Thursday, 31 January 2013

On leaving a friend

It's no simple matter to leave a friend you've been beside for six weeks, and four other weeks before that. It's surreal, it feels wrong, and it's almost inconceivable to have lived and breathed anywhere else. And so it really didn't bother me when snow cancelled my flights and I had to rebook for a day later. One more day is worth any price. Yet now that day is over and loss impends.

I don't mean to sound overly dramatic. But when you live in a lonely attic as I do with only a grouchy cat for company - even though said attic has a lovely view and everything I need to be comfortable - then companionship has a particularly high value. Goofing off with a friend is just not something that comes easy at home.

Some of the things I've treasured: mind-melds when we both thought the same thing at once (Comic strips! Treadmill desks!)...Getting worn out at the gym...Writing conferences and hanging out with lots of cool people... Long drives to said conferences... Catching up on all the latest Doctor Who... Mysteries and surprises, enjoyed by me but not so much by Chila... Invisible ink sonic screwdrivers... Having my writing intensified by empathetic advice... doing farm stuff: collecting eggs and feeding kitties and hugging new lambs... hilarious board game sessions... poking and prodding that went on for some time to reassure us both that yes, the Internet friend is real... sharing some good meals... working on our own things, but in the same room... the absolute ease of life with no screen between.

We both bought treadmills and mine is waiting for me at home. I've been well and truly introduced to the habit of gym-going, which I intend to continue at home since I have one just around the corner. Next time we meet I hope to be healthier and have new gym buddies, too!

I'm so grateful for the hospitality that makes this possible and I hope I get to do likewise - and that I'm as good a host as Jerry and Chila have been for me.

There's so much more, and maybe I'll think of it in days to come, and add it here. Like this day, this post began with Chila and ends alone in an airport.

But I won't stay alone for long.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Posting at ICFW today

Hi guys,

Today I'm going home. Check out my post over at ICFW.

Yes, that is Thorin and all his men painted on a plane. :)

This week's winner in the writers' weightloss challenge is Krystyn Phipps and you can check out some of her success tips here:

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A Lot to Lose

Time for a confession. I have a problem, a common problem that many people have: I'm too heavy. It has various reasons, but it really comes down to the old culprits of too much food and too little exercise. When I stepped on the scales recently out of curiosity - it's not a regular habit at all - I was horrified. Six months in the land of Supersize has indeed done a number on me.

So when I heard about a group of writers getting together to spur each other on in the health department, I jumped in. I only know a few of them so far. The idea is that the most successful "loser" each week is to get linkage and cheers from the rest. Sounds good, yeah? This week's winner was K. Ann Seeton and you can find her blog at Quicksilver to Gold.

I'm not going to win this week. I'm probably not even going to register any progress, because I'm still away from home and any hope of setting up regular habits.

However, I did buy a treadmill, and it's waiting for me when I get back. I plan to build up to walking all day with an adapted high desk. It'll be great for my ongoing back problems - walking has always done a load of good right there - it's healthier than sitting and a way to get that exercise in even if I'm stuck in front of the computer for 14 hours a day at times. (Whether I'll walk all 14 hours is another question entirely!)

I've heard about treadmill-deskers mapping their virtual progress cross-country. That sounds like a really cool idea so maybe I'll track myself from Cape Reinga to Bluff. In hunting around for webapps to help with this, it seems most of them exist to track actual routes and calculate distances, not take input distances and calculate a location along a route. I may have to resort to drawing on a paper map!

I hear great health benefits are possible even at a slow speed, and that I could log 5 miles / nearly 10 km per day with a gentle pace. We'll soon see about all that, I guess...Interesting times are definitely ahead.

Monday, 21 January 2013

If I wrote Doctor Who...

...would you read it? 

I've been getting curiouser and curiouser about the notion of fanfiction. Writing for the fun of it, without thought of commercial gain - impossible in this scenario - using existing characters and worlds AND potentially tapping into a fanbase that loves it just because of "who" is in it.

So I'm thinking of having a go. Short bursts to start with, to see if anyone likes it. Flash-fiction, let's say. Of course it would be Doctor Who. Though I'm a Trekkie too, the writer in me rather likes the infinite possibilities of time travel (Yes, I know, they do that in Trek too, but far less often!). No one can beat the Doctor for sheer quotability. Hmm. Can I come up with some doozy one-liners for him?

In perusing some of the fanfic that's already out there, I've noticed that the writers often don't spend much time describing the characters. Well, sure, maybe it's not needed since everyone knows them so well already, but that's no excuse for weak writing, now is it? I would want to pay particular attention to that aspect, pretending they were people from out of my own head that I have to describe fully or no one will comprehend them.

The next thing I'd have to think about is what kind of story would I do? Well, I've often wondered what would happen if the Doctor ended up in New Zealand. I don't think that's ever officially happened - correct me if I'm wrong, please. Okay, so that's a setting.

I'm kind of leaning towards the Tenth Doctor with Donna and River, to start with. An interesting combination that we saw far too little of in the series. Plus some locals of course.

That just leaves a plot needing figured out...yes I do have thoughts on that, but I'd love to hear yours! What do you think the Doctor should get up to in my part of the world?

Friday, 18 January 2013

I'm a writer, too

So I've published 25 books by 16 people (okay, 27 people if you count all the anthology contributors!) over the last three and a half years - not a bad haul. Two of them were my own novels, so in that sense I've been guilty of a sort of ego-publishing. I did the best I was able at the time. Maybe I relied too much on my own knowledge in declaring these books were ready...certainly my personal sales figures haven't been stellar, though of course numbers aren't everything. It's just a little hard to get motivated to write a sequel for Legendary Space Pilgrims when only twenty people read it in the first place.

There have been times I despaired of my own writing and decided to focus on publishing. That's a lot of fun and has more immediate results. It takes a little less time to publish someone else's book than to write one of my own.

However, eventually I began to pine for the writing life. I set up the Avenir Eclectia project in part for myself, to create a space where I could finish an ultra-short story in one sitting and publish it. Others found the same to be true.

But there's got to be more. More than just struggling on alone, stabbing in the dark and hoping for better sales on the next book. I need help.

Yup, the publisher - wearing her writer hat - needs a publisher. A support network to carry on the infrastructure while I worry about making my story the best it can be. And an editor to stand by my side and call me on to higher excellence. To make me better than I could ever be on my own.

Enter PYP. A press somewhat like my own in size and setup, with some overlap in genre, the very highest of standards, and a drive to shoot for the stars. With an indomitable Captain at the helm who - at times inexplicably to me - really likes the way I write.

And so it is, dear friends, that I reveal the happenings of this week: I've signed three contracts with PYP: for two brand new novels individually plus an omnibus edition. The titles we've settled on for now are A Guildswoman's Dream and A Guildswoman's Journey. I have a lot of writing to do! Some is done already, and we've been working on edits - at times with much hilarity as I remember my own dealings from the other side of the table. Yes, I complain and whinge, but ultimately it's the editor's call and I absolutely respect that. Hope I'm not too much trouble, Chila!

Splashdown fans, never fear! It's not going anywhere. In fact, this deal has been in the works for well over a year, so it's not new - we just formalised it at last.

So there you have it. The publisher is a writer again. Watch this space, but don't hold your breath: we're going to give this project as long as it takes until we're completely happy with the result.

The deed is done. :)

Monday, 14 January 2013

Fragments: Reflected - My post at Beyondaries

Hey, folks! Today I have a new column up at Beyondaries, the magazine of Port Yonder Press. My part's called "Fragments: Reflected" so please go check it out - and the other great stuff on there.

If you are careful when you peruse my bio on the end of that article, you'll see a piece of news that's been brewing for quite some time now... go on, you know you want to! :)