Traditions

When it comes to traditions, they can be good or bad, depending on the person experiencing them, and of course the type of tradition they are. But the good ones, I find, are important as they can create ties between people over generations, throughout the years and into the future. They evoke a sense of permanency, create memories to cherish and can be something to look forward to. Nor do traditions need to have been around forever. They can be something you choose to start and continue with over the years, creating a tradition amongst the people you care about.

One of my favourite traditions is one I started when my children were young. Many people do advent calendars throughout the month of December, but I didn’t like my children having chocolates or lollies to start off each day in the lead up to Christmas such as were in the commercial advent calendars. So I made little cloth bags in which to put small items that were hung on a board numbered with the days of the month. Each morning my children would open one of the cloth bags to discover what was inside.

I always have so much fun choosing items to put into the advent calendar bags, finding little gifts for each of them as we count down the days to Christmas. It’s a tradition I’ve continued over the years and one I look forward to each year. What are some of your favourite traditions that you look forward to each year?

Assassins Of The Dead 4: King’s Request

I had no sooner finished the third book in the Assassins Of The Dead series, when I was making notes for the fourth book. Which seems to be a habit when it comes to this series. When I finally had the time to start writing it, I regularly wrote over three thousand words a day and even as many as five thousand as the story flowed onto the page. At times it felt like King’s Request wrote itself, surprising me with the direction it took. New characters formed, more of past events for old characters made themselves known and I couldn’t wait to discover where Meikah would end up next. And what choices she’d make.

Although the first draft was quick to write, what did take time was naming a bookshop. It took me half an hour. But I wanted to get it right. For now, the shop has barely been mentioned and seems to be of little importance. But who knows where the story will lead and what might or might not become important. I certainly don’t know and I’m discovering everything as I go along, enjoying learning what Meikah will do next.

King’s Request is now available on Amazon. I hope you enjoy discovering where Meikah’s adventures take her this time.

Mazes

I’ve been fascinated by mazes since a child. The first time I discovered what they were was at a botanical garden and I wandered through the maze, unable to see over the hedges as I found my way through it, discovering hidden areas along the way. A section with interesting paving and another with a seat at a dead end. I spent hours exploring it and would have spent hours more if I’d been allowed to. I was able to revisit that particular maze as an adult and was extremely sad to find that the hedges were only tall enough for a child. Luckily, over the years I found other mazes, ones with hedges that were tall enough I could wander through them without seeing over the top.

There have also been the mazes I created. When my children were younger, I let the grass in the front paddock grow so it towered over my kids and was well past my waist. I then planned out a maze and used the ride-on mower to create the paths. After making sure there were no snakes hidden in the long grass, I showed my kids the maze and we spent hours running through it, our laughter ringing out in the late afternoon, shadows from the mountains deepening as we played.

There are some things in life that we remain fascinated by them no matter our age or the amount of years that have passed. I doubt I’ll ever lose my fascination with mazes. They encompass some of my favourite things. Puzzles, exploring and discovering. And it’s very rare I can bring myself to go past one. I always have to enter so I can wander the many paths and see what I can discover.

Plea Of The Damned 6: Forgive Me Dawson

When I finished writing the fifth book of the Plea Of The Damned series, I knew how book six would end. I could see the scene play out in my mind and wrote most of it then, having no idea how the characters would reach that moment.

It wasn’t until I sat down to write the beginning of the story I began to figure out how the characters reached that final scene. I wrote scene after scene, wanting to reach that moment when the two pieces could be joined. There were a few minor changes that needed to be made to the final scene and of course some details I didn’t know since I hadn’t written the proceeding scenes, but the majority of it remained the same. From the conversations to the actions, there was so much that didn’t need to be touched and that my editors also left as it was.

The Plea Of The Damned series has now reached its end and Jack’s story is done or, depending on how you wish to look at it, is just beginning. Plea Of The Damned 6: Forgive Me Dawson can be found at Amazon and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Flood

Occasionally I write short pieces, almost flash fiction in size. Not often though as ideas tend to flow and the story continues to grow. Here’s one of those smaller pieces, a small snapshot in time of a character with more than his fair share of responsibilities.

Dale hurried down the ladder from the loft he shared with his younger brother, drawn by the scent of freshly baked bread. The sound of rain was quieter in the kitchen as he helped himself to a slice of bread.

“You be careful out there.” His mother handed him a thick coat.

Dale shrugged into it, knowing it’d soon be soaked through. “I’ll bring the plough horse up to the house. We should have moved him yesterday, but I thought the rain was over.”

“We all did.”

Finishing the last of his food, Dale buttoned his coat before braving the pouring rain. Visibility was low and it was only that he’d been born and raised on this farm that he could find his way to the back paddock, head low as his eyes squinted through the rain. Stepping through the gate of the wooden fence he whistled, but the wind blew the sound back in his face along with the rain. When he called for the horse his words were also thrown back at him.

Walking forward, his boots sinking into mud, he scanned the paddock for the plough horse. He had to find him. Without him, they couldn’t plant their farm and have crops to sell at the market. Ever since his father had died he’d become the head of the house, trying to support the three of them. He had no idea what to do if he couldn’t find the horse.

A sound drew him onwards. He hurried towards the stream, each step a struggle. He heard it again, the frantic scream of a horse. Then he could see him, tangled in the branches of a tree caught in the swollen stream, which was now wide enough to be a river. The tree dragged at the horse and blood flowed from several gashes on the animal.

Dale plunged into the water. They needed the horse. Without him, they couldn’t survive. He tried to untangle the terrified creature. A log crashed into them, pushing them further into the stream. Dale grabbed at the mane, pulling the horse towards the bank, each step an effort.

Another log swept past, barely missing them and Dale stared at a man clinging to the log that turned and rolled in the churning water. The horse screamed and the man on the log went under.

Time seemed to stretch out, but it was only a few seconds. Dale’s cold fingers let go of the mane and he threw himself forward into the middle of the stream, swimming towards the man as he surfaced for a moment.

Dale reached the log, searching for the man, his fingers tangling in hair. He momentarily thought of the horse’s mane before he focused on rescuing the man. It seemed to take forever, but eventually they were stretched gasping on the bank, the rain still pouring.

“Thank you, how can I ever repay you?” The man held out his hand.

Dale took the offered hand. “Anyone would have done the same.” He paused to catch his breath. “Come back to the farmhouse. We’ll get warm and my mum can make us something hot to eat.”

They struggled to their feet and as they passed the part of the stream where the horse had once struggled, Dale felt his heart sink.

His heart was still sinking a month later as he hoed rows by hand, his brother following him with a basket of seeds. He stopped to run his arm across his forehead as his gaze travelled over the land still untouched. They’d be lucky to get a quarter of the paddock planted, and there’d be none for the market. Replacing the plough horse would be impossible.

Dale turned his head at his name being called. His mother frantically waved him over to the farmhouse. Beside her stood a stranger, a grey-haired man. Dale shared a look and a shrug with his brother before the two of them trudged to the farmhouse.

The man stepped forward, throwing his arms around Dale who froze, sending a questioning look to his beaming mother. “Ahh, sir?” He pulled away.

“Thank you. Thank you.” The man clapped him on the shoulder as his other hand drew out a bulging money pouch. “There’s no price I could put on my son’s life, but let me offer you a small token all the same.”

Dale took the pouch, the weight of it in his hand lightening the weight of his worries. He met the man’s gaze. “Thank you.”

Compulsive Directive

Once I’d written the start of Compulsive Directive, I had to set it aside for a bit to go on with other projects. When I returned to the story, eager to continue writing it, the words flowed and the bulk of it was written over two days. That first draft might have been quickly written, but coming up with a name was another problem altogether.

Sometime the name for a story comes with the idea. At other times, the name comes before the idea and I’m left wondering what kind of story would go with the title that came to mind. Other times I discover the title as I’m writing and on a few occasions, titles are suggested to me by early readers such as my editors. But this story was an effort to name. None of the titles I came up with seemed to fit. I was about to go with a name I wasn’t completely happy with, since the story had gone so long unnamed, when I finally figured out what to call it. It involved rewording a character’s comment, which still kept the same basic information after the edits, but I finally had a name for the story.

Compulsive Directive, a post apocalyptic sci-fi short story, is now available on Amazon and will soon be available at other retailers.

Father’s Day 2019

Here in Australia, it is Father’s Day tomorrow. For some of us, who have lost their father, it can be very easy to let it become a day of sadness. There are so many times throughout the year that something reminds me of my dad or something happens that I would have loved to share with him. But that is no longer possible and hasn’t been for years. All I have is my memories and I’m grateful there are so very many of them. Ones that make me smile and even cause me to laugh.

Quite a lot of years ago, I was visiting my dad, staying with him for a few weeks where he lived at one of the beaches north of Townsville, Queensland. I told him I was going into town, asking him if he needed anything.

“What are you going in for?” Dad asked.

“Fabric.”

There was a moment of stunned silence before dad demanded, “Who are you calling fat prick?”

I burst out laughing, trying to say the word ‘material’, tears streaming down my cheeks before I finally managed to get it out. My partner, who was also there, laughed just as hard as me.

Dad laughed when he realised what I’d said and over the years we regularly called him ‘fabric’, resulting in more chuckles as we remembered the moment. It still brings a smile, even though my dad passed away years ago, and is a memory that reminds us of the many wonderful moments we had with him.

To all those celebrating Father’s Day, happy Father’s Day. And to those who are missing their father, I hope that this Father’s Day you can focus on the good times. The ones that bring a smile to your lips and a warmth to your heart.

Writing Process

I’ve had quite a few emails over the years requesting more details about my writing process, writing tips and other writing related information. So whether you’re an author wanting to learn more about the craft, or a reader intrigued by the process, I’ll make regular posts to a section I’ve created ‘For Authors‘ on those topics. That doesn’t mean it’s only for authors, and those who wish to write, just that they’re the ones most likely to find the information interesting.

If you have any writing related topics you’d love to learn more about, don’t hesitate to email me and let me know. I enjoy sharing information about writing whether it is in the written form or in person at events and workshops. It might just be a topic I haven’t considered covering and you might not be the only person to find the information beneficial.

Chocolate And Coffee

There is a myth that authors live on coffee and can’t resist chocolate. Well, I don’t drink coffee, or even tea for that matter, but I can’t resist chocolate. So for those of you who love both, here’s a great way to combine them.

You will need:

A block of chocolate (I’ve used white to make it easier to see)

A handful of coffee beans (depends on how much coffee you want to add)

A tray/mould (I’ve used a water bottle ice tray)

Method:

Melt the chocolate either over low heat or put boiling water in a large bowl and place chocolate in a smaller bowl that you sit in the large bowl.

Scatter coffee beans across the bottom of a tray.

When chocolate is melted pour it over coffee beans.

If you want the beans more covered, use something such as a cocktail fork to mix the chocolate around them thoroughly. For less covered beans, just pour in the chocolate.

Put in the fridge and when set turn out of the tray or mould.

Enjoy!

Dragon Mage

It can be a lot of fun returning to a series after not having written in it for some time. This year I started a series that will pick up where Dragon Blood left off with new adventures for Amber. Before beginning Dragon Mage 1: Promise, I read over the Dragon Blood series to reacquaint myself with the characters and events of the books. Before writing this series, which I’ve wanted to write for some time, I needed to write Dragon Blood Chronicles 2: Betrayed since the events in that book have an impact on the events in Dragon Mage. I wanted to make sure there’d be no contradictions by writing the stories around the other way since the events of Betrayed happen well before the events of Promise. Maybe there wouldn’t have been any problems writing Betrayed afterwards, but I didn’t want to take the chance.

As yet I have no set date for when Promise will be released, but I have made a great deal of progress on the series and hope to release the first book this year. Amber, Kade and Ronan will be back soon with new enemies to face, old ones to hunt down and new places to explore. I can’t wait to share the stories with you, especially with those of you who said you’d love to read more books about Amber.