Tag Archives: argh

Out and About in London: The Clarke Awards

So my colleague David and I trundled off to London on Wednesday to go to the Arthur C Clarke Awards – not through any particular professional reason (as no Rebellion books had been nominated this year *already making the pile for next year*) but just to network.

We met Penny from Angry Robot for a drink and dinner first (Chinese at Wong Kei, which was David’s recommendation but I’d heard of, and it was indeed very good!) and then trundled over to Foyles for an interesting (and fairly short) ceremony, followed by a lot of chatter. I’m very grateful that I’ve got social spoons at the moment – I met so many people and already knew a few of them, but I’m hoping that now I’ve met a lot more, I’ll know their faces when we meet again! *crosses fingers* I did have to run away early – well, relatively early – as I was definitely out of the spoons needed for a pub visit, so I left David to his clubbing and trawled home through the railworks.

I have to admit, fairly shamefully, that I hadn’t read any of the shortlist this year; they’ve promptly all gone on my reading pile! The winner, Dreams Before The Start of Time, certainly sounds interesting.

So – fun, if spoon-heavy, but I did meet a lot of interesting people! (And had a half-hour discussion on Columbo. Writers have very random interests!)

For anyone who’s lost a friend to suicide

Trigger warning: suicide and depression (just in case the title didn’t warn you).

There’s been a lot in the news recently about suicide, for fairly obvious reasons, but I’ve been staying off Twitter because I can’t handle it. I know it’s meant kindly and it does help, but the message of “just talk to someone” or “just reach out” just leaves me knotted and angry and crying. I’m always going to be raging against the sheer futility of mental illness and the complete and utter fucking mess that our brains can make of our lives;  but I’m still frustrated and knotted and just…it’s taken time to untangle things.

I want to believe that friends make a difference. I want to believe that humans can change things. I need to keep hoping that someone being there, reaching out, can make the difference. It matters. Listen, and do it. Be there. Connect. It’s the best defence against the sheer hopelessness that depression brings.

But, in the middle of the messages of support and hope and friendship and love, I want to say this:

To anyone who feels like they failed. To anyone who reached out and got knocked back, or pushed away, or didn’t get through. To anyone who did get through, and was there, and lived a brilliant life next to someone who suddenly stepped away from it all-

It’s not your fault.

You might have tried and not been able to give what was needed, and that’s not your fault. You did what you could. You tried. You offered. It’s someone else’s choice if they want to accept or reject, and it’s someone else’s decision. You did what you could.

You might have done everything. You might have provided warmth, love, safety. You might have been a friend who stood there in every battle you knew about, every battle you saw, and you won. Every time, you won.

But it’s not your war to fight.

You might have done what you could or you might have done everything, and it wasn’t enough.

It’s not your fault.

I miss him. Not every day now, but every week. I still call him an idiot. I still wonder what life would have been like if he’d won just one more battle, one more day. But I don’t blame him at all. I’ve been there. I know how fucking hard those battles are to fight, and how endless it all is, and I don’t blame him one bit.

And I’m finally realising that I did everything I could, and while it wasn’t enough – it wasn’t my war.

I’ve been seeing the motto, “Be kind. You don’t know what battles others are fighting.”

And that extends to yourself. Be kind to yourself. You can’t fight someone else’s battles for them. Stand with them, hand them friendship and love, support them; be the best friend and the best human you can be. But you can’t win for them.

The Problems of Covers…

I am having fun with covers for my No Man’s Land series….and when I say fun, I mean a mix of “wow this is awesome” and “why on earth did I think trying to make covers for books was a good idea?!”

I had been recommended Canva, so I had a play with it. It’s a fantastic tool; it lets you either pick a template or you can make your own, and from that, you can pick from a bunch of free images and fonts, move text around, add images and borders, change colours…it’s obviously not up to Photoshop or similar standards, but for a free tool, it’s pretty damn neat.

I had a go with it for No Man’s Land (the title keeps changing as I’m playing with a few) and I did a whole series like the starscape here – and I adore them. They’re absolutely beautiful and they work and…sigh. I really, really like them. Seriously. The entire series together is just gorgeous.

BUT.

Beautiful as they are, they don’t say “gritty urban fantasy”. They say “cute love story, possibly magic”. And that isn’t what I want – it’s not the market I’m going for.

Karin Lanven sketchbook work
https://www.lanvenart.com/sketchbook

So, back to the drawing board!

Or not. My next efforts were, frankly, shit. My main problem is that the urban fantasy genre is very human-figure-focused. Have a look at Amazon’s bestseller list, and you’ve usually got some sort of pouting, muscular female, probably some flame floating around, maybe a creature or two. It screams magic.

And I can’t find, or make, those sorts of images on a freebie cover creator that’s intended for literary & light reads or possibly, at a push, romance genres. It’s great and all, but it doesn’t do what I want for these books. (I think it would have similar limitations for children’s fiction, and most fantasy.)

So, I’ve put my hands up (in glee!) and asked a friend about a commission. The incredibly talented Karin Lanven is having a look at my notes  and rough ideas, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what she comes up with!

(On a side note: two people I’ve now spoken to about the covers have said, “Oh, then you need to write the books for those covers!” ARGH. Ok, they’re on the list…)

Dresden Files fanfic – gettin’ it out there!

Ok. So. Having had several lovely comments on a Dresden-Files-ish short story (Winter’s Loan), a kick from both PandaFries and Thalamas, and a good day, I took my courage in both hands and jumped.

While I have previously posted some of my Dresden Files fanfic around the RPG I played up until last year, I’ve never had the courage to post more than snippets. But, since this weekend, the first few complete parts of my Dresden Files fanfic is up on Wattpad, and I’m going to be trying to post another bit each week – probably Saturdays.

And holy f*** does this take more courage than I thought I had. It’s ridiculously exciting – I was on top of the world on Saturday and didn’t shut up thanks to overflowing happy energy (sorry, Swindon FreeWriters) but it’s also terrifying.

I loved these characters. I lived them for over two years. I had them in my head and in my life. I wrote so many words of game write-up or extra story…this is a bit of my heart and my soul, and I’m terrified of putting it out there because I feel so small, and so completely and absolutely judged. I’m scared of what people reading are going to think of me. I’m scared of what it says about me (apart from the fact I have a knack for putting my characters in mean situations). I’m scared of what anyone who reads is going to think. It was fiction, yes, but it was choices that I made for my characters – and having almost lived the situations, I can’t stay as removed from it as I can with my other writing. I was there, having those arguments, laughing at the antics. With the game, at least, it’s not just in my head – and while most of these pieces are just character extrapolations from that (certainly the romance and sex scenes would be a bit of a different roleplay style from the one we played, and probably require less clothing) it’s still got that heart-string tug.

But…I love it. Re-reading, I can’t stop smiling. I love it. And I want to share it.

It will only be the Dresden Files Swindon game that will get shared, and I’m still taking that one story at a time, so there may end up being pieces I don’t put up. I won’t ever be sharing any of the wolfpack games; while I wish with all my heart that I could share Ryan’s writing with you, I can’t get his permission, and I don’t think he’d want it shared. I absolutely adore it – but it’s his, not mine. And so that will stay locked.

But as for everything else… *deep breath* I can do this. I can. So, keep an eye out on Wattpad for new stories, and absolutely please, honestly, tell me what you think!

2017: The Year of Shit

love 'em shoot 'em front coverSeriously, this year has been crap, on a personal level as well as a political level.

I lost my best friend, separated from my partner, moved house and city, started a new job, left that job, started another new job (as a freelancer, ARGH), had a few family stresses, and I miss my cat. I’ve had a nice wallop of depression, anxiety and insecurity as well as imposter syndrome, and frankly, I’m feeling pretty shit about it all. On a wider level, current events are scaring me; I feel like the world is spiralling out of control, and everyone seems so bloody horrible. It’s hard for me to understand the sheer level of hatred that seems to be the norm, and the wilful destruction of so much of the world just seems insane. I’ve had to back away from the news for the sake of my sanity, even though I want to do something – I just don’t know what’s going to help.

On the writing front, it’s been pretty shit too. I halted NaNoWriMo as the book I wanted to write wasn’t ready to be written; I’ve shelved No Man’s Land after twenty failed subs; there’s been a delay in publishing the next GreenSky book thanks to factors outside my control; and I haven’t been able to write the books that are sitting in my head, or even the short stories that I’d love to get out there.

But *takes a deep breath* that isn’t everything. I know it isn’t.

I’ve got a lovely new home, and an incredibly supportive family. I’ve landed on my feet with a job and time to just recover; even with the double wallop of depression and life, I’ve still been blogging, talking to people and managing to work. I’m reconnecting with old friends and working on making new ones. I’ve been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, started yoga, found a kitten and gave him to a good home, read a bunch-load of really good books, and I’m still doing new things, little by little.

empty skies and sunlight front coverAnd on the writing front, Empty Skies and Sunlight was published, along with several short stories. I’ve edited one anthology (Terra Nullius, out next year) and assisted with more edits, proofreads and beta-reads than I can count. I’ve signed a three-novella deal under another name (no, I’m not going to tell you about that under this one, sorry!) and written & edited those novellas, and I’ve had several short stories published, both under this name and the other.  I haven’t got as far as I wanted to, but I’ve kept going. I’ve kept writing.

I’m feeling incredibly lost right now, and incredibly low. I can’t find my path; I’m just wandering, unsure of what to write or what to do. I feel like I’m making constant wrong decisions, and I’m still filtering through everything that’s happened in the past few years. I’m watching the world burn and trying to find something to do to let people know that not everyone thinks like the headlines, and that there are people who disagree with the current trend of events, but I feel like one tiny voice in the mass and I’m not strong enough to get heard. I’m scared for the future, both my own and the wider world; I’m trying to piece back together everything that I want to keep, without knowing exactly what’s going to help me in the future.

But I’m going to make plans for 2018. I’m going to spend a few months just getting myself back on my feet, pushing myself forward. I don’t know if it’s the right direction, but at least it will be a direction. And that’s all I can do.

I’ve had a Year of Shit, but I’ve got through it alive. I’ve taken it one day at a time, and I’ve reached the end. That is the biggest thing I’ve achieved this year. I’ve got to the end.

I’m going to do a post in a bit about my aims for 2018; at least if I put them down, then I might work on them!