Category Archives: In Progress

Family: a Charlie & Cub sequel moment. Image by Flickr user James Niland.

Family: a Charlie & Cub sequel moment

As part of my writing goals this year, I’m writing more creatively. Family is one of (hopefully) many drabbles (100 word stories) that I will publish. Image is by flickr user James Niland used under a CC BY 2.0 license: it is a real picture of the setting that inspired the novels.

This drabble is a mini-sequel to The Charlie & Cub Chronicles. It is part of a collection of moments between sixteen-year-old Theo and Charlie. Family continues on from the drabble Home.

This drabble can be read on its own — out of context of the novels and the other drabbles. Nevertheless, I’m going to hide it behind a more tag: spoilers for characters and ending of series.

Continue reading

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Home: a Charlie & Cub sequel drabble

As part of my writing goals this year, I’m writing more creatively. Home is one of (hopefully) many drabbles (100 word stories) that I will publish. Image is mine, taken in December 2013

This particular drabble is a mini-sequel to The Charlie & Cub Chronicles. Charlie is sixteen in this moment.

I’ve got a collection of sixteen-year-old Theo and Charlie moments that are slowly coming together in my head. I might even try to link them through the prompts. So, while this drabble can be read on its own and out of context of the novels, I’m going to hide it behind a more tag: spoilers for setting.

Continue reading

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Picture Post: #charliecub setting

A couple of things are happening right now. Firstly, I am terrible at making videos. (Note, if you see this on my website, the link won’t take you away–it opens in an overlay.)

Yes, I took the leap, and am trying to vlog about my writing process. I had hoped that it would keep me on track. Thus far, I haven’t really progressed much further between two videos and seven days. But I do want to write, which is better than two weeks ago.

I’ve embedded below some of the images I took in 2013, and these are by not comprehensive of the novels. I still need to gather images of Nazareth House, of Bay Tce, and of the Manly markets… But the captions explain a little bit more about where these images come into play in the novels. I try not to give too much of the story away in the captions.

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Being a creative

(photo credit: Dani Alvarez Cañellas via photopin cc)

Two weeks ago, I read an interview with Evi O on The Conversation. Since then, I’ve been pondering on one particular quote by Evi:

As a creative, I function better when juggling many different projects at once – different design tasks and processes stimulate me.

I couldn’t agree more about this. Currently, I am working on four different projects. I feel like this allows me to continue to be creative. If I think about something too much, I get frustrated and can’t figure out what is wrong with it. I feel like my brain slots everything into place if I ignore it for a bit. Subconscious thinking.

I’ve been working on a couple of new projects and I feel like it’s about time I share them.

The Charlie & Cub Chronicles. I’m still working on this novel. I’ve got one final plot problem (the Parents’ and Sam’s storylines have been resolved), which means I can then start on the re-write. I am very much looking forward to getting back and writing in this world again. I have been so very lucky with this story. My other ideas (which I’m not working on) are no where near as ‘beautiful’.

Papercut Labs is an online scrapbooking classroom. It should be launching in September. I am passionate about the scrapbooking community – even if I’m apart from the community, and not part of it – and I thoroughly enjoy watching the people I’ve met grow as artists. By extending into the classroom setting, I can meet the artists just as they’re beginning. I’m more an admin of these classes while I let much much more creative people be the teachers.

Letterpress magazine is my ‘fun’ project. It’s a small magazine–almost a zine–that focusses on typography, letterpresses, graphic design, digital fonts and how all these things come about. But the fun part is that a large part of this magazine is showcasing digital fonts and I’m asking creative writers to write fictional histories of the fonts. It’s quirky, it’s niche and it’s going to be beautiful. Sometimes I feel myself drowning in it, but then I just need to remember that it is supposed to be fun, and that creative writers are actually fun people. I can’t decide what the next step is: finding writers or finding graphic artists.

The fourth and final project is this. This blog. Being online. Making myself, as cliched as it is and as much as I hate to say it, a platform. I like blogging and I like being on social media. Blogging allows me to work through problems, make decisions on things I only have ideas and inklings about. I like to be connected. I like to give back. It makes my creative process less lonely. Because, honestly, it is just me.

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On reverse world-building

(photo copyright: me; illustration copyright: sister)

I’ve been working on Charlie & Cub lately. Partly because this damn novel needs to be done. Partly because I can’t leave it alone–I can’t leave Charlie’s world alone. But mostly because I gave it to my first readers, and my husband is probably the best reader I’ve ever had. But he also pointed out some major flaws.

I have a character (Sam) who is introduced in Book 3, and is actually pretty important in Book 5, but he isn’t super consistent. He rebels against Charlie in Book 3, and yet falls over himself trying to help her in Book 5. He’s supposed to work as Charlie’s same-age frenemy. But I don’t really know who Sam is. I know what I want him to be, but who he’s turned out to be — a bit of mystery.

I have the Parents. And they are currently a much larger issue than Sam’s faulty character. As an orphan, Charlie has been moved from home to home all her life. Then she arrives at the convent-turned-orphanage run by these awful people. However, these awful people (The Parents) turn out to be more than just awful. They’ve been searching for Charlie. They’re a large part of Book 1 and Book 4 and a small part of Book 5, and all their parts need to be rewritten.

Why?

Because when I wrote my backstory, the Parents turned into something else. They turned into the Parents of Book 4, and those aren’t the Parents of Book 1, who are slightly different again from the Parents of Book 5.

I wrote my backstory after I finished the series.

I wonder if I wrote my backstory before, if I wrote the rules of my universe before, would I be in this trouble? If I had a consistent universe before I started writing, would I be struggling now to make all the elements to line up? Would my strings be all tied together?

I pride myself on being a planner. I don’t write anything without a dot-point plan, with a dot-point for every 500 words. But I also like my plots. I let my plots carry my story. I don’t tend to write character profiles. I don’t world-build — a little because I set all my stories somewhere I know very well. Charlie & Cub is set where I grew up.

Maybe being a planner with a plot-driven story isn’t enough. Reverse world-building is hard, but it’s not impossible.

The impossible bit is rewriting it back into a story that I’m in love with. Because my story is perfect (to me). I get lost every time I start reading this story. I worry about editing it any further without any help because what if I ruin it? It might not be the best story in the world right now, but gosh I’m proud of it.

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On abstract locations (a #doctorwho post)

(copyright, sort-of: alibi_factory)

It’s started to crop up again: “A Partial Map to Your TARDIS” is making the rounds on the internet. I am quietly pleased when I can say, you haven’t seen that before!? and also a little saddened by it. The internet has become so huge and sprawling (quite like a TARDIS in its own right) that these wonderful things get lost in the cyberspace.

The fanfic/fanart mash-up has regained prominence because the latest episode of Doctor Who took us further into the TARDIS, exploring rooms, technology and even the engine. Of course, the writers will not need to keep these rooms as the official rooms–the TARDIS changes so often that there is no guarantee that a room that was there before will still be there nor that it will look the same as it did earlier. (See, the console room and its desktop themes.)

I first came across the project as a link from Sam’s blog. (Sam writes unbelievable fanfic of all fandoms.) This was a really long time ago. I tend to tweet about the mash-up at least once a year because how can you not when something so beautiful, elegant and awe-inspiring lives in the world. Yesterday, my darling friend Zja linked to a Tor blog post on the topic.

It intrigues me to consider the idea of an infinite space. Much like our own universe, but a universe inside a universe. The TARDIS is like that. Time is like that. I think that’s what I like the most about time and stories about time. Time is a single moment and all moments all at once. A deck of cards, and time travel allows the traveller to step from one spot to another. Imagine if all time was contained in a house and by stepping through a door was just like stepping through time.

How does one map that? How does one navigate it? How does one keep up with things that are constantly changing?

“A Partial Map to Your TARDIS” will always be special to me because it constantly brings up these questions, it makes me think, it makes me inspired. It was the seed that created The Museum, my next work-in-progress novel.

The internet would be incomplete without A Partial Map to Your TARDIS.

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On voices and narrators in #charliecub

(photo copyright: me; illustration copyright: sister)

But fate – or was it us? – had other plans for her.

This week, I’ve been editing Charlie & Cub. I’ve put myself on a tight schedule that I am already failing to live up to–but despite this failure, I feel the editing is going quite well. Each day, I put a chapter in my bag and head to a a cafe (usually a different cafe every day, just to spice things up) and edit that chapter. It’s currently taking me an hour per chapter, but this will change as the chapters start to become longer.

I have feared, sort-of but not exactly, starting my serious editing on the series. The main reason was that I knew what the first question I needed to tackle was. I needed to answer the question of voice.

In C&C, the story starts as a pseudo-prologue. A prologue that sits at the beginning of and part of Chapter 1. The prologue uses a very different voice* to the rest of the story.

The prologue is insanely important to the rest of the story. It needs to be in there. But it is told by a point of view that isn’t used again anywhere in the series. When I started writing, I think I was trying to be clever. I wanted to have a completely different voice. (Think of Markus Zusak‘s The Book Thief–a narrator kind of like that.)

But for the story, that kind of voice doesn’t work. The voice is not fast enough, it is not young enough, and is mainly a narrator that watches the story but very rarely participates.

When this prologue narrator does participate, it gets into a bit of trouble, but it uses a collective pronoun, and that makes it hard to handle. I am not a good enough writer with that kind of technical skill. (Yet.)

So I have left the prologue with its narrator as it is. I feel that it is important the prologue is told in that way. But I am trying to remove the remnants of this narrator from the rest of the story. The transition between the prologue and the real part of Chapter 1 is clumsy. I still have this ethereal quality of the writing and the text that I can’t seem to get rid of. The narrator still talks directly to you. But the narrator for the rest of the story is an omniscient third-person narrator. It’s not a real person, just a way to tell the story. The narrator is Charlie, but not Charlie too, because it observes things that Charlie doesn’t necessarily see. It’s a common voice and one that I feel very comfortable writing with.

It’s cathartic to write a blog post like this because as I’m writing it, I’m finding solutions to my problem. I can mash up Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 to become a single chapter (it solves my length issue, which is why they were split in the first place) and pull out the prologue so it becomes a real prologue. This would mean I don’t have to deal with the transition of the pseudo-prologue into the rest of Chapter 1, because the chapter break deals with it.

On the other hand, I can keep going with my editing as it is. I could also edit/write a parallel story but told from the point of view of my prologue narrator. Most of the story (especially the final three books) are told in the omniscient third-person narrator, so editing it into omniscient third-person is lessened as it was written with that narrator–unlike if I wanted to change it/edit it into the prologue narrator. My concern is that I will get to the end of editing the series and realise that I need to try it out in my prologue narrator’s voice and I’ll have to do the entire thing again.

But, I guess I won’t know until I’m at the end.

* Voice, in this context, means the tone of writing. It incorporates style and turn-of-phrase and beliefs and point of view. Essentially, it defines who is the narrator. Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City had a very distinct voice. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books have a very distinct voice. It is how something is told and by who–if Holly Black wrote the Harry Potter books, they would be very different books because Holly Black’s voice is very different. This being said, there are two voices at play–the author’s voice and the character’s voice, but that is a whole different discussion.

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On starting a new year (planning for 2013)

(image by stargardener, modified by me.)

As the new year rolled around and I missed all my final blogging deadlines for 2012, I also missed some important posts that I wanted to write. The posts were mainly reflection ones or hopes-and-dreams ones, but I feel these posts when said out loud mean more and carry more weight (both to myself and to others) than if I just keep them in my head.

Since my last ‘real’ post on 20 December, I have caught up with all my extended families (Mum’s and Dad’s brothers and sisters, my husband’s family). I have had my first wedding anniversary. I turned twenty-three on 31 December. I brought in the new year by flying to Brisbane and bringing a headcold with me. I have started planning my 2013 (with a specific focus on Charlie & Cub).

At the end of each year, the lovely husband and I start looking at the next year. By the time January turns up, we know sort-of where we’ll be, and we know sort-of what needs to happen over the year. But a lot of things are in our heads. By writing them down, we feel like they are accomplish-able goals, and even if they aren’t, then we’ll take steps towards getting them done the year after.

We are travelling a lot this year. In February, we head off to Japan (for a holiday) and then the United States for work. In July we’re heading to Malaysia, London and Paris for a holiday (mostly). Between then we’ll be between Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. When we plan travel, we look for touristy things to do, but also for work things we want to do. While I’m in the US I want to meet with Nosy Crow, Oceanhouse Media, a couple of publishing houses and some universities. We’re heading to South-by-Southwest in Austin for the interactive section of the conference. We’re going to live in San Francisco to soak up the cliched start-up vibe. But we’ll also visit Washington DC and head out to Denver to ski. We travel to try new things and work in new places–our perfect work/life balance.

As well as travelling, I have some serious writing goals this year. Freelance publishing, editing my novel, getting a contract for my novel. Participating in festivals, writing for this blog and tGNA’s vlog. I’m editing Scrapbook Creations by Universal Magazines. I am going to write drabbles all year long. BnE Media will start looking at creating a ‘world’ that doesn’t just incorporate apps. It is a busy year, but a very exciting year.

The problem with planning a new year is that some ideas just can not be done. There is no way I have time to start my own indie chic-geek magazine, nor do I have time to make something of Writers’ Tea Party. So they go on the ‘sometime in the future’ list.

But pretty much everything gets on the list so it’s there in the back of my head whether I realise it or not. As long as it’s written down, things get done towards the end goal. What are your goals for 2013?

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On beginning an edit and plotting a new novel

So, what have I done this week? Well, I’ve put my first, completed manuscript THE CHRONICLES OF CHARLIE & CUB in a lovely blue binder.

I have to admit, I’m a little scared to read it. There is only this moment in time that the draft will be ‘perfect’. It’s the perfect incarnation of story and words on the page. As a writer, I know it’s not perfect, but right now, until I read that first page, it is. It’s like Schrodinger’s Cat, right? Right now, you have no idea whether it’s a masterpiece or a complete epic failure, but until I read that first page, or even the first word, I will never know for sure. I like it being a dead-and-alive cat right now.

It will probably sit there until I finish this blog post. I’ll then have run out of things that I “need to do” and so I will have start reading it.

The other story that I’ve started working on is currently called “The Incomplete Guide to the Museum” which was in part inspired by “A Partial Map to Your Tardis” and in part inspired by the fact that I wanted to write a TV series as a book.

How does one write a TV series as a book? Well, I have three main characters, and they are the main characters in the entire book. However, there are ten short stories (about 10,000 words each) which have their own plots and bits and pieces, and across all the stories is an overarcing story. It’s a little difficult to plot out. It also means I need to come up with eleven plots, and link them together by something else besides having the same characters in each story.

The plan is to publish a short story a month online. A little blurb: Ayla is your average university student. She has friends, she goes to class (sometimes), she exercises with her new neighbour. But when her neighbour dares her to go into the ever-empty, always-mysterious Museum–that’s what it’s called, just the Museum–Ayla doesn’t want to explain about the missing people. From here, Ayla is thrown forward in time, back in time, living right in the moment and finds that the museum isn’t exactly what it seems. Can she find the Housekeeper again and get her answers? Will she ever see her own life again?

It was a very successful plotting week, with some help from writing friends.

Do you get scared or anxious about re-reading your work?

[This post was also posted at The Great Noveling Adventure (with some additional paragraphs)!]

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On the Great Noveling Adventure

This week I signed up to participate in The Great Noveling Adventure”. Essentially, it’s a group of writers that commit themselves to finishing their novels AFTER November is over.

I love doing this stuff. It keeps me accountable, and I have a supportive group of people that are heading towards the same goal as me.

The problem is that I finished my novel in November.

I now have a draft of Charlie & Cub that is 69,627 words long, or 269 pages as the Microsoft Word flies, or 373,320 characters long with spaces, and has been developed and written over the last four or five years.

You see the smiling idiot in the corner with the blue binder? Yeah, that’s me. I can not tell you how proud I am that I have this. A complete draft.

And while I am sure that this happiness will wear off as soon as I start to tear it apart, I think the fact of finish a first draft needs to be celebrated.

But that leaves the question of what I will be doing for The Great Noveling Adventure now. I will take the opportunity to stay accountable on editing my draft. I will also start the next project that isn’t actually fully fleshed out–I have four characters and an idea of what I want the novel to look like. But that’s enough. (My first check-in can be found at the official site!)

Until next Sunday (which is both my Great Noveling Adventure check-in day and the work-in-progress day on this blog), I hope that everyone will keep writing (or editing) to finish their novels. And I make this my call to you–check-in with me on Sunday. Comment on this blog on Sundays and tell me (and the Great Noveling Adventure team) where you are up to in your writing process. I know I would love to read snippets and hear about the problems and successes you are having as you finish that first draft!

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