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Happy Birthday Star Trek.

Happy Birthday Star Trek.

Happy 50th birthday Star Trek. You might be the younger sibling in this house of Who… but we do our best not to play favourites and so here is a blog post just for you.

Although I didn’t get into Star Trek until I was a teen… that does still mean I’ve been a Trekkie for *cough* twenty plus years now.

Yes I cut my teeth on The Next Generation – you can blame Data and Wesley for that – but I soon decided I needed to go to the source and see where it all came from. I still own all the TIME LIFE Star Trek Original series videos I simply begged my parents to buy for me… watched pretty much all of them too. I don’t actually OWN a video player these days, and can’t see myself getting another one any time soon… but I still own those videos. I simply do not have the heart to bin them… though I do doubt any of them are even playable anymore as they did live in the tropics for quite some years and all Who videos I tried to watch from back then well… snapped. Humidity seems to fuse them all together. That is, when the bugs aren’t turning them into nests.

Gosh I love DVDs.

But anyhow, yes I am a Trekkie! Surprise! I used to also be a mad keen Star Wars fan, but when you tinker with perfection for too long its arse tends to fall off… and that is now my opinion of that particular… franchise.

Blake 7, Goodies, Mel Brooks, Monty Python, old and new Who… What can I say? My mind was moulded by some of the best. And most of them are timeless and can never age. Except The Next Generation…. Yeah, that got old real quick and is now one of the only Trek I can’t watch without cringing. Sorry Wes and Data. Still love you loads. 😉

And that is hard now that I am passing these sage tomes of visual wisdom onto my next generation… as do I allow them to be tainted by TNG? Middle Horde is my main partner in crime for all things sci-fi and has been my constant companion here 5pm on a week night where they’ve been showing Voyager. That was until yesterday, where to celebrate Star Trek, they started showing the Original Series from the first episode (not the pilot mind you, but from Where no Man has gone before). Middle Horde loved it… kept going on about all the simply amazing and so spacey and realistic special effects, far better than all the modern CGI stuff. Me… I sat there looking at the 50 year old special effects with my best pout on and wanting my 20 year old special effects back as Voyager hadn’t even made it home yet before they ripped it off the screen to do this. DELAYED SPOILER: Yeah, they make it home… did so 20 years or so ago now. Ooops.

I am not one known to enjoy change to my routine but, as Seven often says: “I will adapt.” There’s only, what? 79 episodes of the Original Series right? Then we might get back to Voyager. Hopefully? Let’s not run through them all and do Next Gen next. Deep Space Nine I can handle (hellloooo Julian!) but not even watching Wes grow up without me being the same age at the time can make me want to sit through Next Gen again. Sorry Jean Luc, love you loads too.

All the same, happy birthday Star Trek! Doctor Who might be my heart and soul – and by introducing Middle Horde to it first she is easier able to adapt to the concept of Original Series vs Enterprise (not that she’s seen it yet). We will deal with the reboots of Trek and her later… she’s not even cut her teeth on the original movies yet. And, yeah, we might just skip the motion picture and go right on in with Khan. Sorry, but true Trekkies know why.

Let us all take a moment to look back and realise exactly how much a love of Trek has created the technology we see today. I use my PADD and communicators all the time. Sadly I can’t talk into my mouse and have my computer know what I’m saying… but there is software that allows me to talk via a dragon. 😉 The blue whales are still safe (I have a model one on my writing desk to prove it), we have tribbles rather than dust bunnies under the couch and I still even own (not so much wear anymore) my Bajoran ear ring. I watched the shows, played the games, wore the t-shirts (still own them and a few other things), and even cut my teeth in writing with an online Trek fan group. My sarcasm needed a home even back then and so if anyone out there knows and remembers Counsellor Lasha Palpatine (you can take a girl away from Star Wars… and all that), or her lovable sidekick Daffyd, Kavin Tamlor or even the Bagheerena twins on Star Base Omega – yup… I’m still writing! I just went old school. 😉

You have been a part of my existence and imagination for over half my life. You have shaped the world around me in ways no other TV show has and I thank you for helping my real life technology get its act together and be as high tech as my standards expected it to be as a child. Reading about Vulcan’s in Homer’s Odyssey and Jem-Hadar (jamadar) and ferengi in Conan Doyle’s work as a teen has always made me smile as they may be older and talking about different things, but the cross over is still funny. 😉

To all those who have been a part of Star Trek from the beginning (helped create it and first fans alike) to those keeping it alive today – I Vulcan salute you.

And, as I do like this play on words…

Live long and prosper, resistance is futile. ❤

Until next time,

Janis.

Blue whale.jpg

My blue whale… and other clutter. 

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2016 in Writing

 

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Another story idea niggling away at my brain I thought I would share.

Hello readers! Yes, I am possibly being overzealous by saying that as a plural – but I live in hope! 😉

I have had a busy year adjusting to online university and adding it to my juggle of house, hordes, health and husbane… but I think I’m getting there at last. And no, that is not a typo… it is meant to read husbane – he understands the humour in my turning him into the bane of my life. It’s a term of endearment, just like calling my children demonic hordes. Honest.

So anyway, university is going well… I’m still awaiting the final grades for my first study period, but rumour has it I’ve passed with some reasonably good marks. Let’s hope that rumour is true or BOY am I going to look an idiot on here when I have to retract that later!

I’m, unfortunately, not learning a heck of a lot of new stuff from my units yet (possibly why I am achieving such a good grade) as these core units are just rehashing stuff I already know but couldn’t prove I knew so that I could skip it and get on with the degree. I’m sure my grades will plummet as soon as I hit a unit that isn’t all about writing… which these ones are. I will admit know I really suck at argumentative essays. Yes I can write and yes I can argue (in the critical thinking sense of the word as well as in the ‘losing my cool’ sense of the word) but I can’t seem to write and argue in an analytical manner. The positive to this is I chose a rather interesting topic (to me) to research and argue upon… so I gained something from it all the same.

And, can I just say, letting an Author – who loves to research – loose on a universities databases is like letting a kid loose in a lolly shop! Or giving me carte blanche at Red Cacao. 😉 Wow! I freely admit to being side tracked on numerous occasions during my research hour and wandering off to find things more beneficial to my Other World series than to my essay on creating a zero waste clothing and textile consumer.

Seriously, if you’re an Author and love to research – get thee to a university database! It links you to libraries and documents all over the world for FREE and boy is it a load of fun! For those not able to do this, Google Scholar is passable, but Trove here in Australia is waaaay better! Heck, even I’m in their database!

But I digress, I was here to post about my latest story idea I would love to see fellow Writers and Authors play with. Heck, if I could organise myself more I would turn it into some sort of little online festival thingy. But as I have nothing to offer as a reward, who is seriously going to attend? And cue the crickets loudly chirping in a big old empty room…. Now!

This story idea was, as usual, fuelled by a recent news article I happen to catch on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) News. There is going to be some kind of scientific get together here in Australia (yes, I am so good with the technical words, I know!) And, so, this science gathering will be here to talk about the issues we are having regarding a lot of junk littering space within the Earth’s orbit. Loads of smashed satellites and all sorts of other things and it’s growing larger and more dangerous simply because the more things we put up there, the more likely they are to be smashed up by the space junk already up there… and therefore create more space junk. You know? The whole cascade effect thingy.

It’s gotten so bad that the folk on the International Space Station have frequent alerts where they have to go seal themselves off in a heavily protected area of the station and wait out an imminent collision with some junk and then assess the damage it has made and ensure their station is still intact.

Please note – this is all true and I’ve not even started on the fiction side yet!

The reasons the science boffins are gathering here is to try and figure out a way to clean up the space junk as it’s gotten so bad our international astronauts can’t do space walks anymore as the risk of being whacked by orbiting satellite bits is just too great. It was predicted that in only a very short space of time (I think they said several years but my mind goes fuzzy on dates) we won’t be able to use the space around our planet as it will be so filled with junk nothing can be up there and not be hit. Say goodbye to all our satellites boys and girls, this is how serious it is.

Won’t someone think of the Enterprise?!

Okay… with me so far? All of that is true and the facts as gleamed from this news interview.

What did I then immediately think of? A nano-technological plague of course!!! Duh!

Who else can’t imagine a story where they fix the space junk issue by sending all these metal eating nanobots into space to clear away the junk? They were supposedly programmed to only eat the space junk but… dun dun daaaaaaa…. Something goes wrong and anything made of metal up there is on their menu.

So we won’t be getting satellites back anytime soon, we start to technologically de-evolve and all thought of space travel is currently on hold until we find a new building material. Paper? Plastic? Ceramic? Oh the ship designs could be glorious!

And cue the international disaster that means the planet is quickly becoming uninhabitable and the only place we can go is up and….. there’s the story idea.

I would dearly love to play with it myself, but I have my Other World series to finish, my murder mystery series to get going and my NA urban fantasy about global warming to get off the ground…. Add to that the kids stories my kids have been nagging me to write and, well, I just don’t have enough time in the day.

So I am handing yet another awesome story idea out into the interweb and want you Writers and Authors to do me proud! Write me a 5,000 word short story on it and I will publish the best one on my Author blog – full credit, ownership and rights to be kept by the Author. No plagiarism, no stealing others ideas and no selling my idea on. Remember, I do accept decent hot chocolate as payment if you can’t scrape together enough money to actually pay me when you turn it into a million dollar movie idea. 😉

Maybe one day I will sit down and write a story like this myself… sustainability, zero waste and how to make rocket ships… Oooh, that does sounds like an AWESOME title!!! Maybe we should do an anthology? Who’s with me? 😉

Okay, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Janis.

 
 

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Easter, when you’ve been writing too much supernatural urban fantasy…

Easter, when you’ve been writing too much supernatural urban fantasy…

I was awoken this morning to excited chattering coming from my dining room. There, upon an almost clean table of pine sat some sort of summoning circle. Its four quadrants made up of spring time and fertility symbols such as duckling, chickens and rabbits. Within its centre was a jar of… bilbies? Possibly made of milk chocolate?

I believed it to be a summoning circle for around it now danced three demonic hordes of varying size and age. All of which deemed to address me as ‘Mum’.

To close the circle I commanded these hordes to eat the bilbies… I had to know whether they were of a benevolent or malevolent making.

It appears they were benevolent and I have it on good authority they came from a place known as ‘Red Cacao’ who only create premium creatures of chocolate.

Once this issue had been sorted and the bilby like objects demolished, I continued with my daily chores of creating ‘life spirals’ from a dairy and wheat free brioche like substance based on ritual conceived by the amazing Quirky Jo.

It is autumn after all and a time to create symbols of life and perseverance as we head into the bleakness of winter. Now is not the time for spring icons of buns with crosses… but spirals within buns of cinnamon, mixed spice and sultanas is another matter.

While these spirals rested upon a warmed hearth to double in size I received a cry for help from neighbouring family members. It seems some bright, foil covered Pagan icons of spring and fertility had appeared within their backyard and they were wondering if I had it within my powers to come remove them.

Upon arrival, I sensed this was a task too great for me so early in the morning and so despatched my hordes to vanquish these icons of spring. These canny hordes donned rabbit ears and other disguises to try and blend into the environment before seeking out the offending items and gathering them in small, pre-prepared baskets of holding. Again, they appeared to be made of chocolate. Upon my command, these items were checked by the Hordes to ensure they were of a safe nature. According to the one known as Eldest Horde, it appears this too was benevolent chocolate as it was ‘UTZ certified’ and therefore free of slavery as well as being fairly made. Good to know these Hordes can differentiate the good from the bad from such odd markings adorning strange foil wrapped icons.

Unusual for demonic hordes, they then proceeded to share their gathered bounty equally as well as check with the woman of the property to see if she felt further Pagan icons of spring still adorned her autumnal backyard. It appears all suspicious packages had indeed been collected and so I left them to it while I returned to my own home to finish baking the ‘life spirals’.

Once it was completed, while still warm from my hearth, we returned to this other family member’s home and partook in the breaking and eating of this hot, sweet, sticky and nut filled repast.

Then, as I continued with the rituals of gathering final minute items from a local shop and setting the dining table with an altar like precision, the men of the family dealt with the animal to fire sacrifices that often take place upon this day.

Once we were all seated, we enjoyed perfectly charred meat on sticks, the salad of potato, boiled eggs and gherkins and other delicacies that seem to be of cultural significance to such family gatherings.

The day ended well with the cutting of the bird’s nest style cake to symbolise spring, along with the breaking of more of the ‘life spiral’ pull apart symbolising autumn. We then all partook in various concoctions of dried leaves and hot water, or a strange dark bean and hot water.

Finally the day came to a close with the usual re-enforcement of family lore, tales, traditions and gossip before we parted ways.

The hordes were gathered, the remains of their mission to eradicate the world of Pagan icons collected and we were homeward bound.

After all, hubby has a sink to unblock and I had a load of cottons to put in the washing machine. As we were doing this we realised the magic of the day had departed for another year, we had chocolate coated children to bathe and felt left over brioche and a cuppa a great dinner tonight.

And, in ending this little tale, I hope this Easter long weekend was everything your beliefs allowed it to be too. For me, it was simply the first Sunday since Mabon – the autumn equinox last Sunday. To others… it was slightly more important. Each to their own, so may it be.

Until next time,

Janis.

life spiral pull apart brioche

‘Life Spirals’ aka dairy and wheat free spiced pulled apart brioche.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2016 in Update on my Writer Life, Writing

 

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So, where DO I get my ideas from?

So, where DO I get my ideas from?

Hi everyone, I’ve decided to share exactly what I mean when I say ‘Life inspires me’ when answering the question in the title of today’s blog post.

I personally feel this is the most common question set to Writer’s by those who don’t have an imagination so fierce it is crawling about in their brain like ants. Or maybe that’s just me and actually a scalp issue I need looking at? 😉

Some people simply appear perplexed I am able to make up stories out of seemingly nothing and I just want to set the record straight and give some examples of where I do get stories from to try and encourage others to have a go at writing them!

So, where do I get my stories from? I’m a watcher. I like to watch life go past, analyse it, pocket snippets and thoughts of it away for later. Yes, I am that introvert in the corner of a busy room simply watching and listening and storing data… And I would like to see a Writer who isn’t!

I remember taking a friend (and well known author I’m not about to name drop) for a wander through the Stirling markets here in the Adelaide Hills. The street we wandered was lined with oak trees and when I pointed out that the name of the street was Druids Avenue – I could see that data spark in her eyes, almost watch it being store away for use later… I could see it as this is how I see the world too. Everything has potential as a story idea.

Sometimes it’s a simple one liner – see my creations of ‘Dodo Radio’ in Bonnie’s Story (well, in the blog posts and possibly in any sequel I may write). I was just having a 140 character chat with another Author friend via a certain piece of social media and we were discussing the differences between radio in Australia versus the UK. I would kill to have radio like BBC4 here! Well, not literally kill, but strongly hug at the very least – and I am a big lady after all so kill… meh, I digress. 😉

Yes, Australian radio and it’s lack of a spectrum as vibrant as radio in the UK had it described as ‘Dodo Radio’… which then led me off on train of thought that had me create the Dodo radio explained in one of Bonnie’s blog posts. That’s the sort of thing I mean when I say life inspires me.

I also find news headlines inspire me. I can’t say the entire article does, and sometimes I don’t even bother reading that part… but a simple one line can spark that creative fire in my brain. Though in the case of the two examples I’m about to give, I did read the articles… and then turned them into things they weren’t meant to be.

Now, with these examples, I would dearly love to see some new and eager Writers take the story and run with it. I can’t publish it, I can’t pay you for it, but I can (hopefully) inspire you to use it… or at least see how easy it is to pluck a story idea from the normal every day.

And so, here we go. Where do I get my story ideas from? Well, this is where…

Recently, while browsing the ABC news on my phone (as I do first thing in the morning before getting up) I read through an interesting article about how they are thinking of introducing a fish herpes to the Murray River as a way to combat the horrible pest species of carp that has been destroying it for decades.

What really got my imagination cogs going was where they talked about all the testing they would need to do first. I thought, fair enough; don’t want to wipe out all fish in the Murray with this disease. But my little grey cells sparked into life when it was mentioned they were also testing what this disease might do to humans… not only those exposed to the water, but those who ate foods grown in the area and watered with this diseased water!

Yes, the italics symbolise how exciting this whole concept was to me. Why? Oh, come on, who else doesn’t think pandemic explosion from food contaminated by something in its water supply? Just think of the speculative fiction ‘what if’ you could make from this! It could be your common garden virus or Ebola like thing wiping out the country and causing a dystopian lifestyle for some Young Adult to explore… or it could cause mutations or, dare I say it, be the catalyst for that zombie invasion so many people are jokingly prepping for. The possibilities are endless!

Now, please note I am not saying that the actual fish herpes virus would cause this at all. Hell no, I’m pretty sure the scientists are going to thoroughly test it first… and half of it is just fiction in anyone’s book. But I hope you can see what I mean about how something harmless I read in the news can be turned into some pretty interesting reading for someone else. 😉

Another recent example is (again with the ABC news first thing in the morning) a giant supernova, brighter than anything they’ve ever seen has just caught the attention of scientists and has them re-writing some of the info they thought they knew on supernovas. Nothing too exciting for we non-scientists, right? But there is a line in the article where they say “perhaps it’s not a supernova at all” and, well, they may as well have waved a red cloak at a charging bull with that line.

Yes, they did go on to say it might be a lot of other actual, real life sciencey stuff… but half my brain wasn’t listening any more. It was already off on another speculative fiction ‘what if’ journey with opening lines such as:

“At first they thought it was a new type of Supernova appearing in the night’s sky. But by the time they realised it was an invasion, it was too late…”

Yes, that is indeed how my mind works. I seriously can’t take it anywhere without that sort of thing happening.

And that boys and girls, is how I take life and get inspired to write what I write. Yes it’s not ‘True Crime’ or ‘Literary Fiction’, which most people say is what life inspires… no, life  – in the right set of hands or mind – can inspire any Writer of any genre to do what they do best: Write.

I guess it means Writer’s don’t see the world in the same way as others? Maybe another reason we need to wear badges so people realise we’re creating new worlds around us while walking down the street and watching a leaf casually blow across our path. We take in everything, we store everything, we feed everything into our imaginations and turn it into the most interesting compost in which we grow some pretty amazing things.

Heck, that paragraph alone could even be the start of a story too. What do you think? Have a go; I’d love to hear how it turns out. But you owe me a hot chocolate and brownie if you make it into a block buster novel. 😉

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in More pep talk than writing, Writing

 

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Yes, I DO blog for free… but only for me!

Yes, I DO blog for free… but only for me!

Okay, so there was a little artistic license used on the grammar in the title of this post, but I’m hoping you get the gist?

I’ve decided to dedicate a blog post today to try and raise awareness for those clever writers new to the whole ‘contributing online’ thing.

Why? Well, because I used to be green and eager and willing to agree to some pretty stupid terms and conditions – as long as my work appeared online. It had meant I’d made it in some small way… right?

Well, in most cases – wrong!

If you find a site willing to allow you to ‘blog for them’ – beware! I get invites to such things a lot. More so in recent months since my reviewing site has started to get some hits. Blogging for other people can sometimes mean more negatives than positives.

Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes blogging for someone else can be a good thing. I’ve done ‘Guest Blogger’ segments for places, and my reviews are often popping up on the social media sites of authors and publishers alike. But the big difference to that sort of blogging for others is the work is recognised as mine. Can you see how serious I am about possession? All that formatting for a four letter word – yes it does mean I have my serious face on!

When I am a guest blogger, a guest reviewer, a reviewer, etc. – the post and all rights to it still belongs to ME, the author. Most of the time I’m not paid when work is shared on someone else’s blog. Well, not in money. I get paid in other ways. If I’m being a guest blogger, it’s usually as a way to expose my work to a wider audience and encourage them to come visit my own blog or buy one of my books. If my reviews are shared, I’ve been paid by being given the item to review. Whether it be a book, block of chocolate, candle or a slow cooker. I get it, I read, eat, light or cook with it – I keep it. Sadly not all books I review are like this… but I’m working on that. 😉

What I’m trying to say is – in these cases – what I have written is acknowledged as being mine (whether it’s good or bad writing) and I have been rewarded for my efforts.

That is good blogging for free.

The bad blogging for free I’m trying to warn new Writers about is sites that invite you to come and post for them, but anything you post will belong to them and they can do with it, share it and use it for whatever they like and not have to share any of the money it may gain them with you. You’ve gotten nothing out of the deal. In most cases your name is even removed as they now legally own the work and so don’t have to even advertise who wrote it. It’s theirs, not yours. You might know it’s yours and show it off proudly to your friends and family… but if someone was to do an internet search on your name to see where you’d been published online – it wouldn’t show up. You would gain: no exposure as an author, no credit for work contributed, no financial gain – NOTHING!

Heck, if you’re okay with this as long as you know it’s your work – go do it, knock yourself out. Have fun with it.

Me, on the other hand, I’m past that part of my career. I’ve been writing for other people where my work has become their Intellectual Property as part of my contract to them. I did that for almost twenty years as an ITC Guru. Then again, I was paid for my work and even if it wasn’t mine to take with me when my contract ended… I’d still earnt cash in hand for the effort. I now work for myself and the only person I don’t expect to pay me for my writing is Myself.

 Now, I’m not trying to sound cocky or arrogant here, I’m trying to spell it out for Writers out there that their work is worth more than they realise. If you spend time out of your day writing something rather than going off and having a ‘real job’, you need to gain from that writing. Whether it be exposure, some kind of positive reward or even – shock horror – actual money, you still deserve it and people shouldn’t ask you do write for them for free.

Even the sites that ‘allow’ you to keep your name on work you post for them… take a long hard look at what they’re getting out of the deal. Is getting an article online that has your name on it but gains you nothing else really worth it? What is that post now being used for? Are the people you posted it to now using it to gain site traffic and therefore ‘pays per click’ to their site? In most cases they are you know, and therefore they should be paying you a percentage.

Just because it’s a ‘mere thousand words’ on a website – you still deserve payment. Whether it is a one off payment, or an ongoing percentage fee as royalties, you should be getting it. And by a one off payment, I do expect to get a decent amount. You’d be surprised what the actual, legal, going rate for a Writer’s work is… Maybe go check it out over at the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and see. You might be shocked at how much your work is really worth. As, according to ASA, you should get about $350!

And why is a writer’s work worth more than what people are willing to pay? Because the people offering to pay think writing is just putting words together. If they are even bothering to offer you money at all! But if you look at the time that goes into being a writer and put a per hour salary on it… it makes sense. I mean, it’s not as if most of us can write and be getting on with the rest of our allotted tasks. Me, I fit writing in around my Haus Frau duties… it’s why I’ve automated as much of my domestic duties as possible. I have a machine to wash the clothes, another to clean my dishes, yet others to bake and cook foods without my presence. Heck, I even have a robot to vacuum my floors. Basically, I do this to spend more time at my job. I used them when I was a contractor heading off to an office to earn a salary. And I use them now to give me the time to be sitting here and writing this before I have to go get my kids from school and continue on with my tasks as unpaid and underappreciated house drudge… erm, I mean Haus Frau. Sounds more posh when I say it in German and don’t spell it out for you, right? 😉

Basically, what I’m trying to say, is writing takes time. It takes time away from other things we could or even need to be doing… and so we deserve to be paid for that time.

As an author I get paid for the time I’ve spent writing a book by my Publisher doing their damnedest to then sell it. I get royalties. As my Publisher has put time and effort into my book, and also need to be paid, they get part of my royalties too. If I was to have an agent, they too would get part of the royalties as their payment. See, they expect to be paid for services rendered… why is it people don’t expect the same from a Writer?

I could go off on my usual rant about you don’t expect a hairdresser to cut your hair for free, or a café to hand over that hot chocolate and brownie for nothing… Why is a writer any different? We’ve put in time and effort to provide the service of ‘putting words together’, so pay us damn it!

Okay, if I go on I feel I would start repeating myself… plus it smells like the cake I’m baking for my Hordes as I’ve been writing this is about ready to come out of the oven. And as I’m yet to get a machine that will take the damned thing out of the oven and put it on a rack to cool, I’m going to have to go and do that. So it means I have run out of time to write. Still, I will be paid in cake for the services rendered so I’m not complaining. I make a pretty tasty cake.

But I do hope you, the new and still a little green around the ears Writer get what I’m trying to say? You are worth it. Your writing is yours to own and a service you are providing. Think about this before giving it away for free.

If you’re okay with giving it away for free, or for the exposure it brings, go for it. If you’re happy taking twenty dollars for a piece of your work to be published in a magazine, that’s your call too. But I would seriously look at that magazine first, see how much they sell for, how many people buy it and then decide whether they truly can’t afford more than the peanuts… or if they’re taking you for a ride. I’ve dealt with both. I’m more than happy to submit my work to a small time indie magazine for that amount… I’m really being paid in exposure and a few dollars. If it’s a large scale magazine, which take ownership of your work and pay a paltry sum (I’m looking at you Reader’s Digest) – I’d walk away now.

What I’m really trying to say is look into it all first. You’re clever (of course you are, you’re a Writer) so just take a look at the positives and negatives that may arise from giving away your work. Sometimes giving it away for free is a good stepping stone, but please PLEASE don’t turn it into your career.

Finally – yes cynical me is perfectly aware there are some places that will just take my blog posts off of my blogs and flog them as their own. It is copyright infringement; they do not have my permission and are often caught and dealt with. Those who aren’t… well I’m a strong believer in Karma and I know she’s an even bigger bitch than me and know one day she will ensure I get payment. 😉

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

cake and DOR

My PA sprung trying to cut the cake I was baking. My cake, he didn’t write the blog post. 😉

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2015 in More pep talk than writing, Writing

 

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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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