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I am taking the writing gig seriously and this year you’ll see a lot of output from me (I expect five books out by June). So I want to put together a newsletter mailing list.

I’ve signed up with Mailchimp and I have a very basic sign up form.

I was hoping some of you lovely people would test it out for me and also that some of you would be interested in being on the list.

The mailing list URL is here. Feel free to tell me if it doesn’t work.

Also feel free to tell me what topics you want to hear about.

There’s

  • the PhD study
  • Writing advice
  • Self-publishing tips (as I learn them!)
  • Retro romance reading
  • General stuff.

Also, today took a serious turn. I’ve book a proofreader for the books coming up. This saves me a world of angst and time. I can proofread, but it is hard to do your own books and it takes me several run throughs to reduce errors. So booking a proofreader is worth the cost and has been added to the book budget.

I expect two edits to come in around the same time. Egad! Not planned that way.

And I put my toe in the water folks. I submitted a request for a Bookbub promotion. I’ll let you know how that pans out. But I expect it will take a few goes.

Focus

I’ve discovered that I can be very focused.

This is the opposite of being distracted, which I talked about in an earlier post, thinking  perhaps I had ADHD or something.

I appear to like grooves.

I’ve been focused on the PhD and writing lately. I realized that I have not made a hat since June. Although I have told myself a number of times that I was going to sew for a day I haven’t either. I have made one complex cake in January. The BB8 cake on the spur of the moment.

I wonder why this is so. Why can’t I  read, write and be creative at the same time? Say a couple of hours of this and a couple hours of that. In theory it’s possible, but I haven’t been able to get myself there. I even write down ‘to do’ lists that say, two hours proofreading, two hours drafting MS, two hours reading for PhD, but I get stuck on the proofreading and don’t or won’t let go. So I end up doing three solid days of proofreading then I can go back to reading for the PhD. Weird.

Incidentally, I have set myself the task of getting five novels out before June. They are all written, but I have to deal with edits and proofs and getting covers and other stuff. Right now I’m revising The Ungiven Land, the last book in the Silverlands Trilogy. I’ve go a hundred pages to go. I will finish the revision this week I’m pretty sure. It’s not heavy revision or anything, just a read through and tweak and ensure consistency of some changes I made follow through. Cutting blah, blah bits out. Shortening some bits. To finish just requires some focus then it’s ready for the editor.

So I think my focus is a good thing. I get things done, even though I sometimes hate the revision stage. I like creating stories most. I love studying for the PhD too, although there are going to be aspects that challenge me. It is through doing the PhD that I’m getting these insights into myself. Or maybe because of the self-led study component of it that leads me to be drawn into certain ways of working. I’m not reporting to a boss. I’m not interviewing people for an audit etc. Working alone this way that make me see some of my issues or my tendencies that I probably always had but didn’t notice.

I also theorise that my creative energy comes from the same place. If I’m writing I find it hard to sew or make hats or cakes. I don’t find it hard to watch DVDs although when I’m caught up in a story I find it hard to engage with a new series for example. I also don’t find it hard to read.

So now I look at what I have to do and the not writing fiction, just doing the edits etc seems to be a relief. I have a number of works drafted that I need to work on, but they are on hold. Now I can focus on the PhD novel. At least I think I can. Writing for me requires a certain level of commitment, ideas, energy, story drive etc. Once I start I usually find the rest, but this novel requires a bit more. I want it to be more too. More in the way of skill, in meaning, in impact, in thought. I may not achieve these goals, but I won’t know until I try.

PS I will come back and put a picture of the BB8 cake here. My phone is in the shop (withdrawal issues)!!

Some of you may recall my first long form publication was Rayessa and the Space Pirates, which was picked up by Harlequin’s Escape Publishing (digital imprint) in 2013. Rayessa had been languishing my hard drive for a number of years. It started as a short story, maybe way far back as 2002. I was writing the story for Elsewhere. At the time the first 7,500 were the longest short I’d written and it still wasn’t done. When the space pirates turned up, well I knew it wasn’t going to be a short story anymore. It ended up as a novella, then a slightly longer novella. It took it out and revised it a couple of times. I gave it to a couple of people to read with some positive feedback. I submitted it a couple of places. Once it was forwarded to the children’s editor at HarperCollins Australia. It was rejected but the rejection was along the lines of we already have stories along these lines and sorry to take  so long to get back to you. Then it sat in the hard drive a little longer. Then I went to my first RWA conference in the Gold Coast (2012) where Penguin launched their Destiny Imprint and Harlequin launched Escape. It was actually at the launch cocktail party of Destiny that I clued in that Rayessa was also a romance. Chinking champagne glasses with Nicole Murphy I said that I thought I had romance arc in some of my stories. She was like ‘Dah, why do you think I told you to come here?’ The clue people was the slideshow they had playing on the walls. Science fiction scenes at a romance conference.

So Rayessa was published. Then I wrote Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures, which should have been titled, Essa Takes on the Space Pirates or better still. Essa Rescues Mum from the Space Pirates etc. Now Escape decided they didn’t want any more spate pirate stories from me when they took Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures (and also revamped the Rayessa cover). Not with this family at least. So I changed the ending to Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures so there wasn’t too much hanging. But I always had in mind to write Opeia’s story. Opeia (Opi) is the mother of Rae and Essa, the head of AllEarth Corp.

Now pesky ideas will keep bothering you until your write them down. I thought I’d dealt with Opi by writing some notes about the story in my ‘Notebook of Really Cool Ideas’ that Gillian Polack gave me when I started the PhD. It is meant as a place to park ideas so I can come back to them when the Phd is done. Well obviously Opi had other ideas.

Opi meets NaNoWriMo and viola! she is out there on paper! I tried to be more emotionally contemplative in Opi Battles the Space Pirates. My wonderful beta reader (who is a fan of the first two books) gave me feedback. I had to rewrite the beginning and the ending after that. That plot twist that I had come up with but abandoned because I was trying to address my plot addiction by being a bit more touchy feely, well I had to put the plot bit in. It’s just that type of book.

It’s fluff, it’s funny (I think so) and it’s light and possibly uplifting. (Complete opposite to the Dragonwine series). Opi Battles the Space Pirates is also longer than the first two books, just under 60,000 words, it’s adult, but not sexy, more sweet in keeping with the other two books. It features an older protagonist (42) and a space battle goddamit!

Stay tuned. Cover art is in progress. Proofreading is in progress. I’m going to self-publish this one for fun.

Just to refresh your memory, here are the covers of the first two books, which I adore. Not sure the wonderful covers sell as many books as they should, but they are pretty and swish.

Link to the Escape website here. The books are at all major e-retailers. You can also buy these books in large print format/hardcover for libraries I think. I can’t afford to buy myself a  hard back version. There are some copies in libraries in Australia and the USA. Here.

However, I plan to have a print version of Opi Battles the Space Pirates. Just for fun, for a laugh and maybe as giveaways. So watch out.

Oh and the moral of the story? Don’t throw anything out. Learn from rejections. Don’t give up. Keep writing. Follow your heart…and whatever!

Sweltering

It’s summer here in good ol’ Australia. In Canberra, like elsewhere in the country it’s hot. It’s bloody hot. Canberra is usually dry so the heat can be bearable.  However, when it gets humid it’s a right stinker. There are other places worse off so I won’t claim the most miserable place to be.

Yesterday I worked from home with the aircon on downstairs in my house. It was completely bearable. Every time I went upstairs it was like stepping into a furnace. My god it was hot up there.

Come bedtime I went up to the bedroom and turned on the aircon above the bed. The aircon above the bed was dead. I tried the fuse box, changing the batteries in the remote control, turning it off and on at the wall. It was dead. Matthew came home and he confirmed it was dead. We don’t use the aircon much, maybe once or twice a year. It worked last time I turned it on about a week or two ago.

Why I didn’t just go back down stairs I don’t know. I put our ceiling fan on but even on high, blowing a hurricane, it made no difference. I had ice water and naked skin. Still no joy there  in the sleep stakes.

Today, I’m headachey and queasy and not too happy about it either. I came into campus as the study centre has excellent aircon, but I’m not feeling up to scratch at all. I’m not sure why I’m here. Can I actually read and process academic journal articles, read French philosophy? Just the thought makes me want to puke.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I did finish Opi Battles the Space Pirates last week and laid it out for proofreading. It’s a bit of fluff. It’s fun and I hope funny. The world needs some comic relief just now.

Also, the last call for romance writers boosted the responses somewhat. I’m still looking for respondents for both surveys.

I look at myself lately and I think I’m doing a lot of fiction writing recently, or I seem to be. Fair enough I’ve just come out of a holiday break where I took two weeks off from the Phd. This week I have been head down on the Phd and I put some time in last week too. I have my big moment to prepare for-The dreaded confirmation seminar that I talked about yesterday.

So what am I doing writing fiction or appearing to write fiction?

Last year I finished drafting a trilogy. My first completed one if truth be known. Book two was mostly written so I was tidying up, revising etc. Some parts were rewritten after beta reader comments. Book three was a 50,000 word basket case so technically I did write that book like last year almost from scratch (130,000 approx.). Book two is with the editor. Book three I’m going to revise after beta reader comments (next week actually) and then put in the edit queue. Right now I’ve finished revising Dragonwine Book 3 and it’s waiting for its slot for its editor and currently I’m restructuring book 4, which required some revising, rewriting as I went. I still have a bit to do, but the restructure is complete (I cheated I put the last bit in this morning). Oh and I wrote a 50,000 word novel in November for NaNoWriMo-which needs to be revised (when?!!!).

Now I don’t want to give the impression that I’m slacking off on the PhD because I’m not. Nor do I want to give the impression that I’m some kind of writing machine. I’m not that either. While I’m not too much a stickler for routine, I have been aiming to do an hour a day while working on Dragonwine Book 4. It’s written, I’m just plaiting the narrative threads together different to how I originally drafted it. It was a draft and it’s drafty. Man I don’t think I’ve read book 4 for seven years or more. I’m also revising, polishing as I go. It will need another run through too.

I’m spending my day on the PhD writing this damn proposal and researching and running my surveys and hassling writers etc. I’ve been going home and vegging in front of Netflix for hours (the heat mainly)  and then I put my hour in on the MS before I go to bed. I’m not usually so good at doing this. I’m marking this on my calendar this year so I can gauge how consistent I am. Technically, I could put more time into writing when I get home. I don’t want to overdo it on the computer due to RSI and arthritis issues so I’m pretty good at sticking to the hour. I’ve been at the computer at Uni most of the day too.

When I’m mostly reading, I can spend more time writing fiction. Reading takes place not at the computer you see. Sometimes it happens in bed or on the deck. I usually take a day off on Friday’s to write fiction (and do housework) and that gives me a good go at things. As Matthew is busy writing at the moment I’ve also spent some weekends, say Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon on task. Two Dweebs in adjacent offices pounding on keyboards!

I also have a backlist of works that I can either revise, write sequels for etc. I have to prioritise! So I don’t consider them to be new writing as such.

As well as the PhD this year I want to start on Dragonwine book 5 & 6 to finish this trilogy too. I don’t even have notes for this so it will be all new work! Approximately 170,000 words I estimate. However, I also have to draft my PhD novel and that takes priority. Lucky I touch type!

I probably look like I’m doing a sweep out of my brain, getting these stories out of there and onto paper. I also see it as me refining my creative practice. Finishing a trilogy presents many challenges and each time I work on one I’m learning about my craft. I can’t write as much as I want or work on as many things as I would like while doing the PhD.  That constriction will last for about two more years, but I can manage to do some stuff, particularly if the damn thing is already drafted. I also need a part time job because I have no support for my living expenses. I’ve thought about this and writing is my part time job. I hope in 2017 it will bring in some dollars but I am hoping that I will continue to progress as a writer as well as learn more through my PhD.

What is really doing my head in is the edits. They are coming! Over 400,000 words of edits. And I’ve set myself up for four book edits in the first part of the year. That work load I will have to be careful of. Then as they are going to be self/indie published, I have the dreaded laying out to do, proofing etc, which takes time but isn’t too hard. Covers to source? Egads. 2017 is going to busy.

The message is I guess is that even an hour a day can get you somewhere.

Below are the covers for the Silverlands Trilogy. The only set of covers that I’m organized for. Damn.

three-books

The irony

I’m back into PhD mode, currently working on the all important research proposal for my confirmation seminar. These confirmation seminars happen about a year in to the degree study and one can present (in theory) an indepth research proposal and get approval to do the PhD proper. It’s weird because you know I’m doing the PhD now, and I’ll be doing it after confirmation. It’s a formal part of the process to ensure I have something worthwhile to research now I have had a year looking into the research material. I get assessed and I get a drilling on my presentation and the topic. All good.

I’m at present beavering away at writing up the proposal and pulling together my literature review. It’s not quite structured properly yet but I’m getting there. I have really enjoyed the research part of this degree. Romance fiction, feminism, incomprehensible French philosophers are all so enthralling. I haven’t really been able to pull myself away from it to work on the creative work. But after the confirmation seminar in March, I will.

Part of my research, a very important part of my unique contribution, is the two surveys I am conducting at the moment (and when I do them this year, the selected in-depth interviews). I am surveying writers of popular romance fiction and readers of popular romance fiction. When I was putting the proposal forward for clearance the biggest concern from the bureaucracy here was how was I going to reach readers of romance fiction. These days that is easier than people think. I’ve read articles where the researcher couldn’t get sufficient readers to participate in their research. This was years ago before the big websites dedicated to romance, social media and even here the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA). I’ve had a really good response thanks to all those means, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Dear Author, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and ARRA (who have been awesome!). Authors have also been spreading the word to their readers. The response is so good that we could go for statistically significant for reader response so yes I’m still looking for readers of romance fiction. Please spread the word. Do the survey if you are a reader of romance!

The irony is that I’m sadly lacking in romance fiction authors responding to the survey, particularly in comparison to the reader response. I know there are thousands of romance authors out there. I am having trouble reaching them. Romance Writers of Australia has nearly a 1000 members, Romance Writers of America has over 10,000 members. You think it would be easy. But it’s not. I’m not a member of the Romance Writers of America for example and it’s not easy for me to wave the flag and say lookie here.

Not easy to reach popular romance authors, not easy to convince them to complete me lovely survey. Come on darlings, look over here. Look at my nice survey!

However, I’m not giving up. The survey continues.

See my previous post for details and links. HERE

me with glasses