Thursday, August 23, 2012

News From Shakytown: Word Counts, Encouragement and Almost Maybes, Oh My!

It's been a quiet winter blogging wise here at PT, but it certainly hasn't been a quiet time behind the writing scenes.

Most of my writing community conversations have been happening on Twitter. If you haven't already found me on Twitter, join me through the bar on the right hand side of this page. I recently changed my Twitter handle to be more in line with my writing identity. My previous handle (BiscuitCIB) only had relevance to me (an old identity from my very first days in chat rooms way back in 95!), and it was about time I started pretending I was a growed up writer. I'll probably have to pretend that even more with a proper website eventually, but that's medium term goal once things "start happening". That is, start making pro-sales.

And speaking of, nothing yet. One of my 2012 goals is to make my first pro-sale, and I'm still hoping that's possible with all the excellent vibes I've been getting lately. More often than not now I'm getting feedback from editors, and the encouragement is really uplifting. All the major editors I've hoped to impress have made encouraging noises this year, even if it's just a line or two with a rejection or a "send more". It's nice to be noticed by the people I really respect.

This isn't to say the writing life has been all rainbows, kittens and muffins. This past winter has been exceptionally hard, as I've been coming to grips with post-earthquake stress and burn out. Living in this city is a grey old time. I've struggled with my writing energy and inspiration, and there have been some really low days ("What the hell am I doing? I suck! etc etc" all those irrational thoughts). But there are also some really good days - the last few months I've written what I believe is my best work to date, and these stories have been the ones getting encouraging feedback. It's a very odd dissonance.

Over the last couple of years I've blogged about trying to make a writing process fit, but with how restless the eighteen months have been some of the processes I tried out just aren't working. Thankfully, flexibility has been working for me - I can now work in outside environments (the local libraries actually have a very cool atmosphere and accessibility for people working on laptops), I often take my laptop into other "comfort zones" (sitting up in bed; in my armchair), and I've been experimenting with music (instrumental, electronic ambient) and mental white noise (TV in the background) to help me focus. It's helped me find more environments to be comfortable in, so I'm not always poked away in my office.

While my output has waned lately with stress and winter energies, I seem to have settled into a happy average word count: during my one full writing day a week I manage around 2000 words, and most nights (after the day job) I manage about 500 words. I would like this to be more, and some days I get super inspired (nice, but rare and it blows me out), but at this point in my life I have to be very careful about managing my energy.

Mostly, it's been a lot of time spent alone in the trenches this year. That's something a lot of writer "How To's" don't mention - it can be a pretty lonely life. This is okay some days if you're not feeling overly social, but can make one despondent when needing work critique or a self-esteem boost. I'm grateful for my local writing group for keeping me sane (Liz and Helen, you're legends!), and for SpecFicNZ for keeping me focused.

I keep plodding.
Pickles Out.

This Is Mah Job

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lately: SpecFicNZ Committee; Paul Mannering's 'Engines of Empathy on IndieGoGo; Ripley Patton's 'Ghost Hand'; Helen Lowe's Gemmell is PURTY

  • Today was the AGM of SpecFicNZ (the New Zealand writer's collective I belong to). The new committee has been voted in for the 2012-13 year, and I'm totally stoked that I've been voted onto the general committe. I've never done committee work before, so it's a whole new experience for me. Hopefully because it's a subject I love, and with so many wonderfully supportive people to help out, things should go fine.

    At SpecFicNZ we're all about supporting and promoting New Zealand based and bred science fiction, fantasy and horror authors. We've been underway for two years now, and promotions include writing contests (for example, through Wily Writers) and cover design, giveaways, and special events like Flights of Fancy.

    So! It will be an interesting year for me as I find out what it takes to run things behind the scenes. Thanks to whoever nominated me for the position, I hope I can do you all proud.
  • New Zealand author and my friend Paul Mannering, he of 'Tankbread' fame (infamy?) is preparing to self-publish his second novel 'Engines of Empathy', with crowd sourdced funding through IndieGoGo. Unlike Tankbread, which was an Australian based zombie novel, EoE is a science fiction story about 'a peaceful world where empathically empowered technology runs on positive emotions'.

    The blurb further reads: 'After her toaster has a psychotic breakdown, Charlotte Pudding finds herself caught up in what might possibly be the greatest conspiracy in history. Running for her life with a grandmaster of sarcasm, the race is on to discover the secret of an antique desk that is the key to the mysterious origins of Empathic Energy. With mystical monks, villainous corporations and a shocking revelation about R.A.B.I.T.S, Pudding is on a quest to find patchouli oil, uncover the truth, and (if it’s not too inconvenient) save the world.'

    Intrigued? Think you'd like to read this wacky story? (I can assure you, Paul has the most twisted mind in a human being I've ever met). Then give it a leg up into the world! Paul is running an IndieGoGo campaign, which will cover the costs of editing, cover design and self publishing.

    Crowd funding is a great way to see self-published books into the world - it's like giving the author a publishing advance right from the fans and readers pockets. This way you can choose the books you'd like to see published!
  • Another friend who is crowd funding a self-publishing outing is my friend Ripley Patton, with her YA fantasy novel 'Ghost Hand'. I blogged about it earlier, but this is just a reminder that with 8 days to go, Ripley needs just $600 more to hit her target.
  • Here's something sweet as: last weekend I got to hold Helen Lowe's Gemmell Morningstar award, which she won for her fantasy novel 'The Heir of Night'. All crystal, that sucker was heavy! I'd like to steal this award on behalf of...
A nearly see through crystal trophy, that catches and shows light prismatically,
with a square base, long middle section and star at the top.
The inscription reads 'The David Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012'

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Moral Panic at the Disco

Goodness, but does the media love a juicy moral panic.

This week over at Granny Herald, Karl Du Fresne decided that, without a trace of irony in his opening salvo, he knew what was responsible for the recent shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.

Deriding "the usual anguished self-examination in the American media", Du Fresne proceeded into his own anguished self-examination, claiming in the most disingenuous, irresponsible and downright rude way possible that an unhealthy attachment to fantasy stories was the culprit for this tragedy.

That's right, if you're a geek, if you're in a fandom: beware. Every single one of you has a violent sociopath lurking beneath the surface because of your inability to connect with the real world.

As a geek, as a co-habitor of many fandoms, as a fantasy and science fiction writer, and as a person who is part of a large and varied culture of fantasy literature and entertainment within New Zealand, Mr Du Fresne I bite my thumb at you.