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October was rather a write off unfortunately. Health of myself and my family, and a spat of nasty migraines meant there were multiple days at a time where I couldn’t even look at a screen. That’s the reason why this post is so late too. The only one of my goals I made any real progress on for the month was my beta feedback, but I’ve not quite completed even that yet.

For November I’m just rolling forward last month’s goals and adding giving beta feedback to another book as well. And hoping against hope I can finally have a month where I don’t have health problems ;p

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When I set my goals at the start of last month I completely forgot to take into account the fact that approximately half the month would be lost to school holidays. Add in the hideous flu strains swimming in the Aussie air at the moment and I’m impressed I got anything done.

The biggest thing I did do was rage-paused editing Written By The Stars. Rage pausing is kind of like rage quitting, but you will come back to it, more like shoving it in the deep freezer in the garage(the one you can fit a human corpse in if need be) rather than drenching it in kerosene and throwing a match on it. It mightn’t sound like a good thing that I rage-paused Written By The Stars‘ edits, but when I stuffed it in the freezer beside… nothing. Nothing is in there.

>.>

<.<

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Anyway, when I put Written By The Stars in the deep freeze I got out Lovely/Lonely (formerly known as Skeleton Romance) and edited it instead. And I completed the edits. Yup. Completed them. It’s ready for beta readers. The fact I can edit my more recent book in less than a month but the older book has taken months and not quite reached the 1/3rd mark is irrefutable evidence that over the last five years my writing has changed and advanced a lot.

My other goals (and progress on them) for September were:

  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft: Not quite, but I did write another 5,000 words
  • Beta read the non-fiction book and the near-future sci-fi book I’ve been given: I completed the non-fiction book but have only just started the fiction one
  • Using group feedback, edit Mermaid In A Jar so its ready to submit to publishers: Edited and submitted, just waiting to hear back
  • Write one of the new short stories rolling around in my head, ‘Bards vs Beasts’ or ‘Alone Time’: Nope. Failed to do anything more than just roll the idea around in my head while driving a few times. I have decided however it’ll most likely be ‘Alone Time’ that I’ll work on. Perhaps it’s because Mudgerwokee will be coming out soon, but I’m in a horror/dark fantasy mood ATM

Is anyone else sick and tired of being sick and tired? Apart from two flus(one of which is currently still with me, bleh), during the holidays Harley’s sleep pattern got a hiccup. The sort of hiccup which means I’m not even getting five straight hours a night anymore. Often not even five hours total between the two kids patterns sometimes. I don’t think that’s helping my poor immune system fight these viruses.

On the plus side, nearly all of the holidays were sunny and we took the kids to a lot of fun places. I also received another Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future contest (this time on Foxworth)(though I swear, one of these days I’m going to win the damn thing), and got my first ‘if you do these rewrites, please resubmit’ rejection. I’ve only had ‘yes’, feedback rejection, and form letter rejections before. I have now collected at least one of every kind of rejection except the ‘please forget about our magazine, never submit here again’ kind, and TBH I’m quite fine to never get one of those ;p

I also got an email from the Kickstarter campaign I backed which had the bonus of giving me a story critique and I’m doing one last polish on Not Human, Not Alien before sending it in for critique. I love working with new editors 😀 (even though it’s a ‘critique’, not an edit, I’m still getting an editor’s feedback, and that always helps me grow)

For October my goals are:

  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft
  • Complete beta reading the near future sci-fi novel I’ve been given
  • Work on those re-submission rewrites I was given(might take a while, I have to figure out how to integrate the changes without changing the story from what I want it to be)
  • Use any feedback on Not Human, Not Alien to polish the story and start submitting it(if the feedback comes back this month, editors are busy people and I’m not a demanding person ;p )
  • Write ‘Alone Time’ first draft

And stretch goal:

  • Continue editing Written By The Stars

Now to go take a bunch of flu meds and see how well I can self-edit when dosed up ;p

Hope you guys are all staying a lot healthier than me <3

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original photo by Lukas Roberston on Unsplash

We had a great turnout at the Vision Writers’ Group meeting this month. For a while now we have been averaging 6-7 people a meeting, but we were back to nearly filling up the table today. It was a good mix of veterans and the newcomers of this last year, and two first timers.

As usual there was heaps of good advice, but I decided to go with some advice around avoiding naming your character for stylistic or big reveal purposes. You can check out the article over on the Vision Writers website.

A Rose By Any Other Name – Or Without One?

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Did you enjoy reading Hanabi to Kitsune? Were you confused or intrigued about kitsuke after reading it?

Kitsuke is ‘the art of wearing a kimono'(and that act of it too). Some basic rules you might have caught in the story are that certain prints suit certain seasons, and how particular colours match(or contrast!) to look beautiful and stylish.

For example with prints and seasons, when I wore a kimono in spring, you’ll notice the strong theme of cherry blossoms both on my kimono and my obi (the picture also shows the gorgeous bow they tied for me too). Don’t panic if you find a lovely yukata or kimono which has multiple season images on it – you’ve found a special item which can be worn in both seasons 😀

You can also let your destination play into your choice, for example if you are going to be spending time waterside you might pick a print with irises on it since they grow by the water.

Your age can be a factor too. Younger people are encouraged to wear bright colours or bold patterns, but the older you get the more you’re encouraged to wear muted colours and simpler prints and patterns. Never forget though, you’re only the age you feel you are!

If you’d like to admire more kimono and learn more about kitsuke you can check out or follow some of the blogs I do.

Check out Kimono Tsuki she’s currently doing a Disney Princess Kitsuke project so she’s combining two loves of mine <3

Aubergine Fleur’s blog is full of magnificent shots of a wide range of obis being worn beautifully.

On Tumblr Kimono Nagoya(many pictures, plus a good amount of advice on how to co-ordinate); Tanuki Kimono(stories and accessories abound too), Wa-Dance (so many adorable drawings with on point kitsuke, and swatches), and Kimono Colours(puts a colour palette beside the pictures to help you figure out what matches and contrasts best). There’s lots more, but these are just my top picks, if you’re curious for even more and too lazy to look forthem yourself I could be convinced to share a longer list.

Going back to Hanabi to Kitsune, it’s just as well Mayu chose not to go obi-less since the ‘Heisei style’ her friend saw never extended very far beyond a few television images, and a couple of fashion blogs in Japan. It didn’t really take off ;p If you’re curious as to why I included it I was flicking through my Tumblr feed I saw the post below and decided a kitsuke-savvy girl like Mayu would know and think of it. At the time I wrote the story this was very new news. Time has proven it to never evolve. But I like it still being there, maybe it will make people Google ‘Heisei style yukata’ and make them ask more questions about kitsuke.

http://kimononagoya.tumblr.com/post/149916446276/hi-i-hope-i-can-ask-a-question-and-include-an

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my theme be all

I did fairly well in August, particularly for someone who lost their voice twice! I finished edits of Dressed For Success and submitted it. I’m quite fond of it. It’s very strong work IMO. Even if they reject it, I’m confident the story will find another home fast. I’m so proud of it I actually used it in my SAF grant application(which I also successfully sent off).

In further news relating to completing goals, I finished edits on Mermaid In A Jar, submitted it to my writers group, and will get my feedback tomorrow.

I’m 7,600 words into the Nothing Charming draft(that’s a new 6,400 written this month), but still have a good 25,000 words to go if my projection is accurate

I’ve edited a few more chapters of Written By The Stars, including one which, with additions/revisions is now 20,000 words long, so needs breaking up ;p It’s been a long slog, mainly because the draft was written back in 2012. I’ve done five years of growing as a writer since then. Soooo much is wrong with it. It’s not an impossible job, but not an easy one either. Also, back then I clearly felt like I needed to club readers over the head with my theme and sometimes its so bad I just can’t look at it ;p My theme be all ‘notice me, senpai!’.

I chaired two panels at the Brisbane Writers Group Convention and took a seminar on a new(to me) method for non-verbal communication with Xander.

As far as learning my craft more goes, I listened to seasons 3, 4, and 5 of Writing Excuses (if you missed it, last month I started binge listening to their back catalogue. I originally started in season 9 a few years back and didn’t bother with the back catalogue because it seemed like too much). I also read James Scott Bells’ Plot and Structure, and went to the aforementioned Brisbane Writers Group Convention.

And the biggest miracle of all, I have thought of a possible proper title for ‘Skeleton Romance’: Lovely/Lonely. Not a perfect fit, but pretty solid and quite evocative, I even have a funky little logo imagined up for it ;p

September’s goals are:

  • Focus on editing Written By The Stars
  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft
  • Complete feedback for the non-fiction book and the near-future sci-fi book I’ve been asked to beta read
  • Using group feedback edit Mermaid In A Jar so its ready to submit to publishers
  • Write either the new short story rolling around in my head currently titled ‘Bards vs Beasts’ or the horror story ‘Alone Time’
  • If the cover comes back in time, get the proof and – if time – maybe even do the print run of Darkest Depths print version.

Stretch goal(because miracles can happen, even if they didn’t last month):

  • Commence edits on Lovely/Lonely (aka ‘Skeleton Romance’).

 

 

 

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Another writing prompt over on the Vision Writers’ Group blog. Go check it out.

Writing Prompt: Inheritance

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Another month another writers’ group meeting. We had a great one with both of last month’s newbies returning for round two, and a couple more newbies making their first appearance. Though a lot of our veterans were at the retreat there was still a lot of great feedback given on the submitted pieces and of course I’ve posted my ‘meeting takeaway’ piece of advice on the Vision Writers website.

Giving Your Reader Setting Up Front

 

 

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The goals I set at the start of July were

  • Mudgerwokee edits – did two rounds with the editor and now all I should have to do is wait for the release in November
  • Help promote the release of the anthology Tales from The Sunrise Lands which contains my short story Hanabi to Kitsune(Fireworks and Foxes) – I did the social media, blog post, newsletter, and updated my website to include the book page. I still have another blog post I want to do about kishotenketsu story structure, which I used when writing Hanabi to Kitsune, I’ll get to that soon ;p
  • More Vision Writers work – did some website housekeeping, lots of little stuff like adding links in the sidebar to give easy access to the writing prompts and meeting lessons. I got the spine width for the cover of the print version of Darkest Depths off to our cover designer, wrote a promotional piece for the group to be featured on the Writers Group Convention website and a different one for the new version of the QWC website. I also did some more behind the scenes work too.
  • Edit and appropriately name ‘Kitsune In Spaaaaaace’ – edited as best as I can manage by myself and ready to receive the editorial critique in September, complete with new title: Not Human, Not Alien
  • Commence and ideally complete edits on Written By The Stars novel – I did the first three chapters, but honestly I only spent two days this month on it because everything else ended up prioritised. I really need to buckle down harder on it.

There were a decent number of new words written this month, a total of 10,500. I wrote the first draft, edited and submitted to my group for critique a YA magical realism short story Dressed For Success(5,100 words) about an asexual succubus who dreams of working at the daycare her father did before he passed away. It’s choc full of LGBTQ characters, sarcasm and snark, and involves a heist to steal something from a special exhibit at the Brisbane museum. I hope it sells to the anthology I wrote it for, but if not, I’m sure it’ll find a good fun home.

I finished a first draft of a short story called Mermaid In A Jar (4,200 words) about a starving artist left to care for his 8 yo niece by the wintry ocean for a few days and a discovery they make. It’s in dire need of editing though as I change tense repeatedly, which happens whenever I try to write first person past tense, I always slip back into present tense ;p

I also started the first draft for Nothing Charming getting 1,270 words down, not much, but certainly better than zero. Looking at my plan for the series, each of the stories gets progressively longer until we hit novel length for one.

On the learning side of things, I finished reading Save The Cat Goes to the Movies and read Randy Ingermanson’s How to Write A Novel Using The Snowflake Method. I also binged on the whole first two seasons of Writing Excuses (I started listening at season 9 a few years back, and was too lazy to manually download the older seasons until now).

My goals for August are:

  • Focus on editing Written By The Stars
  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft
  • Edit/revise Dressed For Success with group’s feedback and submit
  • Self-edit Mermaid In A Jar and submit to group for critique
  • Apply for SAF grant
  • If the cover comes back in time, get the proof and – if time – maybe even do the print run of Darkest Depths print version.

Stretch goal(because miracles can happen):

  • Commence edits/properly title ‘Skeleton Romance’.

 

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Tales of the Sunrise Lands has just released from Guardbridge Books and one of the stories in this cool anthology is mine: Hanabi to Kitsune (which translates to ‘Fireworks and Foxes’).

The story follows Mayu, a high schooler in current day Japan. In traditional high schooler style she has a crush on an upper classman (notice me senpai, notice me ;p ). She’s managed to catch his eye once at a fireworks festival, but she’s determined to do it again, even going so far as to steal a beautiful yukata from her grandmother’s attic. What Mayu doesn’t realise is her act of theft will result in mythic consequences.

I  had a lot of fun with this one. I got to show off some of my knowledge of kitsuke(the art of kimono fashion), kitsune and a cavalcade of yokai, and got to come up with two more awesome Japanese names complete with matching and meaningful kanji (if you don’t know what I mean but are curious check out this old post on the complexity of Japanese names). I also played around with kishotenketsu story structure, though the end result can be viewed in both a three act way as well as a kishotenketsu sort of way(more on kishotenketsu in a later post).

You might also notice Mayu’s love interest is called Arima-senpai. My beagle, Arima, recently passed away, and though this story was written and submitted long before that, I can’t help but feel it’s a beautiful little tribute to him.

If you’re a fellow Japanophile I hope you’ll check out the anthology. You can find it on Amazon, or buy it directly from Guardbridge Books(if you can, buy it from Guardbridge, it helps support this awesome and ever-growing small press).

Save

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I’ve posted another writing prompt on the Vision Writers website. This time I’ve come up with some lines that could be opening OR ending lines and am challenging/hoping to inspire you to pick two lines, make one your start the other your end. Head over to the Vision Writers site to check it out.