Tag Archives: not-writing

A Quick Note From the Trenches

Hello, dear people. I am currently occupied with life rather than writing (Oh, as if the two could be separated! you exclaim, but yes it seems they can and indeed sometimes must), but now take a break from life-rather-than-writing to celebrate the US publication of A Single Stone earlier this month and wave across the distance to those new readers who have been stopping by.

People ask me how sales are going and I say, “I have no idea”, because I don’t.

People ask me how reviews are going, and I say, “As they always do,” because how could it be otherwise?

Because it’s a book, a story, a subjective thing, and some people like my writing and some people don’t and there is nothing at all I can do about that. What I can do is try and make the way that I write the very best version of itself it can be, and that’s something I work on every day. (Except for now. Because now is life-rather-than-writing. As I have said too many times already and will not mention again.)

I will return to writing-not-life soon enough and will bring you some A Single Stone-related news on that front. Which may seem odd, because how could a book which is well and truly already written be part of my future writing? Watch this space for an answer to this curliest of questions.

But for now, here is a sprinkling of US reviews which have filled my heart with gladness:

The prose flows gracefully, like rivulets down a mountainside … A beautiful, sparkling gem
Kirkus (starred review)

[A] gripping story, McKinlay (Below) believably evokes the dangers inherent in Jena’s burgeoning autonomous thoughts and actions in a tightly controlled dystopian environment where her grace and power ultimately prevail.
Publisher’s Weekly

McKinlay’s stark yet effective prose and layered world-building, reminiscent of the dystopian societies created by Margaret Atwood, combine in a haunting novel that will stay with readers. Younger readers ready to tackle the heavy subject matter will join older YAs in delving into this unusual, evocative title recommended for both middle and high school collections.
School Library Journal

Utterly enthralling … a great story that will immediately hook a wide variety of readers.
The Loud Library Lady

A Single Stone is incredibly unique. The world McKinlay has crafted is nuanced and thoughtful … The clever intertwining of religion, politics, and ethical dilemmas takes A Single Stone into territory beyond other genre hits.
Sea Reads

Yikes. Just, yikes. This book has some serious grit in it. …It’s painful and gruesome to read, but so fascinating at the same time that I devoured the entire book in one sitting.
Read Till Dawn

I ask you – how can you not love a review that starts with “Yikes” and then goes on to recommend the book?

A Single Stone has also been named as a Junior Library Guild Selection, which I’m told is a very good thing indeed.

US readers/teachers/librarians and folk of all stripes, if you’re looking for more on the book, including links to a bunch of interviews, teaching resources, and other bits and pieces, then do visit this page on my website. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The Year of Doing Way Too Much & Nowhere Near Enough

So it’s come to this, November. Or perhaps I should call you by your real name — almost-December-dear-god-where-has-the-year-gone?

2016 has been a year of many things. But mostly of two things, which are subtly connected. For me it will go down as i) The Year of Doing Way Too Much and ii) The Year of Not Writing the Novel I Should Have Written Long Ago (subtitle dear-god-where-has-the-year gone-is-that-my-editor-coming-quick-everybody-hide!).

In 2016, I encountered a perfect and unrelenting storm of day job and volunteer work and family stuff and RSI and book-related commitments and assorted essential but fundamentally not-writing administrivia, all of which combined to leave me with an amount of head-space/writing time which can be best characterised as nowhere near enough.

Herewith a Twitter-ish chronicle of my descent into chaos…

tweets2

This is why I haven’t been blogging. Because although there has been a lot of bloggable news, I simply couldn’t justify writing here when I wasn’t putting words on the real page.

Good things have happened in 2016. Many good things. And many of those have revolved around A Single Stone, otherwise known as my ASS, out of which the sun seems to have shone. (As a side note, I recommend bearing acronyms in mind when titling books; this enables you to receive email with subject lines such as “Your ASS is on fire!”, “I love your ASS” and “I saw your ASS face-out in Dymocks!”, to list just a few.)

As if last year’s win at the Queensland Literary Awards wasn’t enough, in 2016, A Single Stone was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, the West Australian Premier’s Book Awards, and the West Australian Young Readers Book Awards. It was longlisted for the Davitt Awards for Crimewriting, named an Honour Book in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards, and won an Aurealis Award for Speculative Fiction. Phew.

Then, just when I was catching my breath, the most incredible thing of all happened. Two weeks ago, it took out the Young Adult category of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Being shortlisted for any award is a very fine thing, and the idea of winning any award feels improbable and faintly ridiculous. But to win this one, with its accompanying tax-free prize money is absolutely life-changing, and it still hasn’t sunk in that this has actually happened.

pmla

A few people have said things to the effect that I must now feel validated, consider myself a success, be basking in some sort of shiny glow, and so on. And I’ve had to reflect for approximately 5 seconds to discover that I don’t feel that way at all.

To be brutally honest, what I care about is the money, because of the writing time it will buy me. Because fundamentally what I care about is the page that’s in front of me, my struggles with my work-in-progress, the story fully formed in my head that I can’t seem to shake loose, the characters I’ve fallen in love with to whom I am not doing justice at all. Yet.

The thing that makes me feel validated, successful, shiny is writing a sentence I’m happy with. And the simple fact is that in 2016, I wrote far too few sentences.

So there are changes coming. It took reaching this tipping point for me to sit up and do something about my too-many commitments. Things have been done, are being done. And with those changes, I’m hopeful that 2017 will be The Year of Taking a Deep Breath and Writing a Great Many Things. Because it has to be about the work. And the work has not been the work this year; the work has been shoved into a corner, almost completely sidelined. And that is just absolutely and totally ASS-about.

Ten Years and Still Counting

Last week, I posted a little something about where I was ten years ago versus where I am now.

It’s a post I almost didn’t write because I was worried it would seem braggy. CHECK OUT ALL MY SWAG! AND THIS IS JUST IN ONE WEEK! NEXT WEEK I’LL SPLIT THE PUBLISHING ATOM!

It wasn’t meant to be like that. It was intended as a kind of self-talk, a rejoinder to the messy stuff that goes on in my head, which seems to focus almost entirely on how I could be writing faster or better or differently or just plain more, and never mentions – hardly even seems to notice – the good stuff.

When I shared last week’s post, I prefaced it with the comment: “A few things have changed.”

And that’s true. But here’s something that’s even truer: most things haven’t.

Continue reading

Picking Up The Pieces …

… of 2012, in order to move hopefully into this new year. Last year got a little crazy for me and many things fell by the wayside. In hindsight, perhaps I should have seen it coming. I had two new books out here in Australia, two books coming out for the first time in the US, and a third in the pipeline to do the same. Lots of people wanted me for lots of things. They were all good things, useful things, things it made absolute and perfect sense for me to do. And so I said ‘Of course!’ and ‘I’d be delighted’ and ‘Thank you for asking’.

Last year, it felt like I reached a tipping point of some kind. There were simply too many things pulling on me for to do much but keep paddling madly and try and keep my head above water.

Continue reading

Princesses and Books and Monsters? Oh, My!

Today, an unexpected thing has happened. For the first time in weeks I have a couple of clear hours in which to get some writing done. I’m going to get right on that. There is a novel to finish, and then rewrite from the ground up.

But because it’s a shock to be suddenly presented with writing time, I had to settle my nerves by doing a little procrastinating first. So I decided to make a word cloud for No Bears. I thought it would be amusing. I thought I would simply get one giant word – BEARS – blocking out everything else.

Instead, I got this …

Huh. Turns out that book really isn’t about bears after all. I guess sometimes the writer is the last to know.

I do like word clouds. They’re fun. But also kind of pointless. Which is why I have allowed myself just one. And now I am off, to get.this.elusive.novel.done.

I promise.

This Is The Part …

… where I tell you I’ve been busy.

And where I use the cunning technique of splitting the first sentence in order to form a pointlessly catchy title for the post. A title that tells you nothing much at all. A title that if it tells you anything, tells you that this is going to be one of those shapeless, formless catch-up posts that people who are fond of articles with titles like “Ten Top Tips For Terrific Blogging” are so appalled by.

So I’ve been busy – busy being hard on myself for not having finished the novel I began so-called ‘fast-drafting’ at the beginning of the year. Apparently for me, fast drafting means an average of about 12.6 words a day. Which are then thrown out the next day, to be replaced by 12.6 possibly better ones.

But then I’ve been busy remembering that I have three books coming out in the US this year (No Bears, Duck for a Day, and Surface Tension, now known as Below, about which I shall write a vastly more terrific post at a later date), and two in Australia (Ten Tiny Things, Wreck the Halls, about which, terrific-ness, also later). And that I have in fact been occupied rewriting and copy-editing and proofreading and visiting schools and libraries and conferences and answering interview questions and doing promotional stuff here and there and everywhere and the many, many other bits and pieces associated with what it means to have five books coming out in the same year.

Continue reading

On Being Exhausted

So this appears to be the fourth in the three-part blog-a-palooza I embarked on recently with Sally Murphy and Anna Branford.

Yes, I am aware that makes no sense.

I’m adding this coda simply to say that although it was fun, I doubt I’ll be doing something like that again. I have no idea how anyone keeps to a regular posting schedule and still manages to keep up with all the regular aspects of work and life and writing and all of that. Impossible.

I really enjoyed thinking about all those topics, and there’s a satisfying discipline in committing to setting my thoughts in order for public consumption. But when writing time is at a premium, I’d rather be chipping away at stories than composing blog posts.

Continue reading