July Goals Round-Up 2014

I feel like I talked a big game in my halfway check-up and then fumbled the ball.

As far as goal one – the revision of Written By The Stars – honestly, the size of the task daunted me. The current lesson in Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel is the world building one, and I need to assess the world in every single scene. Blearg! I’m going to really try and buckle down on this one.

I started the ‘Princess Paladin’ idea I mentioned in my last goals round up, and what I thought would only be around 5,000 words looks like it’s going to round out around 10,000 to have the ending that I’m looking for. Of course I’ve done the old writer trick of having an idea mid-writing and have chased the rabbit, so it might end up being cut back down to 5,000 but we’ll see. So far I’ve written 5,000 words of the first draft.

I’ve watched a few webinars in pursuit of goal four, but it’s just reenforcing my belief that there’s only so much that free webinars will teach you (not to mention 90% of them finish trying to put the hard sell on you of ‘you must sign-up within the next 48 hours for this amazing discount‘). After ten or so of them and reading 1,000+ blog posts with advice for writer’s you start to hear either a lot of the same or a lot of conflicting advice. One good one to check out for marketing though (with no hard sell involved, no sell period actually) is ‘How Not to Be An Evil Marketer‘.
Anyway, I’ve got to put some gumption into it for the rest of the year. How are you all going?

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Australian Spec-Fic Authors Challenge 2014 – June Round-Up

In June I was quite caught up in reading classics I’ve intended to read – some for as long as since high school – and… well, I kind of forgot to read my Aussie spec-fic book for the month. Then I realised I read a lot more Aussie spec-fic than just novels, I regularly read some great Aussie magazines. Last year I  mentioned Aurealis, but I also thoroughly enjoy Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.

51cover_229_317Aside from an awesomely hilarious name ASIM is packed full of fiction. They jam quite a few stories into each quarterly issue and some of these stories, well, there’s some corkers like ‘Non Smoker. Good Sense of Humour. Must Like Chickens’ about a talking chicken roommate(made extra funny to me because I have a friend nicknamed Chook) and a really different science fiction piece called ‘Suckers For Love’ about a tentacled alien and his search for true love. No, I’m not joking, ASIM love to print the light-hearted stuff as well as the deep.

ASIM is a long running Australian publication, having started back in 2002 and has shifted frequencies a few times over the years (Wikipedia still lists them as a bi-monthly production).

cover40bigAfter the bevy of fiction, often there are book reviews and other articles at the end and special features like tributes to certain authors.

You can get esubsciptions or print subscriptions (if you’re Australian you pay less :) what a nice change ;p ).

Andromeda Spaceways love to publish broadly throughout the spectrum of speculative fiction, as further evidenced by their ‘Best of Sci-Fi’, ‘Best of Fantasy’, and ‘Best of Horror’ collections. On a slight side note, they’re awesome to submit to as their process lets you know how close you came to acceptance and I’ve always received feedback from them.

I recommend grabbing a subscription and finding out how great this magazine is for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

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June Goals Round-Up 2014 + Halfway Mark Check

This month just passed I wrote a new short story ‘The Ashes’ and got excited about an old idea in a new time period. I also came up with two more hilarious ideas for short stories I will call ‘Princess Paladin’ and ‘Choose Your Underwear Carefully’. I also found out I’d had my flash fiction piece ‘Anything To Fit In’ recently published(you can read it free here). So my third goal is going quite well.

I’m stuck in the world building lesson for Written By The Stars’s revision. As you can imagine there’s a lot of world building with fantasy, and there are lots of checks the lesson has me make, so goal one is moving along, if somewhat sluggishly with the aide of goal four.

And now, the half way mark has been reached, so my mid-point check up:

In regards to goal one (final revision and editing of Written By The stars) I’m a bit behind where I had hoped to be on this project, but should easily have it knocked off by year end.

Goal two (finishing the first draft of Keys, Clock, Quests), yeah… haven’t done much with this goal at all sadly, but I’m only at the halfway mark of the year, still plenty of time to turn it around. I must admit though this one keeps being prioritised last. I suppose something has to be though…

Goal three (continuing to write and submit short stories), I’ve written a few, ideas for plenty, and submitted quite a few, even had two published so far (Nightfall in the anthology 18 and Anything To Fit In on the website 365 Tomorrows) so this one’s been going quite well.

Goal four (keep learning), I’ve done a few webinars (though I think I’m starting to reach the point where webinars don’t seem to be teaching me anything I haven’t heard before), have taken a couple of Holly Lisle’s courses (How To Revise Your Novel and How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck(the flash fiction one is free), continued to attend my critique group (this is one of my favourite leaning tools and I can’t recommend it enough – a good writers group helps you learn and grow through receiving feedback and giving your own). I think this one’s moving along nicely.

All up things are going smoothly, but I can do better ;p

How are you all going?

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Losing Patience With…

I’m beginning to lose patience with television shows where the entire episode’s drama revolves around the protagonist not telling the truth to someone when they need too.

To clarify, I’m fine with this premise when the truth will hurt someone, or for some other reason needs to be kept a secret. Those are fine. But when the truth is being kept back for no good reason (apart from the writer got lazy and decided this was a great way to create some tension) all it does is irritate me.

Ok, admittedly I’m someone who pretty much just says whatever I’m thinking (and whenever ;p ) so I’m the type who usually tries to explain what’s happening, and not everyone is like that, but when the main character is not telling her best friend she is also hanging out with some old work friends who she ran into a second ago(by happenstance) and just ends up running between the two groups causing anger and confusion and the WHOLE thing could be solved by taking two seconds and explaining things and the only repercussion of doing so is you might be a bit embarrassed in front of the old work colleagues all that happens is I, as a viewer, am frustrated.

If you are going to have a character keep a secret, give them a reason. Make the secret a good secret. Like one character killed someone protecting her friends, but she doesn’t want to burden the other friends (who have a lot on their plates at the moment) with her feelings. She also doesn’t want to make them feel guilty, or like it’s their fault, so she has to internalise all of it.

Sorry for the rant, just in this last week I’ve seen this done at least three times and, well, I’m losing patience.

Is there a device/cliche like this that drives you to distraction? (Permission to rant granted ;p )

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Have You Ever Been So Busy…

Have you ever been so busy that you missed something awesome happening?

As most of you know in my offline life I’m juggling a lot of balls, and the last few months some jerk of an interventionist deity(I assume, I have no solid evidence, but I like the thought of being able to lay blame) has thrown a few extra into the mix.

Then the ever-hungry mailer daemons gobbled up an acceptance letter and I missed the fact I was being published again!

You can read the story on the very awesome 365 Tomorrows website (a great place for flash fiction). Since it was published back in May (yeah I know, shame on me for not noticing, but I’ve fallen vastly behind on reading blogs and websites) I’ll give you the direct link as well.

So please enjoy ‘Anything To Fit In’ free on 365 Tomorrows.

Have you ever been so busy that you missed something awesome too? (I hope I’m not the only sad case ;p )

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Visible Goals

<3 paper clips courtesy of Kikki K

My goals board. <3 paper clips courtesy of Kikki K

For most of last year I had a small cork board on the living room wall. On it I put the goals that had highest priority to me.

Early this year Xander finally gained the climbing dexterity to reach it and – as you can imagine – tacks and toddlers are an unwise mix, so it was pulled down and put away.

This happened while I was down and out with my vertigo so by the time I felt better there was so much work to do the last thing on my mind was my goals board. That is, until I started noticing that everything was being prioritised over my writing. Even things I normally prioritise lower (like playing games – much as I love to it doesn’t earn me money ;p ) were getting done before writing. It wasn’t until today that I pin-pointed why this was happening.

My goals board.

I didn’t have my writing goals somewhere where I would be reminded of them and their importance multiple times a day.

I managed to contrive a piece of cardboard which I can clip my goals onto using paperclips and hang it in the living room. Now I have my visible goals and no toddler terror.

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One Person’s Meh is Another’s Trigger

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-poster1-690x1024Our local cinema is doing some advanced screenings of How To Train Your Dragon 2 this weekend, including some yesterday. Since our little man Xander is a mad fan (owns most of the toys, seen all of the TV show(like ten times each episode), and watched the movie at least once a week since he first watched it over a year ago) we knew we had to get in on that action.

Xander watches movies at the cinema well enough. He’s watched Despicable Me 2, Cloudy With a Chance Of Meatballs 2, Monsters University (and a few more I can’t recall right now) without disturbing other patrons, but still we picked a session during the day when we were sure there wouldn’t be too many other movie-goers (we picked well there were only six other groups in the whole cinema) just in case this was the one time he didn’t do well.

This was the one time he didn’t do well. We had toys, food, drink, loving parents to assure him all was safe. He loved the start, grinning, bouncing in his seat, but then his trigger happened.

Xander can’t handle kidnappings (this includes dragon-napping). Giant scary freaking monster – he doesn’t care. Someone dies – he doesn’t care.  Someone gets hurt – he doesn’t care. Someone gets their heart broken – he doesn’t care. Someone get’s tied up and/or dragged away – the world is burning OMG OMG OMG!

The first time we heard chuckles from those near-by, amused  that he was so upset by the first dragon-napping (I assure you, my spoilers will get no more specific than this). By the third or fourth time he was getting so upset he couldn’t calm down before the next would happen, so my husband and I tried to leave to calm him. But no, Xander knew this movie was too awesome to leave in the middle of. If we dared to walk out the door he would lash out, struggle out of our arms and run back in. So we moved to the seats in the cinema furthest from the other patrons to try and soothe him, to try and avoid his crying bothering the other people.

Mostly he cried during action scenes, so the sound shouldn’t have been audible, and no one approached us to complain or did the snide, sotto voice walk by where they whinge about ‘that noisy kid’ so I’m not sure if we did bother anyone for sure, but I worry that we did and wish I could talk with people and explain that for Xander the most horrible thing imaginable is not injury, not death, but kidnapping.

What seems unremarkable to one person can be a great fear to others.

Another example, I’ve cared for pet snakes in the past – but for some they are a terrifying creature. It’s hard to understand something someone else fears when it’s not scary to you, but that doesn’t make their fear less valid.

I can’t help but wonder when I’m writing how many scenes I create that might trigger someone. We writers can’t avoid it really – after all who wants to read a book where basically nothing happens? Even going out the front door can be terrifying to some people. But where’s the line? Some people say that certain triggering events should be removed from fiction altogether, but that is like denying that these awful things happen. It’s certainly walking the razor’s edge.

I hope by the time the movie comes out on bluray Xander will be able to handle watching it again, because it’s awesome and I can’t wait to see it some more ;p

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Australian Spec-fic Authors Challenge 2014 – May Round-up

Free ??

Free ??

It shouldn’t be too surprising that the book I read for May is 18.

18 features not just all Australian spec-fic authors, but all Queensland-based spec-fic authors. The anthology was titled thus because it is celebrating the eighteenth year of the Brisbane critique group Vision Writers.

Now clearly, being VP of this critique group(not to mention having helped critique every one of these stories) there is no way I can be impartial about this book as I have been with other anthologies I’ve appeared in. Instead of making this a review as I normally would, I’ll tempt you with teaser sentences for each story.

  • 18/20 by S. Elliot Brandis (Stephen has also recently released his first novel ‘Irradiated’):  In a militia-governed city where even the ability to give birth is currency, how far will Eila go to escape her arranged marriage and be with the woman she loves?
  • 1800 by Talitha Kalago (you can check out Talitha’s awesome YA series Lifesphere Inc as well): Hiding in the rainforests of Queensland are all manner of still undiscovered species, but this small band of explorers are about to discover how dangerous the rainforest is.
  • Infinity Underscore by Kristen Isbester: Life and Death, wealth and destitution, health and illness – forever in balance. On the frontiers of colonial space there is a myth of Kasia, the embodiment of life, wealth and health. Her passing will bless all in proximity, but when she moves on…
  • Low Life by Allan Walsh: Eighteen layers of Hell. How deep will your sins take you?
  • 18k In The Hole by Tony Owens (You can also read his most recent story free on Antipodean): Bill and Carl, enforcers, assassins, crooks, think this is just another job, warning some bloke he better pay back the $18,000 he owes soon – until their car goes off the side of a cliff. And doesn’t drop to the ground.
  • How To Grow A Beard by Meghann Laverick: Everyone knows that a wizard’s power is in his beard, but what if puberty just isn’t blessing you with anything more that a cracked voice?
  • The Seven Swordsmen by Daniel Ferguson: Everybody loves a good bounty. 25,000 sterling quarters for the Silver Man is a hefty sum, but the mysterious Silver Man is a hefty foe, so a team forms.
  • Flickering Lives by Kenneth Mugi (you can check out his other books on his website): In a world where simply saying the word ‘eighteen’ could turn you or someone near you into a killing machine, Emra fights to free her brother from those who would take his life away.
  • Nightfall by Kirstie Olley: Marrille has never feared Nightfall like the rest of her flock, but when a chance comes to fix the eternal dusk her world is stagnating in she must decide whether to listen to her family or do what she believes will save the world.
  • The Black Queen by Melanie Bird: In love with each other from childhood, human healer Eloise and dragon prince Malicay dream of being together forever, but the Black Queen has something to say about that.
  • XVIII: Crazy He Calls Me by S. Walsh: Dumped, fired and homeless in the space of ten minutes, Darrius goes on a bender and gets his fortune read by a gypsy – what’s in the cards?
  • 18 Little Beds by Laura Brodnik (you can check out her articles regularly in BMag as well): In a cold orphanage in Russia there is a locked room with eighteen little beds and a terrible secret.
  • 18 Barr St by Chrisopher Kneipp: You never know what will happen when you pull out the ouija board.

 

 

Don’t forget, using Amazon’s Look Inside function you can read the first story and some of the second to get a good taste. And if 99c is still a bit on the steep side for you, the book will be free again soon (trust me, I’ll let you know the dates when I know them :) ).

Through June I’ll be reading Trouble Twisters by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

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May Goals Round-Up 2014

This month was all about editing. I buckled down and started slamming through revision for ‘Written By The Stars’, using Holly Lisle’s ‘How to Revise Your Novel‘ course. SIDE NOTE: I recommend any course Holly makes. She’s a brilliant writer and a superb teacher, so if you’re a writer and you’re uncertain which courses are worth the money I’d say Holly’s are. No, I’m not an affiliate and I get no kickbacks for recommending you, just expressing how I feel about the courses.

The only downside to revising all month long is my brain is hard core in editing mode. I woke myself up at 3am one night because the dream I was having rehashed information ;p

Hope everyone else is going well as we draw closer to the halfway mark!

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My Son Is A Skeksis

Warning: this post assumes you have watched The Dark Crystal and thus know what a Skeksis is. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it and reclaim your childhood.

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dapper gentlemanLook at this little guy. What a cutie. You’d never think he was a skeksis inside.

My son makes the little ‘Hmmm?’ noise of a skeksis when he likes the look of something. He also points and uses that noise to ask for things sometimes.

At least once a day he walks around talking to himself in a quiet, hissy language (sometimes I call him my little parseltongue).

He can be a real tyrant.

Sometimes I feel he is sucking the life out of me (only when I’m in a bad mood and he’s in a tyrannical one, the combination of which is rare, but I’m trying to make a lost of comparative traits here ;p ).

The only problem is he’s so damn cute.

I should show him The Dark Crystal. I’ve been worried he might be scared of the skeksis so have been holding off. Or maybe I was more worried he’d try to hug his bretheren ;p

he loves to play with swords too

he loves to play with swords too

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