kitchen. Lily smiled as she heard the kettle click and begin to hiss, followed by the clink of mugs.
“Has she got a bit of writer’s block again?” Lily pushed the chair back and joined Kate at the sink, the dirty mug in her hand sliding into the red washing up bowl.
“What?” Kate frowned.
“Sarah, we always have tea when she’s got writer’s block, or when something important needs talking about. So, unless you’ve got something important to discuss….”
Kate laughed, “You’re right, she’s murder for that. But you called me, what’s up?”
“Other than the incessant tea drinking?” Lily waited until the kettle finished bubbling, made the tea and grabbed…
“No, I do not want biscuits this time, ok?” She glared up at the ceiling, where she imagined the author of her story looked down on them.
Fine, no biscuits.
“She’s taken the magic away, so I’m stuck here.” Lily grumbled, ignoring the soft chuckles from the shadows.
“But you refused to talk to her, you said it was over and you’d had enough? You wanted the magic taken away?” Kate leaned back in the chair. “You know, coffee might be nice for a change!” She called towards the ceiling. The laughter got a little bit louder.
Lily giggled. “Shall we pour the tea down the sink and make coffee, just to see what she does? After all, the books are finished, she’s not writing us any more.”
“What’s this then?” Kate waved her hand vaguely round the room. “If she’s not typing this, then how is it happening?”
“So, if we pour the tea away and make coffee it’s because she’s let us do it?” Lily thought for a moment, Kate nodded with a grin. “Dammit, I hate that.” Lily drank her tea.
“Don’t you think it’s a bit odd though? All of us living in her head? And we’re not the only ones.” Kate mused.
“I have had enough, really. She’s thrown me over waterfalls, taken my daughter from me, taken my life and ripped it apart. Look at what she did to Sam, what she’s put us all through.” Lily was still grumbling even as she followed the reasoning to the end.
“While you had the magic then she had more to write about us, more grief to land us in. Without it we can just be us, living quietly, drinking whatever the hell we want when she’s not looking.” Kate smiled across the table.
“That won’t bring Sam back though.”
“No, it won’t.” A voice from the shadows, “Lily, you and I need a chat.”

The Portal Series.

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A personal appearance.

Written By: Sarah - Feb• 20•14

I seem to have booked myself a table at an Arts and Crafts Fair locally. I have books on order and it’s just a little bit scary.

It’s not a full on author appearance as such, it’s a toe in the water to see how it goes on a more personal basis. I’ll be trying to sell a few books, willing to sign them if requested, and having fun at the same time.

If anyone is local enough and wants to come along then it’s here:

Sunday, March 16th, from 2pm til 5pm.
See you there!
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Let’s get back to writing.

Written By: Sarah - Feb• 04•14

Today is a day of mixed feelings, memories and sunshine. It’s a weird one.

It would have been my brother’s 41st birthday. So I’m having a thoughtful kinda day. The sun is shining, and it’s windy, perfect laundry and drying weather. So the line is full of bedding, there’s a load in the machine, and another load at least lined up for after that. It’s going to smell fab when it’s all dry. I love the smell of line dried washing, and getting into a bed freshly made, and still smelling of sun? The best!

Amongst all that I could crack on with housework, it needs it.

But I’m going to sit here and write more on Elois. That still needs a title, and an idea for the cover, and will need an editor at some stage. Any volunteers?

“No daughter of mine will work in the forge, I have a son for that,” he said finally, turning away from her to scoop stew into a bowl. Elois stared at her dad’s broad back, tears welling up. Osk’s face was flat and calm, as usual. Briony glared at Kyt, furious, but she said nothing.

Today’s planned words involve crossing the ravine and finding out what’s on the other side. They’re sitting at the edge of the map, it’s all uncharted from here.

This is me, being all disciplined and going to write, not check facebook.

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