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Archive for the ‘A writer’s life’ Category

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)!!

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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!

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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.

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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

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Time seems to fly by so quickly these days. Some kind of inverse perception. When I was a child time passed slowly. Now, I can’t believe how fast.

I wish it would slow down.

For me, 2016 was an interesting year. Lots of changes in my life. I left the work force and started a PhD in Creative Writing. I had done my sums, and of course, things change so sums are often being trimmed and rearranged. Do I regret leaving work? Hell no! It was the best thing for me physically and mentally. Of course I miss the huge $ I was making but there was a cost involved. I’m content.

I started the PhD with a vengeance–long days and it hurt too, but now I’m better at balance and I hurt less as a result. I actually felt good for many, many months and I was happy. I realise I can stay home and read and relax while studying instead of in a chair in the study centre everyday. I tried twice this year to get an APA and was unsuccessful, (APA is a stipend/grant for studying) and I have to give up applying now. It was a lot of work putting the application together. Hint do honours and you’ll be a shoe in, they are worth more than a Masters by coursework).  Now I have to look for part time work to fund me. I was hoping for some tutoring at uni but there are no guarantees.

One the writing front, I put out Argenterra in late April. It’s my epic, portal fantasy, that’s not dark (like Dragon wine) and is suitable for YA readers. It’s romance themed too. I thought I’d get the next two in the series out this year but that was a lot harder than it seemed to be when I thought it up. Book 2, Oathbound is with the editor (some delays there with editor moving house) and Book 2, Ungiven Land is awaiting one beta reader comments before being revised and sent to the editor. I’m thinking they will be out in the first half of 2017. I was so thrilled to get those books written. Finish drafting my first trilogy!!! (15 years in the making) Wohoo! Next year, when the books get published I’ll see how the hybrid, indie, self-publishing gig works for me.

Under the name, Dani Kristoff, I was published again by Escape Publishing, this time with Invoked. It’s the third and last book in the Spellbound in Sydney series. I thought this book was coming out next year so I was so happy to have it come out in December. I have one more book to write under Dani Kristoff and then Dani might retire. I enjoy writing the sexy paranormal books, but you have to have a big enough audience to make it worth your while and frankly, I don’t. I’m proud of those books. Invoked was the hardest thing I’d ever written. Nearly chucked it out. Rewrote it almost completely. It taught me a lot about writing. Although it is dark, especially compared to Spiritbound which was light and bright and lovely.

So for Nanowrimo I wrote another Space Pirate book. This time starring Opi, Rae and Essa’s mother. It’s fun and I like it a lot. I’m going to publish this myself.  Escape aren’t selling enough of the other books, Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Rae and Essa Space Adventures to acquire it. But I’m totally cool with that. I want to publish it myself. It’s a bit of light fun. I’ve kept it sweet level in case any YA readers happen on it, but it’s longer 55,000 words and features older protagonists and space pirates….

Also in December, I dusted off the draft of Deathwings, book three in the Dragon Wine series. I’ve booked it in with the editor that Momentum used for the first two books and I’ve got book 4 booked in too. So fingers crossed I’ll have them out in 2017 too. I have to meet the editor’s deadlines!!! Both books are mostly written. I had to dump about 10,000 words from book 4 and I did that over a year ago (then Phd happened). It was starting off too slowly according to beta readers. I have not written a word of the last two books  (5 & 6) and that will be my side project for the rest of 2017. Around other writing and the PhD and part time work if I get any.

I have three other books in completed draft form. Into the Dark Glass (YA fantasy) is currently with a skilled beta reader. It’s the most ready to go somewhere. Cold Soldier (SF Romance) – I haven’t touched this in nearly a year. Needs a new beginning and a revision. The Tainted Lady, my attempt a Regency romance needs a revised beginning and a revision then polish, then beta readers etc. Ruby Heart is still looking for a home but I’ve a mind to write Emerald Fire (the sequel) or actually finish writing it. Half written I think. I have a couple of other things started but may have to wait years before I revisit them.

I have my PhD novel to write too, which will get drafted during 2017. I think all this other writing helps me refine my craft so the PhD novel will benefit.

I have to prepare for my confirmation seminar in March so I’ll be busy with that in January and February and maybe before New Year. It’s my first piece of work that gets assessed and the foundation for the PhD. I will then be officially one year into the PhD too. My surveys that are part of the PhD are going great guns. Need more responses though.

Along with the rest of the world, I’m processing terrorist attacks, the US election, Brexit, war in Syria, Australian bloody politics and views on refugees, deaths of fav actors and musicians. May we weather these things and find 2017 a better time to live in. Highlights, Jane Austen Festival in Canberra, RWA Conference in Adelaide, Shanghai visiting my son in October and presenting a paper on Twitter poetry in November. Also, I am standing for GUFF ( Going Under Fan Fund), which is a fund to send people from Australia to Europe from SF conventions or a European fan to Australia) and there are some great candidates this year all vying to get to the SF World Con in Helsinki in August. (link below)

Downside some work injury related stuff that I won’t blog about until resolved. Worst thing ever!

I’m still addicted to Twitter and Facebook. I’m the world’s worst gardener, besides the Dweeb and I totally failed at sending Christmas cards this year. I’m pleased to say that this year  for me Christmas isn’t about excess as it usually is. My two daughters are vegans and we are having a small gathering this year so less meat, less waste, less money spent. I kinda feel good about that. I will miss my son, who is in China and two of my grandchildren and their mother who are in Perth this Christmas.

Most of all I want to say, I wish you well and happy and prosperous this Christmas, end of year, New Year. I am grateful for my health, my wonderful family and friends. My excellent partner Matthew (the Dweeb) and for those of you to interact with anywhere in the world and on the internet.

Maybe I’ll see some of you at the ARRA convention in Melbourne in February.

 

More info on GUFF

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November is usually a good writing time for me. The taxes are done. I’m gearing up for Christmas so I usually have that impetus to get things done before December hits. I can take that 30 days to focus and write.

Many years I wrote during November and I didn’t register for NaNoWriMo. I got into the spirit of the thing. Until recent years where I’m much more likely to register. I don’t always make the goal. A couple years I baulked, usually do to workload in the day job. I have partial drafts of books. One is a contemporary romance– at least so far. I’m tempted to put in a ghost or a vampire, but basically it’s a truckie story. The other partial I have is the sequel to The Sorcerer’s Spell, called The Changling Curse. I haven’t got back to it to finish it. There are a number of reasons for that. That I already have too many draft novels that need to be crafted, revised and polished is the main one.

So this year, I signed up for the NaNoWriMo thing. I hadn’t done any planning for the novel. November just sneaks up on me. Anyway I had this idea in my head for a year or two that I wanted to write another Love and Pirates story, this time about Opeia Gayens, the mother and head of AllEarth Corp.

I started drafting. I got 5000 words down but then I had to stop. I had to work on another novel, getting it ready for beta readers. I thought I’d just come back to the NaNoWriMo project. I ended up nearly losing two weeks but I did go back.

It’s quite hard to write a story without enough ideas. Sometimes they just come to me. So I started drafting and I was thinking this is a bit lame, I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I had that break from it (nearly two weeks) and reviewed the 5000 words I’d written to get me back into the story and went to bed. But obviously my subconscious was worried about the story because I had this amazing, comical scene unfold in the early hours of the next morning. I got up really revved, thinking this is it. And the resolution of this scene would skate me near to the end of the story. I was back on board. I had to write a lot to catch up, because I was way behind. But I didn’t let that worry me. I was on a roll.

This is the part that I love. Being so revved so in the story. I call it the zen zone where the creativity is sparking in the brain and the story cascades like it’s being downloaded. I walk around in a daze, send notes to myself as little ideas come to me. The ideas are flowing and writing 5000 words over the course of the day seems natural and easy. This is the buzz I live for. This is the orgasmic flow that is, lets face it, better than sex.

Often after experiencing the zen zone, I think I’ll never get it back. These days I know I can. Usually I get into the zen zone on  a writer’s retreat. This time I managed it at home, between uni, grandkids and other stuff. I caught up. I wrote 50,000 words! A complete story. I’ve even tinkered with some of those words. It’s a short novel, but longer than Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures.

Now the first cut is done, the harder work begins. Crafting the story I wrote. Opi Battles the Space Pirates is a SF romance. The most difficult part of a romance for me is writing the characters to sufficient depth. I’m queen of plot in comparison. My books tend to be plot heavy. The challenge now is to find out who Opi is and craft her better than she is now. I’d like to do that now rather than later…just in case it goes in the too hard basket.

NaNoWriMo for me then is not so much about how much I write, although I do find having a goal makes me sit at the computer longer than I really want to. I am an obsessive, goal oriented over achieving ADHD woman so that probably makes sense that I respond to a word count goal. But more than that it’s about writing, getting into the zone, giving myself permission to write and ignoring the housework and the DVD watching etc. Over 30 days you can achieve a lot. NaNoWriMo just reminds me of that.

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