New Year’s Update
2018 already! Amazing, right? I normally save updates for my newsletters, on the theory that those who signed up for my emails may at least be interested in what I’m up to. However, this one is kind of special, being the first month of a new year … So here’s a Letter to My Readers, set out a one-of-a-kind blog post. (Note: This update is personal. I’ve totally ignored politics and any major world-impacting news. So if you’re after a political rant, move on. Ain’t nothing to see here…)
Welcome to my review of 2017, the Year-That-Was and 2018; The-Year-That-Is-To-Come…
Highlights for 2017
1. Finishing A Memory of Fire.
Writing A Memory of Fire was hard. The final in a trilogy has to feel like a conclusion, so I wanted to amp up the action, both the rise to the climax and the fall to the ending. I wanted the ending to be satisfying, yet I didn’t want to walk away from the story with all loose ends neatly tied, because real life isn’t neat.
To quote Frodo, in Lord of the Rings: “The great tales never end. But the people in them come, and go when their part is ended.”
So, in A Memory of Fire, while I wanted the ending to feel like an ending, I also wanted to leave the potential for a beginning. (That’s partly selfish, of course, because who knows, I might want to explore the SoulNecklace world again.)
Writing Memory was an amazing experience. Being so familiar with the characters, I could slip easily into their heads and so Dana, Will and N’tombe took control of their own stories; I just had to type. At times, I truly felt as though I was channelling. This was both awe-inspiring and terrifying, because I had no idea where the story was going. I had to just trust the process and go with it.
Have you ever ridden a horse at full gallop, and have a foot slide from the stirrup, and then all you can do is hang on and hope? That was how I felt, on writing some of the scenes in A Memory of Fire. You’ll know the scenes when you read them. They’re the ones with the pell-mell, hell-or-nothing vibe, the ones where the language totally changes. That’s because they’re not my words – they’re Dana’s or Will’s. They don’t talk like me, and they sure as hell don’t write like me, either. You can find A Memory of Fire here
2. Adding bonus extras – A Long, Long Life and a Gratuitous Epilogue.
I had hoped to have an extra novella to give away to early purchasers of Memory, but editing Memory took longer than I’d planned. However, I did write a Gratuitous Epilogue called A Bed-Time Story. It has a shocking cover (I didn’t have time to get a proper cover made) but its content is a pretty fun little addition to the more epic-style of Memory.
If you’d like to read this epilogue, get in touch through the “Contact Me” page.
I also finished a novella! A Long, Long Life is for die-hard fans of the SoulNecklace Stories (all two of them!), because I think, like me, they’re keen to find out a bit more of the backstory. Like, who is Rinpoche? Where did Greg and Reg come from? And how does that weird catch on the necklace actually work? Exploring the background of the world was a lot of fun. You can find A Long, Long Life here
3. Planning a new series
I find planning really, really hard. When I wrote A Necklace of Souls, I just winged it. Writers call this ‘pantsing’ as in: writing by the seat of your pants. Fiction writers tend to be either natural planners or natural pantsers. Unfortunately, I’m a pantser. This makes the writing process fun, but I’ve darted down too many stupid writing plot holes with this approach, so now I’m trying to get a bit more organised and actually PLAN. My plan consists of scribbles on two A3 sheets of paper, along with a roughly drawn map. Sadly, it took me a year to achieve this!
Plans for 2018
1. The Dancing Princesses
Without giving too much away, this new series will be a (very loose) fairytale adaptation of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I’ve written a prequel novella, Alice, and I’m currently about one-quarter through the first draft of the first in series, Zoe. I’m aiming for three books, one about each ‘Princess’ (there are only three, not twelve, otherwise I would lose my mind). I hope to have completed Zoe by mid-2018 and the first draft of Belinda ready by year’s end. Alice is being served in instalments to my newsletter list, so if you want to check it out, and you’re not yet on my list, you can join up here.
I’ve been flirting with the idea of writing a guide to self-publishing for teens. Ideally, for use in schools. In 2017 I put a pitch to the local University, in combo with Creative NZ. They were interested, but needed more information. If I’ve got time, I’ll follow this up. (I have some cynicism about how schools may use it, as I have found folk from New Zealand are slow to support their own). I need to explore whether there is truly a desire for such a resource. I do think there’s a need for it, but a need isn’t the same as a want.
3. Other Stuff
I’d like to improve this website – I’m exploring a different theme, with a faster loading time. But redoing a website is HARD! I’d also like to have more sales available through this site, as it’s a lot easier if readers can reach me here, but I’ll need to work out how best to do this with the new theme.
Of course, no writer works in a vacuum. Like everyone, life sometimes smacks me in the face, and all I can do is roll with the punches. Right now I’m in the weird position of my oldest leaving home, and my youngest coming to the end of his schooling, so 2018 will be a year of massive transitions. My husband’s taken on a role that requires a whole lot of international travel, so maybe this year might also involve (if I’m lucky) a trip somewhere nice! I have a day job, too. I’ve been doing contract work for the last 5 years, rolling from one year to another – but now, in 2018, I’ve finally got a permanent role, working with the same lovely team I’ve been with for the last few years. So at least in the workspace I should have a little more continuity. Ha! here’s hoping. I’ve got a feeling things might change…
And that, dear reader, is the update for 2017 and the plans for 2018, set out in one easy-to-follow blog post. I’ll have a look at this at the end of the year, and see how many of these goals were actually achieved!
All the best to you for the new year, and I hope wherever you are, it will be a happy one. And if not, here’s a joke to make you smile 🙂
Q: What do you call a man with no arms and no legs, trapped in a book?