What editors/authors do over weekends.

 I've come to the startling conclusion that my life is a circus. Almost literally.

Today my lovely husband announced they'd be writing, filming, editing and screening their next film within three weeks.

Erm, excuse me, does anyone know where I can buy tickets for the bus going to Timbuktu?

Looking on the bright side, at least it will keep him out of mischief.


But, moving swiftly onward, last night I was dragged off to some studio in Woodstock so the Black Milk crew could collaborate with the Squid Circus to make some short film clips for the performance art piece they're screening f***-knows-when. 

It's all become a hideous blur. I arrive on set, power up my netbook, plug in my earphones and allow Peter Steele to weave his dark magic while around me people let blood, get flesh-pulled with meat hooks and, I suspect, plot further atrocities in the name of performance art. All while the photographers and cameramen are busy snapping away.

One day I shall write about this and no one will believe me.

I don't believe me.

Can anyone say "Cinema of Transgression"? Richard Kern wouldn't be out of place among the people I hang out with. Just the fact that I even know who Richard Kern is... **sigh**

Someone gave me a cold Windhoek and I retreated into the far corner of the very large couch that threatened to swallow me, my computer and my fake Docs. Occasionally I'd glance up, see people cavorting in white robes wearing masks that wouldn't look out of place on the set of Silent Hill.

But ja... progress report:
My new system of working simultaneously on edits at different stages is helping. I don't **sense** I'm hideously behind.

I'm STILL not done on the freebie for a writers' group. I think I've controlled the bleeding of my eyes. Ruptured corneas are no joke.

Hell's Music now stands at approximately 53 000 words and counting. I'm adding between 500 to 1 000 new words a day, deadlines willing.

I'm getting ready to begin third-draft edits on The Black Goat once Hell's Music is done.

I've outlined book three in the Khepera series: Khepera in Shadow. When I'm going to get 'round to it, I don't know.

Please note I am not currently discussing Camdeboo Nights. It's still currently under consideration with a publisher.

Productive weekend

 Yesterday was, once again, the Adamastor Writers' Guild monthly meeting and we were back on track with our work. I was glad to run through the outline for the third Khepera novel, tentatively entitled Khepera in Shadow. I was particularly grateful for the fact that the other writers could help me with a difficult scene that, had I left it to my own suppositions, would have smattered of bad Hollywood cliche. 

At the moment I'm busy preparing for the upcoming Bloody Parchment event under the auspices of the SA Horrorfest. The location is still up in the air but I spent yesterday afternoon and most of the evening on Saturday with the two SA Horrorfest organisers. Thomas was busy shooting Paul and Sonja for the event poster, while I helped on the fringes by drinking cola and vodka, editing novels and occasionally stepping in to tighten corset laces. All in a day's work for a busy little author.

The pictures look stunning and I'm looking forward to the festival of horror. I'll be writing a piece that I'm hoping to submit to the national papers, for which we'll use the photos Thomas took yesterday.

Today's been glorious. To be quite honest, I've spent most of the morning mucking about, drinking tea and doing a bit of maintenance around the house (the dreaded poo patrol) and later I'll be taking some cuttings (mostly aloe) for some friends of mine who've just moved into a new place. I've planted to lemon pips and I'm hoping to grow these (and not kill them like I normally do).

Next month I'll be purchasing some Aloe dichotoma seeds and start with a succulent-growing programme again. A lot of the plants (mostly A. ferox and A. plicatilis) are big enough to go into the ground, so I need to get back into the vibe again. But I'm really chuffed to see how well my plants are doing in the garden. Especially my Aloe thraskii x marlothii, which are becoming quite spectacular.

I have an A. ferox hybrid (think it has some arborescens in the mix but the leaves are too long) has a huge crop of birds 'n bees pods I'm waiting to ripen. The only other Aloe flowering at the time was my A. thraskii so this should be interesting if I can get them to germinate.

And so... we head toward summer, which I'm not really looking forward to, mainly for the wind. I love the inbetween months here in the Western Cape, where we still get some rain, not so much wind and it's not bloody boiling. I have plans to take the bus up to Namibia to see my soul sister, who'll have given birth to her son by then. I'm quite excited as I'll be the fairy gothmother and it's probably the closest I'll ever get to having sprogs of me own.

Revisiting my old friend, the Highlander

 No matter how corny Highlander is now, more than 20 years (yikes, I'm OLD) since its release, I still love the film so very, very much. Funny thing is, I find my sympathies in my dotage tending more toward the Kurgan, who coined such an immortal line as, "It's better to burn out than to fade away". Or maybe it's my continuing fetish for six-foot-tall weirdos with long black hair (shades of Type O Negative, anyone?).

Christopher Lambert was one of my most sincere crushes as a teen, and we incidentally share the same birthday (March 29), and I still have a soft spot for him in my heart, but only in his role as Connor McLeod. The rest of his movies just didn't send me into transports of delight. Maybe it was the lack of long hair.

Looking at Connor as a character, I see a man who has a great gift yet is too afraid to live, whereas the Kurgan is his visceral dark half.

And I like the Kurgan. He's brutally honest. (laughs)

Yes, he's Not a Very Nice Man, but he grabs life by the balls. 

It's been a while...

As if to make up for a generally sunny winter, the Cape weather has decided to be maudlin and teary. Not that I mind, since it just makes it easier for me to stay home, warm and drink lots of cocoa.

Busy with a truckload of editing at the moment, mainly stuff for Lyrical, tho' I've received my second-round edits for The Namaqualand Book of the Dead which, although it only releases April next year, is good to get out of the way so that I can concentrate on other projects. I think this was one of the last projects that I still wrote out long-hand in my notebooks before transcribing to computer. Overall I'm happy with the writing as it's closer to my current style than Khepera Rising is.

I suspect the next batch of edits that will come in will be for my Siren Bookstrand release, Tainted Love, which releases December. I checked with the publisher, and my contract arrived (always a relief since the SA postal system can be a bit unpredictable). I was entertaining visions of having to find a flatbed scanner in this day and age.

I've been toying with a book three for my Khepera series and had a vague idea based on some of the travel writing I've subbed over the past year involving a ghost town out in the Karoo. I'm glad to say I've found the plot. The story has an ending, but it's open to development and, it being a Jamie story, has a hint of more disasters to follow. It's tentatively entitled Khepera in Shadow and I expect it to be my next project.

I'm holding back from editing The Black Goat mainly because it's under consideration with an agent in NYC. I'm not too phased whether she takes it but I subbed it to her based on a call for submissions. At the moment I'm feeling so blah about literary representation I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I seem to be doing fine without it for now as the smaller presses aren't that bothersome and I'm more than happy with the professional attitude of the two I'm dealing with at present.

My latest WiP, Hell's Music, still needs some work. I woke up to the need for a secondary character to have some of her own say, so I've had to go back to the beginning to insert a few scenes for the reprobate sister. Gods, and she is a little rotter but she has her redeeming qualities and her interference in the plot will be useful.That will be another Therese von Willegen novel, since I'm not releasing my contemporary romance under my own name.

It's all about branding...

And there's not a helluva lot going on in my life worth talking about. In general, I'm being very, very boring, but as they say in Afrikaans: Stille water, diepe grond, onder draai die Duiwel rond.

Return of the Crickets, and meanderings.

The crickets have returned. When I stand on my balcony late at night it's quite unreal, knowing leopard toad breeding season is upon us and hearing the crickets as well a multitude amphibian chorus.

It's true what they say that the Western Cape doesn't really experience winter the same way folks do elsewhere. Yes, it's cold at night, especially when there's no cloud cover, but it rarely plunges below 0 degrees Celsius and once we're past Longest Night, all the signs of life returning to our land becomes evident. 

It's green, days are generally warm when there's no cloud cover, and we only receive rain every ten days or so when a three-day cold front brushes past.

And now the crickets... Harbingers of summer and the southeaster, and long lazy days when it's too warm. I love these in-between months where we receive the best of all seasons. I hate the height of winter and summer, when it's either too cold or too warm. Maybe it's because I was born in late summer, with a preference for times that are neither here nor there.

Things are progressing well. I had a brief flirtation with my Black Dog on Wednesday but I was able to contain the symptoms, realising what I needed most was to retreat into the Treehaus and keep the world at bay. 

I'll be honest. I hate humanity. I no longer identify myself as being a member of Homo sapiens sapiens. I may wear this form but it hides something Other, alien. I look at people who are blinded by petty emotional squabbling, oblivious to that magic residing dormant within all of us.

It is all too easy to bank that flame within, that spirit to reach beyond the comfortable borders of our existence. Life provides so many distractions that if only we were able to look past these ephemeral noises we could be so much more, DO so much more.

It's not always easy remembering my Self, knowing the universe is infinitely pliable so long as I am aware of which threads to pull, but I try, and today is a day of Self-remembering, of recognising within me the potential to be everything I want to be. 

As a fellow Traveller of the Path Less Followed told me a few months back: "There's no such word as 'can't'," I must continue with my Great Work, no matter how impossible it seems, no matter how many obstacles throw their illusory obstructions in my way.

It sounds simple when put in words but there's one question I must ask myself every day: "What do I really want?"


Tired, but happy

In brief... the past few days have been very busy but good busy, because it means I haven't had time for my black dog.

Playing production assistant on set for Black Milk's latest film, Regression. Busy, dirty work... but because I'm also married to one of the directors, I got to spend most of the day working on edits for my fiction-related endeavours when they don't need me to go buy fake blood.

Finished edits for an urban fantasy novel. Started second-round edits on another.

Reading submissions. Champing at the bit for the urban fantasy sub because it's pushing all my buttons and making me salivate.

Finished writing The Black Goat, second draft weighing in at 65 300 words. Am happy. Am farming out to betas. Anyone I trust, who wants to read a steampunk fantasy involving reluctant botanists turned vampire, a goddess-worshipping priestess cult, terror birds and pirates... email me at my gmail addy. I'm assuming if you have my gmail addy I actually know you.

Have worked on cover blurb for Tainted Love, but because I've yet to finalise admin, I'm still not revealing who the publisher is. Writing these contemporary erotic romances under the pen name of Therese von Willegen so that I don't confuse sensitive readers.

Outlined next contemporary erotic romance, Hell's Music, which is all about shagging some long-haired famous metal muso. Nothing terribly exciting unless you're into that kind of thing. **can hear husband sigh**

Point is, I'm writing smut because it's possibly going to place me in the position of not having to lose further sanity working at my current day-job.

Oh, and Khepera Rising is available in print in South Africa.


Day of the Cranky Cow

 All things considered, I had a good weekend. Didn't write as much as I wanted to (only managed 1 500 words over two days) but I hosted the writers' guild at my house due to the soccer madness in the city centre.

Had friends L and D camp at our house over the weekend, which was cool. They're an item now. **grins**

Of course I wasn't much of a happy puppy with my sore back, which grew progressively worse by the end of the weekend. 

And wasn't helped by the fact that a neighbourhood pooch was knocked over in the road, right in front of our house. Spent a good few minutes consoling the hysterical German woman who'd killed the dog. Poor dear Whisky. His owners shouldn't have let him roam but hey... If dogs roam in the streets, it makes the vulnerable to accidents. Yappy bitch neighbour came to wag fingers at Whisky's owner, who looked shattered but really, it's not necessary to make a bad situation worse by hurling recriminations.

Especially when the bat is guilty of the same crime. Her dog got run over a week or so ago. Also roaming the streets.

This morning I just about passed out from the lower back pain. The thought of still taking public transport and dealing with work was just too much to bear. I did a rare thing. I stayed at home. Thomas came to fetch me to take me to the doctor, who gave me an injection in the backside (I hate those) and prescribed a bunch of pain meds. 

The way I figure it out, my back pain started more or less 'round the time my boss took leave about five weeks ago. Stress-related symptoms. Only now it's so chronic I can't even put my shoes on let alone lift my laptop bag.

I'm glad I can spend some time without the insistent yappying of sales reps, despite my back killing me when the meds wear off. Nice thing I've got extra-strong painkillers I'm allowed to take oodles of. The anti-inflammatories taste awful, leaving a bitter taste in the back of my throat for hours after I've taken them.

So... I'm varying between writing, reading subs and editing but taking plenty of breaks between to change position. Will go back to the office on Wednesday.


I love that word. It says it all so beautifully. 

Yes, I know I'm burning the midnight oil when I shouldn't, but I can't help myself. I've got so much to do and if I'm busy I don't stop to think about the stuff that bothers me. Besides, if I lose momentum, it's not going to be good. Trust me.

I feel like I'm being attacked on all fronts: physically, emotionally...

And it doesn't help that I'm currently trying to sort out a very delicate situation I inadvertently caused and try to keep two people who are probably extremely angry with me at the moment happy. I've never been the world's greatest politician. Heh. Walking the middle ground. If I succeed then I've definitely learned a lot from the entire situation. Like paying attention properly the first time. But kicking myself ain't gonna help. Blegh.

But what gets to me the most at present is my day-job and the heaps of abuse my department is currently taking, not just from clients but also from sales reps who dump on us when things go wrong they don't want to take responsibility for. I've already had one reduce me to tears. This is after last week's resolution to grow a set of bollocks.

But I sat still for a bit, facing my screen, put my favourite ToN tune on my media player, and just pushed blocks of text around on a page layout for about ten minutes and let a few quiet tears spatter on my desk. Then I went out for a breath of fresh air and resumed my work.

But it makes me think. I've been working at that company for five years now. I'm loath to leave because I'm ... comfortable. Which brings me to a discussion I've been having with some of my close friends about friction and why it's a good thing. I don't want to leave because I don't want to be the small fish in the big pond. right now I'm a happy medium-sized fish in a small pond and I dig it that way. 

But I'm not really learning anything new.


But moving swiftly onward, I do have some good news. I discovered this week that Khepera Rising is available to South Africans via, which is even better than having the book available in book stores. This is a big step forward.

Go to Khepera Rising 

And now for something completely different. The Ironclad Fleet is going to be the series name. Book one is now entitled The Black Goat. Why? Because I can. Maybe I'll even upset some prudes. I won't be able to hear them because I'm listening to Type O Negative so I'll only see their jaws flapping.

Shaking loose that black dog.

 I've been a bit low, to put it mildly. It's a combination of factors.

My boss is away on leave for the next few weeks while the World Cup is on. This means there's no one insulating us from Management. Management doesn't always understand why working a little overtime can sometimes be a good thing. What I don't appreciate is having my ability to work questioned. I work harder than a lot of people. While you're watching soapies on telly, I'm more often than not already home slaving away at fiction edits and my own fiction projects. I don't plan on staying at the newspapers until I rot. The fiction editing is already starting to pay off, not a lot, but something.

I've got the post-submission blues. One of the larger epublishers Out There is currently considering Tainted Love, my first romance novel, which I wrote in under two months. Talk about having the writing fever. In one week I completed 12 000 words. Why romance? It sells. I want to work for myself, not the newspapers. Besides, it was kinda fun writing erotic fiction for a change.

So please excuse me while I chew off my fingernails and second-guess myself.

Another factor that's probably contributing to my black dog is my revisiting my impending mortality. This was sparked by my perception of one of my young adult heroes having perished of sorrow (or at least that is my opinion) and for a few weeks I was having seriously "why do I bother, we're all going to die anyway" blues, no doubt helped by my chronic lack of vitamin D.

Which brings me to another factor. Sunshine. Nope, dudes, I leave home and it's dark. I arrive at home, it's dark. I can't take lunch because I'm too busy. So, yesterday, at home during a public holiday, I seriously enjoyed standing on my balcony with a cuppa Earl Grey, or five. Vitamin D is good for you. Twenty or so minutes in sunlight is good for you. So long as you don't do it midday.

Here's where I count my blessings, to remind myself why I'm not going to be shuffling off this mortal coil anytime soon:
1) I have a drop-dead gorgeous monster of a husband.
2) I own a house on a large erf near a national park.
3) I already own my dream car (the Hudson '49) and she's coming home this weekend after nearly a year in the mechanics.
4) I am a published author.
5) I've lost nearly 10kg since I stopped guzzling so much beer and started gymming.

Things to look forward to:
1) My second novel releases on Monday.
2) I have submissions for my line of Titanic-inspired novels to be released through Lyrical Press.
3) I have an urban fantasy novella releasing in April.
4) I have two novels currently under consideration with small presses in the United States.
5) I am going to Egypt in 2012 even if I have to sell my husband.


Vuvuzela Blues

 (Otherwise known as the unique plight of being a goth in Cape Town during the Fifa Soccer World Cup [insert trademark])

Okay, I work in the CBD on the third floor of a building overlooking St George's Mall, which is a pedestrianised street in the inner city. Many tourists, okay?

Let me introduce vuvuzelas to those of you who are not Sethfrican. Imagine a toy trumpet about as long as your arm. It is available in loads of bright, cheery colours. When blown, it makes the same plaintive cry as a bull elephant with its testicles caught in a vice.

Now imagine hundreds, no thousands of these infernal devices tooted daily, with a deafening crescendo approximately for two hours before and after noon.

Get the picture?

Now add dozens of soccer fanatics one step away from open gangsterism squaring off in the streets bragging their team's gonna "eff up" your team.

Yes. I really saw that today when I ducked out to buy new earphones after the last set functioned for all of a week (in an attempt to block out the wailing of the vuvus).

People ask me why I wear black and listen to gothic rock, tanzmetal, industrial and gothic metal, THERE is your answer. I'd rather be different in the same way as my sensible friends, who wear black and listen to demonic music than subscribe to the infernal madness that seems to have captured 99% of Cape Town's population at present.

You all suck. 

I'm a goat, not a sheep.

I've got a date at midnight, with Nosferatu...