Sunday, 30 November 2014

"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."

Sylvia Plath

Love is a funny thing. One minute you feel the future is assured, and it's beautiful. The next you feel the world is in flames and your only course of action is to shut everything down. Hard.

I went through a couple of years in hard shutdown mode with my writing. 2013 was obviously very difficult, and I've talked about that before. But it started earlier. It started with WILD.

WILD is an urban fantasy/new adult about werewolves and drug addiction. It's not a happy read and it wasn't a happy write. It went through something like seventeen incarnations and two literary agents before I decided to self-publish it. I was in love, you see. And I figured I just needed to get the book out there for everyone else to love too, and that everything would be bright and shiny from that point on.

Leaving aside whether or not WILD is a good book or not, that was pretty naive of me. WILD did garner some good reviews and it's the only book I've ever written that readers have contacted me about - asking when/if I'd write the sequel, telling me they loved it. That's an awesome feeling, but as I started to experience self-doubt and frustration about my writing and my writing career, it wasn't enough to sustain my love. The novel was sinking without trace despite my efforts to keep it afloat, and after seventeen drafts, two agents, numerous publisher rejections, and the pitfalls of self-publishing, shutting down just seemed like the only option I had the energy for.

I pulled WILD, along with my other self-published stuff, and removed them from my blog. I didn't talk about it, I didn't think about it. I didn't want it. It felt like a failure. All this time and energy and passion and devotion...for nothing. I remembered the words of a writer whose work I'd loved when I first discovered urban fantasy - essentially "don't get hung up on this One Idea." If it doesn't work, don't waste your time. Move on. I figured I was in danger of making WILD my One Idea that wasn't working, and so I pulled the plug and tried to move on.

Between then and now, I've wrestled with writing demons. Am I'm writing the right stuff? Who am I writing for? Should I be writing at all?

It's taken a while for me to answer those questions for myself, and I can sum up the answer in one word: authenticity.

Remember at the start of November I talked about how I was trying to finish off a short story and even though it literally just required me to write a sex scene and tweak the ending, I couldn't do it? It's because I was trying to force a story to happen that wasn't a story I really wanted to write. It was a story I was pretty sure I could get published, that's all. But it wasn't a story that represented me as a writer or a person. It didn't come from a place of passion. Instead I started working again on Nightmare Moon, a story I'm so passionate about I will talk your face off about it at the least provocation (ask Kyle), a story I'm dreaming about, a story I'm just obsessed with. And it's going really fucking great. It's a story I want to tell. It's authentically me.

When I realised that, I started thinking about the works I have published and how I feel about them. I've said forever that I think UNDERTOW is the best thing I've ever written, and it's definitely the truest representation of the books I love and want to write. It's dark and nasty and uncomfortable, and it's awesome and I love it. And I thought...isn't that how I felt about WILD too?

Well yes, yes it is. That's exactly how I felt about WILD and that's why I worked so hard on it for so long, why I rewrote it all those times, why I pitched it to anyone and everyone who could have taken it and why, finally, I self-published it. It's a true, authentic representation of who I am as a writer and the stories I want to tell. And if I don't have it out in the world, I'm lying to myself and my readers about those things.

So I republished WILD. Currently it's only available on the Kindle, but I'm going to make it available for other platforms too. I've done it for myself - I'm past the point where I expect this book to set the world on fire, but I want this book I love, the book that came from a place of passion, to be out in the world again. I worked hard and fierce for this book, and then I gave up on it. I think WILD and I both deserve a little more faith from me than that.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Anti-Nano - the final check-in and an extra long snippet

The end is upon us! November is pretty much done and although I didn't quite meet my target of writing every day, I wrote a lot more than I have for most of the year. And I like what I'm writing, a lot. So I'm calling it a win.

Since I missed Wednesday's snippet, I'm leaving you with an extra long one here. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Anti-Nano Check-In: Shameless Self-Promotion Edition

Happy Monday! Hope the weekend treated everyone well. I got a bit of work done on Nightmare Moon on Saturday, in between perfume orders and cleaning up the old house (never again), but my big news of the weekend was that THE BEAST OF BIRCH HILL has been nominated for an Evernight Readers' Choice Award!

I can't tell you how honoured I feel. Last year, SILVER KISS won Best Urban Fantasy, and it was this that really helped spur me back into writing after a year of wondering if my heart was really in it anymore. To be nominated again feels incredible. And I'd be lying if I said I don't want to win again, but there's so much talent at Evernight that I really do feel flattered to be a semi-finalist.

Anyway, voting is now open for the finalists, and will close on December 7th. Everyone who votes is in with a chance of winning a $25 gift certificate for Evernight, so why not go ahead and do it? And, you know, if you liked THE BEAST OF BIRCH HILL, you could vote for that.

Hint hint.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Guest Blog - Erin Ashley Tanner

I read and enjoyed Erin Ashley Tanner's GODDESS OF LEGEND (first in the Demi-God Daughters series) earlier this year, and it's no surprise to me she's one of the finalists for Urban Fantasy in Evernight's Readers' Choice Awards this year. Combining well-known Greek myth with modern heroines is bound to be a winner! So I'm delighted to welcome Erin here today to talk about the second book in the series, GODDESS BY CHANCE.

The Author

Erin Ashley Tanner is a proud alumni of Florida State who is currently embarking on the journey that is nursing school. In the rare free time she has, she enjoys leisure reading in all genres and writing whatever stories come to mind. She dreams of a long life filled writing many more stories. To learn more about Erin, swing by her website at or find her on Facebook at Author Erin Ashley Tanner or on Twitter @erintheauthor.

The Novel

Anyone who knows me is aware that I love all things Greek mythology. After I completed my first novel, Goddess of Legend, I started to wonder could there be more Demi-god Daughters out there that needed their stories told. To start with I had to decide what Greek goddess would be a good candidate to have a half mortal daughter. I’m sure who I chose will surprise many.

After that I thought about what kind of heroine I would have this time around. Since I’d created such a take charge, kick your butt heroine in the first novel in the series, I wanted to go for a much softer and more vulnerable heroine and thus Arienne was created. As for the god in this story, I wanted somebody a little rougher around the edges with more of a dark side. I’d say he’s more of an anti-hero than a hero and as a result he was a lot more interesting to write.

Keep reading for the blurb and an excerpt!

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Penultimate Friday Check-In

Brought to you this Friday by a wendigo, because why not?

Only one more week of Anti-Nano to go! I'm still yet to cross that all-important (to me) 20k line on Nightmare Moon, but I'm a hell of a lot closer than I was at the start of November, so that's pretty nice. I've been pondering on whether to keep up with the updates/snippets/check-ins once November ends. They're pretty good for me, as I work better when I've got some kind of accountability going on, even if it's just "must report on blog," but I don't know how interesting it is for people who wander by. I'll probably try to mix it up and give you snippets interspersed with random nonsense and real news.

In that vein, here's some real news! Nightowl Reviews have reviewed THE BEAST OF BIRCH HILL here. There are some spoilers so caution is advised.

In other real news, if you've enjoyed the two Ethan Banning shorts I re-released this year (UNGRATEFUL DEAD and STAKEOUT), would you be interested in seeing a couple more? I really love writing Ethan's pre-Voice mishaps and I do have a couple of short stories just waiting to go. If people are keen, I'd like to get more out there to keep us all going while I finish the first draft of the next full-length Ethan novel. Let me know!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Snippet Day the Third

Greetings! Looks like it's Wednesday again, which means it's snippet time again. I had hoped to be a little further along with Nightmare Moon at this point, but life finds ways to interfere. Nonetheless, I'm writing more (and more regularly) than I have for a very long time, and I'm pleased with that.

So onto the snippet!


Friday, 14 November 2014

Anti-Nano: Another Friday is upon us

I'm about to get stuck into a huge pile of perfume orders, but I figured I'd check in first and see how everyone's doing with their Nano and Nano-associated goals. How are your words flowing? Are they flowing well?

I had Wednesday and Thursday as no-writing days again, but managed to get some work done today and I'm rapidly approaching the 20k mark on Nightmare Moon, which is about the point a novel feels real to me, and not something I can just abandon because, eh, whatever, it's just a short thing.

More important than the word count though, I'm happy with the words I'm writing. Confession: I hate editing. I hate rewriting, and I'd rather get it right first time than go back and edit relentlessly. I think Wild* gave me the fear. Of course, nothing is going to be perfect first time round, but it works better for me to tweak as I go, rather than go back afterwards and try to patch together a bunch of disparate ideas into one smooth novel (I'm looking at you, Ethan Banning #2).

I'm expecting to spend a lot of this weekend working on new perfume blends and cleaning out our old house, so I don't know how much writing will go down, but I'm hopefully I can get closer to the 20k mark. What's everyone else planning?

*I think I rewrote Wild about fifteen-seventeen times, maybe even more than that. And for what, I ask you? For what? For nothing. Fuck you, stupid book.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Monday, 10 November 2014

Anti-Nano: The Musical Edition

Although I wasn't quite as productive this weekend as I was last weekend, progress on Nightmare Moon is going nicely and I'm really excited about sharing another snippet on Wednesday. So rather than wax lyrical about the ins and outs of writing and navel-gaze over progress/word counts/character motivations, I thought I'd share some of the music that's been shaping the mood and momentum of Nightmare Moon.

I don't often listen to music when writing, unless I'm alone in the house, but I make playlists for all my characters and big WIPs. You can find the complete Nightmare Moon playlist here if you so wish:

My stand-out tracks, you ask?

Well, I'm nothing if not an AFI fan, so A Deep Slow Panic is definitely my top pick.

And Sunny Came Home has been Scarlett's (my protagonist) anthem for well over a decade:

Seven Devils by Florence and the Machine is another essential track for this novel:

And my last pick, for a new-to-me artist who just absolutely had to be included, because this song is perfect for Scarlett in this book - Banks.


Friday, 7 November 2014

Anti-Nano - Friday check-in

Happy Friday! How's the week been treating everyone? How does the weekend look? I think most of mine is going to be split between filling perfume orders and cleaning out our old house, but I'm hoping Sunday will provide some good writing time. I also want some good perfume-making time, as it's been ages since I had time to work on new blends and I have loads of ideas for Christmas/winter scents, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, I'm really pleased with the progress I've made on Nightmare Moon since restarting it last weekend. I didn't get any writing done Wednesday or yesterday. Wednesday is my traditional evening for dinner and crap TV with my mum, and on Thursday Kyle and I discovered Masterchef: The Professionals was back on and we had to catch up. And we still have to catch up because we both crashed out and fell asleep halfway through the third episode, presumably because our new-found love for Marcus Wareing overwhelmed us so thoroughly.

Anyway, I'm hoping to regain some ground over the weekend and start creating chaos for my heroine. If I also manage to squeeze in some perfume-making and finish watching episode three of Masterchef, I shall consider it a weekend well spent.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Snippet Day!

So it is the tradition of Anti-Nano for us to share snippets of our WIPs on Wednesdays, for encouragement, critique and just because. I'm sticking with that and sharing a bit of Nightmare Moon that I wrote over the weekend. I'm really hoping it comes across as creepy and tense, but I feel too close to it to call it right now.

Anyway! Enjoy...

Monday, 3 November 2014

Anti-Nano: The Beginning

Artist's rendition of me trying to finish a short story. SPOILER: I'm not Cthulhu.

So last week I was working on this short story that I was really sure I could finish off nice and quick, no problem, and totalling something pathetic like 100 words a day. I have never slogged so hard at something that should have been so simple. I'd already written the story, a few years ago. I just needed to throw in a sex scene and change the ending slightly and it would have been good to go. That was my first Anti-Nano goal, after all: finish and submit this story.

And yesterday* I sat there trying really hard to finish this stupid sex scene and I realised I could not give fewer fucks about the scene, the story or the characters. And that if I forced myself to keep trying to finish it, I'd end up working on it all month and having nothing to show at the end, because I just do not care about it.

So I shut the file, opened up Nightmare Moon (which I'm sure I've mentioned, if not in detail), and promptly wrote 3454 words. Just to put that in some kind of context, I don't think I've written more than 1000 words in a single session all this year. It's come very late in the year, but I've remembered my resolution from earlier in the year - to write what I love, not what I think I should write. And what I love right now is Nightmare Moon, so that's now my official Anti-Nano project. I haven't set a firm daily word count, because I can't do 3k+ every day, but I am aiming to write every day.

I'm following the grand old Anti-Nano tradition of progress updates on Mondays and Fridays, and snippet-sharing on Wednesdays, more to hold myself accountable than anything else. So if you want a little look at Nightmare Moon, come back in a couple of days!

*I know technically I should have started Anti-Nano on the 1st November, but I boldly chose to drink wine with a friend instead.