naomi_jay: (wayward son)
So I ate a tub of Phish Food last night to celebrate finishing Night Breed, and now I'm off work sick. Coincidence? I think not. Anyway, this means Fergus and I have lots of time to scour the internet for stuff, and this is what I found:

It's Escher! In Lego! For comparison, here's the original:

I think that's pretty damn awesome. It makes me feel slightly better about the whole ice cream thing.
naomi_jay: (ZP - working from home)
So, I am off work again, curled up with a hot water bottle and feeling crappy, but trying to be productive. I've always thought of myself as pretty lazy at heart, but I've lost the ability to bum around doing nothing this year. I don't even sleep in at the weekends any more. I know! Anyway, the point is, I'm starting to get some great feedback and thoughts on Night and Chaos (thanks, everyone!). One of the thoughts from one beta reader is that I should finish all three novellas before publishing anything, because the cliffhanger ending might piss off a lot of readers who then have to wait for the next instalment.

Personally I don't mind cliffhangers if they're well done and natural. I remember getting really annoyed with the end of Minion by LA Bank because it cut off so abruptly, like someone had chopped a longer book in half, and I felt as a reader that I'd been cheated somehow. On the other hand, ongoing series often end with threads left dangling and plot points unresolved, and that doesn't bother me so much.

But it's hard for me to be that object about my own work - have I written a cliffhanger that will intrigue or annoy? How am I supposed to judge reader reactions at this stage? *chews nails*

So, thoughts? If it's made clear that the story is part one of X, would it bother you that it ended on a cliffhanger?
naomi_jay: (oscar wilde)
Dear World,

For the past few weeks I've been reading lots and lots about how traditional publishing is dying, bookshops are disappearing, and the only way forward is to self-publish via Kindle and Smashwords. I've been reading about how this will revolutionise the publishing business and rake in thousands upon thousands of dollars for self-pubbed authors. I've been reading about how this is the only way forward, and how all those brilliant writers who've been ignored by traditional publishing and those nasty, self-serving publishers will finally reach the audience they deserve. About how anyone still seeking literary agents and traditional publishing is a coward, looking for validation, a dinosaur, or a plain old moron, because we could be sitting on top of a pile of cash right now from our Kindle publications.

I have to say, it's made me pretty depressed.

Why, you ask? (and if you didn't ask, I'm answering anyway, so you may as well read on).

1. I love books. I am one of these dinosaurs who doesn't own or plan to own an e-reader. I'm not saying I'll never be converted, but for the foreseeable future, I'll stick with my paperbacks, thanks. There's nothing appealing to me about curling up with an e-reader, or relaxing in the bath with one, and yes, I know these are just sentimental reasons, but I don't care. I love books. I don't love technology. The idea of not being able to browse in a bookshop or carefully arrange all my favourite authors' works on my shelves genuinely upsets me. And I don't care if that means I'm behind the times or in denial.

2. I want my books to be books. The idea that my parents might never be able to hold a copy of my novel because it's just a file on a computer bothers me a lot. It bothers my parents a lot too, for what it's worth. If I work for six months to a year on something, fuelled only by love and hope, I want to be able to hold the end product in my hands. The proudest moment of my writing career so far was holding my copy of AFTERLIFE for the first time, and I want to look forward to many more such proud moments. Again, that probably means I'm in denial, but again, I don't care.

3. I'm not really in this for the money. I know! Of course I would love to be a full-time writer. Of course I would. But mostly I just want to be published and have people read my stuff, and hopefully enjoy it. All these thousands and thousands of potential dollars I could be making on the Amazon Kindle don't entice me, because frankly no matter how many people I hear shouting about these piles of cash, I'm pretty sure there are many, many more making no more money than I do sitting at this damn desk all day.

I want to be clear about this: there's nothing wrong with writing for money. There's nothing wrong with writing for any reason. I'm lucky that my livelihood doesn't depend on my writing career, or I'd be living in a box. A really crappy box. And yes, I am insanely jealous of people who get to write full-time, but such is life. I don't see why there's such a divide between those who write for entertainment and look down on people who want to make a living out of their creative works, and those who write for pay and look down on those who write for entertainment. I've said time and time again I hate the stereotype of the tortured artiste, so those who flounce around talking about their deep and deathless prose and scorn writers who just want to have fun or make some money irritate me beyond belief. But everyone else? Whatever your reason for writing, do it and don't worry about what everyone else thinks of those reasons.

Anyway, I'm getting distracted now.

4. I just want to write! I don't want to worry about cover art, editing, distribution, getting attention, and basically being a businessman. Mostly because I would suck at it and be living in that crappy box. I want to write a story and let someone far more qualified than me go about making that story into a book. If I was solely responsible for the publishing of my novels, they would never see the light of day. Again, hearing that self-publishing is the only way forward freaks me out because I simply don't have the skill set to go it alone. And yeah, I could probably learn, but I don't want to.

These reasons, and more, threw me into a complete slump for a couple of weeks as I wrestled with myself over it. Is the death of traditional publishing just around the corner? Will the Kindle destroy us all? Am I missing out on heaps of cash by sticking with my agent and hoping for traditional publication? Am I wasting my time working with my agent when obviously nobody is ever going to get published by NYC ever again unless they write sparkly vampire porn? What's the answer? What should I do?

In the end I flipped out completely and decided the easiest answer was to stop writing altogether and remove myself from the whole debate. Then I remembered I'm actually under contract for two more Urban Wolf novels, so quitting writing was not a viable option.

So then I sat down and thought about what I actually want. The reasons I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and the reasons I keep on doing it despite the doom and gloom hovering over publishing right now. I thought about the reasons self-publishing (whilst clearly a more valid choice now than ever before) is not for me. And my conclusion is thus:

It's what I've always wanted. I've been writing stories since I was at primary school. I've always written and it's the only thing I've ever done that I've really believed is worth me doing. I don't say that at all lightly. Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm often rendered useless (and possibly annoying) by self-doubt. But even at my lowest moments, I've clung to the writing. Always. And ever since I first realised that man, people can get published and be in freaking bookshops! that is all I have wanted. To be able to walk into Waterstones and see my book on the shelf next to authors I love is my life's ambition. To have someone pick that book up, read it, and love it, is all I aspire to. The Kindle won't give me that. Does this mean I'm one of those people seeking validation from "higher powers"? Yeah, probably, but so what? It's my dream; it doesn't need anyone else's seal of approval.

Maybe one day I will be a full-time writer. Maybe I'll be a bestseller and go crazy and make a fool of myself on Twitter on a daily basis. We can but hope. In the mean time, I'm writing what I love to write. I have an agent who either believes in my work or is crazy herself (far be it from me to judge which). I have two books out there that are getting great reviews from people I respect. And that's enough to keep me on my chosen path and stop listening to all those depressing, distracting, and often bitchy arguments going on between the indies and the traditionals.

And you know what? That's my choice. If your choice is another route, then go for it with everything you've got. There's no right or wrong here. There's only what's right for you.

PS - If, like me, you're in need of an inspiration boost, the Deadline Dames are charting their paths to publication at the moment.
naomi_jay: (bloop)
Looks like my hotmail account has been hacked... Sorry anyone who's got a mountain of spam off me. Since it's a pretty old account, I'm just going to call it quits and switch over entirely to my newer "IR professional riter" account, something I've been meaning to do for ages anyway. Bear with me while I mess around with all this crazy hi-tech wizardry...
naomi_jay: (humans among us)
So! Only two days to go until we move. Not that I'm obsessing over it because there's still so much to do, or anything, but I ... have no other ending for that sentence.

It's cool, it's cool. I've moved house roughly fifteen times in the past twenty-seven years, so it's cool. I can pack a mean box of books. And unpack it just as meanly. It's the cleaning-up process at the old house that I dread. Throw in the mega-stress created by organising the Conference From Hell at work, and it's all just a bit much. The CFH wouldn't be such a big deal (and it's all running very smoothly now it's started, no thanks to the actual organising committee), except we were supposed to have it all wrapped up in December. Instead, it all got organised in the last two weeks, so... yeah. I haven't enjoyed it.

Anyway. That doesn't matter. The important thing is there were plenty of leftovers from the buffet lunch, and they were very tasty. And the worst part of the conference (the registration/arrival stuff) is now over with, so I can spend the rest of the week catching up on the work I couldn't do last week because I was organising the damn conference.

This may require another plate of leftovers...
naomi_jay: (ZP - loser)

Okay, so my battle with the garden brought on a hellish bout of hayfever. And of course I had no antihistamines, so I sat up all last night congested like a congested thing, with a raging headache to boot. Decided this morning I didn't have the energy to go to work this morning and called in sick. I always feel so guilty when I do that, because I usually figure that if you just get up and get going, you can make it through the day. And I have loads to do, having had two days off last week when Leanne was here. Sigh. I really am a mess though. It's so bloody hot in here, but I can't open the windows because there's still so much pollen and dust around. I need to venture down to the shop to get some allergy tablets at some point, but I'm still so exhausted. Every time I try to sleep, I end up rolling onto my bad arm and waking myself up. 

I really need to step up my plans to eliminate all plant life.
naomi_jay: (Shadow woman)
So, I was just speaking to a hairdresser on the phone about going from reddish brown to blonde, and the words "bleach bath" came up. Now, I knew it wasn't going to be straightforward, but the idea of bleaching my hair makes me cringe a little. I don't want it to end up orange. Or fall out. Basically I need to go into the salon so they can get a look at my hair and decide the best way forward. Since my hair is currently a terrible mess, I suspect this will involve all kinds of arcane processes such as strand tests and them telling me I can't have the colour I want and encouraging me to settle for some hideous blonde-brown mash-up. (That has happened to me before. I looked the chavviest).

My hair desperately needs some TLC. At the moment I dye it myself because I can't afford to have it done professionally every time my roots start peeking through. Hair care in Cambridge is stupidly expensive. I'm pretty sure it's a good year since I last had it cut, because, again, it's expensive to get it done professionally, and I haven't exactly had money to throw around recently. Besides that, I'm terrified of putting my hair in the hands of a stranger.

I know! But I'm a freak like that. My hair is my shield against the world; the experience of watching someone chop it off is harrowing. So much of how I feel about myself is tied into how I feel about my hair. I like having it dark and long, and I like my fringe when it's ever so slightly too long; that's when I feel I look most like myself. The decision to go blonde is based purely on laziness: my natural hair colour is white, and I'm fed up of having to redo my roots every six weeks to avoid skunk-head. I've also got loads of nasty split ends which need getting rid of, and the whole mess could do with a bit of proper shaping, all of which means the trip to the salon is inevitable.

I guess I'll mosey on down on Saturday and see what the verdict is. They might say it can't be done, in which case I'll just settle for a decent hair cut and maybe some highlights. Or I might dye it all black and get them to put blue streaks in and then get fired from my job. Win?

naomi_jay: (cliff red woman)
*I'm sure I've used that as a blog title before.

Anyway. My arm freaking hurts. I was really good all weekend, doing nothing more strenuous than lifting a wine glass and the occasional piece of chocolate to my mouth. I may have been online yesterday, but I swear I did all my surfing one-handed. And despite this I am in a world of pain today. I feel really fuzzy-headed with it. Clearly I have not yet recovered from the Wild marathon last week, and thus will not be getting back to work on Demonised tonight. Or indeed, for the rest of the week.

I've yet to discover anything that really, completely gets rid of the pain. I have exercises, as provided by the physiotherapist I saw last year, and I have various work-break programmes on my computer, wrist braces, balms, gels, creams, and pain killers. But none of it works for long. I know that. The therapist told me this was not a curable problem, only a manageable one. That doesn't stop me being frustrated! Because it's not just typing or writing that's the problem; it's lifting, carrying, having a bag on my shoulder, reaching out to hand things to people, sitting with my arms crossed, sitting with my arm straight out, standing with my arm at my side, etc etc... Basically everything I do hurts. I don't do anything that doesn't involve my right arm, except possible wangst about how much it hurts.

Ugh. I hate how much I whine about this.

I'm leaving work early today, since there's somebody here to cover the desk, and planning an evening of little-to-no movement. Hopefully tomorrow it'll be better. Le sigh.
naomi_jay: (rapper with a baby)
Sorry to my guest bloggers who are still to go - I'm down with what may or may not be food poisoning (or appendicitis, according to the more paranoid members of the household) and really am not doing much of anything at the moment. I will get the guest blogs up before the end of December. And just to keep you all watching, all commenters to this post will be entered into the Bag of Swag draw anyway.
naomi_jay: (mike)
So, I totally fainted in the shower yesterday. One minute I'm washing my hair, the next my vision goes, and then suddenly it's five minutes later and I'm sprawled on the bedroom floor mumbling incoherantly while Kyle tries to get me upright. Ha ha, I'm so crazy! Dunno what happened. I can only assume it was my body's way of telling me that hot showers + no food = fail. I spent the rest of the day curled up in bed eating chocolate and watching TNA, which seems to have fixed me, although I am now morbidly afraid of locking (or even closing!) the bathroom door while I'm in the shower.

Anyway, I'll have a guest blog for you all later today. Stay tuned!
naomi_jay: (looks like scarlett)
So, I'm seriously not well. My head feels like it's full of cotton wool, my throat feels like it's full of sandpaper, and I have acheived the grand total of no work so far this morning. Curse this damnable day job! I want to be at home shuffling around in my nightgown, carrying a candle and possibly shouting at my housemaid* to stoke the fire, dammit.

Anyway, in order to take my mind off my decline into Dickensian winter-related ill-health, let's do something fun! Tell me which book you've loved most this year, before midnight tonight (that's midnight wherever you are in the world). I'll pick a commenter at random tomorrow and send them a copy of AFTERLIFE. Huzzah! Spread the word.

*There is no maid.
naomi_jay: (flying objects)
So I'm pretty heavily into the editing for SILVER KISS now, and pleased with how it's going. I've had loads of useful feedback from various quarters that will shine this baby up good. One of the things I was most concerned about after finishing the first draft was that I had two characters who were, basically, the same. Their speech and mannerisms were all pretty much identical, and I wasn't quite sure how to change that without changing one of the characters completely. And I was kind of attached to both characters, so I felt weird about the possibility of eliminating one.

But I did it anyway. Because dammit, I'm a Serious Writer, and I'm in charge of what happens in my novel, not a bunch of figments of my imagination.

So yes, I dove into my manuscript last night and freaking nuked that character out of existence. His name changed! His appearance changed! His dialogue changed! Everything changed! He is now a new man. A man called Lawrence, not Flo. How did I achieve this? I used Search and Replace, of course, simply zipped through and changed every example of "Flo" into "Lawrence."

Which of course now means that my characters are wearing Lawrenceaty dresses instead of floaty dresses, and they're walking across the Lawrenceor instead of the floor, and that water is Lawrencewing downhill and so forth.

And the edits continue...

In other news, I was off work sick yesterday with a serious bout of hayfever. Hayfever? In September? Anybody know what's blooming in September that might have triggered that? I mean, I was a wreck. Headache, throat closed up, dizzy spells, nausea... I just went home and slept all day because being awake was so uncomfortable. I've no idea what caused it. I'm still feeling a bit rough today, but not bad enough to stay off work, sadly.
naomi_jay: (ragged angel)
I'm worried. I shouldn't be, but I am and I can't stop, and so I went into town and bought books. I know! But look, I'm really stressed out. So it's okay. I got this and this and this. The House of Night books are my crack reading fix - they're cheesy nonsense, Zoey is a total Mary-Sue, and I should know better. But I love them anyway. Daniel Water's Generation Dead is one of my favourite books, so I had to snap up Kiss of Life.

I also ordered a copy of Almost Human by Cat Marsters and a book on spontaneous human combustion from Amazon. Now I can worry about having no money because I've spent it all on books instead of worrying about The Other Thing.
naomi_jay: (dark phoenix)

1. Finish first draft of the gothic horror short story. (It took a wrong turn and became a gothic romance, which has set its progress back somewhat).

2. Get the lawn mowed. Sounds simple, but the grass is knee high at the moment, so I'm drafting in my parents and Holly to help. Because cocker spaniels are awesome at gardening.

3. Get some serious work done on planning Silver Kiss, the Ayla and Shannon piece.

4. Ponder some more on Lone Wolf. I'm leaning towards rabies and super volcanoes at the moment.

5. Resolve all my personal problems in one fell swoop. (This probably won't happen. But you've got to aim high, right?)
naomi_jay: (running woman)

Look at the snow. Pretty, pretty snow. Pure, innocent snow.

Well that snow knocked me right on my arse yesterday. Damn the snow! I slipped in some ice, landed on my bad arm and I am one massive ache from my ankle to my shoulder. As you may imagine, my repetitive strain injury was somewhat aggravated by this little incident. *cries*

Luckily I have my first physio appointment next Thursday. I may as well get as much out of it as I can.


Jan. 13th, 2009 08:24 am
naomi_jay: (padre)
I have just arrived at work to find my yogurt exploded inside my bag. Now my entire bag and its contents, including my Acer, smell like cherry and black chocolate yogurt. I suppose there are worse things it could smell of, but the real diaster is that I had to throw out my hairbrush. I'll be stuck with unbrushed hair until late this evening. Made Of Fail.

ETA: And a cup of hot chocolate just exploded all over me too. EVERYTHING IS EXPLODING TODAY! OVER ME AND MY BELONGINGS! WHY?
naomi_jay: (cobra commander)
So I wasn't going to be doing any blogging this month, on account of the PAIN, OH GOD, THE PAIN!!! But I'm weak-willed and full of fascinating insights that people need to hear.

Seriously though, I went back to the doctor yesterday about my RSI because, frankly, when you struggle to lift a pot of coffee without dropping it all over the kitchen floor and flooding the place and stinking of coffee for the rest of the day because you had to get down on your hands and knees to mop it all up with tissues things have gone too far. Sadly there's really nothing the doctor can do except recommend I take painkillers and wait for the physio.

This all means I'm not officially doing Nano, but I have set myself some reasonably achievable goals for November which I can probably do without crippling myself. 1) Finish a short story to submit to a gay werewolf anthology at the end of the month and 2) Finish the first draft of Death for the Born. I reckon that's about 30 - 40k anyway. Then I'm going to take December off entirely and do no writing whatsoever, and start the new version of Fire and Moonlight in the New Year.
naomi_jay: (<lj user="icons_by_mea">)

... as she toils through her (hopefully) one-off task of updating a massive spreadsheet listing all the people who've visited the Institute since August and whether or not they've returned their office keys. And that thought is this:

Dude, my right wrist really hurts. Actually it's been kind of sore and tender for a few weeks now. I hope I'm not getting RSI again. Last time I had to have three months of physiotherapy and a month-long typing ban following that.

Damn, why didn't I remember this before committing myself to writing two thousand words a day, every day, for the next 30 days?


naomi_jay: (Default)
Dirty Little Whirlwind

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