Archive for the ‘ In the News ’ Category

On Hiatus, Sort Of.

So, I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but I really haven’t been posting as much recently. First it was just a Thursdays in Black post missed out here and there. Then Teaser Tuesday became tricker to keep up with. Then Sunday Spotlight, and now the Monday Poem. I’m not even reading that much anymore, either. So I’ve decided to put the blog on hiatus until the end of October. I’ll still be posting my New Beginnings Wednesday updates, and I want to write up my experiences at Au Contraire before I forget the important parts, so I’m not going to fade away completely. However, I have some important deadlines coming up and I just can’t take the time to give Black Sheep the attention it deserves until my essays, projects and exam (eek!) are out of the way.

But do not despair! I will let you in on a secret: when I come back, I’ll have the new site up and running. New look, new url, and all new content. I’m also working on some ideas for ways I can get more involved in social justice projects, perhaps even hosting some myself, so if you can think of anything you think I should look into then please drop me a line. I will be blogging through NaNo as a co-ML this year too, so that’s something to look forward to.

Thanks for reading, and see you on the flip side!

Sunday Spotlight: Beware Bloggers Bearing Gifts!

I’ve been a pretty bad blogger this week – no new content since Wednesday! What’s up with that? Well, the reason I haven’t been blogging is twofold:

(i) I’ve been busy, away at the Au Contraire Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Wellington this weekend.

(ii) Because of this, I’ve been staying in a hotel and thus have had pretty minimal internet access for, like, EVER. Okay, so it was only two days. Shut up. Two days is forever when you’re as addicted to the ‘net as I am. Do you know how hard it is to navigate Opera on an ancient cell phone? This is what I was reduced to! It was terrible!

I had a great time at the Con and learned a great deal, although unfortunately I was sick on the third day (today) and decided to head home early, which meant I missed out on some great stuff and some great people. However! I have the internet again! Which has at least cured me of my withdrawal symptoms. And I still have a whole load of fantastic experiences to share with you guys which I’ll be writing up and posting over the next week or so. The first of which is today. For this week’s Sunday Spotlight, let me share with you some of the amazing people and pages I’ve encountered over the past couple of days.

  1. Introducing SpecFicNZ! I’ve talked about this before, I think, but now it has officially launched: NZ’s go-to organisation for Speculative Fiction. If you read, write, publish or are otherwise involved in the production of fantasy, sci-fi, horror and anything in-between, then do join up! Membership is pretty cheap and the organisation sounds like it’s going to be fantastic once it gets off the ground. Plus, I was at the launch and met some of those who have put it together (maybe this makes me a little biased, but this is my blog, so deal with it) and they are all very dedicated and creative people with some awesome ideas and I want to help them work towards the fulfillment of those ideas as much as I can.
  2. Nicholas Chrustowski’s blog, Storyteller. I met Nick at the Convention (hi!) and learned that he had self published his own anthology of short stories called Dreams and Nightmares, which has since been nominated for the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work 2010. The Sir Julius Vogels have been voted on and will be awarded tonight at Au Contraire, so good luck, Nick! Stop by and check out what he has to say about writing.
  3. Russell Kirkpatrick’s site. Technically, I was never introduced to Mr. Kirkpatrick, but I attended his seminar on Worldbuilding and it was one of the highlights of the convention. FYI, Mr. Kirkpatrick, if you ever read this: I was the one who made the comment about fairytales having a certain loose rule structure. I had a great time and learned heaps, thank you! Ahem. So, anyway. I will be posting more about that later, but in the meantime, check out some of his fantasy novels on his website!
  4. Juliet Marillier’s site. Again, I attended Ms.(?) Marillier’s writing workshop (this one on Voice) rather than talk to her much in person, but I enjoyed that a great deal too. Check out what she’s been writing and if you can catch her at WorldCon later in the year, I highly recommend it!
  5. Last but not least, Writer Unboxed, a gorgeous site about writers and writing to which Juliet Marillier contributes (and through whom I obtained the link). Another blog for the favourites list!

Anyway, I had such fun and I’m sad it’s over, particularly as I didn’t get to see the grand finale. Maybe next year. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy exploring these links as much as I enjoyed meeting the people and finding out about them.

BLOGFEST: Blogfest of Death!

Requirements:

  1. Sign up here and follow Tessa’s blog by July 18th.
  2. Advertise the blogfest on your blog, Twitter and/or Facebook.
  3. Kill someone (fictional, please) in less than 1000 words.
  4. Post it on your blog on July 18th with a link back to read other entries.
  5. Enjoy the massacre and leave comments. Have fun!

There will be prizes too!

Sounds like great fun. I have a few possibilities as to whom I shall kill off. Hmm. This bears consideration…

The Times, They are A-Changing…

Well, okay, maybe not so much the times as this blog, but the title still stands. Inspired by yesterday’s #bblog chat about defining one’s niche and brand as a blogger, I’ve decided to let you all in on a little secret I’ve been keeping under my hat for the past month or so: I’m moving my blog!

This isn’t going to happen all at once – in fact, I expect it to take a few months, if not more – but I’m quite excited about this project and will be keeping you all up to date about my progress. I’m kind of sad to start shaking things up, since I’ve only been blogging 6 months and feel like I’m just getting to know you all – I don’t want people to be lost in the shuffle! But the fact remains that I didn’t actually plan for this to be a Book Blog. It just kind of happened that way. And now that things are growing, and I’ve proven to myself that I can stick with something as time-consuming as a blog for more than a few weeks, I thought it was time to make some changes so that this blog looks and feels the way I want it to. Better now, when things are still fairly new, than when I’m more firmly entrenched, I reckon!

So! That’s my secret! New name, new address, new look: it’s all coming soon.

WATCH THIS SPACE.

SoCNoC 2010 Day 30: The Finish Line!

The Southern Cross Novel Challenge (SoCNoC) is NaNoWriMo for the Southern Hemisphere. The goal is to write 50,000 words of fiction over the 30 days of June – and to have fun, of course!

Final Word Count: 53,730 words
Rating: I MADE IT! 50k and a finished draft. BOOYAH.

Notes:

So, seeing as it’s the last day of SoCNoC I thought I might as well make one last post about it and consider the things I have learned from this month’s triumph.

I will be completely honest with you – last year, I won NaNoWriMo with an excess of 200,000 words. I kind of avoided mentioning that this month as I didn’t want to brag (or psych myself out), but when I came to SoCNoC I was not so much worried about managing the quantity as maintaining interest in the story, keeping myself motivated, and hanging in there until I reached 50k. June has not been a great month for me in the past, and this year I’ve had postgraduate study as well as life in general to cope with, so it was actually a struggle to keep going.

As those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will no doubt recall, my main goal for this year is to finish what I start. Consistency, dedication, commitment, call it what you like but it’s a quality I possess only intermittently, and have never before applied to writing in any serious way. That all changed this year with the introduction of my 1k-a-day habit, and I think my completion of this draft in spite of the obstacles has really highlighted how far I’ve come. In 2009, I made it only a week or so before I gave up in disgust and never touched the story again. This year, I not only refused to give in even when I hated it, but I also actually finished the draft and am thinking about starting on the second. What a difference!

I also found myself more able to regard my work objectively. Instead of getting caught up in worrying about individual words and phrases, I was more interested in the structure, what things fit together and what things didn’t. I ended up with a number of ideas for how it could be improved, and felt considerably less despondent about the whole thing than I have in previous years.

Consequently, I decided to share a small teaser/excerpt, mildly edited:

Cathryn called Miriam the next morning.

“I’m a lunatic,” she said. “I did it. I just sat down and told him that I wanted a divorce. I’m so stupid. I’ve never done anything like this.”

“Slow down,” Miriam said. “What are you talking about? You’re getting divorced?”

Taking a long, deep breath, Cathy pulled herself together.

“Yes. And it’s been a long time coming.”

There was silence on the phone.

“Hello? Miriam?”

“I’m sorry. I’m still here. I just – I don’t know what to say. Congratulations seems kind of inappropriate.”

Cathy laughed. Then she was appalled at herself. She sat down at the kitchen table and stared out the French doors into the garden, thinking of Caleb’s face at the dinner table the night before, thinking of her two boys growing up in this house, and thinking of the stilling, stifling weight of her husband’s hand as he had reached out to stop her nervous twitching. She expelled a huge lungful of air in a single gust.

“It had to be done,” she said.

Congratulations to everyone else who made it to 50k and to those who participated! It’s been a great month and I’ve enjoyed sharing the experience with you all.

NZ and Australian Book Bloggers Network

(courtesy of WritersBlockNZ)

So, the other day I was discussing the merits of Elizabeth Knox’s work with some other fans on Twitter, when one of them happened to suggest that a Kiwi Book Blogging club would be a nice thing to have. A lot of us feel a bit swamped by all the American blogs out there – it’s always nice to talk to people from the same part of the world. The idea stuck with me, and I got to thinking…wouldn’t that be awesome? We could even have a convention sometime, if there were enough of us, and entice authors here from overseas…

Thus, Books Down Under was born. I decided to include Aussies as well, because I imagine y’all feel somewhat isolated too. So! If you’re a literary blogger who lives in NZ or Australia (even if you weren’t born there), or you’re an ex-pat living overseas who wants to stay in touch, go and join up! Don’t forget to add our shiny new button to your site and link up. I’m still working on the layout and graphics at the moment, but it’s functional otherwise. I’d love to hear your ideas and opinions.

SoCNoC 2010 Day 23: OMG, I Made It!

It’s just after 4am and technically I should totally not even be awake right now, but I spent the last four hours clawing my way through 8k to reach the 50,007th word and just wanted to mention that fact. The novel is almost finished – about 5-10k should wrap it up, although it’s far from neat and definitely needs to be thoroughly edited. Still! I’m a week early, so I have time to finish it off nice and slow, and then get to work on Draft 2.

And now: to sleep, at last!