science fiction and fantasy author

Month: August 2012

So many rainbows this week

Rainbow on the way home

I am getting obsessed with Instagram again.  One of many rainbows seen this week.

The total writing for this week: somewhere around 10k forward motion.  I say somewhere, because I am shuffling some scenes around, which is totally out of my comfort zone (I am very much a writer of the linear persuasion) and I’ve lost count a little bit.  Plus I did one day of outlining.  Either way, I’m coming up on the 80k mark

Not many links this week, but here they are:

How to use Tumblr to grow an author platform.

13 ways to write with urgency.

Lisa L Hannett talks about knowing what you write.

Gender differences in fat metabolism.

Overtelling, overshowing, overselling.

Jodi Meadows continues her series on from idea to first draft with a post on characters.

Justine Larbalestier talks about how we can’t control anyone but ourselves.

Chuck Wendig asks how do you write what the audience wants to read?

Stress makes you sick by changing your genes.

How children learn: portraits of classrooms around the world.

How to clear your head, eliminate distractions, and finally write what makes you happy.

In an effort to get this book done, you get this

This has been a tough week for forward progress on Never.

Bear in mind that I’m still dealing with the effects of the stupid cold/flu (I’m inclined to say it was a cold, but it lingers like the damn flu) and my brain isn’t working efficiently.  And yeah, the peanut gallery can just shut up right now 😉

By Wednesday I was floundering.  And I realised something – I’d removed a plot thread from the last draft, which meant that I effectively have to rewrite most of the second half of the book completely.  Which means that I was writing without an outline.  And I was just meandering and scenes weren’t making sense and argh the whole book is broken.

I’ve become an outline writer.

I’m as surprised by it as anyone else.  I used to love pantsing, but it’s just not efficient any more.

So yesterday I sat down and hammered out a rough outline for the second half of the book.  Printed it out this morning (all 25 pages!) and hopefully we’ll get decent forward motion again and I can get this draft finished.

Links are sick of coughing

26-05-10 II The Weight Of All Those Willing Words Βethan via Compfight

So, I’ve been sick this week.  And I am thoroughly sick of being sick.  It’s only a cold, but it’s kind of a nasty one.  The kidlet had it first, then me, and now the husband appears to have succumbed.  We’re a fun household.

But, despite being sick, I have been writing.  To the tune of 10,500 words this week.  I’m even kind of liking this book again, so maybe I’m past the horrible middle?  Cruised over the 70k mark, too.

Links for the week:

Clarion 2012: Every brilliant piece of writing advice.

30 indispensable writing tips from famous authors.

Could this discovery be the key to treating Alzheimers?

Sarah Wilson talks about taking time.

Five fears that can destroy an artist.

Chuck Wendig asks “What’s wrong with fiction today?”

Peter M. Ball talks ideas


Setting myself a deadline

I asked for, and have received, some very good advice on how to write faster and more productively.

Turning off the internet really does help, and I have a feeling that I’m going to be very glad that I have Mac Freedom on some days.  I know from past experience that making myself publicly accountable also helps.

At a guess, at approximately 60k words, I’m about halfway through the manuscript of Never.  So, assuming I have 60k to go, I’m going to assign myself a deadline to have this draft finished by September 22nd, which is in six weeks time, or thereabouts.  That’s 10k of forward motion a week, which is totally doable.

I’m going to keep myself accountable here, which means that I’m going to aim to post weekly wordcounts.

I am going to have other work to keep on top of – Aurealis reading (which has actually been a bit thin on the ground so far, which doesn’t mean that I’m on top of it, mind) and slush reading, and I owe some beta reading and some reviews.  But it’s all manageable, I think.

Let’s do this thing.

Links are kind of tired of the Olympics

Late Afternoon Jason Samfield via Compfight

This is me right now.

Please forgive any typos or weirdness in these links.  I am writing this post in a Friday evening while fairly exhausted and dealing with a chest infection.  And I’m not really that tired of the Olympics, I just can’t think of a better title.

The Readercon board issues a very good statement re the recent harassment issues.  I have faith in humanity and fandom after this.

Something everyone should damn well read: My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?

John Scalzi gives a guide on how not to be a creeper.

Why women are silent.

5 ways you don’t realise movies are controlling your brain.

Justine Larbalestier talks about the point of process porn.

World Fantasy Awards finalists are announced.  I am especially excited to see Cat Valente’s Silently, and Very Fast garner another nomination.

The Mythopoeic Awards winners are announced.

Justine Musk tells us the most badass thing you can do as a creative.

Sarah Diemer released two new stories: “Like a double rainbow, only better!”

Tansy Rayner Roberts talks about writing and motherhood.

Chuck Wendig gives us 25 ways to survive as a creative person

The men of steampunk. <– Can we just bring back formal dress for men as an everyday thing, please?  At least bowler hats and waistcoats, k?

Tehani Wessely talks about the Aurealis Awards,

Write about what makes you angry.

If something happens in your story, your characters must earn it.

The secret weapon of creating effective heroes.



Productivity (and a winner!)

First: I picked a random winner for my sneaky giveaway tucked at the end of my post about the Night Circus – the winner of the paperback copy is bookgirlwa over at Livejournal!  Lob me an email with your address (stephanie.r.gunn AT and I’ll get it out into the mail!

And I just had a writing session using Mac Freedom for 75 minutes.  And, to be fair, I did chat on gchat a bit on my phone during said session (which I think I’ll continue to do, because the only two people I talk to during the day are used to me being silent on chat for ages while I work), and I did wander away from the computer a couple of times just to get a break.

But in that 75 minutes I managed almost 2,400 words.  And they’re words I’m fairly happy with, and can move on.  So, a success I think.

I’m going to squeeze in another writing session today, I think, assuming the brain will comply.  Is it possible to actually train your brain to concentrate for longer?  Must research, I think.

Dear internet, I have a problem


I hate the book that I’m writing.

No, scratch that.  I don’t hate this book per se.  I hate the fact that I am still writing the damn thing.  I am hating the fact that my process is so slow, and that it takes me forever to churn out a draft.

There are some limitations that I cannot change: I have a small child, for one, and he always takes precedent over everything else.  But said small child is getting older and more independent (and would it be awful to admit that part of me is hanging out for when he goes to kindergarten just so I get those writing hours?), and I do have help with my mother coming and watching him for one or two hours, plus he does reliably nap for at least an hour every day.

You’d think that would be plenty of time.  But I’m still not getting enough done.  And it’s driving me crazy.

There are many issues here at work.  The first being the internet.  I am a distractable person at the best of times, and the internet is just too much of a damn siren call to me.  Today, I think, I shall be downloading Mac Freedom and using the damn thing for my writing time.

At the moment, I manage one writing session in a day, usually from 11am until somewhere around 1-2pm.  At that time, I usually switch to reading, reviewing or slushing.  All things I don’t want to cut back on, since they, in turn, feed the writing.  The kid usually wakes up somewhere around there, and I spend time with him, and get some exercise in (which usually involves me dropping him off with my mother again so I can walk/run/do weights/whatever).  Exercise is a necessary thing for me, since it is the primary method I have of managing fibromyalgia pain.

What I would like to do, given the constraints I have, is to carve out some more writing/editing time in the day, maybe in the evening.  I also need to be way, way more productive in the writing time I do have.

In order to do this, I am going to make myself accountable here.  Right now, I average about 1500 words a day while I’m editing – which for me, involves retyping the whole manuscript.  It’s just how I work, and word count works as well as anything else as a measurement of this.

Let’s see how much I can push this.

If anyone has any advice on how they manage to be more productive, feel free to share?


Not-a-review: The Night Circus

I’ve been feeling a bit jaded with reading of late, having come up against a couple of books that just didn’t draw me in at all.  I read Some Kind of Fairytale, which was amazing, but then kind of flailed about trying to figure out what to read next.

I’ve been trying to keep up with reading along with the Writer and the Critic podcast, and have fallen somewhat behind.  I’m pretty much finding that I love or like most of the books Kirstyn recommends, while Mondy’s recommendations aren’t always for me, but I do appreciate reading every book that he does recommend.  Which is a long way of saying that his taste isn’t always mine, but I feel like Kirstyn’s taste and mine converges somewhat.

Anyway.  I am a few podcasts back, and so I picked up The Night Circus.

Fun fact: reading through the acknowledgements, there’s a referral to thanking Purgatory.  Ho, says I, someone who posts at Absolute Write. and specifically the No News Is Good News thread (known as Purgatory to its denizens).  Now, I used to hang out at AW a lot back when I was querying Shaede, mostly posting in Purgatory.  For me and for that book, it was close but no cigar, of course.  And I realised, very belatedly and after a bit of searching, that I’d actually been active in the thread at the same time as Erin.  My brain = boo, hiss.  Erin = squee!

Anyway, onto the book.

I’d heard a bit of hype about this book, but hadn’t really looked into it much.  I bought a copy on my Kindle and promptly forgot about it, as I am wont to do when I get distracted by too many other books.  And, in a general mood of ennui, I started to read.  And read.

This book is just gorgeous.  Like Kirstyn and Mondy, I wasn’t taken so much with the characters (though I think I like Celia a little more than they did) – but neither did I dislike them, per se.  I loved Poppet and Widget though.  I did have a few times when I got confused about characters, but I think that says way more about my own state of mental fogginess than the book itself.

Honestly, I didn’t read this for the characters, or the story so much.  It was the circus, and all the lush imagery of the circus and the magic being used.  I am not surprised at all that this has been optioned for a movie, but I’m not certain that any movie is going to do justice to it all.  It was just breathtaking, and wonderful and gave me such a sense of awe while I was reading.

Also, Morgenstern, you get a general frowny face for part of Bailey’s storyline.  No spoilers, but when you read, you will know.

I read this on Kindle, but I have now ordered the glorious UK hardcover, which I shall be very happy to have on my shelf.

And because I am a fool, I’ve also ended up with a paperback copy (don’t ask, just know that my brain is not to be trusted).  To reward anyone who’s actually read this entry, I shall be happy to post it to a random commenter (On livejournal, dreamwidth or at the website).  Happy to send anywhere in the world, so comment away!

EDIT: I will be picking a winner on Friday, my time, 9am, so you have until then to comment.

Links are back with a vengeance


One of the many ravens that are constantly in our backyard this time of year.


This has been a weird week.  I have been writing, but it’s all been about forcing every word.  I think I’m skating along the edge of a burn out, but I really want to get this draft finished.  Also, I hate this book.  Can anyone tell that I’m in the middle of the book?

What I would really like is a weekend down south, just away from all technology.  It’s not going to happen, though.  Hell, I’d give for a weekend where I get to sleep until I wake naturally, don’t have to do any laundry or housework.  Also not going to happen.

I’m finding myself frustrated with reading, also.  Which I think is a factor of spending time reading books that really don’t grab me.  Alisa Krasnostein on Galactic Suburbia this week said something that really resonated with me (paraphrasing here) – being that it’s the book’s job to make you read it, not the other way around.  I need to work on giving myself permission not to finish books that don’t do anything for me, even if everyone else loves them.  There are too many other good and great books out there.

That whinge done, have some links!

Cat Valente’s Fade to White at Clarkesworld.  Go and read it.  Now.  It’s even free, though Cat’s stories alone make it worth subscribing to Clarkesworld, IMHO.  I may have squeed when the latest issue appeared on my Kindle.

Via EgobooWA: An excellent video on how to edit a book.

Angela Slatter shares a great infographic about the writing cycle.

Justine Musk shares 6 things you need to know about your inner genius.

10 foods you crave and why you crave them.

Does your diet fail because you sleep too little?

Justine Larbalestier talks about YA writers and duty of care.

Chuck Wendig talks about caring less as a writer.

Pixar’s storytelling rules illustrated in Lego.



Not-a-review: Some Kind of Fairytale

Here I have to make a small confession: Until now, I’d not read any Graham Joyce.

I grabbed a copy of this book mostly because Gary K. Wolfe talked about it on the Coode Street Podcast (I swear I get enabled so much by podcasts, and have never regretted any such enabling) – to paraphrase, I think he put it into the same kind of circle of awesome as Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Drowning Girl, which remains one of the most amazing books I’ve read over the last few years.

And so I bought it, and popped it on my shelf to languish for a little while.  I’m at the point where I’m going to have to start forcing myself to read everything on my TBR mountain soon.  It’s gotten a wee bit out of hand.

Feeling a bit disillusioned with some of the stuff I’ve been reading (or, more properly, picking up, reading two chapters and putting down again), I picked this up.  And noticed what I’d missed when I received it – the fact that I’d actually received a signed limited edition.  Thank you, Book Depository, you are kind of awesome.

And that’s a lot of rambling to get to actually talking about the book.  Which, when you look at it, has a fairly simple premise – Tara vanished in the woods when she was sixteen, and turns up twenty years later, looking no older than she had on the day she disappeared.  Her return sends ripples through the lives of her family – especially her brother, Peter and her boyfriend (when she vanished), Richie, who was actually a suspect for her murder and has pretty much been frozen in time since then.

Joyce doesn’t play with the mystery of Tara’s disappearance overmuch, and the reader is never really in much doubt about what happened to her, but this really isn’t a bad thing.  It really does feel like Tara’s reappearance is a stone thrown into a pond (or maybe a carpet of bluebells), and he moves through different characters’ points of view and timelines to show just how much that rippling affects.

There is so much gorgeous writing in this, and so many sentences that I literally stopped and reread about a dozen times, just savouring them, before I moved on.

And after I finished reading this book, I promptly went online and ordered a bunch of Joyce’s other work.

If you like literary fantasy, and fairy tales, I can really, really recommend this one.  I think it’s going to be a book that I reread many, many times.

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