Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.

- Graycie Harmon

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

4th Annual Stellar Literary Festival, Part Three

I woke up early Sunday morning. It promised to be a warm day, but the rapidly thickening clouds soon took care of that. I was pleased to discover upon waking that I still had all my valuables, and I was still whole and unharmed.

I dressed for the day before heading up to Tim Hortons for some breakfast. Not the healthiest, I know, but it was delicious. I ate breakfast in the motel room. It wasn't long before I was in a taxi, heading off to the beautiful grounds of Parkwood Estate.

I arrived about 45 minutes early and so decided to poke around the grounds a little. They were beautiful! When I say the grounds are beautiful, I mean absolutely gorgeous. The house was also stunning.
And strangely familiar....
It wasn't until I found this that I realised why it was so familiar:

Can you guess it?

Think Hugh Jackman.

Think Patrick Stewart.

Come on! It's easy! No? Alright, I'll tell you. Ahem....

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Xavier's School for the Gifted. That's right people, this was the mansion that served as Professor X's school in the X-Men movies. You remember the running race the kids were having across the water. That photo above, that was the pool they were racing over. Needless to say, the geek in me was very, very happy!

Then it was time for the festival to commence. The festival itself was very small. I understand from some of the readers that it was not advertised much at all, which they were very disappointed about. I found it charming, really. The small size of the festival meant that everyone was there to sell, and no one had come to buy. For the most part the participants were local poets.

In the morning, hardly anyone was there. All the same, it was a delight to sit and listen to the poets read. I managed to get a special mention that morning without even trying. A poet had approached my as I was sitting in the audience before the event started. I was one of three people sitting at the time, and an idea had hit me regarding a short story I'd been struggling with. She asked me if I was writing. I said I was. She then repeated the story, saying I had inspired her to write as well, and she read the poem she had just written that morning. I was flattered, but at the same time, wanted to slink away and hide when she pointed me out.

After a short break there was a lecture entitled 'So You Want To Be Published.' It was a good lecture for those just starting out, but if you've done your research there was no new information there. Then it was my turn to speak. The M.C. called my name (and even pronounced it correctly - I was impressed) and I stood. He did have much to say about me except that I had lived in The Philippines during an exciting time and he asked I speak a little about that.

In my head I swore profusely. I had planned my speech, and I had timed it, and if I talked about The Philippines, I'd go well and truly over time. I mumbled something briefly about not remembering much from The Philippines except the drill we had for whenever we heard a helicopter.

Then I started to read.

I was so terrified that I was shaking like a leaf in the winter wind. It must have looked like I had a nervous disorder as I turned the pages and they fluttered about like sheets on a line. I could hear my voice shake. It was horrifying.

I did go overtime, I think, by roughly 20 seconds or so. I blame The Philippines. I managed to get a collective gasp when I read the last line, which was good. I hurriedly muttered 'Thank-you' when I finished and practically tripped over myself to get away from the podium.

I was later told that I read very well, if a little quietly.

I stayed for the rest of the readers. There was one woman who was a professional story-teller. She was incredible. She used props to tell her story, and it was an incredibly enjoyable performance.

The props for the story-teller's performance. It was a great performance.

The romantic in me flitted to a past where story-telling was the television of its time - the primary source of entertainment for the people gathered to listen. Part of me wanted to go there. Then the other part said 'no plumbing' and I was content to be here instead.

The festival ended at 4:30 or so. By then most everyone had packed up. I grabbed my luggage and trundled off to find food. I had not passed a single business card out. However, I did meet wonderful people (on of my favourites was a poet called Merle ... I can't remember her last name. She was wonderfully humorous and very open and kind).

The train left at 7:11pm, and I was home minute before midnight. The cats were very glad to see someone, though Persephone kept looking startled every time I moved. I think she wasn't quite used to someone being home for any length of time. That night, she slept by my head, with her paw resting gently on the back of my hand.

I was glad to be home.

It was a great experience for me, even if just to know what it's like to be up in front of an audience again (read here: terrifying). Would I do it again? Financially, it's difficult to justify. If I ever publish, I think I might go back though.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

4th Annual Stellar Literary Festival, Part Two

So, I made it to the train on time; flustered, injured, but on time.

It was with some smugness that I sat back in my seat and watched the world roar passed. It was a beautiful ride. The land was green and dripping with freshly fallen rain. I wish that we might have been able to open the window once we were out of the city. It must have smelled wonderful.

I saw a very adorable puppy being walked, almost right on the tracks, actually. Stupid owner. A young boy stood at the crossing in his home town and waved to us as the train roared passed. He looked so incredibly happy, and that made me happy.

We pulled into Oshawa Train Station right on time. I grabbed my luggage and wandered out of the station and found a taxi. The taxi driver was very friendly, and incredibly helpful. He showed me where there were places to eat along the way. He also was quite concerned for my safety. Apparently, the place where I was staying was located at Hoon Central, and I shouldn't really go out by myself late at night.


I thanked the driver and gave him a large tip for all his help. I stepped outside of the taxi and couldn't help but smile.

You know those obnoxiously trashy motels you always see in movies. You know, the ones where the high-income business man takes his... uh.... mistress? This place could have been a set for a movie like that.

Well, for $66.00, who can complain? I'm not going to! I checked in and went to my room. It was a nice room, actually. Quite large and a little away from the main road, the room was clean and inviting. I went to the bathroom and noticed this:

Um... I had been watching way too much Bones and I immediately thought: Someone's head was bashed in here.

There is a problem with having too much imagination.

I set down my luggage, grabbed my satchel and headed out to explore the immediate area. I ended up at the local chemist because I forgot to pack my toothbrush and toothpaste. Typical. I bought some, then wandered around looking for food. I ended up at a place called El Stavros. The décor is lovely, the food was... well... what you might expect from any pub. A little on the expensive side for what you got, but hell, I was on holiday... sort of.

Heeding the taxi driver's advice, I headed to the motel to have an early night. That night, I locked the door and threw all my valuables in the bed with me. Not that I have things that are all that valuable, but I like my old-school first gen. iPod mini and my digital camera.

Nervous, it took me a little bit to fall asleep, but when I did, I slept like a baby.

Stay tuned!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The 4th Annual Stellar Literary Festival, Part One

First, let me apologise once again for the tardiness of this post. It seems that the computer gets incredibly grumpy if woken up from a nice, relaxing weekend of being turned off.

The 4th Annual Stellar Literary Festival was held in Oshawa this past weekend. It is one day, free of charge to any and all. I was given the opportunity to read from my short story River Woman. It was my first reading ever, and I was absolutely terrified.

Nonetheless, I booked the train ticket, I booked a room, I packed my bags and I went. It was a great experience. The start was a little rocky. What is it with me and the start of journeys?

*harp music*

Saturday, 26 June, 2010.

The train was not scheduled to leave until 12:23pm, so I relaxed at home in the morning and cuddled my cats as much as humanly possible. They weren't in a cuddly mood, so really I irritated my cats as much as humanly possible. I had it all planned out. At around about 11:15am, I'd jump on Skype and call a taxi. That should give me plenty of time to get to the train.

Disaster strikes.

That day, of all days, the microphone on the computer decided to cease functioning. I called the taxi company, only to find that they could not hear me on the other end. I checked the sound coming from the microphone. Nothing. I had spent close to 20 minutes trying to get the damned thing to work. All to no avail.

Swearing, I quickly looked up OCTranspo to see which bus would get me to the station on time. I had missed it. I should have been at Heron bus station at 11:14am if I wanted to make it. There was another bus, but that would get me to the train station with barely 5 minutes to spare - and I still had to swap my proof of purchase for actual tickets.

Swearing louder, I filled up the cats' dishes, put the house key in an envelope for the cat-sitter (or check-er-in-er), and ran out the door with my luggage. I was late leaving, and it would take a great deal of luck for me to catch this late bus on time. At the end of the driveway, I lost my footing, slipped and hit the ground hard with my left knee. Ouch.

I managed to get a lovely graze on said knee, and aggravate the stress fracture in my left foot I acquired when trying to run a couple of months ago. I had been holding my glasses in my hand at that point (having grabbed them off the table as I sprinted out the door). I managed to twist the frames and scratch the hell out of the right lens while trying to break my fall. Lovely.

No time to do anything but curse, and limped as fast as I could to Heron Station, dragging my luggage behind me.

The wind must have been at my back, because I managed to catch the late bus. The driver even told me of the bus numbers that went to the train station at the transfer - many more options than OCTranspo had provided on their site. The result - I made it to the train station with time to spare. Phew!

I exchanged the proof of purchase for actual train tickets and queued for the train. No. 045 left on time, and I was filled with excited anticipation as it careened down the tracks towards Oshawa.

Stay tuned!

Friday, June 25, 2010


Well, today is Friday. I leave for Oshawa tomorrow shortly after midday. I'm still really nervous, but everything has been booked and paid for, and I can't back out of it now.

I will return to Ottawa Sunday night 'round about midnight.

I shall report to you first thing Monday morning - hopefully with some video of me reading.

I really should have saved the music section of yesterday's post for today. I haven't anything else to report.

On that note then, have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

EARTHQUAKE! ... and music

I was going to post something here that was pertinent to writing, but the earthquake yesterday shook it out of my head. Thus, I shall just tell everyone who doesn't know that Ottawa and surrounds was struck by a 5.5 earthquake at approximately 1:41pm yesterday afternoon.

It was odd. I heard the rumble first, and thought that it was a low flying plane. Contrary to idiotic mass media, the first thing that popped into my head was not "OMG TERRORIST ATTACK!" It actually was 'why is the plane flying so low?' Then the ground started trembling. When I mean trembling, I mean that the very heavy mirror on the wall started dancing dangerously.

Remembering something I had seen on earthquake survival, I went immediately to the doorway. Something about the 'survival triangle.' The really heavy shaking did not last that long, only about 5 seconds. The earthquake lasted a total of 30 odd seconds, as I recall. It was a very long 30 seconds, let me tell you.

We later learned that the epicenter was 61km north of Ottawa, just east of the township of Kazabasua... right where my sister and her husband were relaxing at an uncle's cottage. I learnt this morning that they did not feel a thing. They were in the car.

Lots of people were let off almost immediately following the earthquake (lucky government workers), and created traffic hell that afternoon. It was compounded by the fact that many traffic lights had ceased to function due to the earthquake. I was not allowed home early, and so I spent the next four hours stressed out about the cats, hoping they were alright and feeling incredibly guilty for not being there with them when the exciting seismic activity occurred. I am pleased to report that the cats were both fine, and very glad to see me yesterday afternoon.

In other, also non-writing related news, I have developed a new music obsession. Note that it is very rare for me to get very excited about modern music much at all. Guys who sing in nasal falsetto tick me off. Most modern music is utter crap. It was with some surprise, then, that I stumbled across 30 Seconds to Mars, and liked it.

I was watching the trailer for Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'houle, which is coming out in September. It looks like a really cute movie. In any case, the trailer was playing a song that I found irresistible. I immediately set about finding out what song it was, and who it was sung by. Turns out, it was Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars. It's a brilliant song, but not the best one of theirs I have heard since.

I listened to a couple of songs, then decided I had to get the album they were from. Turns out, I love every single song on that album (This is War), except for the crappy dance remix of Kings and Queens. To that end, I thought I'd have you listen to the songs that most captured my imagination.

The first, This is War, had me dreaming up so many different battle scenarios, complete with characters and motives. It was brilliant. The video below is equally as brilliant. I had no idea where the images came from (since learnt it was all Final Fantasy stuff), but I actually got emotionally invested in it. Thus, I decided to share my geekiness with you all and include the FF video. Watch it. It's brilliantly done.

When the guy died, I was actually thinking, 'no pointy hair dude! Don't die!' No idea who he is in the FF cosmos (feel free to fill me in), but his death upset me.

The next song is just plain awesome:

I had no idea that Kanye West was in a version of that song. Glad he's not in mine! Not that he's not talented, just that the song is awesome as it is.

This next song grew on me. It's now one of my favourites. It reminds me a great deal of the main character from The Great Man series, Julian. It has the right tone.

I particularly like the lines 'whatever you do, don't be afraid of the dark. Cover your eyes, the devil's inside.' It describes Julian very well.

The other songs on this album are all very good. I haven't been able to stop listening to the album. These three, however, were the stand-outs (though I do really like Vox Populi as well).

Right, must get to practicing. Have a great Thursday all!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grrr! Argh!

That's really all I needed to say right now. Still not doing so well emotionally. I'll get there, once this weekend is over, I think.

I'm horribly stressed out about speaking in public. I haven't done that since being in the Debating Team in High School. Yes, we had a debating team. Yes, I was on it. We were even champions the four years in a row that I was on the team. In any case, it's been a while ... and I'm not arguing a point. I'm reading something that is personal to me out to a bunch of people who've won all sorts of awards for their writing.

I'm terrified.

Bad news as well. There won't be any family present when I'm reading. The reason being that Oshawa is a 5 hour drive from Ottawa. 10 hours of driving in one day is a little much, so they'd have to stay overnight. That's a lot to do for just ten minutes of reading.... there isn't all that much in Oshawa to do, so they'd be bored the rest of the time. Also, there is a family gathering at one of the cottages that same weekend in honour of my sister and her husband, so I can't rightly drag them away from that.

So, I am taking the train down and back by myself. I've navigated London (England, not Ontario) by myself for three days. I can handle two days in Oshawa. I am a little sad about it though. I was looking forward to having family there.

Such as life, I suppose. Right, I should be getting on with it. There's lots to do in preparation for this weekend, so I must get on that. Have a lovely Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Only As Good As Your Word

I've had a couple of questions as to my choice of story to be submitted for that competition I mentioned.

Many argued that I ought to put in The Third Prince since that is the story I want published so much. The truth is, I was seriously considering it until I realised that I already had The Third Prince in with another publisher.

Upon submitting the story, I had made a pact with the publishers (Baen Books) that I would not submit it to another publisher until a) I heard back from them or b) the 12 month average wait was over. Granted, they weren't physically there when I made that pact. I was simply doing it out of courtesy, really. I even said it here on this blog - I will wait to hear from them before resubmitting.

Thus, my hands are tied. I know tonnes of people would have a fit reading this and, while I understand that 12 months is a pretty ridiculous wait time, and that this competition offers a fabulous prize, I do have other stories I can submit, and so I can both enter the competition and keep my word.

Conscience is clear.

In other news, I've run out of illustration ideas so I'll be hunting down some ideas today. I should have the other two illustrations mapped out by this afternoon. I might have to do another one in case the photographer I contacted twice doesn't respond, or says I can't use his photo. That one will be in colour... so I have no idea what to do with it. Le sigh.

Righto, things to do today. Hope everyone has a lovely Tuesday.

Monday, June 21, 2010

So Many Things All At Once!

Sorry this post is so late, the computer is being obnoxiously slow again.

There has been an awful lot for me to report this past weekend. I'll start with the fun stuff.

I am so incredibly sunburnt. That in itself is not fun. It's actually quite painful. I haven't been this sunburnt since I was a teenager, running barefoot through the bush in Australia. The reason I'm so sunburnt? Well, my sister and her husband are in Canada on a visit, so I took them to Le Nordik Spa in Chelsea, Quebec (actually, they took me. They wouldn't let me pay for myself.... I had wanted to spoil them....). It's an awesome Nordic Spa. We spent much of the morning there. As it turned out, it was quite a sunny day and, of course, I hadn't thought to bring sunscreen.

Entirely my fault. The burn didn't show up until long after I returned home. In fact, it was only after I had woken from my nap that I noticed the burning, itching, feels-like-I'm-a-walking-radiator sensation. Ugh.

The day before that, I took them to Lefleche Adventure Aerial Park. It rained... heavily... and so our Aerial Adventure was cancelled as the park was closing down as we arrived. We had to go into the reception area to book an alternate date. July 2nd it better not be raining! I was sorely disappointed about that.

In terms of writing news, right now, I'm in a 'low.' I get these periodically, these 'lows.' I'm sure that's fairly normal, but this one is quite severe and has me ready to pack it in. I never thought I'd actually consider giving up, but I actually am.

If I was a good writer, then surely someone would have spotted that by now? Surely at least one agent would have liked what I had written? I'm so disheartened by this whole process, the hoping against hope, only to be deflated by rejection after soul-crushing rejection.... I don't need to have one more dream crushed, thank-you very much.

More than once this weekend I cried over the whole affair. It's stupid, I know. I can't do anything except what I am doing.... so it's all out of my control and crying won't help matters any. I've alternated between despondency and anger and back again. I'm mostly angry at myself for letting myself get too hopeful, too invested in this stupid game. Chances of success are never very great.

That voice in the back of my head, the one I had written about that encourages me? It's back now. Practically screaming, actually. All sorts of confusing thoughts are going through my head and have been all weekend.

Evidence suggests I give up. Little voice's very powerful encouragement says not. Sometimes I think that becoming an author is the right direction - my path, and then other times I think that there wouldn't be so many heart-breaking obstacles if that were the case.

I mean, am I just wasting my, and everyone else's, time? My experiences to date have told me that perhaps I'm not such a great writer after all. Was everyone just being kindly when they said they loved my stuff? Is it absolute rubbish in reality? Just when did I start thinking 'I could do this' in the first place? What the hell was I thinking?! It's a miserable game. I hate it.

And then that stupid little voice pops into my head, and I read nice rejections like the one that began with:

'Dear Ms. Carriere,
You are a good author and this looks like a book that will be published....'

And I wonder if I can do it after all.

I can tell all aspirants one thing, this sucks!

As it stands right now, I will tie up the loose ends and leave it at that. I will finish editing the story for Unlocked. I will be reading at the Stellar Literary Festival in Oshawa this weekend. I will complete and self-publish the anthology I've written for I will wait for the rest of the replies for The Third Prince, but not submit for that story any more. I will, as I said, fix up The Seraphimè Saga and submit it to that intriguing competition I mentioned. And that will be all.

Not forever, mind. The urge to write is thoroughly uncontrollable. I will, however, be taking an extended sabbatical from the publishing game. I don't know for how long. Until I get bored, I suppose.

I will be maintaining this blog. I'm sure there will always be something to write about.

Hope I didn't bring everyone down too much. Have a great Monday everyone.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Lovely Day

Today is a lovely day! I'm in a great mood. My sister is in from Australia, and I've been running her and her husband ragged with activities (And it won't stop until Tuesday. Last night I dragged them to kickboxing training and dinner after. Tonight we're going rock-climbing. Tomorrow we're off to an Aerial Adventure Park. Sunday a spa and, if my trainer has time, I'm dragging her to an Equestrian Archery lesson Monday night. After that, they can chillax because I'm all out of ideas....).

Terry Prachett has up on his site an exciting opportunity for début novelists. The prize is a massive advance against royalties and a publishing contract. Read about it here.

I'm considering submitting one of my novels for consideration.... Probably not The Third Prince. Largely because this story is very dear to me, and I'm a little nervous about handing over all rights to it (in the Terms and Conditions it reads: 8. The winning entrant will be offered an advance payment against royalties of �20,000 on entering into a publishing contract with the Publisher (Prize) and will be required to agree to license exclusive world publishing rights in all print, electronic, audio and any other media formats in the Novel to the Publisher on acceptance of the Prize. At the Publisher's discretion, shortlisted entrants may also be offered publishing deals with the Publisher. Subject to any such contractual agreement, entrants will retain their legal rights to their Entries.).

It's the 'any other media formats' that has me hesitating... Can anyone in the industry translate this little piece of legalese for me?

And since I haven't had much luck selling The Third Prince, maybe the universe is telling me I ought to give The Seraphimé Saga a try.... I shall consider the matter while illustrating today....

What do you think?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Busy Busy

There's stuff that needs doing, there's things to be planning, and the work is just piling up here. I'm a little overwhelmed, but I'll tackle it!

I had a good breakfast (vegemite on toast - breakfast of champions!), so I'm set for the day.

A very short post, I know, but I have to get cracking.

Have a wonderful Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Writing News

Yesterday was a busy day for writing news. A total of two separate pieces of news came in. For me, that's quite a lot.

The first little bit of news is that I sent another query off. I'm not telling anyone who because I think I've jinxed it quite enough by telling you that it was sent in the first place. I quite like this agent. Mostly it's because of his web-address. It cracks me up.

Second little bit of news is that I will be reading a short story at an upcoming literary festival. The 4th annual Stellar Literary Festival will be held on the 27th of June from 11:00am - 4:00pm. I will be reading from 1:20pm - 1:30pm. I'm yet to select a short story, and then I have to time myself reading, and then I have to practice, and then I will be hoping like hell that I don't screw up, or fall flat on my face, or something. Needless to say, not having done much public speaking at all since High School, I scared witless. I got so nervous just thinking about reading one of my stories in public that I started a nervous sweat just sitting in my chair. However, I think this experience will be good for me.

I ordered a bunch of business cards, which arrived on Monday. So now I am prepared for the festival... sort of.

The lady running the festival, Stella, is a lovely person. I can't wait to meet her in person, instead of just speaking via email.

In other, not-writing related, news, my sister arrives in from Australia tonight. I am very excited to see her! Unfortunately for her, it's turned out to be quite cold for a June day, much like when I first arrived in Canada. It was cold and raining and I was thinking 'and this is their summer?!' I hope she's prepared! There are many exciting activities planned for her. We'll be going to an Aerial Adventure Park on the weekend. We're also going rock-climbing, and she'll be coming to at least one training session with me. I am so very excited!

Right, there is work to be done, so I should go do it. Happy Wednesday all!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Equestrian Archery

Last night was the first Equestrian Archery lesson of the summer. I would have started earlier, but trying to get my friends to make a decision as to whether or not they wanted to go was like herding cats.

In the end, it was just my flatmate and I. That was probably a good thing, as it made the lesson nice and cosy and tonnes of fun.

I have to say, Chris is an awesome instructor. He is very laid back and friendly, and it's so easy to learn from him.

It was just wonderful to get back on the horse (quite literally). I managed a gallop or two. The horse, Nash, is a Clydesdale mix (nowhere near as tall as a purebred Clydesdale, but a nice size.... not too skinny). She's a mare, so will be a bit of a bully sometimes, but doesn't bite, or buck, or kick. She's got a steady temperament, and doesn't shy easily. I love her!

I managed to lose two arrows, because I'm clever like that. Apparently not such a great aim, though I did hit the little 'bullseye' twice (it was part of a KitKat wrapper shoved into a hay bale), three times I missed the bale entirely. Although to be fair, the third time I missed I was galloping passed the target at a million miles an hour.... The first two misses were just shockingly bad.

As we trained and the sun got low in the sky, mist began to rise from the field. I wish I had brought my camera, because it was stunningly beautiful. We rode back to the barn at dusk and it was well and truly dark by the time we headed back.

Le sigh. I can't wait until next lesson, which will hopefully be next Monday, before the trainer heads off to Iceland for a vacation!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Swallowing My Pride

It seems, from the general reaction I've been getting, that I have accidentally demonised the editors.

This blog is meant to be a record of my experiences as I see them, so I set to document the process of my first ever real-life editing situation, and how I was feeling and why. What I did not mean to do was give the impression that the editors were evil, horrid little guttersnipes. They aren't. I guess that point was missed every time I wrote it.

So again for the record:

The editors are not evil, and I'm so incredibly sorry for giving the impression that they were.

The frustrations I were experiencing were derived largely from a misunderstanding. I had originally thought that the proof sent to us was a final. Had it been a final (as in, this is what we're going to print, have fun, bye-bye), then I would gladly stand by my decisions and weather whatever storm came my way. As it turns out, I had misunderstood and the proof was simply a "hey guys, here's what the book will look like' (it looks awesome, by the by). The editing process was still underway.

Also a factor was that I was completely unused to the style of editing I had been presented with. This is not the editor's fault, just so we're clear. I have since learned that this is the most usual way editors deliver their suggestions.

Previously, any suggestions that anyone had made were done via notes and comments, not in text. I was wholly unused to suggestions being written in text, and had mistaken such a suggestion for 'it will be this way' (since I am so opposed to presenting work that is not my own as my own, I found this a little affronting. My fault again, as I was at liberty to rewrite it in my own words, or explain why I thought it might be better if we did it another way, or something). Suggestions I had received prior to that were always in comments or brackets in the text or in notes at the end of the text and were less added dialogue/sentences/paragraphs than notes like 'this needs more description, what were the horses doing here while this was going on?' or 'more dialogue is needed to explain this' or 'wtf? This makes no sense whatsoever, are you trying to say this ......' etc.

This whole experience has been one very steep learning curve, and I had found it challenging and frustrating, and that was as much my fault as anyone else's.

So, to my editors (who are luckily very understanding) I am so very sorry. I did not mean to make you out as one-eyed daemons from the seventh level of hell. You most definitely aren't.

Right, I have some stuff that needs doing today, so happy Monday everyone (an oxymoron, I know). Take care.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Musings Of The Self

I have it at last. After what can only be described as an epic journey through the murky, shark-filled ocean that is my psyche, I have finally struck on something that might explain my issues.

I cannot attach my name to something that isn't mine.

I don't quite know where this aversion stems from, but I highly suspect that it arises from my years in academia. It's called plagiarism if you present someone else's work as your own. It doesn't matter if it's just one sentence, you are penalised heavily. 'Find a way to say it in your own words' was drilled into me the moment I stepped onto campus.

Couple that with the value I place on honesty, and I have one huge issue.

I can't handle words in my story that are not mine because, well, they're not mine. It's not as prideful or arrogant as one might first suspect. I feel that credit should go where it is deserved. If I attach my name to something that isn't mine, and reap all sorts of rewards from it, I will be so plagued by guilt as to spiral into a depression that I won't be able to climb out of until I come clean.

I know this because it's happened before.

So, I will continue to defend honesty and hope that everyone will understand.

I have to tell you, since I've made my decision to pull out if a compromise cannot be reached, I feel much better about everything. I know that it's not a reflection of the editors failings (because it really, really isn't - they have a specific style they are trying to achieve), and I can take full responsibility for my actions feeling like it was the right thing to do, rather than stressing and crying about whether I was just being a diva or not.

So, I feel great today. I hope everyone else is too. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yet More Editing Frustrations

I know no one likes the editing process, but this is getting stupid.

So, the editors send the final proofs in .pdf format (essentially how the eBook will look). It looks fabulous, by the by. They asked us to review our stories and make final changes before the thing goes to press.

Well, it appeared as though they had completely ignored the final draft I had sent them, went back several edits ago, then added in a whole whack of stuff that I had either disagreed with, or was never run by me in the first place. They even went so far as to replace my version of their suggestions with theirs, and even adding dialogue to a character I had deliberately kept silent (and this was a change that had not been run by me before the proof came in).

To say I was taken aback is an understatement. Call me naive, but isn't the proof supposed to be more or less agreed upon by both parties?

At first, I was just so tired of fighting I sent a note that said (more or less) 'looks good. Noticed some changes, but I agree with them.' Essentially, I had given up... and become a liar. The majority of the changes I did not agree with. They were either redundant, superfluous or obfuscating, and any combination thereof. Some changes were really very good (addition of the tears should have been obvious, but it took the editors to show me it...). I ended up sending back a second email listing everything I wanted changed and how I wanted to change it. I was editing the editors... on my story....

Now, I'm not trying to make the editors out to be the bad guys here. They really are lovely people. I interact with them online and they are fun to talk to. They are knowledgeable and helpful and generally wonderful, good-hearted people.

I know that other contributors to this anthology agreed with all the edits presented to them by the editors, so I know that they are good editors.

So why am I having so much difficulty with this damned process?

I did a lot of soul-searching last night. I mean, a lot. I know my faults well. I know I'm stubborn. I know I can be proud. My biggest fault of all is that when I feel I am being pushed, I push back - hard.

So, are my changes a knee-jerk reaction to the feeling of being pushed? Being honest with myself, I think there might be some of that in there. However, there is also the fact that I'm a forthright person. I can be blunt. However, it's not a one-sided street. I expect people to treat me with the same honesty. I am not affronted by bluntness (provided it's honest and constructive, not just plain mean).

I am O.K. with comments that read 'this sentence is absolute crap, what are you trying to say?' or 'clean this up, it reads oddly' or 'this word doesn't suit, he's not in a movie, find a better one, you tool.' or even 'I really didn't like this story. It needs more description, it needs more depth, your characters are one sided....'

I'm alright with suggestions. For example, 'write in more description here.' 'Explain how the sheep behave when this happens.' and so on and so forth. I can handle suggestions of alternate words or sentences that might help me make what I'm trying so say that much better.

I then address those comments and resend the work and see if it is improved. What gets my goat, so to speak, is when suggestions are made, and I work them in, only to find that they've been rewritten again, without my consent, and say exactly the same thing I did, but not in my language. Or, when suggestions aren't made, but suddenly the story has changed. Or when a compromise was supposed to have been reached, only to have it ignored.

When a final is handed to you riddled with changes that were neither made nor approved by you, then the story is no longer yours. The editors have fashioned themselves as co-authors.

I did not sign up for that.

I spoke to a friend of mine who is a published author (albeit academic publishing) about this issue yesterday. She said she knew precisely how I felt, that she also had editors that made nonsensical changes and it drove her up the wall. She also noted that she was lucky as her editors were fairly flexible, and compromises were easily reached.

Mine appear not to be. The final proof with the score or so changes that I had neither made nor approved said to me that it was their way or no way at all. Frankly, I'm frustrated enough to take the 'no way at all' option right now.

I feel bullied. I know that's not the editors' intentions, but that's how I feel right now. It's quite one thing to make suggestions, and quite another to rewrite large tracts yourself.

I stand by the integrity of my work. Any work presented as mine will be my work, or it will not be presented at all.

I'm afraid that if a compromise cannot be reached, I will have no choice but to pull out of the project altogether.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Back at Training

After more than a week hiatus from training due to inexplicable nausea, I went back to training last night. It was awesome. I went home tired, but feeling incredible. This morning, my legs were like jelly, though. My quads are trembling fair amount. It's a good pain....

There was an exciting search that I think was actually intended for me not the other one. You know, *whispers* the porn star.

So hello to:

Visitor Location: United States
Date: June 09, 2010
Time: 2:05 AM EST

Whomever that might be. I was excited about this search because they actually searched my writing pseudonym (which is just my first two initials plus my surname). That's generally a good clue that they weren't looking for the other one.

I writing news, I've finished the short stories for my project. I now just have to write three poems (and re-write a fourth). That is proving a little more difficult than I might have suspected. There seems to be little inspiration for poetry at the moment. After that I have 5 illustrations I must complete and scan in.

Then once everything is edited, and I get permission from the photographer I contacted to use his photo for the front cover (I'll try contacting him again today... If I don't get permission, I'll use one of my photos. It might be worth buying photoshop...), then I'll submit it to for sale. Yay.

The illustrations are likely to take quite a while, and if the poetry refuses to be written, it's going to be another couple of months before this particular project is ready.

For those of you who are considering self-publishing and doing the entire thing from scratch, it's a lot of work. I mean a lot.

Luckily it is happy work! Right, I have to get inspired to write poetry, so I'll leave it there. Have a lovely Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Its The Small Things

Life's little pleasures are really what makes life worth living. Sometimes we lose sight of that. It's important to do things that make you happy.

For example, this morning I woke up to find both kitties asleep and purring on my legs. That made me so happy (and a little late, as I didn't want to get up and disturb them). I ate toast with vegemite for breakfast, which made me very, very happy. The sun was shining beautifully as I walked to work, which made me happy, and so on and so forth.

The same is said for writing really. You must celebrate the small things. Hit your word count for the day? Celebrate! Finished a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence? Celebrate!

Life just isn't any fun if you can't celebrate....

So on that note, happy Tuesday all!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Burnt Bridges?

I'm going to ramble a bit this morning, so sorry in advance. This pertains to the editing process.

As those who follow this blog well know, I was fortunate enough to be included in a short story anthology being arranged by my friends. The anthology is titled Unlocked, and the stories within must have something to do with a key. When to competition to be included in the anthology was announced, I whipped up a story in about two days.

My story, Her Father's Eyes, was selected to be included, something of which I am very proud. As it was an anthology, there were, of course, editors. This was my first time I've ever worked with editors and, I have to admit, it was frustrating. For them as well as myself, I'm sure.

Here is why:
They made a change - just one - that I did not agree with.

Though I may have balked, the rest was just chaff and I didn't mind the changes so much (I did sometimes question their necessity, but ultimately, it was not something I minded). However, one change they proposed not only seemed to make little sense to me, it stripped the story of my voice - it was not how I write.

Now, I do understand what they were trying to achieve with the change. I do. However, it seemed wrong to me - not true to form, if you will. Despite my trying to find a way to meet on middle ground, when they sent me final edits, they ignored my concerns and changed my changes to exactly their view (despite me changing them to something resembling middle ground during the previous round of edits). I finally had to put my foot down and explain to them on no uncertain terms why I felt the changes were 'not true to form' and I requested that they change it back.

They did.

Now here is the question that's been bugging me; have I burnt my bridges?

I greatly respect the people editing the anthology, and I am so incredibly grateful for this chance to strut my stuff, as it were. I understand how frustrating it is for someone to appear to be "not listening," since that's exactly how I felt about the editors insisting on the one change I did not agree with. I think they are great editors, and though I felt a little bullied, and I am certain that they meant well (of course they did.... who would want to attach their names to something that was second rate?).

I asked for advice. One piece of advice I received was thus:

'Don't get too proud of your style, it's still developing.'

Excellent advice, actually. Though not the reassurance I was looking for, it is true. My style is still developing, as is the styles of every other author that continues to write. The truth of the matter is, I can be overly prideful, and incredibly stubborn when I set my mind to something. It's a fault. So was I too stubborn?

Another piece of advice read:
'Ultimately, this is your work, and the decision falls to you as to how you wish to present it.'

This is also excellent advice. Though my style may be still developing, at the moment, this is the way I write. The changes proposed by the editors would have stripped that away. I would be misrepresented, essentially, to anyone who was reading the anthology. Should an agent read the story (hypothetically, of course) and dislike the voice, I'd have missed my chance. Should they love it, they'd find my other stuff terribly disappointing.

The truth is, I would much rather be disliked while being me, then liked trying to be someone else.

Why do people write? It's different for everyone. For me, it stems from a desire to be heard. Most of my life, I was ignored. Anything I said was dismissed without thought because I was too young/ I was a girl/ I was too odd/ I had an accent/ insert other unfounded reason here. When people read my writing, they are reading my words, hearing my voice. So yes, I would be protective of my style (full psycho-analysis should only be attempted by a professional... perhaps one day I'll see one).

Was I too protective? Do the editors hate me now? I know they are frustrated. They accidentally left in some notes meant only for each other (oops). But I was frustrated as well. I was also not being listened to. I had to insist before I was heard. I tried to do it as nicely as possible.

After having spoken to others in my immediate circle, I am certain that I made the right decision. The editors, obviously, disagree. So, have I made enemies of good people because of my insistence? Did I burn my bridges?

Does anyone else out there have stories of not seeing eye to eye with their editors? I'd love to hear them.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I so excited to be going home again after two weeks away (I've been dog-sitting for two weeks for a friend, you see).

I love that dog, but I miss my kitties something fierce, and I can't wait to see them! I'm stupidly excited. I get to see them tonight! Yay!

Right, back to my usual stuff.

There is nothing to report. I finished another short story for my anthology yesterday. It's a little more on the Sci Fi side - unusual for me - but it still suits the overall theme. I haven't adjusted the counter on this blog for it because I'm scrapping one short story and rewriting the whole thing. It's a crap story, and I can do better.

Othere than that, there really isn't anything much to say. STILL no word from the agent who requested more of my stuff. I'm going to call him when I get home and find out what's happening. A little nervous about that, actually.

There was another search. So, hello:

Visitor Location: College Park, MD
Date: May 30, 2010
Time: 8:58 AM EST

The computer is running really slowly... I mean REALLY slowly, which is why this post is so late. Sorry about that! Hope everyone has a great weekend, I intend to spend much of it cuddling the kitties.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In a Funk

Yep, I'm in a funk.

It's one of those periodic moods I get where I don't want to do anything but sleep, eat chips, and stare blankly at the mind-numbing idiot box.

I don't feel like writing, don't feel like training, don't feel like living (not in the suicidal sense as in I want to end my life, but as in I just don't want to do the things I usually do).

You know what, I've been working so hard on everything, I think I'll give myself the day off. I'm just going to listen to music, play sudoku, and relax.

Yeah right, the last time I promised myself that, I ended up writing almost 4 000 words.

I'll try to relax.

On that note, have a great Thursday everyone.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Hate Being Late!

And guess what, this post is late. Bloody perfect.

Pardon my language.

Alright, you know how my short story got picked for this competition and will be included in an anthology with other really talented writers, blahdy blahdy blah? Right. Well, I'm pretty sure the editors are regretting their choice right about now.

Not only have I questioned them to death about certain changes, but I missed my midnight deadline last night. Why? Because I'm an idiot, that's why. I thought I had emailed them changes on the 31st along with questions about certain changes I didn't feel were right. Only here's the idiotic part, I forgot to send the attachment. Did I figure this out during the rest of the day on Monday? Or even any part of the day Tuesday? No. I found this out when one of the editors explained their choice and I went to open the attachment I had sent them... only to find it not there.

I didn't have a copy with me. All my writing is on my work computer. I got the response from the editors at roughly 7:30 last night. Perfectly reasonable time in order for me to make changes to the story and send it back before midnight, right? Except that I was no longer at work... and the building gets locked up after 6pm, and you need a special key, which I don't have... and there was no attachment in my inbox like I thought there would be... and so I couldn't do the work before midnight.

So I raced into work a little earlier this morning, fired up my computer (which is working faster than yesterday, thank goodness), and sent away the edits. Nine hours late.

I am so not impressed with myself.

I'm sure the editors are also less than impressed with me, not least of all because of my questions. I still feel that one edit in particular just isn't right, but that's an aside. I changed it to make a happy medium... hopefully it'll be a happy medium. In the version that will be appearing in my own anthology, I'll reverse that change, I think.

Right, I have more short stories to write, so I have to get on it. Have a lovely Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


.... they're gone. They're all gone. All the short story ideas I had in my head. They're gone. Three days of solid editing killed them and left me bereft with a project that needs finishing....

What the hell do I do now?

Writer's block is less frustrating than panic-inducing for me, it seems. I don't seem to get it once I have the idea and have started writing. It all seems to flow stream-of-consciousness style when I finally make a start. Getting the idea, however, that's the tough part. For me at least.

I remember panicking after having completed my first series (The Great Man). I was struck dumb with a sudden fear that I would never have another story. That The Great Man was the only story I'd ever write, and I'd be left without my favourite thing in the world. Of course that was not the case.

It took about three months, but after a rest and some time away from Julian's story to dream, I stumbled into Seraphimé's world and two books later I had completed another series.

So, I'm certain there are story ideas in there somewhere. But I'm on a deadline, and I can't afford to wait three months.

So what the hell do I do now?

Well, I have a strategy. Listen to music. I've said it before, but for those who are new to this blog, music takes me places. In the sweeping melodies, counter-melodies and harmonies of a well-written piece, I can see entire landscapes from the tallest peaks to the deepest caverns. I witness births, deaths, battles... the rise and fall of dynasties. I watch the creation of a universe in my minds eye directly influenced by music.

So, today, I give myself permission to not write. Today, I'm going to listen to music, and I will dream.

Tomorrow, I will have at least two short story ideas written down.

Have a great Tuesday everyone!