Hello, again.

Just a quick post to let you know I haven’t died. I have now officially moved, and most of the unpacking is done. I’m starting to sort things out and focus on writing again.

While unpacking, looking for work and completing assignments, I committed to NaNoWriMo. I really should have journalled my journey, but I didn’t think about it until now. Maybe, next year.

NaNoWriMo Logo
NaNoWriMo Logo

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for ‘National Novel Writing Month’. It’s a writing challenge in which you commit to writing 50,000 words in the month of November, or an average of 1,667 words a day (which I think actually makes 50,010 words by the end of the month). It’s done by thousands of writers world-wide, which creates an amazing community of encouragement, and you upload your word count on the NaNoWriMo website. The goal is to have 50,000 words by the end of the month. You don’t have to finish the story, and you don’t have to have it perfect or even have all the scenes in the correct or final order. It’s just a challenge to sit your butt in a chair and write a minimum of 1,667 words a day for a month.

It’s been an interesting experience committing to writing a minimum of 1,667 words a day. A few days I really struggled to make it. I had to set smaller targets. I gave myself a goal of fifty words, then a reward, then another fifty words, then a reward, just to get through.
Other days I’d be so deep into the story I’d written over 3,000 words before I knew it.

Having that daily word target was a daunting, but at the same time, exciting. I think what made it possible was the accountability. I had writing buddies who could see my word count. They could tell when I slacked off. Which wasn’t often…only one day in the month did I not at least make the minimum word count. It was the next day when I pulled off the over 3,000 words, so I didn’t feel too bad. On the plus side, I had some very nice emails from my writing buddies encouraging me. And I sent a few of my own. It was awesome to see the efforts of my writing buddies. One of them even hit 50,000 words by the 20th of November and kept going. Awesome job.

While I have actually reached the target, I know that tomorrow the word count will drop. Everything I wrote in the month, I kept…because, well they were words I had written and for NaNoWriMo, that’s what counts. However, there are a few scenes that no longer fit into the story, so they need to go. I will need to continue to work on the story before it becomes a ‘manuscript’, it’s not finished yet.

I’m not sure I’m going to continue to write a minimum of 1,667 words a day after today, at least not until I’ve finished school. I think if I were to continue the daily word count, I’d have to find an accountability / writing buddy. I think I need that knowledge that someone else will know daily (weekly?) what my word count target should be versus what my word count actually is, otherwise, I think it would be too easy to find myself something else to do instead.

And that would be bad. Right?

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Borrow Me

When I was little, I thought Libraries were a magic place. A place where books would simply appear on the shelves to be borrowed and devoured. Read and re-read as many times as possible in the four weeks before they needed to go back. I had no thought as to where the books came from, it was simply the magic of the place. Libraries were the place all the best books lived.

I still believe that – in a way, but not the same kind of naive, innocent way I once did. I still love libraries, even in this world of e-books and e-readers, the Library is a special place. And Mount Isa Library in Queensland, Australia just got a little more special.

If the Library is the special place where all the best books live, then I’m glad for the new residents.

Photo: Mount Isa Library, Local Author June 2016
Photo: Mount Isa Library, Local Author June 2016

I can’t tell you what it feels like to have my books in the Library. I’m still reeling. It’s astronomical. Not only am I published, my books are in the very same Library I visited as a child and grew up attending. My books have now appeared to be borrowed and devoured. Read and re-read. I have no words. Just a huge thank you for all the people who helped it come to be. It is literally a dream come true for me.

In the Beginning

It doesn’t matter what you do…you have to start somewhere. We all have a ‘first’ at something. Some of them are amazingly successful. Some of them are so horrendously awful you NEVER want the results to ever see the light of day again. (Yes, first attempt at baking I’m talking to you. I’m sure monumental masons would be the only ones to love that particular cake attempt.)

Some of my firsts have made it onto my blog and I want to share 5 of them. Some of them are quite mediocre, but I want to show that firsts are just that. The first attempt.

The first attempt will never be perfect. But unless the first attempts are also the last attempts, they will get better.

  1. My first attempt at poetry. I must say poetry is not my thing. Those who do know a bit more about poetry will instantly know where I gained my inspiration.
  2. My first attempt at writing from a male point of view. This one was hard. I don’t care what the popular theory is, males are different to females and writing from a male point of view is totally different from writing a female point of view. Writing this was the starting point in being able to write male points of view for ‘Edward (Book #2 Nephilim Code’ and ‘Zeph (Book 3 Nephilim Code)’.
  3. My first blog post. This was a while ago now. I remember trying to figure out what to write. How to write it. And then, when it was done, working up the courage to press post.
  4. My first cover reveal.  This was exciting times. My first cover reveal. The cover of my first book, back when I was literally weeks away from my first ever book being published. It is still that exciting.
  5. My first book trailer. I didn’t make this. Ducan from Business Communication Managment did. He did a fantastic job. (But I could be bias.)

 

So there are a few of my ‘firsts’.
What are some of yours?

Leave a Review

If you’ve ever read a book and as you enter the real world, thought…

“Wow! That was a great book.

…or the equivalent, don’t just leave it there.

If you’ve enjoyed the story, there is one thing you can do to help the author.

Review the book.

Books are not read because they are for sale, or an advertisement was seen. Books are sold through word of mouth. If you liked a book, you’ll tell your mother, your cousin, your sister, your aunt, brother, next door neighbour, and the guy serving you at the grocery story. Reviews are just the same.  If a book looks interesting, people will go and read the review to see what other people thought. Reviews are word of mouth…only written down.

And herein lies the crux.

Apparently, writing a review is scary and hard. I’ve written a few, but I am by no means an expert. Despite that, here are a few tips that will hopefully make it less scary and a little easier.

Photo: light and books by Katie Hiscock. CC BY 2.0
Photo: light and books by Katie Hiscock. CC BY 2.0

1. Keep it simple

I liked the book because…

The KISS principle applies. While a review is ‘a critical analysis’ (according to the dictionary), you’re not attempting a thesis for a Doctorate. What would you say to other people about the book? You wouldn’t go into an analytical analysis of thematic process and character motivations. (Well, perhaps you would, but for a review it’s not necessary.)

2. Keep it short

Wow. This book was amazing!

Not everyone has the time to read a 11 page essey. A few sentences or a paragraph is fine. A few paragraphs even. Leave the novel writing for the author, though.

2. Don’t review if you haven’t read it

I only read up to page 45…

That sounds like a ‘no-brainer’ but I was surprised when someone told me they wrote a review for a book that they heard other people talk about. I still can’t wrap my head around it. It doesn’t make sense to me. It isn’t possible to gain a balanced perspective on a book you haven’t read or have only read halfway through.

3. Review the book you read

I would have liked it better if it had vampires…

Review the book you read, not the book you wished it was. If you normally read romance and this book is a crime mystery don’t review it as a ‘2 star’ because the relationship ended with the heroine being murdered and there was no ‘happily-ever-after’.

4. Be constructive, not nasty

This author had better not think of giving up her day job…

If you didn’t like something it’s perfectly okay to say it in the review, but make sure you’re not being mean about it. Books are subjective. There will always be things that not everyone will like. Say why you didn’t like it. Perhaps the characters could have been better developed, or you would have liked more description of the location…but don’t attack the author. There is no need to say that you thought the book was a sanctimonious pile of camel dung. That helps no one.

5. Do say what you liked

I  give it 5 stars.

Great, you’ve given a book a ‘5 star’ rating. Yay!
Why? Did you like the characters? Or one in particular? Did you like the twist? Did you like the location? Did the book make you cry? Or laugh? Was it a book you couldn’t put down? Was there a scene you particularly loved? Say it in the review.

6. Don’t give spoilers

They all died…he took poison and she stabbed herself. 

This is the one I appreciate the most. The people who are reading your review are interested in the book, but if you give things away in your review, they might as well not bother with reading the story. You can say ‘I was surprised at who the murder turned out to be’, you don’t have to say ‘I was surprised that the murderer was Harry, the best friend’s little brother’.

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Those are my pointers for writing a review. Do you have any others? I’d be interested in reading them in the comments below.

The RWDU Experience

RWDU 2016 logo
RWDU 2016 logo

 

I’ve done it.
I’ve survived my first Author Event. I live to tell the tale. Oh my gosh, I was so nervous prior I didn’t think I’d make it though. But I did, and here I am unscathed and eager for the next one – which ever Author event that may be.

As I journalled my experience, before, during and after things, some of the tense may jump around.

Fair warning.Read More »

RWDU Author Signing

RWDU 2016 logo
RWDU 2016 logo

 

On the 4th of March, I’ll be at my first Author Signing.

I am sooo excited…and nervous.

I’m excited that I’ll get to meet so many new people, and people I’ve known on social media for years, but have never met. I’m excited that I’ll be able to talk to people about my books, their books and writing in general for an entire weekend. I’m excited about meeting readers who’ve contacted me to say that because I’m there, they will be too. Just to see me, say ‘hi’ and purchase signed paperback copies of my books.

I’m nervous because I don’t know if I’ve prepared well enough. Will I forget something vital – like a pen? Or someone’s pre-order? Will I sit there the entire day without a single visitor? Well, I know I’ll have at least four visitors, but more than that?

During the weekend, I even have the opportunity to pitch to an Agent. So, while that is exciting and an amazing opportunity – it serves to make me more nervous. Will I be prepared for the pitch?

I leave this weekend on the road trip down to the Gold Coast for Readers Writers Down Under (RWDU). (So no post next week.) I’ll keep notes about the weekend and let you know after how it all went…and if I forgot anything. 😀

I went last year, as a reader, just to check out what RWDU was all about. If you’d like to read about my experience of that, you can – HERE.

See you on the other side of RWDU.

Behind the mirror

Ashcombe man thy vanity keep thee
Till Love shines Beauty and in purity
Till shattered heart within pierce free
And with single breath, mirror pass’ed be

If you’ve read my book ‘Shattered’ you’ll recognise these words, and know how they fit into the ‘world’ of the story. When I wrote the story, I didn’t realise that I was writing a ‘world’. I thought world building was what sci-fi and pure fantasy authors did. I mean JRR Tolkin created maps and languages, histories and cultures. I had a girl show up in a ‘haunted’ manor.

A few months ago an internet friend showed interest in how I created the ‘mirror world’ in Shattered. I really, really had to think about it. After thinking about it, I shook my head and told myself that I hadn’t created a world. After all, the story is set in England. That’s not a ‘created world’. It exists. As I’ve mentioned before, past high school English, I don’t have an education in writing, so I’m not always aware of the exact ‘science’ of writing a story. However, the question kept going through my head.

So, to shake it off, I went on a research mission. I researched ‘world-building’ in writing.

There are many blogs, websites and tips/tools for world building. They teach similar things. I’m not going into a list of the things I learned about world building (although I’m planning another post for that), but I am going to mention the main ‘theme’ as it were, that I picked up from my research.

World building is basically ‘the rules and boundaries around the internal workings of the world’. And it doesn’t simply relate to ‘place’.

Like a stunned mullet, I came to realise that I had actually created a ‘world’. The world of the curse and the workings of Bastian’s reality within the mirrors. Now that I had a grasp of that, I had to go back and find how I had actually managed to implement the mirror world.


The curse

The curse only potentially affects men of the Ashcombe family line.

The curse is activated by a particular action. (No spoilers – go read the book 😛 )

The curse is set against one particular mirror, and traps its victims in a solitary world behind the mirrors of Ashcombe Manor.

The ‘one particular mirror’ cannot be smashed, broken or destroyed by ‘normal’ means.

The riddle of the curse is the creation of the curse and the clue on how to break it.

There is one more rule about the ‘particular mirror’, but it’s a huge spoiler. Um…ripples are involved.

Reflections Photo: Farmhouse by Andreas Resch (Used with permission)
Photo: Farmhouse by Andreas Resch (Used with permission)

“Reflections…like sunbeams into a room.”
_____________________________

The mirror world

The world is empty darkness.

There are no solid items.

The mirrors of Ashcombe Manor are like windows, allowing the victim to see into the ‘solid’ world.

Reflections enter the world like sunbeams into a room. This a ‘rule’ I consciously added. It was an image in my head that I couldn’t get rid of. Instead of light, translucent images of furniture and items ‘beaming’ into the world.

When an item is reflected into the mirror world, the victim can solidify it for his use.

Solidification requires concentration and if the victim loses concentration he loses the use of the item.

The victim doesn’t require sleep.

The victim doesn’t require food.

There is no hot or cold in the mirror world.

The victim doesn’t physically age.

No sound passes from the mirror world into the solid world.

Sounds from the solid world into the mirror world is distorted. All sounds are muffled while shrill sounds are amplified.

Between worlds

No one can fully and sustainability see the victim of the mirror world unless there is love between the two.  –> I have a confession to make. I may have bent this rule just a little bit. I needed to have Mattie see Bastian for the story to work. So in their case … unless there was the potential for love between them. (Hey, I’m the author. I’m allowed)

There is one more rule between worlds, but again…spoilers. Think – mirror-reversed writing.

 

Photo: Sign shop, 1985 from Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)
Photo: Sign shop, 1985 from Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)

“Once the rules are set into place…”
________________________

Although I did bend one rule slightly, the research I did, emphatically emphasised that even the author cannot BREAK the rules s/he has created for their worlds. Once the rules are set into place, they are fixed.

Since the world within ‘Shattered’ was organically created, as in without knowing I was creating a world or creating rules and boundaries for a ‘world’, I think I did a pretty good job at not breaking any of them. As to the ‘why’ of creating the rules as I did, to be honest, I don’t know. Other than…that was what made sense to me as I was writing.

Now that I know more about world building and what it actually is, I’m finding it a fun process. There’s a certain megalomaniac element in creating rules that the characters (and I) must follow. And I thank Susan Roberts for setting up the challenge for me to discover the hidden world within Shattered.

If there are any more ‘rules’ that you’ve found in ‘Shattered’ that I may have unwittingly created, and I haven’t mentioned above, please feel free to let me know.