Declutter

I’m not crazy, it’s my characters talking to me in my head

-Ksenia Anske

Photo credit: Leah Johnston

Photo credit: Leah Johnston

Life has been crazier than normal this October. I blame the ravens that have been cluttering up my mind. As well as the unnecessary tumbleweeds taking up valuable brainpower and focus.

I spent this morning releasing the contents of my brain into a journal and it felt great to channel the fullness I have been carrying around somewhere. Strangely enough, I have so much more energy and time to catch up on everything I haven’t been able to get a handle on such as:

Blogging.

Writing.

Revising.

Beta reading.

AND cleaning the house believe it or not –  and it’s only lunchtime!

There is less than three months until the year is over and I believe we can all still make some serious headway and accomplish goals we have been working towards by taking the time to reassess and remember what they are.

Top 3 goals I want to achieve by 2013 are:

  1. Complete Dancing Peregrine Revisions
  2. Complete first draft of New_NaNo_Project
  3. Consistently workout 3 times a week.

How about you? What top three goals do you have your eyes set on?

Love and light,

Anushka xx

 

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GUEST INTERVIEW: AUTHOR KSENIA ANSKE

There are only three things I do. I read. I write. And I fart glitter

-Ksenia Anske

 

Image

[CREATURE PROFILE]:

Name: Ksenia Anske

Species: Delirious panda

Occupation: Writer of fantasy stuff

Location: Seattle

Plotter/Panster: Pantser with wings

Inspired by: J.K. Rowling, Stephen King

Writer fuel of choice: Coffee

Muse Status: On vacation

***

[CREATURE INTERVIEW]:

Siren Suicides Front Cover Book 1

  1. Congratulations on publishing your trilogy Siren Suicides. Did you do anything special to celebrate this publishing milestone, like say, dancing in a pink tutuNope, sadly, I didn’t. I was so wrapped up in writing my 2nd novel, Rosehead, that it didn’t even cross my mind to celebrate!
  2.  You have mentioned that writing Siren Suicides was a healing and therapeutic process for you. How does it feel to release these books to the world? You know, releasing them into the world felt just like another task I have to do, so it wasn’t as exhilarating as I thought it would be. But finishing writing 5th draft, on the other hand, was what made me jump up and down, which I even recorded in this fine dancing video – dancing on my bed, I shall say.Chapter Heading
  3. Your daughter designed the illustrations for the chapter headings (which look incredible by the way). How did you find the process of artistically sharing this journey with her? It was a journey that we sort of did together from the start. I was very afraid to embark on writing a whole trilogy, she was encouraging me, beta reading for me, giving me her honest teenage perspective, which was invaluable, so it sort of seamlessly drifted into illustration, and then into book cover design.
  4. What inspired you to turn the face of publishing on its head and give away all your books for free?Siren Suicides Front Cover Book 2 Well, I was suicidal and writing Siren Suicides pulled me out of my darkness, and that is the reason why it will forever remain free – all ebooks are downloadable in most common ebook formats on my site.
  5. As an artist, have there been moments where you have second-guessed your decision to leave the corporate world (and financial stability) to write full time? If so, how did you overcome these doubts? Yes, I was scared, especially because I was also in the middle of a divorce, a single mom, so I thought I’m doing something completely crazy. But about 1 year before I finally quit, I was bicycling home from work and I got hit by a truck. I woke up in the hospital, badly bruised but intact and then decided that I have to quit my job and start doing what I always wanted to do, start writing full time, but it took me another year to muster the courage to actually do it. And, you know, when you wake up and realize you could’ve been dead, suddenly decisions like this seem very easy. I never second-guessed it.
  6. You are currently in the process of revising your second novel Rosehead, which is due to be published this coming October. What are some of the similarities and differences you’ve experienced in the writing process compared with Siren Suicides? It’s very different. For one, I don’t have to revisit my painful past every day like I did for Siren Suicides, for two, I am now familiar with the process and it won’t take me as much time and as many drafts as Siren Suicides, and for three, I’m not as afraid anymore. The daily doubt was killing me when I wrote my first novel, I would go into these almost daily crying bouts before actually starting to write. I don’t have that anymore, and I also don’t waste my time on research anymore, as I did with my first book. I do enough to make the facts believable, because by now I know that the story is the most important thing, research is secondary.
  7. For Siren Suicides you had over 300 beta readers during various drafts. How did you deal with the fear of sharing your work and what was your reason for having your WIP so accessible?Siren Suicides Front Cover Book 3 I actually wasn’t as afraid to share it, as I was afraid to write it. Sharing was something that would give me feedback, and I was dying to hear feedback, both good and bad and everything in between, to learn how to be a better writer. And my reason was exactly that, to hear from my readers what they liked or didn’t like, because if 8 people out of 10 said the same thing, that meant I had to change it, which I did, like, for example, one thing everyone agreed on was that there was too much swearing, so I cut out most of it.
  8. You inspire so many people around the world (myself included) with your writing, openness and dedication to your art. Who inspires you? My love. My Chapter Picture 2boyfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years, and it’s because he believed in me as a writer that I started writing. When I made the decision to quit my career, he was the one who supported that decision, and he painstakingly read every evening (and still reads) everything I wrote during the day. He would read to me aloud, and then we would discuss it, and I would make changes the next day. I literally believe that his love allowed me to believe in myself, and then my love let me trust him, trust in his belief that I can write. I’m so happy right now that all my stuff from the past, everything is pouring out of me into stories. Well, of course, if you mean who inspires me in terms of authors, then I should say J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and Hugh Howey. And there are more, but I will stop, otherwise there will be a whole page with names.
  9. You have a very solid social media following, what do you say to writers who say they don’t have time to blog or build a platform? Then they shouldn’t. It’s not about time, really, it’s about doing what you love. If you will force yourself to blog, and if you don’t like doing it, people will sense it and they will not visit your blog very often, if at all. Just because everyone blogs or tweets or whatever, doesn’t mean that every writer should do that. You should do what you’re comfortable doing, and what you’re excited about. Maybe you love book readings and physical interactions with your readers, then host reading parties at your house (or at a bookstore, if you can talk them into that). Seriously, you can do more damage to your image by constantly auto-tweeting links to your books as opposed to not tweeting at all, or not blogging at all. I find it hard to believe, however, that writers would not want to blog. Blogging is writing, and writers love writing, that’s our life, you know what I mean? The reason I am so active online is because I love it, I love to share, I love to blog, I’m addicted to tweeting, perhaps that’s why people follow me, because they sense it? I’m still puzzled myself, because I think that most of the time I utter complete nonsense.
  10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? At my writing desk, writing.Ksenia Boat
  11. What’s a fun fact about yourself you haven’t shared online yet? That I haven’t shared? That’s tough. I think I’ve shared everything already. Let’s see… all right, here is one. I sometimes indulge in reading Monty Python (I have a fat book of their unabridged episode scripts) right before bedtime, to get inspired to tweet something like *dreams of Scotsmen rapidly hurtling through woods* or *is chasing penguin on pogo sticks on the Moon*, because there is an episode where penguins jumping on pogo sticks are mentioned, as well as Scotsmen running through woods. There, I haven’t shared this little fact with anyone yet.

[CREATURE SPACE]:

Rosehead Desk

Tell us about your creative space in 5 words.

Clean. Organized. Blasting loud music.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

ImageKsenia was born in Moscow, Russia, and came to US in 1998 not knowing English, having studied architecture and not dreaming that one day she’d be writing. SIREN SUICIDES, an urban fantasy set in Seattle, is her first novel. She lives in Seattle with her boyfriend and their combined three kids in a house that they like to call The Loony Bin. www.kseniaanske.com 

Twitter.  Facebook.  Google+. YouTube. Pinterest. Instagram.

Do Something That Makes You Feel Pretty Everyday

Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements

– Napoleon Hill

The world of writing is beautiful one.

Exquisite.

Delicious.

Exasperating.

There are days when the words flow and revision comes easy. There are also plenty of ‘those days.’ You know, the ones where housework looks like lots of fun.

Then of course, there are the days writers forget to, you know, shower.

I recently met up with a friend I haven’t seen in years. We have a habit of travelling and relocating to different countries, and it wasn’t until she had a baby we were finally able to meet. (Not that it’s stopped her from going overseas since). When I walked into the café to meet with my long-lost friend, I could not believe how amazing she looked. She didn’t have a face full of makeup or anything like that, but there was something.

We got talking and she told me the best advice she was ever given by a mother was to do something little everyday to make yourself look pretty. Feel human. That little something could be simple as wearing lipstick or changing out of your pyjamas in the morning.

This revelation immediately got me thinking about my own lifestyle. I may not be a mother, but a lot of my life is based at home. The advantage (and peril) of being your own boss AND a writer. So naturally, it is quite easy for me to look like someone who was born in a bin, fell out of a bin, or simply…is a bin. Okay, the last one didn’t make any sense but you get my drift.

Since meeting my beautiful friend I have since adjusted a few things in my life. I make it a priority to shower and get ready for the day as soon as I wake up. I never wear my pjs when I write, preferring to save that for cosy Sundays watching my favourite movies or being huddled under a blanket reading a book. The difference it has made to my mental state is incredible!

I no longer look like a hobo, or feel like one.

Now, if only I brushed my hair every now and again.

What do you do everyday to make yourself feel pretty or even the tiniest bit human?

Love and light,

Anushka xx

Calling All Creative Creatures

Hello Beautiful Creatures!

I know it’s been quiet the past week. Life has been incredibly busy and hectic – in a good way! I haven’t felt more inspired or motivated as I do now and the past week has made me realise a few things to help me keep on top of things.

  1. I need to reschedule my posts for every Wednesday and Saturday because it works better with my lifestyle and commitments
  2. I LOVE hosting creative creatures on the blog
  3. I am yet to find the perfect work/writing/life balance
  4. I am so excited by National Novel Writing Month

I didn’t want this post to take up one of the regular spots on Wednesday or Saturday so I thought I would break the rules and post early!

Finding My Creature is looking for creative creatures to GUEST POST over here to celebrate all things spring and NaNoWriMo.

EXCITING!

If you are interested in contributing, send me a pitch of your idea HERE along with a link to your blog/website.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Love and light,

Anushka xx

5 Tips for getting over Blogger’s Block

In order to write about life, first you must live it

– Ernest Hemingway

5 Tips for getting over Bloggers Block

  1. Eat chocolate Go outside and DO something that isn’t writing related
  2. Visit the top 5 blogs you absolutely love and write down what aspects about those blogs draw them to you.
  3. Free write a list of blog topics without inhibition
  4. Dedicate a block of time to organise your blog posts for the week, it really does make a difference
  5. Above all else, be true to your writer voice and embrace the wonderment that is the journey of writing

Where do your blog ideas come from?

Love and light,

Anushka xx

PS – I’m really excited to share the blog topics I have come up with, stay tuned.

Spring Reflections & Writing Goals


The best time to set up a new discipline is when the idea is strong

– Jim Rohn

In Australia, the first glimmer of spring has arrived.  The warm breeze, the feeble rays of sunshine and the appearance of flowers waiting to bloom are signs winter is leaving us behind. It feels like only yesterday I was reminiscing about what I love about the cold, and I can’t help but feel a tiny bit sad about this change.

I’m not going to lie, I am a little bit jealous of the pumpkin spice happiness most of you will be experiencing to celebrate all things fall. Okay, very jealous. It wasn’t until I lived in Vancouver did I understand this phenomenon. When Starbucks was going pumpkin spice crazy, I was a complete snob and utterly bewildered by this craze. Who on earth would want such a horrifying combination? But during a moment of homesickness and missing my mother, I purchased my first one and fell in love. I knew if she was in Vancouver with me she’d be ordering them like crazy, because pumpkin and all things spice, are probably her two most favourite things right there – her children a close third, fourth and fifth.  Reading in the rain amongst the hustle and bustle of Starbucks with a pumpkin spiced latte in hand helped me feel closer to home and those I love.

With the change of seasons I tend to reflect on the past and remember beautiful memories I didn’t realise I missed. I  also evaluate my goals and I thought it would be fun to share them here.

1.    Complete my 2nd revision and edits for Dancing Peregrine by the end of October 2014. This will mark one year since I finished my first rewrite. I can’t believe I left a big gap between revisiting it, but life had other plans and countries to explore and I wouldn’t change any of it. It has been an amazing journey of growth and dramatic changes and I have finally learned to respect the journey instead of fighting it.

2.    Write query letter and begin researching suitable agents. I have been putting this off for too long.  I’m sure I am not alone in this.

3.    Submit Dancing Peregrine by the end of the year. That said, it needs to feel ready and not rushed. I’m also going to constantly remind myself to enjoy the process.

4.    Enter NaNoWriMo! Words cannot begin to explain how badly I want to do this. The thrill of experiencing first draft mania has not been experienced in a long time (2.5 years?). Regardless of whether Dancing Peregrine is completed or not, I will be doing this. I need a new story and a new world. Another creative spark needs to be ignited.

Even though I don’t get to experience pumpkin spiced lattes, maybe I’m feeling a little bit excited by what the rest of the year has in store for me creatively.

What are your goals for the changing of the season?

Love and light,

Anushka xx

GUEST POST: What About All That Platform Stuff?

What about all that platform stuff?

By Devin Berglund

One of the big questions authors ask about expanding their platform… is… how do you expand your platform? Haha… crazy, right? Have you ever asked yourself this question before? If so, I have some helpful tips for you.

Blog House Keeping

In order to have people spend time on your blog you have to make sure people would enjoy spending time on your blog. Check out some blogs that you really like and see what they are doing right.

I’m sure you know of the blogs out there that are made up of few pictures, unreadable font, and colors that scream cheap. Well, that is something we don’t want. Oh, I forgot to mention the blogs that start playing cheesy music as soon as you enter them – that’s one thing that drives me crazy!

House Keeping Homework:

1.) Make sure it’s easy to maneuver around your blog. If it’s hard for you, it will be hard for your readers.

2.) Set a subscription box up for your readers so you can collect emails. (feedburner)

3.) Free vs Self Hosted – I recently switched from the free WordPress to a self-hosted WordPress account (.coms are important.)

4.) When people comment on your blog, be sure to respond.

5.) Publish posts consistently. (And if you are a fiction writer be sure to share your stories. Start writing some short stories to share with your blog readers.)

Stretch Your Blogging Wings

Yep, I just said that.

Haha… but for real. You need to take a little trip out from your blog to find other bloggers who write about things you enjoy as well. How are other bloggers going to find you, if you don’t? And make sure to comment. Form a relationship with them (The blogger will most definitely comment back and will probably check your blog out too.) That’s what platforms are all about. Relationships.

Stretch Your Blogging Wings Homework:

1.) Be sure to post on your social networks. (When on twitter be sure to use the hash tags.)

2.) Take part in writer’s/blogger’s workshops. The more you learn the better.

3.) Share your readers – guest post on people’s blogs. (Make sure you know how to do it professionally. I once had a writer contact me saying they were a freelance writer and were wondering if I accepted guest posts or features. I was thinking “Sure” until I read that she charged so much. That was a huge turnoff to me as a blogger. I am sure many bloggers are put off from that.)

4.) Have a call for submissions – Send a line out that you are looking for submissions (guest bloggers). When I went on vacation, I wasn’t going to be near the computer much so I had a call for submissions and set most of the posts up to publish before I went on vacation. It keeps your blog from going dry, while also introducing other writers to your readers. This goes back to relationships. You can also ask a blogging friend you respect, to guest post. Ask them. I am sure they’d love to.

How about you? What are some things you’ve found helpful for platform building?

Devin BerglundI am a writer, dreamer, wanderer & all-time enjoyer of life. I love crafting stories that change lives. I recently finished my first book The Mason of Hearts. It is the first in a Fantasy Adventure trilogy. I am also working toward agent representation. 

www.devinberglund.com

Writing to silence

“Silence is more musical than any song.”

— Christina Georgina Rossetti

Somewhere along the way on my writing journey, the music disappeared.

Did it get stolen?

No.

It simply ceased to be.

Writing to silence is a beautiful thing. I hear everything, yet nothing at the same time.

Every story has a different process and this one is silence. I respect that now, after all this time. For so long I wanted to be the writer with the cool playlists, filled with inspirational songs and artists. But I realise now, it wasn’t to be.

This story is silence, like snow.

The world I explore is abandoned and cursed. The heroine, alone and lost.

There are secrets and blood.

A forgotten past.

Music disappeared from the story, because there is so much within the silence that can be heard.

Screams, tears and the missing links.

…I believe my muse has been trying to tell me this all along.

I am beginning to fall in love with my WIP once again. The second round of revision feels different, more precise and closer to almost there. I am ruthless with my cutting and rewrites – and feel empowered – because I am a different writer. One who will sacrifice anything to make sure the characters can be heard.

It isn’t easy to delete chapters or a beautiful character…but in the silence, I heard the final whispers of the story.

Have there been moments when the misty pieces began to reveal itself to you?

Love and light,

Anushka xx

When you don’t believe in fairies…

“…there’s a little fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”

– Peter Pan

I love turning pages, both electronic and real. Devouring words and being captured by a story is essential to my mind like breathing is to the body. So you can imagine the impact it had when one of my friends happened to utter the following words upon seeing me hold an actual, real-life  book in my hands.

“You still buy them? I just download books now.”

…I’m pretty sure a writer just died.

The resulting conversation got me thinking about people’s perception on ebooks.

A) Do they realise how affordable an ebook is?

B) Do they understand the detrimental impact lack of purchase has on an author’s career?

C) Do they simply not care?

I personally, will never ever illegally download a book. There are so many options available, ranging from libraries and book stores to online book sellers like Book Depository and hello…Amazon, just to name a few. Did I mention how affordable ebooks are? Knowing all this leaves me quite baffled that there are people out there who torrent books without giving the creator of the work a second thought.

You may now all picture poor writers living in a shoe.

This got me thinking more deeply about my own relationship with ebooks. When E-readers first came out, never in my wildest imagination did I imagine myself owning such a horrific creation…let alone two. Well, three if you count my phone. It wasn’t until I moved to Vancouver to go to acting school did I finally embrace the concept of a e-reader. I was happy to buy all the books to my hearts content, but they were expensive and the thought of leaving them behind when I moved back home to Australia broke my heart. (Remember, we are talking about a poor acting student here, and yes, the library became my friend). Naturally, owning a kindle became the next logical step for me. Not only were there free classics to download from Amazon, I was also able to lose myself in endless stories while not becoming destitute in the process.

Those are the positives. Unfortunately, I also happen to have a few major pet peeves when it comes to ebooks.

These are:

1) Purchasing an ebook that is more expensive than buying the paperback/hardback

The first time I encountered this phenomenon, I was dying to get my hands on the next book of a series. To my disgust, it was grossly overpriced – around the 12 dollars mark if I recall correctly*. I’m ashamed to say I did grit my teeth and buy it, but only because I was living in a small country town and the chances of my local bookshop having it in stock was slim. Plus, I wanted it right this second. I understand that some authors can command this kind of price or above, but when Game of Thrones is going for less than ten dollars it puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

* I am more than happy to pay $12 and above for a book, my problems with pricing is solely with ebooks. I don’t want to feel like I am being taken advantaged of by a money hungry conglomerate.

2) Purchasing an ebook that is one dollar less than the hardback

Please, no explanation needed.

3)When an unknown published/self-published author charges a crazy amount for an ebook

I have purchased ebooks by unfamiliar authors no matter the price, because I am Team Writer all the way. But when I read a badly edited novel, deep down I can’t help but think that my time, or money, is not being respected. I believe the quality of the story is important, as well as creating a positive relationship with your reader. The reality of the current ebook market is that it’s saturated by novels that barely pass first draft quality. Don’t be that person, and don’t charge an exorbitant amount if you are that person.

4) When ebooks aren’t available. 

I have lost count of the times I have wanted to purchase an ebook only to discover it’s not available anywhere. This wouldn’t be a problem if actual bookstores weren’t going extinct left, right and centre and if one is patient enough to actually wait for a book to arrive in the mail. I’m not that person.

So the question remains, what can we as writers do?

Yes, we can bemoan the lack of respect toward our art and voodoo all those who dare illegally download a book, but there is serious misinformation and ignorance here. The reason my friend downloads books (another writer just died) is because he has ‘no money.’ Which I respect completely, but not everyone knows an ebook can be the price of a coffee. We can’t force others to love books the way we do and to support the author behind the work just because we understand the next contract depends on numbers.

No blog post can solve the dilemma of ebook piracy and the topic itself is quite complex and multifaceted. However, I believe there is something, we as writers can do. We need to be better prepared to survive in this industry by making ourselves accessible.  The writers I love the most are the ones who blog regularly, tweet, Facebook and even Instagram. I follow indie authors who are giving their ebooks away for FREE on their site while sharing their writing process with followers. I think it’s beautiful and reminds us again why we all write stories in the first place.

…To connect with readers.

When people feel connected to the writer behind the words, more often than not, we genuinely want to support them.

A writer is saved by buying a book.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please feel free to share.

Love and light,

Anushka xx

Imaginary Bookshelves

“The truth.” Dumbledore sighed.“It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.” 

Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

Hello lovely creatures, just letting you know I have ventured into the world of Goodreads. It’s such a wonderful way to keep track of all the books I want to read and an even better way to keep track of the books I have read and forgotten about. Would love to connect with those who have it, because there is nothing I like more than peeking into bookshelves, even virtual ones.

The downside to Goodreads is that it may, or may not double up, as a procrastination outlet. Of course one discovers these gems when submerged in the depths of revision and deadlines. Timed sessions it is.

To give you a bit of an update about what is happening around here, I will be posting regularly every Monday and Thursday. Blogging has been a great outlet to help connect me with many wonderful people and also doubles up as a fun side-project away from the WIP. So expect to see more creature presence around here as well as guest posts and interviews with inspiring creative artists.

Feel free to share your Goodreads username/link in the comments. If you are reading anything that is taking your breath away let me know, because I am always searching for those stories with the power to haunt a soul well after the last page has been turned.

Love and light,

Anushka xx