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Dear Reader

Dear Readers,

I want to thank each and every one of you who has supported me in any way in my journey as an author. (Before you get ahead of yourself, no, I’m not quitting. Sounds a bit like that, eh?) Every time I am hard on myself about what I’m writing and the quality of my writing, I think about all the people who always ask when the next book is coming out. It’s a pressure, but it’s a wonderful pressure to have.

At this point, I think most of you have noticed that I didn’t release a novel in 2015. That wasn’t in my plans at all, but it happened. Writing Dark Echoes took a lot out of me, but so much more than that happened. And so much less, really.

To aspiring authors, I would like to say that it gets easier. Even three books in, I imagine the authors out there who, having written one book, now get right in the chair with no more intimidation over the blank page or the many thousands of words to come. That’s not the way it worked with me.

I wrote many words over the course of the year, but I finished nothing. No first drafts to hate and then hack away at until I could find something to love. I pantsed a few, plotted more, but I never completed a first draft. I kept telling myself that it was burnout over Dark Echoes, but that ‘reason’ quickly turned into ‘excuse’ the more time past.

When I could finally be honest with myself, I realised I was overwhelmed. What if Dark Echoes was the best I could do? What if I couldn’t write like that again? What if I couldn’t complete another novel? What if it was a fluke? What if I tried to write the next book in that world and people hated it?

To be frank, I was also lazy. It’s hard to sit and imagine. To push out words – especially when your characters stubbornly refuse to make anything easy. (Mine you, after writing Lily…) There are so many distractions, shiny things, easy entertainment. Yes, I was compelled to write, but I didn’t have the discipline to finish.

I was talking with a friend recently about my writing and said, “If I finished everything I started last year, I could release at least four novels this year.” I said it as a joke, but it came back to play on repeat in my head.

I don’t like to make promises in regards to my work because I’m always afraid that I will fail. Someway, somehow, I will fail. (Self-sabotage experts will recognise the mindset.) That being said… I do want to make a promise to you, the readers. You deserve as much for supporting a self-published author through her journey of too short, too long, and – finally – perhaps just right.

Things are difficult in my personal life, so I won’t promise times, dates or even titles (just yet). But I do promise you this: I promise to do better. I promise to push through and do everything in my power to release something this year. I know my books are not the most extraordinary or important, but I also know that – even a year later – some of you are eagerly awaiting to read what I come up with next.

For all of you, I will do better.

Anyone who knows me in person has my full (and no doubt later regretted (wink)) permission to ask me anything about my writing. Even an endless stream of “is it done yet?” will remind me of my promise. It will remind me that I can and will do it because I have done it before.

So. “How is the next book going?”

Slowly. Riley is stubborn in completely different ways to Lily, and it doesn’t help that Lily and Charlotte keep barging into my head because they want me to start on Echo Falls 4…

Best wishes to each and every one of you,

Jaime

Blog Plans

Planning

In an effort to get everything organised – and by everything I mean social media, blogging, etc – I am moving a lot of my older stuff from other sites here. I used to work for a blog network as well as work for an online book tour company, so I have a lot of guest posts, interviews and the like. I would love to have it all under one ‘roof’ here at InkyBlots.

Starting on the 15th of this month, there will be guest posts on Tuesdays. At this point (meaning I might change my mind), I’ll also be putting up character interviews on the weekends. I’ll also be posting more in general about what I’m currently working on.

If you have any suggestions either way – stuff you want or don’t want (yep, you can tell me if you hate author interviews or anything else) – please let me know.

The Importance of Getting Out of Your Head (For a While)

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting three university students from Melbourne. One, Tamara, had read my books and asked if she could feature me as the ‘interesting person’ for a short documentary she needed to do for a class project. While unfamiliar (and, to be frank, familiar as well) social situations have a tendency to set off my anxiety, I couldn’t say no. Especially because I know that the magic of film editing would take care of most of my mistakes. Haha.

The entire process – from the filming to the questions and so on – couldn’t have been more fun. They let me blow off steam in the best way I know how – goofing off. They got Mr McDougall involved, which I loved because he has always been and is such a strong supporter of my writing. I also got to brush some of the dust off what I’d learned in Screenwriting a couple years back.

They also brought me chocolate, and some cider was involved. Goodness did I feel like a celebrity.

While the interview process brought up a lot of interesting thoughts (that I will likely be writing about in other posts), the big one that stuck out to me emerged from the experience itself:

The importance of getting out of your head – for a while, at least.

I’ve been really hard on myself in the recent past for a lot of writing-related reasons. Some of it is entirely justified. I need to hammer out a firm schedule so I can create content faster than I currently do. As much as I may need to do the laundry, I also need to call procrastination habits for what they are.

However, some of it isn’t justified. Not at all. For those reasons, I don’t want to get into exactly what those thoughts/that self-commentary involves, but I am reminded of how we are our own harshest critics.

Yesterday was absolutely brilliant for me in every way. It got me out of my own head to the point of engaging with new people, reminded me of who I am in others’ eyes, and it – very gently – showed me that I have been sitting in my self-pity mud puddle for a bit too long.

I finally got out of my head long enough to clean out the brain fuzz and get over the metaphorical sore neck I had from staring down at that ol’ puddle for so long. Everyone needs an ego stroke every now and then, and everyone definitely needs to have new experiences. After all, new experiences translate into richer writing.

Plus, if you do it sooner rather than later, it might not take an entire film crew to wake you up to yourself. 😉

PSA: Back Up Your Files!

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As I sit here reinstalling all of my programs on my rebuilt computer, I am feeling quite lucky that I back up my files not only to “the cloud” but to an external hard drive as well.

Phew.

Writing Skills Matter

While words will forever be my first love, I do have quite an affection for statistics. Something about numbers (pre-Advanced Algebra, imaginary numbers stuff) and learning facts about the world never fails to fascinate me.

When Nikolas from Grammarly (a place where you can grammar check your text) got in contact about a survey they’d conducted, I was immediately interested. Here’s what Nikolas said:

I thought you might be interested in the results of a writing and career-focused study Grammarly recently conducted. We surveyed over 400 freelancers to determine what impact writing skills have on a person’s career opportunities and published the results in an infographic…

Our goal is to raise awareness of the importance of good writing. Good writing is not only foundational to good communication, but it can also unlock knowledge, job opportunities, and access to education.

Statistics about writing. There aren’t a lot of things that are more beautiful than that. Enjoy!

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Magic Writing & Disturbing Inspiration

When I was a kid, I used to think that I was some sort of conduit to a dying world that wanted to tell its story. At that point, nearly everything I wrote featured on one particular world (at different points in time) so it made sense. As I grew older, my ‘imagining’ expanded. I began to believe that all stories were ‘transmissions’ from other worlds and times. I also believed that some of our stories – Earth’s stories – were being told by writers like me on other planets.

As an adult, I think less about the ‘other worlds’ side of things. I do think that there is still a certain amount of magic to writing – and especially to inspiration.

With all of the violence in the world recently and the violence happening on a local level, I have found my sensitivity pummeled, my empathy flooded and my heart broken for humanity. Today I came across this video:

In the grand scheme of things, this video is but a small blip on the radar. A threat that may or may not actually come into being. Yet this video prompted such a clear (and disturbing) vision of a possible future that I had to stop everything I was doing so I could write the idea down on the nearest piece of paper.

I don’t like that I found something in amongst all of this tragedy ‘inspiring’ to write about. At the same time, I think part of being a writer is having foresight. You can see a news clipping or a bit of video, and suddenly you can so clearly picture a possible trajectory for a life, a people or even all of humanity. It’s not always pretty, and it’s often not nice, but it’s there.

In the end, writers are only really mirrors of the world around. Some mirrors, some stories, are different and thus reflect the world in strange ways. Some are stiff and uncompromising, leaving the rest of the population to feel uncomfortable.

That any writer can be made to feel uncomfortable about his/her words or the inspiration that fed them at least shows that writers are still able to empathise. In the end, when a writer loses empathy, s/he loses the ‘muse’.

Of course, if certain points of inspiration make you uncomfortable, you could simply ignore it. But who will write the story then?

Why I’ve Been Neglecting My Writing

As much as I wanted to get off to a running start with my writing on January 1st, there was one project that I was absolutely set on getting finished before I did anything else. It’s been quite the learning curve involving 12+ hour days. I write that not for sympathy but to explain why I haven’t been doing much else.

What has resulted is not a book or even a short story. However, it is something I am very proud of. If you’d like to take a peek, I have more explanation and some pictures behind the ‘more’ tag.

If not, I’ll be back soon and prattling on about writing things.

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Not the Best Start to 2015

One of my goals (not resolution, as I started in 2014) is to be more organised with my blogging. I’ve printed out monthly calendars, created a section per blog, bound them all, etc.

Today is the first day I’ve really made the time to dig into what I want to do on this site in 2015. Regular posts, one-off topics I want to write about and so on. I went scrolling through my past posts only to find that I had a total of 99 posts on this site.

That didn’t sound right, so I investigated.

Lo and behold, I have somehow managed to lose two years worth of posts. Somehow.

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To be honest, I’m perplexed but not heartbroken. I do regularly back up this site, so I might find the lost posts in one of the backups.

Needless to say, however, that this isn’t exactly the best start to 2015…

The Wattpad Experiment – Writing for the Love of Writing

Last week, I posted about writing for you and how I’ve come to a strange place in both my writing as well as my life. I’ve lost something of my inner writer along my journey, and I wasn’t quite sure about how to get it back.

Apparently that part of me wants to be recovered. I had a lightbulb moment when I remembered Wattpad. Wattpad is a site where anyone can post their stories one chapter at a time, as the stories are being written. These are often unedited and are open to comments and likes from whoever reads them.

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The prospect of putting up unedited or only lightly edited work chapter by chapter for ‘subscribing’ readers is a little terrifying – and a little exciting.

I don’t know that Wattpad will soothe or solve what’s happening in my writing life, but I know I’m not the type to simply give up without trying.

As long as I’m writing.

If you’re interested in following on with my chapter-by-chapter experiment, you can take a look at my profile page at Wattpad. I have the first couple of chapters for all the Echo Falls books up as well as a silly flash fiction piece.

Write for YOU

What makes a writer or author? Does it mean publishing a certain amount of books per year? Writing a certain number of words? Posting a certain number of posts on the craft of writing?

I’ve always taken a certain approach to this blog in that I always felt I would only post when I had something to say. Most of the time? That’s nothing. Most of the time, I have the opinion: Who am I to tell anyone else about writing? Why does what I have to say differ or matter in a world of millions of posts, articles and videos on the subject?

In the end, though, that only leaves a neglected blog and an author, this author, feeling the same lack of confidence I’ve always felt.

I’ve hit a transition point in my life where I am left examining everything about what I’m doing and where I think I’ll end up if I stay on this path. But this transition period also has me looking back, examining the writer I used to be to the author I am today.

What I see makes me sad.

I use to write for the love of it. The love of words, of places only my imagination could take me to, of people and their stories. I’d hide under the blankets with my flashlight, pen and paper because I needed to finish that last chapter before the ideas flew away. I didn’t think about who might read my stories or what they would think of them because I loved the stories, and that’s all I needed.

Today, I’m 28 with three novels and some other short publications to my name, and I am left wondering what has happened to me. Yes, I still adore reading and writing. Yes, I still imagine strange things and stranger people. But the writing part? That doesn’t come so easily.

This is to be expected to some extent. We grow, we learn, we examine the gears and cogs of writing fiction to create solid foundations for what we write.

Yet, somewhere in my learning, the child who loved writing at all hours became lost. I began looking at my work not as acts of enjoyment and pleasure but as work. I still found joy in the little things, the flashes of inspiration. I’ve begun to judge every work not on the pleasure and joy it gives me but on whether it will sell.

I’ve forgotten how to write for me.

I wish I could wrap this post up nicely with a nicely numbered list of tips for how to get your mojo back. The kind of list that would draw your eye after you’d started drifting over the words on the screen. That’s not within my abilities at this point. I’m still trying to find the answer myself.

However, I do want to say: If you are an aspiring author, never forget the passion. Never forget the reason you started in the first place. If you lose that, it will break your heart, and you’ll have to work very hard to get it back.

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Dark Echoes: Cover of the Year!

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