Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Ending the year the write way

Reviewing goals, avoiding resolutions

This year I went from being a part-time writer/part-time student to being a full-time writer. My official blurb line after a publicity workshop is, ‘I am a writer. I write dead-end town fiction for teenagers.’

I updated my goals mid-year in the interests of balancing study and work, and there’s nothing like waiting until there’s no time left to do anything more to check over them. So here it goes:

Complete 10,000-word research project (5000 theory, 5000 creative)
Done! Killed it! Masters complete. Ended up with the marks to apply for a PhD. Maybe in another year.

Submit one more PB MS to publisher
Yeah, nah. Didn’t do it. Was firmly in MG/YA mode for the last six months of the year.

Submit two pieces of writing to mags, comps or other opportunities
(Pulls up trusty spreadsheet, spends 20 minutes updating it…) I submitted four different pieces to three magazines, two competitions and three fellowships/mentorships. I think that’s a tick.

Continue writing schedule
Done – up until the child finished school. I pushed my initial Christmas deadline back to New Year’s, and am unlikely to meet it. I’ve been getting up at 5am to try and steal some writing time, but the child knows. HE KNOWS. He has this uncanny ability to amuse himself until the moment I start writing, including when he’s supposedly asleep.

Plan out rest of middle grade series
I planned out the next book, and started writing it. Only five more to go.

Finish drafting first book in series
Done. I’ve even rewritten it a couple of times.

So not a bad hit rate. All up this year I’ve:

  • Completed one YA novel to a (hopefully) submittable standard.
  • Wrote about 40,000 words for the sequel to the first novel.
  • Wrote 65,000 for another YA novel during NaNoWriMo (also known as How The Hell Did I Put On That Much Weight in Four Weeks-Mo), and that draft is now up to 84,000 and nearing completion. I just have to decide how to end it.
  • Completed several drafts of a MG book: 20,000.
  • Finished my Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) with specialisations in Children’s Literature and Professional Writing: word count this year about 20,000.
  • Written three short stories, totalling about 10,000.

Total word count (excluding editing and rewriting) is about 172,000 words. Criminy.

Had two items published on the Writers Victoria website: Q&As with author Amra Pajalic and screenwriter Ben Michael.

Read 48 books out of a target of 52, but I may hit this in the next couple of days with a few short books. I’ve failed my goal of posting reviews of every book on Goodreads, but I have a few in reserve to post on this blog first.

Spent a day a fortnight volunteering with a local writers’ organisation. This has been a great way to meet other writers, learn more about the industry, and work with an amazing, dedicated group of people. And I get to write on the train.

A photograph of a pile of about 30 books.
My to-read pile.

Next year’s goals:

Set up writing room
I’m ridiculously excited about the impending move up the other end of the house away from the trail bikes hooning around next door. Also, new desk!

Read more
Self-explanatory. My to-read pile is in danger of collapsing and taking us all out with it, and there are so many new books coming out next year.

Finish current YA novel
First: finish the first draft. Second: leave it for a couple of months. Third: rewrite, rewrite…

Work on MG series
Edit/finish the first book. Write the next couple. Plan the rest.

Look into manuscript assessments
Gain some experienced feedback into one or two manuscripts. Take it from there.

Submit, submit, submit!
Manuscripts, short stories, competitions, industry opportunities. I just need to do it, dammit! Let’s say… three a month. And keep my submission spreadsheet updated.

Build on pitching/synopsis skills
This is a weak point for me and one I’m working to improve.

Do more exercise
See above. A write 2000 words, walk around the block schedule might work.

Thanks for reading in 2015. Stay safe over the holiday break, and I’ll catch you next year.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Diversity prominent in new Oz YA titles

Diversity is a hot topic in young adult book titles set for release in Australia in 2016.

the audience at the Year Ahead in Literature YA event in the State Library of Victoria's courtyard
Two hundred people received a crash course
in upcoming YA releases in Australia,
Publishers travelled from all over the country to Melbourne last night, spruiking their upcoming releases with the five-minute time limit strictly enforced by the tambourine of doom in a crazy reverse Literary Speed Dating session where the publishers were pitching to the punters.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Better planning, better result

After November, Christmas should be a breeze.

Today I’m washing clothes, catching up on paperwork, finishing Christmas shopping, and making long-overdue phone calls because NaNoWriMo is over for another year and work-life balance can be somewhat restored.

a graph of the word count for NaNoWriMo during 2015.
My stats for this year's NaNoWriMo.
I hit the 50,000-word target on November 24, and was happy dancing to end the month with 65,437 words – and even more ecstatic that for the first time in three years I stayed on one project and didn’t panic and change after a week.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Learning from experience

Is it NaNoWriMo time again already?!

NaNoWriMo starts in less than a week, and this year I feel more prepared than ever.

But I’ve felt like that every year.

This will be my third attempt at writing 50,000 words in a month. My first year was as successful as my attempts to make WeCoNaMo a thing, but last year I reached the target. I’ve also blogged about my experience, and reading back on those posts now, I laugh and laugh. Then cry a little.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Curious duo's Kenyan adventure

Gusto & Gecko Travel to Kenya

A photograph of author Longy Han
Longy Han wrote Gusto & Gecko
Travel to Kenya to introduce children
to different cultures.
Writer: Longy Han
Illustrator: Elinor Hägg

Home for author Longy Han is the smell of fresh linen, the sound of Chinese news on TV, the touch of postcards on the walls, the sight of parents making fresh dumpling and the taste of happiness. She also has a passion for travel, and the drive to introduce children to different cultures inspired Longy to turn to crowdfunding to produce the first in what she hopes will be a series of picture books featuring two cheeky dinosaurs. A crowdfunding campaign for the second book is running until 10 November, and for every book purchase made during the campaign, Longy will donate another to local libraries and children’s hospitals around Australia.

Review: Gusto & Gecko Travel to Kenya

Image of the book cover with the following text: Gusto & Gecko Travel to Kenya, written by Longy Han, illustrated by Elinor Hagg.
Kenya is the first in the series.
Words: Longy Han
Pictures: Elinor Hägg

This picture book is the first in the Curious Travels of Gusto & Gecko series, and self-published by author Longy Han. One of the main drivers of this series – in which the title characters will visit different areas – was to introduce children to various cultures.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Decisions, decisions...

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I do believe in writer’s indecision.

This is the current writing/study sitrep:

  • One novel MS finished. I have decreed it to be so, as I suspect I'm only rereading and changing it now because I don't want to let the characters go.
  • One uni research project in progress, which should take priority because there’s an actual deadline and it’s the last assessable task for my Masters. And then I'll be DONE.
  • Four diverse middle grade and YA projects at various stages, and I want to work on all of them - all the time, concurrently.
Herein lies the indecision.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Mid-year(ish) check-up

If I post this online I have to stick to it!

It’s just over halfway through the year. I’m in the first week of the last semester of my Masters. I’ve signed on to do a research project. Now it’s the perfect time to procrasti-blog and check on my goals for this year.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Time is made, not found

If you can't find time to write, make time

Clockface with the following text: "Writer's clock, write, write, toss, retrieve, start over, writer's block, adult beverage, write, submit, revise, revise, publish."
Time is the key to writing.
Return of the Jedi is babysitting my son while I plonk away at the keyboard in fingerless mittens, trying to remember whose brilliant idea it was to set up our study in the one room without heating. Star Wars and its sequels have given me about 10 uninterrupted writing hours – and during school holidays I’ll take anything I can get.

Any successful author will tell any emerging writer the same thing: you need to put in the time. If you don’t have the time, make time. And they say it because it works.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Review: One True Thing

Teenage life in the media spotlight

One True Thing by Nicole Hayes
Nicole Hayes looks at the media and politics
through the eyes of the Premier's daughter
in One True Thing.
There’s YA realism and there’s YA realism. One True Thing is definitely the latter: a great story with a relatable protagonist who draws the reader into current, relevant and topical issues. Following Nicole Hayes's 2013 debut novel The Whole of My World, which examined grief and the attitude of sports clubs and stars towards women; One True Thing – released earlier this month – tackles the media, its treatment of women in politics, and the effect of negative coverage on families.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Journalism cuts affect communities

There’s always been rivalry between advertising and editorial departments.

Advertising blames editorial for spending money; editorial blames advertising for taking up column centimetres or air time. In truth, the relationship is symbiotic: advertising brings in money to pay for the editorial staff who create the content that attracts the readership/viewership that attracts the advertisers. If one side of this symbiosis falters, they both fail.

Friday, 20 February 2015

A vital return to reality

There’s a pristine 330-page YA manuscript sitting on my desk and it’s taking all of my willpower to stay away from it.

Community printout
The first printout. The next edit will be on hard copy. 
It’s my first novel. It’s taken months to write. Over the past fortnight I’ve spent about ten hours a day going through from start to finish, twice. I laughed, I cried, I culled characters and scenes.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

How far is too far in YA?

In the past couple of weeks I’ve come up against a couple of dilemmas as a writer/reader.

I’m almost finished the first draft of my first YA novel with the working title Community. Set in a small, isolated town, the book’s main theme is the use and abuse of authority. Triggered by the unexplained disappearance and reappearance of his friend Vienne, Toby starts to play a computer game replicating the town in order to work out what happened to Vienne. There is a love triangle, involving Vienne, Toby and a new entrant to the town, Mac. Vienne’s interest in Mac is self-serving. Toby and Mac’s feelings towards one another appear to be genuine.