Wednesday 21 December 2011

I'm over coffee ...

Wait ... no, I mean, I'm chatting with Sia KcKye at Over Coffee, today. :) How could I possibly give up the only thing that exercises my eyelids in the morning?

Care to drop by? There's a gorgeous picture of my dog, Holly, with my guitar, if that's enticing enough for ya ... :)

On that note, how about a picture of Holly playing guitar? We, at the J-S-H residence, wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! Behind the picture is a surprise video, if you only dare to click ...

I'll be back some time in the first week of January when the inaugural issue of Vine Leaves Literary Journal will launch! So excited!

Lots and lots and lots of love to you all!!!

Monday 19 December 2011

Does it really pay ... to pay?

When I first started trying to build myself a list of writing credits, I entered a lot of competitions where I had to pay to enter. I also went straight to the big guns of literary magazines like Glimmer Train, where you have to pay a reading fee to submit. Usually, paying a reading fee is a sure sign to stay away, but Glimmer Train offers pretty amazing payment if your piece gets accepted, plus it is supah prestigious. Being one of the biggest literary magazines known to the writing community, and probably one of the most respected mags raking in the top with Tin House and Paris Review, writers do not even think twice before handing over their cash.

But is it really worth it?

In about a year, I submitted and submitted and submitted, and forked out around $400 or more to have my work considered by the 'elite' market. What did I end up with to show for it? An empty wallet and one poetry award from Writer's Digest. I have to admit, that little award still makes me smile ... but then I think about what I achieved for free and a lot of hard work ...


That's a HECK of a lot more than that poetry award. And I even got PAID for a couple of these things.

Now I know it's hard to resist entering those competitions. Some of them even have really amazing cash prizes and trips to conferences to win, etc, but you know what? The money you'd end up spending for all the competitions could probably pay for that trip to the conference anyway, and leave you with a hell of a lot less submission angst.

I really really don't think it's worth paying anymore. I mean, sure, I've gained the small amount of recognition that I have through a lot of time, persistence and hard work, but I got a result. And I think these results are just going to continue to grow as long as I keep up with the game. I can still get writing credits without paying for them.

Not every lit mag is a print publication. But so what? They're just as good and worthy. And they're just as beneficial to my career as is a piece in Glimmer Train. Agents and publishers are looking for those nifty italics at the bottom of your query letters, not prestige. As long as there is another editor out there, big or small, that felt your work was worthy of being published, that is an excellent excellent boost for you.

Any writing credit, great or small, is beneficial to your career. Never forget that.

If time, persistence, and hard work equal results, and money equals gambling, then I choose results over chance any day. And you know what? I see those ads for competitions now, with the big cash prizes, and even though I sometimes have the confidence in myself to submit, I don't get excited about them anymore. I just feel like I'm wasting my hard-earned cash.

But I do get excited about what I've accomplished. Because I've accomplished it with my own two hands.

How about you? Do you think it pays to pay?

Friday 16 December 2011

Deja Vu Blogfest: What do we women wish for?

Today, DL Hammons has teamed up with three awesome blogging buddies, Katie Mills (Creepy Query Girl), Lydia Kang, and Nicole Ducleroir, to bring you … the Deja Vu Blogfest. Please click the Blogfest Badge to locate the list of participants.

Basically, the idea behind this is that we re-post a post which didn't get the attention it deserved, either because it was written at the beginning of your blogging journey and didn't have any followers yet, or perhaps it was posted during a holiday season (um ... hello?) and not many people were lurking by.

Anyway, here's a post from the very first month I started blogging (March, 2010), and it is in MUCH need of an edit. A BIG edit. Yikes!!! But, I have refrained from doing so. So please, have a read, and just try to focus on the content, rather than its execution, please. Ha! Oh dear ...

What do we women wish for?

Sometimes I wish I was brought up living on a little farm and all I knew how to do was milk the cows and collect eggs. I wish all I ever knew about the outside world was what I read in the out-of-date secondhand school books I had as a child because that’s all my parents were able to afford. If I lived on a little farm, I would grow up to be so loyal to my family that I would take over the farm when they died simply to keep it in the family.

I would then teach my kids how to milk the cows and collect eggs and when it would be time for me to die, I would die content and satisfied with my achievements, because I would have achieved what I had set out to achieve. My kids would then take over the farm to keep it in the family too and it would continue like this for generations. My great great grandchildren would look at photographs of me on the farm and say, ‘Wow, can you imagine being alive then?’ That’s what I do when I look at old photographs of my grandparents. I look at the captured moment of happiness and that’s what lives on forever.

Has it ever occurred to you that the less one has and knows, the happier they are? The more one knows about the world, the more one wants to explore, and the more torn one feels. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it’s exactly like me, and it's called ambition, but I do wonder sometimes, would my emotions fluctuate so much, if I didn’t have all these ambitions that I can’t possibility do, all at the same time, and which make me feel like I’m not achieving my goals because there is too much that I want to achieve? If I had a simple life on a farm for instance, and never knew any better, would I be happier?

Do you think you would be more content if you wanted less?

Thursday 15 December 2011

A heads up!

This is a non-post today because I'll be posting tomorrow instead. :o)

I'm participating in the Deja Vu Blogfest, in which we get a chance to showcase a post that didn't get the attention it deserved when it was originally posted. Nice idea, huh?

Haven't signed up yet? Click the badge and add your name to the linky list! :o)

If you missed yesterday's post about female Aussie authors and gender bias, you can either scroll down, or click HERE.

If you missed Monday's post about the Vine Leaves Literary Journal, you can either scroll down, or click HERE.

See ya tomorrow, folks ...

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Let's put our hands together for female Aussie authors!!!

2012 Book ChallengeToday I'd like to introduce to you the Australian Women Writers 2012 National Year of Reading Challenge, which has been created in order "to help counteract the gender bias in reviewing and social media newsfeeds that has continued throughout 2011 by actively promoting the reading and reviewing of a wide range of contemporary Australian women's writing.

Check out these amazing links to discussions about gender bias.

See that that badge over there on the right? ------------->

I'm going to be a guest author and review a book outside of my genre on the site sometime next year. If you're an Aussie female author, why don't you jump on board too?

But this isn't only for authors, in fact, it's geared more towards readers. The challenges you can undertake are:

Genre challenges:
Purist: one genre only
Dabbler: more than one genre
Devoted eclectic: as many genres as you can find

Challenge levels:
Stella (read 3 and review at least 2 books)
Miles (read 6 and review at least 3*
Franklin-fantastic (read 10 and review at least 4 books)*
* The higher levels should include at least one substantial length review

Now, seeing as I read on average, 40 books a year, I'm thinking I ought to aim for Dabbler Franklin-fantastic. I'm really excited to sink my teeth into some more Aussie Lit!!! Anyone got any recommendations to throw my way?

How about you? You should check it out!

Oh! AND, I'm proud to say that the lovely Cathy Powell, has begun the challenge reading MY BOOK! How flippin' brilliant is that? Thank you so much, Cathy!

PS: Vine Leaves Literary Journal is now closed to submissions until January 1st. Pop over to the blog to read how out first round of submissions panned out.

Monday 12 December 2011

I can't believe we've actually filled a gap in the market ... but we have, and we are super proud!

My jaw is perpetually agape.

The response for the Vine Leaves Literary Journal has been absolutely amazing. I knew Dawn and I would be venturing into something quite original, but I really hadn't grasped just how original and wanted a journal like this was, until the submissions started rolling in with people saying how they've "written this piece of work, but have never known where to submit it before now."

It's really really exciting. We've filled a gap in the market! We've actually produced something that isn't just a do-over of something already done! And this is for Lenny ... How cool is that?

In only three weeks we've ...

  • read over 100 submissions ...
  • accepted pieces of work from 29 authors ...
  • still mulling over 9 pieces of work ...
  • have 45 unread submissions in our inbox ...

Want to add to the numbers of the last bullet point? Today is the deadline to submit for our inaugural issue, which will go live on January 6th, 2012. To see the submission guidelines, click HERE.

If you're accepted, you will be published alongside some very very amazing writers, artists and photographers, whom you may know as prolific bloggers as well, such as: Matthew MacNish, Michelle Davidson Argyle, Amie McCracken, Janice Phelps Williams, Madeline Sharples, Angela Felsted, J.R McRae, Laurel Garver, Stephen Parrish, Glynis SmyJanîce Leotti, and Jim Murdoch.

So would you like to be published alongside these amazing people and be a part of a journal that will (fingers crossed) take the literary world by storm? If you've got a vignette you'd like to submit, visit the website and find out how.

Thursday 8 December 2011

I probably shouldn't be saying this in public, but ...

I'm worried. About my writing. Should I admit stuff like this in public? Probably not. But I know that the reason you come here and read my blog is because of my blatant honesty. So here goes ...

I haven't done any writing since I finished the final revisions on my second novel. That was -- GASP! -- six months ago now I think. I'm so desperate to write. SO DESPERATE. It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I keep putting everything else, and everyone else, first. And I keep validating those things as excuses.

I suppose I could just put my foot down and choose to write instead of reading blogs, or choose to write instead of doing a guest post for String Bridge, or choose to write instead of reading Vine Leaves submissions, or choose to write instead of keeping up-to-date on social media, or choose to write instead of reading an ARC for the sake of providing an endorsement, or choose to write instead of critiquing and/or editing others' work for free ... I could go on. But the truth is ... all those things are important too. They are all a part of my "job" now. They are all a part of what an author needs -- AND WANTS -- to do, to stay in the game.

And now there's another factor. I've just signed a 12-month contract for a position as Editorial Project Manager for an English Language Teaching company, which I will be doing from home. FULL TIME.

I'm scared. I'm SO scared, that another year is going to slip by, and I still will not have written another word on my third novel, Muted. I only have the first chapter. Six months. Sitting on a first chapter. That's. Not. Good. An what's worse? This time I need to do research. RESEARCH. Never had to do much of it before, other than a few Google searches to check my facts. But the research for this is extensive. And it has to be done, for it to reach its full potential. But can I even bring myself to open the books I bought for this very purpose? Nope. I'm being muted by MUTED! What the hell is wrong with me?

You people with kids ... how do you do it? How do you take advantage of that spare half an hour and write? I can't do that. I need at least 3 or 4 hours to really get a rhythm going. I'm slow. And I think a lot. Maybe too much. But that's how I do it, and it works. Well ... did work. Will I ever have that time slot again? And if I do, will I choose to write, or watch TV snuggling up to my partner on the couch, because he and I both know, we need that, too. To stay sane. And to have us time.

I didn't think I would be like this. I never thought life would get in the way.

But it is. Life is being one big mother-f#@%ing obstacle right now.

And I'm afraid. And worried. And afraid to be worried, because that just makes this whole thing too real. So much for keeping my head high this month ...

I need a way out of this hole.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

So ... come on now ... it's about you, isn't it?

Today, I'm not here ... I'm at Kristie Cook's officially answering the question that has been burning my ears since String Bridge was released: Is String Bridge autobiographical? ... Head on over to find out ...

Comments are off, just go comment over at Kristie's ;o)

Note: Today is also Insecure Writer's Support Group day, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, so make sure you head on over and offer your support to all those feeling insecure ... I'm taking a break from insecurity this month and holding my head high!

Monday 5 December 2011

The Benefits of Barfing ...

There are a couple of benefits that come from throwing up all weekend. But I'll get to those in a minute.

Yep. I was puking like the woman possessed with the cherry pips in The Witches of Eastwick. I was not a pretty sight. I'm still not a pretty sight, because I'm quite pale ... wait ... I'm always pale. Scrap that last bit. Anyone ever felt like their stomach was an invasive rock below your ribs? That's what mine feels like right now after the workout it got.

The queasiness is still lingering, but at least I'm able to function. I'm working. Pretending to be okay. I think I've convinced myself that I'm a pretty good actor. Maybe I was good as Olivia in Twelfth Night in high school after all ...

Anyway ... the benefits:
  • Somehow I drafted two guest posts and read and responded to Vine Leaves subs in between toilet visits, and can't really remember any of it. So that's cool. I got a whole heap done without comprehending any of the effort.
  • I think I lost at least a kilo. Now I can positively say my skinny jeans fit me again.
  • It made me think of a pretty cool analogy about writing and creativity. It's short, but savory ...
When we get the urge ... we purge ... and it all comes out like alphabet soup.
PS: Karen Walker is talking about String Bridge on her blog today. Would love for you to pay her a visit!

You got any writing analogies sprung from the fruits of illness? 

Disclaimer: Do not throw up to lose weight or to think of writing analogies. No parental guidance will make it worthwhile.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Confession: I have literary tourette's.

Things on my manic mind today are ...

  • The possibility of going to Australia with my mother mid January.
  • Getting a band together and wishing I could overcome this horrible stage fright.
  • I love my coffee cup.
  • Finally getting around to reading the books I bought for MUTED research.
  • Wishing there was a second-hand book store in Athens so I could relieve my shelves of gastroenteritis.
  • I need more coffee, cake, chocolate and ... yoga.
  • The relief I feel knowing I've been guaranteed a year's worth of steady freelance work.
  • The worry that this freelance work is going to interfere with my creativity.
  • Really want to read Dawn Ius' manuscript. Been on my Kindle for way too long!
  • All the money I owe left and right. (When will the bills stop coming???)
  • Writing guest blog posts for Roz Morris, Kristie Cook and Karen Gowen
  • Where did that extra kilo come from???
  • Finishing Talli Roland's Build a Man and writing a review (awesome book!)
  • Starting Michelle Davidson Argyle's The Breakaway in order to write an endorsement for the cover.
  • Whether Pantera Press will want to publish Bitter Like Orange Peel.
  • What did you say? I can't hear you! I'm reading submissions!
  • OMG, I love you so much, (you bloggers know who you are)
  • Now I know what editors feel like having to sift through less-than-publishable submissions or to deal with submitters that don't even take the time to find out your name ...
  • When am I going to get paid?
  • I want some spare cash so I can purchase the latest season of BONES, and the first few seasons of FRINGE.
  • Do I really have to do the dishes?
  • When am I going to start writing again? And how do I keep marketing String Bridge without shoving it in people's faces?

What's on your mind today?

Miss my special announcement yesterday? Click here!