Continuing Personal Development…

A while back I was feeling pretty unsuccessful.  I don’t sell a lot of books and for some reason I equate the number of books that I do sell with my personal sense of achievement. That hasn’t changed… I have.

Since we moved to this town, I’ve been feeling very low and trying to write when my brain refuses to focus and co-operate with my muse is almost impossible. I started doing various art & craft courses – mostly to get myself out of the house and talking to adults more. I was also trying to keep my hand in with the techniques so that I could teach them if I ever went back to work (I’m a Design & Technology / Art & Design Teacher remember?)

One thing that the courses have done is give me more confidence in my own abilities. Writing is a very solitary pursuit and I had thought that doing the courses would stop me writing, but  practising my other creative skills and socialising with people face to face, other than just with Writers and Artists online,  I found it revved up my writing muse and I found that I was managing to write something on my WIP’s every day.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my online friends; they stop me going crazy and make me feel better about myself, but the face to face interaction makes me feel less like a hermit.

So here I am nearly at the end of may, with over 50,000 words into Teacups & Time Travel. I’ve also written a flash story and a short story for two different anthologies (although I have no idea if they’ve got in or not) and I’m working on another one. I’ve also started looking at my blogsite here and my branding etc in the hope that I can improve my chances of selling my work, using the Panoptic Foundations Website Planner.

I’m not going to be going back into teaching for a long while – and when I do, it’s almost certainly going to be Adult Education rather than Secondary Education; it’s not that I don’t like teaching kids (I do) but I need the freedom to be able to teach what I want and how I want, rather than having to stick to the Curriculum that the Dept of Ed force on us and I find the other side of Secondary education (marking, reports, politics etc) far too stressful to enjoy the Teaching side.

So I’m going to continue writing and publishing. I’m going to continue taking courses, crafting and designing… and hopefully between the two, my sense of achievement will latch onto something other than my sales figures!

Wool, Grapefruit and the World…

You do strange things when you’re pregnant.

I just spent three quarters of an hour trying to section a red grapefruit because I was fed up of having to dig the sections out and leaving so much fruit behind… I guess I thought that sectioning it would be easier; peel the fruit, cut out the sections and eat.

Hah!

Anyway, it occurred to me while I was sat eating my hard won grapefruit segments that the actual fruit is made up of all this little bubbles of juice that burst when you bite through them. They’re sweet with a sour after-taste and oddly compelling.

 

Writing is like that. Well actually, Reading is like that, not writing exactly.

I read “Wool” by Hugh Howey yesterday and it is the first SF book that I’ve read that has made me think in terms of the words I was reading. Each word was like a bubble of grapefruit juice, soft and elongated on my tongue and each time I read and understood what he was saying, the taste of grapefruit juice built up; sweet, sour and oddly compelling.

I had “Wait” by Take That playing while I was eating and the song seemed to fit with both what I had observed in the grapefruit and through reading “Wool”.

The lyrics that really stuck were:

 

Free your soul to me,

Words can set us free.

 

It’s true. Words can set us free; we just have to have the courage to say the right ones. They are the ones that hurt, the ones that highlight the problems in our world in such a way that we have to deal with them.

 

Reading “Wool” was a sweet / sour experience. On one hand the story was incredibly compelling and interesting. You wanted to see what happened to the characters next and it was difficult to think about mundane things (like washing up) while you read each chapter.

But about half way through the book something happened. I realise that whether he had intended it or not, Hugh Howey was commenting on what was happening in the world now. And that his vision of what the future could hold was a real possibility.

That’s scary.

Why?

Well think of it this way. It’s 2013. I’ve got two children (one 12, the other 8) and a third one on the way. If I think about what is happening in the world now, there is a very real possibility that their future, the one that I may never see, will be an ugly, regimented world where food and energy are rationed down to what you can afford to buy.
There will be a need to limit the population; whether that’s because of the food shortage, space shortage or whatever, so the joy of being a parent will be limited to those who either can win / buy the right or those who are considered so essential to the running of the world that they have to continue their line.

It will be a world of sacrifices with most people just trying to live in it the best they can with the hope that their children (if they have them) will have a better world in the future.

And that scares me.

It doesn’t matter what the energy companies say, fossil fuels (even shale gas) are finite. They will run out. The population of the world is expanding and instead of helping the Africans to improve their land and grow crops to feed themselves and maybe others, we are helping them to fight each other through the Arms Business.

It’s all so backwards.

 

I don’t care about money. Actually, that’s not quite true… I do care about it, but not in a materialistic way.

I’m forced through circumstance (lack of full time teaching jobs in my area, being unable to drive and a son who needs more than usual maternal attention due to being Aspergers) to remain a stay at home mum. So I write books, publish them myself (as best I can) and volunteer in the community as a Guider.

My partner, having been thrown out of one industry for being Dyslexic and undiagnosed Aspergers, is changing career to one that suits him as a person and looking for work. Unfortunately, it’s one of those careers that (like writing) is very difficult to get into without a lot of experience. Which he doesn’t have, despite being talented at his chosen career.

I care about money because we need it to live; you can’t buy food or energy without it and the prices are getting higher every week as the more materialistic of the human race try to pull as much of the world’s money into their personal accounts.

My writing makes a little bit of money. The rest (because of the aforementioned circumstances) we have to get through the benefits system. Which people higher up the money chain are trying to pull out from under us because they think that we don’t deserve it or that we are taking too much from the country and not giving back at all.

It’s a grapefruit juice bubble existence.

Sooner or later (the latter please!) it is going to be bitten into and who knows what comes next?

 

I’m not sure that I am making any sense at the moment – blame it on Sprog, he/she seems to enjoy making me write oddly – so I will leave you with this:

 

Read “Wool” by Hugh Howey.

Enjoy the words as they burst on your mind, revel in the wonderful story, then think about what he is telling us about our world.

 

And when the next chance comes for you to vote in an election of some sort, consider what the party you are going to vote for would do with the country you live in.

Would they make it better for everyone or just for themselves?

Writer Wednesday: um… Me actually.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my own writing on my own blog. So I thought that today, my Writer Wednesday feature could be about me!

I’ve been told that I don’t blow my own trumpet enough. There is a reason for this and that’s because I never actually know what to say. It’s a bit like writing a personal statement for a job interview; you don’t want them to dismiss you as useless, but at the same time you don’t want to come across as arrogant about your abilities.

Maybe this will be good practise then…

I’m much more than a writer of course, and if you’re a regular subscriber / reader, you’ll know that, but for those that don’t, let’s get the other things that I do out of the way, in no particular order:

1) I am the partner of an incredibly talented, but highly self concious artist with bottoming out self esteem – TOH is brilliant at what he does (he has an exhibition coming up in Barry soon) and everyone else can see it, but he needs so much validation that I have had to become a part time Life Coach!

2) I have two energetic, wonderful, polite and mischievous children. NOS and PT are the centre of my existence as a mother… but they can be damn annoying and seriously messy, so I have to add Laundress/Seamstress, First Aider, Interventionist, Entertainer and Prison Guard to the jobs list.

3) Because of the first two, I also have to be a Housewife. This is not a role that comes easily to me (damn you mum!) and I hate washing up with a passion – I’ll do anything else other than that particular chore…

4) I have the honour of being an Assistant Leader at the local Guide troop. This means I have to be a Teacher and add a few of the roles that I play as a mother as well as supporting my fellow Guiders.

5) I have a passion for sparkly, twinkly things that is blossoming into a job – yes, I make jewellery and accessories. There’s a separate website for that though, so I’ll just say that I have to add Designer/Maker, Secretary and Marketing Assistant to the list.

6) I am the Editor of Welcome to Wherever Webzine. Again there is a separate website to look at, so I’ll leave you to imagine what that entails…

…Okay then, having got those out of the way, let’s get on with my writing…

I have a small catalog of books at the moment (if you pop up to the menu bar and look at the bookshop menu, you’ll be able to find out about each one) but, the thing is, I don’t think many people actually  realise that I have actually got books published and that they only came out this year, so I’ll run through them now for you –

The first book to be published was “Pika the Phluph and the Gribblebid Tough” in collaboration with illustrator/writer, Maria Kuroshchepova.

Book One of “The Land Far Away” Series

“Look under your bed and what do you see, A place full of dust or a magical tree? Crawl under your bed and continue the tale, There’s a ship by the tree and it’s about to set sail.”

So begins the journey into Land Far Away – a magical domain filled with strange creatures, like the Phluphs, the Linzers, the fearsome Grungegogglers, and the gentle Snuggles.

Join the author Kira Morgana and illustrator Maria K. on the first Land Far Away adventure, as Pika the Phluph sets out to conquer the heart of the savage and uncouth Gribblebid

Pika is one of my favourite characters, mostly because she is my Daughter’s creation and so much like PT it brings tears to my eyes. Pika is pink and fluffy with an adventurous spirit, no fear and very little good sense!

Publishing this book with Maria was a wonderful experience and we have several more in the offing…

The next book was my own self publishing effort “The Necklace of Harmony”.

My first story collection!

One of the fun things about being a writer is responding to a challenge. This book is full of the results of such challenges…

From the wedding celebrations of Greek Deities, to mermaids, ghosts and superheroes, a whole gamut of creatures await your eager eyes. 

This is a short story collection that basically charts my progress through the world of publication from Flash contests to Anthologies and allows the reader an insight into my mind as well.

I think my favourite story of the whole book is “The Horse Knows Best” – a story set in one of my favourite worlds and connected to the next book that was published…

“The Tower and The Eye: A Beginning” was published in February…

Published Spring 2012

Peace came at a price…

The Black Tower War lingers in memory and the stories that spark fear in children lie in truths long buried. Tales of the Dungeons of Doom, a fearsome Overlord and The Eye that rules all, remind the people of the Heart Kingdoms of Quargard that harmony must be earned.

…and danger lurks just below the surface.

When the Overlord and his Creatures re-awaken, Heroes and Heroines must arise to stem the tide of evil. So it is decreed. So does Legend say.

From each Kingdom, a Champion…

…born to become a Dungeon Destroyer. But the tales and legends leave much to be desired and not all who venture into the Dungeons of Doom will emerge alive.

As with everything, each quest will have a beginning…

…and the Kingdom of Galivor provides an unlikely collection of candidates who seek to plunder an abandoned dungeon.

Little do they know they are being watched…

… by Pfoxmoor Publishing, under their Pfoxchase imprint.

Quargard is one of the best worlds I have created so far and I am forever coming up with new ideas for stories to take place there; it’s almost as if the world really has come alive and wants to be written about!

Some will appear in a story collection- “Quargard Chronicles” -which I am planning, although I don’t know if it will be self published or picked up by Pfoxmoor yet.

I am however going to continue with the self publishing. I have two books lined up for publication this summer:

Turn a city upside down and shake it – what falls out? 

The Treaty that binds the Vampires, Werewolves, Humans and the rarely seen True Dragons, is over 1000 years old. It provides stability and safety for all the citizens of the city of Te Ling. Triads and Yakuza are not welcome here and Tourism flourishes like a well fed swan amongst the parks, temples and theaters by day,  and under the bright lights of the night clubs and other leisure facilities by night.

But many lights cast a multitude of shadows, and they get darker as you get deeper.

Li is as deep into the darkness as you can get: cop by day, shadow by night, he eats and drinks the lifeblood of the city. A threat to the current Te Ling Triang Leader is a threat to the City and The Black Dragon cannot be risked. Li is handed the responsibility of tracking down and removing the threat…preferably permanently .

This is one of the first books that I ever wrote and while it has changed substantially from the original text, thanks to the intervention of a series of Beta Readers and Editors, the story and the characters have stayed strong and alive (well, undead) to me.

This will be published under my other Pen Name, A. E. Churchyard and you may discover that you like this darker side to me.

Which would be good because the second book I am publishing is also under that name –

The Darkness in Mind

Apologies for the lack of cover – I only conceived of the title this morning and I don’t have a cover designed yet.

This is going to be a short story collection, but where “Necklace of Harmony”  was sweetness and light, fantasy and fun; “The Darkness in Mind” will be horror stories so it really is the opposite side of my psyche coming out to play.

A lot of my early published work was horror and although much of it was published in anthologies by House of Horror Webzine a couple of years ago. I thought it would be fun to bring them out in a book and add a couple of stories that didn’t see the light of day at the time. More news on this closer to the time…

Apart from that, I have a YA series being written and I’m working on a couple of SF stories. I have no idea if they’ll see the light of day, but you never know. Oh and by the way, I do have an amazon page so, if you don’t hear from me for a while, keep your eyes open and on the page – anything new published should appear on there!