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Archive for the ‘Year in review’ Category

2017 was interesting year for me. I feel like I achieved a whole lot of things and dropped the ball on a couple of important ones.

Personal stuff

The big carryover from 2016 was a legal issue with the government’s workers compensation agency. Comcare wrote to me in September 2016 to tell me that a report that I had done on my neck was being used by them reverse their decision to accept liability for any injury to my thoracic spine. I was informed on the phone that I would then have a debt of $96,000. You can imagine that as I’d retired and had started a Ph.D. that this sent me into a stress coma. I couldn’t focus on my Ph.D. for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t get Comcare to listen to anything I said nor did they listen to my e-mails. I was advised to get a lawyer. I cried. I’d never been litigious. I only ever received treatment costs and time off work associated with that. It was a nightmare.

With a hanging over my head I started 2017. There was an appeal hearing set for January, which was then postponed to March. I just wanted it over. When the official debt notification arrived from Comcare the debt was $16,000 not $96,000 as I had been informed over the phone. (Note I have redacted this post-sorry).

I was very lucky that my daughter Beanie took away all the documents Comcare had sent to me from my file and went through them. It was very frustrating and dehumanising not to be listened to. I’ve audited in government for nearly twenty years and I’d never come up against anything like that. Luckily I had the skills to audit the documents and found a lot of issues with Comcare’s decision.

During early 2018 I took a least one month off my Ph.D. I was on stress leave although it was hard to focus at all for the whole six months. This whole business from September 2016 had derailed my Ph.D. as well is affecting my health and my mental state.

This isn’t the place to talk about the details but needless to say I won my appeal in that from the first hearing Comcare agreed to talk to me and asked me to put in a proposal to them.

So this six months out of my life didn’t earn me any great compensation payout or anything like that. All I gained was Comcare undoing their decision to undo their decision. The psychological trauma that they put me through needlessly in the time wasted I’ll never get back.

The upside to all of this is that one of the strategies for dealing with stress is doing tasks, like craft, or writing and editing too. So to forgot about all that crap that was going on in my life, I buried myself in edits and getting books ready to publish. it wasn’t my PhD but it was something. A lot of this I had put in train the previous year and stuff I had written years ago.

So what was good about 2017?

PhD

Despite everything above, I managed to get confirmed for my PhD. I had put in so much work when I started the PhD that it helped immensely here. This means I presented a paper on my research and it was found to be worthy of continuing. Big tick for me. That was in March, just after the hearing.

Fannish stuff

The day Comcare and I agreed on a proposal was the same day I heard I had won the GUFF. The Get Up Fan Fun which would send me to Helsinki and Worldcon 75. I had such a headache from all the stress I went straight to bed and it took a few days for it to sink in. As I only had a short time and needed to get the cheapest fares I had to start planning the trip. As I blogged this trip I won’t go into detail here. It was amazing and a once in a lifetime thing.

I also got to meet Paul Weimer and hosted him as DUFF delegate in June for a night. The highlight was feeding him roast lamb, pavlova and taking him out to meet kangaroos.

Publishing

I republished books that I had the rights returned to me.

Shatterwing, Dragon Wine Part One

Skywatcher, Dragon Wine Part Two,

The Sorcerer’s Spell by Dani Kristoff.

New works

I wrote Opi Battles the Space Pirates in November #NaNoWriMo. Great stress avoider! And that was published in April.

Oathbound, Silverlands Book Two was published, and

Ungiven Land, Book Three.

Oathbound had been previously drafted way back in 2002-2004 so only needed revision. Ungiven Land had 50,000 written but they were almost all rewritten during 2016. The edit for this was delayed while my editor moved house and then took time to deal with issues.

Deathwings, Dragon Wine Part Three and

Bloodstrom, Dragon Wine Part Four were published.

These books had been written way back when too but not really looked at. In 2016, I got some beta reader feedback, cut out 10,000 words from the beginning and started polishing them. I then had them edited and they were out.

That’s eight Indie Published books. I have blogged about that process during the year.

That took me up to July and then I was off for two months overseas. So technically no new writing at all except for the PhD.

Writing

Sihe is my PhD novel. I started working on it after the Comcare thing was sorted and my PhD was confirmed. I have about 30,000 words of fairly polished words because I keep going back over it rather than writing forward. I didn’t write much while I was overseas. I got one day in Bergen to write. I tried a bit when I got home but got stuck on a technical issue. I think that’s sorted. I worked on Sihe in October, thinking if I got the draft down I could work on something else during NaNoWriMo in November but I had an acute sciatica attack that put me out of action for two weeks. I would not wish this thing on anyone. I had not experienced pain like it. It was like extreme labour pains but it wasn’t giving me a baby at the end. I writhed and cried and moaned. My four lumbar discs are all bulging. The foraminal spaces have been narrowed, which causes the pain down the leg and my sacroiliac joint had degenerated. For godsake! What the hell!

So it was a Chinese medicine doctor that helped me and hydrotherapy that helped get me functional. I’m still deciding on how to manage this condition in 2018. Most of my spine is now stuffed. I am using a standing desk all the time now. I have degeneration in my left foot too so that’s not always fun.

But in November, I started writing Skyfire, Dragon Wine, Part Five, and it was so liberating to be writing again. My goal was to get that first draft down by New Year’s Eve. Guess what? I did. I’m now working on Moonfall, Dragon Wine, Part Six.

I’ll have to do the revision and edits of these around the PhD as that has to take priority this year. This is my last year. But I think that’s doable! So two books in the works for publication in 2018.

Academic activities

On the PhD side I presented two papers. One at PoPCAANZ in Wellington. I blogged about the weather /airport lock out saga in June. I also went to Adelaide at the end of November to deliver a paper on Penny Jordan’s Man-hater, 1984 Mills and Boon book. I haven’t published the paper. That’s on the to do list.

Family

Over Easter, Matthew’s mum came to live with us. This has meant some adjustment to our lives. I think it is all going along reasonably well. We are lucky enough to have a room and bathroom downstairs so she has her own space.

My immediate family are all well. I lost my younger brother in November to liver cancer. He was 52.

World in general

While we live in a Donald Trump world uncertainty continues. Personally, I think Trump heralds a decline in the USA in world politics. He’s trying to make America great but OMGerd!

My use of social media is less. This is mainly because my Twitter stream is left, Twitter doesn’t let me see the tweets as they come and everyone appears to be Trump depressed. I’m still on Twitter it just doesn’t do it for me as it used to.

Entertainment

Netflix (and streaming generally I suppose) has brought joy into our lives. At first we didn’t’ think we would have time for watching stuff because we both write. However, with Matthew’s mum in the house-she’s grown to like it. Me being incapacitated with my back and having to take lots of breaks from everything including housework, Netflix has been great. It has some really good content.

Matthew’s mum went through five seasons of House of Cards. I haven’t watched that myself. The Kevin Spacey controversy happened when she’d finished and she was so upset because she admired him as actor.

My favs for the year on Netflix. The Expanse, Star Trek Discovery, The Crown (both seasons), Victoria, Anne with an E, River, Lucifer, The Good Place, Continuum and Jane the Virgin (although I didn’t get too far). I like that there is some cool SF on there, but also shows that can lighten your mood. The Crown was gripping by the way. I don’t know how they did it. Great tension throughout, great acting, immaculate sets. Well done! And they released the whole season in on go.

Non Netflix viewing. We just finished Game of Thrones Season 7. Technically we did that in 2018, but hey I have to wait another two years to see the last season, maybe longer as we buy the DVD sets. I thought Season 7 was brilliant. I feel so vindicated and I’m not saying why.

Movies. The Last Jedi, Thor Ragnorok, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and I can’t recall the others. I’ll have to consult with Matthew because he has a mind and he can remember things. I also saw Pride Prejudice and Zombie on DVD. I borrowed the disc from Robert Hood. I liked the movie so much he gave to me. Isn’t that sweet! Best proposal scene ever. Much better than the book! Truly!

Books

I find this hard to remember as I didn’t keep a spreadsheet in 2017 so forgive me if I read your book and didn’t list it here. On Audible the Expanse series rocked. I have listened to the first two books and the writing is amazing. Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, fan bloody tastic, regency fantasy. Right up my alley. That lead me to Mary Robinnette Kowal.

I got stuck into Stephen King’s Dark Tower series on Audible too. Totally mind blown. I’m about four books in.

I picked up The Dispatcher by John Scalzi for free on Audible. Great idea and wonderful execution.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline…not bad. Geeky! The movie should be interesting.

I also listened to all of the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold(also last year as well I think).

I read some Australian authors. Cat Sparks’s debut novel, Blue Lotus, Thoraiya Dyer’s Crossroads of Canopy, Jodi McAlister’s Valentine, Angela Slater’s Vigil and Corpselight, Keri Arthur’s Blood Kissed. I also listened to some of Keri’s audio books.

I read the first fourteen of JD Robb’s in death series and set about getting the whole set. I need to pick it up again. Very interesting. Also useful for the PhD perspective.

I also read some Mills & Boon of course. I’ve been interested in Penny Jordan’s work and Amanda Carpenter ( have all but one of her books) also Charlotte Lamb (She managed to surprise me with some feminist content!).

I’ve also been close reading, Reading the Romance by Janice A Radway (the 1990s version). I haven’t finished that because I go into flights of rage but I will. Also other stuff. Too much to recall here.

I have rabbited on long enough. Just have a great 2018 everyone. I have to come back to you about goals if I have any. I think I do.

I have the first two books of Dragon Wine on discount in a box set. Amazon.com only for $2.99. Click the link if you are interested. Warning. It’s dark, nasty fantasy so don’t read it if that’s not your thing. I mean really!

PS this blog was mostly dictated. It appears that my RSI has kicked off, just because I wrote 24,000 words in five days! I will conquer the world…ehem…maybe I’ll just dictate more words.

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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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