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My children do not fear the Bogeyman, good parenting or bad?

Hi everyone, another ‘re-run’. My hordes go back to school next week and I hope to get back into some serious and new blogging then! Today’s blog post was originally featured and the rather sultry and sensual VampChix blogsite. How could you not like a blog when they describe themselves as ‘Exploring new worlds, one bite at a time’? Seriously, go check them out.

My children do not fear the Bogeyman, good parenting or bad?

Besides being a fan of the supernatural, there is another genre I enjoy – crime fiction. And when it comes to TV crime fiction, it is a rare gem that blends both crime and supernatural together so well. One of these rare gems is the UK TV series Whitechapel where modern day detectives and their flunkies seek out the earthly, sane answers to some pretty weird and gruesome things happening in the heart of Whitechapel… that haunt of Jack the Ripper just a century or so before. It is a great series, shame it was eventually axed, but it was the right blend of spooky, creepy, crime, horror viewing I liked.

My only desire is that they didn’t put it on so late at night when I’m home alone with the kids in bed and all those strange noises outside. Yes, I am a bit of wimp too. But Whitechapel has that right edge that Doctor Who had when I was a child. I’ve not yet watched Whitechapel from behind the couch with a thrill of ghoulish curiosity… but I’ve come close.

So what has this to do with Bogeymen and my children some of you may be asking? If you’re still actually waiting for me to get to the point. Good question, thank you for asking.

The Whitechapel I was watching last week was about the Bogeyman and had the team reciting all threats and warnings they remembered from their childhoods about the Bogeyman and how their parents had used this fear to control them. And I realised something shocking… I’d never used this fear, this threat of the Bogeyman on my own children to ensure they behaved. Was that good, modern day parenting? Or losing some of our verbal traditions and tales?

All is not lost though as it’s not as if my children don’t know about the Bogeyman. Oh, trust me, having me as their mum they know all about all sorts of supernatural folk from the fae to the far out there. Dinner time discussions are about things like this all the time. A good example is the time I explained the after death rituals of the ancient Egyptians. I had them so hooked that night, as I was explaining the role of Ammut (crocodile headed god who weighs the heart of the dead before making judgement), that when I clapped my hands together as the snapping of his jaws… they leapt off their chairs in fright and I needed to check under their chairs for puddles. Yeah, I tell a good story.

So it’s not as if I’ve raised my children in a lack lustred world where what they see if all of what they get. No, I do my best to weave a little magic and unreality into their lives whenever I can. See my eldest’s pen pal – A faerie who looks after horses. Or the fact that the Christmas wrapping elf Bryony comes to see us each Christmas Eve. She leaves a special gift for my kids… as well as a card containing three strips of sticky tape. Magic happens, let it live on in others even if we may have forgotten its touch in our own lives.

Back to the Bogeyman and my children’s lack of fear. They know the Bogeyman exists, along with ghosts, zombies, spirits, djinns, demons and the whole kit and caboodle. But did you know the way to get rid of the Bogeyman is to lift off his hat and laugh at him? That’s what I was taught as a child, if he ever came for me, and it’s what I’ve taught my children too. And now he knows we know how to get rid of him, he doesn’t come here. Knowledge being power and all that.

Ghosts, djinn, spirits? Oh, the secret salt circle we have lining the outside of the house and the iron reinforcements in its very walls keep them out. Oh yeah! Zombies… well, we’ve had a bit of an issue with zombies for a while now with our eldest. But we have found the best fix for them is magical pixie dust. My eldest came up with that solution when she was five and still sometimes needs a little these days when she’s feeling unwell or a little worried. It’s a wonderful cure all I tell you! And it’s amazing what a few drops of yellow and red food colouring gently swirled in full cream milk can do too… if you know what I mean?

Then we have binding circles… my kids play with chalk out on our concrete verandah a lot. As well as the words to dispel demons and, all in all, I’m pretty sure I have some pretty well rounded kids. So they’re not afraid of the Bogeyman. They still believe in him and know he’s out there… so the narrative history will live on. But I don’t use him to scare my kids into being good; I use him to feed their hunger for knowledge.

It’s working too. Eldest, now nine, plans on being the world’s leading expert in Sifaka (a type of lemur – the primate, not Roman ghost). Middle child, seven and a budding artist, is undecided as to whether she’ll be a basic entomologist, a graphical entomologist (one who draws the bugs) or an archaeological entomologist… to study what part bugs played to ancient civilisations. My youngest, aged five and a little… special… Well, right now I’m pretty sure he’s going to be a farmer, a gardener or Sheldon Cooper. He’s five, he has time to decide.

So, should we keep our children in check by passing on a fear of the unknown? Or should we use these old myths to train them into being fearless explorers of the unknown and then letting them loose on the poor unsuspecting world? I know which one sounds more fun to me!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Writing

 

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I do like vampires, honest.

The following blog post was originally written as a guest spot over at Fangtastic Books as part of my Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! book tour in September last year.

Please go check it out, and all the other wonderful articles, blog posts and author interviews on Fangtastic Books. I have to say, it was one of my favourite sites on the tour and a place I keep visiting even now for updates on things.

Yes, still in holiday mode so still mostly rehashing my work. My Hordes go back to school at the end of January and so you can expect new posts from me then. Still, this is a great post… even if I do say so myself. 😉

I do like vampires, honest.

In my latest book Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! I have portrayed vampires in a less than pleasant light. I’ve taken them right back to the beginning when they were pure evil and just out for their own pleasure from other people’s pain. I even took a little artistic license by stating they were created as an after effect of people killing a demon. As that demon died, its own coiled Darkness and evilness was released and tainted the blood of its vanquishers, turning them into the vile vampires my protagonist is out to kill.

Some people have told me this shows I don’t like vampires nor appreciate their finer points. This isn’t true, there are some vampires I really do like. See Queen Betsy from MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead and… series. I love her. Yes she gets on my nerves at times, but she’s still a great vampire and a Queen of them too. She is vain, blonde, obsessed with shoes and a randy little minx… but still a gorgeous character and proof you can be a vampire and still be nice, mostly.

Then there are the vampires in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series. Another perfect example of a well-rounded species. Either born with the vampire virus and therefore a living vampire, infected with enough of the virus to become a lesser, turned vampire. Then there are the top of the food chain – someone who was born a living vampire who has died and spent a lot of time being undead. Some are relatively good – despite their need to follow their vampiric urges – and some are not so good. They are a well thought out species and done in such a way they are truly believable. Plus sultry, sexy and elegant without needing to sparkle.

Heck, movie wise, I’d even give the thumbs up to the Lost Boys vamps. I watched it as a teen, wasn’t obsessed with it like some I know, but found them an acceptable portrayal. What me, fussy?

Are there vampires I don’t like? Well, yes. There are the ones that seem to be trying to take over the world one virgin at a time. The teen heart-throb types that sparkle and would look more at home in Disneyland than Transylvania. Don’t get me wrong, these vampires obviously work as they do have their fans… but they are just not for me. The origin and soul of a vampire is in pure evil and darkness, and this doesn’t just mean smouldering good looks and a bad boy leather jacket. They can’t be changed and made better and I’m pretty sure they can’t be cured. Maybe I missed that memo?

But please, don’t take my judgement as the law. Vampires come in all shapes and sizes and you need to find the one you prefer. Hey, if the fang fits and all that!

Would I write about vampires again? Probably, but I would again push the boundaries and go against the current vampiric norm. In fact I already have written about a different type of vampire, a psychic one. Actually I started writing this story some decades ago and have since lost it. Isn’t that always the way when you move out of home, get a job, a life, have kids, etc? Still, one day I would like to find it… or simply start writing it all over again.

So what is a psychic vampire? I can’t say all psychic vampires are like mine, but here’s what I did. A young woman (early twenties) was raped outside a nightclub and was left mentally and physically traumatised. She then moves back to her home town to be with her parents and slowly rebuilds herself and her faith in mankind, seeing her rapist was never found. Slowly she finds the moods of a crowd around her affected her in ways it never used to. She was almost able to feed off of it and soon found actual food no longer necessary. And despite her now dislike of crowds, due to her trauma, she finds herself drawn to them nightly to ‘feed’.

As the story progresses she starts to have physical flashbacks. As in, finds herself in parts of the past and how her home town used to look. Long story short she discovers she’s pregnant from the rape and the child conceived through evil is causing these changes in her. To give birth to it, what will it be and what will happen to her? And, yeah, that’s all I pretty much had figured out and had started writing. I do feel it would be a little different to write these days as I was eighteen when I started it. That’s *cough* twenty years ago now.

How would you create a vampire? Twinkly and new style or go old style and the spawn of hell? Will they feed off blood, emotions, virgins, strawberry smoothies? Do they need to be surrounded by gore and humping, writhing over-sexed bodies to be a good read? And are they the protagonist or the villain? This is why a vampire can be a fun thing to read or write as, quite frankly, there are just so many different types to choose from.

Until next time,

Janis Hill. XXOO

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Writing

 

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My dealings with Independent Publishers.

Please note, this blog post is not about any specific independent publisher, merely based on my personal experience with them as a whole. The good, the bad and the ugly. Though I do mention a good publisher. 😉

In the past I’ve mentioned my adoration for the small, independent publishers simply because it was one of them who gave me my first chance to become published. And it was two indie publishers that offered me a contract for my next manuscript. Something the larger publishing houses didn’t do as they didn’t see a market for my style of writing, my Australian voice and so on.

I still stand by my comments that independent publishers can be great places and all Writers and Authors should take them in to consideration when seeking to have their work published. Whether you’re an unpublished writer, a self-published author wanting to work with someone else or a seasoned pro seeking a new publisher – check out the small, independent ones. There are some really good, professional and well run independent publishers out there willing to work with you and help you get published.

Saying all that, I’ve also had some bad experiences with an independent publisher that came across as anything but professional or well run. I won’t name them simply because one of their final emails to me threatened to sue me for defamation if I wrote anything bad about them.

So I’m not writing about them but instead using a negative experience I’ve recently had with a small independent publisher as inspiration to write this post. The blog will be theories, hypotheticals, ifs, maybes and possibilities. There will be a hypothetical situation given, but who’s to say it’s real or just me showing my skill at fiction?

Now, I can’t confirm I’ve been at the end of a rather unprofessional dummy spit after poor planning on someone else’s behalf caused a stuff up and work to be published without permission… It may just be my perception this has happened. See, having three children I seem to see tantrums in everything these days so my view may be rather biased. People stating they are professional writers surely wouldn’t act in such a manner, would they? It’s merely my perception of things and I could indeed be wrong. 🙂

So, now that we have all that covered, let’s get on with my post.

Congratulations on writing something you would like to get published! It doesn’t matter if it is a piece of flash fiction, some non-fiction prose or a full length manuscript. It’s your work and best of luck with getting it out there to be read. Unless you want to go the competition variant with your new work (something I will cover in another blog post at some point) you’re going to be looking for a publisher. Good luck with that!

The best advice I can give, and have given before is – Aim high and go for the major publishing houses, but don’t discount the smaller, independent publishers. A foot in the door is a foot in the door. However… well, some doors really should be avoided. Don’t stick your foot in there; you have no idea what it might get coated in.

What I mean is – research all publishers before submitting any level of work to them. Don’t just read their blurb on how awesome they think they are, put them into your favourite search engine (Google if you must) and see what results you get. Does this publisher get good reviews from Authors and Writers? Are there any blog sites warning against them? What does your local Writing Association or even Society of Authors have to say about them? Some of these organisations have a ‘black list’ of publishers… or at least a list of publishers with a paragraph of feedback as to what they’ve heard about them.

Just because someone has hung out a shingle saying they are a profession publisher, that honestly doesn’t mean a damned thing. As we Writers outnumber the publishing world thousands to one, there are always going to be those who jump on the publishing bandwagon to make money out of our work, but not actually be that professional about how they do it.

For example, and this is a hypothetical scenario only, a small, independent publisher may advertise to do a book of short stories and ask for submissions. They may then take an overly long time to respond to said submissions, are rather obscure about payment details, schedules, layout and so on. Then demand a response ASAP to get on with it. Writers eager to see their work published may jump at the chance to be part of this and so tentatively agree to proceed in the publication. However, when it comes to contract time and the amount of money actually being offered for the Writer’s work is finally given, along with what rights the publisher then wants over the piece of work, things might not look so rosy. The Writer may decline the offer and ask to be removed from the project. So far so good. However, if the small, independent publisher then accidentally includes the piece in their now published project and, while supposedly apologising about it to the Writer, becomes threatening and insulting and uncooperative…

Well, that Writer might then feel confused, insulted and hurt by these actions. Especially if that small publisher then refuses to pay compensation or give royalties from editions that include the Writer’s work already sold. It may even have that Writer seeking legal advice over copyright and how to protect themselves against the further abuse and threats from the so called professional publisher.

Add to that the Writer may possibly have submitted that work to other publishers under the belief it was indeed unpublished and agreed to legal terms and conditions that stated as much… the legal ramifications that may have ensued from that are worrying. As the new publisher could sue the Writer for lying and for offering work they no longer own the rights to. The original publisher could sue the Writer and new publisher for using the work without their permission. There could be copyright infringement litigations and all sorts. None of which would be the Writer’s fault as they were under the impression the work was still theirs as they had an email from the original publisher confirming their work had been removed from the project.

If they, theoretically, asked the Australian going rate for such work as a form of compensation for such stress and upset, they would be perfectly within their right. For the original, small, publisher to then possibly abuse and threaten them with law suits for doing so or for daring to mention it anywhere… Well, it would almost put a person off writing… if it was true.

Not saying this would happen, wouldn’t it be a nasty world if people treated each other like this? Actually our world can be rather nasty so this possibly does happen.

So just be careful of some publishers, small and independent or otherwise. You never really know what they are like until you look into them a little. If, when doing a search on them, you find nothing… do you really want to risk approaching them? Sometimes it’s worth the risk; see the fantastic relationship I have with Hague Publishing. The reason I couldn’t find a lot on them in my searches is because they were brand spanking new. They also admitted this on their site, which is why I decided to give them a go despite little known about them.

However, if there is a small, independent publisher who say they’ve been around for say five to ten years and you can’t find anything on them in your searches… would you really want to risk working with them? I mean yes, there might not be anything negative said about them… but if, after being around so long there is no positive things said about them either, are they really the best place to contact? Do you simply want to get published? Or are you looking to work with a place that will actually help boost your work to a wider audience and get your name out there more? If there is no positive feedback about them online… are they really that known? Is signing your work to them going to be of any help? Or would it have been better simply sharing your work on your blog? For all you know you might get the same level of attention and sales from doing that.

What I’m trying to say is you know how anyone can be a Writer? Well, anyone can also call themselves a publisher too. Writers beware!

I’m not trying to put a Writer off seeking to be published. That would be like trying to stop the ocean’s tide ebbing or flowing. You’re a Writer, you have that same strong desire we all do to write, have your work read and enjoyed by others, have them talk about it… be published! I’m merely suggesting you try and curb your enthusiasm a little and research the publisher first. I know, I know… trying to stop the tide and all that… 😉

Please realise some ‘Independent Publisher’ – as they will call themselves with capital letters to show their importance – are no better than those old style publishing houses who offer to publish your work for thousands of dollars. They promise you the moon, strut about and claim to be important and wonderful and marvellous… and then turn out to be not much better than a dog turd covered in glitter and just looking to make a quick buck off the unsuspecting.

In some respects, such places really encourage me to try and self-publish as I would much rather do that – and get the unfair stigma that comes with it – than work with them.

I’m so lucky to have found a decent independent publisher like Hague Publishing and I really hope you do too. Just do a little research first so you don’t end up blogging your own hypotheticals.

There has possibly been a suggestion that any Writer who would dare cause a fuss by writing a blog on this subject may be sued for defamation. But as this was possibly suggested by someone who may have also then threatened to share a Writer’s details with others to ruin their reputation… It is possible someone was showing they know how to use irony correctly.

However, this is my post full of maybes, possibilities, theories and hypotheticals. I hope it has helped you out… or at least given you a good read during your coffee break.

Don’t stop writing, don’t stop being a Writer and don’t stop being awesome. See the positives in even the worst situations and turn it into an excuse to write something good rather than do something bad. 🙂

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2014 in Writing

 

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The end of NaNoWriMo, a sinus infection and a delay in blogging about it all.

Okay, so this post is a week late, I know. But I really do think the title sums it up for me. As some of my dedicated readers (AKA my family and close friends) know, I have chronic sinusitis. The specialist I see about it has described it as being like having asthma, but in my sinuses rather than my lungs… if that makes sense?

Basically it is a chronic condition I can’t cure or get rid of, just alleviate the symptoms from time to time. I have gone dairy free as this does actually help. I don’t care if there is new scientific research going on and on about how dairy isn’t linked to extra snotty mucus in your head – dairy free works for me. But gosh I miss cheese.

Anyhow, I have chronic sinusitis. It means I can’t hold down a “proper” job as I get sinus infections from working in air conditioning. I get migraine like headaches from the top of my head, through my face, teeth, jaws and down my neck and into my shoulders any time there is a lot of pollen, dust, smoke or crud in the air. I’m my own personal barometer as my sinuses are excellent at telling me when there is a drop in barometric pressure as my ears clog up and my face feels like it’s being crushed like a tin can.

Aint it just awesome being me?

What has this got to do with the whole NaNoWriMo thing you’ve come here to read about? Well, I got struck down with yet another sinus infection two weeks ago and it basically called a halt to all my writing as I was having a hard enough time getting through the basics of my days (getting out of bed, dressing myself, horde wrangling) let alone trying to create and control an Other World 5,000 words at a time.

I don’t take antibiotics for my sinus infections anymore as it still means I’m as sick as a dog for a week or so, but I’m also adding to the antibiotic resistant bugs team by doing so. Instead I stay sick, try and get through my days as best I can with natural remedies and try and not whinge about it too loudly on social media. Heck, this can be a monthly event and that sort of whinging gets old quickly.

So, my house is a mess, my garden is still a scrappy mess, my kids are still messy little Hordes who won’t clean up and Stephanie is still sitting on that damned ferry trying to get off it and into hell. You’re all caught up with me and my NaNoWriMo! How about you, tell me how you went?

Did you get out of NaNoWriMo what you wanted to? Did you make that magical 50,000 words? Or, if not aiming that high, did you reach the goals you set yourself? Remember, I don’t see NaNoWriMo as a competition and really dislike those that do. I see it as a celebration of being a Writer and all Writers getting together to celebrate the magic of words strung together to make new worlds, new adventures, new loves and so on. It is a time to say “I’m a Writer and I love it!” and not be afraid of ridicule. It doesn’t matter the level of your writing, whether you’re a published author, a weekend blogger or a night time fanzine scribbler. You are a Writer and November was our time to say it loud and proud under the NaNoWriMo banner.

Saying that, no I didn’t get my 5,000 words a day done. Then again I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to, no matter how hard I tried. Life just got in the road. My kids needed me, there were assessments to be undertaken (my son is officially Quirky BTW – if you can’t call it aspergers anymore I’m calling it quirky). Stuff just happened. And I ended it all by getting sick.

Am I disappointed I didn’t finish my story? Or write as much as I wanted to? Yes, very much so. I really, really wanted to get There’s no place like Hell completed. I still hope to by Christmas. But, sadly, right now writing has been put on the backburner in my house as being a mum and Haus Frau has more urgent priorities. It sucks, I hate that I can’t just sit and write and it’s a vicious circle. The less I write, the less I am out there being seen as being a Writer. The less work I get completed to build up a name for myself. However, the more I write, the messier the house gets, the less clean clothes we have, the less food there is ready to eat in the pantry. I can’t be two people and I can’t fit it all in. I want to do it all. And that’s why I got the sinus infection… I tried to do everything. Ah well, it happens.

Add the end of the school year, the coming summer holidays, the weather that won’t make up its mind as to whether it’s stinking hot and dry or cloudy and greasy with humidity. The Solstice, Christmas… all the baking and cleaning and prepping that goes with it and – argh! I just want to be a Writer and ignore it all!

Okay, maybe I should have just left it as “Yes I am disappointed I didn’t finish my story.” 😉

One thing that gets me through the constant turmoil of life is focussing on the positives. My positives from NaNoWriMo are this:

I created two new blogs, so I have three all up. One of these new blogs is actually doing quite well and I’ve discovered that if I fail as a fiction writer I might just be able to cut it as a food blogger.

I registered my own domain and am creating my own website. It’s very rough and I’ve only spent a few hours tinkering on it so far, but it’s there and it’s mine.

I did get some pretty good writing done on There’s no place like Hell. I didn’t finish it, but I learnt so much more about the afterlife in my Other World. I got my protagonist on the ferry and on her way to hell. She packed her hand basket and is almost there.

I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, despite it not being a heck of a lot on the grand scheme of things. Nor is it a heck of a lot when compared to what others achieved under the great glittering lights of NaNoWriMo.

Who cares? I created stuff, achieved things and tried my best. I won!!!! Oops, not a competition… got it.

Yes, it’s a small victory I know, but I’ve found it’s a far healthier thing to focus on what positives you achieve rather than dwell on all the festering, nasty ‘coulda woulda shoulda’ that bitch at you in the darkness. Ignore them, be proud of what you did get done. Ignore the gloaters who are trying to rub it in your face they kicked your arse at NaNoWriMo… they obviously didn’t have as much going on in their life as you did so let them have their little victory…. And then unfollow them if they get too annoying. 😉

So, we’ve made it through another year of NaNoWriMo… very few of us have come through as an amazing new “someone to watch” Author who is going places, making money and getting famous. But well done to those who have – you’re awesome. 🙂

For the rest of us – you’re awesome too, we all are! We took part in NaNoWriMo, we made it through the entire month and we came out the other side still with a desire to write, a love of reading and that deep down constant hunger to do more and more of both. Good job!

And as the calendar year draws to a close (my year ends and begins with the winter Solstice in June – just saying), life is going to get busier for me and I might not get a chance to write, let alone blog. So I will be rehashing guest blog posts from earlier in the year done on other’s sites. I will give them full credit and a gorgeous write up… and then use the blog post I gave them. It means I can appear to be blogging while not having a lot of time to actually do it. A cunning plan, I know.

What will the next calendar year bring writing wise? Well, I hope to get my new website up, so that my blogs will move to there. I hope to get more work done on all my blogs. I plan on entering more writing competitions and submitting my work to more publishing houses – all they can do is ignore me and that only hurts if you let it. I also hope to see There’s no place like Hell finished, accepted and published…

But for now, I just need to get over this sinus infection, get through the end of my Hordes school year, all that festive stuff, the summer and the fire dangers.

And I hope you do too. Pep talk time – you’re awesome. So what if other people are too caught up in their own lives to see it. That doesn’t make it any less true.

Be safe, be happy, be proud of your NaNoWriMo achievements – no matter how big or small they were.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2014 in Writing

 

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How NaNoWriMo has helped me get to hell with my hand basket.

Hi everyone, so that was week 3 of NaNoWriMo, everything running along smoothly for you? Still enjoying it or over it by now and waiting for December first to crack open the advent calendar door and eat the crappy choc inside?

I actually had a good week at NaNoWriMo this week, despite not making it to 5,000 words on any of the days. I managed around 3,600 words last Sunday, and 2,000 words on Thursday… but that’s it. The rest of the week was just bits and pieces, some blogging and a lot more research for There’s no place like Hell. All the same I’m proud of what I achieved as it got me to a point in the story I’ve had stuck in my head for a long time, and it was such a fantastic feeling to finally get it down on paper. Those who follow me on social media may have heard me go on about ‘meeting a headless man, driving a white van, named Karen’. Well, it finally happened! And we’re now on our way to hell! We’ve even made it onto Charon’s (not Karen’s) ferry to pass through the veil to the other side. Yes, penguin high fives all round as that seriously is awesome news. 🙂

The thing I like the most about this week’s writing is how enjoyable it has been. It’s taken me into areas I knew I was going to touch on, but I never realised how in depth I was going to go into the Other World afterlife. There’s no place like Hell had always been about my protagonist Stephanie going to hell to save the soul of someone she didn’t particularly like, but had to help as part of her new role as ‘Protector of souls’. The basic premise was she felt the deal he’d made with a soul collector, Wroth, was null and void as he’d done it when drunk. That took me into an interesting part of research into contract law and exactly where you stand if signing contracts or making deals while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Yeah, don’t do it, in most cases you’re still legally obliged to stay committed to that deal.

I also had fun looking into the different portals or gateways to hell that are reported to being around the world. My favourite one being a giant sinkhole in Japan filled with boiling hot, red mud. What tickles me so much about it is the newly created visitor centre, heath spa and gift shop. What every gateway to hell needs… don’t you think?

When I then started doing more of the actual writing of the story, I loved how it took me off on a tangent I’d not even considered. The whole mix of faiths, beliefs and interpretations of what happens after death intermingling together, wow! The dullahan and Ankou reapers and soul collectors going about their tasks, the journey through the veil in the white van that has seen better days and onto a huge passenger ferry big enough to take vehicles. The interactions with the deities of the dead, how they’ve moved with the times, the population and the global spread. Originally the whole travelling through the afterlife, and the afterlife part of it itself was just this small thing in my mind. I was so focussed on getting to hell and the whole demon interaction I have planned there I’d not even realised this was going to take place. And I love it. I just hope my readers do too.

So this week has been a good NaNoWriMo week for me. I’ve not just enjoyed the discovery through research; I’ve also enjoyed the discovery through my own writing. I know that sounds lame, but I quite honestly don’t often know what is going on in my own stories until it happens… until I’ve written it down. Mr Vontant is a classic example of this. I never planned on him, never expected him to turn into one of my favourites, never thought of having him be what he is… which would be a spoiler so I’m not about to give that away. I’m pretty sure it isn’t explained until at least book four or five. But, see, if it wasn’t for him now there wouldn’t be a book four or five. He is part of my Other World weaving. I knew hell was going to influence my protagonist quite a bit (more spoilers if I mention what I mean) but I’m amazed and simply love how much the Other World’s afterlife has influenced me. I’m very much pro belief. It doesn’t matter what your belief is as it’s personal and should only mean what it does to you. Heck, as long as you intentionally harm none with your beliefs and don’t go around cramming them down other people’s throats, you’re fabulous. Even if that belief is to not believe. Yes, there are no atheists in my afterlife. As my afterlife is very strongly belief driven and if your belief is there is nothing… you won’t be part of it. I think I’ve got a good support system set up for the agnostics too, pamphlets and interviews with the different deities and all. 😉

I hope your NaNoWriMo has been as fruitful and fun. One more week to go before we can all start patting each other on the back for a job well done. Even if you don’t make that glorious 50,000 words the original NaNoWriMo was created for, even if you don’t make your own personal goals… as long as you’ve done some writing, loved and enjoyed that writing – and any interaction with other writers as you do it – then you’ve done well and had a successful time. Being a Writer is awesome, but like anything in this world – don’t compare yourself and your skill to others. You’re you, so just be you. Yes I say my writing is in a similar style as… insert names here. But my writing is still my writing and it’s all me.

To those publishers who don’t want a distinctly Australian voice as it doesn’t sell – I don’t care, don’t sell my work.

To those people who look at commercial fiction and urban fantasy in distain as around here we only accept you into our social circles if you write poetry, literary fiction or historical romance – I don’t care, your loss not mine. I’m an anti-social cow as it is and wouldn’t turn up even if you did invite me. 😉

To those who look down their nose at me as I am ‘merely’ an eBook author while their books are on paper in print – take a look at your royalties. If you’re happy with your 5% of royalties for a paper book compared to my 45%, good on you. Well done.

To those of you who just write for yourselves and for your friends to read. Who only publish on blogs and fanfic sites and the like – bravo! You are Writers with the capital letter and be proud of your work too as you’re writing is just as important.

Not meaning to sound too Yoda like, but write or don’t write. But when you do write, be yourself, write the way you want to, not the way you think you need to to make money, be famous or get published. If you take nothing else away from NaNoWriMo, take this: As in everything we do in life, be yourself. It makes the job a lot more fun and show people just how amazing you are. If they can’t see it their loss, not yours.

Wow! I hadn’t meant to end with a bit of a bitch and then a pep rally, but there you go. I’ve had a stressful few weeks out in reality and so writing has really helped me relax and find myself again. That and the nut milk cacao lattes I’ve been making. 😉 And did you see the chocolate biscuit recipe I created on my Foodie blog? Oops, shameless plug.

Summing it up – write for yourself, enjoy what you write. If you’re lucky enough to find others who like reading it as much as you do, that’s a bonus. But the fact you’ve written it and enjoyed the journey, then you’ve already ‘made it’.

After recent feedback on Bonnie’s Story: A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematic asking if there will be a sequel… I suddenly had a desire to read it again. And despite spotting areas I felt could do with an edit, I really enjoyed reading it as a book. The fact I’d written it meant nothing. I fell in love with Rogan and Bonnie all over again and can’t wait to learn what else they get up to… Once I finish with Stephanie in another four books time. Yes, I may have written about them all, but that honestly doesn’t mean I know what they will do. I love that about writing… I’m merely the tool these people use to appear on paper. 😉

So NaNoWriMo companions – keep writing when December hits, keep enjoying the journey and keep being yourself as you do it. It’s the best person you can be and you’re awesome at it!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2014 in Writing

 

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An asset shaking moment – updates to Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My!

Hello everyone, taking a step back into ‘look at me, I’m an author!’ mode with this post as I have some pretty exciting news to share.

Firstly, the first four chapters of Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! are now available over at Hague Publishing here. If you find them as interest as I hope, you can pre-order the book. You save money on doing a pre-order and everyone loves a bargain, right?

Secondly, if I’m going on about pre-ordering… it must mean I have a publication date, right? I DO! Hague Publishing are proud to announce their 7th book (2nd by me by the way) is to be released on Saturday August 30. It coincides with a book launch at the fabulous Mount Barker Community Library. I can promise the catering is good. 😉 When we have fine-tuned the details of the launch, I will post them here.

As Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! is currently looking for reviewers, anyone interested is to please contact Hague Publishing directly where, if they qualify as a reviewer, will be given access to the story via Netgalley. Seriously, to qualify I think you just need to be an honest reviewer who will actually take the time to review the book, not just sneak a read for free and post nothing.

I’m also taking Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! on book tour in September! Well, virtual book tour. The sort I can do from the comfort of my own home while still getting a chance to horde wrangle and Haus Frau. Again, as the fine-tuned details arrive in my inbox, I will pass them on to you here. Who knows, you may even get to chat or Skype to me on tour. Scary, I know. 😉

And as this is a short blog post today I’m going to end it with a bit of awesomeness. The trailer for Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! Yes I know, a trailer for my eBook, and done so very cleverly. I hope you enjoy it and are getting as excited about its release date as I am.

Pretty cool, huh? I would love to see any questions or comments you have on it so please post away.

Okay, that’s it. I will try and come up with a new topic to blog about soon. Trying to restrain myself from making it a cooking blog, especially as we celebrated the Winter Solstice today and so I went a tad cooking crazy.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2014 in Writing

 

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The distractions of a Writer.

Recently I’ve put my foot down as to whether I’m a Writer or a Haus Frau who occasionally writes and made myself spend more time writing… as I want to be a Writer more than a drudge.

And, as our house is currently in a state of flux as we re-arrange how it all goes, the only place I have to sit and write right now is… cross legged on my bed. Which is what I’m doing right now! But relax, that’s not what this blog post is about.

A metre or so from where I’m sitting cross legged and writing is a bedroom window that looks out over the front yard. I can’t say ‘front lawn’ as that area too is in a state of flux as we dig up the lawn and replace it with shrubs and bushes that are far more ‘obscenely extreme’ weather resistant and not so water reliant. Yes, I live in the Adelaide Hills where we yo yo from plus forty degrees Celsius to minus four. Thankfully not on the same day… but it can make growing things a little hard.

So anyway, I sit and write and try not to procrastinate by just staring out the window. But there have been distractions out there of late and I’ve decided to use this week’s blog to not waffle on about being a writer, but of something more amusing. Call it a blog about procrastinating if you will. The distractions are… magpies.

Now I really don’t know how many of my blog readers are Australian and therefore know I mean Australian magpies – a bird­ not a football team. For those who don’t, I’d suggest going to check them out on youtube where you’ll find many a wonderful film clip of the Australian magpie ‘argle gargling’ away at you. That’s the sound they make by the way, not something they actually do at you like a flasher or something.

Me, I love magpies. I grew up in the Northern Territory of Australia and we don’t have magpies up there. I don’t know if it’s due to climate, resources, that cyclone Tracy blew them all away and they never came back (a theory of a friend of mine when we were kids, that cyclone got blamed for a lot of things). Still, no magpies growing up meant they were one of those unique specialities one only ever got when visiting family ‘down south’ in either Queensland or here in South Australia. They were new, foreign, alien to a tropical child like me. Just like temperatures less than twenty five degrees Celsius or water coming out of the cold water tap actually being cold and not warm to body temperature. And that love of these birds has stayed with me even after I spent eight years living with them in Brisbane (Queensland) or another eight here in the Adelaide Hills.

This love of the good old black and white maggie could be why I have been distracted by them, but I’m a bit of a bird lover in general and most birds tend to distract me. And not just when a falcon swooped down outside my window, pinned a sparrow to the dirt and then took off with it.Truth be known I’m actually a bird whisperer. As in, birds seem to like me as much as I like them. Parrots especially come to me (wild or otherwise) and if I’m ever alone in my garden I’m soon surrounded by sparrows, magpies, parrots and the chickens. Think of it as a bit of a Snow White moment… except the slack buggers don’t bother to help me out with the chores. And so, birds interest me and I will often stop and just watch them.

However! The magpies that have been distracting me over the last few weeks are doing so not by simply being birds, but by their near human like antics. They’re a family of four, two adults of black and white and two juveniles who are more black and grey. It’s the ‘kids’ that have been making me laugh the most.

It started when we had to dig out our septic tank. See, living rural as we do we’re not connected to a sewerage system. Instead we have a septic tank that our council comes and pumps out every four years. All we need to do, once they tell us they’re coming to do it, is uncover it from under a few feet of dirt and wait. The septic tanks in our street are located in our front yards for easy access for the council to get to. Sadly, this meant the day they did pump it out meant I couldn’t work in my room…  where I write being located only a few metres away from the tank… Ew. But back to the juvenile magpies! Once the tank had been uncovered it meant there was a pile of dirt (as well as the hole) in our yard… right in front of my window. One morning I’m sitting there typing away when I hear this funny noise. Juvenile magpies make funny noises as it is, almost as if they’re chatting in argle gargle. But this sounded more like giggling in argle gargle. I look out my window and see one of the juvenile maggies roll down the dirt pile. I snicker at its clumsy mistake and keep writing… only to see it do it again. Now my full attention is on the dirt pile as, taking turns like all good children do, they are climbing to the top of the dirt pile and deliberately rolling to the bottom. And all the time they are making these giggling like sounds. I laugh at the bird’s fun and enjoyment and one of them spots me through the netted curtain. They stop, look guilty and scurry away. Oops!

A few days later, the magpie kids are back, making similar noises and when I look out this time they are having a dirt fight on the pile. I kid you not. They’re picking up little clumps of dirt in their beaks and throwing them at each other, trying to dodge out of the way and giggling. These are birds here remember. I may be a tad eccentric but I am seriously not making this up. After watching them for a few minutes I once again, stupidly, laughed. They saw me, scurried off. And throughout the rest of the day this little grey and black head kept popping up and checking to see whether I was sitting on the bed or not. So cute, even if laughing at its appearance caused a squawk and for the bird to toddle off again.

The other day I came home from the shopping and couldn’t help but laugh as it appeared we had a magpie sports day happening in the front yard. By now the septic tank had been pumped and reburied and so the yard is a vaguely flat area again. And there, on one side right up against the edge of the garden stood two adult magpies looking rather bored. While in the middle of the ‘lawn’ two juvenile magpies chased each other while obviously playing ‘keepy off’ with a plant label. As in, one of the young birds would take this label (ripped off one of my newly purchased plants I may add) and kept ducking and diving and throwing the label away from the other young bird and then scurrying to get it before its opponent could. As I’ve just started being a soccer mum to my eldest child, it all looked just so familiar to me. They, thankfully, couldn’t hear me laughing from in the car but all four birds looked rather affronted when I had to get out to put the groceries away as I had chilled items I needed to keep chilled. They stalked off as if I was interrupting play. Oh dear.

Does anyone else have magpies that do this? Or other birds that distract them from their writing in such ways? I’m so amused by their antics I’m thinking of starting a joke blog for them. Something like ‘the day in the life of family Magpie’ or ‘diaries of a magpie’ in the similar vein to that of Jackie French and her wombats. Hmmm, there’s a thought, no wombats here. That’s a shame. Echidna, emus, kangaroos and the usual feral animals… but no wombats. If we had one of those would be need to dig up the septic tank every four years? Can a wombat be trained I wonder?

So the next time you go to write and get distracted from it, I guess it shows you’re a Writer if what you’re distracted by makes you want to write some more. I’m half tempted to put an old cat toy out in the front yard to see what those kids get up to next.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2014 in Writing

 

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