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I just finished my second novel.

Wow, my head is spinning with the excitement and I feel like I can’t catch my breath even though I’ve not run or danced or am having an asthma attack.

It’s hard to believe that what took me nearly ten years the first time around has this time taken only a smidge over two months – definitely an improvement on efficiency. I started on February 14 with the intention of entering the novel in the Vogel Awards (since changed my mind). That’s crazy fast. Admittedly, I had the idea a little over two years ago but had never tapped out anything more than a general outline and one funny bit of banter between the main characters and the occasional scribble of an idea I had from time to time. On the 14th I outlined the whole thing into scenes in Scrivener and on the 15th I started to write. Now, on the 19th of April, I have finished my first draft.

Fanta’s Story (which I’m considering calling ‘All the Stars’ or something damn close to that) is 65,000 words, but will probably end up a little longer in revision as I’ve had a few ideas and need to develop a few more things in my revision. If you’re curious and on Pintrest, I have two boards up related to this novel: ‘For All the Stars’ and ‘Clothing Research For My Latest Novel’. A bit more of a description will be coming in my next post, but I’ll leave you hanging for now for the sake of this post’s brevity.

So what’s on the-to do list now? Well I need to revise. It’s only the first draft I’ve completed and I’d be ashamed for anyone to see it yet (apart from perhaps my parents). First I’ll probably make myself read something non-fiction (after I finish ‘The Forbidden Land’ anyway), then re-read my book on revision (I have two, so I’ll probably flip a coin) then try to do the best edit I can. After that off to my loyal test readers and while they devour it, onto the next project, which is still a bit up in the air as to what it will be.

Well, now I’ve made this post its time to run spell check ;p

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I was asked this question yesterday by an old work friend in relation to having a child. He’s been with his lovely wife for most of the time I’ve known him – which is a good few years, easily five – and just like most couples the question has started to loom. As is often the case, she is ready, but he remains apprehensive.

This was the first time he had seen me since I gave birth. The last time he saw me I was a pregnant, water-retaining whale in a fancy dress at our company’s award ceremony for managers. It was kind of hard to miss what was happening, but I guess they hadn’t started talking about it at that point in time.

“Is it worth it?” He asked me, eyes attached to the child straddling my hip. It took me a few moments to realise precisely what he was asking me. I thought like most co-workers he meant was it worth it returning to work as a casual after being a manager for so long.

I can’t remember my response verbatim, but this would be pretty darn close.

“I won’t lie and say it’s easy, because it’s not. Late nights, early mornings, giving up things – but nothing, NOTHING, beats listening to him laugh and seeing his face as he learns new things and enjoys playing.”

He nodded along. Whether he was convinced by my words or not, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure he has no idea I even have a blog, but I’m going to write like I’m talking to him still. So Matt:

Sure, you give up things. For example the only reason I was there was because we had tried to go watch a movie, but after an hour Xander just couldn’t take it anymore so I left (luckily the tickets were free, so I really didn’t care). Having a child is more rewarding than the value of those lost or once common now rarely done things. It goes beyond just looking at that perfect face and laughing along with the most infectious giggle ever created. It even goes beyond the sense of accomplishment as you teach him how to talk, walk and play new games. You learn to value those precious little snippets of time and use them more productively, you enjoy those rare things far more now they are rare and you discover a whole new world through the eyes and actions of your offspring.

I waited to have children. T-J openly confessed he couldn’t wait to have kids very early on in our relationship and I was straight-forward in my reply that I did want them but it was going to be a while before I would be ready. I calmly explained I was too selfish and immature. I knew these things about myself. I could not have been the loving mother I am today six years ago when we first were married. Waiting until you are ready is important but there is also a line between wanting to wait and not wanting at all. What you need to assess is which option is you. Don’t rush to it. If your partner is the right person they are willing to wait (just ask T-J, he waited 7 years). But I’ll answer your question right now.

Is it worth it?

Hell yeah.

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This one is for fantasy writers and gamers alike.

I dress my protagonist of Storybook Perfect, Yui, in full plate armour, which merely has a slight extra bowing in the breastplate to accommodate her bust. In less formal combat she wears a chainmail hauberk and a surcoat. Not much different from what her fellow male knights wear.

I knew from the very start I wasn’t going to dress her in any sort of a midriff baring outfit. Sexy though they may be its just ridiculous to give your opponent easy access to you belly. If you angle your sword right you can even pierce up and under the ribcage to the lungs and heart in some of these outfits. While I do enjoy playing some of these cutely armoured women, I would never dress my warriors in such frippery. It’s only there to visually pander to the male gamers.

I’ve collected a few links in regards to women in armour, both with stand points similar to mine, but with far more beautiful pictures and much more detailed arguments. To be honest I’m supplying these links for selfish purposes also – so I can easily find them in future.

This one is by an actual black smith (How cool!) and details why armour specifically shaped around each breast individually could be dangerous to the wearer.

This one from The Mary Sue rightly argues the point of if you are able to believe in magical powers and the ability to carry 99 copies of about a hundred different items and 999,999 gold without twenty pack horses why can’t you believe a woman would be able to wear a full suit of armour.

If you have any links to realistic armour for women I’d love for you to put them in the comments because Yui will not be my only warrior female and I’d love more references for the future.

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We writers can be a superstitious lot. I know writers who have a special location they prefer to work at, or a particular item of clothing they think makes the muse be more attentive. A lot of us seem to have something we believe we need to make us more successful or more creative in our endeavours.

I’m an intensely superstitious person – but not in the standard way. Walk under a ladder, yeah, done it way too often. Black cats? Cute and cool, but don’t care which way I cross their path. Mirrors, broken a few, mostly for art projects back in high school or by accident when moving. However I have certain habits, like when I used to drive to work every day I would look out at a lake I drove past and knew I would have a good day if I saw a bird with its wings fanned to dry in the sun. If there were no birds, I knew that a particular someone I didn’t like would probably visit my store that day. Weirdly enough, it was relatively accurate. A bizarre little superstition, but even now – though work is in the other direction – if I drive past, I look to the lake for my bird friend and gauge whether that day will be good or not.

Shinto Pencils
Shinto Pencils

Lucky charms play a big part in superstitions. Some writers have a special notepad, or pen they like to use. I’m quite partial to my Shinto pencils I bought from the Meiji shrine when I was in Tokyo. The pencils are traditionally bought by students. The students use these pencils to write their notes as they study. The pencils are supposed to invoke a Shinto god to give them luck in academics, make them pass that entrance exam or just generally be smarter. The power of the pencil is released more and more as it grows shorter and shorter with each sharpening. I use mine to write notes about my stories as I plan them.

I also have a lucky editing charm, a pen I bought from Ueno zoo (also in Tokyo – I TOLD you people I’m a Japanophile). It’s one of those multi-colour pens where you click between red, blue, green and black. I use the red and green to do my proofing and editing.

Do you have any weird superstitions or lucky charms, even if they aren’t related to writing?

 

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Short stories are a great exercise for a writer. They allow the mind a chance to flex its muscles (so to speak) and the writer to push the boundaries of their craft and try their hand at other genres than just their favoured one.

I write short stories most frequently outside of my favoured genre of fantasy. Of the short stories I have written in the last two years I have written two horror (one with vampire bad guys (no kissing these vamps) and zombies, the other with a serial killer and very cool twist), two mystery, one ‘nostalgia’ romance (I think I kind of came up with that genre name, it means the person is remembering being in love – if you know what the genre is really called let me know!) one urban fantasy, three slice of lifes and one fantasy.

Writing outside of my preferred genre seems to be the only way to keep at bay my ultimate short story writing flaw: actually keeping it short.

Short Stories are a struggle for me, not because I can’t write them, but because I will fall in love with a character (or several) or the premise and want to expand on it and next thing you know a less than 3,000 word short story becomes a fantasy quartet. I’m joking, that only happened once, the rest of the time it’s usually just a stand-alone novel.

I must confess that I prefer to write novels over short stories. Everything just seems to flow better and I don’t have to stifle ideas or squash down narrative as I sometimes have to with short stories. True it is much harder to complete a novel than a short story, but there is something more fulfilling in the work – to me at least.

What do you prefer? Or are you a fence-sitter?

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So after that last post I quickly learned that what was a lovely, pale blue background for my floating content pane on my netbook PC was lavender (whaaaaaat?) on my husband’s iPad, his desktop PC and both of our android phones. Aaaargh! It’s a hexadecimal colour system, why would it make different colours on different machines? *Insert rage here which left me dizzy for hours*

I had to assume that since most devices in our house read that colour as lavender so too would most devices around the world, so I needed to hunt down a colour that would look good on every device in my house even if it wasn’t the same (because that clearly wasn’t going to happen).I have ended up with what looks like a nice pale blue on the other devices, but looks more like turquiose on my netbook. Both blend in a satisfactory fashion with my beloved chiyogami goldfish background which i love too passionately to part with anytime soon. I swear, if I ever have money, I’m going to hire a web design monkey to do this for me. I probably should because the layout is clearly done by an amateur, but I don’t really mind, since it doesn’t look horrendous (or at least no one has sent me an email/comment/message saying so).

I also added some social media icons, yay! People are probably going to ask about the absence of some very popular buttons. I only have a Goodreads and a Pinterest account. I don’t have a Facebook author page yet, primarily because I lack the time to maintain an interesting one. I see no point in creating a page and not making it interesting. Also I feel a little weird making a page for myself when I have no product currently out. Maybe when I have something almost out I will set it up. Also I have no Twitter account. Yep, no Twitter account. Not personal, not professional, none. Why? For the same reason I don’t play World of Warcraft (and other MMORPGs): because I would never again afterward have an offline life.

I know my weaknesses. I have an addictive personality. You only need to peek into the guest bedroom/library in our house and behold the six floor-to-roof bookcases packed with manga, books and graphic novels (and add another bookcase for my figurines) to see that in action. Or look at our living room where our DVD/blu-ray collection spans five more bookcases. Ikea got rich off our family’s collection of bookcases (not that they weren’t already rich). I make careful efforts to avoid getting into things which will likewise eat my soul/wallet (please note, I mean both of these things, not my wallet is my soul).

To wrap up: still sick, have finally finished tinkering with my site’s appearance, am a terrifying obsessive compulsive collector and will not bore you all with talk about web design/code ect. for a long time (hopefully not ever).

Promise to post something interesting and cool about my writing or writing in general tomorrow. Hope you all have a happy chocolate bunny day!

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I have my layout set up (huzzah!), all my link colours and borders suit my background. I’m sick as a dog but I worked for hours yesterday afternoon and evening with code I’m a total amatuer at to get this far and even did my poor attempt at graphic designing with my header image. I considered manpulating the header to blend in with my background more (Ie/ have some of the fish who disappear under the header have those missing heads and fins appear on the border of the header giving it a slightly more seamless appearance) but I’m pretty sure different resolutions would render that effort useless on any computer that doesn’t have the same screen resolution as mine. I vaguely remember back in my Sailor Moon Fan Page making days of 14-15 years old that websites always used to claim ‘best viewed in *this browser* at *this resolution*’ or do these new fangled CSS thingys render all that moot? (I told you I’m a n00b at this new type of code)

I don’t want to spend further hours tinkering with images only to discover it doesn’t look good to anyone else, particularly since I’m sick with the flu. Does anyone know? Also, how does it look? Any suggestions if you don’t like something? I’d love to hear your feedback.

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I recently learned that my new layout doesn’t allow people on mobile devices to comment, so now I have to go and change again. It was a pain just to get this theme. It may look simple but I had very specific desire and even this layout falls a smidge short of my mental image, but I was willing to settle so I didn’t have to waste another day on it. Well I have no choice now.

I’m going back to the original theme and then going to tweak it bit by bit. Don’t be surprised if over the next few hours you see some very bizarre colour combinations as I toil away in code. Hopefully by tomorrow everything will look shmick and work right and I can delete this post ;p

 

EDIT: Now working on a new header image… getting there.

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Yup, you read correctly: apostrophes are my nemesis. When I sit down and think, when I speak aloud the rules I have a complete grasp of when and where to use an apostrophe, but for some reason – some crazy, demented, fat finger typing reason – I can never type them in the correct spot, thus requiring I have to go back over everything I wrote and look closely at my placement of each and every little nemesis.

I try so hard to break the habit, but my problem is if I pause to think each time I type a word containing (or requiring) an apostrophe I lose the flow. Anyone who writes knows what I mean when I say ‘the flow’. It’s that fabulous stream of words that just gushes out of your fingers like water from a fireman’s hose, so fast and furious your fingers can barely keep up. It’s that moment when the creative muse curls up inside you like a cat on your lap and blesses you with idea after idea so you can just keep going all day (or at least until the baby wakes and demands attention).

When you attain the flow you do not want to halt it for something so trivial as the placement of an apostrophe, be it a key that you just didn’t press hard enough or because your brain was paying more attention to the sentence or the paragraph than the individual word.

I mean, that’s what editing is for. You look over your work for all the finger fumbles that put ‘e’ before ‘i’ because you were typing so fast one finger didn’t keep up with the others; all the places where you forgot to add punctuation; where you wrote a sentence that just kept going and going like an unending river that seriously needs a few stops somewhere in it and of course, for those tricksey little apostrophes (or whatever your individual weakness is).

Anyone who claims they never have to check over their writing is lying. I bet even Stephen King does and Neil Gaiman, or whoever your particular favourite (and prolific) author is. I refuse to believe I’m the only writer who gets so carried away with ideas that she makes a few mistakes in the first draft. That’s why they’re called first drafts, right?

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Today is my birthday, but more importantly than bragging about my milestone birthday, today is Autism Acceptance Day. Please head over to Light It Up Blue the Autism Acceptance Day website to find out what landmarks are being lit up blue to support autism acceptance and make a donation to support them.

Here in Brissy they’re lighting up the Wheel of Brisbane (not to be mistaken with the Wheel of Time, it’s only our Ferris Wheel), City Hall, King George Square and the William Jolly Bridge. They are even planning to project artworks by a Tim Sharp, an autistic artist, on the William Jolly Bridge.

I follow a few blogs that relate to autism. My favourites are Autistic Hoya – which teaches me something new with nearly every post(including that many prefer ‘acceptance’ to ‘awareness’), Stuff With Thing by the mother of autistic children and Gabrielle Bryden’s blog is where I learned about Autism Acceptance Day.

If you are a fan of comics or manga there is no way I can possibly recommend ‘With The Light’ enough. It is a touching manga released by Yen press about a young Japanese woman who achieves her dream of marrying the office hottie and plans to become his adoring housewife as per Japanese tradition. She comes across a small snag when she notices there is something wrong with their baby Hikaru (his name means Light). She discovers Hikaru is autistic and the many volumes follow Hikaru as he grows up, goes to school all while he and his family learn how to deal with family and strangers who do not understand. It’s heart breaking and touching all at once and is easily one of my favourite manga of all time. Sadly Keiko Tobe, the manga-ka (author/artist) passed away before completing the series but don’t let that stop you from reading it!

I hope everyone will support Autism Acceptance Day but heading over to Light It Up Blue (note my website is blue ;p) and donate or buy some merchandise.

Now I’ve filled your browser with about thirty new tabs, Happy Autism Acceptance Day everyone (and happy 30th birthday me).