A Belated ‘Merry Christmas’ and an early ‘Happy New Year’!

MerryChristmasandaHappyNewYear, guys! Today’s blog post will be a post in three acts, courtesy of my insanely rushed-and-jumbled Christmas season.

Part One: Merry Christmas!

And if you’re Jewish, Happy Hanukkah! For anything else, I offer a blanket “Happy Holidays!” in my ignorance, with my good wishes.

This year was a pretty quiet Christmas, low key and enjoyable. Cheesecakes were made. Food was scoffed. Presents were given. Little sis’ fiance has been visiting, which is lovely, and although the part-time job was more than usually insane, I was able to recuperate with three days off.

The Dad, modelling his new bow tie, spots a camera.

Best of all, I managed to get a couple of reasonably decent pics of The Dad, which is nearly impossible given his penchant for pulling faces and weird poses whenever a camera appears.

Literally one second after the camera is spotted…

Part Two: Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Orright, orright, I know it’s early, but I want to discuss New Year’s resolutions. More specifically, I want to discuss my New Year’s resolutions.

I’ve not been as prolific toward the end of 2016 as I was hoping to be. There were a range of different reasons, some of which I’ll discuss in my next blog post, but the upshot of it all is that:

1) the publication date for BLACKFOOT (the 2nd Two Monarchies Novel) has been pushed to late February 2017 instead of December 2016 (bright side–got a blurb sorta finalised!)

2) the publication date for BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU has been pushed from early January 2017 to (hopefully) late January 2017

3) early 2017 is gonna be a VERY busy time for me

My New Year’s resolutions, therefore, are as follows:

1) publish BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU no later than early February

2) finish BLACKFOOT by mid-January and publish it late February

3) publish the COMPLETE SHARDS OF A BROKEN SWORD TRILOGY in paperback and ebook January 31st

4) write the 2nd TIME-TRAVELLER’S BEST FRIEND novella in February

5) get started on the 3rd Two Monarchies novel in March

6) write, write, write…

There’s more, but they get kinda repetitive after a while, so I’ll let #6 stand in for the rest of ’em.

Part Three: The Search for a New Title

I’ve loved writing BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU. Getting it ready for publication…not so much. Reason being, when I first used excerpts from The Monkees songs as chapter headings, I had no idea I’d have to seek licensing to use said excerpts. I thought that a couple words from a song didn’t fall under copyright laws.

I was wrong.

It took ages to find the holders of the copyright. It took even longer to send off requests and wait for the answers.

And when the answers came back, they weren’t good.

I could use the excerpts (3-7 words each), but I would have to pay $1500 AUD for the privilege.

Not $1500 in total, you understand. $1500 FOR. EACH. EXCERPT.

Yeah, I’m starting to earn half a living at my writing, but I can’t afford that.

And now I’m really scared to hear back about the licensing rights for my title. Because *coff*I was dumb enough to make the title of my book an excerpt from a Monkees song as well*coff* I have no idea if I’m going to be able to afford to use BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU as a title after all. Which means I’m now looking for alternative titles, because even if I can afford to use the title, I don’t want to wait forever to hear back. Song licensing, like trade publishing, tends to move at a somewhat glacial pace. If I don’t hear back by mid-January, I’ll go ahead with an alternate title.

So basically, throw some titles my way, guys. If you’ve read BATEOY on Wattpad and know something of what it’s about, give me your best shot. Help an author out!

W.R. on the Air-Waves!

Current Frame of Mind: alternately terrified and excited.

Why, you ask?

Because I’m having my first radio interview as an Author, tomorrow. Now, I’ve been on the radio before: I was a School-of-the-Air kid for a few years, after all, and we visited the base station a time or two. I find that I’m significantly more nervous about this particular interview, however.

Sedate, authorly me

Part of this is because I’m not particularly fond of communicating aloud now that I write more than ever. I never quite know what to say, especially if I’m talking to someone I’ve never met, in a place I’ve never before been. The rest of it is because I sound like a little boy when I’m on the phone or radio, so there’s that.

Despite that, I’m still reasonably excited. Well, it’s not every day I get the chance to be on a local radio station to talk about myself and my books, after all. I ran around madly this morning, making sure that the places that stock my paperbacks had a supply at hand–yanno, just in case people hear me and immediately go dashing out to find my amazing books for their precious loved ones–and now that I’m on lunch at work, it’s time to write down some Things To Say.

Terrified, authorly me (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo face)

I knew about this interview roughly a month ago, by the way. And yes, today is the first day I’ve actually sat down to write down some thoughts on what I’m going to talk about if asked. I may or may not have mentioned my superpower of procrastination before…

But it can’t be that bad, right?? Right??

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!

Exhaustion and the Writer

You know how it is.

You lost your job. Your job is incredibly stressful. Maybe you’ve got a chronic illness. Perhaps you’ve had extra hours at work, or could it be that you’ve simply spent all night watching K-Drama and can no longer function normally?

You’re exhausted. Whether that exhaustion is physical or mental, it’s something that makes it incredibly difficult to work on your writing. So what do you do?

Well, if you’re anything like me, you sink into a well of despair, self-loathing, and binge-tv-watching, out of which it is incredibly difficult to drag yourself. When it feels like your head is going to explode, or you’re exhausted to the point that you can’t do anything but sit in the recliner without moving, it’s an easy fix.

Easy, yes.

Helpful? Not so much.

Here’s the thing with writers.

We have to write every day. Some of us write more, and some of us write less; and honestly, it doesn’t really matter what your word count is, whether it’s 50 words a day, or 5000. We just have to write every day. And when I say ‘have to’ write every day, I really mean ‘should write’, or ‘need to write’ every day. It’s not all about habit, though habit is a good thing to get into. And it’s not all about word count, though that’s important, too.

So what is the point, Frixos?*

The point of writing every day is to keep your WiP fresh. It doesn’t matter if you only write 50 words per day, and though it’s great if you write 5000 words, it’s not necessarily more meaningful. Because even 50 words per day is going to keep your WiP fresh in your imagination. It will keep your storyline present in your mind, and it will keep your subconscious ruminating on and building on the WiP. You’ll find it easier to slip into your narrative each day, and you’ll notice that the flow of the story is much smoother. In short, it will make you a better writer: it’s a bit like practising your instrument every day.

What does this have to do with exhaustion?

Simple. When you’re exhausted, it’s hard to find the energy to write. There’s always the suffocating feeling that you should be doing more: more words per day, more writing time per day. You get caught up with the idea that you’ll never feel any better. But sometimes it’s simply a matter of writing 50 words. You don’t have to break the bank. You don’t have to write 5000 words, even if that’s your normal words per day count. It’s okay to take it easy when you’re sick or exhausted. Just don’t give up altogether: a tiny word count each day is enough to keep your WiP going, and it’s incredibly important to keep it going.

And, yanno, have a cuppa. Take it from me, a cup of tea is the best remedy for exhaustion that I know of.

I know quite a few of my writerly friends suffer from chronic illnesses/have full-on day jobs/multiple kids/etc: what tips do you have for dealing with exhaustion?

*watch Princess Caraboo if you want to know what I’m referencing. Seriously. Watch it.

SPINDLE Fan Art for Your Delectation

Hey guys! Sorry-pardon for the sad lack of blog posts this week: I’ve been ‘orribly sick and I’m only just starting to feel better. On the bright side, I’ve still been writing BATEOY and BLACKFOOT. On the less-than-bright side, I’ve been too exhausted to do any other kind of writing–or much else, actually.

I was fortunate to receive a lovely email early on in the week: someone who had read and enjoyed my books was making fan art for Spindle, and wanted to know the colour of Poly’s eyes. This naturally cheered me up quite a bit, and since I found the art that Karisa sent me thereafter to be both adorable and cute, I thought I’d share it with you. You can see more of Karisa’s work at her DeviantArt page (though she tells me she doesn’t update it terribly often 🙂 )

A headshot of Poly. So adorable! And it even has the feather and beads in her hair!

A headshot of Poly. So adorable! And it even has the feather and beads in her hair!

Poly Concept Doodle! I love how alive the hair looks :)

Poly Concept Doodle! I love how alive the hair looks 🙂

I’ll be back next week with a proper blog post and another chapter of BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU on Wattpad 🙂 See you all then!

Strings, Bows, and New Books

June has been an odd month, so far. I’ve been feeling like I’m drifting aimlessly, which is more or less normal procedure after a book release, but it doesn’t make the feeling any more comfortable. What I’m meant to do during and after a new book release, of course, is write the next book; but I find that I’m rarely in a cohesive enough frame of mind to concentrate properly on the next book while the new book is in the process of being published. That means that I’m usually scattered, undisciplined, and inclined to waffle for both the duration and about a week after launch day.

Today, I’m happy to announce, I seem to be back to form. The last couple days have seen anywhere from 500-1500 words consistently written, which means that the new book is settling in well–or, to be more accurate, the new books.

That’s right. I’m obviously mad. This time, I have two strings to my bow. And by that I mean that I’m writing two books at once.

One of the WiPs is the next book in the Two Monarchies Sequence, BLACKFOOT. Carrying on almost directly after the end of SPINDLEBLACKFOOT concentrates on the adventures of a young girl called Annabel, her friend Peter, and Annabel’s cat Blackfoot–along with a parliament of cats, sneakily growing ruins, and a certain staff that supposedly vanished years ago. Some previously-met characters will be appearing again *coff*PolyandLuck*coff* and many questions will be answered. I don’t want to say too much because spoilers, Sweetie, and I haven’t finalised the blurb, but I’m really looking forward to this one.

The other WiP is a romance. That’s right. An actual romance. Well, it’s in an Edwardian/Korean style setting, with distinct fantasy elements to it, but it’s my first fully romance novel. I usually do Fantasy With A Smidge Of Romance or SciFi With A Smidge Of Romance. With BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU, the focus will be on the romance. I’m planning on publishing a chapter every couple of weeks on Wattpad as soon as I have a cover to upload. I’m hoping to get feedback from native Korean speakers (and romance readers, if it comes to that) since BATEOY is a bit different from my usual kind of book. Below is a rough blurb for your information. I’m having a lot of fun with this one, and since I have THE WHOLE MONTH OF JULY OFF FROM WORK, I’m hoping to finish the first draft of both books reasonably quickly.

BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU: Confined to her couch because of an inability to walk, Clovis Sohn spends her days and nights dreaming, drifting further away from the reality closest to her with each passing day. But Clovis’s dreams are also real, showing her the outside world and people that she otherwise has no access to. As Clovis dreams and watches, she becomes caught up in the complicated love life of publishing assistant Ae-jung, an ordinary young woman who has three very different men in love with her.

There is Clovis’ mischievous half-brother Jessamy, arrogant writer Hyun-jun, and bored, playful composer Yong-hwa. Ae-jung is mistress of many secrets, not the least of which is her love for Hyun-jun, and neither Jessamy, with all his delightful humour, nor Yong-hwa, with his fondness for games and subtlety, can succeed.

Jessamy is young enough to love again, and Hyun-jun is just beginning to learn to love, but it is playful Yong-hwa that Clovis connects with. Ae-jung’s rejection of him has hit as hard as his unexpected love for her did; and Clovis, who has always thrown her bread to the wounded bird over the healthy, decides that Yong-hwa needs another game to bring him back to himself.

And in the end, perhaps it will take Yong-hwa to bring Clovis back to herself.

In addition to all this, I’m learning Korean and Hangul, and enjoying every moment of it! Hangul is like decoding and deciphering all at once, and as someone who practised to be a spy as a kid, I’ve taken to it like a duck to water, proving that some people don’t grow up, they simply grow older.

What are you guys up to? What are you writing? Reading?

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.)

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.”