Wednesday, November 30, 2011

YAY! Nanowrimo is done (for me)!

I hit my 50K! Yay! Only another 40K to go on this novel.

So, what did I learn? I learnt that I like a little bit of pressure. As in, milling around doing 2K a day is cruisy and it felt very peicemeal to be following a plan. As soon as I opened Write or Die and set that time though, my writing was a lot better, a lot smoother, and a lot more coherent. Interesting stuff!

See you all next year!

Everything I ever learned about marketing I learned from Dungeons and Dragons | Internet Marketing Strategy: Conversation Marketing

Everything I ever learned about marketing I learned from Dungeons and Dragons | Internet Marketing Strategy: Conversation Marketing

I think the title is pretty self explanatory, really!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Goddess Test by Amiee Carter

Continuing my explorations of Harlequin Teen, I picked up a copy of 'The Goddess Test' by Aimee Carter, another beautiful looking book aimed firmly at the YA market.

Our heroine, Kate, is eighteen and looks after her dying mother. She comes across a tall, dark and dead guy, and eventually they fall in love. I'm being very simplistic here, but overall the book was a tad simplistic anyway. I read this in a day. No highlighter was required. Our Kate seems like a lovely girl, though I found the romance between her and Henry a little cold. They barely seemed to even hang out together. I like my genre mixed with my romance, and this is definitely a genre work, but the romance seemed to be a prize rather than a discovery, and so it left me a little cold. Warmer than the tiresome vampire novel though.

Also: not a vampire novel! Yay!

I liked the fact that Kate was looking after her dying mother and struggling to keep her life together, including high school and hospitals. I found it a little Twilight-ish while we were in the high school, but thankfully we progressed out of there very quickly. I expect that's a problem any teen romance near a high school is going to have for the next decade or so. I also liked that even when she passed the test, she had to leave and I rather did like the ending. I liked the potential it left open... were it me, there would be a sequel, possibly called The Human Test LOL

I did find the renaming of all the Gods to be a bit confusing. I guess necessary during the plot, but in the great denouement, we could have stuck with the original pantheon names.

The cover for this book crossed my metaphorical desk a week or so ago in this article: Cover Trends in YA Fiction: Why the Obsession with an Elegant Death? where author (Rachel Stark) puts together some of the covers that are current and asks the deadly question 'Why?' Here in Australia, we get the live girl cover, however she seems to be dashing away in a rather Gothic manner, looking over her shoulder in fear. I'd like to point out that no one actually flees during the book, and as far as I can make out, none of the dresses had their colour described, so I don't actually know if any of them were blood red... but anyway, I once again digressed.

Also, this was a nice stand alone, so no floundering around wondering if I had missed something or not. I didn't mind this book, but I'm also sure I'm not going to remember it clearly by the end of tomorrow. Hell, I'm writing the review right now in case I do forget by the end of tomorrow!

Sarah P

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Livia Blackburne: The Blogification of Writing Tips

A quick critical view in the role of blogs and writing tips and lessons in helping writers. It's not always a gift, and we need to be aware of what advice we choose to follow! 

Livia Blackburne: The Blogification of Writing Tips

Obituary - Anne McCaffrey

Oh no! Not another one!

As my husband said "We seem to be losing the authors of our childhood at a ferocious rate."

I loved Anne McCaffrey. I loved her early stuff, which was rawe and exciting and new. I have Restoree, and really enjoyed that, but I loved the Dragonriders of Pern, and Menolly's books more than anything. I am incredibly sad to see her go. A lot of my early stuff is based on the rich ideas Anne McCaffrey wrote, and I will always owe her a debt of thanks for that.

Thank you, Anne McCaffrey, for making my childhood awesome, and for giving me some of the sparks that led me to write. You will be sorely missed.

Sarah P

Monday, November 21, 2011

'WTF?!' Anthology coming soon!

'"Corrective surgery gone wrong, punk rockers abducted by aliens, zombie sharks, dead matadors, exploding ice cream factories, and dwarfs obsessed with pomegranates are just a few of the things you will find in this anthology. From the quirky to the serious to the surreal, whatever happens in these stories is bound to leave the reader wondering WTF?!
This anthology of 37 original stories will be out in the first half of December in print and as an e-book from Pink Narcissus Press at It includes two stories from Perth-based writers; 'Cloudy with a Chance of Smoke' by Nikky Lee and 'Swan Wing' by Egoboo WA's Joanna Fay.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

'Dark of the Moon" by Susan Krinard

I don't know why, but I had a hard time finding the right cover pic to go with this review, which is a pity, because I found the cover immensely appealing! This was the second book I bought at Target the other day, along with that tiresome one, and this is YAVN in all it's glory.

It was a fun read. I had no problems with any of the language or stylistic choices, and it kept me amused for the whole book. My one big issue is that I didn't realise it was set in the 1920s until about the 117th page. And really, someone described the book as being a 'rich description of the 1920s,' and all I could think was "if it was that rich a description, surely I would have realised before the first twenty pages, let alone 120?'

Regardless, people do stuff, people get bitten, and people get sucked. The heroine was lovely, and I really liked the way she eventually took some things into her own hand. Our hero was also rather lovely, managing to be manly and yet not expire of masculine entitlement at the first sign of feminine independance. Not entirely sure what was with the story line of the brave plucky not-quite-ex boyfriend, but whatever. He seemed to have a sudden personality implant, from some one I wouldn't give the time of day to, to someone who seemed to care. About something other than himself.

Regardless, this was a nice solid read, and thoroughly innoffensive. There was, however, some sex. (Yay sex!) It was also thoroughly consensual sex (Yay consensual!).

Sarah P

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hewing Away the Rough Walls (Or, Five Ways to Put Your Story on a Diet) :: Shimmer

Here's an excellent article from Lisa L Hannett, author of the collection "Bluegrass Symphony." She makes a lot of sense, if you've ever wondered how to trim your wordcount, then check out her advice! 

Hewing Away the Rough Walls (Or, Five Ways to Put Your Story on a Diet) :: Shimmer

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nanowrimo Midway Update

Laura E Goodin

So... why are you doing Nano again?
I have a major project -- a novel -- in the works, and decided NaNo would be a good way to get a huge body of work all piled up (albeit in a steaming pile) so that I could develop a clearer sense of one way the characters and premise might play out.  I may stick with what I've got and just edit it, or I may decide it was a dead end, or something in between.  But I'll know more about what I both want and don't want to do with the story.  And it will take some pressure off me as the deadline approaches, because I'll already have thousands and thousands of words, at least some of which should be salvageable.  (And, indeed, I'm not unhappy with the ones I've been producing so far.)

Now you are at the half way mark, how is it going?
Slowly.  I have a lot of projects on the boil, including the research component of the Ph.D. for which the novel is the creative component.  I'm having trouble being able to sequester large chunks of the day in which to write (my preferred mode; I'm not all that comfortable with stopping and starting).

How are your wordcounts?
Not the worst ever, but I'm way behind the strict NaNo schedule.

Do you think you will finish on time?
I probably will, but if I don't I still will have gone a long way toward accomplishing my goal for NaNo this year (i.e., learning more about what I do and don't want to do with the story).  I'd like to, but I've won a few times before, so I don't really have anything to prove to myself.  I already know I CAN write 50K words in a month, so I don't HAVE TO.

What do you think you're going to learn from Nanowrimo 2011?
Hopefully, the story that emerges will be of sufficient quality that I can work with it.  I'm hoping to learn (or re-learn, more appropriately, as I keep seeming rediscover and then forget this crucial point at crucial points) that I can trust my intuition to come up with quality goods.

Sarah Parker

So... why are you doing Nano again?
To kick start my writerly habit. Plus I had a novel length idea. And it's fun!

Now you are at the half way mark, how is it going?
Really well, actually. I just had a three thousand word day, which is just brilliant. I am playing around with the way I write this time. I have a pretty strong plan, but I am allowing myself to play. I find that some parts I am in love with, and some parts of it will need a lot of fixing!

How are your wordcounts?
I have been hovering just under (by about 200 words or so) the expected wordcount on most days. I started late, have skipped a few days, and I have been ahead a couple of days. As of the end of the day today, I am about a thousand words over where I needed to be.

Do you think you will finish on time?

What do you think you're going to learn from Nanowrimo 2011?
This year I think I am learning to talk more about my writing! And to talk more to other people about writing in general!

Helen Venn

So... why are you doing Nano again?
I'd got a bit distracted by Real Life so my current WIP had slowed.  NaNo was just a way to jump start things again. It's worked but I'm not fussed if I don't get to 50,000 in new writing. I just want to keep things moving.

Now you are at the half way mark, how is it going?
Real Life has kicked me in the backside again which disrupted my routine a bit so I'm not up to the word count I'd hoped for but I'm happy enough with what I have. I've found and fixed some gaping holes too and that's meant less words on paper writing but it's just as important for the finished product so it's all good as far as I'm concerned.

How are your wordcounts?
Definitely not enormous but number of words is not the critical thing for me at this point.

Do you think you will finish on time?
Well, I'll have finished what I've set out to do which is to add a lot of useful words to those I started with but I won't have finished my novel . Fantasy novels are rarely only 50,000 words long and this is no exception.

What do you think you're going to learn from Nanowrimo 2011?
Tricky question. I'd say I've just had reinforced what I already knew which is to be disciplined, set goals and put in the time. Without those things no-one would ever get a novel written. The other thing is that the more you write the more your writing flows so having made a commitment to spend time writing every day makes it easier to continue and I find, although it mightn't apply to everyone, that the quality of my writing generally improves.

Sarah P

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Night of Writing Dangerously

Saturday night two of the Egoboo crowd made it to the Rockingham version of the Night of Writing Dangerously, generously organized and provided by the Rockingham Council and run by Lee Battersby.

Satima and I ended up at far ends of the room, probably a good thing as my laugh carries! Over twenty sponsors donated time, memberships, books, magazines, and flyers to help make the Write-In awesome.

When we walked through the door, we were greeted by a table full of packed bags and a sign-in sheet, and to the right tables of tea, coffee, and huge stacks of prizes. Over fifty odd writers joined us for the wild ride of talking to professional authors (Anna Jacobs and Bevan McGuiness) and settling in for some serious wordcounts.

I made 3250 during the night. Not words I am in love with, but they are words to work with none the less. Various partners in crime wrote between 200 words through to 4000, and given the number of people there, possibly even more!

Anna Jacobs was a delight to listen to. Not only does she have fifty five books published, but she is a Pantser. She does very little planning, but lots of research, and has no idea what is going to happen until it does. She stressed the important of learning how to write in ways that suit YOU and only YOU, and that there are no solid rules other than your writing must be gripping, interesting, and drag the reader along for the ride.

Bevan McGuiness was enthusiastic and energetic, bouncing around the desk to talk about how he balances writing and full time work. He talked about finding sources of inspiration to help us maintain the creative flow, and developing his works around trying to capture the feel of the inspiration source.

Once the authors had had a bit of a chat with us all, we settled in for the first round of writing. I think on our table, the bulk of our words were written now. Fire and energy ran through our veins; though I will point out it was rather disconcerting to sit next to Heidi Wessman Kneale, who hammered her keyboard so fast I thought I saw smoke.

Is this what people think when they sit next to me? I have had numerous comments about typing like a machine gun, for example. Just because I learnt on the old fashioned type writer, I may be a little hard on the old board, and having been an IRC junkie for a while, my keystrokes might be on the high side...

I managed about 1700 words in the first hour (I think) and then after that I was pulling teeth. I got a cup of tea; I gossipped with Lyn Battersby, I chatted with people.. and then we had dinner, courtesy of Subway. It was really wonderful to be in a space with so many other creatives hammering away, and food was a simple "walk up and get it" rather than a "plan, remove children, start cooking, remove children, eat and clean up, remove children..." type of affair.

All in all I found the experience amazing,  validating, and inspiring. I'm hoping I can make a few more writing nights happen through sheer force of will before the end of November, unfortunately much smaller ones, and ones with planning and children and cleaning involved.

Regardless, I would say my big lesson with this year's Nano is learning how to talk to other writers.

Once again, I'd like to say thanks to Lee Batterby for running the event, and also to Ace Cinemas; Adventure world; Asgard Games; ASIM; Australian writers Marketplace; Coeur De Lion Publishing; Cosmic Comics; Fablecroft Publishing; Fremantle Press; Fun Station; Harper Collins Australia; Island Magazine; Meanjin Magazine; Peter Cowan Writers Centre; Rockingham Shopping Centre; Serendipity MediSpa Baldivis; Sterling's Office National; Twelfth Planet Publishing; Walker Books and White Dwarf Books.

The prizes were very much coveted! I will definitely be keeping an ear out to see if this will run again next year.

Sarah P

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Twisted, Part 3 of the Intertwined Series by Gena Showalter

I am rather enjoying going through the current HarlequinTeen series. The look and flavour of these novels are simply fascinating to read! This book I found at Target, at about $14.

I picked 'Twisted' by Gena Showalter because it had a beautiful cover. The colour is gorgeous, the stance of the models electric and it looks like an awesome series to read. Plus an added dust jacket on the front that said "free ebook!" What it fails to mention is that to actually get your free ebook, you have to cough up all your contact details and you're not allowed to opt out of the 'feel free to contact me as you like' clause. Hmph.

So, I did not get to get my 'free' ebook.

Despite that little disappointment, how did I feel about this book? Well... it was very obviously a middle book. The characters seemed to have had their definition completed in the previous one? Two? books, and so there was very little development or definition added in this book. Despite that, we spend an awful lot of time inside their heads where they angst, whine, turn into different people, do unsavoury things, blame each other for it, and remain very much in lust with each other for the entire novel.

At least someone got laid.

I found it rather hard sometimes to figure out what was actually happening. We were so deep in the guilt and self-disgust that I often had no idea what was actually going on outside the grey matter. I think I could sum it up as "a bunch of teenage supernaturals/supranaturals run around doing stuff for quests starts in the previous books and which don't really get very resolved during this book."

I'm a bit disappointed in a way; I enjoyed Twilight, as I really enjoyed hanging out with the characters. The basic level of plot is basically the same, the level of emo angst is probably actually lower than in Twisted, but the key difference is that I enjoyed hanging out with Alice, and Rose and even Edward, despite his stalkery fetishy thing. In this novel, the characters were just dreary. I don't know if it's because I am reading this out of order, but seriously dreary. The vampirism is tiresome, people can't communicate to share a cigarette (metaphorically) and people do dumb things and then blame each other for it.

And I'm supposed to feel for these people? Or be interested in what they're doing?

Anyway, the language was fine and once again my highlighters just got dustier. I was mildly disappointed. The writing was perfectly acceptable, I think I just had problems with the plot. The plot sort of settles as a great empty frame in a desert, and in theory is strung with the bright ribbons of the characters to make it interesting. Unfortunately, the ribbons seem to be dull grey and black, and with no colour to spice the themes, I've already forgotten half the book and I only finished it an hour ago.

Plus I didn't really enjoy the ending. It just emphasized that this was a middle book, marking time until it's all supposed to get interesting. There was no solid information on the cover to tell me where this book fits into the Intertwined series either, just that it was an Intertwined novel. By rights, this should have meant the book was fine as a stand alone novel, however this was very much not the case. I'd say this book needs a warm audience (people who are already into the series) to be successful. As a cold audience, I just felt glad when it was over.

Sarah P

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pitching - and Other Writerly Things

Back in September, Nicola Morgan, an award winning UK author and source of much useful writing information, posted about how to put together a 25 word pitch on her blog, Help! I Need A Publisher! . A number of her readers put up their pitches for comment by Nicola and her blog followers. It made for an interesting learning exercise and proved very popular. So she did it again in October.

Stray pitches and synopses are still going up and being commented on and now she's started a series of free guidelines for writers, Crabbit's Tips For Writers. The first is here.

Always readable - as I think I've mentioned before - this is one of my favourite writing blogs and well worth a visit.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

World Fantasy Awards 2011

Congratulations to Alisa Krasnostein, winner of the Special Award Non Professional category for Twelfth Planet Press. There's a strong Australian representation in the short lists too with Jonathan Strahan, Angela Slatter and Shaun Tan also featuring.

The results are out here and you can watch the ceremony here. You might catch a glimpse of Egobooers Carol and Sarah in the audience. Alisa has blogged about her experience at Champagne and Socks.