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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

It’s been a long time between posts and I really don’t have an excuse. Life if just hectic at times. I’ve also decided that my daughter and her new baby will come first this year. That decision requires refoccusing. And I’ve been baking bread, particularly sour dough. It’s therapeutic!

Still on the writing front things have been plodding on. At times, I do not understand this industry. I love writing and making up stories but at times it is hard to be positive about the longer term. Selling a book a day is not sustainable. I will try though to keep positive!

Emerald Fire, Cry Havoc Book Two was free on Amazon for five days and people downloaded a lot of it (635). I was shocked. Ruby Heart , Cry Havoc Book One, hardly had any downloads in comparison and that was the book one (about 120). I umed and ahed about putting a book 2 on for free but I did and I’m not sure what it all means. I think my newsletter subscribers are waiting for Ruby Heart to be discounted again so they can have the set. I love writing this series so much. So much fun and research. I will be discounting Ruby Heart in May, which Emerald Fire goes wide.

Meanwhile, Argenterra, Silverlands Book one, has been 99 cents on all platforms for the whole of April. The sale ends on April 30. I even had a paid promotion and I’ve only shifted like 25 copies all up. That’s with newsletter shares and so on. The weird thing is the sell through on Argenterra appears pretty good. People do buy the next books in the series. I love the new covers. I’ll put links below in case you are tempted to sample.

I love the Silverlands series. Argenterra was the first fantasy I tried to write. My second novel ever, rewritten many times before it was ever published. I love the Argenterra world and the characters and the stories of the history.

You have until April 30 to get your 99 cent copy.

Buy links

amazon ibooks Kobo Google Nook

I have a collection of stories from Argenterra planned, ostensibly told from Kushlan Silvertongue’s point of view as commissioned by King Oakheart. A bit of a literary conceit there, having a story teller tell the story.

I’ll be releasing the stories one by one, at first, to introduce readers to the world of Argenterra and an extra for fans of the series. When they are done I will release them as a collection in one volume. They will be free or 99 cents.

The first one of these will be released in a couple of weeks as it is with the proofreader right now. That tale is Vorn and the First Comers, an appropriate place to start. I have thought about writing Vorn’s story as a prequel novel so the novella doesn’t cover the war, just the trip to Argenterra and early settlement. Here is the cover below. It’s from Patty Jansen’s premade cover store and I’ve been eyeing it off for ages.

It is stunning. It is a generic fantasy cover, I know, but evocative and beautiful.

Over the Easter break I did some writing, well technically revision as this novel was drafted years ago and I’m still working on it. I had feedback that meant I needed to change the title and confirmation of my thoughts on this SF romance of mine.

It’s a story that wants to be just SF without the romance, or it’s an SF romance that wants to be romance. In the end, I’ve decided to make it SF with romance on the side. You might think there is no difference, but there is.

Anyway I spied this cover on Patty’s site and I had been eyeing it off. My partner, Matthew, thinks Deleen’s pose is too sexy, but I think the cover is deliciously retro looking and reminds me some 80s’ covers of books say from Lois McMaster Bujold.

My great author buddy, Nicole Murphy, asked for the draft and she read it in one day. I’m gobsmacked! She gave me some great feedback and came up with the new title. The old one was ‘Cold Soldier’.

Patty was really good about retitling this cover many times. I haven’t got a blurb for this yet. They usually come last. I’m still working on the story too. This book having an identity crisis borked me from getting very far into the rewrites over the years. Now, I’m two thirds in and I’ll need to revise it again, but I feel I have better direction. It is also part of a planned series but not a trilogy. The stories should work on their own. Awakening should come out later this year. After I’ve done a few things like this blog post, I will return to it today.

No blurb as I said, but a bit of a teaser.

On peaceful Colony Five there is a coup in progress. The administrator is mysteriously replaced and security advisor, Deleen is sent on forced leave.  Previously unknown cryo soldiers are being taken out of people’s basements and burned in the city parks. People hiding the cold soldiers are being taken away and charged with treason. Disturbing as this is for Deleen, she senses danger as a kind of martial law is being enforced in the city. Then she starts having dreams of a man asleep in a glass case-a suppressed memory that is forcing its way out. She escapes the city her abandoned homestead to confront the past and save the present.

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Well you can tell that I’m not busy and stressed as I was as here is my next post, really soon after the last one.

Today, I started the polish of Moonfall. Normally, I’d wait a few weeks between the tidy up and a polish to get beta reader feedback. However, as the MS is booked in with the editor I can’t really wait.

Because I have RSI and arthritis and so on, I have to be careful how long I spend on the computer. The longer I spend on the computer the more attention I have to pay to ergonomics. One of the ways I tackle this is that I print out the MS in bits, read them, edit them and then key in changes later. On the weekend, this was proving a bit difficult so I went to Office Works and bought a copy stand. This allows me to have the MS held up at screen height, next to the screen and made the transcribing of the corrections so much more quicker, but also less demanding on my neck. I have a small space to work in and that meant holding the print out and trying to type stuff in. With the copy stand I have both hands free.

Here is a picture of it here. I was quite lucky because it was only around $50. I was expecting it to be more.

Today I started on the polish, now that I have sent Moonfall to beta readers. I’ve been having problems with the beginning of the book from the start. Not only because a mad woman wrote it. I fixed up the continuity stuff but then found I went on a bit. I was downstairs washing dishes and thinking about the problem when a solution came to me. I was so pleased. I managed to cut about 2000 words out of the first couple of chapters and reorganise it a bit better. I am pleased with the day’s work. I think the rest of the story is going along nicely so we will see how it goes tomorrow.

Writing books can be hard work. I think I drove myself to the very edge on the weekend. I’m surprised my brain is even working at the moment.

I believe going to see the new Solo moving probably helped me wind down. I loved it. Then again I loved the old Solo tie in novels, Han Solo at Stars End and so on. Matthew and I are both geeks and love Solo so we enjoyed the film. We saw Deadpool 2 last week. What a ripper! So funny and in your face. I like how it is so meta…aware of itself, Deadpool speaking to the audience as well as the other characters. Next one we are looking forward to is Ant Man and The Wasp.

Meanwhile…back at the book farm…I have uploaded Dragon Wine Volume Two. This is the third and fourth book in one volume and at a price that is cheaper than buying them separately. I intend to do a box set of the final two books too, maybe early next year and then the complete box set. Right now Dragon Wine Volume Two is only up on Amazon, but it will go up at other retailers soon. I just have to update Calibre before I can convert the file.

And once I have had a peek at the edit of Skyfire (due today) and work out how much work I have to do, I will put Skyfire up for pre-order. That’s my big news. I’ll come back here and let you know when it’s up.

So as a tease, here is the cover of Skyfire, coming soon to preorder status. The cover is from Frauke at http://www.crocodesigns.com

 

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It is interesting that sometimes you can’t tell that you are suffering from stress, or if you do how much it affects you, until the stress is gone. I feel so much better today.

The tutoring is over until semester two and the marking. That’s one big thing.

I had a paper to write for a presentation. I was stressed about that. I’ve drafted something. It’s pretty crap but at least it’s on paper and can be edited into sense.

The tidy up of Moonfall is done and it’s gone to beta readers. Phew! That was way behind schedule. The delay is related to the teaching and marking mentioned above and that some crazy woman wrote it and tidying it up was a huge think drain. Luckily, once I got past the beginning of the novel, it got easier. However, I’m still behind and will have to start polishing it now, rather than waiting for beta reader comments. Moonfall is booked in with the editor and I hate to not meet that deadline.

This morning I realised that I don’t have to be stressed about that. I should just take the time I need as I’m not tutoring and I can play around with my own timetable with the PhD. Once I have Moonfall out, all I have to do is focus on revising my novel and my exegesis (which I have not finished yet!!!).

All in all, I’m travelling okay!

Here is a peak at the cover for Moonfall. It is coming soon!

Moonfall-highres(1)

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This blog post is brought to you by systems failure. I have marking to do but the Uni’s website is down and all marking is in the computer system so damn…I also have face to face marking from 12 but that has a work around. I can’t even access my schedule. So either I’m going to sit there or the system is coming back on line and I’ll know when it is over.

This blog post is brought to you by a glitch…I think that would make an excellent short story title for the domino effect of a glitch and the end of the world. I’m sure someone has already written that. But there would be on evil overlord because the necessary spreadsheets for world domination would be inaccessible.

This post is going to be about writing. If that bores you look away now.

I’m currently revising or tidying up the first draft of Moonfall, which is the last part of the Dragon Wine series. This is a daunting task. You see the draft was written by a mad woman who obviously had no idea of continuity. I was suffering from RSI and some sort of brain fugue at the time of drafting and I wrote it in half hour sessions…and it shows.

I am up to chapter four. Oh man I want to kill this MS. I want to stab it in the heart. I want to pull my hair out. I wail into the darkness – why am I doing this?!

It’s painful. I can’t tell you why apart from the above. I have to think to fix the ms just to get it to beta readers. Then when they tell me what’s shit about the draft I have to think again and fix it. Then I send it to the editor who will no doubt tell me how completely shit it is again and I’ll have to take vitamin pills and think up some more stuff.

Why? Why am I doing this? Writing fiction? Writing any goddamn thing? I must be completely mad. I could be sewing or vegging in front of the tele or reading a book or drinking tea with friends.

If this sounds familiar to you then I am not alone. If you haven’t been through this then maybe you’ll recognise the signs at some stage. If you write perfect drafts without pain and are marvellous and gorgeous I could hate you.

I have to face the music. I was happy with the draft when I drafted it. It was the final instalment and I thought it kicked ass (arse!) but in the cold light of revising I can see so much wrong with it I want to cry. I don’t cry though, I get ranty.

Here I am ranting!

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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>

 

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…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)

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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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This is not the Mama Mia… (dot, dot, dot) this is life getting in the way and fatigue. It’s bloody hot I tell you and that makes writing a chore.

I’m about to head out to a granddaughter’s 11th birthday party. I mean really 11. What the hell happened! She’s not meant to be so grown up. I’m not meant to be so old. Okay. I’m not old. Ageism is the mindkiller. I’m with Judy Dench on that. I wish my body would get on side. I have arthritis generally and for the last few weeks some weird as swelling, numbness, tingling in my hands and arms. I must admit it freaks me a bit. But I’m not blogging to be a downer.

I have family here at the moment. My son is visiting from Shanghai and it’s great to have him around. I mean I scored cookies!

I’ve been writing too and that has to be a good thing. After the 52,000 words I wrote in November as part of #NaNoWriMo I picked up the ball again and am currently at 73,000 words. I’m hoping to get more in this arvo and I’m hoping to finish the first rough draft of Skyfire by New Year’s Eve because….I’m going straight on to Moonfall in January, Part Six of the Dragon Wine series and the end of the current story arc. I say this because I have other ideas but they will have to wait until after the PHD studies.

In 2018 I really have to knuckle down and get the bugger done! However, I am taking some time in January to do a mini writer retreat and write Moonfall until I drop. Then it’s back to the Phd novel which is still sitting at a pitiful 30,000 words.

Even while I plan to have both books drafted by the end of January, I’m not sending Skyfire and Moonfall out to be published for a little while.

I have to revise them first. I tend to get the story arc done and then go back and work on scenes and add atmosphere. It also gives me time to add stuff in that I missed out and tweak stuff.

Then I will send it to beta readers and get feedback. Then I act on that feedback and revise again.

Then I send it to the editor if I think it’s ready. Then she flings it back to me, usually with some homework which can take anywhere from two weeks to a month to do and then it goes to the proofreader.

It’s a bit of a team effort getting a book ready.

Sometimes it takes a while to take up the proofreader changes but within a month of getting it back from the proofreader I usually publish it. The print version takes longer as it has to be formatted.

If I succeed in my plans with the draft and revision I’ll have a better idea of timetable. I think my Amazon pre order ban might be lifted by then. hahahaha!

So if I don’t come back with a year in review blog post or my plans for 2018 before New year. Happy New Year!

I

 

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