December

I know December can be a difficult time of year for some people. For me, it’s a time of family and sharing and giving to those in my life. There’s all the lovely food we prepare for our celebrations, but it’s far more than that. It’s sharing that food with people I love and care about. There are moments of sadness when I think of those who can’t be there with me, or of the ones I have lost. But there are also moments of looking back and thinking of the good times I’ve shared with those no longer with me and being grateful for how long I had them in my life. Even while wishing that time could have been longer.

Storm, Rhys and I have decided to share our joy of the holiday season with our readers and during December the first book of Guardians Of The Round Table will be reduced to 99c. May the coming month be a time of being with those you love and sharing moments you will be able to look back on in years to come. Moments that will make you smile.

You can find Guardians Of The Round Table 1: Dexterity Fail at the following retailers:

Amazon

Google Play

iTunes

Kobo

Barnes And Noble

Smashwords

Guardians Of The Round Table 3: Singed Feathers

The plot of Guardians Of The Round Table 3: Singed Feathers came from joking around at the table during a planning session for an earlier book.

Avril: We need shapeshifters for all the different animal races. You know, bear shapeshifters, chicken shapeshifters…

Rhys: Chicken shapeshifters? Chicken mage?

Storm: Chicken throws a fireball.

Avril: Okay. We need to have that.

Somehow, the ideas continued and we began talking about duck shapeshifters and the logistics of a chicken mage. It involved a lot of laughter and some crazy ideas that eventually became feasible and started to make sense.

Guardians Of The Round Table 3: Singed Feathers is now available. We hope you enjoy learning more about the world of Inadon and its people and following Mallory and her companion’s adventures.

Keys

I’ve always found keys interesting. The older and more unique the key, the better. Part of it is the thought of what the key might once have open. I’ve lost count of the number of keys I’ve found over the years in various secondhand shops and at garage sales, unable to resist buying some of them. Large, old keys that likely opened door locks, fancy keys that were possibly used for wooden trunks and tiny keys that might once have belonged to jewellery boxes.

I wonder at the stories attached to the keys, about the locks they once opened and the people who once owned them. Ideas trickle through my mind, some racing as the fantastical takes hold while others meander more quietly through with tales of large families and sturdy homes.

As always, I see stories in everything. Even in a simple key. More so in the not so simple ones.

Assassins Of The Dead 3: Society Against Vampires

Like the second book, ideas continued to form for the third book in the series while I tried to work on other manuscripts. I regularly found myself writing scenes in between working on other manuscripts. Vivid scenes that wouldn’t let me wait until later to write them. Or to at least write bits of them before returning to what I was currently working on.

When it was time to return to Assassins Of The Dead, the words flowed as I added in connecting scenes and filled out the ones I’d partially written. As well as deciphered the handful of cryptic notes I’d made as ideas occurred to me. Luckily, it didn’t take more than a word or two before the ideas returned and I didn’t have to worry about fully deciphering the notes or struggle to figure out exactly what the randomly jotted words meant.

Reaching the end of the book, ideas continued to form for the next book in the series and I found myself once again jotting down notes for when I returned to writing the series. There is a lot more to come for Meikah and the Assassins Of The Dead.

Book three is now available on Amazon and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Costumes

With Supanova fast approaching, we’ve been busy making some new costumes. There are so many things I enjoy about creating costumes. Choosing a style or character to base it on, designing the outfit, choosing material and fittings and of course seeing it all come together.

We’ve been researching medieval style garments, drawing up patterns and testing them and spending many hours in fabric shops being distracted by all the things we don’t really need, but might find useful for future projects.

We’ve finished a handful of items and have patterns created for others, but there are still many more to create. I’m looking forward to not only continuing to make the costumes, but wearing them at Supanova in November. On some of the days we’ll wear costumes from previous years, possibly with a few new items added to them, but there will also be a day or two that we’ll wear new costumes. As usual, there will be a group of us, dressed in our different outfits, with various displays as backdrops. And that is another thing I can’t wait to see. How the latest display turns out. Not long now and I’ll be able to see how it all comes together.

So if you’re in Brisbane this November, why not come along to Supanova. There’s no need to wear a costume, but if you do, I’d love to see what it is.

Dragon Blood Chronicles 2: Betrayed

Betrayed is a story that came to me while writing the Dragon Blood Series. It came about due to a comment made by one of the characters related to an event that occurred in the past. I wanted to write more about the results of that event, but before I could focus on the present time, I needed to write about what had already happened. I wanted to understand the characters involved and the events that had occurred. It was also an interesting story to write and some of the characters will appear in future books set in the Dragon Blood world. I also enjoyed exploring more of the dragons’ past and how some of them would have been effected when the pathways between some of the worlds were closed.

Dragon Blood Chronicles 2: Betrayed is now available and can be read either before the Dragon Blood series or after book five. The past does have an impact on the future and Ronan wasn’t the only dragon unhappy with decisions made in the past.

Sand And Cubbyhouses

My dad lived across from the beach, for a number of years, when I was growing up. It was great being able to walk out the front door, cross the road and be on the beach with its long stretch of golden sand. If you walked in one direction, you’d reach the mouth of the river that we sometimes swam in. Clear waters, gum trees edging the banks and a few boulders alongside it that were perfect for sitting on when you were drying off. If you walked in the other direction, you reached a creek that was muddy and good for catching prawns with a cast net. And of course, there was plenty of beachfront between them to swim, walk, have campfires and just hang out with friends.

One year my sister and I both decided we wanted cubbyhouses. And of course we each wanted our own. My sister wanted hers in the mango tree out the back and she was happy with a platform type of cubbyhouse that was open and accessible by a ladder. I guess I must have been the difficult child as I had other ideas. There was an old water tank stand out the side, basically four large, round posts with cross beams on top of them that looked like a tic-tac-toe grid from above.

My cubbyhouse needed a roof and walls since I wanted to be able to sleep in it. I also wanted it to be two storeys and have a verandah out the front where I could look across to the beach. And windows. I needed windows. I might have been a slightly demanding child at times, but at least I knew exactly what I wanted. I admit to being only slightly demanding though. And I was willing to help build it.

A roof was added to the water tank stand, high enough above the crossbeams that when ply was added to the crossbeams I was able to sit up on them without hitting my head on the roof. With some space to spare. The centre of the crossbeams was left open. When walls were added, leaving a section of the ply covered crossbeams outside the walls for the verandah, the upstairs floor of the cubbyhouse created a ‘U’ shape.

Looking out the front door.

I also got the windows I wanted. An old canvas tent was cut up to make the walls, cut in a way that the windows of the tent ended up in the right places for the cubbyhouse. It was perfect. I could sleep upstairs, sit out on my verandah that overlooked the beach and have various odds and ends downstairs. I used it for a lot of years. Having sleepovers in it with friends, lying down upstairs listening to the rain on the tin roof as I read and sitting on the verandah talking with friends. Sadly I have no photos of the cubbyhouse, but since it was at the side of the house, I had the same view as what could be seen from the front door. The road, some gum trees, the beach and the ocean, islands in the distance. It was a good view and an even greater cubbyhouse.

Guardians Of The Round Table 2: Goblin Boots

We are continuing to have a lot of fun working on the Guardians Of The Round Table series. At odd moments of the day and night and at various locations we find ourselves coming up with ideas for future stories, worldbuilding aspects and other characters. Including when we’re out shopping. There have been times when we receive strange looks from other people in shopping centres when one of us turns to the other to make comments like cursed king, using the blood of sacrificed animals to draw the face on poppets and how many followers do you think a demon would need to become a divine demon? I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised when other shoppers give us a wide berth and hurry away as fast as they can. When an idea occurs, sometimes it needs to be discussed.

Most of our planning though is done around the kitchen table with maps spread out in front of us, string, a ruler, a calculator, a handful of dice, pens and pencils, notepaper, a laptop and of course snack food. A planning session could take anywhere from an hour to several, but the one thing they all seem to have in common is plenty of laughter. One of us will come up with an idea then another will add to it. Sometimes the one who originally came up with the idea will extend on it, sometimes it will be the one who hasn’t yet added anything to it. Either way, we all share our ideas, make suggestions and talk about how the characters would react and what they would say in each situation we throw them into.

During our last planning session, who jokingly commented on how many books there might be in the series. Let’s just say, there are plenty more adventures to come. And we’re looking forward to writing them.

Guardians Of The Round Table 2: Goblin Boots is now available through various retailers.

Other Realities

When writing, even though I can focus on my surroundings, I often become totally immersed in the story as well. Which means I can be walking on my treadmill and conscious of my surroundings while clearly able to see the characters and their surroundings. Like a movie overlaid on reality. Or being in two realities at once. Which sometimes leads to a bit of confusion when people ask me what day or month it is. There’s always the chance I’ll give the day or month of the story if I’m writing a contemporary novel. Part of that is probably due to the fact I don’t keep track of days in real life as well as I keep track of them in my stories. I do realise the mistake and correct myself immediately, but it can lead to some entertaining moments.

The ability to write while doing other things, including using a voice to text program has meant that I have far more first drafts written than I have published. It takes a lot more time to edit, as well as the cost of having them edited, than it does for me to write a first draft. There are also the stories I’ve written for fun, in between my other projects since somehow when I take a break from writing, I end up writing something else. But to me, it does feel like taking a break as I’m visiting and discovering other locations.

I love the fact I can immerse myself in other worlds, not only while writing, but also while reading the works of other authors. There are so many places and worlds I’ve visited through the words on the page or screen. I really enjoy having the ability to bring words to life in my mind as images that are as clear as the world around me. It means that every day can include a journey to another place, time or reality and be filled with new discoveries.

Satchel

While working on Guardians Of The Round Table 2: Goblin Boots, we realised that a character was adding a lot of items to a satchel and we had no idea if they’d all fit. So of course we needed to make one to find out for certain. And just in case you’d like to make one too, here are the details on how we made it.

Satchel Pattern

1cm seam allowance is included in the pattern. Sturdy material such as drill or light denim can be used.

Satchel strap: 11.5cm x 50cm (cut one on the fold, with the 11.5cm edge on the fold)

Satchel body: 30cm x 40cm (cut one on the fold, with the 30cm edge on the fold)

Satchel sides: 7cm x 29cm (cut two)

Satchel Instructions

Fold material in half and pin pattern pieces into place. Cut out. Make sure you don’t cut along the fold (shown at the top of the following image).

With the back of the material face up, fold over the edges of satchel strap and iron into place.

Fold the satchel strap in half, iron in place and pin. Sew around the edges.

Pin the satchel sides to the body of the satchel, making sure the outside of the material pieces are facing each other.

Pin the bottom of the satchel side to the body of the satchel, turning the material so the bottom edge lines up with the satchel material.

Turn the material so the second side can be pinned to the body of the satchel. It is important that the sides of the satchel both reach the same point on the body of the satchel. (When pinning the corners, the material of the body of the satchel will be rounded. This will be sorted during the sewing stage.)

Sew the sides to the body of the satchel, stopping 1cm from the top at the back of the satchel. Mark the location with a pin so you know how far to sew.

When you are 1cm from each corner, keep the needle in place, lift the foot and turn the material so you can sew along the next edge. Keep the material of the satchel body spread out at the corners so it doesn’t become bunched up or sewn to the wrong section.

Zigzag along the edges of the sides to prevent fraying. Don’t go past the 1cm point marked on the back of the satchel sides.

Hem the sides and front of the satchel. Fold at half a centimetre, then fold again. Iron and pin in place. Sew along the hem.

Hem the flap of the satchel, doing the sides first and the front edge last.

Pin each end of the strap to the top of the sides of the satchel with a 4cm overlap.

Fastenings such as buttons can be used to finish off the satchel, but they aren’t necessary.