Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May: Back to the Writing Board

The Month So Far:

Okay, so the month hasn't been overly long, yet, but I missed posting last month, so you get this one for free.

This week, I'm back to writing Out of the Blue. Quite the accomplishment. I felt especially accomplished once I looked back at my February post and realised I was on 19,000 words then. I just passed 21,000 yesterday.


This morning, I had a visit from a side character who doesn't get introduced to the story until 20,000 words in, but I think he might end up being another of my favourite characters. At 8.30 this morning, he decided he just had to share this with me.

I'm loving this series of books. I'm getting a lot of short stories out of it that I can throw at publications.

Speaking of, I've had a small one this week, a section of a larger piece, at this blog: http://littleravenpublishing.com/2014/05/02/featured-writer-nicole-field-nee-fergusson/


9591398And books. I've been reading so many and I feel quite snowed under by my current set. The only problem with borrowing from a library is that they have to be read within a certain time.

This month, I had a bit of a difficult time figuring out which was the most truly amazing and stand out book I'd read since last month. Philippa Gregory and Laini Taylor are hard acts to follow. Still, I think a compelling argument can be made for the first book in Catherynne M. Valente's series The Girl Who Circumnativated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. 

This could be seen as a children's book. Certainly, the subject matter of a 12 year old girl getting pulled out of her own life and going through a fairy tale-esque adventure could be seen as aimed at kids. And I would be right behind that, except for the lyrical writing.

Embedded image permalinkIt is at times lyrical, whimsical, self-referential and literary. The narrator herself is almost a character in the story, but not in such a way that it takes away from the narrative or others characters. Every part of this story is planned in such a way as to make it all look effortless and, again, that is just another part of its charm. By the second chapter in, I wanted to quote every line.

These little illustrations at the beginning of each chapter were just the cherry and icing.

I'd only read Palimpsest by Catherynne before, but somehow The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland made me immediately run out and grab Deathless, which I've been vaguely meaning to read since it came out in 2011.

Friday, March 21, 2014

March: Queermance #1 Book Launch

The month so far:

So, aside from a whole bunch of personal stuff that has been keeping me particularly quiet on here this month (which I may or may not post eventually in detail) I've had a really good couple of days.

-On Monday, I was advised that a short story I put in for a Queermance short story anthology had been accepted.
-On Tuesday, I realised Kerry Greenwood was one of the other authors to be featured in the same anthology!!!
-On Wednesday, I was asked to do a reading for the launch. Which was going to be on Friday @ Hares and Hyenas in Fitzroy, Melbourne. IE: The first time I've been in the same country where my writing is being published (eeeeee!)
-On Thursday, I worked myself into a panic attack, which was not fun.
-On Friday (yesterday) I managed to pick myself out, drag myself out of the house and successfully did a reading of a portion of my story that appears in an anthology that was just 6 weeks from conception to publication.

That happened to look a lot like this:

Yes, I am really that tiny, but also it was nice that the audience wasn't right in our faces there, although the lighting was very bright.

The most exciting thing for me, apart from being able to meet and greet with everyone who had had a hand in putting the publication together, was actually one of the names that went into Q: Queermance Volume 1. 

When I was a strapping young aspiring author of about nineteen, I happened to stalk go to a library run campaign called Meet the Authors. One of the authors to appear was none other than Melbourne based Kerry Greenwood. I remember sitting very patiently while she spoke and at the end I went up to her, asking what advice she would give to someone wanting to get published.

Last night, ten years later, I was featured in an anthology with her. I don't even know how to start to describe what that experience felt like.

Q: Queermance Volume 1 is a short story anthology which includes eleven retold fairytales with gay and lesbian protagonists. It was put together in six weeks with the amazing work of Lindy Cameron from Clan Destine Press in Melbourne and Jacob Coates from Jaffa Books in Brisbane

It turns out that said anthology is a little hard to Google search, though, so here's a little help. Q: Queermance Volume 1 can be found --

Here at Clan Destine Press
Here on Amazon  
Here on Smashwords

On reading in the last month, my new glasses have led new life into the pasttime and I'm able to get through so much more than I ever could! (Actually, that probably made the reading last night far more manageable too.)

By far and away my favourite book so far this month has to be Wideacre by Philippa Gregory. I'd been meaning to read this book for ages, so long in fact that I had managed to collect all three books in the series very cheaply. Had I known how completely immersed I was going to be in the story, I don't think I would have been able to wait.

The best description I've come upon for Wideacre is that it's a strange mis-match of 1999's Cruel Intentions  and basically anything written by Jane Austen. The main character is Beatrice, a young woman who loves her family home very much but is unable to inherit. Unlike in Cruel Intentions, there are very clear reasons underlying each and every one of Beatrice's actions. Also, I find her a very capable character to be behind the wheel with, which just keeps me page turning even when the events in the story are alarmingly high stakes or off-putting.

I read and loved her Tutor series, was kind of turned off by her contemporary writing, so this series could have been very hit or miss.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


There has been Doctor Who (end of Tennant, start of Smith, watched for the first time and ZOMGZOMGZOMG. I was bawling THE WHOLE EPISODE dear god).
Work. Work work, today only one day of work, but the fourth day in a fairly big week.
Had a smallish argument over the stupidest thing, fuelled by tiredness on all sides and I’m just sick of tiredness.
This morning, I came home to the news that my man, my love, my, um, big part of my world, may be heading towards partial remission. Scans over the last several weeks show increasing reduction, all the way down to no longer visible in some spots. Hormone scans show nothing active going on behind the scenes. We have gone from stage 4 to stage 2 seemingly overnight.
That’s great. One year ago, we had 70% reduction. We had streamers and balloons and me jumping around like a foolish moron, foolish only because I thought the worst was already over.
As I am writing this, my jaw is clenched so tight I don’t even know how I’m going to relax it.
6 months ago, we were told he had one year to live.
I just. I don’t want to get my hopes up. I am physically and emotionally overwhelmed by the whole day and want it to be over now and all I want to do is cry and be hugged and read something comforting and sleep and not have to get up before 8 o’clock tomorrow.
I'm just having a really hard time right now. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Upcoming Release: The Gospel of Loki, by Joanne Harris.

It's no secret that I love Joanne Harris' work. When I found out that she's about to be releasing a new novel, The Gospel of Loki, well, I got rather excited.

Not just because, to me, Loki looks like this:


Ms Harris does some incredibly insightful and evocative work, from the ongoing small time #Storytime hashtag on Twitter to the recent MBE insignia for services to literature she received from the freaking Queen of England!

Of course, like any author of relative popularity, she doesn't always receive high acclaim for all her works. I recently read a review of her Four Quarters of the Orange which, among other things, stated that the reader is an adult and wants to read about adult things. Funnily enough, that review and what I already knew about Joanne Harris just made me get around to reading this book faster. And what a read! Filled with such amazing and evocative writing as usual:

"The secret is to leave the stones in. Layer cherries and sugar one on the other in a wide-mouthed glass jar, covering each layer gradually with clear spirit up to half the jar's capacity. Top up with spirit and wait. Every month, turn the jar carefully to release any accumulated sugar. In three years' time the spirit has bled the cherries white, staining itself deep red, penetrating even to the stone and the tiny almond inside it, becoming pungent, evocative, a scent of autumn past. Serve in tiny liqueur glasses, with a spoon to scoop out the cheery, and leave it in the mouth until the macerated fruit dissolves under the tongue. Pierce the stone with the point of a tooth to release the liqueur trapped inside and leave it for a long time in the mouth, playing it with the tip of the tongue, rolling it under, over, like a single prayer bead. Try to remember the time of its ripening, that summer, that hot autumn, the time that well ran dry, the time we had the wasps' nests, time past, lost, found again in the hard place at the heart of the fruit."
Joanne M Harris The Gospel of Loki

Her latest novel The Gospel of Loki tells the story of the trickster god (no surprise there) finally taking the stage after being thoroughly misrepresented in histories and the tales we know of him. He's going to set the record straight on May 24th later this year.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February: Out of the Blue

The month so far:

I have had the slowest month of reading I think, ever, due to one whole week waiting for glasses to be made after massive eye strain occurring on the Australia Day weekend and (unfortunately) public holiday.

I’ve never had an eye test before, but there’s nothing like sitting down with a complete stranger who asks you to shut your left eye and you going, “Ah. So that’s the problem.”

Three hundred dollars and one astigmatism later, and I am back to reading at normal pace again. Everything is so much clearer, colours are brighter and, when my eyes get used to it, apparently I’ll be less tired from strain and my mood may be better. Also, funky new face accessory:

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It’s two years since the optomitrist thinks my eye sight deteriorated. It’ll be interesting to see if my mood picks up as significantly as it’s dropped in that time.

The City & the City

As for what I've actually read, the only thing of note I've come across is The City and the City by China Mieville. I felt a little bit, on reading this, like when I read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It's like books I usually read, but for some reason I just couldn't stop turning the pages.

At first, the only thing I knew about this book was that it could be seen as a metaphor for the way homeless people are 'unseen' on the streets, even though they inhabit the same city as everyone else. But it's so much more than that. There's detectives and crime and international hijinx due to the nature of two cities geographically occupying the same physical space.

And, like King Rat when I read it years ago, reading this has convinced me that there is something very interesting going on in China's head that makes me want to read more now I'm done.

As well, since my last post, I started on writing Out of the Blue a little earlier than February. Just before Christmas, a friend of mine was telling me about how I needed to get into the habit of writing 1000 words before breakfast, 1500 before first tea refill, 2000 before lunch, etc. And, of course, I have the words of Ms. Aaron's 2k to 10k keeping me motivated.

It's been three months since I finished writing for Nano, and I finally feel refreshed enough to start again.

Currently, it's at 19,000 words approx, with the first part posted here.

A couple of tracks have really grabbed me and kept me writing. Last year, I was working for Ticketek in Melbourne and had the opportunity of going to a couple of concerts I wouldn't have otherwise seen.

The Fray came out as a support act with Kelly Clarkson, instantly becoming one of my favourite bands. Their song, How to Save a Life, has often come to me and made me want to write something along to it.

I still remember going to the Pink concert with a friend of mine. Neither one of us were really fans, though we'd both heard that she was a pretty good performer. We said to each other that it was totally alright to leave early and grab a cup of coffee instead, and then Pink exploded out of the stage in Rod Laver Arena and floored us both. 

There was no more talk of leaving after that.

Months later, I was sitting in my car and happened to hear this song on my iPod. I don't actually remember whether it got played at the Melbourne concert. If it did, it was before this story idea came to me. This time, when I heard it, it gelled with my character Magenta so much so that I immediately added it to my playlist, where it's been on repeat every morning. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 2014 - One Month Down

The year so far:

- We had my partner's daughter with us over from Perth.
- We had Christmas.
- And New Years.
- And cleared out our garage.
- I discovered the Pandora app on my phone, and that led to all sorts of new music.
- Saw Frozen.
- And Sherlock.
- And The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, which was basically the same thing. ;)
- Compiled a truly intimidating to-be-read pile that is no longer under any control at all.

As for New Year's Resolutions... I have two. One of those comes in the form the above mountain. If I manage to at least pick up all of these titles to see if I like them by mid-year, I'll be happy. 

Notable mentions of good books read so far:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Retreat (Season 8, #6)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8: Retreat.

I'm not usually a huge graphic novel fan, but as soon as season seven ended, I knew I'd be buying all of season eight in comics. And so I did, and there they've sat for... far too many years. Every so often, I pick one up, wipe off the dust and commit to reading it.

Then, a Willow specific comic was lent to me (pictured in above pic, far right) and I felt I should finish the last three issues of season eight.

Well! I read it overnight. Kept on turning pages, so very, very compelled. The rest of the books have been a bit of a slog, to be honest, but this one made it all worth it!

Who's that on the left hand side of the cover? Why, it's the reason why I found this book so enjoyable. Oz is back! (full review..)

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor.

For people who have just picked up this book, please don't be alarmed by the first chapter. You are not about to read a young adult novel with a thin plot and sallow romance front and centre. Though I don't blame you for thinking that with the introduction of Kaz.

Thankfully, the book only grows better than that, and the plot hits such a point that by page 100 you will not be able to put this book down.

I had heard many wonderful reviews about this book, and I am thrilled not to be disappointed by it. This is a young adult novel, with the heroine set in Prague so the schooling system seems a bit skewed from what I recognise; much more adult and seeming like TAFE or college with subjects like life drawing. That only improved my reading experience. Karou is also a kickass heroine who can take care of herself, which is the best pairing in young adult fiction up to date.

I'd also like to keep a record of what I write and where, at least once a month, even if it's fanfiction. (NB: It will be fanfiction at some point. We've just had Season 3 Sherlock. So...)

This month, between 10th - 21st January, I wrote a short six part series posted on Tumblr: Delilah and Sansa.


When Sansa tells Delilah she loves her, it’s while walking on a bike trail on the way to get ice-cream. One minute, they’re walking side by side in comfortable silence, the next Sansa kisses her on the side of the face and whispers, “I love you.”

Delilah’s mind stalls. “Do you love me really?” she asks, once a full second and a half has passed. It’s the dumbest thing to ask, and she knows it, but honestly can’t think of anything else to say.

"Of course I do." Sansa’s cheeks are a little flushed, maybe with exercise; more likely with emotion. Then she adds, "It’s okay if you don’t feel it yet. I can wait."

"Oh no, it’s not that!" Delilah rushes to fill the awkward moment even though she’s aware that she’s never told anyone other than family and friends that she loved them. She’s in no way ready to say these words right now, yet Sansa is unlike anyone else she’s ever known. "I mean that… this is all so fast. I don’t know how these things usually go."

In her world, there hasn’t been a lot of time for dating.

"I understand," Sansa says, speaking softly now, in her gentle singer’s voice.

Delilah takes her hand and clasps it tight in both of hers. “No, obviously you don’t. But I’m going to take you back to my place and shower you in affection so you have a better understanding of things.” She looks up at Sansa from beneath her eyelashes. “Even if I’m not ready to say it yet.” 

Sansa’s responding smile shines. It takes Delilah’s breath away. The ice-cream brought from the shop at the end of the bike trail never tasted sweeter.

( I promised I would write fic inspired by Fukari’s lovely work. Part One can be found  here.)
Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.
Part 4.
Part 5.
Part 6.

Inspired by artwork by Fukari, music by Jasmine Thompson and The Dresden Dolls. Word count: 1,448.

From 17th - 21st of January, I also plotted a new novel, projected approx 70,000 words. The first chapter was something I scribbled down during NaNo. Hoping to start that off properly in February, if not before.