I’ve got a dream, I just wanna see the floating lanterns gleam!!!
If you’re a mum, around kids, or just love animated kids movies (no judgement, I’ve owned most of our collection before becoming a mum) you might know my random introduction is from the Disney movie, Tangled.
We’ve watched it quite a bit lately, and by we I mean I put it on and kiddo rolls his eyes and says ‘fine’ but then finds a saucepan and acts out the moves. (honestly, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should check it out.)
Anyway, the point, it is coming up. Oh yes.
Today kiddo asked me if I had a dream.
In the past this kind of question would result in me umming and ahhhing, a whole bunch of blinking and if it’s a good day some incoherent words that sounded very high brow (read-wanky) but in essence mean little.
But I didn’t even hesitate. I know my dream. To one day be a full time writer. To not need another job to supplement the income.
It felt good. And it felt better knowing it is a realistic goal that I am slowly but surely working on.
I wanted to share how this made me feel. How this reminded me to focus on the bigger picture. And even though the amazon thing that’s been happening with my next book baby (oh long story, which is not fun to retell), I’m not here for just one or two books. I have so many more stories to tell, and so much more to learn and grow into. I’m here for the long game, and I’m in the actual game, not sitting on the sidelines waiting to be subbed in. (wow, is that a sport reference? Wonder where I picked that up from … must have been a movie).
So, I have a dream and I’m not scared to tell the whole world about it.
If you have a dream, and you are hiding it, that’s ok. But I hope one day you are in a position where you are supported and loved enough (by yourself if not by others) to shout out and reach for that dream.
October was a much more successful reading AND writing month and this makes me happy to no end.
Eight books, 4 Speculative Fiction, 5 Sapphic – altogether not too shabby. As for writing I got the prep sorted out for NaNoWriMo and I am raring to go.
So here’s my wap up of book reviews for October
Purposefully Accidental by G Benson: For such a big book, and Purposefully Accidental is a lot of words, I flew through this book easily devouring and loving the adventures of Wren and Madison. Not only does it have some of my favourite tropes (enemies to lovers and fake relationship), G Benson has created complete worlds for both characters, populated with the most fantastic friends and hateable ‘bad guys’. I laughed so much throughout this book. From Hathor and her complete felineness, to 9-year-old gay panic, to best friends who call characters out on their shit and half hearted denial. But then, THEN my heart spiderwebbed with fractals of pain and grief. Because there is a lot of grief that has been done so genuinely and delicately without taking away any of the wonderful humour and sexiness of this book. Because yes, there is a whole lot of sexy tension and moments. I want to say more, so much more but mostly I don’t want to spoil this amazing book and stop the world from reading it, because the world really should. But, if you need more info then here’s a list of a few more things that have stuck with me and even now make me giggle * Putting misogynist, bigots, and homophobes in their place * A charming and down to earth celeb * A car bonnet … oh yes, a car bonnet!!!!! * A hilarious coming out * Wonderful and amazing neurodiverse representation * FANFIC!
Crush by S R Silcox: I love everything about this book. The writing, the characters and, for me the familiar landscape and world. Tess is a country girl who goes to her Pop and Nan’s farm to help prep for the Crush festival instead of going to schoolies. Maddie is visiting in a desperate need to escape the pressures of a life she hasn’t enjoyed for far too long. The two meet, hit it off, and then both of their worlds shift. Brilliant banter, and friendships, as well as wonderful family dynamics. I loved it!
For The Long Run by Cheyenne Blue: This book has everything you could want. Elite athletes, a runner in a koala suit, unexpected housemates, presto puppy, hot hot hot hot hot scenes, beautiful writing and description, hot sex scenes, heart squeezing moments, laugh out loud times, the beauty of gay Melbourne Australia, oh and did I mention this book is HOT?! I really enjoyed this book. The characters were amazingly real and dynamic and the entire romance developed in such real and natural ways, with the struggles and the surprises, and how both characters found ways to give the best they could to their life and their relationship without being swallowed by it whole. I want to cuddle this book for giving me all the feels.
The Seasonals by Pamela Jeffs: You can’t go past Pamela Jeffs for atmospheric writing and beauty and The Seasonsals is no except. A collection of 4 short stories all tied together spanning 10000 years. Creatures from another world, the cursed, and the forgetful all coming together to keep our world from being eaten. Heartbreak and beauty go hand in hand with dynamic characters and incredible world building and description.
Just My Type by Lucy Bexley and Bryce Oakley: This was a fun lighthearted vampire romance. And I mean really what could wrong with a vampire and a hematoligist. They are perfectly matched to each other, Annie with her excitable humanity and sciencey stuff and Ero with zero pop culture knowledge, or general human living awareness at all, and a love for her inherent nature. The puns and references throughout the entire book kept me giggling. It was easy to read and the pages seemed to fly past. I enjoyed many of the descriptions and felt entirely called out by Annie’s immediate acceptance, only to be stunned later when she begins to really think about the consequences. Whoops. I love June and Nines and Ero’s adorable awkwardness. Oh …. And damn, sizzling!
Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir: Oh my fucking god. Tamsyn Muir does it again. I spent time simultaneously wondering wtf was happening while being entirely captivated by the writing, world building and characterisations. I love Moira Quirk and her ability to truly envelope you in the experience and world with her narrating mastery. As usual Muir had me laughing along with lines such as: – who is this literal god damn infant? Can someone give her like a rusk or something and shut her up? – no baby cakes, I didn’t fool you. – I thought I told you to shut your stolen god damned mouth And then simple lines and concepts that stay with you: – That middle of the brain thought I adore this series and cannot wait for the next instalment
Fire Witch by Rachael Boucker This is a brilliant novellette night order series prequel. love the world building, the magic system, and Boucker’s way with words. A mix of laugh out loud moments with turn my head away from the gruesome descriptions.
A Whisper of Solace by Milena McKay Wow. This was an epic read and I understand why people have been talking so much about it. I loved the relationship between the MC and the therapist, the self-referential jokes and outright conversations about tropes. Neve is a masterpiece of a complicated and contradictory human being. I struggled at the start with Neve’s ‘wallowing’ and hyper focus on her not-a-relationship with Audrey but am so glad I pushed through because once she moved through to allowing herself to also focus on her life and work again, wow I could not stop reading. Or listening, because Abby Crayden’s narration is a divine piece of art. My only other struggle was not understanding what was so amazing about Audrey that everyone gravitated toward her and loved her … and THEN, the self-referential moments where Audrey brings this to light. At least, that’s how it felt to me and damn was I all here for it. I laughed out loud many times and found myself smiling that omg this is brilliant icyness without even realising it. Among the joy were also the most heartbreaking of moments. Milena’s writing is delicious and provocative. And the sizzle, oh sizzle beyond sizzle.
Last night I did a thing. Often I have ideas and then quickly talk myself out of them, especially if it’s a thing that I shy away from … especially praising myself in any way. *Gotta love that shitty self-esteem stuff* … BUT as my 40th birthday approaches and the last few years have seen many major things (both good and heartbreaking) happening in my life, I’ve really started to understand how short and special life itself is.
And, sometimes I even catch myself thinking how proud I am of how far I’ve come and wow, I might actually be good at something.
So the thing I did was set up a buymeacoffee page to help fund the time, equipment and books I review and fangirl about over on my YouTube channel Hyperactive Bookworm.
I did the technological thing, all by myself … *pats back enthusiastically* .. but then didn’t know how to test if it was all working.
A wonderful friend helped me test it. I agreed she was free to share the link if she wanted. I didn’t expect the huge words of praise for myself but it has certainly made my day … and made me brave enough to share it here.
If you are interested in helping me, I’d appreciate it, but there is no pressure. I love what I do and will endeavour to keep doing it
I don’t do pages everyday. And lately I’ve hardly done them at all. But I do love how I feel on the random mornings that I get the time and energy to do them.
My often excuse is the insomniac son I have … the reality is, I just get lazy or forgetful (despite the reminder that pops up every morning). Sometimes I fall back asleep on the couch and wait for the sun to actually rise before I get moving and usually by then it’s in a rush.
But, this morning I felt the energy and the motivation.
So why am I blathering on about this? I’m so glad I asked.
While writing my pages this morning, l I realised something that has raised its head many times in the past but I’ve quickly pushed it down.
I love learning.
For many years I forgot just how much. I can remember when I was younger indulging in such amazing activities as reading encyclopaedias over the school holidays, collecting different dictionaries to see what words and meanings were changed in them, and how exciting it was to master new skills that were hard to learn.
But somewhere along the way I lost the love of learning. I could blame emotionally abusive ex’s, childhood trauma, a degree that made me feel more stupid than anything else but that hardly matters. What matters was that I couldn’t find that joy anymore. I hid away from things that were hard, terrified to show others that I didn’t already know this specific skill or hadn’t mastered that particular task. I was so scared that I would be seen as a moron for the learning process. Looking back, it makes me so sad for all the things I stopped myself enjoying.
But, it’s back. I’ve found it again, and we have happily reconciled.
It’s a very unexpected side effect of this writing journey and the amazing people I have found along this path. Some are on the sidelines cheering me on, passing me cups of water as I run this race of mine. Sure, sometimes I’m walking, sometimes skipping, and other times I’m sitting on a rock beside them catching my breath. Other times, these amazing people are there helping and teaching without judgement or expectation. They have returned to sit old rocks helping others get past the next hurdle.
I find myself learning new things constantly about writing. And not one of these things have been learnt alone or in a vacuum. Sometimes it’s from taking a class (I recently took a fantastic course on magic realism), sometimes it’s informal chats with fellow authors turned friends, other times it’s interviewing an author, or getting feedback, or reworking a manuscript with edits from alpha readers, publishers, or editors. I’ve even learnt while reading about someone else’s experiences, or reading another authors book they have bravely push out into the world. And I can’t even begin to numbe the amount of times I’ve realised something about my own method or WIP when helping out a fellow author asking for advice.
Learning is not something to be ashamed of and the process should be highlighted and celebrated just as much if not more than the end result.
I love finding this feeling again. And while I may bitch and moan about how long the editing process takes or how confused those craft books make me at times, I have never been so happy with my journey. I can’t wait to keep learning. And for the first time in such a long time, I’m looking forward to messing up and learning more from each mistake.
Today I spoke up, and said why yes I am an author. I even joined in, video and audio, *insert shocked horror face here* to an author chat and said hello. Did I feel like an entire pretender (Ooh ooh yes I’m the great pretender ooh ooh) Of course. Was I nervous and unprepared, oh hell yes. Did that make it easier, actually yeah it really did. My bravery (I’m still uncertain it’s actually the correct word, but we’ll work on that one) is an in the moment thing. Don’t give me enough time to worry about how much of an idiot I will most likely make of myself (thanks anxiety), that’s for ruminating on later. But, I did it.
And the bravery didn’t stop there. *shocked face once more*
Today I met up with an amazing reader, and even signed the books she bought with my fountain pen, with a confidence and a flourish that was all faked. But I admit, it did feel good. Did I take the ‘author in the wild’ photo I was planning/hoping to? Of course not. It’s easier for me to remember to take photo’s when I’m not the subject matter.
BUT … I was still brave today. And while I’m now socially drained, it was a good day.
Celebrating the small things is something I always preach. When those around me achieve any measure of success in any area of their lives I am the first to throw those pom pom’s in the air. For myself, I’m less enthusiastic and I’m working on that, reminding myself I deserve the same excitement as others.
So, as a reminder to you all, if you aren’t celebrating your own achievements, no matter how big or small, now is the time 😀
I may have mentioned this before. I tend to follow the shiny bouncy ball of life, but only once it’s smacked me in the face a few times. My stubbornness gets in my way, and even when it’s a decision I already teetered on the edge of, I demand the push before I fall up.
Only three days into the new year and I’ve been smacked left right and up the back of the head. Poetry and feelings. Two things I have love/hate and decidedly complicated relationships with.
I used to cry a lot. But after years of being told to suck it up, years of learning to school the icy shards of emotions from my face and reactions. And while the tears have been easy to tame, I have never stopped apologising for my excitement over what others deem insignificant. I still get ‘overly’ enthusiastic about the things I love, only to ruminate about them later and worry I expresses TOO much emotion. But when it comes to crying, I don’t. Or at least I hadn’t for a very long time. Not only had I come to think of tears as distasteful in myself (I love people who can cry) but almost impossible to reach.
Enter last year and my introduction to some of the most amazing authors and human beings I have ever been lucky enough to know. The LGBTQIA writing community I have found have been ridiculously supportive and boosting.
Last year, 5 books made me cry. I almost fell over the first time it happened. I remember it clearly. I was stirring a pot of pasta, ensuring it didn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, I’m not a terribly good or attentive kitchen person. But I was reading, holding the book in one hand while the other hand half mindedly stirred the pasta and water. I didn’t realise I was crying. I was reading and my chest grew hot and tight. Being constricted as though wrapped up by a boa. My cheek tickled. My brows furrowed and I lifted the hand stirring up to my cheeks. Before I could really take in the tears I yelped as hot water splashed on me and my book. Saving me from investigating the phenomenon. 4 more times it happened. And by the end of the year I felt a fear and an excitement over being able to. More than that, I felt indebted to these amazing authors who plucked at the chains wrapped around my emotions and let them be expressed.
Three days into the new year and the first book I’ve read has made me cry. The second book is a poetry book and I’ve felt winded as it talked about societies pressure to not feel. To not admit we are human with all the ranges of emotions. Bring on my burgeoning relationship with poetry.
As if these weren’t enough, just this morning I had a conversation with a fellow author whom I am beta reading for, below is what happened when she asked me for some specific details and feedback for the book.
My first reaction was horror. How can I be associated with sobbing? But that lasted a mere micro second because now I can’t take the smile off my face.
So here is to a new year of poetry and feelings. A year of rating books on the NINSAABO scale.
Here’s to not apologising for my emotions, the sadness, the fullness, the fear, and the excitement.
I had two conversations this week that really effected me, and I wanted to note them down. Neither topic is new for me, neither conversation lit a lightbulb but both made a big impact on this-week-Neen.
The first conversation gave me warm fuzzy feelings. It was online, with a fellow author. I won’t go verbatim but in the end I felt so seen and acknowledged. I write sapphic fiction, but not sapphic romance. One day I might but this presumption that sapphic (or lesbian) fiction is assumed to be romance is so prevalent and can be really frustrating and disheartening. Especially for an author starting out. Having a fellow author agree that it shouldn’t automatically be assumed as romance made me so happy. Perhaps with more voices I won’t always have to feel insignificant and irrelevant and often unable to promote my writing.
The second conversation happened this morning. My health has been semi-craptacular of late so off I went to get several vials of blood taken. The pathologist was so lovely and managed to get my introverted self happily talking. She asked what I do, as verbatim as I can remember: *clears throat* Me: I’m a writer, that’s what I go gooey about Pathologist: oh what do you write? M: horror and dark fantasy *insert wide eyes and slightly opened mouth* P: you don’t look like you write dark things, you’re so happy. M: and that’s how I stay happy, putting all the darkness into the words. P: That makes sense. I love that. Stay lovely and happy.
Since then I’ve wondered, what does a horror writer look like? What does any writer look like? Was she shocked I was a writer or the genre which I write? What does each specific genre author look like? I don’t have the answers, but I feel like a meme might be in my future.
I love books. I read pretty intensely and I LOVE to review and talk about them. I know, it’s shocking news and I probably should have lead with a warning or something.
But my love of stories and words plays a huge part of why I started writing.
Yep, I’m a writer and I’ve been writing since I can remember. Since before my formal school days I can remember walking around with a little notebook and pencil everywhere I went. I would write out every line of dialogue from my favourite movies. Watching and rewatching them. I would look forward to Wednesday afternoons every single week, when all six of us would bundle up in the car and be taken to the library for several hours before we headed back home.
All these years later, all these years writing in the dark silent solitude and never once being able to call myself a writer. When I published my very first piece of work, I called myself a writer … with a bit BUT on the end. There was always some kind of justification . Until this year.
I published my first Novella. It has my name, and only my name on the front cover. I was finally a writer. See, full stop. Huge progress.
This has not meant that I’ve been any good at promoting/pimping my own writing status or book. This has not meant for a moment that the impostor syndrome has shut the hell up. This has not meant that I have stopped writing, or learning, or growing.
But something very cool happened this week.
I made the list.
Jae is a phenomenal author, marketing, human being, and supporter of others both in and out of our rainbow family. For her reading challenge this year one of the categories is a new to you author. She has made a list of new and up coming authors to look out for. AND. I. AM. ON. THIS. LIST.
It’s certainly put a huge smile on my face and made me even more determined to keep writing, to keep telling the stories I wish had been around when I truly needed them.
So, I am a writer, I made Jae’s up and coming list, and if you want to read my debut novella, you can do that right here… it’s even on KU at the moment.
I am so freaking excited about being able to talk about and promote these incredible projects I’ve been working on. Two amazing groups of authors all working together to create these brilliant anthologies.
British moors, winter 1955 Hamer House Hospital is dedicated to the care of their patients. But, another story is unfolding in basement Ward D. Locked behind the doors are the twisted minds and souls society wish to forget. The depraved and the perverse.
It’s a strange concept, or at least it seemed like one to me when I first heard it talked about with some of the amazing authors in the sapphic writers community. But most authors (and I argue all good authors) are readers. They will read more books than they will ever manage to write. If every reader wrote, there would still be more books wanted, more books being read than being written.
But this can sometimes be hard to imagine as the plethora of books and TBR piles and new releases can seem overwhelming at times. And I suppose it also depends on what you write. It’s taken me a long time and I’m still settling into my happiest writers niche. Just to clarify, Sapphic Speculative Fiction is totally my writing jam, but even that has many genres and sub genres beneath this umbrella.
I’m finding there are more out there then I originally thought and this has been so exciting as a reader, and truly terrifying as a writer. It’s worried at the back of my brain. But while reading one of my favourtie sapphic sci-fi authors this morning, I had an epiphany of happiness for the writer in me.
I belong to many different reader groups. There are often multiple recommendation requests a day. I cannot think of a single request that asks for something opposite to what the reader has enjoyed. More often than not the requests going along something like this:
I just finished [insert title and author here] and loved it. I’m looking for more of the same.
Let me just repeat that here: LOOKING FOR MORE OF THE SAME.
That’s right. We readers may not always want the same genre or trope for every single book we read, but often WE DO go back and forth between what we love most. Myself, I will mix up what I read, but then I often go back and revisit the same genres and tropes. They are my favourites for a reason.
Ok, so you’re probably thinking, yes that’s all well and good but how could my writing ever compare to [insert your favourite book in your writing genre]. Here’s a revolutionary concept. It doesn’t have to compare. What you love about a book, another reader might find annoying and the worst part. You will always be your harshest critic with your own writing. That’s why it’s such a great and vital idea to have beta readers, editors, and a plethora of others whose opinion you value and who aren’t afraid to tell you both their loved and not so loved parts.
And no-one, not even yourself, can write the exact same story twice. So, don’t let that snide little negative nelly voice in your head stop you from loving your own stories.