Bye bye, boxes

Fifteen minutes ago I opened up a blank Word document and started typing. Two hundred and fifty-six words later, I know I’ve made yet another huge change in my life. These are the first words I’ve written since the beginning of October.

There’s something to be said for picking up a character who isn’t yet part of anything you’re actively working on. This girl, this superhero, is a first for me. Haven’t done any superheroes before. There are a few waiting in the wings but this one is the latest addition to the tribe of projects-in-waiting. There’s probably some jealousy back there that she’s getting a story before the others. Sorry, guys. That’s just the way it is. Had to work on someone I hadn’t already started writing about and she was it.

That said, as I sit here and think about what the point of this post is, I realize that I’ve always been writing about the same thing and this one page of words has reinforced that. It’s about being trapped. And by extension, about my own life. Society expects certain things of its members and it seems that artists of any stripe are generally least able to fit into the required boxes. I’ve struggled against those boxes for a long time, or rather I struggled to fit myself into them. Tried a few different ones but nothing worked. Money boxes, job boxes, property boxes, relationship boxes.

Maybe all stories are, on some level, about being trapped. Trapped by what you should do and what you need to do, what you’re expected to do and required to do. What people around you need and what you need. Hollywood endings are all about ignoring the boxes, but how many of us choose to step out of them and/or ignore them entirely on a daily basis?

Considering my network, most of the people reading this probably ignore the boxes anyway. Which is good. They enable me to do the same. I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes. But hey, I’m here now! Ignoring the boxes. Or rather, walking past them on the other side of the street, carefully not making eye contact…

Bye bye, boxes. I have writing to do.

The Water Guardian is live!!

I am aware this post should have gone up yesterday. I spent most of yesterday trying to stop my mother’s dog from barking and didn’t think of it until this morning. So, YAY!!! THE WATER GUARDIAN is live!!

I’m sorry if I’ve already mentioned this, but this is my first release in a year, and it’s the first under this name in nearly two years. This translates to MEGA-EXCITEMENT on my part. This has been a tough year and I feel like I’m really moving forward now. WG is only a short story but it represents more than just words on a page to me.

The story has been written for months but I didn’t do anything with it for a long time. I don’t know why. On the surface, it was fear, fear that it was no good. I have no idea what was going on underneath – my head’s been all over the place this last… several years. Who knows what lies beneath, eh?

The fact that I saw this story through, got it edited (by several people), sorted the cover art (yep, that was me), and uploaded it…

It’s like a personal battle has been won. I didn’t even know I was fighting this battle, or maybe I did. I know I’m not making much sense and I may or may not be getting a bit weepy at this point, but this is a huge deal for me.

Which doesn’t mean you have to go and buy the story. It’s a fun story and I greatly enjoyed writing it. Apart from anything else, the challenge of writing a six-year-old was new for me. But you don’t have to buy it. I’m just so proud of myself for getting it out there. It feels like opening a door to the rest of my life.

It is currently only available on Amazon – turns out Kobo needs financial info I don’t have here at my mother’s home in order for me to upload. Next candidate is Smashwords but it may take a while to filter through to Barnes & Noble from there, as well as wherever else Smashwords uploads to.

I guess this is as good a point as any to end this post. It’s not like I’m terribly articulate today. I’ve included an excerpt below and if you’d like to check it out on Amazon it’s live all over that shop!! Someone even bought it in Germany at some point. That did make my jaw drop! Anyway, here are the links to the UK, US and DE shops and read on for more about my first release in a loooooong time…


Ranya Mestrien is only six years old but she already knows she’s a burden on her family. She should be able to manipulate Water at will. Instead she can barely move a droplet. It’s unsurprising, then, that she spends more time with the despised tovariken, those without elemental magic, than in her own home.

The night she slips away from a House dinner and nearly drowns, everything changes. It’s not only the Scion who discovers her soaked on a jetty in the harbour, cradled by the Water Guardian himself. Her parents are there too.

The Water Guardian’s interest seems to indicate she’s not as worthless as everyone thought and now the Scion, third in power in the House of Water, has plans for her.

It turns out family isn’t always who you’re born to.


Ranya waited for a break in the flow of people, then stepped out the door, head held high. Not that it did her any good. At six cycles, and small for her age, she barely reached the lower shoulder on most adults. But she had to look as though she knew where she was going. Her parents were down at the waterfront, part of the escort for the review of the Ambassador’s ship prior to the Scion and her family leaving the Rose City and returning to Water. As long as no one decided she looked lost, she had several hours before her parents returned home.

She turned towards the waterfront, but pulled up short at the scuffle ahead of her on the Water side of the street.

A cluster of half a dozen boys pushed and kicked at something on the ground. Ranya swallowed. She didn’t want to cross the street just yet, but she knew one of those boys. The emblem outlined in turquoise thread on his jerkin was unmistakeable. She had no wish whatsoever to cross Theron, not today. Not ever.

The boys moved and she saw a shape on the ground. As she watched, a hand latched around Theron’s ankle and he hit the ground with a yell. In the gap, she saw a boy, arms flailing, two or three hands punching or grabbing as he kept one arm, sometimes two, over his face to protect it.

Ranya sighed.

She didn’t get the whole ‘them and us’ thing between Tovarikin and Varika. As a Varik, one with the ability to manipulate the element of water, she was supposed to be superior to the four-armed Tovarikin, but there had been numerous occasions when she had strongly wished for a second pair of hands. Particularly as her elemental ability was barely enough to corral drops on a plate.

A prehensile tail whipped around another boy’s ankle and he screamed as his leg went out from under him. Ranya giggled. She wouldn’t have minded a tail, either. She shifted her shoulders. The extra shoulder blades were a reminder that Tovarikin and Varika were all born alike. Any physical differences were down to the midwife’s blade.

The Tovarik was scrambling to his feet. Theron watched from the dust, his face a mask of hate, but then his expression changed, his lips widening in a smile, as water boiled up from a bucket next to a pastry stall and shot straight towards the back of the Tovarik’s head.

Ranya screamed a warning, already running towards them as the wordless cry left her lips, and the Tovarik turned and ducked, but not quickly enough. Water engulfed his head. He clawed at his face, falling to his knees. The Varika watched and laughed, occasionally kicking him.

Ranya looked around desperately. Her eyes lit on a loose stone and she wondered if she dared. Through the circle of Varika, she saw the Tovarik writhing on his back, drowning on dry land. She had no choice. She picked up the stone and threw it with all her strength.

All her strength turned out to be more than enough. The cobble flew, straight and true, striking Theron neatly in the back of the head. He fell across the Tovarik’s legs, and the tov turned his head, coughing up water, then punched Theron firmly in the face before pushing himself unsteadily to his feet. He leapt out of the circle of boys, across the street and down an alley. The other Varika were so shocked by Theron’s collapse they mustered water too late. He was gone from sight before the bubbles could reach him and the water splashed to the ground as they turned to see Ranya, turning red with the realisation of what she’d done.

Theron threw off the Varik attempting to help him up.

“What the fuck happened?” he snarled, then followed the direction one of his friends was pointing – Ranya. Their eyes locked. She turned and ran.

She ducked behind a sausage seller’s stall but ran again after catching sight of the flicker of fear in the man’s face. She didn’t blame him for not wanting to get involved. Theron’s family emblem was well known. No one wanted to get in trouble with the Ambassador’s family, even if he was a fairly distant cousin.

She dived down an alley on the Tovarik side of the Line, knowing her only hope was to stay out of sight. Shouts behind her and pounding feet alerted her to a couple of facts. One, they weren’t going to let her get away as easily as the Tovarik boy, and two, they were all several years older than her, with correspondingly longer legs.

She twisted and turned, down alleyways, onto the Line and back off again. She saw her destination and risked an all-out run. Something cold and wet smacked into the back of her neck and started crawling around towards her mouth and nose. She didn’t waste time trying to push it away, just ran faster, even though her legs burned and her lungs were exploding. The water reached her tightly closed lips, before rushing upwards into her nose. She hit the door hard, her weight pushing it open, and she fell on the floor, gasping and choking as the water crowded down into her lungs. The door swung shut behind her and the water ceased its attack, the energy directing it cut off as the door hid her from the wielder’s sight. She turned over and coughed and coughed until the floor was soaked and she could breathe again.

Light globes cast a steady light and soft shadows around the shop floor, but the man beside her blocked it out. She realized he was holding her head and body, supporting her while she retched up the water. A third hand offered a towel which she took to dry her face off and the fourth was braced against the floor, supporting his upper body.

“Upsetting your people again, Ranya?” Tomin’s voice was low, gentle. She’d never seen him angry. He didn’t seem to mind that she was Varik, either. She sat up and he let her go, squatting back on his heels.


Taking the big leap. And BADASS UNICORNS.

There are times in your life when you have plenty to say but none of it is really appropriate for public consumption. Let’s just say the last few months have been rather stressful and leave it at that.

I am now self-employed (not quite officially yet – I still need to register for taxes) and find myself more at peace and yet more productive than I have been for a while. For one thing, I’m blogging again. I won’t promise it’ll last but it’s not like I have a job to go to except for the work I do for myself so I think it stands a better chance this time around.

The part-time job I took on back in April wasn’t the solution I thought it would be. It was very full on and tiring, leaving little mental or emotional space for creative endeavours. I am no longer there, hence more space for blogging and so on.

The ‘and so on part’ is probably the most important. Mhairi gotta eat, after all, but the problem with the kinds of services I can offer (formatting, proofreading, editing, etc) is that I’m fairly sure everyone I know already has people who do that for them. So I don’t really know where to go on that one. There will be writing, of course, and arting and the super dooper massive project involving lots of images and cards that I keep referring to online, Be A Bard. I have plenty to do – getting paid for it is something else entirely. It actually requires publication, for a start. I hope to have THE WATER GUARDIAN out this month – it’s another short story but in yet another world. Once I’ve finished edits, I’ll send it back to the awesome editor lady, S.J. Higbee herself, for another look. And then I’ll start showing people the cover art. Eeep.

And because, presumably, I felt like I needed a bigger challenge, I’m putting together an anthology. About badass unicorns.

Because, you know, I think unicorns are underappreciated. The general mainstream view of unicorns seems to be what I’ve come to think of as the Harry Potter view – “you have slain a creature so pure, so innocent” – and I thought, well, there might be some unicorns out there who aren’t that pure or innocent. Maybe they like to go picking fights in bars on a Friday night, or they regularly defy their dad and leave the forest to update their gang tags on the walls of the underpass.

Alternatively, they may be looked down on by their fellow unicorns as not as graceful and pretty as the rest and formed a support group for less-than-perfect unicorns and now they hold parades every full moon, complete with bat dancers and werewolf singers, so that the other unicorns can’t ignore them.

There are, after all, many different kinds of badassery.

On a more serious note, this is what it comes down to (I was trying to explain to Alec McQuay why I thought it would make a good charity anthology and this is what came out):

Cos, well, maybe this is just how my convoluted mind works, but unicorns are seen as these delicate adorable magical creatures, and people often think kids are like that, or should be, and they’re not always. But they’re always strong, even if they’re not quite understood, even if people think they shouldn’t exist at all, like people with disabilities or who come from poorer backgrounds… I guess it just seems to me that a badass unicorn is a way of showing that just because something is expected to be meek and adorable and sweetness and light, doesn’t mean it has to be, nor that it can’t be just as or even more awesome if it embraces its strengths.

Just because people think you should be a certain way, doesn’t mean you have to be, and that goes for everyone, regardless of age, sexuality, race, ability or any of the other things people like to judge other people for.

Badass Unicorns isn’t just aimed at children, by the way. With the help of Twitter I decided that horse therapy centres would be the perfect recipients of proceeds from sales, and we’ve selected three – all proceeds will be equally shared between them. At least two of these centres cater for adults as well as children – everyone needs a badass unicorn in their life.

There is the question of a home. In short, Badass Unicorns doesn’t have one. Or rather, it does but with me. I actually cannot think of a publisher who might be interested in publishing it (Fox Spirit is jam-packed so they can’t take it on at this time) so currently I plan to self-publish it. All sixteen authors who have expressed solid interest are fine with that, and I have two proofreaders and a couple of bloggers standing by for help on the back end, which is lovely.

So, if you would be interested in contributing, please do let me know. The practical guidelines are as follows:

No minimum word count, maximum 10,000 words.

No excessive gore or sexiness – I want this to be appropriate for early teens and up.

No genre limitations – stories need to feature a badass unicorn but beyond that it’s entirely up to the author.

Currently I haven’t got a deadline but as this would be unpaid it wouldn’t be fair to make it a short one, so I’m thinking about some time in (or at the end of) February 2015.

And if you’re interested in helping out with cover art, please also drop me a line. I currently put the “budding” in “budding artist” – I wouldn’t know where to start with cover art for this!!

On the one hand, I feel like I’m taking on an awful lot of challenges at once by taking the leap into self-employment and immediately setting up a charity anthology which won’t bring me a single penny. The thing is, the badass unicorns have been on my mind for a while. So why not? If it makes me happy and makes others happy, why not?

This is the question I’m currently living by and I hope to continue living by it for the rest of my life: If it makes me happy and makes others happy, why not?

Besides, making me happy will also frequently encompass ‘allowing me to eat and pay my bills’ so it’s not entirely dreamweaving ?

You know what this world is?





And because of all those things, we like to hide away from it. In our little, limited, familiar bubble, there is nothing unknown. We can handle what we find there because it’s normal. Expected. VISIBLE.

Of course, it can also be terrifying but one is better than four, right?

And yet we miss so much, hidden away on our little island. Some of what reaches us seems so terrifying, why would we want to seek out more?

But there is much more than terror out there. Last Friday I realised I had been afraid. Last Saturday I decided to face my fear. Today I have over nine and a half thousand words written on a new book.

The hardest part came just before the easiest part. Stepping up to that ledge, preparing myself to look down into the abyss – that ranked among one of the hardest things I have ever done. What if I looked down and found it bottomless? Would I fall? Would I have the courage to leap?

In the end, I never found out. Steeling myself to look was the hardest thing. Because when I looked and truly opened my eyes, I found it was deep, yes, but not bottomless. I could see the bottom and it was closer than I’d believed. Because I had sunk lower in my fear than I had wanted to admit.

Which was, in the end, a good thing. When you’re already close to rock bottom, there is very little that can scare you.

So I looked up. And remembered a story. And started writing it.

And it’s… fun. And terrifying and in some ways overwhelming but mostly… fun. The terror and overwhelm stem from the fact that I’m actually doing it. I’m writing. Today I went to work after the weekend and feared I might not write. So I decided to write this morning so at least I’d have done something. Then I feared the words wouldn’t come. They came.

Then I feared I wouldn’t be able to write this evening because I was tired. I did a bit but it was slow. So I shouted out on Twitter for anyone interested in doing a writing sprint. They came. We wrote. My demons were conquered.

For today, at least. Tomorrow is another day. But victory begets victory and I’m… I’m starting to feel like a winner. Like a writer.

[NB – this was written last night – by now I hope to have even more words :)]

#ROW80 check in and Readercon!!

Well, if you haven’t met your goals over the last few days, don’t worry about it. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even try. I’ve been at Readercon (leaving today) and having the best time ever with some of my best Twitter friends. It’s been an absolute gift to meet these people who I have only previously spoken to online, to get to know them in the flesh and spend time with them. Yes, if you’re wondering, that time was usually in the bar. I thought that was an exaggeration but no, it’s absolutely true.

So, no words were written. In my defence, I’ve had some major tech issues which mean I can’t use my laptop because it’s got no charge. I brought the power cable thinking I could find a plug adaptor out here. Guess what?

In many ways, Readercon has been like being back at university. The sessions were mostly quite academic in tone, which was helpful in some cases and not in others. I expected more about the craft of writing and this was more about the other end, the books that result. Which was great, because there were also things like analyses of young adult books and what it is that kids are looking for in fiction, which is relevant to me. There was also a panel about cities, which I hadn’t thought about but is also relevant. One of those things I saw in the programme and though “Hmmm, I should probably go to that.” And you know what? I’m glad I did.

To be honest, the best thing about Readercon has been meeting people. I met up with a bunch of Twitter folk who are actually not the ones I talk to that much, but it was just fantastic to meet them. Steve Umstead‘s book Gabriel’s Redemption is now available in print and I got a signed copy, and Glenn Skinner‘s book The Keya Quests: The Battle For Shivenridge is also available in print and I got a signed copy of that too. *cue extreme giggling and happy dancing*

I got to chat to one of my favourite people Al Boudreau, whose In Memory Of Greed is a fantastic thriller and I also got to meet Karen DeLabar, K. Victoria Smith, and Jennifer Gracen, who I have chatted to in passing, but not so much directly. That changed this weekend!

As a writer it is very important to connect with people, readers and writers and even just supportive folk, but actually getting to meet them is something else altogether. And then there are the people I met who were completely new to me. It took me 24 hours to find Steve, Karen, Karen and Glenn, which was good because it meant I actually met other people too. Myke Cole writes military fantasy – his first book is on my To Be Read list, and Sally Grotta is a writer and photographer. I even got to speak, albeit rather briefly, to Peter V Brett.

I find it hard to meet new people. I’m not one of those who can just go up to complete strangers and start chatting about whatever, but the new people I met at Readercon were definitely worth knowing.

The bad thing was that I had no plug adaptor for my laptop and the hotel shop didn’t have any, so it’s only now that I’ve been able to get online via my laptop again. I started writing this post this morning and I’m afraid I abandoned it a couple of hundred words in so that I could spend more time with the peeps before they all wended their merry ways home. Big thanks to R. B. Wood for the lift to the airport, thereby saving me $60, and to Leah Petersen for being so chirpy on the way and once we left RB to go through security.

It’s brilliantly sunny outside. Feels as though I’ve been away for weeks and I’ve still got a few days to go. This is the best trip ever, even if I have done absolutely NO WRITING WHATSOEVER.

Oh, and Charles J Shields has won a free copy of Jennifer Willis‘ Valhalla! I’ll be in touch, Charles.

Along the Coastline – Elemental Races #11

Three weeks ago (sorry about that) readers voted that Shirrin and her new command should explore the coastline together. The story continues…

“We will explore the coastline. Together,” says Shirrin. Roshin glowers. Dellerin is calm, accepting her orders. Shirrin resists the desire to shake her head. Roshin and Pylstra showed no fear in battle and it took considerable strength of will to pull themselves out of the sea before the maelstrom could swallow them up. Why is it that the strongest fighter has to the be one who is most displeased with being under her command?

The night passes quickly, for everyone is exhausted. The sun is already well above the horizon when Karista wakes her up, flicking his tail into her face. Shirrin is startled. For a moment she cannot remember where she is. It seems like she is back on Delruth, surrounded by dragons and other riders, but didn’t Delruth fall? Then it comes back to her and shame colours her face a deep red, burning her up from the inside.

“I did what I had to do,” she mutters.

“Indeed,” says Dellerin, a few feet away, poking at a small fire with a stick. A small animal is suspended above it on a spit. Dellerin turns the spit before speaking again. “Roshin also agrees. But she had a… good relationship with your father.”

Ah. That explains a lot.

Roshin enters the cave and drops a bundle of dry wood to one side.

“Oh, you’re awake.” She looks pointedly at the sun. “Are you ill?”

Shirrin considers challenging her on her insolence, but she’s hungry. Fighting on an empty stomach is never a good idea, no matter how important the battle.

“No. But I am hungry. Why don’t you eat something? I’m always grumpy before I eat.” She turns to see Dellerin lifting the spit away from the fire, carving strips off it and holding them out to her. She can feel Roshin’s eyes boring into the side of her head, wanting to say something, but unable to find the right words. Shirrin allows herself a small smile.


They are only a short flight from the coastline and they stay high. Shirrin tells Roshin and Dellerin that this is to avoid enemy archers, but in reality she wants to see this weed for herself. It is soon visible, much sooner than Shirrin expected, a great green bruise, mottled and broken in places, but soon deepening to an even green, the colour of spring grass. It seems like an age since she last saw grass and she wonders briefly if she ever will again.

They cross the entire area of weed, passing high over Jalrath. It doesn’t appear near the city. The docks are clear for a few hundred yards in every direction. But beyond those few hundred yards, the weed coats the sea. Karista drops low at one point, out of sight of the city, and spikes his tail down through the weed.

“It’s as deep as you are tall,” he comments, rising again. There are no fish.


They land in the late afternoon, gliding in to a patch of desert out of sight of Jalrath or the next city state, just visible from the air but hazy in the distance. Even Roshin is downcast.

“I had no idea,” she says. “I mean, it’s everywhere. For miles around Jalrath. And no fish. The sea slugs, er… Sea People, were right..”

“But not immediately around the city,” points out Dellerin. “There’s a clear patch there. They must be doing something to stop it from growing. It’s too thick at the edge to be a natural end to the growth.”

Shirrin sighs.

“I saw no one place where it was thickest,” she says. “Nowhere that I could imagine it had started. It is impossible to tell how thick it is without testing it as Karista did, and doing that would take days. We can’t test that wide an area. Not with just the three of us.”

“Maybe there isn’t just one starting point,” says Dellerin slowly, as though he is thinking the thought as it comes to him. “It was thickest in an arc around Jalrath, only clear around the city itself. Maybe…”

They all look at each other and leap onto their dragons.

As they fly back along the coastline, Shirrin can see that Dellerin is right. Leading way on either side of the city are trails through the desert. North and south, a trail breaks free of the main one and curves down to the coast before disappearing suddenly, as though cut away by a knife. Shirrin gestures with her hand and Karista spirals down, the other dragons following suit.

The trail does not end. It runs beneath a creamy-yellow cloth the exact same colour as the desert. The dragons land quietly and their riders creep towards the cloth. Boxes are piled up underneath, all with three interlocking triangles painted on the side. Shirrin shivers. It is the mark of the Dark One, he who brings corruption and greed and evil to the world. A mark of early and unnatural death. A warning.

“You were right,” she whispers to Dellerin.

“It gives me no pleasure,” he assures her.

There are hundreds of boxes. As the riders near the edge of the cliffs, Roshin gives a low whistle. A gentle incline leads to the cliff edge. It’s burnt black, as though seared by a dragon. Weed chokes the sea below. It’s a windy day, but the sea moves sluggishly, bound together by the plant life growing uncontrollably within it. They move back to safer ground, eyeing the boxes.

“Problem located,” says Dellerin. “It must need to be combined with water, otherwise it only burns the soil.”

“I bet there’s another site like this on the other side of Jalrath, where the other trail disappeared,” says Roshin.

There’s a soft sound. She freezes, then pitches forward, an arrow protruding from her ches. Dellerin and Shirrin throw themselves sideways as more arrows whistle past. A furious roar erupts, the sound morphing into a shriek.

They’ve found the dragons. We’re trapped.

What do we do?

Excellent question. You decide!

1/ Jump into the sea
2/ Tell the dragons to attack
3/ Tell the dragons to fetch help from the Sea People

Voting continues through midnight, Saturday 9th July, US Pacific Coast time.

There’s going to be a party!!!

Yes, there is. Not today, though. And not tomorrow either. No, this party is going to be on Tuesday. Why Tuesday? Well, that’s the day James Rollins releases his new book, The Devil Colony.

James is a New York Times bestselling author but even that rare breed gets performance anxiety about new releases. So, we want to give him a party. I know parties per se don’t necessarily help with the anxiety, but just think about it. If the launch day goes well, there’ll be champagne!! And if it doesn’t? There’ll STILL be champagne!!! Win-win, methinks!!

So, come Tuesday we’ll all be congregating on Twitter at the #DevilColony hashtag. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it – it’s NEW!! And we’re going to make it FUN. Because, let’s face it, anyone can make a new hashtag. Kristen Lamb is behind this one which makes it pretty cool to start with, but it’s not exactly rocket science (unless you’re using a different keyboard where what’s on the keys doesn’t match what actually happens when you press it. In those cases, it can come close to rocket science. But moving…). So, new hashtag = not hard.



BUT… FUN PARTY FUN??? That takes special people. You need the right blend of smart, attractive and, let’s be honest, WEIRD, to make a fun party.

You know what else you need?


Yes, which is why I’m going to have great fun putting pictures into this post when I’m done with it. I don’t usually do pictures so I expect much encouragement and happiness in the comments. GOT THAT???

But seriously, we’re all having fun with this – putting up pictures on the theme of Devil and seeing what everyone thinks. Well, personally I’m not bothered what anyone else thinks. I’m only going for the champagne. BUT… if you are bothered, there will be judging of said pictures (I think as a whole blog post rather than individually – ‘mmm, yes, this one captures that devilish essence very well, one can almost smell the sulphur’) and there will be a MYSTERY PRIZE. So get going with the camera!!!






Now, if the idea of having some fun isn’t enough to convince you to join this party, how about this? James Rollins, as previously mentioned, is already a bestselling author. Traditionally published and doing well with it, so guess what kind of people will be going to his party? That’s right – IMPORTANT PUBLISHING PEOPLE. Editors, agents, other awesome authors, me… What’s that? What do you mean, I’m not an important publishing person? Oh bugger, the time machine’s gone too far back. I hate it when that happens. No one bows, no one feeds my Chihuahua…



So do up a blog post with stupid entertaining pictures and come along to the party on Twitter at #DevilColony to get virtually tipsy on virtual champagne and mingle with real people. You never know, you might even have… oh, damn, what’s the word again?

Oh yes.


Girl, Interrupted

I went to bed last night wondering what I was going to blog about today. Truth is, I’ve been blogging a lot about writing and it’s not exactly giving the world a well-rounded idea of me. Although I don’t do MUCH else at the moment, writing isn’t my only passion. It’s the only passion I hope to turn into a job (I can’t see me becoming a professional dancer at the age of thirty-one) but I do have other interests. And isn’t it fun when other people tell you these things just as you’re thinking them? See Kristen Lamb’s post on the subject which I found via Rebecca Enzor’s post today.

I wasn’t always stuck on a bed tapping away at a keyboard all day. In fact, this time two years ago I… Hmmm, no, that’s a bad example – I was in Peru and had completely run out of money. Handily you could buy four ciabatta rolls for one sol (about 20p/$0.30), and that’s what I was living on while spending all day on the sofa (thank god for small differences) tapping away at a keyboard. I had managed to find a job online writing articles for the internet. I can honestly say it was the most soul-destroying job I have ever had (I simply don’t need to know that much about haemorrhoids or acne or the X-box Red Ring of Death) BUT it did pay. Very little. But it paid. The rent. It didn’t cover food, though. Inevitably, the day came when I had no food left at all. I’d eaten all the spaghetti and there was no flour/sugar left for making cake mix (batter to the U.S. folks, which I also ate quite a lot of).

Luckily I was roped in to help with a salsa class that evening. My ex-boyfriend made friends with every tour leader coming through Cusco and this particular one had become a good friend, so when he got my ex to give a salsa class he asked me and another mutual friend (we’ll call him Joe) to come and help out (we’ll cover me and salsa later on). At the end of the class, the tour leader bought some VERY large bottles of beer and I told Joe I couldn’t have any. He asked why and I said, well, I haven’t eaten all day, I’ll be on the floor. Which brought us to ‘why haven’t you eaten?’ and ‘why didn’t you tell me you were so broke you can’t even buy bread?’.

He was very annoyed with me – my argument that he wasn’t my husband, brother, father or boyfriend and therefore wasn’t responsible for me cut absolutely NO ice at all. Bless him, he then regularly gave me money so that I could at least eat. And yes, I did pay him back – he had to move out of his room so I moved him into my place. Which I came to regret because he wasn’t the most conscientious of roommates, but still.

I miss Peru. I miss dancing and speaking Spanish. I don’t think I want to move back there specifically, but I’m definitely on the wrong side of the Atlantic.

And they’re off! Day 1 of the new website!

It’s a beautiful day outside and I am very happy because I finally got Google Friend Connect to work on here, which means I will finally be able to know how many people are following my words of, er… wisdom?

Things have somewhat got away from me over the last couple of weeks and I am hoping this fresh start, of sorts, will herald the beginning of me sorting myself out and getting to grips with the writing life. I seem to have several projects in various stages of completion, none of which can be said to actually be completed. This isn’t healthy for either my career or my state of mind, so I have to get everything organized. I feel a list coming on.

Since today sees me resolving to act just a little bit more like a grown-up, I feel it’s time to do a grown-up thing and draw attention to someone other than myself for a change. This blog has, up until now, been a monument to self-obsession!

If you can, please spare a moment to pop over to Leona Bushman’s site. Leona is an unspeakably wonderful lady. A mother of five, she is an extremely talented writer and my critique partner, which means she has effectively gained a sixth child. I can’t count the number of times she has talked me down over the last three months – now it’s my turn to support her. Her eldest child and only daughter are very ill in hospital following a blood clot in her leg, a bleed in her brain and another clot in her other leg. Please follow this fantastic lady’s blog as it is well worth your while – her monthly review of talented writers deserves your attention if nothing else!

I also finally found out today about the #MyWANA hashtag, implemented by Kristen Lamb. Kristen is a social media guru, specializing in the benefits and uses of social media tools for writers. I have implemented a number of her recommendations from her book Social Media for Writers – We Are Not Alone and they were instrumental in increasing my blog’s visibility on the web. I am talking immediate results the very same day I introduced simple elements, like the word ‘fantasy’ in my blogs and meta tags – I now get a number of hits a day from fantasy related Google searches. Kristen has introduced this new hashtag (see her blog post on the subject) as a way of bringing together writers from around the world who are aware of the importance of social media in writers’ careers and I look forward to meeting other writers with it.

Kristen’s post that I linked to above also includes a mashup of various other blogs which looks horribly juicy and tempting, so I’m just going to have to stay away from it until I’ve done a chunk of editing and a chunk of writing and finalized the synopsis for my Splintered Lands novella. I also have to do a number of things for this website. Self-discipline is not my strong point, but I’ll never make my dream of being a full-time writer come true without it.

Once more I would like to welcome you to my beautiful new website and I look forward with great anticipation to getting to know you all!