life, writing

It’s all in the words you use

I am a writer.

I wrote in primary school – stories five times as long as those of my peers. I wrote in high school – every afternoon I’d get off the bus, grab some food and boot up the old computer, black screen, green type, and I would disappear. I remember printing one book off and giving it to my art teacher to read. I recall her face as I handed her the pages – you know, the one that says they will read this, but only because they want to be supportive, not because they think it will be any good. I recall her face as she handed them back – surprised that actually, it was much better than she had imagined. There was a complete story, potential.

I’ve always had a story in me, and when my cousins and I would get together to play games over the school holidays it would most often be me who picked names, ages, who filled out the back stories for the personas we’d take on. They were sprawling games, taking place all day, across my grandparents farm where we’d immerse ourselves so deeply into the story that the natural landscape was invisible, merely a backdrop to our invented lives.

My friends and family all know I’m a writer. They know it’s a part of me that isn’t going away. I’ve seen the looks on their faces too when they’ve read things, not expecting them to be good, and then being surprised. Some of them don’t like the content of my stories, but they can’t deny that they get engaged, that I can draw them into my other worlds.

So, I am a writer. This is a well known fact. It’s set in stone. It is not going to change.

But recently, I’ve changed what I am saying. Recently, I’ve begun to say not just “I’m a writer”, but, “I’m going to publish a novel later this year”, and I have been amazed by how much that changes things.

I’m not just someone who writes, someone who occasionally publishes a short story anymore (short stories don’t seem to count with a lot of people, they read NOVELS, not shorts). But I’m someone with a whole book, and people want to read it…

This has been, really bizarre, and interesting. They WANT to read this book! Most people might not even know what it’s about, but they still want a look at it. I’ve had people ask me if they’ll be able to get it in paperback or will I just be doing digital, when it will be out, and whether I can sign a copy, whether I need another reader, if I want them to review it when it’s released.

This small change in the words I use to describe what I am doing has changed everything. It’s like it signifies a transition from the act of writing (which essentially, one does by oneself so is not such a visible thing) to the act of publishing. It’s that opening of the door to finally reveal what I’ve been working on for years, and it’s scary and exciting and wonderful.

I really hope I don’t disappoint, but the fact that people are curious is really encouraging – I can’t wait to share my worlds with you all!

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authors, interview, Uncategorized, writing

Introducing Richard Parry

So, last month he posted an interview with me, it was only fair that I get to return the favour! Of course, coming up with questions that weren’t carbon copies of his was harder than I expected. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself – what makes Richard Parry, Author, tick?

Without wanting to sound too much like an asshole, the short answer is “interesting things.”

If I look at life and how it’s laid out, I want to have a set of good stories to tell at the end of it.  Things I’ve done, and maybe a few things that have made the world a better place (or at least, not a worse place).

It’d suck to reach the end of your life and look back and have nothing but a few faded Polaroids and some bitter memories to show for it, so I’ve tried to do things Less Ordinary.  Prior to writing, I tried to climb corporate ladders, got a black belt in karate, and travelled a bit.  Those things were cool, but I felt like something was missing.

A few years ago I had a sort of epiphany that went a little like this: I really like stories.  Wouldn’t it be great if I could share some of the ideas kicking around in my head, and tell stories for others?

I’m kind of hedging with the Cheroke.  “The world is full of stories, and sometimes they allow themselves to be told.

Are there any particular themes that crop up in your stories, or you more of an action-kill-slash theme-what-theme kind of writer?

A little while ago I read On Writing, by Stephen King.  You can love or hate the man (I’m somewhere in the middle), but you can’t dispute that he’s a master of the craft.  In that book, he talks about writing what you know – with specific references (if memory serves) to people like Grisham.  As I interpret his point, the thing is you need to write from what you know, and what interests you.

The things that I know are people, and a little bit of kung fu.

  • What I’d like to be able to do is tell you a story where someone, who is pretty ordinary – maybe a little bit like you, or me, or your kid, or that guy from work – has to overcome something pretty hard.  It should have a happy ending, but that doesn’t mean riding off into the sunset.
  • One of the ways I’ve figured to make journeys hard is to overcome obstacles.  Those obstacles need to be relative to the protagonist; it’s not really gripping reading if the main character is 290 pounds and has to take over a child care facility.  Unless he slips on a banana sandwich, he’s unlikely to be stretched in that situation.

Coupling those two things with my love of science fiction, martial arts, and bad action movies, the sorts of things I write about seem to follow a more visual style – almost a screenplay, ready for a movie (…and probably an action movie with a high FX budget).  I’m not trying to give you the depth of Russian romantic literature: I’m trying to give you a really good time, an exciting read, with people you can identify with, root for, or hate.

For the most part, it seems to be working.  I’ve asked people who they most identify with in Night’s Favour, and the answers are totally across the board.  To me this sounds good: those people are different enough to be unique, and resonate in different ways with different readers.  I love that.

Do they get there on purpose, or without conscious effort?

For the most part.  So here’s the thing: when I write, I kinda know what the ending might look like, but I don’t describe it too much.  Just a rough outline – does the girl get the boy?  Is the villain overcome?  And how do I make this worthwhile for the reader to have come this far – how is the ending happy?  But I’m never married to it; the ending that was written for Night’s Favour ended up being a little different to how it was originally planned.

I let the people in it tell their own story.  I probably spend the most time up front coming up with the people, and what their motivations are; conversly, I spend the least time coming up with the plot.  It’s a hard lesson, but I learned it: your people can’t be real if you tell them what to do.  They can only be real if they interact with each other, and grow as the story progresses.

There’s a lot of mental energy used up when I’m writing trying to make sure that the characters continually talk.  When I’m not writing, they’re all acting out scenes in my head – when I’m on the train, when I’m in a boring meeting, whatever.  Most of those scenes never make it into a book, they’re like random what-if slices.  But it’s not something I focus on – this shit just happens.  I couldn’t turn it off if I tried.

Interesting factoid: my brain chemistry is at war with itself right now.  I’ve finished Night’s Favour, and I’m happy where I left that story.  Upgrade has its own people and that story is unwinding at its own pace.  However, I have a sequel to Night’s Favour kicking around in my head, and Val and John and Danny and Carlisle keep talking to each other about it.  Then Mason and Carter want a piece so they can save a dying planet (but they don’t know it yet).  And I’ve also sketched out a new setting, a sort of steampunk-meets-A-Wizard-of-Earthsea, and the heroine of that is trying to get my attention.

After finishing Night’s Favour, I got sad for a while, because I felt like I’d got to know the people in it, and I likedthem.  It was like leaving a group you hung out with for months, and putting them on the shelf.  Their story was done, and it was the best I could make it, but the people still want to talk.

This is why I drink.

Having initially met you while playing Guild Wars 2, I know that you’re a gamer – which games in particular have stood out to you for their story telling ability?

Yeah.  Ok, there’s a few.

I love games for the stories they can tell, but not many of them do it well.  There’s a million dudebro shooters that are entirely predictable.  But I’m going to shout out to just three games here for what they delivered.

  • Planescape: Torment.  I love you because you made me cry (yes, really).  I had to put this game down for a week before I could come back to it and finish it.  My specific journey as the Nameless One had some pretty rough times, and when it becomes clear what an absolute jackass your character has been I had to take a breather.
  • BioShock (the original).  This one sucker punched me, because it used the medium of the game world as a mechanism for storytelling.  Without wanting to give away spoilers, those of you who understand the significance of “would you kindly…” will get it.  It’d be pretty tricky to tell the same kind of story, give the same impact, if you as the player hadn’t been complicit in the acts of telling that story.  Also, plasmids.  A special mention should be given to the real sequel, Infinite, because they tackled something a little mentally complex and it was a fun ride.
  • The Last of Us.  Maybe the best game I’ve ever played, I dunno.  The real power of this story comes from the relationship between your dude Joel and a teenage girl, Ellie.  They’re both super real to me, and their interaction is perfectly realised.  The thing that makes it is the difficulty of the journey, and standing alongside the two of them as they find their way into each others hearts.  The ending is bittersweet and real, and I wish I could have the experience of playing it throuh again without knowing how it ends.

I know it’s early days in your career just yet, but if you had the chance, what other media would you tackle?

Having touched on my visual-ish style, I’d really like to try writing a screenplay for a movie.  It’s still writing, sure, but the output is on a bigger screen, with some different constraints – the whole thing needs to be done through action and dialogue, and you can’t get insight into someone’s head through a character having a moment of introspection.  I suspect constraints can lead to a more powerful story, if you don’t lose your vision and some pinhead doesn’t cut half the good stuff before it makes it out (the new Total Recall says hi).

For the same reason, I’d also like to give a radio play a crack, but I’m really not sure a market exists for radio plays with a high body count.  There’s a couple podcasts that go in this direction, but I’m not entirely attracted to serialised content in quite the same way.

Finally, just for a little fun: Taking into consideration that it takes certain ways of thinking and seeing the world to love different movies, which five movies best sum you up your personality?

Hm.  This is a different question to, “What are your five favourite movies?”  Tricky.  Let’s see how we go.

  • Blade Runner for its insights into humanity, and what it means to be human.
  • Amelie for how it shows you can be good and giving around the edges of an ordinary life.
  • The Lord of the Rings (yeah, three movies, whatever) for how they describes friendship, loyalty, and doing the things that are hard because they are right.
  • Iron Man for showing it’s possible to stop being an asshole and start changing the world.
  • Finally, Unbreakable for showing there’s a hero inside all of us.

Special thanks to Cassie for finding the time in her hectic life to interview me.  It means a lot – and I hope you found something to like in here.

Richard has passed along a fun story to give you a taster of his writing – if you like it, why not check out his novel Night’s Favour?

Sleepless

 by Richard Parry

The deck thrummed, more feeling than sound.  Jennifer felt it in her teeth.  It was a harsh sensation, like using a mechanical toothbrush with a thrown bearing.  She’d had one of those in Basic, the fluffy end finally breaking off mid-clean and leaving her with coffee breath.

It had been going on for three days.

Or close enough anyway.  It didn’t seem to matter anymore.  She’d stopped counting the days so precisely when McConnolly was found nailed to his bunk.  That might have been yesterday.  If it was the day before, well, the thrumming had been going on for four days.  Hard to tell.

McConnolly, now that was a thing.  It hadn’t looked accidental in any way.  No sir, no one was trying to make his death look like some random act of fate.  That would be easy around here, you could get cycled out an air lock, or caught up in the induction coils for the gate drive.  Accidents happened all the time.  No, this was definitely deliberate.  Big industrial bolts had been fired through his limbs and into the metal sheeting that supported the bunk.  The damndest thing was the look on his face.

He’d been smiling.

She’d done the post mortem herself, tox screens showing clear.  He hadn’t been drugged, which probably meant he was aware of the rivets being driven through his arms and legs.

Running her hand through her hair, she did the mental math.  How many sleep cycles had she missed?  How many meals on the mess deck?  Her eyes wandered to her console, papers and reports scattered on top.  Empty packets of stims lay amongst dirty coffee bulbs.  Ok, so probably four days.

Jennifer watched a pencil on the corner of her console.  It shivered in sympathy with the deck plates, occasionally giving a tiny jump.  The end of the pencil was chewed, teeth marks up and down the shaft.  She could still make out some faded lettering, once proudly proclaiming a Staedler product in bright gold lettering.

The evening after McConnolly’s death, they’d found Munroe.  He was in the mess hall, quite dead, a small pool of blood around his mouth.  He’d managed to eat an entire teapot, including the small porcelain lid.  He’d had to break bits of it up to get it all down, the jagged ends doing some nasty internal damage.  He’d bled out internally through his stomach.  She had collected all the teapot’s pieces into an evidence jar in her office.  After putting them back into some semblance of order, she saw the pot had a Winnie-the-Pooh motif on the outside.

Perhaps it was a gift from one of his kids.  Or for his kids.  It didn’t matter much now.

He’d also been smiling – clearly not feeling the indigestion that had killed him.  If Jennifer had been asked to describe the expression, she would have said, “Dreamy.”

It had gone on like that, crew members dying around her.  Some appeared murdered, like McConnolly, and others appear to have developed habits that killed them, like Munroe.  It didn’t really matter how it happened, but they all died smiling.  The closest thing to tie it all together was the damn thrumming that went throughout the ship, shaking bolts loose, weakening pressure seals, and worst of all, giving Jennifer a headache she couldn’t get away from.  The pain and the stims kept her awake.

Four days.  It was enough to make anyone depressed.  It’s just that they all looked so happy dead.

The alarm shrieked, causing her to jump in her armchair.  The red emergency lighting spun shadows and confusion around her cabin.  At least the noise was a distraction from the thrumming, giving her something to focus on.  Jennifer got to her feet, armchair rolling back on its casters.  She was unsteady at first, her hip bumping into the console, knocking papers to the floor.  The pencil jumped, hit the floor, and rolled under the console.

She’d get it later.  Maybe after some sleep.  She grabbed another stim pack from her locker, popping the top and sucking back the sickly sweet fluid.  After a few moments, the grittiness in her eyes seemed to lift, and she could focus on things again.  The text on the stim pack announced another fine Pharmac product, and encouraged her to not exceed two units between sleep cycles.  The shaking in her hands didn’t stop.  She tossed the empty pack to her bunk, and shrugged on a shirt from the pile on the floor.  It was clean enough for an alarm.

No, no sleep today.  Jennifer wasn’t going to sleep until this was all squared away.  Heck, she could sleep when she was dead, either way.

Facing the door to her cabin, she pushed her shoulders back and crammed her cap on.  Time to act like an officer.  She opened the door, heading down the narrow passage, boots clanking against the deck grating.  She nodded at the sentry posted at the end of the corridor.

“Fenson.  Report.”

Fenson came to attention, her right arm snapping up to salute.  Career soldier, as near as made any difference.  She’d enlisted fresh out of Port Amber, right from the front lines of the conflict.  Jennifer noted the crisp lines of Fenson’s uniform.  She was probably sleeping better than Jennifer if she still had patience to iron.  “Ma’am.  Yes ma’am.  Fire alarm started seconds ago.  We think it’s from inside the morgue.”

Jennifer eyed Fenson from under her cap.  “You think, private?”

“Ma’am.”  She cleared her throat.  “Rupert is going down to take a look.”

“Alone?”

“Ma’am.  There’s…  There’s no one left.  Else, I mean.  There’s no one else.”

“Private.  Follow me.”  Without looking to see if Fenson was following, Jennifer broke into a jog towards the morgue.  A fire in the morgue would be highly unusual.  There wasn’t anything in there to burn.

She could hear boots behind her.  Fenson.  Good.

As they got closer to the morgue, Jennifer could smell the smoke.  It was oily, like too much fat on barbequed bacon.  She could also hear a sound, strangely rhythmic.  As a child her mother had wanted her to play an instrument.  Jennifer was having none of it, preferring to play outside with her brothers.  After much reflection in the music store, she’d chosen the clarinet because the sound of a poorly blown reed was sure to drive her mother crazy and end practice very quickly.  This sound had that same high-pitched edge to it, a shriek starting to build from some terrible pain, and then stopping again.

Jennifer rounded the corner leading to the morgue, and saw Rupert standing in the doorway to the morgue.  He wasn’t moving, his face registering shock.  The smoke was thick here, black sooty clouds coming from the door to the morgue.  She could tell from where she stood that tears were running down his face – from shock or the smoke, it was hard to tell.  Same song, different music.  She’d seen a man like that in the field once, watching as the enemy had started eating one of his squad mates, just before being topped himself.  Regardless of why, Rupert was stunned, immobile, and ineffective.  Jennifer grabbed an extinguisher from the wall and ran up beside him to look into the morgue.

The Texas carried all kinds of supplies.  It was a big starship, designed to spend years on a mission.  All the comforts of home, right here in space.  They even had recorded TV shows, all re-runs but something at least to lean against in the cold of space.  Feeding a hungry crew was vital, and the needs of the kitchen were paramount.  A well-fed crew was a crew marginally less inclined to mutiny.  So they had the usual, powdered eggs, flour, all kinds of proteins and frozen vegetables.  Stacks of them, down in the hold.  Heck, they made cakes on Christmas.  For that they needed the usual supplies.

And sugar.  Big barrels of sugar.

One of those barrels had been wrestled up here into the morgue, the top popped off.  Jennifer guessed some kind of incendiary had been used to start the fire – probably a welding torch.  And then – by the looks, only a quick glance so far – Specialist Wallace Simpson had thrown himself on top of the blaze.

He was making the noise.  There wasn’t much left of his face and probably not his throat either.  He just sat in the fire, not moving at all, the smoke pouring off him in big black clouds.  His orange jumpsuit was charred, a long taffy streamer of melting plastic stretching down from his thigh.

Jennifer pushed past Rupert, bringing the extinguisher up.  She squeezed the release, great gouts of white foam hitting Simpson’s torso.  The flames gutted down while she played the extinguisher over him and the barrel of sugar.  Stepping forward quickly she planted a boot in Simpson’s chest and pushed him backwards out of the path of the flames.

His body hit the floor, soot and flakes of something – better not think about it – puffing out from his back.  She continued to play the stream of foam over him until she was sure he was no longer on fire.

The sugar barrel was still on fire though.  She grabbed a surgical tray, tossing medical tools across the room, and pushed it over the top of the barrel.  Starved of oxygen, the fire would go out quickly.  Jennifer dropped the extinguisher on the tray, then turned to Rupert.

“Private!  Report.”

Rupert seemed to notice her for the first time.  “I, uh.”

“Soldier!”

“Ma’am!”  Rupert seemed to come out of his shock then, body coming back into attention.  “I arrived here just before you.  I, uh.  Specialist.”  He cleared his throat.  “Specialist Simpson was already, he was, the barrel.  Uh.”

Jennifer scuffed something off the boot she’d pushed Simpson back with.  “Go on.”

Rupert tried again.  “Specialist Simpson was in the barrel.  No.  On the barrel.  In?  I think he was on the barrel.  The barrel was on fire.”  He looked down at his feet.  “I didn’t see anyone else in here.  Ma’am.”

Nodding, Jennifer turned to Fenson.  “Get a medical crew down –”

“Christ!”  It was Rupert.  The shot rang out, harsh and loud in the metal cage of the morgue.  Jennifer spun back to him, taking in his unholstered sidearm.  “Fucking Christ!”  He fired again.

Simpson sagged back down, all the air going out of his ruined lungs in one final breath.

“Dude.”  Fenson’s voice was strained.  “You just shot Simpson.”

“He was dead!  He couldn’t have still been alive!  The fire!”

Jennifer looked at Rupert.  “Private.  Surrender your weapon.”

Rupert’s face turned desperate.  “I had no choice!  It was coming for us!”

Fenson spoke again.  “Listen to the boss, Rupert.  She knows what she’s doing.”

Rupert’s eyes went from Jennifer’s face, down to her outstretched arm, and to his sidearm.  His elbows unlocked, the tension leaving his shoulders, and he spun the grip towards her.  “Ma’am.”

“Very good, private.”  Jennifer put the weapon in her back pocket, turning back to Fenson.  “Belay that previous order.  Get a clean up crew down here.  Leave Simpson.  I’ll do the autopsy later.  Just,” and here she looked at the small doors arranged in a grid against one wall, “Put him in the fridge until I get back.”

“Ma’am.  Rupert?”  Fenson nodded towards him.  He seemed to be back in shock, shuffling slowly towards Simpson’s body.  Maybe the lack of sleep was getting to them all.  She’d known Simpson, not well, but well enough to nod at him in the tight corridors of the Texas.  A good man, had a family back on Titan.  She’d played chess with him last week.  He was a lousy chess player.

“The brig.”  Jennifer rubbed her temples.  “God damn it all.  This fucking noise.”

“Ma’am?  What –” Fenson was interrupted by Rupert.

“Christ!  Fucking Christ!”  He’d bent down over Simpson’s body.  “He’s put the fuses for the fucking extinguisher system into his eyes!”

“What?”  Jennifer looked at Rupert, who pointed at Simpson’s head.

“Here.  His eyes!  He’s put the fuses in his eyes.  His fucking eyes, man!”

Jennifer looked at the emergency console on the wall.  Sure enough, it hung open, loose cables dangling from it.  That explained why the fire suppressant system hadn’t come on with the alarm.  She was pretty sure losing at chess wouldn’t make a man do something like this.

“Ma’am.”  It was Fenson again.  “What noise?”

Jennifer turned back to Fenson.  “Private.  Can’t you hear it?  I can even feel it.  Through my feet.”

Rupert nodded from his position.  “All the time.  I hear it when I sleep.”

Fenson looked at both of them, backing towards the door.  Her weapon came up.  “You’re crazy.  Both of you.  It’s you!  You’ve been killing everyone!”

Jennifer kept facing Fenson, her hand sliding towards the sidearm in her back pocket.  “Private.  Stay frosty.  We can work this thing through.”

“People are dead!”  She shouted the last word at Jennifer.  The gun trembled in her grip.  A small trickle of sweat was making its way down from her hair line.

A sound from came from behind Jennifer.  The moment hung, as if time was taking careful steps not to trip up.  Jennifer drew the sidearm from behind her and up in one smooth motion, the weapon level and steady on Fenson’s face.  Fenson’s weapon was pointing at Jennifer, the barrel black and without compromise.  Both of them held that pose for as long as a heartbeat.  Then Fenson squeezed the trigger, the shock of the shot going past Jennifer’s shoulder.  She felt the nick of the bullet against her cheek, bright as a hornet’s sting.

Fenson’s head whipped back, her body pinwheeling into the door frame.  Jennifer’s eyes focussed on the barrel of the sidearm in her hand, smoke making a lazy rise towards the ceiling.  Damn.  She didn’t even remember pulling the trigger, hadn’t felt the pull and buck of the weapon.  Just like that, Fenson was gone.

Her ears were ringing.  She remembered when she’d been posted as a member of a riot squad.  A flash grenade had been let off too close to her, some rookie mistake.  The noise had been hot and white, feeling like mercury in her head.  That’s what this felt like, blood trickling from her ear after her eardrum burst.

Jennifer lowered the sidearm, turning to see Rupert lying on the morgue’s floor next to Simpson.  Fenson’s bullet had taken him in the throat.  He was gone too.  She looked at the weapon in her hand.  Only four days.

She was going to need more stims.

writing

An abundance of M’s

Today I’ve been trawling through every file on my computer, Dropbox and Google drive in an attempt to find  something I started writing 3+ years ago. I remembered that it had been an attempt to write something with more of an ‘action’ feel to it, and that it began as an exercise in a creativity workshop thing I was doing just prior to Natalie’s birth – I’d been too tired, too scared, too anxious about trying to write something novel length since Lauren was born, and this particular piece, stemming from a dream I’d had, was a perfect way to cautiously approach a novel.

Of course, I never finished it, because life with a newborn, a 20 month, and a 5yr old is actually kind of insane.

But I thought about it today as I’m in a weird place in life right now – I have some spare time, but I have to start work on another assignment really soon, I have no pressing deadlines hanging over me (for uni, or anything else), and I want to write, but have nothing in progress as such. I’ve finished the drafts of three novellas this year, but I don’t have the time right now to revise any of those, and there isn’t much point in stressing myself out about that right now because I don’t plan on releasing those until late next year…

So naturally my brain went back to that other time when I was in limbo, waiting, and wanting something to play with. And this novel was the thing.

It has zombie babies, and regular zombies too. I’m on a bit of a kick right now and a friend recently said to me ‘you should write your own zombie novel’, so it was inevitable that my brain latched on that old idea.

I never titled this piece, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember the main characters names, so I went digging through every forgotten file, every ‘untitled’ document I could find.

And I didn’t find the story initially*. What I did find was that I have a ridiculous tendency to give my female leads names that begin with M. Overwhelmingly so. I had no idea!

Madea is the MC in Sun-Touched, and then we have Melanie from Surplus to Requirements, there is Melody in The Way the Sky Curves, and Moana in Shell and Bone. And then we have Meredith, Marama, Meagin, Megan, Marie, and Melissa from various short stories. And finally, Matilda in the Zombie Baby novel. Yes, I’m just going to call it the zombie baby novel for now. I literally have no idea where the story is going, though I’m sure I’ll have a blast finding out.

Not ALL my novels have M’s in the lead – Delaney is in charge in Saving Tomorrow**, and Lyssa is the female lead in Chasing Ascension… Gah! That might be it? Lord help me. I have an obsession with M names. Someone stage an intervention, right now. I’ll have to go out of my way to pick ANY other letter of the alphabet the next time I start a novel. Well, Samantha is the lead in my next novel, so at least she’ll kind of balance things out…

Save me?

Next time I start something new, I think I’ll put it to you to choose the letter the name begins with, because I need help. Obviously.

*I did find the first couple of chapters, thank goodness, but only because I’d emailed them to Anthony and I hadn’t deleted that email. I’m so pleased that my inbox seems to hold EVERYTHING from FOREVER ago. Apparently sending your stories to other people is the best back up method after all!

** It appears I might also have a thing for titles that begin with S… 

Uncategorized

And it’s done

The first draft of Shell and Bone is complete at 23, 532 words.

A few facts about it:

Things kick off with a kiss and they end with a kiss too.

One of the main characters could easily be considered a ‘bad’ character, though she has really great reasons for her actions and others come to see that too – though I found it hard to write and kept wondering whether the reader would find a way to love her too. We’ll see, I guess 😉

Stuff happened that I had not planned. The characters didn’t come out like I had intended, they did things I didn’t expect them too – and that is awesome.

I think it contains the most boring and bleck scene I have ever written – and yet that scene gave me the key to the first scene of the next book in the series, so no matter how painful and ugly it was to write, it was totally worth it (even if none of the original words survive the rewrite).

It’s a hot mess. And I love it.

Uncategorized

Winner!

I did it! Successfully managed to write to my goal of 20,000 words for the month, which means I ‘won’ Camp NaNoWriMo. Feeling pretty happy about that, though I didn’t quite finish writing the novella which sucks a bit. I thought I would finish it yesterday but ended up spending the entire day in bed with a crippling headache. I have codeine now though, and am actually capable of functioning a little (yay codeine!).

August is lined up to be another busy month. It’s ‘The End is Nigh‘ over at Kiwiwriters and I need to finish the first draft of Shell & Bone, and then make the beginning of Burn as good as the rest of it before submitting. And then I think it’s back to revision on ‘The Way the Sky Curves’. Which I guess makes it a month of novellas. Will be super nice to have them all at the next stage of writing though, and puts me well on the way to completing my goals for the year.

How was July for you? And what are you planning for August?

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Baby Teeth

I have always had a soft spot for horror stories. Always. I love to be creeped out, so of course when a writer friend started a group on facebook and suggested we write some stories based on that ’25 creepiest things kids say’ thing that was going around, I had to get in on the action!

And so ‘Baby Teeth’ was born, driven by the incredible Dan Rabarts, with the lovely Lee Murray jumping in to help with editing, and a bunch of awesome writers offering their stories up for inclusion. The anthology contains 37 stories from 27 authors, and all profits will go to Duffy Books in Homes. I really love contributing to worthy causes, and this is certainly one of them.

My short story is called ‘The Dead Way’, and in part the idea came to me over four years ago when my eldest was just four. We were driving past a street, she asked what it was, I told her it was a dead end, and then she asked, “What’s down a dead way, mummy?” And I had to wonder – what was down a Dead Way?

I could never put my finger on it, until this group formed, and then suddenly I was writing, and the story came out without very much brain power from me. I love it when that happens.

Anyway, the book is coming out in just a couple of months, and a PledgeMe campaign has been set up to raise funds for an initial print run of the book. There are heaps of awesome rewards, alongside the options of getting digital, audio, or print copies of the book – why not check it out? At the time I write this, we’re 64% funded, so go and show some love for horror, and getting kids reading, we’d really appreciate it!

🙂

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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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Found my groove!

Well, it took a little bit, but I finally got there! Have been managing to revise at least a scene a day for these last few days – and worked out the main issue getting between me and working. 

I had to pretty much rewrite the entire beginning of this novella. Five brand new scenes, which changed a whole lot. The story is much better for it, but it was hard slog, and I was feeling pretty low energy about it all. Of course, now that it’s done, I love it 😉 I guess after spending so much time deep in assignment writing, I wasn’t quite ready for more hard work. Very pleased that bit is over with though, and now I can get to the less difficult task of revision rather than rewriting.

There are still a few new scenes to go in, because I decided to add a second pov. I think it will give me wider scope for the books to follow and am enjoying fleshing Noah out a little more now that I have room to do that. 

I’m really super excited about this series. It’s really fun writing in a New Zealand setting, and tapping into my heritage has been a blast. All the weird, quirky stuff that happened while I was growing up is finding a way into these books which just makes it that much more fun to write. I hope that people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

One day, I’ll get to find out!