Conflux is coming!

Conflux is next weekend – huzzah!

I’m having a slightly lower key con than I usually do. I’ll only be on 2 panels & helping launch my lovely friend Donna M Hanson’s paranormal Victorian duology Ruby Heart and Emerald Fire. Here’s where you can find me!

Saturday, 12.30 – Launching Donna’s books.

Sunday, 1.30 – The place of Aussie SFF in the US & UK, with Keri Arthur, Thoraiya Dyer and Freya Marske

Monday, 2.30 – Jane Austen in SF and Fantasy, with Donna Hanson & Freya Marske.

So, if you’re in the ‘Berra over the long weekend, I hope to see you there!

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Continuum 15

Here’s where you can find me at Continuum 15, next weekend in Melbourne!

Saturday, 10am: Mothers! In! Space!
I’ll be moderating this one, and the panellists are Kate Elliott (gasp!), Liz Barr & J S Breukelaar

Sunday, 5pm: Happily Ever Afters
I’ll be on this panel with Laura, Lyss Wickramasinghe & Andi Buchanan.

Monday, 11am: Regency SFF
I’m on this one with a bunch of dear friends and fellow Regency romance tragics, Kathleen Jennings, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Devin Madson, & Freya Marske.

I gotta say, their program is looking very, very fine.

Looking forward to Continuum 15!

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Are you going to Continuum in Melbourne over the June long weekend?

If so, hopefully I’ll catch you there!

I found out what panels I’ll be on, and subject to last minute tweaking, you should be able to find me talking about Mothers in SFF on Saturday morning, Happily Ever Afters on Sunday afternoon & Regency-inspired SFF on Monday morning. I’ll post more details when they’re finalised, but I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!!!

Happy indulgence weekend

I hope you’ve had a lovely long weekend, whether you celebrate Easter or Passover or Chocolate or just days off or anything else significant to you. (Our main celebration was my son’s 15th birthday this weekend, so there you go.)

I have been kinda self indulgent this year, catching up on back episodes of my new fave podcast, Be The Serpent, a podcast of extremely deep literary merit. It is fun, and intelligent, and exactly the right balance of enthusiastic and analytical, *and* they include discussions of fan fic as well, which adds a whole other dimension I’m enjoying. #addicted (And it’s also just been nominated for a Hugo Award, so it’s actually objectively awesome.)

Full disclosure, it features my lovely friend, author Freya Marske, alongside fellow red-headed fantasy authors Alexandra Rowland and Jennifer Mace. Freya is Australian, Alexandra American and Jennifer British. This makes for a particularly satisfying balance, but especially in episode 3, in which they discuss apocalypses and the various apocalypse-like natural disasters they’ve prepped for that are prevalent in the geographical locations they’ve lived in. BTS_header_smaller

Now I just have to find more time in my life to listen to all the podcasts I want to catch up on. Sigh. Who needs sleep anyway?

Ditmar ballot joy!

The Ditmar preliminary ballot got released today and, holy freaking hell, I’m on it!

The Beast’s Heart has been nominated for Best Novel, A Hand of Knaves has been nominated for Best Collection, and I’ve been nominated for Best New Talent!

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The Ditmars, in case you’re not familiar with them, are Australia’s fan-nominated awards, so I am more than thrilled to find myself on this list. Just to give you an indication of the kind of company I’m in, when I showed my partner the list of other names The Beast’s Heart is up against to take out the gong, he laughed. Any day I find myself on a list with the likes of Sam Hawke for City of Lies, Kaaron Warren for Tide of Stone, Alan Baxter for Devouring Dark, or Amanda Bridgeman for The Subjugate, is a good day.

And, not only has A Hand of Knaves been nommed for Best Collected Work, but the obscenely talented Shauna O’Meara has bagged a well-deserved nomination for her exquisite illustrations.

It’s immensely satisfying to see so many other good friends receive nominations. It’d probably be just as easy to re-post the entire list rather than list them all individually, but I’m particularly pleased to see the noms for Rivqa Rafael & Tansy Rayner Roberts’ anthology Mother of Invention (including a nom for Best Artwork for it’s stunning cover by Likhain) and for Elizabeth Fitzgerald for Best Fan Publication for her review blog on Earl Grey Editing, especially given she’s just announced she will be winding that up in the near future (sad face).

Happily, I have already booked my ticket to Continuum in June (where the awards ceremony will take place). I’m really looking forward to sharing a drink with the others on the ballot and toasting the winners. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for the nominations, and congrats to all my fellow nominees. See you at Continuum in June!

The darkest hour

Today is my last day of leave after taking a couple of months off my day job. Technically I guess I still have the weekend, but Monday will see me up and showered and back in the office at an unconscionable time of day, instead of stretched out on my couch in my pyjamas with my laptop or a book…

I have very conflicted thoughts about what I’ve achieved since the end of January.

I never EVER get as much done on these sabbaticals as I want to.

I don’t have a finished first draft.

In fact, in some ways I’m much further off a first draft, having completely torn apart the first 50,000 words of the first draft I’d previously created.

And it’s a constant struggle to balance out the voices of doubt and self-sabotage with an objective, let alone positive, dialogue with myself about what I have or haven’t achieved. For example, you may notice I haven’t put up any blog posts in the time I’ve had off. Why? Because it feels incredibly dishonest to be be blithely blogging about doing a thing when I’m deeply questioning if I am actually even doing that thing. Have I written enough? Have I spent enough time brainstorming/world-building/deepening character/developing backstory? Do I have what it actually takes to write a novel? I mean, sure, I’ve done it once, but what if it was a fluke?

About the only thing I draw hope from is that SO MANY writers seem to go through exactly this kind of mess, and it seems like the only thing you can do is trust in the process and keep going. “Trust in the process” is a big ask, though, because it’s very difficult to see what there is to trust. Literally all I’ve got is that some of the authors I most admire are honest about passing through this phase of the creative process.

Ugh.

So, partly by way of doing some self validation and partly in the hope this might act as breadcrumbs for someone else wandering around in this horrible, uncertain, formless grey space, here’s some stuff I have done, to balance out the abject lack of completed first draft sitting in my documents folder.

  • Loads of character backstory. Some of my characters have changed dramatically. They’ve deepened, become more interesting and more whole. Some of them were mere ciphers and are now awesome.
  • I have actually written some scenes I am actually pretty happy with, actually.
  • I have nutted out a plot. It’s not completely fleshed out, and my ending is still hellishly hazy. But I have a lot more structure to this story than I previously did. And, TBH, that’s actually the main thing I wanted to achieve with this time off. It’s really easy to downplay the sheer amount of thinking/dreaming/brainstorming time that goes into creating plot (at least for someone like me – I am not a plotter) and one of the reasons I took this time was so I could have just days and days of staring into space and trying out ideas and abandoning them and trying out other ideas… Discarding so many ideas. Oh yeah. *sighs wearily* It’s all part of the process.
  • I’ve made huge headway into my TBR pile. “Wait. What?” I hear you say.* “That’s not writing! Why are you reading when you should be typing words???!” But reading is super important. Especially reading stuff you enjoy and that feeds your muse. When I am all dried up and wrung out and exhausted by my lack of progress and jaded with my lack of creativity and sick to freaking death of my stupid WIP, reading reminds me what I love about stories, and about what kind of story I want to write. Falling in love with other people’s characters and marvelling at other writers’ clever plot twists and getting lost in other authors’ magnificent world-building helps me rekindle those exact sparks in my own work.

So, there you go. Not a lot of wordage. No shiny first draft yet. (In fact, right now, I’ve retreated from the idea of even producing a first draft at this point, and embraced the concept of a zero draft, as outlined in this fab thread from Fonda Lee, author of Jade City)

But in so many respects I’m way further along than I was back in January and starting to fall back in love with my story again, I think.

Just gotta keep trusting in this amorphous thing called The Creative Process and … keep on swimmin’.**

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* When I say “you” I mean “me”.

**And buy lotto tickets. So many lotto tickets.

Out now in the US!

Book cover: The title "The Beast's Heart" is written out in ornate writing surrounded by rambling red roses. At the bottom of the image they are in bud, a little further up in full bloom, and at the top, bare branches. Above the words, and surrounded by bare winter branches is a picture of a fairy tale castle.

Happy book birthday to me!

The Beast’s Heart is now available in the US, thanks to my lovely editor Anne Sowards and the fabulous team at Berkley Publishing.

Just in case you’re eager for more of me talking about my Beast, writing and all things fairy tales, here’s a few places to read or hear more:

Ink Feather Book Reviews: Me chatting to the delightful Lauren on the Ink Feather podcast

A Pure Fandom book giveaway (US only) with a link to an interview I did with them

A guest post over at Bookish, with some book recs for fairy tale tragics like me who can’t get enough poison apples and glass slippers

Professional Book Nerds: Me chatting to  Adam on their podcast (and cackling a lot because he made me laugh)

Jean Book Nerd interviewed me about writing and The Beast’s Heart and what’s coming next.

One week to go!

Book cover: The title "The Beast's Heart" is written out in ornate writing surrounded by rambling red roses. At the bottom of the image they are in bud, a little further up in full bloom, and at the top, bare branches. Above the words, and surrounded by bare winter branches is a picture of a fairy tale castle.

On Feb 12 The Beast’s Heart gets its US release, and I’m officially counting down the hours, now.

I’ve got plenty of time to do it, too, because I’ve just kicked off two whole months’ leave from my day job, in which I’m going to do my level best to get the next WIP as close to done as I can. This will also mean I’ll have loads of time for all the little bits of PR stuff that comes with a book release without the inconvenience of having to put on pants and turn up at an office in a state that makes it worth their while to pay me. So: yay for purchased leave! I will be doing all of this in my pyjamas.

And that’s another year over…

Wow. 2018. In many respects a very, very challenging year. But now it’s done, and I lived to tell the tale.

Here are my high points, some of which were pretty freaking high.

1. Publication dream come true

The Beast's Heart_finalI probably don’t need to go into detail on this one. But this dream has come so comprehensively true in so many ways. It’s actually a whole lot of dreams all bundled up together and tied with a giant bow.

Dream publisher, dream editor, dream cover.

And it’s still not over. February 12 will see TBH come out in the US, and while that’s obviously a 2019 thing waiting to happen, all the legwork for that happened this year. And again, another dream publisher, another dream editor and, oh my stars, another beautiful cover revealed.

2. Editing fun

AHOK_frontcover_medium_resolutionI didn’t have any of my own short fiction published in 2018, but that’s OK. Because I published a whole 19 pieces of other people’s short fiction! Along with the very lovely Chris Large, my co-editor for A Hand of Knaves, and with the backing of my wonderful writing community, the CSFG.

It was a big job, along with running the crowd funding campaign, and the learning curve was a big one. But we produced some really, really good fiction, and I love love love the art Shauna O’Meara created for us.

 

3. Figuring stuff out

Some stuff you just have to figure out for yourself. Like exactly how busy having a novel published is going to make you. This year has just been one giant learning curve for me, and central to that has been the age-old metaphor of the straw that broke the camel’s back. And it really has been a case of tiny things building up to form an intolerable burden. Which has been a hard thing to learn, because I like doing lots of stuff. But realising I have limits, and making some changes in my life to reduce my personal quotient of straw back to a manageable degree has been an important thing this year. I’ve been doing a bit of journalling (examples from my journal above) and this has helped me get my head around getting stuff done. And helps to remind me about what I’ve actually achieved as well!

4. Reading some great books

One of the consequences – and frankly, one of the warning signs – of being so busy this year is that I didn’t get anywhere near as much writing done as I wanted. And trying to rekindle the creative spark is almost impossible if you’re a bit burned out. So in October I gave myself a month off writing and just read. This worked a treat, and really reminded me of exactly why it is I write: because stories are wonderful. I also really got into audiobooks this year, which seriously helped me get through my TBR. So here are some of my best favourite books I read this year, in no particular order.

So charge your glasses and here’s to the end of 2018, and to all the possibilities and potential that lies ahead in 2019. Wishing you and yours the very best of all of it.

Bring on the fireworks!

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