Sunday Summary – May 03

How can it be May already? After March dragged on forever, April seemed to be gone in the blink o an eye!

In spite of everything, April was a pretty good month in Chez Wrayburn. Working from home kicked in, which took away a lot of the stress we’had been feeling about having to still show up for work each day, either paying exorbitant parking fees or catching public transport.

It is getting incredibly cold here, which is making it hard to really stick to my usual 6am writing habits. But I’m at least getting myself in front of a keyboard by 6:30 on most weekday mornings, and usually before 7am. So it still counts! I think there will be more writing in bed as the season goes on.

I have been thinking about how to keep this blog active, and have come to the conclusion I’m not very good at blog hops… I’m good at blogging, but not hopping, and I have never felt comfortable with posting in such things and getting lovely responses to my own post then not returning the favour.

So I’m not going to to do any more of that.

I am going to still post excerpts from my drafts every now and then, and I thought it might be fun to do other things like “Typo of the week”, and I might cross-post my writing-related Instagram posts here, too.

I’m currently in the middle of a return to the Operation: Sugarplum sequel. I’m hoping I might have this finished in a couple more weeks. Before yesterday’s writing session, I was only about 2200 words in. I’m now closing in on 6000. Sugarplum was roughly 12000 words, and I suspect this one might be a bit longer.

In the past week, I’ve also revisited Facing the Music, and written myself a very basic summary of each chapter in the first draft. Even though the ending was very scattered, I’ve decided to start looking at it in terms of revisions and rewrites, and make a start on Draft 2. If it doesn’t happen before then, I might make it a July Camp NaNoWriMo project.

Before I sign off, since I mentioned it, here is the typo of the week:

Max lipped his lips before he opened his mouth.

I don’t know exactly what lip-lipping is, but I thought it sounded vaguely uncomfortable.

And with that, I take my leave. Until next time.

2020 Writing Goals – April Check-in


At
the start of this year, some writer friends and I chose a word as the theme for the coming 12 months. Mine was LEARN.

Now the start of the year feels like a million years ago, but actually, I’ve been ticking things off on this list more so than I thought. That’s why check-in posts are good. I’m only listing the goals I’ve made progress on here, but you can read my full list of goals here.

Writing

  • Submit stories to four anthologies or short story competitions – 2/4

I submitted to Cantina Publishing‘s upcoming anthology Silk & Steel: An Adventure Anthology of Queer Ladies. This short story took over a month to get down on paper in a way I way happy with. If you were following my Weekend Writing Warriors posts in January and February, you would have read a few excerpts featuring my dragon hunters, Helena and Tori. The rebels Jules and Ada got edited out in the third draft, but I’ve filed the whole rebel story line away for a bigger WIP one day.

I didn’t get accepted for this one, but they received over 500 submissions, so I suspect I am probably in good company!

I also submitted my short story The Old Boy to The Big Issue Fiction Edition 2020. This went through 5 drafts when I submitted it for the Australian Fairy Tale Society’s anthology, South of the Sun, last year but I still found additions and edits to make before this new submission. A writer’s work is never done.

Learning

  • Listen to two episodes of a writing or publishing podcast each week.

This started out well but has fallen off in the last few months. Maybe I should put a few on while I’m working from home, get back into that way.

  • Complete Ingram Spark’s self-publishing short courses 1/3

So far I’ve completed the How to Self-Publish course. It’s very 101 and there wasn’t a lot in there that I didn’t already know, having been researching on and off for a while now as well as hanging out with a lot of indie authors. But it’s good to have that foundation, I suppose.

  • Complete at least one other short course on self-publishing/book design (e.g. through LinkedIn Learning)

I was booked in to do Ellie Marney’s self-publishing boot camp in Melbourne on the first weekend of April, but of course, that has been postponed. I’m not sure whether the intention is for it to be run online or in person but it has been moved to October, so I guess we’ll have to see what the situation is then.

This week I am doing Bryan Cohen’s five-day course on Amazon advertising. We’ve done “session 0”, i.e. prep work, so far and I feel like I’ve already learned a lot! I think this one’s going to be very useful.

Marketing

(myself and my books)

  • Start mailing list
  • Set up author website

Well, here you are on emilywrayburn.com. One thing about everything being shut down is that I have a budget for things like domain registration, because I’m not spending it on theatre tickets. And the first issue of my newsletter went out on March 19, with the second one coming soon. So I guess I can tick off these two goals!

Publishing

  • Give A More Complicated Fairytale some love. 

I’m actually thinking of doing a big relaunch for this book. It deserves it.

For a couple of reasons, I’ve decided I’d like a new cover and I’ve found a designer I’m going to approach.

I know that the description, keywords and categories on Amazon need a good revamp.

I also want to upload the paperback through Ingram Spark so that I can distribute it more widely, and get it printed in Australia. That requires buying ISBNs and things like that, so it’ll take some time.

So this is a project worthy of its own check-in posts, and I’m excited to take it forward.

So that’s where I am right now. Doesn’t look too bad when I see it all listed together here. I’ll check in again when I’ve got more to add.

#WeWriWa // #8sunday 08 – April 05, 2020

Weekend Writing Warriors

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where writers share 8-10 sentences from their WIP for from a current writing project, published or unpublished, then visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support.

Uh… hi. Yes. It’s been a while. This year, right? Yikes…

But on a happier note, look, I have a real website! This is my first post for emilywrayburn.com rather than lettingthevoicesout.wordpress.com. Pretty psyched to finally get that set up. 🙂

Anyway. After a long hiatus, I have found myself writing the past couple of days. I pulled out my 2019 NaNoWriMo project, which I abandoned halfway through November in a fit of disgust… Funny what a few months can do because when I read over it on Friday night, I liked what I saw. Writing, huh?

This project is as yet untitled, but it is the sequel to my novelette, Operation: Sugarplum (find out more under the “My Books” tab above). I’ve rewritten the beginning, and here we have Clara and her boss as Clara prepared to leave for the day to go help Max out at Drosselmeier Industries.

“And you’re sure you’re not leaving me for a job with your video gamer boyfriend?”

Clara rolled her eyes at her boss. “Okay, first of all, he’s not my boyfriend. Second of all, I don’t have a clue about creating video games, I only play them. And as I have already told you this is a one-off. They needed an extra hand to supervise kids at the launch party tonight.”

Lacey still looked dubious. “You say that, but you’ve been spending an awful lot of time with him.”

She has her reasons, Lacey! Sure, “he’s cute and makes me laugh” might be some of them, but there are others, too! 😉

I’ll see you here again soon! Don’t forget to visit the other Weekend Writing Warriors at the link above.

Where’d you go, Emily?

So who else is ready for 2020 to be cancelled?

From starting the year covered in bushfire smoke, to massive hailstorms, to job insecurity only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is it any wonder that I’ve barely put pen to paper, or that my last post here was February 16?

Any wonder that I was spending more time playing pointless time-wasting games on my phone rather than actually writing?

But! I am in a fortunate position, compared to many others. I still have a job and will probably start working from home 3-4 days a week this week (there are parts of my job I simply can’t do remotely, but at least this way I’ll be able to afford the parking fees and won’t have to take public transport).

I have a wonderful group of friends with whom I’m voice chatting/Zooming a lot, and we’ve been checking in on each other daily. That includes my writing group, and during a voice chat session today, I made myself a spreadsheet with my outstanding WIPs and where I’m at on all of them.

I’ve got my work cut out for me over the next few months, but hopefully with extra time at home, I’ll get through it!

And hopefully soon, that will translate into a bit more of a presence on this here blog, too. Take care, everyone, and I’ll see you soonish.

#WeWriWa // #8sunday 08 – February 16, 2020

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where writers share 8-10 sentences from their WIP for from a current writing project, published or unpublished, then visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support.

Apologies for my lack of engagement with you all over the last couple of weeks, first not returning any comments, then not being here at all last week. Things have been a bit hectic. I didn’t even realise I hadn’t signed up for last week until late Sunday.

I’ve received feedback from my five beta readers on my submission for Cantina Publishing’s Silk & Steel: An Adventure Anthology of Queer Ladies. Everyone really liked it! But had really useful comments on how to make it even better! In the nine months I’ve been writing short fiction, I’ve found it really interesting how everyone picks up on slightly different things.

I haven’t actually started implementing any of their changes yet, so this excerpt it still from the first draft, and subject to change. In this scene, Tori and Helena have discovered the dragon they were hunting is up and about and has just disappeared through another tunnel in the cave system. They were hoping to find it asleep at the top of its hoard.

“Dammit,” Helena whispered. She looked down at her phone, matching up the passageway with the one on the map.

“Can we follow?”

Helena studied the map a little longer before nodding. “I think so,” she said. “Let’s go straight across and through that passage. Don’t hit anything. Don’t make any noise.”

Dragon hunting is a tricky business.

I’ll see you back here next week!

#WeWriWa // #8sunday 07 – February 02, 2020

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where writers share 8-10 sentences from their WIP for from a current writing project, published or unpublished, then visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support.

This week, I’ve continued working on a submission for Cantina Publishing’s Silk & Steel: An Adventure Anthology of Queer Ladies. I finished the second draft, thought it was awful, and proceeded to change tack again. And I just wish this was the tack I’d hit on the first time around, because everything is flowing so much better now, but it’s now only three weeks until submissions close, so I’m not going to have a lot of time to get feedback and polish it.

In this scene, the mission to put down the dragon starts going terribly wrong. IT’s mentioned earlier in the story that the guns they use shoot bolts of electricity rather than bullets as dragon scales are impervious to the latter but act as a conductor for the former.

With a screech, it latched onto Helena’s shoulders, pulling her into the air. Tori was still holding Helena’s hand and was momentarily also lifted off the ground before her hand slipped. The dragon rose high into the air, taking a screaming Helena with it.

“HELENA!” Tori ran after the dragon, fumbling to get her gun out of its holster. She flicked the safety switch off and heard the gun begin to hum with electricity. She aimed as she ran, but she knew it was too dangerous to take a shot. If she missed and hit Helena, Helena would be incinerated. And even if she struck true, what then? The dragon would fall out of the sky and Helena would be crushed.

And with that, I will see you all next week!

#WeWriWa // #8sunday 06 – January 19, 2020

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where writers share 8-10 sentences from their WIP for from a current writing project, published or unpublished, then visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support. I just realised that my last 4 WWW posts have all had a “03” at the start because I forgot I was numbering them. Back on track now. 😂

This week, I’ve continued working on a submission for Cantina Publishing’s Silk & Steel: An Adventure Anthology of Queer Ladies. I’ve completely changed tack on this story this week. Where the dragon-egg-stealing was a sport before, I’ve now changed it to a government initiative and this is working better for me. Basically the government take the eggs and destroy them because they’re trying to destroy the dragon breed.

The characters are still much the same, though Tori and Helena’s relationship is on the low-down since there is a department policy of no dating amongst employees. And the rivalry between them and Ada and Jules is much more in Tori’s head than it was in the sport version, as you can see below. Helena’s just told her to stop acting like it’s a competition and Tori’s got defensive.

The thing was, it was a competition to her. Even if there was no official count kept by the department, she would always compare the number of dragon eggs she and Helena collected to the number Jules and his sister Ada had in any given week, month, or year. It wouldn’t matter to her so much if the Havishams weren’t so bloody smug about it all the time. It was the department’s worst-kept seceret that they had been given their positions in the department because their father was a high-ranking politician, but no one could complain because they were actually good at their jobs regardless of how they came by them.

Or at least, they had been, and the habit of secretly competing with them was hard for Tori to break. Now, they were barely seen around the compound and when they were, they kept their heads down. Tori might not have liked the siblings themselves, but she had to admit she’d enjoyed hers and Jules’ verbal sparring. She almost missed it now.

Ooh, mysterious behaviour, I wonder what that’s’ all about… If I ever actually finish this story, perhaps you’ll find out!

See you all next week!

#WeWriWa // #8sunday 03 – January 12, 2020

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where writers share 8-10 sentences from their WIP for from a current writing project, published or unpublished, then visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support.

This week, I’ve continued working on a submission for Cantina Publishing’s Silk & Steel: An Adventure Anthology of Queer Ladies. It’s been giving me some trouble, mostly because it requires actual… action scenes. Ew.

In this story, my two ladies participate in a sport wherein contestants in teams of two have to distract a dragon long enough for one of them to steal its egg. In this scene, Ada and Jules Havisham, twins and Helena and Tori’s main competitors, have shown up to be their usual irritating selves.

“Sounds like everybody’s assuming you two have it in the bag this year,” Jules said, tone sceptical. 

“It’s a shame to be disappointed before the competition even starts,” Tori shot back. “But I’m sure you’ll give it a good go.” 

Jules smirked. 

“We’ll see,” he said. He turned to his sister. “Come on. Nothing to see here.” They drifted back out of the green room, leaving Tori and Helena alone again for the moment. 

I was for a while referring to the Havishams as the Malfoys in my head, and Tori and Helena as the Grangers (definitely Grangers, not Potters 🙃). This story has been giving me some trouble this week. I am just not good at writing action scenes, so the actual bit where they fight the dragon and steal the egg… looks amazing in my head. Hate it on paper. Gah. I know I’ve just got to push through it and write something… but sometimes that’s easier said than done.

I was hoping to have the first draft of this done by Jan 15, but we’ll see whether that happens or not. Submissions close February 22, so I want to give myself time to polish it up and have some other people read through it. But at the end of the day, I can only do what I can do.

See you all next week!

#WeWriWa // #8sunday 03 – January 05, 2020

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where writers share 8-10 sentences from their WIP for from a current writing project, published or unpublished, then visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support.

I went on a bit of an unofficial/unintended hiatus from blogging in the last 6 weeks or so of 2019, but I’m back now. I have a lot of goals, which you can read about here. I’ve been writing short stories for the last little while, and I’m still doing that. One of my goals is to submit stories to at least four competitions or anthologies throughout 2020. The one I’m working on at the moment is for Cantina Publishing’s Silk & Steel: An Adventure Anthology of Queer Ladies.

In this story, my two ladies participate in a sport wherein contestants  in teams of two have to distract a dragon long enough for one of them to steal its egg. Helena and Tori are the favourites in this year’s competition. I haven’t written a whole lot yet, so this is from right at the beginning. Helena is nervous, and Tori has been trying to calm her for the last few minutes.

“Hey,” she says. “We’ve got this. There’s a reason we’re the favourites.” She moves her head to catch Helena’s eye. “Right?”

Helena chews her bottom lip again. It’s downright adorable. “Right,” she finally admits.

“Kiss me for luck?”

Helena smiles as she looked up, and that and her kiss is all the luck that Tori needs.

Helena is definitely the silk while Tori is the steel. I’m looking forward to exploring their relationship more. Who knows, maybe this will turn into a bigger project.

See you all next week!

2020 Writing Goals


It’s
a new year, and while new year is kind of an arbitrary thing, I admit I like arbitrary new start feelings. It is a good time to look back and look forward. I’ve got some big goals for my writing this year. It’s not just about writing, but about all the other things that come along with it. I’m probably being pretty ambitious with these, but I want to aim big.

Writing

  • Don’t sign up for any challenges with arbitrary goals, e.g. word count goals.

“Writing” isn’t always literally “writing”, and that’s particularly true this year given all the other goals in this post. My daily writing time is between 6am and 7am, maybe a little later if I can afford to work a short day or something. And if it isn’t already obvious from the other items on this list, there will be plenty of things for me to do other than literally smashing out words in those sessions.

Those things still count. And pushing myself to participate in challenges that don’t recognise all these other facets of writing actually do my process harm.

  • Submit stories to four anthologies or short story competitions

I’m hoping that the momentum I’m currently experiencing for short stories will continue into the new year. Four doesn’t seem too ambitious! I was going to aim for six, but that was before I had the breakthrough with my novel.

Speaking of which…

  • Finish the first draft of Facing the Music

I took a four-month break from this WIP after getting too tangled up in the plot and not knowing where to go with it. This turned out to be the right decision, as I suddenly had a breakthrough while out at the circus in early December (the WIP is also set in a circus; there’s a reason I was thinking about it. It’s not that the show was boring).

The most exciting thing about this breakthrough is that I don’t have to change too much of the 90k I had already written. In fact, I’m going to pick up where I left off, and make the necessary changes to earlier parts of the story in the second draft.

Learning

  • Listen to two episodes of a writing or publishing podcast each week.

I have a few of these on my list, including Ingram Spark’s Go Publish Yourself and The First Time hosted by Katherine Collette and Kate Mildenhall.

  • Complete Ingram Spark’s self-publishing short courses (there are three and all take under 2 hours to complete)

I think this point is fairly self-explanatory.

  • Complete self-publishing course on Australian Writers Centre.

The courses through AWC are paid but I think this one will be worth it. It’s a self-paced online course. I want to get a variety of perspectives on this industry so that I can find common themes.

  • Complete at least one other short course on self-publishing/book design (e.g. through LinkedIn Learning)

I’ll do some research about what other courses are out there and see what I think. Happy to hear your recommendations! There’s a wonderful weekend-long bootcamp being run in Melbourne in April by self-publishing extraordinaire and wonderful YA author Ellie Marney, which I’m hoping to attend.

Publishing

  • Self-publish Operation: Sugarplum as an ebook once Christmas: Australis exclusivity period ends.
    • Commission cover
    • Marketing plan

After having the initial inspiration for this story back in 2013, and finally seeing it appear in an anthology in 2019, I’d love to have it out in the world on its own. This is the main reason I want to really start learning the craft properly.

  • Give A More Complicated Fairytale some love. 

I published A More Complicated Fairytale in 2016. Then I got it into my head that I needed to have other novels finished and published before I worried about any serious promotion, because there’s no point in just promoting one thing. It might have taken me nearly four years, but I’ve rid myself of that mindset. I did a 3-day free promotion in December and I have some more ideas for going forward.

  • Compile short stories that don’t get accepted elsewhere into my own collection  (if some do get accepted, maybe this could be pushed out until other exclusivity periods end).

    • Editing
    • Commission cover
    • Marketing plan

I mean, I’m putting this here, but it will depend on a lot of things. What I write, where else it might end up, exclusivity periods at those places, money for other required services for it… If I’m writing on the longer side of short story, then I thought about publishing each thing separately, but that would require more expense in terms of editing, cover, etc. So maybe a collection is the way to go.

Marketing

(myself and my books)

  • Start mailing list

I already have the MailChimp account set up, so it’s just a case of sitting down and learning the mechanics, then getting the word out. I can’t promise these monthly spiels will contain anything especially interesting, but I’ll try.

  • Set up author website

Watch out for emilywrayburn.com, coming soon! I mean, it’s basically going to be this blog, but I will change up the layout and the other pages and such a bit, and make it more obvious that I have books you can buy. Stuff like that.

It seems like a lot and to be honest, I probably won’t get all through all of this. But it’s a good set of goals to aim for and that’s what I’m doing. Aiming high.

I am yet to work out exactly how I’ll kep track on these. I don’t think I’ll be doing something like weekly check-ins. Maybe monthly? Or maybe something more like quarterly. I’m playing that part by ear a bit.

I know a lot of my writer friends and acquaintances have big years ahead of them in 2020 as well. Best of luck to you all and happy new year!