Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Raven - Cover Reveal

I've been looking forward to sharing the cover art for my next release The Raven. And here it is ...

I need to say a big thank you to the cover designer, Taire Morrigan who has once again brought the story to life with beautiful visuals. 

The Raven is the first story from a collection called 'The Secret Chronicles of Lost Magic'. It's a fantasy novel set in a prehistoric-nomadic world. 

Here's the blurb - 
It is the darkest time in winter, when suns, moons, and stars, all wane from the sky. In the Wolf clan, a baby is born with a powerful Gift, but dangerous omens brand her an Outcast, and the Elders name her Iluna.

Orphaned since birth, Iluna struggles to find her place in the proud and distrustful Wolf clan, but as her powers bloom, she discovers a mysterious friend.

Dark magic, war, and treachery soon jeopardize the life of every clan member; many suspect Iluna and her Gift.

Is this Outcast girl to blame, or is she salvation?

I'll be posting the first chapter next month, if you'd like to read it sooner you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter to have it delivered to your mailbox.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A place to write

Where are the best places to write? In On Writing, Stephen King states that above all else "your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream." But many writers have espoused the very public notion of writing in cafes. JK Rowling famously stated in an interview:
"It’s no secret that the best place to write, in my opinion, is in a café. You don’t have to make your own coffee, you don’t have to feel like you’re in solitary confinement and if you have writers block, you can get up and walk to the next café while giving your batteries time to recharge and brain time to think. The best writing café is crowded enough to where you blend in, but not too crowded that you have to share a table with someone else."
Writing in a cafe - a popular choice for many writers.
 I've wondered about the cafe idea, but I've yet to try it. The idea of an endless supply of earl grey is very tempting. I guess the most important thing for me is that I have peace and quiet - which actually means no one wants to talk to me.

So, this is where I currently write.

My current writing place - in front of the fire.
I sit on the couch. The dog usually curls up on her rug, while the cat nestles in her basket. The fire warms me in winter. I get up every now and then to make another cuppa. And it seems to work. Except when there are people around. Then it never works!

Our house is very small, so when we've got a house full of people it's impossible to hide away somewhere when I need to write. So I have a little dream I'd like to share ...

I want to build my own writing space (or more accurately, coerce my partner, Peter, to build it). We live on a small farm so we've got the room.

Whilst getting ideas (procrastinating) for the perfect writing space, I stumbled across this little gem of a blog that has some great pics of the writing rooms of some very famous authors. I've included some of my favorites here:

Edward Albee works on his next masterpiece.
Edward Albee is one of my favourite playwrights, and he wrote one of my favourite plays, 'The American Dream'. I love his old style writing desk and chair. 

Virginia Woolf had a room of her own.
Virginia Woolf had a writing hut in her garden, which is exactly what I want!

Edna's poetic hideaway.
Poet Edna St Vincent Millay had a writer's hut in the forest - even closer to what I want.

Neil Gaiman's source of inspiration?
Neil Gaiman's woodland writing gazebo is almost a perfect match for my little dream.

I've made a board on pinterest to help me dream up my what I want. I think a blend of the following two might be perfect:

Will my dream become a reality? One day I hope to write all about it in a future post :)

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Borderlands: Journey - Now on Wattpad

Today I started posting the first book of my Contemporary Fantasy series The Borderlands: Journey on Wattpad. Now you can read it for free!

I'll be posting a new chapter every week (Saturday mornings in Australia and NZ, Friday nights in US and Canada, and the middle of the night in UK). At the end of the Journey the second book will be ready for publication.

Click here to read more about The Borderlands.

The Borderlands: Journey is available for purchase at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How do you get inspiration?

This is a purely self-indulgent post — an excuse really, for me to post some pics. The best way I seem to get inspiration for my writing is by going on a long walk with my dog Roxy.

I've no idea why it works, but walking really helps me to dream up stories, or iron out plot issues or character details.  It's particularly helpful to have some beautiful spots that really inspire the imagination.

I've made a board called My Walks on my Pinterest account, and I'll add some pics every now and then of the pretty places I enjoy most.

So what inspires you?

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Review - 'A Whisper of Leaves'

A Whisper of Leaves by Ashley Capes is a beautiful, mysterious ghost story that will take you on an intriguing escape. I enjoyed it so much I'm giving away three (ebook) copies of this book to my mailing list subscribers - winners will be drawn end of July (more information below).

Riko is an ESL teacher on a working visa in Japan, and in a spot of bother. There's been some allegations that she's been 'inappropriate' with one of her students, and deportment out of the country threatens. When her good friend invites her to go hiking in the beautiful forests of Mt Fuji, Riko is glad to get her mind off work and her troubles. But in the forest, one should never leave the path. And when Riko inevitably does she finds a half buried treasure - an old mysterious journal.

Riko cannot keep her nose out of the journal. She translates parts of it into English; beautiful, and often dark, poetical passages add another level of mystery.
black clouds

was I ever a bird?
Just as she is drawn to the journal, Riko is drawn back to the forest, and suddenly her life becomes haunted by an unseen presence. Unknowingly, Riko's quest to find out more about the journal's origin puts her life in danger.

There are so many things I enjoyed about this book. The mystery builds and makes it quite a page turner by the end. I loved the supernatural element, told so convincingly, it almost seems like an actual Japanese folklore at times. Riko is immediately likable. And what I loved most is the imagery of Mt Fuji and those beautiful yet eerie forests. Ashley Capes is a poet and his power to evoke strong visual imagery is a wonderful element in this story.
The grass was cut close; the water's edge a brilliant deep blue. Across the lake, clear of snow, loomed Mt Fuji — a dark purple giant. Almost glorious, the way it hugged the sky lines, seemingly unconcerned with everything below it.  Even its reflection in the silken surface of the lake was proud.
Whether you're a lover of poetic language or not, the visual descriptions in this story will have you fully immersed in the landscape and the mystery.

Fans of paranormal mysteries and ghost stories will love this book. Readers will also enjoy the beautiful Japanese setting and 'mythology'. I fully recommend A Whisper of Leaves to anyone who likes a good story.


If you'd like to enter a draw to win a free copy of A Whisper of Leaves all you have to do is sign up to my mailing list. I'm giving away three copies, and all my list subscribers can enter. The winners will be drawn at the end of July. Good luck!

Subscribe to my mailing list and you could win a free copy of 'A Whisper of Leaves'

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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Why are ravens so popular in fantasy fiction?

I love watching ravens.

An unkindness of ravens.

Not long ago an unkindness of ravens moved into my back paddock, after waging a war on the resident magpies. They're very shy and if they know I'm near they will fly off. But every now and then I can out-sneak them and study them for a little while. In the sunshine, their feathers are glossy and fascinating to watch. They're graceful and silent fliers. And their mournful 'caw' can be seriously creepy on a foggy morning when I'm attending to my ducks.

Inspiration soon hit and I thought of an idea for a story. That idea grew and now I have finished my next novel, a standalone fantasy called, you guessed it, 'The Raven'.

A scene from Poe's 'The Raven'. Illustrated by Gustave Dore.
I know what you might be thinking - how can I call it 'The Raven' when everyone knows that delightful poem? And besides, Ravens have been done to death in fantasy fiction, as symbols, as characters and in titles. A quick search of 'fantasy books ravens' in Amazon brought up thousands of samples.

So, why are ravens so popular in fantasy fiction?

Raven's plummage - so shiny!

I think it definitely has something to do with the look of them. They are a deep, dark black. There's no denying it, and there's no other bird who is so purely black (well, aside from that other group of birds - a murder). And over time we have come to see their darkness as symbolic of more abstract dark and sinister aspects of life, and the supernatural. As we've all heard in Game of Thrones - 'Dark wings, dark words.'

Odin with his ravens Huginn and Muninn

A quick read on the net shows the very long tradition that ravens have had as symbols in various cultures. The Ancient Greeks considered ravens to symbolise good luck, and believed them to be Apollo's (a god of prophecy) messengers. They served a similar purpose for the Viking god Odin. His ravens, Huginn and Muninn, would fly all over the world and bring back important information. In Celtic mythology (my favourite) they symbolize warfare in Ireland, and in Wales they're associated with the god Bran the Blessed - who's name actually means 'raven' in Welsh.  And of course in England it is known that if the ravens at the Tower of London fly away, the crown and Britain will fall. Ravens hold significance in almost every culture throughout history. So this is one major source of inspiration for writers of fantasy fiction.

I like to think that it is also their very high intelligence that has earned our careful respect. Many studies have documented the high-level problem solving capacity of ravens - "they possess surprising and sophisticated mental abilities". Here's one example from a fascinating study by scientist Bernd Heinrich.

Smart birds!

One of my favourite fantasy books is called 'The Black Raven' (book 10 of the 'Deverry series' by Katharine Kerr). It features a sinister raven skin changer, and wonderful raven imagery.

I've decided to keep my novel's title as 'The Raven' despite that well known poem. That is simply what it must be called. As a finishing note, I thought I'd add one more picture that I tweeted not long ago - it reminds me of one of my most favourite scenes in my story.


Aderyn's new book The Raven will be released later this year.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Raining Men and Corpses

If you're in the mood for a fun murder mystery to take to the beach in summer, or curl up on the couch with in winter, then Raining Men and Corpses by Anne R. Tan will fit the bill.

Raina Sun is our sleuth. She's a graduate student who is instantly likable for all the mistakes she's made in her life as much as for anything else. Getting involved with her 'dashing college advisor' and lending him a substantial sum of money is one of many items on Raina's list of 'wish-she-hadn't-dones'. And things don't get any easier for Raina when a professor is murdered and an ex-lover appears. Not to mention the Grandmother, Po Po, who arrives on her doorstep and comes with her own set of troubles. Although, Po Po will no doubt become a favourite character for many readers. Raina's grandmother is a bit loopy but instantly endearing.

What I liked about this story was the build up of more than just the murder mystery. There's a good dollop of mystery in other aspects of Raina's life too - her romantic past and her family are both hiding a good share of skeletons. And things get more mysterious before it all unravels in a satisfying end.

I'd recommend this book to all lovers of fun, light murder mysteries. Romance fans looking for something different might also enjoy it.

You can find out more about Anne R. Tan on her website - annertan.com