Sunday, 22 September 2013

Why write fantasy?

This question is rarely asked outright. Either the person I'm talking to is a die hard fantasy fan, in which case the question is a redundant one; or they're quite the opposite and prefer to nod their head and give me that raised eyebrow look, rather than ask the obvious question 'but why write fantasy'?

But, it's a question I like to ask myself. Why do I write fantasy?

I love the places in fantasy fiction.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

'Between Giants' - A must for your bookshelf

Everyone should have a contemporary poet to follow. Sure, many people know the classics - Wordsworth, Blake, Yeats. Some can even rattle off a verse or two, but how many of us can recite a list of contemporary poets, or even one?

Ashley Capes is a contemporary Australian poet whose poems vacillate between making you question the world and marvelling in its details.  His latest work Between Giants contains 49 poems that, to me, seem inspired by ancient Italy and modern Australia.

Over recent weeks I have picked up the book and opened to a random page.  More often than not the poems have caused me to stop and think. They compel me to consider things I normally don't 'see', or to simply appreciate a mood or a feeling. Shelley famously said that "poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted." For Between Giants the poetry is a mirror that prompts you to glean some meaning about the world, but I think every reader will see something different, and it's not necessarily "beautiful". Don't get me wrong though, there is certainly beauty to appreciate in this work - particularly with the simplicity yet weight of meaning within the words.

There were 'things' that really caught me. I'm wary of labeling these 'things' for fear of reducing them to something that perhaps they are not. You might call them 'themes' or 'topics' or 'thoughts', but I like to call them things.

Things we all recognise

Moments are captured in detail that all readers will instantly recognise. I love the first poem Transitions and its portrait of an airport. In a few lines I was nodding, smiling and then wondering about this strange structure, shared by so many cultures but yet so homogeneous in its 'feel'. Capes remembers for all of us that in airports "we are sitting and eavesdropping through no fault of our own". We all recognise this place where "announcements are goddess-like" and "hands get shopping bag fatigue". The quip "voices travel - we should be envious" had me smiling - recalling my own memories of the tedious wait for the plane in uncomfortable chairs.  The last line got me really thinking "everything is duty free".

With Birds still talking I felt invited to smile at another moment. This one much 'smaller' and more like a passing mood. For me, this poem is about the simple visit to the letter box and the joy this can bring when the weather gives us a glimpse of summer, when despite the "sun pedalling downhill" the "birds are still talking". How such simple, natural 'things' give us "hope".


That word, 'suburbia' connotes mostly negative stuff in my mind. But Capes delivers a picture of it without prejudice. So, in 'Things without Beds' we stroll along footpaths and watch "lights from lounge rooms leak onto front lawns" - snapshots of an Australian suburb on a dusk walk home.  Although, like Bradbury or Kafka, something alarming lurks in the shadows.

One of the townsfolk is one of my favourites. The title conjures notions of community spirit but such ideals are quickly unsettled by the "fishbowl dance" of most suburban households when the TV remote calls to us - "its patience like an old, desert stone waiting for rain". Many of us will 'feel' the guilt in this poem and wonder with the narrator "what the television gives me".

Narrow beds shows us pictures of our shopping strips and business centres where behind the "registers beeping and clicking" the "summer flowers linger". We see the narrow flower beds squeezed but surviving "between heroic volumes of tar". With allusions to the seasons, I enjoyed the tension this poem drew between natural and urban settings.

Past vs present

That contrast we feel, between the grand narrative of the past and the oh-so-ordinary present, is also something I chewed my lip about.  In Vesuvius sleeping we struggle through the hot hotel with flies who "batted their drowsy heads against the glass". Such ordinary images are positioned starkly against Pompeii of all places, with its "deep wagon ruts". But, what he also does, is to give us a glimpse of the 'less-than-romantic' within such classical eras -  "the stone brothel" of Pompeii - so clever!

Mythical begins with:

Over a hundred years or more
shops and gelatin
have crept close to the Trevi Fountain

It goes on to speak about the tourists and "the gaping mouths of hundreds" at the Sistine Chapel to -

to Saint Peter's Square
where we shoot
the requisite photos

Ultimately, against a backdrop of classical history, this poem makes you contrast the "millions of 1s and 0s" of mass modern tourism with the 'true' intimacy of "two people in the sun beside a fountain".


Speaking of intimacy, I've always enjoyed Capes' willingness to share how those intimate memories feel. It's another thing that, as long as you're human, we can all tap into. Hutchi street had me at "when we're apart". I read this poem when I was experiencing some time apart from my own partner (we were in the midst of moving towns) and it caused some serious eye-welling. This poem brings back those lovely moments of blossoming love (sniff).

The poetry in Between Giants is, more than anything, truthful. Its imagery reflects pictures of reality to us, but just like a mirror, we will interpret that 'truth' according to our own experiences.  I loved the moments of reflection, appreciation and questioning that this book gave me.  I recommend this work and this poet to anyone interested in reading and life. I hope that the promise proffered in a table set for thousands, rings true:

"I will keep sucking poetry out of small things"

We hope so Ashley, we hope so!

Between Giants is available here.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Is too much of a good thing bad for writing?

My new house - I love it but it doesn't seem to be getting me writing!

Over the past few weeks I've been incredibly happy.  After my partner gained a promotion, which meant a move to another town, we bought a house on some land and we've been like a couple of fat pigs up to our ears in chocolatey mud, working on our new property and loving the fact that we are now living in our dream house - a cute little brick cottage.

Of course the move has meant a lot of my time was taken up with finishing my job, packing, moving and unpacking.  But I've been well and truly settled here for the last three weeks - so why no writing and blogging?

I do wonder if my sudden onset of pure glee has dampened my passion for writing.  Not having a job at the moment means I can while away the hours at my leisure.  You'd think I'd be spending every second of it on my writing projects but instead I find myself getting into the garden, or rearranging the furniture for the tenth time.

Does happiness deter the writing process?  My prior life was not misery, but the drudgery of a full time job, and not living ones ideal lifestyle meant that my mind frequently wandered to my stories and day dreams.  My writing projects have always been a wonderful escape from the mundane.  Could it be that a little unhappiness in life helps to drive creativity?  The 'Tortured Artist' stereotype is renowned for a reason.

I love to quote Stephen King, so what does he say about happiness?

"I believe happiness is the exact opposite of sadness, bitterness, and hatred: happiness should remain unexamined as long as possible."

I couldn't agree more.  And over the past week I have got back into my writing and I've loved every minute of it.  I'm not going to examine it further ... but I'd love to hear if anyone else feels they don't write as much when everything is going well in life.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

'The Viscount's Son' - free for one week!

It has been a month since the publication of my debut ebook, 'The Viscount's Son'.  To celebrate, I will be giving the novelette away for free for one week!

I have been very pleased with the sales performance of my little book, and this is 'free deal' marks the last week of my 'official' launch.  So, if you haven't had a chance to get a copy of 'The Viscount's Son', now is your chance.

What would I like in return?  Nothing, I just hope you enjoy it :)  Of course I'd love to hear about it in an email, comment here or even better, a review on Goodreads, Smashwords, Amazon, or your blog if you have one.  I'd like to thank all the readers and reviewers who have given me feedback, I very much appreciate the encouragement.

This will be the only free deal I'll be making for quite some time, so make sure you get it this week.  I hope you enjoy it!

'The Viscount's Son' is currently available for free at Smashwords.  It will also be free at Amazon and everywhere else soon - but remember, for one week only.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Blog Hop - The Next Big Thing

I know I've only just released my first publication - 'The Viscount's Son' - but recently I was 'tagged', by Kristen DaRay, to do a blog hop about my current work in progress.  So, for the first time I will reveal my next work.  This is my first Blog Hop, so go easy on me :)

1.  What is the working title of your book?

The Borderlands

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

My partner told me about a man he met who has gone through three nasty divorces, and after a number of financial 'settlements' he has found himself with not much left.  He built himself a boat and lives on it, sailing from one town to another.  I thought this was a fascinating story and I kept thinking about what it must be like to live like that.  Sure enough, the kernel of a story formed.

3.  What genre does you book come under?

Probably Urban Fantasy and Young Adult - although it has some strong language, so I think it might be older Young Adult.  It's like a coming of age story too.  I hate trying to classify my stories - I really don't know half the time!

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

If this happened I'd love to do a 'JK Rowling' and choose the actors from a bunch of unknowns.  Dale, the main character would have to be a redheaded 16 year old girl with very fair skin.  Rhys, also 16, would be a very dark and handsome young man.  Gareth - think Santa ;)  And here's a picture of one of my favourite characters - Cat. He's a Scottish wildcat.

5.  What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

After witnessing the murder of the only friend she'd ever had, Dale embarks on a journey to the mysterious and mystical Borderlands.

6.  Will your book be self-published, published by an independent publisher or represented by an agency?


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

Roughly six months. But there's been another six months of redrafting and workshopping.

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

Well, there's a few similarities to 'Harry Potter'.  But it also reminds me a little of a childhood favourite, 'My Side of the Mountain'.

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

Aside from the man I mentioned above (question 2) I was inspired by the feeling of not fitting in that many teenagers experience at school.

10.  What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I always try to add a sense of mystery in my stories and I think I have achieved this with 'The Borderlands'.  I've also incorporated magic and a mystical land.

Thanks for reading.  I hope to release 'The Borderlands' later this year.

I'd like to tag the following authors to undertake the blog hop and tell us all about their current works in progress:

A.K. Fotinos-Hoyer
M.R. Graham
C.J. Jessop
Nessie Strange

Sunday, 14 April 2013

In the Shadow of the Mountains – Review

Recently, I sat down to read In the Shadow of the Mountains by MR Graham, and found myself enthralled.  It's always exciting to find an Indie author whose work is of such a high standard.

Friday, 29 March 2013

The Viscount's Son - now available!

I am very excited to announce that my first publication, 'The Viscount's Son' is now available!

'The Viscount's Son is perfect for a quick, interesting read.  The novelette is a fictional blog that tells the story of book conservator, Emma, and her online project - to transcribe an ancient and mysterious text.  The trouble is, Emma's colleague, Jack, believes the medieval 'diary' is a fake.  Emma decides to translate the text and leave it up to her readers to decide - so what will you think?  Follow Emma's journey to discern the mysteries of the medieval memoir. 

Watch the trailer to learn more:

This book is available at Smashwords and Amazon.

Read a sample here:

I am also giving away 10 copies of the Kindle Edition on Freado, you can win it easily here:


From Smashwords - Review by Kirshy McAinch (5 stars)

If this is a first effort then I can't wait for the next instalment from Aderyn. I found this novelette incredibly enchanting and yet easy to read at the same time. The format of the blog style narrative was very clever and transitioned seamlessly. I was particularly impressed with the knowledge of the Latin language and English history and with a slight blush of my cheeks, admit that I found the sensual aspects of this story, quite captivating! Can't wait for the sequel Aderyn.

From WebFiction Guide - Review by Verydian

I am the type of reader who enjoys most things fantasy, but what drew me to this story, was not only its familial fantasy genre, but also the obvious historical atmosphere as well. "Historical fantasy" is not something I see very much of on the web, whether from my inattention, or its lack of popularity, you be the judge, but I was quite excited to begin reading . . . .
The author of the piece Aderyn Wood has only just begun to post the ‘fictional blog’, with only four chapters to date, but I still found it intriguing enough to swallow me into her world.
The story itself starts off with the narrator introducing herself as Emma, a book conservator at an unnamed famous museum in an unnamed famous city, hmm . . . ..Through chance she acquires an old diary thought to be from the 16th century, but apparently deemed fake by her colleague Jack for some particular reasons. The diary itself is in Latin, so in each of the chapters—which is Emma posting on an online blog—Emma tells the reader a brief telling of her own personal life usually relating to the book, and then an entry.
What makes it so interesting and enjoyable to read is the fact that although the important bits are really the diary entries, you also begin to enjoy Emma as well, as Aderyn writes enough detail about Emma’s encounters that she develops her own quirky little personality (oh the AC unit!). For me, it arouses the desire to see what’s also going to happen with Emma, not just the Viscount’s son.
Aderyn’s wording is clean and descriptive which I like, because she gets to the point, but uses enough detail that you can clearly visualize what it is the character’s are talking about as well as their setting. It’s also obvious, in my opinion that either Aderyn knows a lot about museum book conserving or she did enough research on the subject to make sure you believe that Emma might actually be of that occupation. The translations of the entries are nicely worded to seem like it might be from the 16th century as well with more classical descriptions.
I felt that at a few points, I was hoping for the story to pick up a bit as far as the diary went, but I also think that it is a work to ease into since the chapters are short, and there’s only four of them. The entries could still maybe be longer and/or contain more content, but that might be my own personal taste. So far, I can begin to see hints of the supernatural, but whether it full on becomes more fantasy, I will have to wait and see.
Overall, I feel this webfic is great, and I’m looking forward to reading more from it. At this point in the game, I say it’s too early to tell where exactly the story is going, whether Emma plays a bigger role aside from translator, and if the author plans on writing longer entries in the diary, but the story is still intriguing and gives you something to think about if you enjoy history

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Now that I'm getting spammed has my blog made it?

This little blog of mine has been chugging on for over a year now. I've had the odd spammer during that time, but blogger has done a good job of catching spam comments and relegating them to the spam bin.

Over the last week, however, I've noticed a dramatic increase in spam and many comments seemed to have escaped the spam bin!  How has this happened?  Why has this happened?

Well I did do a little reading around the interwebs and it seems that spammers are getting more sophisticated in their commentary making it more difficult for programs and people alike to identify them as spam.  They're becoming more flattering too; check out this one (I deleted the pesky link) - 
This design is incredible! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I ωas аlmost movеd to start my own blog (well, аlmost...HaHa!) Fantastiс job. І really еnjoyeԁ what yοu had tо say, and more than that, hοw you presented it. Too cоol!

Why thank you!

So I'm sure my research is right - spammers are becoming more sophisticated.  But I prefer to look at it as a sign ... my blog's finally made it!  Yay!

Seriously, if you're having trouble determining a spammer read this article.  In the meantime I've turned off my 'allow anonymous comments' option. I hope this doesn't inconvenience anyone.  But it will save my time deleting all those spams.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Words from George R.R. Martin

Like the rest of the world, I'm a George R.R. Martin fan.  I've always been a fan of fantasy, but Martin's brand is different.  He's taken the genre to another level – one that's more 'real'.  His characters experience problems of leaders and peasants from history.  The magic remains mysteriously, and sometimes frustratingly, in the background.  But it is all the more intriguing when it happens.

Like every other fan I am eagerly awaiting the release of the next novel of the series - The Winds of Winter.

In the meantime, what to do?  Well, I recently spent the afternoon listening to Martin in a couple of interviews and a podcast.  Interesting stuff for fans and aspiring fantasy writers alike.

A Song of Ice and Fire

The whole thing came to him in the summer of '81 when he struck upon the idea of a wolf that gave birth to pups during a summer snow.  The summer snow was very important.  From this he wrote a chapter and once that was done he knew what would happen in the next chapter.  He spent the rest of that summer writing what would become 'Game of Thrones'.  I like the way he stopped writing to draw a map and fully imagine this world of Westeros.

I'm happy to report his favourite character in this series is Tyrion, with Arya coming a close second (same as yours truly).  You may not be surprised to learn that Joffrey is loosely based on five to six people he went to school with (I think Joffrey reminds all of us of a few people we'd rather forget).

Martin often receives letters from people who complain about the detail of his sex scenes.  Interestingly, he receives no complaints about the detail of violence in scenes.  He states this seems to be typical of America today.

But Martin takes the opportunity to challenge, politely, the sexlessness of Tolkien's work.  And it's an interesting point.  Amid all the imaginative landscapes and creatures – humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, hobbits, trolls and more, imagined by Tolkein, they're all ... sexless.  Martin hasn't shied from sex in his work, and this makes his characters and stories more realistic, despite the 'fantasy' label.

On Writing

Martin endorses four rules for writers, as espoused by Robert A. Heinlein:

  1. You must write.
  2. Finish what you write.
  3. You must market what you write.
  4. Refrain from rewriting - except on editorial feedback (endless fiddling with your story is not going to get you anywhere).
Martin adds two of his own rules to this list:
  • Beginners should start with short stories – there is quite a demand for this in well renowned science fiction and fantasy magazines.
  • Keep your day job, writing is a hard gig.
Other tidbits he said along the way:
  • Martin's general philosophy for fantasy is to base it in reality, then get imaginative.
  • Even good fantasy falls into the mistake of thinking the good man will become the good king – Tolkien does this with Aragorn.  But societies are more complicated.
  • The character is the heart of fiction.  Make characters real.
  • If everyone hates the villain and loves the hero – that's when we are dealing with cardboard.  People are more complex.

Some words for thought, no?

Saturday, 2 February 2013

A writing schedule that works.

In previous posts I hinted about a writing schedule that works for me.  So, I thought I'd share it.  It's nothing new or particularly innovative, and the key here is that it works for me.  You should find something that works for you.

When I first decided to become serious about writing, I resolved to write when time permitted.  I'm sure you can guess what happened.  Life took over.  The phone would ring, I'd answer it.  The dishes would need doing.  There would be a show on the tv that sucked me in.  My writing trickled away to something I did on the weekend.

This arbitrary approach was never going to work.  One piece of advice often repeated, is to write often.  It's important for our practise and our momentum that we write on a daily basis.  Stephen King states that if you don't write every day "you'll lose the urgency and immediacy of your story..." (On Writing).

I'm no different to most aspiring authors.  I have a full-time job and family commitments, so how was I supposed to find some quality time to write every day?

Well here's what I did.

I sat down one day and looked at all of my commitments for each day of the week.  I decided upon a goal to write for one hour a day, six days a week.  Then I went through every day and found that hour.  Some days I write as soon as I get out of bed at 6am.  I grab a cup of tea and write through to 7am.  Other days I write in the evenings, before bed.    The weekends prove a little more flexible, and often I write more than the one hour.

Sticking to this schedule has enabled me to complete my first novelette and novel (soon to be released), and I am half-way through a third work.  Some days I write a thousand words.  Other days I barely make 200, but I am writing.

I guess the 'trick' if there is one, is to look at each day and determine the best time to write.  The next thing is to stick to it - ignore the phone and make the dishes wait.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Become a better writer ... while you clean?

Real life can peeve me.  Dishes need to be washed, carpets need vacuuming, the cat's fur-balls need cleaning up – there's always some chore that takes up time when I'd rather be reading, writing or dreaming.

Unfortunately, the fairies never show up to clean at my house.
But, podcasts make housework more interesting.
Image care of Design Crowd

Saturday, 19 January 2013

I'm Baaaack!

Yes I am!  Where have I been?  Stuck in Busyville I'm sad to say.  

As usual, the New Year has had an inspirational effect on me.  Let's see if I can make it last longer than six months this time ;) I haven't been entirely lax.  I have completed my first novel and novella.  They are both in the process of being workshopped.  The novella is an extended version of my old blogfic serial, 'The Viscount's Son'. I took it down from this site and decided to get serious about it.  I will be releasing it as a novella on the March 3rd, so put that in your diaries. Obviously, I will be revealing more about my first publication soon.  

In the meantime, you can get a little glimpse of what is to come by heading over to Dawn Pendleton's blog.  You'll see a little spiel there about me and my upcoming novella.  She's also listed some other indie authors who are definitely worth a look. 

That's it for this first 'return' post.  It's a good feeling to dust off the old blog and get stuck into building my writing profile again.  I could have waffled on about why I dropped my bundle in July, but I think you probably know why.  It's not all that interesting, really.  Life just has a way of taking over. 

Anyone still out there?