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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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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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I suppose I should do one of those ‘it’s the New Year’ posts?

I suppose I should do one of those ‘it’s the New Year’ posts?

Hello everyone!

Yes, I left my blog on a bit of a downer a few weeks ago by using it to say goodbye to a dear friend who sadly passed away suddenly just before Christmas.

Then with all the bedlam of the Solstice, Christmas, the calendar New Year, my revolting Hordes (as in they kept revolting and refusing to help) and a big old nasty heatwave… yeah, like I had time to blog something merry, festive and bright.

I will add my PA (the Death of Rats) did try and lighten my mood, but after this incident leading to a severely mauled Santa, he was sent on his own Christmas break. There were just too many old, precious glass ornaments on my tree to trust him to be gentle. 😉

DoR Christmas

And so here I am, late for the Solstice post, late for the Christmas one too, and so I decided to go for the trifecta and be late for the calendar New Year post as well. Nailed it.

By the way, in case you’re wondering why I call it the calendar New Year – I’m Pagan, for me the old year dies and the new one begins with Yule… in June. I just conform and celebrate the end of the wall calendar and ceremony of putting a new calendar up at this time of the year. If there is any New Year at this end of the calendar, it’s the one where I get to shout Gong Xi Fa Cai and have an excuse to eat fortune cookies (like I need an excuse!)

But, I digress. 🙂

So… How have you all been?

Me, well besides all of the above, I’ve actually been a little busy.

Let’s see… Early December saw me sign my third publishing contract with Hague Publishing for the second in my Other World series There’s no place like Hell and I’ve even also been chipping away at the third book We represent the Demon Guild. The more I work on this series, the more I love the research I’m doing into the old ways of the afterlife and the supernatural – you know, before they were turned sparkly and into chick lit. This research has gotten to the point that had me wondering who the local Ankou and Dullahan would be as we sat up watching the calendar year end.

Yes, I’ve been hanging around researching the afterlife too long when I wonder how to greet the new Reapers in the neighbourhood. Oh these are the Reapers in our neighbourhood…. Sing it with me, we all know that old Sesame Street tune.;-)

Okay, focus Janis! So other than that, what else?

Well, my Reviewer blog is puttering along nicely. I mean, it’s not like it has hundreds of followers or even hundreds of hits each day… I can get dozens of hits… but not in the hundreds yet. All the same, I’m pleased with how it’s going as I’m getting a lot of good feedback from people regarding my reviews. I’ve apparently even helped sell a few books I’ve reviewed, so yay me! Shame there is no commission! I’ve also started to have authors and publishers approach me directly with reviewing opportunities. That and my son was sent something to review the other day… So, I’m either doing something right, or I’m just seen as an easy review. 😉 Oh cynical me shut up! We’re pretending it’s because I’m really good at what I do, okay!

I’ve also started reviewing ‘Supermarket grade’ chocolate over on that blog (another small hit) and have just launched Fairtrade Fridays this year to help promote how easy it is to buy and support Fairtrade on a budget. So go on over and check my Reviewer blog out here.

On and off near the end of the last calendar year I was also helping out with a bit of volunteering. I was the self-titled ‘Social Media Chick’ for a fantastic new local festival called: In the Raw Festival (it’s not what you think!) as well as trying to help out with ideas and promos for my favourite local podcast radio show called The Adelaide Show. Check them both out too, they’re pretty awesome. If they weren’t I wouldn’t be offering my services!

Seriously though, they are wonderful people and both places were willing to give me the chance to do some work experience for them and help keep my old IT grey matter going. I’m loving helping out as it does feel good being seen as more than just a mum, drudge, Horde Wrangler and Haus Frau.

Which leads me on to my latest big step… or mistake – depends on how you look at it! I’ve enrolled to do a degree in Internet Communications via Open Universities Australia as, you know, I didn’t feel run off my feet enough. I see this degree as a fantastic way to help expand my horizons on social media for myself (blogs and books) and for my passion of helping to promote local businesses. AND! Those who want to hire me to shake their assets for them for the cost of regular installments hot chocolate and cake – we should talk!

Yes, I plan on keep busy this year as I am tired of feeling like I am achieving nothing. I know I am achieving things… I just don’t feel like I am. I can’t work – thanks to my own health and helping Horde#3 getting acclimatised to full time school (I got to add unofficial Case Manager for HFASD son to my CV in 2015), I’m keeping busy with my reviewing, I joined a guild (spinners and weavers) and am learning new knitting skills and all in all with my Haus Frauing, cooking, writing, wrangling and volunteering – I was achieving things. Just none of it seemed to be achieved for me. And, as I’ve always wanted to have a degree in something – I never finished high school after all – I thought stuff it! I’m turning 40 and I’m getting a degree! Yes it’s a Bachelor of Arts, and my upbringing in the science section of a certain northern University means a BA is what the sissy girls do… meh, I’m putting my big girl granny knickers on and doing it! 😀

Right, now I’ve gone and justified that new debt in my life, here’s hoping I get the positives out of it I feel I will. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

And there you go, you’re all caught up with the whirlwind known as my life. All three kids are on school holidays, my eldest is about to turn 11 (OMG – 11!) and we’ve already had a few nasty bush fire scares even before the calendar New Year. But that’s summer in these glorious hills for you.

Hopefully I will have something more ‘Writer worthy’ for you in my next blog post.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Boxing Day breakfast 2015

Boxing Day breakfast 2015. Local, fresh fruit and homemade baked goods… *drool*

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2016 in Update on my Writer Life

 

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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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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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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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