One Hundred

According to my WordPress statistics, this is my 100th post! Hooray, happy one hundred!

I’ll admit, I’m pretty impressed with myself. Blogging and journaling really never struck me as something to do, but that was before I met so many awesome blogging buddies. No, really. It’s people like YOU who have convinced me to go ahead with this all the way back in May 2011. Wow, that also means I’m only three months away from a full year at this.

Thinking back over these hundred posts, I’ve shared with you my first publication acceptance, the death of my cat, Chichiri. Insights into writing and the industry surrounding it, as well as my own take on being an author. I’ve met amazing people and participated in their own blogs, sharing the ups and downs of their life-path. I’ve shown you my yarn crafts and new books from other writers. I’ve written a couple of guest blog posts for others, and followed links to fantastic new places around the internets. Truly, I wouldn’t take back my time blogging; I recognise all too clearly the amazing opportunities it’s presented and the people I’ve come into contact with who mean so much to me.

I know plenty of people blog solely for themselves; as some kind of expression or outlet. For me, this wouldn’t be the same without having people to share it with. I talk to myself enough over the course of writing books (they are character conversations! Honest!), so the part which makes this special is knowing that you’re here, you’re taking part in the journey.

Which is to say, of course, we’re moving forward! And what better blog to announce this than my 100th?

My debut novel, The Damning Moths will be published soon! Oh, yes. It’s happening. My giddiness is barely contained.

I’ve still got a ways to go with finalising the project, so I’m still on the journey. I don’t think you really get off this train unless you either quit writing or move onto the afterlife, so the statement is defeated by the sheer knowledge of work stretching ever onward. This book. Next book. The ones after. Nevertheless, you might recognise the title acronym, TDM, as something I’ve been working on (slaving over!) kind of obsessively. For this single project, there’s the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel to lure me through the final stretch. I’m on the right track. We’re coming up to the next stop. Other such railroad-related metaphors!

Thank you for sharing everything to this point. Thanks for reading, and commenting, and lurking. More than anything, thank you for your friendship and support.

~A

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I had a moment

Sometimes it’s the most obvious things which make a sudden, weird impact on me.

People will be reading my work.

Like I said, obvious. That’s kind of the point to writing and publishing and releasing stories out into the world. So they will be read, and hopefully enjoyed. I had a chance to check in with my publisher for the Surviving the End post-apocalyptic horror anthology, Dark Prints Press. They’re full speed ahead for the release of the crime anthology, The One That Got Away, later this month, and they have some great novellas coming out in the near future which I am really looking forward to reading. We talked preorders a little, which was the point where my odd revelation happened.

People have ordered the book which my story is in. People will, in all likelihood, read that story. People I don’t know! Ooh.

Of course, how is any of that different than this blog? Anyone, any person at all with an internet connection, could come here and read the text I am typing right now. Months of my rambling is a available. Ah, but of course, this isn’t my fiction. I give blog posts a quick look-over before I add them. I don’t spend months or years crafting them.

It’s a nervous situation for no legitimate reason. I want you all to read my stories, I really do! I wonder if experienced novelists still feel things like this, or if they get used to the oddities of being an author. Just wait until I have fiction living entirely in its own book. At least with an anthology, I can sooth myself with, “Other, much bigger name writers are in this.” There’s no hiding if it’s all me.

~A

Sometimes I wonder

I read a lot online. Blogs, articles, forums, humour sites, random research. I spend a lot of time on my computer, and have for most of my life. Wouldn’t trade that for the world, either, because the kinds of opportunities which come from being on the internet are incomparable.

But sometimes, I’ll be reading something. Often of the writing/publishing nature, since we all tend to get a little obsessive over that at times. And I will think to myself, “Why am I reading this instead of doing something productive?”

I love learning. Acquiring knowledge. The reason I spend so much time online is because there is so much available. I’ve been known to spend days straight consuming a good blog, or disappear a six hour block following links around Wikipedia. Funny enough, while I do check on things like Facebook regularly, I don’t spend a whole lot of time there (unless someone catches me on the chat function while I’m not looking).

But there are little triggers. I’ll read something, and for a myriad of reasons, it will make me wonder why I’m not doing something else. It’s not a guilt complex; everything I do has its reasons, and I’m okay with that for the most part. It might be partly an avoidance technique; I’m in the middle of a lot of things, and what I should work on isn’t necessarily what I’m most drawn to. But really, I suppose I just want to have something tangible for my time and brainpower. Knowledge can’t be tallied like words or stitches added to a project, so even while I value what I’m reading and experiencing, I feel I will have nothing to show at the end of it.

Which is ridiculous. If I didn’t have all this knowledge accumulated, these observations of humans and their thoughts and behavioural patterns, I wouldn’t be able to apply that to my stories. Which is pretty integral.

All the same, I’m going to draw a line this weekend. Get some serious work done and knock out a few of the smaller projects I’ve been dragging my feet over. I will say I have enough information to cover me for those two days, cut off my reading of things until Monday.

~A

Oops

I guess it’s been a while since I updated. I have a perfectly valid excuse! No, I really do.

I spent the final four days of 2011 editing. Almost non-stop. Thursday and Sunday both came and went in a flurry of words. Reading, cutting, adding, cutting, changing, reading reading reading. For me, editing fiction is a very particular activity. I have come to terms with the fact that it will never be a tidy process.

On New Years Eve, I ran around outside with some sparklers at approximately 9pm, Perth time. I have more of a tradition of celebrating New Years with Sydney, who are three hours ahead of us at this time of year, than anything else. This is simply because I would normally be asleep for any celebration here! This year, I greeted the turn of midnight in my hometown still editing. Approximately twenty minutes later, I touched the last line and declared it a success! I’d reached my goal!

I woke to the first day of 2012 with my mind buzzing; I knew something I needed to go back and modify more. I often wake up with story ideas, since my subconscious is very well trained in making adjustments and working through problems in my writing. My sleeping mind was totally right, and I spent all of yesterday editing even more.

Last night, I provided my beta readers with their copy of the story. I hope to hear back from them pretty quickly about their initial impression, and just hope I haven’t overlooked some kind of atrocious error! But honestly, I am confident in the place my story has come to, and I am really looking forward to getting right back into drafting book two.

At the end of the second draft, traditional means of word count estimation puts TDM at 54,500 words. Yes, that breaks free of being a novella by 14,500 words. I knew when I began editing that this story would stretch to become a short novel, and I simply had to accept the fact. It changes what I will do with the series, slightly. I haven’t made any firm commitment to how I want to publish TDM, and won’t until the final edit is complete!

In the meantime, I have a sequel to write.

~A

The Versatile Blogger Award

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award state that I must:
Thank the person who gave it to me and link back to them in my blog.
Share seven things about myself.
Pass this award on to 5 other recently discovered blogs and let them know.

Look at that! One of those blog award dealies!

My thanks:
I was unexpectedly awarded the Versatile Blogger by my awesome friend, Natasha McNeely. We’ve been in contact for just a few months, but she is a super lady with some excellent ideas and perspective. It’s always great to talk to you, Natasha. Thank you for the award!

Seven things:
How do I decide the seven interesting tidbits to share? I don’t know. Let’s babble and see what comes out?
1. All my life, I’ve found I get along better with men in general. Yet by a vast majority, my blogging buddies and writer friends are women. In this fascinating instance, I relate incredibly well with these select ladies who share their thoughts and experiences.
2. I don’t like tomatoes, capsicum, or celery. I enjoy eating most vegetables, and if pressed, I will still eat those three in other dishes, but I don’t choose them for myself.
3. I own four Tarot decks (and a Goddess Oracle card set). They are a generic Rider-Waite clone which was my introductory Tarot deck many years ago, the Morgan-Greer deck, a Manga deck, and the gorgeous Shadowscapes Tarot made by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. I have my eye on several other decks, for both appreciation and collection purposes.
4. Getting my tattoo didn’t hurt much at all. It felt mostly like being mauled by an angry cat for a while, and I’ve been subject to that experience plenty of times before. Nevertheless, just when the needle went directly over my veins (on the inside of my wrist), that pain shot up my arm and made me cringe.
5. I was a figure ice skater for seven years, and a ballet dancer for four years. These activities helped make me as self-confident as I am today, but caused me joint problems (especially in my knees), which I will have for the rest of my life.
6. At its longest, my hair was around three foot long. I got it all chopped off in one go, and still have the plait of hair. I’m going to donate the whole thing to Locks of Love.
7. I really like calendars, and usually have at least one in every room of my house. I have a lot of difficulty with judging the passage of time, so having calendars readily available enables me to be aware of the date, and day of the week.

Five blogs:
Woohoo, the fun part! I chose these lovely people because I enjoy their blogs a lot, and because there’s a good possibility they haven’t already received this award! Sharing the love, people.
Write Your Own Story from Nina Martinez
Written Not With Ink from Barb Reily
Spiritual Strudel from Shelby Eaton
Stuff from Sherry Stanfa-Stanley
And because I’m a rebel (or can’t count), Katy-Rose Hötker AND Joseph D’Lacey

Awesome!

~A

Skip another Sunday

Isn’t it amazing how you can get an absurd amount of things done, yet still feel completely unaccomplished? Welcome to my week. I can’t even tell you what I did, I don’t remember most of the specifics! All I know is I’ve been very busy, lots has happened, and family have been thoroughly visited, though we haven’t wrapped up those activities just yet.

Somewhere in the last few days, I’m assured a Sunday occurred and I missed blogging. I doubt anyone else noticed any more than I did at the time, since we’re all being drawn away from the usual internetly duties. Christmas break, when will you be relaxing? As usual, I need time off from my holidays.

At least with the change of pace, I can’t really get bored. That’s not to say I’m ever especially without things to do; I might get bored every now and then, but I’ve always got a new project, or something exciting to research if nothing else! But there’s something to be said for being dragged into unusual activities and being less of a hermit than I am for the rest of the year. That may or may not be a good thing.

As much as I love cooking, I don’t normally spend nearly as much time as I’d like baking tasty treats, but Christmas brings out the best in cooking delights. You better believe I am chief taste-tester, too. Mmm. Then there’s always the double batches; some for gifts and sharing, some for home. The fridge is full of snacks. It is very delicious.

I also enjoy visiting with family and friends who don’t live locally. They all troop into the greater Perth area to see us and other extended family, and it’s just pleasant to catch up. Some of them are folks we won’t see again until next Christmas, so making the most of the time they’re in town is important!

And I’ve always loved wrapping gifts, and the excitement of seeing people open the presents and find their surprise inside! I’m sometimes a bit sneaky with wrapping; if I don’t want the recipient to guess what’s inside, I’ll often hide the present in a deceptive cover first. Towels, bubblewrap, and oversized boxes are only some of the “normal” ways I’ve disguised the real gift. There have been the odd occasions of cobbling together mismatched boxes to make a very odd shape, or using an interesting basket or even a small suitcase before Christmas wrapping is applied. Hey, I have to keep myself entertained.

Of course, on the subject of skipping blog days, blogging will also be cut back this week with Christmas day falling on Sunday! But don’t worry, I’ll still be around, even if my brain is too fried to remember to comment! After surviving the rest of this week, things should return to normal, somewhat.

~A

Whipping Your Words, a guest post from Katy-Rose Hötker

Today’s guest post comes from my lifelong friend, Katy-Rose. We have been on parallel life-paths since the time we met; both five years old and instant friends. Katy-Rose is building her writing dream and running Faery Allure, a small jewellery business, in between the exciting experience of first-time motherhood, and starting The Hidden Grove organic produce farm with her husband. Thank you for the guest post, and all these shared years, Katy-Rose!
~A

I could never write short fiction, at least, I always found it difficult. I’ve more often than not been guilty of letting my words run away with me. They can be so beautiful and meaningful, how do you let go? Why would anyone want to reign in their language? The answer to that question is, to achieve better potency! Our words are more memorable and our stories more succinct when we whip them into shape.

I was raised on epic high traditional fantasy. I devoured it in my teenage years. Hungry for its rich detail and lush world building! It’s a genre that affords a fair amount of verbosity and flowery description. However, as the years have passed, my taste in fiction has expanded. I’ve started reading Young Adult fantasy. And YA fiction is a different creature entirely!

The wording of a novel aimed at a vastly teenage readership is a lot snappier I’ve found, in comparison. You must immediately engaged your audience. You must grab them by the shirt collar and pull them through the worm hole! There’s no time for long-winded explanatory prologues, epilogues and appendices. Your intended reader must be sucked in and not want to put that book down. It must be like a quick fix, full of excitement. The stakes must be high. Your audience wants to feel involved.

From my journey through these genres and my current life circumstances, (think newborn and a fledgling business) I decided to put my novels on the shelf, bad pun intended, and began seeking out fiction that would sate my love of an epic snappy story, with body and heart, without the 60-300k word count. It was at this time I found a new respect and love of short stories, and the new kid on the block, flash fiction. These formats allowed my imagination to run wild, but on the clock. I could continue to fit reading and writing into my day.

I began to try my hand at flash fiction myself and found, much to my genuine surprise, that it was easy. It flowed without obstruction from my mind to the page! I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t. For the longest time, shorter fiction, let alone a form of micro fiction, was a ‘no go’ zone for me. It was all or nothing. I was going to write and read epic traditional high fantasy my whole life. Needless to say, I’m glad my taste in fiction has widened. Variety is the spice of life!

So the key to writing shorter stories in my experience, is to write a tale that you would enjoy immersing yourself in, on a limited time budget. Instead of that fifteen minute bus ride to work being a great sullen bore, why not forget reality for that time and enjoy a quick story? Write that story and others will want to read it. We are all escapists at our core. We all dream great dreams and imagine the seemingly implausible. But sometimes big dreams and lengthy tales have to be put on hold, and this is where our smaller, every day dreams step into the limelight and it’s when short fiction shines. It fills an otherwise unoccupied niche in the reader market.

Whip your words into shape and not only will you have an engaged and entertained audience, but also a very satisfied one. One that will possibly commit your name to memory and look out for longer works of fiction by you in the future when you eventually get the time!

You can find some of Katy-Rose’s flash fiction in these upcoming publications!
“Lunar Cry” in Daily Frights 2012: 366 Days of Frightening Flash Fiction (Leap Year Edition) from Pill Hill Press.
“Midnight Allure” in Daily Flash 2012: 366 Days of Flash Fiction (Leap Year Edition) from Pill Hill Press.
“Sweet Delirium” in Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection (Volume 2) from Wicked East Press