writing

More interview goodness :-)

Anna has posted up an interview she did with me a wee while back for Regeneration – you’ll find snippets of both the short story from Regeneration, Carving Out a Lifeand from one of my WiPs, The Way the Sky Curves.

Check it out here!

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Au Contraire 2013

I had hoped by now that I’d have something coherent and intelligent to say about my weekend away, but I really don’t feel like I do. It could take me another week, or more, to fully process the whole thing. But I thought it was better to say something, than nothing at all.

It was amazing.

I drove down to Wellington on Friday, stopping to catch up with a friend in Palmerston North on the way, and then arrived in Wellington a mere half hour before the Regeneration book launch. It was dark, and drizzly, and I went the wrong way, and then was doubling back when I managed to find a car park and decided to walk to the hotel as I thought it might be quicker (it was!). By the time I made it to there I was feeling pretty fragile and emotional, but I bumped straight into Anna and she showed me where the launch was. I saw some people I hadn’t seen in years, and finally met other people in person, and I signed books! (haha, it had never even crossed my mind that I might be asked to do that – super cool).  It was kind of surreal, really! I grabbed a burger with Anna for dinner and then pretty much stayed in my room.

It was a big day. First time being so far away from my babies. First time in… over seven years that I’d been anywhere out of town that wasn’t visiting family. First book launch. All these people, and then on the other hand being alone, in a room, just me! Just, massive, on so many levels for me. The hibernation was super important because it meant I got my home sickness out of the way and Saturday I could launch myself into attending panels, meeting more people, having great conversations and just enjoying myself in general.

The most valuable thing for me, I think, was making those connections – finally getting to meet people face to face after years of online interaction, and having it more than confirmed that NZ is truly a great place to be a writer. I have always been an advocate for the groups that we have in NZ, for the work SpecFicNZ does, for the important conversations that need to happen to raise the general public awareness of the fantastic speculative fiction writers we have in NZ. Meeting up with all these writers really boosted that feeling.

These are really awesome people, awesome writers too, but awesome people who love what they do, who have unique ways of viewing the world and bring those to the page. And I got to soak that up through the weekend, both inside the Con and out by catching up with a couple of other writer friends who weren’t attending. It was amazing.

Where I live there are very few writers, and I certainly felt the loss on Monday when I had to pack up and come home. Oh well, there is always next year, right? lol I’m still working on getting ‘back to normal’ though it feels like it has gone out the window entirely. I’m hoping that next year I am actually capable of taking notes and making a more intelligent post, but this will have to do for now 😉

If you’ve never been to some kind of convention or conference where you can connect with other writers, then I urge you to give it a shot. Making those writer connections is super awesome. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, say hi to new people, ask questions, feast on the shared passion of writing. It’s totally worthwhile.

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Updates

So… I have been pretty bad with the blogging over the last couple weeks, but I swear I have good reasons!

I’ve actually been busy with writing. My new novella is sitting just over the 8,000 word mark and growing every day, I’ve had my results back for my first semester paper and got a stunning A- (best mark I have had in ages! And considering my ridiculously busy life, I was pretty chuffed with myself), and am now gearing up to head away for a weekend at Au Contraire.

This will be the first time since having Lauren and Natalie that I will be spending time away from my family, out on my own in the big wide world. And while I am SUPER excited about it, and crazy ready for some time ‘off’ from being a Mum, I’m also really nervous about the whole weekend and being away from my babies for so long (yea I know, a weekend isn’t really that long – just remember I home school, and I’m with them ALL THE TIME). I’m going to miss the heck out of them, I can already tell, and if you do see me over the weekend and it looks like there is something wrong with my arms it’s just because I am used to lugging a 3yr old around with me most of the time and my body isn’t quite sure what normal is outside of that. Maybe I’ll just keep them crossed?

I can’t wait to hit the road, I really can’t. I love driving, and it will be really nice to crank up some of MY music, and sing crazy loud. Some of the other rather mundane things I am looking forward to are:

sleeping all night
not starting my day at 4am
not mediating any kiddie outbreaks/tantrums/arguments for a few days
not being responsible for ensuring everyone is satisfactorily fed/clothed/watered/whatever
not cleaning up after everyone
(hopefully) not being yelled at for three whole days
maybe even sneaking in some writing in peace? Who knows.

I’m also very much looking forward to attending my first ever book launch (for Regeneration), meeting people face to face that I have known online for years, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone (and let’s face it, the entire weekend is out of my comfort zone!). It’s going to be an awesome weekend.

I just have to actually make sure I make it out of the house tomorrow, and stop imagining all the terrible, horrible things that could (but never will) happen.

Deep breaths. I CAN do this.

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Regeneration – now open for pre-order

As some of you know, I have a new short story (Carving Out a Life) being published in the very near future. Well, pre-orders for Regeneration are now open! And, the stunning cover has finally been unveiled. I LOVE it.

Here is the blurb:

Some things are gone forever; but that is not the end. There are new lives to be lived, new discoveries to be made, changes to be fought for, enjoyed, or feared.

Experience worlds where existence continues beyond death and much-wanted babies become something else entirely. Where humanity endures in hostile environments, societies adapt to new challenges and inventions, and strange creatures live secretly among us. Travel from a curiously altered Second World War to other universes at the end of time, taking in diverse visions of New Zealand and worlds beyond along the way.

Regeneration, the second volume of New Zealand Speculative Fiction from Random Static, presents 22 original works of science fiction and fantasy by Kiwi authors. Stories of loss and renewal, of fantastic technology and mysterious transformations, of supernatural predators and survivors building new futures. Life always goes on, but seldom the way you’d expect…

Featuring stories by Matt Cowens, Tim Jones, Mary Brock Jones, O.J. Cade, Grace Bridges, I.K. Paterson-Harkness, Kylie Thorne, Debbie Cowens, J.C. Hart, Jennifer Compton, Simon Petrie, Anna Smith, Rebecca Harris, Elizabeth Gatens, Jonathan James Todd, A.J. Fitzwater, Fran Atkinson, Anna Caro, Dan Rabarts, Lee Murray, Grant Stone, and Toni Wi.

I’ve read stories by many of the authors listed above, and they are fantastic writers. I’m very excited to read the stories from authors I don’t know. Random Static always put together a good antho.

If you’re in Wellington on the 12th of July, there is a launch party for the book, and I’ll actually be there! Details can be found here.

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I’d forgotten…

I got an email last night with the editing comments for my short story ‘Carving Out a Life’ last night. I’d forgotten all the feelings associated with that – the buzz of ‘hehehe I’m going to be published!’ and the cringe of ‘oh gods, what will I find?’ before opening the document. (It was fine though, nothing too dramatic and hopefully I can get it polished off in short order.)

It’s funny how those feelings don’t seem to change. I mean, I haven’t had that much published, but every single time I get an editing email I feel the same way. I hope that never changes!

It shouldn’t be too long before the cover for Regeneration gets released as well and I can’t wait to see that and share it with you, and then… well, not too many weeks before it’s out into the world and I can devour the stories from the other amazing writers I get to be published alongside.

I guess I’m still buzzing 😉 but it’s such a great way to feel, I don’t think I want to let it go just yet.

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Regeneration – TOC

Random Static has released the table of contents for ‘Regeneration: New Zealand Speculative Fiction II’! So exciting!!!

From their site: 

Random Static Ltd is pleased to announce the table of contents for Regeneration: New Zealand Speculative Fiction II. Once again, we have a fantastic range of stories by talented authors, and we look forward to sharing them with you.

  • Last Harvest – Matt Cowens
  • Rescuing the Airmen – Tim Jones
  • Hunting Ythan – Mary Brock Jones
  • The Mistress of Fishes – O.J. Cade
  • Max’s Black Box – Grace Bridges
  • In a World Full of Birds – I.K. Paterson-Harkness
  • Insomnia – Kylie Thorne
  • The Spectre Spectrum – Debbie Cowens
  • Carving Out a Life – J.C. Hart
  • Kiwi or Queenie – Jennifer Compton
  • Emptying Roesler – Simon Petrie
  • Tapping the Skin of the World – Anna Smith
  • Doorway – Rebecca Harris
  • Monocarpic Colony Blues – Elizabeth Gatens
  • Harvesting the Gyre – Jonathan James Todd
  • The Origami Tree – A.J. Fitzwater
  • Evacuation – Fran Atkinson
  • Splintering – Anna Caro
  • Mother’s Milk – Dan Rabarts
  • Cave Fever – Lee Murray
  • Coat – Grant Stone
  • Ren – Toni Wi

Regeneration is due to be launched on the 12th of July at Au Contraire 2013 – watch this space for more details and pre-order information.

Yipee!! I always love seeing my name in a table of contents, but ones like these make me grin more than normal. I love knowing that I’ll be in a book with so many authors I respect and admire. I love that I will get to enjoy some NZ authors I haven’t read before. It’s totally squee-worthy, and gives me a real sense of community. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book and read what I know will be a bunch of awesome stories!

And this time around I get to be at the release!!!!! Woooo!

Anyway, I’ll let you get back to enjoying your weekend 😉 I have an essay to finish!

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Updates!

I keep looking at my blog, thinking I should post something, but not really knowing where to begin. The right words have been hard to find.

So we’ll start with: I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. As you might remember, I started The Artists Way back near the start of the year. I’m actually sticking with it this time and am up to Week 7. I’m learning a lot about myself, not all of it fun, but valuable even if hard at times. It’s not resulting in massive amounts of writing, though I have been revising steadily over the month (four scenes to go!). I’m changing, I can feel that, though I don’t know what form a lot of changes will take. When I can find the words to get all my thoughts down, I will.

I’ve also accepted that I have a problem, and my moods are not normal.  I’ve been feeling all kinds of things and about 10 days ago admitted that I’m not okay. I’ve been telling people when they ask, and many are shocked (those in the face to face world, anyway, my online friends don’t get my masks so much!), though at the same time pleased that I am being honest again. It’s one of the steps towards balance for me, so I’m glad I’ve taken it. I’m also taking some vitamins and other things which seem to be helping. I’ve not been back to the pits of despair since then, which is nice. Sometimes, just admitting you aren’t okay takes the pressure off. Masks are heavy, as are fake smiles, so my advice to anyone is to cast those aside.

I also had a short story accepted for publication! Was totally surprised, but delighted of course. I can’t wait til the line-up is announce and the cover revealed, though it’s been lovely seeing other writers I know and respect mentioning on facebook and twitter that they also got in. One writer friend in particular, as it’s her first sale, and she is such an awesome writer. I am so proud of her, and so pleased we’ll get to share space inside the cover of a book.

What else? I guess life is ticking along as normal. We’re still home schooling and there are great days and not so great days. I’m enjoying getting back into some renovation stuff, ticking things off my giant list. Playcentre began last week, so we’re finding a groove with that again as well. It’s a very busy term in general. Oh, and my university paper officially begins on Monday. I’ve not had a chance to read ahead yet, but that’s okay. I feel like I can handle all the things on my plate, which is more than I was feeling a couple weeks ago.

Right, better get back to that revision huh? I hope Feb has been treating you kindly. So hard to believe it’s almost over already.

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Anna Caro – Writer, Editor (pure awesome).

I’ve known Anna for a few years now, have been staff with her at both Kiwiwriters and SpecFicNZ. We’ve edited an anthology together, and I have the pleasure of being in a writers group with her (online). So I can definitely testify to her awesomeness. Fate (a.k.a Dan over at SpecFicNZ) threw us together in the Matrix of Doom this year, and so I got to interview her, which is something new for us! Strangely, all this prior knowledge didn’t make it any easier for me to come up with questions. Thanks for taking the time to answer them, Anna!

Having read many of your stories, I know that you are not afraid to write about things that others might shy away from. Personally, I love that your characters are unique, and face many challenges beyond what your regular writer might pit against their creations. What are the topics that you most enjoy exploring in your fiction?

I love writing about characters who are outsiders in some way. I don’t mean the type who wander round lonely clifftops in the rain making maudlin pronouncements, but those who have a myriad of points of tension and exclusion and friction with the world in which they live, who are all the wrong shape, physically and metaphorically, for the space they’ve been allotted. Who are fighting against the society they live in, but have to adapt themselves in so many ways to survive in it, and for whom even the usual paths of rebellion may not be an option.

Recently much of my writing has been concerned with disability and bodies in some way. Blueprints, which was included in the anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land, is set in a time when everyone who can is leaving Earth for a more hospitable planet. The story is about those who can’t. Millie, to be published in the forthcoming Outlaw Bodies anthology, is about a woman whose parents and doctors made decisions about her body when she was a child, and the repercussions of those. My almost-finished novella-in-progress plays with the oft quoted idea of autistic people being or feeling like we’re from another planet, and is about an autistic woman who has chosen to live on (literally) another planet.

What other areas are you looking at delving into in your future writing?

I’m currently planning a novella set in a near-future world of environmental decline, when scarcity is just beginning to bite in places it never has before. I suspect that may be harder to write than post-apocalyptic fiction. It also touches on child refugee issues and power and abuse – but I think I’m most apprehensive about the fact it’s primarily a romance. That’s not my usual style!

More broadly, I’m hoping to write more poetry and I’m quite determined that next year will see the production of a novel.

You’ve published quite a few short stories now, as well as a co-editing two short story anthologies—in what ways has this combination approach benefitted (or hindered) your writing? If you had to choose only one to do for the rest of your life, which would be the ultimate winner?

Developing writing as a craft has given me a lot of insight into what makes a good story, and so has editing. More specifically, submitting stories has given me an overview of the processes editors use (for Regeneration, which is currently open to submissions, we’re using an online submissions manager, which is making things a lot easier, and which I learned about through submitting to publications which already use it) and editing has reinforced something I knew in theory but only half believed: that rejected stories are not (necessarily) bad stories. And both have helped me make a lot of connections, contacts and friends, who have been of great help in ways I didn’t necessarily predict.

On the negative side, it’s a time suck. I keep meaning to take an editing-free year and it keeps not happening. This year I’ve been just one member of an editorial board working on an issue of an already established publication so it hasn’t been so bad, but the anthologies have effectively taken out at least a couple of months of writing time each.

If I had to choose between writing and editing, writing would win, no contest. There’s no way to answer this without clichés, so I’ll just shamelessly indulge in them: editing is something I enjoy doing, writing is something I need to do. Editing enhances my life; writing is integral to it. I’m planning to keep doing both for the foreseeable future though.

When trying to decide on the theme for an anthology, what are the key elements you are looking for in that theme?

For both the anthologies of New Zealand speculative fiction (A Foreign Country and the forthcoming Regeneration) we wanted something that was specific enough to give a shape to the anthology – and generate some ideas for writers – but not so specific it inhibited our goal of showcasing a range of speculative fiction from around the country. The theme of ‘regeneration’ also marks the anthology as a sequel, is, I think, very relevant in NZ at the moment given the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes and we’re hoping may result in a few stories with more positive endings.

For Tales for Canterbury, something similar applied, but given the very limited time frame we were working with, only a few authors were able to write something specifically for the theme. So we wanted something that most writers could fit something into. Because the focus was even more broad (including multiple genres) we divided it into sections to make it more structured. We played with a few variations before settling on Survival, Hope and Future, which I hope acknowledged the reality but also reflected a path forward.

I also have some very tentative ideas for future anthologies which are more thematically specific, and those are based on both my own interests and where there’s a gap in what’s already available that I’d like to see filled.

Finally, if you could impart one piece of advice to other writers, what would it be?

When I was at school one of my teachers had a poster of what I think was a Sufi proverb : “Trust in God, but tie your camel”. I may not be religious, but the idea it’s important to both follow high ideals, but pay attention to the practical side, has always appealed to me. You can follow your dreams and believe this is what you were meant to do, but don’t let that stop you proofreading and paying the power bill. Paying attention to the boring side, making sure other parts of your life are in order, being open to criticism and the interests of your readers do not somehow sully or devalue your writing – quite the opposite.