Assassins Of The Dead 2: Dragon Touched

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.

Celebrating Four Years

I’m coming up to that time of year when I celebrate another year since my first four stories were released on Amazon. It hardly seems possible so much time has passed. As usual, it has been a busy year and I’m looking forward to the coming year and seeing what it will bring.

During the past year I released three short stories, two novellas, seven novels and one nonfiction book, totalling 496,448 words. Which surprisingly was 81,188 words more than last year. There won’t be quite so many books coming out next year as I plan to work on some lengthier projects, including one that involves a lot of research. I do like to make sure things are as accurate as possible, even in fantasy. But don’t worry, there will of course be a book released in each of my series.

I have been busy working on next year’s books and wrapping up the last few for this year, as well as preparing for Supanova, Brisbane. I am also doing National Novel Writing Month in November, but luckily my writing style means there’s no prep needed for that. Which is good since everything else is keeping me busy. So if you are in Brisbane, Australia from the 10th November to 12th November why not visit me at Supanova? Not only will I have some of the things created from Rosie’s Rangers, but there will also be a display from Assassins Of The Dead.

I attended some great events this past year, including Romancing the Stars, Voices on the Coast and Story Arts Ipswich. I also met some amazing people, caught up with many of the wonderful friends I’ve made over the years and had the chance to talk to some of my readers in person. I’m grateful to all those who’ve helped including, but not limited to, my editors, graphic designer, industrial artist, family and most of all my readers. Without you, all of this wouldn’t be possible.

Recipe Book: Cooking For Families With Allergies

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.

Characters

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.

Character: No.

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?

An Endless Dawn

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.

Train Adventures

During primary school we took a long journey on a train. My mum, two younger siblings and myself. There were so many things about it I found fascinating. We were in a sleeper carriage and the bunk was like a different world. A place to not only curl up with a book, but to catch glimpses through the window of the scenery outside. There were stretches of open land, not a house in sight, towns filled with people, railway sidings that if you had blinked you might have missed them. I thought of ways to describe the places we travelled through, wondered about who might have lived there or what was in the area. I also wondered about where we were headed, but was mostly fascinated by where we currently were.

Of an evening, as I fell asleep, the sound of the train travelling across the track made a unique sound. It was mostly a rhythmic lullaby, reminding me I was going somewhere, even as I slept, my dreams filled with equally fascinating adventures.

There were times when the sleeper felt cramped, especially with my younger siblings cooped up inside the cabin too. The corridor outside the sleeper was also an interesting spot. Large windows to the passing world, strangers on their own journeys and two directions leading to other carriages. I would have loved to explore the entire train, but sadly that wasn’t possible. But there was more than enough to keep me interested in the sections where I was allowed and of course I had books with me. When you love to read there is always something to do.

When we arrived at our destination, there was yet more to see. The station was crowded. There were numerous people, a mixture of noises, bright lights and lots of colour. So much to see, so many things to feed my imagination and fuel more ideas for stories.

It’s memories like this that I draw on when writing. Using them to add a touch of realism to even my fantasy novels. The wonder of going to new places, discovering interesting things and meeting fascinating people. I still enjoy travelling. Going to out of the way places and often taking random directions because they look or sound interesting. Not only do I enjoy travelling myself, but I also love to hear about other people’s journeys too. They can be as fascinating as experiencing my own travels.

Dragon Blood Chronicles 1: Oath

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.

 

Reading And Writing

I often have people ask if I read. I couldn’t imagine not reading. I’ve read most of my life and before I was able to read, I pestered other people to read to me. Sadly no one wanted to read to me all day, every day. Which is probably part of the reason I learned to read so young.

Other writers ask if I’m worried I might begin to imitate other authors if I read their work. There’s an easy solution to that. Read more books choosing a variety of authors. The perfect excuse to read more. But seriously, as an author you eventually develop your own style. It will change and evolve over the years, but there will always be something distinctly unique about it. Something that makes your style different to that of other authors.

As an author, reading is important, not only for enjoyment, but to continually learn and improve. So much can be gained from reading good books. For anyone who is interested in writing, you can learn many writing techniques by looking at how an author has written a novel. Seeing the different techniques in use. But best of all, it’s a fun pastime.

Princess Ilse, The Giant’s Daughter

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.

Working With An Artist

Sometimes it can be difficult working with an artist when you have no ability to draw and you want them to see exactly what you can see in your mind. It entails phrases such as ‘it’s like this, but not exactly’ and ‘a bit like a mix of all these pictures together’ and ‘if you took this bit of that image and a piece of that image and this section of the other image you might be close to what it looks like’.

These highly descriptive comments often lead to a rather cranky looking artist saying, “Draw it.”

“But I can’t draw,” I explain for probably the fiftieth time.

The artist holds out a piece of paper and pencil. “Draw what you want made.”

I reluctantly take the paper and attempt to draw something vaguely like what I have been trying to explain. Handing the artist the piece of paper, I say, “It looks like this. Kind of.”

The artist turns the paper in various directions, frowning. “What’s this?”

“My drawing. I told you I can’t draw. Why don’t you draw it? You’re the artist.”

“I would if you told me what you want.” The artist hands the paper back.

“I’ll send you the description from my book.” Once I’ve done that, I return to the artist and wait until the description is read.

The artist looks up from the computer. “That’s not enough information.”

“I do need to leave some of the details up to reader’s imagination.”

“So I can make what I want.”

“No. It has to be like what I pictured.”

“I’ll make something and if you don’t like it, too bad.” The artist wanders off to the shed, muttering about authors and impossible tasks. There are often a few four letter words included. Well, maybe more than a few.

Days, weeks or months later, depending on the complexity of the task, I finally see the finished piece. “That’s exactly what I imagined. See, I did give you enough information after all.” Although for some reason the artist doesn’t seem overly impressed with my comment.