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Category Archives: Update on my Writer Life

Yesterday I lost a friend…

And, sadly, I don’t mean in the usual forgetful way where I know I put them down somewhere and now can’t seem to find them again.

No, fellow crazy lady, supporter of my chocolate milk for breakfast campaign, author, mum, wife and friend passed away.

Although I was a late comer to the circle of friends I now gather with to mourn your passing, although we haven’t physically seen each other for about a decade – we were still friends and you were thought of if not daily, at least weekly. And, of course, you will be missed. Not just by me, but by a league of friends, family and fans.

From where we first met as an immortal vampire and a neurotic Russian with dominance issues on a Starship, through to bouncing ideas off each other for story ideas, talking publishers through to being reviewers of each other’s work and chatting about Linkedin just last week. We both embraced, lived and breathed writing in a way that only a few others I know can understand.

You introduced me to that hairy man who had been living in your back room and, eventually, I went and did the dumb thing of marrying him, having a family and joining his family to mine. And, as you were part of his extended family, you too became a part of mine. You gave me my first bed to sleep in when I moved to Brisbane, opened your heart and home to me and accepted me for what I was… which hadn’t really happened in my life up until that point. So you touched and changed my life in ways I don’t think either of us knew until I now find myself reflecting on it all.

I cannot fathom exactly how much you are going to be missed as the loss I feel is overpowering enough… add to that the hundreds, if not thousands of lives you’ve touched and I’m surprised the world got up today and kept going along as normal as if nothing had happened.

You may be gone – way too soon – but you will never be forgotten.

Love and hugs to everyone else you have left behind.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in Update on my Writer Life

 

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Spring cleaning my Author’s blog.

Spring cleaning my Author’s blog.

Hello everyone,

Just a brief blog post this morning – there will be a longer one (I hope) later in the week.

I just wanted to advertise that I’ve finally gotten around to adding some of Bonnie’s blog posts to my Author blog. These posts were originally posted on Bonnie’s Facebook Page a few years back. Check them out at Bonnie’s Blog Posts.

I’ve not added all of them yet… but have only a few more to go. As they are on a page, rather than the blog, they’re all in one great chunk you will need to scroll through to read. Still, I do hope you enjoy them and they help you catch up with some of the things Bonnie and The Gang got up to after Bonnie’s Story: A Blonde’s Guide the Mathematics ended.

Hopefully one day I’ll get the sequel sorted and done… 😉

Oh, and for those of you who haven’t actually read Bonnie’s Story yet, you can head over to Hague Publishing for a free sample or to Where to buy my books to find the best online bookstore for you to grab a copy.

Yup, my blog, my shameless plug.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Update on my Writer Life

 

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Why I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year.

Why I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year.

Hello everyone, it’s November and around the world there are Writers sharing the love of our art and pushing their limits by taking part in NaNoWriMo… And, yeah, I’m not one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole idea of the different versions of NaNoWriMo and, in the past, I’ve even been invited to participate in a few. Heck, last year I even did my own version of a NaNoWriMo to inspire myself to finish the manuscript There’s no place like Hell – and I did indeed get a huge chunk of it done. But no NaNoWriMo for me this year.

Firstly – and I do blame my brain for why I’m not participating – I was inspired with a story idea in mid-October and once I’d got that bindi like thought burrowing into my brain I couldn’t help but start to write it down. I get like that. And as soon as I’d started I thought ‘well bugger! This would have made a perfect NaNoWriMo project’. And being the honest and ethical gal that I am I knew I couldn’t cheat and use it in NaNoWriMo and so just enjoyed the moment and wrote. I do that a lot. Think I should go with the cool kids in the writers gang and do the trendy things like NaNoWriMo… and then revert to my usual outlook of life – which is to do my own thing, when I want to and stuff the trendiods now looking down their noses at me for daring to boogie along to the beat of my own drum. Heck, I’ve lived almost 40 years with this attitude so a recent few years of NaNoWriMo can’t break the habit!

Another reason I’m not doing it is my Hordes had school swimming classes the whole first week of November. And, due to one thing or another (I won’t go into details and embarrass them) I had to be there for moral support and Horde #3 taming. The whole week. Five hours a day. Sitting poolside and giving the thumbs up sign anytime one of my kids looked my way. Yes, it was riveting… not.

I could not write there due to water issues with paper or laptop. And by the time I got us all home, their swimming stuff hung out, dinner on and them taking turns in the bath… urgh. I’m pretty sure all that chlorine and sun just burnt the imagination right out of me as I had nothing left. I found it hard coming up with something to put in a review for books I’d been reading, let alone try and make any of my stories come to life on my computer screen. Seriously, not a good start to NaNoWriMo so I decided to let it pass me by for another year.

Saying that, I will consider invites to this awesome event come October 2016. I can’t say I’ll actually agree to any said invites, but I will consider them. 😉

My drum, my boogie. Just remember that.

However, I am indeed writing this November. I’ve been working on book three in the Other World series – We represent the Demon Guild. It’s coming along nicely and the remaining two unwritten books are starting to gel in my brain and I think I finally know how it’s all going to end. Yay!

Sadly, I’ve discovered that the more I learn about hell and the afterlife and all that Other World stuff, the more I need to tweak There’s no place like Hell. What a relief it’s still in the holding pattern over at my publisher’s and I can still fiddle with it. Far better than if I discovered the holes in my world’s existence after it was published. So, phew!

Other than that it’s still the same old reviewing of things. I’m also going to be redoing a lot of my blog structures over the coming months to line them all up, tidy them up and really start to gather an audience. So do drop me a line if you’re interested in checking some of the others out.

Finally, as much as don’t like celebrating Christmas before December 6th… it is indeed the time of year to start prepping for that silly season. Cards to write, food to start hoarding, baking lists to go over. I will be experimenting with chocolate again this year to test a theory I have about cashew cream white chocolate. Hoping for the best with that one.

Okay, that’s me done. Yes I know a lot of people this week have turned their blog posts into a bit of a soapbox moment regarding the violence in the world right now, but I chose not to. Why? Well I do feel deeply saddened by all the pain and misery… but I’ve felt this way all my life as this sort of thing is always happening. And, like with a tantrumming child – I will not react or respond to their bad behaviour. It’s what they want.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Update on my Writer Life

 

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Happy Halloween everyone!

Hi, remember me? Yeah, I kind of used to blog here but seem to have forgotten to in a while. 😉

I will admit I have been meaning to post for some time and have about four pages of notes I’ve made on topics to blog about…. Yeah, they so helped didn’t they?

But with the usual family goings on and a simply fantastic (note sarcasm) winter for illness… I’ve spent more time over on my reviewer blog. As that’s what I do when I’m not well – I read. And what happens when you get sent a free book in exchange for an open and honest review? Well, I don’t know about you, but I always feel obliged to actually review it. So, that sort of justifies all the activity over there while over here even the lonesome cricket has stopped chirping and have buggered off to somewhere else. 😀

However, as ‘that time of year’ has come upon us again, here I am wishing you all a Happy Halloween once more. In the past I’ve used this time to have a bitch about all the anti-Halloween sentiment here in Australia and the double standards of our ‘pick and mix’ multi-cultural society… but I’m over all that. I’m tired of focussing on the negatives and for the past year I’ve been seeking the positive in every situation I’ve faced. Both good and bad, always seek the positive. And so this year I’ve capered about and celebrated Halloween with reckless abandon. Don’t believe me? Here’s a pic.

Me witch 2015

It’s me trying on one of my many witches hats. Yes, many. And they’re not all just Halloween costumes… figure that one out. 😉

And have you met my new Personal Assistant?

DOR2

I picked him up at a local “dollar store” and saw sooo much potential in that plastic (naked) rat skeleton I just had to take him home, make him a cowl and scythe and set him to work.

He now sits with me at my writing desk keeping my company, but also sometimes goes off to get other things done while I work. Check out my Instagram account here if you don’t believe me.

The best thing about my PA – known as the Death Of Rats around here- is like any pet… he’s not just for the holiday season, he’s for life. Or, being plastic, until I get distracted by something else – then he’ll get popped up on a shelf to gather dust like all my other stuff. 😉

So he won’t be disappearing after Halloween and will hopefully inspire me to be the best I can be when sitting at my desk either writing, editing or reviewing (for others). Admittedly I can also see him aiding my procrastination by going off and getting instagramed doing something he maybe shouldn’t be doing… But that comes with being my Personal Assistant. That’s just assisting in procrastinating. Something for his CV!

Best bit of all about my PA is I can pay him with belly rubs, see?

belly rub

If I ever have to replace him with an actual real person PA… I hope they’re okay with this form of wages.

And so Halloween is here… Tomorrow! It might be spring and my Pagan soul might be screaming that it’s Beltane and not Samhain so enough with the Autumnal themes… but hey! I’m a multi-cultural Pagan and can accept this is just the way it is and not knock a holiday that allows me the chance to draw pumpkin faces on oranges, shrunken skull faces on walnuts and make up really gross names for my baking. Have you tried my blood and bone crunch, blood mud pies or graveyard dirt wedges?

halloween4

I do hope this little post will encourage me to keep coming back and filling you all in on my life as an Author, Haus Frau and the other stuff I get up to. I’ve started writing a lot again lately, which is awesome – thank you positive attitude (and possibly the Vit B and probiotic combo I now take with my ‘happy’ pill). 😉 I’m currently working on book three of my Other World series as – rumour has it – the second book is about to be accepted for publication. I’ve also been tinkering with Grey (also known as my white elephant story as I do get the feeling she will never be published). And, finally, I’ve been playing around with a bit of a futuristic urban fantasy YA story that, accidentally, has started out with a Mr Flibble undertone. (Red Dwarf fans may understand that.)

And, of course, I am being creative in other ways, embracing the day, moment, second and seeking the positive. I’m done with the “I will start doing that when I get XYZ done” and then never get to XYZ. Who needs XYZ anyhow? Just bloody do it!

Okay, enough waffling from me. It was nice to see you all again stopping by my blog and rolling your eyes at my antics. I’ve missed that. Let’s roll eyes at each other again soon, okay?

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Update on my Writer Life

 

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I’ve finished my latest manuscript!

Hello everyone, yes I know I’ve been a rather slack blogger this year, but I have had some simply fantastically colourful excuses that I’m not going to share. Quite frankly it’s boiled down to ‘life’, ‘kids’ and all the usual stuff that we all go through so why write about it? 😉

I will, however, let you know I’ve finally finished book two in the Other World series – There’s no place like hell. And as I’ve just shipped it off to my publisher and I start contemplating whether they will indeed give me the first refusal I’m contracted to give them the chance to have… I think over a short prose I wrote last year. It really does sum up what I went through when I was first seeking publication and, to some extent, what I will be going through if I have to pitch to any new publisher.

Now, I’ve decided to share the short prose for two reasons. One is because I find it so apt to how I’m feeling right now. And secondly, it’s the piece that may or may not have caused me some issues with a publisher late last year when they may or may not have published it without my permission. Dedicated readers of my blog should understand all that. 😉

Yes I could still submit this story out to others… but it’s already been published and, although a public apology and retraction was given from the publisher in question, I don’t think many other places will want it, knowing there are a few paper copies of a book out there that contain it.

So, don’t lament over lost work, celebrate me sharing a free story with you. The publisher in question did the right thing in the end, paid me for my work – which I promptly donated to charity but hey – and I’ve moved on. Life is like that, so take it for what it is… and enjoy this story. All you budding authors out there might relate and, hopefully, laugh at yourself if you too have acted like this!

 The rejected Writer, you think you’re the only one?

By

Janis Hill

So, you’re a Writer with the capital ‘W’ to show you’re dyed in the wool, serious ‘breathe therefore you write’ Writer. That’s how serious you are about it all. And look, your manuscript is completed! You’ve polished it and proofed it and even had some well-meaning friends critique it and say how good it is.

Awesome! And now what?

That’s right; it’s time to start pitching it to the publishers as they’re also going to love it. I mean, you’ve spent, what? A year, three, five, ten at writing it? But it’s now done and ready to hit the bookshelves in the top ten lists, right? And so you think up all the publishing houses you know, you Google your heart out and make the list bigger and start. You pore over their submission pages, cursing the ones too snobby to be into your genre. But those whose submission criteria you can meet, why they’re about to be your new BFF as you burst into their lives with a submission that is simply going to blow them away. So you work hard at the cover letter, being modest but truthful at just how awesome a Writer you are, do the best synopsis that allows your story play out like a movie before them and attach all the bits that need attaching, blow it a kiss and submit it away.

Then what?

Well, you’ll now be in the gut wrenching, finger biting zone of the publisher’s waiting period. As in, if you don’t hear back from them within a week, a month, three months – whatever it is their page says – you’re just not going to hear back. But that’s not going to happen to you, these guys are you’re new friends, you’re now following them on Twitter and Facebook awaiting them to announce to the world you’re their next big thing.

Or, you’re in the other party where you know they will reply to you one way or the other… but are still going to follow them via social media as, what if they introduce you to the world before sending you that big bucks contract? Am I getting close yet?

Either group you’ve submitted to, they’re going to have you checking your email at every opportunity. If it’s the first group you’ve submitted to, as that deadline gets closer you get more anxious. Those tricksters, making you wait until the very last moment before they send you the congratulations email and contract. Deadline comes… deadline passes. You give them a few more days, just to take the international time zones, weekends and public holidays into consideration. No news, meaning a silent but solid ‘thanks but no thanks’.

And what would they know anyway, right? It’s not as if they’ve published anyone decent in years! Definitely not your sort at all, and definitely the wrong place to showcase your talent. I mean, look at those boring tweets and Facebook posts they’re making about those other Writers? Those Authors. As if their stories are as good as yours. Who needs them? Unfollow them now as they’re just dragging you down.

And yet, getting no news can often be the softer blow. It’s the letters that are sent back explaining exactly why you’re not seeing a big fat pay cheque anytime soon that really hurt. They say meaningless things like:

“Your tone is not one we feel would suit our audience”, “Unfortunately we’re not the Publishers for your level of work”, “Currently we are seeking something for a wider audience than the one who would read your work” and so on.

Oh, the pain, the agony, the absolute rudeness as they attack your work and your ability so cruelly. Ignore those well-meaning friends telling you not to take it personally, of course it is personal! It’s a slur against you, your work… your literary baby! How could they? Why would they? Obviously they just didn’t look properly and if only they’d just give it another look.

Now there’s a thought! Just do a new cover letter, re-tweak the synopsis and send it in again. They’re not going to realise it’s the same piece and this time they’re just going to love it! They were so busy last time, and your letter just wasn’t quite right and so it accidentally slipped through the cracks. It’s okay, they have to make a living and sometimes these things happen. Better follow them again on Twitter and Facebook to ensure they notice you this time, recognise your name from that slush pile and really give it a good read. And then back to the wait, the turmoil, the silence…

And so the cycle goes on…

Does this sound like you? Don’t be embarrassed as this was actually me when trying to get my first book published. Yes we are all ego and arrogance, we all have our diva moments. I feel it’s all part of the dance we take to help us turn from that Writer into an Author – note the capital ‘A’. Is it worth it? If you want to be an Author, then yes it is. Just don’t take these rejections to heart and let them get to you. Yes we will all have our little tanty and curse the publishing world as a whole. How dare they, don’t they realise who we are and just how clever our writing is?

Just remember, there are millions of very talented Writers, just like you and me, out there and we outnumber those publishing houses at probably thousands to one. And they are out there to make money, making you some too is just something that happens as a side effect. It’s not personal, it’s business and that is what being published is all about.

Don’t give up, have your diva moment, curse them to the four winds. Have your comforting chocolate biscuit or beer or whatever. And then pick yourself up and start that dance again. Who knows, you may find it’s all worth it in then end.

As for me? Well I danced my way into becoming an Author with an indie publisher. After a matter of months from the start of my pitching, through the mass of rejections, I got my first publishing contract. This encouraged me to write some more. My second book went through the usual round of rejections with the major publishing houses, but was also offered a contract within four days of pitching it. I also go multiple offers.

My best advice? Learn from your mistakes, refine and retune how you pitch. Listen to advice rather than feel you don’t need it as you’re such an awesome Writer. Accept the rejections and move on to find someone else. Aim high, but never underestimate the small, indie publishers as a foot in the door is a foot in the door.

Most importantly, keep reading and keep writing.

***

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
 

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I’ve not given up my day job, but I have started reviewing!

Here you were all thinking my day job was being an Author, right? Don’t be silly… my day job is as a Haus Frau and Horde Wrangler. My night job – and any time I can fit it in really – is being a Writer who occasionally stumbles over the opportunity to be an Author too. 😉

And let me just tell you the Horde Wrangling has been taking up more time than the Haus Frauing… or anything else for that matter of late. Which is why I’ve been so quiet on this blog. Ooops. As much as I refuse to label my son, or dub him as a ‘special needs’ child, getting him into school full time, routines to help him communicate better, socialise better and all the stuff that allows society to deem him as ‘acting normally’ has been taking up a lot of my time. On a little off topic side vent here – what the heck is ‘normal’ anyhow? And why do so many people strive to become it? Such hard work for very little results, in my opinion. 😉 Being normal is so over rated and not something I tend to encourage in any of my kids… but I digress. This isn’t my Haus Frau blog so let’s not waffle on about that stuff.

So, yes, I’ve become a Reviewer (note the capital R as I think it’s a rather important part of my little life). It started out as a way to get my hands on some new books for free and really just a hobby. Somehow, though, it’s twisted itself into my life and become more of a side line entertainment than just reading and writing stuff about what I’ve just read. The results have been mixed so far. I mean, no one has taken my reviews so badly that they’ve spammed me with trolls on Twitter (as has happened to other reviewers I know) and I’ve actually received some kind words of thanks from publishers as they’ve liked my reviews so much. I mean, I have been choosing books I have an interest in, but I have also been openly honest and sometimes brutal with my reviews if I’ve felt they’ve not lived up to my expectations. What can I say? I’m blunt, honest and would rather give my opinion openly than mutter about it behind your back. Possibly not the best thing to be as a Reviewer… but I’m enjoying myself so far so I don’t care! 🙂

And it doesn’t stop at books either! I’ve been asked to review foods, places, and now even kitchen appliances. How awesome!

Again, I won’t waffle about this sort of thing in my Author blog as, really, you’re here to read about my trials and tribulations of being the next best thing in writing… right? Well, keep coming here to read and maybe one day I can get back to you on that one. 😉

In the time being I just want to shamelessly plug my new Reviewer blog here. That way I won’t bog this, or my other blogs, down with the near constant reviews I’ve been doing… plus this new blog still allows me to blog about the reviews. Yeah, that made sense when it was in my head… not so much now I’ve put it down on paper though.

All the same, if you’re interested in seeing my reviews (mostly of books), please go check out Janis’ Journal – Eclectic Reviews of a busy Mum. It’s less than a week old and so rather bare and basic right now. Give it time though! If you’re on Facebook, don’t forget to Like my page about it there too.

Otherwise, stay tuned to what’s happening in my Writing world here. You can also check out my Foodie blog or Haus Frau blog by clicking on their links on the right side of this blog.

What have I been up to in that writing world? Well, not a heck of a lot sadly. See comment on my son. I’ve entered some competitions, got my name in the paper and on radio podcasts a few times and stirred up vague interest around the place with my books. Sales would be nice, but as my parents shouted me to a visit to Red Cacao last week I’m good for at least this quarter. But, seriously, if you want to help me support this gorgeous café, buy my books so I can go visit them more often. 😉

Oh, and I’m on the very cusp of finishing There’s no place like Hell – Book 2 in the Other World series and am in two minds what to do after that. Technically I should finish writing the series as it’s swirling around in my head screaming to get out. But then again, so is my one about empathic vampires, my one about a haunted house that traps traumatic moments in time in each room and my cosy crime series set here in the Adelaide Hils. Add to that the box of stories I wrote as a teen I found recently that I’d love to type up, polish off and see how good a YA Author I was when I really was a YA. Seriously, there is just not enough time in the day to be an Author, Writer, Mum, Horde Wrangler, Foodie and Haus Frau. How to the pros do it?

Still, at least you’re all caught up on what I’m up to. And no, you’re not going to be able to get those five minutes of your life back. 🙂

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
 

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