by

Xander experienced his first day of day-care today. He’s stayed at home with my husband many times before, and he’s spent afternoons with my mother while I’ve had three or four hour shifts but today he experienced care given not by blood relatives and was there for a full day. Typically, he took it better than we, the parents, did.

In the morning as we dropped him off we were both down on bended knee, waving and saying nice and clearly: “Bye-bye Xander, mummy and Daddy are going to work now.” But he didn’t care, he was trying to race over to the slide or the plastic ‘Flinstones’ style cars. Even when we walked out of view all he wanted to do was run around and play with the other kids, there was no backward glance to see if we were lingering behind him like we normally would.

My husband and I consoled ourselves with the thought in a few hours when the novelty wore off he would notice our absence and become distraught. We took great pains to let the centre staff know they could contact either or both of us if he was too distressed.

Of course neither of us received a call. Blessedly I was extremely busy at work trying to ensure there would be nothing left for my boss to worry about when he returns from his leave so the day went by quite quickly for my first eight hour work day in a year and a half. I rushed back to the day-care centre as soon as possible, running a little late because (as always) a customer came in with a long and complicated sale mere minutes before closing. Everyone who has ever worked in retail knows exactly what I am talking about. Naughtily I was speeding just a little but by an incredible stroke of luck someone was speeding much worse than I and they caught the attention of the unmarked police car and not me – and of course I was scared straight by my brush with the law and maintained the correct speed limit the rest of the way to the centre.

When I arrived I found my son happily scribbling on some paper with a girl a little older than he. He looked up, looked back down and scribbled a bit more before doing a double take. He wasn’t particularly upset, but he wasn’t bursting with joy at the sight of me either. Normally when cared for at home he is ecstatic at my return so it was a little knife to my heart.

The carers told me he had been generally happy all day – he had trouble sleeping, but he has trouble sleeping even with his father and nanna so that wasn’t a surprise. I’m glad to hear his first day went so well, but can’t help feeling disheartened that he didn’t miss me more. Or maybe he is an evil genius and this is a ploy to have his vengeance for abandoning him…

by

For those interested/concerned Xander has almost fully recovered now. He took a turn for the worse after my last post, but has bounced back now.

As I catch up on all the posts that I missed over the last few days I curse all the book review blogs I follow. Every single one of them had a review for a book I now desperately want to read. Damn you all stop making me want to spend more money! I would threaten to unfollow them but we all know I’m not capable of that. In fact I should be reviewing more books myself, I haven’t even put up half of my collection on Goodreads yet. There is so much I need to get my rear in gear over. I feel like I’m behind the eight-ball at the moment and I have to remind myself that I’m not under any real pressure because my main job is Xander and that’s going beautifully and everything else is just side projects, but when you don’t get anything done on those side projects for a while it can ruin a good mood fast.

Hope everyone else is feeling a little more accomplished than I am right now.

So I don’t finish this post on a dreary note if anyone out there is on Goodreads let me know so I can befriend you.

by

Xander is in the throes of his first fever. When he was four months he had a mild cold but no fever, and now ten months has passed without a single illness plaguing my poor boy, but late last night he got hot and clingy.

The doctor this morning was HELL. We have a great doctor’s clinic nearby where you don’t have to make an appointment, just show up and wait. Most of the time you’re only waiting 10-15 minutes which you usually wait at a doctor’s office even when you have an appointment anyway. Today was an hour and a half in a packed waiting room with a baby who just wanted to cling and cry.

It’s not an ear or throat infection, his nose isn’t running and he doesn’t have diarrhea so it’s just a random fever. Even though I know it isn’t something to panic about he’s just so sleepy and clingy and sad that it breaks my heart.

Get well soon my little prince!

by

Obviously reading is important to me – not many writers aren’t passionate readers. I am trying my best to pass this passion on to my son as well. He has a large collection of books already at the tender age of 14 months. It’s a mix of all my old favourites (like Graeme Base and Rudyard Kipling) and some new finds from the local bookstore.

We usually read a book together when he first wakes up from a nap, while he’s still quiet so he won’t tear the paper pages in his enthusiasm.

This afternoon I was exhausted so we napped together and when I woke up I was alarmed to find him not lying on the bed next to me. Panicked I ran through the house looking for him and was grateful to see he was safe and sound in the nursery, seated on the floor pretending to read a book with a couple more on the floor. He flashed me a huge grin when I came to the door as if to say “Finally mummy, you’re up, now help me read this.”

He certainly knows his routine ;p

by

I had an interesting chat with my father. After he read my post regarding perhaps not entering my work in progress in the Vogel awards (due to it not being the sort of genre that usually wins) we discussed the whys and why nots and eventually started to talk about the viability of self-publishing as an option versus my desire to see my books in traditional print. Some people self-publish their first book and with good marketing make it a hit and use that popularity to entice a publisher to accept their next novel. Others have a few traditionally published novels but then have problems with publishers and decide to self-publish the rest of their works since they already have a fan-base.

Either way, with self-publishing you need to have a strong marketing ability. You need multiple platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Linkedin. It all looks like so much to do on top of writing and taking care of a child, but it’s what you need to do if you want to make it.

Of course having a supportive family like my parents and my husband makes things much easier, but the pressures of limited time, lost sleep and finances still loom, shaking their figurative fists at me. As it is I have to get up before my family to find time to maintain my website, do my blogging and write my work in progress. I stay up after my husband and child have gone to bed sometimes too just to fit in time to write. I take my opportunities wherever I can, stealing them during Xander’s naps or moments when he’s quite happy to just sit and play near my feet.

What someone who wants to get published really needs is determination. Determination to find that time and use it productively. With so much to do, be it the writing itself, marketing, platform creating or all your usual daily tasks you need to be able to find and recognise that 10 minutes that you normally may have wasted looking at things you want on ebay and instead use it to build that platform or get down a few more ideas for the next story.

Ten minutes shouldn’t be too hard to find, where can you find your first ten minutes?

by

I originally planned to make my own design for my website but – as I mentioned in my earlier post busy few weeks – I was given no choice but to start my website a month earlier than planned or miss out on an opportunity to pay a lot less for my hosting, so I ended up choosing this cute theme for now.

To be honest I hadn’t even thought about what my design would look like, so when the site went up I was left clawing my brain for ideas. I remembered on a trip into the city with a good friend going to Eckersley’s art and craft store and seeing some lovely chiyogami (fancy origami paper which is usally silk screen painted featuring a repeated pattern, also known as yuzen for the dyeing style used) featuring goldfish. Being a japanophile I wanted to buy them at the time, but couldn’t justify buying the paper, no matter how beautiful the image without having an actual use. Now I have the perfect one!

I plan to use the goldfish pattern for my background and am thinking a maneki-neko in the header perhaps, but I’ll need to play around with it before I put anything up online.

In regards to the pattern I chose I always used to be obsessed with cherry blossoms, I still am, but my interests have broadened. While I was in Japan I saw a beautiful kimono with a goldfish pattern. For some foolish reason I didn’t buy it and I regret that decision rather frequently. Ever since then I’ve been a bit nutty about goldfish patterns. I’m even considering using the pattern on my business cards.

It’s interesting how a regret can create a passion like that… Do you have any similar stories? Oh and keep an eye out for my new design (but don’t hold your breath).

by

So why Storybook Perfect for my blog name you ask?

The answer is bizarrely simple. My first novel (the completed manuscript you will hear me talk about almost without cease) is titled Storybook Perfect, and when you aren’t quite confident enough to use your own name for a domain, you need to figure out something else.

It was on my husband’s suggestion I used the novel’s name for the website. I like how it promotes my first completed manuscript but also sounds like the sort of blog a writer of fantasy would run.

The novel’s title itself is a nod to the fact that at the start of the novel the main character, Yui, regularly laughs at herself for expecting life to work out perfectly just because it seems like the world she has found herself in is like out of a story. Later, she and her companions have a chance to see they actually could have endured a great deal more than they did and, in a manner of speaking, they did have the golden ticket after all.

by

It’s been a busy place here at our house since Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day I stumbled across a competition for manuscripts, Allen and Unwin’s Vogel Award. As you can imagine I went from bored browser to excited author in an instant. My heart promptly broke when I read the word count cap of 100,000 words though, because my novel is 175,000. Shrinking Storybook Perfect down to the word count would destroy it. I’m willing to work on it if that’s what it takes to get published, but 75,000 words less is too much change for me to be willing to make.

I was not willing to give up though. So I thought of one of my other ideas, a one-shot which I was expecting would probably average 75,000 words. Being the competitive gamer personality type I took it as a challenge to complete the novel and fully revise it all before the due date of June 1st.

Thus far I’ve written 27,000 words just by getting up before Xander wakes up and writing while he naps. I’m impressed by how much I have managed to write in just those few stolen minutes (or more realistically two stolen hours).

Add onto that that a few days ago the host I desired to use for my website had a sale on hosting costs and all of a sudden my blog was rushed forward a month to take advantage of it. So here I am, learning to blog, learning to promote my blog while I’m doing it. Serious ‘on-the-job’ training.

Sadly, I’ve gone back to the Allen and Unwin award page to check out previous winners (so I could see what they were looking for) and most of the winners seem to be from a specific range of genres, none of which my story fits in. So I most likely will not enter the competition anymore, but I’m still going to goal for novel completion in the same time frame (like I said, ultra-competitive gamer personality). This way I will have the ‘hard-sell’ trilogy making the rounds and an easier to sell one-off doing the same, which should hopefully increase my chances of finding an agent and thus being published.

Has anyone else had a busy week? Anyway, I think it might be time for me to sneak in a nap ;p

by

For seven years I’ve had a lovely, quiet, low-maintenance pet. His name was Ayame, and he is a snake.

Interesting use of tenses there you say? Well, Ayame is still alive, but he’s not my pet any more. Since Xander was born I didn’t handle Ayame as much (read: at all) and it became quite difficult to feed Ayame once Xander was able to walk because Xander would come over and try to stick his adorable baby hand in the terrarium and fat, pink baby fingers look not too dissimilar to snake food.

I was speaking with some good friends and Ayame’s sad situation came up in conversation, so my friends went through all the effort of getting a handling licence so they could take care of him.

Today those friends came over to take Ayame home with them. I’m glad Ayame is going to a home where he will get more affection, but it is still sad to see him go. I am lucky that it was friends who took him, so I can just go for a visit and see him again, but there’s still a sense of loss, because now there’s an empty terrarium under the TV.

Has anyone else had to make a decision like this for the good of their pet? I’d like to hear some stories to make me feel better.

by

The first post. I spent a great deal of time searching for an appropriate topic for my first post. Just like with your first chapter, page, paragraph, even line of a book, you want to make a great first impression. In a story you need to start in ‘medias res’ (in the middle of the action), so where does that put me?

Well, I am an aspiring author with a completed first novel attempting the arduous task of approaching agents with my novel: Storybook Perfect.

My novel is a tough sell, an unpublished writer peddling a fantasy trilogy – it’s going to take a great manuscript and a lot of effort, but I am committed. I have one rejection, but it was a positive one. They liked my query so read my manuscript, but eventually passed on it. The agent even went so far as to compliment my main character and encourage me to continue seeking agents as “while (my) manuscript was not what (she) was looking for there are other agents with other opinions.” Pretty positive for my very first try.

So I’m working on improving my appeal – behold a webpage to display myself and my works to the world. But I’m not just going to sit back and blog and hope for an agent to find me. Oh no! Fortune favours the bold you see. I am working on a new short story to enter an upcoming competition which has a prize of publication. The story is a new spin on the fairytale princess theme. The princess herself is a standard DID, trapped in a tower in the heart of a magical labyrinth. My tale however is told from the perspective of the labyrinths groundskeeper. I won’t say much more just yet but I do hope all this is ‘in the action’ enough for a first post – though realistically I expect that most of the blog subscribers I would have in a years time will never have even read this post, so I probably didn’t need to stress myself out so much ;p