My Writing Process (a blog hop)

The very lovely Dimity Powell tagged me last month in the My Writing Process blog hop. It’s taken me until now to get organised, but I’ve finally put together my responses.

First up, the preamble:
The #MyWritingProcess blog hop works like this: You get an invitation from an author-blogger to answer four questions about your writing process. When you do, you also invite three more writers to answer the same questions to pass the torch onward.

Step 1: Acknowledge the person who invited you to join:Dimity Powell 2010
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Dimity Powell, whose information-packed blog you can find here. (And her blog tour responses are here.) Dimity is the author of the fun junior novel, PS: Who Stole Santa’s Mail.

Step 2: Answer these questions as deeply or briefly as you like:

1.      What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on Burn (Rephaim #4). I’m almost finished the first draft, but I have a mountain structural editing to do. I’m also been writing guest posts for Shimmer’s (Rephaim #3) recent release in Australia and the UK, and planning posts for Haze’s (Rephaim #2) upcoming release in the US and Canada in September.

2.      How do you think your work differs from that of other writers in your genre?
That’s a tricky question, but I guess the best way to answer is that I’m telling a story in a way that appeals to me. I enjoy exploring the complexity of relationships between all of my characters – the things that draw them close and the things that push them apart – as much as I enjoy writing fight scenes. I don’t know if that makes my writing different, but it does make it mine.

3.      Why do you write what you write?
It’s fun! The beauty of speculative fiction is that you make it whatever you want it to be. You can follow traditional forms of storytelling in a particular genre or you can head off in weird and wonderful directions (e.g. genre mash-ups). I’m writing a series about people with flaws, who also happen to be supernatural creatures with special abilities – but these abilities don’t help them solve their problems. (Well, okay, sometimes they do, but not the deep-seated issues:  those ones they have to work on without their swords and fists.)

4.      What’s your writing process, and how does it work?
I don’t know that I have a process (I used to think I did, but now I’m not so sure). Basically, I’ll mull over an idea for a while before I start writing. I tend to be thinking about the next book/story while still writing the current project, which I think allows for plenty of ‘percolating’ time. Then I tend to map out my plot (very roughly) and just dive in. Whenever I hit a brick wall, it’s usually because my plot or character arc isn’t quite right, so I may need to brainstorm (translation: daydream while driving and listening to the Foo Fighters) to get things back on track. My main process, though, is simply sitting down and writing, and fighting through that first half hour/hour when nothing seems to want to come out. The only way it will, is if I stay there and write (rather than checking twitter, Goodreads, facebook, IMBD, etc…)

Who’s next?
This is where I’m supposed to name three other writers to continue the blog hop, but I’m going to cheat and do what my good friend and fellow writer Vikki Wakefield once did, which is to invite any interested blogger-writers to pick up the question (and preamble) and go for it! (Feel free to link to your responses in the comments here.)

Shimmer launch, UK release, guests posts, reviews…

It’s been a busy few weeks, with Shimmer releasing in Australia/New Zealand and the UK. Here’s quick wrap-up of what I’ve been up to.

Shimmer Australian launch
I had such a great night last Thursday at Riverbend Books, when the fabulous Marianne de Pierres and I sat down for a relaxed chat as part of the official Australian launch for Shimmer.

We covered a broad range of topics, from the appeal of angel mythology to the challenges of writing ‘hot’ scenes. I always enjoy chatting with Marianne (with or without an audience), and I loved the chance to meet readers and celebrate with my always supportive family and friends.

Thanks to the great crowd who came along on the night (so many of you bought books – and not just mine!). Thanks again to Marianne and Riverbend Books (especially Dave), and Text Publishing for making it happen (thanks Steph!).

Guest posts
I’ve had a couple of guest posts this week, as part of Shimmer’s release:

  • Kids’ Book Review : where I talk about why I chose to tell the Rephaim story as a series
  • Sister Spooky : 20 random questions
  • Wondrous Reads : an in-depth Q&A including questions about THAT scene in Shimmer (warning: some spoilers if you haven’t read Haze and Shimmer)
  • Dark-Readers : fun guest post featuring bonus details about Rafa and Jude

And a few early reviews of Shimmer:

Thanks to everyone who’s sent messages and left comments after reading Shimmer. I really appreciate it.

Now, back to writing Burn (Rephaim #4).

Shimmer is in the wild…

Today is release day for Shimmer in Australia (only another week until it pops up on shelves in the UK on 3 July*). It’s always such an exciting and nail-biting time when a new book goes out into the world.

I’m not going to tell you too much about what to expect with the plot (needless to say, there will be twists), but there are a couple of unique features in this instalment that I thought I’d mention.

IMG_1346A prologue
Yep, there’s a quick catch-up prologue, so if you haven’t re-read Haze you can hopefully jump straight back into the story. Prologues can be helpful, or they can be a distraction when all you want is to get into the action. But with Shimmer it seemed like a no-brainer (an excellent idea, in fact, from my editor, Mandy Brett). By the time we get to Shimmer, there are too many layers of story to subtly weave into the early chapters (as I attempted to do in Haze). So, I’ve written a short prologue in Gaby’s voice and from her perspective, so hopefully it feels like you have started to read the book proper.

Text Publishing coverA who’s who of the Rephaim
Another great idea from Mandy. Given the number of characters coming together in Shimmer (as a result of what happens at the end of Haze), she thought it would be handy to have a quick snapshot of the main players up front, which I totally agreed with. Rather than do it too clinically, I’ve tried to have a bit of fun with the Rephaim mini bios. See what you think. :)

Hopefully you guys enjoy both new sections – as a help in diving back into the world of the Rephaim and as interesting extras. And, of course, I hope you enjoy the whole book. :)

(*Shimmer will be released in the US and Canada next year.)

Shimmer launch party on 3 July – you coming?

If you’re not doing anything on Thursday 3 July and you can get to Riverbend Books in Bulimba (Brisbane), you might like to book to come along to the Australian launch of Shimmer (Rephaim #3).

The wonderful Marianne de Pierres will again be joining me, and this year we’ll have another of our fun informal chats about the series and writing in general. I’ll take questions from the audience (if anyone has any), plus I’ll be around to sign copies of Shimmer. (Wow, I can’t believe it’s only a few weeks and it’s out in the big wide world!)

I’m so excited to again be at Riverbend Books (I do love a tradition!). We’ll have snacks and a cash bar and of course there’s the actual bookshop itself to explore…

The launch is open to everyone, but you definitely need to RSVP (details below).

See you there!

invite_email

Shimmer – teaser chapters!

It’s less than a month now until Shimmer hits shelves in Australia and New Zealand on 25 June (with the UK edition soon after on 3 July), so now feels like a good time for a teaser.

Here are two early chapters from the Text Publishing edition. Enjoy. :)

(WARNING: there are spoilers, so if you haven’t read Haze, don’t click!)

Click on thumbnail for teaser chapters.

Text Publishing cover

 

 

 

What I’ve been reading

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about what I’ve been reading, so I thought I’d rectify that.

I’ve managed to squeeze in a bit of recreational reading in between line edits for Shimmer (less than three months until release!) and progressing further on the first draft of Burn.

Here are my favourites from the past few months. It’s an eclectic bunch. Click on the cover to  read my thoughts on Goodreads (some recommendations are more comprehensive than others!).

Burial RitesBitter Wash RoadImpossible KnifeShe is not invisible

AllegiantDream ThievesThese Broken Stars5th Wave

Siege and StormPeacemakerDisapearance of Ember CrowColdest girlStormdancer

What have you guys been reading and loving lately?

Marianne de Pierres chats about genre blending (and bending)

Peacemaker Tour Banner

The very versatile and talented Marianne de Pierres has a new novel out in five weeks, the clever genre-bending thriller Peacemaker (read my thoughts on it here). I offered to participate in the Peacemaker blog tour because I wanted to ask Marianne about her creative process for this latest project, and I thought a few of you might be interested in the answer. So here it is…

Given you’re adept at a number of genres, how did you decide which elements to bring together – and in what order did they come to you? Western, urban fantasy, sci fi…what was the spark that joined the dots for you?

Marianne:
I wrote a short story almost ten years ago entitled Gin Jackson: Neophtyte Ranger which Cat Sparks published in Agog! The main character in PEACEMAKER was born back then, but she was situated in a futuristic outback Australia, in a town protected by an environmental bubble. GR author pic_webWhen I got the idea for PEACEMAKER, I knew from the outset that I wanted to use Gin as my protagonist, but somehow locate her in a place where I could indulge my love for western novels. Gin Jackson became Virgin, and the rest just slotted together in my mind like a bolt locking into place. I had already visited the notion of Australia super cities in the Parrish Plessis novels, and it was an idea I wanted to continue to explore. In PEACEMAKER, however (unlike Nylon Angel’s Parrishverse), there is no barren interior. The PEACEMAKER world depicts a future Australia that is densely populated throughout, other than this one tract of land – Birrimun Park – which has been preserved as a natural habitat.

Peacemaker-CRSome of the pre-publication discussion about the book has suggested a Firefly kind of world, but it is really nothing at all like that great series. The urban fantasy elements are very strong in PEACEMAKER and they sit firmly atop a story heavy in crime, mystery and semi-espionage. For some inexplicable reason, I also kept getting echoes of Robert Holdstock’s classic novel, Mythago Wood as I began to write. It seemed strange but I’ve learnt to trust these instincts. Suddenly, it became clear that as the story arc played out in my mind, and the fantastical elements began to develop, that the series would tilt more towards a mythical saga. Go figure?

If you are the kind of reader who likes to have both feet planted firmly in a single genre story then PEACEMAKER is not for you. But if you like the notion of a tale that tugs you in a number of directions then I expect — hope — you will enjoy the ride! :)

Thanks Marianne. :)

Read more about Peacemaker and release dates

Read more about Marianne’s work

Shimmer release dates for Australia, NZ and UK

Here they are, confirmed release dates for Shimmer (Rephaim #3):

  • Australia and New Zealand (Text Publishing): 25 June
  • United Kingdom (Indigo): 3 July

(Indigo also distributes the Rephaim series – English language version – to a number of countries in Europe and Asia and other selected parts of the world.)

ShimmerI’m really excited for you guys to read Shimmer. There’s a still a bit of tweaking to do (mostly line edits) but it feels like it’s pretty much there now.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been busy working on Burn (Rephaim #4) and I’m over half-way into the first draft. This will be the final book in the series and a lot of threads need to come together (and work!). So far so good… :)

Shimmer blurb and the title of Book 4

Text Publishing has come up with a fantastic early cover blurb for Shimmer (out in July), which I’m busting to share. So here it is (warning – there’s a spoiler if you haven’t read Haze):

ShimmerGaby thought her life couldn’t get more complicated.

She’s almost used to the idea that she’s not the nineteen-year-old backpacker she thought she was. She can just about cope with being one of the Rephaim – a 140-year-old half-angel – whose memories have been stolen. She’s even coming to grips with the fact that Jude, the brother she’s mourned for a year, didn’t die at all.

But now Rafa—sexy, infuriating Rafa—is being held, and hurt, by Gatekeeper demons. And Gaby has to get the bitterly divided Rephaim to work together, or Rafa has no chance at all.

It’s a race against time – and history. And it may already be too late.

And now, drumroll for the title of Book 4 of the Rephaim series (the last one)…

Burn

Hope you like it. :)

Authors who review

I’m a published author. I’m also an avid reader. So is it okay for me to talk online about the books I enjoy?

Long before I was published, I was a book blogger. I wasn’t on anyone’s mailing list and I didn’t receive ARCs, I just read widely and wanted to chat about the books I loved.

I started my first blog in 2007, called Great Stories. After a few years of building up a reasonable following of like-minded readers, I realised my reading choices were too eclectic for a single blog, so I created a second one dedicated to fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal and zombie stories, called Other Worlds (mostly YA, but not exclusively).

Even back in those days, I confined my posts to books I enjoyed. Probably because I bought most of what I read and reviewed, and – with my own writing going on in the background – I didn’t have the time to invest in books that didn’t appeal to me.

And then in 2011, after many years of writing and submitting my own work to publishers, I was signed by Text Publishing in Australia (and then later by Indigo/Orion in the UK and Tundra Books in North America). So I started a third blog focused on my own writing (the one you’re reading now).

Within a few months of that first contract, I wound down the other two blogs (due to time commitments). But I still kept track of what I was reading on Goodreads. I had never given starred ratings on my own blogs, but picked up the habit on Goodreads, given it’s a convention of the site.

When Shadows debuted in Australia in 2012, I became a Goodreads author, which gave me a completely different perspective on the site.

Now, with a click of a button, I can see what everyone is saying about my work. Most reviews of my books are thoughtful, encouraging and often grin-inspiring. Others rip my heart out and leave it crushed on the side of the road. The latter are never easy to read, but I respect everyone’s right to express their opinions – after all, I don’t have to read them.

But experiencing Goodreads as an author made me realise that everything I write about other books can be read by their authors. A no-brainer, yes, but I’d never really sat down and thought that through. My reviews were always for my fellow readers: “Here I loved this, you might too”.

I started to wonder what authors thought about having other authors rate and review their books. Granted, my ratings and comments were overwhelmingly positive, but still….So for a while, I didn’t know how to ‘be’ on Goodreads. I still wanted to keep track of what I’d read and what I wanted to read. (My Goodreads TBR collection is always my go-to list when I can’t decide what to pick up next.)

Then I changed tack. I stopped reviewing all together. But I missed it. I actually enjoy writing about books I’ve loved, especially when it leads to conversations with other bloggers/readers about those books.

So I decided to write comments about books I’d read and not give a rating. But that felt like a cop-out. And I know how lovely it is to get a strong star rating on Goodreads.

As of late, I’m back to leaving ratings and (mostly brief) comments because it feels more meaningful to me as a reader. As usual, I only post on Goodreads about books I’ve really enjoyed, so they’ll generally all be novels I feel deserve five stars. And again, this is because I’m only reading books I seriously expect to love. So my Goodreads posts are definitely recommendations. They are not intended to be a critical analysis. (By the way, I also include my ever-growing favourite reads list here on my site.)

I know there are divided opinions about how authors should behave as readers, particularly online. I’m trying to find a comfortable middle ground where I tread lightly in both roles, but still offer something meaningful for my own readers, and readers who share my tastes in books.

I’m interested to hear thoughts from book bloggers (and authors) on the topic.

(Side note: I wrote a post on Life of Pi – particularly focused on the island scene – on Great Stories back in 2008 that, for a long time, had the number one Google ranking for ‘Life of Pi explained’. It still gets hundreds of hits every week and still attracts comments. I’m actually kind of proud of that. You can find it here.)