List of WIPs
Please note: I have been writing for decades. I have hundreds of ideas. These are just some I'm choosing to focus on right now. If you think any of these are good, please let me know. I am choosing these purely by gut feeling.
Well, Well, Well... - Non-fiction, writing a proposal. It's a memoir inspired by my need to talk about feminism and realising that my grandma, my mum and me are a perfect story of feminism. It's kind of like 'Wild Swans - Jung Chang', except it's about three completely ordinary women. The first one was married 3 times, had 7 kids, believed that it is an insult to women for women to have a 'job'. The second one couldn't wait to get a job, got married and divorced with the same guy 3 times, had 3 kids which she raised by herself through economic crisis, war, refugee life and post war. The third is not married, has no kids, no place of her own, works as much as the other two yet just can't seem to get it right. The level of education from one woman to the next is progressive, thought the level of knowledge might not be. One thing that is true of all three women is that their lives were greatly affected by the the society they lived in.
War and Fireflies - Editing Part 1 with writers at Hawaii Writers Guild. Part 2 and 3 are shaping themselves. This is my 'odd' story. Unlike any other story I've ever done, this one is creating itself.
Torment and Ointment (working title) - Alma's story. Alma is a character in Just Another Life. Her story will be told in two parts. Part one is already done, the part where she has some support, but not enough. Part two is where she becomes a warrior.
Wantmore Farm - this was a set of stories I made up for my nieces and nephew. Now that I am taking a picture book course, and LOVING IT, all these ideas I had for picture books will be rewritten. I really want to get into this field. I have more than 20 stories for picture books. It is insane what happened to me once I started this course. Of course, I'm not going to work on all of them. But I am excited to work on Meg the Magpie and How to make the Christmas Tree Happy - yeah, we've got one beautiful Christmas tree, but it seems to be miserable.
Confessions of the Snow Queen - Being cold, isn't always cold. 22,000 words, but it needs editing. And I want to add things, so I might change age group and rewrite the whole story.
Notes for the Underground, London Style - done long ago, should go through it again. I remember having fun writing this.
Curious Case of Tarik Spahia - based on real evens during the war in Bosnia, but I've put them in a main of an old guy who talks about them to a girl he met on a train. The ending is the real shocker here.
Waltz with Aphrodite - my one and only chick-lit needs another look after all these years
The Art of War in 21C - Citizen Activism - I'm splitting this into articles, I think. Undecided. I need some advice on what's best to do with this one.
Jay the Dracula - Loving this YA experiment. Submitted it to a couple of publishers, but no luck.
Republishing a Just Another Life - a note
Many years ago now I decided to write a book with the intention of publishing it. For me, this was a huge deal. I love to write, but up to that moment, I wrote only for myself. No one was ever allowed to read what I wrote. All my writing was like a top-secret.
My primary motivation behind this decision was ‘unheard voices’. I worked as an activist, listening to people talk about all kinds of stuff, and I felt like those voices should be heard, like they deserve to be out there. Also, listening to them gave me ideas about the world, ideas that many considered ‘unique’ or ‘novel’. Well, novel ideas deserve to be in a novel, right? Makes sense to me.
I have no idea how many drafts I wrote before I said ‘Yes, this is the draft I could give to a friend.’
Luckily, I have a friend who studied literature. I took her positive review with a pinch of salt. Let’s face it, she is a friend. Until I gave her another book I wrote some years later. We are friends, and I know she loves me as much as I love her, but her respect for literature is bigger than our friendship. Her negative views on my second book gave me so much joy. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it made me trust her opinion. That’s when I learned that I like to hear the truth about my books, no matter if it’s nice or ugly.
I had the book proofread, went through all the corrections, forcing myself to leave the story as it is. I remember telling myself that I have to just leave it, and that’s ‘it’s fine’.
I wrote to all the agents I could find. I also submitted the book to as many publishers. Anyone asking for submissions got my manuscript, or as much as they asked for. I was certain someone would send a positive response. No one sent any response, positive or negative. I did not receive a reply from anyone.
There was only one option: self-publish. I researched how to do this and the first step was to get ISBN. Funnily enough, the first time the book felt real to me was when I got my ISBN; I got it through the National Library. That number was such a big deal. My book was registered somewhere. It existed outside my mind, heart, and home.
Then I worked on the cover. I wanted the cover to reflect the story. I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I was certain my book would be judged by its cover. I worked on it for weeks, nonstop. Every bit is original and mine. Even the central painting, I did it in oil paint. I still have that painting.
I found enough money to print 500 copies besides making it available in e-format on all the sites I could find. Printed copies sold reasonably well, I think I have about 30 left, but e-copies hardly moved. Reviews were practically impossible to get. This was the biggest slap in the face. I had this dream that the topics my characters discuss would be discussed by my readers, ordinary people who inspired me in the first place. It was kind of like a circle of life, which would be fitting since the book is called Just Another Life, and the circle is reflected in the plot — the story ends where it started.
By this point, I wanted to become a writer more than anything. It was like discovering something about myself that I never knew. I wanted to write more with the intention of publishing. And I did. Guess what, when you want to write, no one can stop you. So I wrote and wrote and wrote. I have a bit of a collection now. But that’s not what a writer should do. A writer must balance their time between writing, and networking, and marketing, and submitting, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Of course, I only learned this recently.
Years passed and I was waiting for someone to challenge May’s view on this or that, or to find that Benjamin’s response was this or that, or that they liked the way Alma explained this or that. It didn’t happen.
Recently I learned about book marketing. Boy, was I shocked. Like an idiot, I assumed that when you write a good book, word-of-mouth is enough. I believed in this so much, that I doubted all previous reviews (which were very positive) and I had the book review by onlinebookclub.com (see the review here). They confirmed that my book is good. So why wasn’t it selling? Because I never put any effort into marketing it!
That’s about to change. If you’ve read the onlinebookclub review, you would have seen that the only reason I lost a star is the errors. I know I can’t fix those myself, so I’ve just found another proofreader. I will soon un-publish the book, and republish it as a new edition. Except this time, I will be promoting it before I publish it.
I am also working on a new cover. I have designed MANY covers for this book. Non as complicated (or thoughtful) as the original.
I will be unifying the back cover info and the blurb — right now, every site where the book is available is different. What was I thinking? Why did I write a new back cover each time I published? Those are the hardest to write, why did I torment myself like that? I think I was experimenting, trying to see which one would work best. In the end, none of them worked.
I will be organizing competitions. The first one will be about ‘what I left out of the story’. I have never read a book where the author left out this key element. Yet I did. I never mention something that every other fiction story on the planted mentions. What is that?
I will be writing articles based on the conversation in café River — May and Benjamin talk about so many things, I am not lacking material.
I will have promotional vids.
I will do podcasts, interviews and readings.
I will be asking book reviewers/bloggers for a review.
And if anyone has any other suggestions, come on, help me out. I’m still wondering how I should price it. I’m thinking about making the e-version really cheap. Is that a good idea?
This book is a huge deal for me. So big, that I already wrote Alma’s story or the first part of it.
And, of course, if anyone reading this wants to know more about when the book will be published, or republished, leave me a note.
Thanks for reading, and all the best to each and every one of you.
For the version of this with images Click HERE!
Happy Birthday Malina
It is Malina’s birthday today. Yes, Malina Gazia, as in my protagonist. She has a birthday and it is today. She would be 43 years old if she lived in real time, but she lives in a story that takes place in 2013, so she is only 35. I want to write a post in her honour, because she’s been with me through isolation. It might sound odd, but she feel a bit like a friend and she looks like this (in my mind, of course)
Malina dreamed about becoming a ballerina ever since she can remember. Her parents encouraged her to follow her passion, so she practiced ballet since she could walk. However, they always believed she could be more, so they always added to her activities. She joined the scouts upon her father’s request to be more outdoorsy, an experience that will later save her life. She was raised in a close family, who took care of one another, so Malina learned all there was to know about surviving in the wilderness from her grandfather, listening to his stories even when she didn’t feel like it. This too will save her later when she finds herself alone taking care of a baby.
Malina was born in Prijedor, north-western Bosnia. She was 14 when the war started and her father was one of the first victims, taken to a concentration camp by men Malina knew (after the war she will become a witness in the International Crime Court). She left Prijedor soon after her father was taken, with her mother to hide in a village in her grandmother’s house. Her grandmother was an old lady suffering from diabetes. I have not yet revealed how her mother died and how Malina happened to be there, except that she stepped on a mine. So, even here, I will leave that out. Her mother’s body was torn and Malina collected the parts. It was an event that made her famous in the village, the kind of fame that earns respect and fear from others.
Malina was fluent in English even before the war started, so in the little community, she was the one locals trusted to translate for them. She welcomed this request not only because she was happy to help, but also because that enabled her one-to-one chats with the UN so she could get insulin for her grandmother, her only living relative at the time.
One day, a new group of UN soldiers arrived and one of them was different to all the others; the kind of different that can’t be articulated, it has to be felt. Malina never thought about someone saving her. She was taught to depend on herself. But this one man, this strange and horrifying situation, made Malina believe that maybe being saved isn’t bad. She wondered whether the UN soldier was more than just a passer-by. And then, one night, they found themselves on a hill top (where they shouldn’t have been in the first lace), under sniper fire, rolling down the side of the hill, through the tall grass as they escaped the danger. That night they shared more than two strangers should; at least as far as Malina was concerned. The UN soldier did not feel the same (I’m not going to go into why, this is not about Skyler). She didn’t want to see him again, and he had to leave, but the image of that night, as they laid in the tall grass, looking up at the stars and fireflies that flew and shined all around them, will remain forever.
A month after the UN soldier left, Malina’s grandmother died. She couldn’t take anything more. She packed a few valuables and headed for the hills. Her plan was to get in shape over the winter and join the army in spring. A month after she left the village, while on one of the nearby hills, Malina saw the massacre that happened where she lived, where she took refuge, where she met Skyler, where she should have died. She saw the village burn. This made her even more determined to stick to the plan she had made. However, few months later, her stomach started growing. The idea that she might be pregnant never crossed her mind. In fact, she thought even her periods stopped from all the stress. But her stomach kept growing, and then it kicked. After that, there was no denying the facts.
Malina gave birth to a healthy baby girl in June 1995. She was only 16 years old, and in the middle of a warzone (Skyler didn’t know her age, since she had to lie to the UN). She had help from four young men, one in particular, Jusuf – he’s the one being accused of war crimes in the book. Anyway, Malina decides to take her baby and look for a shelter. She finds a hunters cabin, hidden away in the woods. She spends four years there, getting herself into shape, learning to be a fighter, a mother and a survivor. She has no idea if the war is over, and she doesn’t care. When she first got there, she was convinced that she would kill her own child because she knew nothing about babies. But, Sofia survived and that’s more than Malina could have hoped for, so why leave?
The owner of the cabin came by one day in August of 1999. Malina almost killed him, luckily she didn’t because he was the one who returned her to civilisation. He and his wife helped Malina find a place to live, a job, she went back to school, and eventually became someone who could teach about peace and the value of society.
In July 2013 Malina takes a trip to Hawaii with Sofia to introduce her daughter to her father.
Well, the rest you can read in my book: Immortality of Fireflies
For now: Happy birthday Malina!
War and Fireflies
Malina Gazia, or Medina Talas since she became a protected witness in International Crimes Court, is a down-to-earth badass. She had a teenage, summer fling with a UN soldier (Skyler O'Sullivan) during the war, in the hills of Western Bosnia, where there are many of those natural fairy-lights AKA fireflies. Soon after Skyler left, and he had to leave, she decided to join the army. But, before she did, she found out she was pregnant. So that plan went to shiteshire (should this be capital S, as in Shiteshire?).
Skyler came back to look for her (sort of), by then, no one knew her location. Heck, even she didn't know where she was, and she didn't care, she only cared about staying safe. Location was irrelevant.
Fast-forward 19 years and this story begins, in Hawaii, where Malina traveled with her daughter, Sofia, to introduce the girl to her father. First time Skyler (the father) sees Malina, on a beach, sun setting into the Pacific behind her, he thinks he's seeing a ghost. Not just any ghost, but a ghost who has every right to haunt him and hunt him - or at least that's what he believes. Learning about Sofia, was just an additional shock.
Now, what kind of writer would I be if I wrote a book just about these two coming together? Not a very good one, right? So, we have a protected witness at the ICC - clearly she knows stuff bad people don't want her to tell anyone, so oh-ho-ho, danger lurking from there. We have a dashing former soldier, who is currently commanding a crime fighting task force - he too seems to be in a bit of a pickle. But, far more importantly (I mean, this is all entertaining, but what is the real point), let's see how we deal with 'local' crimes versus how we deal with 'international' crimes or crimes against humanity. This is what they're officially called. Crimes against humanity. And I don't think we have a great way of dealing with those.
I have worked with 'the witnesses'. Let me tell ya, it takes a special type of person to get through all that over and over and over again and never give up. Maybe I made Malina sound like a superhero, but I don't think I used too much imagination.
And, yes, there are funny parts in there too.
Jay the Dracula
Apparently, this is a really big and wonderful idea, and I need an agent in LA (no less). My hopes for that kind of development are low, but I am willing to give it a shot. So, if there's anyone who can help, please let me know (and your terms of course). I am sending out queries and what-not, but you know how it is: Who you know, not what you know blah blah blah...
Anyway, the story is, of course, 'protected' - come on, don't be an idiot. JK just paid 11mil for using a frigging word; I mean, seriously. If you don't have ideas, stop thinking you have intellectual property you can cash in, let alone that you should cash in someone else's intellectual property (i.e. steal it). Not to mention stealing their VERY hard work. Naughty, naughty, the kind of naughty that deserves be in jail. What can I say, intellectual property is so much more than just 'property' and if you try to steal that from someone, you should be locked up. That's a different topic, for a different time and place. Back to Jay.
I didn't think that the idea was that great. But then again, I never do. It's a story about a vampire, a Dracula to be precise (black cape, black hair, porcelain white skin, the works - the word 'vampire' no longer conjures this image), who finds he has the gift of the fairies. Now, this is the worst thing that can happen to a Dracula. Jay's grandfather had his head chopped off, he carries it under his arm (long story), and that's nothing compared to this curse, this damnation that Jay is facing. It's so bad, no one has ever heard of something like this happening to a Dracula.
Jay is convinced that this is some kind of cosmic mix-up, and he just needs to find fairies and give this 'gift' back to them. So, off he goes in search of the fairies. Along the way he meets all kinds of mythological creatures (yes, each one represents a section of our society), some help, some make it harder, and some wish they could help, some believe they can help if only Jay really wants it, etc, etc, etc. Jay really wants it, but...
I'm NOT going to tell you what happens. Come on! Spoiler alert! Let's just say that if you like unexpected endings, this is going to please you.