Tag Archives: writing

In conversation with Alan Baxter

To celebrate the release of Alan Baxter’s trilogy (the Alex Caine Series), I asked him a few questions about this funny old game called writing…

How does your background in martial arts affect your writing?

It’s taught me discipline and focus. I’m slowly making notes for a book on the subject, in fact, as the parallels are legion. But being good at anything requires dedication – that’s focus and discipline above all else.

Over the course of your writing career, you have experimented with numerous media, from game writing to podcasting, and different distribution models, from self publishing to big name publishing. What are some of the differences you have noticed? How important is it for writers to be flexible and open to different methods?

There are so many differences, it would take an essay just to touch on them all. But in short, there are all kinds of pros and cons with all of them. No one way is perfect. I think, especially in this day and age, that it’s important for a writer to be open to different methods. We’re seeing more and more people achieve success with the hybrid model (which means some traditional publishing and some self-publishing). I definitely fit into that model and think it’s been valuable for me. It’s also important to consider a variety of different income streams to make a career. If you score a good deal with a big publisher, that’s fantastic, but if that publisher goes down they can take your career with them. At least if your career is diversified over various publishers, various media, you can always have protection if any one thing stops working. And stuff is slow in publishing, so a variety of things means hopefully always having something happening.


Are there some things that stay the same, or relevant, across the board?

Quality. Regardless of what methods you choose, the simple fact of the matter is that you must have a quality manuscript. You must put out your best work. Of course, we all know about the really successful utter shit that gets published and makes its author a squillionaire, but the simple fact is that while the thing may be subjectively (or even objectively!) terrible, there’s something about it that works for readers. There’s a reason it’s doing so well, and while it may not be quality the way we perceive it, it is perceived value for all those fans. So whatever you’re doing, don’t worry about anyone else’s stuff, just make yours as good as it can possibly be.


How important is social media, or has been, to your success?

It’s very important these days. You can make a career without it, but it’s getting harder and harder to do that. And even if an author isn’t very active on social media, the activity of that author’s fans and readers is essential to continued growth. People are paying more attention to recommendations via social media than pretty much any other source now, so it’s important to be in it in some way. BUT! If you don’t like it, if you don’t enjoy it and can’t act like yourself, don’t do it. There’s no point in forcing yourself and faking it, because people see through that in an instant and you’re wasting your time. I really enjoy the engagement of social media, so for me it’s fun and it definitely helps.


What’s one mistake you’ve made as a writer that you would warn new or upcoming writers against?

Only one? Man, that’s a tough question. I don’t want to admit to any mistakes! I’m sure I’ve made plenty, but thankfully nothing so far that’s been devastating for me. I think it’s just important to always work hard, to always learn and try to get better, to always be a decent person to work with. If you constantly strive for those things, everything else should slowly fall into place.


Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. He’s the award-winning author of several novels and over sixty short stories and novellas. So far. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.warriorscribe.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter andFacebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

Paying for Our Passion – Pete Aldin

In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.

I’ve known Pete Aldin almost as long as I have been actively writing–I met him at one of the few first few conventions I went to, and ever since he has been a huge supporter of my writing career.. Pete is one of those guys who keeps quietly in the background, but doesn’t miss much. He is first to be there with congratulations, but also with an encouraging word just when people need it. He’s a very talented writer, but you’d never hear that from him–he would rather talk about the work of others than his own. It’s safe to say that the writing world–and the world in general–would be a better place if we had more blokes like Pete, and I am really happy to have him on board today.

Some blokes build a boat in their backyard. Some work on their handicap over 18 holes. Some tinker with cars. This gives them peace, and meaning, and a skillset that affirms them.

I write.

Ten years ago (almost to the day), I was turning 40 and I decided it was now or never. I’d had this dream since I was 13 years old to walk into a bookstore, look on a shelf, and see a book there with my name on the spine. And so at 40, I put legs on the dream (and fingers on the keyboard).

I started putting words on pages, meeting other writers, learning to critique and be critiqued, and so on and so on.

A passion was born. An obsession formed. An addiction slid its warm hooks into my soul.

We all pay for our passions, our addictions, our obsessions.

B is for Broken

I’ve paid in time lost with friends and family. I’ve paid in the usual author-trope of self-doubt and self-flagellation. I’ve paid in late nights.

I’ve also paid for it financially, hiring a writing coach in the early days, paying for books on writing, seminars on writing. The trickle of money that’s come from selling stories hasn’t reached anywhere close to the costs of writing them.

I am blessed to have a wife and kids who trust me. Who believe in what I do. Who’ve seen that this obsession actually staves off my other mental illnesses. They’ve backed me to work a four-day week for several years so that I can have one day to write.

And here’s the rub. That one day each week is a sacrifice. It’s holy (a word which means devoted, set apart). And I’ve been often irked when people find out I’m not working on that day and assume I’m “free.” (Lee Murray mentioned this in her own recent post on the subject).


“You’re not working this Wednesday, are you? We should catch up,” they say. “Hey Pete, you’re free this Monday; drive over to my work and we’ll have a coffee on my teabreak.” “Hey, Pete, you have Thursdays off. You can drive me to my medical appointment.”

When I try to tell them that I am working on that day, that I’m working on a novel draft, I get that awkward pause that comes when something simply does not compute. Stuttering eyelids. Twitching lips. A fading smile. Then, I suggest Saturday and invariably get the Oh-sorry-but-I-have-something-on responses. And, understanding soul that I am, I think “So it’s fine for me to lose time doing what’s important to me, but it’s not okay for you.”

Oh, sure, I forgive them, for they know not what they do. But I’m bloody well not taking anyone to the airport this coming writing day, lol.


I think this has been the biggest challenge for me: to protect that writing day and use it wisely. As much as I’d like to blame the intrusions of others into it, I am much more to blame for any time-wasting that might have happened. I am the Great Procrastinator, Doom Looper, New-Music-Hunter. It’s all to let my other job’s admin creep into my home office on a non-work day.

But I must protect that time and I must use it wisely.

To use this holy time for anything but writing is disrespectful above all to my wife who has encouraged my writing day and made her own sacrifices; I’d be better to take an extra day’s pay a week, climb the career ladder, save up for that holiday my wife deserves.

A Canadian author once told me that over his first decade, his writing cost him all his friends and at least one girlfriend. But it had been worth it in the end: he’d made new friends, he’d found the right partner, and people were reading his writing.

I’m grateful. That my wife lets me write. That I do have great friends, many of whom I have met through my writing. That people are reading my writing.

Art is important. And important things cost.

Pete Aldin

Pete Aldin has been writing stories since he was a kid. A few years ago, he finally decided to take himself seriously, and finishing some.

Pete lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife, two sons and their small yappy dog. His addictions include alcoholic ciders, Fallout 4 and the FIFA franchise on Xbox. He doesn’t like pina colada nor taking walks in the rain.

He can be found lurking in the shadows at www.petealdin.com .

Writing Achievement Unlocked – I’m now a SFWA Active Member!

Most writers like to talk about writing more than actually doing it (I know I do!). One of the things that sometimes comes up is the goals we have, or the targets we have set for ourselves. A lot of writers have a list of things they want to acheive, things that act as a measuring stick, a way of feeling like we are making some progress with this crazy writing game, even if it’s only a little bit.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to tick a few of those things of my list this year, and today I was finally able to cross off a big one–I am now an Active Member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America!

When I first started writing, and thinking about what I wanted to achieve and how to get there, that was one of the first goals I set myself. To me, because it has requirements based on sales, it has always seemed like a pretty good indicator of having reached a certain level. Not all professional writers are in SFWA, and it doesn’t mean that you have reached some sort of finish line, but the standards required to meet their criteria does indicate that you have managed to cross a certain threshold.

I’ve worked hard on my writing for a long time now, and come very close to a professional sale a number of times only to fall short, so this feels like I have really achieved something.

There is no denying SFWA has faced a number of challenges over the years, even during the relatively short time in the scheme of things that I have been paying attention. But, when I look at everything it does for its members, the people involved giving of their time and energy to improve the scene, and the names of those I will get to rub shoulders with (even just virtually), I am really excited and happy to have made it to this pont.

Now for my next goal!



Paying for Our Passion – Lee Murray

In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.

When I was in the New Zealand I got to meet a whole new group of writers and fans, and realised how much our two countries have in common, and how we face many of the same struggles when it comes to distance from the big markets and smaller support networks. However, I realised that we also shared the same close knit community attitude of supporting and helping one another–the realisation we are all in this together and we need to do what we can to help one another.

I wassn’t lucky enough to meet Lee Murray in person, but it shows the generosity of New Zealanders that she was still willing to share her story with me–and my readers–for this blog series, and I am very grateful for her honesty and for this wonderful post.

A research scientist by training, I left paid employment to care for my children because my husband’s career in medical image software had us gallivanting all over the world—England, France, and the United States. All wonderful places with wonderful cheese, so I was happy to go there, but the children were small and needed stability, which meant having a parent at home. That parent was me.

I’ve always been a bit of a scribbler. I started writing during the children’s nap times and while waiting at karate lessons, when my daughter was at pre-school, and later at school. Raising children is rewarding but, ask anyone, by mid-afternoon, your brain is going to porridge. Okay, so there will be people who will tell you that my brain was already going porridge, but imagine what it might have been, had I not been writing.

Into The MistLater, when  we returned to New Zealand and the children were in school, I considered re-joining the workforce at least part-time, but we discovered our son’s developmental issues were related to Asperger’s and ADHD and as a result he needed my support with his learning. Around the same time, my dad began his slow decline into dementia and blindness, and, naturally, I wanted to maximise the time I spent with him.

Two good reasons not to go back into full-time work. And the third: I wanted to write. Staying at home allowed me to invest in my writing: to study, and to get stuck into actually finishing some manuscripts. Then, two years ago, my dad went into care, and with my son becoming more independent, I moved into the office on the porch and became a full-time writer. My day begins at 8:30am when my family has left for the day, and I work until my son comes home from school, and often again in the evening.

The DogBeing a stay-at-home writer is wonderful. I love it. I make coffee when I want, can work in my pyjamas, and my dog, Maxi, curls up at my feet while I write. But like everyone who works from home, the boundary between home and work is a difficult one to maintain. I have a tendency to spend too much time being my at-home self, or alternatively, to spend too much time working. It’s a delicate balance. And then, there are family and friends and their attitudes to my work:

“You work from home, so would you mind feeding my cat?”
“You work from home, so how about I pop in on Tuesday morning for coffee?”
“You work from home, so can you collect me from the airport?”
“Delivery? Send it to Lee’s. She’s bound to be home.”

I get a lot of interruptions. It’s hard to block out chunks of time to write. I’m exaggerating: I’m always willing to stop for coffee ‒ of course, I am ‒ but  I can’t deny that there’s a tension because people don’t perceive what I do as being a ‘real job’. They think it’s a hobby. A parlour game.

“It’s nice that you can call yourself a writer,” one of my running buddies said once.

I asked her what she meant. Turns out she thought saying you were a writer was a euphemism for being a stay-at-home mum. It was what you said when you didn’t want to admit you did nothing.

“But I am a writer,” I said.
“Oh yes, I know,” she said. “But not really.”

I don’t run with her anymore.

Earlier this year, when I accompanied my son to see a new specialist, the doctor asked me what my profession was.

“I’m a writer,” I said, and he wrote ‘housewife’ in his notes. (The thing about being a writer is that we work with words and that makes us very good at reading things upside down.)

And then there are the lovely people who accept that you are a real writer and therefore think your life must be lifted from an episode of Castle. Making up worlds. Killing off people you don’t like in your stories. Regular critique groups with James Patterson and Michael Connelly. Attending glittering launches. Going to interesting exotic places in the name of research. Going to seedy dangerous places in the name of research. Reading. You know, all the things that Richard Castle does.

These people know nothing of the isolation, the self-doubt, the rejections, the lack of interest in genre writers by our literary funders, the readers who moan about the cost of books, launches where no one turns up, and the pay cheques which tell us we are worthless. To put it in perspective, my daughter earned more in two months at her university holiday job than I did working full time as a writer-editor last year. Yes, that includes my mentoring fees, editing fees, story payments, everything. It’s grim. And in New Zealand, I’m probably doing better than most.

“But hey, you don’t do it for the money, right? You do it because you love it. Because you can’t help yourself. Writing, it’s like breathing for authors, isn’t it?”


If my plumber whistles while he works, does that mean I don’t have to pay him?

At the EdgeOf course, I’m one of the lucky ones. My husband sponsors my passion. David supports me entirely: both emotionally and financially.

Early on in my collaboration with Dan Rabarts, my co-editor of Baby Teeth: Bite Sized tales of Terror, we emailed each other about our respective time commitments and how we would fit our editing tasks in around our families and our other work. I told Dan that my husband supported my writing as long as I put out from time to time.

Dan replied, “Um, unfortunate typo there. I assume you mean, put out a book from time to time.”

No, I didn’t. I’m a kept woman. My husband supports my writing habit because he loves me. He doesn’t even read fiction, but he reads everything I write. He doesn’t blink when the Amazon account comes in and he sees how many books I’ve bought. He doesn’t flinch when I subscribe to another online mag. “I see you’ve supported another Kickstarter,” he’ll say. Yes, I’m lucky. People tell me all the time:

“You’re soooo lucky.”
“Some of us have to work for a living, you know!”
“I could write a novel if I didn’t have to go to work.”
“God, I wish I didn’t have to go to work.” (To clarify I do work, just from home—at writing.)

These kinds of comments—some from other writers—fill me with guilt. I am lucky. There is no doubt about it. My husband’s income means I don’t have to worry about how we’re going to pay the electricity bill or where we’re going to find the money for the second school jersey to replace the one my son has lost.

A quick segue here, because earlier this year I was the convenor of the New Zealand Society of Authors’ mentorship programme. We received 70 applications from hopefuls across the country, all vying for one of 12 mentorships with experienced writers that we had on offer. One of the criteria we were asked to assess, one which my fellow panel members agreed was the most difficult to determine, was an individual’s commitment to writing. When we looked at the applications, the vast majority were from graduate students embarking on their careers and with few family commitments, or from retirees finally able to commit to that novel. People with children and mortgages and jobs were thin on the ground. Obviously, we could only select from the people who applied, but it occurred to me that our selection criteria precluded busy working parents, people on low incomes, singles. And if that were the case, wouldn’t those voices also be excluded from our literary landscape?

Reminding me again just how lucky I am to be able to write.

Yes, it makes me feel guilty. And because I can do what others only dream of, I feel I should somehow be making it up to everyone. Because I’m so privileged, I should do what privileged people do and give something back to the community. I must do good works.

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!

So I offer my editing and mentorship services at cut-down rates—and sometimes for free—because writers have no money. I take on projects that involve writing or editing, sometimes hours and hours of writing and editing, and I do the work for free. I judge competitions, give away critiques, give away books. I facilitate workshops and do presentations in schools. Again, for free. I buy my colleagues’ books and I review, and review, and review. And all these things take me away from my own writing, but that’s only fair because I have time to write.

Often I’ll be so busy contributing to those poor people who are not as lucky as me that I’ll reach the end of the day without writing a single word for myself. Which means that I’m being sponsored to write, and I’m not even writing!

And then there are the anthologies my husband and I have sponsored, are sponsoring. Seed money to cover print costs, guaranteed sums to cover author payments. Projects which would not have had a look in otherwise because New Zealand funders are not interested in speculative projects. In general, if it’s not mainstream, they don’t want to know.

MikaRecently, I applied for funding for an anthology involving six New Zealand literary heavyweights. The application was turned down. I contacted the funding representative and I asked him, among other things, whether it was because the project was speculative in genre.

“Oh no,” the representative said. “No, it isn’t that because we had a meeting six months ago and decided that all genres were eligible.”

And what about the past five years? What about all the other applications I’ve sent in? What about them?

I wasn’t brave enough to ask it out loud. Funders have power after all. I resent (oooh, good pun) the application based on his recommendations. It ran to 37,000 words. For a proposed book project of 42,000 words. But surely a book should have merit enough to pay for itself, I hear you say. Why should it need funding?

Well, that’s right, books should be self-funding, turn a profit even. But margins are so small. Everyone is squeezed. The cost of bringing print books to New Zealand is too high and the cost of printing them here is even higher. The buying market is tiny. New Zealanders don’t rate Kiwi stuff. New Zealanders don’t read fiction. New Zealanders prefer Netflix. Booksellers refuse to stock anything from Ingram or Createspace. Libraries are cutting costs. Schools won’t buy class sets. Publishers are risk averse. There are lots of reasons why books don’t make it here and often it has nothing to do with the quality.

One writer friend of popular mainstream YA fiction tells me she has attended school visits where the school has only one copy of the book—the teacher’s copy—and the teacher would photocopy the pages for the students. Right under the author’s nose. But she should be thrilled, right? Because a whole class of kids were reading her work, and at least the school had bought one copy.

It doesn’t just apply to me—this feeling of guilt. New Zealand writers, on the whole, feel they are privileged to be writing and that they shouldn’t complain. Writing is an exalted thing. Everyone wants to be a writer and those of us who are living that dream need to be grateful.

Perhaps the real problem is readers—not loyal readers who wait faithfully for the release of your next book—but the ones who prefer to pirate a copy rather than pay $2.99 for an e-book. We’re constantly consuming stories, but there is a resistance to paying creators a fair price for that content. It’s not just New Zealanders. Didn’t Ariana Huffington sell the Huff Post for squibillions? Okay, so maybe not that much. But as far as I know, none of the writers of that content saw a cent.

I hosted a Chinese writer in my home a few years ago—another guilt trip thing because I was the writer who didn’t go to work and who had the biggest house. Anyway, this young writer of several books was visiting New Zealand on a fully paid scholarship. Not only had her training been paid for by her government, as a Chinese writer she received a stipend to write and also royalties from her books. Of course, with the government as her employer there might have been some censorship involved, nevertheless all the New Zealand writers in the room swooned with envy.

LeeTime to get off my soapbox here. After all, I’m just that privileged cow whose indulgent husband funds her writing whimsies. I wish every creative had a sponsor as wonderful as mine. But failing that, I’d go for a place where writing is valued and its creators are paid a fair price for their work. That place exists somewhere. I’m sure it does. I read about it in a book.

Lee Murray is a five-winner of the New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award for science fiction and fantasy writing and an Australian Shadows Award for Best Edited Work (with Dan Rabarts) for the charity anthology Baby Teeth. In 2016, Lee’s short fiction has appeared in Starquake, SQMag, and Capricious, among others. Her novel Into the Mist was released this month from Cohesion Press, and the speculative anthology At the Edge (co-edited with Dan Rabarts) will be released in June. Visit Lee at her website www.leemurray.info

Paying for Our Passion – Monica Valentinelli

In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.

Monica is one of the many wonderful people I have met through my membership in The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, and I am delighted to welcome her to my blog today. I have felt incredibly privileged in that people have been willing to share so much of themselves, and be so honest with my readers and I, in this series and this post is no exception. So, when I decided to relaunch the series I knew that this would be a wonderful post to start back with.

I’d encourage you to visit Monica’s webpage to have a look at the amazing work she is doing, and for all you Firefly fans out there (and I know most of you are!), check out her book–shiny!

When David and I talked about the possibility of a guest post for his wonderful website, I didn’t expect to be writing about what debts I’ve paid to be a writer. Normally, when I answer interview questions, it’s about my process or the work itself to show a) there is a writer’s brain locked in my skull and b) maybe, just maybe, you’ll be interested in my work. I don’t talk about myself very often; believe me when I say this post is an exception rather than the rule. For me, however, I want you to know the word “debt” doesn’t just translate to finances. It’s also about making gut-wrenching decisions to pay for the ability to pursue my passion: writing.

Growing up, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t an artist, in every sense of the word, lost in a psychedelic, frenzied dream. I was always a writer plus. I learned to read as a toddler, I began piano lessons in kindergarten, and I had a gift for language. While music was my primary focus for years, libraries were my sanctuary from bullies on all sides, and making art—all art—was my religion. (It still is.) This bit, right here, is why I’m telling you this: I never cared about the business aspect of selling my art as a child, because I didn’t need to. That was my safety net, because the freedom to create without worrying about failure, food, or homelessness, allowed me to make art whenever I wanted to. So, I wrote school plays, children’s books, essays, short stories, and novellas. Drew and painted, too, of course, but much of my brain was also dedicated to my music. My art leaked out of my fingertips and on to the page or the keyboard, because I always pushing, pushing, pushing to break free, to feel free, to simply…be.

Firefly dictionaryPressure, being what it is, usually means something has to give sooner or later, and I was suffocating from it. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t “supposed” to be an adult and focus on my future to marry “well” and have lots of babies. I never was one to listen, however, but eventually I internalized that pressure and realized that being an artist wasn’t enough. At 16, I knew I had to learn how to make a living at it. I just didn’t know how. To that end, I could’ve applied to Juillard or tried living/working in Hollywood or New York—but I couldn’t afford any of that on my own. There was no chance, no way in hell, I could even scrape together enough money for the plane ticket. Financial and emotional support for my efforts was selective; this meant that I wound up in a constant state of anxiety, worried that there was something wrong with me because I was an artist and not a doctor or a scientist. I was a woman, and not a man. I was smart, too, but that only mattered provided I agreed to take the narrow path before me.

Caught between being an adult (making money) and remaining a child (making art), I gave up my idealism and focused on pragmatism. I all but abandoned music, not only because it carried too much baggage, but because I couldn’t see how I could make it work. In this “new, smart and capable” version of myself, I made some great choices and some really shitty ones. Thankfully, my college degree was paid for, but much of my experiences revolved around fighting for approval with little support. There were a few bright spots, though. Back then, I felt surrounded by worldviews that didn’t feel right to me, so I focused on multiculturism and secretly added several courses into my Bachelor’s program to that effect. This was the beginning of a journey I don’t think I’ll ever abandon and that, to me, was a great choice, because it opened me up to a world of literature I never knew existed. The shitty choices, then, originated from not knowing much about anything other than making art. I felt defined by my container, my body, and not by my creativity. And, when my normally-bright mental capabilities failed me, as I futilely attempted to push myself into the sciences, I felt I had somehow lost there, too.

Gods Memes and MonstersAnyway, after college I knew I didn’t want to go to grad school; I was burnt out by the time I graduated and I couldn’t afford it, either. Thus, I felt extremely naïve and unequipped to deal with the outside world. Instead of building the life that was expected of me, I took every job possible, believing that knowing marketing and sales and basic business practices would help me build a career as an entrepreneur, as a writer. I convinced myself if I just “knew enough”, I would figure out a way to make a living at it. Everybody else thought I was being random, but I felt I needed to focus on the basics, especially since I was secretly afraid that my self-worth was only about having babies—a thought that terrified me. How else was I supposed to earn enough money to pay rent if I didn’t find a real job? How could I keep writing if I didn’t have some other practical skills to fall back on?

I did focus on the real world. In fact, I gave up writing for a while, because I wound up lying to myself, claiming it was a luxury I could not afford. I had a normal, ups-and-downs, run-of-the-mill life, because I was desperate to fit in and “be normal” on my terms. Only, I hated those years, because that wasn’t me at all, but it was all I had. I opted to be near my support network, as emotionally and psychologically draining as it was, because it was either that or go it totally alone—and that scared the shit out of me. So, I wound up internalizing a twisted view of the world, which meant that artists fell into the category of “unapproved” and “frivolous” people unless they were successful classicists. Artistic works evolved into this sticky ectoplasm that only famous (male) artists had the right to capture and collect from the ether; only they are blessed for their greatness with fans, money, acclaim. And, if nobody else can achieve that “level”—a word I have now grown to hate with every cell in my body—that means their art must suck. Everybody else is either selling out, or they’re not worth spending time or money on. Right?

Dread Names Red ListEventually I hit bottom, and I blamed myself for not making the run-of-the-mill life work. I bounced from job to job in every industry imaginable, I was laid off multiple times, I was in near-fatal accidents, and I couch surfed. I felt powerless, unloved, and undervalued as a human being, and it almost killed me. I understood that having food on the table and a roof over my head was more than many people got—especially since my college had been paid for—but at what cost? My soul was ripped in half. I hate that word, too, “soul” because it sounds so cliché, but how else can I describe that pain? It felt as if every time I had the opportunity to be myself, I was punished for it. Every time I tried to be anything but myself, I was punished for that, too.

After surviving too many close calls and near misses, I was desperate for change. The alternative was not an option for me; I had seen too many lives taken unexpectedly, and I thought to myself, “If I died tomorrow, what would I regret the most?” The answer was immediate, and I still remember feeling stupid for thinking it at the time: “Not writing, not making art, not being true to myself.” So, I funneled all of my hope into the unknowable future, instead, and burned that old life to the ground. All the while, I prayed I was doing the right thing, hoping I wasn’t hurting anybody by choosing me. I wanted out, not because I desired an esoteric happiness, but because finally realized I was committing the greatest crime of all: I was betraying my true self by pretending to be something I wasn’t.

Upside Down CoverNow, about a decade and many life-altering moments later, I write full-time. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, and some years have been better than others, but I can honestly say I am happy for the first time in my life. I know very little about the Kardashians of the world or who’s who in Hollywood, and I don’t understand the “people” side of the industry, either, with respect to awards-or-organizational drama, but I am writing. I never regained the stars in my eyes, mind you, but I do have a small but tight-knit supportive network of close friends and family. And, I have a partner who supports me for me, both financially and emotionally; he knows this business is incredibly unpredictable. Sometimes, he supports me. Sometimes, I support him.

While I’m not okay with all he’s done to ensure I can continue to write full-time, I make up for it in other ways because that is the nature of our relationship. We are partners. At the same time, I wouldn’t be writing full-time without him, because I couldn’t afford it. After all, making a living as a writer isn’t about “a” sale or “a” gig or “an” advance, it’s about the ability to earn income based on words written and sold on a consistent basis. Thus, if my partner wasn’t around, I couldn’t do what I do year after year, at least not right now. I’d have to make different choices, about what I wrote and how I sold it, and I’d have to get a day job to pay my bills. My goal right now, however, is to make a living plus, which means writing isn’t my hobby. This, for me, is not a calling, and it’s not “just” a job, either. It is my life, and it’s the only one I’ve got.

Monica-Headshot-300x254So, that’s my story. Those closest to me know I am both haunted and fiery to varying degrees at all times, and they know the debts I’ve paid—emotional, financial, social, even physical. They also understand why I am focused on writing, on filling up those blank pages, on getting that next gig, too. And, despite my best efforts to the contrary, that—writing—is all I have control over. Everything else, I’m simply making up as I go along.

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer who lurks in the dark. She writes both original and media tie-in fiction and works on games and comics, too. To date, she has over seven dozen creative credits with more on the way. She is best known for her work related to the Firefly TV show by Joss Whedon. She was the lead writer and developer for the award-winning line of Firefly RPG books, and also wrote the Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse which was released from Titan Publishing in April 2016.

Published stories and games include “Tomorrow’s Precious Lambs” for Extreme Zombies, “The Dig” for the Lovecraft Zine, Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade, and Unknown Armies Third Edition. Monica also recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for a co-edited anthology titled Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling from Apex Book Company. Her debut comic Man Zombie Standing was published in 2013 as part of the Unfashioned Creatures: A Frankenstein Anthology from Red Stylo Media. You can discover more of the author’s creative works through her fiction publications or her game publications.

Her non-fiction repertoire includes online articles, worldbuilding games, reference materials, and essays. She has written for sites including HowtoWrite Shop.com, Sony’s Crackle.com, SFWA.org, GeeksDreamGirl.com, and BookLifeNow.com. Her essays have appeared in books such as Family Games: The 100 Best, The Bones: Us and Our Dice, and For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher.

Monica holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives with two very spoiled cats nicknamed Lord Lardbottom and Captain Whinypants, an albino water frog named Al, and her fiance. In addition to writing and editing, she enjoys traveling, designing jewelry, cooking, taking photos, gaming, watching anime and martial arts movies, exploring old places, and hiking. She is represented by Jennie Goloboy from Red Sofa Literary.

For more about the author, read or listen to an interview with Monica Valentinelli or subscribe to her blog.

My Boskone 53 Schedule (I’m shipping up to Boston)

I’ve never been to the United States in winter, but this year that will change when I head over mid-February. I’m also very excited to be attending Boskone 53, their programming looks amazing and a heap of my US friends will be there.

I am also fortunate enough to have been put on a number of panels and, as always, am blown away by the fact I will get to rub shoulders with some of my writing heroes.

If you’ll be attending, I’d love to see you at one of my panels–or in the bar. Don’t be a stranger. 🙂

_Game of Thrones_: Adaptation or Original Material

Friday 14:00 – 14:50, Griffin (Westin)

When the first season of Game of Thrones aired, the material was a clear adaptation of the novel. However, in the following seasons, characters and story lines have morphed. Now, some storylines from the TV series are outstripping the books. At what point (if any) does the HBO series set the pace? Do we now have two independent tales? Who rules? And, as we range into uncharted territory, what happens next?

Django Wexler (M), David McDonald, Sarah Smith,  Erin Underwood

Loose Ends and Contradictions in Doctor Who

Friday 18:00 – 18:50, Marina 4 (Westin)

*Spoilers, sweetie!* Doctor Who has become infamous for its loose ends and contradictions — most of which get explained away with a little timey-wimey flash and sparkle. Yet, we still love The Doctor. In fact, many of those seeming problems tend to open future storylines and plot points. Which do we most want to see resolved? Which seem too far gone to pull back? And will we see River again … or has that loose end been tied?

Susan Jane Bigelow (M), David McDonald, Lauren Roy

Fantastic Australia!

Saturday 10:00 – 10:50, Burroughs (Westin)

A guide to the wide, wonderful, and quite active world of Australian science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Bob Kuhn (M), D L Carter, David McDonald, Garth Nix, James Minz

Appreciating the Historical in Speculative Fiction

Saturday 14:00 – 14:50, Marina 3 (Westin)

Stories set in historical times present a special set of challenges and benefits: from the wonders of worldbuilding to the disguising of infodumps to the artful overcoming of a reader’s knowledge about the way things actually are (or were). Why do we love it? What time periods and cultures are the most fun to recreate? What sets historical fiction apart from its speculative cousin? And do the stories of Tim Powers, Eric Flint, Connie Willis, Naomi Novik, or Cherie Priest qualify as hist fic?

Brendan DuBois (M), Walter H. Hunt, David McDonald, E. C. Ambrose, Walter Jon Williams

Nonfiction on Speculative Fiction

Saturday 17:00 – 17:50, Griffin (Westin)

We often forget about the nonfiction that is being published: literary criticism, reviews, analyses. Nonfiction helps to inform, sustain, and push the genre forward. The proliferation of nonfiction is often a sign of a very healthy literary field. So, how are we doing? What qualifies as nonfiction? Where do you go to find it or publish it?

David McDonald (M), Kate Baker, Daniel Hatch, Christopher Weuve

Requiem: They Played the Game of Thrones and Lost

Sunday 14:00 – 14:50, Harbor II (Westin)

Some were good and some were bad, but all of them are dead. They have ceased to be. Rung down the curtain. Joined the choir invisible. Stiffs. Ex-Westerosi. Let’s pause to pay homage to characters who met their untimely ends at the bloody hands of George R. R. Martin, and recall their glorious or dubious or just plain icky ends. And while we’re at it, let’s speculate about who’s the next to go. Because there’s no use hoping that anyone will make it out alive.

Laurie Mann (M) , David McDonald, Lauren Roy, Michael Sharrow

In Your Face: Stories that pack a punch

When Tehani (editor and publisher for Fablecroft) contacted me and asked me if I had a story idea for her upcoming anthology, In Your Face, I knew right away what story I needed to write—or finish, to be accurate—for it. The question was, was I brave enough?

A few years ago I read a blog post that had a huge impact on me. Written by Elizabeth Bear, it was called “what is the sound of one heart breaking?”. If you haven’t read it, you should, and you can find it here. The essential premise is that *any* man can be a danger to women, that there is no way of knowing who is “safe” and who is not. The reality for women is that they are surrounded by potential threats, that any man they come into contact with could be the one that kills them.

Elizabeth is a very talented writer, and the imagery in the post is visceral, leaving me feeling like I had been punched in the guts. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days—weeks—afterwards and I struggled to process it.

I am surrounded by women I care about—I am a son, a brother, a husband, a friend, a colleague or even just a fellow human being. The idea that this is the reality for women made me feel a whole range of emotions—anger, sadness…and guilt. It made me question my behaviour—and wonder about the times I might have made women feel unsafe.

Of course, being a writer, my brain immediately started bubbling with ideas, and the first thing that came to the surface was “wouldn’t it be great if there was some way that you could know if someone was thinking violent thoughts?”, and from there it went to “what would that do to society?”.

There were lots of challenges in writing this story, and reasons why I never finished it. I wondered not only whether I could write this story, whether I had the technical ability, but—more importantly—whether I had the right to write it. And, I worried about it being misinterpreted or being read as some sort of MRA paranoid persecution fantasy. In the end I put aside as too hard and never came back to it.

Tehani’s invite prompted me to rethink this, and revisit the story. The concerns I had about writing it hadn’t gone away—in fact, I was probably more aware of them than I had been before! With trembling fingers I sent it off to Tehani, and we discussed getting some people whose opinion we trust to have a look, too.

What had convinced me to write this story in the end were two very important ideas. The first one is that if, as writers, we aren’t willing to go outside our comfort zone we are never going to be the best writer we can be. It’s a huge honour to see my name alongside all the writers on ToC (a massive incentive to complete my story despite my discomfort), but it seems particularly apt to share the same pages as Paul Haines when writing a story meant to provoke discomfort.

Sadly, I never got to know Paul as well as I would have liked, but I was lucky enough to not only read his work, but get to talk writing with him on a number of occasions. One of the (many) things that made him such an amazing writer was his willingness to push the boundaries, to cross lines that many other authors. The depth of contrast between what a lovely person he was, and the disturbing nature of his stories is perhaps rivalled among Australian writers only by the amazing Kaaron Warren—who is, perhaps not coincidentally, also on the ToC!

The other idea was this: if we want to solve this problem men need to be actively engaged, too. That doesn’t mean trying to take over the conversation, or mansplaining. But, it means doing everything we can to change a toxic culture. Any number of women can write articulate posts like the one Elizabeth did, but men need to be shining a spotlight on sexism and misogyny and violence, too, or the sad reality is that many men will simply ignore it. It’s not right that that’s the case, but we need to work in the reality we have been given until we can change it.

Part of changing this culture is writing stories that force us to confront these uncomfortable truths, and make us think about the way things are—and work towards the way they should be. Two of the most powerful stories I have ever read about misogyny and sexual violence were by men—Daniel Abraham’s “Dogs” and Paul’s Australian classic, “Wives” (reprinted in this anthology). I am not half the writer that either of those two are, and I don’t claim my story is a patch on theirs, but all I can do is try and do what little I can. If enough men do, we will see a change. Or so I pray.

Do I think the future portrayed in my story is a likely one? Of course not. My story doesn’t have any answers to the issue raised in Elizabeth’s post, because I don’t know what the answer is. All I know is that a world where half the population has very real reason to fear the other half might kill them is an untenable one, and something has to change—before it’s too late.

The crowdfunding campaign for “In Your Face” still has 6 days to go. If you would like to find out more, or wish to support the campaign, click here. Any support, whether financial or raising awareness, is greatly appreciated!

In Your Face

My 2015 in Review

Wow – another year is just about to say good bye! Where has it gone? It has been an action packed year for me, so maybe that’s why it seems to have flown past. It’s been pretty successful year, too, with lots of highlights, but before I get into that, let’s look at my goals from 2014 and get the unachieved goals out of the way! Then I can move on to the good stuff…

The big goals for 2015:

  • Get that elusive pro sale!
  • Finish the YA novel and get it off for submission.
  • Catch up with Doctor Who.
  • Get my solo novel done.
  • Start another conversational review series about a series of books that are very dear to my heart
  • Try and get involved in some sort of news/discussion podcast

Let’s see:

  • Nope. I came close with one sale at 5c a word, and an anthology that would have given me a pro sale being put on hold.
  • Nope, but as you will read in the achievements section I made some good progress with this one
  • Nope. Don’t even want to talk about that!
  • Nope, but again feel happy with what I did achieve in that area.
  • Started a conversational review series, but not that one!
  • Nope, but have found the idea and other person, so that’s a start

So, as you can see, I didn’t do so well with the goals. But, now that the self flagellation is out of the way, here’s what I did achieve in 2015!


Considering I only had one short story published in 2014, 2015 was a pretty good year on the writing front. I’ve given a comprehensive breakdown on my writing statistics here for those of you who love graphs and stuff, but the upshot was that I had:

  • Five short stories published
  • Managed to crack couer de lion, a market I have coveted for years
  • Sharing a ToC with David Morrell AND Margaret Atwood AND Chelsea Quinn Yarbro AND Tanith Lee (in what was sadly her last appearance) – all in the same amazing book!
  • A reprint
  • A story turned into a podcast at the most excellent StarShipSofa

While I didn’t meet my goal of having my own original solo novel published, the big news was that my first novel length work came out.


This has led to more tie-in work, and I am looking forward to being able to announce what I think will be my biggest news yet.

While the Secret Young Adult book isn’t finished yet, we made real progress, with the first ten chapters refined to the point we were happy to send them off to test readers. I got the first feedback email today and it is look good!

2016 is already shaping up to be an even bigger year, so stay tuned for more news as it comes.


2015 was a bit of a jetsetting year for me. I was lucky enough to get visit New Zealand for their Natcon, and discovered that NZ fandom is incredibly welcoming and friendly. I also met some wonderful authors, and made some new friends.

Having fun with some new writer friends!

Having fun with some new writer friends!

I had a great time at my home con of Continuum, getting to be on some great panels and generally just having fun.

This panel on Religion in Spec Fic was much more fun than I am making it look here!

This panel on Religion in Spec Fic was much more fun than I am making it look here!

I managed to make it back to the US this year for an incredible 4 week trip that took me from LA to New York, and plenty of places in between. While over there I went to Sasquan, the Worldcon in Spokane, Washington. As well as hanging out with the Brotherhood Without Banners, the greatest fan group in the Universe, I had the honour of accepting a Hugo for Galactic Suburbia. The Hugo Awards night will be indelibly etched in my memory, it was a truly wonderful night that was capped off with the Hugo Loser Party to end all parties!


And, last but not least, I went up to Canberra for Conflux, and as usual had a great time. There were many highlights, like a Paying for Our Passion panel, and experiencing the Cabinet of Oddities performance, where I had the privilege of hearing one of my stories set to music composed especially for it and played on flute.


The “Paying for Our Passion” panel

So, not a bad year for conventions!


I was lucky enough to be nominated for a couple of Ditmars this year, including another Atheling nod. I was a little sad that the Snapshot didn’t win, but given the quality of the category it was in I am not complaining–any of the winners would have been deserving!


While we didn’t finish the New Who stuff, we did get some reviews done, and I also started a new series of reviews with Tehani as we Squeed Over Supergirl!

By far the most successful series on my blog was Paying for Our Passion, and again I must thank all the writers and editors who were willing to make themselves so vulnerable with some excellent posts on the sacrifices we make to pursue or passions.


Galactic Chat had a quiet end to the year, but I did get the chance to interview some amazing people. If you haven’t already, you should check out the podcast. I also had my first ever podcast interview when I appeared on it myself.


So, looking back, it was a pretty good year! Despite my abject failure to meet last year’s, I am going to set some goals for 2016:

  • FINALLY catch up on Doctor Who
  • start the new podcast I have planned
  • get the full version of the YA book out to test readers, if not an agent
  • make that elusive pro sale

And that will do for now. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has read this blog over the course of the year, and to those who have supported and encouraged me in so many ways. I couldn’t have achieved any of the things I have listed without you. Wishing you all a Happy New Year, and hoping that 2016 is your best yet!

A Year of Writing Statistics (or quantifying my obsession).

I am by nature a disorganised, lazy person. As such, I have always found that I work better when I try and impose order on my chaos. I prefer having hard deadlines to nebulous ones, because it forces me to to meet them (or not). I love Google Calendar, and have multiple calendars set up. I use lists a great deal. And, when I lost 20+ kilograms it was because I counted calories rather obsessively and tracked my exercise and diet using an app on my iPhone. Keeping statistics has always helped me because that way I can actually see whether I am making progress or not, and it gives me a measuring stick that I can use to see whether I am ahead of where I need to be–or falling behind.

I have always tried to do the same with my writing. I keep a record of submissions and deadlines (I used to use Duotrope, but I now use an app called StoryTracker), but it was hard to find something to record daily writing stats that met my needs. One of the people in my writing group created an excellent spreadsheet to use during NaNoWriMo and I adapted that to use in other months, but it wasn’t quite as customisable as I needed (more the fault of my Excel skills than the spreadsheet itself). I also helped develop an iOS app to record writing stats and targets, but in the end it didn’t get the necessary uptake to make it worthwhile for the developer to continue to work on it (again, my fault for not putting enough time in to publicising it).


In late 2014 I was given a great opportunity to do the novelisation of a Canadian movie. I only got the chance because a number other people were unable to do it, so by the time it got to me the timelines were pretty tight–well, very tight. After watching the movie and reading the script I had about 15 days to produce a 75,000 word draft which, as you can imagine, is a pretty high pressure deadline. I am going to go into the details of how I managed this in another post, but one of the key things was making sure I met a daily word count.

Around the same time, I had found another spreadsheet that seemed to do the things that I wanted to do and I used to help keep on top of my daily goals. After writing non stop for 15 days I had some pretty cool stats, and I decided that I would continue to record them, and try writing every day–no matter what.

I set myself the following rules:

  • A day ended when I went to bed. I do most of my writing between 10pm-2am so I would count that early morning time as part of the day I started on.
  • I didn’t count words written as part of my day job as part of this spreadsheet. As I spent most of that period as the editor of a fortnightly magazine–and writing about 50-60% of the content–I estimate that’s about 100,000-150,000 words I haven’t counted.
  • However, I  counted blogging and writing related tasks because they are words I felt I have to write as part of being an author.
  • When editing a manuscript I would take the ending word count minus the starting word count as the word count for the day, not just changed words.

So, onto the graphs and stats!

Overall Word Count 29/11/14 to 29/11/15 – 224,053 words


I have divided this into five sections, most of which are self evident. The “Writing-Misc” is stuff to do with the business of writing, which I will break down further a little later on.

Drilling down, there is some useful information:

Daily Breakdown

So, in the course of a year I managed to write over 80% of days, which I am pretty happy with. Add day job stuff and I am writing pretty much every day! Only taking days I did write I averaged almost 750 words a day, but even the actual average of over 600 words a day isn’t too bad–though not amazing. My goal for the coming year is to get it up to 1000.

For a sense of perspective you can check out this fascinating list. I feel better knowing I am beating Hemingway, but I plan to work through Lee Child and end up as Stephen King.


I am not sure how useful the above graphic is, but I may as well throw it in.

Now to breakdown the category statistics.

Novels –  143,316 words


Backcountry made up the bulk of the words here, and created a really strong foundation for the rest of my year. It did nearly kill me, though–you can see why below.


If you are wondering what happened on the 13th, I had a rapidly approaching deadline for a commissioned short story! I will talk about the writing process in another blog post but, as tough as it was, that fortnight or so gave me the confidence to believe that I really could write fats and reasonably well when I needed to. Incidentally, on the 14th I set  my record for most words in a day – 8156.

I had promised myself I would never put myself in a position (through factors I could control, though I’ll take any opportunity I get if I can make the deadline even if it is a killer) where I had to write that many words in such a short time (or at least do my best to avoid it), but my trip to the States late last year (where I didn’t get much writing down through September at all) meant I had to do something similar towards the end of they year. 

The “Secret Tie In” project is in the final stages of edits and I hope I can announce it soon–but for now it will have to wait. And it is not easy to keep it secret, it is probably my biggest piece of writing news yet!

Secret Tie In

The “Secret Young Adult” is a collaborative novel I am working  on, and is going along slowly but surely–the first ten chapters are out with some test readers and I am nervously awaiting their feedback. More to come on that one soon, I hope!

Short Stories – 37,778 words

I had a good year for short stories, ending up with five stories (if you count the one performed at Conflux, which I certainly do) being published. However, most of them were either written in 2014 or revised versions of older stories.

Short Stories

The flash piece was called “Guardians of Her Galaxy” and performed as part of the amazing Cabinet of Oddities, and the Poe piece found a home as “Sympathetic Impulses”. The Dystopia story will be part of an upcoming Pozible campaign.

The Tie In story is neither fish nor fowl, the anthology it was slated for has been put on hold, but I remain hopeful.

The rest, well some of them are stories I didn’t finish in time to submit, while others have been been kicking around for far too long. My goal is to either finish them or chuck them out completely if they aren’t worth the time and effort.

Blogging – 12,997 wordsBlogging

I’ve tried to be a lot more consistent with my blogging this year, but the majority of posts have been guest posts, either as part of the excellent (due to the contributors, not as a result of any work on my part!) “Paying for Our Passion” series or as part of my goal to help promote other people’s work.

Despite the fact that we are still way behind (mainly due to me), I did manage to get some posts done for the “New Who Conversations“, as well launching a review series of Supergirl with the wonderful Tehani Wessely.

The saddest one is the “Blogging – Guest” segment–I haven’t been a guest on very many blogs at all!

Writing – Misc – 15,496

Ah, “misc”. It really does cover a multitude of sins.

Writing Misc

I’ve gradually been working my way towards a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. At my current rate of progress I should be finished around 2020, but it is something I would like to finish, if only to prove to myself I can.

Generally I don’t count critiques if I am using comments and track changes, this was one that I had to do a broad assessment, and I think I was trying to preserve my writing streak.

I have applied for a number of writing related jobs this year, and for some I had to do some writing exercises, so that goes down as well.

One of the things you discover when you start getting more work in the Tie In field is you just don’t just get an idea and start writing. In most cases you first need to pitch an idea (generally a paragraph or two outlining the concept) and then, if it interests the publisher enough, you go on to do a chapter by chapter outline. 

As a “pantser”, this came as a rude shock to me but it has actually been really beneficial in showing me that outlining and preparation can actually help. I can write a lot quicker when I am working to an outline–that pain at that start pays off as you start to get closer to the deadline!


So, how did I do with the writing every day? Well, for a long time, I did pretty well. I made a rule that I couldn’t go to bed until I had written something, anything. I didn’t really set a minimum word count, I just made sure I got something down. It didn’t matter where I was, or how I was feeling, I always managed–even on my trip to New Zealand (Norman Cates–who shared a room with me) could tell you a story about that!).

I finally broke my streak on the 22nd of August, after 266 days of consecutive writing. If you look at that date, it is a few days into Worldcon in Spokane. I have to say, it was a relief to finally end it. If I am honest, it had become a bit of a millstone around my neck. I found myself becoming anxious if it looked like I was going to struggle to find time to write on a particular day. I would stay up later than I should have, procrastinating before writing. I often didn’t care about the quality of the writing, as long as I got something down.

But, saying that, there were a number of positives to come out of it. It got me in the habit of writing regularly, and it gave me a whole heap of stats to play with–and learn from. It showed me what I was actually capable of if I applied myself properly. And it gave me a reference point that I can compare against the same time next year, and see how I am going.

As you can see, it was novels that kept me really busy. Because they paid advances and had a guaranteed income, I had to prioritise not only the novels themselves, but the pitches an outlines and revision that come with them over short stories that were not a sure thing or blog posts that might not get many readers. A good problem to have, though!

This is obviously a fairly limited examination of the stats, as I am not sure how much interest there would be in going deeper. But, I am happy to expand on anything covered here–or anything that is shown in the stats that I haven’t noted. You can post your questions in the stats, and I’ll either answer there (if simple enough) or look at doing another post.