Tales to Terrify – the Baby Teeth special

Check it out! If you’re into podcasts or prefer listening to your stories rather than reading them, the special Baby Teeth episode of Tales to Terrify can be found here!

My story ‘The Dead Way’ is the last, and Dan Rabarts calls it ‘terminally creepy’ and worth the wait. So get to it!!! I started listening yesterday, but couldn’t get through my own story. I’m torn between being seriously freaking excited (hearing your story read by someone else elevates it to new levels!!) and finally realizing why other people think it’s creepy!!!!! No wonder I’ve been getting some funny looks ;-) 

Go on, have a listen. It’s deliciously creepy. 

 

Work in Progress Blog Challenge – In the Spirit

Yesterday, I was tagged by fellow writer Emma Lindhagen in a Work in Progress blog challenge – thanks Emma! It’s a very simple one: you post the first line from the first three chapters in your current work in progress and then tag four people to do the same. So without further ado, here are the first lines of the first chapter of In the Spirit, the Christmas novella I’m currently editing.

Chapter One
Alyssa shut the front door and slid the bolt across.

Chapter Two
A chill permeated the house, creeping under the blanket to wake her.

Chapter Three
Alyssa could hear birds chirping outside and sunlight glinted through the curtain and off the mirror, right into her eyes.

Haha, waking up. Wonder if I write about it because that’s one of my least favourite parts of the day right now. I don’t think that any of these first lines say a lot about my work, but hey, who knows? This novella will be coming to a digital bookstore near you in early December. I’ll have something a little more interesting to share closer to the date, but not until after I’m finished my final assignments (YES, YES! The end is near!!!). 

So, who am I going to tag? Jeepers. Well….

Leigh K. Hunt, because I know she’s also working on something new – due out in Dec as well! 

M.W. Griffiths, for the same reason. 

I know that T.G. Ayer has a lot she’s working on right now…

And finally, I’ll tag Anthony despite the fact he won’t do it. Because he needs a public reminder that I am STILL waiting for his next book to come out. 

A Few Assorted Things

Hey! Long time no blog right? I’ve been having a bit of a rough patch and everything is a tad hard right now. I’m in the final slog of my Post Grad Diploma (6 weeks to go!!! maybe less, I’m trying not to think about that too hard!). There isn’t an awful lot of the good writing stuff going on while I try to hold myself together and knock out final assignments, but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel and I can’t wait to get there!!!

So in the meantime, here are a couple things you might be interested in!

The lovely Leigh K. Hunt has Tijuana Nights, the first book in her Nights series, for free at Amazon right now! GO grab it quick because I think it closes really soon. 

Also, the Audio version of Baby Teeth is out now thanks to the awesome people at Dynamic Ram Audio Productions! If you have something creepy a kid has said to share, go comment on this post to have a chance to win your own copy!

And finally, I’m sharing a link for a post I’ve not read the entirety of, but it’s an interview with Beth Morey who is a very talented artist and writer. Her fierce determination to grow and become, and her passion for life are things I find really inspirational. Plus, she’s just a great person. 

I hope everyone else is doing great! I’m hoping to have some fun writing related stuff to share with you in the near future, but for now it’s back to the grindstone – hey, maybe I can finish these last assignments early? lol How can it almost be the end of August?? 

Writers Retreat

Last weekend I had the pleasure of going away on writers retreat with some of my writing crew. These girls are AWESOME people, and it was an absolute pleasure to go and hang with them for a couple of days.

Of course, a weekend is never really enough. It disappeared far too quickly for my liking, and it was a bit too ‘whirlwind’ on arrival and departure.

I flew up to Auckland midday on Friday, leaving the kids at home with their Dad. My Dad picked me up and took me for a coffee while I waited for Leigh to arrive. Then we hung out in the pick up zone until her Step-Dad arrived, and then it was off to pick up Tee and say hello to one of her daughters!

From there we went for dinner at Tee’s folks restaurant (the weekend really expanded our writer lives to include our families), and then headed over the harbour to Whangaparoa. Naturally, at this point, wine was consumed and we talked and talked and talked… though we couldn’t get properly started until the next day when the last of our group would arrive.

Saturday was definitely the best. Melissa and Brenda arrived about 10 and we launched into talk of business plans and marketing!

Seriously, unless you’ve had the opportunity before, you’ve got no idea how EPIC it is to spend, literally, hours just talking about writing and publishing. Everyone but me has at least one novel published, but I’ve edited or given feedback on a good portion of the books published, so I feel like I’ve got a fairly decent grip on things. I adored hearing about the many, varied things these women have lined up. The next 18 months or so look AMAZING, and I can’t wait to finally be out there publishing alongside them.

Sunday morning saw us all working away at various things. We had a large lounge to take over and there was writing, editing, critiquing, listening (Tee was proofing her audio book), all in relative silence, punctuated only by the occasional goal shout-out. And then just before 12 we packed ourselves into Mel’s car and headed back to the real world.

The rest of the day sucked. There were too many goodbyes, and it feels like way too long until I’ll get to see them all again in the flesh – thank heavens for the internet though! At least we have something.

So, lessons learned over the weekend?

A writers retreat really needs to be more than a weekend! I think we need at minimum, a day and a half for talking, followed by at least the same for working, and probably half for winding things down – I could easily do more. If we have longer, we may even venture out of the house at some point over the weekend ;-)

Sharing your business plan, and hearing other peoples is incredibly motivational and inspirational. I felt really validated and encouraged after sharing mine, and inspired after listening to everyone elses. You can learn a lot from other people, so take those opportunities when you can get them.

Once a year is not enough! Escaping from the real world to indulge in writing is a real treat and I wish I could do it more often. I’m going to try and make an effort to at least get some more uninterrupted writing time in the near future as I’ve been reminded how much that feeds my souls.

Finally, possibly the two most important things it confirmed (for me): THIS – writing – is what I’m most passionate about outside of my family. Right now everything else (like study) is a barrier to what I truly want to be doing. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to try and do the things I ‘should’ do, when the thing I am called to has such a loud voice and tempts me constantly.

And, having a bunch of supportive writer friends (not just counting the ones I was away with, but everyone else as well) is a huge advantage and something I could not do without. They make everything writing related better and I’m truly blessed to have so many kick-ass friends.

Have you ever been on writers retreat? Any tips or hints? I think it’s going to be in my town next time and I’m already planning possibilities ;-)

Winning!

2014-Winner-Facebook-CoverI am officially a winner of CampNanoWriMo! Woo!

I actually finished off back on June 19th, but it’s been a busy week and I couldn’t ‘confirm’ the win until just yesterday.

It feels surprisingly good, like perhaps I’m getting better at this whole goal setting thing. I’ve already sent it out to some readers and feedback so far has been good – this novella will be published towards the end of the year, and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

It’s a rather more ‘fun’ read than a lot of my work, so I’m looking forward to showing you all a lighter side of me ;-) I can do funny! No-one dies! Well, not really… Okay, not going to say any more because it’s just a novella and I don’t want to give too much away just yet.

Can’t wait :-) This story had me laughing out loud as I rewrote it, and I really hope that those who read it will do the same. More on that at a later date.

Hope you’re all having a good month! Not long until August is upon us now :-)

That time I made a shortlist and completely neglected to mention it

So, a few weeks ago (a month? something?) I had the totally surprising honor of becoming a finalist in the Australian Shadows Awards, in the category of Best Short Story for my most recently published piece ‘The Dead Way‘. I discovered this rather exciting news in the wee hours of the morning when my littlest woke me. I couldn’t quite believe it really and thought there had to have been some mistake.

I’m still not sure how it happened. I mean, I know it’s a good story – I LOVE that story – but there is so much amazing talent out there and they picked my story to be in the top 5, alongside some other really amazing writers whose work I admire!

It was a little mind blowing, and also felt a bit like a milestone for me. I’ve experienced the pure buzz that is getting nominated for something, and winning an award (SJV Best Collected Work), but that was for something I’d edited – this is the first time I’ve ever made a list for a story of my own.

And that’s pretty awesome.

I didn’t win, but the lovely Debbie Cowens (whose story also appeared in Baby Teeth – which took out the award for Best Edited Publication!) did, and I didn’t feel at all upset by that. It was an honor just to make the short list.

Being a finalist made me a little more confident in my writing, made me feel a little like actually, I must be kind of good at this thing, and that’s more valuable than any award.

Camp Update, and an unexpected rant.

Well, it’s now halfway through the month and for the first time in ages, I am on track. Actually, I’m ahead of schedule!

I know, I’m a little shocked myself ;-)

My editing muscles are well and truly flexed at this point, seeing as that is mostly what I’ve been spending my writing time on this year. I feel like I’ve fallen into a rhythm with it and this makes me happy, but also nervous. I’m making great progress (and, if I wasn’t studying, or editing for others as well, I would be done my own novella by now, and onto the next), but at the same time I’m wary of the ease… I am not sure I trust myself, and there is an underlying sense that I can’t be doing a good enough job.

I think this is tied into the myth that writers must bleed for their art, they must SUFFER in order to create great stories. I don’t really buy into that belief – after all, so much of the first draft at least feels like I’m riding a rollercoaster and I LOVE rollercoasters. It’s like getting a shot of adrenaline or being able to feel every ounce of the worlds wonder, it’s blissful, intoxicating. Better than almost any other high.

But just because I don’t buy into all those myths about what it takes to be a writer – you must drink a lot of coffee and/or alcohol, you must stay up into the wee hours of the morning bleeding words into your preferred writing tool, you must be crazy/have a muse/talk to yourself/get intense bouts of writers block/spend three days finding the right word to describe a situation, you must struggle with your words, and suffer for your art, you have to be a starving artist, and in general, it seems the belief is that the more you struggle (not just with those words, but with life in general) the more emotion, impact and weight will be present in your story – it doesn’t mean that somewhere under the surface I feel like they might be true.

Because maybe I’m just doing it wrong.

Well, I call bullshit.

Yeah, some writers drink coffee and load up on booze or drugs, but that’s not a prerequisite. Not all writers have muses, or mental health problems, and not all writers are night owls who forsake human contact. Not all writers bleed, or struggle, or live entirely inside their head – hell, I am far too rooted in the real world, in my legit every day problems and getting the kids fed, educated, and geared up for a life following their own passions to possibly indulge (yes, I said it) in the myth of being a writer. While there are some truths in those myths, they are not the foundation, core, or bottom line of being a writer. Yes, sometimes it’s a struggle, but there is always that joy in words, in making things better, in crafting a world and putting it on the page to share with others. I don’t have time to wail about the challenges, or indulge in writers block or adopt a struggling artist persona.

I have time to write.

I put words on a page. I make those words better, and in the near future I will publish those words. And that makes me a writer, not any of the other stuff.

And I’m not going to buy into those myths on any level. Not anymore. I’m doing just fine.

This wasn’t going to be a blog post about writer myths or struggling for your art, it was just going to be a quick update to say – hey, look! I’m actually doing stuff and it’s going really well! As is the case with blog posts though, these things seem to morph.

By all means, enjoy the things you enjoy, struggle with the things you struggle with, but I would kind of like it if people quit buying into this writer mythology, it’s not glamorous to be depressed or to abuse our bodies by consuming too much alcohol/coffee/drugs/depriving it of much needed sleep. It’s not aiding our creation. Wouldn’t it be better if we could be happy, thriving, and loving our work? I know that’s the ideal I’m going to be working towards from now on.

*For the record, I know lots of wonderful writers who don’t buy into the ‘writer’ myth. They are awesome people, and write awesome stories, and they don’t need to have dramatic lives or desperate struggles in order to do so. These people are far more productive than many ‘struggling writer’s because they use their energy to actually do the thing we’re all meant to love so much. Write.