Quick disclaimer: this post will be long since I haven’t written a blog post in three months – partly due to a lack of motivation, partly due to real life taking up a lot more of my time, and partly due to some technical difficulties. The last are clearly resolved because if they weren’t I wouldn’t be able to write this post welcoming in the New Year.
What can I say about 2018? It went by far too quickly. My eldest child is now well and truly a teenager and thriving in high school, my youngest discovered a love of cheerleading, my house is less of a construction zone but still a work in progress, and my writing and reading took a backseat while I kept both hands on the wheel trying to steer us all through the ups and downs.
My house reno’s ramped up in the last couple of months of the year prior to Christmas. We had a lot happening from painting, waterproofing, plumbing, demolishing the kitchen, and new cupboards being assembled. Nothing is ever smooth sailing.
I almost sliced my finger off hanging a new roller door on the shed, which meant a trip to the emergency room and three stitches to put it back together again. I have permanent nerve damage in that finger, but at least I can still use it (mostly). It has taken a few weeks to heal, and the thick scar tissue is right across the first joint. Every now and again I get a shooting pain through my finger as a result, and it’s much weaker than it was before. The experience wasn’t one I want to repeat – but maybe one of my characters will suffer something similar.
Speaking of characters, since this is primarily a writing/reading blog, I should probably focus on a quick recap:
My Main Manuscript: I really wanted to get this finished and edited in 2018. Sadly it wasn’t to be with only one act of five currently edited. I aim to edit one act a month in 2019 until it is done. It is an achievable, yet lofty, goal.
NanoWriMo: I managed much less writing than the 50K that NanoWriMo demands. I had planned to aim for 20K of new material to replace the crap in my current manuscript, but even that was out of reach. I finished at around 8K for the month, and I did manage to sort through a chapter which was giving me difficulty. Some progress is better than no progress.
I have been “fun” writing with a critique partner as a break from the manuscript. By using my current characters I’ve worked through a couple of issues that were bothering me as a result. Thanks Gina 🙂
Finally, I discovered a whole Australian speculative fiction scene on social media through the #auswrites hashtag on twitter. It is so exciting to discover other Aussie writers delving into science fiction and fantasy (yes, I suck at social media and I’m late to the party – tips welcome). I am looking forward to getting to know these other awesome authors better.
I didn’t read as much as I had wanted to in general in 2018. I had set what I thought was a reasonable goal of fifty-two books. At one a week, it should have been easy. I was wrong. I finished the year with a grand tally of twenty-eight (one every fortnight).
The best of those reads in the last three months were:
Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal.
Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…
I listen to the Writing Excuses Podcast which Mary Robinette Kowal hosts along with other speculative fiction authors and I was inspired to pick this up as a result. Ghost Talkers was an interesting twist on a war story. it combines history, romance, and supernatural elements. I really enjoyed this novel, though there were a few little things, such as the Antiguan woman, which felt a little like modern values being forced on women of the past.
In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black.
Tamara has been living on a freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople – the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No-one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now – and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive. But survival always comes at a price, and there’s no handbook for this hostage crisis. As Tamara comes to know the Crowpeople’s way of life, and the threats they face from humanity’s exploration into deep space, she realises she has an impossible choice to make. Should she stay as the only human among the Crows, knowing she’ll never see her family again … or inevitably betray her new community if she wants to escape?
I borrowed this book from the library. An Aussie Author writing YA Science Fiction was always going to make my TBR pile and when I saw it I grabbed it. In the Dark Spaces features a strange alien race and a hostage-type situation with a female, early teenaged protagonist. I really enjoyed it, despite the slightly rushed feel to the ending.
Severine Kassel is asked by the Louvre in 1963 to aid the British Museum with curating its antique jewellery, her specialty. Her London colleagues find her distant and mysterious; her cool beauty the topic of conversations around its quiet halls. No one could imagine that she is a desperately damaged woman, hiding her trauma behind her chic, French image. It is only when some dramatic Byzantine pearls are loaned to the Museum that Severine’s poise is dashed and the tightly controlled life she’s built around herself is shattered. Her shocking revelation of their provenance sets off a frenzied hunt for Nazi Ruda Mayek.
I purchased this book right before attending a Dymocks Literary Event where Fiona was the guest speaker, I had her sign my book and spoke to her briefly before her talk. She was amazing. She remembered people in the audience that she’d spoken to beforehand and mentioned them by name. She was also funny, inspiring, and gave great tips on how to recognise a real pearl from a fake, as well as how to stay classy. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak, I highly recommend going along. The book itself is a little darker (but not by much) than her usual historical fiction. Set in World War two and following a Czech woman pretending her past hadn’t happened was captivating. the twist at the end was sublime. Read it!
I have a lot I want to accomplish:
- Finish our renovations.
- Make the Sci-fi manuscript as good as I can to ready it for querying.
- Submit some shorts/novella’s to other publications.
- Attend more reading/writing events.
- Feel like I’ve earned the right to call myself a writer.
- Read more than I did this year – minimum of 29 books, so let’s round that up to 30.
More importantly, I want everyone to be healthy and happy and generally enjoying life. Including you.
Here’s to a great 2019. Happy New Year!