Picking up where I left off… ish

If you’ve ever dug around in my e-home here on Freya Writes, you’ll have noticed that there have been periods where I wrote a lot of poetry and flash fiction and generally took part in a fair few challenges that you can find in various places online.

I enjoyed them a great deal, but they ended up being the route towards what younger people than me like to call ‘burnout’. Dear reader, in some ways I’m a capitalist’s dream. Give me a thing to aim for, and I’ll turn it into an obligation for myself. And I’ll run myself ragged over it. And my inner critic will not hesitate to give me a hard time about ‘failure’. My inner headspace can be a truly unpleasant world to inhabit sometimes.

Anyway, the point of all this is to say that whilst I have been sorely tempted to take up some of these writing challenges again on a regular basis, I’ve resisted. Far, far better to dip in every now and again, have lower views on my blog/website than have my endorphins spiked with higher viewings but create obligations and burdens where there are none. I don’t need that in my life.

What I am doing though is something else that I also used to do, and had some success with. Entering writing competitions. For me, that is fun, gets the brain juices flowing (mmmm, brain juices, yummy!), has a potential reward at the end (publication, maybe even a small financial gift or a free critique, etc) and best of all, my mind perceives this endeavour as not being an obligation, a must do or else the world will end. It’s a win win, even if I don’t win.

I subscribe to Mslexia, the UK quarterly magazine committed to helping women writers progress and succeed. They have their own competitions as well as advertising other competitions or invitations to submit from around the world. I also subscribe to Woven Tale Press, an online literary and fine art magazine. It is also a ‘hub for writing and visual arts, bringing together notable artists and writers seeking to share their work more broadly with communities actively in quest of unique voices and compelling perspectives’. I’ve submitted a poem to Mslexia over the past few days, and I have ideas for a couple of competitions I’d like to enter, as well as some work I’m thinking of submitting to Woven Tale Press to see if they will include it in a future issue.

This is good. For me, this is progress. Perhaps 2020 will have been the year that I not only had time to learn some things about myself, but was also intelligent enough to take action on them.

Take care of yourselves. It’s been a rough old ride.

Mission (im)possible – and some promos

Dear Reader, I have achieved.

It’s quite amusing really. This time last year I was within touching distance of completing my first draft of Anti-Virus and in my pre-2020 mind I believed that 2020 was going to be my publishing year.

Ahhh, bless the past innocent version of me.

Anyway, after several false starts at editing between January and early March, a complete hiatus from mid-March to end-August and then a laser focused editing stint from September to mid-December, I have finally managed to achieve the Big Edit. Honestly, I feel like I’ve won something. I’m not sure what, but you can be damned sure that I’m collecting my figurative gold medal. Let’s face it, working on anything during a pandemic year that has a theme (kind of) related to a pandemic is somewhat… challenging.

To celebrate my achievement, I’m doing a few things. One – relishing the ‘free’ time. Not that editing was a burden, I (mostly) enjoyed it, but it was a thing that I had to do, and I do love to beat myself about these ‘things’. Unless I’ve completed my task, I can’t rest and relax and float around without a care in the world (I wrote about being a workaholic before, so you already know this about me). Two – catching up on reading. It feels like a luxury! I can also treat it like research and feed my literary hunger at the same time. To write better, to learn, you need to read. So therefore, I’m reading. Three – having a good sort out of my ‘stuff’. I find it cathartic. When I next have the opportunity to go to a charity shop (maybe sometime in 2021?!), they’ll be receiving some of my no longer needed items.

Finally, and it’s been on my mind for a while, I’d like to promote a few indie authors I’ve met on the lovely writing community on Instagram. If you want to support an indie author and enjoy dystopia/sci-fi/dark reads, these could be right up your alley! In the order that I’ve read them:

Nicholas Crivac – Apotheosis ‘People don’t just die any more. They endure. They stay young. Thanks to Rejuvenation, a miraculous medical advancement from the Extended Life Corporation. Yet, not all of humanity believes the procedure is a good thing.

Simon Crowe is caught in the middle–voluntarily abstaining from Rejuvenation and living alongside his Rejuvenite girlfriend, Maggie. But when he’s framed for the murder of his EXLI-scientist neighbor, Simon is forced to flee, hunted by the authorities and even deadlier, unknown forces. Even more troubling is the puzzling message left by the murdered scientist–a cryptic set of clues alluding to a larger conspiracy.

Now, on the run for their lives, Simon and Maggie must forge dangerous alliances if they hope to decipher the mysterious message, expose the truth, and clear their names. But they soon discover there’s much more buried in the truth they seek, shrouded by the youthful faces and long life bestowed by Rejuvenation. An unimaginable secret that threatens the future of the entire human race.’

T.J. Swackhammer – City of Immortal Shadows ‘The dawn of revolution approaches. We will not look away…

Something is rotting in the city of Emaldin. Those outside of the Pod could tell you that, if they weren’t too exhausted to open their eyes. Citizens spend their days slaving away under the brutal, all-seeing eye of the Council for a chance to get closer to the towering structure at the centre of the city, and the safety and utopia it promises.

Valencia was supposed to be one of the lucky ones. Plucked from a life of crime, the Institute promised her a ticket to an easier life inside of the Pod, if only she could make it to graduation. Or so they claimed. Instead, she found herself reawakening at the bottom of a polluted river, back from the dead with a lethal touch.For years,

Valencia has kept her identity secret, slipping under the radar of the Council as the deadly shadow of one of Emaldin’s most dangerous, always believing that what happened to her was an accident to be made the best of. A weapon, for her to wield.Until she realizes she hasn’t been the one wielding it. Until the wrong life, at the wrong time, gets cut short.

On the run, she is reunited with Eli- a ghost from her past with the most nebulous of loyalties. She must work to untangle the web of deceit surrounding the Institute and find the truth of Emaldin… even if it means letting go of every truth she’s ever known.’

Tara A. Lake – Age of the Almek – ‘They are taught that desertion is death and loyalty is life – The Almek must look to the future and ignite change if they are to cure the water and save humanity.

Man-made pollution has altered Earth’s water making it too toxic for human consumption – with the exception of a single underground, uncontaminated spring in Michigan. The last living humans cultivate the land and manage survival. Together they have formed The Almek civilization.

The Almek live in confinement, forced to operate according to the inhumane laws and barbaric control of their corrupt rulers. For eighteen years they have survived. But The Almek’s way of life now faces it’s greatest tribulation yet: their natural spring is depleting and they must find a cure for the Earth’s most precious resource or face absolute extinction.

Age of The Almek is a disturbing reality that explores the possible repercussions of man-made pollution. This novel is the first of its series, and will appeal to readers who enjoy suspenseful, exciting reads. Contains graphic violence and thoughts of suicide.’

Enjoy! In a dark, dystopian way, naturally…

Murder your darlings

Yep. Not just kill, but murder. Kill implies that maybe it was an accident, maybe you’ll get time off for good behaviour, maybe… Am I overthinking this?

Probably.

This week, I took stock of how far my dark, dystopian book child has progressed since the germ of the idea came to me in the dim and distant past. I won’t go into the details because you only have so much time to devote to me and my weekly novel-writing thoughts, but I started out wanting this novel to be a literary work, an homage to my dad who worked tirelessly for the environment. He earned an OBE for his services.

I have to say though, that was all a bit worthy and earnest, if not daunting. Maybe one day, when I’m not juggling all the things, maybe I’ll return to that idea. It could happen. However, I wanted to write a novel that I could complete before I become too old and addled in my brain to string a sentence together and remember what I am doing.

Where was I? Oh, yes.

Here is the current iteration of Anti-Virus. There are still threads of environmental concerns running through it, along with revelations of corruption and misdirection all set against a background of a moral and ethical wasteland. I have murdered the ‘worthy’ – may it rest in peace. It’s a dystopian thriller. Ain’t nothing too worthy going on in that genre!

I’ve also murdered a few other things. Like the point of view, the tense, the reason why we meet the main character in her small, small world, why her partner does what she does, why the antagonist does what he does and also the ending.

In short, the book is now very different to its oh so lofty (and yet humble) beginnings.

Hi. My name’s Freya, I murder my darlings and boy, does it feel good!