Okay, so I haven’t sworn off writing or anything I just got busy and side-tracked and well… I decided to have a look as to what I’m posting where after starting a proper writing-for-freelance-full-time-blog. Which still needs work, but I digress.
So those that have been following the blog for a while (thanks for sticking around!) know that I lost my full-time job at a national publisher last year during our country’s hard lockdown, along with all my colleagues. It’s taking a while to get back on my feet and that’s why I’ve been so side-tracked. Plus, you know, 2020 happened.
I didn’t completely stop writing fiction, however. I started a Substack (The Worlds of Carin Marais) for my fiction and, more importantly, for The Ruon Chronicles. Although Where the Stars Used to Sing (a new collection of flash fiction) also appears on the Substack, I’ve started to share Stuff About The Ruon Chronicles in earnest now.
If you’re going “You started a what?”, don’t worry. The Substack is a newsletter that anyone can sign up for (it’s free) and that you then receive twice a week (on Monday or Tuesday and Friday). These newsletters contain fiction and worldbuilding that — for the most part — won’t appear on this blog. Basically, it’s the stuff that I used to share on Patreon — but I left Patreon for Substack. (There will probably be a paid newsletter in the future, but the primary one I will keep free.)
I may have also started an Afrikaans newsletter for my Afrikaans fiction in which I want to share short stories, flash fiction, and my work on Porselein. This Substack is creatively called Die wêrelde van Carin Marais (the Afrikaans translation of the English one’s title) and can be found over here or by clicking on the link above.
I’m glad you asked!
I’ll still be posting on Hersenskim, though probably not as often as I used to pre-lockdown, and am aiming for one post per week. This will include some flash fiction and updates about The Stuff I’m Writing as well as a look at my hobbies, etc. Because having a different blog for my other hobbies is just too much to keep going. Plus, those hobbies have influenced The Ruon Chronicles so it makes sense to put it here as well.
My freelance writing and contacts will then live on my freelance website and I won’t have one huge website that is completely fragmented.
This year I’m planning on releasing the collection Where the Stars Used to Sing before the end of February. For real this time. This collection will be available on Noisetrade Books/Paste and will also be sent to my newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to see the kind of fiction you can expect in it, head over to The Worlds of Carin Marais.
Then. Then. For goodness’ sake this year I will get somewhere with The Ruon Chronicles. As in, the final outline of the series and writing the first stories. This is also where my one word of the year — “balance” — comes into play. I really need to find a proper work-life balance.
Finally, I will be working on Porselein. If anything, last year I realised that these are the projects that I really, really want to work on and get done. So I’ve taken Porselein off the back burner. I mean, sure I won’t be working on it as much as The Ruon Chronicles, but I’ll still be working on it!
There will also be the odd flash or micro fiction and maybe even a short story or two. However, it’s the larger fantasy projects that I want to work on in 2021.
What are your plans for 2021? I’d love to hear!
What a couple of weeks! I knitted more than I ever knitted before to help out a colleague and also wrote a lot – both for work and pleasure.
Since I last wrote, I finished the knitting ebook (which you get when you buy a set of children’s knitting needles) as well as some more blog posts for KnitPal, including beginner guides to lace knitting and Tunisian crochet.
In awesome news I also got the one medical content writer freelance job that I really, really, really wanted. I’ve started my first formal assignment this week after writing a few sample articles for the company. I’m also hoping and praying that I get another medical content writer job that I applied for. I truly feel that I can make a difference with my writing doing this kind of work much more than only writing marketing content writing. Plus it will be a good challenge!
So, all in all the past month hasn’t been too bad at all work-wise. I had imagined taking something like 6 months before finding any sort of extra freelance or full-time work! I am under no illusion that getting work right now is a huge blessing. And not even a blessing in disguise. More like a mic-dropping, fireworks-lighting-up-the-sky, walking-away-from-an-explosion type of blessing.
I’m busy with the Mega, Macro outline of Ruon Chronicles otherwise. Instead of plotting directly into Scrivener, though, I’m making use of notecards of different sizes and colours.
A5-size, white cards are for the overall macro outline and the macro outline of each book. A6 and A7-size white cards will then be for breaking down the macro outline into parts and chapters. I also have pastel-coloured notecards that I’ll be using to plot out the different story arcs and character POVs.
To find out more about The Ruon Chronicles and follow my adventures in writing them, head over to my Substack newsletter!
Another week has flown by, I’m a year older, and we’ve now passed the winter solstice!
Today it’s (finally) our department’s turn to go and clear our desks out at the office, which is really sad. At least I’m going with one of my friends at work, so I won’t be standing there all alone packing up my stuff. That would’ve been a lot worse.
I guess today will be some sort of closure because up until now our desks have just been standing there like they were in March (well, besides being cleaned, obviously) and I’ve only taken my dictionaries and reference books home.
This made me realise that I now need to move quite a few books on my shelves around to be able to fit them in. Luckily I did get another bookshelf a few months ago that I haven’t filled yet (can you believe it!). It seems that the universe knew the other books would be coming home and would need space, haha!
Sunday’s fiction over on The Worlds of Carin Marais was “A River Once Ran Here”, a fairytale-esque story of a silver river on the moon, dancing, and adventurous owls, among others.
Click on the link to read “A River Once Ran Here”.
If you’ve been following the blog, you would have seen that I’ve done a redesign of the new design last week. This was after doing an accessibility test and finding out that the site really wasn’t optimised at all. Oops. Huge oops.
I was so taken with making it look pretty that I let that part of the design slip completely. I still like the new design though, and am working towards making the site as accessible as possible with regard to colors, fonts, etc.
I’m really looking forward to sharing this week’s Sunday Fiction, the outline of which is basically done now. It’s tentatively called “The Night the Stars Beckoned”, but that may change once I’ve actually finished writing the story.
I also still need to finish editing “The White Road to Cremation” before sending that off again and should get that done by Friday.
Wednesday’s “Writing Wednesday” post over on Substack will be about the Ruon magic in order to bring the new readers up to speed with The Ruon Chronicles. I think I’ve also finally figured out how to structure the first two to three books of the series so that I don’t have a lull of “not much happens here” between book one and two. I’ll go over all of this on the Substack newsletter though, so keep an eye out! (Plus, with this plan, I get to keep all the characters, yay!)
Okay, so I haven’t finished the Author Brand book, and also started The Heart to Start by David Kadavy. I’m still looking for a good pre-bedtime read though, as all my reads at the moment seem to either be dark or have exercises and then I rather want to do the exercise than actually go to bed.
I have been listening to the The Lord of the Rings audiobooks (marvelous!), but have now reached the end of The Return of the King. But, with Ian Holm passing this week, I don’t have the heart to finish it just yet…
I have to add that The Lord of the Rings usually ends in ugly crying for me in any case, so this will just lead to extra ugly crying. Which is a lot easier to do when listening to the audiobook, mind you. At least then I can take my glasses off rather than trying to read through tears and blurry glasses!
Until later (this week), keep well!
PS. Remember to go check out “A River Once Ran Here”!
A few weeks ago I picked up Endless Ideas, which I had first heard from on The Story Studio podcast.
Initially, I wanted to use it for my article writing more than my fiction writing as I don’t seem to have too many problems getting ideas for fiction. Articles, though — especially work articles where I don’t have a huge say in what I’m writing about — I can always use more inspiration and ideas for. The strategies in the book, however is too good not to use them for fiction as well, though. After all, is there even a thing like too many (good) ideas?
“Ideas come from a restructuring of the information that’s already in your mind.”— Endless Ideas, Pratt & Silver
I really like the way in which Endless Ideas is laid out. Starting with reasons why you (yes, little ol’ you) really are creative even though you may believe differently when you pick up the book, it moves on to show you how to make sure that you have the right “stuff” in your mind to get ideas from.
That is also something that I have been neglecting; i.e. watching TV and Movies and reading fiction. I seem to have gone on a non-fiction binge (which included Endless Ideas, ha!) and really need to get back to enjoying some more fiction again.
“If you stir the pot just a little every day, you’ll open a faucet of ideas that doesn’t turn off.”— Endless Ideas, Pratt & Silver
There are also exercises that you can start doing and pointers to help you not only conjure up a bunch of new ideas (that you can actually use) in a short time, but also to get you into the flow state while working. And I’m sure most of us can use more time in the flow state as well.
In conclusion I would recommend getting this book if you just want strategies to get more ideas, etc. and don’t care as much about what the brain is actually doing to conjure them up. Basically you need to know about the conscious and subconscious and you’re good to go. That was specifically what I was looking for and will therefore give the book five stars.
With the book you also get access to the Stone Tablet resources which is a great way to check out the other books in the series.
Welcome back to another Lockdown Chronicle. This week has been quite a productive one with regard to work and my own projects. It also seemed to fly by at breakneck speed because of it!
It was overall a good work week, though, and even my flaring let up from yesterday (the reason for which will become apparent below).
The week started off well with a short book-review-thoughts-on-what-I’ve-read on the blog on Tuesday, followed by the first “Writing Wednesday” post on the newsletter on, well, Wednesday.
“Writing Wednesday” looked at some of the possible inspiration behind Sunday’s fiction, “And She Danced With the Moonlight” (which you can read over on The Worlds of Carin Marais by following the link).
Thursday’s Medium article focused on “How I’m Taking Steps to Renew My Writing Routine and Output” during the lockdown. Because of all the changes, tension, and stress, I’ve had to change my routine quite drastically.
On Wednesday we had a meeting at the actual office, not over Zoom, which meant that I could finally go into the building again and fetch the dictionaries I’d left at the office. Because I stupidly thought that it was going to be only three weeks before I’d be back at my desk. Ha. Ha. Ha.
It was extremely weird to walk into the basically empty building and walking to my desk that still stood as if I’d left it there the day before. (They had been cleaned and disinfected, don’t worry.)
Luckily I’d remembered to take some bags with me because I’d forgotten just how many dictionaries and language books I had kept at the office. I got my exercise carrying them around, I’ll tell you! (I also have five coffee mugs there. I am not sure how that happened.)
I also got to see the rest of the department in actual real life and not on the screen, which was awesome — well, except that we had to wear masks and couldn’t even hug each other hello.
I’ll probably clear the rest of my desk when I take in all my paperwork and sign the last of the forms.
In other news, I didn’t really work on The Ruon Chronicles this week, but I did work on editing “The White Road to Cremation” and “Labirint” (Labyrinth).
Talking of “Labirint”, I’ve started the Afrikaans Substack Newsletter as well this week. I’d planned to only start in a month’s time, I realised that I needed to jump to get the address that I wanted. So I might as well start posting there!
The Afrikaans newsletter is called “Die wêrelde van Carin Marais”, but while the English one is Hersenskim, the Afrikaans one is Hersenspinsel, a synonym of “Hersenskim”. Because that’s how I roll.
I’m still busy with Creating Your Author Brand, but should finish that over the weekend. I won’t be reviewing this book on Monday, though — that spot will be kept for Endless Ideas by Sean Platt and Neeve Silver, so watch this space!
Have a great weekend, everyone! Stay safe!
Disclaimer: This post doesn’t contain affiliate links. The book is my own, not a review copy.
Now, I know that I can’t nearly write the amount of fiction that Sterling and Stone put out — I am only a single mortal, after all — but I seriously needed a pep talk to keep me going. I actually started reading this book on the day I found out that the company I worked for as a senior copywriter was closing down. It was a good choice of book under the circumstances.
I am well aware that I am taking much, much longer writing and publishing the fiction that I want to write and get out there and that that needed to change.
But how? I would ask myself as I was already writing all day every day for work and was spending only a little time writing fiction and didn’t quite know how to change that.
Sometimes you need a kick to the backside to get you writing what you are passionate about. (In my case this is fiction. I really enjoy my job, don’t get me wrong, but fiction will always be my first love.)
This book was the kick I needed.
“[t]he true skills you must [have to] achieve, begin in the mind.”— The 10X Author
Well know, I thought, starting to see Mr Miyagi in the back of my mind. When I read that “It’s not finished because it wasn’t perfect” beats saying “I was afraid” every time, I saw him even more.
I haven’t really stood in front of my mind and beat the part that is afraid of failing into submission. It’s much easier to sit and tinker with stuff and never actually getting around to showing the world, isn’t it? Especially when you start analysing every little way in which the story can be thought to be a huge flop or simply silly.
(But, then again, there are people who absolutely hate the books and stories I love, while I wouldn’t touch their favourite books with a 10-foot pole. I should probably put that up in the Writing Closet so that I’m reminded more…)
However, don’t think that the whole book is just a pep talk to let you feel like you’re on top of the world and can do anything. Hard work, perseverance, “boring stuff that makes everyone roll their eyes, but that only truly successful authors do to the extent that’s required” is not underplayed at all.
“Stick to your guns, even in the face of naysayers… never lose hope in what you’re trying to build.”— The 10X Author
One massive change that has come about because of reading this book, is starting the Substack newsletter, The Worlds of Carin Marais, a few weeks ago. Forcing myself to put my work out there is actually getting to work my creative muscles some more and freeing my mind to start thinking of new ways in which I can create and tell the stories that I want to tell.
I really liked this quick read — and will probably read it again some time in the future when I need a good kick — and found that it has a good balance of lifting your spirits and making you feel like you can do it all and bringing you back down and reminding you that a lot of hard work is still in front of you.
I think it’s best for writers who are already busy writing and are not just starting out and writing their first short story, for example. However, it’s not necessarily for people who have already been published. If you’re only writing as a hobby, though, and not really as a job, this is probably not the book for you.
Take caution, though — you never know what you’ll tackle after finishing this book!
I’ve been trying to stay optimistic during this tumultuous time, but I’ll admit that it’s easier some days than others.
Creativity is definitely easier when there isn’t so much on my mind — okay, basically I’ve been listening to too much news and lurking on Twitter too much. And that’s never a great idea.
I’m not going to go into all the ins and outs of the happenings over the past days. For one, I don’t really feel like I have the right words. And I really don’t feel like getting into a Twitter row right now while trolls are having a field day. (Hence mostly lurking on social media.)
I’ve been writing quite a bit this week, though not all on fiction.
I’m helping KnitPal’s owner put together a knitting ebook, so that has been a lot of fun to do. (She’s an indie yarn dyer who uses merino wool from Peru. Very cool, so go check it out!) It’ll be finished by the end of June and I’m really looking forward to seeing the end result!
Otherwise I’ve been busy working on Medium stories and Substack stuff while also getting into my new routine. A new Medium story will be available today, with some more Substack fiction being posted over the weekend. (Want to join the free Substack newsletter? Just click here.)
I’ve worked out a better editorial calendar though, and hopefully I’ll be able to implement it from next week. Because this week was a bit of a flop. I don’t know about you, but the days seem to be blending into one — even more so now that I’m not technically working. (If you’re new to the blog, the publishing company I work for has decided to close almost all of their magazines and I was the senior copywriter on the advertising side, so… yeah. My heart is broken — I grew up reading many of those magazines.)
Anyway, I think getting into a new routine as soon as possible is a good idea to keep me from getting too down or having me fall into the trap of reading and knitting/crocheting the whole day like it’s Sunday every day!
I’m going to write about this a bit later — and probably on Medium — when I have it all figured out a bit more.
Some of you have probably picked up by now that I really like using Notion. Well, thanks to two of their Crowdcast webinars (watch them here and here on YouTube), I was really inspired to build my portfolio on Notion as well.
I’ll keep on adding stuff here and there to it, of course, as I continue working on articles and posts.
If you haven’t heard; Notion is now free for the usual personal plan (and no longer has a cap of 1 000 blocks). I’m currently on the Pro plan as I’m loading some larger files onto Notion, especially when it comes to my portfolio. But I think for “normal” use the Personal free plan is perfect.
There are also webinars once or twice a week that teaches all the cool features of Notion and different ways of building pages and databases, etc. They’re free to watch on Crowdcast or on YouTube, so be sure to look out for those if you decide to join the Notion crowd. (Yes, I am one of those people who spend an hour or so on Friday nights watching these, haha!)
I’m still busy with some shawls (one knitted, the other crocheted), and am almost done with the hot water bottle cover that I’m making from a Rowan kit. I’m veering off from the pattern a bit to make a crocheted rose instead of a knitted flower and adding some knitted leaves as well. But, I did finally learn how to read a knitting graph. Now to learn how to read ones that are a bit more advanced. I’ll probably finish the cover this weekend, yay!
Take care of yourselves, stay safe, and stay healthy.
Well the last week was a bit of a roller coaster… but why go into details when I have News.
I’ve been working on it for a bit now and planning what I’m going to write and send out, etc. Basically, it’s going to replace my Patreon (which isn’t a bad platform — it’s just not for me) and, hopefully, I’ll find that this is a good fit!
The newsletter that you can sign up for is called The Worlds of Carin Marais as I’ll be sharing a whole lot of fiction — much of which won’t be on the blog. That’s not to say that there won’t be anything on the blog anymore, as I’m planning to keep the blog for creative non-fiction and non-fiction (with a soupçon of fiction), while keeping the newsletter for fiction and behind-the-scenes stuff.
The newsletter on Substack will be free, with a paid option coming later when I’ve found my feet. However, there will always still be a free option. I’m not suddenly going all instant paywall on everyone.
Okay, give me a moment more to get a hang of the software… But there will be audio stories as well very soon. I’m very excited to be branching out and making more multimedia-story-stuff, and, actually, if it wasn’t for all the crappiness of the past few months, I don’t think I would have taken these steps in the first place.
So, I won’t say I’m grateful for all the crappy-going-ons — like the Disease That Must Not Be Named — but there does seem to be a bit of a silver lining after all. It just took a while to show itself.
I’m also working on updating my Medium account regularly again. I’m afraid that I let it slip after The Burnout of 2019. I really didn’t think that it would take this long to recover from the burnout and start to feel fully creative again.
You can read my Medium posts over here and follow me if you’d like to read my future articles.
Now, I’m not going to act like this is all going to happen within a day (I’d rather not burn out again…), but I do have a bit more time at the moment to spend on my creative endeavours, which is awesome.
Finally, here is some Narnia music to brighten everyone’s day! (I know it brightened up mine.)
Stay well and safe everyone! Until next time!
When last we saw our intrepid heroine, she was busy typing away at stories and articles, and looking forward to a Sunday filled with writing and crafting.
Ha, ha, ha. That didn’t happen.
Turns out migraines love to hit when you’re really looking forward to a day of not doing anything but being creative. A plague on migraines! It may not be The Disease That Must Not Be Named, but it can still put you in bed for a few days!
Well, the blasted headache finally broke Monday afternoon (which was a huge relief as I was starting to wonder whether I’d need to go to the doctor for a pain injection as the pain meds weren’t doing much). That meant that I could, albeit slowly, return to my normal working day. Thank goodness I only had some emails to tend to Monday morning!
I think I’ve been stressed more than I give myself credit for, judging by the flares and the migraines. Fun. But definitely something to work on.
In other — happier — news, here are some photos of The Writing Closet! Although I still have a few pictures that I want to put up on the walls (I need more Prestik), it is basically done. The desk is also set up in such a way that Sir Tristan the Wonder Cat can still come and sit with me if he so wishes.
I give you: The Writing Closet —
I finally listened to an episode of the In Defense of Plants podcast (Ep. 265 – Ancient Trees: Living on the Edge), and what an episode!
The episode’s interviewee was Dr. Doug Larson, who had studied ancient cliff-dwelling trees. He also uncovered “some of the oldest living forests on our planet in the process”. How awesome is that?
Plus, he is really entertaining to listen to!
Listen to the podcast or download the episode over here. You can also find more about Dr. Larson’s work at the same link.
If you need some more trees in your life (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t), you can check out these two books which I can highly recommend:
The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge
Nature’s Temples: The Complex World of Old-Growth Forests by Joan Maloof
(Not affiliate links.)