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Why I will not be doing NaNoWriMo 2018

After some consideration, I’ve decided not to take part in NaNoWriMo 2018. Although I enjoy it – and the energy around it – greatly, there are just too many other projects waiting to be finished or get started for me to completely stop to write something else for a month.

The projects, or, I think my plate is overflowing

  • The projects I’m currently busy with, include:
  • Finishing and editing The Knowledge Stones
  • Editing Grove of Graves
  • Finalising the outline of and writing Porselein
  • A ghost story which will be about 7 000 words
  • The outline of a radio drama
  • “Not the Chosen Ones”, part 2
  • “Forgotten”, part 2

So, instead of having a slow and relaxing November, it will still be a very busy month (in which I may just write 50 000 words in any case…), especially taking into account that I have blog posts to write, a Christmas Market where I have a stall, making Christmas gifts and, you know, a day job!

Still, I’m not complaining, I just wish I could work faster!

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Plans for October

That said, I’ve now managed to open up October a lot more, as I usually use October to prepare for NaNoWriMo. So, instead of doing that, I will spend all my time editing The Knowledge Stones to get that out by the end of November. That is the final deadline I’ve given myself!

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What are your plans for November? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? Please let me know in the comments!

Blog header for Tolkien Week

Tolkien Week 2018 – My journey with Tolkien’s works

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit…”

Hobbit-forming

As for many, my love affair with Tolkien’s works began when reading The Hobbit. Moving on to The Lord of the Rings, I found a new world of fantasy, linguistics, and beauty opened for me and I quickly went on to read The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales as well. This all happened during high school.*

Soon I was reading Beowulf — the local bookstore had the Seamus Heaney translation — and reading up on myths and more. I’d always had a fancy for the weird and the fantastical, but it was only in high school that I started reading writers like Pratchett and Tolkien. And, while Pratchett’s works are brilliant, it was Tolkien’s works that led me to go “I need to write more of this kind of thing…” and “I need to know more about language and I think that that is what I need to study”.

So, blame my mother and Tolkien for making me a writer!

9 August 2001 — The Day Mom Bought Me The Lord of the Rings As a Surprise

Tolkien also came into my life at just the right time. You see, I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (more specifically) in grade 10 – just a few months after losing both grandparents and moving to a new and much smaller place.

Losing grandparents are usually not the nicest thing in the world, but you have to understand that I grew up with them and helped care for them through Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Cancer. Basically right up to the end. They were in frail care for only a few weeks before passing away. So what I needed was a book of hope.** I had never cried as much in a book before reading The Lord of the Rings. I actually stopped for a few days after Boromir’s death as I couldn’t bear to watch the whole fellowship die (hey, I didn’t know what was going to happen).

I finished reading the book before the movies came out (both happened in 2001), and still remember that my mom got me tickets for the first show of Fellowship somehow even though money was more than tight at that time. And, after the movie, my mom was hooked as well! (Mwahahahaha)

The way to university

Thanks to the movies I was able to learn a lot about Tolkien himself and found out that you can study old languages at university. So I decided on studying to be a language practitioner and at last got the chance of learning Gothic and Old Norse in my honours year through the Afrikaans department (Afrikaans was my one major). During undergrad I was able to learn some Middle Dutch as well, whoohoo!

To say that Tolkien has had an influence on my life is an understatement. It is thanks to his work that I’ve found my passion and my calling in life. That is why, during Tolkien week, I think about the giant impact one man and his work can have on the world. If my writing can do but a smidgen of that, I’d be happy.

Footnotes:

*Now, you may ask yourself how I didn’t know about The Hobbit sooner seeing as how everyone who’s English seems to know about it and to have read it at least as a child? One, I’m not English (it’s my second language) and two, fantasy literature is not that big a thing in the Afrikaans culture (can I change that? We’ll have to see… Ha!)

** Please don’t start preaching to me here about the Bible also being a book of hope. I know.

Writing Update – September 2018

Or, Some weeks the dragon wins

The past two weeks have been two difficult weeks during which I barely worked on my fiction, unfortunately. The Knowledge Stones grew by a few hundred words, at least, but that’s about it. It really feels as if the dragon won these past two weeks.

This coming weekend, however, is a long weekend and I am going to try and use one of those days only for writing (as I’m still getting ready for the local market on the 30th as well…).

 

Writing Update – August 2018

Thanks to a bout of simply awful flu I completely lost track of time over the past three weeks! Well, let’s just say an anti-viral and anti-biotic later and I’m finally free of whatever it was that I had. (Thanks to having chronic pain I didn’t realise I was getting ill, so it took a few days to get to the doctor…)

Rememberer of gods and kings

But, I’ve still been hard at work on The Paper for SASMARS and I’m almost finished after having a whole weekend and public holiday to focus on it. Now I’m just rearranging some stuff and rewriting things here and there to make it clearer to people who aren’t versed in medieval Icelandic poetry and literature! I really don’t want a lot of blank stares on the day…

The Angel’s Laugh – Patreon fiction

I’ve also at last posted the July Patreon fiction… From Friday it will be a public post, but until then only patrons will be able to read it.

#TheMerryWriter

This month I’m also taking part in the #TheMerryWriter on Twitter! Follow me to learn more about my writing and my stories.

And that’s about it. I’ve put aside Porselein and The Ruon Chronicles until after SASMARS so I can just focus on The Paper. Expect more updates on those next time!

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Weird, wonderful, you: choosing change, choosing not to change

While I’m busy with more introspective posts and articles, I might as well delve into this as well…

In the newest issue of Breathe magazine (Issue 14), there is an article about being true to yourself and not changing yourself for others (“Drop the Façade” by Francesca Baker).

Among other things, it’s noted that one of the top five regrets of dying is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me”.

Of course, this is much easier said than done, especially if you feel like an outsider (or, even worse, get treated like one) by your own family, neighbourhood, culture, whatever, you get the picture. And there can be so many reasons for being treated like this. From having a different political or religious view to just not wearing the “right” clothes. But I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of everything here as I feel I want to talk about my own path, and not give a “5 steps to be you” kind of post.

We all have our quirks (which does not immediately make you “so OCD” – don’t get me started), but there does seem to be some “quirks” or even characteristics and personality traits which seem to be looked upon as weird or even unwanted. A few of these (which I possess):

Being an introvert

I’m quiet for the most part – something that is frowned upon in school and in a world in which everyone shouts for attention. If you are an introvert, I suggest getting a hold of Quiet by Susan Cain and follow The Gentle Rebel podcast by Andy Mort.

Being a nerd

It’s just one of those things I naturally gravitated towards. I absolutely sucked at sports and athletics. (Dancing went much better.) I enjoy reading fantasy and science fiction (mostly) and crafting and writing and “nerdy” pastimes. I can gush about things like the language history of English and Afrikaans because I actually find it fascinating. I’m just… well, a nerd.

Not being healthy

Okay, not a character trait, but something that sure takes up a lot of space when I think of “me”. Not being healthy is seen by some to be a curse from God (*eye roll so large I fall off my chair*), are seen as weakness by some or are seen as an excuse for just being lazy by others. (*falls off chair again from rolling eyes*).

Basically, the stuff I suffer from isn’t going to just go away. They can get better; that is to say, I can have fewer symptoms, but I never quite know when the symptoms will start up again even though I take my meds religiously, go to a psychologist for CBT, etc. Sometimes I know when a flare is on its way, sometimes not. It can be a real rollercoaster (and not one of the nice ones).

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me”.

Now when it comes to having the courage to live a life true to oneself, it can start out in very simple ways. Maybe you don’t feel like you fit in with the “in-crowd” because you’re not supposed to be part of them in the first place. Don’t get caught in the trap of peer pressure to come to your senses years later and realise that you never actually did the things you wanted to do because you were too worried about what others would think.

Find the things that make your heart sing for joy. Be kind always. Have empathy. Think before you speak or type – even though others may not do the same.

We need so much more of this in the world. Fewer people harking on in hate, more people standing up for love.

Sorry to bring the Bible into this, but if you’re not religious or not Christian, bear with me…

So the Bible basically says ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ – now everyone is everyone else’s neighbour. Whether you like it or not – that’s not up to you to decide. And we’re all trying to do the best we can. It’s about time we start to try and see the goodness in other people instead of seeing prejudiced stereotypes.

That doesn’t mean that there is no right or wrong, but it does mean that everyone should come together to give each other a chance for their time in the sun. Everyone should have the chance to use the talents they have received for good. Everyone should stand up – in whatever way possible – and say ‘this is how I choose to live my life, this is how I will one day pass away without any regrets’.*

Find those people who will build you up, not tear you down for who you are. In those people, we will find those that will make this broken world a better world to be living in.

Choose to change today. Choose to be truly you.

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* I know this is the simplistic way to look at it, but it is a place to start from.  Also, if I go into it in too much detail I’d be writing a book, not a post!

My favourite music for dark days

It’s nothing new that music can influence mood – sometimes quite significantly. Music can conjure up old memories – both good and bad – but also take you away from the present moment into a place of serenity and calmness.

I find that music can help me on dark and difficult days – and it is then, also, that I especially need some music that will lift my spirits. It’s not to say that I will suddenly be giddy with happiness, but the music can be an escape and can bring back good memories. Here are just a few of my favourite artists and types of music to listen to.

Search for “epic music” on YouTube and you’ll definitely find some brilliant artists creating beautiful instrumental pieces. I not only work while listening to this type of music but also use it when I’m writing fiction.

One of my favourite artists is Two Steps From Hell. While the name makes them sound more like a metal band, Two Steps From Hell is known for their cinematic music that is about as epic as it comes. Their “Never Back Down” is one of my favourites to listen to.

BrunuhVille, Matti Paalanen, and Adrian von Ziegler are independent artists who create beautiful music that ranges from fantasy pieces to Celtic music and more. They truly take you into another world.

Medieval and Early music isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s is wonderful when your brain needs something in the background to keep it occupied while you’re trying to work. It also works wonderfully for falling asleep to. Anonymous 4 is by far my favourite artist.

Some other music I also listen to includes some dark music as, for some reason, it sometimes seems to help! Artists like Linkin Park, Chris Chameleon (a brilliant South African artist, who’s also the lead singer of Boo!) and Radical Face; who’s another independent artist. Radical Face’s “Family Tree” albums are not only haunting but also fascinating. Lastly, I definitely also have to mention Third Day.

Some of Radical Face’s lyrics I’m most fond of is: “…farewell to the chains we were born into. And as we danced among the ashes of our lives we laughed it off, and then we burned our tiny worlds and found the ocean just beyond those paper walls.”

The last song I’d like to share, which is incredibly powerful is “One More Light” by Linkin Park.

Writing Update: July 2018

Being all academic

As usual, the days are simply speeding by at breakneck speed with me trying my best to hold on and get everything done that needs to get done! This includes actually finishing my paper for August’s Medieval conference before the end of the month… (The trick is not to get side-tracked by tiny details or other papers which actually have nothing to do with the paper. Easier said than done.)

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Basically, if I finish by the end of this month I’ll have two weeks in which to do the presentation and practice, with even a few days to spare.

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The Ruon Chronicles

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to read the whole Knowledge Stones as I’m having to set it aside for a bit while working on the paper.

Patreon

I’m busy putting together a bumper Patrons-only post for later in the month. I thought it would be cool to have a longer, more in-depth piece that a few shorter pieces. Check out my Patreon page for other fiction and worldbuilding, though.

Porselein

My Afrikaans novel is now basically outlined in full! Huzzah! I’ll probably start writing it next month once the pressure from the paper is off my shoulders.

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What are you busy with? I’d love to hear!

Writing Update: Article Published, Guest Posting

Article published

Great news! Another of my articles has have been published by The Mighty! What especially thrilled me was that it also appeared as one of the articles on their Chronic Illness Facebook Page. Whoohoo!

I find it not only great to be able to share some stories, but also to see that there are others who feel the same way and now also don’t feel so alone after reading the article.

Anywhoo, titled “When self-care means saying ‘no’ to housework”, it is a true story. Except for the L— ‘s name. I’d rather not use a real name without having gotten permission to do so.

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Guest posting

In other great news, I’m writing a guest post for one of my favourite blogs! It’s about creating a language for your fantasy or sci-fi world and I’m really looking forward to finishing it. It should appear during July, so keep an eye out here for the link!

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Other writing

In other writing news, I’m very busy finishing the outline for Porselein (which I simply must finish this weekend) and will start on the new stories for Jozi Flash 2018 on Monday. And then my weekends will basically be spent on writing and finishing my paper for August.* It’s turning out to be a very busy June, but I’m also trying not to put so much pressure on myself that I end up burning out… So please bear with me for finishing the other stories, like Forgotten, that I’m busy with.

Thank you photo by Rawpixel

* That’s the one for the Medieval conference in August.

June Writing Update, Part 1

An article and a short story

Published during the end of May was “6 Coping Mechanisms That Help My Mental and Physical Illnesses”, which was published on The Mighty. My short story “Pandjieswinkelgoed” (“Pawnshop stuff”) will also appear in the 22 June 2018 issue of Vrouekeur! (What makes you think I’m especially excited to get my story into an actual print publication…)

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My current WIPs

I’m currently quite a busy bee, as I’m doing a partly revised outline for Porselein (which is also my writing course homework), as well as writing the last bit of Box of Secrets/The Knowledge Stones, which make up part of The Ruon Chronicles before a final edit and proofread.

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Turns out, after pasting all of the parts of Knowledge Stones together, the story is about 100 K words long. And there I thought it was going to be a short story. Ha, ha, ha. I should know better by now!

Month three of writing stories for Jozi Flash 2018 has also dawned, which means edits of my first two stories and writing June’s stories. Guys, I cannot wait for this anthology to be done. I think it’s going to be epic.

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Lastly, I’ve also been writing more articles for The Mighty, which I hope will be published over the coming weeks or months. And I am also still waiting to hear if “The Angel’s Laugh” has been accepted for publication.

Other stuff I’m busy with…

You can now go and read the May Patreon fiction (even if you’re not a Patron), called “Scorched Earth”.

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Articles for Patreon! I am busy with a whole bunch of worldbuilding articles for Patreon, as well as a possible guest post on a blog I enjoy reading…

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Next week I will reveal some more cover art, and talk a bit about Forgotten, which has morphed into a novella… of course, it did. In the meantime, you can read the first part of Forgotten over here.

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May Writing Update – Fiction, Camp NaNoWriMo, and an Academic Paper

Can you believe we’re in the thick of autumn here in the southern hemisphere already? Although, I’m already working on July mags at work, so my mind is a bit split in two and apparently have decided that it’s June. (Mostly because I worked on weekly mags for 8 years and my brain seems a bit slow to catch up to working on monthlies…) This has given me moments of shock a few times thinking that I only have two months in which to finish my “Rememberer of gods and kings” paper for SASMARS instead of three!

Speaking of which, I still have quite a bit to do on this paper, so I’ll be taking a few days off just to focus on the paper and put the fiction aside during that time. I also still need to finish re-reading Heimskringla, but don’t tell anyone…

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On the fiction front – shorter fiction

I’m working on some shorter fiction – mostly under 2 500 words – that I’ll be sending off for publication (holding thumbs). These include a ghost story, at the moment titled “Anniversary” and “Forgotten” part 2 and, maybe, part 3. The full “Forgotten”, though, I’m thinking of publishing as a Kindle Single or something like that.

Then I’m also hard at work on Jozi Flash 2018! So far I’ve finished three stories and am pondering what to write for story four based on the prompt. It’s all top secret though, so I can’t show what exactly it is I’m working on, sorry. What I can say is that, for once, the romance story didn’t end with an “and everybody died” kind of ending!

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On the fiction front – longer fiction

I am still busy with The Box of Secrets, part 9 (and getting all the strings tied off while also hinting at the next book) and am hard at work at finalising the whole outline for Porselein.  I’ll put some links here once I’ve posted some of my Porselein writing homework over on Hersenspinsel – at the moment it’s only available in Afrikaans, though. I’ll do some translations as soon as I have the chance.

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Patreon

Also, there will be big changes over at Patreon over the next couple of months! I am so excited! However, I’m only going to elaborate once the timeline is in place… But the excitement levels are very high!

Camp NaNoWriMo

Let’s just say this was a complete flop. I didn’t reach the goal I had set for myself, but, BUT, I did do a lot of other writing, so I won’t say the month was a complete flop.

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