Category Archives: Uncategorized

Back Again! I think…

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Yesterday I received a notification that I have a new follower, Leeece14, whom I actually know via Livejournal, and because she won a giveaway on one of my other blogs. Hi Leece! She also gave me a lovely mug with an orca on it. It has become my favourite mug.

Me in the StTe Library with the Dromkeen sculpture!

Me in the State Library with the Dromkeen sculpture!

The thing is, I haven’t posted here for some time. It was originally intended as a writing-themed site in case my young readers might look for me and find that what I keep up to date is a book review blog.

But I find WordPress harder to use than Blogger and simply gave up. And how many blogs can you keep anyway?

But I felt guilty and here I am, back again. Even if some of it is a repost of what I have posted elsewhere I will try to get going here again. If you have any questions I can work into a post, do feel free to ask. I have a lot of hits on The Great Raven, but only a few comments and sometimes I wonder who is reading or even whether I’m posting to a empty auditorium. So do comment! I will reply.

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The Current Big Thing

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Hullo, lovely readers. I know, I’ve already done The Next Big Thing, about my WIP.
This is a blog hop, arranged by Vicki M Taylor, a member of a LinkedIn writers group I belong
to.

The questions used are the Next Big Thing ones, but I am talking about my current book,
which is FINALLY available in US bookshops and on Amazon as a paperback instead of just
ebook. the idea is to promote and get some interest in your books.
Please check out the links at the end of this post to see what other writers are doing!

What is the title of your book?

The title of my current book is Wolfborn. It has just arrived in the US.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from a mediaeval romance by Marie De France, the Lai Le Bisclavret, (Werewolf).
I have used the story’s outline but set it in my own world.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s YA fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

In the Wolfborn movie, I would have Sean Bean or Viggo Mortensen as my
werewolf knight, Sire Geraint, who is betrayed and stuck in wolf skin.
The young hero, Etienne, his loyal page, could be played by Jamie Bell
if he was a few years younger. 🙂 I am still casting the other roles.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Teenage boy and friends race against time to save his master, a werewolf knight
who has been betrayed and stuck in wolfskin, before he becomes a wolf forever!

Was your book self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither. I was very lucky with this one; I was doing an interview about another book
in a magazine when a publisher who needed a full manuscript in a hurry read the interview
and emailed me to ask if she could have a look at the MS. She bought it two days later.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
This one was written and rewritten. The first draft was actually written very quickly
because the story poured out of me. Then I rewrote … and rewrote.
And then it was edited and edited again…

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t recall ever reading anything quite like it, but I am a big fan of Sophie Masson,
Juliet Marillier and Margo Lanagan, all of whom write novels with fairy tale backgrounds.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was reading the mediaeval romance mentioned above, in a collection called
The Breton Lais. It was about a werewolf knight whose wife betrays him when
she finds out his secret, making sure he stays a wolf. I thought it fascinating.
These days we’re used to the werewolf, vampire or whatever as the good guy
in YA paranormal romance, but in the Middle Ages they were evil creatures linked
to Satan.Yet here was this story written in the twelfth century in which the werewolf
was the good guy and probably born that way. The story leapt out at me yelling,
Novel! It’s told from the viewpoint of a character I created myself, a teenage boy
serving in his castle and learning what he needs to know for his own
knighthood. I added a couple of romances and some characters not in the original.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Fairies! (Or Faeries) Villains! Love! Adventure! Heroism! The Wild Hunt!
And a big, soppy dog.

And here are some more posts on this subject by other fabulous writers – why not visit them
all?

Vicki Taylor: http://vickimtaylor.blogspot.comhttp://vickimtaylor.blogspot.com
Gila Green: http://www.gilagreenonline.comwww.gilagreenonline.com
Jim Westcott: http://jacksmonster.wordpress.comhttp://jacksmonster.wordpress.com
Angela D Coleman: http://www.angeladcoleman.wordpress.comwww.angeladcoleman.wordpress.com
H.L. Stephens http://chroniclesofhlstephens.blogspot.comhttp://chroniclesofhlstephens.blogspot.com
Susan Spence: http://www.susanspenceauthor.comhttp://www.susanspenceauthor.com
Lannah Sawers-Diggins: http://bullseye-bullying.blogspot.com.auhttp://bullseye-bullying.blogspot.com.au
http://quillstreetcafe.comhttp://quillstreetcafe.com
And Deborah Teramis Christian: http://www.deborahteramischristian.com/http://www.deborahteramischrisitan.com

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Interview with Tehani Wessely

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First published in August on The Great Raven

Today’s post is an interview with Tehani Wessely. I have known Tehani since she was with the Andromeda Spaceways publishing co-operative, of which she was a founding member (I came along in the next wave). Whatever she says below about it being an apprenticeship, it was a highly impressive apprenticeship. It is true that she got her practice in publishing there. Tehani, like Miffy Farquharson, whom I interviewed earlier on this blog, is also a judge in a number of book and writing awards. Stuff the comic book superheroes, Tehani Wessely is Superwoman and a nice person on top of it all.

SB:You’re a teacher-librarian, a mother, a publisher, an editor, a blogger, a reviewer, a podcaster, a judge for three major awards (the Aurealis, the WA Premier’s and the Children’s Book Council, have I missed anything?) – how do you manage to fit it all in?

TW: That’s a very good question! I guess a lot of what I do involves reading, which I have always devoted a lot of time to (and I do read very fast – not always a good thing!) so it’s just a normal part of my routine. Luckily, a lot of judging reading overlaps, although the deliberations are always very different! I don’t watch much free-to-air television, or do a lot of outside the internet socialising, and if I’m being honest, I REALLY don’t get enough exercise, so I guess that’s where the time comes from! J

SB: How did you get the judging gigs you have had?

TW: The first time I judged was for the Aurealis Awards. I put my hand up a few years ago when Fantastic Queensland was running the Awards and called for judges, and was made convenor of the Fantasy Novel panel. It’s just grown from there – I’m now the judging co-ordinator for the AAs, and I think my other judging opportunities owe a lot to that experience as well. The first year I did WA Premier’s it was again just a simple matter of applying (and I think they were desperate – I shortlisted two categories on my own!) – I’m about to finish my last year for that, because you can only do three years in a row then have a couple of years break. CBCA was fantastic, and I’m only sad I couldn’t do my two year rotation (the judges are state-based and I moved interstate. I didn’t think it was very fair to the WA members not to have their judge accessible to them!).

SB: How many entries did you receive for the Children’s Book Council Awards and how long did it take to read and comment on them?

TW: I think we received over 400 entries across four categories. CBCA is great because from about May through to the following March, you receive a box of books every three weeks to read and comment on. The deadlines are nice and firm, and it keeps you on track, so although you’re reading a heck of a lot of books (many of which are picture books or quite short chapter books, which makes it easier!), it’s spaced out over the year.

SB: What criteria did you use in judging the CBCA awards (and any other you might like to comment on)?

TW: There are quite extensive criteria for the CBCA awards, which are available on the CBCA website – http://cbca.org.au/userfiles/file/Downloads/Nat%20Site/2011/awards%20criteria.pdf Naturally, literary quality is an important factor in all awards, but so is age appropriateness and many other elements. What’s interesting about judging for different awards is seeing the different focuses, and also how discussions differ in different types of panels – CBCA is eight people, face to face in an intensive four day judging conference in which EVERY ENTRY is looked at again; WA Premier’s is two people for initial shortlisting, then four/five for final decision (face-to-face meeting in an afternoon); Aurealis Awards is completely online, with three to four panelists. You can judge exactly the same books and get very different results – fascinating!

SB: What did you do with all those books you received?

TW: Most I donate to my local school/s – my own school library does very well out of me, as do my kids’ school. I give some to friends, and keep special ones for myself. I try to be ruthless about what I keep though – we’ve moved around a lot and boxes of books are HEAVY.

SB: I’m told that sometimes the difference between a Notable Book in the CBCA awards and a shortlisted one can be one vote – did that happen this year?

TW: Each book is shown to the judging team at the conference – if it receives at least half the team’s vote, it’s put forward for discussion to be Notable. The process is very straightforward – a certain number of votes are required for a book to get this honour, and then each of the Notable books is discussed and voted on to work to a shortlist. Then we vote again for Winner and Honour books. Each stage has clearly delineated rules about number of votes needed for a book to make it through. And yes, there were books this happened to – I imagine there would be every year!

SB: Would you do any/all of these judging jobs again?

TW: In an instant! I really enjoy the process, and the discussions you can have with other judges – I’ve never been in a book club, but I daresay I get the same sort of thing from judging!

SB: Tell us about Fablecroft Publishing, the company you founded.

TW: I started FableCroft after about eight years working in collaborative groups in Australian small press. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine was really a kind of apprenticeship for me, and an experience I’ll always treasure for the friendships I made and the lessons I learned. But I eventually decided I really would like to do some projects on my own, and thus FableCroft was born. It’s been ticking along nicely since the first book, Worlds Next Door, came out in 2010. I did two books that year, just one in 2011 (I also helped run a major science fiction convention that year, which ate a lot of time!), and two already in 2012.

The amount of work required for the press comes in fits and spurts, depending on where in the publication schedule I’m at – I’m always looking for marketing opportunities, and do regular newsletters with Twelfth Planet Press, as well as mailouts to retail outlets, update the press’s social networks and am usually working on one project or another at various points of the publication process! Slushreading is perhaps one of the biggest time factors – for Epilogue, which was open internationally, I received almost 200 submissions, which translated to over 900,000 words of fiction. In the first two weeks of the submissions call for the new anthology, One Small Step (closes September 30), I’ve had a dozen stories submitted – it will be interesting to see what the final numbers are like for this book, as it’s open to Australian authors only.

I love working on FableCroft – it lets me be creative, and support our local authors. As with Andromeda Spaceways, I really enjoy seeing new(ish) authors I published early in their careers go on to wonderful success, and is one of the reasons I formed the publishing house. It’s also really great when stories I’ve published are recognised at awards time, because it means that other people agree that the stories are as good as I think they are! A FableCroft story won an Aurealis Award for the first time this year, which was very exciting (yay Thoraiya!), and we also have stories being reprinted in the Ticonderoga Year’s Best collection later this year. Awards are not the reason I publish, but it’s a lovely bonus.

SB: Small press publishing seems to be thriving in Australian speculative fiction in recent years. Do you agree – and if so, why do you think this is the case?

TW: Personally, I would agree that independent press seems to be thriving in Australia, but I’ve only got a decade long perspective to work with. Certainly it seems in our history, we’ve had other boom periods, but the difference today is, I think, visibility and accessibility. We live in a connected world, and it is both much easier to actually CREATE such things, thanks to the advances and lessening costs of printing/publishing, as well as to be AWARE of them, due to social networking. The noise-to-quality ratio may also be increasing, but authors can certainly find more publishing opportunities now than ever before, and those opportunities seem to be growing too. It means we know more about what is out there, both within Australia and internationally, and can easily find publications we’re interested in reading, and interested in submitting to. It’s a great and scary time to be involved in publishing – so many changes, and so many opportunities. Pretty awesome, really!

SB: And here’s the link to

http://www.fablecroft.com.Fablecroft Publishing. If you’re a teacher or school librarian or both, you might like to check out Worlds Next Door while you’re there. There are some free sample stories to download and some of the stories have been read aloud by the authors.

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Folk Rock Groups Of My Teens

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On Thursday afternoon I went to buy my brother a birthday gift voucher from Basement Discs, his favourite CD shop. The trouble is, I love Basement Discs too. They are horribly expensive, but they have stuff you probably won’t find easily at your standard music shop. And when I go there, I end up splurging on music myself.

Right now, I’m listening to the Lyke Wake Dirge as sung by Pentangle, a group I discovered in my first year of university. Pentangle was one of the groups called “folk rock” because they played on electric instruments as well as acoustic, but sang folk music. This particular one is very old and is about the soul’s journey after death, through Purgatory. If you’re interested, here’s the entry in Wikipedia. 

Pentangle is still around, though not with all the original members. Bert Jansch, a wonderful guitarist with a distinctive singing voice, passed away some time ago, and the members have all gone on to successful solo careers. 

 

I remember the first time I heard this album, which is called Basket of Light. I was in the Monash University bookshop and this was the album being played. It was absolutely wonderful and I had to get it!

Ah. Now they’re singing “Hunting Song”, which is about an incident that happened in the life of King Arthur, when his half-sister Morgan Le Fay sent him a gift, a magic horn that would kill him if he used it. 

Why would you love this music? I always have. As a writer, it gives me inspiration. It links in with the mediaeval fantasy I write. I play it when I’m writing, to get me in the mood. Another song on the album is “House Carpenter”, an American version of  the British song “The Daemon Lover” in which the young woman leaves her husband and children for a handsome stranger and then finds out he’s a demon come to take her to hell. Hmm, sounds familiar in today’s YA fiction, except in paranormal romance the “daemon lover” is usually the good guy – go figure! 😉 

 

I bought another Pentangle album which I don’t have, “Sweet Child”, which has two CDs. I see it has “Sovay”, a song that inspired British YA writer Celia Rees to write a novel of the same name, about a girl who becomes a highway robber to test her boyfriend. She masks up and, in disguise, orders him to hand over the diamond ring she had given him and he tells her to get stuffed, that’s from his sweetheart. Later, she sees him at home and tells him that if he’d handed the ring over she would have shot him on the spot. It made a terrific novel, which I have in my library.

It also has “The Trees They Do Grow High” which I have only heard sung by Joan Baez, another fave of my teens, and is about a girl who is married off to a boy several years younger than herself to join their lands. Poor boy, he dies young! 

 

Joan Baez was a favourite when I was still at school. I used to go to my friend Denise’s home and we would enjoy afternoon tea and do artistic things while we played her Baez and Judy Collins albums. I would work on my latest novel and she would set up her easel and paint. Later, we’d sing these songs and Bob Dylan’s; she played the guitar and she sang a lot better than I did.

I have also acquired a Steeleye Span album which includes a DVD, so I can watch them as well as listen. Steeleye Span have been in Australia in recent years. They get together for tours now and then. They actually did a lunchtime gig at Basement Discs, but nice as their lead singer Maddy Prior was, I couldn’t think of anything to say to her – too star struck! She has had a great solo career too. I discovered this group with an album called “Now We Are Six” which was playing at a shop called John Clement’s, which I think was the Basement Discs of its time.

They’re another folk rock group of the seventies. They sing a mix of songs from different parts of the British Isles and they’re fantastic! If you think their fan base has shrunk, all I can say is that their concert at Festival Hall in Melbourne was jam packed. 

 

Again, folk songs tell stories, and if they’re common themes – stories you hear again and again – so is a lot of modern speculative fiction, both YA and adult.  I wonder if people picking up the latest ballad sheet on sale in the streets of London groaned, “Oh, no, not another story about a girl who has lost her sweetheart and had to go rescue him from the fairies!” (The ballad of Tam Lin tells that story, in case you want to know, and Pamela Dean wrote a terrific novel using it, set in a 1970s American university campus).

 

I’m betting that some of the modern writers of YA paranormal fiction went back to old, old folk songs for their inspiration. 

 

Anyone got any thoughts on this?

Going Home And Doughnuts

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Yesterday I got a lift to Footscray Station on my way home from school. I love that station, because in the middle of all the busy building and knocking down(and there’s more to come!) there is Olympic Doughnuts, a small stand where doughnuts have been sold for 31 years! My library technician, Lucy, tells me she took her children there when they were little and now they’re both grown up.

The same family has run the business all that time and there always seems to be a queue waiting for their hot, sugary deep- fried treats. And me. 🙂 They make the best, most delicious doughnuts I have ever tasted. You order you doughnut and they tip a fresh-cooked pile of them into the sugar tray. Then they pick one up and inject it with jam from a tool that has a dolphin’s head on it. You pay and carry away your warm paper bag of sweet goodness on to the train. Of course, you have to eat it right away or what’s the point?

I believe the place is going to stay open and where it is during the next lot of station building, because, let’s face it, what would the travellers do without their fresh doughnuts? And it’s the freshness that does it. Anywhere else you get stuff that was cooked elsewhere and maybe warmed up. It’s just not the same and I won’t buy them. So once in a while, when I’m dropped off at Footscray station, I shout myself. It’s a small treat, but sometimes that’s what you need.

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Waffle on a Sunday morning

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(From my other blog, The Great Raven)

I’m in bed listening to the radio, rereading some books despite a mile-high to be read pile of review copies, sipping chamomile tea and going back over some interview questions for I Am A Reader blog, where I intend to promote my novel’s arrival in the US with interview and giveaway. It may be my last giveaway for a while; I never seem to have much interest from either my blog or my Goodreads account, even when I invite entries just to give their details in the comments section.

And yet, those who have entered these small giveaways have always been terrific people. Through them I have had one great review, even though it came months later, I have been able to give a copy of Wolfborn to a lovely lady who had a second try after my first I Am A Reader hop and another to one who gave ME a present, the beautiful HUGE cup from which I am sipping my chamomile tea, I have met a library technician determined to get her primary school library going again… Worth it, I guess, if hard work(and who would think it would be hard work to give something away?;-D)

Anyway, we’ll see how this one goes on the I Am A Reader site. My guest post on Dear Teen Me should be coming up soonish and I will include a link here when it does.

Meanwhile, here’s my answer to one question, “Write a Haiku about your book “:

“Autumn leaves fall soon,
My lord then in wolf skin trapped,
Perhaps forever”.

Hopefully that will intrigue…;-)

What do you all think?

Harry Potter 3

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I’m rereading, for the umpteenth time, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban. It’s probably my favourite of the lot. It’s the last of the books in which nobody dies, but at the same time, you’ve learned a lot more about the world into which Harry has fallen. Innocent people can be sent to prison just because it will shut up the public – we found that out in The Chamber Of Secrets, in which loveable Hagrid is sent there just so the Minister of Magic can look as if he’s doing something. We also learned that there was slavery in the wizarding world.

In this book, we find out that Azkaban is more than just a jail. It’s a place where the guards are vampires which – not who – drain you of all hope and joy. They don’t need any bars to keep the prisoners in.

There’s still humour. I am pretty sure that the description of a cage full of purring fluff balls in a magical pet hop early in the book is a wink at Star Trek’s tribbles. It never says so, but I bet they are.

J.K. Rowling is one of those amazing writers who can appeal to adults and children and everyone in between and anyone who refuses to read these books is missing out. So often I read a YA novel that has had rave reviews, don’t like it at all and have to remind myself that it wasn’t written for me. Not in this case.

I reread the entire series from time to time because after finishing the last book, I want to go back to when Harry was 11 years old, innocent and just discovering he’s a wizard.

Sigh! Why can’t I write like this woman?
Anyone else out there who rereads HP regularly? Do comment and tell us why.