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Change is afoot

Over the last several months my husband and I have been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of talking, reading, learning, and soul searching. Because we’ve had this problem, you see, and it just didn’t seem like it was going away, at least not without compromising and doing things that we weren’t entirely comfortable with.

The problem was that our eldest was unhappy. Hugely unhappy. Crying every day for hours, wishing that she could just hide under a rock, unhappy. And this unhappiness also showed itself in anger, and frustration, and raging against the world for no particular reason that we could fathom. It meant conflict about everything as she struggled with life. And all of these un-fun emotions were being directed at our family.

I just want to make it clear that Ivy is NOT the problem. But her misery was. We needed to help her. To find a way to make the world make more sense to her. It is not okay for a child of seven to be feeling like the world is a terrible place. We love her dearly and it was heartbreaking to know she was feeling like this. And so we got help, which included therapy sessions every week for the last four months, a fair few tests to see if they could figure out what was going on, and finally, a trial of some medication for ADD which they determined is the cause of Ivy’s struggles.

Except the medication didn’t work as I was told it would. In fact it had the opposite effect which suggests she doesn’t have ADD, though they are leaving her with that diagnosis for now. I took her off it as quickly as I could – neither of us were thrilled about trying them to begin with, but we got what we wanted from it.

On reflection, with this diagnosis of ‘ADD’ and the discovery that she has difficulty focusing in a classroom environment, and the knowledge that while she was holding herself together during class, she losing it within moments of school finishing, we realized that maybe the real problem here was school. It was a huge contributor to her misery. And we decided (after lots of consideration) that what we wanted to do was home school her.

Prior to this, I’d had thoughts about pulling her out of school approximately 10 times in the last couple of years. Incidences would crop up, things that made me uncomfortable but weren’t big enough issues, or solid enough to really place my finger on the cause, but there, all the same. But school is what a lot of people do, and I had never really considered being a home schooling mum, and didn’t I want a career at some point in the near future? And didn’t I desperately need the break from Ivy’s misery that those hours at school gave me?

Well, I did. Until I realized that so much of our conflict revolves around school. Until I realized that in the school holidays, when it’s her at home, being a part of the family, she’s actually really happy and I love being around her. I can and will still have a career at some point, but my time as a stay at home mum has now been extended by a few years, and that’s fine.

In fact, I’m really freaking excited about this. I have so many plans, and every time I talk to Ivy about it she comes up with plans of her own, and we bounce ideas and I can see her brain working overtime, being creative and being excited about learning, which is so wonderful to see because she’s been so resistant to regular schooling.

One of the things I think is important to gift to our children is an innate sense of curiosity about the world. Creativity, a desire to learn and explore and the skills with which to do those things under your own steam. And I can see that already. I can see she has the desire, and I can be the one to teach her the skills she needs.

We’re going to be embarking on an amazing adventure. Not just for her, but for our whole family. Lauren is thrilled that Ivy will be home and is keen to get in on the learning. Natalie will enjoy it too, and Ivy… She is so happy. She can’t wait to get started and has been telling everyone she can about it.

It’s going to be very interesting finding a new groove once we get the exemption certificate through. But I can’t help but be filled with hope. It feels like finally we’re onto a winning thing. Finally, we can help Ivy follow her passions, encourage her dreams and support her in learning the way that suits her best. Very exciting. Very exciting indeed.

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I totally need a new title…

I’ve barely mentioned the novel I’ll be revising this year, because I’ve been in deep thought about it. Without having read the thing yet, I know that there is a major issue with it and I wasn’t sure how to tackle that.

You see, it’s one of those pesky ‘partly set on earth, and then partly set on new planet’ novels. I chatted about it with M via email this morning and when she said those inevitable words ‘Do you even need the part on Earth?’, I had to stop and seriously think about it.

The novel was originally called The Consign Mate. The idea was one I had back when I was a teenager. It was about a girl who basically flunked out and so was set to be shipped off Earth to help colonize planets for the worthy. Part of the programme is that they are assigned a ‘mate’ who is genetically determined to be the match best suited to producing healthy, intelligent children. Her mate is someone she has a lot of negative history with. This is all pretty standard stuff, really, I mean, I was only 15 or so when I started writing this!

Anyway, the story morphs into something else entirely once they get to this new world, and that is where the interesting stuff happens. I think I would have come to the point where I asked myself whether Earth was really important at some point, but this conversation has spurred me on to it earlier. There will need to be some drastic reworking, but I think it will make for a much better story – one that I’m more excited about. There is something to be said for cutting massive amounts of story.

But I totally need a new title, because it has nothing to do with mates now. In fact, I could change a huge chunk of the backstory (and already have, in my head /rubs hands together in glee). It leaves room for some more freaky stuff, yup, I can see it now…

OH, this is going to be fun.

Of course, I should probably read the thing in it’s entirety before I get too carried away, and that task is on the cards for next week. I have a couple of things I would really like to finish up first, and then I plan to get stuck into a read through, during which I’ll also make scene/chapter notes.

It’s going to be such a good year, folks. SUCH a good year.

How is your 2012 shaping up so far? Making progress?

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Indie Reading, two months in

(well, almost)

We’re getting close to the end of February, and so far I have read six indie pieces for my reading challenge. I have a couple more novels lined up, and still need to review one, but all in all am making excellent progress.

When I signed up for this challenge over at Anna’s blog, I thought it would do two things for me. A) it would make me read at least 24 books this year and B) it would expose me to self published works again.

Some of you might remember that awhile back now, gee, 2009 I think? I was part of the group of readers at the e-fiction book club. We were exposed to quite a variety of work, but mostly? It wasn’t great. It left me thinking that indie reads sucked. That the people who were self publishing were in some instances delusional about the quality of their work – and ultimately, that the gatekeepers of the traditional publishing industry were NEEDED.

Skip forward in time to 2010/11 – I know things have changed. I’ve read traditionally published books that I thought were complete rubbish. I know that there are a lot of good writers going the Indie route, but I really needed to dive in and explore what was out there for myself. Which is where this challenge has come in handy.

So far I have been pleasantly surprised. Only 1/6 of the stories has been really not great, in my opinion, the rest have ranged from good to fantastic. This is probably about the same ratio I have found in the traditionally published books I’ve read over the same period of time. Hell there was one trad published book I couldn’t even finish because it was so bad – I’ve not stopped reading any of the indie books.

I think it is this – this similarity of quality – which has really pushed me closer to going indie myself. Up until now I have been planning to release the novella myself, and other novellas, but haven’t committed to self publishing a novel (let’s be honest here – I don’t know what novel I will be working on in the near future. I have so many options, and right now, I just can’t make up my mind!). But you know what? When I figure out what it is, chances are very high that I won’t even bother submitting it to agents/publishers. It makes way more sense to me to release things myself, to retain control and ultimately be responsible for my own success or lack of.

Even a year ago I would have been scared by that, but not now. There is so much positive energy going around at the moment, and it’s impossible not to want to be a part of that. I feel empowered, and encouraged – something I never felt when I was sure I had to do this the traditional way.

Just because something is traditionally published, it doesn’t mean it’s good. Just because something is indie published, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. There are amazing books out there, waiting to be read, and I am thankful that those indie authors I know and are becoming familiar with are working so hard to raise the bar. Professional covers, well edited books, and a wider range of stories available. Great stuff!

Anyways, better get back to my own writing huh? If I want to get this novella done and out into the world, I need to work hard and make sure it’s the VERY BEST that it can be! Exciting times, folks. Exciting times.

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Mocha Nihilism – my intentions

I’m about halfway through my rewrite of Mocha Nihilism (still, but getting back to it now!), and after reading this post by the lovely Linda, I’ve made a decision and I wanted to publicly declare it.

I’m going to self publish the novella.

It’s something I’ve contemplated for awhile, and I think a novella is the perfect way to dip my toes into the self publishing world. Very soon I am going to have a really fun, enjoyable novella complete and ready for an audience. Initially I’d planned simply to give this to some of my friends and family for a Christmas present,  but it seems like an awful waste to limit it’s audience like that.

So I read Linda’s post, then had a look around at e-publishers and print markets to see if there was anywhere it might fit. The markets are limited, and really? Most E-publishers aren’t offering great royalties, you have to do the bulk of the marketing yourself anyways, I might as well retain full creative control and do it all. I am not afraid of being accountable for the outcome, whether it’s positive or negative – in fact, either way, it’s a learning curve and I’ll get SOMETHING out of the process.

So there we have it. I’m excited by the prospect of having something more substantial than a short story out in the world, available to the masses. I’ve got a lot of work to do before it’s ready to launch, but the pieces seem to be falling into place. I have ideas for the cover, and a willing model to help me bring it to life, ideas about promotion and marketing – it really is exciting. I’ve made the decision to go e-book only, and realize I am thereby cutting out many friends and family who only do print books – but that’s a choice I can live with.

What about you? Ever thought of self pubbing? I am still going to try the traditional route with my next novel, but in the meantime, it’s really very exciting to be doing something towards getting my words in the hands of others.