It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

Every time I’ve been to a launch event, I get an odd mix of feelings that have only intensified since creating things for the purpose of launching them.

It doesn’t matter if it’s for a book, a magazine, a piece of art, or a website. It doesn’t matter if it’s for my own work or someone else’s. Those feelings hit, drain all my energy, and I’m left to brood over a hot tisane and wonder what it’s all about.

My parents reckon I don’t handle excitement very well. Maybe they’re right and my neurology/biochemistry/psychological conditioning isn’t wired up right to handle it. But I still need to live my life, y’know? I gotta figure out my own way of handling this very real thing that comes up every now and then.

So what are these feelings? Well, in the first place, I’m so happy for and proud of the person whose launch it is. They worked hard, they were dedicated, they honed their skills and committed them in the face of uncertainty. The launch gives everyone an opportunity to appreciate those efforts as well as the final product.

But underneath it all is the pressing notion that I don’t belong. Not at the bookstore, the art gallery, the Discord channel, the upstairs loft, or the drab office break room with the delicious cake in the corner.

It’s a scene and even if it’s meant to be my scene, it’s impossible for me to connect with it. I wonder if it’s an introvert thing or an anxiety thing. Could it be a facet of a complicated neurodivergent disposition, honed by a lifetime-thus-far of friction-laden socialising?

As 2022 approaches its median, I’m laying down some tidier foundations for my indie publishing career. I’m often told book launch parties are a necessary fixture in this wide, wacky world if you’re doing it properly. You can imagine the trepidation this births in me.

Well, I don’t intend on having a party for my next couple of books, but as a newsletter subscriber or blog follower, you’re included in the quiet celebrations. Thank you for being a part of my low-key journey, even if there’s no cake in the corner.

WIP report — 14 June 2022

Currently: 30,709 / 50,000 words

CLAY is over the halfway hump and on track to get to my editor by our self-imposed deadline. The story is coming along nicely and I’m feeling more confident in every technique the first 25,000 words forced me learn by the seat of my pants.

As silly as it sounds, I must give credit to my sudden and aggressive obsession with fountain pens. One day, while utterly smitten by the flow of ink through a stainless steel nib, I began drafting a scene by hand and found that ideas and words just expressed so nicely.

They’re not the best words, but in the way an artist might block out shapes and structure before drawing in earnest, whatever’s coming out of my pen seems to give me the structure I need to fill in the details when I type up my notes.

In case any other pen islanders stumble upon this, I’m currently switching between a Herbin Transparent medium nib, a glass dip pen, and a couple of calligraphy flex nibs. Inks include Pilot Quink in black, Sheaffer Skip in blue black, and Stuart Houghton calligraphy inks in various colours. Life’s too short for a dried up old ballpoint (sorry, Mum, I know you like them).

20k to go. Onward and wordward!

Reflections on Saving Suzy by Stefanie Simpson

Romance novels aren’t supposed to make us sad. But sometimes they do and Saving Suzy by Stefanie Simpson did so very much. There was a point where I had to put the book down for a couple of days because the emotions got too much and I needed a breather.

That’s not to say this piece of erotic kink literature was particularly heavy, because although it deals with heavy themes, this isn’t a sadface book. It was just genuine. Down-to-earth moments captured by the author’s serious and sensual writing voice, the voice that gives the entire New City Series its quietly brilliant tone.

But back to what made me sad. I thought Victoria Undone was the Simpson romance for me, but Saving Suzy gripped me by the heart and squeezed very tightly.

If I had to sum up why, it would be the utter lack of toxicity between the MCs. There’s uncertainty, there’s curiosity, there’s a definite attraction… but zero toxicity. They handle each other with the utmost respect, even when things get difficult.

It mades me think of real life, and how the world can be a ugly place full of sharp teeth and stone hearts. How so many people IRL can turn nasty on a dime, flee at the first sign of trouble, lie for selfish reasons, and lash out at beautiful things.

The antagonist in this book is the ugliness of the world. And in the relationship that develops between Suzy and Nathan, we find the eye of the storm. Tumultuous in its own way yes—after all, romantic conflict is what makes a good novel—but ultimately the one piece of paradise that restores your soul while everything else takes bites out of you.

Stefanie Simpson has a new book coming out later this month. Lay Me Down in Ivy is currently available for preorder.

Sexy rehabilitation on the moon

The thing I love most about writing sci-fi is the ability to re-frame today according to tomorrow’s standards. This genre DEMANDS elements of the fantastic, so the requirement of interesting world-building creates opportunities to go “what if…” on just about anything you can take from what’s around you.

For example, what if someone decided to apply a rehabilitation model to the prison system? Instead of what amounts to modern slavery, “prisons” aim to undo the psychological damage done by society that eventuated in incarceration. The goal being to allow people to discover and become the best versions of themselves on their own terms.

That was my big “what if” driving The Induction of Satine, but I definitely didn’t start drafting with this in mind. I only wanted to write some short erotica, but doesn’t that just highlight the beauty of sci-fi?

The nature of the genre DEMANDED I wonder about something out of this world. And after hearing about low re-offending rates in rehabilitation-focused Norwegian prisons, it ended up being this pertinent question about alternatives to today’s punishment-based prison systems.

I’m sure you’ve figured this out already, but real-life rehab prisons aren’t sexy or located on the moon. That part was good ol’ imagination.

Book cover: "The Induction of Satine"

Excerpt from The Induction of Satine

“It’s policy that I watch you disrobe,” he informed me, adding, “With your consent, of course.”

Confusion struck me through the daze. First of all, I was on a moon so many people on my planet had already stopped believing in, confined within a prison I’d only just learned about that day. I was being attended to by a warden, something I decided years ago didn’t exist, not to mention how excessively polite he was. Finally, he hands me an inmate’s uniform and… it’s black?

Aren’t prison clothes meant to be high visibility? What if I tried to escape?

But then, what if they did such a good job of deterring their inmates that no one ever tried to escape? What kind of place was this that they could afford to take the risk? And besides, where could I escape to on this desolate landscape?

Suddenly the room felt unbearably warm. Fear mounted against the drugs and my hands began to shake. But I gripped the uniform tightly as Warden Jet stood over me.

I looked up at him. “I… consent, I guess.”

The Induction of Satine is not a perma-free book, but it is currently available for free through StoryOrigin. The site will ask you to sign up to my newsletter (if you’re not on there already) and deliver a copy of the ebook straight to your email.


This content originally appeared in Dot Club #41 (May 2022).

Email is my social media

I stumbled upon this note by writer Scott Nesbitt. Given my recent migration to email from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I found it quite timely and thought-provoking.

I’m not sure I agree with the sentiment about not wanting food updates and such. I actually love seeing what my good friends are eating, especially if it’s weird food or if they’re on holiday and enjoying the local culture… but I guess that’s the nuance of the circumstances and the relationship you have with the people you really want to hear from.

In any case, I do very much love a good personal email from close personal friends.

So, here’s the note plus a link to the original post below. I’d love to hear what you think either in the comments or, of course, via email.


Email is my social media

Email, to put it bluntly, is my social media.

It’s how I keep in touch with people. I send them a message, not a DM or a post on whatever social media wall they maintain.

Email is how, at least in part, I share ideas with a wider audience. That audience is a small group of people, many of whom I don’t know and who don’t know me.

I get more out of email than I did when I was actively posting on Twitter and Mastodon.

The people with whom correspond don’t bog my email down with the excruciating minutiae of their daily lives — that artisan soda or beer they just drank, photos of a dessert that they’re about to tuck into, what they’re watching at this very moment on their streaming service of choice, cute photos of their pets. Alla that kind of stuff. (OK, I do like the pet photos, but don’t tell them!)

Best of all, my inbox isn’t clogged with misinformation or disinformation. My correspondents only share links to items that they know might pique my interest. Or, sometimes, things which might raise my ire or my gorge — bless ’em! They share important news about themselves or about mutual friends. Our digital correspondence can be light and breezy, but also can be serious and have some depth. We can delve into discussion, debate, and sometimes argument.

When I tell certain people that email is my social media, they’re surprised. Some are even shocked. A few mock me for giving up the potential for the reach and influence that social media can provide. As if I’ve ever been interested in any of that …

Written by Scott Nesbitt (original post) / Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

WIP report — 17 May 2022 with a teeny-weeny excerpt

Currently: 21,600/50,000 words

The first draft of CLAY is almost halfway, which is nice. This WIP is pushing me hard against the limitations of my writing ability and I’m having to learn new storytelling and composition techniques on the fly. It hurts my head a lot, and even just pulling a hundred or so words together leaves me quite spent.

But I’ve had a good couple of days. Every beat makes me feel a little more positive about this story, though I still procrastinate and lug around a rucksack of paranoia in between writing sessions.

Anyway, I’d like to share a wee sample with you. First draft, obviously, so it might not end up exactly like this in the final version, but I hope you like it:

Damian Chandrasekhar leans toward the security camera. He rakes a hand through his thick hair, giving it a zhuzh to the left, and knows exactly what he’s doing—or trying to do. He holds his wristlet to his pouty mouth and raises a manicured eyebrow at the lens.

“Half an hour before the drones arrive, Tan. Tick, tick, tick.”

“I said I’m coming, Damo.”

“Want me to head over there?” He grins suggestively. “Could help you come a little quicker.”

“Ha-ha, don’t be gross, dickhead. Now shut up and let me concentrate.”

Published
Categorised as Diary

Losing face(book)

It’s done. My Facebook is gone.

Reactivating my account to download my data and let friends know how they could contact me off-platform was… uncomfortable. My heart rate went up, I got an icky feeling in my gut and, no, it wasn’t the stew I had for dinner last night.

Something’s tripping my instincts when it comes to that site/company/way of life, and even though I can’t point to any one thing and say this is the reason why, I am trusting my instincts and getting away.

So, here I am. I have deleted my Facebook account and it feels good.

Published
Categorised as Diary

I am very cross(posted)

My blog is a self-hosted WordPress blog, however if my little experiment has worked, this post should also appear on WordPress.com.

For reference, I am using WordPress Crosspost to achieve this.

Beep boop, is it working?

Published
Categorised as Diary

WIP report — 26 Apr 2022

Currently: 16,000/50,000 words

I look at this word count and where I had hoped to be on the Camp NaNo scale, and start to feel a little terrified about not finishing this book in time.

It’s ridiculous, though, because I’m on track with this WIP relative to my actual milestones beyond the April-specific constraint. What’s more, the approach I’m taking with this WIP is one I was longing to take for all my writing around this time last year.

So in the grand scheme of things, aligning with my career goal to stop rushing like a madcunt, to take things slow and think things through, I’m doing okay.

Why do we rush? I get that a little artificial pressure helps us get things done, but what then? There will always be more to do… and then we die. Even if I could manage to release a new book every three months, there’s no way a reader—even a superfan reader—would have the time and energy to just consume all my work.

And why should they? There are so many other books to read and movies to watch and podcasts to listen to—a life to live. This is an age of excess, which in some twisted way also means an age of scarcity of a different sort. The world simultaneously needs more stories and is also so full of stories. What are we to do?

I’m reading Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks at the moment and it’s got me thinking about all this. Right now, time well spent for me is time spent writing and yet even though the joy of it is coming back, I still feel this lingering anxiety over it.

But I’m still at the 16,000 word mark and it’s going well so far, so there’s no reason to feel too down. Not about this, anyway.

34k to go.

My right now in lists

What I’m working on lately

  • Project Clay
  • Satine
  • Email dark mode
  • Deadlifts (gotta keep those writerly glutes strong for the sitting)
  • Project H (still thinking, it’s been ages)

What I’ve enjoyed lately

  • Halt and Catch Fire
  • Letters and Numbers
  • Saving Suzy (still reeling) 💕
  • One-pot pilaf rice
  • Pink pilates socks that look like ballet shoes

What’s made me sad lately

  • War and violence ☹️
  • NFTs and Web 3.0
  • That Australia hasn’t embraced renewable energy fast enough
  • The monetisation of outrage and addiction
  • Ageism normalised in everyday communication

Questions I’d love answers for

  • What does optimistic dystopian fiction look like? (besides Ready Player One)
  • What would a social media platform’s culture look like if it wasn’t run by a profiteering corporation?
  • What does tech culture’s “planned obsolescence” approach do to accessibility, device fragmentation, and the environment? (is it silly to love the idea of the Framework laptop?)
  • Can fiction directly influence people away from toxic behaviours, and if so, how?
  • Is being “the least evil” good enough in the twenty-first century?