The Submission Thing

Yesterday I took a huge step in the direction of my dream to become a published author – I actually submitted work to someone who publishes things. Mind blown, right? This dazzlingly simple thing is difficult for a lot of reasons, self-confidence and actually saying “it’s finished” being my own two biggest hurdles.

Somehow, I managed to overcome both of these and have submitted two short fiction pieces. Nothing like the power of a hard deadline to help you finally just bite the bullet and go. Sometimes that’s what you need – a good hard push. I can’t even remember now how I decided I was going to submit but once I had I worked to the deadline. Those stories were going no matter what. There were wobbles, of course. The DAY before the deadline I decided one of the stories was awful and terrible and it just wasn’t going. I went to sleep one hundred percent convinced that I just wasn’t going to send it. The only way I managed to solve the situation was stubbornness. I’d promised myself I was submitting them both. In the end, I did.

I think taking this leap was a hugely positive step, now that the dust is beginning to settle. I’d be lying if I said I had high hopes of either work being accepted, but it’s the principle of the thing. Symbolic, even. It’s about the conquering of demons, standing up to one’s own weaknesses and punting them in the face with the smack of a ‘Submit’ button. It’s about doing things I’ve never done before in the hopes that the more I do them the less scary they will become. That’s how life works, right?


Okay, so maybe some things are always scary. Standing up to those things though is important. I might be afraid of flying, but no time has been worse than the first. After that first flight, I knew what I was going into and I knew that I had come out the other side before. I gained a quiet little voice inside me that whispered ‘you can do this.’ Yesterday I faced my fears and sent stuff away, and now I’m thinking maybe I can do this.

Let’s face it, I probably have less to worry about submitting fiction than I do in a plane anyway, my brain just didn’t get that memo. I’m hoping for these two be the first of many submissions. And who knows, one day one of them might just make it through.

Did you struggle to get to the point where you were ready to submit? How did you get over it?

Edits, Weaknesses and Spies

Today comes an update from the ongoing efforts of Twyned Earth. Yesterday I finally finished putting all of the feedback into Through the Black‘s Scrivener doc. It’s taken me longer than I’d have hoped due to a hectic few months but hey, that’s life.

Putting aside the distractions though, it still isn’t a fast process for me. It’s more than just inserting people’s comments – it’s also figuring out fixes for the comments without messing up the rest of the story. That’s the time consuming part. I like to plan both big and small changes because a tiny alteration in one place can seriously skew things elsewhere. Consistency is a huge issue – but there’s another benefit.

It means that when I sit down to start editing I can get cracking right away, which is essential me.

Identifying one’s weaknesses is hugely important to being successful. I know that one of mine is sitting down to work and having no idea where to start and then panicking. There’s this big MS to write or edit and it’s a massive job. If I don’t have a plan and I don’t know where to start, I freeze. I get daunted. I get overwhelmed. And I don’t do anything.

Panicking is the enemy. I deal with this by treating each piece of feedback as a separate entity and working out how it can be fixed. I end up with lots of little problems and solutions on how to deal with them, all there in the document file, listed and ready to tell me what to do. It’s so much easier to keep yourself cool and soldier on when there’s someone holding my hand and telling me what to do (even if that person is Past Me).

Our own personal weaknesses don’t go away, but if you can identify and learn how to deal with them they don’t have to hold you back. Don’t be afraid of your weaknesses. Embrace them. Befriend them. Infiltrate them from the inside. Like a spy. Discover its weakness. And then destroy them! What was I saying? I think you get the idea. Perhaps.

Aaaanyway, what about you? Are you a meticulous planner of editing ? Do you feel it out as you go?

Association Inspiration – The Power of Tea

A couple of weeks ago a friend posed a question on Twitter to those writers who have other jobs or an otherwise limited amount of writing time. The question was in two parts – the first was where do you fit in writing time and the second was how do you “change gears” from not writing to writing.

I squeeze in writing normally in the evenings and occasionally during lunchtimes while at work. For the second one, apparently I use something called Classical Conditioning (which didn’t actually twig until said friend pointed it out). I write using the almighty power of tea.

I love tea, but the only time I ever actually drink tea is while I’m writing. This isn’t deliberate, it’s just how things turned out. I don’t eat or drink in the morning because my stomach says no. I don’t trust the hygiene of any of the facilities at work. I never have tea on the go because it’s never right unless I make it myself (I, like many others, am very particular about my tea). I don’t drink tea while I’m gaming or drawing, as I always end up letting it go cold – something all my fellow tea lovers will agree is a horrendous crime. As a result, the only time I drink tea is while writing.

My writing hiatus ended in the middle of 2012 and thus began the tea conditioning. An accident? Yes. One I would change? Not a chance. Three years later and now just the smell of tea makes me think of writing and gets my fingers itchy. It helps me focus, helps me switch off from the other things that loudly scream for attention in life. A bad day at work can be difficult to shrug off, and it was something I used to struggle with far more than I do now. Now, I make myself a nice cup of tea and let that writing feeling come.

Obviously this isn’t perfect. It doesn’t always work, some days there’s just no helping being unproductive. It also does not cure writer’s block – but it can help keep me wanting to stick at it until I hit the break through. There’s no ultimate fix to make you super productive all the time, but if something helps a little then why not?

Of course some people simply can’t live limiting their tea intake per day – and it would be cruelty to suggest! – but there are lots of cues that can be used to train the brain. It could be a different beverage, a particular scented candle, a genre of music – whatever works for you! It’s not a quick solution and takes time for the association to stick but if you, like so many others, have a hectic life and have trouble shifting into writing mode then I’d recommend giving it a try. It’s definitely worked for me.

And if anyone already uses a similar method, I’d love to hear about what you do in the comments below!

A Photo of a Pirate Ship

So far, 2015 has been a hectic year. For me there’s been a lot going on and a lot of stress from various different sources. The end of the year heralds more of the same, but for now I find myself in a little bubble of calm. The issues that have been causing bother have, for the most part, been resolved as best they can be. On top of that, I’ve just come back from a lovely little holiday to the seaside town of Whitby. It’s amazing the benefit of stepping back from everything can have. A proper chance to clear one’s head, be removed from the stresses of everyday life. I have come back feeling rejuvenated mentally and ready to make the most of this period of calm.

Now, I said a while ago that a serial would be getting posted to the blog and you’ve probably guessed from this long period of silence that that has changed. With slightly growing confidence in the piece in question, I’ve decided to try submitting it to a few places to see if anything comes of it. The idea of my work reaching a larger audience – as well as the prospect of getting some writing credentials – is both exciting and scary. Apparently when there isn’t enough stress in my life I have to create some! Still, it’s a positive step in my ultimate goal of becoming a published novelist.

So, my rejuvenated brain power at present is going towards polishing up two short stories for submission – watch this space! And, of course, the ongoing work on Through the Black continues. I received such a volume of fantastic constructive feedback that I’m still in the process of plugging in comments and my current fixes for those issues. It’s a long and ever evolving process that I hope to talk about in an upcoming post. Now that things have settled a little I hope to get inspiration for a few more posts before life overwhelms me again. I won’t make any promises on specific topics as I’m apparently terrible at following them through. I will however try and work up to being semi-regular again.

For now though, here is a picture of a lost pirate ship.



Withdrawing From Camp

Tis with a heavy heart that I am officially withdrawing from July Camp NaNoWriMo 2015. As much as I would have loved to be able to do the things I had hoped to this month, it just is not going to happen. This is partly due to coming out of a very stressful time recently – I thought I had recovered from that but apparently not. More time is needed and so reducing my stress and responsibilities seems like the most sensible option right now.

My project for the month was to edit 50k words of Twyned Earth Book 2. While it is something I desperately want to complete, I have been having such a difficult time working on it. Not because I am fatigued with the project itself but because there are too many distractions – both in my writing life and outside of it. For once, the distractions inside my writing life are actually favourable. With all the feedback I’ve been getting for Through the Black, I’ve been feeling so inspired to start work on the next draft. There is a lot to do and thanks to my beta readers I have some great ideas for the novel. It’s a nice change to be feeling compelled to work on the novel I have closest to a querying position as sometimes it feels like I’ll never move forward. I feel trapped in limbo and that I’ll be here forever, never able to commit and complete a project fully – not a great feeling when already stressed about other things too!

It was only this year that I finally came to the realisation that I truly want to become a published author. Since this realisation, I’ve felt a lot of pressure.

Before writing was my hobby, it was what I did for fun. It didn’t matter if my writing was atrocious or if my drafts never reached a standard worthy of the light of day. Enjoyment was the sole reason I wrote so what did it matter as long as I was having a good time? I could work on all the side projects I wanted to, never even knowing where they would go. It didn’t matter. It was FUN.

Now, suddenly, two things have changed. I have to be good and I have to finish. Both are ridiculously scary, especially as publishing is a long game. Fantastic authors wade through piles of rejections before landing an agent. After that, it has to start getting sent to publishers for more of the waiting game. Then, if you’re lucky and good, you get your publishing deal. Then it can be another year -or more!- to wait on top of everything else before your book ever comes near a shelf. It’s fairly harrowing. It took me a long time to finally figure out what I want to do with my life, so long that I feel like I’m already behind.

Which is why I’m chuffed to have got some inspiration to continue work on Book 1. There’s still a long way to go before that’s going to be ready for agent hunting – but some day it will be. I need to focus on that, and not how far away that day is. In my present frame of mind, I really feel like I want to work on something that will bring me closer to my end game – not put more time between me and it. As such, my current plan now is give up on NaNo this month and leisurely resume work on Through the Black – when I’m ready. No deadlines for myself yet. It’s time for some much needed R&R and just generally straightening out my head. I’ve been neglecting my mental health a little too much recently and it’s time for that to change.

Character Profile: Tony

Portrait of Tony by OlieBoldador - commissioned by a close friend

Portrait of Tony by OlieBoldador – commissioned by a close friend

Story: Twyned Earth Series, first appearance in Through the Black.

Protagonist or Antagonist?: Protagonist

Name: Tony

Age: 45

County of Origin: Aigorshuck, Sarn

Occupation: Unemployed. Nothing shady going on here. Nooooope.

Loyalties: Family, and one or two close friends

Goal: Save the world.

Morals: Strict, if skewed. There are some things you just don’t do. Try to keep the civilians out of it. Don’t hurt kids and kill anyone who does. And if there’s the risk of a world war starting, ugh, guess you try and help.

When Tony’s best friend decides he wants to stop a war, he supposes he should probably tag along. After all, Michael’s an idiot and Tony’s got connections. Totally legit connections, you understand, but they could come in handy – especially when things get heavy.

It’s easy to underestimate a man who’s four inches tall. Someone’s in for a big surprise.

The Resolution Update

So, about six months ago you might remember me making THIS blog post about new year’s resolutions! Well, since we’re half way through the year and I don’t have a whole lot else to say at present, here’s an update to keep myself accountable.

1.) Start maintaining this blog again.

It’s not been perfect, and there hasn’t been posts every week,  but a total of fourteen posts so far this year (not including this one) means I’ve been doing a much better job than I did last year! I’m hoping to try and pick things up again as I’ve been slowing down, but as of next week I should have a short story ready to go up in three instalments to keep you all (hopefully) entertained!

2.) Send Twyned Earth Book 1 to beta readers.

Mission accomplished! Not only accomplished but I also have almost ALL of my beta feedback now! Huzzah! There will be a full post about this, hopefully by the end of the month, but for now I will simply say a massive thank you to all my beta readers. Current work has moved onto the editing of Book 2 and the plotting of this year’s stand alone NaNoWriMo project.

3.) Lose some weight.

Due to lots of sickness at the start of the year this one started pretty late but now that it has it’s actually going very well! I’ve lost 43 % of the weight I’m currently aiming to drop. If I hit my target, I might lower it after spending some time there, depending on how I feel.

4.) Keep up with blogs.

Getting better, even if that has devolved into binge reading a whole month’s worth of posts at once. That still counts, right? This is one I need a bit of a kick up the backside with, just so that I don’t lose whole evenings where I’m supposed to be working or playing Xenoblade Chronicles. What?

Now what about you guys? How are your resolutions/goals going?