Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Goals

It’s the first of January, which means it’s time to outline my goals for the year in the desperate hope that making them public will shame me into actually achieving them.

I have some formal, some informal as I think it’s important to distinguish between those things that you’d like to do and those things that are necessary for moving your career forward. First, the critical few:

1. Finish two first drafts over 30k.

This one speaks for itself and hopefully will be pretty straight forward. I still have books contracted under my pen name for harlequin to get done, I haven’t written book 3 of Lifesphere and I have two half finished 80k-100k novels I’d like to see completed, so I have a lot to choose from.

2. Edit two novels over 30k.

Again, pretty self explanatory. I still have to do another edit of Lifesphere book 2 and edits for Harlequin will be happening early in the year, so I might get this one done by the end of January.

3. Get under 65kgs.

This has been a goal for a few years running and I haven’t made any progress. However I stopped taking one of my long term medications that can cause weight gain a few months ago and recently started an exercise and healthy eating pact with a friend and the weight is flying off.

On the medication previously I could run on the treadmill everyday and eat nothing but salad and lean meat and still be gaining weight. Just maintaining my weight was a constant nightmare struggle. Now I’m off it, I ate roast pork, potatoes and chocolate for three days straight over Christmas and still lost a kilogram.

Only three months after stopping the medication, I’m the lightest I’ve been in ten years.

4. Fully prepare Lifesphere 2 and 3 for publication.

Obviously I still need the numbers before I can publish the books, but we’re extremely close to the threshold for book 2 and I suspect it will boost the downloads for book 1 again. Remember, if you want to see book 2 and 3 this year, you need to keep sharing and recommending book 1 to your friends.

And informally:

1. Blog once a week.

I choose blogging as my interactive platform. I know twitter is all the rage, or even tumblr or facebook. However I like the idea of actually creating content, and as a writer, that means writing. I love being able to write articles on the writing process and having people tell me they’re helpful. I’m very keen to get back to that.

2. Be well enough to volunteer with the arts and library council.

It’s great to give back to the community, but really I just need to get out more. I’d like to find a volunteer position that allowed me to meet a broad range of people in the community, so I’ve love to volunteer at the library or gallery.

3. Make more time for friends.

My health makes it impossible to do all the awesome things I’d like to with friends, like going hiking and clubbing. However I truly know some of the most awesome people on the planet and I’d like to spend more time with them.

So there you have it. My goals for 2014. They hinge heavily on the two axis of my life, writing and illness, but so does my day to day. Writing is the best thing in my life and illness is the worst, but they both require a lot of sacrifices on my part. They also both require constant effort, research, networking and self control. They are both things to be constantly worked on and improved.

You make the most of what you have though. If I wasn’t ill, I wouldn’t be able to write full time.

If I wasn’t ill, writing wouldn’t be a struggle though and I would be a lot further in my career.

I am striving to make 2014 better—not because 2013 was bad, but because striving to be better is a worthwhile goal in itself.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Guest Post - Raymond Gates

Recently I did a guest post for Ray Gates that you can find here.

He was nice enough to return the favour and today we will have our first ever guest post!

My Love-Hate Relationship with Matthew Reilly. A guest post by Raymond Gates.

When my NaNoWriMo buddy and colleague-in-ink asked me what the first book that gave me a bone-deep jealousy for someone else’s writing skills was, a single thought resonated through my mind like a Tibetan temple bell rung by a monk newly introduced to speed.

I fucking hate Matthew Reilly.

It didn’t start out like that. When I had my first taste of his story-telling style I found it not just palatable, but quite easy to devour. His simplistic style lends itself so well to the action-thriller genre that he achieves something not many writers pull off successfully: he creates pace. Not just in terms of the story, but also how quickly you read each line, each paragraph, each chapter, until the book vanishes into the wee hours of the night. It is a neat trick, and something I’m certainly envious of.

But after I’d digested a few books, I started to realise something. It was around about the hundred-and-fiftieth time I’d read that someone got shot and their head exploded in a fountain of blood like an over-ripe melon. And as I sat there wondering if anyone was ever going to die without their head exploding in a fountain of blood like an over-ripe melon, it occurred to me that, well, dare I say it? Matthew Reilly really isn’t that great a writer.

And that pissed me off.

 Writing, or maybe more importantly, being read, had always been the seemingly unachievable dream. I grew up reading King and Barker, Masterton and Lumley, Tolkien, Eddings and Salvatore. How the hell could I possibly aspire to sit on the same shelf as any of them?

And here was Reilly; best-seller, hundreds of thousands of copies sold, discussing movie rights, with a writing style that, by his own admittance, earned him countless rejections from editors everywhere. I couldn’t believe it. I started thinking my creative writing assignment for ninth-grade English class could probably get published if his stuff could. I mean, if he could do it, why couldn’t I?

That’s why I love Matthew Reilly.

To me, Matthew Reilly is the embodiment of my belief that writing is a skill that gets us past editors, but it’s the story that connects us with readers. Anyone can learn to write well; story-telling, however, is a gift, and you either have it or you don’t. He has it, and whether you love or hate his work, there is no arguing with his success, and his connection to his readers. To me, that’s what writing is all about: telling a story, and sharing it with others. And while the big names will always be the ones I gaze upon with admiration and devotion from my place beneath their pedestals, it’s the Matthew Reilly’s of the world that continue to inspire me to keep chasing my own dream.

You should come too. There’s plenty of room, and it promises to be a hell of a trip.


Raymond Gates is an Aboriginal Australian writer whose dreams mostly belong in the dark fiction and horror realm. He has published several short stories including The Little Red Man in Ticonderoga Press’ Australian vampire anthology, Dead Red Heart. He continues to write short fiction and threatens to write a novel. Look into his mind at: http://raymondgates.com, and follow his journey via:

Twitter: @RGDreaming

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Revenge is a dish best served wet...

Good: My massive tomcat Elliot jumping on the bed to say goodnight to me.

Bad: As I murmur ‘Goodnight, Elliot.’ He jams his entire paw into my mouth.

Worst: His paw is WET. My whole body goes rigid as I wait for my taste buds to determine if I am dealing with water from his water bowl or urine from the litter tray.

At the time I was thinking ‘oh my god, what fresh hell is this?! Why do I have cats?’ then it occurred to me: whenever any of them yawn, I jab them in the tongue with my finger. This wasn’t cat weirdness, it was deliberate and malicious payback.

Thankfully, it was water.

I was still disgusted.

Friday, March 8, 2013

In Which I Plan A Murder

During my trial, these are the top six things I will have to say in my defence. They are the reasons I will eventually smother my housemate Apples in her sleep:

1. Cheese snow.

Cheese snow is a horrible, hateful invention spawned by my fantastic, top of the line, $900 food processor and Apple’s complete inability to plan two hours in advance. Because we don’t eat much cheese, we often freeze parts of blocks. Then Apple’s realises she wants cheese, but it really needs to thaw overnight.

Turns out if you put frozen cheese through a fine grater, it turns into this fine, powder snow-like flour. Words cannot accurately describe how horrific this stuff is. It’s like Heston Blumenthal became evil and decided to punish the world with cheese. I can’t even see the stuff without throwing up a little and needing to scrub my hands for an hour.

2. GTFO of my bathroom.

Apples is obsessed with my bathroom. We have one each and hers always looks like it’s the lone bathroom in a sorority house. Every time I am forced to go in there, I wonder if a kegger happened and who that person is passed out in the bathtub.

The odd thing is, she never seems to use anything in my bathroom, she just hangs out in there doing annoying things. Things like turning off my toothbrush when I set it to charge and moving things around. When I finish a shampoo or a razor head is dead, I line them up on the floor just outside the shower door, ready for the bin.

After dressing in my bedroom, I return to throw out said items, only to find them back on their shelves in the shower. WHY!? STOP IT! JUST LEAVE MY STUFF ALONE, JESUS CHRIST!

3. Every second counts.

Despite being blatantly oblivious to 1. Her carbon footprint and 2. All possible fire risks, Apple’s obsessively turns off every power point she passes... unless it’s a ceiling fan or a light, those she leaves on forever. God forbid I plug my phone in to charge, because I’ll come back two hours later to find the switch off and my phone still very dead on the counter. Likewise with my toothbrush, kindle, computer, the TV...

Seriously who turns off the TV power point at the wall, then leaves the ceiling fan on all day? Very rarely, she will turn off stuff WHILE I AM ACTIVELY USING IT.

This will likely be the trigger that ultimately causes me to snap.

4. No concept of time.

“I’ll be two minutes.”
“Two real person minutes or two of your minutes?”
“Two minutes, I’m just making tea and I will be right there.”

I literally watched a thirty minute documentary before she reached the living room. What happened in that kitchen? What sort of tea was prepared that took an entire thirty minutes? We will never know.

This happens every time I want to watch a movie or show that Apples insists she has to watch too. So four times a week.

5. Failure to return my things.

“Where are your tweezers?”
“In the top bathroom drawer.”
“No, I borrowed them two days ago from there and now I can’t find them.”
“...They will never find your body either.”

Things have a place. You use them, clean them, then PUT THEM BACK IN THEIR FUCKING PLACE! I know 99.9% of people empathise with Apples over my obsessive tidying and organisation. I can’t even express how little I care. My house, my stuff, my goddamn rules.

All your little objects: hairbrushes, make up, forks, whatever, they’re all sad if they can’t go back to their own little houses. Stop making my tweezers sad.

6. Starting house fires.

This is pretty much the WORST problem you can ever have with anyone who shares your living space.

Given I set the microwave on fire last week, completely destroying it, it also makes me a hypocrite. However that’s two fires to Apple’s eight thousand and fifty and I am honestly at the stage where I am frightened to leave her unattended in the house.

Eventually I had to ban oil heaters from the house, because Apples was always hanging her clothes on them. Overnight. At full heat. She was managing to scorch them at least twice a week, every winter—full on billowing smoke and black marks.

She also can’t be trusted with candles, because I came home to find the bookcase on fire once. Yes, an enclosed wooden bookcase, with a candle on it. Covered in books and newspapers. The other day I walked into the kitchen to find she’d wrapped a tea towel around the slow cooker and I burnt myself moving it, because it was already smouldering.

She acted like I was being unreasonable.

“Why do you put up with that?”

Sometimes people ask why I live with Apples if she annoys me so much. The answer is pretty simple. There is someone else who is even MORE annoying than her. Someone that no sane person would tolerate sharing space with, who makes Apples look like a perfect, sublime dream.

And that would be me.

If Apples wrote a list like this, it would be her magnum opus. It would be unfinished when she died, a startling, dystopian horror, thousands of pages long, dipping into the vast depths of human depravity.

I also put up with her because we’re related and I have to. Mostly, because of that.