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I love the Christmas season….but!

I don’t like all the stress. So my Christmas fantasy is that there really is a Santa Claus and he/she/it buys all the presents and maybe cooks the dinner as well.

Photo by Fionna Sullivan

Talking about fantasies leads me to think about wishes…I wish that Christmas wasn’t so commercial and that we were less materialistic generally.

We live in a capitalist society where the dollar is the key. At times I think it’s a great machine that has run mad, eating up everything in search of profit, destroying the planet, churning through people and selling the idea that the dollar is what is important.

I’m part of this great capitalist machine and while I’m caught in this churn I can’t think of a way out. I feel deeply that there is no perfect system. There might be fairer systems. What worries me that such what is conceived of a perfect system is open for abuse, of power being concentrated in the few and then the system is no longer fair.

I also hate the idea of chaos and chaos is everywhere too, stirred up by the fight for resources and supremacy. It’s hard to shut it all out. I keep a fairly positive attitude but scrape the surface and it’s a bit morbid in there.

Mmmm I’m getting a bit dark here. Sorry! Some of my fiction, particularly, the Dragon Wine series is me processing stuff that happened in the world so yeah dark fantasy. Luckily, I also write lighter stuff so I do have an imagination after all. I think I write to escape. I used to escape into daydreams before I started to write. Now I don’t spend a lot of time daydreaming, I spend it writing. It’s a sanity valve.

I joined a book bundle called Into the Horizon with 22 other authors. It is coming out next year. That’s 22 novels in one bundle. It’s currently up for preorder.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

 

 

I don’t know what it is about my writing process, but I work so much better when I have a good run at something, rather than a bits and pieces approach. I guess it comes from the fact that I am either a half-arsed panster or a half-arsed planner and I’m pretty good once I hit my creative stride. (note a panster is someone who writes from the seat of their pants with little planning. A planner is someone who plans their novels out, chapter by chapter, scene by scene). I do a little planning, but not detail planning.

When I had a full time job, writing retreats for at least two weeks really worked for me. I could get a whole bunch of story down and then finesse it during the year. Now that I don’t have the day job (although I do study the Phd most days), I can’t afford to do a retreat in the same way as before. Also, well physical restrictions with RSI and spine problems, which I hate more than anything.

However, NaNoWriMo works for me. NaNoWriMo for those who don’t know is the National Novel Writing in a Month thing that’s been around for ages. It happens in November and the objective is to write a novel of 50,000 words. Most novels are longer than that though and there is an incentive to write more, say 60,000. It is possible to do more if the writer has the chops for it.

As previously mentioned, I am working on Skyfire, Dragon Wine Part 5 and I’m pleased to report it is going great guns. Not readable at this stage as it is a draft, but I’m at over 40,000 words. Picture me happy dancing. Not quite half way with the draft I think but well on the way to meeting the NaNoWriMo target of 50,000 words. I hope I can keep this up until the draft is done and that it gets done before Christmas because then I’m going to roll on to Moonfall, Dragon Wine Part 6. I didn’t think I’d get to these books until later in 2018. Keep sending me positive vibes so I can get then out in the first part of 2018.

I’m not trying to jinx myself here but finishing another series is a major achievement and I can feel the end point there. That’s not to say that I don’t have ideas for more books. I do. But there is a resting point there at the end of the narrative.

I am also working on the PhD novel and to own the truth I haven’t touched it for a few weeks owing to a technical difficulty. But today I spoke with my PhD supervisor and he suggested a few approaches to me. He hasn’t read the thing. It really is a technical things…like how do I do this to get this effect? I think his suggestion is pretty cool. Well one of them. He had more than one, so I’m now itching to get back to work and try that. For this reason I’m sneaking out off campus early today so I can get back to it. The latest version is on my home computer.

I did my NaNoWriMo writing this morning. I try for an hour in the morning and if I have the will another half an hour before bed. Yesterday, because I was home all morning as the plumber was there I wrote 5000 words. Today was more like 3000 words.

So there you go. For fans of the Dragon Wine series, there is progress. For writers out there maybe some inspiration and for my fellow NaNoWriMo peeps, you can do it.

I’m up to my knees in NaNoWriMo and Skyfire, Dragon Wine Part Five, and these wonderful things occur to me. I really need to work smarter. As a mature woman you think I would have had all this worked out by now, but I don’t.

It started at first with labelling my hats. You see I make hats and I put them in hat boxes and every time I wanted to show someone a hat I had to pull them all out and look at each one. Then I bought a labeller. OMG! They all have labels now so I can find them a lot easier.

Now we have started labelling food that goes into the fridge and the freezer. Have you ever come across some frozen mass and thought-What the hell is that? Or mmm should it go or should it stay? Or Oh Joy Steak! and then frowned wondering when was the last time your bought steak and was it left overs from your 50th birthday party seven years ago?

So joy! We are labelling shit. The fridge well that just keeps on giving. I swear when I got back from Europe there was take aways in the fridge that I put there before I left. So to preserve lives and sanity, we are labelling stuff. Matthew I am pleased to say is getting on board. No more chances of inadvertently killing some one with some toxic pasta sauce etc. We just use masking tape and marker. Although looking at the packaging for the tape I see Matthew has bought food labelling tape. Good man!

Now why am I writing this and what does it have to do with NaNoWriMo. Well it would really help if I had a detailed plan of what I was writing. Never mind, I think that shit up just before each session and maybe I can get by with just me, my crazy mind and the seat of my pants. What really, really gets me is that I don’t have character descriptions. If I used my Scrivener I could do that as I went. But being lazy I am using word and do you think I wrote this stuff down? I want to write the colour of Eneit’s eyes. I’m pretty sure they are described somewhere in Deathwings or Bloodstorm, but grrr…If only I was more organised.

There is totally a theme here. I am throwing away old clothes. I’m too fat for some and as I no longer work in an office I don’t need others. But in the past, actually my whole bloody life, I think “Hey I have a pair of pants like that. Or where is that dress?” Only to discover after about a week of intense searching that I probably threw them away in the charity bin six months before. You think I would bloody well learn. Nope! So this time I am making a list so that I can check the list instead of doing a rampage search throughout the house and garage complete with expletives and many beeps.

There you go. I have a list. Silver business suit gone. Blue dress that was too short to be decent and you meant to add lace to the hem to lengthen it but you are too fat and old for it now. Gone. Etc. I have an issue with the shimmery blue and shimmery mauve tights though. Because as soon as I get rid of them, I am going to have some costume or some such that calls just for those tights. So they are going in the dress up tub. I just have to buy a tub and you guessed it-label the god damn thing.

So moral of the story. Be organised. If you aren’t organised. It is not too late to bring order to your chaos. I am on the last two bits of this series. Do I really need to write character descriptions now. Maybe, damn it maybe!

This post is brought to you by an insane, chaotic writer, who is behind on their NaNoWriMo project but is so happy that she is writing the said project that it is hard to stop dancing around the office and write.

Back in this post I said I’d give an update after my Bookbub in October, which was for Shatterwing, Free, USA only. See previous Indie publishing post here.

I think my earnings for September were higher than I first anticipated because iBooks mixes up the currencies and it isn’t until you get the invoice notice that you know what you are being paid. I think I estimated $76 from iBooks and it was more like $126. Also, I didn’t twig that Amazon hadn’t paid me any US earnings…I guess I wasn’t too vigilant or whatever. The deal is that for all payments except for Australian sales I have to wait until I hit the $100 or equivalent. In October, I was paid out my USA earnings from April 2016 until August 2017. This is what I mean when I say notional earnings. There are timing differences and minimum amount requirements before you actually see any money.

In October, I bought Patty Jansen’s Indie publishing book called, Self Publishing Unboxed, The Three-year, No-bestseller Plan for Making a Sustainable Living From Your Fiction and read it. (link to the book is here)

I bought the second book which is focussed on Newsletters etc. The second book is a bit advanced for me but I’ll get there.

I’ve been receiving Patty’s advice for a while. She’s probably the reason I am where I am now. She has some very practically and insightful advice no matter where you are in the process. Her book gave me a few gems. Such as I opened up a dedicated bank account as per the book and I’m so pleased with that. I have changed over all the payments to that account and linked it to Paypal and have a debit card. This means that my Instafreebie dues come out of that account instead of my personal credit card. It means when I look at my accounts I can see my book earnings. You can’t imagine how exciting that is. Instead of them being swallowed up by bills or spending them. May aim is to be able to pay for my edit of Skyfire with my earnings. I think I’ve reached that goal, or I will when all the money comes through. I may even have enough for the proofreading costs too. In that I have reached my first goal, to support my creative life with my earnings.

The other thing that Patty has put me onto recently is Mark Dawson’s podcast ‘Self Publishing Formula’. I have found them to be useful and inspiring. When I get more time I’m going to implement a lot of that advice. Mark Dawson runs courses etc but I’m probably not there yet in terms of earnings and output.

So the Bookbub result. In all over 27000 copies of Shatterwing were downloaded. I had immediate sell through, though conversion wise iBooks was higher. I made the cost of the Bookbub back in a couple of days. Amazon reporting is the quickest, others I have to wait for like iBooks, Draft2Digital (which is just Barnes and Noble sales I think) and Streetlib for Googleplay.

Estimates of downloads per vendor

Amazon 20,000

ibooks 2,400

Google Play 2,800

Barnes and Noble 2000

Kobo 500 (note the free download counter isn’t working properly).

Sell through is still occurring. For example, including the November sales so far, I have half a per cent on Amazon. It’s not much but considering level of sales before it’s good. I expect that to increase by the end of the month. Whereas iBooks was 1.5 per cent straight off and will rise by the end of the month.

By conversion I mean people who get book one who go on to buy book two. The conversion after that is really good. For example, if they buy book two they pretty much by the rest of the series.

The good news for readers is that I’m writing Book Five, Skyfire at the moment for NaNoWriMo. I was going to write them during next year but as I was fishing around for a project for NaNoWriMo I figured I owe it to my readers. One reader left me a message of Goodreads asking what the timetable was for the rest of the series. And some lovely readers left messages on my Facebook page leaving lovely comments. They all helped me to decide on that. I was going to write a contemporary romance. Another time perhaps.

Other things that happened as a result of the Bookbub. I went from one follower on Bookbub to 88 and it is still rising. People who follow you on Bookbub get an email when you have a new release and also when you have a Bookbub deal. That’s awesome.

I’m still small bickies but I’m growing my readership which is what I want. I just have to finish the PhD and then there will be no stopping me. I have two series that I’m thinking of publishing and I have another novel that needs polishing with a possible series after that. Then there are the ideas for prequels and sequels to the Silverlands and Dragon Wine. I just hope I hold up physically.

Earnings for October I estimate at over $1500.

I will also get paid out accrued British Pounds as well as USD because I made more than 100 in each currency. So cash wish a bit more than that.

This is enough to fund my edit!

I forgot to mention that I had an iBooks promo early in the month in Australia. I had around 1700 to 2000 downloads, with follow on sales. I don’t know the conversion rates. Last time I looked it was around 2 per cent but I haven’t updated the figures.

 

On the day my Bookbub results were coming through I was in absolute agony with sciatica. I’ve never experienced anything like that. It should have been an awesome day. I’m really grateful for the chance to promote the books to new readers via Bookbub. It was totally worth it. I have submitted Argenterra for a Bookbub and been rejected. I’ll just have to keep on trying. Perhaps next year when the rest of Dragon Wine is out I’ll get another Bookbub. You have to wait 90 days between promotions.

 

 

I had high hopes for my NaNoWriMo effort this year. I hadn’t quite decided what I was going to write but I just knew that I wanted to write something.

My plan was to finish the draft of the PhD novel by the end of October so my plate was clear. That was going along swimmingly until

  1. I hit a snag on a certain part of the novel that required a lot of thinking. No point in rushing it.
  2. Severe sciatica which killed my plans. How much can you write when you are writhing and moaning in pain? Well none if you must know. In the worst parts I couldn’t ever read or watch Netflix so I just invented new ways of crying, moaning, whinging…etc. I really understood for the first time in my life that people would rather die that suffer like that. A bit sobering.

So on comes November and I haven’t finished my PhD novel and I haven’t figured out what I was going to write.

I had this cool idea for a contemporary romance called Getting Jessie Laid (a friends to lovers story with a virgin hero), but I wasn’t 100 per cent convinced and I had the other stuff to do. However, after some deep and meaningful conversations with myself I decided to do NaNoWriMo and also write my PhD novel and other PhD stuff at the same time. I have a report to write on my GUFF trip too, just to spice the work load up a bit.

The worst of the sciatica pain is over. I had a pinched nerve. Actually I still have a pinched nerve. Exhibit A numb thigh muscle. It still works but it’s numb, tingly, burns and itches and twitches and also stabs me if I over do it. I am currently in therapy for that. There goes the savings. But there was nothing left but to get writing or go crazy (ier?).

The result of the deep and meaningful was that I should work on the next part of the Dragon Wine series, Skyfire. I owe it to my readers to finish the series off. This was also prompted by one lady leaving a message on Goodreads asking when the next parts were coming out as she wanted to read them but wouldn’t until she knew she’d have the lot. Something I sympathise with. Then two other women left me high compliments on my Facebook page and how could I not keep writing with such wonderful encouragement? I started NaNoWriMo late (again) and I did 1200 words this morning before leaving for uni. If I have a scene in my it just comes out rapid fire. So I’m a little behind but probably not for long. Last year I wrote 60,000 and most of that was in the last two weeks of NaNoWriMo. my word count is around 7000 words so far. A promising start. I’m about to pick up where Gercomo is at. No spoilers.

Today is my first full day back at Uni. I was sick yesterday (not sure why) and Monday well it was cold and wet and you know old bones and all that. I’ve been stuffing around with admin. I have booked my seat to Indianapolis in March. The Popular Culture Conference falls over part of Easter which makes getting to an SF convention as a side trip out of the question. I am thinking of taking a train to Chicago to check it out. I have some research I need to do there for some stories I wrote back. They are prohibition era werewolf and vampires and mobsters in Chicago. I may be publishing these short stories as a collection or novella so doing the research will help with that.

The other reason for doing NaNoWriMo is that December is usually a write off where writing is concerned so must get cracking.

Signing off. Next post will be about the Indie Publishing Experience and my Bookbub results.

PS Isn’t Thor Ragnarok and awesome movie? So much fun.

 

 

At the moment I’m recovering from an acute attack of sciatica. The pain is less now but my right thigh is still numb. I’m at the stage where I’m over it. I’m bored. I’m going out of my head. I’m sick of bed rest and pacing around the house.

Today I bit the bullet and set up my standing desk. It’s always just there, but seriously it’s a bit of a leap of faith to actually use it. I’m meant to be working on the PhD novel and I have just now written some notes, but first I thought I’d blog about some books I’ve been reading or listening to on Audible. Why waste these good thoughts?

First up, The Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, listened to on Audible. Great narrator btw.

As a fan of Regency romances, Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen The Sorcerer to the Crown hit all the right beats for me. As a fan of fantasy, it did as well. I’d call this a post-colonial Regency fantasy. The main characters are Zacharia, an African ex-slave who is the Sorcerer to the Crown and Prunella, the half-Indian female lead. I don’t want to give anything away. I just loved every minute of this story and every aspect of it. I found parts of it highly allegorical with the treatment of women in the Regency and subsequent Victorian period, I love how it tackled racism and magic for that matter. I’m not usually a fan of stories which feature the plethora of creatures from fairy land but in this case it really worked for me. At times the language was so Austeneque I sighed. I loved the ending, a true subtle Regency ending to my mind.

What also intrigued me was reading some of the reviews on Goodreads. It just goes to show that reading is subjective and that what one person loves another person doesn’t. Overall I think the book has good ratings but some people really said negative things. Pooh to that. The Sorcerer to the Crown gets a five stars from me.

On the theme of Regency fantasy I picked up Mary Robinette Kowal’s Valour and Vanity. I didn’t realise until well into the book that it was part three but I paid that no nevermind. It was intriguing, complicated, intelligent and fun. It had pirates, magic, Venice and Lord Byron and glass making. What more could you want? I will be reading more of this series. I bought one of Kowal’s books in Iceland but I think that was not a Regency paranormal.

I ready Blood Kissed by Keri Arthur. I’ll tell you now she’s a mate so I can’t claim to be unbiased. Blood Kissed is a Lizzie Grace novel, self-published with a great cover. A departure from her action packed Riley Jensen novels, Lizzie Grace has a nice pace, a gentle introduction to the world of witches and werewolves with a renegade vampire in Australia. The world building was great and it had a nice balance with the introduction to the characters with quite a bit of sexual tension between Lizzie and the star werewolf. Set on a werewolf reservation there is an interesting world here with a witch hierarchy hinted at that left me wanting more.

Speaking of Iceland, I also picked up Towards White by Zena Shapter, at the Conflux SF convention in Canberra when I got back from overseas. I picked up a number of books at launches and am trying to make a serious dent in them. Having a bad back at the moment, reading helps take my mind off the pain. Towards White did that for me. It was pretty much riveting from the opening until the end. I would have finished it in one sitting except my pain killers knocked me out around midnight. Towards White is a book that is Australian but is set in Iceland. It’s a thriller and it certainly delivers in this area. There are some speculative elements to the story, but essentially I think it’s about what happened and what is happening, set against the wonderful landscape of Iceland. As I pretty much love Iceland and the writing was lyrical and fast paced, I found this to be a great read from Zena. I wish I had written this book.

I have a big to read pile, like most of my friends and probably you too. I’ve dipped my nose into Heart of Brass by Felicity Banks that I also picked up at Conflux. It has been on my radar for a while so I’m glad I grabbed a copy. As the title probably tells you it’s steampunk and I like steampunk. I’m thinking of publishing my steampunk duology next year. Maybe. First chapter looks promising and it’s by my bed so I’ll be reading it.

On my iBooks, I’ve started An Accident of Stars by Fox Meadows. I bought this a while back and I’ve been meaning to start it. Like many of you I buy books and they accumulate. I wish I had more time. Back back gives me more reading time, particularly when Netflix doesn’t work in my bedroom. Published by Angry Robot Books, it has a very strong beginning. I’m really looking forward to this.

That’s my reading round up.

 

Back to the grind

I’ve been back from Europe just over two weeks now. I’m over the jetlag, I think. I went back to uni and started working on things. I sent out newsletters and I even have a Bookbub sale on the 17th for Shatterwing, which is amazing.

My grandson turns 8 today! Happy birthday Alex! I feel old. He’s the youngest grandson and a joy to be around.

I’ve even done my tax return and my BAS. Before I swallow my halo I have to say my ‘to do’ list a mile long and the house looks seriously in need of a clean and a great big sorting out of stuff.  Then there is the garden. Eep!

I look outside and the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Except for a serious attack of sciatica and back pain, I’m doing great.

I try not to think how close Christmas is because that’s insane. It’s too close. With the back pain keeping me subdued I have to let things slide. I really wanted to finish the first draft of my PhD novel. But I can’t sit down for long so I won’t be able to do that. But I guess better quality beats speed in this case. I hit a technical snag and I have to think my way around it. PhD novels are meant to be hard right?

Anyway, this is just a quick check in.

I have read some fabulous books of late so next post I’ll talk about them.