Interviewed Tomorrow

Yes, it’s been a bit quiet around here lately. To make up for it,  Rebecca Blain’s blog On Writing will get a bit loud when she interviews me tomorrow about my professional trident – writing, editing and publishing… and how it all fits together (or doesn’t).  Lucky for her she asked all the questions and I was wearing a skirt so I didn’t need to ask if I could unzip my pants (I’m pretty sure she’s not into ties as well).

There’s a comparison between Chinese Whisperings and Literay Mix Tapes. In addition to all the business stuff, she asks me my opinion on writers and their reading habits (pull out the soap box), how to land the coveted ‘acceptance letter’ and which writer dead or alive I’d like to hang out with. It won’t be who you expect (I dare you to have a guess below).

Like all good Saggittarians – I love to talk, so my interview will stretch across two days to accomodate my lengthy answers – there was a lot of good stuff to talk about. For those who stop in and leave a comment (or a question of their own – and no I won’t unzip my pants!) a chance to win some eBooks. So mosey on over tomorrow and Wednesday.

For now – here’s a sneaky peek at what’s coming up there (as it leads into my next blog post!)

Do you find your ability to work as a writer, editor and publisher suffers at all from trying to do it all?

Yes, and sadly it is my writing which always takes a back seat – either because of tiredness, or lack of inspiration, because I’m just too full up with other people’s stories to find room for my own (last year the Yin and Yang Books was 22 interconnected stories!) or I feel editing and publishing take a higher priority. Editing is a suck on your creative reserve – especially the projects I am involved in, which are very ‘hands on’.

The irony of giving up editing to write, only to find myself back with an editor’s hat firmly on my head is not lost on me.

Image: Interview Questions from Toothpaste for Dinner.

Read an eBook Week

Over at Smashwords it is read an eBook week. It is a great way for those who have a new eReader or who are curious about eBooks to dip in with little cost to themselves. Or for readers to test drive a writer or a genre they’ve been curious about for a while.

At eMergent Publishing and Chinese Whisperings we are part of the festivities. All four of our Chinese Whisperings anthologies will be heavily reduced for the rest of the week and at different points until Sunday – free. To find out more follow us on:





eMergent Publishing

Chinese Whisperings

Pure Morning

My body betrayed me. First morning at home, and by default first day back at work, I was awake at 4.00am, mind kicking into gear soon after. There were two options, try and go back to sleep or surrender and get up. Despite the high value I put on sleep (which may be hard for anyone to believe given the start I’ve had to 2011) I got up.

It was dark. It was pre-kookaburras (who go off just before sunrise) The house was quiet. I indulged in a long shower first, then pulled my blank journal from my bag and set up my desk for writing while the kettle boiled. I wrote the first page; my hand protested and jasmine infused the air from the small steaming cup.

I got my fingers covered in ink – the pages as well. I revelled in the jasmine tea. I got lost in the slip and stroke of the fountain pen running across the page.  All was well in the world – a place to pause and just be, between the chaos and fun of holiday and the resposibility and familiarity of home and work.

The smudge of dawn appeared, the kookaburras began to laugh; I decanted the second half of the tea and the words poured forth, the insights bleed out through my pen. The chaos settled and my focus on the world began to twist back into clarity. All was good, all was right in the world.

It doesn’t feel like a morning lost, but one gained. And maybe, just maybe, I might do it again tomorrow.

Image (c) Jodi Cleghorn, 2011

Why 100 Stories for Queensland Will Be Late

I should qualify the title of this blog by saying – 100 Stories for Queensland won’t be ‘late’; while the printing and release have been delayed and the anthology won’t be available for launch next week (as originally hoped) it will all happen in the proper time.

How can I say that?

Last year I learnt a profound lesson about timing. Even when things look they’ve been thrown into disarray and the timing is all out, it’s actually a project (or an event) finding its proper timing. It’s a hard thing to surrender to – the perfect Universal timing (as opposed to the perfect ‘human’ timing) but I can assure you, I’ve experienced it time and time again – and it’s always right.

As the Director of Creative Assets at eMergent – I am at this point a one-woman team. I do all the editing, all the design and layout. It is me who basically gets everything to the printer and if something happens, there is no one to pick up the slack. Since mid-January I’ve been lending a hand to my business partner Paul who is running our non-fiction said of things, with the relaunch of Write Anything (our community outreach and education blog for writers). It is hard to believe the time is working for and not against me!

The delay to 100 Stories for Queensland is a short and long story. The short is, when I agreed to help out with 100 Stories several things were already happening (against the back drops of the floods):

  • it was the school holidays and I was trying my best to give my six year old a holiday rather than just a pause from school.
  • I had two live projects (both of which were battling again said school holidays) – one of which, NOTHING BUT FLOWERS had only kicked off six days earlier.
  • and as I mentioned – eMergent was moving into a new, and previously unchartered territory with Write Anything.

Then I lost nine days and my entire work schedule went down the tube. This is perhaps the downside of trying to be über organised. Once you’ve lost time, it is almost impossible to regain it – no matter how hard you work to catch it up.

At the end of January we had a public holiday followed by 12 hours of vomiting and two days home for my son. This was while I was completing the proof reading for Emma Newman’s FROM DARK PLACES and beginning line edits for NOTHING BUT FLOWERS.

The following week Cyclone Yasi graced us with her presence, bearing down on my family and friends in Cairns. In many ways it was worse than the floods – the days of waiting for its arrival and the late night spent with my sister, virtually holding her hand as it struck the coast – gratefully for my friends and family, south of them. Three days were lost to the place your mind goes when danger is present and the fall out of days of being on edge.

FROM DARK PLACES was finalised just a few days over the scheduled date and I threw myself into the final editing and preparations for NOTHING BUT FLOWERS, pleading with the Universe to just give me on week, five days, where nothing happened and I could just work. Going to print as a paperback meant I went through every single story with a fine tooth comb – and I realised the time line for NBF was way off – before all the other delays were factored in. The week leading up to Valentines Day I pulled 14 hour days, slept around 4 hours a night and ploughed through my work while juggling my family and new responsibilities at school (let’s just say I think I ended up being crap at everything that week!)

As it was NBF was two weeks behind the original schedule and as I write this, the book is still waiting a final cover and to be sent through to the printers. Two weeks ago I finalised the eBooks, sorted out the back end with payments with a tickle in the back of my throat and the beginnings of a sniffle.

There was no time for getting sick – I had scheduled the next three days (Saturday-Monday) for 100 Stories to get all stories finalised, to spend Tuesday and Wednesday getting the book into a proof layout (after Tehani and I discovered our programmes were incompatiable and I was loathe to ask her to do an entire book layout when I couldn’t even ensure I could open it at my end to finalise any corrections)

I was leaving for Victoria, my high school reunion and a week of research in Ballarat on the Thursday. It had all been neatly factored in a month earlier. I knew it could be done – I’d just miss out on one weekend.

The virus laid me out flat for three days. I only got out of bed on the third day to take my son to school. Tuesday I worked 12 hours and got the first 50 stories finalised and ended up back in bed on the Wednesday. Thursday our flight was cancelled and we rescheduled for 5am Friday.

We landed in Victoria Friday morning wrung out from the late night, a 5am flight, mid-flight drama and this entire week I’ve just wanted to chill out, but the guilt of 100 Stories hanging over my head seems to have drained any enjoyment I should be having.

While those who have been working with me, know the time and effort I put in (and that 100 Stories was squashed between existing projects and other scheduled eMergent and Chinese Whisperings projects have been put on hold) there are 100 authors out there, about to be published in 100 Stories who don’t know me that well. There are 200 other people who submitted, missed out on a place and still want to buy the book. There are all the friends and family who all want to get their hands on the books also. There is also the 30+ team of 100 Stories who have worked hard to keep the project clipping over at an amazing pace and I feel like I’m letting everyone down. I’m sorry!

I’m not one to whinge and I’m certainly not looking for sympathy (Goddess forbid) – I just want everyone associated with the project to understand sometimes despite you best efforts you can’t make things the way you wish they were.

So that’s the long and the short of it… and hopefully this goes a little ways to quell the guilt I’m feeling and gives everyone on the outside a small view into why this has happened. A week lost – can never be regained.

I am home next week and the management team will have discussions regarding the best launch date. And as soon as we know, we’ll let all of you know.

Thanks so much for your understanding and a special thank you to the management team who gave their blessings (reinforced in the last day via Facebook and twitter) for me to take a few days off.

In Appreciation of Dr Seuss

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains!
…So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

I’ll let you in on a little secret – actually two! The love of my life shares a birthday with one of the greatest children’s authors of all time. Happy birthday Dave and happy birthday Dr Seuss (who would have been 107 today!)

So what’s the second little secret?

Only in adulthood have I truly come to appreciate Dr Seuss. You’d think it would be the reverse. For Mr D’s first birthday Annie and family gifted him his first Dr Seuss book with a message along the lines of, “If we have to do it – you have to do it too!” And as much as my tongue has been tied in knots, and I’ve discovered my breath control sucks, and as much as I would probably happily never read Hop On Pop again (or have it read to me)… there is something weird and enchanting about Seuss’ work.

As a child, I didn’t read Dr Seuss. I had a passing idea about the Cat in the Hat and If I had Duck Feet… and my favourite book for many years was The Diggiest Dog (published under Seuss’ imprint) I really wasn’t that into the books Seuss (or perhaps my parents weren’t really that into them?)

When my partner and I moved in together – one of the first things we did was build acommunal book case from long lengths of raw timber and concrete blocks. That’s where I first found and read, Oh, the Places You Will Go. The book so enthralled and lifted me up, I turned a blind eye to the inscription in the front of it from Dave’s ex-girlfriend (and still do!)

Since then – I’ve sought it out when things aren’t going too well. It’s always one of a handful of books I choose when it is my turn to pick a bedtime story, so much so Mr D (now almost 7) will choose it for me to read, knowing how much I love it. And believe me it has some stiff competition from several Lola and Charlie books.

I believe Oh, the Places You Will Go is the best motivational book on the market. As such it has been a standard gift to so many special people in my life – I’ve lost count! I dont believe it’s the best motivational book on the market  because of the uplifting ending, or the magical rhyming way the narratives rolls off your tongue when read, but simply because it is honest. It says sometimes life is going to suck. Sometimes you will be alone. Sometimes you won’t be a winner. Sometimes you’ll be stuck waiting. Sometimes you will be scared. But there are always choices to move on. Always good times just a little further down the way.

Thank you to Dr Seuss, for a legacy which brightens lives generation after generation.

What is your favourite Dr Seuss book and why?