Redshirts: Well gentlemen, you're all going to die.The fact is, as writers, we often deal in death. We bring into being characters whose whole purpose for being is to die. Sometimes a random extra wanders onto the page that needs culling for effect. Sometimes death is happening and you need fodder for the cannons so you implement a platoon of redshirts to bolster your numbers. And sometimes, from among those ranks of the doomed to died, you come to love a character. You know from their beginning you’re going to have to kill them, but they weasel their way into your heart. That’s okay. In fact, that’s great! If you love the character then odds are your readers will too. That makes it all the better when that character dies because your readers will be emotionally invested.

Today, in memory of all those characters destined for death, I want to send out a short tribute. December 1st has been appointed Redshirt Remembrance Day by Western Australian writer, Hadiyah Stephens. She invites us to take a moment to remember a character we’ve loved and murdered for the sake of a compelling story.

“For those of you don’t recognise that ‘red-shirt’ reference, it’s a Star Trek one. If you see a random, nameless red shirt in Star Trek… he will die. It’s inevitable, it nearly always happens. So in dedication of all the red-shirts in our stories, ‘We miss you, but you die for the better good of our word counts and stories.’” ~ Hadiyah Stephens

In the first of my Red-shirt Remembrances I give these words in honour, respect, and thanks to a character in my book, The Flight of Torque. Unlike those nameless redshirts, this character has a name. He was however a relatively minor character in the book. From the moment of his creation he was always intended to be fodder for my protagonist. The moment of his birth he was destined to die in a gruesome and brutal way that would torture and torment my heroine. His reason for living was in the manner of his dying.

And you know what? I didn’t love him in the beginning. He’s a “bad guy” and there’s a lot about him not to love. He was vengeful, vacuous, violent, vagrant, and vapid. He was other derogatory words that don’t start with the letter ‘v’ too. But as I wrote him into the story I explored him. I discovered his voice and had fun with it. I watched the beauty of his movements. I followed the wonky way of his thoughts. I began to know his quirks. Over time I came to like him. I was no longer sure I wanted to send this character into the cold, dark night of eternal slumber.

Still, the story called for his demise. In true writerly fashion I drew it out in all its glorious wonder. I used the relationship I’d formed with him to make it meaningful and to make sure it hit a raw nerve with my protagonist. His death pushed the story onward and upward. It served the story and that is what a good death always does.

So, to Carny, may you live the lives that never see the page and be in death a tribute to your story.

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As I push to get these last few thousand words written what I find myself doing is more brainstorming than story writing. Earlier this week I’d reached a “hopeless” point. I knew the draft I have, the one I’m jamming into this box of “book-like-substance” just isn’t going to work. But I still like my original concept to some degree and I’m starting to picture the alternative ways this book could be written. That inkling of the “maybe” is back with me again and it’s a much nicer feeling than the “I hate everything”.

I think that’s what being a writer is a lot about. We go through stages where sometimes the writing is going well, other times it’s terrible, and we sustain ourselves on the maybe when there is an intangible beauty about the potential for creation. Well, we sustain ourselves on that, and those days when what hits the page has some resemblance to that beauty. Those days definitely happen. The closer my books get from first draft to final draft the more I feel in tune with the concepts. That’s the real reason a first draft isn’t a final draft. Even when you’re a planner that first draft is giving your mind and your muse a chance to flesh out the ideas, to see them take form, but it’s the future drafts when the ideas become woven and tangible.

I’m re-imagining Spirit Talker now. The concept is fresh and new. It’s not quite ready to start drafting, but I’m no longer hating the whole thing. I see the potential again.

I’ve decided I might be able to salvage parts of what I have written this month. To be honest, when the whole “alien” thing decided to jump into the book when I really didn’t want it to I was mad at myself. In that moment I had the inner critique rake me over the coals and I took the abuse because I believed it. I forgot, in that moment, that although I’m a creator the blame doesn’t only lay at my feet. As most writers will willingly admit, our stories come from beyond us, so that alien concept wasn’t really mine. If it were I’d never have written it, not in this book, not in any book. Sure, I think aliens are cool but this book isn’t about aliens.

Now I’m rethinking even that. I started thinking about one of our speakers at Write Night, Ian. He’s an editor for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. And you know what? They take speculative fiction. It occurred to me that this alien concept that just doesn’t suit this book could make an intriguing short story for Andromeda. So, although it’s a bit of a blur and mushed into a story where it just doesn’t work, the concept isn’t horrid. There is potential in that too.

I think coming to this new understanding about the story in parts rather than as a whole is pretty inspiring. I start looking at the 47,000 words – the 50,000 I’ll have by the end of today, and I think “Well, it’s not a complete waste.” And that’s the miracle of NaNoWriMo. Even the junk that gets tossed in, because you’re going for quantity more than quality, has potential. The words are on the page, and now they’re written we can play with them and see where they take us.

29 November 2013

Tuesday, Nov. 26th, 2013

Ok, so I totally slacked the past few days. On Sunday I did go to the library but I didn’t get a word written. Ok, actually I got three words written. How abysmal is that? I had good intentions to do some writing that evening instead but nope, I crashed into bed and stayed there. I try to use the fact that my son isn’t well as an excuse but honestly any excuse at all would have done.

Yesterday I also didn’t get any writing done. But with just a few days left until the end of the month and 18,000 words still looming over my head yet to be written I’m having to push away the “don’t want to” so that I can get this done. It’s not as easy as that however. When it comes to creative writing pursuits you’ve got to be inspired to some degree. Sure, there are writers who say they sit down at start writing and that’s when inspiration comes to them, but I’ve found resistance can be more insidious than that. And that is where my problem is right now.

You see, I have 75% of a book. I’m at the Wall. The dreaded point in the book where enough of the story is laid out before me that I should be rounding on the finish line. But I don’t feel it. I don’t see it. It’s beyond that horizon, over that hill, and everything behind me seems like terrain that’s lead me out into the middle of nowhere. I’ve run 32,000 miles into nothingness. I’m hating this book. As it stands there is no way I’d want to attach my name to it. It doesn’t MEAN anything. There is no message. I wandered way too far from what I had originally wanted to write about that it doesn’t even feel like my book anymore. But what do I do? Do I toss out these 32,000 words and start from scratch? Where I’ll face those same problems I faced in the early days of having no clue what this book would be about? Or do I just throw some wild twist in at this point and scrawl out 18,000 words of jibberish so I can happily call it written and throw it into a draw for the rest of its lifetime?

Or are all these doubts just the wall manifesting in resistance? What do I do right now? Pushing on to 50,000 because that’s what this month is about. And it’s 50,000 words of experience, and 50,000 words as a writer. Good or bad, when I roll over those 50,000 words I’ll have spent the month chasing that elusive name, “writer”.

Ok, so I kept writing. Now I have 34,828 words. Just 15,172 words to reach 50,000.

What rot. This is absolute trollop. I swear everything is a load of bull that’s just not worthy of being book-like. I swear I’m half about to start talking aliens and sci-fi. This is NOT a sci-fi book. It’s supposed to be about a girl with a ‘gift’ that’s cursing her to tortured teenage years. And yet, there is something else entirely coming out here and I don’t like it. Remind me never to pants again.


Ok, I need about 5,000 words each day for the next three days to get my 50,000 words for the month. I don’t know if I’ll make it. Especially since my book is now even more irredeemably horrible. I mean, seriously, aliens? ICK! I mean, it would be acceptable to write about aliens if the book was supposed to be about aliens. But it’s not. This whole pirates, diamonds, kidnapping, aliens, etc. is all meaningless. None of that has anything to do with the book I originally wanted to write. It was supposed to be about a girl who didn’t fit in at school or home because she could see dead people. None of that is in there.

I admit, the original concept doesn’t quite make a book either, but now it’s a pile of vomit. It started with a flawed concept and became more and more convoluted and ridiculous the more I forced myself to keep writing. Honestly, I do not recommend pantsing if you’re a planner.

Once I get these final 15,000 words I’ll toss this book in the big pile of “never see the light of day” works in my digital archive. I’ll go back to FoT and finish and publish that then settle in to writing the other two books for the Blood of the Nagaran Trilogy. We will never speak of Spirit Talker again.

But who knows, someday the concept might come to me with better bones, with a real story, and real meaning and message. When that day arrives, maybe Spirit Talker will find the page in a way that isn’t absolutely ridiculous.

26 November 2013

Monday, November 4th, 2013

We’re at Gosnells Knowledge Centre this afternoon. It’s another quiet one with people working away on their books. Today I have a semblance of a plot outline that should hopefully give me enough to get a few scenes written for the first act and lead me into finding out more about where the story might go next. Time to get stuck into it.

Ok, been at it for over an hour and only have 450 words to show for it. I feel like it’s trudging along. Primarily because I don’t like not knowing what is going on. Somehow I’ve made Bobby’s kidnappers Russian. Don’t ask me why.

I need 1,500 words to get back on track with my wordcount today. It’s do able but only if I get my act together. Right now, however, I need a quick stretch and etc.

4 November 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

We’re settled in at Armadale. Made $8 in badge/coaster/bookmark sales and donations so far today. And made six name badges. Now it’s time to actually get some words written. Come to my rescue Muse, please!

There are words happening. But I don’t feel them. I’m really struggling with this story. I’m starting to wonder if I need to go back to scratch and repurpose it again.

Ok, this pantsing thing is killing me. I’m just getting more and more frustrated. I need some sort of outline. I need to know that I actually have a story and a point. I don’t like the idea of writing myself into a hole. So, brainstorming it now. Lets make something happen.

Ok, I have a first act plotted. It’s a very quick and dirty plot but at least it has some action and some story. It even gave me another character. :-)

I’m having a little difficulty with Bobby’s voice. He’s supposed to be very young. How do I have him tell the story of his death from his point of view? OH! I could use Sara’s ability to flashback to the actual situation and therefore not use his voice at all but the omniscient point of view. I could have her watch the event unfold. That would also make her an “eye” witness with the challenge that her account couldn’t be used in court.

3 November 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ok, day two.

Tony Park was fantastic. He is a lively and enthralling speaker. His books are not what I would normally choose to read, but as I listen to him talking about Africa and the ideas for his stories I can’t help but be fascinated. Another thing I found intriguing was that he is 100% pantser. He doesn’t outline any of his novels. He writes on the fly, day by day, a few pages at a time and just lets the present influence his inspiration. He looks to the world around him to pick a key feature and then writes about that. I’m looking forward to reading one of his books now to see how that style of writing comes together in the finished product.

Speaking of styles of writing, I’ve decided I need to at least piece together some sort of outline. Something I can string together to make a story. I’m not like Tony Park. I can’t just turn to the world around me and choose an interesting feature and begin writing. But maybe I can use the world around me to inspire something. It’s a beautiful surrounding. We’re sitting in the park opposite the Gosnells Knowledge Centre. The crows are cawing. Oh! Interesting fact, despite the fact that we have always called them crows, in Australia the black birds we call crows are actually Australian Ravens. Go figure? I was wondering the different between a crow and a raven on Wednesday and Googled to discover that fact. So, the ravens are cawing, there are a few of Dads in the park playing with their kids. The cicadas are clicking, the river is trickling, the breeze is blowing softly, and an airplane flies off in the distance surrounded by the wisps of cloud and brilliant blue sky. I love Australia. But how can I use any of this in my book?

*screams in frustration!!!!* I swear I am hating every word of this drivel. It’s pointless. Aimless. Junk.

I spent almost the whole first hour of the Write In avoiding my book. I have plenty to do as ML so it’s really easy to assuage the guilt of not writing by hiding it in the fact that I need to schedule Facebook and Twitter posts, write broadcast messages, and forum posts. It’s all “important”. But none of it is getting my book written.

I’ve started to wonder if having the story in the point of view of a teenage girl is where I’m going wrong. I’m having trouble finding a plot in it. Part of me wants to throw away the whole concept but I remind myself that what I do have concept-wise is good. I can work with it. And it’s malleable, I can change it without completely scrapping the whole idea. After all, I already have a cover, a really beautiful cover. So, lets give the cover a book.

OMG! What if I wrote the book in 3rd person (a POV I’m much more comfortable with) but from the vantage-point of Bobby, the young ghost?!? Could that be cool? And someone suggested to me last night that I could make the book about the mystery of Bobby’s death. Originally I was thinking of having it more about the angst of being a teenager who can see ghosts but I’m starting to think the murder mystery is more solid. It’s something I could really sink my teeth into. I can still weave threads of teenage angst into the story but that would be secondary.

Ok, so it was going okay, but I’m struggling. I’m not sure where this needs to go. Obviously the action needs to begin but it’s feeling a bit staggered and choppy. I keep having Bobby and Sara talking, and talking, and talking. How can I get some real action into this?

Ok, I know what I can do with this scene now but got an urge to take a break. I really shouldn’t, because I haven’t got anywhere near quota yet. Although I’m over for the day if I really do think about it. Looking at what I have today so far. 1887 words. I suppose I feel better about taking a break. :-) We’ll be finishing up here soon anyway so 20 minutes before closing is a good time to begin winding down. I can see my daughter has already reached her limit for the session too. She’s reading a book now. :-)

2 November 2013

So, in keeping with the tradition I started last year I thought I’d plug up my “notes to myself” that I tend to write while working on a book. If you’ve ever wondered “what goes on in the brain while a writer is writing?” then follow along on my journey to 50,000 words this November (accompanied by ML duties this eyar) or browse back to the Journal of a NaNo Writer 2012 where I put together the first 70,000 words of The Flight of Torque.

Friday, November 1st, 2013

I knew we would start here. NaNo is officially begun. We’re at my awesome Kick Off party and it’s silent, because everyone has started writing. I’ve eaten and I’m ready. But… I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO WRITE!!! Muse! HELP!!!

The irony is I had a first few sentences about two weeks ago. I ran them through my head trying to memorise them. They’re gone now. :-(

A character came to me during the day and he’s been quite insistent that he’s part of this book. But I don’t know who he is. His name is Will, and I get the impression he’s Sara’s best friend, but I also wonder if he’s her older brother. I’m not sure. Hopefully he’ll give me more information soon because it would be a pain to start writing him as her best friend and then have to edit it to brother later, or vice versa.

I’ve also had a character in mind for a few weeks now. He started as a G. name, and then it’s evolved into Grayson, Graeson, or Graeme. Something Grae, and shortened to Grae, just because. I kind of liked Graeson, but tonight he definitely wants to be Graeme. Maybe I could start with him.

Ok, I have words. 102 of them. I don’t like them. I just said to the others they are “terrible” but I know they’re not terrible, but I still don’t like them. Hopefully the flow will come.

For what it’s worth as a Kick Off Party it’s toooo quiet to be a party. But we’ve got a good turn out so far with more due later in the night so I think it’s going to be a great one. I’ll just have to make sure I force everyone to put the words away for a while from time to time and have some fun too. Except of course I bet if I said that everyone would say, “We’re writing, that’s fun!”

grrrr False start after false start. I need to find the groove for this thing. I swear, I don’t know how pantsers do it. I need to throw up some sort of wicked twist of crazy and get this story off to a start with a bang.

The tree we are sitting under is horrid on my Mac. It’s dropping some sort of sticky tiny drops all over the screen.

I’m wondering if this POV is going to work. I don’t like first person.

Kaylie: 418
Rebecca: 402

Ok, so after two word wars and almost 3 hours I have 890 words. I’m trying not to beat myself up on such a shocking total. I have a lot going on being ML I need to be a Hi and Bye to everyone coming and going. But the real crush is that I’m hating everything I write. This YA genre is a difficult one. I want to be in the voice on my main character. Sara. But I’m not feeling in her skin. I don’t feel her. I keep feeling like I’m missing the start. I haven’t found the beginning of my story yet. I’m just rambling through this random stuff. I need to come back to beginning, back to basics. I need to think about what this scene needs to accomplish. “Introduce the main character in her normal life and then lay the ground for blowing her normal life to smithereens.

One of the young writers just gave me a chance to read her first 1000 words. OMG! I’m gripped by her story. And it’s so emotionally involved, darker than her years. I’m so jealous. I’m writing utter drivel and she’s writing this incredible work. Why won’t my words come?

8.40 Word War – 367

This just isn’t working. I have discovered ALL of the pitfalls of pantsing. I just have NOTHING! It’s pointless drivel. I have no idea where this story is going to go. Maybe I just need to take the day or two to put together some sort of outline. I need to know what might happen in the story so I can find the path to get there.

1 November 2013

So, as my latest book reaches it’s final stages prior publishing, I’m finally ready to let go of freelance writing and jump heart and soul into novel writing full-time. I’ve teetered on the edge, occasionally taking freelance gigs here and there, slowly weeding out my involvement in the business, and basically having a life outside of my work. But now I’m ready to say goodbye for good to the work of those 13 years of my life. And in that step, I’ve decided I’m ready to let go my shelves of freelance and copywriting books. Almost all of these books are in pristine, as-new, condition. And there are some real treasures here that will offer great wisdom, ideas, and advice to freelancers at any stage of their career.

I’m giving the books away, they’re free, but I do ask that you pay for the postage so that I’m not any more out of pocket for the books than their original purchase price. Especially since I can no longer claim it as a tax write-off from my freelancing income. I hope I can find some new homes for these books and that they help you continue to build your own freelance business.

  1. “Start & Run A Copywriting Business” 2nd edition by Steve Slaunwhite (With CD Rom)
  2. “The Copywriter’s Handbook: A step-by-step guide to writing copy that sells” 3rd edition by Robert W. Bly
  3. “Fearless Confessions: A writer’s guide to Memoir” by Sue William Silverman Autographed by the author
  4. “Make a real living as a Freelance Writer: How to win Top writing assignments” by Jenna Glatzer
  5. “$ix Figure Freelancing: The writer’s guide to making more money” by Kelly James-Enger
  6. “My so-called Freelance Life: How to survive and thrive as a creative professional for hire” by Michelle Goodman
  7. “The Well-Fed Writer: Financial self-sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in six months or less” by Peter Bowerman
  8. “Techniques of the $elling Writer” by Dwight V. Swain
  9. “Can I change your mind? The craft and art of persuasive writing” by Lindsay Camp
  10. “Courage & Craft: Writing your life into story” by Barbara Abercrombie
  11. “Starting your career as a freelance writer” by Moira Anderson Allen
  12. “The Wealthy Writer: How to earn a six-figure income as a freelance writer (no kidding!)” by Michael Meanwell
  13. “Expect Success” compiled by Dan Zadra (this book is a little gem about great customer service
  14. “The Professional Writing Guide: Writing well and knowing why” by Roslyn Petelin and Marsha Durham (this book is a little worn, I purchased it second hand and it has a name and some highlighting in the table of contents.)
  15. “Raising a Business: A woman’s no-nonsense guide to successfully growing a small business” by Sonia Williams

Wow, I just did the math on my purchase prices and it comes to over $300 AUD worth of books. And I’m giving them away for free. I must be nuts! lol But then, you, my readers have been good to me through the years too. We’ve shared a large part of my journey together. Some of you have become dear friends, others committed lurkers, and some of you are just discovering this site for the first time. It’s important for writers to stick together. Freelance writing is one of the few industries where we tend to help our competition rather than hinder them. We’re a synergistic community, and I know those who receive these books will gain something from the opportunity. That makes it worth every dime.

Now, remember, while the book itself is free I do ask that you pay for postage. I live in Australia so keep in mind International postage if you live elsewhere. Individually the books are pretty light and some are quite small. Postage shouldn’t be exorbitant, but I can’t give an estimate of the cost until I know where I’m sending each.

Also, to make it fair I’d prefer to have each book go to a different reader. If you’d really love more than one book give me a list in order of preference. If your second or third choice isn’t snatched up by someone else you can give it a home. Also, I do only have one copy of each so I need to work on a first come first served basis. Again, if you really love a particular book say so because the first person might decide postage is too much for their budget.

Ok! Who wants one?

20 March 2013
Subscribers, Contributors, and Registered Users

Hey Everyone,

I’ve been doing some database management. Part of that process involved purging over 5,000 registered users (primarily spambots) and more than 70,000 user_meta entries.

Unfortunately, in the process it is possible I have deleted some real and honourable registered users. For this I deeply apologise. I’m choosing to leave the registration via site closed to avoid another deluge of spam registrations. However, I invite you to email me if you would like to be included as a member of the site. I’ll be glad to add you manually.

There are other ways to stay in touch with the site too, such as subscribing via RSS so that you can keep up with us in your regular feed reader, or subscribing via email so that new posts land straight in your inbox, or like our Facebook page so that you can join our community of writers and stay in touch.

It’s a pleasure to have you as a reader and remember, I love your comments so please, if you have a moment after reading a post, take the time to say Hi and let me know your thoughts.

Until next time,

8 January 2013