Leading Ladies of Fantasy Storybundle

THE LEADING LADIES FANTASY BUNDLE

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The Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle – Curated by Charlotte E. English

You know how it goes. There’s one female character in the book, and she’s someone’s love interest. She’s given little to do and less to wear. She has no good lines, and nothing to contribute save her helplessness.

These are not those stories.

This year, I wanted to champion the kind of great, riveting fantasy which doesn’t sideline the ladies. Happily, indie fantasy has absolutely masses to offer. I’ve assembled some of my favourite books by some of my favourite authors, every one of which offers somebody memorable, vivid and real to spend time with.

In these tales of derring-do, the ladies have stepped firmly out of the background. Not every story is female-led, though many are. In some of these books, they’re taking centre stage and rocking it. In others, it’s a supporting cast of women that shines.

I have for you an aristocratic amateur sleuth and a wayward forest witch from W. R. Gingell; a top mathematician and codebreaker from Lindsay Buroker; and from Joseph Robert Lewis and J. Zachary Pike, elf ladies as we’ve never seen them before. There’s a cursed princess from Annie Bellet, a brilliant scholarly mage from Rachel Cotterill, and a cast of wizards, necromancers and dragons from Joseph Lallo. And from me, there’s a predominantly female team of wily masqueraders with a grand mystery to solve.

These books cover a range of fantasy sub-genres, from comic to epic to romantic to adventure fantasy. They’ll take you to diverse fantasy worlds, and show you how spectacular leading ladies can be. – Charlotte E. English

The initial titles in the Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Elf Saga – Doomsday (Omnibus Edition) by Joseph Robert Lewis
  • The D’Karon Apprentice by Joseph R. Lallo
  • Watersmeet by Rachel Cotterill
  • Masque by W.R. Gingell
  • Encrypted – Forgotten Ages Book 1 by Lindsay Buroker

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus five more!

  • Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike
  • Seven Dreams by Charlotte E. English
  • Gryphonpike Chronicles Volume 1: The Barrows by Annie Bellet
  • Wolfskin by W.R. Gingell
  • Decrypted – Forgotten Ages Book 2 by Lindsay Buroker

And as a special bonus for our newsletter subscribers, we’re giving away a free copy of Jo Lallo’s The Book of Deacon Anthology, which includes the entire Book of Deacon trilogy as well as Jade, a short novel set after the events of The Book of Deacon, The Rise of the Red Shadow, a prequel to the trilogy, and more! Did we mention that it’s free?

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

Update: Bright as the Eyes of You

Hi, everyone!

So, as you may have seen, Bright as the Eyes of You has a complete first draft on Wattpad, and now nearly a complete second draft in hardcopy (changes which I now have to transfer to digital, argh!) Some very lovely readers have already sent me niggles and inconsistencies that they noticed in the first draft so that I could fix them for the second, so I’ve been very busy with that.

What’s next?

I’m so glad you asked.

At the moment I’m mired up in Copyright Swamp. As some of you may or may not have guessed, the title of BatEoY and all the chapter headings were tiny excerpts from songs by one of my favourite bands, The Monkees. And since songs sung by The Monkees are still under copyright, I’ve had to go scouring the internets for the copyright holders of 16 different excerpts from 16 different songs.

It ain’t easy, I’m tellin’ ya!

I’ve heard back from a few of them, but nothing to tell me how much it will cost to get licenses to use the lyrics, so I’m still stuck. If it’s too expensive, I’ll have to simply seek a license for the title and take away the chapter headings for publication. It will make me sad, but I’d be sadder if I were to be sued for copyright infraction, so there’s that.

Fellow writers, don’t do this to yourself. Don’t pick out chapter headings from still-copyrighted songs and then come to love your odd, perfect, whimsical chapter headings so much that it seems to physically hurt to take them away. Learn from my pain.

Anyhoo.

Now that I’ve got the second draft of BatEoY nearly ready to go, I’ll be sending out copies to my Awesome Beta Readers next week. (I’ll also send it off to my mum, so she can pick out all my typos). And after that, BatEoY will be going off to an Actual Editor™ for a second round of edits. I’m kinda nervous, because I haven’t worked with an Actual Editor™ before.

But no gain without pain, eh?

So if you’ve read the first draft of BatEoY, now is the time to tell me all the mistakes I made. Seriously. Have at it.

And now that I’ve (sort of) finished BatEoY (well, come to a temporary, unavoidable halt, anyway), and now that I’m finally caught up on my NaNoWriMo word count, I’m going RELAX HARD. Oh, and sit down and watch some KDrama. Because it’s study, guys.

Photo from Regency Grooming

Photo from Regency Grooming

Have a glorious week, you blokes!

Musings: Writing in the Negative Space

I’m baaaa-aaaaack!

G’day!

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine, recently. This friend is insanely talented (he writes and draws), and we were talking over a collaborative idea I’d had for both of us to work on (said collaborative idea involving a graphic novel/comic style book).

This led us into a discussion of the sort of illustration style I had in mind–which, to be honest, mostly served to illustrate (ha! see what I did there?) how little idea I had of the style I wanted, and how little I knew about drawing and graphics as a whole. One of the art styles I brought up as something I liked was the art of Hellboy, which led off into another discussion–this one about the use of negative space.

Negative space.

Mike Mignola's Hellboy

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy

It’s a concept that I’d heard of before, but not in a while. The concept, like the style, is deceptively simple: negative space is the space that surrounds an object (the positive space) in an image. In the concept of negative space, this space is just as important–and in some cases, more important–than the positive space. It defines the positive space. It gives the positive space its meaning and boundaries. As a method of illustration, it brings a certain starkness and boldness of style that I love.

After discussing this with my friend, it occurred to me that I’m fond of negative space in more than just illustrations. I’m also a huge fan of negative space when it comes to reading–and writing.

On the face of it, you’d say that it’s not possible to used negative space for anything that isn’t visual. I would then say that you’re dead wrong. (If, on the other hand, you’d say that you agree completely, I’d stutter around a bit because the conversation was not going the way it went in my head and I was now flailing while my brain re-routed it.)

Because of course it’s possible. The execution may be slightly different, but the idea of presenting a concept, world, or character by using factors and indicators outside of the actual concept, world, or character, is a totally legitimate form of writing. It’s also a very effective one.

So there you have it, guys.

Basically, if you ever read one of my books that doesn’t make sense to you, or where the world-building, characters, or concept is never fully explained, it’s just me writing in the negative space and you obviously haven’t been clever enough to understand my genius *snark, snark* (IT’S ALL THERE IN THE SUBTEXT, GUYS.)

Seriously, though.

Negative space is one of my favourite styles of writing–was even before I thought of it as an actual style–and I typically try to explain as little as possible, leaving the reader to figure things out on their own by the way the book is written and the way the characters act and react. (“Never apologise, never explain”, as Antonia Forest says through her Navy-trained characters).

Because I trust you guys to be clever enough to get it. Sometimes, of course, that backfires on me, because sometimes I forget how much I know about the story as a whole, and don’t give my readers enough to work with.

In other words, negative space can be a double-edged sword, which means it needs to be handled very carefully (especially if you’re inclined to clumsiness, like me). But when done well, it’s delightful to read.

My favourite users of negative space: Antonia Forest, Ronald Kidd, Diana Wynne Jones, and Nicholas Fisk.

Antonia Forest uses her negative space in the form of conversation: aka, what is often not written in the form of narrative is given to the reader just as clearly by effective dialogue. It shapes the narrative rather than the narrative shaping it.

In a similar fashion, Ronald Kidd (especially in the fabulous Sizzle and Splat) writes whole passages of dialogue only, and it is amazingly effective. Seriously, go and read Sizzle and Splat right now.

Diana Wynne Jones uses her negative space more in the way of spare, no-nonsense narrative that in its simplicity says a lot more than another writer would say in twice as many words. She uses simple words and easy sentences, and they’re superbly  effective.

Nicholas Fisk, now: he’s the the really interesting one. His negative space is more of an idea than an actual thing. It’s the adult perspective. See, he writes children’s books. I could read them easily as a child and understood and loved them. Now that I read them as an adult, its as though there’s a second layer there: a layer just for me as an adult, that shapes the story into different–and yet they’re just the same–lines than it had when I was a child.

I don’t always do it well, and I don’t always do it effectively, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop using negative space.

Mind the Gap…

To those of you who were waiting for my blog to be updated (all two of you)

Please accept my most abject apologies. Currently, I’m madly racing to finish the last four chapters of BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU (and somehow managing to write the last chapter instead of the one I’m actually up to) so service of this blog will be temporarily suspended until late next week.

I’m on a deadline to finish this puppy and do first round edits before I send it off to *gasp* an actual editor, so I’m ignoring Mr.G as well, if that makes you all feel any better…

In the meantime, well…read BatEoY. 

Yours feverishly,

W.R.

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Some Deliciously Disturbing Singing

I’m particularly fond of the Johnny Depp version of Sweeny Todd. Not only are the words terrifyingly insane and strangely beautiful, but the music is whimsically, intricately good. Stephen Sondheim is one of my favourite composers. Sweeny Todd, in particular, is gruesome, mad, and hilarious all at once, the cleverness of the lyrics wrapped in a beautifully haunting series of melodies and harmonies.

In short, I never thought I would find anything so deliciously disturbing as Sweeny Todd.

And then Rebekah Hendrian (who, BTW, is also responsible for my new-found love of B.A.P.) posted this video on Twitter. Of course I watched it.

Disturbing? Yes.

Delicious? HECK to the yes.

I think this may be the first time I’ve ever fallen in love with a Voice. And what a voice! I haven’t heard such quality of tone since listening to Ivan Rebroff.

Through the first video, I found the second song (part of the same musical).

These videos are my new Favourite Things, which means I will watch them over and over and over again. And when I finally manage to chivvy Mr.G over to Korea, I want to see this musical– or at least Hong Kwang-Ho in whatever musical he happens to be in. Because I want to hear that voice live.

And now I live in hope that someday there will be a soundtrack of these guys doing this musical, so I can listen to it on repeat.

In the mean-time, I have my soundtrack of Sweeny Todd…

These are a Few of My Favourite Things: FLOWER BOYS NEXT DOOR

Welcome to THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS, the KDrama edition!

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FLOWER BOYS NEXT DOOR

I’ll say right now that FLOWER BOYS NEXT DOOR contains pretty much everything I love about KDrama, and most things I love about the best T.V. shows–and, in fact, story-telling as a whole–within its bright little bubble.

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The description of this KDrama interested me straight away (a free-lance editor with agoraphobia is set upon by a boy-puppy type hero and chivvied out of her comfort zone? yes please!) and when I learned that the female MC was played by Park Shin-hye, it was a no-brainer.

The Players

Go Dok-mi (Park Shin-hye)

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I love Park Shin-hye. I love the fact that she’s not horrendously, unhealthily skinny. I love that she’s always adorable. I love watching her act. I’ve also found out that she has a gorgeous singing voice (she’s actually part of the soundtrack for Flower Boys Next Door), so there’s that too.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that I absolutely adored her character in this. Go Dok-mi is a freelance editor who, as a schoolgirl, was so much bullied by both enemies and (supposed) friends, that she almost tried to kill herself, and ended up as an agoraphobic shut-in. From her small apartment, she watches the world outside (and particularly the guy next door, with whom she has fallen in love) with her bright yellow binoculars.

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I love Go Dok-mi’s frugal cost-saving measures. I love her infrequent, nervous trips Outside, when she can’t put them off any longer. I love the fact that although she doesn’t care for herself, she has an incredibly caring nature, and will always do the kind thing for others. I love her quiet, undemanding, unrequited love for the man next door. I love her humble self-knowledge.

One of my favourite Dok-mi moments? When, after seeing her through 5 or 6 episodes where she won’t put the heater on to save electricity costs, wearing multiple layers to keep warm, and sleeping with hot water bottles (which she uses, when cold, to flush the toilet)– when Enrique says thoughtlessly upon entering her apartment “Oh! So cold!” we see her turn on the heater immediately. It’s the trademark of this beautifully written drama to place such quiet, effective moments in the most unexpected places.

My other favourite moment is when she tells Jin-Rak: “You had it wrong the whole time. I’m not the princess. I’m the witch who locked her in.”

Enrique Geum (Yoon Shi-yoon)

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Okay, this was only the second KDrama I watched (after something like 10 KDramas) where I didn’t get 2nd Lead Syndrome. That should tell you something about how delightful Enrique was.

How to describe Enrique? Well, he’s a world famous games designer, but the first word that springs to mind is puppy. This little puppy of a hero is warm, and kind, and enthusiastic. He doesn’t give up, he’s teachable, and he has a heart that is just as kind as Dok-mi’s. His unrelenting bouncing around Dok-mi’s seemingly impenetrable facade of untouchability is just delightful to watch–as delightful, in fact, as watching him fall in love with her all unknowingly, and her falling in love with him with barely greater knowledge.

As much as I love each character separately, I love them as a couple even more. I don’t know if there’s an actual age difference between them, but Enrique’s bouncing youthfulness combined with Dok-mi’s decidedly womanly dignity is a truly gorgeous dynamic. (Guys, he calls her AhjummaAhjumma!) And it’s not just his relationship with Dok-mi that is heart-warming: his relationship with Jin-rak is also a huge highlight of the drama.

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Oh Jin-rak (Kim Ji-hun)

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Oh Jin-rak. Some of the best comic moments in this drama come from Oh Jin-rak. He’s been in love with Go Dok-mi ever since he first saw her at their shared apartment building.

Remember I said that I didn’t get 2nd Lead Syndrome with this drama? I didn’t, but that’s not because Oh Jin-rak, the 2nd boy of Flower Boys Next Door, wasn’t an awesome character.

He totally was.

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For starters, he’s a writer. How could I not love him? Not only was he a writer, but the very nature of this drama (wherein Jin-rak is part of a team who write a webtoon based on their life) means that the fourth wall is constantly being broached in the most delicate and delicious manner. Jin-rak is the source of most of this assault on the fourth wall–the rest coming from the Editor–and he is one of the most self-aware characters I’ve had the joy of watching. Plus, he’s a Facilitator, and if you’ve read my posts on KDrama, you know how much I love Facilitators.

Despite that, I was very happy to see him not end up with the girl. (Oh, yeah, SPOILERS).

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A big joy for me in the character of Jin-rak was how much we got to see of his personal growth and shenanigans. This was followed closely by the joy in the relationships grown between him and Enrique, and the even sweeter seonbae/hubae, hyung/dongsang relationship between him and Oh Dong-hoon. It’s so rare for a western show to focus on brotherly love that it was a constant refreshment.

Oh Dong-hoon (Go Kyung-pyo)

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This kid is another actor I’ve loved in everything I’ve seen him in. As Oh Dong-hoon, he plays an impoverished kid who is bunking with Jin-rak while co-writing a webtoon with him. Their hyung/dongsang relationship is sweet and hilarious to watch, and it’s not Jin-rak alone who grows over the course of the drama.

Even sweeter is the budding (yet entirely practical) romance between Dong-hoon and the Editor. I loved seeing those two together.

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Editor (Kim Seul-Gi)

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I’m quickly gaining new favourite actors, because Kim Seul-Gi is sheerly hilarious. All the quiet incursions of the fourth wall that Jin-rak isn’t responsible for, the Editor is, and as I’ve said before, her relationship with Dong-hoon is just perfect.

The Editor is (obviously) the editor of Jin-rak and Dong-hoon’s webtoon. She gets four hours of sleep per night, and therefore spends the remainder of her time with the cutest panda eyes I’ve seen, and a raging case of bipolar disorder that is even cuter than her panda eyes.

OBVIOUSLY she’s a favourite character.

Cha Do-Hwi (Park Soo-jin)

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Blurk. Cha Do-Hwi is your requisite bad guy gal who used to be a friend of Dok-mi’s in school, and then both betrayed and bullied her to the point of suicide because Cha Do-Hwi fell in love with the teacher who seemed to be falling in love with Dok-mi.

My biggest fear was that Jin-rak would fall in love with her, because I really hated her.

She’s unpleasant and highly toxic, and never actually gets to the point of admitting total fault. What I like about this character is, that although you never see her change, exactly–well, you never see her change. And that was oddly satisfying. Because although Dok-mi was able to grow beyond her boundaries, by the end of the drama you could see that Cha Do-Hwi would never change, and that, to my justice-loving mind, was punishment enough.

Also, I hated her clothes.

Watanabe (Mizuta Kouki)

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This kid was basically there to look pretty and be a plot device, though he was a pleasant one and rounded out the group nicely. Watanabe is a Japanese boy who is cooking his way around the world. There’s not too much to say about him, but he fit in with the whole drama beautifully, and he’s a constant thread through it.

The Plot

Well, I’ve already really told you most of the important stuff. There’s other stuff going on, of course: the residents picketing their apartment for better terms, the mystery of who really owns the apartment building, the packing up and leaving of Dok-mi’s one-sided love from the apartment across the road, Enrique’s first love– not to mention a totally sweet, budding romance between one of the older, female residents of the apartment building and the elderly security guard.

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Then there are the mobster-looking types who are following Jin-rak around, and the scurrilous goings on within Enrique’s gaming fandom…

The Writing–oh my goodness, the WRITING!

I don’t remember the last time I actually squealed in glee while watching a movie or tv show. With Flower Boys Next Door, I was doing it constantly.

The metaphors, guys! The subtle, beautiful metaphors, in both dialogue and situation.

The constant, delicate encroachments upon the fourth wall.

The downright lovely, delightful characters!

I’m actually so overcome with how amazing the writing is that I have almost no words to describe it, and after watching Flower Boys Next Door I just sat in my chair saying to Mr.G: “I will never be able to write like that!”

I loved the comedy. I loved the way they played with viewer expectations, and the way they subverted those expectations.  Oh my goodness, I LOVED how they directed and obscured the narrative, and then tore the rug out from under my feet in the most hilarious and heartwarming ways!

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You’ll see what I mean when you get to this part. And then, like me, you will laugh until you cry at what they’ve done with your expectations.

*Breathe, WR, Breathe*

Okay, you can probably tell I loved this one to bits (it’s one of my top 4 KDramas that I can rewatch over and over again) so go out and watch it already before this blog post runs beyond its already ridiculous word count as I try to convince you.

The best part? I get to watch it over and over, and it’s STUDY, GUYS, because I’m learning Korean.

 

 

 

A Random Win! Stuff! Post

Okay, so a couple of cool giveaways have appeared on my interweb radar lately (well, one appeared, the other one is one I’m actually PART of) that I want to share. There’s one for Readers, and one for Writers. Yay! Something for everyone!

For Readers:

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You can win paperbacks from yours truly (MASQUE & SPINDLE), Michael Miller (THE DRAGON’S BLADE), and Debbie Cassidy (FOREST OF DEMONS & HAWTHORNE).

For Writers:

Win  $3000 worth of Pro Book Services with Reedsy. It’s relatively painless to enter, and you can bet I entered this one licketty split (as my old friend Brer Rabbit always says). Seriously, the chance of winning editing services? Fantastic.

That’s all for now, folks! I’m off to continue writing Chapter 8 of BatEoY…

Happy reading!

ICYMI: Bright as the Eyes of You is on Wattpad!

imageJust a quick note for those of you who may not have seen that my new WiP, BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU, is now up on Wattpad! I have news for you: it is! Only the first 6 chapters so far, but it’s being updated every week on Monday (Australian Monday, FYI) as each new chapter is finished.

It’s a Korean-based fantasy romance, in which I’m having fun with tropes, random Korean words, and crazy characters.

Come along and check it out, and let me know what you think!

If you’ve already been reading BatEoY but aren’t current on chapters, here are the links to each chapter:

ONE: I See All Kinds of Sorrow

TWO: Chase the Moon and Sun

THREE: Staring Down Through Faces

FOUR: Her Feet Don’t Touch the Ground

FIVE: All of Your Playthings

SIX: A Book that Tells About Everybody’s Past

SEVEN: ***Coming next Monday!!**