Nanowrimo win!

Winner-2014-Square-ButtonHuzzah – I just validated my Nanowrimo 2014 win. \o/ Time for a glass of wine!

I clocked in at 50,262 words. I managed to actually get some sort of story arc in there, too. :D The final words were nothing amazing (few words in this zero draft were particularly amazing!), but I managed to get some nice emotional closure for a character.

This has been one of the toughest Nanos I’ve done so far – I’ve been super busy this November, and there’s been a lot of late-night writing. Many’s the time that sheer stubbornness was the only thing keeping me writing. But I did it! It’s nice to know that I can still do 50K of fiction in a month. :)

My project for next month is to edit a poetry collection that’s been on the shelf for a few months. So, something completely different from zero-draft word vomit! Sleep is also high on my list of priorities…

Nanowrimo, Day 19

Awww yisss I’m all caught up with Nanowrimo after an intense 3000-word session just now. And there’s an actual plot now! *gasp* I’ve been grappling with being behind + lack of plot during the past week, both due to being too busy to plan ahead. I was already resigned that this Nanowrimo zero draft would be pure drivel useful only for exploring some of the characters and the world. But now I have part of a plot that may end up being in the actual edited version, too. Yay!

Word count: 32,107/50,000
Beverages enjoyed: A big mug of rooibos tea.
Feeling: So happy about actually having a plot for the rest of the novel! I came up with a Xena-esque adventure plot thing that will make the rest of Nanowrimo go smoothly, I hope. At least there will be a daring prison escape, if nothing else.

On the downside: my back is hating me. Slight muscle ache from yesterday’s dance class + too much sitting and writing today = pain. On the to-do list before bed: some physiotherapy exercises…

Some silly doggerel

I was reading a book relevant to my PhD research yesterday, and happened upon the delightful name Gabriel Gostwyk. He was some dude in 17th-century England who may have owned an alchemical manuscript.

In the silly poem that crept out of my pen inspired by his name, however, he became something more sinister. I will share it here because it’s silly. Thursday silliness!


He Does What He Likes

Gabriel Gostwyk baked a pie
and sang his wife a lullaby
Gabriel Gostwyk stitched her lips
up tight, drank tea in careful sips.
Gabriel Gostwyk laughed to hear
her muffled screams of rage and fear.

Gabriel Gostwyk’s under your bed.
Gabriel Gostwyk wants you dead.


Story sale to An Alphabet of Embers

I’m delighted to announce that my story ‘The City Beneath the Sea’ will be appearing in the anthology An Alphabet of Embers, edited by Rose Lemberg and published by Stone Bird Press.

I am so happy to be involved with something this awesome. An Alphabet of Embers sounds like it’s going to be utterly beautiful:

“An Alphabet of Embers would live in that space between poetry and prose, between darkness and sound, between roads and breaths, its pages taut with starlight; between its covers, words would talk to each other, and have an occasional cup of tea.”
– Rose Lemberg (from the Kickstarter page)

Goblin Fruit: Summer Is Dead

Huzzah! New Goblin Fruit!

The newest issue, “Summer Is Dead”, is now available for your reading pleasure.

In it – amongst the other poems which I can’t wait to read (including work by Shweta Narayan, Mari Ness and C.S.E. Cooney!) – is my poem ‘Sorrow-stone’.

This poem has a clear source of inspiration, for once. Sometime in 2013, I was listening to the song Manan unia by the Finnish folk music band Suo. (I’ve translated/language checked the lyrics for their past few albums, for the CD covers.) I was also experiencing strong feelings of frustration on behalf of loved ones who were in pain, and me not being able to help. So, the poem came out.

If you’re interested, here are the lyrics for the song (trad., transl. by me):


Through the earth, through Manala,
through all six star-pricked layers of Heaven.

I dream the dreams of Mana:
earth-dreams, tree-dreams.
I am on a dangerous journey, an unknown road,
making my way to the hill of pain.

Pain-mittens on my hands,
pain-shoes on my feet.
I walk on needle-points,
on the blades of swords.

There is a rock on top of the hill of pain,
a hole in the middle of the rock
that collects all our pain.
The rock won’t weep for its pains, its pains.

[Mana, Manala – Kingdom of Death]


Nanowrimo, Day 9

Word count: 14,709/50,000
Beverages enjoyed: Delicious Tanzanian black tea, from a proper teacup with a saucer and everything.
Feeling: Drained. SO DRAINED. But also rather deliriously happy.

During the past week, I’ve been struggling with word count and having energy to write. I’ve just been so busy with work that I haven’t had energy/time to write till around midnight, and I haven’t had too many moments where the words would have flowed easily. But today! I had to write a scene where I killed off a character I like, and even though it was horrible and emotional, I just spent the past couple of hours writing like mad. It feels amazing to have written in such a delirium, for the first time this Nano. I hope this will give me the impetus for more writing moments like that!

It’s been ages since I killed off a character in a story. Didn’t remember it could be this intense.

Stone Telling 11 is live!

Stone Telling 11 is up – and it looks utterly awesome. I am so excited to get to read the other poems in the issue!

And I’m very pleased that my poem ‘Kuura (extract from a Finnish-English dictionary)’ is in such good company and in such a wonderful magazine. I’ve been following ST for quite a while now, and dared barely dream that my own poetry might be in it some day. But I dared to send out the poem, and the lovely editors Shweta and Rose wanted it. Happiness! And they’ve chosen a beautiful picture to go with the poem, too.

‘Kuura’ is the first of a series of poems that seek to “explain” certain hard-to-translate Finnish words and moods through poetry. I haven’t been working on them for a while, but should totally continue with it.

Short story publication: Chrysopoeia

Be still, my heart!

Quantum Fairy Tales has published my short story ‘Chrysopoeia’! This is officially my first story publication of more than 600 words, so I’m super excited.

Read it here. A wee snippet from the middle:

When his alarm clock rang, Simon snapped awake with the word chrysopoeia running through his mind like a fleeing stag. Chrysopoeia: the transmutation of base elements into gold, his lifelong goal. In order to achieve chrysopoeia, he had to create a true philosopher’s stone, not just the unerringly delicious drink that he mixed several times a night.

It’s about an alchemist bartender. I originally wrote it in a more fairytale-like style ages ago, and because I started it before I knew anything about alchemy, the alchemical theory in it was utterly nonexistent. I rewrote it at the start of this summer, which included adding some “genuine” touches concerning alchemical theory and history, from the readings I’d been doing for my PhD application. I’m really proud of the story in its current published incarnation. (Code for: when I found out it got published just now, I jumped up and down yelling happy obscenities and poured myself another glass of wine.)

I hope you enjoy ‘Chrysopoeia’! Check out the rest of the Fall issue, too. It looks great.

Nanowrimo 2014 is go!

November is here, and Nanowrimo with it! Huzzah!

This year, I was going to have an Outline. A proper outline, with the main plotlines all neat and organised, and the major incidents all plotted out. Aww, self, so optimistic.

Well, suffice it to say that as a) I am more of a pantser than a plotter at the best of times, and b) my October was so full of academic busytimes (fun busytimes! good busytimes! but omg so busy!) – I didn’t have much time or energy to plan in great detail. Yes, I’ve had a lot of stuff about this forest world and had general ideas percolating for a while now. I’ve got some history thought out, and sort of a general plot idea, and some characters. But no detailed outline.

Now it’s Nano time, and I’ve decided, OK, screw it, I’m going the tried and true “just start writing and figure out the plot as you go” route. It’s going well so far! I had a horrible time trying to get started today, but once I got some crap written, I suddenly came up with an idea as to how FMC#1 gets to start on her journey. And now I’ve got Chapter 2 sort of planned, too. Also, I have an idea for an ending! So I think it’ll be all right. I’m hoping to have lots of fun, anyway.

Oh yeah, even though I failed at plot-prepping, I did make a map a while back, though! Check it out (still attached to my drawing board with beautiful masking tape)!

nano map 2014

Mmm, watercolours. I should actually shove the image into Gimp and see about actually indicating places on the map… I don’t want to spoil the pretty picture in real life. :)

In conclusion:
Word count: 1681
Beverages enjoyed: A glass of red wine
Feeling: Better than I was when I started today! Oh Nanowrimo, I’d missed you so.

Now for some more novelling. I want to get Chapter 1 done today.