The night I finished the first draft in the Assassins Of The Dead series, or more accurately early morning due to how late I finished it, I dreamt the opening scene of the second book and had to begin writing. It was difficult, but I managed to set it aside as I had another manuscripts that needed to be finished. But the story kept drawing me back. I made notes as ideas came to me, sometimes making notes about two possible directions the story might go in, before returning to the manuscript I was currently working on. I also couldn’t resist writing a scene or two when they were too vivid to ignore. Actually, I wrote more than a couple of scenes, unable to resist finding out where the scenes would take Meikah.
In between finishing first drafts of other manuscripts and working on edits as they came in, the words in Dragon Touched slowly grew until by the time I was actually ready to spend time on writing it, the first draft was half written. The second half of the first draft took me approximately ten days as I’d already waited too long to find out what was going to happen. I needed to know where Meikah’s journey would lead her. I do of course have a similar problem now I’ve finished the second book and the third is well on its way.
Assassins Of The Dead 2: Dragon Touched is now available on Amazon.
When my family had to go gluten free, due to one of us unable to have gluten in our diet, I didn’t think it would be that difficult. Between us we have quite a few allergies, including ones I’ve had my entire life, so I haven’t really known what it’s like to live without taking allergies into account. It’s normal for me.
My first action was to find a gluten free recipe book. At around fifteen years ago this wasn’t quite as simple as it is today. To say we were disappointed with what was available is an understatement. The first cake I made using the recipe book, I had purchased, could have doubled as a brick to build a house. I’ve been cooking since I was ten and hadn’t had such a cooking disaster since then, that even the dog wouldn’t eat what I’d made. Thinking I must have done something wrong, I carefully followed the recipe step by step, ending with the same results. I tried other recipes, all as terrible as the first. In the end, I threw out the book. Which was rather difficult for me to do, because it’s a book and I love books. All and any books. But there was no way I could give it away for someone else to go through the same trauma.
Making the decision to create my own gluten free recipes involved a lot of research. I focused on the science of cooking and food and the differences between gluten and gluten free foods. There was a lot to learn before I made my first attempts. I was so relieved they weren’t as bad as those I made from the recipe book I’d first bought. They weren’t perfect, were in fact a long way from perfect, but it was an improvement.
Over the years I worked on a variety of recipes, figuring out more as we needed them, one of my sons helping me. At times he came up with the idea for the next recipe, at other times it was me. Storm is also the one who is best at figuring out what a recipe needs to finish it off. The two of us have spent a lot of time cooking, sometimes making slight alterations to a recipe a dozen or more times before we were happy with it.
We plan to continue adding recipes to our book each year. None of the current recipes in the book will be changed and if we add a new variation, it will be listed as such. There’s nothing worse than having a recipe you’ve come to like changed on you. Each recipe has tips below it. Some will be about techniques related to making the recipe and others will be about personalising it to suit your tastes.
After many years of working on Cooking For Families With Allergies, it is finally available on Amazon and Google Play.
Sometimes, no matter what I do, a character will refuse to behave and do what I want them to do. It feels like they have taken on a life of their own. I know it’s because I’m trying to make them do something the character wouldn’t normally do, but the following is a little like what it feels like when characters become so well formed it seems like they have taken over a story.
Character: (folds arms across chest with a stubborn look) No.
Me: Who is the writer here? Now do as you’re told.
Me: Oh come on. Do this little thing for me. What can it matter?
Character: I’d never do anything like that.
Me: This is my story and that’s where I want it to go.
Character: Too bad.
Me: Please. Pretty please with cherries on top and sprinkles and chocolate and… hmm, I’m getting hungry. Are you hungry too?
Character: You won’t distract me that easily. The answer is still no.
Me: If this story doesn’t work it’s your fault.
Character: No it’s not. You need to write the story that suits me. Now stop trying to change me and write my story.
Me: (mutters under breath) Damn characters. Think they own the story. Always trying to tell me what to do.
Character: (with a slight smile) I do own this story. Isn’t it all about me?
Some stories are determined to be more than I originally think they’ll be. I expected An Endless Dawn to be a short story. It was a fairly straightforward story line. The first alien life form discovered and brought back to Earth was a plant. The focus was on a single character. It didn’t take me long to reach a point where I knew it could remain a short story and it would be an enjoyable read or it could become a novel. Something better and more complex than what I had originally imagined it to be. It took me a few weeks to decide if I wanted it to be more than the five to ten thousand word story it had started out as, but the new ideas intrigued me and I couldn’t resist following them. New characters joined the originally limited cast and other plots formed, taking Piper down paths that hadn’t been available to her before.
This also meant I needed to do more research and I once again delved into the world of science, figuring out what was and wasn’t possible in the many ideas that bombarded me. Occasionally I became lost in my research, finding fascinating bits of information both for this story and for future stories. Ones set in other worlds and with other characters that are in completely different situations.
After a rather small beginning, An Endless Dawn has grown beyond my expectations, taking Piper on a journey I hadn’t excepted her to go on. In some ways that is very much like life. Plans are frequently interrupted, changed or modified. Sometimes becoming better than what we expected.
An Endless Dawn is now available on Amazon. Longer and more complex than it’s humble beginnings indicated it would be.
My children kept telling me I would write more books in the Dragon Blood world, that I hadn’t finished with it. Well, apparently they were right, because I kept having ideas about some of the other characters, wanting to tell their stories too. I didn’t know which story I wanted to tell next, there were so many ideas I was drawn to so I continued with my other series and stand alone novels.
Then one day I walked into a shop with hand blown glass items and discovered glass pens that had nibs made of solid glass. I dipped the nib of a pen into a pot of ink and the words flowed across the page, the feeling of the pen surprisingly smooth. The opening scene of ‘Oath’ was soon written and Roy had a new neighbour. Claire was about to discover a whole new world, one filled with Knights, Mages, dragons, magic and the impossible. I couldn’t wait to see how she’d react and what she’d do.
For those of you who have enjoyed Amber’s story, and have asked for more books set in that world, I hope you enjoy ‘Oath’ the first book in a companion series that tells the stories of some of her friends.
Dragon Blood Chronicles 1: Oath is now available on Amazon.
I stumbled across a Norse myth, which after I researched it further, found there was a German one set in the same area. Both were equally fascinating and both were almost completely different apart from having the same main character. It was a difficult decision trying to decide which one to focus on and was pretty much chosen by the roll of the dice. And so I set aside the German tale and focused on the Norse one.
The Vikings travelled through many countries raiding and trading and bringing home not only the spoils they gained, but also stories and ideas from the cultures they came in contact with. I’ve done a lot of research on the culture previously, including reading many of their myths and legends, so I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the Vikings.
It was fascinating to see how two stories set in the same location and about the same character could be so different from each other. As always, I found myself asking numerous questions. Sadly, I’ll never know the true answers, but I can always do what storytellers have done throughout the ages. Make them up. Although that leads to the problem of which scenario I prefer the best, since there are so many different possibilities.
The Norse myth didn’t give all the names of the characters, like the German myth did, often giving only titles. Since the titles were similar, I chose to use the names given in the German myth due to the other similarities such as location, main character and titles of characters. In all else, I focused on the Norse myth when retelling the story of Princess Ilse.
Myths And Legends Retold: Princess Ilse, The Giant’s Daughter is now available on Amazon.
When I sat down to write the third book in my Rosie’s Rangers series I had a few vague ideas about where it was likely to go. Within minutes those ideas had been replaced with an image of Mila Bloodstriker, Asa’s cousin, turning up at Rosie’s farm.
The words began to flow and I struggled to keep up. Kidnappings, highwaymen, thieves, corrupt soldiers, illegal potions, blood shaman staves and plenty of adventure and danger came to mind. I often wrote late into the night and the early hours of the morning, missing out on sleep a few times because I needed to know what was going to happen next.
Some authors plot and plan their stories. I love to experience the story as I go, along for the ride with the characters, filling pages with words so I can follow the characters on their adventures. Some of those vague ideas I had at the start of ‘Treachery’ may go into a future Rosie’s Rangers novel, or they may not. But I’m looking forward to finding out exactly where Rosie is headed in future books and what her and her companions will do during their many coming adventures.
Rosie’s Rangers 3: Treachery is now available on Amazon.
While choosing what I wanted to write next, I decided to work on something new. I wanted to come up with a new idea rather than pick one of the many ideas I’ve made notes of over the years.
I needed to decide what I wanted the book to be about. Setting was my first thought and I do enjoy fantasy, particularly a medieval style fantasy world. That was sorted so next I needed to figure out if it would be real world, completely made up or an alternate reality. The ideas began to flow. I wanted magic in a world I had created. There needed to be warriors, assassins, vampires, ghosts and shifters. Within minutes I came up with the idea for a series. Numerous possibilities, storylines and characters instantly formed in my mind.
I couldn’t wait to get started and began immediately. In fact, I enjoyed writing the first book of Assassins Of The Dead so much that I began the second book in the series after I’d barely written the first.
Assassins Of The Dead 1: Dark Blade is now available on Amazon with the second book of the series well on the way to being finished.
I’ve always been fascinated by old buildings and often wonder at the many stories that have played out in them. The lives that have been lived within these walls, the ones that have passed through and the secrets they contain.
Looking at this image I see a car broken down on a lonely stretch of highway and a person who knows there is nothing for kilometres. Yet they can see a light in the distance and in desperation head towards it to find an imposing building that shouldn’t be there. When they enter, their footsteps echo in empty rooms, the feeble light from their torch showing very little, the batteries beginning to fail. They search for the staircase leading upwards, wanting to find the lit room, they saw from the highway, before the darkness closes in around them.
When they do find the room, what is waiting for them? Something demonic? Or something from another world that only slips through into this one at certain times of the year, trapping them a long way from home when it returns. Or a curse they are tricked into accepting, needing to pass it along to another innocent if they wish to be rid of it. So many possibilities. So many stories. And never enough time to write them all.
The initial idea I had for Cursed was the moment when Penelope meets Luca. So that’s where I started writing. When I finished the scene I knew it wasn’t the start of the story, that something came before it. I began to ask questions, trying to figure out what came first. I eventually figured it out, needing to add a few more details to the first scene I wrote so it fit in with the beginning.
I don’t always write in order. There are times when scenes are so vivid it’s necessary to write them so I can focus on the scenes that come before them. That happened quite a few times while writing Cursed. Many scenes were so vivid I could see every little detail, hear every single sound and knew what the characters could smell and feel. In some ways these scenes can be difficult to write as there are so many details to get down that my fingers can’t keep up with my thoughts as I type. And the voice to text program also struggles to keep up with my dictation when I rapidly speak all the words. As difficult as they are to write, it’s amazing being so immersed in a world that you feel like you might be there.
Demon Hunters 5: Cursed is now available on Amazon.