I’ve only just discovered the beauty of audio books. I take my time in getting acquainted with change. Usually denouncing the change stubbornly until I finally experience it and become they biggest spokes person.
Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my day listening to my latest audiobook, A Heart This Big by Cheyenne Blue. I’m still only three quarters of the way through, so I can’t really give a full review as yet, but oh how this book has effected me already. It’s one of the first books I’ve read that has made me feel nostalgic in the most beautiful way to the landscape of my childhood.
I’ve read emotional books before, where they tear your heart out. But this book is a new level of emotion for me. It’s so beautiful and refreshing to read about Australia and fall back in love with my homeland. There’s no lying about the dusty landscape or the chicken shit, but the way Cheyenne has captured all the things I love about this beautiful country has me smiling and breathing deeper.
Much of what I myself write I have set in QLD, Australia. Because I love this country. Since I began writing I’ve had the discouragements and the downright statements that setting my writing anywhere in Australia will have me fail. I gave in a few time and took out specific town names, and obvious descriptors, and I have to say I’ve not liked the stories nearly as much. So after awhile I flipped the bird to the nay sayers and have continued to set my worlds obviously in this country. That doesn’t mean I haven’t worried at my bottom lip when I’ve sent a manuscript off with the tell tale names and places. But I’ve fallen in love with many overseas places through the words of others, I would love to one day make a reader want to see this country, or to fall in love with their own country.
A Heart This Big also sent me skittering to the kitchen. There is something so inherent in my childhood about cooking. My mum isn’t a big cooker, but my grandma was – possibly the only positive thing I could say about the woman. I danced around the kitchen with my son while I cooked and cleaned, baked, and chopped apples. The apples were to dry, but the smell sent me back to days where I would be at the farm and wander into the house to smell my Gran’s apple pies baking.
I feel like I’ve always appreciated this country, but perhaps the struggles of my childhood have made me forget how much I loved Australia even back then, and the country girl in me is still alive and well.
Thank you Cheyenne for reminding me that this country is beautiful, and always has been.
In a previous post I mention the awesome WLW author Jae and the Sapphic Reading Challenge 2021 she is running. It’s the most amazing challenge, and the work Jae has done for this is incredible. It shows her generosity not only to her own readers, but for other authors as well.
I recently received an email from Jae advising that my first novella ‘Cold as Hell’ was added to her upcoming recommended reads for the butch/butch category of the Sapphic Reading Challenge. It suits a few other categories as well, but so touched and humbled that she has added it, seeing as it’s not yet released until April.
It’s going to be a crazy wild ride for both reading and writing this year, but I’m looking forward to each book I get to experience, both sapphic and non-sapphic, as well as my own books stepping out into the big wide world.
I have the great pleasure of knowing Aiki Flinthart, who has been kind enough to agree to an interview about her upcoming anthology Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins.
Aiki is an incredibly talented writer and editor. She has published 14 sci-fi/fantasy novels, 2 non-fiction books, a collection of fantasy and sci-fi short stories, and a collection (with Pamela Jeffs) of sci-fi short stories not to mention the plethora of short stories she has published in Anthologies through a multitude of Publishers. She has also edited several anthologies with her writing group The Springfield Writer’s Group.
So on to the questions:
How did you first come up with the idea to do Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins? Funnily enough, I was sitting around with a couple of writer friends chatting about our upcoming projects. I really wanted to do the sequel to Blackbirds Sing: which is meant to be Blackbirds Return. But the painkillers and anti-cancer drugs make it really difficult to concentrate and a mosaic novel like that is hugely complex to plot and write. So I jokingly said I should do a ‘last hurrah’ anthology and reach out to the biggest possible of my favourite authors who would answer my emails. The others encouraged me and I went ‘what the heck’ and sent emails out that night – starting with the hugest names on my favourite authors list that I could find contact information for. One of the marks of a great writer is their willingness to help lift up other writers. They remember what it was like. So many, if they possibly can, will help someone who asks politely. A lot of writers didn’t answer, a few regretfully and politely declined due to time and work constraints – which is understandable. But so many agreed that I actually got a bit worried I’d end up with a brick-sized book in the end.
Can you tell us a little about some of the stories readers can expect to find in Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins? I deliberately left the theme fairly open to interpretation (Relics, Wrecks and Ruins – things left behind, or rediscovered etc). And requested stories from sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers. It was fascinating to see the differences and the similarities in the stories that came back. I didn’t want the book to be too dark, so I’d asked for mostly hopeful endings. There are a smattering of darker ones, but generally the tone is hopeful rather than depressing. So many resilient heroes/heroines. Many stories about people and relationships, too – which was wonderful and perfect.
You’ve edited a few anthologies now, can you talk about the differences and/or similarities in this experience? My first few anthologies were mostly working with newer and emerging authors. So they involved a lot more story development – where you’re working closely with the author on bigger structural issues and plot and character development. Every one of those authors was extremely professional in accepting editorial input, too. And I must say that the end results of most of those stories are works that each author can be extremely proud of. Those stories are strong and well-written. Relics was great because most of the stories didn’t require much beyond pointing out a few continuity errors or typos. Which is not surprising, given the excellence of the authors involved. They, too were (unsurprisingly) wonderfully professional to work with. And the resulting stories are fabulous, interesting, fresh, and highly varied in tone and content.
The profits for this anthology are going toward The Flinthart, can you tell us a little about this? The Flinthart is a writer residency and mentoring program set up by the Qld Writers Centre. Each year, applicants will be assessed and a writer will be chosen for the Flinthart program. They will be funded to help them focus on writing for a short amount of time. They’ll go into the Qld Writers Centre regularly, sit down, and just write. No distractions, no work, no phone ringing, no kids complaining. Just time to write and a mentor to help them through. I’m thrilled that the How to get a Blackbelt in Writing online workshop will also help to fund this program. Hopefully, between these, we can keep enough funding coming in to keep the residency going for years.
You are both a writer and an editor. Where’s the best place people can find your work? All my novels, and short story collections and anthologies are available at the usual places online. You can start at www.aikiflinthart.com – browse through the Books menus, read the blurbs, see what you fancy. Click the Buy ebook link (and maybe refresh it because it can be a bit dodgy). Then choose the retailer you prefer to buy from and grab a copy. If you’d prefer a paperback, just either send an email through the website, or order one through your online bookstore or local bookstore. And don’t forget to leave reviews on Goodreads etc if you enjoy the stories. Good reviews help other readers find good stories – and help authors not die of starvation.
Very exciting news, there is also a LIVE Pictionary event with the amazing Annie Bucknall as she has special guests Aiki Flinthart, Garth Nix, Juliet Marillier, and Alison Goodman, just a few of the exceptional authors from Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins joining her on the 28th January 2021. To sign up for reminders of the event, just click here
A huge thank you to Aiki Flinthart for taking the time to do this. To pre-order your very own copy of Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins you can go here https://books2read.com/Relics and help support The Flinthart.
I originally posted this March 28 2019, a lot has happened since then but many of the sentiments remain the same.
Because it feels like the universe is not so subtly nudging me in to addressing my own issue of being an impostor, I have feel the need to write about this. As a side note: I don’t believe in the concept of fate. I prefer to channel Kyle Reese/Sarah Connor ‘There is no fate, but what we make ourselves’. So I’m taking the hints and deciding to do something about it. There things have happened within the last week or so that have made me pay more attention. So I’m trying to address it so I can move forward. 1. I read about perfection and it’s perils I read a post called ‘The Perils of Perfectionism’ by Sam Brown and for the first time a big loud pompous gong went off inside of me. It’s a fantastic post about how striving for perfect creates fear. If highly recommend having a little looksie here. I have carried fear around a lot in my life, and far too often the mean little bitch has taken the wheel. It will be a work in progress, I have no illusions about that, but I figure I have to start saying no, and take that wheel back. 2. Talking about my doubts. Recently I was talking to a fellow writer from one of my writing groups about my own impostor syndrome. What I explained to her is that I find myself putting those thoughts in to the drivers seat (yep, liking this analogy) without always realising I am doing it. I quite often catch myself humming or singing The Platters song ‘The Great Pretender’ (Queen’s version) to myself because I am constantly feeling like a fraud. Strutting sometimes occurs as well, as it should when one sings Queen.
3. Reading I’m reading this book called ‘What Would Boudicca Do?’. I’ve had to take off my own self critical hat of ‘I’m stupid, I know nothing about so many of these women from history’ to saying ‘look at all this amazing history I am learning from this book.’ For me, books are all about learning. Even if that lesson is something as beautiful as learning to turn off, stop, breath and enjoy another person’s craft. But, books that I adore can both intimidate and inspire the writer within. ‘What would Boudicca do?’, while not what I thought it would be, has really made me stop and think about so many things. The chapters are small little bite size nuggets of women from history and what lessons we can learn from them. When I came across the chapter ‘the impostor syndrome.’ I swear I could feel my body trying desperately to shrink into herself, hide inside her shell and take refuge in becoming the furniture. That evil little voice inside started piping up ‘yep, they are talking about you. You’re about to get busted!’ I had been devouring the book, when suddenly for two days I found every reason to be too busy to pick it up. I finally gave in. It is an interesting chapter, that took a bit of a different angle with the inspired female from history then I would have expected. And even though it is encouraging in it’s not entirely unique take on the idea that those that have the syndrome are more likely to actually be good at what they are doing as opposed to those overly cocky, I still feel as though at any minute I’m going to be found out. Ah the impostor syndrome even rears her head when reading about the impostor syndrome. She’s a strong little bugger. So, it really is time to stop letting it stop me, it’s time to start fighting back. I am not a pretender, but a learner. I’m learning to overcome it and I’m learning more about my craft. It’s not a small thing to simply overcome but I am taking steps in exposing my writing and getting feedback, real feedback. Because as they say, you are your own worst critic.
Well that was an interesting read. I have come so much further than I dared to hope when I orignally wrote that.
The impostor syndrome still raises her insidious head, but I have an amazing tribe of friends and writers and I talk about the snarky little bitch and she goes and scurries into the back seat, like most bullies.
In these crazy times, be extra kind to yourself and reach out if that doubting voice tries to yell over you.
I’m not sure anyone really expected life to suddenly become perfect but I’m almost certain no one thought 2020 was a shocking calm before the storm. And perhaps it is neither extreme but this first week of 2021 has certainly thrown a spanned in the works.
I don’t want to go into the world at large thing, because we all know the dumpster fire has followed us into the New Year. Locally, we are in a sudden 3 day lockdown, which sounds minimal but I’m not delusional enough to think that after three days life will be great again. Nor will I be shocked if the lockdown is extended, again and again.
On a personal note, things have been a bit rough as well.
Three of the most influential and important women in my life are in dire situations with their health (mum if you are reading this, you are NOT allowed to get sick) one has even been given the devastating prognosis of approximately 6 weeks.
Last night when I learned this I sobbed into my partners shoulder and felt a crushing pain in my chest. I cried myself to sleep and have woken sadden but aware that if I were to let this stop me grabbing everyday and doing what I can with it, she would not only kick my arse but damn what a disrespect that would be. The sadness remains but along with that, I have the memories and light of her being in my life.
So what has 2021 offered so far to help light the rough days ahead. I have finally got this blog up and running properly and have my website good to go. I am working on finally getting my newsletter happening, and I’m so excited about it. I have a short story I am itching to give away to all subscribers and have the most beautiful cover made by the incredibly talented Pamela Jeffs. Her writing is mind blowing and her cover designs (a hobby she says) are truly stunning.
Reading: I’ve embarked on a very optimistic goodreads reading challenge for 2021 of 100 books. Last year I managed 61 in the end and thought that incredible, but what’s a challenge if you aren’t pushing yourself beyond what you already know you can do. In these 100 books I’m also working on the Sapphic Reading Challenge 2021 created by the incredibly awesome and talented Jae.
I’m aiming for the dragon level 1 badge (1 book from each 50 categories) AND the bonus unicorn badge (10 of the 12 category). If you want to up your reading challenge and embark on some sapphic reading, and perhaps find new authors and categories then go take a look. There are many levels of badges, for all levels of readers.
I finished my first book The Queen’s Blade by Natasha Rose and am almost half way through Hotel Queens by Lee Winter. Both books are featured on the Les Fiction Book Club Facebook group this month. There will be author interviews, Q&A’s, and discussion at the end of the month. I’m also hoping to get some quick video reviews done as well.
Writing: I finished my first full draft rewrite of Gargoyles, a dystopian novella I’m hoping to submit to a publisher by the end of February. I’ve almost finished my last read through of The Void for the Publishers deadline of the end of the month. I have also, with the help of my lovely partner, set up a writing space in our office. It’s so pretty and exciting.
So I hope you are all staying safe, and I’d love to hear if you’re doing any reading challenges this year, or any other challenges you are embarking on in 2021.