Category Archives: Writerly Musings

The Future

The future of this blog is uncertain. I haven’t blogged since November, and I simply don’t feel like blogging on it anymore. I don’t want to talk about my private life because I know there are creepy people stalking me out there who will use it against me, and let’s face it, I don’t find myself that interesting, anyway.

And I don’t want to talk about my writing, because after Storm of Blood comes out later this year and maybe gets a sequel, I won’t ever publish under this name again.

Why?

1) I hate that I’ve been naive enough to publish using my real name. I had no idea how hostile my little corner of the Internet would become.

2) There is always the possibility, as has happened in the past, that I will be ‘punished’ through my book’s ratings, for whatever reason (still trying to work that one out TBH).

3) I am going to take some time off to write several books I’ve been dying to get done. I may self-publish them, or I might seek an agent for traditional publishing, seeing as how my handful of queries in 2011 got me several requests for a previous manuscript.

4) Writing takes time and effort, and I don’t want to suddenly go, ‘How long has it been since I last blogged? What interesting crap can I come up with this time?’ I don’t want to be forced to blog just to keep an audience.

5) That previous story won’t ever be published, not even under a different name. It’s too easily identified and I’ve queried it in public contests. No, that series will stay just for me and my friends (and my craft).

 

Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie: why reviews are subjective, and subjective reviews are good.

Last week I saw Frankenweenie, Tim Burton’s new animated flick about the lengths a boy will go to to keep his pet dog.

It wasn’t the greatest movie ever, but it was entertaining. I, however, had a massive emotional response. See, the story is vaguely based on Frankenstein. If you haven’t seen it, it’s not spoiling to say that Victor brings his dog Sparky back to life after he’s hit by a car.

In other news, my twenty year old cat is currently dying of a kidney disease, and I’m very sensitive about it. The vet suggested to me that she might need to be put down. I can’t really cope with the idea of losing my cat that I’ve had since I was six years old. Watching a film about a boy who refuses to let go of his pet really upset me. It made me think about my cat and how I’d do anything to keep her alive and how I’d bring her back to life if it were possible. It made me think about how in the worst case scenario, she’s only got a few more months to live. It made me think about how torn up I know I’m going to be when she does die.

So when Sparky got hit by the car, I cried. When Victor grieved, I grieved. When Sparky risked his second life to save Victor, I bawled. I full-on ugly cried in a cinema filled with children, trying my hardest to keep silent because unless you knew that my cat was dying you’d think I was some weirdo at the cinema who couldn’t control herself.

The huge emotional response I had is entirely subjective. If I’d never had a pet, maybe I wouldn’t have even batted an eye. Maybe I wouldn’t care about some stop-animated dog and his devoted best friend. Maybe I would have left the film going ‘Meh’ instead of agreeing that it was an awesome film.

This is subjectivism. I will tell anyone who wants to listen about the response I had, why I had it, and how the film made me feel. If I was to look at the film objectively, I’d have to ignore the fact that my companion I’ve had for 20 years is dying and this obviously helped me frame the film.

Subjectivity is awesome. This is why the subjective reviews of books are so great. When I read reviews (not of my own work – I don’t do that) I want to know the opinion of the person as an individual. I value their opinion as an individual with a completely different background to me and different tastes in books or films and everything they bring to the book or film. I want the piece of their soul they put into their review when they feel passionately about the work.

If I want objectivity, I will read a review in some boring broadsheet. Those guys are paid to be boring and non-offensive.

UPDATE:

I wrote this post on Friday while I was at work. Today it’s Saturday, and my cat is dead. The end.

 

Guest Post at The Book Lantern

Today (or yesterday depending on where you live) I am/was hosted by the lovely ladies at The Book Lantern doing a guest post on my thoughts on and experience of self-publishing. Check it out!

It’s Quiet… Too Quiet…

I’ve been buried in edits since June’s Camp NaNoWriMo finished.

Wanna sneak-peek?

 

Yeah, I colour coordinate my writing to help find my own weaknesses (passive writing, adjectives). I’m a geek, right?

Storm Front Free for Five Days Only

Hi guys!

Things have been a little quiet on the blogosphere lately, and I can’t even blame writing a new book. I got to 26K words on The King’s Phoenix and decided I needed to take a break because of my day job, which is all kinds of crazy intense at the moment. I value my down time only a lot and instead of stressing myself out over writing deadlines, I am now trying my best to relax in my leisure time just so I can cope with the demands of my day-to-day life.

At this point I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing TKP for all of August and saving Aura for the real NaNoWriMo. The words are flowing just fine – the story’s not a problem. The problem is my extremely limited time and the fact that making my self-imposed writing deadline was stressing me out.

See, I used to read other writing blogs. And they are all about peddling as much new material as possible. Put out one book, get writing, put out another book, ad infinum. Fill every spare moment with writing. If you produce less than 10K words a day you’re a loser. If you can’t produce a brand new book every three months you’re not doing right. These advice givers also tend to have huge backlists, whereas I’m producing entirely new material. The fact that they were at some point traditionally published doesn’t hurt.

So I’ve stopped reading advice. My writing was becoming too much like work and at this point in time that’s not something I can handle. I’m taking my own time. The book will come when it comes.

Also! Storm Front is free on Amazon.com for five days. Go get it!  Especially because the new Tina Storm book is coming out later this year.

Guest Post: The Sad State of YA

Today is a very special day. It’s actually the wood anniversary of the day my fiancé and I started dating. That’s five years, in case you’re scratching your head. We’ve had some rough ups and downs, involving a three year long-distance relationship, two years living together in England, and now we’re settled in Australia.

Because of today’s relevance, I’ve invited my fiancé to write a guest post about the state of YA books. So without further ado, I will let him take over.

Well hi there, I’m a frequent commenter here.

You may have noticed me around. I’m Archer, the Viking.

I’ve been asked to write a guest post, about anything that I want. And I want to share my feelings on one thing and one thing alone.

What is it with the amount of Bad Young Adult Literature out there? I mean why are there some authors putting out books that are of a seriously sub-par quality? Do they think that writing young adult is an anathema to quality?

I have noticed this of late. I’ve branched out and read quite a bit of YA recently. And don’t get me wrong there are some absolute gems in the pile, books like Cinder, Seraphina and The Immortal Rules. These are all extremely good examples of the writing that can be done in the young adult genre.

Cinder takes a classic idea and completely reworks it in a way that, whilst being predictable because it is a Cinderella story, is immensely entertaining and awesomely written by Marissa Meyer. The world building and pacing are well done and the characters crafted well. Seraphina is a very, VERY intelligent read. Even compared to a lot of Adult Literature that I have read it is an intelligent read. Rachel Hartman has crafted a brilliant fantasy world and the intrigue is second to none. And The Immortal Rules? That starts to repair the damage done to vampires by Stephenie Meyer. Julie Kagawa has made nosferatu the hunters that they should be in a blood soaked post apocalyptic world.

Now when you take those 3 examples, yes they were the first 3 that popped to mind, and take the works of an author like Cassandra Clare (copy and pasted her own fan fiction!), Becca Fitzpatrick (the author spear heading the “Be Nice” instead of being honest movement against reviewers and glorifies rape culture, where a woman says no but apparently really says “take me I’m yours” in her work) and Alexandra Adornetto (an angel falls in love with a controlling prick in a nice middle class suburb rather than actually going somewhere where her help is needed), then there really are some differences in the way that these six authors treat their readers. Marissa Meyer, Rachel Hartman and Julie Kagawa all seem to write as if they were writing for any audience, but just happen to have written YA novels. Clare, Fitzpatrick and Adornetto, by and large, seem to have cobbled together works that are contrived, flawed, condescending and at best are totally unoriginal and badly put together or at worst… well at worst they romanticise the possibility of domestic abuse.

Now is it just me, or is there something wrong with that?  When did it become acceptable for authors, who despite what a lot seem to think are read by huge numbers of young people the world over, to write novels that not only glorify, but reinforce in the minds of impressionable young people, that abuse is OK? When did it become OK for a writer to work to a sub-par standard just because they’re writing to the target demographic of teenaged, primarily, readers?

I grew up reading authors like Melvin Burgess (of Junk fame) for god’s sake. His work was hard hitting, gritty, scary, moving, thought provoking, true to life, intelligent and most importantly well written. He and other authors of the 90’s, Garth Nix and Philip Pullman jump to mind, have had tremendous success with their works. They have been well received by more than just their target audiences. And whilst yes, they are far from perfect, they are at least well thought out, well structured pieces of writing that actually challenge the reader. That actually, even on some base level, cause the reader to think about more than the importance of being in a relationship.

I am saddened that authors like these, like Hartman, Meyer and Kagawa, seem to have fallen largely by the wayside. And that authors who promote, however unintentionally, and normalise ideas of success through modifying the ideas of others and domestic abuse and many other things that are wrong with the world are on the gravy train. It just makes me think, you know? It makes me ask myself why? Why have the authors who put out pieces of work that are profound and moving been pushed aside? And why are works that could ultimately end up in, and this is a worst case scenario, the death of a young woman/man who doesn’t know any better because of the relationships in these books, being pushed and publicised so hard? In my opinion it’s not right and it shows quite a bit about what is wrong with the way society thinks. But who knows. Maybe I’m just cynical and have missed something.

Anyway, that’s my two cents on the matter. I hope it raises some good discussion. I’ll see you in the comments in the future.

Archer, Out!

Wattpad

Wattpad is an awesome website where you can upload your own content for free reading. It’s the home of fanfiction and indie writers. It’s aimed at mobile users – people with smart phones, etc – but anyone can join and read free books and works in progress (WIP). I joined a few weeks ago and yesterday I posted my first story.

The Archive of Lost Dreams is available on Wattpad. I’ll be slowly uploading all of my content on to Wattpad: that means all the Storm Front stories and a serialised version of The Edge of Darkness.

I’m toying with the idea of keeping a WIP on there as well, and updating it as I write it, but I don’t write linearly (as much as I try to) and as much as writing is a hobby for me, I am trying to treat it like a job. I’m going back and filling in empty places in The Oncoming Storm (working title) and I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting a first draft up on the website, anyway.

It might be an idea for the future, though, especially as I am going to attempt to use Camp NanoWriMo as extra motivation to get some more novels done this year.

I’d like to know your opinion: would you like to read a work in progress, or would you prefer I serialise a completed, edited and polished novel? Would you like to see how I work, or would you rather wait for the final product?

Style: not just something you’re born with

I try not to give much writing advice on this blog because I only have a lifetime of reading, a four year English degree and two moderate bestsellers to my name. However, there are a few things I want to get off my chest that I’ve come across time and time again not only in beta reads and self-published works, but in traditionally published books as well.

Style. It’s not just something you’re born with. It’s something you can learn. Ignoring style makes your writing look tacky and unprofessional. Readers are inundated with a gazillion books at any one time: they are looking for a reason not to read yours. Don’t encourage them by having bad style.

  • There’s a prevalence in YA of what we reviewers call ‘purple prose’. This is overly-wordy sentences and metaphors or descriptions that make no sense, like ‘cat-green eyes’ (which book is that from again? Someone please remind me!). Because really, I’ve never seen a green cat. Don’t try to overdo your writing. Simple and plain prose can be just as effective as poetic prose, and you’re much closer to not crossing the line into purple.

 

  • Some people don’t know when to start a new paragraph. One paragraph contains one idea and should maintain a logical flow of information. Dialogue almost always starts on a new line, unless it’s the same person talking. If they’re talking about a new subject, that’s a new idea: so start a new paragraph.

 

  • Learn how to use apostrophes. In the plural form of a shortened word, do not add the apostrophe. “I checked all my PM’s.” = WRONG. “My PMs all say the same thing.” = RIGHT

 

  • There is a difference between passive sentences and past progressive tense. Learn it. Use it wisely. Do not accuse people of writing in passive voice when they are writing in past progressive tense. Similarly, do not write in passive voice. Active sentences are built as such: person doing the action – the action itself – the object. ‘The waves crashed on the beach’ not ‘the beach had waves crash on it.’

Remember above all to have fun. That’s not stylistic advice, that’s just general advice from me.

Things I Am Irrationally Afraid Of

I was talking the other day to a close friend and telling her that I like to face my fears. I moved to the other side of the world to be with the Viking even though it scared me. I’ve enquired about donating blood because I’m afraid of needles (but I can’t give because my partner is English – he can’t donate in Australia either). I write about the most horrific things I can think about because it scares me, and in doing so I hope it horrifies and frightens my readers.

But there are a few things I am still irrationally afraid of and I can’t do anything about it.

One of them is spiders. I’m scared of them. Always have been. A few years ago I was the only person in my house late at night and a huntsman appeared on the wall. I talked myself into attempting to move it, got the broom and everything, preparing to take it outside; but in the end it moved about an inch and I nearly screamed. Then I tried to take a photo so I could tell my friends on Facebook how brave I was… and failed at that as well. I even tried to convince myself that she wasn’t ugly but her many eyes were in fact beautiful… I failed at that as well. In the end she ran into my room and I had to wait until my brother came home before I could go to bed.

I’m a wimp when it comes to insects as well. I don’t like wasps or millipedes or cockroaches. I hate bees and grasshoppers. I even avoid dislike moths. Just about the only insect I can stand is the butterfly, but even then I don’t want them touching me.

So that’s one irrational fear I have. I’d add a photo but I don’t even like looking at pictures of insects. I’ve thought about facing my fear of spiders by doing that ‘stick your hand into a tank full of spiders thing’ but I think I might faint if I did that.

I do have a second one. I’m not even sure where it started. I think it started one Halloween (which isn’t really celebrated in Australia) when I was quite young, about eight or nine, and someone told me that if you said ‘Candyman’ three times into a mirror in a dark room, a man akin to Freddie Krueger would appear over your shoulder. Or maybe try to kill you. That idea is possibly based on a film, possibly called ‘Candyman.’ I wouldn’t know because I don’t watch horror films.

I know I scared myself when I had glow in the dark braces at age fourteen and smiled at myself in a dark mirror. All I saw was a skull. I didn’t recognise myself.

I’ve been afraid of dark mirrors ever since. At night time, if I need to go into the bathroom I will always either turn on the light, or avoid looking at the mirror. This was particularly strange when we lived in the UK and had a big wardrobe with full-length mirrors on it.

I don’t know what’s going to happen if I glimpse myself in a dark mirror. Maybe I won’t recognise myself and I’ll scare myself. I seem to be good at doing that.

Do you have any irrational fears?

Do you have fears that you’ve faced and overcome?

Australia

Hi kittens.

Well it’s been a tumultuous month of finding my feet back in Australia. I have barely had time to catch my breath let alone write anything. My life has been full of catching up with friends I haven’t seen in two years, trying to find full-time work whilst working part-time, doing touristy things with the Viking and spending time with family.

I’ve had a glance at some of my stats, and to my surprise I found that I missed something in January. In the haste of packing the house and leaving the United Kingdom, I missed the fact that for a brief time, The Edge of Darkness made it into the top 100 bestseller’s chart in iTunes for Australian science fiction. So yay!

 

I’ve also had a look at my stats from when Storm Front was available for free on Kindle on KDP Select in February. There were hundreds of downloads, which resulted in new ratings on Goodreads and Amazon and new fans for the Facebook fan page. So thank you!

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