Getting Ready For Camp NaNoWriMo in April

Camp NaNoWriMo, AKA the month when I write the first draft of The Book, is just around the corner. Outlining is done, character and reference sheets are created, research is researched and I’m ready to get stuck into actually writing when April arrives. When I first came up with the idea for The Book, I gave myself some time for brain-spew to help me get to know my characters, so technically I’ve already written about 5k of my 20k Camp NaNo goal. Since this is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to cope with not editing as I go along (just thinking about this is give me a prolapse of the soul), I’m alright with allowing myself that little head-start.

As far as I know, you can view everything on the Camp NaNoWriMo site without having to be signed up, so you should be able to see my camper info and project info. The Book now has a (tentative) title and logline, both of which may be subject to change once I actually do the writing, but I wanted to give it a bit more of an identity to help me stay attached and inspired. So consider this the official unveiling of my Camp NaNoWriMo project, the art formerly known as The Book…

Stone Flowers Grow In Cold Places
When a robbery takes an unexpected turn, part-time criminal Andie Valentine is forced to make a difficult choice: dive deeper into a dangerous but lucrative world or escape to a new beginning, abandoning her home in Edinburgh and her last connection to the girl who changed her life and shattered her heart.

I’m not sure what my blogging and social media activity is going to look like over the next month. I might be overflowing with creative energy and be really active everywhere, or I might spend the time I’m not writing lying in a dark room questioning my life choices. I don’t know. I will endeavour to panic live on a regular basis via Instagram Stories (you can find me on IG at tanyasimonesimpson) and Snapchat (I’m on there are tanyassimpson) and will probably be engaging in something like my usual chatter on Twitter and Ello.

Regardless of all the other bits and pieces, by the end of April I should have the first draft of my first novella ready to edit and do something with. Post-editing and cover-creating (I’m super looking forward to creating the cover!) ‘something’ is probably going to look like a free chapter-by-chapter release on Wattpad and Tablo alongside a complete multi-format ebook release on Smashwords and possibly Amazon so people who want to read the whole thing immediately, download it to keep, and/or support my writing endeavours with money (it’s good to be able to eat and keep the lights on while I’m writing) can do that. I’m still considering Patreon but I’m not sure if I’ll be launching it as part of this project release or if it’ll come later as a “read new stuff here first and get fancy bonus material” thing.

I’ve been rolling ideas around in my head for a blog post about why I don’t intend to go the traditional/legacy publishing route with my work (there are many reasons!), so that’ll be happening at some point, possibly during April or possibly after. I hope to have time and creative juice for photography during Camp NaNo month but I’m not promising anything because I had that intention during Flash Fiction Prompt January and I basically spent four weeks trying to stop my eyes turning into dried-out husks from spending too much time in front of a screen.

Apart from the first draft of Stone Flowers (See? I didn’t call it The Book), I don’t know what else April holds but I’m looking forward to an adventure!

Published in Marissa Alexa McCool’s New Book, False Start

Exciting news! My essay, Medical Records and Memories as a Winter Landscape, has been published in Marissa Alexa McCool‘s new book, False Start (from Wyrmwood Publishing). Marissa is a writer, podcast host, public speaker, activist and all-round awesome human.

We met through an online writing group (shout out to the JaNo crew!) and when Marissa explained that she liked to feature as many diverse voices as possible in her projects, I jumped at the chance to contribute an essay to accompany her new novel.

You can find Marissa at her website (where she has links to her many projects), on Facebook and on Twitter.

Celebrating the Spring Equinox

Today is the Spring, or Vernal, Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. Other witchy and Pagan people might refer to it as Ostara, which is how it appears on many depictions of the Wheel of the Year along with mentions of a goddess called Eostre (or Aostre). There’s a lot of “Was Eostre/Aostre ever actually worshipped? Is the word Ostara a comparatively recent quirk or mistake of language? Was this actually a Pagan festival before it was a Christian one?” floating around the internet. While that’s all really interesting to read about, it’s not a conversation I’m joining in, mostly because the name of a time of year doesn’t matter as much to me as what it represents and what actions it inspires.

So I’m going with Spring Equinox because (so far) there haven’t been any great arguments around that name and I’m celebrating it because equinoxes are times of balance and equilibrium, and Spring is a time for renewal, beginnings and growth. Those are all good and lovely things.

I don’t connect, on a person level, to the whole maiden-goddess-fertility-dude-god-impregnation thing because while I understand that ‘feminine and masculine energies’ can be seen as being represented in all people and don’t have to literally represent a woman and a man, it’s still a wee bit too prescriptive gender-binary to sit comfortably with my own experience of the world. Also, the concepts of virginity/maidenhood and motherhood as innate and universal ‘feminine’ (for want of a better word) qualities and experiences couldn’t be further from my truth or my views of gender. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with any of this – if it fits into your world, by all means embrace that connection. One of the things I love about Paganism and witchcraft is that there’s room for it to be a deeply personal and flexible experience so if something doesn’t work for you, respectfully and thoughtfully alter it so it does.

My Spring Equinox ‘fertility’ is about the fertility and growth of creativity and ideas, the blossoming and blooming of nature, new beginnings, setting forth, adventures and brave leaps into the unknown. The fact that Camp NaNoWriMo, and therefore the writing of the first draft of The Book, begins in less than two weeks feels like perfect timing.

Today, I’m going to do a ritual to cleanse our home of built-up negative energy and welcome lovely things for the new season. This is Equinox-specific work rather than Spring-Equinox-specific work and involves the following ingredients put around entranceways (doors and windows):

  • Bay, for cleansing and banishing negativity, and promoting creative energy
  • Black salt, for removing and repelling negative energy
  • Water that has been bathed in the light of the full moon, to increase power

I don’t usually share online the words I use in rituals but there’s no particular reason for that. I love reading other people’s spells and ritual words, so I thought it would be nice to put my own ‘out there’ for other people like me.

Our home is cleansed of pain and fear
From earth below to sky above
We welcome joy and comfort here
In perfect trust and perfect love

I don’t intentionally force ritual words to rhyme and it rarely happens naturally, but it did happen naturally here. I also tend to avoid super formal and flowery language simply because it feels right for me to speak the way I usually speak rather than getting all lo-thine-goddess about things. Some people find using different styles of writing and speaking in ritual work helps them to connect with their power, so again it’s a case of doing what works for you.

This evening we’ll be enjoying a meal of fresh, natural ingredients, connecting to the spirit of the Spring Equinox by spending time in nature (even if ‘nature’ is just the garden) and enjoying the signs of new life beginning. My husband is doing some landscaping work in our garden at the moment using reclaimed and recycled materials, so even though it’s all a bit of a work in progress right now, there are still beautiful flowers blooming.

I wrote a short (non-gendered, non-literal-fertility-related) Spring Equinox blessing, which you’re welcome to borrow, use and adjust to suit if you like.

With my heart and soul as fertile ground
I will grow in strength and courage
Charging and channelling creative energies
I will welcome adventure and abundance

I wish a happy Spring Equinox to my fellow Northern Hemisphere-dwellers and a happy Autumn Equinox to those in the Southern Hemisphere!

❤ Tanya

A Reading Of “To Mother’s Farm”

I am so excited about this! The lovely Lush Bunnie (reader of creepy bedtime stories) on YouTube did a reading of my flash fiction piece, To Mother’s Farm. It’s the first time I’ve heard someone else read one of my stories out loud. This totally made my day.