Wednesday, November 7, 2018

If I ever write "tears were streaming down my face" can someone please come over and slap me.

I'm writing this because I saw that someone had taken their 'tear streaming' line and turned it into an image to post on their twitter. So, I mean, it's not so bad to sometimes use these simple cliches, but I don't think that is a keystone moment for your book.

Ok, ok. There are 83 books on my "read in 2018" list. And, let's face it, plenty of them are 'sizzling' romance novels. I'm not going to lie. I  L.O.V.E  them. But if you read (listen) pretty much constantly to stories, there are some things which as so common that they lose all impact. At least for me. Maybe this wouldn't be the case if I didn't read this a couple of times a week.

'Streaming tears' is up there with 'cold as ice' and 'hard as a rock.'

For me, doing figurative language is about evoking emotion. I try to describe what is happening in a way that couldn't be described in any other place and time. Something like this:
"The salt wind rushing from the ocean chilled my tears. It felt like ice was cutting lines down my face."
I want the reader to think; to engage their brain to picture what's happening. Cliche sometimes just feels like telling to me.

Am I being too judgmental? Is my figurative language too much? What doozies have you seen lately?

PS I'm over 20,000 for the month doing NaNoWriMo.  Look, some novels couldn't come out this way. But this one can, mostly. Except for one part which I'll outline and then check my research later.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

NaNoWriMo Mania

It's something to bash out a bunch of un-edited words. Normally my process involves writing it, reading it over. Re-writing it. Listening to the text-to-speech version of it. Editing it again. And then reading it over finally after a day or two. Rinse, repeat for each section. 
That process means that I normally get about one thousand words on a good day.
The NaNoWriMo month is an interesting way to write for me. I have unfixed typographical errors and I'm learning to see those red squiggly underlines and (pause for effect) leave them there.

I know right? Bats!

But the best thing about this process is that I have this many words in my second book the prequel.
My normal process would never have gotten me there. And if it's possible to write the first draft of a novel in a month that I'm working, then I reckon that bodes quite well for the future of me as a writer.

Sure it took 10 years for the first one. If the second one emerges after just 1 year, then I'll be ok.

I am still getting feedback from the first one and after this process, I'll go back through and give my first attempt another zhuzh before I go and actually contact an agent.

Oh I also made a mock Title Page.

Friday, October 26, 2018

How monetisation of the media has influenced truth in reporting and the representation of complex issues

Every time you turn around these days, you hear someone criticizing the media. Claims of bias, lies, fake news and agendas are thrown around very often, by politicians, and celebrities, but most viciously by the journalists themselves. It’s like reporters have given up searching for facts because they are too busy throwing stones across an ever-widening chasm of conflicting ideals. We in the western world are quick to throw stones at countries that control the media, like Bangladesh, Ethiopia, or most infamously, China. And we are up in arms for murdered journalists like Jamal Khashoggi, crying with shrill voices that a free press is the cornerstone of a good democracy. But I think we all know that it’s been a long time since the news media was truly free. Media is the worst example of the free market veering off its path to the detriment of everyone in pursuit of low effort, easy money. The recent reporting about the seven-thousand refuges, escaping gang violence in Honduras by fleeing to the US, is yet another example of journalism splitting down political lines to and take pot shots at each other with hollow, unfounded and alarmist rhetoric. From warning us not to believe everything we read, to Fox News warning us that these people are bringing economic ruin and disease, this real issue, where the lives of real people hang in the balance, has become yet another battleground for the media to attack each other without any need for pesky for facts to get involved.

The best example of this callous disregard for facts is a story which managed to construct a six hundred-and six-word news story about an eleven-word speculation from the president. Let me quote it for you. “There's no proof of anything. But they (terrorists) could very well be (inside the caravan).” This ridiculous news story drags on for pages centering on what even the president admitted was only a guess. This news story adds nothing of substance to the debate.

But if only all the articles were this vapid.  Fox news has a different take on the event, labelling it “an invasion into this country.” On The Ingram Angle, Laura Ingraham talks to a couple of experts about the event, but it’s her questions that really stand out. In a question that takes nearly 30 seconds to ask, she calls it a national security issue, an economic issue, a schooling and a healthcare issue. She highlights the range of wild diseases the people “might” bring into the country. She’s hitting the appeal to fear, again and again, beating up anxiety over sickness, and security with very little information in her report. She calls the situation “a national emergency, maybe most of them are unarmed, we don’t know, this is an invasion into this country.” This is a ludicrous statement. The only unarmed invasion is a zombie invasion, and zombies aren’t real. But what I think is most disturbing about this kind of reporting is the number of times the pundits in this kind of show can say “Might,” “maybe,” and “we don’t know,” and never be asked Why don’t you know? If this is the news, and you don’t know anything, why am I listening to you? Why are any of us watching these people who don’t even know what’s going on?

Misinformation is one thing, but lack of information is reprehensible. So you’ll be happy to know that Wired has us covered. At least, a little bit. In its article ALERT: Don’t believe everything you read about the Migrant caravan we get a one-hundred-and-forty word summary about the event including the date it began, “the 13th of October,” where it began, “northern Honduras.” How many people are marching, “around 7,500,” and how far it is to the US border, “approximately 2,000 miles.” Great, now I know slightly more than nothing about what’s going on. What’s really unfortunate that instead of continuing on with the detail about the underlying problems that caused this massive group of people to make a dangerous trek across inhospitable countries with their children clutched in their arms, Wired goes on with nearly seven hundred words of navel-gazing discussing not the issue, but what other news outlets are reporting about the issue. This doesn’t even include the other 130 words of introduction about the crisis of trust that currently plagues the media.

The media is a business which needs to make money, and the problem with that is that finding out things is extremely time-consuming, and expensive. You can imagine that to find out what is really happening with these refugees you would need to send a person to talk to them, and another one to Honduras to interview people there who know the situation. You would need to spend time sorting out facts from lies and to write that up in a calm and responsible manner. It’s a lot more expedient to simply say, “we don’t know,” and then report on what someone else has said. Even if that other person has no idea what’s going on either. When even the president has, “no proof,” should we expect more from our media?

My answer to that is yes. We do need to expect more from our media, but sadly at the moment, that’s not what we are getting. There is a pathological unwillingness in this modern age to engage with real issues on a deep and complex level. Media these days is little more than weeping and gnashing of teeth. It has become a competition about who can make the wildest unfounded speculation and the winner is the one who can get the most clicks before getting sued. What has happened to the public interest standard? Prior to the 1980s media companies were required to provide programming that was in the public interest, and the news was seen as good for society, but not good fur the hip pocket. How can we get back to honesty?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The next book is a prequel

There is a massive gaping hole in the first story and that it the origin story of one of the minor characters Emily.

She's a tiny little girl who is always buried behind her massive trio of monitors. Who is she? There's no real detail in the first story.

But in this second chapter, I'm giving her a wild adventure to invite her into this world.

I'm trying a new method of writing. I have written an outline, I know some of the characters and how they play out. It's a much more linear narrative.

But as I continue to think (I just had a flashback idea just now) little details fill themselves in and flesh themselves out.

I'll see how writing to an outline works this time compared to letting the world unfold in a random and lumbering way.  I'm also going to try 100% first-person.

Your genre is dead

I have been spending some time thinking and digesting the feedback from a literary agent that I received a few weeks ago.

Your genre is dead. No one is buying it. No one is publishing it. It's been dead for a good long while now after being utterly flooded with books in that genre.

You know, I get it. There are a LOT of books in the genre. There are PLENTY of stories that are told and told and told in this and I have been having a lot of trouble thinking about the answer to "What about your book is different?"

Can I answer this question?  Maybe. Maybe the difference I can give is something that people won't like though. Maybe sensible isn't what people want from their fiction.

But what she did say was that I can write. That what I write is easy to read and flows nicely.

So..................... there's nothing I can do with that, other than just keep doing it. Write all the stories and get better at writing overall.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Vampire + eggs

Having finished... No, I'm not going to tell you, you'll just figure it out.  No one is reading this anyway.

So anyway - what if you were a new vampire, and someone asked you to eat eggs from breakfast?

Here's my take:

I lifted a fork of the yellow stuff to my lips and moved it around in my mouth. That’s the chicken shit alright. And the dirt under their feet. That’s the fetus and the undeveloped feathers. I had to fight my gag reflex to swallow it but as soon as it was down, I knew it was wrong.

How would you describe their experience?

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Blurb

As part of the 20 pages in 20 minutes, I had to write a bit of summary of the story. Here it is:

Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance where Vampires are not the good guys and they certainly do not sparkle.

Synopsis: Jasmine Morgan, a 23-year-old co-owner of a traditional Hungarian Bakery, was supposed to return to her tertiary studies. But she has fallen in love with the nocturnal lifestyle of a baker and has begun spending her hours before work enjoying Brisbane’s nightlife.

But her cousin Jennifer is worried about her. Brisbane is in the grips of fear. A serial killer has been causing disappearances all over the city. Now bodies are showing up, drained of blood, and dumped in public places. Jasmine refuses to succumb to this sensationalised terror and is determined to debunk some of the more ridiculous stories that are coming out of Fortitude Valley’s club scene. But when she wakes up in the hospital with a gap in her memory, she starts to question her reality.

Meanwhile, Constable James Bailey has been desperate to get involved in the case, but his colleagues think he's too young and inexperienced to join the team. So, when ‘hard-as-nails’ Elizabeth Dawkins is sent up from Sydney to get this case under control, he sees an opportunity. She invites the young officer onto her team and gives him the task of watching Jasmine.

But Elizabeth Dawkins remains tight-lipped about what is going on, and James is becoming frustrated. After he also suffers a case of memory loss, he decides to take matters into his own hands and follow a line of investigation without telling his boss.

When James and Jasmine are forced together by events, again and again, attraction gets in the way of better judgment. They will need to work together, closely, but not too closely, to unravel the ancient conflict that is playing out in their city.

About the world: This is a story where women can be unapologetically strong, where characters are forced to make choices between what is right, and what is practical, and where vampires might be enticing but are also manipulative and by human terms, rather evil. Vampires are definitely not the good guys in my story, but the thing is, none of these characters is evil for the sake of it. They all have their own agenda, and the struggle comes from their conflicting versions of ‘good.’This is the first part of a saga. This story follows Jasmine as she discovers what she is. It takes place almost exclusively in the present, but as we delve deeper into this world, we will discover a complex and dark past influenced by myths and urban legends across history. As well as the vampires, there are two distinct groups of humans; those who hunt, and those who serve. Future stories will delve into the politics and struggle between these groups as well.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

20 Pages in 20 Minutes

Something else that happened recently was submitting part of my story to the Brisbane Writer's Festival '20 pages in 20 minutes.'

You had to apply to this thing. It didn't say anything about money, but yes, it cost $150.
That's fine. Honestly, having to read 20 pages of text takes time and then getting to wherever and sitting down with people giving them your considered opinion takes thought. $150 is actually a bargain. I'm annoyed that there was no indication of the cost up front but at the same time, I don't mind paying. 

So, my appointment for this is in a week and I'm terrified as well as excited.

After next Thursday I'll come back to update you on how that went. If I can. If I'm not shattered into a million pieces.

The Cover

Having finished the draft and handed it off to beta readers, I got to work on the idea I had for the cover. I have to say, I think my last name makes a for a great book cover. I have to thank my husband for that, it's really out of my control. But those four powerful looking letters along the bottom of the page appeal to me.
Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself. But I'm on holidays. I'm in the dreamy land of fantasy where my life is better than it is, and everything falls into place.  So let me give you the words version because I clearly don't have the artistic ability to really pull off my idea.

Imagine a fire burning, except it's not fire. It's blood and isn't shiny. And then it's smoke. Only, it's not smoke, it's dust. It's a little more substantial than smoke. Then if we could get the Brisbane skyline to glow red in the background... just the lights against a black background, that would be good.

Well, that was simple.  While I'm here, lets have a look at some other covers which make me what to read the book. Or at least the blurb.

Image result for book covers    Image result for book covers Image result for book covers

What draws your eye to a book cover?

Beta Reading and Literary Agents

I have now given printed copies to two friends, one stranger and one husband. 
Gotta love my husband's reviews. Sometimes I realize I hate things. And I change them. Then he will say stuff like; "That's so much better."  The thing is, he doesn't point it out first. He just likes stuff more than before. Only after given another choice can he see the fault in the first version.

And that's why he's great.

And this is why he isn't great: I made the mistake of introducing him to an audiobook from one of his favourites authors. Specifically this one:

And I don't blame him. Yahtzee Croshaw is an amazing writer and Jam is also set in Brisbane. This makes the story just so much better for me.

I have also been reading a couple of books. Just finished 's . I read  and  already, so this was out of order. But I borrowed them from the library, and it didn't affect the story. Not really.
Then right now, as I type I'm listening to Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost. It's a great story, but the shitty American version of a cockney accent is something I could have lived my whole loife without.

Another book I have purchased recently and admit that I have taken some pleasure from is ." But don't worry, it's not the pleasure as intended by the author. I'm not recommending this book unless the following sentence is up your alley. "Ropes of come hit my chest and paint the shower walls." Let's not even judge too harshly that the incorrect spelling of 'cum' didn't come to the attention of anyone who was involved with getting this ready for publication. What's really problematic is the imagery. It is so disgusting, unrealistic and childish that it's vomit inducing.  I'm sorry to say that the literary agent who let this one through is off my list. WAY off my list.

It's bloody hard to locate literary agents in fact. No, that's not true. There are too many to pin one down. Too many names that mean nothing to me. And who knows if they are any good? So the research process is going to prove time-consuming. It's hard to find the name of the agent backwards from the title of a book. So having read so many books isn't helping me. And if backwards mapping from the book title isn't difficult, then I just don't know how to do it. Then there is the above example, which has put me off trying to go in the other direction - agent to book. So What shall I do?  HELP!!!

For now, I can wait to receive the feedback from my very good friends *heart* and do a final edit. But I would like to have a couple of agent names in my pocket for when I am ready.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Short Story - Dripping with Gold

A short story from a writing prompt posted online. 

The prompt: You are a struggling alchemist trying to transmute gold. Eventually, after years of failure, it finally works! Just not quite the way you intended.

This has nothing to do with my novel, but I am working on improving my writing by practising whenever I can. If you enjoy this, share. Thanks.

Dripping with Gold.

I ran down the stairs and grabbed the bannister to propel myself down the hallway. This is worse than last term with the jelly spell.  How long would it take to burn though the floor?

I pushed open the door and called to the lab techs in their white suits to, ‘Run.’ They gaped at me for a few seconds, but then saw it when I pointed. I screamed again, this time there was a flurry of movement.

Their roof, connected to my floor, was changing colour from white to molten gold. Just as the last lab tech, directly under the widening pool of molten death, gave up on her critical and delicate experiment and dashed out of the way, the first blob of the molten metal slowly bulged downwards in a painfully slow motion drip. The spherical bulb stretched downwards, tapering up into a thin strand that hung for a moment from the floor above before snapping off and crashing down through the desk, beakers and distillation equipment.

The gold held the shape of a perfect drip for a moment before slowly spreading out across the floor. I had been frozen there for a second, watching, but then the smell of burning transfiguration serum hit my nose and I snapped out of it.

I turned around and pelted towards the staircase again. What was on the floor below?

When I reached the room, I bashed open the door to see a group of first-years, their mouths agape at the intrusion. Then I saw the daggers in Professor Trudo’s eyes. Oh no! If there was anyone I didn't want to see this... but there was no time for that. 
‘Get out of here now,’ I screamed, pointing to the roof. The gold hadn’t burned through yet, but there was a brown patch of discolouration developing. 

The first years ditched their books without hesitation, commendable speed compared to the stuffy lab techs above, and I was just turning to run down to the next level when I felt the collar of my shirt tighten.

Trudo! He’s always hated me! ‘Daniel,’ he drawled. ‘It’s such a pleasure to see you,' there was no pleasure in his tone. 'Why are you disturbing my lesson?’
I was one hundred percent sure this sadistic genious knew what I was working on with Lishman. He had tried to get me expelled already for it. If there was more time I would have made a glib jibe, but I only spluttered out, ‘Molten gold.' I didn't really mean the incredulous tone, it just came out that way.
‘So,’ he said, like we were on a Sunday drive in the country, ‘why are you letting it burn through my classroom?’
I stood aghast at his question. The pool of molten metal was, by this stage, bulging down from the hole in the ceiling. If only I had predicted that the transmutation of iron into gold would produce so much heat!

He went on like he was reading my mind. ‘As I recall, Daniel,’ could he speak any slower? ‘You did excell at cold spells when you took my class. In you go.’
I felt the force of his magic push me into the room. The gold was much lower now, forming a drip, and I had to limbo back to avoid my head from being burnt off. My heart shot into my mouth and I put up my hands to shield my face from the heat. I used all the will I could muster to remember those old cold spells I hadn’t used in five years. I shuddered. Where was my brain when I need it?
‘Come now Daniel,’ Trudo’s vicious voice sneered, ‘you remember... Glacies…’
That’s right, ‘Glacies aqua,’ I screamed in terror, and ice shot from my hands. I held the words in my mind. Ice filled the space between me and the gold.
At first, all I heard was sizzling as steam billowed around the room. The gold continued its journey downwards and my knees bent. My mind cried the spell as pressed all my energy into it. I fell onto my back and I pushed every skerrick of will into cooling that drip.

Then finally, when the drip was mere centimetres from my chest, the sizzling slowed, and the gold froze in its path. I breathed a deep sigh and slid sideways on my back, across the wet floor, and out from under the massive bulbous ball of gold still hanging from its thin strand from the floor above.
I stumbled forward and, shaking, pushed myself up onto my jelly legs to my feet.

Trudo walked in with a bored look on his face. ‘Dear me Daniel,’ he sighed, ‘you always seem to make such a mess, wherever you go.’

I didn’t care about how much Trudo hated me today, though. I had done it, and it didn’t matter that I just destroyed 3 floors of the college to do it. That amount of gold was going to set me up with enough money to finish my studies at this university. Even if it took me the rest of my life.

Inspiration: Harry Potter, Reddit r/writingprompts, and the UQ pitch drop experiment.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The world has changed a lot in the last couple of years.

The world has changed a lot in the last couple of years. And so has my story.

I began writing this story a long time ago, and when I did, I did so because I wanted a couple more seasons of a TV show that I liked about a nice vampire PI and plucky news reporter who worked together to solve crime. (prizes to you if you know the title)
Then I got busy with kids! I only came back to it occasionally to pick over the words and, as decay set in, to lament over the dead body of the plot as the dust settled on it. I got busy after all. Kids, more kids, a little side business while I was a stay at home mum, and for a long time, I thought that 80,000 words looked like an insurmountable task.
But in the last year, I began thinking about this again, and I began reading. I listened to 50 audiobooks last year, (and this year I have already reached 54). But after those 50 books last year - I must say beginning with the masterful Diana Gabaldon - I realised that I can do this, but I need to do it a lot better.
Why? Some of these books are entertaining, funny, compelling and cute. Some of them were ok. Some were honestly dreadful and I couldn't finish them. The ones I that I did like, all had one thing in common. Something that the husk of my original story lacked. 
A protagonist I could respect. 
I began reading my story again and I realised quickly that the connection between my 2 main characters was actually quite sick, one-sided and very unhealthy. I had to go back and fix my protagonist. Fix her from being a wimp. Fix her from being a fawning, uninteresting, entirely banal person who I wouldn't even like myself. I needed to transform her into a someone who is strong, determined and dauntless, if a little emotional and impulsive. Everyone has flaws, right? And that's OK too. And this is where everything has changed. Because in giving my girl some real backstory, some strength, a reason she can rival her enemies and dominate her friends, I have found a whole other world of history and intrigue in the world I am creating.
It's 100 times better.
Now I'm looking at that 80,000-word goal from just as far on the other side of it. Right now the word count is almost too high (getting towards 106,000) and there is still so much more to tell. Just finding the reason for my character's strength has made it a much more complex story, one that can probably continue on for at least 2 more books. This change reflects a change in the world, I think. Buit it also maybe reflects a change in me.
Of course, my protagonist still needs help from others, no one-man-shows around here. But she is someone I could actually respect now, whereas the original version of the character was a wet rag.

Pink Moto