WIP report — 22 Mar 2022

Currently: 4,000/50,000 words

PROJECT CLAY is underway and currently sitting at 4k words. I was dubious about this novel at first, because the concept seemed (even to me) so far-fetched and it combines several elements I wouldn’t instinctively call my strengths.

But “who dares wins”, right? Or at least it couldn’t hurt to have a go. One thing I think I do reasonably well is finding ways to connect things that don’t conventionally go together. Plus, there are a lot of things I’d like, as a reader, for there to be more of in the world that’s perhaps too weird or too niche to produce en masse. So here I am, attempting to produce this odd story myself in my small corner of existence.

I wish I could tell you more at this stage, but for the sake of my sanity, I’ll not blog it just yet, as I’d hate to paint myself into a corner while the first draft is still in progress.

One thing I can tell you is that this book will be coming out in 2023, because that’s when I promised some people I would have it ready by on the proviso that they’d tell me when in 2023 that would be. Which they haven’t yet, so all I can do is hope it’s not 1st January 😅

This post will self-destruct on Monday March 13th, 2023.

Categorised as Diary

Okay, so that didn’t go as planned

All right, never mind what I said on Tuesday. I have struggled to write much this past week.

Putin’s unjust war in Ukraine, the devastating floods in the Queensland and New South Wales, the disappointing Kumanjayi Walker verdict, and all this talk of Japanese Encephalitis in Australia has my heart in a very heavy way. As if the pandemic, climate change, Afghanistan, pre-existing social injustice, and this country’s asylum seeker situation weren’t already depressing enough.

I keep thinking of something a friend said to me a couple years ago—that we’re already living in the dystopian future. His comment was more to do with the fact that today’s society resembles cyberpunk economies sans the AI revolution, but I think the “life imitating art” sentiment could cover a broad concept of dystopia. (And if I ever turn this blog post into a proper essay, I’ll make more of an effort to qualify that statement.)

Thing is, I don’t think all is lost. But in terms of humanity’s story arc, we’re probably approaching an All Is Lost Moment, which every reader and writer knows will be over once we can shake off our distractions and find a way to work together.

I’ve sought solace in small wins like painting my nails, completing boring life admin tasks, doing a little hobby coding, watering my plants, and working towards my daily 2L water intake. Oh, and donating to relief funds when pay comes in, which is something I think everyone who can afford to should consider doing. Making a contribution, even if it’s not much, can make a person feel less helpless in the face of all this.

Two things I haven’t done are scrolling social media feeds and writing. The former is probably for the best, especially since there are far less incendiary ways to consume news and converse with people. The latter, however, is probably just me developing a bad habit of anxious avoidance and procrastination. I need to do something about that.

Actually, I will do something about that. Tomorrow, I’m starting Camp NaNo early. If the camp counsellors won’t let me in, then I’ll sit in the forest and yell at clouds. Stay tuned for the odd update on Project Clay between now and the end of April.

Word counts are tracking well

All things considered (ie. work, adult responsibilities, life admin), February’s writing effort wasn’t so bad. I know I had a little gripe about this back in January, but I did end up pushing myself for my own sanity after all.

It was less of a “publish or perish” thing and more of a “if I don’t get this story out of my head, I am going to become quite irritable” thing, which I feel is an arguably self-determining reason to push oneself.

Looking at the tally now, I managed to hit 10,000 words by about a third of the way through the month. That surpasses my entire January total. By midpoint the total reached 13k-ish words, and by month end it sat at an adequate 20k words as my to-do list took a more technical and admin turn.

It’s no NaNoWriMo and that’s fine, but it does boost my confidence somewhat for the upcoming Camp NaNo in April. A usable outline for Project Clay is on track. I’m daunted by this project, as it’s a first for me on many fronts, but I’ll talk more about that another time.

For now, I’m oiling my fingers and brain in preparation. Might as well keep that word count ticking to warm up 👩🏻‍💻

Stuff to share: Mar 2022

Hot off the press is Sarah Skye’s new steamy romance, Vibes & Feels. Falling for your enemy never felt so good.

Pia Manning’s latest steamy read is Coming Home, a small-town contemporary menage romance published by Siren-BookStrand.

The Erotic Reads for March bundle is giving away steamy books until the end of the month.

The Magical March book fair showcases indie works of paranormal, fantasy, urban fantasy, fairytale and science fiction.

Jan Selbourne recently released Full Circle, an historical novel of mystery, intrigue, revenge and love.

Robecca Austin’s contemporary romance Wedded by the Billionaire is available now in selected e-book stores.

Tales of the Future is a sci-fi and fantasy freebie book bundle open until 1st April.

International best-selling author Tina Donahue recently released Privilege, a dark mafia romance.

Erotica powerhouse Lisabet Sarai recently released a new edition of her BDSM erotic romance, The Gazillionaire and the Virgin.

This book fair features short stories, novellas and anthologies for fans of easy short reads.

Sloan McBride’s Together in Darkness is available on Author’s Direct. Word on the street says the prices are better if you buy from there.

Finally, here’s a month-long fantasy, sci-fi and horror book giveaway on StoryOrigin: Flights of Fantasy.

Fresh Find: The Boy with the Bookstore by Sarah Smith — cover reveal

Sarah Echavarre Smith just launched a SURPRISE COVER REVEAL for her upcoming book The Boy With The Bookstore!

Max Boyson looks good…from a distance. But up close and personal, the tattooed hottie Joelle Prima has been crushing on for the past year and half has turned into the prime example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by his delectable cover. 

When she first learned about the massive renovation to the building they share, Joelle imagined that temporarily combining her Filipino bakery with Max’s neighboring bookstore would be the perfect opening chapter to their happily ever after. In her fantasies they fed each other bibingka and pandesal while discussing Jane Austen and cooing over her pet hamster, Pumpkin. Reality, however…is quite different. Her gallant prince turned out to be a stubborn toad who snaps at her in front of customers, dries his wet clothes in her oven, and helps himself to the yummy pastries in her display case without asking. 

But beneath Max’s grumpy glares, Joelle senses a rising heat—and a softening heart. And when they discover the real reason for the renovation, they’ll have to put both their business senses and their feelings for each other to the test.

Coming 6 September 2022.

Genres: Romance, Romcom, Contemporary Romance

Agh, my eyes!

AKA. Why can’t email newsletters respect Dark Mode?

There are currently 90 emails in my inbox and only a sad minority of them respect the fact that I have Dark Mode setting turned on.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Dark Mode is an accessibility feature that lets you, oh I don’t know, NOT fry the crap out of your optic nerves when you’re reading the internet after sunset. It helps reduce eyestrain and, in the case of people with light sensitivity, prevent migraines.

Yes, I know devices after dark are a bit of an “at your own peril” deal right now, but come on, it’s the twenty-first century. It really doesn’t have to be like that anymore.

I’m a fine one to talk, I know. My email newsletter doesn’t respect Dark Mode either and it annoys the shit out of me. I can’t even read my own newsletter after a certain time of day because daylight hits our apartment at just the right angle to get my eyes ready for night.

CW: A bright white rectangle. Readers with light sensitivities should squint and scroll down fast… NOW.

Preview of my email newsletter featuring dark text on a light background. Definitely not the Dark Mode experience I'm hoping for.
Agh, my eyes!! 😣

And yet it feels wrong to flip the colour scheme and force a dark design on people, even though stats suggest that Dark Mode is by far a more popular setting.

The problem here is with FORCING people. Somehow it’s different with a blog and website, though I’d like to set up Light Mode and Dark Mode options for those too. The technology we have is more than capable of giving people a choice.

Well, it’ll happen at some point, and I don’t mean that flippantly. If it’s frustrated you too, please know that I am sorry. It’s been on my mind (and eyeballs) for months and I’m working on sorting it out.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go blink away the white rectangle burned on my retina from typing this post 😅

Fresh Find: Vibes & Feels by Sarah Skye

Vibes & Feels is Sarah Skye’s latest contemporary romance and an absolute treasure of a book. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with a reformed arsehole who did the hard yards to redeem himself (because, honestly, who wouldn’t?).

It’s irreverently clever and sexy and wholesome and I’m gonna fill this room up to my waist if I don’t stop gushing now. So how about we just show you it…

Vibes & Feels by Sarah Skye

Marco Woodruff has hit rock bottom. He drunkenly propositioned his ex-girlfriend at his own wedding rehearsal dinner just over a year ago and ended up dumped and jobless with a broken nose. He’s been the pariah of his social circle ever since. Now, he’s trying like hell to change for the better.

Morgan Paulsen loathes Marco. He’s nothing more than the douchebag who broke her best friend Lily’s heart. He’s also the last person in the world she expects to help when she finds herself in a crisis. Her ailing grandma needs a full-time caretaker, something she can’t afford. So when Marco offers to look after Gram for free, Morgan takes it as a sign from the universe and reluctantly accepts under one condition: that they never tell anyone about their arrangement.

But Morgan quickly realizes Marco has a completely different vibe these days. The sweet guy who whips up homemade meals for her Gram and happily escorts her to bridge club definitely isn’t the douchebag she remembers. She’s falling hard for the tall, dark, and handsome hottie who kisses like a demon and rocks out to BTS and Taylor Swift. Marco is equally smitten with beautiful, badass Morgan. Never in his life has he felt so content and comfortable than with her. Never did he think he was capable of feeling so much for somebody.

Soon they’re falling hard into total bliss and blazing passion. But if they make it official, Morgan will lose her best friend forever. Can she come clean to Lily? Can Marco prove that therapy and cutting out his toxic family have really changed him? Or will being open about their love ruin everything?

My three pillars of writing SFR

Confidence was never my strong suit, especially when it comes to writing. Sometimes it feels like the more I learn, the less I know. So now after years of writing and who-knows-how-many classes and courses, sitting down to write a draft fills me with anxiety like you can’t imagine.

Is that normal? No idea. But one way I try to work around it is by staying focused on the most important elements of this blended genre. This weekend, I’m visiting Amber Daulton’s blog to share my approach. Here ’tis:

Could you write so well that your infodumps are interesting?

I’m reading a book at the moment where the first two chapters seem to be one infodump chained after another, and yet they string me along with their colourful worldbuilding, unique character histories, and sudden bouts of compelling vulgarity.

Admittedly, I’m starting to get fatigued by having to mentally jump between so many points in time, but it’s not without payoff. The stakes feel rather high on the few key events driving the plot along so far. A house gets robbed. A guy washes his mother’s car and gets a job. And I find myself wanting to find out how these two arcs converge.

Are we wrong to turn our noses up at infodumps? Could they actually be opportunities to create art within art? Would we still refer to them by such a humble term as “infodump” if they evoked a spark of curiosity and emotion as powerful as the story itself?

Many questions, no answers, but perhaps something to try at one’s next freewriting session over tea ☕️

Checking in on un-social times

It’s getting nigh on when I need to make a decision about the role social media plays in my life. At least when it comes to Twitter, whose 30-day deactivation policy draws a hard line on this experiment milestone. So why not check in, hey. Why bloody not!

I haven’t missed the Twitter app on my phone. Haven’t missed doomscrolling and idle-scrolling. Haven’t missed the DMs.

Without all this, I’m reading more, writing more, focusing better, and making more realistic plans for the future. I don’t think I was addicted to social media before, but neurological mechanisms underpinning addiction were probably forming in some fashion when I was at my most active.

That said, I do appreciate the value of having Twitter whilst not letting it devour so much time and attention. Incidental chatter with nice people is one upside. Letting others get to know you is another. Even if that version of you is curated, it’s still a way to break the ice hindering deeper connections.

Humourist Willie Handler recently asked whether you’d want to be a social media influencer or bookseller, which got me thinking more in terms of “who I am” versus “what I do”. I’m not a social media influencer and don’t aspire to be. And I’m not a great bookseller either, but I am a creator. I’m an artist and writer who seems to do better in the quiet.

On other fronts, I haven’t been missing Facebook or Instagram much. Pinterest has filled that gap with a delectable trove of interesting content minus the pressure to be on all the time. Friends have suggested Facebook Marketplace is where I may come back, but I’m quite happily not there yet.

Well, with my 30-day Twitter deadline coming up, I have reactivated my @jlperidot account to keep my handle. But I’m not planning to suddenly hang out there just yet, so how about we keep connecting without it 😊