Where have I been?

Right here actually, I was right here working my behind off.

I’ve flung myself into the yet unnamed 3rd book of the Last Prophecy Series, and its proving to be beautiful but… a tad political, requiring oodles of research but that’s for another post when I DO have a title for the book.

I’m also neck deep in the reviews for Queen of Spades Awakening – and being told by my beta readers I shouldn’t release in February without the next book being ready. Why? Well it may have the smallest… tiniest… little cliff hanger. Ok, I’ll stop lying, its so awful my sister made me partially deaf in one ear when I told her I hadn’t written the next one yet. Which means plonking down and writing the next two because the 2nd one in the series also ends on a cliff hanger. I’m a sucker for cliff hangers.

On top of that my dear husband and I have settled on a builder and are in the process of starting the ball rolling on our plans for our first home. Exciting times I can tell you but it does mean there are going to be some pretty major crimps in my ability to keep my author platform afloat.

But what does that mean for my writing?

Well – I’ll keep going, and I’ll keep releasing them as I promised.

To Chase a Prophecy should be out in July and follows Kat in her adventure to her mother’s homeland of Rodovinia; and hopefully more answers on the Well of Youth and the other as yet unknown dangers in Nick’s translation of the Last Prophecy.

In October I will release A Phantom Presence; the next instalment of the Last Prophecy Series. The second book follows Detective inspector Ruslana Sergeyovak in Rodovinia’s capital, Kosyavko, as she tries to unravel a series of strange murders and why she believes they are linked.

Hopefully later this year – mid year at this stage – I will be able to release the first two books in the Queen of Spades Series. This is my first foray into Sci Fi Romance, though the story lends itself more to Sci Fi than romance. It’s a very different writing style and take on what I do in the Last Prophecy Series. I’m quite excited to be working on it and its main character is to die for. Literally.

There is also another book series I have off to the side that promises to be far darker than anything I’ve written yet, but my husband loves the concept, despite the sordid depths its going to sink to, and I blame my nightmares for it’s inspiration.

Fun as all that is, I’ll be taking a step back from my social media and advertising to focus on writing more. I’ll be designing my own covers for the foreseeable future, but the part that hurts most about all this is being unable to get any more of Nushi’s fabulous artwork done because we’re saving for the house.

I’ve bemoaned to fellow authors in the same predicament as me that we seem to give up an awful lot of things relentlessly pursuing this indie author dream. And the Treasure Planet line has been thrown about more than once, in fact, I expect certain friends to inact a daily quota I am not allowed to exceed.

I was explaining this beautiful scene from the Disney movie to someone who hadn’t seen it (and if you haven’t, spoilers, and stop reading this and go watch it, I don’t care how old you are). How moving it was to see Jim and Silver fly the little schooner about the stars. The eventual return to the main ship to dock for the evening, and how Jim tells Silver that he has all these plans. Silver looks so forlornly at him, telling him to be careful, that things don’t always turn out the way you plan. And for those of you who’ve seen it, Silver tells Jim, knowing that he’ll betray the newfound trust Jim has in him, sooner rather than later.

When Jim asks Silver how he lost his hand, Silver stars down on it, and it tears my heart out every time I see Silver look at cold steel, the metal folding into a curled fist, as though to hide that he cannot see the palm of his hand anymore. Those epic lines in the softest baritone tremble through the air; you give up a lot of things, chasing a dream.

How many times have I said that same thing, sitting over a keyboard wondering if my words will ever be read? Staring at thousands of hours of worth of text and wondering if anyone cares as much as I do for the story they hold. Fumbling my way through the plots and images in my head to make what I want to say be an engaging book.

But how do I always forget what Jim says next; was it worth it?

Yes. It’s a certainty breathed into my soul.

Because if it isn’t worth doing now then it won’t be worth it even when I can write full time, or have that publishing contract. It’s not worth it if I don’t get everything I can out of the process itself.

When I finished writing A Phantom Presence last year there was something very satisfying in not bursting into tears and feeling a horrid kind of mental anguish as I did so completely with the Well of Youth.

When I finished the Phantom I was quietly, assuredly, proud.

This year the goal is to write six books, publish four, and remember that this is a dream worth chasing.

The Well of Youth is LIVE!!

It didn’t dawn on me until I was sitting at the launch, the display out for everyone, that I felt like I could be excited! The local Mayor was coming to give a speech, my Dad flew down from the NSW coast unexpectedly, but I didn’t feel until that moment that I’d really done it.

As people started turning up it started to pass in a blur, but I got so many pictures, and I am pleased to say this is one of the few I took alone (the rest are with the many loved ones standing next to the banner with me – or without me, I’m looking at you David);

There was cake too! – Ok, so it doesn’t look like it, but that big fat book is really a big fat chocolate cake that was delicious, thank you Vaye!

I got to catch up with so many old friends, and people I didn’t expect who made the afternoon wonderful! It felt less about showing off what I’d done, and more being grateful to all the people there.

To Scott who spent so much time helping me with it.

To Nushie, who couldn’t be there, but gave me such beautiful artwork, breathing life into my stories.

To Kate for making me look so pretty.

To Caroline for making me not feel awkward when she took pictures.

To Lorna for being my aid that day, unquestioningly making it go smoothly.

And to Emily who cracked jokes when I was nervous.

To Dee who gave such a… moving speech. It was very hard to do my speech afterward!

All the friends who came from far and wide, and it felt far less like I was talking to a bunch of strangers about my self spoken importance, and more about how far I’d come, and that they’d all had a part of it.

To my husband’s family who was there to support me – it meant so much and they have always made me feel so included in their family, even if I was a little odd.

To my Dad… who didn’t just come, he helped inspire all of this. I still got through the speech but it wasn’t easy!

I spent the evening hanging out with old uni friends who hadn’t seen each other in years and eating pizza while we reminisced. And then I went home and tired as I was I couldn’t sleep!

The next day should have been about follow up but instead I was at the Allcan Events Fundraiser for Breast Cancer, giving a speech, not about my stories or that I was an author, but about my very brave aunt who fought off cancer for nearly twenty years.

A beautiful event hosted by a work collegue and friend, Gigi, I was honoured, not just that she took the time out of a busy prep Saturday for her fundraiser to come to my book launch, but she also asked me to speak at her luncheon.

Its been a few days coming but I am glad to see the books finally online everywhere and now the hard part of marketing.

I couldn’t have done any of it without the love and support of my husband to whom I am truly grateful. He probably won’t read that but its OK, I do tell him, every day. And intend to keep doing so even with all the books that are to come.

Thank you all of you who were there on the day, and those of you who couldn’t make it I still got your wonderful messages of love and support and it gave me a sense of accomplishment. Thank you all!

When I’m Breathing

‘So…. How many novels have you actually written?’ A work colleague asks.

‘Three of the novellas for my series, they’re pretty short, about 45k words. The novels though, are about 130k words, and I’ve done a couple of them as well. Plus I have two others about the 50k marks, they’re longer ones, and another book series I’m starting that’s at the 30k mark.’ Running the numbers of my current projects through my head tells me it’s still not enough.

He actually sits on those numbers for a moment before responding. ‘Wow. I can’t imagine sitting down to write fifty thousand words. Let alone 140!’

‘Yeah, it’s a lot, I’m pretty pleased with it.’ I’m not. It doesn’t seem like much at all, and there is still so much to do that isn’t about writing.

‘I don’t even know how you find the time to do that.’

And for a moment I don’t know how to respond.

Its unfathomable.

I can’t describe the ease it takes to find my place in a story, stick on the head phones and punch word after word hour after hour, forgetting the total as the story wraps itself around my thoughts. There is the greatest freedom feeling the wind on your face the sway under your feet as your imagination takes you further than the stars, to new worlds where the infinite is tangible. Dipping your hands into the waters of creativity and drinking deep, slacking a thirst you never knew you had.

Stirrings of ideas grow and flourish inside, and they come pouring out, a fountain of unstoppable colours, thoughts, and feelings, and unable to contain the flow you decant it down in words. It takes time but you pull them all together, string them like glass beads on the thinnest of strands until you make something whole. Something beautiful.

Telling someone what you have done, and the frequent congratulations that devolves into uncaring incomprehension. Their inability to see what you have created doesn’t matter so much, you just need to get better with your expression and design.

I think about them all the time, all of the stories, as I’m walking to the shops, talking to my pets, doing the laundry, working in the real world. They are my constant companions, the voices in the dark, they are my bravery, and telling them my deepest desire.

Reminding myself that this is just the beginning and there is still so much to come, as I bite my tongue against the mockery for spending so much time on something that isn’t real, as though vindication of my work’s value must come from someone who’s never read a book.

Those people add flaws to characters I have yet to create, and the first impressions of them only hint at what they will become in spite of those failings. Some I recognise in myself even as I describe completely different people, who hide themselves in the shadow of my stories. In other cases they are as clear as the glass windows of my car as I drive home, working out how they will face this chapter’s challenge.

I’m the antagonist wishing to leave the dinner table so I can plot my protagonist’s demise, knowing as soon as I sit down after a long day’s work I will have to slice open my soul and cut the pieces of emotion out I need to articulate this arc of my character’s journey. To put aside what I feel, from warmth and love to sink into despair and hopelessness of my character’s suffering. Or on darker days, to pull myself from this ravine of desperation and find the light of joy, giving it to the pages of my passion.

As I turn up the music and sink myself into the turmoil of indecision and uncertainty they face, I, as their creator, have no time to dither on such emotions, though they hover about me, as though a plague. I go to bed, tasting their sadness and unspoken words, unstoppable sorrow eating a hole in me my husband has no idea how to stop.

Maybe tomorrow we can watch a movie instead, except where am I supposed to find the time when I get up and continue the façade that I am here and a functioning member of society who’s perfectly normal. And I watch it go by from the inside grieving over the time I am not punching ideas into my phone’s reminder, writing down plot twists during my lunch break, pulling over by the side of the road when traffic is awful and crying while trying to remember an escaping facet of the narrative.

I’ve forgotten I needed to be somewhere this weekend, so I can’t edit that piece. I don’t have the funds to upgrade the website because I need to pay the credit card bill used for advertising. Somewhere in all this I need to find the headspace for myself, to take my estranged spouse out, to play some computer games with him. And then I berate myself that I shouldn’t have spent so much time on that when I forget the passing hours. Or avoid the guilt by stating I’m letting off steam, there has to be a moment I can let go. But if there is then I should use it to read for a while, except I feel disconnected as I critique the writing, or worse, suffer through anxiety I am not as good as this writer. Why am I trying?

The dread that I am as awful as that two star review I received, and I’m burning myself up on a fruitless endeavour, even when it’s the only thing that makes the harshness of life bearable. The stories surround me and some days I don’t know if they are strangling me or holding me together. When the loving words of my husband can’t crack through the shell of self doubt, even as he is screaming them at me, with the quietest of whispers, that one day I will make it.

‘I write a lot in my spare time.’ I answer my work colleague.

My spare time is when I’m breathing.

 

Chasing imaginary things

I’ve posted on twitter that I’ve joined the throngs of Pokemon players. I know, I know, don’t curse me now, hear me out.

I knew the game designers from playing Ingress, and I’d played and watched all the Pokemon games and anime. I was looking forward to what it would entail. Except what I didn’t see was the amount of negativity towards it.

You’ve seen the articles. “Girl finds body while playing Pokemon Go.” “Man kills brother over Pokemon.” I hate to be the one to tell you but the articles, most of them, are fake. I don’t know why the media is perpetrating fake news stories to make the general populace hate the game; but they are.

I’m not interested in why.

I’m interested in the overwhelming happy feeling a family had that I got to be a part of, because of Pokemon Go.

So I was walking in the early evening on my Pokemon Go route. It’s about 5 kms (perfect for eggs) and helps me think as I walk past a gym, two pokestops and a lake (oh yes, I love the magikarp!). And I’ve been playing the game since it came out, so I know what I’m doing.

But a car had pulled up near my pokestops and a couple with an eight year old girl were holding a phone and walking around.

I’ve become familiar with this scene; eyes on the phone, checking locations, moving as a group together. Pokemon players are recognising each other, and it’s with joy.

“Hi! Are you looking for Pokemon stops?” I called.

“Yes, we’re new, our daughter just sighted up an hour ago.” Says her father.

“Oh really? Well the other stop you are looking for is half way along the bridge.”

“Thank you!” The mother and daughter run off and the father stops me.

“So you play this game?”

“Yes, I’ve been playing since it came out about five weeks ago or so, I guess.”

“So you know what you’re doing?”

“Yes, I know the company. I liked the other game they made, Ingress, and I’ve played old school Pokemon and watched the anime series.”

There were more questions, how I liked it, what it was about, how many kilometers I’d walked (nearly a 100, over 5 every day at least).

“You walk around?”

“You have to, it’s part of the game. I walk five k’s every day at least to hatch eggs.”

“Hey honey!” He says to his returning wife and daughter. “This girl plays every day, and walks five kilometers, every day!”

“That’s so good! I need to do that.”

“It gets me away from the computer, I’m an avid gamer.” I explain.

“That’s so good, getting you out and about.”

It is.

That’s what’s good, but the people I’ve met and the stories I could tell you show you that the articles in the news about the game and being negative don’t tell you the other part of the story. The time a group of kids in my village green offered hot chocolate to pokemon trainers, and young kids and older players with their grandkids got hot chocolate and shared moments. About how a young woman was anxious about a pokemon and when I pointed her in the right direction she ran up and screamed I was her new best friend and I didn’t know how happy I’d made her by helping. I spend ten minutes explaining to an eight year old girl who was level one how it all worked.

The girl listened to my comments, wow’d at the pokemon I’d collected, and was delightful to talk to. And her parents stood behind her and asked questions too, engaged with me and the game that had gotten them all hooked. And so it was I said that if they are just starting out they needed to try the village green, as long as her parents were OK with it, but they were just smiling at me, happy for their daughter.

“Well that’s where we will go next!” The dad declared, and they thanked me and ran back to their car, taking off for the village green.

And afterwards, walking home, I was hopeful.

You see, I had received a fair amount of flack from colleagues and friends for my addiction, even my husband and he plays himself. Why was that?

My husband thought I was cute, but most others thought me crazy chasing imaginary things.

And it made me angry. Very angry.

I chase imaginary things every day. I get lost in them and then I write about them, but that wasn’t what had upset me. Being told what you want isn’t normal kills dreams.

People like this kill dreams every day; I can’t see what you see, and I don’t understand it, and therefore you shouldn’t have it.

And the part that hurts the most isn’t about a game that augments reality. People tell you you can’t really be an artist, a writer, a musician. They kill your dreams every day because they want you to be productive to society and fit in.

I’ve never sworn on my blog and I’m going to start now. Fuck fitting in. Fuck someone else’s version of normality and what they expect of me.

I want more parents like the one that little girl has, who followed her around and encouraged her in something that’s been sensationalised, they ignored the hype part and enjoyed being outside chasing their imagination. I’m for the ones chasing their imagination. I’m for the dreamers.

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