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.

Bring On 2022

As I’ve looked back over not only this year, but the past decade, it would be easy to allow myself to become disappointed with all that is happening in the world. With the uncertainty of the future, and the difficulty of being able to spend time with those I care about, this year has certainly had its challenges. Instead, I think about all the little moments I’ve shared with those in my life. It hasn’t been a year of big events, and nor was the previous year, but the year has contained memories I’ll cherish and look back on in the future with a nostalgic smile. And all those moments that mean the most to me, from this year, were spent with those I love. With my family.

Hopefully, you have moments from this year that you cherish too. Moments that mean a lot to you, no matter how big or small they are. Ones that you’ll cherish for years to come.

Duke’s Courier

When I sat down to write the latest book in Assassins Of The Dead, I never expected it to go in the direction it did. I had a vague idea of what would happen and where the story would end up. A short way into the story, most of those ideas were scattered by the wayside and new ones were forming. They fit much better with where I wanted the story to go and created a few more ideas for future books. They also gave me ideas for another series. No wonder I never run out of ideas!

Luckily, the start of the story fit well with where it veered away from the original path and I was able to keep writing with only a minor amount of changes to take things in the new direction. There were a few of the original ideas remaining and they kept the early part relevant, seamlessly weaving their way through the new ideas all the way to the end.

I hope you enjoy Meikah’s latest exploits and enjoy learning more about where her journey will lead her and discovering along with her what it means to have her particular skills.

Assassins Of The Dead 5: Duke’s Courier is now available.

Otters And Meerkats

Recently, I was able to see otters in person. It was different being able to stand in front of them after all the research I’ve done for Guardians Of The Round Table. Although the companion animals in the series have some differences due to becoming a companion animal, my co-authors and I wanted to keep many of the animals’ natural attributes and behaviours as well. So when I say I’ve done a lot of research on otters, it may be a bit of an understatement. I’ve watched countless hours of videos, read numerous books and online posts, watched lots documentaries, examined hundreds of photographs and asked a tonne of questions. Yet I learned even more by viewing two otters in person.

Unlike on documentaries and videos, you can’t turn their volume up or down when you’re watching them in person. It was good to hear the exact volume of their many noises. Being there, being able to experience them with all my senses, was amazing.

They are, of course, just as cute in person as in all the footage and images I’ve seen of them. It is also quite possible that I spent an extremely long time watching them. I might even have been asked a couple of times if I was ready to go. It was extremely hard to tear myself away from them and their antics.

Another animal I also saw was the meerkat. I’ve always thought them cute, but I now have an even greater interest in them. Meerkats are a much smaller animal than I thought, even having seen them in comparison to other objects, people and animals. And the babies are super cute. The way they move around, the sounds they make and how they interact with each other is fascinating. So fascinating, that parts of the next Guardians Of The Round Table series has needed a little early editing to swap out the original animal that a character they encountered has as their companion and replace it with a meerkat. I couldn’t resist.

The information I gained from seeing otters and meerkats in person is why I like to see the objects, animals and places I’m researching. You can gain so much more from doing so. It isn’t always possible, but when it is, I always take the opportunity to do so.

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.