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Editing The Dream Feeders

A witchy bar in the mountains of Switzerland

Found this witchy bar in the mountains of Switzerland

Edits & self-doubt

I cautiously went back to my Dream Feeders edits this week, after 5 months away. That’s how long it took to go near it without flinching. Even after reopening the Scrivener project, it took 3 days for me to actually look at the contents.

And…

I think it’s going to be alright. I think I’m going to be alright. I think I can finish this without going mad. Maybe?

With fresh eyes, and a rested brain, this feels manageable. Big, and complicated, but not beyond my reach.

I can see how i got tangled up – the start of my edits list makes sense, and my optimism grew while reading it. ‘Hey, this might be more than just finishable, it might even be good!’

Then, blam! kerpow! my notes-to-self turn into a black lump of confusion & lostness, & I’m not surprised I ran away. I might just delete those notes, rather than try to unpick what I was trying & get trapped in the same messy worries as last time. Bravo, self-doubt, you did a tremendous job.

Reading: Borne, by Jeff Vandermeer

borne by jeff vandermeer, illustration by keith negley

Borne illustration by Keith Negley

I chose a Jeff Vandermeer novel for my holiday read, because I always get gripped & absorbed and can read for hours. I hate airports and there was a 4 hour train journey to follow the flight, so I took Borne.

I hadn’t factored in how creepy his stuff is though, & forgot that sometimes I’m obsessively page-turning Vandermeer stuff because I’m too terrified to look away.

So my holiday reading experience was an odd mix of stunning Swiss scenery past the windows – model villages, alpine flowers, snow topped mountains – and Vandermeer’s warped, dark-tech version of the future in my e-reader, alive with mutant children and giant, flying bears.

I finished reading on the midnight coach from Heathrow, and without spoilering I’ll just say that the shadowy, slippery landscape & lights of a late-night motorway (combined with very little sleep) was a suitably eerie backdrop.

Verdict: do read it (I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads), but maybe not in the dark…

Borne print (& other cool illustrations) available from Keith Negley at Society6

Writing advice I liked this week

The creative process will always have downs. It’s part of the cycle. Everyone gets them, and it doesn’t mean you are failing. The next part of the cycle will come along soon if you just keep going.

That’s my paraphrasing of Joanna Penn’s interview with David Kadavy on the Creative Penn podcast:

Joanna: ‘It happens every time and you have to go through that part…it is a cycle…this creative process, it has these stages and it’s not like you can skip any… One of those stages is fear and anxiety and it seems to happen wherever you are on the journey unless perhaps, you’re a sociopath.’

David: Yeah. ‘And if you are, then hey, go for it.’

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Summer stories: fantasy and science fiction podcasts

girl on a hazy sunny day needs a fantasy or science fiction podcast to listen to

It’s never too hot to read.

But it *is* hellmouth hot here in the UK right now. What’s a slightly sweaty, story-starved girl to do?

Sure, you could lug a book to the park. Will there be room in your bag, though, once you’ve packed your your sun hat, water & Chocolate Salted Caramel Booja Booja ice-cream?

(My hardback of Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor is making sad-eyes at me right now. “Why won’t you read me? I’m so pretty! And you can bet I’m full of beautiful words!” Because you’re too big, my darling, and I am too lazy to carry you around when my slim kindle has lots of tiny books in it (plus I know you’ll slay me with your perfect sentences and some brand new flavour of heartache, damn you Taylor).)

Sure, you could take your kindle/ipad to the beach. Get ready to knock the screen up to full brightness, though, & watch out for seagulls who’ll think it’s a yummy snack to swoop on.

OR: just lie back on your picnic blanket, in your sunglasses and high SPF, & let someone tell you stories instead? Keep your hands free for making daisy-chains & holding elegant parasols.

Here are 3 podcasts** to listen to from your lawn, and a bonus playlist of songs I associate with being hot. I wish it was a cool relaxing beach-chill mix you could impress your smooth friends with while eating sophisticated gelato, sorry, but blasting noisy 90s alt guitar bands while dunking chips in mayonnaise is more authentically me.

Happy summering!

My three top fantasy and science fiction short story podcasts

  1. Lightspeed I’ve probably mentioned this one before, right? Four new fantasy or science fiction short stories every month. Always fabulously narrated. You can listen to all the stories from year one as an audiobook, too.
  2. Starship Sofa Short SF stories, genre chat & the finest example of a Geordie accent you’ll ever hear. Tony’s enthusiasm always cheers me up, and the stories are top notch.
  3. Far-fetched Fables A fantasy slanted sister show to Starship Sofa. Both shows are part of the District of Wonders stable, who have a patreon set up to fund paying their writers & narrators, aka paying people for the new worlds, characters and stories we love. Definitely something to support!

My noisy summery playlist

*I’m averaging at least two tubs a week right now. What? Vegan means good for you, right? 😉

** I use the free Overcast app to listen to podcasts, because it links to Twitter and tells you what your friends there are listening to. It’s got ‘smart speed’ and ‘voice boost’ settings which improve how shows sound, too. iphone/ipad only, though).

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Reading update: Spring into Contemporary YA

ya-fiction-contemporaryNearly halfway through the year – how’s your reading going?
Here’s my reading so far:

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Rhian has
read 26 books toward
her goal of
50 books.
hide

UPDATE – ugh, there’s supposed to be a fancy grid of book covers here but I can’t get the coding to work. Apparently Goodreads doesn’t play nicely with WordPress. 🙁

So, instead I need you to imagine a pretty grid of book covers here, and head over to my Goodreads if you’d like to check the titles out. Visualise some graphic novels (one with a cute-but-sad robot on it), a couple of Fancy Literature covers (looking all serious), and a glut of YA Contemporary.

Yup, you read that right: Contemporary. I read a few books in a row that had NO magic in them: and I liked it! (They would have been even better with magic in, though. Just sayin’…)

My favourite? It’s hard to choose – The Sun is Also A Star was gorgeous, but the Holly Bourne books & Beautiful Broken Things were more relatable because they mirrored my own teen experiences with food, friendships & feminism. They are funny, & sensitive, & I wish I could have read them when I was still in school. Also, Holly’s Spinster Club idea is AWESOME, so, with stiff competion, Am I Normal Yet wins. Go forth & read it!

Right now I’m reading Lady Midnight (back to the magic & demons for me!). Not my favourite Cassie Clare so far, partly because I don’t need all the Shadowhunter background info-dumps, having read them all loads of times, but the more I read the more interesting it becomes.

Emma reminds me of a female Jace, and I love poor, tortured Mark. Will there be anyone I love as much as Tess, Clary, Will or Simon, though? Maybe not – but here’s hoping.

Which read has you lit up this year? Let me know & I’ll add it to my TBR list!

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Buffy the sedentary lifestyle slayer

Two things happened yesterday: I woke up gleeful, cos it was a writing day so I could spend hours snuggled under a blanket with just my notebook, dictaphone & pens for company; and then I saw another infographic on how a sedentary lifestyle is the worst thing everrr.

Ouch. Don’t my disintegrating hip-flexors know that sitting down, alone, indoors is one of the best things about being a writer? Grr.

I already own a laptop riser for standing while I type, but my writing process these days is as offline as possible: I write scene sketches in my notebook, then dictate them, no keyboard interaction at all. Dragon Naturally Speaking transcribes the audio to text files, & I’ll batch-edit them later.

This process stops me fiddling with newly written words & keeps focus on scene/word production instead. And I love how tactile writing by hand is. But it’s dangerously easy to do from my bed or sofa.

Since I want to live longer & write more, while still writing by hand, I needed to get creative. Without wasting hours of writing time on ‘research’ (aka Amazon/writer forums), which would only end with either a lot of money spent or an aspirational new Pinterest board on Dream Office Setup.

Ten minutes later, my exercise step, a spare bookshelf (never know when you might need one) and sturdy box-sets of two fantastic tv-shows turned into a makeshift standing desk.

And the writing? It went great! Turns out working while standing-up is very conducive to a shimmy, so I got some dancing done along with my wordcount. Fingers crossed I can make this a habit…

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