Dog days

It’s been a while. Longer than I realised, to be perfectly honest. Where does the time go?

I haven’t been doing nothing, although the frenzy of writing, editing, cover design perfecting, book blurb fretting, wrangling with new stuff such as ordering ISBNs, setting up my first ever KDP account for publishing on Amazon and all that jazz has passed.

Now is the season of dog days. As I wait for my ARC readers to read. As every now and again I receive a comment or question from one or two of them. As I think ‘hell, reviews will be happening soon’ and ‘I really hope I haven’t oversold and under-delivered on Instagram’… you know, the usual doubts that creatives indulge in when there’s nothing else to distract them.

But – here we are. The last day of July. Only a few weeks until I publish. I’m not convinced past me ever thought I would get to this point. Actually, I’m convinced that past me thought I wouldn’t get to this point. It’s been a long old road, with life throwing a fair few spanners in the works. You know how life is, right?

I was going to redesign my blog into more of a website today, but having thought about it and taken a look at a few other authors’ websites. I’ve decided to wait until Anti-Virus is published. More for the sake of efficiency than anything else. I don’t want to revamp it now and then have to revamp it again once my novel is out. That seems like a waste of time to me. And time is precious.

Anyhoo… I am now set up on Goodreads as a Goodreads Author and Anti-Virus is on there, marked as ‘to be published’ – do look me up, Freya McMillan is the name! That’s exciting, because my ARC readers can post reviews on there before publication, which is great from a marketing point of view! Goodreads also kindly linked me to Jessica, for which I was one of the contributing authors back in 2014. I hadn’t forgotten about that, but it hadn’t occurred to me I would be linked to it on Goodreads, so that was a lovely surprise. I am still proud of the piece I wrote for Jessica, called The Magpie’s Tongue. It’s dark. There’s death. And destruction. No surprises there.

It’s time for me to have some lunch. I’ll sign off now and leave you with the cover of Anti-Virus, created with the design skills of the fabulous Platform House Publishing – thank you James!

Adaptation, and a blast from the past

Last week was my week back at work (ie, the work that pays the bills) after a week off. Boy, was it a shock to the system. Monday evening writing time went out of the window as I was mentally exhausted, the same for Tuesday, although I did write but it was pretty ugly stuff. Wednesday I knew I couldn’t write and that’s when the guilt set in, the guilt I discussed last week. I decided I had to approach things in a different way. I had to adapt.

Given that I’m strict with myself because of my aforementioned work addiction, adaptation is… a little tough. I have a routine, I have to keep to it (is that an addiction too? oh good grief…).

Uh, no Freya, you don’t.

What did I do? I got out my favourite biro and some paper and brainstormed, all the while telling myself that this was as good as, if not better than, writing. I wasn’t at my desk, I wasn’t staring at the computer screen, I was in a different environment and they do say, whoever ‘they’ are, that a change is as good as a rest.

It was. I unpicked a convoluted plot point that was looming at me like the poor old Groke and had the resolution all set out, in black and white, ready for when I could devote the less harried version of myself to actually editing my novel (early Saturday morning, in case you are interested in those details). I also adopted the same approach on Thursday evening and gave myself Friday evening off. (I know, go me!).

Adaptation. Is. A. Good. Thing.

Next topic, ie, ‘The Past’. One of my writer friends on Instagram asked for dark book recommendations and I was reminded of my participation in ‘Jessica’ (Helena Hann-Basquiat’s creation) along with authors from around the world. I decided to re-read my contribution, just for old time’s sake. It was quite the revelation. A dark, creepy, quite horrifying revelation. I’d forgotten how dark my imagination could be.

That might sound odd, given that I’m editing my dystopian novel, but this short story was a very different animal, leaning more towards horror, and set in a post-apocalyptic world. No zombies, no vampires, no dark magic, just people doing pretty horrifying things because of the world they inhabit.

It has inspired me to get back on the flash fiction/short story train, to get my horror on. I think I’ve been living in the world of Anti-Virus so much (of course), that I need to revisit worlds outside of that particular imagined reality. I expect it will add some more blackness to my second edit of the novel (I’m nearly at the end of my first full edit!). In my opinion, more blackness can only be good.

For anyone interested in Jessica (and really, you should be), here’s an unashamed link.


I have an Instagram account (@freyathewriter). Instagram is an amazing place to be for writers – the community is great. Readers, writers and others that find themselves caught up in the web of the community are having a great, supportive time over there. I bought a book only 11 days ago that was an independent writer’s first publication – and it was excellent. If I hadn’t joined Instagram, I’d likely never have read it. Congratulations to Nicholas Crivac for getting Apotheosis to print. Take a look at his website if you want to know more!

Anyway, I digress. On my Instagram account I got involved in a conversation about how the way the world is at the moment means that any ideas us dystopian writers might develop seem to have been stolen by, or been the inspiration for, various regimes around the world (looking at you, governments of the UK and USA!). It means we have to push our plots further and harder so that they don’t just end up being non-fiction tomes. Having said that, in my experience what it has meant is that the tiny news articles that slip through when we are all being supposedly distracted by the latest scandal (which seem to focus very much on the Royal Family these days) have been the jumping off point for some quite interesting and unexpected plot twists. I can’t decide whether to be pleased or horrified at my schadenfreude. It just goes to show, we are all a messy mix of light and shade.

This takes me to my next point (I did have a plan for this blog post, honest). I’m so focused on my burgeoning novel that other writing is taking a back seat. I’m in the throes of my first edit of my book. It’s both challenging and revealing and I find that I edit best with a cup of coffee, under the duvet, in bed (who knew?). I wonder if it’s because it reminds me of when I was a law student and the only way I could have access to all the law books I needed when writing and studying (it was before the internet!) was by spreading them out on my bed? Anyway, once I’ve made some more editing progress my flash fiction and poetry brain cells will kick back in. I do have a list of ideas, inspirations and whatnot, I just don’t want and can’t get too distracted by them for now. I used to contribute a lot to DVerse and I want to get back into that, definitely. It too is a fun place to be.

Which takes me to my final point, which is a bit of a shout out to Helena Hann-Basquiat. She too has been off the radar for a bit (I think the youth across the pond are still saying ‘a hot minute’), but I am reliably informed because I follow her and comment on her blog posts (not stalkery at all), that she is also getting back into the writing gig. I’m so pleased because (a) she’s a brilliant writer and (b) because I reaaaaaally enjoyed being part of the Jessica collaboration back in 2014. it appears that the final book in the trilogy is in the works. All being well I can unleash my really dark side on a bloody slice of this final book, if she still intends to go down the collab route with it. I have a dark dystopian soul and an even darker horror soul. And then there’s my fantasy soul too which is really quite a doozy. Anyway, all hail Helena. I’m looking forward to working with you, if you’ll have me.

There. I think I’ve written all I wanted to for now. I intend to be here on a weekly basis, every weekend, all being well. I’ll be in my dressing gown and PJs, allthough you won’t see that – or will you? Who knows who is watching and by what method?

We are in This-stopia after all…