Setting your new year’s goals #writing #amwriting

Despite the title of this post, I’m not one for setting goals simply because it’s a new year. But sometimes you need a little boost or nudge to get on with setting fresh goals and the arrival of a new year is the perfect excuse.

I’m taking nine months off work on long service leave to work on my writing, and I already know the time is going fly by.

So what are my goals?

I’ve been dedicated to writing sci-fi, so I’ve decided to branch out and write in other genres. I’ve also been a bit of a slave to the full length novel, so I’m also going to try my hand at a few novellas. As the saying goes, change is good for you. I don’t have work to distract me, and although I am no longer writing as much in the evenings, I am making good word count by day. Usually at least 2k words per day, but I’ve been getting up to a very healthy 4k+ on some days.

I’ve got five different book projects on the go at the moment at various stages of development, which is also unusual for me. Usually, I stick to one and finish it before I move on. I’m finding having several projects to pick from depending on my mood has been really beneficial to my word count. If I’m feeling out of ideas on one, I just pick up another.

It’s early days with this approach but it seems to be working so far. One novella is complete, another is at 75%, and I have had a good stab at a couple of other books. Whether I ever publish them is another matter. I think sometimes just getting back to writing for the joy of it without any end goal in mind delivers its own reward.

My first two books in my new Predictive trilogy are complete and with beta readers. I have some work to do on the first one based on feedback, and I’m letting the ideas incubate before I dive in.

I’m also playing around with the fourth book in the Divided World Series. I swore I would park it to devote time to other projects, but the ideas have been flowing so I figured why not.

And I’m loving being a full-time writer for the first time in my life. And although I know it has an end date, I’m determined to make the most of it.

Wishing everyone happy reading and writing in the new year 🙂

Here’s a sneak peek at book 4 in the Divided World Series…


“You’re not a threat anymore,” Tanis said smiling coldly. “I killed you, remember?”

“Ah, so you did,” said the Master. “But I am still here, am I not?”

“This is just a dream,” Tanis said.

The Master smiled a congenial smile and bobbed his head in agreement making his slit throat gape obscenely. “That is true, but you are listening to me. How else do you think purgatory works? It creeps over the landscape of our lives, taking a piece at a time. First our dreams, then our waking world begins to crumble as it sweeps through, until it finally claims our shattered soul. As you have already pointed out, I am not yet resting with God and my work is not yet done. And she is, by your own code, a threat. You are a Shadowlander—of the warrior caste. You are genetically bound to eliminate the threat. You can no more avoid killing her than you can avoid drawing breath.”

“Hannah isn’t a threat.” Tanis turned once more to the cell door, pounded on the aged wood and called for the guard.

The Master began laughing, a rich, melodious sound that rose above his furious thumping on the door.

 

Building conflict – the dastardly life of a writer #amwriting #writerslife

I’m with Bugs Bunny every time. Well, maybe not necessarily the swift part, I’m okay with revenge of all kinds in a book.

And so should every writer be

Building conflict is a natural part of writing. Take every opportunity to drive a little more drama for our heroes and heroines. Explore every option to pile on the pressure, take away safety nets, and keep your readers guessing at motives and intent.

It isn’t always easy to provide surprises, but that doesn’t mean you have to make it easy for the reader. As the saying goes the first draft is you telling yourself the book. Once you know the way the story will play out, walk through again and generously sprinkle red-herrings, weave subterfuge, and turn up the heat.

Yes, we need the balance of the good, the empathetic, and the kind, but they will shine so much brighter if you dump a little darkness on the other end of the scale.

Surprise yourself with just how dastardly you can be.

Cultivate a ‘What if’ mentality.

  • What if I pull this leaver?
  • What if I break that?
  • What if he is lying?
  • What if she is telling the truth?
  • What if I take away this?
  • What if this happens?
  • What if this doesn’t happen?

You’re a writer,  you need to give your inner bastard some air time.

Be mean. Be cruel. Be utterly wicked.

Think of the worst possible thing that could happen. The thing you would dread. The thing that would make you yell ‘NO’ if it happened to you.

And then do it.

And then do it again.

Happy writing conflict 😈

Why feedback is so important… #writing #amwriting #writerslife

I was recently reading On Writing by Stephen King. It’s one of those books you dip in and out of and even re-read. While I love his candid style, it is something else within this book that I want to reflect on.

The importance of nurturing young minds

I have always been a reader; my earliest memories are of sitting with my head buried in a book. People would buy me books, my mum in particular bought me a huge number as gifts. I would read my favorites over and over again. I was never much of a writer when young though, and it wasn’t until I left university that I started to dabble in writing myself.

Whenever we come to the writing life, whether as a child, a young adult, or an older adult, we come to it with a measure of vulnerability.


“She (his mother) said it was good enough to be in a book. Nothing anyone has said to me since has made me feel any happier.”

~Stephen King, On Writing.

We all need someone to believe in us.

One someone is usually enough.

Just someone.

Someone whose opinion holds weight, whose opinion matters.

That doesn’t mean feedback should be sugar coated. It must be genuine, and better if it comes from someone who is circumspect with their praise. Most people, young or old, have an inbuilt detector for the disingenuous. False praise will fall flat, but the praise we have worked for will lift us up to a special place.

It’s also about timing. We are all vulnerable at times in our life, and that maybe when we are young like Stephen was when his mother read his first story, and it might equally be when we are older.

So, I am going to amend my above quote and say that there is an importance to nurturing all minds.

All writers are equal and different

I realize everyone is different, and that some writers might need greater nurturing than others. Some might even be comfortable with their own magnificence and need very little nurturing at all.

I think most writers are imperfect perfectionists who are never really satisfied with what they produce and are always seeking to do better.

And I think all writers need someone to believe in them. I know if someone offered me an option to have a hundred dollars or a hundred reviews from people who enjoyed my work,  I would pick the reviews every time.

It doesn’t matter how many books you have written or how successful you are as a writer. Success is subjective, after all. But I love that Stephen Kings greatest source of writerly pride was getting a quarter for his first book from his mother.

Holidays, books and being a writer! #writing #amwriting #writerslife

“I’m a writer. My hobbies include not writing.”

I have a bit of a fixation with writing memes, and the above was my favourite from this week. I’ve been on holiday in Brisbane for the last 10 days, and even though I’m on holiday I’ve found it hard to tear myself away from my story. I was sitting in a coffee shop, doing the final read of book 3 from my trilogy before hitting publish, when this meme popped up. Needless to say, it made me chuckle.

I dabbled in writing for so many years before I published, and the moment I did publish it was like BOOM I’m addicted. I really don’t have any other hobbies now…except walking or maybe gardening, because walking and gardening mean you can still think about writing!

Win, win!

Some pictures from my Brisbane trip…

Enoggera, QLD…yes, that is me and not the back of a random person!
South Brisbane Foreshore
South Brisbane Foreshore
Cute Koala at the Lonepine Koala sanctuary
Botanical Gardens, Brisbane
Toowoomba, QLD

The end of the Divided World…not quite so divided anymore…more of a…well, you’ll have to read it to find out 😉

It’s taken me nearly 18 months, but I’m finally at the end of the trilogy with the 3rd book out on Amazon in print, and ebook on pre-order!
There will definitely be more adventures for Tanis and perhaps even spin-offs, but for now I’m starting a new series.
Such a great feeling to get to the end. And super excited about the next chapter…pun intended

For those who love sci-fi with a touch of fantasy and a lot of conflict!

Divided Serenity (Divided World Book One)
http://hyperurl.co/yfi7m2

 

 

Serenity Falling (Divided World Book Two)
https://hyperurl.co/1j9tol

 

 

Revealing Serenity (Divided World Book Three)
Available on pre-order
https://hyperurl.co/ja0qrt

Ready for a Holiday #writerslife #writing #amwriting

Sick club…

I’ve not been well for a few months now with a cold and then a cough that just won’t go away. But this is my last week of work and then I am taking a three week holiday. Really looking forward to a nice relaxing break….Okay, and maybe just a smidgen of fun 😉

Back to the blog…

So, I’m well and truly fed up of the sick club and can’t wait to get back to blogging. I have some fun blog posts queued up and will get cracking on them while I am on holiday! So pull up your chair and get the popcorn out!

Happy holidays…

I’ll be in Brisbane for Christmas and New year, and I will also drop a couple of posts of our travels while there. It’s been over five years since my last visit and I expect it will have changed a fair bit. It’s a long flight from Perth, too, so any scifi or fantasy reading recommendations would be appreciated!

Writerly stuff…

When I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself I was busy writing my new book series. I’m into editing now and happy with the way the book turned out. I usually aim for 100-110k and then cut about 10-20%. This time I didn’t quite make 90k in the draft and it’s tracking at around 80k after the first editing cull. I normally struggle to keep the word count down so this is a new experience for me! I’m comfortable with the storyline and will see how it feels as I read. Sometimes gaps become obvious later, but I would rather it was a good 80k than try and pad it out!

Book 2 for the Divided World Series should be coming out in print soon. And Book 3 just needs a final read, so lots coming in the new year!

Let’s get creative…

I’ve had a lot of fun writing the new book. It was nice to get back into the creative side of writing after so long editing and tweaking the last series. But now the draft is done, I do enjoy the editing 🙂

Happy reading and writing! 🙂

Guest Post: Today I’d like to talk about sports…& writing! @JasonJMcCuiston #SCIFI #amwriting

Today I’d like to talk about sports; specifically how they can make you a better writer of genre fiction. I think most of us (and I know this is a stereotype) who write sci-fi and fantasy are much more comfortable in a library than in a gym, or more at home at a tabletop playing an RPG than on a hardtop playing basketball. I speak from experience. No one will ever mistake me for an athlete, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

Let’s face it, in genre fiction, there are a lot of sports. As Grandpa says in The Princess Bride: “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” You get the picture. “So?” I hear you say, “How does that apply to me and my writing?” Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll give you some examples from my life.

I played high school (American) football, so I know what it feels like to take a bone-jarring blow to the helmet. I know that smell of blood you get in the back of your sinuses when you get your bell rung. I know what it feels like to have the instep of your foot touch your inner shin (not good). I know what it’s like when opposing forces in pads (the modern equivalent of armor) crash together and try to break each other’s lines. I know how a field smells and feels different in the rain from one that is sun-scorched or nearly frozen with frost. And I know how it feels to see one of your closest friends carted off with a serious injury.

I played rugby in college, so I know what a femur sounds like when it snaps in half (a gunshot is a close approximation), and how the scream afterward is even worse. I know what it feels like to have your shoulder torn out of the socket. I know what my lungs and legs feel like when they’ve got nothing left to give, but somehow find a way to run one more sprint and pile into one more scrum. I know how thirty alpha-males act when they try to kill each other for an hour, and then party like brothers until the dawn (I will go to my grave believing that the spirit of the Viking raid lives on in modern times as a visiting rugby club).

I also took karate and kickboxing in college, and wrestled in high school, so I know what it’s like to grapple with another human being in close quarters, smelling their breath and their unfamiliar scent as they try to hurt or defeat you. I know what it feels like (because I didn’t make weight that week) to wrestle a giant. I know what it feels like to get hit so hard that you can’t breathe and your vision goes dark and hazy. I know how it feels to throw so many punches that you wonder who’s really taking the worst of the bout.

I am into target shooting, so I know that a real gunshot is RIDICULOUSLY louder than on TV and the movies. I know what burnt gunpowder smells like. I know that after a day at the range (or, one can imagine, a lengthy battle) your hands are black with burnt powder. I know that when an ejected brass casing hits your skin it feels like someone trying to put a cigarette out on you (or so I imagine – thankfully, that is one thing I have not experienced). I know how a gun can malfunction in different ways, and how to safely fix the problem. I know that real gun experts are never nonchalant with weapons, no matter how “cool” they might be.

So you see, sports can lend a level of verisimilitude to your writing that it might otherwise lack. Even if you just go for a walk or a hike until you can’t take one more step, that’s useful information you can draw on the next time you write about a long and arduous journey. Do as many pushups as you can until you want to puke, then you’ll get a sense of what your character is feeling when she is pushed to her physical limits. Run as fast as you can for as far as you can, and maybe you can use that when you write about your characters fleeing the alien invasion. And if you go out for a team, you might make it, and then you’ll learn about the camaraderie and fellowship of folks who push themselves and each other to be their best. That certainly can’t hurt, right?

So yeah, sports.

About our guest blogger…

Jason J. McCuiston was born in the wilds of southeast Tennessee, where he was raised on a healthy diet of old horror movies (both classic and of the B variety), westerns and war movies, comic books and old pulp magazines, sci-fi and fantasy novels, and, yes, Dungeons & Dragons. He attended the finest state school that would have him where he studied art before coming to grips with the hard truth that his heart just wasn’t in illustrating other folks’ stories. Following his matriculation, he embarked on a whirlwind tour of underpaid and uninspired career paths until finally realizing that all his forays into role-playing games, comic books, and creative design were merely the manifestation of his innate desire to be a storyteller.

So for the next twenty-odd years, he slogged his way through the jungles of terribly amateurish prose, waded the never-ending streams of form rejections, navigated through the cyclopean obelisks of scathing (yet often constructive) criticisms, and finally climbed the daunting peaks of Personal Growth, Craft, and Skill in search of his goal: the fabled Shangri La of becoming a published and prolific author of speculative adventures.

He can be found on the internet at:

His story, “The Wyvern” can be found in Pole to Pole Publishing’s new anthology, Dark Luminous Wings. It is a post-apocalyptic steampunk horror story set in the skies above a Mojave Desert filled with magic and dark memories.

His first published story, “The Last Red Lantern” can still be found in Parsec Ink’s Triangulation: Appetites anthology.

A world in a book #amwriting

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”
― Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life