How to Procrastinate

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Procrastination doesn’t just come naturally, you know. We have to work hard at it. Really make sure we’re getting everything we can out of the time we waste.

After feeling awful for over two weeks because I haven’t been writing or editing, I finally got down to working on The Jade Star of Athering again today. I thought that working on it would make me feel better — and you know, it has. I’ve worked on it for maybe 20 minutes and written about 150 new words in it. Now I’m feeling “Okay, I worked on this, can I quit and do something else now?” That sort of ‘feeling better’.

Here’s the thing with The Jade Star of Athering. I set myself up for editing failure with it.

My natural writing state is to write a bunch and go back and edit it before moving on. I am an edit-as-I-goer. That was how I did Bellica, and while Bellica took way too much time, its finished first draft was about 10x cleaner than its sequel’s first draft.

I started doing Jade Star that way, too. It is, as I said, my natural state.

But then I published Bellica and became active in online indie author circles and started reading all this advice and…somewhere along the way I internalized the idea that the point was to get it written and edit it later. I’LL FIX IT IN POST, my brain drunkenly screamed as I tried like hell to finish my first drafts. THIS IS A GOOD IDEA, it further said, swigging some vodka (I don’t know where my brain got the vodka) before knocking over a lamp.

This worked out okay for Stranger Skies, which was fully plotted before I wrote it (and therein lies the difference, likely). I say okay, because editing Stranger Skies was still like dragging my carcass through a swamp made of death and tears in a way that editing Bellica wasn’t.

And now editing The Jade Star of Athering is turning out to be even worse.

Part of my issues are related to Fear of the Sequel, yes — I won’t deny that. There lurks a fear in me that I can only do great first books and whatever book is next in the series will fall short. Which is fair, as it’s basically a trope now that Sequels Always Suck, so it makes sense I’d feel that way about my own work (whether or not it’s true). But mostly, the big wall that keeps springing up is the fact that this finished first draft is the messiest pile of crap I have ever produced. And that’s because I absorbed “Don’t get it right, get it written” when I was finishing it.

Look, “Don’t get it right, get it written” is actually great advice for people who are not natural edit-as-we-goers. If you are the type of writer who works better editing after the first draft is done, then yes, absolutely, vomit those words onto the page and make it pretty, make it make sense, later. Do it, because it works for you.

It doesn’t work for me. And that’s a lesson I’ve learned, now, and I won’t repeat this mistake in the future. When I’m finished The Jade Star of Athering — which was supposed to be at the beginning of this month, by the way, and now it’s looking like I’ll have to push the release date — I’ll be working on From the Ashes, the next book in The Borderlands Saga. And I’m going to let my natural inclination to edit as I go take the lead, this time.

How to procrastinate: let writing advice override your natural inclination for editing as you go. Finish a first draft. Try to edit that first draft. Suddenly, everything will look better than editing that thing (including my publishing work, which I usually also try to procrastinate on).

On the plus side of this procrastination business, I’ve gotten some work done on the publishing-other-people’s-stuff side of my life, such as getting Kaimana Wolff‘s new book Broken Sleep done and ready for pre-order (I reviewed the book back in May when I was still working on it; very few changes have been made since then, so the review stands). Shameless plug follows.

BrokenSleepebookcoverfinal400xWhat has happened to Jane?

“All voices sing in unison: get out get out get out escape escape escape…” but violence and death stalk Jane along every bend of every way out….

Can you escape a past you never knew?

Four hardworking professionals live the good life–until one falls into a hole in a Vancouver street. As the world’s colors change, each man grapples with shadows of war as Jane tumbles into the abyss of the Disappeared.

Paul and Zack, thrown together by what may be Jane’s last testament, are hardly excited about cooperating with each other on any issue, least of all on the disappearance, weeks ago, of their mutual friend and her little daughter.

What did Jane expect of them–if anything? What does her story mean–if anything? And what, if anything, should they do about Matt, Jane’s beloved husband, the man each of them suspects?

Caught in an ancient web of caring and enduring, action and restraint, law and healing, Zack and Paul enact the next steps–in Jane’s existence as well as their own.

Available for preorder in ebook and paperback from these locations

Kindle US

Kindle Canada

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Gumroad

Storenvy

Note, the paperback preorder is only available from our Storenvy store, and not anywhere else. If you buy a paperback copy from Amazon or B&N, you are getting an older copy of the book which is completely different from this version. (Broken Sleep was originally published 9 years ago. That version is out of print, and the book has gone through extensive revisions prior to this version being released. They are basically completely different books.) The paperback of this version will be available via Createspace after the release date of September 23rd.

If you were hoping for an ARC of the book, there’s still time for one. Fill out this form and I’ll send you a copy of the ebook ASAP.

And now, I think I’ve spent enough time procrastinating. I even took a big break from working on this post to update my Facebook page and create a new cover image for it. I work really had at avoiding work, y’all.

Go order Broken Sleep, or request the ARC or something. Make my procrastination worth it! ❤

Again I go, into the breach swamp….

-Katje

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Getting a straight answer from a doctor

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Post Doctor's appt selfie. This is my "well that was a depressing waste of energy" face.

Me, post-doctor’s appointment. My “that was a depressing waste of energy” face.

It’s not easy. I feel that’s one way The Doctor is very much like regular doctors — give you a straight answer when you ask a question? MADNESS

But, finally, I did. Yesterday, at my follow-up appointment at the cast clinic. After he told me that I’d probably have to be in the brace and off my feet until October, basically (so, a bit longer than originally thought), I finally got an answer regarding the possibility of ligament or meniscus damage:

They don’t know.

They won’t know until my fracture is healed up, because they can’t do an examination to figure out if the ligaments or meniscus are damaged without risking further damage to the fracture. So in several weeks, I may get an answer to that question.

I’m guessing it’s going to be “Yes, your knee is damaged,” mostly because my knee still feels like it’s been smashed with a hammer and I can’t bend my leg without extreme pain.

But apparently the reason they kept avoiding my questions about the knee was because they didn’t know and couldn’t tell me for a while. Which is all I wanted to know! Just an answer, any answer.

So now I know it’s still on the table, the possibility of more severe damage, and I just have to wait and see what happens. And in the meantime, don’t put any pressure on the broken leg.

This weekend we’re picking up a wheelchair for me and maybe getting me a proper shower at the in-laws’ place. If I’m up to it, Mr. Katje might even take me out for dinner at our favourite restaurant.

I’m honestly pretty excited about the wheelchair. Apparently it has a leg rest on the left hand side, which already makes it a million times better than those stupid hospital wheelchairs. (Yes, I totally have the muscle strength to just hover my leg straight out the entire time I’m in that thing. Not.)

I don’t mean to sound bitter about our experience with BC medical this time around. I’m getting the help I need. I’m just frustrated and tired of being cooped up in a chair 24/7, and looking at another 2 months of being cooped up like this.

Book has been proofed, as of last night. now to change the files and ship em off.

I think I went through 5 stacks of post-it notes.

So, I’m trying to set my brain to productivity. Namely, edits, rewrites, and writing fresh words (and, on the other side of the business: publishing). I’m just finishing up the work for a book by Kaimana Wolff, called Broken Sleep. It’s a really good book, even if the subject matter is hard for me to take. I said in my review that it’s a harrowing exposé of abuse, and I stand by that. It needed a lot of proofing, though, as you can no doubt tell by the picture. Right now it’s on round 3 of proofs. I’m waiting to hear back from the author, and then I can finish up work on it.

If you want to get an ebook ARC — advance reading copy — you can sign up for one here. They will be sent out as soon as I’m done with the ebook formatting.

Regarding my own writing, currently I’m working hard on The Jade Star of Athering. When I started re-writes there were 9 entirely new parts I had to write. Now there are 4, along with the various continuity edits and smaller rewrites within the finished chapters. For the record, editing and re-writing Jade Star has been like trying to marathon through a swamp filled with eels and unspeakable horrors. I am never doing vomit-out-words-and-fix-it-in-post writing again — after this, I’m going back to the much-more-natural-for-me edit-as-I-go style of writing. Fixing it in post is torture.

After I finish my edits and rewrites, I’ll be sending off the manuscript to my editor for the first round of edits. When she’s done, it’ll be time for beta readers to have at it. Once I’ve implemented beta feedback, it goes for its final round of edits, and then I start the publishing process. It’s at this point I release an ARC for advance readers. During the publishing process, we proof the manuscript several more times (and likely find more errors). Hopefully by the time release day rolls around there are no more errors left. (I say hopefully, because we are human.)

When Jade Star is off with the editor and beta readers, I’ll be focusing on finishing up the first draft of From the Ashes, sequel to Stranger Skies. I have a deadline of the end of the year to finish the first draft, but if I’m lucky I’ll get it done sooner.

I’ve got a lot of writing projects planned out for the next year or so. I really want to finish Jade Star and From the Ashes soon because I have another book I’m starting in November — Anala, the sequel to Jade Star and third book in The Third Age. It’s going to need to be outlined very carefully, however, as it happens during the same time period as Book 4 (which is so far untitled).

There’s a lot more on my plate, writing wise, but if I outlined my entire year’s plan here then I’d have no choice but to stick with it and I like to give myself some leeway for failure. (Insert winky face here.) Accountability is great, so long as I’m making myself publicly accountable for things I know I can accomplish.

So right now it’s just a matter of keeping busy with what matters to me, which thankfully is something I can still do while I have a broken leg. I have to be grateful for that — my passion doesn’t involve using my leg. I can still work on it even when injured and chair-ridden.

-Katje

PS: If you want to be first to hear about release dates, tours, events, etc for both my mother and me, then you should sign up for our mailing list. It comes out about once a month, and it gives you the opportunity to sign up to receive ARCs before anyone else can, or to pre-order first. Also, you get 2 free ebooks for signing up. July’s is set to come out in the next couple days, so sign up soon!

Worst. Birthday Gift. Ever.

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The title is better if you imagine it being read in Comic Book Guy’s voice.

Long and short of my trip to the cast clinic is yes, I have a broken femur, there is apparently no tendon or ligament damage, and no, I cannot have a plaster cast, because my leg is shaped weird.

Yes, you read that right: I have a weird leg. The plaster cast will not stay on it properly, just as the immobilizer of doom does not stay on it properly — but, the doctor says, the immobilizer will likely be more comfortable, and I can take it off from time to time. There’s also a chance my leg could swell again, which would be very uncomfortable in plaster, apparently.

I have to stay off my leg for 6 weeks. I cannot put any weight on it. I can rest my foot on the floor if I’m sitting, but beyond that? Nope. Nope nope nope.

But anyway, besides all that — let’s focus on what’s really important. I have weird legs, guys. WEIRD LEGS. I can’t even argue with the doctor on this one because he’s right. I’m a freak of nature.

legs

See? This is right after it happened, too, so you can see the amount of swelling in the left leg. But that bend inwards at the knee? It’s super pronounced. When standing straight the edges of my feet almost line up with my hips, and the knees bend inwards to touch each other. And the kneecap is super high up. I know, because I saw it on my CT scan. IT WAS WEIRD.

Also there’s the fact that my legs are sort of shaped like cones, with the tiny end pointing down.

WEIRD LEGS, GUISE. ::does spooky arms::

After the cast clinic we headed home, and this is the conversation we had in the car (this was after my crying breakdown in the hospital).

Me: So this is the worst birthday gift I’ve ever gotten myself.

Mr. Katje: That’s what you get for getting it so early! And now you can’t even take it back.

Me: Nope, I’m stuck with it. Buyer’s remorse or what.

Anyway. I am immobilized for six weeks. In 2 weeks I have to see the doctor again so he can see how the leg is doing. But basically, no nothing for Katje until the end of August.

I have some projects to keep me busy while I’m stuck without a working leg. A big one is writing. I’m trying to get my word count up this month. (I’m participating in Get Your Words Out and I’ve pledged to write 150,000 words this year. So far I’m at just over 80,000.)

Things I'm working on today: writing....

Text from a short story I’m working on.

Another big one is editing and publishing — related to the first, of course, but I’m not always editing or publishing my own works, so it deserves a separate category. Right now I’m proofing Broken Sleep by Kaimana Wolff, and editing/revising The Jade Star of Athering, sequel to Bellica.

I’m also trying to get caught up on my reading. I read very slowly, but with not much else to do I might read more than one book this month. One can hope, anyway.

And finally, I’m powering through Stargate SG-1. I adore this show. I am on season 7, please no spoilers in the comments. (I realize it’s 17 years old but I’ve been able to keep myself relatively spoiler free.)

...and Stargate SG-1. (that shld rly say dreamboat tbh. Mmmmm, Teal'c.)

Mmmm, Teal’c.

Anyway, this is my summer. All this, and no showering (at least until I get the shower chair from Oma’s old place). Don’t visit. Your nose will never forgive you.

If you do want to brighten my summer up, however, you can nominate my book, Stranger Skies, for the awards for which it’s eligible! (Assuming you’ve read it. If you haven’t read it, most of the Advance Reading Copy is available to read here. All of the chapters will be released by October 5th.) Details in this post at my Livejournal. The deadline for one of the awards is July 15th, but the others have more time.

Now that would be the best. birthday gift. ever.

-Katje

2013 James Tiptree Award Winner and Honor List Announced

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Recently the honor list and winner of the 2013 James Tiptree Award were announced. I’m not sure when exactly this happened; I was too preoccupied with moving since late January and surgery + recovery this week to continue with my obsessive refreshing of the Tiptree website (some of you may remember my book was nominated).

I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to N.A. Sulway, author of Rupetta, winner of the 2013 Tiptree Award.

I’d also like to extend congratulations to the members of the honor list: Eleanor Arnason, Aliette de Bodard, Nicola Griffith, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Ann Leckie, Bennett Madison, Sarah McCarry, Janelle Monae, Helene Wecker, and S.M. Wheeler.

I didn’t expect Bellica to win the Tiptree, but I did entertain some hopes of being short-listed. I would be lying if I said my pride weren’t a little bit stung right now.

But I can see the logic. Bellica was my first novel and it was incredibly long. It’s not terribly revolutionary. It’s good, but perhaps it’s not award or short list material. (And who knows — Canada Post says the copies of the book arrived on time, but perhaps they didn’t. That would suck, but it would also be my fault for not getting the books out earlier.)

Bottom line: I’m okay with Bellica not winning or making the list. I think my other books will have a better chance at being listed for awards, even if I never win any (with which I am also okay). I have a lot of faith in my latest book, Stranger Skies, and the rest of the series that will follow.

Though my pride is stung — I am a Leo, after all — I do not harbour any bitterness or resentment towards the judges or the winners. The authors on that list worked hard for this achievement and they deserve it. I wish them well, and I will add their works to my To Be Read list.

I encourage you to do the same.

-Katje

PS: for the record, Stranger Skies is eligible for the 2014 Tiptree. If you feel it should be nominated, you can do so here: 2014 Tiptree Nomination Form.

Please do not nominate it unless you truly feel it deserves to be considered. (This requires that you have read it.)

Book Launch for Stranger Skies this Saturday in Powell River

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StrangerSkiesebookcoverPress

Stranger Skies

Queer Pagan Fiction with a YA Bent

“The scent of death and fear hit her then — she’d found her first Minae wolf….”

A goddess’ fall from grace leaves her on an alien world, bereft of her followers, trapped in a mortal body. Should she strive to regain her godhood or accept her mortality and find love?

Silva, Queen of Wolves, Lady of the True Woods, seeks her only friend Etan, who, along with other deities of the Council of Divinity, has gone missing for reasons unknown. Her search traps her on a world where the wolves have lost faith in her; she becomes a mortal woman whose remaining powers could brand her as a witch.

Through the chaos of war and the turmoil in her own heart, Silva can’t escape a persistent feeling: her fall was not an accident.

~~

Just a brief heads up before I go collapse into a codeine-induced coma:

I am having a book launch for my latest novel, Stranger Skies, this Saturday the 22nd at 4 p.m. It will be held at the café “A Step Above” on the second floor of Quality Foods on Joyce Avenue.

From the event page:

It’s finally happening! Stranger Skies is having a book launch this Saturday in Powell River!

Stranger Skies
First Novel in The Borderlands Saga

“Any reader who loves wolves, woods and wonderful characters will devour Stranger Skies.”
— K. Wolff, La Chiripa

Have your copy of the first volume in this magnificent new science-fiction/fantasy saga signed by Katje van Loon, author of Bellica.

Located at the cafe above Quality Foods in Powell River — “A Step Above”. Go to the end of the cash registers, past the frozen foods section, and take the elevator or stairs up!

Hosted by The Pearl Review, Powell River’s book-lover’s collective.

Cover art by Autumn Skye ART.

You can RSVP at the Facebook event page here.

(Let me know if it doesn’t work; FB continues to mystify me. The event is set to public but who knows.)

If you’re in Powell River this weekend I hope to see you at the launch!

If you don’t live in Powell River, I will be having other book launches for Stranger Skies in the coming months both on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland. It’s an informal book tour — informal, because we’re not planning the entire thing out beforehand and are just doing it as and when and where we can.

However, there will be more notice than a few days’ worth for other towns. We meant to get the word out earlier for this one, but moving + travel + surgery + recovery has kind of eaten our lives.

Speaking of recovery…I’m going to go do more of that, in bed, for several hours. Sleepy time! Codeine is kickin’ in with a vengeance.

Hope to see you on Saturday!

-Katje

Where did January go?

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Sometimes I feel like aliens have abducted me, because I keep losing time. It feels like New Year’s Day was just yesterday, and yet it’s now February 1st.

The big thing for me in January was my graduation from university. The Fellowship of the Baccalaureate is completed! Sean Bean has died, and I am on my way to Mordor my [first] Master’s. (Working title for that part of the saga: The Two Theses.)

Graduation day was a whirlwind and it basically murdered my energy levels. I’m pretty sure I borrowed against 2 weeks’ worth of spoons to complete that day. It was worth it; I’m just sleeping a hell of a lot right now.

Early Thursday morning Mr. Katje and I got up and went to catch the 7:45 ferry to Nanaimo. (Mr. Katje got the day off work so he could come to my graduation, and he didn’t guffaw once during the long speeches — I’m so proud of him!) We had breakfast on the ferry, and once we landed in Nanaimo we had to run around doing errands for a few hours: pick up regalia, drop off tickets in various places, drop off a book for a reader. Before we knew it, it was time for me to get ready with my fellow graduates.

I went to the Coast Bastion and met the other grads in the ballroom assigned to us. Several of my friends were graduating on Thursday, too, so I got to high five and hug them and take silly selfies together.

My fellow First Nations Studies grads and I had a brief prayer of thanks to the Creator before we started the procession, which was great — really helped me calm my panic and nerves.

I realized, before we left, that I hadn’t given Mr. Katje my camera — I ran upstairs to see if he was still in the lobby, but he wasn’t, so I held onto the thing and hoped I’d get a chance to get it to him before I got on stage. Luck held out — he and my mom were sitting right next to where we walked onstage. I bent down and gave him the camera without missing a beat.

Then came the sitting on stage through all the numerous speeches that were given. Honestly, this part could have been cut way down. There was one speech that was entertaining; during the rest I had to fight not to fall asleep. Then I had to fight hunger and trying to eat the hats off my fellow graduates. I hadn’t had any food since 8 that morning, and it was 3:30 at this point. My stomach was tying itself in knots.

Finally, after all the speeches, they asked us to read our oath — the acceptance of our degrees. We did, clumsily and definitely not as one, and then we got to move our tassels from the right hand side to the left. Officially graduated!

And then we got to walk the stage to our names being called out. The part we’ve all been waiting for, through the interminable speechifying.

Even though my name change isn’t complete, the school still let me graduate with my real name on the parchment and read out by the Dean. I didn’t think he’d have trouble with one of my middle names — Ayla — so I just told him how to pronounce the ones that usually give people trouble (my first name, especially). Ah well, 4 out of 5 done correct is really good! (And they’re all spelled correctly on the degree, so I’m happy.)

I walked across the stage without my cane, which my back has still not forgiven me for, but it was worth it. It was important to my state of mind that I walk across unassisted. As I walked, I held my hands up in a gesture of thanks used in First Nations Studies classes – hy’chu’qa si:em, to everyone in the audience, to everyone who supported me.

In the middle of the stage I shook hands with Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada and our school chancellor, and Ralph Nilson, our school president. I then posed for a picture with them before continuing on across the stage, where our registrar Fred Jacklin shook my hand and gave me my degree.

After that I sat down again, and eventually we finished and proceeded out of the theatre again, to the lobby where our friends and family waited to congratulate us. I hugged folks, took pictures, accepted wonderful gifts from friends, and then ripped off my regalia, screaming about it being a demon frock of polyestered death.

Seriously, worst part of graduation: the regalia. It is hot as balls sitting in that thing under stage lights for 2 hours. Also, so-called “XL” size? HA.

Anyway. After all that, we returned the regalia and headed off for dinner, which was fun but had to be quick because Mr. Katje and I had to catch the 8:15 ferry home if we wanted to get our car back from the parking lot before they closed.

We were so exhausted we fell asleep in our chairs on the ferry. When we got home we staggered into bed and fell asleep within minutes.

I woke up early the next day but ended up sleeping some more that afternoon, getting back to my apartment around 12:30am. I went to sleep at 3am, again, and got up at quarter to 9. It’s now 4pm and I’m thinking about napping.

So you can see — very tiring day, very few spoons.

Other exciting things that happened in January!

Which means I need to get back to packing and cleaning.

Or napping. Napping sounds good, too.

 

BYOB(ookworm)

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Today’s daily prompt from the Daily Post:

Write the blurb for the book jacket of the book you’d write, if only you had the time and inclination.

I think responding to this would be cheating. I’m a published author; currently I have out two novels, a book of poetry, a self-published short story and a self-published collection of short fiction.

Time and inclination? Lots of the second; little of the first, but I still get the books done. So it’s not so much an imaginary blurb I’d have to come up with…as just copy and pasting the blurb from Bellica or Stranger Skies. (You can read Bellica online here, by the way, and the advance reading copy of Stranger Skies is being posted here.)

So today, I’m answering the second part of the prompt:

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BOOKS.

Here is a photo I took yesterday, of, yes, my own book — it just arrived in the mail a little while ago and I unpacked the box and put the books on the shelf.

Oh hey look at that, my books are here. Cover art by Autumn Skye Morrison; she's amazing.

And a poem, Water Cycle, which you can find in glasstown.

I am always in a rush in a hurry
to fill up my notebooks with blather –
and maybe
it is because so many empty ones sit
continually staring me in the face
that I feel guilty
for not feeding them –
we’re starving! they cry out
but so is the streambed of my thought
dry for so many years – I sit to write
to enjoy what flows but it’s only a trickle
and so when I can I write

 BIG

or

   l     e      n       g     t      h     y

so that I take up as much
of the page as possible
and I write on both sides
and sometimes I gush
but my hand can’t keep up with my thoughts
and I’ll get distracted and
—oh, fuck, I did it again,
the stream is dry once more;
I’ve thrown this poem on the floor
and resorted to crappy rhyme
to buy some more time
so that my words can spurt forth—
and shine.

But it’s grabbing me, this undercurrent
and I fear I can’t turn it to my will
and soon I’ll be dragged
underneath the weight of my creativity
spitting out the saltiness of tears unshed
choking on the wet juicy areas of my mind:
dark, locked up, till I find
explosives and blow the dam
and I write till my hand might fall off
with the pain
but I can’t stop until I do.

And begin again.