writing

Publishing plans

PSince I spoke about options in my last post, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk a little about publishing, and my plans for it. It’s all still very much in the formative stage because I’m knee deep in my last year of study at the moment and find it hard to balance the two of them, but at least planning helps keep me focused on the future and provides ample opportunity to daydream about the months and years to come!

And I cannot wait to be done with study so that I can launch into my writing career.

At present, I’m working on editing mostly, and am submitting my novel Sun-Touched to publishers, sans agent. I wanted to try this first because these days there are quite a few publishers that have open submissions periods throughout the year, and it felt like a good book to take advantage of those opportunities with. I’ve considered trying to find an agent with it, but at this point I’ve got assignments looming and I think I’ll put that stress on the back-burner. I don’t want to add more stress to my life, and from past experience, querying agents can be all consuming. We’ll leave that til I’ve got less going on 😉

So why am I looking at a publisher for Sun-Touched? Well, first up, it’s science fiction, and I’m not yet convinced that science fiction sells all that well when self published (please, if you have some information that differs from this, I’d love to hear it!). Secondly, I’ve had awesome feedback about it – all my readers have loved it, and this has given me confidence that it could sell well. Thirdly, honestly, I would have to say because it’s what I’ve wanted all along and I guess I see it as kind of a challenge – not so much as that they are ‘gate keepers’ or anything, but a personal challenge, a ‘can I do this?’ kind of thing. I want to know if I can, and in order to find that out, I have to try. If I can’t find a publisher keen to take it, I will definitely self-publish it, because I believe in the novel.

Aside from this I have a series of works, novellas and novels, based on the west coast of New Zealand, that I’m planning on self publishing beginning at the end of the year. I’ve written 3 novellas already, and the first novel is a work in progress. There are about 7 stories lined up for the main story-line, as well as ideas for other stories set in the same world (one of the novellas already written is outside of that main storyline and will hopefully be released at Christmas!). I’m hoping to get most of the editing and work done on the novellas throughout this year alongside my study, as well as the full first draft of the novel. Covers are already in progress with my wonderful designer friend, Leigh, and I’m feeling really positive about where everything is at.

I know a lot of people would be chomping at the bit to get published, rather than having these things sitting around, but not me. Self publishing  has been on my mind for quite some time now, and I always knew that if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right. For me (and just me, we’re all different) this means having multiple works lined up. I didn’t want to release one thing because it was ready and then have to scramble for something to follow up with. It makes the most sense for me to write a series, and roll them out on a reasonably regular schedule, which is why I’ve been stockpiling the series to date.

And why am I planning to self publish these? Well, first up, they are paranormal romance/urban fantasy, and this seems to be a genre that does pretty well when self published. Secondly, I’ve had awesome feedback about the series and I think it could do well. Thirdly, much like my reason for trying a publisher with Sun-Touched, I want to see if I can do it. Self publishing provides a whole new set of challenges, and I’m really keen to try my hand at them. I love the idea of having control over these books, and that any success I have will be down to the effort I’ve put into it.

So, when it comes down to it, I guess you can say that my decisions regarding how I want to publish come down to challenging myself, having an awesome product, and looking for the best way to publish each type of work. I don’t think there is a one size fits all for publishing, nor do I believe that you have to stick with one path – do whatever works for you, find your happiness, make your own definition of success and go for that.

Sorry that you’re getting a few posts today – I ended up succumbing to the vomiting bug as well, which knocked me off track again, but this time I had actually had a plan for what I wanted to write about, so I decided to go ahead and write the posts! 

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writing

Black holes and revelations

We were watching the latest episode of Cosmos this morning (as you do when the kids are up early and you’re not ready for any cartoons. Who doesn’t want to watch space stuff at 6am??) and they were talking about black holes, which immediately spun my brain to the song ‘Starlight’ from the Muse album ‘Black Holes and Revelations’, where that line is part of the chorus.

I’d forgotten just how much I love that song, and rushed off to find it on YouTube. It’s funny, because while the official video shows them on a boat, the lyrics always made me think about travelling into space.

This is something that’s cropped up in several of my stories and novels – moving away from all the things you know, into the great unknown. Starting life over on a new planet with a whole new set of challenges and obstacles to overcome. It’s a thought that both terrifies and excites me, and I can trace my first official ‘into space’ story back to age 15 – an idea that I have rewritten as a novel and hope to one day publish (though now its a trilogy… these things have a way of expanding as you age!)

 

Far away, this ship is taking me far away. From away from the memories, of the people who care if I live or die….

Damnit, and now I want to go back and finish writing those stories… lol It never ends as a writer, does it??

authors, writing

Writing Process Blog Hop

So I was tagged by the lovely Zee Southcombe for a blog hop about writing processes. Naturally, I thought, why not?

The rules are:  Answer the four questions below, link back to the person who invited you, and name the people who will be posting the following Monday.

The questions are fairly straightforward, so, let’s get on with it huh?

What am I working on?

Gosh, what am I not working on?? I’m tidying up some last minute edits on a novel at the moment, as well as trying to plan out my next small project which should keep me busy during April. Aside from that there is a lot of broader planning going on for future works and assignments for my post grad papers.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

For my science fiction work I’d say what’s different is the underlying sense of discomfort/unease (or creepiness as several of my writer friends like to say; I write creepy), juxtaposed with unique characters and strong relationship themes. Not specifically romantic, but all kinds of relationships (family and friends as well as lovers).

And for my paranormal romance works, it would have to be the small town NZ vibe. I feel like the works are very ‘kiwi’ and I love that about them. It’s given me the opportunity to tap into my Maori heritage, as well as my experiences growing up in a small rural town. The series is a lot of fun, but also sexy and edgy (despite being set in the wop wops!).

Why do I write what I write?

I only write things that I can get excited about. If a story is invading parts of my day that it shouldn’t, or hits me in those moments between sleeping and waking, or if I am wondering how something will end, then I want to write it. I’ve had times before where I’ve been like ‘now, what was that book I was reading? I really want to finish it’ only to realize it was my hypothetical book I was thinking about!

How does your writing process work?

Normally I get hooked on an idea and set about doing a bit of planning. More often than not I get so excited that I *think* I’ve done enough planning and launch into writing, only to find that between the 5,000-10,000 word mark I have to stop and do some real fleshing out of the world and characters.

It’s not until I’ve actually done this first bit of writing that I feel like I know the characters and what the story really looks like, so I find I can’t fully plan until I’ve done that first bit. After some planning, I get back to work! The words usually flow pretty well, with one or two stumbling blocks along the way, and then I typically rush through the end and stare at the screen thinking ‘is that it?’. Never entirely sure, I save and close the document, then promptly fall into the belief that it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written.

I tend to then avoid reading it for as long as possible, until I get the itch and peek back in. Thankfully, it’s never as dreadful as I suspect, and actually, most of the time I’m pleasantly surprised 🙂

I typically work on something new before diving back in for revisions as I like to get some good distance in order to look at the work with ‘fresh’ eyes. Then after revision, I send it off to betas, after which I jump feet first into editing, taking all their delicious and hilarious commentary on board (seriously, my critters more often than not have me giggling. What can I say? They have a way with words! Even the harshest critiques give me something to smile about).

Eventually, there is a finished product, well, finished enough to send out into the world anyway. Because of the way I work I often have several things on the go at once, and if I ever get stuck, I can jump ship for a little in order to maintain sanity. I generally stay focused on the one thing until it’s through whatever stage it’s currently on though, as it gives me that lovely buzz of feeling like I’ve made progress.

Look for the blog hop to continue next week (or the week after that, if they’re like me) on these sites:

Worlds of Wonder (Meryl Stenhouse).

Tama Wise

Leigh K. Hunt at Parchment Place

Emma Lindhagen

And Richard Parry, who hasn’t agreed yet but will just have to cope anyway 😉

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Day-dreaming

You know how I said I was taking a holiday? Well, we did go away for a few days, but my brain hasn’t stopped working, other than to fail at combining sentences and finding the right word for things.

As we drove to Rotorua my mind was turning over ideas and options for the novella I’ll be writing in December. I saw a lake at the bottom of a waterfall that sparked my imagination, and then the mist as we climbed into the hills, and then once we were at my inlaws I collapsed on the bed for a bit and more things connected. Over the next few days a whole town emerged with snippets of my personal history intertwined and I began to get really excited about writing in a New Zealand setting.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I often don’t place my stories. They aren’t grounded anywhere in particular, and I’ve actively avoided writing about NZ for a long time. I’m totally ready to embrace my country and my heritage in my writing though and I’m excited to see how it all turns out.

Of course, I still need a character, and a story line, but I am sure those will come. The MC is beginning to talk to me, and I know that as we get to know each other I’ll be able to piece her story together – whether I can make it fit into a novella is another matter entirely, but I’ll do the best I can.

And so October is almost done. November will see much planning, for both the novella, as well as the rewrite of Sun-Touched. I think it’s going to be really interesting, seeing if I can work on the outlines for both at the same time. They are quite different – one being urban fantasy, and the other science fiction – but at the story level, there are bound to be things they have in common.

What have you got in store for the new month? How many of you are doing NaNo this year?

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On the hunt for a new album

Throughout the writing of Sun-Touched, I had one album that I put on repeat. Whenever I sat down to write, it was there. If I was trying to write and it wasn’t on, at times I struggled. It helped to get me in the zone, to focus me on the writing – even though the type of music, the lyrics, etc in no way, shape or form mimicked/added to/accented the type of story I was writing.

Now that Sun-Touched is done. I feel a little like I am done with that album. I want something new (to me), something fresh to accompany me while I write my next piece.

May is going to be full of planning, so it’s the perfect time to stop and find some new writing music. Seeing as I have two projects coming up, I need two different albums! And this time, I am going to try and do a better job of matching the albums to the stories.

I’m so out of the loop with the music scene though, that this could prove to be challenging. I may need your help.

The novella I plan to write in June is about an older woman’s journey to reclaim a part of her heritage that many of her people have abandoned. She travels with her baby grandson, whose parents are dead, so a lot of the time she’ll be virtually alone. As much as it’s a physical journey, it’s also an emotional/spiritual journey, so that’s going to be interesting to write.

On the other hand, my YA science fiction series is full of action and drama, romance and conflict (or will be when I’m done with it!).

Any suggestions for music to check out?

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So what DO I want to write?

*this post only relates to my novel writing, my short stories are coming along just fine ;-)*

Having decided to set Lifelines aside, I find myself presented with the next problem. One which has me feeling like I am floundering around.

If that’s not what I want to write – what is?

Do I have any novels that are good representatives of what I want to write? Or am I going to need to start fresh?

A quick run through the list leaves me with this: I have an unfinished trilogy of pure fantasy novels. I’m currently not sure how I feel about fantasy.

I have a YA supernatural type novel. I don’t think I want to write YA.

I have a space novel with young adult characters but which I don’t consider to be a YA novel. This one could be okay, but it does need work.

Novellas? I have two, ones a dark fiction tale that I really want to see reworked and published. That’s more in the vein of the writing I want to do. The other… it was a fun piece to write and it was more about just having a bit of a break from ‘serious’ writing.

Hmm…

I think I’m letting myself get too trapped by ‘genre’ when thinking about what I want to write. I would probably be better to say that I want to write thought provoking stories, stories that explore characters selves and how that relates to the situations that they are in, how that is changed by their circumstances and the choices they find themselves making.

Which could be just about anything.

I keep telling myself that I don’t need to think about this right now because I’m not novel writing, not for a fairly long time yet. I’m not even considering novel writing until next year, possibly not until the second half depending how this whole 3 child thing works out. There are too many unknowns in the equation – it could be much easier than I thought, or I could have no energy or drive to do anything other than be the best mother and wife I can be for awhile.

I’m going to put these thoughts in a box for now, but I really felt like I needed to get them out of my head first. It will sort itself out.

Possibly the most surprising thing about this post is how ambivalent I feel about ‘fantasy’ right now. I used to think that was all I would write, and now… well I just don’t know if I do want to write it. Traditional fantasy, sword and sorcery, whatever, has kind of lost its appeal for some reason.

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No contest

Yesterday I mentioned that I had two ideas which I was going to play off against each other today to come up with my NaNoWriMo novel.

I’m declaring the winner the shiny new/old novel. There is no contest. It’s big, it’s scary, it’s beyond me, it’s devouring my thoughts and there is no way I can not write it.

The other novel will get written at some point, there is absolutely no question about it, and while I was firing on all cylinders for it a few weeks back, it just can’t compete with the other idea right now. Half of what NaNo means to me is trying new stuff, throwing caution to the wind and having a wild ride of a month – Riana doesn’t mesh with that, not because it won’t be fun to write, but because it’s an old world, with old characters, and I know how the story ends so I don’t desperately need to find out what happens. I enjoy nano most when it’s an exploration, which is what the new shiny is…

I am so lost in the idea though, it’s huge, I don’t even know where to begin with my research. (I have though – trans-dimensional travel, universal gods, post apocalyptic stuff, some science ideas that I certainly hope I can get my head around before the month starts).

I finally have some characters at least! I knew who they were, but they didn’t want to tell me their names, finally pinned them down an hour or so ago: Lyssa and Jareth are twins and professional ‘acquisition agents’  (they refuse to let me call them thieves) living on a post-apocalyptic Earth.

I need a title now, and then I can play with a banner and a cover… and I desperately need to talk to my Mum, because funnily enough, she’s going to be able to give me a lot of great advice for this novel! I sent her a text message before and I bet now she is wondering what on earth I’m going to be writing about hehehe.

Anyways, I need title help. I’ll try and come up with some kind of blurb, I’m making a list of prospective titles and there will be a poll! My first ever. I’m excited. About everything… So much fun.

Oh, and if you don’t have me as a friend on NaNo yet, you can find me here 🙂

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NZ Speculative Fiction Blogging week begins!

And boy, there are some really great posts already being written to kick the week off. You can find the links to those here, where Anna is keeping track of things.

So, I guess I should post something too right?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term ‘Speculative Fiction’ it’s a blanket term for the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror – but more importantly, all the things in between, anything that blurs the lines of reality and explores worlds that aren’t like ours.

For me, learning this has been a huge relief – no longer am I a genre slut, I’m a writer of speculative fiction! I love to write all kinds of stories, the genre means less to me than the telling, though predominantly these stories have aspects of fantasy, science fiction and horror.

Anyways, part of the reason for this week is to get people talking and connecting about speculative fiction in New Zealand. We’re a small country and typically, we do really well with supporting local acts. The music scene is a realyl good example of this – I know a lot of people who download overseas music, but they always make a point of going out and buying NZ made stuff, attending gigs and in general really getting behind acts (hell we even have a whole month dedicated to NZ music).

We love our movie industry, and we support that really well too. A lot of amazing films with speculative slants are made here both by NZers and people from other countries around the world too (Lord of the Rings, King Kong, the Narnia movies etc).

Unfortunately this is not the case when it comes to the written word. There are limited markets within NZ for our work, and the big publishers here are pretty convinced that there simply isn’t a big enough market for it.

Yeah right, as the Tui billboard would say.  We Kiwi’s are an inventive bunch, and there are a lot of us creating works of speculative fiction out there, most of whom devour stories and novels of the same when we get can our hands on it.

Hopefully, together we can strengthen our speculative fiction community 🙂

I’ve run out of words for now, and time, but head on over to Anna’s blog and check out some of the other posts. It should be a great week!