Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Category: About My Books (Page 3 of 4)

Australian Spec-Fic Authors Challenge – October Round-Up

I’ve temporarily skipped my September report but don’t worry, I’m still reading the book. I snuck ahead to my October read because I couldn’t stand waiting to read the anthology containing my first published story.

2013redlitzerAnthologyFor my October read I read the 2013 Redlitzer Anthology.

The 2013 Redlitzer Anthology contains nineteen stories all from the shortlisted winners of the 2013 Redlitzer Writing Competition. Nine stories are from the adult category and the other ten are from the teenage category (there was also a junior category, but they were published in a separate anthology).

I went into reading the anthology well aware that there would be a broad range of genres and styles since the only thing binding the anthology together (apart from glue obviously) was the fact all the authors are from the same geographical area. Despite that fact there wasn’t a single story in the volume which was disappointing.

And I mean it. I’m not saying this because I’m published in there, I genuinely found every story interesting and well written. I honestly expected there to be at least one story that fell short (in my opinion, not overall) as I must confess there was one in the 2012 Redlitzer (which I read as research before submitting)(and no, I won’t tell you which one because it was simply a case of the genre being not my particular style, so it wasn’t the writer’s fault and they don’t deserve to be outed like that), but no, I really did like every single story.

The anthologies on display

The anthologies on display the launch night

There are several stories that fall into the speculative fiction category, meaning I can totally claim this for the challenge ;p . ‘A Royal transformation’ by Madison Birtchnell has a wonderful world and an obvious message, and ‘Loving Arizona’ by Alana Coomer contains a really cool concept which reminds me a little of what I’ve written about in my novel ‘Written By The Stars’. ‘The Host’ by Charlie Schirmer views a world through the dark eyes of an invading entity and does a very cool job. ‘It Was Lonely Being God’ by Sean West is a short but bittersweet tale looking at things from a different perspective. Of course not forgetting my own story ‘Stolen hearts’ where a young woman must track down the man who stole her grandmother’s heart before it’s too late.

The remaining stories range from tales of love (and lust in the case of ‘Mates’ by Linda Stevenson) to memoir pieces (like Hazel Barker’s ‘Hunger’) to action and adventure (and robbing the local pub in ‘Go On Three’ by Robbie Milton).

The stories by the teenagers rarely read as such, these guys (and gals of course) have some serious talent.

The editors choice stories ‘Terminus’ by Margaret Dakin and ‘The Light In The Darkness’ by Ebony Jolley, are obviously not to be missed but I also quite enjoyed ‘My Dad Came Home’ by Narelle Fuller and ‘Afghanistan’s Daughter’ by Lauren Johnson. ‘Relentless’ by Michelle Upton utterly broke my heart. Also, I wouldn’t blame you if you flicked straight to page 99 to read ‘Stolen Hearts’ by Kirstie Olley ;p

On the whole it is a great collection to read and I am seriously so proud to have been a part of it.

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keep your eyes on this blog, giveaway soon to come!

A few more pictures from the Redlitzer Gala Event.

The Funny Thing About Flash Fiction

The announcement in the paper

The announcement in the paper

I’m quite chuffed with myself at the moment because I recently learned one of my stories has been shortlisted in the Redlitzer Writing Competition. The whole awesome name-in-the-local-paper deal and everything. Of course this brings in a tide of friends and family asking about the story that won. This taught me a funny thing about flash fiction.

I sent in a piece of flash fiction called Stolen Hearts, and because I never thought I’d have to do a summary for it (like I do for books and longer short stories) I never created one. This leads to me trying to explain a lot of what happens in the story that is subtext so people will understand what I think is so great about my story (as well as what happens).

Of course, by the time I’m done saying all that I’ve very nearly taken up as much time as I would have if I’d just handed the 1,000 words over to them.

In flash fiction so much is implied and hinted at that a reader will usually glean for themselves, so a thorough description of the story exceeds the length of the piece itself.

I could always just give people the story I suppose, but I’d rather get as many people as possible to check out the anthology when it is released 😀 You can be sure I’ll let you know when it’s available.

What Is Mythpunk?

Yesterday I finished off two more of my mythpunk short stories, so now I’ve a total of six short stories. I keep referring to them as my ‘mythpunk anthology’ even though I’ve no plan to make an anthology of them just yet. You may be asking right now, what is mythpunk?

To be honest, I’d never heard of the genre ‘mythpunk’ before reading Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge a month (or so) ago – though I have noticed a fondness out there for ‘punking’ eg/ steampunk and dieselpunk, both of which are awesome.

Mythpunk is apparently what I have been writing recently in my short stories, Groundskeeper, Charming, The Wyvern’s Sting and The Troll’s Toll. Mythpunk is a form of speculative fiction which takes elements of myths, fairy tales, and folk tales and mixes them with more modern ideas, like feminism and multiculturalism or twisting it in an unusual direction.

An illustration from Beauty and The Beast, artist Angela Barrett. This picture inspired a whole new tale and an unorthodox ending to another.

An illustration from Beauty and The Beast, artist Angela Barrett. This picture inspired a whole new tale and an unorthodox ending to another.

Sassy girl who tends a labyrinth designed to trap princess inside, check. A princess sold into captivity fighting for freedom and to gain back her throne instead of just sitting around and waiting for her prince, check. A broke prince rescuing princesses for the bounty money, check. Sounds like this is one of my new favourite genres.

Of course I’m not sure that my work has quite the edge that deserves a word like ‘punk’, but then again a lot of writers feel themselves inadequate in regards to certain aspects of their writing, so perhaps this is mine?

Regardless, I’m having a lot of fun toying with the mythpunk genre(another idea recently popped in my head to be a fun follow-up to Charming that would actually tie a few of the stories together) and don’t see myself abandoning it any time soon.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop (round 2)

I’ve been tagged again for this super-fun WIP blog hop, this time by my writers group friend, Daniel Ferguson (you can see his entry here).

Since I told you all last time about my current WIP, Keys, Clocks, Quests I decided to pick the novel project before that, currently in second draft phase, Written By The Stars.

1: What is the working title of your book? 

Written By The Stars. Yes, I purposefully said ‘by’ not ‘in’. If you want to find out why you have to read it 😀

I'm not making it up, vanilla/milk flavoured Fanta. Only in Japan to my knowledge.

I’m not making it up, milk flavoured Fanta.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

I had an image in my mind of a world where everything was predetermined, and when you came of age your destiny was tattooed on your hands for everyone to see. That was how the world was born.

My protagonist came into being when I briefly thought how nice it would be not to have to choose anymore. I thought a girl who wants to run away from a tough decision would be the perfect person to throw into that world of fate. At the time I was drinking ‘milk’ Fanta from Japan, so that’s how she got saddled with the name ;p

3. What genre does your book come under?

Cross dimensional fantasy.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

fantas hair

I don’t know about actors, but the girl playing Fanta MUST have this hair. That is why I pinned this photo in the first place. Karen Gillan would probably do a smashing job, but until I see her in something else my brain just sees her as Amy Pond (sorry Karen, I’m sure you’ll break that mould in your next gig, I just have a funny brain).

karengillan

Some of my actors are going to be way too famous to actually be possible (unless I’m unwittingly the next JK Rowling), but you get an idea of looks I’m imagining.

That. Right there. Auriga.

That. Right there. Auriga.

Christian Bale with a beard could do a damn fine Auriga (the Once-King), but he’d need to go back to the Batman Begins muscle/bulk to really fit.

alexander siddig

Caelum’s a hard pick.  The closest I can think of is Alexander Siddig, but he needs to be younger, Caelum’s only 25. He has very Caelum eyes in this picture though.

Tucana is the hardest to pick of all, probably because Hollywood doesn’t do normal women. Tucana is not skinny, but not fat. She’s an Australian size 10-12, short to average height with a blonde bob. If you can think of any actress matching this feel free to share.

jeffreydeanmorgan

Eridanus is easy to get the face of. Totally Jeffrey Dean Morgan – but really tall, and 20 years old. His smile, the way his cheeks crinkle and eyes light up, absolutely perfect for Eridanus.

I feel really mean, I keep telling actors they’re too old, or their body isn’t the right size/shape. You’re all fine as you are, just not identical to my characters!

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When faced with an unwanted engagement ring, Fanta, a young astronomy student, wishes she could run away and wakes up in a world where the Gods make every decision for you. She joins  a group of dissidents in the fight against the gods for freedom of choice.

I know, it’s a little long. I’m still tinkering with it.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

I plan on getting an agent, but the work is still rough, not quite at the stage of approaching an agent, so I’m not going to waste their and my time sending it out just yet.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Two months and a couple of days. I actually wrote a few posts about the journey if you want to check them out.

First mentionmy post about completing the first draft, a post about making ‘the sentence’ for novels using Written as a case study, and a really awesome research trip, or if you want to check them ALL out use the tag Fanta’s Story(the initial working title) and it should pull up everything.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think the book that comes closest is actually a manga series, From Far Away by Kyoko Hikawa. Or maybe Fushigi Yugi(Yuu Watase) a bit as well. I’ve not really read any books like this.

There is a distinct fairy tale feel to the novel, it starts off with a sense of Alice In Wonderland, then turns into Sleeping Beauty for a short while – so you can see I’ve got a bit of a thing for fairy tale undertones.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I pretty much covered this in ‘where did the idea come from’. Milk Fanta, the weirdest thing ever.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

When I’ve been telling people in my personal life about it every one really seems to dig the Hyakan, the destiny tattooed onto your hands. Personally I love the fact I’ve stranded an astronomy student in a world with almost no stars, I like the little bit of symbolism that provides too.

If you’re curious, I have a couple of Pinterest boards (that I really should update) for this novel too, one for clothing research and one for anything else.

Best News Saved For The Last

Today there was a talk by Kate Forsyth at the Cleveland library, and while I managed to go, Xander had no intention of sitting calm and quiet for even a minute. So I got to pace around the library bouncing him on my hip and when my arms gave out pushing him in the pram trying to stay near enough to hear her talk but far enough away that the grizzling shouldn’t bother anyone. After 45 minutes I remembered I’d packed the iPad and the magic of videos distracted him long enough for me to get her signature on my copy of Bitter Greens. I apologised if he had made enough noise to bother her and she told me that when her eldest son was Xander’s age she had gone to an author’s reading and her son had behaved the same. It’s interesting to see cycles, I wonder if one day an aspiring author/mother will attend my reading and sheepishly come up to me at the end and apologise if her child was disruptive?

Getting a bit ahead of myself there, but we all have dreams, don’t we?

In other news, I’m beta-reading a YA Sci-fi for the talented Talitha Kalago, and it’s great. She’s intending to self-publish, so I’ll keep you updated on when it comes out so you can all enjoy it as well.

And now, the best for last – and I’m not sure if I should talk about this yet – but I have had my first story accepted for an anthology! I’m so excited, but of course the story is still subject to the editing process, so I’m not going to say more until I’ve passed that hurdle, but hopefully soon I’ll be able to tell you all where you can buy my first published story!

Of course, there’s no rest for the wicked, there’s the mythpunk stories I’ve been working on which I’m considering compiling into an anthology, my novel Keys, Clocks and Quests to finish (so it can FINALLY get a real title, not a lame working title), and of course though I have an acceptance letter  now, I also have a bunch of other stories I need to get out into the world, so I need to start submitting other works (like that massive bunch of new short stories I wrote in December and January). So onwards and upwards.

February Goals Round-Up

February was not quite the raging success that January was, but it was not a total wash either (if you need a reminder, you can see my original goals here and how awesome January was here).

In the newly added learning goal I have read two books on improving my craft, ‘The Elements of Style’ and ‘Self-Editing for Fiction Writers’. I also attended two webinars and went to my writer’s group and got some amazing feedback (you can read about my reaction in this post). Finally – in the last minutes (OK, not minutes, hours more like) of the month – I joined Holly Lisle’s 7 Day Crash-Revision Workshop. I would have loved to have had the money for her full How To Revise Your Novel course, but alas and alack not this month. (Side note: Holly’s courses are great, I’ve done one of her big ones (How To Think Sideways, now available as e-books) and several of her smaller ones and recommend her to anyone looking at courses on writing. No, I’m not an affiliate, just a happy student.)

In actual creation I made a flash fiction, ‘Eyes on The Sky’, but birthed nothing else new. It isn’t my greatest work to date, and I definitely need to go over it again, but I don’t want to pull it down either.

I started converting the Kindle edit of ‘Written by The Stars’ into the Scrivener file, also did editing and rewrites for my short story ‘The Beauty of the Dance’ and ‘The Wyvern’s Sting’ based on awesome feedback from beta-readers.

I submitted a horror/supernatural piece called ‘Brown Paper Packages’ to my writer’s group for critique after tiding it up, but it was an older piece I went back and cleaned, not a new creation.

I could have done a lot more, even though there was severe back pain, broken down cars which needed parts from France (I know, France? Seriously!?) and relatives moving into our house (and taking up our junk room so aaaaaall that junk needing to be relocated and organised), but also there were things I did instead of writing that weren’t so justified, like playing Ni No Kuni and finishing my 1,000 piece puzzle. So this month I am determined to put in more effort.

At least until Atelier Ayesha comes out ;p

January Goals Round-Up

OK, so as I have set myself so many goals for this year I thought I would re-cap where I’m at with each of my goals at the end of each month. Accountability, oh yeah! If you need a refresher on my goals you can read the original post here.

So:

Goal 5 has been fruitful for me since I entered two stories into the Black Apples Anthology (Belladonna Publishing) and another one for the Oomph: A Little Bit of Super Goes A Long Way (Crossed Genres).

I’ve also written quite a bit this year, finishing some short story drafts I started in December (Charming, The Wyvern’s Sting, Short Circuit), editing based on beta readers/critique group feedback (Groundskeeper & The Wyvern’s Sting) and writing from scratch (The Beauty of The Dance, Emily’s Typewriter). You can read blurbs for and see where I’m at on all of these stories on my Current Projects page.

I’ve done no work on any of the novels yet (writing wise, editing I am doing), but it is still only January so I can’t get too worked up about that.

In relation to number six I’ve started work on the story I believe will be the incentive to subscribe (The Beauty of The Dance) and have put some effort and thought into which mail service I will use (do I go free or not?).

I’ve also commenced editing ‘Written By The Stars’ (if you want to know more about the story check it out in my Current Projects page) by converting it to .mobi format and reading it on my kindle. I feel so tech savvy doing it that way ;p I’ve done all the edits and just need to action them in the Scrivener file. So I’ve started number 2, but not completed.

Also I’ve kept myself running smoothly with the Australian speculative fiction authors Challenge (you can read more here about my progress).

Not to mention (even though it isn’t a goal) I made my first beta-reading of a novel report to the author.

So I think January has not been a shabby month from a writing career perspective.

Bye bye productivity, maybe we can hang out again in March.

Bye bye productivity, maybe we can hang out again in March.

February however, is going to be a true challenge. Why you ask? Because I just brought home my collector’s edition of Ni No Kuni. I’m going to have to be very strong to not get carried away gaming.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I’m joining in with Mary Tod over at A Writer of History today for her blog hop The Next Big Thing. The writers joining in are all asked to answer a few questions about their current work in progress, so I chose the more recent of my two WIPs.

What is the (working title) of your book?

Key, Clocks and Quests. It is a very rough title, but a step up from the last working title ‘Eden and Even’ after two of my favourite characters. I often tend to name initial ideas after my favourite characters until a real title comes to mind.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

If I tell you why I spoil one of my twists, so I’ll write the next part of text in white, click and drag your mouse over it to select the text if you don’t mind a spoiler. There are plenty of other twists in the story I don’t ruin.

I wanted to write a story where the quest was handed out by evil people, but the questers themselves are good.

I also really wanted a male lead for once. I’m always writing from a woman’s perspective.

What genre does your book fall under?

With ‘quest’ in the title it’s easy to tell my story is high fantasy. I’ve done some fun world building with this one, lots of chimeric beasts and odd ways for mankind to cohabitate with them.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is a little tough, do you go with acting talent or looks? I mean, what’s the point of a perfect image match if the actor can’t handle the range of the character? A few of my characters are very unusual (like the Captain of the King’s High Guard with only one arm). The only characters I can match to looks and talent actor-wise are these three:

Danny Trejo

I can see a slightly younger Danny Trejo doing a great job as Dirkhart (my bad ass princesses champion) in fact now I’ve thought of it he’s perfect, he’s got the looks spot on and we know he can do bad ass, not to mention he’s generally awesome.

Matt Smith

I’d love Matt Smith for my protagonist Hayd. He’s a little awkward, but highly observant, and could easily transition into cold and regal when needed. Don’t believe me? Watch some Doctor Who. I love Matt Smith, but he doesn’t quite look as young as my 19 year old protagonist, not that I’d say no if he showed up at the casting calls!

Cary Elwes

Cary Elwes would be a damn good Savrant, if it weren’t for the fact he has both arms (I’m sure they could fix that in post-production). He’s also has that suave cockiness and good comedic timing that match the character well.

That’s about all of the great matches I can think of, but I have some very distinct images of the remaining characters.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Apprentice knight Hayd joins his master on a quest for their monarchs, but there are more problems involved with the quest than he could ever have imagined, not the least of which is the boy he’s fallen in love with.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I hope represented, but I have yet to get an agent. Self-publishing isn’t off the table, but I would like to experience traditional publishing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It’s still being worked on. During NaNoWriMo I managed to get down nearly 60,000 words, but I’ve still got another 40-60,000 more to go. If I stick to my schedule I should be done by mid-January 2013.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Good question. It starts out very traditional quest style, like an early Shannara novel (The Shannara series by Terry Brooks), but then I go a bit mental and I must say I’ve yet to read anything that is like this. One could say you feel like you jump from traditional high fantasy into a crazy manga storyline.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Sadly no particular person inspired the book, though the theme of love not being restricted by boundaries of gender or race are born from my affection for my friends who are living that truth for themselves and how I wish the world would be more accepting of this way of life and love.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The quest is falling apart at the seams right from the start, with the heroes being gathered to take part all falling short somehow, like the most powerful magician being senile so struggling to remember spells. All of the characters should seem vaguely familiar to fans of high fantasy, but each with their own crazy twist.

The world is very interesting, with so much danger beyond each city wall there is little point in racism so I’m working in a multi-cultural world. I’ve worked hard on creating both the creatures and the way they interact with the humans.

Thanks to Mary for including me in the blog hop. I promise to keep anyone interested in the story updated as I progress from first draft to final then publication.

The Bestiary Begins

The first day of NaNoWriMo was super productive for me. I wrote 4,000 words in the novel and an extra hundred into the bestiary. Today was not quite so good, I was at work all day and forgot to bring my computer along. There’s still a bit more night, I hope to pound out a thousand at least.

To liven up my word count updates I thought I would welcome you all into my novel’s world a little. The story is set in a semi-medieval world rife with bizarre beasts, some cute, some dangerous. So as we meet new creatures I thought I’d post them here in a bestiary for people to read along with my word count, more fun right? I hope to have a chance to sketch a few even.

So what new beasties did we meet these first two days?

Fair-haired Volements: Also available as spotted and shaded volements.

A rabbit like creature in face and body, no ears and a small cat-like tail. Sharp claws that retract like a cat’s and broad flat teeth like a horse’s for the consumption of grass, twigs and bark.

Ridged Herrback: Also can be found in hairy ridged and smooth.

Bi-pedal, dangerous and carnivorous. Human eater. As tall on back legs as a mounted man. Hunch backed, dull tan leathery hide (fur covered in ‘hairy’ breed). Four eyes, two a side. Large ridged brow (smooth in smooth variety), large mouth with sharp fangs. Large claws on hands, smaller on feet. Territorial. Blood is muddy brown in colour. Thick neck to hold its massive head up.

 

So a cutie and a man eater. Sadly you have to have the cuties so the man-eaters exist in numbers large enough to be seen, but without being a threat to all mankind.

Oh, and if you’re looking for an excerpt check out he snippet I uploaded to my NaNoWriMo page.

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