All posts by Avril

About Avril

Avril is a fiction writer who lives in Queensland, Australia. She mostly writes young adult spec-fic, but has been known to dabble in other genres.

Lore Books

One of the things I’m really enjoying about writing the Guardians Of The Round Table series is creating lore books. While working on the eighth book in the series, we encountered another point where a lore book was needed. It’s always so much fun creating them. The ideas come fast and we discuss and joke about the possibilities, scribbling them all down, even the far-fetched, as you never know where each idea might lead.

Creating the lore book during the story can sometimes add to the story or even change the direction the story is heading. It’s also a way to cement the ideas about that particular piece of lore and give readers something extra if they’re interested in knowing more about the world of Inadon. I love background information and discovering more about the worlds I immerse myself in. Both my worlds and those of others. I know not everyone enjoys that. They just want the story. By putting that extra information into a lore book, it’s available for those interested while those who aren’t can focus instead on reading the series.

I also have very fond memories of discovering lore books in games and reading them. As well as collecting them. Discovering little pieces of information and learning more about different parts of the world fascinates me. But then, I’ve always loved learning more about things. Hence the reason I ask so many questions. I’m sure anyone who knows me in person is nodding their head and strongly agreeing with that comment. Very strongly agreeing!

Woven From Dreams

Life can be stranger than fiction. It can also inspire stories. Woven From Dreams was inspired by my daughter’s habit of losing things in her sleep. From items as simple as a bracelet on her wrist to more expensive things. No matter how hard we looked, we never found any of the items she lost. Not even when we completely emptied her room, looking for them. And she didn’t sleepwalk. None of us could explain what was happening, so we came up with crazy stories as to what was going on. Including me. This story builds on one of my fantastical theories, tying it in with the realms of the Fae.

Unlike Elsie, my daughter never lost a person during her sleep. Thankfully. But we never found out why things mysteriously disappeared while she slept and we’ve had to make do with our fantastical theories and solving the mystery for Elsie instead.

I enjoyed looking at the realms of the Fae from a different angle and building on the world with abilities I hadn’t touched on before. I hope you enjoy Elsie’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Realms Of The Fae 6: Woven From Dreams is now available.

Writing For Relaxation

People often look at me strangely when I say that sometimes, when I take a break from working on a story, my break might also consist of writing. Usually it’s a short piece, such as flash fiction. Something I can create in under an hour. There is something very satisfying about starting and finishing a project in the space of an hour. The following is such a piece.

The Main Ingredient

Dani wrote the last ingredient on the paper she’d torn from a notebook. Had she forgotten any? Staring at the scrawled words, she pressed a hand to her stomach. She had to win this time, or the past four wins didn’t count for anything.

Taking a deep breath, she slid the recipe under the pan on her bench. She hurried through the crowded room to the sign-in table, smiling in greeting at the familiar faces. She even smiled at Erica, who’d tried to sabotage her last time. Erica had looked mad enough at coming second again that she’d thought Erica might fling her dessert to the ground.

This time it was cake. Everyone said cakes were her forte. Which was lucky since she’d been so nervous she’d left her neatly typed recipe behind.

Finished signing in, she returned to her bench, her gaze drawn to the other contestants. A hush settled over the room as the presenter began his spiel, setting a timer and telling them to start.
Dani moved the pan, the world fading when she saw the bench. A frantic glance around didn’t help. The recipe had vanished. Placing the pan down, she forced a smile to her lips when the film crew focused on her.

A deep breath barely helped. She could do this. She had to do this. Reaching for an egg, she cracked it against the edge of a bowl. The familiar action steadied her and she mentally crossed off ingredients as she made her famous chocolate cake. About to tip the batter into the pan, she froze. She had forgotten something when she’d written it out. Cinnamon.

After adding the main ingredient, she put the cake in the oven. Now she had to face the questions. The ones about how she felt she’d done. This was the part she hated.

Her attention was caught by Erica rummaging in her handbag, a piece of paper fluttering to the floor. Erica snatched it up and shoved it in her handbag. But Dani had seen the words. The recognisable words.

She wanted to accuse Erica of cheating. Then she smiled. It would serve Erica right if she had. The recipe didn’t contain the main ingredient. Without it, the cake would be lacking.

The thought buoyed her through the interviews, but the moment of judgement had her clasping her hands tightly. She studied the judges as they tasted the array of cakes in front of them, their quiet discussions not reaching her and the other contestants.

A judge rose, listing all the places, from last to first.

Dani could barely hear her name called out in first place over Erica’s outraged demands they check the results. There must be a mistake. She couldn’t be last.

“What is the secret to the perfect cake?” the presenter asked.

Dani wasn’t about to tell Erica the one ingredient she didn’t know. “It’s all in the way it’s mixed.” She smiled. Let Eria focus on that at her next attempt.

Writing Questions

It has certainly been a busy month. Not only was another recipe added to Cooking For Families With Allergies, but I also released my first online course. Overview Of Independently Publishing A Book. I’ve missed teaching people how to write in person so creating an online course seemed like a logical step.
Now before I tell you about the course I created, I’m sure you’ll want to know the important information first. The recipe was apple and cinnamon muffins and they have been perfect to have on the cold days we’ve had lately in the southern hemisphere. A warm muffin is always good on a winter day. Or at least I think it is.
Before I’m tempted to have just one more muffin, I’d best get back to the topic at hand. I’m always asked questions about writing and publishing and I don’t mind answering them in the least. One of the questions I’m often asked is about the process of publishing a book once it’s written. It’s a question asked not just by those who want to publish a fiction book, but also those who want to tell their life stories and want to have a way for their family to read them. And those questions come not only from people who’ve never published before, but from those who have a book or two out and are looking at improving their process or finding out what other options might be available to them. They also come from people who forget some of the steps along the way and wish they could have a refresher before they go through the process each time.
Overview Of Independently Publishing A Book is aimed at anyone who has at least a first draft finished. It’s to help them work their way through the process of what they need to do next as they make their way through the various steps in getting their book out into the world.
If you’re interested in Overview Of Independently Publishing A Book, you can find it on Teachable. Now if you want apple and cinnamon muffins, the recipe is available in Cooking For Families With Allergies. And I might have just one more. Or maybe two. It is, after all, quite a cold day here.

Waiting

I’m always coming up with ideas for stories, even in my sleep. Some of those dream ideas lead to novels. Or even to a series. Sometimes, they’re a moment in a character’s life that stands on its own, no more to come. Just the glimpse I had. The following is one such glimpse that remained with me, hours after I woke, begging me to write it.

Waiting

She slowed as she stepped from the corridor into the hospital entrance area, her gaze scanning the handful of people standing around. She smiled as she recognised the actor who’d been with the film crew that had been here the past week, shooting on-location scenes to go with the studio ones. The smile faded as she recognised the look on the actor’s face. Obviously she’d rather be anywhere other than here. Not that she could blame her. They were of a similar age, from what she’d read in a magazine. Seventeen. Neither of them should be stuck hanging around a hospital.

Moving across the room, she gave the actor a nod in greeting. “You lost?” She knew perfectly well she probably wasn’t, but she’d learned over the years that it was a good way to start up a conversation when you were in a large hospital.

The actor glanced over her shoulder, taking a step back from her. “Ah, no. No, I’m not.” Her words went from hesitant to firm.

She half turned away from the actor, giving her some space. “I like it down here at this time of day. Those that have been stuck in here for most of the day go outside to catch the last few minutes of light before night sets in.”

“Why are you here?” The actor looked her up and down.”Are you a patient?”

She smiled slightly, not answering the question. “The one thing I like about hospitals is the mix of people you find in them. They’re more fascinating than any movie or book.” She smiled briefly. “Although that’s probably not a fair comparison since it’s been years since I watched TV and months since I picked up a book. Something equally riveting might have been released in that time.” There were a lot of things she didn’t do these days. Things she didn’t want to spend time on. Not now.

“You don’t watch TV?” The actor sounded stunned.

“Not even the news.” But that didn’t mean she didn’t know who was in the hospital and why they were here. She smiled briefly again when the actor relaxed. “Are you here visiting a relative? A friend?”

The actor shook her head, then shrugged, the hunted look momentarily reappearing.

She took pity on her, nodding towards an elderly woman entering the main doors. “Night must have fallen.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Every single day, at exactly the same time, she goes out there to cry. Then when daylight fades and night settles over the city, she returns to her husband’s room where she smiles and tells him of all the good things still happening in the world.”

“That’s sad,” the actor said.

“No.” She slowly shook her head. “It’s courage and compassion. Why make his last days any harder?”

“Yes, but…” the actor’s voice trailed off as the woman passed them, straightening her shoulders as she wiped away the last of her tears. “Every day?” The actor turned, watching as the elderly woman stepped into an elevator, giving the man who held the door for her a smile and a nod.

“Every day.” Or at least every day for the past six months. She turned her back on the elevator, glancing towards the main doors when they opened, bringing with them the scent of fresh air and the sounds of voices and laughter. The smells of the hospital drowned the unfamiliar scents, the voices becoming hushed and subdued as the newcomers hurried towards a corridor.

“Why are you here?” the actor asked again.

She smiled, a mix of sadness and acceptance. “I’m waiting.”

“For?”

“Just waiting.” She took a step back from the actor, giving her a nod and a slight smile. It would be visiting hours soon. “Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.” She gave the actor another brief smile before she turned away, heading back the way she’d come. Or maybe tomorrow the waiting would be over.

Photos And Stories

My grandma on her family farm. Horses were Prince and Darky, North Queensland, Australia.

I was looking through old family photos recently, regularly smiling and at times laughing as they brought back memories of the stories that went with them. And it’s not just the photos from my life, but ones from before I was born, that also contain stories I know well.

I recall, as a child, sitting beside grandparents and looking through old albums, turning the pages and stopping to study the images, the scent of old paper lingering in the air. Sometimes we’d sit at the kitchen table, light from the window falling across the pages. At other times, we’d be in the lounge room, me perched on the arm of the armchair while the album rested open on my grandparents’ lap. It also wasn’t any one of my grandparents in particular who looked at photos with me. I’m afraid I pestered all of them. Mostly though, it was Grandma or Nana who spent time looking through old photos with me, some of which I’ve inherited over the years.

My dad and his mother dressed up for the Townsville Show, Queensland, Australia.

As the pages were turned, I’d point to a picture and ask about the people, wanting to know who they were and what they were doing. Those explanations always contained stories. Either about the actual photo or about the people in the photo. Sometimes both. I always found it fascinating, those glimpses into lives that had begun way before mine. And the stories led into other ones. Either about those in the picture or about those related to the ones in the picture, the conversation rambling through memories of times that, although well in the past, were still remembered.

Looking at old family photos reminds me not only of those in them, but of those who shared the stories with me. In some cases telling me stories of people I’d never met, people who were gone long before I’d been born. Yet those people, even the ones I’d never met, are still remembered, stories of their lives entwined with mine and those who also know their stories about who they once were and what they’d once done. Their lives living on in memories and the words of others.

Jasmine

We welcomed a second puppy into our family at the start of February, and Ace has been thrilled to have a new friend. Although he is rather boisterous and we have to supervise very closely to make sure he doesn’t play too rough with her.

Jasmine has quickly become part of the family, following us around like our shadows and liking to climb up on our laps whenever we sit down. She’s so sweet and loving and learns very quickly. Especially important things like giving Mistletoe plenty of space because she’s not the type of cat that tolerates dogs in her personal space. Actually, she’s not the kind of cat that tolerates anyone in her personal space. Human or animal. If she wants attention, she’ll enter your personal space and allow you to give her the attention she deserves.

Like any puppy, Jasmine is curious and loves to learn new things. Such as when you bark at frogs, if you’re really close to them, they’re noisier than a squeaky toy. But most of all, if you look mournfully at a human when they have food, they can’t resist sharing with you. She’s absolutely right. We can’t resist. Not her and not Ace. They both get a share.

We’ve certainly enjoyed having a new member in our family. Well, nearly all of us. Mistletoe gave us a look of disgust and left us to do our own hunting for a week, keeping all the mice she caught just for herself. But we’ve since been forgiven and she’s back to bringing us our regular… er… treats.

Storms And Blackouts

The past month we’ve had more than the usual amount of black outs and electrical storms. Being on a rural property, this means that not only do we not have lights and electrical items, but our pump for the water tank also doesn’t work. All this isn’t too big a drama as we have things in place to cope with the situation since it’s a regular occurrence, but it certainly reminds me of how much we rely on electricity and makes me think of all the things I’d miss if we didn’t have it.

Candles and lanterns provide enough light to work by, but they do involve more vigilance since the last thing we want is a fire in the house. So although I miss being able to have light at the flick of a switch, it’s not something I can’t manage without.

Having a pump for the water tank that provides water to the house makes for a good water flow inside, but if the house tank was on the terrace behind the house, gravity would be sufficient. So although it’s more convenient to have the pump, it is something else I could manage without if I made a few changes.

We have a gas cook top so we can always cook things in a pot or pan, but the oven itself is electric. I do miss not being able to use it when there’s a blackout, but after years of campfire cooking I can make anything in a camp oven. Including cakes, biscuits and bread. It just takes more time.

I would miss gaming consoles, but I do have board games and enjoy playing them just as much so if that was the only reason I used them, I could manage without them. But I would miss being able to spend time gaming with friends and family online. With people who live too far from me to visit. I would certainly miss that.

The other things I’d really miss are my PC, sewing machine, washing machine, fridge and freezer. The items that make life more convenient, save me a lot of time and allow me to stay connected with those who live far from me. It’s much quicker to type or dictate using my PC than it is to write by hand. My PC is also one of the ways in which I stay in contact with people online. My sewing machine also saves me time. It’s quicker to use it rather than sew by hand and I do enjoy creating and making my own clothes.

The few times I’ve been without a washing machine, I’ve really missed it with how far we live from a laundromat and having to wash all the clothes and linen by hand. It’s good to have simple, safe and easy food storage methods such as a fridge and freezer. Although there have been periods in my life when I’ve had neither. It just involves more time and effort.

So to me, electricity gives me more time to do the things I enjoy and helps me keep in touch with friends and family who live a long way from me. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do as much writing, reading, gaming, spending time with my family and keeping in touch with those who don’t live nearby. It creates so much more work for me when it’s not there. I spend time carting water, writing notes down on paper that I struggle to decipher later, washing clothes by hand and so many other chores that normally only take minutes, but without electricity end up taking hours. But most of all, I miss talking to friends and family. Miss being able to message them and have a reply within seconds. Miss being able to keep in touch with those I care about and who are a part of my life. Electricity and the tools it allows me to use makes it possible for me to be close to friends and family even when they are physically far from me.

What are some of the things you’d really miss if you were without electricity and why would you miss them?

Going To The Moon

I‘m extremely lucky to be a part of the Writers on the Moon project, a rag-tag fleet of stories organised for a lunar time capsule. The project was started by Susan Kaye Quinn, a rocket scientist turned science fiction author, who invited others to join her in sending stories to the moon. It’s such an exciting project and when I heard I’d been accepted, I wanted to share my allotted space with those in my life.

Storm, Avril and Rhys

Many people say being an author can be a lonely profession and talk about the solo aspect of writing. Yes, there is much about being an author that involves long stretches of time working on your own, but there are also parts of it that involves others. Whether it’s bouncing ideas off family or friends, asking questions of people who are more knowledgeable about a particular area than me, getting feedback from beta readers, working with editors, designers and cover artists, or once upon a time going to events, I’ve found that being an author isn’t completely a solo profession.

Four generations: mother, Avril, grandmother, daughter

 

Avril and father, Lloyd Sabine

 

Jarrin, Avril and Celeste (siblings)

So as well as including some of my books, I decided to include photos of people who are a part of my life. My family and friends, including photos of the four-legged members of my family because they’re important too.

 

Ace (Storm’s dog) and Tino (Jarrin’s dog)Mistletoe (Head of the household)

 

Mika (parents’ dog) and Miss Benny (Cat’s horse)

Choosing which books to send was easy. The first four I published immediately came to mind. Demon Hunters 1: Blood Sacrifice, Elf Sight, Through Your Eyes and Dragon Lord. I also decided to include my cookbook since I do love my food. Next on my list was Tell Me A Story, Grandma. It might not have been the first story I wrote, but it certainly was one of the earlier ones and it meant so much to me as a child that my grandma shared stories of her childhood with me so I could write them down and read them over again throughout the years. My next choice was An Endless Dawn. It was chosen because it’s a story about something from space being brought to Earth. It seemed fitting as something from Earth was being sent into space. This was the same reason why I chose Compulsive Directive, a post apocalyptic sci-fi short story.

Avril Sabine and Adam Boss, Maroochydore

 

Rhys, Storm and Adam, Buderim

 

Stepfather with Ruby and Red

My final choice was Guardians Of The Round Table 1: Dexterity Fail, a young adult fantasy LitRPG. It was chosen not only because the seventh book in the series was my most recent release, but also because it’s been a series that so many close to me have been involved in. I’ve had an amazing time writing it and have spent so many hours with my sons and co-writers coming up with the next adventure for the characters. Those planning sessions are always filled with laughter and I look forward to many more such sessions. I’ve also enjoyed seeing each new cover Cat Petersen has created for it and I had an amazing time at Supanova 2018 when I took a display there for the series. Much thanks to Corey Crossley from Tokimotive who helped at that event, including being chained up in the dungeon for a photo and spending the rest of the weekend chaining attendees up so they could have their photos taken too. The series is a fantasy set in a world with game mechanics, so a dungeon like those the adventurers frequently found themselves exploring was a great choice for a display.

Corey’s vehicle

 

Corey, Storm and Avril at Supanova

We’ve also enjoyed sharing the series with our readers, including being able to share them with Brad and Will who are not only friends, but feel like they’re part of the family after how long we’ve known them. They were amongst the first to read Guardians Of The Round Table 1: Dexterity Fail.

Will and Ghost, Colorado
Brad Bauer and Ariana

I also added a short story by Rhys Petersen, one of my co-writers on Guardians Of The Round Table series and my son. It’s one of his early stories that he wrote on his own, when he was sixteen, using a prompt from a writing group activity.

Gary and Celeste (sister)

You might as well say that all the images I’ve included are of family members. Either those born to my family or those who’ve become a part of it over the years, becoming more than friends. From my parents and siblings who had to put up with all my reading and writing as a child and listen to some of the stories I came up with to my children and those who have come into my life over the years. People I’ve been lucky to meet. Who I’m glad to have had the opportunity to welcome into my life and to share this moment with them. This moment of going to the moon. Today it might only be stories and images, but one day, it might be people making that trip, planning what to take with them for their visit to the moon.

Jarrin (brother) and his children

What would you take with you on a trip to the moon? More than likely, just like for any trip I make, my first items I’d pack would be books.

     

Guardians Of The Round Table 7: Treasure Seeker

During Treasure Seeker, Mallory and her party encounter the Adventurers Guild. And what long established guild doesn’t have a handbook? My co-writers and I had so much fun creating a handbook for the guild. We discussed the history of the guild, some of the past members, rewards and bounties available to members, how to increase your standing with the guild and where the guild is based. We spent hours creating the handbook, which adds to the lore of both the past and present of Inadon.

There was also the decision of whether Mallory and her party want to join the Adventurers Guild. And what it might mean for them if they do join. Including if it is a guild that would allow them to also be members of the Guardians Of The Round Table. Which is of course important to them.

As well as encountering members of the Adventurers Guild, Mallory and her party had more quests to do, more fights to face and plenty of other decisions to make as they continue their adventures on Inadon.

Guardians Of The Round Table 7: Treasure Seeker is now available.