Cloudy with a touch of dystopia

It’s a dull, cloudy, very chilly day here in Freya-land. I am somewhat envious of my friends and family who live further north than I (it wouldn’t be hard, I live on the south coast of the UK) and are currently experiencing snow. I can but hope that the clouds that I saw on my morning walk and the clouds that I still see from the window in front of me are full of snow, but I doubt it. They’re not the right kind of clouds, not pregnant enough with the possibility. Hey ho. I’d love to be proved wrong!

Over the past few days I’ve edited a short story that I wrote a few years ago, as part of my mission to submit shorter works to fiction magazines. It’s fascinating how, with some hindsight, you can so easily pinpoint the unnecessary parts, the odd repetition of words in neighbouring sentences, the turn of phrase that isn’t stylistically appropriate – the ‘mistakes’. I am going to pat myself on the back a little because this editing process hasn’t resulted in my inner critic telling me how rubbish I am, how I was an idiot to submit this story in the first place and so on, ad nauseam. What did happen was that I realised I had grown as a writer, that I am now able to cast an objective eye over past me’s work and be kind to myself. I’m not promising that I’ll always be able to respond in this adult manner, but I’ll take it for now. I’m currently in a good writing place.

And that takes me on to my next thought. Once I’ve re-read my novel Anti-Virus (which I have printed out on (recycled) paper) and once my beta reader has also followed up with her thoughts, I’m planning on sending it to a real, live editor. That will be… an experience. However, it is one that I am relishing. I don’t want my book baby to be unleashed without a professional eye cast over it. Of course, no book can be perfect and it will never be enjoyed by everyone that reads it, but I want to give it a decent chance, and an objective editor can go a long way to help with that.

2021 is going to be an interesting year, in many, many ways.

What do you have planned for the coming months? And what has your experience been of using professional editors? I’d love to know!

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…