Hooray! I have a finalised cover for the complete SHARDS OF A BROKEN SWORD Trilogy! (Ain’t it purty??)
Hey guys! just a quick shout-out for a 99c sale that’s happening right now. I’m in it (of course) with Wolfskin, so if you haven’t yet purchased Wolfskin, now is a great time.
All of the books on this page have a little blurbity thing, so you won’t need to do too much clicking. They also have ratings, which I LOVE.
Fly, my pretties, fly! (aka, click on the pic below to get to the sale…)
So, as I may have mentioned, I had my first in-person Author Interview on the radio just a few days ago. I was terrified–a wild author in captivity, so to speak–and for the ten minutes that I had to wait before my interview, I greatly regretted that I’d ever agreed to do it.
Fortunately for me, I was interviewed by the amazing Rod Gray, who not only has one of the classic Radio Voices, but was incredibly easy to chat with. He was a great host, too, and he made the whole process easy. Not only that, he made it a lot of fun.
We discussed quite a few things in the 14 minute interview: from the perennial question of ‘where do your ideas come from?’ to POD and self-publishing; then from upturning tropes to Stephen Sondeim’s ‘Into the Woods’…
For those of you who couldn’t listen on the day, here’s an audio clip of the interview. ‘Scuse my broad Aussie accent–and just be grateful that I seem to have grown out of the phase where I sound like a little boy over the radio… (I certainly am grateful!)
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Just 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:
SEVEN: ***Coming next Monday!!**
Being the cheap sort of person I am, I looked around at all the options and said something along the lines of “Flamin’ heck, I can’t afford that!”
Fortunately for me, I stumbled upon a website that was offering Korean lessons for free. More, they were good lessons, starting with building blocks of grammar and sensible advice. Lessons taught in a way that made a lot of sense to me. Printable PDFs and workbooks to go along with ’em.
Because I had the whole month off, it was easy to slip into a good study regime of a couple hours per day. Between writing out flash cards, making copious notes, and watching a truly massive amount of Korean T.V., I began to get a reasonable grasp on the basics of Korean.
The only thing that was lacking, as far as I was concerned, was the opportunity of conversing aloud in Korean. Now, there are a lot of Korean itinerants and permanent citizens around where I live, but I couldn’t see myself walking up to any of them and saying: “안녕하세요! 너는 한국어를 말해요?” (Also, I’m not entirely sure I’ve got that right, so I wouldn’t say it anyway.)
It seemed important to begin speaking aloud (and giving someone who actually knows what the words should sound like the chance to laugh at my bad pronunciation) but no one was offering classroom or even personal lessons.
I hadn’t really told many people that I was studying, but I was unexpectedly visiting a friend I don’t often get to see, and mentioned it to her (along with some reccs for my favourite KDramas, of course). The next day, she sent me a text.
I read it and thought “Oh yeah, when I’ve studied enough, I’ll be confident to go to this and practise speaking aloud. I wonder when it starts?” Checked the date. Their first lesson was that night. Ah. But I was working that night and also desperately nervous.
Despite my desperate nervousness, it was a good opportunity, a free course, and it meant that if I could learn well enough, I’d be able to use my lessons in a ministry setting–aka, effectively using this for God.
So I plucked up my courage and asked my boss if I could have the afternoon off if I could get someone to take my shift. He, lovely boy that he is, said yes: which would have been well and good, if only someone would take it. Which they wouldn’t. So off I went to work, very despondent at missing my first Korean lesson–only to be called to the service desk an hour into my shift. The 2IC (another lovely boy) had seen my fervent–aka whingey–plea on the work group chat, and had arranged for someone to finish my shift so that I could get off in time to make it to the first lesson.
And just like that, I was off to my first classroom Korean lesson (during which I was too nervous and off-balance and mumbly to actually do much talking, but that’s a problem for another day…)
I’ve been learning Korean for about a month and a half now. Want to know what I’ve learned in that time?
1. English is mad and bad and dangerous to know. Seriously, English is one crazy, mixed up, impossible language. Anyone learning English from another language is a flamin’ genius. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated how clever you have to be to go from another language to English, where the rules are always changing, there are always exceptions to those rules, and even the speakers thereof have frequent arguments about who is right or wrong when it comes to the application of those rules. In my time studying Korean, I have gained a huge respect for those whose second language is English, no matter how broken.
2. Learning to speak another language is an insanely humbling thing to do. I don’t know if it’s everyone, or if it’s particularly writers, who have such a grasp on words as a way of life, or just particularly me, having prided myself for so many years upon my vocabulary, but having to leave all that behind and start new is very hard. Instead of having the world at the tip of your tongue, instead of being sure of your expertise in that one thing, you’re flailing wildly for the smallest scrap of understanding and comprehension. More, you know that to others, you will appear exactly as you’ve often thought of newcomers to the English language: foreign, hard to understand, and slightly embarrassing to be around. People will talk to you like you’re a baby, and you will feel like a kid playing dress-up in clothes that aren’t yours and really don’t fit very well. You’ll feel like a fraud. And if you’re anything like me, you will find it painfully hard to open your mouth and force yourself to speak in a language that you feel you’re a pretender to. It’s another thing that has given me a huge respect for people who learn English as a second language. They must have felt like that all along, and I never knew.
3. Korean grammar cheats, too. Seriously, I love this language. From what I’ve read, the Hangul form of Korean was formed when one of their leaders decided that they should have their own written system distinct from Japanese/Chinese/etc. and made it up. Just, yanno, made it up.
They formed rules about how the syllables should work, too (aka, each syllable is always formed in the consonant/vowel, consonant/vowel/consonant, or consonant/vowel/consonant/consonant format). The first letter of a syllable is always a consonant. Except, yanno, when one of those pesky words doesn’t actually start with a consonant. So then you have to work out a ‘null’ symbol so that the rules can stay true. And I won’t even go into the complicated usage of particles, because I’m already going overboard with the length of this post. Suffice it to say that Hangul is the kind of written language I probably would have come up with, quirky fixes and all.
4. The versatility of the English language. I didn’t really realise it until I began learning Korean, but the English language is so versatile. You can form sentences in so many different ways, with the words in so many different places, and still get your meaning across in the way you want to get it across. It could be because I’m still such a beginner in Korean, but so far I’ve found it incredibly restrictive: there seems to be only one way of saying things, and one way of writing them. That isn’t a problem, per se: just as when I learned about structure in poetry (thanks, Harriet!), the prohibitive structure of it doesn’t mean beauty is impossible. It simply means working within the rules to make the beauty, and that, ultimately, is a test of how good a writer you are.
5. Oh yeah, and I also learned stuff like Korean sentence structure, Korean grammar, random useful words and particles, and various rules that make Korean work. I’ve gained enough comprehension to be able to understand about 30 percent of a KDrama with the subbies off, and can speak and write in simple–very simple–sentences. I also know how to say “Wanna die”, “What the heck”, and “Awesome”, along with other slightly slangy things.
6. The insanely long words. Dudes. Korean words can be so long! This is frustrating for me because I’m still sounding things out while running my finger along the bottom of the word like a little kid. I get to the end of the word at last, and I’ve forgotten how the whole thing fits together.
All in all, just as with my writing, there are moments when I have the depressed feeling that I’ll never be able to do it, and that I’ll have to give up in ignominy. Fortunately, those moments are balanced out by the flying feeling that I get every so often when I learn some new bit that connects several other bits together and makes a wonderful big whole of comprehension in my mind. Those are the moments I love, because I know that, just like my dream of being an author, it’s a dream that is achievable for me.