Released Into the Wild

Well, that’s it!

BLACKFOOT has been released into the wild! You can get your ecopy of the 2nd TWO MONARCHIES book at Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, B&N, or Smashwords.

Happy reading! I’ll now go back into my little writers cave to put the finishing touches on the edits I got back for LADY OF DREAMS…

No recreation reading for me…sigh…

Rainy Monday

As you may have guessed from the title of my blog post, today is Monday. Also, it’s rainy.

You’re always gonna get the truth from me, you blokes.

On this particular rainy Monday, I’m feeling very cosy and relaxed. Part of that is because of the rain: there’s nothing better than curling up beneath my mum-made patchwork blanket and watching the rain make a watercolour painting through my window-frame. Well, it’s always better if there’s a book, and tea, and you know what? I’ve got both.

Another facet to my contentment is the fact that Blackfoot is–more or less–done, and I now have a week off.

Last week, when I was writing the last few bits and patches to join other bits and patches together, I was feeling insanely fed up with the whole book. Being the second book in the series, it was flamin’ hard to write, and by the end, I felt as though it was complete and utter rubbish. I was disheartened, and depressed, and could only think about all those preorders going out to a general reception of “Oh my word, what is this rubbish? I’ve been waiting for this for 6 months now and it’s garbage!”

I honestly couldn’t believe the amount of work it was going to take to bring Blackfoot into publishable condition–in only two weeks! It didn’t feel possible, and mostly I just wanted to sit in the shower and cry.

I didn’t do that because a.) there’s a mushroom growing in there and I seriously don’t want to get near it, cos I read a horror story about that years ago, and b.) we would run out of hot water before I ran out of depression, and if you think being depressed in a hot shower is bad, try being depressed in a cold shower.

It’s adorable and hilarious and cringe-worthy, all at the same time…

Instead, I took a day off between writing those last words and doing my quick, pre-printed-MS run-over to catch glaring inconsistencies. I watched the latest episodes of 힘쎈 여자 도봉순 (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon)–hilarious, by the way–started to read The Eyre Affair–also excellent, though in a completely different way–and watched an insane amount of Gag Concert and Would I Lie to You?

After the last two weeks of writing 2k-5k words per day, I felt as light as a butterfly.

And I’m SO GLAD I did it, because when I went to do the pre-print run-over today, I found that Blackfoot wasn’t actually the huge train-wreck I was convinced it was. In fact, it wasn’t too bad. Maybe even good. The pacing was consistent, there were no glaring plot holes, and everything seemed to flow well, unlike the patchwork thing I’d imagined it to be.

Thus, my contentment is complete.

Also, I have tea and sticky buns and biscuits…

We’ll see how contented I am when I start final edits for Blackfoot next week, and how contented I am when I start the edits for Lady of Dreams a week or two after that…

Hybrid: Isn’t that some sort of car…?

I’m not actually going to talk about cars. I mean, this is a writing blog, not a car blog, and what do I know about cars anyway?

So when I say hybrid, I am, of course, referring to hybrid authors: those who both self-publish, and traditonally-publish.

Or, more specifically, myself.

That’s right. As of today, I am a hybrid author.

Which is a very roundabout way of telling you guys that I got The Email today, informing me that Lady of Dreams had been chosen for a publication contract with Kindle Press.

Eeek! Such excite!

Stop the presses!

No, wait, don’t.

I’m a bit confused. Also, I’m still in the death throes of Blackfoot, so I’m not making much sense either way. Next week, when I’ve finished Blackfoot, collected my thoughts, and started making sure LoD is as pretty as it can possibly be, I’ll write a proper blog post.

But in the meantime, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR NOMINATING LADY OF DREAMS!

A Weekend of Firsts

It was a busy weekend for me.

Actually, it was a busy week for me, last week. It all just sorta coalesced toward the end of the week and became more busy.

I attended AICon in Hobart for the 2nd time (though this was the first time I properly dressed up for it). I was attending in the function of a handmaiden for a friend of mine who was gorgeously and intricately dressed as Lady Loki–thus the need for a handmaiden. I was there to re-lace her boots, fix her horned head-dress, and re-affix wandering pauldrons. No to mention supplying food and drink as required.

Of course, I wasn’t doing that the whole time. I also managed to wander around quite a lot, visit some interesting panels, some hilarious ones, and eat vegetarian sushi for the first time (it was delicious, by the way). When I got too peopled-out (guys, there were SO MANY people there), I would just sneak into one of the darkened panel rooms and write for an hour or so.

I managed to get 2.5k words done over the course of the 10am-6pm day.

AND she had a ‘communicator’ that basically squawked chicken noises at the MC when the MC questioned her 😀

Highlights of the day included seeing Jacket the chicken very nearly win crowd favourite for her awesome costume (seriously, this girl had my favourite costume of the entire day. And she took a selfie with me!) catching sight of a Ladybug cosplay right next to a Marinette one, and having an artist sign the two prints I bought from him.

Another first for me: it was the first time I’d word a corset. Because it was made with plastic boning instead of steel, and because I bend a lot, my poor corset was shaped to me rather than me shaped to it by the end of the day, but I was still very pleased with the result. Unfortunately there was only one half-decent photo of me, but that’s hardly surprising, since I do not photograph well.

JACKET AND ME SELFIE!

A gift-baggie at the entrance brought in another first for me: all of the bags included a sampler of manga. I found one out of the ten samples to be compelling, leading me to purchase and read my first manga ever–Shuriken to Pleats.

Who knows, maybe I’ll check out more of the artist’s work?

That was it, my weekend of firsts!  What about you guys? How did your weekend go?

Oh! And, final reminder: LADY OF DREAMS is on the last day of nominations in its Kindle Scout Campaign. If you haven’t already done so, pop on over to the Campaign page and check out the sample. If you love it, press that Nominate Button!

(Don’t forget that everyone who nominated LADY OF DREAMS will get a free Advance Copy if it’s chosen for publication).

Cheating at Characterisation…

No, not this Thing. This Thing is awesome and cute and more than slightly hilarious.

There’s this Thing.

It’s an irritating Thing. A far-too-prevalent Thing. I’d all but forgotten about it until recently, when I came across it again in one of the books from my TBR pile.

It sounded like a good book, so I was reasonably anticipatory as I flipped to the first chapter. It was a solid first chapter, fluffy and bright and quite a bit of fun. There were glimmerings of decent characterisation, and the setting was an interesting one with some fun ideas I hadn’t seen before.

I actually quite enjoyed it until I started seeing the Thing in chapter two. At first, it was just a touch or two of the Thing. Nothing too obvious. Just an edging here or there that could have just been a character being different. Then I got to chapter four and the Thing burst onto the scene in all its warty annoyance, unmistakable and unavoidable.

First, one of the MCs was introduced. She was a politically loud, rebellious, environmentally proactive MC, trying hard to do the right thing by sourcing ethically produced products for her store. She had a habit of talking down to anyone and about anyone who didn’t align exactly with her politics.

Okay, I thought. She’s kinda annoying, but she’s also really energetic and even if she’s a bit preachy and self-righteous, people tend to grow up. Besides which, I’m the kind of reader that can appreciate an MC that isn’t perfect. And even if I didn’t agree with the way she put across her opinions, I agreed with and could appreciate quite a few of them.

Then the main bad guy was introduced. How did I know he was the main bad guy? He was introduced as ‘ranting’ about Trump, illegal immigrants, and one or two other hot-button topics of today’s world.

I groaned. I mean, I seriously, literally groaned. Not the Thing. Please, not the Thing!

But it was the Thing. The author was introducing all the ‘evil’ or ‘unpleasant’ characters as those who held to a certain set of political views and/or ethical beliefs, while introducing all the ‘good’ or ‘right’ characters as those of (I assume) the author’s own preferred beliefs. It didn’t stop with one or two characters, and it didn’t get any better from there on in.

I haven’t seen a more egregious example of the Thing since re-reading Louise Lawrence’s Chronicles of Llandor. I loved those books as a kid. There are some books that give more with age, but those books unfortunately only gave annoyance. You knew a character was bad simply because they advocated eating meat. And you knew when a ‘good’ character was going to the bad because they would start to think eating meat wasn’t quite so bad, or that perhaps killing an enemy who was trying kill their friends wasn’t so bad.

It wasn’t so much a case of politics being included in the storyline so much as a bit of story being included in the politics. And, just as with the first book I mentioned, it was being used as a shorthand form of characterisation.

I’m not a person who thinks politics and religion and Stuff That Matters should be kept out of books. My own books are hardly free from threads and themes (though not overt ones) that tie directly back to my heritage and growth as a Christian. Of course, the odds are, if you have a differing political/religious/Thing opinion than me, I will enjoy your books less–especially if you choose to use your books to low-key preach at me. It will not, however, stop me reading your books.

What will stop me reading your books is the use of political/religious/Thing as character development or characterisation. If your character is a bad guy just because he supports Trump/supports free immigration/opposes abortion/supports gay marriage/whatever, or if you use any of these as shorthand for what a horrible person s/he is, I will stop reading. Because that’s not characterisation. That’s laziness.

Also, newsflash: people aren’t the sum of their opinions. People are a mix of good and bad, and just because someone supports the death penalty, it doesn’t mean they’re out murdering puppies in the street. Characterisation means drawing people who have a mix of good and bad in them: things they struggle with, stupid ideas they support until they know better/because they’re too stubborn to change.

Characterisation is one of the most amazing things about Lloyd Alexander’s The Kestrel. (It’s the 2nd book in the Westmark trilogy–yes, I read it first, I’m an idiot; no, I haven’t read the 1st or 3rd yet, I’m not yet ready for the emotional damage that I know is coming). The characters, each on their side of the war–at times uneasy allies, at times enemies, at all times spectacularly human–are all such a mix of good and bad. The good make bad decisions, do wrong things, experience the fallout of their wrong decisions. The bad have both good and bad parts: their opinions are sometimes morally evil and sometimes morally good. Not all the bad guys believe the same thing. The good guys aren’t all united under the same umbrella. They each have their own motivations, and it is, in the end, their actions that define how they are seen.

Please. Please. Authors. Don’t do the Thing. The Thing is lazy. It’s irritating. It’s Bad Writing.

It needs to die.

Korean-Based Fantasy and Glossaries

You guys know me by now.

You know that I love to chuck you in the deep end, and–like one of those particularly terrifying parents–leave you either to sink or swim. I don’t do too many explanations in my novels: I let things reveal themselves as time goes by, and I prefer not to say something outright if I can leave the reader to infer it.

Nominate me! I could be published through Kindle Scout, and you could get a free ARC!

However, when it comes to Korean-based fantasy that uses some of the words I’ve been learning in my Korean language lessons, I’m at something of a standstill. In keeping with the cultural forms of address and respect pertaining thereto, I’ve used quite a few romanised Korean words (don’t worry, I don’t expect you to read them in 한글) in Lady of Dreams. This means that there’s a lot more for people to have to learn as they read.

On the one hand, I still love the idea of leaving you guys to sink or swim (cos I’m diabolical like that). On the other hand, there’s the usual amount to learn without telling: slightly steampunkish stuff, Dreaming stuff, several romantic entanglements, etc. I mean, I don’t want to break you guys.

It’s also a question I’ve been asked by more than one or two readers, and when more than one or two of my beta readers mention something, it’s usually time to sit up and listen.

So. Lady of Dreams: a glossary of romanised Korean words? Yea or nay?

Let me know!

(Also, if you haven’t already done so, head on over to Lady of DreamsKindle Scout Nomination Page, and if you like the sample, please nominate me to receive a Kindle Scout contract. If I’m published with Kindle Scout, anyone who nominated Lady of Dreams will get a free copy!)

‘Sup!?

There are some weeks when I know exactly what I want to blog about. Those are the good weeks: I usually end up with two blog post written for the week and one or two drafts stored up to explore later.

Some weeks are less certain, and I have to scrape and search for things to talk about. I usually still blog once or twice, it’s just…harder. Not necessarily a bad thing, since I tend to laziness: having to work at what I do is actually good for me.

Then there are the weeks where I can’t pin down a single thought or plan, where stuff just happens with no rhyme or reason, and my brain is too scattered to be able to think of anything of importance to post.

So I’m writing a blog post with all the little bits and pieces that don’t want to sit still in my head. You guys can make sense of it. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle.

Important Links:

Headtalker for Lady of Dreams’ Kindle Scout Campaign

Go here to nominate Lady of Dreams for a Kindle Scout contract (and get a free ARC if I do get a contract)

Buy this book. It’s only 99c and it’s still one of my all time favourite books (plus, Indie author power!)

General Stuff:

*Did anyone else forget Valentine’s Day? I did. I remembered after I’d been at work for about an hour, and multiple men had already gone through with flowers and chocolates. Then I was very confused, since I’d got the idea that Valentine’s day was the 17th.

It turns out that the 17th is the expiration date for my milk.

Undoubtedly an important date, but no cigar.

*So, my spam folder has become remarkably communicative lately. There are the ones that kindly answer questions: posed by previous spam 

…aaaaaand then there are just these guys, who are arguing about Who Is The Best:

CALM DOWN GUYS. WE CAN ALL BE THE BEST WE CAN BE.

*My brain is scattered. Yes. But this is partially in a good cause: BLACKFOOT is really starting to come together at last–not just in drips and drabs, but in whole chunks of plot and characterisation–and I’m at the point where I should be able to start writing very, very quickly indeed. I really like this part of book writing. It’s satisfying and freeing. It also means that I’ll be able to come back very soon and fix all the things I messed up in first draft.

*Kindle Scout Campaign. A new experience, so that’s fun. I’m just not entirely sure what I’ll do if Lady of Dreams isn’t chosen for publication. Will I publish ASAP, and bunch two releases very close together, or wait until BLACKFOOT emerges from its chrysalis? I mean, I don’t want to wait, but Indie pub wisdom says space things out where you can.

There you go. You just got a glimpse into the mind of a writer. YOU’RE WELCOME. Hopefully I’ll be less scattered in a day or two, and sit down to write a proper blog post. I have some KDrama I want to review (surprising, I know), so I’ll have some more reccs for my fellow KDrama lovers in the next day or two.

Happy Reading, guys!