“Not Only Happiness…”

“Nothing lasts forever. Not only happiness, but also sadness will pass by, too…”

I’ve been watching this Thing.

It’s a wonderful, glorious, hilarious, sweet Thing. It is, by turns, a vast, overarching saga of corporate espionage, a tale of revenge and redemption, a supernatural thriller, a murder mystery, a deeply sweet and funny love story, and a triumph of the new man over the old.

Telling you all that probably makes it sound very dramatic and sweeping; and it is. But it’s also one of the funniest shows I’ve ever watched.

It’s a Korean Drama by the name of Beating Again; or, if you want the literal translation, Falling for Innocence. This post isn’t titled as one of my These are a Few of My Favourite Things blog posts (mostly because I love the quote above and wanted it to be first), but just in case anyone mistakes, I’ll put this right here:

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Because Beating Again is not just one of my Favourite Things when it comes to movies and tv: it is probably my FAVOURITE THING out of them all. I’m serious. It’s that good.

You look at the description and you think, Oh, rom-com. Well, I did, anyway.

“After enduring both business and family upheavals, a ruthless investment director has a heart transplant and finds a new way to look at love and life.”

FFI all three

Then you look at the opening credits and that impression is strengthened, along with an interest in the dude with the crazy hair, a faint interest in the one with a pretty face, and a brief worry that this cutesy-faced girl is going to be one of the annoyingly childish heroines who can’t make up her mind. (Spoilers: she’s not. She probably my all time favourite female tv character. EVER.)

It’s not rom-com. It’s a very deeply plotted tale of corporate espionage and redemption and love.

I will say this now: there are very few movies and tv shows that will make me cry. It happened when I was a kid and Matthew died in Anne of Green Gables. It happened a couple of years ago when I watch Guillermo del Toro’s Mama. It hasn’t really happened (that I remember) between those two instances. Maybe a slight sniffle toward the end of Princess Caraboo and a few throat-catching moments in The Hunger Games (you know when).

I cried twice during Beating Again.

So. The Premise.

As a boy, Kang Min-Ho saw his father displaced as chairman of the Hermia Company. He saw his uncle take his father’s place after charges of corruption and embezzlement. He saw his mother fight a losing battle to win back the honour of her husband; and, having failed, he came home at the age of ten to find his mother hanging from the ceiling of their house. That was twenty-five years ago. Now Kang Min-Ho is back…for revenge. The only thing that may stop him is his weak heart–and perhaps Kim Soon-Jung, a secretary of Hermia who doesn’t so much serve the chairman of Hermia as she serves the company itself.

Recurring threads to the base plot-line of Hermia’s gradual take-over by Gold Partners are a murder, Min-Ho’s swiftly failing heart, and the shenanigans at Hermia’s main factory. Also of great interest is the instant animosity between Min-Ho and Joon-Hee.

mad hair and beautiful face

As Min-Ho is battling to take over and sell Hermia from under his uncle, his heart fails at last. He manages to faint on Kim Soon-Jung (he does that quite often, actually: a bit tropey but fun, nevertheless) who rushes him to the hospital. Kang Min-Ho gets his new heart–and a heck of a lot of new emotions that he never expected.

Suddenly the heartless businessman has a heart. Emotions. Perhaps even a conscience. Is he going to be able to finish what he started? Does he want to finish what he started?

And why does he feel so sick whenever he sees Lee Joon-Hee’s beautiful face? Is it just because of Soon-Jung, or are there other reasons?

The Players.

Ma Dong-Wook

I list him first because I love him the most. He’s just sheerly wonderful. Okay, to be honest, if you smile like this, you don’t actually have to do anything else to make me fall in love with you:

Ma Dong Wook smile

But Dong-Wook does so much more. He’s the fiance of Soon-Jung, who is a secretary at Hermia. He’s a detective, and he is currently very interested in knowing who is behind the leaking of certain classified materials from Hermia (or the creation of fake documents, as the case may be). He’s also interested in beating up people who upset Soon-Jung, being a lovable guy, and what he calls ‘photosynthesizing’ (aka, sunbaking):

Ma Dong Wook photosynthesising

Ma Dong-Wook is full of odd sayings and solid wisdom for today. There is no tomorrow, he says. Today is all there is. He and Soon-Jung are possibly my favourite screen-couple ever, and are a couple for whom I break my ‘if-you’re-already-together-at-the-start-of-the-movie-I-don’t-care-about-you’ rule. Their chemistry is undeniable and completely delightful.

Kim Soon-Jung

soon jung

She’s the character (apart from possibly one other) who has the hardest time in this series. Soon-Jung is a secretary (pretty much THE secretary at Hermia). In one of the most amazing female power-scenes I’ve ever watched, she faces up against Kang Min-Ho and his cohorts by bowing and very politely asking where their visitor’s badges are. When they attempt to force their way past her, she simply holds up one hand in the most pleasant way imaginable, whereupon alarms go off and a bunch of Hermia’s heavies come out to Take Care Of Things. She does it without raising her voice, losing her cool, or becoming unladylike. And at the end of a very unpleasant scene, where one of the other secretaries asks her if she’s ok, she simply shrugs and says: “Why not? I even got a sticker.”

She is an anomaly. An actually, morally good female character. In her quietness and her reserve, as much as in her straight-talking, she does what is right. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a female character this much.

Evidently neither have either of the male leads in Beating Again, because both Crazy Hair Man (Kang Min-Ho) and Beautiful Face (Lee Joon-Hee) are in love with her.

not only happiness

Kang Min-Ho (aka, Crazy Hair)

FFI 1

It’s so hard to know where to start with this character. He’s such a beautiful, pitiful mess. I disliked him intensely when I first saw him. I thought he was going to be one of those really annoying K-drama ‘heroes’ who was a hero simply because of his scornful face and bad treatment of the heroine.

I’m so SO glad I was wrong!

We meet Kang Min-Ho as he is arriving in a party of one of Hermia’s majority stock-holder, Gold Partners. They are coming to call in loans and appoint a dispatched director, prepatory to taking over Hermia and selling it off. Min-ho is with them because he is seeking revenge on his uncle. When we first meet Min-ho, he is brittle, dangerous, and more than a little insane. He is also very fragile.

As the story progresses, we get to see the gradual changes that overtake his character. His fragility remains, but it is overshadowed by his growing emotions, and the transparency of those emotions–particularly when it comes to his newly budding love for Soon-Jung. Jung Kyoung-Ho, the actor who plays Min-Ho, has done such a stellar, nuanced job of this part, that all you can do is gasp at his completely child-like confusion as he experiences new things and grows in ways that he didn’t even realise existed before he was given a new heart.

The idea of new hearts, redemption, and the new man triumphing over the old is a very precious one to me, as a Christian. It’s a huge part of what I live and believe. And it was so refreshing to see it portrayed in this way. Make no mistake, I don’t believe this to be a Christian show. But this part of it in particular really resonated with me.

When you're tired

Lee Joon-Hee (aka, Beautiful Face)

FFI 2

So, so pretty. And you know right away that he’s Boy #2, a consistent K-drama trope. Boy #2 very rarely gets the girl. But he’s so pretty, and his suits are really lovely, guys!

Lee Joon-Hee is a director of Hermia, and at first it’s very clear where his loyalties lie.

The problem with Joon-Hee is that although we know he’s in love with Soon-Jung, and that he’s a company man, we don’t know whether or not he’s a murderer. That can be rather unsettling, because we watch all his tender moments and his insecurities and his triumphs. And all the time it’s in the back of our minds that this beautiful boy could be a murderer.

He and Kang Min-Ho do not get along well, but I suppose that’s to be expected since one is trying to bring down Hermia, one is trying to save it, and they are both after the same girl. This leads to one of my favourite scenes from Beating Again:

head smak 1 head smak 2

My one complaint: subtitles.

Guys. They translated stuff wrong. GUYS. I HATE THAT. I’ve seen enough of K-dramas now to recognise certain words, and to have learned their meanings. I have an affinity for languages, and I love learning them, so I try to pay attention when I come across shows I love in new languages.

And guys. They put swearing in where there wasn’t any. GUYS. This bugs me! Not only because it was an incorrect translation, but because seriously, if you think you have to put in swearing to appeal to a western audience–you don’t!

I ignored it because: a.) the original writers didn’t intend it, and b.) there was only one really bad swear. So if you’re someone who hates bad language, just watch out for the first episode where there’s one f-word randomly in the subbies, and don’t worry too much about the rest.

All in all:

My grateful thanks to Jung Kyoung-Ho, Kim So-Yeon, Yoon Hyun-Min, Jin Goo, Lee Si-Un, Jo Eun-Ji, Ahn Suk-Hwan, Nam Myung-Ryul, and a totally amazing writer, Yoo Hee-Gyeong. The acting and writing combined to make this a completely mesmerising sixteen hours of television.

And guys, I KNOW. It’s SUCH A LONG BLOG POST.

BUT I LOVED IT SO MUCH, GUYS. YOU HAVE TO LOVE IT, TOO.

(Also it’s on Netflix, so what are you waiting for?)

Favourite Authors: NICHOLAS FISK

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I actually started writing this blog post quite a while ago, but it never got finished because I didn’t find myself as eloquent as I would have liked to be. I’m resurrecting it now because I learned just a few days ago that Nicholas Fisk has died. The news made me sad for a couple of reasons (and no disrespect intended to his family, who have many more–and far more important–reasons to grieve).

The first of those reasons is purely selfish: a reader’s reaction. That hollow, sad feeling that there will be no more books. I’m very well aware that there are, and will be, many more books; but they won’t be books like that. The Nicholas Fisk books are now a finite, fixed number. And that’s a real shame, because there are very few people who can write with the kind of clarity, simplicity, and at the same time incredible depth that Nicholas Fisk managed.

My second reason is even more regretful: it’s a writer’s reaction. There are only about ten authors who have really influenced me in terms of style, content, or characterisation; and Nicholas Fisk is one of those. Quite a few of those influencers have also died in the last few years, without me ever having the chance to meet them, shake them by the hand, and tell them how much I learnt from their writing, and how much I enjoyed their art. I didn’t even get the chance to write to them and tell them that. My fault, of course, but you don’t expect your heroes to die. I regret that I never took the opportunity to write and tell them each how much they’ve meant to me.

Nicholas Fisk’s books are, ostensibly, children’s books. Sci-fi, too, which I very rarely read unless I’m immediately caught by the idea or the characters. The main characters are children, and although the subjects can range from simple to quite complex, the writing is never such as to either condescend or confuse. The adult characters are drawn with the kind of nuance that you don’t notice as a child but very much appreciate as an adult. One and all, the characters are complete, real people. The bad guys are complex, detailed, and sometimes not so much bad as on the other side. The protagonists see them as bad because they’re on the opposite side of the fence. Sometimes that realisation is made by the characters, other times, not.

I can’t now remember which Nicholas Fisk book I first read: it was either A RAG, A BONE, AND A HANK OF HAIR; BACKLASH; or MINDBENDERS. Each of them was a revelation for me, and I hold special memories from each. A RAG, A BONE, AND A HANK OF HAIR appalled and horrified me, and at the same time fascinated me. I was thinking about it for months after I first read it, and I knew it was a book that I would love forever. I don’t want to say too much more, because Spoilers, Sweetie. BACKLASH was amazing in a totally different way: the character I remember most was a mechanical princess who had no idea of pain, or growing up, or humanity. She wanted a little mechanical baby, and I remember one of the characters worrying about that at the end, because the princess was beginning to learn, and he wondered how it would affect her when she realised her ‘baby’ would never grow, or learn, or develop. MINDBENDERS was just weird, and cool, and fascinating. Because, you know, when you’re ten, ants could take over the world.

Like Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones, Nicholas Fisk is one of those people who shaped my writing and my reading at a very important time in my life. He’s one of the reasons I’m an author today: his imagination made mine want to grow wings and fly.

The SHARDS Trilogy is Going Wide!

The SHARDS trilogy is going on its next adventure!

In other words, a little while ago I began the process of making the SHARDS novellas available at all good ebook retailers: Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords (as well as Amazon, of course, where they were already available).

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Consequently, it is my pleasure to announce that TWELVE DAYS OF FAERY is now available for Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Smashwords, as well as Amazon.

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You can also preorder THE FIRST CHILL OF AUTUMN at Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and Amazon.

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FIRE IN THE BLOOD is upcoming, since its Kindle Select period isn’t up until June 24th, but it won’t be long before you can buy it on each of these retailers, too!

It’s Because I Love You…

…that I tell you about all the awesome book sales!

There’s another Patty Jensen promo going on, which means that during 7-8 May, you can get over 150 books at 99c. I mean, there’s box sets in there and everything!

As if I didn’t already have enough books in my TBR Kindle list…

Just click here or the promo graphic below!

(Oh, and some of them are already marked down to 99c, so you can get some great bargains even before the weekend!)

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Read and enjoy!

Getting the Most Out of Your Royalties: Redux

A little while ago I wrote a blog post about Getting the Most Out of Your Royalties, in which I discussed the Big Thing I had just discovered.

As an Australian author, I had been waiting two months for Amazon to tot up my royalties and send out a cheque for the amount, then taking it to the bank and having to wait another 4-8 weeks for it to drop into my account. Not to mention paying $21 for the privilege–and having to haggle over the exchange rate. What with tot-up time, postage time, and banking time, it was a long and exhausting procedure. I didn’t see the royalties I earned until roughly six months after I earned them.

Then I read about another way that had just opened for Australian authors: the ability to select WIRE instead of CHEQUE in the payment methods for each country.

moneySupposedly, it would cost only $10 for my bank to accept a Wired transfer of funds from Amazon. I said “Heck yes!” and selected it, with the proviso that I’d come back and tell all you other fantastic Aussie authors whether or not there were any hidden charges.

So here I am.

AND THERE AREN’T ANY.

AND I GET THE ACTUAL EXCHANGE RATE WITHOUT HAVING TO HAGGLE.

So instead of paying $21, I’m paying $10. And instead of a haggled exchange rate, I’m getting the actual (very, very sweet) exchange rate. And on top of all that, I’M GETTING THE MONEY STRAIGHT AWAY.

Aussie authors. DO IT. As far as I have seen, there is literally NO downside to this.

(Although do check with your bank to see what they charge for accepting Wired transfers. I’m with Commbank and with them it’s $10, but I don’t know about everyone else’s bank. YMMV.)

Creating Worlds: Making up Montalier

Okay, so technically, Montalier is not a world.

1It’s a country within a world. But creating worlds sounds so much better than making up countries, so I’m running with it. I created Montalier for my novella TWELVE DAYS OF FAERY, the first in my SHARDS OF A BROKEN SWORD trilogy. Besides being the home of one of my favourite characters, Montalier is one of my favourite settings. I don’t think it’s because Montalier is any more developed than my other worlds: rather, I think it’s because TWELVE DAYS OF FAERY was a first on so many levels for me.

  1. The first novella I ever wrote
  2. The first longer form fiction I wrote from a male POV (previously, I’ve only written short stories from male POV)
  3. The beginning of my first complete trilogy (as of now, when THE FIRST CHILL OF AUTUMN is due to be published May 31st)
  4. The first book for which I made up pie proverbs

When you build a world you have to think about so many things.

Is this the coolest map you've ever seen, or what?

Is this the coolest map you’ve ever seen, or what? (And in case you’re wondering, Wyndsor is north-east of Montalier, out of sight along the coast. Avernse also doesn’t appear on this map, but that’s because it was a VERY TINY piece of paper)

Political system. Monetary system. History. Religious system (if any). Etymology of names. Proverbs and historical references. Is it a country or an actual world? A monarchy or a democracy–or perhaps both? What sort of military does your country have? How does it interact with the militia of the surrounding countries? Is this a coastal country, or landlocked? Do you have dragons? (Always have dragons). If you’re travelling from country to country, where exactly are your countries in relation to each other? Do you have a map? (Always have a map. With compass. Trust me, you’ll need it.)

There are many other things to ask and formulate, but one of the things I most enjoy making up is pop culture. Well, not exactly pop culture, but you know what I mean. The catch-phrases people use. The in-jokes. The references to ancient (and not-so-ancient) history. The things you forget you say until someone from another country hears you and wonders what you mean.

With Montalier, it was pies.

Tiny pies. Huge Pies. Pies in between. Pie proverbs. Pie references. Pies everywhere! I love pie, so it was a hugely enjoyable (albeit hunger-inducing) part of my world-building. In fact, when I revisited Montalier for THE FIRST CHILL OF AUTUMN, at least one beta reader asked if there would be more pie proverbs. (Spoilers: no. Sadly, there were no words to spare, as TFCOA already weighs in at a smidge over 50k, which is slightly long for a novella).

As a reader, I have three worlds that I’ve found to be extraordinarily well-written.

The first of those is the world Steven Brust has created for Vlad Taltos, his assassin-on-the-run who manages to escape death and disaster by the skin of his teeth nearly every book, while his side-kick Loiosh is making sarcastic comments in his ear. The world-building there is something really special. It grows over the course of many, many books, but each book is so well-contained and explained that I have very happily read them ALL out of order without feeling more than pleased each time I find something cool that slots into my knowledge base for the next book.

Second: Kate Stradling’s Kingdom of Lenore in KINGDOM OF RUSES  and TOURNAMENT OF RUSES. And guys, I know I’ve raved about this book and this author before, but the world-building here is just so deftly done: there is not a single unnecessary word, and the world is richly imagined and filled out.

My third favourite is the world Patricia Wrede created for THE RAVEN RING. It is rich in sayings, understandings, customs, and magic; and it’s done in an understated and completely immersive way. THE RAVEN RING is another book I’ve already raved about, so just go and read it already. (Incidentally, Patricia Wrede’s blog is probably one of the best blogs a writer can read for world-building–and lots of other–advice, too.)

Writers, what is your favourite part of creating a world? Readers, what is the best world you’ve ever read? Let me know in the comments! Or, yanno, just tell me a really great pie proverb?

TFCOA: Entering Phase Two!

THE FIRST CHILL OF AUTUMN has officially entered phase two!

3rd Shards_TheFirstChillOfAutumnWhat I mean by that, of course, is that it’s in the competent hands of a set of very lovely people who have agreed to beta read for me. I’ve already had some amazingly useful feedback, which means I’m plotting and cogitating on changes (or non-changes).

This is the first time I’ve had beta readers (apart from my wonderful Sis and Ma), so it’s been interesting and slightly nerve-wracking in terms of wondering what they’ll come back to me with (like ‘your book sucks and should be burned alive’). As I said a blog post or two ago, my MC, Dion, is fairly different from the heroines I usually have, so I was particularly interested to see what the reaction to her would be.

All in all, the publication time-line is coming along nicely, and if it keeps on going this swiftly, I might even be able to move up the publication date. Maybe. (I’m hoping so, because I really want to share this one with you all, not to mention it being the culmination of my Very First Trilogy!)

In the meantime, have a sample of TFCOA, and don’t forget to preorder!

The First Chill of Autumn

Until she reached the age of seventeen there were four certainties in the life of Dion ferch Alawn.

The first was that her parents were always wise, always right.

The second was that her life would always fall into the same orderly rhythms as it had thus far.

Thirdly, she had no doubt that she would one day be queen.

The fourth thing of which Dion ferch Alawn was absolutely certain was that the tall, ebony-skinned man she often saw in her bedroom mirror meant her no harm.

As it turned out, this was the only thing in which she was entirely correct.

***

Dion was three when the Fae arrived. She didn’t understand much about it at the time, except that these tall, graceful people with their beautifully tragic faces were exotic and exciting. She wasn’t allowed to be excited about it, of course: Crown princesses were expected to be sedate and regal at all times, and even a three year old heir couldn’t gape in excitement. Dion’s twin sister Aerwn wasn’t similarly restricted: she gaped and gasped and bounced to her heart’s content.

The Fae came in small numbers at first, fleeing from a peril in Faery that was talked about in hushed tones. They each asked for and were granted an audience with the King and Queen, and most were settled in Harlech. Dion heard, but didn’t understand the mutters around the castle when it became known that the Crown—and by proxy the people—was paying for their resettlement and daily food.

Before long there was a steady stream of Fae arriving every day. Some of them were settled in Harlech, some in other Llassarian cities, and still more of them seemed to settle right in the castle itself. Soon the maids were all Fae, swiftly and gracefully performing their duties. The footmen morphed from a group of well-trained and orderly men, into a regiment of perfectly starched, perfectly beautiful Fae.

By the time Dion and Aerwn were five, their tutors were all Fae. Aerwn, naturally graceful and quick to learn, blossomed beautifully under their tutelage. Dion, who always felt clumsy and awkward around the Fae, became stiff, careful, and silent. The Fae had a great deal to teach, however; and though Dion grew neither more graceful nor more silver-tongued, she did gain a remarkable proficiency in magic.

 

 

Dion had become so used to the constant presence of the Fae in her life that when the tall, black Fae first appeared in her oval dressing mirror, she didn’t think more of it than to feel in a vaguely embarrassed way that she was intruding. She had only recently turned seven, and her Fae instructors had taught her so well that she knew not to question or challenge the Fae rudely.

Fae thoughts are high and wise, she knew. A Fae always has a reason for what the Fae does. It is not for mortals to question or upbraid.

And so Dion hurried past her mirror whenever she was in her suite, hastily averting her eyes whenever she saw that the tall Fae was back. She was so used to being observed and tested by then that being watched even in her suite didn’t seem unusual. And the Fae, apart from the fact of his actual presence, wasn’t intrusive. He didn’t do much more than stand there, though sometimes he seemed to be talking. Since no sound came through the mirror, Dion assumed that he was talking to the Fae on his side of the mirror, and still abashedly avoided the mirror as much as she could.

They would quite possibly have continued in this way for the next few years if Dion hadn’t sprained her ankle a few months after her seventh birthday. If it came right down to it, as with most things in the twins’ young lives, it wasn’t so much that Dion had sprained her ankle, but that Aerwn had sprained it for her. It was Aerwn who bullied a terrified Dion into climbing into the saddle of their father’s horse; Aerwn who confidently asserted that she could and would climb on right after you, you scardy!; Aerwn who had opened the stable door for them both; Aerwn who seized upon Dion’s foot when their father’s horse charged grimly for freedom, dashing herself and her sister to the unforgiving paving-stones of the stable.

Be that as it may, it was Dion who finished the day in bed, her face whiter than usual and her foot very carefully elevated. The Fae were too sensible to heal human injuries quickly without reason—Dion herself had been taught how dangerous it was for the human immune or reparative systems to be brought to rely upon magic for its healing—and the young princess was put to bed for the afternoon with the promise that she would be better tomorrow.

From the bed it was impossible not to see the dressing mirror, and Dion was in an agony of embarrassment in her attempts not to look at it. First she gazed at the gauzy sweeps of her canopy, then toward the window; now at her bedposts and then at her toes. Looking at her toes had the unfortunate result of bringing her into direct eye contact with the man in the mirror, however, and Dion looked away awkwardly. At last she settled on pretending to read a book, her face carefully shielded from the mirror; and began to feel the stiffness in her cheeks relax a little. Dion liked reading, though if poetry were excluded, there weren’t really many books to read for pleasure. Previously popular books, with their old prejudices and ancient enmity, were frowned upon by the king and queen. The castle had once had such books, Dion knew, but with the Fae had come the Cleansing: the washing away of all previous conflicts and anything that could be used to incite unrest. It was necessary. But Dion remembered some of the tales that had been read to her when she was younger, and the new, correct books didn’t hold quite the same sense of wonder or adventure.

By and by, Dion began to notice a golden glow to the edges of her book. It haloed the wrist and the hand that were holding the book aloft: a soft, magical luminosity that made her reach out to touch it with her other hand. It was ethereal but somehow heavy in the air. Dion caught a breath in her throat and dropped her book, her eyes flying at once to the man in the mirror. He was looking right at her, and on the mirror was an embossing in the same gold that formed curlicues up and down the glass. Dion, her mouth as wide open as her eyes, watched in fascination as the curlicues gained form and structure, and became words.

The words in the mirror said: Don’t they teach you about sound?

“Sound is vibration,” said Dion doubtfully. She wasn’t unsure about what sound was: she was unsure why it mattered. She had been right at first: this was a test. “I haven’t seen– that is, the magic is beautiful. How do you– do you mind telling me how you’re doing that?” He waited so long to respond that she had flushed and added hurriedly: “I’m sorry! Of course, you can’t hear me. How silly of me,” before the golden curlicues reformed to add: What does that tell you?

“You c– can hear me!” said Dion foolishly. “Well, vibrations. You speak, which makes the air vibrate, and then those vibrations play against– oh! Oh, I know!” The glass in the mirror was stopping the vibrations from coming through and getting to her ears. That’s why he seemed not to make any sound though his mouth moved.

Dion wriggled painfully toward the edge of her bed, a pale reflection of herself grimacing and haltingly stumbling forward in the mirror. The Fae, who somehow seemed more real than she did in that reflection, simply waited. Dion’s ankle ached and throbbed, but she continued doggedly on until she could place her palm on the mirror. She wasn’t yet proficient enough with magic to affect things she wasn’t touching, and she regretted it more than ever now.

The Fae waited for her, impassively. He didn’t seem to be concerned with her pain, though Dion thought that he watched her very carefully; and when she at last laid her palm against the mirror, damp with sweat, he gave her a single, short nod. It said well done, though the mirror didn’t.

Vibrations, thought Dion, and sent a tracery of raw magic into the mirror. In the mirror, the Fae spoke, and she felt the vibration of it against her veinwork of magic. The mirror was too thick to allow the vibrations through, and Dion was wary of softening it: Fae though he might be, she wasn’t sure she wanted him stepping through the mirror along with his voice. She left her tracery of magic where it was, and ran a small thread of it through to her side, where it was easy enough to transmit the vibrations again.

It wasn’t until a deep, rough voice said: “Good technique,” that Dion was sure it had worked. The curlicues disappeared, and for the first time she got a really good look at the Fae, unfestooned by gold or seen as a flicker in the corner of her eyes. He was very tall and broad in the shoulders, with a scarred face and a huge broadsword that was bigger than Dion was. It occurred to her, belatedly, that despite the colour of his skin, he didn’t at all look like a Fae. She’d thought of him as Fae by default, for what could an ordinary man be doing in her mirror, after all?

“Your magic is strong,” he said.

Dion, both embarrassed and hot with pain, said: “Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me,” he said. “You’ll regret it, in time.”

Dion didn’t like to contradict him, but she was quite certain she would always be glad for her skill in magic. Since that thought verged on rebellion, she quickly pushed it away and said: “Are you here to protect me?”

“Yes,” he said. “And no.”

“Are you here to teach me?”

“Yes. And no.”

That was certainly very Fae-like. Dion, daring one more question, asked: “What will you teach me?”

“Two things,” said the Fae. “How to use your magic. And how to die.”

Self-Publishing and Early Birthday Presents

How exactly is Self-Publishing related to early birthday presents?

Allow me to explain. I’m sitting here with a 3-cd box set of the Monkees that was a birthday present from my sister. It is not, however, my birthday for another week. So why do I have a birthday present already?

Monkees

Mostly cos I love presents and have a really cute puppy-dog expression going for me. And as I sit here with my fantastic 3-cd box set of the Monkees, it occurs to me that my approach to publishing is much the same as my approach to presents.

I want it all, and I want it now.

(I also really like guessing what wrapped presents are, which isn’t at all helpful to this analogy but I think is telling as to my character.)

Self-Publishing is the instant gratification of the publishing world.

I mean, it isn’t really, but it kinda is. Think about it. If you’re traditionally pubbed, there’s roughly a year spent in finding an agent (if you’re not amazingly talented or amazingly lucky). Then there’s something like a 6 months-1 year while your agent finds an editor who wants to buy your book (again, unless you’re amazingly talented or amazingly lucky). Then there is the year or maybe even two years while your MS is sent to structural-editors, line-editors, proof-readers; put in line for the publication catalog, switched around a bit; has its pretty little cover designed (which you probably won’t get a say in).

Once I know the present is there and wrapped, I WANT IT.

I’m not a patient person. I’ll work until I’ve made things as good as possible, but when I know my books are finished and ready, I want them out yesterday. I don’t want to wait for an agent to give me the ok. I don’t want to wait for an editor to give me the ok. I want to be able to make decisions about what characters are cut (or not cut) and what POV my MS is written in. I want to be the one with last say on what my cover looks like.

And I love being able to set my own publication dates.

I know Self-Publishing isn’t for everyone, but as I sit here with my 3-cd box set of the Monkees, I’m feeling pretty good about it.

monkees 2

Maybe it’s just that I’m in the happy post-MS haze for THE FIRST CHILL OF AUTUMN, but I don’t see myself losing my love for the Indie form of Publishing.

Maybe one day I’ll be a Hybrid author, but for now, I’m happy just sitting here listening to my Monkees box set.