Farewell, Year of the Serpent

IMG_5589What can I say? Apparently the Year of the Serpent is meant to be an auspicious year for Oxen folk like me. It is known as a year of rebirth and transformation in all areas of life. I themed it ‘the year of consolidation’ as I set out to strengthen and solidify my writing life, setting aside business to allow me to do this. It was intended as a year of bringing all my skills together, all the experiences, lessons and connections and making them work for me.

What was the reality of it all?

A tangle. An implosion. A life that resembled the Poseidon Adventure, just with a better soundtrack.

A Dramatic Run Down, Sans Bad Acting  [*Cue Appropriate Music*]

The year began in the aftermath of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald and three days without power. Then there was the return of the school shit bearing down on us as Mr D’s anxiety and school refusal peaked in aggressive and violent behaviour. We ended up with five broken weeks of attendance in first term and our household became a tempest of broken promises and expectations, a sense of drowning, hollow hopes and minor wins and more set backs than any human in their right mind can remain stoic in the face of.

Woven through this was the successful submission and sale of my novella Elyora (River of Bones) to Endeavour Press in early March, followed several days later by its inclusion on the Aurealias short list. It was like riding a rollercoaster that never ended.

By the end of April River of Bones had been released, Adam and I had completed the final season of Post Marked: Piper’s Reach, I’d enjoyed (as best I could with the family issues and the first horrendous head cold in more than a year) NatCon and Mr D had been withdrawn from mainstream school and enrolled in Distance Education. Whatever hopes I had left of a year of writing went out the window.

My brain barely functioned creatively as I worked to wrap my head around Maths and English and Science plus weathering the full force of Mr D’s anger and apathy as I worked to have him re-engage with the learning process again, while he emotionally detoxed from mainstream schooling. And dealing with my own version of cabin fever through it all. Working to maintain my own mental health.

IMG_4677In July we got out of Brisbane and spent two weeks in Longreach and the surrounds. It was the reset we needed as a family. I spent the first few days in bed with a fever and then the second week bunking off in the morning to mark up the completed Piper’s Reach manuscript. I returned with the manuscript completed, an idea for a rural romance and the resolve to complete the steam punk romance story I’d penned the opening sections of in Brisbane airport in April waiting to fly out to Sydney. It sucks though how the verve that accompanies you into the first week of ‘real life’ rarely stays put for more than that first week.

Through July and early into August I was a diligent Distance Ed tutor. I did what I was told, I was upbeat and positive with Mr D. We made all our deadlines with work and in some respects, were ahead. I worked hard on the weekends at my steam punk romance, forced myself into the headspace and kept at it even though it kept beating me at every turn. And we became parents again… to a spoodle named Duke.IMG_5375

Mid-August I got glandular fever as my body’s last hurrah to being young, or perhaps my body giving in to eight months of emotional turmoil and the physical exhaustion that comes with. I spent three weeks bed ridden. I had to ask for help. I was so sick it didn’t bother me to ask for help. It was the lowest point in a year of low points, but also the point where I decided enough was enough. In the midst of all the sickness I managed to finally find a pendant for the year, and once I had it, it felt as though the year turned for me as I hung the silver and red coral serpent around my neck. As I crawled my way back to health, I let go of the need to abide by Distance Education’s stupidity. I found a way into my steampunk romance and wrote like a demon. In the end I submitted ahead of the due date but with the fear a rejection of the story would crush me.

October I railed hard against Distance Education, with the repetition and the lack of creativity. I became ‘one of those parents’, even though I knew I was angry with all the wrong people. I despised the way English was conceptualised and taught. I found myself in a pitched battle I was never going to win. I hated what it took from me. I hated how it bored Dylan and how I was responsible for making it engaging and interactive when it was none of that. I was on the verge of the next big decision.

IMG_4910And throughout this, Adam and I chipped away at the edits of Post Marked Piper’s Reach. I got up early each morning and spent an hour editing and revising and every week or so, we got together to revise our revisions, read aloud the letters and deconstruct at a deeper level what was actually going on in the letters. It kept me going when I was able to sustain any other kind of writing.

At the end of October I decided to do NaNoWriMo. I was jacked off with Distance Education, we’d reached THE END as far as I was concerned and I’d decided I was going to withdraw us at the end of the year and do autonomous home schooling. It was partly rebellion against everything Distance Education had sucked out of me, partly hearing Rus Vanwestervelt was doing NaNo that had me decide several days before the end of October to take the plunge and write my steampunk romance out as a novella length work.

I did what Jack Dann advises: give writing the best part of your day. So I wrote in the morning before life and school cluttered my head. I wrote with the aim of getting 2000-2500 words a day, to enable me to enjoy my 40th birthday party later on in the month. And I wrote with the intention of finishing the manuscript. Within the first week I knew it was not going to be a novella, as I suspected and kept writing. And I wrote and wrote and wrote and ended up on November 29th with a 79,000 word completed first draft manuscript of my first solo novel. This meant when the rejection letter came in December for ‘Between Minutes’ it fell with far less of a blow.

In December my head broke and poetry came out. I gave up on Distance Education, surrendered to home schooling and when I did the opportunity for Mr D to attend Brisbane Independent School came to us. It was Mr DIMG_6849’s decision to return to school and while we counted down to school starting across December and January, with twinkles of hope and possibility, I spent the festive season in lock, down-burn out wondering what the hell had happened (another loss of confidence despite having just completed my first novel). The upside was hours spent gazing into the glass water of the water hole at the bottom of the hill at my mother-in-laws.

But come the turn of the new calendar year, a new story came, and I’ve been writing poetry and tackling my birthpunk novella, now entitled “Encursion”. After five years, the writing was fun, and fast-paced and a bit mental! While I didn’t complete the novella as I had set out to do (albeit with a bit of a tight deadline) I’m in neck deep and I will continue until I type: THE END. And Piper’s Reach is finally there. Edited up and ready to send to Toni and Rus. Ready for us to take the next big leap of faith!

Write A List, Before You Beat Yourself Up

The Year of the Serpent wasn’t the year I expected, it wasn’t exactly the year I wanted, but it was a year that was productive despite all the challenges thrown my way. Despite having to give away my dream of a year of writing. I can say that now. Several months ago I was treating myself as an absolute failure.

The year’s work looks something like this (and I am a bit astounded when I actually look at it all):

  • 555 and Nothing New to Begin accepted at Tincture Magazine
  • Completed short stories: Twice Forgotten (4500), Between Minutes* (7800), First to Hundred* (4200) and At Arm’s Length (2200) *Submitted and rejected.
  • Completed first draft of gothic horror novel
  • Completed first draft of The Griefing Yard (with Stacey)
  • Worked on shorts Tag Hubert’s Requiem and The Indictment of Portia Simpson
  • Completed writing Post Marked: Piper’s Reach (87,000 all up)
  • Completed the editing of Post Marked: Piper’s Reach (92,000)
  • Pitched (unsuccessfully) Post Marked: Piper’s Reach to Hachette during GenreCon.
  • Submitted first page of Post Marked: Piper’s Reach to First Impressions with positive feed back
  • Delivered my first editing workshop for QWC
  • Did my first mentoring through QWC
  • Sat on panels at Conflux/NatCon
  • Chaired my first panel (GenreCon).
  • Completed 28 days of Post-It Note Poetry in February
  • Wrote poetry throughout January (2013) for Month of Poetry
  • Read my first poem in public for At The End, Poetry event
  • Participated actively in both my online writing groups, including beta reading on a regular basis.
  • Submitted my first poem to a journal.
  • Partnered with Nicole Murphy to publish In Fabula Divino (launched April 2012) and Prana Writer’s Group to publish The Gold Coast Anthology (for launch in May 2013)
  • Released through eP Tom and Mike’s book The Machine Who Was Also a Boy
  • Was offered several exciting editing and publishing opportunities (that I am, for now, sitting on patiently waiting for the right time!)

When I look at the list, it’s hardly a year of doing nothing, though it felt at times like nothing was happening; a consequence of working on longer pieces that will bear fruit further down the track?

Social Consolidation, In The Best Kind of Way

While it is easy to bemoan the Year of the Serpent as a really tough year, the year that almost broke me, I was blessed in so many other ways: I was surrounded by caring, compassionate and encouraging friends.

IMG_5261Thank you to The Furies: Stacey and Helen (sisters-in-words and so much more!), to Rob (the untangler of knotted narratives and ever-ready coffee partner/cheer squad/all round awesome person), Sean (the wish enabler), Adam (insert bestest before writing partner, friend and chooser of new music), Nicky (the bringer of wisdom and chicken soup), Angela ( fairy godmother in disguise), Kevin (unexpected hoarder of brilliant new friends and ideas), Lois (catalyst for awesome), Rus (Zen master of the mental reset and agent provocateur of the creative), Alex (party planner extraordinaire and generous giver of business wisdom), Tom (partner in beer, sanity disher and listener to obscure narrative ideas) and Emily (the girl voted most likely to inspire Mr D to shower, brush his teeth and leave the house!)

It was the kind of ‘social consolidation’ I wasn’t expecting but I am ever so grateful for.

Thank you also to Dave and Mr D who let me escape on weekends to regroup my sanity and chase words; who were caring, kind and considerate throughout all our travails, especially when I was at my worst.

There are many other people who assisted in small and large ways; if you are reading this, you are probably one of them. Thank you!

The Take Home Message

We rarely get what we want. Instead, the Universe sends us what we need. And I give thanks and gratitude for everything, small or large, brilliant or devastating that the Year of the Serpent wrought; I have changed, evolved and perhaps been rebirthed in some areas of my life, as is the manifesto of a Serpent Year.

Now to welcome in The Year of the Green Horse, with all it’s dashing derring-do.

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Good-Bye Jude and Ella-Louise

Pipers Reach Promo PictureI’m feeling emotionally fragile this morning after last night’s final editing session with Adam on Post Marked: Piper’s Reach. Actually that’s a bit of an understatement. I’m emotionally gutted, made worse by the fact I wasn’t expecting this. Even though we finished writing the letters back in April and have read through it multiple times, been over the end multiple times, and apparently grieved it all… reading aloud the letters last night truly rendered me bereft. And grieving all over again.

#iamnotcrying

That was the hashtag we tweeted under last night. When Adam suggested it, I thought, ‘Yeah okay’. Three months had passed since we’d last been together to edit and I forgot that editing meant reading aloud. And reading aloud last night meant… reading those letters aloud: the final words of Ella-Louise and Jude to each other.

The ones wrought from the depths of their heart as the realisations surfaced about who they were, what they had done and what was left to do next. Of the two of them brokering something of a resolution and believing in future, even if it wasn’t the future they originally wanted.

When my voice began to wobble, somewhere around the final 20 page mark, I knew I was in for a long haul of tears. And I so didn’t want to be the first to cry, but I have a reputation as being a bit of a sook. It would have been all wrong, had I not cried first.

Amplification

When you write in such close creative quarters with someone, you get to know them pretty well. You get to know a little about what makes them tick, what makes them laugh, what you think will make them cry. You create characters you both love (and sometimes hate, or want to slap some sense into). You share a very intimate space.

My challenge throughout the 14 months of writing was to ‘make Adam cry’. A rather noble gesture and one I took quiet seriously. And I thought I knew how to do it. Turns out I brought him to the brink several times without pushing him over.

I was certain the end would do it.

That final letter.

And when I didn’t make Adam cry the night we exchanged those final letters back in April I was shocked. In fact, I was a little incensed. How could he NOT cry? Did he have a bloody heart of stone?

What I didn’t realise was Adam was incapable of expressing any kind of emotion such was the physical and emotional impact of that final letter. He walked around in shock for a week, trying to process the ending. And later we got to talk about just how it felt, began to pick it apart (if you’re writing partner can’t see the ending that’s coming, that’s a good thing right?) but I felt a little cheated. I had wanted to make him cry, like he had been making me cry across the three seasons.

Turns out, it’s not such a great thing to want.

It’s one thing to cry alone, another thing to cry in company.

Adam said last night, that the process of reading aloud amplified the emotion. It absolutely did. It also stripped bare our reactions to the words. I started crying for the words, but then I was crying because Adam was crying and thankfully we were separated by a State, with video cams off, which at least gave us a modicum privacy with our tears. Perhaps stopped us from dissolving completely into sobbing, hiccupping messes. Well temporarily!

We Could Be Heroes

It wasn’t like we hadn’t read it ad nauseum. It wasn’t like we didn’t know what was coming. It wasn’t like it was going to be a surprise… and yet it was. I was bowled over by just how visceral the emotions were. Of how deeply they tore through me.

I knew the exact moment we (collectively) would crack. I felt a little sick knowing those words were coming.

I tweeted: @revhappiness is going to say that heroes line and I will bawl.

Adam’s speed slowed, his voice quietened, the pauses between paragraphs and sentences lengthened, I could hear him struggling to get the words out and then came the line and there was a very long pause as we both were consumed by emotion. Neither of us were ashamed to admit we were crying.

But there was still one letter to go.

I don’t know how I read it. I was so choked up. It was like I was whispering Ella-Louise’s final words for a long way away. And then it was over.

For the last time.

There was nothing but silence. And snuffles. And more silence. Because what do you say when it is: The End?

How To Say Good-Bye

A friend told me this week that crying is being close to your soul. And last night it felt as though I lay within the souls of Ella-Louise and Jude. This morning I feel as though I’ve lost two close friends. I feel, even now, as though I could begin sobbing at any moment. While they left with each other a small part of themselves, I know they left a small part of themselves with Adam and I.

It is as though I’m up on The Point being buffered by a summer storm that blew in from nowhere, but a storm I knew in my heart was coming.

We created this montage as a tribute to the series and farewell for our readers back in June, but now the clip feels more like a eulogy; to friends well met and fairly parted.

Recalibrate

or how a new plan usurped the pity party of The Year of the Snake

The moon slid into her new robes late last night, in the sign of Virgo. Kim Falconer wrote in her New Moon newsletter:

The New Moon in Virgo is perfect to bring more ritual into the daily routine, amping up both ‘heart’ and ‘production’. Virgo is about skill development, and the rituals in life that are constantly creating and re-creating our experience of reality. You start creating habits that make life better.

As it turns out, I was already leading myself to that very place. I like to think of writing as recreating the experience of reality and I was ready to start writing. Properly. Again. I jokingly said, when my serpent medallion arrived last week, that the Year of the Snake could now begin for me. Better late than never!

TIME TO RECONSIDER

Weedy Typewriter

(c) Jodi Cleghorn 2013

This week, in a closed writer’s group I belong to, the topic of goals was bandied around. My first instinct was to comment it is all too hard at the moment, with home schooling still in flux, my health only just on the mend (after being slammed with glandular fever for three weeks) and a puppy who is still fitting into the family. The idea of trying to shoe horn anything in, seemed mad. Destined to fail. The best I could do was try and find time to write and to continue editing Post Marked: Piper’s Reach. That was an almost goal, right?

That afternoon I ended up in a cafe without my computer and without my phone. I had my Sony and a notebook. I started to flick through what was written in my notebook. That was enough to inspire me to reconsider my whiny comment.

There are four months left until the end of my creative year, I said to myself. What could I achieve in that time, rather than bemoan all the missed opportunities that have already passed.

NEW GOALS

One thing about goals is they need to be specific. The other is to attach a time frame to them.

A piece of mousse cake and a pot of tea later I had two pages of possibilities downloaded into purple ink under a variety of sub-headings: everything from the short stories in progress or pitched, to novella possibilities, the editing and submission process for Piper’s Reach broken down. The stories had markets and deadlines attached to them. So did the novellas, along with possible windows for writing. The editing schedule went month by month.

On the start of the second page I wrote down some new habits (albeit, new rituals!) I wanted to foster.

NEW HABITS

The three most obvious for the readers here are:

1. sit at my desk five mornings a week for one hour

2. blog reguarly

3. submit every month

I think the new habits will go a long way to helping facilitate success. If I achieve a quarter of what is on that list, then I will be happy. If I manage to sit at my desk five mornings a week, I’ll consider the entire goal setting initiative a win!

Watch this space!

What new goals are you willing to kickstart this new moon.

First Impressions For Post Marked: Piper’s Reach

Pipers Reach Promo PictureLast week I wrote about the process of honing the first page and the angst of marrying a non-traditional narrative with a traditional narrative framework to hook the reader. I had been reviewing the opening page in preparation for submitting to Marcy Hatch and Dianne Salerni’s “First Impressions” and agonising over the fit. Wondering if Piper’s Reach was appealing to those outside of our existing fan base. Dreading feedback that said we’d got it all wrong. After reading the comments on both Marcy and Dianne’s blog I know now why I was so worried.

Kittie Howard commented: There’s no middle ground with epistolary writing. It either hits or misses.

So, are we a hit or a miss?

THE HITS

“What’s great about this first page is that it sets up lots of questions about the past between these two people but also suggests a question about the future. Why is the narrator writing to Jude now, twenty years later?” Marcy.

I never really thought about why the twenty year gap (I was thinking of all the other whys) or the inherent question regarding the future (even though we set up the original tagline as: When the past reaches into the present would you risk a second chance.)

There’s just the right amount of past and present mixed together, and enough places mentioned to provide a clear image of setting without being confusing. Dianne

Again, I hadn’t thought too much about the setting on the first page (too worried about character and voice and conflict), even though Adam and I had spoken during the editing process about properly locating both the towns early on, something missing from the original letters.

To follow finish off Kittie’s comment: There’s no middle ground with epistolary writing. It either hits or misses. This one hits!

Alex J Cavanaugh commented: That simple letter says a lot. The authors nailed so much in just a few paragraphs.

You can read the full critiques and all the comments on Marcy’s and Dianne’s blogs, or add your own there.

THE MISSES

Some of the readers were slightly confounded by Australian colloquialisms such as ‘sea change’ (though apparently it was Shakespeare who first coined the phrase in The Tempest!) and ‘pashed’. Adam in true Adam style explained pash in the comments and added ‘pash rash’ – oh, I’d totally forgotten that! Chatting over dinner last night Dave and I agreed ‘pash’ really does belong (rather than snog) because it is one of those iconic 70’s and 80’s teenage Australian words – those all or nothing kinds of kisses at blue light discos and school socials that traded etiquette for raw momentum. If we want to keep true to the Australian voice of the characters we will need to be mindful to accommodate an international audience in the context of those words.

There were some punctuations glitches to fix and a small tweaking of one sentence regarding ‘stuff’, which is quite shameful given years ago I walked into my soul sister’s Year 8 English class where she had written ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ on the board and was running through ways of better articulating these generic terms!

So the worry was for nothing. Easy to say in retrospect! The project overall is unique enough to pique the interest of readers and there is enough in that first letter to hook the reader in. Now to worry over the next 321 pages!

Many thanks to Marcy, Dianne and their readers. Their comments and insights have fuelled the second stage editing rocket ready for launch next week.

If you have a manuscript and are interested in being part of Marcy and Dianne’s ‘First Impressions’ drop by either of their blogs for more information.

Accidentally Post Marked Piper’s Reach

…or how I came to hold the hearts of others in my hand.

When I started work as an editor I thought it was all about the words on the page. Perhaps it was the nature of the projects I was working on, perhaps it was the sheer amount of blood, sweat and tears I ground out of authors to get the best story possible, perhaps it was just circumstances or the fact that eP’s unpublicised motto has always been ‘life happens’…but I quickly found editing was more than just words on a page. I became privy and confidante to much of what went on in the lives of the authors I worked with. Things they didn’t publicly talk about as versions of their world fell down around their ears.

I always said I was there – an open door policy for email or Skype. I held whatever was told to me in a sacred trust. Over the years I’ve travelled death, disability, unemployment, depression, illness, relationship break ups and family problems (to name a few) with authors, but on the flip side I’ve been able to rejoice as babies were born, new relationships blossomed and careers took off.

UNEXPECTED MISSIVESIMG_3408

Like embarking as an editor, I was perhaps a little naïve about what writing Post Marked Piper’s Reach might actually entail further down the track, or under the obvious layers of ink on paper. When we started writing it was all about me: finding a writing niche again, rediscovering my love of writing and doing it with someone I trusted and admired. Letting it all play out in a medium I missed.

The first email that arrived was a bit of a surprise, as one of our readers opened up to share their experience of the one that got away. I should at that point have had an inkling of what was to come.

This morning another email arrived. I’m not sure how many that brings us up to now, but there have been a few since April last year.

It is humbling to be entrusted with these very intimate stories of love lost, of regrets, of yearning, guilt and wondering. The pull of the past and the question ‘what if’ is powerful. In these emails are best of times and the worst of times, the best of humanity and the worst of it. The memories are still vivid, feelings raw despite the time elapsed.  The writers tell of their own piles of paper and ink held together with faded lengths of ribbon, decaying sticky tape and disintegrating rubber bands. Letters accidentally stumbled upon, letters purposely found again.

Like Ella-Louise and Jude’s letters, the emails received are filled with songs, lyrics that echo across decades with such resonance they are accompanied with the sting of tears when I read them. A lot of the time these lyrics could be pulled straight from one of Ella-Louise’s letters. There are confessions of playlists from that time, of music hoarded to be played across the strings of badly mended scars.

Each email throws up new questions about how Ella-Louise and Jude respond and react to each other, of the mysteries of the past, present and future. Most recently themes of resurrection and motivations for stirring sleeping dogs are in the emails as Ella-Louise and Jude ponder the same things. If I ever have moments of doubt, or question the authenticity of Ella-Louise and Jude’s narrative, I only have to turn to these missives to know it nails it in the most confronting of ways. It’s why our readers react the way they do.

A RESPONSIBILITY BORN OF INK

I understand with deepening compassion and empathy and intrigue, the public response our readers have to each letter. And those whose stories I know, I want to crawl through the screen to their desk, or where they sit reading the letter on their phone or computer or the pages they printed out, on the bus, in a cafe or on their couch and give them a hug each week.

See, it’s not just Ella-Louise and Jude’s hearts we hold in our hands.

This charges us with responsibilities beyond just throwing words at a page and doing it with a degree of finesse (and legibility). The responsibility doesn’t lie just in writing authentically (ie. we’ve said many times, there will not be a happily ever after for these two regardless of the outcomes of their affair) and avoiding falling into the needs of our readers, to have the ending they didn’t get in real life, to stay true to our characters. The responsibility extends further: to be there to offer sanctuary for those tossed upon their own retrospective storms as they read the letters. To hold a space, bare witness and sometimes, to just be there at the other end of an email.

One day, when it is all over, perhaps I’ll take up Ella-Louise’s pen and dip it in the ink of my own story and let those who have written to me know I understand. I so absolutely understand.

 

Author Update #1

Happy Dark Moon. This is the first of what will hopefully be a semi-regular round up of my writing plus the writing and projects of those around me.

A MONTH OF POETRY

February was #postitenotepoetry month. I came out of the month with just under 40 poems—well ahead of the ‘dared’ 28. Unlike the “29 Days of Haiku” last year, I loved every minute of #postitnotepoetry. It became an unexpected and very welcomed outlet for a lot of difficult stuff I faced behind the scenes.

PODCAST

During the January heatwave, I sat down in my air-conditioned writing room to chat with Sean Wright for his Adventures of a Bookonaut podcast. I’ve done a few interviews (including on 4ZZZ) but this was the first time I’d been interviewed as a writer, and it was so much fun. The glowing feedback from Sean came at just the right time, as I sat poised on making the BIG decision to spend a year away from editing and publishing to write. It was also on Sean’s insistence that I sent ELYORA out into the big wide world.  Which brings me to…

ELYORA

My horror novella, published as part of Review of Australian Fiction’s Rabbit Hole special, is out in the wild. It has a brand new beginning, new title and hopefully a new home with the prospect of some financial return. Fingers crossed for good news in the next couple of weeks.

ONE SMALL STEP: AN ANTHOLOGY OF DISCOVERIES

Fablecroft’s next anthology ONE SMALL STEP: an anthology of discoveries is now available for pre-order. The all female anthology will launch at NatCon/Conflux next month. Looking at the ToC, I still pinch myself…that “Firefly Epilogue” sits alongside stories of some of my favourite authors.

FIRST TO A HUNDRED

A story idea for a piece of flash fiction, spawned by Adam’s commentary on cricket and tennis over summer, grew in one afternoon to a 5000 word story (in one sitting – making it the one easy story afforded a year – in the second week of my creative year!). “First to a Hundred” will be my entry in the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. In a quirk of narrative, the story steps aside from weird spec-fic I’m used to penning and is instead a YA coming-of-age story set on a Victorian beach in the late 1980’s. It’s the story that made all the important men in my life cry!

BIRTHPUNK

I have started on my set of six interlocking birthpunk novellas. I’m currently working on “Sylvie”—the original story that inspired the entire concept of birthpunk. With so many debates going on around the world about women’s corporeal rights (ie. Rights to choose what happens to their bodies) it would appear this is the year to be writing about a world where women’s corporeal rights have been stripped away. Where the Government controls all aspects of fertility and reproduction.

It is hard going at the moment, getting my head around the world building, with some extra distractions going on behind the scenes. The enormity of what I’m attempting weighs heavily on my confidence, despite the small, but dedicated cheer squad who keep telling me it’s awesome and I can do it. I’m hoping to have the first novella completed in the next fortnight.

POST MARKED: PIPER’S REACH

Adam and I have reached the point where we’re acknowledging the end is nigh. But if you think either of us has any idea how it ends, you’d be wrong. It’s not going to be in the next couple of letters, it might be even longer than a few more after that, but it’s definitely on the horizon.

I might not know how it’s going to end, but I do know what I had in mind for the ending this time last year, has been somewhat gutted by the unravelling of events in the last 12 months. There has been discussion that it will end where it started…with a letter from Ella-Louise. We’ll see.

Adam and I are planning to gift print copies of the Christmas Special as a chapbook, accompanied with Jude’s mix tape from 1991. We’re compiling a list of fans and supporters. If you have been a lurker, now would be the time to out yourself.

AROUND THE TRAPS

Joanne Anderton’s debut short story collection, THE BONE CHIME SONG is available for pre-order through FableCroft. I can’t wait to see what is between the pages and looking forward to getting a signed copy at NatCon.

Jessica Bell released her novella The Book in last January and followed up with a short story The Hum of Sin Against Skin last week.

Chris Chartrand unveiled Worth A Thousand Words podcast last month. It is wonderful mash up of photo prompts, writing, podcasting and interviews. I’m currently gestating a story for submission. I’d love to hear something I wrote be narrated by Chris.

Maria Kelly’s story “Parker’s Pygmallion”, a twist on Shaw’s concept, won the Phi Theta Kappa Florida Regional award for Best Short Story—Fiction.

Nicole Murphy released the yearly anthology from In Fabula-divino mentoring project yesterday. It contains a bunch of truly awesome stories, including S.G. Larner’s “Regret” (definitely one of my favourite stories of Stacey’s!)

Emma Newman’s BETWEEN TWO THORNS, the first in the Split Words Trilogy was released by Angry Robot in late February and my copy arrived on Friday. You can purchase at the following locations: UK Edition – US Edition. Em was also the featured author at SFX magazine’s Issue 233 with a corker photo that had Angry Robot’s Marc Gascoigne nominated Em as the next Doctor!

Dan Powell was joint winner of the Carve Esoteric Prize (2013) for “Storm in a Tea Cup” and his short story collection “Looking Out Of Broken Windows” is short listed for the International Scott Prize for Short Stories. You can read an interview with Dan here on the Salt Publishing website about the collection.

Sean Wright sat on the other side of the interviewing desk with Emma Raven of E-book Revolution talking about a bunch of things from attending local writing events to the best use of Twitter and and Goodreads.

26 Worn Sheets, Tangled #postitnotepoetry

ELsPOEM

At some point during the month I promised I would write a poem by Ella-Louise, my occassional alter ego (as it sometimes feels to exist in her fictional skin) over at Post Marked-Piper’s Reach. It is full of longing. Whether I’ve pulled off her voice in this, remains to be seen. This came as a single line – to desire a man, not mine to desire – as I walked through the shopping centre car park on Sunday. Such places we find the voices of our narratives!

The title is a nod of the head to the influence of Kaaron Warren’s and Angela Slatter’s story titles (Kaaron’s White Bed and Angela’s Dresses, Three). Both stories appear as reprints in the March release In Fabula-divino (edited by Nicole Murphy).