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Cthulhu: Land of the Long White Cloud

cthulhu-land-of-the-long-white-cloud-front-pageLate last year I got an email asking if I’d be interested in submitting a story for a Cthulhu inspired anthology, gathering stories from New Zealand writers.

Of course, I said yes.

I’d never set out to intentionally write a Lovecraftian themed story, though cosmic horror/wonder and things which are beyond our understanding are present in other stories I’d written. It was a really cool challenge, and I’m  pleased that my story ‘Te Ika’ is appearing in this collection. (Super excited to get my copy and smell the pages and sigh breathlessly when I see my name on the page!)

New Zealand—Aotearoa—Land of the Long White Cloud: the island remnants of the sunken continent of Zealandia. With its boiling geysers, active volcanoes, earthquakes, deep water fjords and lush forests of fern, these are realms once home to forgotten creatures like the giant Moa bird Dinornis. But there is something else…

In this collection we find an Aotearoa with the proud history, myths, and legends of the Māori, and the impacts of the white settler’s later presence, and the blended society that encompasses both, but we see the shadow of other things.

Herein lies the cosmic horror of the Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos in an anthology featuring Lovecraftian tales from some of New Zealand’s finest speculative fiction writers.

Stay brave. Because here there be monsters.

You can grab your copy from the publishers here.

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Monday + Monday = double catch up!

IMG_20150627_152232946_HDRSo I totally missed last weeks post – I had every intention of doing one, even made comments to several people over the week that it would be coming. Yeah, nah. It didn’t eventuate. You see, I went away for the weekend sans children with some other mums and it was lovely. We talked and played games, walked on the beach, ate excellent food (in peace!), did what we wanted when we wanted to, spent many hours sea-gazing. It was lovely, and I wasn’t really ready to snap back into work mode afterwards. So I didn’t.

IMG_20150627_152346901_HDRIt’s becoming increasingly obvious to me how important down time is. I know that might sound a bit silly – I have spent a lot of time recently downsizing responsibilities and streamlining my work flow – but I am almost never ‘off duty’. I always have several things on the go. I always know what is next in my queue, and I hardly ever give myself time off everything. On Sunday morning I stayed in bed and read a book from start to finish. I don’t remember the last time I did that. In fact, I barely have time to read lately.

So, while I have already made changes, I know now that I have to make more. I need to sort out my priorities and cull the things that are no longer working for me. And I’m good with that.

IMG_20150627_150717465_HDRWhat else has been going on? I’ve started working on my next proofing job (which is going to take me a gazillion years! Who writes books this long, Anthony?!), and I have been wrangling with a short story that I want to submit to an anthology call. This story has been playing havoc with me for weeks. I first got the inklings of it on the 3rd of May. I know this because we were driving to Auckland and I was tired and dozing in and out while we traveled through the Gorge. The landscape is amazing and really influenced my thoughts. I made a lot of notes. A. Lot.

IMG_20150627_145739007I’ve continued to make a lot of notes. I’ve started the piece four times now. I’ve tried it in different tenses and points of view. I’ve tweaked and twisted it, but it’s never felt quite right. It’s incredibly frustrating and because it IS so challenging, I have to finish it. It’s a puzzle. The weekend I was away I realized it was actually two puzzles, and I was trying to form one cohesive puzzle with all the pieces, so I removed some until I thought I just had one puzzle. Yesterday I realized it’s one puzzle but I have some extra pieces in there and so now I think I have excised all the extras, the bits that aren’t this story, and fingers crossed I can get the draft knocked out and to my crit group for the weekend.

Aside from this, my youngesIMG_20150629_164653861_HDRt turned five last Monday. FIVE?!?! How did that happen? I can’t quite believe it. She’s such a bright wee soul, and amazes me all the time. All she wanted was to go up the mountain to the snow, but the weather wasn’t good for it, so she went swimming in the morning with friends, and then on to Chipmunks, and then shopping for a present with her Nana! Busy day, happy girl 🙂

So, that’s me. I’ve still got a lot to do, but am going to work on simplifying things some more and working towards even better life/work balance. It’s hard, as a writer, there are stories everywhere and I can’t stop them from playing in my head – what I can do, is find ways to give myself more dream time, more reading time, more down time between launching into something new. I’m even thinking of giving myself a day off every week. WHAT????? Crazy talk.

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life, writing

Glimpsing life after study

As my study days wind down, I’m catching glimpses of what life might be like once I hand my final assignment in. It’s kind of beautiful, and I’m so looking forward to it. For a long time now I’ve had very little energy for things outside of my immediate focus. It’s been all about the kids, our family, and study, with the occasional round of editing for friends thrown into the mix.

I see a lot more of this in my future
I see a lot more of this in my future

Lately, I can see beyond that though. I see the sun shining, and can imagine having the time and energy to get stuck back into the garden. I can imagine long days at the beach with the kids, being able to let go of the tension and stress I’ve been carrying with me about assignments and grades.

I saw a submission call on twitter yesterday and thought to myself ‘I could write something for that!’, only then realizing how much I’ve missed doing that kind of thing. The last time I wrote a short story, it was The Dead Way, for Baby Teeth. It has been far, far too long.

There are so many projects on hold, just waiting for me to be ready again. I’m almost there. Almost ready. With one last assignment to write, and just two weeks until it’s due, the end is very much in sight. The light at the end of the tunnel is no longer an oncoming train.

writing

It’s here!

WP_001466WP_001475My copy of Baby Teeth arrived late last week, and due to migraines and pain I haven’t had a chance to post a couple pics (or read it yet…). So, here is me, wearing my baby teeth while holding Baby Teeth LOL.

It’s lovely to hold. I really like the texture of the pages and just, oh, it has my name it it *swoon* that always means I’ll love it.

I got to read a few of the stories on facebook when everyone was posting them up for crit etc, but I’ve by no means read them all. I love anthologies for the fact that you can read a story here and there, and they all have their own unique take on the theme. This collection is primarily flash fiction, so true to it’s tagline, it really does contain bite-size tales of terror. I can’t wait to sink my teeth in.

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New kids on the block

This year has been pretty exciting for us NZ writers – not one, but two, new publishers of speculative fiction have appeared! Magic 😉

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with the men behind both of these ventures. Some of you might recall the interview I did with Stephen Minchin, editor of Steam Press, earlier in the year. I was thrilled to find him passionate and dedicated to his venture. Since chatting with him last, he has signed three books! The first will be released during New Zealand Book month (March, 2012). It sounds like a really great read and I know I’ll be picking it up.

The other two are secret projects – one of them by the incredibly talented couple Matt and Debbie Cowens. They are both fantastic writers, so I am looking forward to that! The final one listed is by Michael Morrissey. He’s new on my radar, but he’s in good company so I am sure it’ll be worth checking out too 😉

Comets and Criminals is a new zine dedicated to publishing Science Fiction, Adventure, Historical and Western genre pieces. I actually submitted a short story once I saw they were open, and was thrilled to have it accepted (it’ll be on the site in October, in the first issue). I can say that the editor, Samuel Mae, is a fantastic bloke. He’s great to work with – he communicates really well, and likes to work with the authors to get their stories into the best shape possible. I’d definitely recommend this market, and am looking forward to reading issue one!

So if you have something to submit, long or short, why not consider these markets? They might be the new kids on the block but their passion, drive and commitment are obvious. I think they both have bright futures ahead.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting a review of Mary Victoria’s ‘Tymon’s Flight’.

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Clawing my way back

Well, I’m happy to report that I am mostly better. Apparently it was the flu, and not a cold. My sinuses have taken a beating and are still causing me a fair amount of pain – but it’s less than yesterday, and less than the day before, so I can only hope the trend continues and I feel better again tomorrow.

I’m 100% over being in pain from the moment I wake until the moment I fall asleep at night.

I’m also totally over being sick and not getting anything much done, so today I worked my way through the second half of yesterdays list and I’m almost to the end – the last tasks are to write this post, and get some words down on my latest short story.

I can do those things, because I really want to. Almost two weeks of doing very little when it comes to writing has left me really wanting to get stuck in. I’m determined this month to finish off the current story, and to edit another story that’s been sitting around for too long, as well as get whatever planning/pre-writing/whatever I need sorted for Delaney, because it’s not long now until I plunge myself into the depths of a new novel.

For the record, that thought scares the crap out of me, but I’m not going to let it stop me. A novel is just a bunch of sentences strung together, and I can easily write sentences. Therefore I can write this novel.

So, yes, that’s me at the moment! Still not in perfect health, but getting on with it anyway. Time to get back to business.

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Why shorts (the story kind) rock

I’ve believed for a long time that learning to write short stories can only benefit me as a writer – those of you who are regulars will know this (I feel like I’m always harping on about it). I don’t believe you have to write good short to write good novels, but I certainly think it helps.

I came across a post the other day by Angel Leigh McCoy called Short Fiction for the Long Term which I think has a lot of really great points. You should go and read it.

That post, as well as another pointed out to me by a friend, and a gentle kick up the butt from one of my crit buddies helped get me moving again.

Last night in the short periods of time when the little ones were awake I hit on a title for a short story, and a couple of characters, and the first spark of an idea, which grew over each waking period (I’m up and down like half a dozen times a night, lol so when I have an idea, its great for mulling it over!).

I’m feeling the buzz today. Something that’s been lacking for a little while. I’m finding first drafting really hard after focusing on editing and revision for so long, but for some reason, short stories are a lot easier to draft than novellas or novels right now, so I am hoping to blitz it today and get a good number of words out. AND that it kick starts my drafting brain so I can get some solid words on Chasing Ascension!

Wish me luck!

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The first

I finished the first draft of a new short story last night. I feel too blah about it to read it yet, but I am sure it’s not as bad as I imagine it to be (after all, the last time I felt blergh about a story it placed 3rd in the Ergo Fiction Search Term Challenge, and found a place in Tales for Canterbury. Feeling this way is not an indicator of worth of the story, but that’s probably a whole other blog post).

It got me thinking, though, and after doing some math this morning I realize that it’s the first story I have started and completed since the earthquake hit, back in Feb.

Which isn’t to say I’ve been doing nothing. I’ve worked my ass off in those three months on the anthology, I just hadn’t realized how much of a backseat my own writing had taken until now. One short story, and like, 4 scenes on the novella. In three months. I think I produced more after the birth of my third child 😉

In any event. This one is done, and I am hoping that by passing this milestone I’ve signaled to my brain that I am back on board and ready to work. So many writers around me are gearing up for SoCNoC over at Kiwi Writer’s, and I’m finding myself…envious, you could say. I want to work on something new, too! But I have to finish this novella first. I’m hoping to get the rest of this version finished by the end of June so it can get back to some readers for feedback, because my end game goal is to be finished with the submitting of the MS before the end of the year so that I can either self pub it, or whatever. I have SO many ideas lined up that need to be written, I just need to get back in the habit. Take some deep breaths, and focus.

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Words on the page

This last week has been pretty horrendous for my writing. I haven’t touched the novella in six days now, and am not functioning quite well enough yet to trust myself with it – I find at this stage in the game, I don’t want to invest time that is only going to result in more work to tidy up than not. However, since the kids have stopped puking all over me, it is well and truly time to get some words on the page.

Yesterday I booted up Omm and started typing. It was easy in some ways, because I had a place to start. This months writing challenge has a set first lineEdwin spotted them the moment he stepped off the train – what came after however, is something I’d been mulling over since May 1st.

In the end, I threw some words out there and ended up rehashing some thoughts I’d had for another story a few months ago. I may well change the object in question, but the essential thing was that it gave me a place to start from. The story is a little bizarre so far,  but you know what? I like it. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

In other news, I read a great post today over at the Rogue Blades Entertainment blog called Why Fantasy Speaks. I feel the same way, but I think it’s put better than I could.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

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Those words were not a waste

Yesterday, and this morning, I’ve been clearing out my writing folders. It’s long overdue! While they are fairly well organized, they are (were) littered with stories that simply don’t hold that essential spark. I made a point of reading through them all, just to be sure, and was disappointed that a lot of the stories I thought were pretty good were not.

Immediately, the ‘I suck!’ thoughts set in. It’s pretty natural. I was feeling low about the quality of my writing, considering that some of these pieces are just under a year old. I thought that I got this whole short story thing now. I thought I was better than this.

Then I was reminded that each of these stories has been part of the journey. They may not be (now, or ever) up to scratch for publication, or even for giving away/sharing with friends, but they have all been part of the process. The words were not a waste. Not every story can be amazing, not every story can even be great, and to expect that level of awesome from myself is unrealistic. (Maybe when I am getting eight hours a night, every night, and the kids are in school…lol). Sometimes you have to clear out the mess so that you can make room for the good stuff.

So what am I left with? 20 or so stories in my ‘trunk folder’, 5 in my ‘to finish’ folder, and just a couple out on submission – one of which I will be trunking when it gets rejected. There are plenty of other ideas floating around, and at some point when I have more time, I’ll get back into the habit of writing shorts on a regular basis.

At some point, I will also have to go through my novels and clear them out as well. I’m not quite ready for that yet though. I am firmly attached to each of my novellas, so they aren’t going anywhere. It’s a little scary, culling. It makes it seem like you have little to show for all that time. But I know, those words were not a waste.

*With thanks to Sadie Hart and her tweets to me earlier today*