Blasting Off: My Patreon Launch

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Blasting Off: My Patreon Launch

After much deliberation, I’ve pulled together an intro, some bonus tiers and a plan and launched a Patreon account.

What is Patreon?

For those of you scratching your heads, wondering what on Earth Patreon is, basically it’s a site that allows an audience to support creators they like in exchange for bonuses that the creator sets up (similar to the way patrons used to support artists in ye olden times). This means creative types, such as writers, can earn while they work and audiences get that extra bit of interaction with the art/writing etc. that they love, as well as the person who produced it.

Why do you have a Patreon?

I have one simply because I want to make money from my writing. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I’ve taken this year out to take a serious crack at being a professional writer and I believe this is a step in the right direction. I want to build a community around my work and I want to try and show how much I value the support of that community by providing snippets that only a handful of folks get to see.

What are Patreon tiers?

Tiers on Patreon are essentially levels of rewards based on the amount you pay. These are set up by the creator. In my case the lowest donation amount is $2 (£1.50) and for that you’ll get monthly writing updates and plenty of pictures of Kit. More information on tiers can be found on my Patreon.

I don’t really have money to spare…

That’s absolutely fine! I get where you’re coming from (trust me). I honestly don’t expect everyone who reads this article to start giving, but my Patreon’s there so that if you like my work and you do have a bit of spare cash, there’s an option to chip in and get a bonus. But never fear if you can’t afford to, there are plenty of other ways you can help support me (and other creators)! If you like my work, please share it on whatever social media platform you use the most. When you see Moon-Sitting come out grab a copy (if you can) and review it! Or share a link with a friend who you think might enjoy it 🙂 Community is the most important thing a creator can have and I’m incredibly grateful for everyone that’s already helped me get this far.

The summary thing:

So yes, I have a Patreon which you can access as of today. Please bear with me while I learn the ropes. It seemed fairly intuitive until I spent 10 minutes staring, trying to figure out how to edit tiers last night, only to realise the words “Edit Tier” were written in bright orange letters at the top of each box like a title. I will probably aim for the first lot of bonuses to go out at the end of the month, so if you fancy being a patron, make sure you’re signed up by then so you don’t miss the first round 🙂 Although…I think actually you might still be able to see past posts…I’ve not figured that out yet. This is going to be a learning experience.

Best,

EM.

P.S. If you’re new here, here are a few examples of my of the sort of fiction I write: Moth Child, The Intersection, Moving Day.

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Moon-Sitting: Progress, Block and Blurb

Moon-Sitting:
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Moon-Sitting: Progress, Block and Blurb

In the middle of writing my MA dissertation last year, I started to jones for some creative action and thus Moon-Sitting was born. I wanted something short and sweet, something not as heavy as The End of Atlas (which is always a chronology nightmare), something that I could get done in an afternoon (two at most). Those of you who follow this blog will have heard me mention Moon-Sitting a couple of times and will know that that is not how things worked out. BUT, I thought today would be a good day to fill you in on what I’ve accomplished so far, and what Moon-Sitting is actually about.

Progress and Block:

Here we are approximately six months after I started my “short story”, and I’m on the 2nd draft of a novella that currently stands around the 18k mark. Honestly, it’s been far more challenging that I expected. I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve had the 1st draft done since September, and getting back on the horse was a real problem.

When I finished the 1st version, I knew immediately that it needed major rewrites. The ending in particular was such utter tripe that I wouldn’t even consider showing it to my writing group, because I knew it was just going to get deleted (it currently sits in a spare parts file that I may eventually share with Patreon supporters when I finish setting that up).

I also knew that there were massive scientific issues with my story, which is what happens when you base an entire novella on three lines because of the aesthetic. And I know, I know; I preach “kill your darlings”, but without the lines (which I will reveal when I eventually put Moon-Sitting up on Amazon), the whole story doesn’t exist. They’re the lines that kept me up at night, typing in a memo on my phone. Frankly, if I cut them, I’m never finishing this project.

But yes, faced with the need to completely rewrite and somehow figure out how to science good, I was blocked for a good long while. Thankfully, I know a few folks who actually do know how to science relatively well, with their PhD’s and such, who dug me out of the pit (seriously, I couldn’t even calculate the size of a sphere alone). And I also have to give thanks to writer friends who read Moon-Sitting’s opening and encouraged me to push through.

The only issue that remained was finding an ending I was happy with. And I thought I’d solved this, but as of last night I can happily say that I’m still working on it 😉 It’s one of those things where I know where I’m going…I just don’t know where I’m stopping. That’s the issue. Remind me never to write something without meticulously planning the ending first, ever again.

The Blurb:

So, “What is Moon-Sitting actually about Emma???” I hear you all yell through my laptop screen. Well, I’ll tell you.

30 years prior to the events of the novella, an enormous spherical structure crashed into planet Infinity, sending earthquakes and tsunamis skittering across the planet’s surface, wiping out most of the population. Since then the “Moon” has sat silently, looming in the south, while the survivors tentatively rebuild their lives in the last remaining Infinitian city, at the heart of Infinity’s mass continent.

Lucky and her colleagues, Hector and Isabelle, are charged with watching over the Moon. They are the second batch of so-called “Moon-Sitters”, who commit a chunk of their years to monitoring every bit of data they can get from their spherical friend. However, Lucky’s nightmares compel her to do more than just sit back and watch.

Summary Time:

Hopefully, that will have intrigued you somewhat. I’m not sure if all of what is in the blurb is staying… there is one character mentioned above that lives in constant fear of me murdering them because I can’t think of a reason for them to exist. But the concept is most certainly there to stay, and hopefully I’ll only need like…two more rounds of editing before I actually feel happy with this thing. The current round is about getting the story right. The next round is about getting the story-telling correct. The final round is about making sure I’ve not made any rookie errors.

As you may sometimes notice…I do not edit all of my blogs four times.

Anyway, back to the work mines.

Best,

EM.

P.S. Please note, while the feature image is some of my original concept art for Moon-Sitting’s cover…that Moon is nowhere near to scale. Many things have changed since science got involved XD

Review: Space Unicorn Blues

Review: Space Unicorn Blues
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Review: Space Unicorn Blues

There were four things that attracted me to Space Unicorn Blues by TJ Berry:

  1. The potential for jazz.
  2. The interesting dynamic of magic = space fuel.
  3. The LGBT+ representation.
  4. THE SPACE UNICORNS.

As you can perhaps tell from the list above, when I picked up the book I was expecting a fun giggle, something which would require very little thought on my part.

What I got was not that, but it was so much better.

First of all, the book did not contain jazz, but honestly it didn’t need it. What Space Unicorn Blues lacks in musical ambience it makes up for with slatherings of action, dollops of intrigue and sweet, dry wit.

The world of TJ Berry’s novel takes place in a far distant and incredibly grim future. Humans, in their infinite wisdom, have enslaved a magical alien race known as the Bala, who offered aid when the Earth was near collapse. They have also formed a space militia called “The Reason”, who power their ships with Bala body parts and spend their time generally being unpleasant dic…tators.

As the end of the century approaches, humans and Bala alike are preparing for a summit, in which an all powerful race will judge them for their actions over the last 100 years.

After a stint in The Reason’s worst prison, Gary Cobalt (THE. SPACE. UNICORN.) just wants to retrieve his stoneship and fly far away from human occupied space. However, Jenny Perata (ex-Reason captain and Gary’s one time cell warden) has other plans. Before she’ll let Gary take his ship, he must use shavings of his horn to help her make a special delivery to the summit. Of course, what neither of them know is…what’s in the boxes?

Now that I’ve essentially told you what’s on the back of the book (and a squeak more), let’s talk about what made me LOVE Space Unicorn Blues. That is to say, let’s talk about how this book that I thought would be a “light read” turned out house a wonderfully diverse, intersectional cast and astonishingly nuanced, gritty discourses. Of course, I’m an expert in none of these gritty discourses and I cannot possibly talk about all of the characters, so here are my favourite three (in no particular order):

1..Jenny Perata is not only Maori (an indigenous person from New-Zealand), but she’s also a disabled military veteran. However, being paralysed from the waist down doesn’t stop her from smacking tyranny around the face with her trusty patu, whether she’s in a gravity controlled environment or not. While Jenny’s narrative perspective points out the frequent inconsiderate actions of her space companions (such as leaving gravity switched on, or covering the floor in bio materials that make is hard to wheel her chair around), Jenny’s character is a force to be reckoned with. Once I got to know her, I found that I never once doubted Jenny’s judgement or ability to get out of a sticky situation.

2. Gary Cobalt was born to a unicorn father and a human mother from India. Just existing is a constant threat to Gary’s life, as his body is a valuable resource to The Reason. However, his human features allow him to pass for short periods of time, when he’s careful. Gary’s story is similar to those of many mixed race children pre the civil rights movement. However, the slurs Gary encounters when humans uncover his half-Bala identity echo the racism still seen in society today. He’s a reminder that, while we might think we’re “past that” part of our cultural history, we still have a fair bit of growing to do as a global community.

3. Miss Ricky Tang is a trans woman, but she is also much more than that. She is a savvy business woman, a cutthroat fighter and a girl who could survive a thousand apocalypses. Her identity as a trans person takes a pleasant back seat to her identity as a person, until The Reason enter the room. Reason soldiers frequently and deliberately misgender Ricky, creating intense discomfort (trigger warning for those who are sensitive to this). However, the discomfort does a wonderful job of  highlighting the humanity we lose when we start politicising and policing other people’s bodies because they are not “what they should be”. And bless Ricky, because she holds no punches when it comes to transphobia. She is strong and she greets hatred with a killer smile.

As a debut novel, Space Unicorn Blues is an excellent opening to a powerful new universe. But it’s also a stellar bit of characterisation and storytelling. It’s got teeth. It’s got meat. Hell, it’s got its own damn unicorn horn and I can’t wait for the next instalment, Five Unicorn Flush (set to be released on the 2nd of April 2019).

Best,

EM.

P.S. FYI, I wasn’t paid to say any of this and I’m not an Amazon affiliate. You can click the book links with confidence, knowing that this was all my very over-excited opinion.

P.P.S. As I mention, I’m don’t claim to be an expert in race, gender or disability discourses. If you spot anything wrong please let me know 🙂

The Curious Case of Aphantasia in the Writing Community

the curious case of aphantasia in the writing community
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The Curious Case of Aphantasia in the Writing Community

Aphantasia is a condition where an individual cannot visualise images in their minds eye. It was first described in 1880, but it’s only since 2015 that we’ve had a name for it, coined by Professor Zeman at the University of Exeter. Now I’ve successfully summarised the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page on aphantasia, let’s take a trip down the rabbit hole together.

In October of last year, I was hopping around the wonderful world of Youtube when I encountered a video by AmyRightMeow named, “I have APHANTASIA (and you may too…without realising it!)”. AmyRightMeow is a Welsh artist, known for her animation/animatic work on Youtube, Instagram and most other social networking platforms. The video describes how she recently realised that she has aphantasia and that in order to draw she relies heavily on reference pictures to build up landscapes, living rooms and even people.

I became somewhat obsessed with this idea. And I know, an alternate way of thinking seems like a terrible thing to be obsessed with, but it amazed me that someone with such a different mind could still be so creative. In the back of my head, I kept thinking about it and kept thinking about it, until finally I turned to the good people of the writing community on Twitter. I posed a simple question, “how many of you picture scenes in your head while writing, and how many of you don’t picture anything?” and I got a pretty amazing response.

aphantasia 1

Of the 186 people who voted in the poll, 90% visualised while writing, but 10% did not, a much higher number that the 2% predicted to have aphantasia in the world’s population. Of course, it may be that people with aphantasia were busy searching Twitter for folks talking about the condition when I posted the poll, which would inevitably skew the results. However, I found a surprising number of folks I already followed and chatted with believed they had it too.

The discussions I had with people who have aphantasia were immensely interesting. For instance, you’ll notice that I’m not using terms like “suffer from” or “afflicted with” when I talk about aphantasia, and that’s because the vast majority of the folks I spoke to with this condition didn’t convey that kind of sentiment to me at all. The way they think about the world is different, not difficult. The “aphants” I spoke to found it just as strange to imagine being able to picture things, as I do trying to figure out what it’s like not to be able to do it.

I spent two days chatting about this on Twitter, and with my irl friends via Facebook and by the end of it, three really interesting points came out of my discussions:

  • One of my followers (sorry, I’ve forgotten who and I can’t find the tweet!) suggested that folks with aphantasia may be attracted to writing as a form of creativity, as they can describe things through fact stories, i.e. they know how to describe an apple, but they store it as a list of facts rather than visualising it. Writing is a way of being creative, that doesn’t require the ability to visualise, which might explain that 10% I found through my poll.
  • While the original research on aphantasia focused on the ability to visualise, the term can also be used to talk about a limited ability to imagine any of the senses. When I posed this to my friends from university, they found it fascinating that I can fully imagine all five of the “basic” senses, while they had varying levels of ability for each. This probably goes someway to explaining how absorbed I get when writing 😉
  • Some people also don’t think in words. This stumped me, and honestly, I’m still struggling to wrap my head around it (probably because I think using ALL THE WORDS). Essentially (and this may be a bit wrong, so apologies), some people think in concepts, rather than words or images. I think the easiest way I can exemplify this is with the idea of love. We have plenty of words to describe love, and we feel it, but we also have a concept of it sitting in our brain. When we see it in the real world, we recognise it and think about it, even if we don’t pay it much attention. We might not internally say “they’re in love”, but we might make a series of connections that lead to something else. Like we might look at a couple holding hands and suddenly find ourselves texting our own partner. There’s been a series of thoughts to make that connection, but we don’t necessarily know what they were, because we don’t pay enough attention to when we’re thinking without words. This is an article Alice Cann shared with me if you interesting in diving even further down this rabbit hole.

Basically, the curious case of aphantasia in the writing community has taught me that human perception and consciousness are utterly baffling, completely ridiculous, and I love everything about them. I may also have gotten a third PhD idea from this…possibly, definitely.

So, how do you think? Do you see pictures? Can you imagine touch, taste, smell and sound? Or do you have aphantasia? How do you think it affects the way you interact with the world?

Honestly, I have so many questions about this, I could go on and on. However, for now, I shall love you and leave you. Folks who have aphantasia or who don’t think in words, please feel free to correct me if you spot anything I’ve got wrong!

Otherwise, I hope you’ve enjoyed this somewhat bizarre blog post and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Best,

EM.

What up, 2019?!

What up, 2019?!
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What up, 2019?!

As my last blog was a catch-up post, I won’t go into great detail as to why I then went silent for another short stint. I was ill, it went on and on, Christmas, New Year, blah blah blah. I normally attempt to post something when I’m ill, but honestly I was pushing myself to do a ton of festive stuff and at the end of it all…I needed my bed, friends.

Anyway, “What up, 2019?!” she says, vaguely referencing the 1999 Budweiser ads (while desperately trying to avoid realising how long ago that was now). Welcome to the traditional beginning of year reflection and goal setting blog post. I know a lot of people hate New Year’s and I’ve seen a lot of eye-rolling and sarcastic posts about resolutions in the last few days. But me? I love this time of year. Unshakeably so.

Yes, you shouldn’t wait for New Year’s to set a goal. If you think, “Actually, I really want to read 10 books this year,” and it’s July, get to it! But what New Year’s offers is a great big BOOMING reminder to sit yourself down and think about what you’re doing, whether it’s right for you and if there’s anything you’d like to change. Now, some might argue that you should you endeavour to engage in self-reflection more than once a year. Those people are probably right. However, if you’re anything like me (in that you run from self-reflection 364/5 days of the year), New Year’s is a perfectly attainable, bare minimum amount of inward thinking that we can all strive to meet.

So, every January 1st , I crack the spine on a new diary and make a list of things that I want to try doing in the new year and a list of things I just want to try doing in life, at some point. (Someday I will ride a mountain coaster, GDI!)

However, what I don’t tend to reflect on while I write that list is this blog. I often write “Blog more”, “Blog regularly”, but I never really think about the type of content I’m producing until I’m sat down at a computer trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to write.

When I rebooted this blog last year (The Sequel Part 2: Return of the Sequel), I talked about how I disliked the rigid timetable I’d used before, and how, despite enjoying flicking through my previous posts, I didn’t feel like they really reflected what I wanted to do with the blog. I think 2018 was better on both fronts; the upload schedule was much easier to meet and my posts were more closely related to what I was doing. Looking down the list, I’m quite proud of what I produced.

That being said, there are a few things I’d like to change for 2019. So here we go with my blogging resolutions:

  1. Bring back book reviews – For some reason, I completely refused to do these in 2018 and I think that was a big mistake.
  2. Keep a list of any blog ideas – I started off with this last year, but as I got busier that list got real short, real fast.
  3. Set aside time to jot out blogs in advance – To avoid writing from scratch on the day of posting, every time.
  4. Actually implement blog redesign – I have the drawings, I just never got around to getting it on the computer and coding it all up.
  5. Add proofreading services page – Because, hey, I proofread now 😉
  6. Stop looking at your hits counter and write what you want – For a hot minute, I fully considered turning this into an alternative beauty blog because The Dos and Don’ts of Double Helix Piercings is still getting regular attention.

And I think that’s it. Only 6 little things that have been bugging me, but I think they’ll ultimately make this blog much more enjoyable for everyone involved 🙂

But anyway, enough about me! What up with your 2019?! What are your resolutions for this year? What changes are you making in your life?

 

Best,

EM.

Catch-Up: What have you been doing???

Catch-Up: What have you been doing???
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Catch-Up: What have you been doing???

You may or may not have noticed that I disappeared for a couple of months. I hit August, finished the first draft of my MA dissertation, realised I needed to rewrite most of it and took an executive decision; it would be better to fall off the face of the internet for a bit than to lose my sanity trying to juggle everything.

Of course, after my dissertation was handed in I had to move, then I had my birthday, visits from friends and long unseen relatives and, finally, I got hit in the face by my old enemy – the stress illness. I jotted down a few blog ideas, but I never quite managed to get around to writing them up and actually posting them.

And then, the longer I left it… the trickier it got to just put something up. I wanted to do an update post, but so much was happening that I wasn’t sure where to start.

So, this week, I decided enough was enough, sat down and jotted a list of the major things that have happened over the last few months. Hopefully, this will answer the buzzing question; WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING???

 

1. Making friends on Twitter:

Back in July, I suddenly figured out how to use Twitter effectively and started making some great writery friends through hashtag games and writer tags. In September, as a way of thanking the community for the warm welcome I’d received (and to celebrate my birthday), I ran my own prompt game called, “#EMPrompts”. A fair few folks got involved, and it was good fun reading through all the stories people came up with. Seriously, if you’re a budding writer looking to make connections, Twitter is the place to be. Start with #WritingCommunity or #WritersTable. The majority of people involved are insanely friendly, non-creepy humans who just love to write. I reached 1000 followers over on Twitter last month, and I’m still too overwhelmed to figure out how to thank everyone XD

2. Writing (and not writing) Moon-Sitting:

After I recovered from my cold, the first thing on my agenda was finishing a draft of Moon-Sitting. My initial intent was to get this novella out before the end of 2018, and my pace at the beginning was excellent. I hammered out the first draft in a few weeks, but after that things came to a grinding halt. I want to talk about this in more depth in a future blog post, so I won’t go into the details here, but basically I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of months trying to talk myself back around to finishing it. It’s only in this last week that I’ve recaptured my excitement for the story, so it’s looking like Moon-Sitting should be out early next year.

3. Proofreading:

Finally, I took on some proofreading work during November, including an MA Literature dissertation of 30,000 words and a non-fiction history book of 40,000 words. It was something I enjoyed a great deal and, if anyone is looking for a proofreader, feel free to contact me via e-mail (em.harding@hotmail.co.uk) or DM me on Twitter (@EM_Writing). I don’t bite and I’m very thorough 😉 Fiction or non-fiction, I’m happy to look at either.

 

It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster, but things are finally settling down. I also had some excellent news in November; I got a distinction for my MA in Applied Linguistics (including a distinction for my dissertation). I graduate this week (on Wednesday 12th Dec), and there is some talk of trying to edit my dissertation into an article for publication. I am incredibly excited, as you can imagine.

Anyway, I’m hoping to start posting fairly regularly again, but I may swap to Sundays (rather than Saturdays) when things are a bit quieter at home. I’ll try to post weekly, but may go for fortnightly during busy periods.

Hope everything is going well for all of you and that this winter season is treating you kindly, if a little coldly!

Best,

EM.

Fiction: The Bathroom Floor

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Fiction: The Bathroom Floor

Eva got off the bus and waved to Ally and Kyle as it sped away. It had been a weird morning. A session of English and a session of Psychology, followed by coming out to two friends in the front seat of a 168. Eva had only known them for a few months. The confession sat weirdly in the pit of her stomach, but Kyle was gay and Ally bisexual, so it’s not like she was the only queer on the bus.

Eva trekked up the hill towards her house and let herself in. Her phone buzzed.

So are you seeing anyone at the moment? – Ally

Eva blinked at the screen and put it back in her pocket, then washed the dishes left on the side from breakfast. She plodded up the stairs, put her bag in her room and walked into the bathroom and locked the door.

She took her phone out of her pocket, bit her tongue and wrote:

No. I’m not dating anyone.

Eva lay down on the floor next to the bathtub and traced the outline of the wooden panelling. Her phone buzzed again. She counted to ten.

I was, uh, wondering if you might like to go out with me? – Ally

Eva plopped her phone down in the middle of her chest and stared at the ceiling.

She was 17. She’d been kissed once during a game of spin the bottle, but no-one had ever paid her any real attention before. The ceiling was white, but had a couple of marks where her sister had swatted a moth, but wasn’t tall enough to clean up the mess.

Ally was nice. And she was cute. Eva was attracted to her, but as she lay on the bathroom floor she realised that her whole body felt numb.

Finally, Eva took a long, tight breath. Then shot back:

Yeah! Okay 🙂

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