Winter Warmers blog hop

Once upon a time, a wonderful writer and blogger named Blue was tagged in a blog hop called the Summer Sun Award. Because Blue is a rebel, she decided to go along with the blog hop, but when she tagged people to participate she flipped it on its head, renaming it Winter Warmers.

And, in a great sense of irony because it actually is summer here next month, she tagged me. 😉

Favourite song with winter in the title or lyrics.

Confession: I could only think of Winter Wonderland when I pondered this question. And it’s ok, but not my favourite. Then I thought, hey, maybe I could make the question “favourite song about winter or Christmas”. Then I chose White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin, which (when I listened to it as I was preparing this blog post) made me cry.

Gee, thanks, Tim. :p

Ironically, it’s about an Australian Christmas anyway — white wine in the sun might not go down so well at Christmas in England. Which makes it about summer. I’m a rebel like that.

Favourite book about winter

My most recent favourite would have to be The Memory Game by Sharon Sant. It’s not about winter, per se, but winter plays an important role.

Here’s the blurb:

18741309If there is a hell, I think maybe this is it.’

Weeks after fifteen-year-old David is killed by a speeding driver, he’s still hanging around and he doesn’t know why. The only person who can see and hear him is the girl he spent his schooldays bullying.

Bethany is the most hated girl at school. She hides away, alone with her secrets until, one day, the ghost of a boy killed in a hit-and-run starts to haunt her.

Together, they find that the end is only the beginning…

I should warn you, though — this book made me cry like a baby!

Favourite “hot” winter film

I’ve been sitting here thinking and thinking, and I’ve got nothing. I’m just not a film person. The only cold scene I could even think of from a movie that I love is from Fellowship of the Ring, where they try and cross the mountain, and Legolas is showing off by walking on top of the snow.

So I’ll say pass to this question and lose a point. And know that once this post is up, I will think of ten or twelve different answers.

Favourite winter memory

Duns Castle. My future home.

Duns Castle. My future home.

In 2011, we went to Scotland. It was a scorching Australian summer here, so we arrived in the depths of a northern hemisphere winter. All the locals thought we were barmy for choosing that time of year to visit, but that’s alright. Besides, we stayed in a castle for four nights, and who wouldn’t love that? It would’ve been perfect if it had snowed, but it held off till the day we left.

That being said, what’s not to love about a roaring fireplace someone else has stoked when it’s freezing outside?

I also have an enduring memory of driving along a country road through an area where it had snowed, and seeing a tree totally covered in snow and ice crystals. It was breathtaking.

Favourite winter holiday destination

Somewhere warm. Unless it’s a castle.

What books will be in your suitcase this winter?

Well, given winter is just over six months away, that depends how slowly I read. It may be something on these shelves.

My to-be-read shelf has conducted a hostile takeover

My to-be-read shelf has conducted a hostile takeover

I’m also certain I’ll be reading and re-reading some of my own books in the interim, because Isla’s Inheritance comes out in the Australian spring, so there will be ALL OF THE PROOFING TO DO!

And I tag…

Stacey Nash

Katie Teller

Emily Mead

Karen Soutar

Lauren Spieller

Writing process blog tour

I was tagged by Melissa A. Petreshock to participate in a blog hop about my writing process. It’s a simple one – answer four questions, and then tag three more authors, until it spreads, virus-like, across the WHOLE INTERWEBS!



So, here are the questions, and my answers:

What are you working on right now? 

I’m currently doing the first-round edits on my debut novel, Isla’s Inheritance, which comes out with Turquoise Morning Press in the second half of 2014. When that’s done, I’ll be doing a quick brush-up edit on the sequel, Isla’s Oath, so it’s ready to send to TMP when they ask for it. And then I’ll have to get to work on the third book in the trilogy. I’ve got an outline ready to go, although there are still a few blank spots that need sorting out. I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t drafted anything new in more than a month and I’m getting twitchy!

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

A fairy. Not like my fairies. (Source)

A fairy. Not like my fairies. (Source)

The series is a young adult urban fantasy—with fae. There are a few ways it differs, but my favourite one is the setting. I’ve always been interested in the mythological creatures of Europe, but at the same time I always wanted to write a novel set in Australia. I struggled with this for a long time, until I came up with the notion that maybe some of these mythological creatures fled to Australia over the years, came here to escape tyrannical leaders.

So I have fae, but they aren’t pretty, girly fairies—they are from a very cruel world. And they are hiding. When Isla, with her curious heritage, starts making some “noise”, that attracts all sorts of unwanted attention, with consequences not only for her but for her family and fae she’s never even met.

Why do you write what you do? 

My muse doesn’t give me a choice.

It’s true. I started on the first chapter of a historically inspired Steampunk/fantasy, and my muse came along with her steel cap boots and said NO, you will write another urban fantasy. (That one is Lucid Dreaming, which I’m getting ready to pitch between other projects.)

I think one reason is that I am mostly reading urban fantasy these days. And part of it is that the idea of the sort of heavy-duty worldbuilding you need to do for a fantasy novel intimidates me, and I’m pretty much a giant chicken. (I will try it one day, if my muse permits.)

I’ve considered writing contemporary fiction with no supernatural element whatsoever, but every time I do, I start thinking about a magical element to the story. My imagination just doesn’t seem to work that way.

How does your writing process work? 

Because I’m a single, working mother with a young son, I don’t get time to write every day. I wish I could, but I don’t. I usually manage once or twice a week—my goal when I’m drafting is to produce at least 2000 words a week. That means I write slowly. My most recent manuscript, which was Lucid Dreaming, took me seven months to draft. But it also means I have a lot of plotting time. My commute to and from work, moments of peace in the shower, even standing in a queue for a sandwich—those are all times when I can think about the story and what’s going to happen next.

It means I have yet to get “writer’s block”, because when I sit down to write I almost always know exactly what I need to happen in that scene. It’s the one upside of having so little time to actually write, so I’ll take advantage of it while I can!

Look for these authors next week…

Katie Hamstead, whose second book, Kiya: Mother of a King, came out this month with Curiosity Quills Press.

S. M. Johnston, whose debut novel, Sleeper, comes out in December 2013 with Entranced Publishing.

Stacey Nash, whose debut novel, Forget Me Not, comes out in February 2014, also with Entranced Publishing.

Re-imagining A Myth: ‘Endre’ Blog Tour

I don’t know if you guys will recall my posts from back in July as part of Team Ull. I even wrote limericks. Four of them. Well, Ull is the tres sexy main man in The Elsker Saga by ST Bende, and — in case you also missed yesterday’s post — the second book in the series, Endre, came out yesterday. I’m very pleased to have ST herself here to talk to you about re-imagining a myth.

Hei hei. I’m ST Bende and I write about Norse gods with a good clean dose of romance on the side. I love spending time with my imaginary friends in Asgard (and I really love spending time in their secret lair in the Cotswolds, England!). And I love learning about the world they come from. Researching Norse mythology was one of my favorite parts of writing the books of The Elsker Saga, but it was also one of the most difficult. Because when you have an endless supply of amazing stories you could re-imagine, how do you possibly choose between them?

I strongly considered re-imagining the incredibly silly story about everyone’s favorite Norse God, the God of Thunder himself. When Thor’s beloved hammer, Mjolnir, was kidnapped by an evil jotun (who naturally would only return the hammer in exchange for an Asgardian bride), Thor dressed in drag and traipsed off to Jotunheim in full bridal regalia. He returned, Mjolnir in hand and a trail of dead jotuns in his wake.

I also thought about sharing the story of Loki, Odin’s blood-brother, who seriously ticked off the God of Thunder when he cut off Sif’s gorgeous hair.  In order to avoid death-by-Thor, Loki had to convince the dwarves to weave Sif some new hair made of actual gold. This eventually led to the creation of the mighty Mjolnir.  (It always comes back to that hammer with those gods.)

In the end, I chose to tell the story of the relatively unknown God of Winter, Ull. He was the son of the Goddess of Beauty (Sif) and the stepson of the God of Thunder (Thor). He was once worshipped pretty widely across Scandinavia, but there aren’t many stories out there about him. He made the perfect blank page — I got to create the god of my dreams, and make him the perfect match in every way for my human heroine, Kristia.  And then I got to give them the perfect Asgardian wedding. (I nearly lost myself in Pinterest for a few weeks. Best. Research. Ever!)

I set Ull and Kristia’s love story against the heartbreaking tale of Ragnarok. The fall of Asgard and Midgard (Earth) was fated long ago, a necessary evil for the redemption of humankind.  But my version of Ragnarok has more than a few surprises, courtesy of the newest Asgardian. After all, sometimes finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what the Fates have in store. Don’t you think?

Now tell me in the comments — if you could re-imagine any myth or fairytale, which would it be? And why?

The gorgeous ST Bende

The gorgeous ST Bende

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of McVities cookies. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the books of The Elsker Saga (TUR, ELSKER and ENDRE). She is an audio co-host of #NALitChat, and helps compile indie new releases for the USA Today HEA blog. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day, pastries will be considered a health food.

Find ST on Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest, her blog, or send her an e-mail at stbende(at)gmail(dot)com. While you’re at it, introduce yourself to @UllMyhr on Twitter — when he’s not saving the cosmos from dark elves, he loves meeting new friends. Especially the human kind.

Endre is availalbe from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.



Excerpt from ‘Possession’ by J. Elizabeth Hill, and a giveaway

You may recall that, a month ago, I was part of the cover reveal for Possession (Book 2 of the Mirrors of Bershan) by J. Elizabeth Hill. Today I’m very excited to have an excerpt from the book, which is due for release on 10 September. I’ve read the first book in the series and enjoyed it, so I’m definitely curious to see what happens next!

Hill is doing a giveaway as part of her blog tour: you can win a signed paperback copy of both Bound and Possesssion. There will be three winners. See below for details.


Possession-J Elizabeth Hill -ebooksm

“I never meant any of this, least of all for you to pay the price of my pride.” 

After binding themselves to each other through their magic, Faylanna Derrion and Tavis journey back to her ancestral home, Iondis, intent on restoring the estate to its former beauty. From the moment they arrive, they find the secret horrors of the place aren’t exhausted yet.

Faylanna finds an old journal of her father’s, one that shakes her understanding of her own past. Worse, Faylanna and Tavis are both nearly killed when attacked by one of the men set to guard the Ninth Mirror of Bershan, still residing at Iondis. In the aftermath, he disappears with the newly-found journal. Sure there is more to this event than they know, Faylanna and Tavis return to the capital, Rianza, for help.

More secrets await them there, ones kept for years by people Tavis never suspected. When the truth is revealed, it alters his present and future completely. Can he rise to the challenges this new fate presents him with or will the change be more than he can handle?

The truths each learn about themselves and those they thought they knew will test Faylanna and Tavis’ love for each other. Will they be able to endure the pain and chaos they face, or will it tear them apart?

Excerpt (from Chapter 3)

“I thought I’d say goodbye before you go. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to come with you, as I suspect you may need all the support you can get. Sadly, there’s no way I can get away this time. I’m still paying for our last trip, in a way,” he said ruefully.

“It’s something to do with Voslin, isn’t it?” Faylanna asked and Keari nodded. “I thought it must be. I don’t remember seeing him much when I first arrived here, but now it’s like he’s shadowing your every move.”

He hesitated. “Yes, well, I didn’t tell him I was going last time, and he was rather irritated with me about that. I didn’t tell anyone, to be honest, but he’s charged with my safety. As he’s since pointed out, that means he should go where I go. I also wonder if my father might have said something to him about ensuring I stay close to home.”

“I’m sorry I’ve caused you such trouble.”

He shook his head. “My own doing. I knew there would be a price for running off like that. But I didn’t come here to go over that old business. Faylanna, I want you to write to me with anything you might need in order to repair the damage to your estates. I can think of a few things I would suggest, but it’s your home, your land, and therefore your decision to make. The fields shouldn’t be any trouble, but the manor will be another matter entirely. I know it’s been in your family a long time, but I’m not sure you can really repair or clean it enough. In your place, I’d probably burn it to the ground and then rebuild, but you’re probably attached to it. I can understand if that’s not something you want to.”

“I haven’t decided, yet. But I’ll keep your offer in mind. Thank you, Keari.”

He nodded, then looked up in the direction of the door. He glanced back at Faylanna, then turned to look over his shoulder out the window. His distraction was so unusual that she thought it must mean something. Given how comfortable they’d been with each other since her discovery of who he really was, she could only think of one cause. “I hope that I didn’t embarrass you in the carriage coming back from the palace. If I did, I’m sorry.”

He looked back at her, surprised. “What are you talking about?”

“When I said you were like family. I just– I’ve hardly seen you since then, and now you seem uncomfortable, and it occurred to me that might be why. If it is, please forget I said anything.” The last sentence came out in a mumble as she stared down at her hands.

His own slender fingers drew her up to look at his now serious, contrite face. “I’m the one who should be apologizing. You didn’t embarrass me in the slightest. I’m delighted you feel that way. I was surprised by it, but happily so. If I neglected to tell you that, I plead distraction. I’ve had a great deal on my mind lately, and too many things demanding my attention. It’s almost like everything is conspiring to come at me at once. Now that you’ve got me thinking about it though, I did want to ask what brought that on.”

She flushed. “It was something Tavis said to me once, the day before we arrived at Iondis, before… I said I didn’t have any family left other than my father, and he said that it wasn’t true, that you cared like family. I’ve thought about it a lot since, and I wanted to tell you that I feel the same.”

He smiled more broadly than she had seen in the past few weeks. “Every time I think I have enough reasons to be glad you met that young man, he gives me another. I’ll have to find some way to thank him one of these days.” The prince stood up. “I’ll leave you to your preparations now, but please, don’t hesitate to write if you need anything at all.”

Possession book launch

To enter, click HERE!

About the author

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Julie Elizabeth Hill exported herself to Vancouver, British Columbia after many years of staring longingly at the map following every snowfall. For as long as she can remember, she’s been making up stories, but it wasn’t until high school that someone suggested writing them down. Since then, she’s been hopelessly in love with story crafting, often forgetting about everything else in the process. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook or her blog. You can also add Possession on GoodReads.

The first book in the Mirrors of Bershan trilogy, Bound, is available from:


Barnes & Noble


Like a Virgin blog hop: all about firsts

virgin_widget1 I don’t have a manuscript eligible for entry into the Like a Virgin contest—and, even if I did, that ship has sailed. But I thought I’d participate in their “Getting to Know You” blog hop anyway, because: BLOG HOP. 🙂

1. How do you remember your first kiss?

Vaguely. I was at a party and had been partaking of something bubbly and intoxicating. Sambuca may have been involved. The fellow in question had amazing eyes (although maybe that was the bubbles talking).

If it weren’t for the alcohol making me relax, it would probably have never happened. That being said, don’t do what I did, kids. It could have all gone horribly wrong.

2. What was your first favorite love song?

Speaking of horribly wrong… Back in the 1980s, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan (at the height of their Neighbours fame) released a schlocky duet called Especially For You. Yeah, that.

Hey, I was twelve!

3. What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?

Re-read what I wrote the previous day. I give it a once-over edit and then hunker down. If I could actually write every day I might not but, because I can usually only write once or twice a week, I need to re-read to remind myself of exactly what was going on, to anchor myself in events, emotional context, etc.

4. Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?

Mercedes Lackey is the first one I can recall doing it. I was writing before that, but for a while there I joined a fanclub called Queen’s Own, and discovered fanfic. This was before the internet was widespread; stories got distributed via newsletter.

Old school, my friend.

5. Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?

It’s the same chapter, but it’s significantly shorter than it was. I amputated somewhere between 500 and 1000 words off the front.

6. For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

It was a combination of characters and plot. I had the idea for Isla, and for her, uh, “condition”—and I knew roughly what that meant for her.

Interestingly, her name wasn’t Isla to start with. But I had to rename her after an ex started dating a girl with the name that I’d chosen. Awkward.

7. What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?

“Easy to read” is three words, gorramit! How about “accessible”? I’ve got very little patience for writing that is dense, rambling and self-indulgent, so those are things I try and avoid in my own writing.

Click here
to check out the other “getting to know you” blog posts.

Why self-publish? And ‘The Last Knight’

A little while ago I posted my four reasons why I chose not to self-publish. I made the point, though, that I don’t jude self-publishing or those that do it, just that it wasn’t the right decision for me at the time. So, in the interests of balance, my guest post today is by Nicola S. Dorrington, about why she chose to self-publish her debut novel, THE LAST KNIGHT.

Nicola S. Dorrington

Nicola S. Dorrington

I never planned on self-publishing. Like most writers I dreamed of the ideal. Securing an incredible agent, then getting a fantastic book deal with one of the big publishers. After that is was all fame and fortune and ‘the next J.K Rowling’.

Funny how dreams don’t work out the way you expect them to.

When I tell people I’m self-publishing the first question I get asked is why.

The fact is, my reasons for self-publishing are mine alone. It’s not the right path for everyone, but it is the right path for me.

Let me break my reasons down for you.

The first reason is that the publishing industry is first and foremost a money-making business. I get that and I respect it. But it does mean that publishers are not risk-takers. I don’t blame them. Why risk large sums of money on an untried and untested new author – or a new idea?

The problem with that is that the market is sadly dominated by a lot of similar books – I could count on one hand the number of YA books I’ve read recently that have broken out of the mould.

And The Last Knight doesn’t really fit that mold. So I’m taking the risk that publishers won’t take. The joy of self-publishing my ebooks is that the risk is only to my reputation – not to my pocket.

Which brings me to my second reason. I’m not in this for the money. I’m not going to make my millions self-publishing. And I’m OK with that. For me it’s all about just getting my book out there. If I sell ten copies or I sell ten thousand – I don’t mind. If just one person reads and enjoys The Last Knight I’m happy.

And then we come to my third reason – control. Maybe I am a little bit of a control freak but the best part of self-publishing is that I have final say – on everything.

The cover is my choice. The book blurb says what I want it to say. I decide the price I sell it for and how I market it. And I decide what content stays and what goes.

Admittedly it means I am missing out on a professional editor (and don’t get me wrong, there have been times – about the 30th edit when I was still finding typos – when I regretted that), but it also means that I don’t have someone trying to change my idea of what the story should be. I am almost certain that had this book gone through an editor at a publishing house they would have wanted more romance. I don’t. I like it the way it is.

This book is my baby, my creation – and succeed or fail it will be down to me.

So those are my reasons. That sometimes it’s worth taking a risk, that it’s about the readers not the money, and that ultimately it’s my book, and my vision.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still moments when I wonder if I’ve made the right choice: when I look at the stigma still attached to self-publishing, or when I wonder if the book could have been improved by a professional eye. But at the end of the day I’ve taken my future, and my career, into my own hands. Succeed or fail, no one can say I didn’t try.

About The Last Knight

Stonehenge rune small center v2 final size 1767x2500Seventeen-year-old Cara Page Knows what mark she’s going to get on her English test next week. She knows in three days her history teacher is going to be late because his car broke down. She knows she’s going to give the new boy a nose bleed on his first day.

She knows because every night she dreams of the future, and every day those dreams come true.

Now she’s dreaming of a boy, and a future that can’t be real. Because if it is, then everything she thought was myth and legend is actually true, and there is an evil coming that will tear the country apart.

Lance Filwer is a boy with secrets of his own, and a past full of mistakes he can’t undo. Cara is his second chance, his chance to succeed where he failed before – if only she’ll trust him enough to let him help her.

Cara needs to know what’s happening, but the answer lies in a long-forgotten past, and an ancient legend. To find it Cara will have to travel into the depths of Wales, and the heart of ancient Britain.

With Wraiths, creatures from the darkest of myths, dogging her every move, Cara knows it’s only a matter of time before they catch up with her. And, myth or not, they will kill her.

Her only hope is Lance, and the birthright she must claim, if she is to prevent the future she has foreseen.

You can buy The Last Knight on Amazon, or add it to your to-be-read shelf on Goodreads.

Pippa Jay talks about tortured heroes and her new sci-fi release, ‘Gethyon’

(Note from Cass: As I’m drafting this I’m two-thirds of the way through one of Pippa’s other books, Keir. This lady’s got GAME, my friends!)

I love tortured heroes and heroines. All of mine are tormented in some way, whether mentally or physically, and if I can torture them a little a lot more, then all the better. They carry scars inside and out. Burdens of guilt and regret, for things they could have changed, and those they couldn’t. They not only have to face the fears and terrors from their past, but accept that the people who come into their lives and attempt to win their hearts can see beyond that damage to the soul inside.

As well as loving to write them, I love to read them. So I thought I’d share two of those who helped to shape my own young hero, Gethyon.

The first is a certain farm boy from the desert planet Tatooine. I saw Star Wars: A New Hope televised when I was just eight, and instantly developed a crush, as well as switching from writing fantasy to sci-fi. Poor Luke, orphaned and stuck on a world he describes as ‘if there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from’, desperate to join the rebellion and fight with his friends. A bit bratty? Well, maybe. But in quick succession he loses his home and the only family he’s known to the Empire, gets called short by the princess he wants to rescue, sees his mentor killed, gets sent to a mud-hole of a planet to train and finds out he has to face Vader to complete it. On top of that he learns the second most evil entity in the universe is Daddy! It just gets worse as he finds out his princess is actually his sister, and the Emperor is perfectly willing to sacrifice all Luke’s friends to turn him to the Dark Side. And even as good triumphs, Luke must say goodbye to his father forever. Wow!

The second is Ged from A Wizard of Earthsea, a fantasy story by Ursula Le Guin. This was my assigned English read at school, aged ten, and I’ve reread it so many times since I’ve had to replace the paperback twice! Ged, or Sparrowhawk, also begins as a brat. He’s had a hard start, motherless and used as a slave by his father. He’s arrogant, sullen, and has no friends, but he has a glimmer of power and his witch aunt sets him on the road to mastery. When he saves his entire village from marauding warriors, he’s sent to the Wizard school on Roke. But in his pride and in spite, he unleashes a shadow creature that is bound to him, and could do the greatest evil through him should he become possessed. So, scarred and humbled by his ordeal, Ged seeks out to put it right, almost losing himself in the process.

Both these young heroes had such a huge influence on my reading and my writing, and still remain two of my most memorable. So I can’t deny there isn’t a trace of them in my own tortured heroes, like Gethyon.

To celebrate the release of Gethyon, I’m giving away a pretty piece of crystal, available internationally. To enter, use the rafflecopter form and tell me in the comments who’s your favourite hero, tortured or otherwise. green

A YA Science Fiction Novel

Released by Champagne Books 3rd June 2013

His father died. His mother abandoned him. In the depths of space, darkness seeks him.

Abandoned by his mother after his father’s death, Gethyon Rees feels at odds with his world and longs to travel the stars. But discovering he has the power to do so leaves him scarred for life. Worse, it alerts the Siah-dhu—a dark entity that seeks his kind for their special abilities—to his existence, and sets a bounty hunter on his trail.

When those same alien powers lead Gethyon to commit a terrible act, they also aid his escape. Marooned on the sea-world of Ulto Marinos, Gethyon and his twin sister must work off their debt to the Seagrafter captain who rescued them while Gethyon puzzles over their transportation. How has he done this? And what more is he capable of?

Before he can learn any answers, the Wardens arrive to arrest him for his crime. Can his powers save him now? And where will he end up next?

Available from  Burst, Kobo, Amazon UK, Amazon US or Omnilit.


About Pippa:

A stay-at-home mum of three who spent twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay bases her stories on a lifetime addiction to science-fiction books and films. Somewhere along the line a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. Between torturing her characters, she spends the odd free moments trying to learn guitar, indulging in freestyle street dance and drinking high-caffeine coffee. Although happily settled in historical Colchester in the UK with her husband of 20 years, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head. Her works have won a SFR Galaxy Award, and finalled in the Readers Favorite Award Contest and the Gulf Coast RWA Chapter Silken Sands Self-Published Star Award.

You can find Pippa at her website or blog, or on Goodreads, TwitterFacebook or Google+.

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Yet another blog hop: Liebster Award (oppan lazy style)

The lobster, uh, liebster award.

The Lobster, uh, Liebster Award.

Amber tagged me in her blog hop and said nice things about me (and I’m a sucker for that!). But I’m sort of blog-hopped out right now, so my participation in this will be half-assed. (At least I’m honest, right?)

The hop is called the Liebster Award. I’m not sure why.

Here are my 11 questions.

1. Describe your current MS in three sentences?

In December I finished the sequel to Isla’s Inheritance. As my next MS is still a glint in my proverbial eye (or maybe my actual one), that would be my current MS, I suppose. So here are three sentences on it. I’ve kept them deliberately vague because—spoilers!

Isla begins to come to terms with her unusual powers, but then one of her mother’s people arrives. He reveals a terrible secret. And there is a developing love triangle (who doesn’t love one of those)?

2. What is the most important thing you try to achieve within your own writing?

An easily accessible story. I’m a fan of straightforward prose and characters with a sense of humour. The characters do struggle with bigger issues (free will is a theme in both manuscripts) but they do it as regular teenagers. Some of whom have superpowers.

3. What has been your biggest writing high?

Finishing my first manuscript. It doesn’t get much better than that feeling of OMG-I-ACTUALLY-DID-IT!

4. What are your three favourite books?

I honestly have no idea. I love so many. So I will name three favourites from when I was a teenager. They got me into fantasy and speculative fiction more broadly:

“The Hobbit” – JRR Tolkien
“Dragonsdawn” – Anne McCaffrey
“Magic’s Pawn” – Mercedes Lackey

5. What is the primary focus of your blog?

Writing and editing. Mine and others.

6. Name three interesting Bloggers/Tweeters that you would like to know better?

Err. This is a hard one because I love my Tweeps and don’t want to single anyone out. So instead here are three blogs that I find really useful:

TERRIBLEMINDS: Chuck Wendig, Freelance Penmonkey

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Bad Redhead Media

7. What is the single best piece of writing advice you ever heard/read?

Don’t fuss too much over the first draft. Get it down. You can fix it later.

8. How would you sum up your writing experience?

Protracted. I’m averaging one book a year.

9. What’s your plan for publication? Query Agents, Submit Direct to publishers or Self pub and why?

I’m currently querying agents. I’d prefer to go that route, because I’d like to think I’m wise enough to know when other people are smarter/more experienced than me. (As Chuck Wendig wrote today, The agent is there to say, “This clause, the one about eating babies, we’re going to say no to that one.”)

If that fails, then the other two options are plans B and C respectively.

10. What’s been your biggest challenge as a writer?

Finding the time. Single working mum, yadda yadda yadda. My goal is to write 1000 words a week; I usually manage a bit more. For a 70k word manuscript … well, you do the maths!

11. What keeps you going?

Coffee and OCD. Also, my son.

Now, I’m meant to tag 11 bloggers to participate. If you read this and want to participate, feel free. Leave me a comment and I’ll link you in my post.

Apologies for the lazy.

The One Lovely Blog Award

I’ve been tagged in another blog hop given an award. It’s one that we writers give to each other. Don’t tell Amazon!

Here is my award, which I received from Rhiann. It is very pretty.

My award is a 300x300 jpg.

My award is a 300×300 jpg.

I also did up a bronzed version of it, because I have this preconceived notion that awards should be metallic. And possibly have a ribbon. This one doesn’t have a ribbon. (I hope that playing with the award picture doesn’t make me ineligible for the award.)

Ribbonless bronzed version of award.

Ribbonless bronzed version of award.

Anyway, on to the blog hop award details. The rules state that I must share seven things about myself and pass the award on to seven other bloggers. I’ve added a rule too: that I may not say anything I’ve previously revealed on the blog (lucky I haven’t been writing it long). So here are my seven things:

  1. I’ve only ever been on one overseas holiday, which was almost twelve months ago. We went to Scotland and stayed in a CASTLE, and to Spain. We’d planned to go to Italy too, but …
  2. … in Valencia I fell off a hat and sprained my ankle so severely I ended up in a cast and we had to come home. (Yes, a hat. That’s not a typo. In my defence it was a giant fibreglass hat. Google “Gulliver Valencia” and you’ll see what I mean.)
  3. When I got to high school I didn’t try very hard in year seven English. I wasn’t lazy; I just didn’t quite realise what was expected of me in the homework department. So in year eight I got bumped down from Advanced English to the regular kind. The teacher took us to the library one lesson and just got us to choose books to take back to class and read. That was when I discovered adult fantasy novels. It was totally worth having to sit next to the bitchy girl who copied off my work.
  4. In year eleven and twelve I had an inspirational teacher (well, several, but this one is relevant to my story). He used to come into class late and practicing his golf swing. I remember arguing with him about the lyrics to Salt Water by Julian Lennon. But he also really encouraged me to write. I loved that class to the point where, when the guidance counsellor asked me what I wanted to study at university and I had no idea, I said maybe English just because I loved it. That’s how I ended up with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.
  5. My first crush was on the Goblin King in Labyrinth. It’s also the first movie I remember seeing in the cinema. (Between this and the reference to Salt Water you can guess roughly how old I am. I really ought to stop being so obvious!)
  6. I slowed down in my writing for a while (never play World of Warcraft if you want any kind of life) and then stopped altogether for about 18 months when I had my son. Having a baby also broke my WoW addiction, so there was an upside. It was after that—maybe due to withdrawals, although there were other things going on at the time—that I picked up the old novel fragment that eventually turned into Isla’s Inheritance.
  7. In the last month or so I started going to the gym. Not to be a wanker about it or anything, but my son is three now and getting fast—soon he’ll be able to outrun me. Not cool!

The seven people I tag are:

Amber Bardan –

Carey Torgesen –

Chynna-Blue Scott –

Julie Israel –

Kristen Jett –

Pippa Jay –

Veronica Bartles –

The Next Big Thing blog hop (aka tag, I’m it)

The lovely Katie tagged me about three weeks ago to participate in a blog hop (I’ve since also been tagged by Ruth). If you’ve never seen a blog hop before, the premise seems to be that one theme unites a bunch of posts by different bloggers, with the aim of drawing people to new blogs they otherwise might not see. Like a giant pyramid scheme: you’re tagged by one person and tag five more. But without the requirement that you send me cash! (Unless you want to. Oh, go on! Please send me cash!)

The thing is, Katie tagged me before I even had a blog. So here I am. Better (fashionably) late than never, right?

I always was a little slow.

So here are my ten questions:

What is the working title of your book?

Isla’s Inheritance.

The sequel is currently going under the sexy title of “Book Two”. What can I say—I suck at naming things.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Psychic vampires. You know the ones: they feed on your BRAINWAVES! Like zombies, but with less mess. There aren’t actually any vampires in my book, psychic or otherwise … but that’s where the idea came from. Then I added in faeries to the pot, and stirred.

What genre does your book fall under?

Young adult urban fantasy. I’ve had at least one person describe it as paranormal—I have a scene with a ouija board. But there are more faeries.

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

This is far and away the hardest question of the ten. Especially since I rarely watch movies, so I have no idea who the current crop of young actors are. So here are some older actors. Imagine them younger. :p

Isla – Emma Watson

Sarah – Molly C Quinn

Dominic – David Tennant

Jack – Jamie Campbell Bower

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When Isla discovers her mother is an aosidhe—one of the fae ruling class—she must come to terms with her father’s deception and her own, sinister new abilities in order to save him.

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

Represented by an agency. If the stars align and I can find that agent that loves me and hugs me and calls me George. Or Cassandra. Or even just offers to represent me. I’m not that fussy. And the hugging might be a bit weird.

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

I had the first ~10k words sitting there for years. Once I actually sat down and picked it up again, it took me about twelve months (give or take) to finish. Another six to edit, including getting feedback from beta readers.

Book Two took me about eight months to draft from scratch. I’m getting faster!

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

It’s a supernatural coming of age tale. I didn’t write it with a particular book in mind or anything, but I’m sure there are others out there.

I gather that Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey books have a half-human teenage girl as the main character. But I haven’t read them. I will eventually—I really should—but I heard of them when I was partway through drafting Isla’s Inheritance and I thought if I read them I’d only see whatever similarities there were and lose hope. And maintaining the momentum can be tricky enough as it is, especially for the first book, when you’re full of self-doubt and haven’t yet proven to yourself that you can do it.

That being said, I’ve read the basic premise and, other than the main characters’ genetics, I think my books have very little in common with Kagawa’s. Maybe I’ll add reading the first one to my list of resolutions for next year.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always loved urban fantasy; it’s my favourite genre. Of course, I didn’t used to know that was what the genre was called. I used to call them “novels that are set in the real world, but with a supernatural element”.  I told you I suck at naming things!

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

It’s set in Australia. Isla’s father moved here from England in order to avoid the consequences of the actions that led to Isla’s birth … which I won’t elaborate on here. (Spoilers!)

And I tag…

I’m meant to tag five other blogger writers for this, but I’ve been nosing around and it seems the ones I thought might be interested have already done it. I really am late to the party… Anyway, if you’re interested, let me know in the comments (with a link to your blog) and I’ll edit you in! 🙂

Chynna-Blue Scott