Friday, February 3, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 3-2-23


It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

Long weekend!  And I made it extra long by taking the Friday off as well.  So four days of weekend to enjoy!

I used the extra Friday to write and made some excellent progress on edits to Guide Us.  I think it still needs a little more work, particularly at the beginning of the book.  Just small things.  A line here or there that will highlight some elements a little more.  I hope to use Monday to do this work and a few other little writing-related jobs I've set for myself.

I also did a little work on Shook because I want to enter that one into a contest that's coming up.  Again, it still needs a little more work, so hopefully I can get that done on Monday too.  I have a goal to get all my completed, unpublished novels out into the world over the next couple of months in some way shape or form.  Some will go to contests, others will go to publishers and I plan to query Guide Us when it is ready.  Hopefully something will get picked up somewhere.  I'm sitting on far too many completed manuscripts at the moment and I'm determined to find them all homes.

As for the rest of the long weekend, I'm heading up the coast on Saturday to spend a day with my friend who lives up there.  It was her birthday this week, and another mutual friend's birthday, so we are all getting together to celebrate.  And on Sunday I'm going to the movies to see The Whale.  It will be the first time in a while, I think, that I will have seen all, or almost all the Oscar contenders.

And I think that's about all for celebrations this week.  What are your wins?

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

IWSG - February 2023

It's the first Wednesday of the month so it's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group!

Thant to the awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG,  Jacqui Murray, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Pat Garcia, and Gwen Gardner!

And here's this month's question:

If you are an Indie author, do you make your own covers or purchase them? If you publish trad, how much input do you have about what goes on your cover?

I've been really lucky with my covers.  I'm with a small press and they have a really wonderful cover designer who is very collaborative and somehow manages to create the perfect covers for my books.  She doesn't always get it right the first time, but is so open to suggestions and feedback that I have never been disappointed by a final cover yet.

The process (in case anyone is interested) is that I get sent a proof of the design, and can then give feedback.  The first two covers I was sent (for An Unstill Life and Stumped) I was pretty happy with as they were.  I think I asked to remove a tagline from Stumped, and maybe to amplify the colors a bit on An Unstill Life to better showcase the MC's synesthesia.  

I wasn't initially thrilled with the covers I was sent for The Sidewalk's Regrets or Chasing the Taillights - one looked like it should be on an historical novel, maybe a ghost story, and the other looked like a rom com.  But I made my concerns known, and sent a selection of covers for books like mine for the designer to reference so she got an idea of the look and feel I thought was right for my book.  And the second attempts at both these covers were perfect.

I know some authors who have been really unhappy with their covers, so I feel very lucky that I have had such a positive experience with all of mine.  Even with my first publisher who closed their business and reverted the rights to my book back to me.  In fact, the gorgeous covers I get are part of the reason I keep publishing with this small press.  I know I'd never manage to do anything as good by myself!

What have your cover experiences been like?  Positive or not?

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Weekly Goals 30-1-23

 Can you believe January is almost over?  How fast did that happen?  Crazy!

It's a public holiday next Monday, so I'm taking Friday off to get a 4-day weekend.  It seems a little crazy to do it now, when the year has hardly begun, but I figure I should take any opportunity for time off I can get before July or so because that's when my job is going to get insane for about seven months.

So I'm going to use that Friday as a writing day and I'm finally going to nail those revisions on Guide Us that I need to tackle.  I figure I just need to add a few little bits and pieces here and there through the MS, and possibly an extra chapter toward the end.  Then I think I'll be done.

Weather is looking a little iffy this week (but at least we're not having floods like they've had in Auckland over the weekend) so I'm not sure if I'll be able to ride to work every day or not.  I'll give it a go though!  Fingers crossed I don't get another puncture while riding in the rain the way I did on Friday.  That was annoying.

And that's about it for goals this week.  Do you have any you'd like to share?

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 27-1-23


It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

I know, I know... It was a short week this week so I shouldn't be excited about the weekend, but yet... I am.

It's been a busy week with a lot of math in it for me, which is not my favourite thing by a longshot.  Spending whole days working with numbers and percentages makes me tired.  So I am looking forward to a weekend in which I don't need to do any math and can spend time with words instead.

I've had a strange stomachache for the last 3 days which I thought might be related to something I ate, but am beginning to think it's something else because it isn't going away as quickly as that usually does.  It's not super painful anymore (it was for two days), but just irritating and annoying.

The weather has been lovely all week so I have biked to work every day.  Even today.  But now it's pouring with rain so I am going to get wet going home.  Luckily it's still warm.

Meeting up with a friend to go to the art gallery and to a movie tomorrow, which will be nice.  Then I have nothing planned on Sunday, which will also be nice.  Although I do have some chores to do.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Books I've Read: The Furies

This was a strange and quite disturbing read. Even now I'm not 100% sure I actually liked it or not, but it certainly left an impression.

Set in the outback in Queensland, Cynthia has not had an easy life up until now. Living so remotely she has little company other than her parents and sister and her father is often gone for work. The isolation and the hardship the family endures after years of drought have to take a toll.

The book starts just after that toll has left Cynthia alone. Her mother is gone after an horrific act of madness and her father flees the scene just months later. Left with no one and nothing, Cynthia has to take job at the only nearby place where work is available - the meat works.

As a lone woman in this very male environment, Cynthia is subjected to any number of indignities. Initially she rolls with it, feeling that this is a woman's role. But after a while, her sister seems to whisper to her from beyond the grave and with her, the voices of other women who are no longer with us.

Cynthia grapples with her past while she tries to forge a future for herself that will be better than the one she saw her mother suffer through and so what actually happened to bring Cynthia to this place is revealed slowly throughout the book.

Everything about this book was a little off, from the language to the extreme weather to the casual brutishness of almost all the men in the town. I wanted to feel sorry for Cynthia for everything she suffered through, but it was difficult to care for her when every choice she made seemed wrong. There is a hint of madness surrounding all the characters in this story, which made reading the book a little like trying to walk on sand - slippery and uncertain.

The language didn't help. Sentences stopped and started in random places which annoyed me and made me conscious of the writing. I know it was intentional, but it drew me out of the story every time. Perhaps that was intentional too. To give you time to reflect on the book's themes.

I'm not sure I liked this book, to be honest. But it was certainly memorable and had a lot to say about a woman's place in society and her value (or lack of it)

But don't just listen to me. Here's the blurb:

Defiant, ferocious and unyielding - The Furies is a unique and breathtakingly powerful debut novel from Mandy Beaumont. For those who love Charlotte Wood, Margaret Atwood and Carmen Maria Machado.Cynthia was just about to turn sixteen when the unthinkable happened. Her mother was taken away by the police, and her father left without a word three months later. After that night, Cynthia began to walk in slow circles outside the family home looking for traces of her sister Mallory - she's sure that she must be somewhere else now, wherever that is.

Cynthia knows that she doesn't belong here. Her mother never belonged here either. This is the place of violence. Despair. The long dry. Blood caked under the nails. Desperate men. Long silences. The place where mothers go mad in locked bedrooms, where women like Cynthia imagine better futures.

As a threatening wind begins to dry-whirl around her, seldom seen black clouds form above, roll over the golden-brown land - is that Mallory she can hear in the growling mass? In the harsh drought-stricken landscape of outback Queensland a woman can be lost in so many ways. The question is, will Cynthia be one of them?

Defiant, ferocious and unyielding - The Furies is a debut novel by Mandy Beaumont that explores the isolation felt by so many women, and how powerful we can be when we join together. It puts her firmly on the literary map, blazing forth from the terrain of Charlotte Wood, Margaret Atwood and Carmen Maria Machado, with a unique and breathtaking power.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Weekly Goals 23-1-23

 There are a few things I want to try and do this week, especially since it's a public holiday today and I have an extra day of weekend to use.  I haven't been waiting that much this summer and I want to experiment with using a blow drier as a brush more.  I've not been successful with this technique yet, so plan to spend some time playing with it and with paints of different thicknesses to try and figure out why my paintings using this technique never look the way other fluid artists' do.

I plan to write at least one piece of flash fiction, if not more.  I've been enjoying the challenge of working with a prompt on the writing website I use.  I give myself a half hour to write a story of 1,000 words or less and see where it takes me.  They're obviously not works of art, but if they're any good, I can work more on them to make them into something else.

The weather was kind last week and let me ride into work every day I wanted to.  I plan to ride in every day this week too, so long as the weather continues to co-operate.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 20-1-23


It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's a long weekend!

At this time of year we're kind of spoiled when it comes to public holidays.  We just get back from the summer break and then there's Anniversary Day, followed closely by Waitangi Day.  And then, if Easter is early, that happens pretty soon afterward.

Unfortunately I didn't remember that Monday was Anniversary Day until yesterday, so I haven't made any real plans for the long weekend, other than going to see the epic, and apparently very flawed film, Babylon.  I shall let you know my thoughts about it on Monday.

I got my first rejection of 2023 today, so good to know nothing has changed dramatically in the new year.  I sent a bunch of stuff out in November and December, so I guess this is just the start of the latest batch of rejections.  I hate to think how many I have in total now.  It's probably over 500 between novels and short stories.

The weather has been glorious this week, so I've managed to ride my bike to work almost every day.  I didn't yesterday because I went to an outdoor concert after work, but every other day I have.  Which has been good because the bus service is so short of drivers at the moment that they're running the Saturday timetable all week which means every bus is jammed.  There must have been 50 or so people waiting for a bus by the hospital when I rode past this morning.  And every bus I saw was packed to the gunnels.

And that's it for me.  What are you celebrating this week?