Sunday Circle #4

This post is again for the Sunday Circle, an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here). I work every Sunday, but I sometimes don’t post the Sunday Circle, simply because with limited time, working on a project is preferable to posting a blog. But I do it when I can.

What am I working on this week?

I’m continuing to work on my PhD project. After a month of being intermittently lost in the woods, reading articles and coming at it backwards, I’ve finally seen the vision of what the creative project is. Not the novella I’d been working on (though it’s useful background and testing, all 11k of it). Today and for the week, I’m doing work tandem – planning the novel (working title The Incident at St Alberts) and reading “antecedent works”.

I’ve also met with my writing buddy to get her feedback on The Paris Wedding. As usual, she found a bunch of stuff I’d been hiding from, or hadn’t considered. I’m letting that turn over in my subconscious. Once we’re on the plane to Paris in 2 weeks, I’ll be doing revisions.


What’s inspiring me this week?

The Martian by Andy Weir. It’s a serious technical novel, which is where my focus is heading for my PhD. I’m listening to it on audiobook, and the techniques used to navigate all that technical material are both interesting and impressive, and the reading by R C Bray is really well done. I can see why it’s an award winner.

I also finished Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (also on audiobook). An awesome (but very different) story; not really at all technical in the sci-fi spectrum, but full of ironic humour and savage humanity. At 26+hours in audiobook, it was a serious investment, but worth it to have the voice actor reading those lovely phrases in Middle English and Latin. Not technical sci-fi, but meticulously researched all the same.

We were sick this week, so I’ve also revisited that old fave, the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, complete with Colin Firth. Always a winner.

Why these three things inspiring me? Because levity is an essential part of any narrative, as essential as serious consideration (Aristotle said: “Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.”), but it’s the part of writing that challenges me the most as a writer. Anyone can be a serious bore, or be fluffy (I tend in the former direction) – balancing both is difficult but so critical. Discussion of this aspect of narrative will form an essential part of examining the technical novel for my PhD project, so I’m sucking up as much example as I can and trying to improve myself.


What part of my project am I avoiding?

I’ve been avoiding being too concrete with the plan for the novel, because it starts to change form once I write it down. Starting to break that today I hope.


Bek and Char review: Deadpool

We ride again …

The Escapades


Bek: Directed by Tim Miller in his directing debut, Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds as the red-clad anti-hero, Morena Baccarin as the love interest and Ed Skrein as the villain.


The plot goes something like this: after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, former Special Forces-turned-mercenary, Wade Wilson (Reynolds) undergoes experimental treatment by the nasty Francis (Skrein). By the end of it, Wade is kind of immortal, but also hideously deformed and takes on the alter ego, Deadpool. The rest of the movie is Wade hunting Francis, so he can get his pretty-boy good looks back and return to his true love.


So, I didn’t mind this movie. It was a thousand miles better than Deadpool’s first appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which left me wanting to gouge my own eyes out with my slushy straw.

Get-PaidChar: Wait, are we talking about that scene where Deadpool had his…

View original post 850 more words

2015 Aurealis Awards

I completely forgot about the awards this year, what with starting off various endeavours, so the email in my inbox that I was a finalist caught me (very pleasantly) off-guard. Last year, I was fortunate enough to have two stories nominated, but wasn’t able to attend the awards because, well, one-week old baby and it was in Canberra – a difficult combination. I have fond (and selfish, I’ll admit) memories of when the awards were in Brisbane, and I could go along and ogle at the literary talent and generally have a great time in the company of Aussie spec fic writers. Well, seeing as the Natcon is Brisbane this year, my nostalgia is being indulged and the Awards will be here, at CONTACT 2016.

Last year, not being able to go, I gnashed my teeth a bit, thinking that was probably  my career high and I’d not be nominated again so the chance to go and have that experience were done. After a few weeks, that was ok. But I’m immensely proud and honoured (and pleasantly surprised) that my story “Alchemy and Ice” is nominated this year. It’s about soldiers, impossible love, and clockwork creepy crawlies. Check out the full short-lists here. Very best to all the nominees – looking forward to seeing you on the night.

Do you need to edit your novel? Would you like a free ebook?

In the next few weeks, I’m planning to release the first edition of How to edit a novel: the proper, actual nuts and bolts of how to plan, do, and finish an edit. The contents of this book are pretty self-explanatory. I wrote it because back when I was first submitting to publishers, I developed a systematic approach to my novel editing, and I was surprised how many writers I encountered who weren’t using one. I’ve used this process to make sure my edits run smoothly, that I know when I’m finished, and that I always make deadline.

Basically, it’s a five-step process to take you from first draft to finished manuscript, converting that big, scary nebulous task into distinct steps. In putting out this first edition (due for release on 29 Feb), I’m looking to give away ten copies to writers, in exchange for an honest review on your platform of choice (purely on honour system). I’ll give them to the first ten writers to email me (charlottenashauthor AT – let me know your format of choice: mobi, epub, pdf).

Sunday Circle #3

This post is again for the Sunday Circle, an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here).

What am I working on this week?

I started my creative writing PhD this week, so I’ve been reading academic papers and planning the first creative piece to explore into that project. I read 13 journal papers, and parts of different books this week, plus mapped a beginning of a novella. Not too bad.

I’ve also been (at night) compiling the scene map for The Paris Wedding. Some parts of it are ok. Others need a heap of work.

I also made some modifications to my Edit your novel, step by step ebook and pushed it off to beta readers.


What’s inspiring me this week?

“Charlotte Incorporated” by Rachael K Jones (via LightSpeed podcast). This story is amazepants. Gave me a serious reality check as to the level of my skill at present.

Zwart’s paper on Michael Crichton’s novels (Zwart HAE. Genomes, gender and the psychodynamics of a scientific crisis: a psychoanalytic reading of Michael Crichton’s genomics novels. New Genetics and Society. 2015;34(1):1-24.). For anyone who’s ever given me crap about him being “lowbrow airport fiction”, get that up ya. Also to the doctor I worked under in my first year as a med student, who told me that Michael Crichton “wasn’t helping anyone” because he took up writing instead of medicine, get that up ya, doublequick.

Also, Latour’s Laboratory Life. I spent time in labs as a research student and as a researcher, and they were filled with personality quirks and very overt humanness that overshadowed the science. I’m not sure how much non-scientists realise that (not that I’m a scientist, but engineers sometimes occupy similar spaces). It’s an interesting theme to draw out of science fiction, but Latour did it as anthropology. I believe he later recanted some of his views, but so far they mesh with my experiences.


What part of my project am I avoiding?

Finishing the scene map for The Paris Wedding. And starting writing on creative work. The story isn’t ready yet, and for once, I am actually going to follow through the research a little further before getting to words.


I finally understand why I still like free-to-air TV

For a long while, I’ve been secretly maintaining a long-term relationship with free-to-air TV, despite the chorus of disdain from just about everyone I know. Most of my friends have Foxtel, Netflix, Stan, Presto, apple TV, or something else like that. They download. They choose and watch, and decry the awfulness of what’s on free-to-air. I tried Stan. I’ve downloaded a bit, when forced to, because my local video stores are gone. But every week, I still prefer flicking on the TV and finding some movie unexpectedly. And I think I finally understand why.

A little context. I started my PhD this week, and among the first papers I read was one about how “suspension of disbelief” works when we read or watch fiction (it’s actually the opposite – we belief by default – disbelief actually needs to be created according to the theory). Within that paper it talked about control over our fiction – that a movie seen in the cinema is different to one watched on DVD because we can more easily control the DVD. Tied to this idea is the one of taking action – more immersion is possible where your ability to act is diminished, because calls to “action” (which make us test the truth of the narrative) actually disrupt our acceptance of the story and therefore, our immersion and pleasure in it.

I’m sure I’m not putting it as cleverly or clearly as the paper, but it makes sense to me why those random finds on free-to-air can give me so much pleasure – I take almost no actions in finding them except turning on the set. That’s a very different experience than the effort of searching and selecting from an on-demand player. So, see, sometimes cognitive neuroscience can justify not moving with the times 😉

(paper is: Holland NN. Spider-Man? Sure! The neuroscience of suspending disbelief. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews. 2008;33(4):312-20.)

Sunday Circle #2

[So, this post is again for the Sunday Circle, an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here)]

What am I working on this week?

During the week I finished the draft of my next women’s fiction novel, The Paris Wedding. Of course, it has lots to fix, but before I can do that I need to read through and make an accurate scene list and time map, so I’m doing that now.

Speaking of which, during the week, I also finished the first draft of a book about my editing process (creatively titled Edit your novel, step-by-step), which is the one I both use and teach. My writing buddy is reading through now, and I’m finishing up the e-book conversion in Jutoh. Hoping for a Valentine’s day release to all the major platforms.

On the spec fic side, the PhD begins tomorrow!! I’m hitting the ground running with reading about the neuroscience of narrative, and ideas for two stories in the world which I’m going to flesh out over the week. One is called The Two Victorias (an intrigue involving the Queen, her daughter, a doctor, an AI and some timetravellers) and the other, Destoryed (a more military flavour one about the future time of the timetravellers, where geoengineering politics have ended in war with Tesla-style energy beam weapons; it’s basically one guy protecting the travelgate).

What’s inspiring me this week?

The historical doco Queen Victoria’s Children. Man, she was a serious piece of work. So great for my narrative purposes. Also, Harlots, Housewives and Heroines. It’s too early for my projects (being 17th century) but still inspiring. I never knew about Aphra Behn (the first professional female writer) – when we’re in London in April, I must go and find her tomb in Westminster.

What part of my project am I avoiding?

The reading and scene mapping of The Paris Wedding. The beginning is where a lot of the fixing needs to happen and reading how bad things currently are there is kinda horrible.

I also am avoiding writing the synopsis for the love story I’m writing after The Paris Wedding, mostly because I can’t think of a good title. But the idea is good, I hope. Hahaha, they’re always good at this stage. I’m starting on these avoidances right now while Master A sleeps, then will continue when I head to write club.

Sunday Circle

So, this post is for the Sunday Circle, an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here) and I’ve decided to not be lazy and post my stuff here before I head to write club today. So …

What am I working on this week?

I’m finishing up the first draft of my next women’s commercial fiction novel (yes, actually finishing the draft). I’m at 77k now, and aiming for 80k. That should be less than two days’ work. Should. I’m aiming for 80k because my usual MO on commercial novels is to write to the word count (90k in this case), then end up adding 10% in the edit (Stephen King and I are in polar opposite universes, it seems). Then I panic because I’m over budget on words, and spend a copyedit stripping little bits here and there to take out 3 or 4k. No more. Last time I wrote under and it worked perfectly when I added missing subplots etc in the edit. So, that’s one thing.

On the spec fic side, I’m about to start my PhD in a little over a week, and so I’m busily doing background reading from the multitude of genres I’m drawing on, and just ruminating in the background in the part of my brain reserved for spec fic.

What’s inspiring me this week?

H G Wells, and also Douglas Adams. I re-read The Time Machine this week, and also a short story by Adams in The Time Traveler’s Almanac (eds. Vandermeer). It’s been years since I last read Adams and I noticed how wonderful his turns of phrase are, in between the comedic bits. Never noticed that before.

What part of my project am I avoiding?

Finishing the commercial novel. I could have probably had it done by now as I was a long way ahead of my planned word-count, but I’m tired. Writing a novel in under 2 months is doable, but fatigue sets in, especially as I realise in the end the things I need to fix, and I dither about whether to write the end with the fixes I envision (not usually a good idea) or just to get to the damn end and fix it later. I’m aiming to get to the damn end by tomorrow.

A cute pooch! … oh, and The Never Never Land go for launch

IMG_2624Book proofs are always an exciting phase, and in my inbox this week appeared cuteness the doggy, standing guard over the proof of forthcoming anthology The Never Never Land. Put together with the tireless efforts of the folks at the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, it’s a collection inspired by this country and running into all the deep corners of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

My dark Pilbara-mining-gone-wrong tale The Seven-Forty from Paraburdoo is in there, along with a huge collection of other fabulous stories – see here for contents.

The anthology will be launching at Conflux 11, 5:30pm Sunday, 4th of October in the registration foyer, Novotel Canberra. Get along if you’re going to be at the con.

Focus 2014

I’m immensely honoured that one of my stories has been picked up for the Focus 2014 anthology (FableCroft). I’m more than a little star struck looking at the contents page. “The Ghost of Hephaestus” was such a left of field project for me, and perhaps this is telling me I need to spend a little more time in the left field! Regardless, this is very very cool. Looking forward to seeing the finished collection.