Tag Archives: workinprogress

2019: Aims for the Year

Aims for 2019…hmmm. Well, these were last year’s

1. Read More

This is specifically personal reading! My TBR is ridiculous and keeps getting added to, and I want to make time for reading. I’m not going to set myself aims as they don’t really work, but I want to keep bearing it in mind when I have free time.

2. Writing

Ok, this is staying in! I need to get bloody on with writing…

  • Finish Greensky Book 10.
  • Rewrite No Man’s Land, and work on finishing No Man’s Dawn and the rest of the series
  • Madcap Library?
  • And write anything that catches my fancy! I need to remember that anything is good, and that writing something silly is still writing…

3. Baking

Goals for the year include cheese

I’ve started making more things, and been really enjoying it! I’m slowly working my way back through my cookbook and adding new memories to older recipes; while it does still hurt to make pizza dough or smartie cookies or banana bread, I’m overlaying new memories.

But I do also have some specific aims:

  • Japanese cooking; I want to learn how to make red bean buns and char sui; experiment more with soups and noodles, and learn more of the puddings and cakes.
  • Winter food: I’ve been introducing Otter to the joys of pearl barley, stews, dumplings and risotto, and I’d forgotten how much fun it is to just look in the cupboard, go “ehhhh…that works” and throw things in! It’s definitely the season for it too. In the summer, this is my go-to for salads, so it should be able to continue all year.
  • I am going to get these damn macarons working! I’m a bit of an, uh, experimental baker…in that various people have despaired over my quantity instructions (“about that much”), and nearly fainted in shock when they watch me bake something from memory (“eh, it’ll be fine”). But macarons have been defeating me every time, because they need to be precise. So – at some point, I’m going to clear the kitchen for an entire afternoon and focus. They will be perfect.

4. Work on friendships

I feel like I’ve neglected people a little over the past year; I’ve had so much going on…but then that’s a weasel too, as I’ve met so many new people and formed new friendships and moved house (twice) and settled into my job and ARGH! But, that said, I do want to make an effort with both old and new friendships. I need to make more of an effort to be sociable and actively do things, especially as I’m feeling ok at the moment and therefore have both energy and spoons to be able to socialise.

5. Adventure

I want to go adventuring. I want to travel; Japan, Amsterdam, Norway, Vietnam, New Zealand, Ireland. I want to learn to bake more cakes, cook more meals. I want to read things that make me think, listen to music that someone else loves; discover new pathways, find new memories, see everything through different eyes. I want to dance and sing and bake. I want to explore and grow. And it’s going to be awesome.

So here’s to 2019!

via GIPHY

2018: The Year of “What The F*** Just Happened?”

Well, when I started 2018, I had a bunch of aims – mostly for 2018 to be less shit than 2017 was. I wanted to have a better year, finish some old writing (mostly my Dresden files and possibly Madcap Library, with a side order of No Man‘s) and start something new, improve me (aka. get out of the house more), and read more.

Ha.

Hahahaha.

Well, I sort of turned my life upside-down in April when Rebellion offered me a job, and since then this year really can be summed up as “What the hell happened?!” – in a really good way, but seriously…what the fuck?!

I have a new job working alongside amazing people – I get to read varied, complex and interesting fiction on a daily basis, alongside doing admin, organising, talking to a whole bunch of interesting people, formatting, and generally loving everything I get to do. I have a new relationship with someone that I adore, and who thinks I’m splendid (their words!); I have two frickin’ annoying and absolutely adorable cats, and two equally frickin’ annoying and adorable housemates (mostly joking about the annoying bit – love you, guys); I have a bunch of fabulous and wonderful friends who make every day better; I live in a beautiful city; I get to walk to work through a stunning landscape that makes me dream; and I have a life around me that is astonishingly and unexpectedly wonderful every single day.

I do still miss everything; I miss Ryan and the pub and my cat, and the relationships I walked away from. I miss being able to do random DIY, challenge myself with projects, laugh at old jokes. I miss the memories and the experiences and the comfort.

But I feel like the last few years have paid off – they were worth every lesson and every struggle. I am ridiculously, wonderfully lucky, and I am so, so grateful to everyone and everything around me that has made this year amazing.

So, how did I do with my aims?

1. For 2018 To Not Be As Shit As 2017 Was

Yup. Blasted through that one!

2. Something Old

Hmm, this one’s a bit more variable.

  • I did get the Dresden Files writing up, and I’m so happy with that! It’s still scary, but I love it. I’m just getting the last bits of the final story up, and then it’s all there.
  • Madcap Library is still in formatting, and it’s simply fallen to the bottom of the pile.
  • Greensky…don’t ask. (Yes, I STILL need to finish Book 10!)
  • No Man’s is all ongoing, as is Shadows.

3. Something New

No, but…I think I might be excused on this front! I’m still doing bits and drabbles, so at least there’s still something there.

4. Improve Me

I think kicking Depression’s ass, along with whacking a whole bunch of weasels, definitely counts as improvement! I’m walking every day, drinking more water and less caffeine, and generally feeling better about myself. In terms of other improvements – I got my SFEP membership and I’m still doing my formatting (plus I’ve been learning so much at work), and I’m slightly accidentally revising a whole bunch of history knowledge thanks to wandering round various museums with friends (Ashmolean FTW!)

As for “Don’t Be A Hermit” – well. Yes. I think between working at Rebellion (my boss commented with some astonishment that I seem to know more of the staff in six months than he’s met in 12 years…whoops!), conventions, friends of friends and general havoc, I definitely haven’t been a hermit.

5. Read More

Um. Yeah. This definitely hasn’t been a problem.

That said, most of my reading has been for work, and I am missing doing personal and freelance reading – so actually, this may stay on the list!

So, overall, it’s been a ridiculous and wonderful and amazing year. It’s been hard, yes, but I’ve coped and learned and battled and I can do this.

I’m going to do another set of aims for 2019, and we’ll see what that brings – onwards and upwards!

A snippet: The Gardener

The start of something, or possibly just a snippet…I’m not sure yet!

It started with a doorway; and with a man, kneeling in the small garden, hands cupped around the fragile leaves of a tree just rising through the damp soil.

He glanced up, briefly, at the blocked doorway no-one could have come through, and the person standing there; and then rose to his feet, knees of his trousers damp from the grass and fingers mud-stained from the soil.

“I was expecting someone,” he said with gentle politeness, and gave a short nod.

Her eyes widened; whatever she had expected here, it was not the winter garden around, sleeping trees and evergreen bushes tangling with the too-long grass and unraked leaves. It was not the dilapidated wall and peeling door, the scarred wall and bricked-in doorway behind her. It was not this stocky man with his careful movements, reserved manner, sympathetic gaze.

But she hesitated, one hand on the brickwork, as if waiting to see what this world held before she pushed open the door to another.

“Would you like a cup of tea?” he added.

And she smiled. “I’d like that very much.”

~~~

The inside of the house was as shabby and run-down as the outside, and almost empty; a bed, a table and two mismatched chairs, some scattered kitchen utensils, and a desk with a closed laptop on it. The walls were faded white, and the floor clean but aged. She sat down on one of the chairs and looked at the man, in his jeans and old buttoned shirt, hair pulled back into a knot.

“Progress hasn’t been good, I’m afraid,” he said, carefully filling the kettle.

“Oh?”

“This site is slower than I’d like.” She was silent, as if waiting, and he weighed how to explain his failure. He didn’t want to turn and see what judgement was in her eyes. “It’s been hard to encourage anything.”

“Look, I – wait, I don’t know your name.” Whatever she’d been going to say, it was derailed with a smile and an easy laugh.

“I go by Fydor, here.”

“Ok. Well. I’m…apparently not what you think I am.” He carefully set down the mugs and tilted his head a little, waiting on her next words. “I don’t really understand what you mean by the site, or encourage. Do you normally have regular visitors?”

“They haven’t been for a few years, but yes. I had assumed that you were another, here to check on my progress.”

“And they’re…they come through the same door?” She suddenly relaxed. “That’s why you didn’t freak out. You’re used to it.”

“You arrived by distinctly unusual means, as they do.” His smile twitched the corner of his mouth and creased the corners of his eyes. “What were you expecting, then?”

“I didn’t really know,” she admitted, smiling again. “That’s…it was a bit of an…unusual doorway.”

She was looking at him, studying. He let the silence hang, filling both mugs and then finding a spoon to stir them.

“I followed the light,” she said eventually. “It opens to where I need to be, even if…I’m not sure why.”

“I understand that.”

“What do you mean?”

“I move a lot.” He looked down to the mugs, and then picked them both up to bring over to the table. “I…get drawn to places. That I need to help, to heal. So I’m never in one place very long. A year, two at the most.”

She was still watching him as he set one mug down in front of her. “But you said here hadn’t been making as much progress with the site. What do you do?”

And suddenly, the smile lit his face. It was like watching an unfolding leaf, a growing bud; it was a blossoming. “I make things grow.”

Random Music: Autumn 2018

I’m listening to a bunch of new stuff at the moment – a lot of it from a friend’s mixtape – and I’m bouncing my way through things like Iron & Wine’s Flightless Bird, American Mouth and Roddy Woomble, My Secret Is My Silence. I’m also enjoying Dan Auerbach’s Shine On Me and my current bop-along song is Matthew Mole Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine.

Bears Den are my latest album purchase, along with Frank Turner’s Be More Kind (of which Blackout is my favourite!)

I’ve also – on the urging of a friend – resurrected my singing playlist again, so I can learn things, and added some new and some new-to-the-list things to it! Currently I’m learning Take Me Home, Country Road (yes, I know, but it’s a good one to walk down the track with) and Son of a Preacher Man, reminding myself of Lazarus by Porcupine Tree, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 and Even If It Breaks Your Heart (Will Hoge’s version), and I’ve got Bastille’s Oblivion for when I’m feeling braver! – I can hit the high notes, just. It was a good test of my lung and courage capacity last time I was learning to sing, so I’m up for giving it a go this time…

And the final one I’m loving this autumn:

Post-FantasyCon 2018: thoughts and advice

So I was at FantasyCon 2018 this last weekend in Chester, and honestly…it was a bit weird.

I’ve gone from fangirl and small indie author when I last went to the con in 2016, to a senior editor at an indie publisher and junior editor at a mid-list publisher… and that has very much changed the conversations that I’m now involved in. I’ve gone from, “I’ve written a book and I edit stuff” to “what have you written, because I could be interested in it…” alongside “I write and I edit stuff!” – alongside, of course, the always-interested, “So what are you working on at the moment?”

But it did also give me a chance to think about what those conversations were, and how they’ve changed. Being a relative newcomer to the publishing side of things, and having been a writer and editor a very short time ago…actually, what would I have wanted to know two years ago when I was at the con as an author? What could have helped the people I was meeting to get the best of me as an author and writer?

So, some bits of random advice:

Know your elevator pitch

Give me an idea of genre, length, and a very brief idea (as in one sentence) of what your story is, and then another sentence on what makes it stand out (pick one or two themes, characters, settings…) Bluntly, what I need to know is;

a) is this something I can even be interested in as a publisher? (eg. if it’s the wrong genre or style, then I may be interested personally, but I’ll mentally cross it off the list of possibles for my job), and

b) if it is, I want a very brief overview! Catch my interest, make me want to ask you more. And, frankly, this applies to anyone asking about your book, not just publishers – what you’re trying to do is very briefly answer the question, “why do I want to read this?” Because that’s where I’m coming from as a publisher – I want to read it myself first!

And then practise your pitch. Learn it, and trot it out whenever anyone asks – you can always expand on it! But if you start with a long-winded explanation of the background themes…unless I’ve specifically asked about those or we’ve come from a conversation that was relevant to that background, it’s not what I want to start with.

Have your online persona visible

I was guilty of this myself until I put my Grimbold badge on, which has my Twitter handle on it! I recognise names and Twitter handles more than I recognise faces, or I don’t match the two until I see someone – so have it visible!

Mentioning your affiliation is also helpful; if you’re with a particular publisher, or you’ve got a book out that I may have heard of… have a badge, a lanyard, a t-shirt. Give me some hook to go “Oh yes, that thing! You’re part of that/wrote that/know X?”

Or, failing all of that, have something I can ask about! I’m as introverted as the next person – give me something to approach you with, because I suck at approaching people cold.

Your book does not matter until you’ve finished it

Blunt, I know, and it sucks. But I can’t use a half-finished novel, and honestly – as a publisher – I can’t really spend time being interested in it until you’ve proved you can finish it. As a writer and generally Dreadfully Enthusiastic Person, I will likely be cheerleading you on to finish it – but professionally, I can’t do much with something that’s not yet ready!

That said…you can always pitch us! But that’s a bit of a different skill and set of circumstances, and I’d need to see that you have a solid background in actually finishing things before I was interested in a pitch for a not-yet-written novel…which still argues for the “finish something” thing.

Also, if you’re getting caught up with re-writing…please don’t. Get words on the page, finish your first draft, THEN worry about all the problems. Seriously. Just finish the damn thing! (This is apparently a bugbear I didn’t know I had…but man, I got frustrated!)

Write what you want

Do it! Absolutely do it. Yes, you have to write with one eye to the market, and so much of publishing is watching what’s commerical and selling and how the genres are working and…but half the stuff I end up reading is mashups, and I think that’s where the fun of the genre comes from. It might not be as easy a sell, but definitely keep going.

Write, write, write

Don’t pin your hopes on one project. If you want to make a career of writing, you’ve got to keep going – and if you’ve shopped something around and it’s not sold, then shelve it, write something else. If I (or an agent, or a submissions editor) likes your writing and says, “Well, this project doesn’t quite work because it’s the wrong genre/length/style/I can’t sell it at the moment, but what else do you have?” then what else have you got to show off?

 

So, there you go…those are my random thoughts!