Thursday, July 31, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things 1-8-14

This post is part of VikLit's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

After such big news last week, I really can't top it.  So my celebrations this week are really very small.

The Film Festival is on here which means we are stupidly busy at work.  Like really, really busy...  So I haven't had a lot of spare time for anything else.  I haven't even had a chance to see many films which is totally unlike me.  I'm hoping to make it to one this evening, but only if I don't fall asleep on the couch first.

With so much work, my rewriting and revising is going slowly.  But the good thing is I know a bunch of the stuff I need to do to make the story stronger.  After the FF is finished, I plan to take a couple of days off to spend at the library writing.  I know from past experience that I can get more done in one 7 hour stretch at the library, than I usually do at home in a week.

And that's about all from me this week...  What are you celebrating?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunflower award!

I picked up this award from Tyrean Martinson at Tyrean's Writing Spot. Thank you, Tyrean!  I love awards, and this one is so pretty!

Each blogger who receives this award must give 11 random facts, answer 11 questions, and pass it on to 11 bloggers.


11 Random Facts:

1. My three favorite foods all start with A: avocado, asparagus and artichokes.
2: I went to school in four different countries: USA, New Zealand, Samoa and China.
3. As a result of my international schooling, my grammar tends to be a little confused and I have certain words I always spell the American way, and others I always spell the English way.
4. I love to take baths.
5. My kids both have middle names inspired by Westerns - Garrett and Wyatt.
6. My father spelled my name wrong on my birth certificate and my mother made him go back and change it.
7. I met my partner at a Halloween party where he was dressed as a woman and I was covered in fake blood.
8. The 9ish years I've been living in this house is the longest period of time I've ever lived anywhere in my life.
9. I still use a paper diary instead of a digital one.
10. I can't put down a book if I haven't read an even number of chapters.  If I don't have time to read a full chapter, I'll read a page or two into the chapter so I'm not leaving it on an odd number.
11. I see more than 50 movies a year, most years.

11 Questions with Answers

1. What’s the last sentence you wrote in a story? Recognizing the gesture, his obvious reluctance to shut away the instrument, my lips curve into a smile.  

 2. What was the last movie you watched? 20 000 Days on Earth
 3. Do you have a favorite quote? Always remember to party like a rock star
 4. Favorite food?           Pizza
5. Have you ever seen a shooting star?               Yes
6. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have three books, which would you bring?               A blank notebook (and a pencil to write in it), A weighty classic I've always meant to read (War & Peace comes to mind, but I read that when I studied Russian Literature at college), A family photo album.
7. In real life, which appeals to you more: futuristic, modern, or old-fashioned?            Modern
8. In fiction, which appeals to you more: futuristic, modern, or old-fashioned? (Other worlds count.) Modern.  I'm a contemporary girl all the way.
9. What’s the strangest thing hanging on your wall in your room? Panama snack dishes - a series of small plates with pictures of roosters in the center and the words 'Panama Snack Dish' written around the rim.  My guess i they're some kind of souvenir from Panama.  I found them in a junk shop in Paraparaumu....

10. What’s your favorite bird?   Pelican
11.  Robin Hood or King Arthur?   I loved both as a kid.  Can't say I've thought much about either in years.  But I think I'd go with Robin Hood.

Now, I'm supposed to bestow this honor on another 11 people, but I've passed these things on so man times now, I'm just going to offer it up to anyone who stops by to say hi.  So take this award and run with it.  Just leave me a comment saying you're taking it so I can stop by and see your answers to these questions and to learn 11 things about you.

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Celebrate the BIG things. I have an agent!

This post is part of VikLit's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

So…  BIG NEWS time.  Oddly enough, the big news I first teased you about isn’t the BIG NEWS I have to share today.  But maybe I should start at the beginning of the story.  Well, not quite the beginning-that was about 7 years ago, and we’re not going back that far!

Anyhooo….  This year I’d kind of given up querying.  I had one published book that was taking a lot of my time as far as publicity etc went, and I’ve been trying to finish the book I was half-way through when I went on my small-press journey.  So rather than investing time on queries, I’ve been entering the odd contest here and there, and hoping for the best.

Late last month I entered a contest called Pitcharama on the Aussie Owned and Read website.  There were no requesting agents, but instead, publishers.  I entered THE SIDEWALK’S REGRETS because I felt like STUMPED had been out and about a lot recently.  And it got two requests!  I was thrilled and sent off the requested pages right away.  Within a couple of days, one of the small presses had asked for a full.  Four days later they offered a contract. 


But the book was also out with a few agents and I’d also entered the New Leaf Pitch Perfect Twitter pitch contest that had resulted in a partial, then full request.  So I asked the small press to give me 10 days or so while I contacted all the other people who had the book.  They agreed and I sent out a bunch of emails. 

I got a couple of quick passes, a promise that I’d hear back soon that never eventuated, and a very exciting email from an assistant agent saying she would get back to me by the date I’d given as a deadline.

That morning I got up to discover an email from said assistant saying how much she, and another agent, had loved my book.  But…  (there’s always a but…) there were a lot of things they thought could have been done better and wanted changed.

Once those things were laid out, I could see how they would make the book better.  I had one of those head-palm moments where you just say “d’oh!”. 

She also said she and the other agent would like to schedule a Skype call with me.

My heart started beating harder. I re-read the email about 50 times trying to figure out what it actually meant.  Was this The Call?  I couldn’t quite figure it out.

But I organized a time (something of a challenge due to the time difference) for the Skype meeting and I was all set up and ready to go about half an hour beforehand.  We started off talking about the book, and then a little way into the call, they offered me representation.

I was thrilled.  After 7 years of querying and 10 novels, I finally had an offer from an agent.

The rest of the call is kind of a blur.  I knew I should have a lot of questions, but somehow they all vanished from my brain as soon as I head the words ‘we’d like to offer you representation’.  But we talked a little longer, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to announce that I am now represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary, and also by Jackie Lindert who is the assistant agent at New Leaf who first saw my pitch and made the request.

Suzie was the first agent ever to request a full from me, way, way back when I had written a rather terrible historical romance.  So in a way, I feel like this was meant to be.  It just took a few years, and few novels, for it to actually happen.

My advice to every writer has to be: don’t give up.  Don’t stop writing and don’t stop sending your work out there.  Enter contests.  Do whatever you can to get your work in front of people.  It’s scary as hell, but if you want to get published, you have to do it. 

And I am so excited to dive into revising this book again, this time with the support and advice of my agent.  I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of saying those words… my agent.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On Sale!

Just a quick note to let you know that for the next few weeks my book, An Unstill Life, is on sale for just $2.99.

That's a bargain, that is!

So if you've been wanting to read it, but didn't want to fork out $4.99 on an unknown author, now's the time to take the plunge.

And if you read it, do let me know what you thought.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Film Festival

On Friday the Film Festival starts here.  This annual feast of international and local film is always a highlight of my year.  It's also usually the busiest 17 days of the year for me at work.

This will be my first festival at my new cinema and I have no idea what to expect - apart from it being different.

I worked my first festival in Wellington in 1993.  I was 20, a noob on the Film Society committee and eager to help out in any possible way.  I don't think I had any idea that 21 years later, I'd still be working the festival, and still loving it just as much.

There are so many films to see this year.  With kids and a very busy job, seeing everything I want to see, as well as all the things I need to see for work, is impossible.  But I have tickets to about 15 films, and I hope I actually make it to most of them.

15 films doesn't sound like a lot, especially from someone who used to regularly see 60+ in any given festival.  But times and responsibilities change...  I don't have the luxury of being able to spend whole days in the cinema, watching 5 films in a row, running between venues like a mad thing to avoid missing the opening credits.

I miss those days.

But I'm one of the luckiest people on earth because going to the movies is my job.  Okay, there are a lot of other, less exciting parts to my job, and some of them are not fun at all, but when I'm sitting in a packed theatre with a festival crowd just amping for the curtains to open and the lights to dim, I know I have the best job in the world.

I'm sure over the next few weeks I'll be on here commenting on the films I've seen, love 'em or hate 'em.  That's one of the great joys of a festival - so much of what you see is unexpected.  And I can't wait to be impressed.

Is there a film festival where you live?  Do you love it?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things 18-7-14

This post is part of VikLit's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

Well, despite my big tease last week, I'm still not in a position to share my big news.  Which is driving me up the wall.  But hopefully soon.  And hopefully it will be bigger and even better than I thought it might be!

One of my favorite singers, Kristin Hersh, is coming here in late August.  I've been supporting her for years now through her CASH Music project and as a reward or perk for doing that, I get to go see her play free!  I was so excited to get the email saying I'd be on the door list!  I've seen her a few times and she's always awesome, whether she's doing a solo set or playing with one of her bands.

I haven't managed a whole lot of revising this week, but I'm feeling quite good about the stuff I have done.  I feel like I may need to go back and work a few threads through more strongly so by the time we get to this point in the story, the emotional connections are stronger.  But I'll wait to see what my CPs say before going back again.  At this point, moving forward is the important part.  I can go back later.

What are you celebrating this week?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cloaked In Fur on sale!

One of my awesome and most long-serving (and perhaps long-suffering) CPs has had a book out for a while now.  I took part in her cover reveal last year, and was a part of her launch, so if the title Cloaked In Fur sounds familiar, that is why.

But now, Cloaked In Fur is on sale!  You can get it for just .99c right now.  So go out there and buy it now.

This is a fast paced, exciting spin on the werewolf genre. Daciana is a conflicted heroine, torn between her love of a human and her loyalty to her pack. With her final transformation to wulfkin only days away, the tension between her loyalties gives the story an urgency that keeps the reader turning pages.

With a mutant dracwulf loose in the Romanian city she lives in, the suspense and action remains at a high level throughout.

Daciana is a tough woman, but not to the point that she's essentially a male character in drag. Her emotions are explored fully, adding depth and tension to the story. We get a real sense of what's pulling her from each of the two worlds she inhabits. How she'll chose between them, or combine the two makes for a real page turner!

But don't take my word for it.  Go get it for yourself.  It's only .99c!

And to make it easy, here are all the places you can get it!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Googleplay

Friday, July 11, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things 11-7-14

This post is part of VikLit's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

My back is much better.  I can walk and move around without being in severe pain, and as long as my customers don't want white wine, I can work perfectly happily too.

I managed to get tickets to see Nick Cave play when he's here in December.  It wasn't easy either!  They sold out in no time.  I am SO, SO excited about this.  I have seen him a few times before, but given I've been an uber-fan for almost 30 years, not as many times as I would have liked.

My pitch was selected by the lovely Authoress for her blog-hop critique round and I've had pretty fabulous comments on both my logline and my first page.  If you're interested, they're in the post below.

I also got some other very exciting news this week, but I can't share it yet.  Which is always super frustrating.  But hopefully by next Friday I'll have all the wrinkles ironed out and will be able to tell you all.  So pop back then....

What are you celebrating this week?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

MSFV's Blog Pitch contest

If you're a writer and you haven't yet found your way to Miss Snark's First Victim, the blog of the lovely Authoress, stop reading this and head over there.  Authoress is an unbelievably supportive member of the writing community, and her blog contests have got many an author out of the slushpile.

I was lucky enough to get picked by Authoress in her latest contest where she asked for Twitter pitches of our projects.  She picked her 10 favorites, and we get to post our pitch and our first page on our own blogs for critique.  I pitched my YA novel, STUMPED.

Logline: American Pie meets The Sessions as 16 YO Ozzy struggles to dump his virginity and prove he can be a man in a wheelchair.

First 250: I splash on too much of my brother’s aftershave. Shit. I reek of whatever the hell this stuff’s supposed to smell like. Pine trees? Whatever. I never smelled a pine tree that stank like this. No wonder Finn left it behind when he went to college. It’s so overpowering, it masks the scent of chlorine that clings to me after a four hour practice this afternoon. I glance down at my watch. It’s after six, but I guess I have time for another shower. I have to have time. I can’t go meet Lainey smelling like this. She won’t be able to get anywhere near me. Not without choking. I don’t know that I can stay near me. God, this stuff’s awful.

I shuck the towel from around my waist and turn the shower back on. The bathroom’s filled with steam from the one I took ten minutes ago. At least the water’s still hot. I climb in and let the liquid sluice over me. I don’t know if that’s enough to get rid of the awful aftershave, so I grab the soap and scrub my face and neck until they feel raw. That’ll have to do. For good measure, I soap the rest of me again too. Look at me, Mr. Clean. I lean back against the wall and think about Lainey. Those shorts she was wearing this morning should be illegal. At least on her. Damn, that girl has a hot ass. Her legs aren’t bad either.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Equal Rights Blog Hop

Queertown Abbey is a fantastic site that is terrifically helpful to LGBTQ authors.  This weekend they're hosting a blog hop and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.  For this bloghop all the participants are talking about their first experience with the gay community.  To find all the other participants, head on over to Queertown Abbey. There are prizes too!

My first experience of the gay community?  I really don't know.  I can't actually remember.  I have always been aware of the gay community, but I don't think I really started taking part in it until I first started going to the Out Takes Film Festival here in Wellington.  Several years after first going to see films in this festival, I started running the theatre that hosts it and got to know all the hard-working, passionate people who organize it every year.

The films they select are diverse and interesting, particularly the documentaries.  The funniest thing is how segregated the audiences are - women only for the girl films, men only for the boy ones.  But the crowds are always great to deal with because they know how lucky they are to have this event reflecting their world and their interests.

When I lost that job last year, one of the hardest parts was knowing I would no longer get to be a part of this festival, one of the few festivals the community it's aimed at really gets behind.

Have you ever gone to a queer film festival?  Did you enjoy it?

Now, please go and check out the other blogs on the hop.  And don't forget to enter the contest.  There are some great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things 4-7-14

This post is part of VikLit's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

Right now, I'm celebrating my new hot water bottle.  I hurt my back at the gym yesterday (warning, kickboxing is harder than it looks) and my hot water bottle is helping me to sit without it being agonizingly painful.

I've only managed 2 more chapters of revision this week, but hope to get another one or two done tonight.  But that depends on how my back is after a day at work.  I may need to lie on the ground with my hottie instead of working.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mid-Year check in

Every January I write myself a letter outlining what I want to achieve with the year ahead.  With half the year gone, I thought it might be time to check back in and see where I'm at with those goals...

Dear Me,

Before I launch into the goals for 2014, I think I need to reflect on 2013 and its successes and failures.  2013 was a year of highs and lows.  The same day I signed my first publishing contract, I lost my job.  Luckily I managed to find a new job within a few weeks, so it wasn’t a huge problem financially, but after over eight years in the one place, being told to leave hurt.

But on the upside, I have a published book now!  Or will on January 3rd.  And that launches me into the first of my goals for 2014.

I will do whatever I can to make An Unstill Life a success.  I don’t expect to make a fortune, of course, but the idea that my book will be available to readers is a thrilling one, and I want to make sure as many readers as possible discover Livvie’s story.  I’m uncomfortable about promoting myself, so doing publicity for my novel will definitely take me outside my comfort zone.
Well, I've done some promotion and it's an ongoing process.  The book hasn't sold like gangbusters, but I thought I'd probably only sell 15 or so to my friends and family, so I've done a lot better than I feared I might...

Last year I wrote a book called STUMPED.  It’s YA, but deals with sex and disability in a way I’ve never seen in YA literature before.  I love this book.  It’s my favorite of all the titles I’ve written and I really want it out in the world.  I stopped querying when I got the contract for An Unstill Life because my writing time was suddenly taken up with revisions and edits and copy edits.  In 2014 I will resume querying this one and hopefully will find an agent brave enough to take me (and Ozzy) on.
Not yet.  It' been close a couple of times.  I did an R & R for one agent, but I still don't have a deal. It's still out with a bunch of people though, and I haven't given up hope yet.

I got 50K into a new book last year.  It’s title-less right now, so I’m calling it Lana.  It’s not the best thing I’ve written, but there are definitely some things I like about it.  In 2014 I will finish this story, revise it and throw it into the hands of my critique group to figure out how to polish it up.
Yup! Finished and in the processed of being revised right now with the help of my wonderful critique group.

While they sink their teeth into that one, I have a new story idea just itching to get out.  It’s based on something that my new boss has been involved with over the past few months, and I think it could be very interesting, not to mention emotionally draining.  It’s hard not to get too excited about new ideas, but I really want to finish Lana before I start this one.
Sorta... I have fiddled around with this story a little, but I found something else I never finished that reignited my imagination, and have had a couple of other ideas that are niggling at me.  When revisions are finished, I'll have to sit down and really think about which one to tackle next.  And which might be my NaNo project.

My critique groups are the best thing that ever happened to me, and I plan to be far more active in them this year.  With all the excitement and deadlines that rushed at me with my publishing contract, I don’t feel like I have been giving my CPs nearly the time they deserve.  So even if it’s just one review a week, I’ll become more active in my groups again.
Some weeks.  I'm not the best at keeping up with reviewing, but I do always mean to.  Some weeks I manage 4 or 5 chapters, while others it's hard to find time for one.

I’m not quite sure how I managed it, but I read 165 published books last year.  I did write less than I have in previous years, so I imagine that’s how I did it.  This year I plan to finish two novels as a writer, so I’m only going to shoot for 150 books read.  We shall see how that goes.  My bus ride to work is shorter now, so my reading time is a little more limited than it has been…
I'm on track.  According to Goodreads I'm 3 books ahead.

On a personal level, I will continue my regular trips to the gym. Between them and the steep uphill walk to work each day, I figure I’m in the best shape of my life.  But that doesn’t mean I get to be complacent.  I could still stand to lose 5-10Kg…
I've dropped to about 2-3 gym visits per week, but according to my new FitBit, I'm walking at least 8km per day, and some days I get close to 20km.  So I figure I'm in pretty good shape.  My scale is out of batteries, so I couldn't tell you about the weight.

Well, that’s about it for now.  I’ll check back mid-year to track my progress, and then again as 2015 begins sneaking toward us all.

Happy New Year!  And may you reach all your goals for 2014.

Love, Me.

How are you doing with your goals for the year?