It’s been awhile. Lots of things have happened since I last got around to updating the blog. Writing related fun and not so writing related, but certainly momentous and memorable.
At the event of the last update, I had just enrolled in university and was about to start, I believe. Or maybe I was awaiting the news that I was accepted or not. As of Friday last week, I successfully completed the first year of my degree. Also in the middle of that, I changed programs, going from a bachelor of accounting to the double degree, bachelor of accounting and business. Never in a million years would I have considered a mathematical career, I thought I would always lean towards the arts or the sciences. Instead, we’ve got ourselves a number cruncher, bean counter, double entry deviant, dealer in debits and credits, someone who eyeballs a purchase and immediately tries to work out it’s depreciation schedule, it’s potential as a tax deduction. I’ve got dollar signs in my eyes.
I am pleased to say that I have excelled in academia, with top marks, commendations and several scholarships that have helped with the financial burden of basically racking up anything from $40-50k in government help debt that I’m sure I’ll be paying for sooner rather than later. And textbooks. Can’t forget those, and man are they expensive, and if only they could be added to the government debt too. Pretty sure there will be at least $7k by the time I’m done with my degree! Moving on from accounting now.
The Manasaurus, my partner in crime, and I completed a motorbike tour of Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria on Big Red, his beloved first generation Yamaha FJR1300. Big Red has been heavily modified to carry the load of 2 fully grown adults and all their gear, in comfort, and taking into the back and knee issues of the Manasaurus himself, and my inability to sit for too long before my body decides it hates me. The Manasaurus broke his back in his younger days, and is up for a knee replacement in the next few years. Needless to say, sitting on a motorbike for long periods of time required some creative modifications. My knee locks up if it’s in one position for too long. The solution? A third set of pegs, to enable him to stretch out his leg, and for me to drop my feet to his pegs and stretch my legs out.
I have to say, I have completed 3 major trips through Australia, two by car, one by motorbike. And hands down, the motorbike trip was the absolute best. You are exposed to the environment, as opposed to viewing it from a bubble. You can smell that fresh bushland scent after a rain shower. You’ve got the wind in your face, the sun on you (SPF 50+ sport sunscreen a must for pale little old me), the mud on your boots. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s not so great when you’re held up in traffic for several hours and are forced to idle by a fatal road accident, or are stuck in traffic in a suburb where there was a shooting (motorcyclist armour is NOT bulletproof, fyi). The trip took 3 weeks, covered about 5000-6000km, and took the better part of two years of modifying, planning and saving to achieve. We got thousands of photos, and plenty of memories. I’m already feeling the itch to do another tour again, and I’m dreaming of the outback and deserts. There is something about deserts that call to me. The wide open spaces, the blue of the sky, the red of the sand. The unreal sunsets that set the sky on fire. I aim to have my own motorbike by the time we do our next trip. I’ll probably be on a restricted license, but that doesn’t matter, we can still cover at least 600km in a day, possibly more. I think a mid sized motorbike would be perfect for me. I doubt if I’d have the sheer physical strength to control a big one like Big Red – it’s 280kgs wet weight (that’s fully loaded with fuel) and that doesn’t include the weight of the gear or us. We estimated that the entire load of bike, us and the gear was a conservative 500kgs. Then again, who knows. I’ve seen smaller women than me on big BMW tourers that they can barely touch the ground on. When I’ve got my riding boots on and am in the primary seat, I can put my feet flat on the ground on Big Red. That’s a good starting point.
My home decor and cosmetics hobby has morphed into a micro-business that is taking off. I have stockists. I have accounts. I have had my soap go around the world, from Oman to Ireland, France, (yes, France, the very home of fine soap!) to every state in Australia and beyond. I have people say it’s fixed their skin issues, and people who keep coming back for more more more – 10 bars at a time. Blessed.
My Mum is the main salesperson.. I lurk behind the scenes and make the stuff, package it, send it to wherever it needs to go, and market it. I don’t do much selling myself… others do that for me. Again, blessed. Word of mouth has been amazing. Even my allergist purchases it. The candles and melts are also powering on, and I launched several new lines in mid June. I shipped my first skid of stuff the other day. That’s a LOT of stock. Amazing. It’s helped with the costs of living, allows me to have a little spending money and keeps on funding the hobby. I love it. I am no longer ordering supplies in 100mL, 1L, 1kg. It’s 1L, 20L, 15kg, and it’s taken over the spare room where we store the motorbike gear and camping supplies. I am planning a special box set of soaps inspired by literature! I can’t wait for all my goodies to arrive, and I’ve got the delivery folks well trained as to where to put my supplies. Some are so heavy I can’t lift them on my own and require the aid of someone else or I break down the cartons and carry them in bit by bit. I built a little workshop on my back patio and it keeps gradually increasing in size.
In writing news, I had my most successful year of writing in 2015, despite everything that carved out chunks of my time. In November 2015, despite increased work hours, a full time study load and preparing stock for the Christmas rush, I managed to smash out 200,000 words for NaNoWriMo. To prove I could. My previous personal record was 120,000 in a month, in a month where the only thing I had to do was work part time. That’s a 60% increase in productivity.
Honestly, I have no idea how I did it. I did, however, have a story that was begging to be told, and characters so real they were screaming inside my head, wanting their stories to be told. I rebooted Fractured Mirrors, Broken Glass. This may be familiar to some as the prequel to the main story arc in my universe. However… I threw out almost everything that was previously written and rebuilt it from the ground up, choosing a new, unstable point of view character, fleshing out what was alluded to in the main arc as “history” but is recent events for the characters, and developing other characters. It was a fantastic ride. What’s even better is that most of it is usable text. It needs work, naturally. But it’s coherent, its got several plots weaving in and around each other, inspired two spin offs that explain a lot more about the Fourth Generation.
I’ve noticed that my writing in the past couple of years – since my best friend gifted me with her old MacBook Air – has sprawled out a bit. When I find a story I absolutely must sit down and write, it usually ends up with a spin off or two that are full sized novels themselves, with secondary characters telling their stories. It’s somewhat amazing, and really fleshes out my universe so much more. I rarely do descriptive titles until after the novels are finished, so everything is just “[Name]’s Story”. The two most noticeable instances of spin offs are:
Possession, which ended up with one spin off, Makari’s Story.
Fractured Mirrors, Broken Glass, which ended up with two, Jaisari’s Story, and 18 Years (probably better known as Ryan’s Story).
It’s certainly interesting to see things through different characters’ eyes, and to see how evens in the main arc have impacted the characters in the spin offs. In 18 Years, the events of Iceheart have left Ryan feeling haunted by the memories of a best friend inexplicably hunted and subsequently vanished, making him poke at things about his family he knows aren’t quite normal, and not liking the answers he gets, which only lead to more questions, and he starts down a slippery slope of thinking there are sides, and that they will eventually force him to choose. In turn, the questions that he is asking and the answers he gets have also impacted Iceheart, refining things that were a little hazy previously, and giving me a better idea of the structures of certain entities and the motivations behind key characters. Even more surprisingly, they tie into things that occurred in Fractured Mirrors, Broken Glass, and each plays off each other. Things that are hinted at in one story are answered in another, and events that happened 30 or 40 years in the past are still unfolding at the present moment. It’s actually quite cool to see how things build and unfold, and I have no doubt they’ll cast shadows through the entire series. I love that.
I’m currently about to devote a good chunk of my uni break to rewriting Iceheart. This will be the final rewrite, and anything after it will be the refining of text, not complete drafts. I am at a point now through the exploration of subplots and constant thinking about the direction of the series that I know how things will play out properly until the fifth book. I cannot wait. The structure of my writing, my voice, has also gotten to the point where I am content with how I sound as a writer, getting my vision across to readers. The mechanics of my writing have progressed to a point where I am confident in myself, confident in being able to hand something over to another and be confident that I can tell a good story.