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Hi all

This might be of interest to some of you. This is a preview of the first chapter of Part Five of the Dragon Wine series, called Skyfire. I thought to post it here as a teaser and to guilt myself into finishing the polishing required so that I can send it to the editor in early May. I think I have two weeks. I don’t know where the time has gone. I’ve been busy and tired and my plans have faltered. Any encouragement welcome.Skyfire-highres

Anyway, there should be little to no spoilers as this chapter introduces a new character.

 

Chapter One

More than a Trace

Karol hated the compound where his kind was imprisoned. This morning, his mother said that Tarkel, his father, was never coming back and then she cried. Ilania was so sad and Karol hated that she was like that, without hope. She spoke with so much conviction that he had to believe, and grieve. He remembered before, before they’d been brought to this compound, where their poor circle of tents barely kept out the wind and the dust. Surrounded by rock on three sides there wasn’t any place to go in this prison. Not that the guards knew about at least. Their village had been neat and tidy and happy and hidden from the outer world. Now, Karol understood why they hid away from the awful humans, who knew nothing grand, who had no culture and were just miserable, evil creatures, preying on everyone.

Karol was small for his age. But he didn’t mind that so much for it meant he could explore where the adults could not and even better he could go where the guards could not. His favorite place was a fissure in the cliff face behind his family’s tent. There he had found water. It gurgled pure and clear as it slipped over a small rock to disappear into the nooks and crannies of the cliff, never to appear again. He dipped his hand in the sweet smelling water and sipped his fill.

His loin cloth had seen better days. His mother wanted him to wear his tunic but it lay abandoned with his things in their tent. He didn’t mind that his ribs stuck out or that his knees were bony knobs on thin legs. He would grow big and tall like his father one day.

And one day there would be enough food. Food for them all. And he’d lie around with his belly protruding and sleep for an age without being prodded awake by hunger pains.

His long hair was tied back, which made climbing and drinking from the spring easier. Like his mother, his hair was white. He didn’t mind that it wasn’t like Tarkel’s, for his father praised him for his looks. Praised him for being true kin.

The water helped ease his hunger. There was never enough to eat. Dried bread and a few beans was all they had eaten in the last year. His mother said his growth was stunted forever now because of the poor diet. Thinking of his mother, he watched the water trickle. He had forgotten to bring a cup to take some back to her.

The sun moved while he sat there staring at the interior of the fissure.  What he thought was a shadow disguising nothing suddenly seemed more. With thin arms and legs, Karol slid into the dark cleft. The slit in the stone was long and gloomy and as he peered in he saw that there was an opening. Not a big space, but if he could squeeze through it might make a good hiding place.

“Karol? Karol!” his mother’s words reached him, echoing around the rocks as if her voice came from everywhere. No time now to explore. His mother needed him.

Now back in their tent, he saw nothing had changed. His mother was still stooped with grief.

“I’m glad you’re back,” she said in a low voice and hugged him to her.

Yelling in the compound jerked them apart. They shared a terrified look and then let their breaths roll out of them. “Roll call?” his mother ventured.

“Early food delivery?” Karol returned.

His mother bit her lip. “You wait here and let me see.”

Then she slipped out of the tent with its ragged flap that kept nothing out. Karol went to his sleeping space. Rolled up and placed at the rear of the tent was his sleeping blanket. It was where he could be the most unobtrusive. Where he could be unnoticed. He saw a lot. None of it good. He folded himself amongst the bedding, hidden.

It was so quiet and the sound of his breathing annoyed him. His mother hadn’t returned so Karol crept to the tent flap and peered through the strips of torn fabric out into the compound. Bent old men, ragged women and a bunch of thin, white-haired children stood in a group, surrounded by guards. There were not many of them left. Some had died of disease and hunger. Karol’s stomach clenched painfully. He could see no signs of food.

A scream rang out. Karol started. His heart raced as he squinted against the setting sun. A child ran across the clear area and then fell down. Karol stared. A spear stuck out of the child’s back. Karol gaped, not quite believing. With sweaty hands, he moved strips of fabric out of the way to run forward.

More screams. Splashes of red. Then is mother’s voice. “Run, Karol. Hide!”

Karol bolted from the cover of the tent. Feet pounded the hardened ground behind him but he didn’t look back. He closed his eyes and thought of his mother. Was that her scream?

Their captors were killing them all. Karol ran harder, so hard he thought his heart would fly out of his chest. He was ten years old. He could do this. He was the man of the family now.

With a quick leap, he landed on a protruding rock and then scrambled up. A spear hit the boulder near him and it clanged and then clinked when it dropped. A deep voice yelled. “Stop where you are!”

Karol didn’t look and scrambled faster, higher and sideways.

“Follow him.” An order was given.

“Hey kid, is this your mother?”

A whimper echoed around Karol’s ears.

“Call him.”

“Hide!” His mother screamed.

Karol didn’t look, couldn’t look. If he did he’d go back to her, he would die with her. He knew they were baiting him.

“I’ll kill her,” the deep angry voice raged.

Karol scrambled up the rockface. He was heading for his little stream. There he could survive for a little while without food. Karol’s legs shook, his muscles were starting to feel the exertion, the lack of food, the fear.

“I kill her. Stop!”

But Karol knew his mother was already dead. She didn’t want him to come back. She didn’t want him to die too.

An odd sound reached him, amplified by the rocks. It was a sickening sound followed by a dull thump. He had to look, had to see. The man had cut his mother’s throat.

There she was blood in a pool around her head, legs twitching. Standing over her was a man, a brutal looking man, thick muscled, bearded, a beast.

Something snagged his foot. He’d stood still too long. A hand pulled at his foot. Karol kicked, kicked like one crazed but still he was dragged down. He was caught. Panic like a demon possessed him. He screamed and clawed and choked off when he thought he was done for. He was caught!

The man held him around the hips and then changed his grip. Karol took his chance. He kicked out hard, blindly and connected with something soft, something that left a wet smear on his foot. A crunch, a pain-filled whoof and a hail of curses. Karol dropped. He flung out a hand and a foot to stop his plummet to the compound below. He slid and then caught on a nub of rock. He clawed for a hold. Dirt and stones hissed as they moved beneath him but Karol was away, carried by fear to climb like a spider up and away from pursuit.

I am a leaf, I am a feather, I am light and I can scuttle like beetle so fast no one can catch me. Soon he was out of sight of the compound. The tell-tale trickle of his little stream beckoned.

Panting, he slid down at last to his tiny cobbled bank, a space large enough to crouch in, no more. He drank and he wept but only for a minute. They were coming. More of the men were climbing to where he was.

He stared into the fissure where the water emerged. He was small. He could fit. He had to try. Climbing up and over the canyon wall was beyond him. He’d tried and there was no easy way out. Not without ropes and supplies.

He could hide. He had to hide. He had to hide or die.

As Karol inserted himself into the fissure, the cold water ran over him, startling his sun-warmed skin. The rock surrounded him and beyond where the light did not reach loomed dark. The sounds of pursuit were wiped out by the crash of the water, his own frightened breathes and beating heart. The fissure grew very tight and small just after a few side-ways steps. Karol flattened himself and squeezed further in. If he was far enough in they wouldn’t see him—they wouldn’t know he was there.

Karol squeezed himself further, first a leg, an arm and then wiggled his pelvis and chest into the narrow gap between the rocks. He ought to have been scared, but Karol wasn’t. The rock was safe, welcoming. While had not been underground before, he knew that his forefathers had lived in the ground. Tarkel had told him. Told him of the great cities. Regaled him with tales of their people.

As the darkness embraced him, Karol didn’t fear anymore. The water blocked the entrance and he was now hidden in darkness.

A large face pushed through the water. Karol drew back, jammed in between the rock of the fissure, water pushed around him as he blocked the way. He had to keep pushing through or they would know, they would notice the current wasn’t a strong that the flow was less.

With all his might Karol pushed himself, squeezed himself, using the palms of his hands pressed against the rock face, the soles of his feet, keeping the pressure up so that he could get through. Water fell on his face, into his mouth. Karol held his breath and then let it out slowly and pushed.

His lungs were desperate for air. Water smothered his face, ran into his nostrils, his mouth, his ears. There was no sound except for water in his ears. Karol knew he was going to die. Here. He was going to drown here. He should have died with is mother. He shouldn’t have let her die alone.

Then, just as his strength was fading, something shifted. His body passed through and he landed in a heap on the other side of the fissure. Choking and crying, he looked around him. It was a cave. Here the water was but a rivulet and passed through a channel in the floor. He saw where it fell from above to the right of him. He’d lost his loin cloth and his pale skin had dark smears where he’d torn the flesh from his torso.

Shaking his head, he sucked in breaths and checked his body for further injury. Scrape marks ranged over his chest, hips and knees. He rubbed at his chin and blood was on his hand. He cried more, releasing his pent up fear and grief. His mother was dead. His people were dead and he was all alone.

He calmed down, telling himself that his mother wouldn’t have wanted him to cry or be sad. She wanted him to live and live free. His father would have wanted him to be true to his people. Tarkel had said there was a place for him in the world. He only had to look.

After wiping his eyes and clearing his nose, he looked about him, serenaded by the little cataract as the water hit the floor. It was surprisingly light inside, with the sun filtering through from outside and reflecting off the water. The floor was tiled. He ran his fingertips through the space between the mosaics. This was no natural cave. He quickly scanned his surroundings and in the dim recesses he saw something strange. He crawled forward, rubbing tears from his cheeks. In front of him was an archway, embellished with strange writing. He staggered to his feet and went up to it. It was a door.

#

Karol slept, turning fitfully due to his various aches. It was a sound that woke him. There were men outside the fissure. He crept forward to hear what they were doing. His heart hammering so loud he missed a few of the words.

“…the debris will cover the dead…”

“…explosives…here…”

Karol blinked trying to understand. They couldn’t come and get him, but they could kill him by blowing up the cliff he was hiding in. He backed up and detected the waft of smoke. He didn’t have any time left. He turned and faced the door.

He knew what it was. He knew what lay beyond. It was a secret that his father had died for, that his mother had died for. It was what was going to save him.

He knew the chant off by heart. It had been a lullaby when he was young, something that made little sense to others.

High for the sun, down for the ground, once for the right and twice for the left. There you can enter into the way of your forefathers…

The door slid open. The smell of smoke was strong. The rumble under his feet making him sway. He dashed inside the darkened Way and groped around in the dark when the door shut. As he moved away, praying that the waygate would hold, Karol tapped his feet in front of him and put his hand out to the wall. A faint glow grew outwards from where his hand touched. The longer he was inside, the more his saw. Soon he saw the stairs and the directions they went. He had no idea which way to go. He had no food or water. He wasn’t going to go far or last very long, but at least he was free.

The ground lurched suddenly throwing him off his feet. He fell into the wall, which glowed light gray and the substance of it smothered him. Karol fought and fought and then calmed. He was either going to die or be all right. He moved his leg as if walking and the substance of the walls let him move. Not back out into the way but within the substance of way.

I have started drafting a post from Indianapolis and Chicago but it seemed a bit boring. I’ll get back to that once my tech decides to behave itself. There are lots of photos.

I’ve seen a few movies of late.

At the Indiana State Museum, I went to the IMax theatre and watched Pacific Rim-the new one! Well there were lot of big machines fighting other big machines and some crazy big monsters. I mean that’s why you go watch Pacific Rim. It had John Boyega, playing Idris Elba’s son. And a young girl, who was remarkably talented with machines and was a scavenger. Sound like anyone you might have seen elsewhere? I enjoyed this in 3D and the Imax, but I was left thinking that they must have had a hard time coming up with that plot.

On the plane home I watched Geostorm starring Gerard Butler. Nice city destruction scenes and glossy space machinery but the plot was holier than swiss cheese. It did have Gerard Butler. Did I mention Gerard Butler was in it? Well Gerard Butler was in it. His abs weren’t unfortunately.

Also on the way home I caught Kingsmen: Golden Circle. This was a bit fun, like the first movie was fun. The baddy was campy bad and bits of it were grotesque but that’s part of the play with this. I liked it. I had fun and Colin Firth…well that just doesn’t get old.

Yesterday, I caught up with Warcraft the movie. Now I don’t play this game but I know that it is similar to Warhammer and has those high fantasy elements. You know this movie wasn’t bad. It was pretty good actually. It had a reasonable cast, good effects and some nice emotional touches. It was directed by Duncan Jones and that made me think I should check out more of his films. I think it was set up for a sequel but Game of Thrones it wasn’t. I’m still trying to work out how there was a half Orc woman with pretty little tusks and the ability to speak the human tongue. But who is quibbling?

The Titan (on Netflix)

This is not the worst film I’ve seen Sam Worthington in. Clash of the Titans might have been worse. It’s not Sam’s fault. He does a really good job. It’s the swiss cheese, bad thinking through of the story that’s the problem. The gist of it is that humans can’t live on earth for much longer so a group of folks are being changed into humans that can live on Titan. You know swim in methane seas and fly and yadda yadda. Apparently they are going to be changed, evolved and spend two years on Titan. The changing gets to be dodgy and the wife of Sam’s character is a pediatrician and she’s suspicious. You are changing him! she cries.  I’m like what? I thought that was the idea right? Perhaps they were all only half listening when they signed up for stuff but it seemed to me that you evolve someone you can’t unevolve them easily. We have the crazy mad scientist and the weird shoot ’em up military and the strange, violent reactions of those lesser humans who can’t quite cut the Titan scene. It wasn’t quite a waste of time but it was annoying. There were opportunities  to make this a passing good story but they weren’t taken. I might be jetlagged cranky but really…shakes head.

EDIT!

I left out a movie. I also finally got to catch up with Blade Runner 2049. I thought it was a poignant film with some really good performances. It is very difficult to compare it to the original though. I love the original Blade Runner. It deals, I think, with what makes us human and the blurred or insignificant lines between the real humans and the replicants. I’m not sure it achieved a consistent message there. It was great to see Harrison Ford, and I would have liked to have known more about what happened with him and Rachel in those days when they ran away together. Ryan Gosling was super brilliant and I loved seeing Robin Wright and Dave Bautista along with a cameo by Edward James Olmos.

End of edit!

So now today I accidentally-on-purpose bought the Blu ray of The Last Jedi. I’ve seen it but you can never see too much Star Wars, unless it is a prequel!

All just my opinion.

I always forget all the things you have to do when you travel and all the costs involved that you don’t think about when you book that fateful ticket!

I had a big score today. My travel insurance is through my credit card and I don’t have to pay extra for coverage. Big win. I did, however, need to pay for a new passport.

I am not quite excited yet. I leave on Thursday morning from Canberra, fly to Sydney, then Sydney to Dallas and a late fright from Dallas to Indianapolis. I leave and arrive on the same day. It’s a weird kind of time travel. On my way home, I lose two days.

The other weird thing is that I booked to go earlier  so I could get a cheap flight. Hahahaha! Then I spend $1000 for accommodation for that week that I’m there earlier. That’s just stupid. I put up my hand. Yes, I’m stupid.

Being a writer, however, I can make use of that week, exploring the city, observing the culture, the food, putting all that experience to good use.

The reason I’m going is for the PCA conference where I’m giving a paper on my research. This is the first foray into the research results from the romance writers and readers. A good test run because when I get back I must start on the exegesis, which is an in depth look at the research. Even then, I probably won’t cover all of it as there’s just so much. People are talking about a book. Oh well, if I get funding I suppose I can write the book. I can relax a bit better now that I have the first cut of the presentation done.

I wanted to try to catch an SF convention while I was in the US but the PCA runs into Easter so I can’t. I have a couple of days after and they are hard to fill, mostly because I’m finding it hard to decide. Should I go to Chicago and check that place out. I have some stories set there so I could research the location. Or should I hang around Indiana and go up north to check out the Amish museum and stuff. Should I go or should I stay??? Argh. Then I had a thought to go to Nashville, or just fly to Dallas early and check out that city. Man oh man. Decisions. Decisions. DECISIONS!

I’ve sent Skyfire off to a beta reader for comments. My other beta readers are reading Sihe, my phd novel. I might have mentioned my editor for Dragon Wine Series went back to work at Pan Macmillan so I had to find someone else. That was good. All booked in for early May. That means a lot of hard work in April to get it ready. Yesterday I started on the tidy up of Moonfall, as that has to go to beta readers by the end of April if it’s to get to the editor in June. Who says there aren’t deadlines when you indy publish? You can’t muck people about. If you book something in it has to be ready. If the editor smashes it and tells me it needs more work that’s on me.

Also, while I’m away the Aurealis Awards will be announced. I have finally got Beneath the Floating City in Print. Here is a link to Amazon.

 

 

So the upshot is that I can safely say that Skyfire, Dragon Wine Part Five and Moonfall, Dragon Wine Part Six are coming soon.

A stay tuned for Donna’s travel blogs from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA>

 

…and now I beg you to help me make sense of my life…

Haha. That’s what it feels like at the moment…chaos!

No, not really, but it’s a bit of a bumpy ride.

I was looking back on My Plans for 2018 post to see if I could get some perspective.

On the PhD front. I have finished the first draft of the PhD novel and it’s currently being read by writer friends before it goes to my supervisor. This certainly helps me sleep better. (TICK)

The data analysis is okay…sort of…we transferred the data in IBM SPSS, in layman’s terms, a program for social science related data. All was going well, but then something went wrong with a couple of questions. I’m still waiting on the person helping me to see what the problem is. This means the my presentation for the end of the month at the PCA in Indianapolis is not written yet. This has caused me to freak out a tad. I mean I still have all the data and I have Survey Monkey and I have looked at bits of it and to tell the truth I have started the presentation. Yet, I look at the date! Yikes and go into meltdown to freakout mode.

At the present time the Exegesis can go play with itself. I’ll think about it when I get back. My supervisor says I have plenty of time. (NO TICK)

The other thing is that I’ve taken on tutoring in two subjects at uni. This is positive excitement and stress. At first it was taking up the whole present mind thing. I’m a bit calmer about it now. I even did one better than I was expecting, I wrote and delivered a lecture on The Protean Career and I’ve written one more that I’m giving when I get back from the US. They were a lot of work. I’m talking days of work, but I am not sure but I think I feel good about the experience. (NO COMMENT)

My physical issues are better. My left foot went ow but now it has calmed down. I’ve had some treatment on my neck and back and I’m functional. I’m working on the diet. (OKAY)

On the Dragon Wine series side of things. I lost my editor. I mean I know where she is and all that…she just went back to full time work. Her timelines were so far out that you wouldn’t seen the last two books until early next year and that wasn’t acceptable. However, I have found another brilliant editor and things are back on track. Now, I have editor deadlines. I have to get Skyfire ready for the editor by the end of April! I’m about a third of the way through. Moonfall will follow after that. I think I must be craycray! I finished drafting Moonfall in January. (RIPPER TICK!)

Craft

I have started some new pieces for a quilt. I’m working on hand quilting the Japanese kimono pattern quilt. These last few weeks though I haven’t had the energy. (BLAH)

Reading and general stuff

Because I am tutoring in a literature studies course, I had a mad impulse to read the books so I have read

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence (Loved it)

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (The first part was difficult for me. Lots of triggers. But an amazing fantasy story and retelling of Snow White and Rose Red and a little sad)

Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (The voice was annoying but I could see the beauty of this story).

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (traumatised but an amazing book)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood (so beautifully rendered)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Phillip K Dick (so different to the movie. Different stories but as always -thought provoking)

Currently nearing the end of American Psyco Brett Ellis (an amazing book but the violence is ‘look away’ extreme)

On Audible I listened to Downbelow Station by CJ Cherryh. This took me a long time to get into. I also found it tense and hard but by the end I was a bit gobsmacked. A complex and emotionally draining and thrilling (I’ll admit) ride. I think the issues with refugees in the story is really topical in the world right now. The situation for them in this book was horrible. If you became a refugee in Cherryh’s world then you had nothing. I can’t begin to tell you how that affected me.

I’m currently listening to Uprooted by Naomi Novik and I can’t stop listening. I find it gripping. You know I looked at some reviews on Goodreads and wow, some people really get a thrill out of pulling people down and rubbishing their work. I mean the really rip them apart one star reviewers who have their own following and they all get together and feed off each other like frenzied fish. (ROCKING THE READING THING)

I saw this happen to another book I listed as read. I don’t think I’ve seen it that extreme before this. Maybe I’m just naive.

And other than the above, I’ve done zilch on the Indie publishing front other than sending a newsletter, apply for a Bookbub once a month for Argenterra (and get rejected) and try to get Beneath the Floating City into print. I keep finding little typos. It’s so annoying really. I’ve been meaning to lower the price of Argenterra and I probably will for a short time. (MINUS TICK)

And this morning I have finally booked some accommodation in Indianapolis. My trip to Chicago is a bit up in the air for after the conference so I’m looking at doing something local. (HALF TICK)

 

 

I’ve been trying to get Beneath the Floating City into print. With generous help from friends I have lodged the files with Createspace. However, Createspace threw a spanner in the works and I haven’t been able to proof the file until I can prove I own the copyright of my stories. I understand the precautions, I really do. But I was kinda in hurry because post takes ages from the USA when you can’t afford express international etc. So the odds of the book being here in time for the awards is fast disappearing. Oh well.

I received my first pay from tutoring. A small amount this pay, but it paid me back for the uni fees I had to pay out last week. Next pay I have probably already spent too. Just a whiff of money and I go cray cray!

My draft of Sihe continues. I was going to say apace but nah that’s not true. Although I hope to get the MS to 60,000 words today. I’ve skipped ahead and am writing the ending without having written the crisis. It seemed like a good idea because the ending was pushing against my mind and so on.

Today I have to work on the analysis of my surveys. We have transferred the responses to the Uni’s IBM SPSS program. That means a lot of manual stuff from me to get the files ready for showing me stuff. So I’ll do that today. I had to wait to get the program installed on this Mac and the Mac randomly freezes still. I have no idea but I’m over it. It’s been so unreliable. Different things get blamed. The updates. The Endnote. I have PC native files. Or something else goes bang. Picture me rolling my eyes and being very unimpressed.

I’ve been reading up for one of the tutorials I’m doing. So far in the last few weeks I’ve read, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger, Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence, Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan and I’m currently reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K Dick (very different from Blade Runner). I’ve also started on American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I have more books to read, but I feel a lot calmer now about teaching. None of this reading is for my PhD, just for teaching.

Teaching is a bit distracting. I hope I calm down a bit. Lots of little things to do and being across things. You get paid like an hour to prepare which is nice but it takes a lot more. I’m also delivering a lecture next week and that took ages, like 6-8 hours to prepare. Although money is good to have, it will all get spent. Hopefully I will do something useful with the money like pay for the cat run.

I have stockpiled book earnings to pay for edits of Skyfire and Moonfall.

I saw Black Panther last night and had nice cosy dreams about Chadwick Boseman. I have no idea what they were but  they were pleasant. The movie didn’t finish until after midnight so no time to wind down. I loved so many things about that movie. I wished that Wakanda was a true place. It’s a really lovely fantasy. I also liked the Africaness of the place and the movie was so owned by African -descent peoples. I also loved the women. Proud, strong, capable women. All of them were my favourites. Just awesome. Michael B Jordan was really something to see as the villain, great performance and well as Winston Duke-totally cool. Well done Ryan Coogler. Awesome movie. I hope to see many more like this. I’m also hanging out big time for Avengers Infinity Wars that I hope Matthew takes me to see for my birthday in the premium lounge (hint! hint!)

In other Dweebish news, Star Trek Discovery kept me thrilled to the end. Some great performances and favourite roles and great writing in places. I loved that I was shocked and awed and kept on the seat of my pants. My youngest daughter checked online and apparently we will see more of Lorca and  Ash Tyler in the next series which doesn’t drop until 2019!

I’ve also started on Altered Carbon. It helped that I finished the audio book. There’s a lot of action in the second half of the novel that will probably be better visually. It’s the second time I’ve seen Purefoy’s member and I was equally stunned and impressed as I was when he played Mark Anthony in Rome.

The Good Place is really a good mood lifter and I started on IT Crowd which I had heard of but had never binged watched before.

I’ve run out of detective series (not really) but I binged watched Wallander-loved it. Finished Shetland (first two seasons), watch River twice. Finished Whitechapel ages ago. I found Luther excellent but way too intense for me. I may go back to it. I had tapped out the Hinterland series on Netflix but I’m hoping for more. With the second season of The Crown consumed and Victoria I need more recommends.

Anyway, back to the novel. I’ve been procrastinating enough.

 

On the bus this morning my Twitter and Facebook feed started going a bit wild. I was wondering why people were congratulating me. When I relaxed enough on the bus I started checking the phone. I had no book with me either.

OMG! I was short listed for an Aurealis Award from my short story collection, Beneath the Floating City.

So many friends are in the short lists. Some have been nominated many times and a number of those have won. Here I am little old me, getting a short listing for my self-published collection. The collection is mostly previously published works of science fiction, from early stories back in 2003, such as ‘Other’ to my later stories. I also published a new story in the collection called ‘Lake Absence’ that was inspired by Lake George when I was taking the bus to Sydney to head to the Denver Worldcon many years ago. I just couldn’t get that story published, though I came close with the Aurealis Magazine with one of the previous editors.

In previous years I would never have thought about publishing a collection of my own stories. Although it make sense to gather them up into one book because they are just there instead of scattered around. This was my first attempt and I gathered together SF stories. I have at least two others in mind. A magic realism collection called Through These Eyes and a fantasy collection, name not conceived yet. Since I’m also Indie publishing these days, the collection was something else I could publish.

I realise now that I just put this out there and I didn’t advertise it widely. I know this because the image for the cover was not in my WordPress archive.So I didn’t even blog about it. I think it was because it was just before I went to Europe.

So here it is. The wonderful cover was produced by Patty Jansen. I give this book away free to newsletter subscribers and it’s for sale in ebook everywhere for $2.99 USD. If you want a free copy, the link to sign up to my newsletter is here.

What does this mean for me?

Well heaps actually. To get this kind of acknowledgement is lovely. I had thought that my short story writing days were over. That there wasn’t any point because you know…well. Authors can sometimes have serious downward mind speak that squashes them down. I have mentioned this before but the whole “I’m not worthy thing” is difficult to control at times. That’s why it is so nice to get feedback, of the nice kind, and to be acknowledged with a short listing or an award or a review. It’s like being patted on the head and told keep going, you’ll get there.

I threw this in for the Aurealis Award without expectation. As someone who has researched Australian speculative fiction in the past I know how much the eligible works lists mean to the researcher, how useful. And I wanted to make sure that the work I put out was in the bigger lists. I wasn’t expecting a short listing.

Now I shall not give up writing short stories. I shall write those ideas that bash around inside my brain eventually.

Many thanks to the judges for their hard work. Congratulations to all the other nominees.

My name appears on a list with such amazing writers, I am over the moon, chuffed. Margo Lanagan, Kate Forsyth, Kim Wilkins, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Peter Ball.  Here is the link. 

We can call them goals for want of a better word but goals seem like a things that make you feel down if you don’t meet them. Whereas, plans are things that can change and can be added to and things can be taken away. I think plans are more strategic.

First and foremost is my Ph.D.This is my last full year run at things. I have to analyse my data and do that soon, because I’m delivering a paper on my analysis in March in Indiana,USA.

I have to finish my Ph.D. novel, Sihe. By finish I mean finish the draft, have it beta read by people, revise it and polish it, get my supervisor to read it and take up my supervisor’s comments and polish it again, again.

I also have to draft my exegesis. This relies mainly on the analysis of the two surveys that I undertook of readers and writers of romance fiction. That kind of sounds easy and kind of doesn’t. Time will tell. I’ve done my literature review but I have to keep it current until I submit. The literature review is like a chapter of my exegesis.

I am also delivering two to three papers at academic conferences in 2018. I haven’t written them yet. I also need to get a couple of academic journal articles written and published.

There are things that I can do if my plans don’t go well. I can switch to part-time study. But that means I won’t finish for another two years or year and a half. I’m not sure I want to keep on doing this. Because just as soon as I started my Ph.D. I wanted you to do other things as well. And even though I don’t have any other job besides the Ph.D. and writing there is only many so many hours in a day. And there’s just not enough hours for me to do everything I want to do. Also, I have a growing list of physical issues that impact on my ability to work (see previous post).

On the personal side, I really want to manage my physical issues better so that I can maximise what I can do without incapacitating myself. At the moment, I’m waiting on a bunch of results from blood tests to make sure that I don’t have some horrible autoimmune disease. Fingers crossed!

I’d like to do some tutoring at University this year. I was offered some opportunities in the second semester in 2017 but because I was in Europe for two months of the semester I couldn’t do it. My trip to Indiana in March is short and in a semester break so if I do get any tutoring I’ll be able to take up the opportunity.

Writing/publishing

My plan is to finish the draft of Moonfall as soon as possible in January. I’m nearly at 35,000 words today and if I keep working at this pace I might achieve that. The first cut of Moonfall should be 80,000 words, maybe a little bit less. I tend to increase my word count when I’m doing my revisions and polishing before sending to beta readers because there are scenes that I have not fully explored  and/or atmosphere settings that I’ve missed out. It’s where I really start crafting the story. My aim when drafting is to get the story down and make sure the plot works. This means that in 2018 I will have both Skyfire and Moonfall to revise and edit and publish. I aim to do this in the first half of the year and work around my Ph.D. at the same time. I think it’s doable.

All other new work  has to take a back seat to the Ph.D. I’ve got some ideas and I have some previously drafted work that I could revise and polish on the backburner so that there might be new work later in the year. I have a sci-fi romance drafted. I have a Regency romance drafted and I have a two steampunk series that are close. And I have a lot of ideas for more stories in the Silverlands world, the Dragon wine world and in the space pirate world as well a completely new stories and some old stuff that I started but never completed. That all might need to wait until 2019.

Craft

I’d also like to do some craft projects. I’ve got some lots of unfinished craft projects but I’d really like to make a quilt as well is finish off some of those unfinished projects. I’m attending the Jane Austen Festival in April and usually make something for that. I’m almost finished making my Regency corset. And I’ve got a bonnet workshop in January.

Reading and general

I’d also like to get a lot more reading done. Not only romance but in other genres and the academic reading. I’d also like to create time. Ha ha!

I would also like to keep up my social activities and enjoy time with my friends and family. My son is going to pay for me to go to China to visit him in Shanghai. I just have to find an appropriate date.

On the indie publishing side of things I would like to learn more about marketing and book formatting and the industry in general but as said above I can’t really commit to a lot of new work until the Ph.D. is done. Yet a think providing the last two instalments of the Dragon wine series will please fans of that series and that’s very important to me.

House projects include developing a cat run so that Gin, the cat, can get outside. Generally, I’d like to see that we keep our garden in better order. We’ve hired cleaners once a fortnight for inside the house and that has helped a lot and I hope to continue that. We have to be tidier to get the full benefit of the cleaner but I can’t see anything wrong with that. However, Matthew likes a bit of chaos around the house.

Most of all I hope I am resilient enough to cope with what life throws my way this year.

I wish you well in your 2018 endeavours.