Snazzy Snippets returns: excerpts from my work in progress

Snazzy Snippets

It’s the second instalment of Emily and Alyssa’s Snazzy Snippets writing blog link-up. You can find the details here, but basically the idea is that writers share three snippets of less than 500 words on set themes. It’s designed to let you have fun, analyse your work on a smaller level, or just write something to join in.

I already shared three snippets from Lucid Dreaming (my November release) last time. So to mix it up, this time I’ll share some excerpts from my WIP, an as-yet-unnamed fantasy that I describe as “Beauty and the Beast meets the Minotaur”.

It really needs a name, because although that’s a good description it’s quite clunky!

Snippet number one: a snippet with FOOD in it.

This is from chapter nine. I realised, reading it, that it’s the second scene I’ve written with porridge in it. (The first is in Lucid Dreaming.)

I guess I really like porridge.

A low table filled the centre of the room, with lounges on either side of it. Parthenia reclined in one, eating sliced and pitted plums from a plate on the cushion beside her. Dora stood by the table, her silver braid hanging over her shoulder and down the front of her body in a glimmering rope.

The old woman smiled as Rheia entered. “Please, sit,” she said, indicating the other lounge. “Would you like porridge?”

Rheia’s stomach rumbled. “Yes. Please.” She watched with interest as Dora spooned the food into a shallow bowl. The grains glistened with honey, and were mixed through with raisins gone fat with soaking, and with soft whey cheese. Not so dissimilar to the porridge she’d have made at home, although her family’s stock of raisins had been exhausted months ago. Dora added a handful of fresh-picked blackberries; they dimpled the surface of the porridge.

Rheia’s stomach fluttered as it struck her that she wouldn’t be able to go picking grapes later in the season. Autumn was her favourite season. She loved roaming the skirt of the mountain, basket filled with fruit. Would her mother take Aias alone this year?

Snippet number two: a snippet you’re really proud of.

This one is from chapter eight. I’m not sure if I’m really proud of it (I tried to find something without spoilers, and with some description), but it’s alright. :p

Grass sprung underfoot as Dora led Rheia across to a covered walkway on the far side, past a caregiver woman hunched over, carefully tending a low bush. Pillars ran along the walkway’s outside edge, while the inner wall opened onto several rooms.

One of them was closed off by a heavy curtain. “That is the other tribute’s room,” Dora said, nodding at it. “Her name is Parthenia. I am sure you will meet her at the evening meal.” Rheia recalled the proud, grey-eyed tribute she’d seen on the docks, the one who’d regarded the crowd with such contempt. Her stomach fluttered nervously at the idea of meeting the girl. “And this room is yours,” Dora continued.

The chamber was at least five times as large as Rheia’s bedroom at home. Its stone floor was covered with rich brown furs, and the bed was big enough for three, the cushions fat with downy feathers. The clothes chest was huge, its lid open so she could see folded fabric in an array of colours; a small shelf above it bore neatly arranged brooches to pin the chitons. Other chests sat around the room, lids closed. The inner walls were covered with tapestries: one, a rolling hillside covered with flowers; another, a herd of goats grazing peacefully, watched over by a small girl.

The windows were blocked by wooden panels carved with flower-shaped holes each the size of Rheia’s fist — large enough to allow her to see out and to admit a breeze, but small enough that she couldn’t escape through them. Her stomach swooped as she saw the room for what it was: an elaborate cage.

Snippet number three: The first paragraph from a WIP.

Okay, it’s a little more than a paragraph. :p

“The ships. They’re in the harbour!”

Rheia’s younger brother brushed past her, sandals slapping against the flagstones in the central courtyard as he darted for the villa’s outer door. Scowling, she steadied the heavy jar of oil in her arms and glared after him. Then his words sank in. “Aias, wait. I’ll come with you!”

The door slammed and he was gone.

She cursed, hurrying into the kitchen and setting the jar down on a shelf next to its almost-empty twin.

“Watch your language.” Rheia’s grandmother, Charis, sat by the stove, basking in the warmth from a log whose heart glowed cherry red as it slowly turned to cinders. Her hands worked busily, grinding barley into powder to make bread. “You sound like a soldier with that mouth. Or a sailor.”

So those are my snippets. If you want to take part, you can link your post so others can see it — just scroll to the bottom of this post and you’ll find the linky list there. You can also paste the link in the comments below so I can go check it out.


Snazzy Snippets: Excerpts From My November Release


Two wonderful bloggers, Emily and Alyssa, have started a new blog link-up where writers can share snippets from one of their works. To quote from Emily’s post, “It’s an opportunity for writers! Every two months, we post a prompt or question for you to share a snippet of less than 500 words. It’s designed to let you have fun, analyse your work on a smaller level, or just write something to join in.”

So because I finished the main edits on Lucid Dreaming on Tuesday, I’ve decided to share some of that with you. I love this story, you guys, and Melaina, the main character, is all kinds of awesome.

Snippet number one: A snippet that shows your MC’s personality

He spoke in a rush, as though that would make it less embarrassing. “I’ve been having these recurring nightmares, and I tried sleeping tablets but then I couldn’t wake up, which was worse, and the doctor referred me to a psychologist, but I rang them and they said it could be months before I get in.” The lamplight flashed off the lenses of his glasses, partially obscuring his bloodshot eyes. Fatigue lined his face. I guessed he was in his mid-twenties, a little older than my twenty-one, but it was hard to tell. “Honestly, I’m desperate.”

“I can see that,” I said. Despite my attempt to soften my tone, he bristled. I cringed inside. I didn’t have enough customers that I could afford to drive them off. “Look, Larry, I get it. You don’t really believe I can help you. You wouldn’t be the first customer to feel that way. So I’ll tell you what—if I can’t do anything for you, the appointment’s free.”

He blinked brown eyes that would have been nice, if the whites hadn’t been spider-webbed with veins. He was clearly trying to figure out the catch.

“Scout’s honour,” I added. Or Girl Scouts. Whatever. “What have you got to lose?”

“Nothing, I guess.” His fingers worried at the fringe of the orange throw rug where it hung over the arm of the chair. “Okay, what do I do?”

“The first thing I need you to do is relax. Would you like a cup of herbal tea?” He looked as if I’d offered him a ferret in a sock, eyebrows shooting towards his hairline. It was the most animated expression I’d seen from him yet. “It’s my own blend. Lavender and chamomile, and a few other things. Nothing illegal or dodgy. It’ll help you relax.”

“Okay. I guess.”

The pot was already brewing on top of the freestanding drawers in which I stored my minimal tools of the trade. Candles. Essential oils. A rainbow of small crystals Serenity had given me as a “rentiversary” present. A half-eaten bag of individually wrapped caramels. Herbs in little bags, neatly labelled with stickers. A few CDs of the sort you’d expect: rainforest noises, the ocean, whale song.

All flimflammery, of course. Except the caramels.

Snippet number two: A snippet featuring the villain

There are a few different options here, and some of them are spoiler-y, so I’ve elected to go with a non-spoiler-y one, from later in the same chapter as the above excerpt.

I closed my eyes and looked into Larry’s dreams.

I was expecting to find a tortured psyche, an aspect of his subconscious manifesting itself there. Daddy or mummy issues, arachnophobia, anxiety, even garden-variety stress: I’d seen them all at one point or another. I couldn’t fix his psychological issues, but I could put a temporary block on his dreams until his doctor’s referral came good.

That was what it usually was.

What I found was a thing.

It was an amorphous black cloud about the size of my torso. Greasy as a burger shop floor, it had yellowing eyes and writhing tentacles … if tentacles could be covered with fine hair and worm into your skin like something from a bad horror movie.

I’d seen manifestations of people’s nightmares before, more times than I could count. But this wasn’t part of Larry. It was an interloper — a blight.

“Hello,” I said.

The blight hissed like a feral cat over a broken-backed lizard that wasn’t quite dead. Around us, the dreamscape resolved into a rolling hillside, distinctly Australian in its gentle undulations. No sharp-edged peaks here. The grass underfoot was withered, not by the summer sun but by the blight’s corruption. A single eucalypt wept tears of black sap. Clouds loomed, obscuring the vast sky.

I wouldn’t have picked Larry for the rural landscape type. Sometimes you can never tell.

I stared. “You’re an ugly little grease-ball, aren’t you?”

The blight’s eyes were flat, uncomprehending and angry. I wasn’t going to be able to goad it into letting go. And I didn’t want to attack it while those tentacles were embedded in the reddish dirt beneath the tree. What if one of them tore off? That could result in residual badness for Larry, like leaving a bee sting under the skin to spit toxins long after the bee has died.

Still, the blight was only small. I could take it.

Snippet number three: A snippet that’s mostly dialogue

I don’t think I have any that are mostly dialogue, John Green-style, but this one at least has a decent amount. Context: It’s from the next chapter. Melaina’s mother is in a nursing home, and Ewan is one of the nurses that works there.

Ewan stepped back. When he spoke, his tone was reassuring. “She really is doing well.”

“Compared to what?” I asked, my voice sharp. If Mum were awake she’d chide me.

Ewan didn’t take my bad mood personally. “Compared to my other sleeper.”

There was an old man in the home who slept twenty-four hours a day. Was that technically a coma? I had no idea, but the nurse’s comment made me feel ungrateful. At least I got to talk to Mum sometimes. If I timed it right.

Oblivious to my thoughts, Ewan continued, “Her physical fitness is pretty good for someone as inactive as she is, although I admit she still gets exhausted easily. But she’s staying awake an hour or so longer a day than she was six months ago.”

“Really?” That surprised me.

He nodded, making a note on a chart that had been tucked discreetly underneath a small pile of magazines on the tiny table. “Yup. Doctor Willis didn’t mention it?”

“Nope. But he doesn’t work for me, does he?”

“Well, no, I guess he doesn’t,” Ewan said.

Something about his tone made me frown at him. “Is there anything else the doctor isn’t telling me?”

Glancing at me, Ewan put the chart down and crossed to the door, closing it. The jingling from the TV down the hall fell mercifully silent. He folded his arms across his chest, his gaze weighing me up. I tried to smile but nerves jangled in my stomach, making the expression feel forced. So I gave up and scowled. “Spill.”

“Doctor Willis has been talking to your uncle about drug treatments,” Ewan said slowly. “He was surprised they hadn’t been tried before. When I overheard them, they were talking about antidepressants.”

“They haven’t been tried because she doesn’t want them,” I said.

I know that and you know that.” Ewan pointed from himself to me and then shrugged.

“Uncle Ian has power of attorney over her.” I clenched and unclenched my fists, the beginning of a headache pinching at my temples. “Has he authorised it yet?”

“No. And he can’t, unless she grants him enduring power of attorney, which I understand she hasn’t. Her medical treatments are still her decision.”


“But he can put a lot of pressure on her to agree.”

I must have looked determined or pissed off—probably both—because Ewan shifted from foot to foot. “Uh, hey, you didn’t hear any of this from me, okay? I could lose my job if they find out I discussed confidential information with you.”

So those are my snippets. If you want to take part, you can link your post so others can see it — just scroll to the bottom of this post and you’ll find the linky list there. (Sorry, I’m not sure how to link to it independently.) You can also paste the link in the comments below so I can go check it out.

And if you liked the sound of these excerpts and are a Goodreads user, you can add Lucid Dreaming to your TBR shelf here.

You know, if you want to.

No pressure. :p

Lucid Dreaming banner

Coffee Book Tag

I’ve been tagged for the Coffee Book Tag by Cait from Paper Fury; since this tag combines books and coffee, two of my favourite things, I decided to get on board—although posting it has taken me a while due to Things (TM).

My post won’t be as beautiful as Cait’s. She took photos of all the books she mentioned, some of them artfully arranged with coffee beans or on lace backgrounds. This includes a photo of Isla’s Inheritance that is one of my favourites ever. Go check it out. I’ll wait.

As an aside, I can’t help but notice the last three “coffees” in the list are actually tea. I’M ONTO YOU, TEA! (Note: I like tea.)

name a series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I really wanted to love this series, but I found it really hard to get onboard with. I think for me the problem was a combination of a lot of points of view, and the fact that some of those points of view were from people I wanted to punch in the nose…

I had the paperback of this, but eventually I gave up and gifted it to my then-housemate.

Peppermint mocha:
name a book that gets more popular during the winter
or a festive time of year

I’m not that aware of popular trends, so instead here is a book that I think of when I think of peppermint mocha and other wintery foods and drinks: Running Home by Julie Hutchings. Hutchings’s vampires use scent as a means by which they attract fated future vampires, and because it’s set in winter the descriptions of Nicholas from Ellie’s perspective are, well, mouth-watering.

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Hot chocolate:
what is your favourite children’s book?

The Stone Cage by Nicholas Stuart Gray is a long-term favourite. I read it when I was in primary school, then again in year eleven, and then again as an adult. It’s the story of Rapunzel told from the perspective of the witch’s cat, and I LOVE it.

photo 3

Double shot of espresso:
name a book that kept you on the edge of your
seat from start to finish

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. Most of Wendig’s novels are action-driven, but Miriam is the sort of character that ploughs into and through obstacles, because she just wants to keep moving. She’s racing against time and against herself and her own inner demons, and she doesn’t pull punches.

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name a book you see everywhere

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James—or at least that series. For a while it was the books, and then the books with the new, movie-inspired covers … and now it’s the next book in the series. (There used to be a Starbucks in Canberra, but it went out of business. Make of that what you will.)

That hipster coffee shop:
give a book by an indie author a shoutout

There are so many to choose from here (and I already mentioned one above), but it’s hard to choose just one. So here is a small pile of awesome indie love: The Problem With Crazy by Lauren K. McKellar, Shh! by Stacey Nash, and Immagica by K.A. Last. Yes, I have all of these in paperback, and SIGNED. You so jealous.

AOR books

Oops! I accidentally got decaf:
name a book you were expecting more from

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I’ve heard good things about this author, and I liked this book … but given the premise I really wanted to love it. The biggest flaw for me was that I found the protagonist so reckless that I swear I left an imprint of my hand on my forehead more than once.

The perfect blend:
name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet,
but ultimately satisfying

All the Weyrs of Pern by Anne McCaffrey made me cry and cry. And cry. But when I read it (as a teenager), I loved the way it wrapped everything up and finished off the story of Pern … more or less. I really want to re-read this series, although part of me is worried that I might not enjoy it as much, since I’m a much more critical reader than I was all those years ago.

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Green tea:
name a book or series that is quietly beautiful

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I listened to this as an audiobook, and it was sometimes like listening to a poetry recital. Beautiful is really the only way to describe this book, even though parts of it are ‘ugly’ in the traditional sense. Miller doesn’t spare us any details of the bloody violence of war, just as she doesn’t spare any details of Achilles’ nimble feet or his golden hair. It’s a tragic story with an eternal romance and an uplifting ending. Perfect! ❤

The Song of Achilles
Chai tea:
name a book or series that makes you
dream of far off places

I really wanted to name a book set entirely on a beach … but I’m sitting here drawing a mental blank. Aaaah! So instead I’ll go with Hogwarts, and name the Harry Potter books. Now there’s a place I’d love to visit.

What do you mean, Hogwarts isn’t real? Wash your mouth out! :p

Earl grey: name your favourite classic

I haven’t read it (or any classic) for years, but it would have to be Dracula by Bram Stoker. Maybe I’m hankering for the days when vampires were soulless demons instead of hot potential boyfriends? Nah, there was a bit of that in Dracula too…

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Tag, you’re it!

If you want to take part in this tag, then I just tagged you. (It’s TOTALLY legit!)

Are you a coffee or tea person? What books would you have gone with instead of my choices?

Getting to know me, with Cuddlebuggery


Today I’m taking part in the “Getting to Know You” blog hop hosted by Cuddlebuggery (I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take advantage of that awesome blog name). I’m supposed to tell you guys a bit about myself, including my favourite book series EVAH. Gee, they aren’t asking for a lot there. 😉

Of course, if I had to pick just one it’d be the sentimental favourite that would win: the Dragonriders series by Anne McCaffrey. This won’t be a surprise to anyone that follows my blog, as I mention these books regularly when I do the Top Ten Tuesday blog hop. They were the first adult fantasy series I read (after The Hobbit but before Lord of the Rings) and opened my eyes to the fact that you don’t have to read serious, boring books as you grow older.

Given I read speculative fiction almost exclusively now, it’s a lesson I clearly took to heart.

Another way I’m steadfastly refusing to grow up is by gaming. There’s been a bit of computer-style gaming over the years — I had a WoW addiction there for a while, and more recently a Minecraft one. But mostly I’m talking about roleplaying, both live action (when I was younger, before becoming a mother reduced my opportunities for evening outings) and tabletop (still).

Live action roleplaying (or LARP) is what people who don’t roleplay think of when they think of roleplaying: people dressing up and pretending to be something they’re not. But with LARP you don’t sit around a table like the stereotype would insist; instead, you actually all meet at a venue and immerse yourselves in your characters. Think improvisational theatre.

The games I played were all part of the World of Darkness milleu: vampires and werewolves, mostly, with the occasional changeling and mage game. You’re all there with an agenda that will probably cause strife with another character, while in the meantime world events (as decreed by the Storyteller) try and screw you over. The idea is to create the most interesting story — although there are always people who are in it to “win”, which is the other reason I don’t play anymore.

Coincidentally, it is because of my time LARPing that I have a photo of myself dressed rather the same as the girl in the meme picture. SNAP!

Cass corset

The tabletop game I play is your traditional Dungeons & Dragons game; again, it’s sort of what you’d expect, only we don’t dress up. (YOU try sitting at a dining table for hours in a corset!) Instead of a storyteller there’s a “Game Master” who describes the setting, while the players are responsible for their own characters. It’s a great way to be a hero in your own story, with friends.

The leap from roleplaying to writing novels isn’t that big, to be honest — especially if you take a stint as GM, but even if you don’t. It provides writers with a great appreciation of the idea that the characters should drive the story. It doesn’t always have to be the players’ characters; the ones made up by the GM or Storyteller have their own motivations too. The waves of zombies may look aimless, but who is behind rising them? What does he or she want? How do we stop them and take all their stuff?! Game design tends to favour finding the villain/s and undoing their plots, which encourages stories where the villains have their own motives.

Obviously every game isn’t created equal, but I’m lucky that my current group are all experienced gamers and we have a similar approach.

So. That’s a think about me. I’m an unrepentant geek! SURPRISE!

Now, I promised a giveaway. Leave a comment telling me a little something about yourself (no matter how silly) and I will enter you in a draw to win a copy of the Isla’s Inheritance ebook. I’ll do the draw on 30 November, my time.

Edit: So, since I had exactly ten entries, I decided a d10 (that’s a ten-sided dice for you non-geeks!) was the best way to pick a winner. But my dice bag is downstairs and my phone is here, so I used a dice-rolling app instead…



Number three! Congratulations, Zed! I’ll be in touch. 🙂

Haunting Halloween Hop: the scary thing


Today I’m taking part in the Aussie Owned and Read Haunting Halloween Hop. (Yes, it’s 31 October here already, Northern Hemisphere. Nyah nyah!) The basic idea is that you post about something that scares you. I’m kinda sorta double-dipping on this one, because last week I blogged at AOR about the opening scene in Isla’s Inheritance, and the scary seance that inspired it.

(Yes, I used to do seances for fun. I don’t anymore. I’d like to write a book about Emma, the girl who runs the seance for Isla and Dominic, and what mischief might befall her as a result. It’s on my to do list.)

ANYWAY, moving on. There are a couple of answers to the “what scares me” question. I’m actually choosing to write the slightly less scary one, because the more scary one (something happening to my child) is so paralysing that I can’t even. The slightly less scary one is still pretty scary, though, and it’s been a fear I’ve had since my high school social science classes, when they taught us about nuclear weapons and the silent killer that is radiation poisoning.

I hate the idea of the invisible, creeping thing — the nuclear poison, toxic gas or virus on a droplet in the air. Something so tiny that you can’t see it to run away; something that can kill you. Or turn you into a zombie. Years ago, I saw a movie in the cinema (Outbreak, maybe?) that had a scene where someone with a deadly virus didn’t know it yet. They went to the movies and sneezed, and then the camera tracked the little droplet of air over the crowd and infected others.

I nearly hid under my seat.

As I bet you can imagine, the current ebola outbreak has made me very nervous. Even though I know intellectually that ebola is not very contagious — rating below the common cold, measles and HIV for infectivity — there’s not a chance you could get me in a room with someone who had it, even if I was in one of those full-body bubble suit things.

Maybe one day I’ll write a book to exorcise these fears, get them on the page. Probably not, because I want to be able to sleep at night…!

To visit the other blogs in the hop (or to register your own post), click here. Or leave a comment. What’s the thing that scares you?

Meet the Character: Jack

Today, I’m taking part in a Meet the Character blog hop to introduce you all to one of the characters in Isla’s Inheritance: Jack the Unsworn. (You may be wondering why I’m not introducing Isla. The answer is that I already looked at her back in April, last time this blog hop came my way! The questions have changed slightly since then, which is interesting. 🙂 )

Thanks to Stacey Nash for tagging me in on the fun. Here’s Stacey’s Meet the Character post and — although if you follow my blog you’ll have read my interview with her on 18 October — following is a bit about her.

Stacey Nash

Stacey Nash writes adventure-filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. She loves to read and write books that have a lot of adventure, a good dose of danger, a smattering of romance, and KISSING! Hailing from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, she loves nothing more than immersing herself in the beauty and culture of the local area.

HarperCollins | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Inspired by Stacey, I’ve decided to recast these questions so I’m interviewing Jack rather than just talking about him.

So here’s my meet the character from Isla’s Inheritance. Please introduce yourself.

I am Jack. Jack the Unsworn, if you wish to be formal. But for the most part I prefer Jack.

Where do you live? When is it?

I live in the Australian city of Canberra, and it is spring. Is that what you mean when you ask me when it is? How come you do not know? I do not mean to be rude, but have you hit your head?

What should we know about you? 

I am a member of the duinesidhe people. (It is pronounced din-a-shee, if you were wondering.) That is the name for all of the fae races, the people who live under the hills. Specifically, I am a type of duinesidhe called a hob.

You have not heard of us? We look rather like humans in that we are bipedal, but we have long ears — which does pose a problem when we wish to go out into the human world. I wear a lot of hats and bandanas.

What is your goal? 

I wish to keep my family, my people safe. There is another race of duinesidhe who are more powerful than the rest of us, and they like to keep us as servants or slaves.

I will not be a slave again. Or let the ones I love be enslaved.

What is screwing up your life (what is the ‘main conflict’, in writerly speak)? 

Since we came to Australia, our lives have actually been pleasant. Very little conflict, which is how I like it. While building our homes under the hills is more challenging that it might have been in the Old World, the ones who like to enslave us do not come here.

But recently I met this girl, this unique girl, who is half human and half one of us. She is not, how did you say it, ‘screwing up my life’ … but she is definitely complicating it.


When can we expect the book to be published? It was published on 9 October.

You can find Isla’s Inheritance at: Turquoise Morning Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Next week’s author is fabulous teen author Emily Mead. Make sure you check out her post!

Emily Mead is a teen writer and reader, apparently 17 but either 3 or ageless, depending if she’s wearing odd socks or not (usually she is). She likes using brackets, talking, acting, freaking out about awesome books and watching Harry Potter more than she should. Props to her sister for indulging these habits.

Meet my character: Isla Blackman

I was tagged in the Meet My Character blog hop by the fabulous historical fiction author Nicole Evelina. (Thanks, Nicole!) The idea is that you can write about a character in a new release or WIP. Given my impending release and WIP are both about Isla, she was my obvious choice.

However, I’ve written this based on the first book, for reasons.

Jenna-Louise Coleman, who looks a lot like I imagine Isla would. (Source.)

Jenna-Louise Coleman, who looks a lot like I imagine Isla would. (Source.)

What is the name of your character? Is she fictional or a historical person?

Her name is Isla Rose Blackman, and she’s about to turn eighteen. Her father is David Andrew Blackman, a small farmer and hobbyist ironmonger with a farm outside Canberra. Isla lives with her aunt, Elizabeth Kent, and cousins, Sarah and Ryan. But she sees her father regularly and adores him.

This meme started among the histfic writers, hence the second half of the question. Since I write urban fantasy, the answer is always going to be “fictional”. As much as it might be hilarious to write a vampire story involving a real life politician, for example, I suspect I’d be sued shortly afterwards!

When and where is the story set?

For the most part, it is set in Canberra—Isla moved in with her aunt when she started high school so she’d be closer to class. And it is a contemporary story…in timeframe if not always in subject matter.

What should we know about Isla?

Isla has a good head on her shoulders. Her father raised her to be practical and have a critical mind; for example, she never went through the new age phase Sarah did as a teenager. When her cousins drag her to a Halloween party, she thinks it’s all a bit of fun but nothing more—an excuse to dress up. She only ever agreed to take part in the séance because Dominic was there, and she’d had a crush on him when she was younger.

Turns out he’s still hot.

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

The first speedbump in the road is when the séance tries to contact Isla’s mother, who passed away in childbirth, and the “spirits” reply “SHE IS NOT DEAD”. Isla can’t understand why the girl running the séance would set her up like that, given they’ve never met before…but then all sorts of weird things start happening.

What is the personal goal of the character?

At first, Isla hopes for a lightbulb moment where she suddenly knows what she wants to do with her life. She has the grades for university, but decides to take a gap year because she isn’t sure what she wants to study.

After a while, though, she just wants everything to go back to normal.

When can we expect Isla’s Inheritance to be published?

October 2014. *faints*

Who’s next in this blog hop?

I’m tagging two awesome writers, contemporary author Lauren K. McKellar, and fantasy and urban fantasy author K. A. Last. I loved both of their recent releases, The Problem With Crazy and Immagica respectively. Check them out!


Blog hop: ‘The Problem With Crazy’ – donating to charity

Crazy teaserNEW

As you guys will know, I am CRAZY about A Problem With Crazy. So I’m super-excited to tell you all that it’s on sale at Amazon and iTunes this weekend! The money you save can be used to buy a box of tissues — you’re going to need them. xo

A word from Lauren: donating to charity

I’d like to think I’m a good person. I try to do get with the whole ‘Do unto others’ program, I occasionally bake cakes for people I love and I even pick up my dogs’ business when I’m out taking them for a walk (and I have two—that’s potentially a lot of you-know-what).

That’s why, when I wrote The Problem With Crazy, it was important for me to work with a charity and donate a portion of sales to them. One of the main reasons I wrote the book was to raise awareness, but I think with an illness that affects so many people and just devastates lives, you kind of need to do more than that.

So, a few months before I hit publish, I contacted Huntington’s NSW, the state body in my, um, state, to ask if I could donate a portion of sales to them. The team there were lovely, but to my surprise it wasn’t as simple as ‘Wham, bam, we’ll take your money, ma’am.’ No, instead they wanted to read it first to make sure it was suitable.

Cue = Lauren having a panic attack.

Don’t get me wrong. Part of me was jump-up-and-down excited that I was getting an industry professional to fact-check me, but another part was freaking the hell out. What if they hated it? What if I offended them with some hideously incorrect fact that I totally made up? What if my manuscript turned into a zombie and tried to eat their brains? (I never said my freak out was rational.)

Thankfully, they ended up contacting me and saying they liked the book and that they would be happy to have me on board. Hell, one of the people who read it even said she thought it would have been a good book to read when she was a teenager going through the same thing.

And so I am now a proud sponsor of Huntington’s NSW. And I couldn’t be happier.

Huntingtons NSW


The problem with crazy is that crazy, by itself, has no context. It can be good crazy, bad crazy . . . or crazy crazy—like it was when my ex-boyfriend sung about me on the radio.

Eighteen-year-old Kate couldn’t be more excited about finishing high school and spending the summer on tour with her boyfriend’s band. Her dad showing up drunk at graduation, however, is not exactly kicking things off on the right foot—and that’s before she finds out about his mystery illness, certain to end in death.

A mystery illness she is likely to inherit.

When your whole life goes from adventure and ecstasy to sad and suicidal, what’s the point? Not knowing who to love, and who to trust . . . where does it end?

The Problem With Crazy is a story about love and life; about overcoming obstacles, choosing to trust, and learning how to make the choices that will change your life forever.

Blog hop clue

Want to win one of five eBook copies of The Problem With Crazy, a paperback edition, or one of three $5 Amazon gift cards? Collect the clues hidden in the other blogs on the hop and enter to win. To find all the other blogs and the Rafflecopter link, go here.

Blog hop clue E: YOU

About Lauren

Lauren K. McKellar is an author and editor. Her debut novel, Finding Home, was released through Escape Publishing on October 1, 2013, and her second release, NA Contemporary Romance The Problem With Crazy, is self-published, and is available now.

As well as being a magazine editor for a national audited publication on pet care, Lauren works as a freelance editor for independent authors, and was a Runner Up Editor of the Year in the Publishers Australia awards in 2013.

Lauren is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia and is obsessed with words–she likes the way they work.

Lauren_McKellar Author Pic

From Australia With Love

from australia with love banner-3

Australian writers rock. We know it, and we love them. But it’s not always easy to discover the Australian talent that is right under our noses.

The From Australia With LoveBlog Hop introduces you to 18 Aussie authors across a variety of categories and genres. Each author is hosting three of their fellow blog hop participants between now and Valentine’s Day to let you find out more about them. So follow them on Twitter, like their Facebook page and visit their blogs during the blog hop period to discover more great Australian writers.

And to show how much these Aussie authors love their readers, they’ve donated some great prizes for you to win!

Author & Facebook Page Twitter Blog/Website
Ronnie Strong @RonnieFStrong Ronnie Strong
Becca Lee @authorbeccalee Becca Lee
Nina Levine @NinaLWriter Books By Nina Levine
Nicole R Taylor @Nicole_Noir Nicole R Taylor
Cameron Trost @BlackBeacons Cameron Trost
L.L. Hunter @llhunterbooks Angels on Earth
New Adult and Young Adult
S.M.Johnston @S_M_Johnston Down Under Wonderings
Lisa Swallow @Lisa_Swallow_Au Lisa Swallow
Katie Hamstead @katieteller1 Katie Teller’s Stories
Nicole Hayes @nichmelbourne Nicole Hayes
K.A. Last @KALastbooks K.A.Last
Laura Katherine @lauracatherinep The Quill Weilder
Cassandra Page @CassandraPage01 Cassandra Page
Stacey Nash @staceynash Stacey Nash
Lauren K McKellar @LaurenKMcKellar Lauren K McKellar
MG & Chapter Books*
LJ Clarkson @Ind1cated Mastermind Academy
Melissa Gijsbers @MissieK Melissa Writes
Jacqueline Harvey @JacquelineHarve Jacqueline Harvey

*Also visit YAtopia for additional MG posts.

Enter to win HERE!

If you want to do something right…

Celebrating Aus blog hop

(Okay, that may not be the most inspirational title for an Australia Day blog post, but I think it sums up what I am about to say pretty well.)

I love urban fantasy. Love it! I’ve felt that way since I didn’t know what the genre was called—back when Interview With the Vampire was filed in the sci-fi and fantasy section of the bookstore and the paranormal shelves didn’t exist. (Say what you will about it, we have Twilight to thank for their creation.) I thoroughly enjoyed Anita Blake’s early adventures, and loved Sookie Stackhouse when she came along too.

When I started thinking about the sort of novel I might write, I toyed with fantasy, but urban fantasy drew me back like a lodestone.

Then I’d think about where to set the book, and come unstuck. Because all the urban fantasy novels I read were set in America or, less usually, England. Wouldn’t Americans (who, lets be honest, are the biggest market of English-speaking readers in the world) prefer to read books set in their own country? The streets of New Orleans, Chicago, New York—those were the places haunted and hunted by the supernatural. Not sunny Australia.

I could’ve tried to write a book set in the States—I did think about it—but I felt like a fraud. I knew my Australian slang would reveal the lie. I’ve never even been to America. How could I pull that off?

So I didn’t write the book. Because “write what you know”, right?

Over the past few years, urban fantasies—and their kissing cousin, the paranormal romance—have started to appear, set in Australia. Maybe they’ve been around for longer and I only just began to notice them through the blanket coverage of foreign authors in Australian chain bookstores.

Okay, I thought, I can do this. Only… those books were all set in Sydney or Melbourne. Could Canberra, with its population of 360,000, be a viable setting for an urban fantasy? It may be the nation’s capital, but almost no one outside Australia has heard of it. Two out of three tourists think Sydney is the capital. (I just made that stat up, but I’d bet it’s true!)

And then it hit me like a boomerang in the face: if someone needs to do it to test the water, to see whether it’s a viable location for an urban fantasy, why shouldn’t that be me? I’ve lived here all my life so it definitely ticks the “write what you know” box. I love this city, with its wide open spaces, bush corridors, national monuments and occasionally dubious public art*.

Of course my books are set here.

*If you want to see what I’m talking about, do a Google image search for “Belconnen owl” and tell me what you think it looks like from behind. Then search for “Skywhale”, because LOL.

This post is part of Aussie Owned and Read’s Australia Day/Blogaversary blog hop. You can find other participating blogs or register your own here. And there is a GIANT GIVEAWAY too, which you can enter here.