Playing With Word Clouds

Ages ago I did a word cloud for the first chapter of Isla’s Inheritance. I stumbled across it the other day while digging for something else, and decided I should do one for each of the other two books in the series, lest they get jealous. Also, because it’s fun. And because it gives me an excuse to say I was playing with word clouds in the title of this post, which makes me sound like an awesome superhero librarian!

The app I used for this is Wordle, by the way, if you want to get you some.

Isla’s Inheritance

II word cloud

Isla’s Oath


Melpomene’s Daughter


Giveaway: ‘Isla’s Inheritance’ paperback

If you’ve been waiting for Isla’s Inheritance to come out in paperback but haven’t quite gotten around to buying it, this may be of interest to you — I’m giving away three paperback copies over at Goodreads. The contest is running for all of February, so if you live in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US or the UK, now’s your chance to enter.

I suspect you need to have a Goodreads account to enter, although I don’t know for sure since I’m already a member.



My favourite girl names, aka characters I’d name my daughters after

Last week’s Top Ten Tuesday bookish meme was a freebie, meaning you could blog about whatever took your fancy, so long as it was in a list of up to ten. My fellow Aussie Owned coblogger, Emily Mead, went with “YA Characters I’d Name My Children After”, which I thought was such a cool idea that I’d run with it as a post. Only I’ve only done the five girls for now; I’ll have a bit more of a think about the boy names. (There are some I love but their sources aren’t books.)

My taste usually runs to “unusual but traditional”, and some of these aren’t traditional, so I don’t know if I’d actually go with them or not. But I’d give it some serious consideration, if I ever had five daughters.

Arwen. This is a tricky one, because although I love the poetry of Arwen’s name, part of me thinks naming a daughter after the most beautiful half-elf in The Lord of the Rings might be a “no pressure” kind of situation! (As an aside — and this may be controversial — but the movie version of Arwen is a much better role model than the one in the book, who mostly just stays home and lets her man do all the work. Tolkien wasn’t good at writing women.)

Arwen and Aragorn

Aviendha. This is a name from The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. The character is a fierce warrior and learns to be a magic-using shaman type called a “wise one”. I imagine that she could be played by Karen Gillan, who was Amy Pond in Doctor Who. And what a gorgeous name! (Note: I also love the name Amelia/Amy, but since I got that from Doctor Who rather than a book, I won’t include it here. Oh, and I love Clara, also from Doctor Who.)

Amy Doctor Who No

Gabriella, or Gaby. Gaby is the main character in Paula Weston’s The Rephaim series. And it’s such a beautiful name! Although I’d probably go with “Gabrielle” rather than adding that extra syllable on the end, just for ease of pronunciation!

Rhiannon. This name first came to my attention in Kate Forsyth’s series Rhiannon’s Ride. In fact, for a while Isla’s name in my trilogy was Rhiannon, but I changed it due to some personal stuff that happened at the time I was drafting what is now Isla’s Inheritance. Also, Rhiannon doesn’t start with i and alliteration is bloody beautiful. 😉

Isla. Ok, I’m being cheeky including this, AND I can’t actually use it now because I have written about her, but I really love the name Isla. I think it’s often true that writers give their characters names they would’ve given their children. (Apparently that’s where Stephanie Meyer got Isabella from.) I could be less shameless and say I got the name from Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, but I haven’t even read it!

Honourable mention

Bella. I used to love the names Bella and Isabelle (and also Isabeau from The Witches of Eileanan by Kate Forsyth), but although Bella Swan is a gorgeous name — Meyer gets props for that — she’s not my favourite character around, so I’m not sure I could use this now.

Bella Swan

What book character names do you love? 🙂


‘Isla’s Oath’ (Isla’s Inheritance 2) release day

Button_Isla's OathThey say that new parents always freak out and obsess about their first child’s milestones, whereas with second and subsequent children they tend to be more relaxed. I only have the one actual child so I can’t comment on it, but in some ways, this definitely holds true for books.

Or maybe it’s that I’ve been so busy trying to get all three books ready for the tight release schedule that everything sort of snuck up on me!

Either way, to my surprise, today is the release day for Isla’s Oath. The book blitz will be kicking off on 23 January (at least I remembered to book it a birthday party!), which is very exciting. And, for those of you that haven’t already preordered, the buy links I have so far are here:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Barnes & Noble
Kobo | iBooks

As this post goes live, the only one of those that says “buy” instead of “preorder” is the Amazon Australia one, because it isn’t 20 January in the northern hemisphere yet. But throughout the day, the rest of the sites will catch up with us.

(The one place I feel like I’ve really let Isla’s Oath down is that I have to work today, whereas last year I was at home when Isla’s Inheritance launched, so I got to hang out all day on Twitter like a giddy schoolgirl. Still, I know I’ll be checking retailers throughout the day, and squeeing in my office even if I can’t do it on the internet till I get home! Maybe you guys could squee on the internet for me? That’d be awesome!)

If you haven’t read the first book in the series yet and are interested, you can find the relevant purchase links here.

The all-important thank yous

I owe so much to everyone who helped during the process of producing Isla’s Oath, whether it was with a bit of advice, assistance or even just a chance to decompress.

As always, to my alpha reader, Peter — who would provide advice on anything except “the girly bits” — thank you. Luckily Shelby, my fantastic editor, was more than happy to pick up the slack! Thanks also to the rest of my cheer squad: Ali and Craig, Mikey and Karen, the Pageinators, my work colleagues, my sister Kristy, and the Aussie Owned and Read girls — especially Stacey Nash, who was simultaneously on this crazy ride for her own books, and held my hand (virtually) while I hyperventilated over what I was getting into. To the BC09 girls, and my friends on Twitter and Facebook, who’ve also provided a ton of virtual support: I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks for putting up with how distracted I get when I’m drafting.

A special mention goes to Sharon, who came up with the name Isla’s Oath back when I was just calling the manuscript Book Two. Your title is so much snappier!

Finally, to Nathaniel, my bright little boy and the light of my life: I love you to the moon and back. No, the sun! No, infinity! I’m sorry the books don’t have pictures. xo




‘Isla’s Inheritance’ paperbacks now available

On the eve of the release of Isla’s Oath (today is your last chance to preorder it; tomorrow you’ll have to … post … order it?), I realised that although I squeed about it on Facebook, Twitter et al, I hadn’t shared the news here.


In fact, it has been for three weeks, but I got so distracted with the holiday season that I plain forgot to blog about it.

Here are the buy links I have collected so far:

Amazon US | Createspace | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

Last year I promised photos of me fondling the paperback when it arrived. I don’t have one of those, but I do have one of me doing my very first every author signing — in my dining room — and grinning like a loon. I hope that will do!

Isla's Inheritance in a box

Isla's Inheritance signing

Isla's Inheritance Cass signing

(Note the TARDIS pendant. Because I am a nerd. Or geek. I’m never sure which is the better term.)

Happy happy joy joy!

The colour of happiness: emotions as colours in the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy

Those who’ve read my debut novel, Isla’s Inheritance, will be aware that one the talents Isla discovers is the ability to read people’s emotions via their auras. Until she gets used to and learns to interpret the colours, this is quite overwhelming for her.

Over time, Isla built a mental list of what the different colours mean. As for me, as her creator, I had a physical list that I often referred to while writing, to make sure that I kept the colours consistent. Building this list meant I often wrote Google searches like “what is the colour of happiness?” It was interesting to see the variety of responses this turned up, and of course everyone is going to attach different moods to different colours, depending on their cultural background and personal associations. (I had happiness as a shade of pink when I wrote the books, but now I’d make it canary yellow.)

IslasOath-CPage-MD-SMLA good example is red: in Western countries it tends to be associated with passion; with strong, hot emotions. Because Isla is Australian and has that cultural filter, those are the associations she has with shades of red, whereas if she’d been from an Asian background she would probably have associated red with happiness and prosperity.

Isla’s experience of emotions of colours is almost — but not quite — like synaesthesia. I have a friend who has grapheme-color synaesthesia, meaning that her perception of numbers and letters is shaded by a colour (she doesn’t associate numbers with colours; she sees numbers as having colours). The difference in Isla’s case is that she doesn’t experience every emotion she sees as a colour. She observes it in more of a detached fashion — albeit one that swamps her vision until she gets used to it.

Here is a sample of some of the different colours I used in the trilogy, and the emotional associations that I made with them. I often used adjectives, because as you can see, you can have the same basic “colour” meaning a few different things. (Wikipedia was a fantastic resource for this!) The examples below are all toward the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum:

Sickly yellow – fear

Amber yellow – caution

Vibrant orange – terror (beyond fear)

Soft pink – compassion

Salmon pink – embarrassed, like a blush

Deep pink – happiness

Scarlet – lust

Blood red – angry, aggressive or enraged

Rose red – love

Red shot through with black – when fury has crossed over into mindless, ragey violence

For me as a writer, the most fun part was finding creative ways to describe emotions and colours mingled together. Here are some examples from Isla’s Oath, which comes out on 20 January:

Jack seemed calm—his aura a uniform light blue, like a winter sky—and I resolved to emulate him.

Jealousy and grief clashed in her aura, lime green and silvery grey.

His aura was primarily the deep blue of suspicion, but a slow tendril of sickly yellow fear curled there too.

I’d seen fear before, sickly yellow and pulsating. This boy’s fright was beyond that, a blazing orange that hit me like a punch to the gut, knocking the wind from my lungs.

What emotions do you associate with different colours? Are there any I’ve listed that you disagree with? I’d love to hear from you!

New year’s resolutions: 2015 edition


Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and it is loads of fun. You should all partake of it. PARTAKE! (Please imagine I said that in my best Dalek voice.) This week’s theme is: “Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2015 — bookish, blogging or otherwise!”

I’ve discovered over the last two years that blogging about my goals is a really great way to hold myself accountable, and make sure I actually do the things I set out to do.

2014 recap

Celebrate the launch of Isla’s Inheritance in October (or thereabouts). Convince as many of you as possible to buy it. Check. Sort of. I dunno if I’ve convinced as many of you as possible. I mean, I haven’t paid people with kittens or threatened dire consequences if people don’t. But people
have readIsla's Inheritance button it, and left nice reviews around the place. So I’m pretty happy about that.

Finish writing and editing the third book in Isla’s trilogy, so it’s ready to go to Turquoise Morning Press when they ask for it. Check. Right now, I’m actually halfway through re-reading it after the second-round edits from TMP. I really love this story, you guys. I know we’re not meant to have favourites among our children, but of the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy, the third book in the series, Melpomene’s Daughter, is definitely my favourite. Shh!

Find a home for Lucid Dreaming, whether that be via the agent/traditional press route or the small press route. This is the one resolution I have’t yet been successful on, for reasons that would require another blog post. But I have a plan of action. Hopefully I’ll be able to share something with you around the middle of next year. (By the way, there’s a lesson in this for everyone: don’t set goals that are outside your control. You can’t make people offer on your manuscripts, and sometimes people love them but don’t offer on them anyway, for market reasons or list reasons or whatever. Publishing is a tricky thing.)

Start writing something else. Possibly a sequel to Lucid Dreaming, although there’s that steampunk I’ve been thinking about for aaaages. I’m currently 18,000 words into the aforementioned steampunk, although the steampunk elements are actually pretty light. A year later, I describe it as historical fantasy. 🙂 I also self-published a novella under another pen name, Tammy Calder. It’s 8500 words long.

That means in 2014 I wrote…a lot of words. Probably in the order of 70,000, counting Melpomene’s Daughter, although I didn’t track it. And that doesn’t count blog posts and reviews. Whew. Chuck Wendig estimated he wrote 750,000 words this year, but we can’t all be Chuck, I guess! (I can’t even grow a beard.)

Read. I’ll set my Goodreads target to 40 again, see how it goes. Kicked this one out of the ballpark.

2015 goals

Reading goals

Aussie author challengeRead lots of books. I’ve set my Goodreads target to 40 again, with the caveat that childrens books and novellas don’t count. If I read 10 of those, I need to read 50 titles overall. Otherwise I have to wear the cone of shame.

Read a variety of Australian books. I’m also doing the Aussie Readers challenge over at Goodreads. For that, I need to read 12 books by Australian writers in 12 different genres. I’ll post my choices in a blog post in the new year. I’m looking forward to it — it’s a very exciting list!

aww-badge-2015Read books by Australian women. I’m also going to do the Australian Women Writers challenge again in 2015. There’s a lot of overlap between this list and number two, I confess — currently my Aussie readers challenge list only includes one bloke. Still, since this year I read and reviewed 11 books by Australian women, my plan for 2015 is to set my own goal of 15. I think I can do it, and it means this challenge is pushing me further than the previous one. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Writing and publishing goals

Release Isla’s Oath and Melpomene’s Daughter on time, with as much fanfare as I can manage. The former is scheduled for release on 20 January, and the latter for the week of 20 April (I don’t have an exact date). SO EXITE! Isla’s Oath is already available for preorder aButton_Isla's Oathnd is on NetGalley, but I still have some promo stuff to finish off. And as I mentioned, Melpomene’s Daughter is still in the editing process. Busy busy busy.

Finish my historical fantasy. The four other novels (and even the novella) I’ve written have been urban fantasy, and the novels have all been in the first person. Switching to historical fantasy and the third person has required a massive change of gears. But I’ve wanted to tell this story for three years now, and the thrill of actually seeing it come to life is pretty high. Sure, there are growing pains, but that’s to be expected. And fixing it afterwards is what edits are for!

Give Lucid Dreaming the attention it deserves. I love this book, you guys. At least as much as Melpomene’s Daughter. I’ve neglected it a bit this year — having three books scheduled for release over the space of seven months does tend to eat up your time — but 2015 will be its year. I promise. *pats manuscript reassuringly*

Write another novella for Tammy Calder. Enough said about that. 😉

Blog at least twice a week. This will require some planning, since I’m going away to the coast with my son and some friends for a week at the end of January (a few days after Isla’s Oath comes out — oops), but I can do it. I don’t need to sleep, right?

What are your goals for this year, reading, writing or otherwise?

I have ‘Isla’s Oath’ news – and an excerpt to celebrate!


So it’s all happening at once in the world of my second release, Isla’s Oath. Here’s a summary in case you missed it…

Preorders are now available
(for everyone)

Isla’s Oath preorders for the ebook are now available from the following retailers: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

If you’re a Smashwords aficionado, the link is here. But they don’t do preorders; instead you can add the book to your preorder and I think view a sample? I confess I’m not 100% sure. (I expect the aficionados will know this already.)

Advanced Reader Copies are now available
(for book bloggers)

If you’re a book blogger, Isla’s Oath is now available for review on NetGalley. If you are going to request it and haven’t yet read the first book in the series, Isla’s Inheritance, contact me and I’ll get you a copy of that too.

Book blitz sign-ups are now available
(for bloggers)

Again, this is one for bloggers (for now!). The Isla’s Oath book blitz is running from 23–29 January (you may have guessed that from the fabulous banner above, courtesy of XPresso Book Tours!) — you can pick a day in that range to post. There will be excerpts and an interview provided, and perhaps other things if I get struck with inspiration. There’ll also be a grand giveaway of a $50 Amazon or B&N gift voucher.

Phew. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of Isla’s Oath, to celebrate!

“Ready?” Jack asked, standing beside me. He was wearing board shorts and a tank top, his feet bare on the sandy path. Blond hair stirred in the evening breeze, brushing his shoulders. He looked like any Australian male on holiday at the beach.

Except your average male didn’t have four-inch-long ears protruding from sun-bleached hair.

“I guess.” I took a deep breath, savouring the briny smell that evoked memories of vacations with my father. I picked my way down the path to the beach, sandals clicking against my heels as I stepped between the weathered log retainers. Jack followed. The plastic bag he was holding rustled.

When we reached the beach, I shook off my shoes and picked them up, hooking them over one finger. The sand was cool under my feet; the radiant heat of the hot February day had faded into a mild summer evening. “Where to?”

Jack pointed towards the worn, even stones scattered at the feet of the towering headland. The water pounded, working patiently to undermine the rocky bluff and send it crashing into the sea. A deep rock pool shimmered in the moonlight, connected to the ocean by a winding channel that surged and retracted with the tide.

We picked our way across the stones to the empty pool. I glanced at Jack. “This is the place,” he assured me.

I nodded, trying not to feel nervous. Jack seemed calm—his aura a uniform light blue, like a winter sky—and I resolved to emulate him. Or at least try.

I could have taken a sample of that light blue calm to help me relax, but I didn’t know how to do it without damaging him. That was, after all, why I was lurking on a beach on the south coast of New South Wales in the middle of the night.

One of the shadowy rocks in the pool moved, floating towards us. I jumped, staring. The shape drifted from the shadows into the moonlight, revealing it wasn’t a rock but a head, hairless and with tiny, round ears. Two solid black eyes opened wide, examining us for a long moment before their owner stood.

Water streamed off his naked body, splashing into the pool. His skin gleamed silvery blue and his chest was broad and flat, tapering to a narrow waist. He didn’t have a bellybutton. Mercifully, the water was opaque and reached the middle of his taut belly, so I didn’t have to avert my gaze from an ironclad confirmation of his sex.

“This is your half-breed master?” The creature spoke to Jack with a watery hiss, slow and deliberate.

Jack bristled. I stepped forward. “I’m Isla.”

Cover reveal: ‘Isla’s Oath’ (Isla’s Inheritance trilogy, #2)

I’m thrilled to be able to share the cover to Isla’s Oath, the sequel to Isla’s Inheritance. As with last time, thanks go to Kim Jacobs at Turquoise Morning Press for producing such a lovely cover. Mwah!

Also, once you’re done admiring the cover, I’ve got two bonus memes sitting there below it. Both of them have teaser quotes from the book. (Also, I’m hoping to have some exciting news for both Isla’s Oath and Isla’s Inheritance this weekend. Stay tuned!)


Genre: Young adult urban fantasy

Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press

Release date: 22 January 2014

Australia is a long way from the Old World and its fae denizens … but not far enough.

Isla is determined to understand her heritage and control her new abilities, but concealing them from those close to her proves difficult. Convincing the local fae she isn’t a threat despite her mixed blood is harder still. When the dazzling Everest arrives with a retinue of servants, Isla gets her first glimpse of why her mother’s people are hated … and feared.

But Isla isn’t the only one with something to hide. Someone she trusts is concealing a dangerous secret. She must seek the truth and stop Everest from killing to get what he wants: Isla’s oath.

Add on Goodreads




By Your Request: Query Success Stories and Why They Were Successful — AoR Ladies

Want to see the query that landed me a contract with Turquoise Morning Press? I’m sharing it today over at Aussie Owned.

Aussie Writers

Recently I asked you, our readers, what you wanted to see. The answer I received was about querying successfully, how to do it, and examples of successful queries. So today, I have the ladies here, at AOaR telling their stories.

Cassandra Page  Cass!

First off, I should warn you that the query letter contains a minor spoiler for the book. (There was also a bigger one in there, but I’ve deleted it from the example; I don’t think it’s strictly necessary to illustrate the point.)

There are a few reasons why I think this query was successful. I followed a basic when/then structure in the pitch (the first two paragraphs). When Isla’s life starts to spin off the rails, then she must discover the truth about who she is and what she can do. It also outlines the stakes: Isla’s father is in danger and needs rescuing. (He’s such

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