Wedding, Inktober and Writing – oh my!

 

The last half of 2018 has been a little crazy, here are a couple of highlights!

 
 

Wedding!

 
 
Wedding selfie!Graham and I got engaged in 2014, only six months after we started dating. At the time our parents were a little concerned. Little did they know we’d end up living together for almost four years before tying the knot because of the cost and logistics of organising a wedding. In the end, we decided that the most important thing was our commitment to each other and not the very expensive party, so we essentially eloped (and our moms tagged along as witnesses). 
 
I didn’t expect it to feel very special, since in South Africa you don’t go to court but to Home Affairs which is the same place where people queue to register babies, apply for ID cards, get passports etc. I felt a little weird showing up there in a nice dress with a bunch of flowers! And we had to wait in this dark corridor beside a bunch of disgruntled people who were still angry about being up early (I’m assuming). 
 
But the ceremony itself was lovely. We had this wonderful warm marriage officer who said she used to work in immigration, but she just got depressed turning people away and she was too soft-hearted for the role, so they transferred her and her soft heart to weddings. 
 
I can’t remember the actual vows, but I remember that that there was nothing sexist or homophobic at all and that made me extra happy. There were damp eyes and a great sense of FINALLY. 
 
Afterwards, we went to a really nice restaurant (Mexican, on a farm (?)) and that’s where we took pics. When we go on honeymoon, I’m going to book a professional photographer to take some nice wedding pics of us in a foreign land 🙂 
 
People keep asking how married life is, but it’s really not different at all from what we had before. I’m still getting used to using the word “husband”. 
 
I chose to change my name because I preferred the sound of the new one (complete vanity, sorry feminism!) And it’s a little weird, but not as weird as I thought it would be!
 
 
Saying vows
 
 

Finishing my Dragon Age fan trilogy

 
I’ve long held the belief that writing fanfic is the best way to practice storytelling. You have a willing audience, you have chapter-by-chapter statistics and, if you’re lucky, other fans are happy to help you out by editing for you. In February 2016 I hit on an idea based on the Dragon Age series of games. I initially wrote and posted one chapter, and when there was interest I started spinning that out into a tale about what happens to heroes after the world is saved.
 
Little did I know that it would result in a 332 547-word-long trilogy of novels about identity, self-determination and overcoming trauma.
 
Last week, I published the final chapter!
 
 
Decorative swishes say: True love is more than moonlight kisses and desperate vows. It might just be powerful enough to heal two broken people. Which is part of the fic blurb.
 
 
It’s been an amazing experience. Yolandie and Abigail were awesome and played the roles of editor and proofreader respectively, I met a bunch of really great people through the fan community and I feel like my writing really benefited. I’m kind of sad to see it go, but I’m also so happy that I finished and published something, even if it’s not under my own name!
 
Some highlights: 
 
  • The day I checked my stats on Fanfiction.net and saw that over 20 000 people had visited the story (now over 55 000).
  • The first time Nerine (my editor, who also introduced me to Dragon Age) said she’d read my fic and could see how much I’d improved through writing it, and that I’d found my voice. 
  • The time someone commented and said they’d printed out the story so they can read it again and asked if they could donate to my PayPal as a thank you.
 
I know there tends to be a stigma around writing fan fiction (thanks to the likes of Diana Gabaldon and Anne Rice), but it’s largely based on false ideas about what motivates someone to create. Fan works are about finding a way to delve deeper into something you love, and to connect with others who love the same thing. I know that the friendships I’ve made, and skills I’ve learned, through writing fic will last far beyond this particular story. 
 
 

Inktober

 
It’s not often that words literally fail me, but my fundraiser went so so much better than I ever could have expected. THANK YOU to everyone who contributed or spread the word. 
 
Art commissions are not usually my thing – I get far too stressed out about them – so I don’t know if I’ll do this again, but I’m really happy with how things went. The money is in a high-interest account with the rest of the honeymoon savings, and I will report back when we decide where we want to go and when! (Probably still Ireland next year).
 
 
An instagram snap of Keyflame (the first version!)
 
 
 

Keyflame

 
I’ve passed the half way point with rewrites of my first novel! I wrote Keyflame back in 2009 and pressed publish on Amazon in my excitement, and then had immediate regret and withdrew it. All of my stories since then are multiple-book series, so I decided to revisit this standalone so I’d have something to offer that didn’t require the same type of investment from readers. 
 
I’ve tried something different with this re-write – I’ve been sending it to beta readers as I write so I can adjust the story to fit with, or thwart, reader expectations. It’s stressful, I won’t lie. It kind of feels like I have an exam to prep for every single week (I send out new chapters on Fridays), but I’m probably going to do this every time I do revisions from now on. The major benefit is that it stops me second guessing myself about what readers will think, because I know what they think. Having a weekly deadline also pushes me to keep writing even when I’m in the doldrums. 
 
If you’re curious about the story, here’s the blurb!
 
 

When Lilah Durow starts university in the idyllic Grahamstown, she thinks her biggest problem will be fitting in. 
 
Little does she know, she stands at the centre of an ancient war.
 

When her father’s latest case lands him in prison, Lilah’s classmate Kalin steps in to help her. He’s argumentative, brooding and just mysterious enough to be attractive. But the closer she grows to him, the more strange things start to happen. Not the least of which are the vivid dreams of a fantasy world she thought she’d made up, and of a powerful battle between light and dark.

 
Something magical lurks in her blood, and there are those in Grahamstown who are willing to kill her for it. 
 
Who is Kalin really, and what will loving him cost her?
 
 
 
 
 
 
I’m going to try to keep this blog up to date with more regular (and shorter) progress reports and writing tips. Is there anything else you’d like to see here?
 
I’d also love to connect with you on Instagram if you’re on that platform. It’s my new favourite place. 

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