Joy of the season to you

I’m officially on my Christmas holidays as of now. Not being religious, for me this holiday is all about spending time with family, taking stock of the old year and looking forward to the new and taking a break from my day job. It is, however, a time of year when I traditionally do a heap of writing, so wish me well on that, won’t you?

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Whether you’re somewhere cold or somewhere warm (like me), and however you celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, I wish you a safe, happy and relaxing break, and I hope you get to spend it with people you love.

See you in the new year!

xoxo

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Busyness and roses

I’ve had so much going on lately, I feel like I’ve barely had time to stop and breathe (or write a blog post).

First there was the Read3r’z Re-Vu  read through of the proof of The Beast’s Heart, which was WONDERFUL. I could not have wished for a lovelier, more thoughtful, more enthusiastic bunch of first readers. They had so many good questions and so many astute observations and their responses left me in tears of joy on more than one occasion. You can see their individual reviews up on Goodreads (more tears of joy), and I’ll post a link to the review they post on the Read3r’z Re-Vu website when it goes up. But I have to say, this was a favourite moment:

Other busy things:

  • I have finished reading all the subs for A Hand of Knaves!
  • We have launched the Indiegogo crowdfunder for A Hand of Knaves! (Check it out – there is some super cool swag on offer for supporters.)
  • I went to Genrecon in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago. That was just fantastic. Highly recommended.
  • I wrote an article for Hodderscape giving y’all an opportunity to snoop around my writing space.

And…

I have been conspiring with my good mate Shauna O’Meara (who is responsible for the amazing playing card art for A Hand of Knaves) on a new Secret Project involving roses. It has been amusing to find she shares my “get it right” OCD in respect of historical details, to the point where she went to great lengths yesterday to find samples of rose breeds that would have been around in the 17th Century (there is a hint as to the nature of the Secret Project, right there.) Here’s a snippet of our conversation while she communed rapturously with nature…

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Because, you know. Historical accuracy.

The proofs are out there…

2017-11-18 14.40.24This has been an exciting few days! Hachette Australia HQ held their book bloggers night last Thursday, and this lil old thing got given out, leading to a small social media flurry on my part as people tweeted & instagrammed pics of their copies. I am telling you as a total rookie debut author, I don’t think this will ever get old.

But here’s the exciting part: a group of book bloggers and reviewers from Sydney blog Read3r’z Re-Vu will be doing a read along of their proof copies of The Beast’s Heart from Sunday evening through Monday, and they’ve asked me to join them! Basically, I get to peek over their shoulders and watch their reactions (via whatsapp) as they read it!

Am I looking forward to it? Am I what!

In return, I’ll be giving them some exclusive insights into writing the story plus a bonus playlist of songs I listened to while writing it.

On top of that, the submission window for A Hand of Knaves closed on Thursday at midnight. So now I have a fat folder sitting in my inbox of short story submissions ready  to read. Really looking forward to seeing what’s waiting for me there.

Plus there’s a few other bits & pieces to be getting on with, like a wrap-up of last weekend’s Genrecon and a new article for Hodderscape, not to mention I’ll be starting a new job on Monday. So it’s not like I’m going to be at a loose end over the next few days…

Fairy tale art

vasilisa-the-wiseI have been a bit quiet over here of late (busy busy), so today I’m posting a treat by proxy. Hodderscape has just published an article of mine that makes my heart sing for reasons that have nothing to do with my own words, and everything to do with the exquisite fairy tale artwork I got to share – including, by way of example, Lorena Carrington’s exquisite cover for this lovely book of fairy tales by Kate Forsyth (which I have pre-ordered for its release next month). The article also features artworks from Kathleen Jennings and sculptures from Spike Deane

Go and have a look. 🙂 It’s really gorgeous.

The iceberg

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If you are a writer, you have probably at some stage of heard of something referred to as ‘the iceberg principle’. It’s pretty simple really. The premise is based on the idea that 90% of the iceberg lies invisible, under the water, with only 10% visible above the surface. This is a metaphor for what you know about your story, world and characters, vs what actually makes it onto the page for your reader to see.

Just by way of example, here’s a sentence from one of my WIPs:

If she had been at home, she most likely would have been abed with a hot brick and one of her housekeeper’s restorative tisanes.

That might have taken you all of two seconds to read. And it probably took me a couple of minutes to craft the actual words that went into it. But that sentence also represents at least 45 minutes worth of internet research on:

  • 18th Century remedies for period pain
  • Lydia E Pinkham
  • Liquorice root, including where it grows and what its medicinal properties are
  • the medicinal properties of Dandelion root

Which is basically just my way of reassuring myself that it’s OK to have only produced 200 words after getting up at 5.30 am and writing for 1.5 hours before the family gets up and we all have to get ready for work/school/etc. And also goes some way to illustrating why it takes so damn long to write a bloody novel.

And now I have had that stupid Lily the Pink song stuck in my head all day. Yeah. You’re welcome.

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Crazy times at Conflux 13

Well, wow. That was intense.

Conflux 13 is over & it was amazing. I feel like I’ve been operating on overdrive for a week now. Where should I start? OK, highlights.

1. Meeting Ellen Datlow. Idol from my youth. Giant of the fantasy & horror genres. Hard not to spend the weekend in a total fangirl tailspin.

2. The panels. What’s not to like about spending the weekend talking with like-minded and fascinating people like Angela Slatter, Kirstyn McDermott and Aiki Flintheart about things like Fairy Tales With Teeth and ClawsBeastly TransformationsMagic Schools and Deadly Dance?

3. Winning second prize in the CSFG/Conflux short story comp for my story Flawless! (Which I’ve now been invited to read at the next meeting of the Canberra Fairy Tale Ring. as it fits neatly with the AFTS November theme of Snow White.)

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4. Interviewing Zena Shapter for the launch of her new novel, Towards White, out from IFWG Publishing.

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Photo courtesy of Cat Sparks

5. Drinking creme de violette bellinis and planning a live-tweeted rewatch of The Lady and the Highwayman and perhaps also A Hazard of Hearts (both movies based on Barbara Cartland novels made in the 1980s).

6. Discovering who was the mysterious origami master leaving perfect tiny dragons and unicorns all over the con.

7. Watching our guests of honour Ellen & Angela, & MC Kaaron opening their thank you goody bags to reveal a beautiful cast glass key by Canberra Fairy Tale Glass artist Spike Deane. I’m given to understand they were well received.

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8. And last, but definitely not least – because this is what it’s all about when it comes down to it – is spending time with beloved friends and kindred spirits, both new and old, talking about writing, publishing, reading, movies, games, art, history, research, language and anything else that moves us and connects us and makes us part of the same tribe.

(All photos, except the first four, by Cat Sparks.)

 

…TA DA!

Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness.

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It’s here. And isn’t it beautiful? I’m so thrilled.

And just in case this beautiful cover art isn’t enough for you, Hodderscape have a fascinating behind the scenes look at exactly how they created the cover for The Beast’s Heart.

I love the thought that the cover of my book is actually the gate to the Beast’s realm. You just have to open it up and step through to lose yourself in the fairy tale on the other side.

Conflux 13: Grimm Tales

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Conflux 13 is almost upon us! I have been a bit swamped the last few days putting the final touches on the program and scheduling all our wonderful panellists, but it’s almost there! And I am SUPER excited for this year’s con.

Firstly, what’s not to love about a dark fairy tale-themed SF con? *Swoon*

Secondly, the Guests of Honour this year…

Ellen Datlow and Angela Slatter! Hell, if I swoon any harder I’m gonna give myself consussion.

It was reading Ellen Datlow’s fairy tale anthologies in my early twenties that basically showed me that fairy tales were not just dragonflies locked in amber for all eternity, and that writers were still using all my favourite tales as inspiration for new stories. Which kinda inspired me to start writing my own stories…

And I will let you in on a secret and tell you Angela has been one of my author crushes for a while now. If you are into stories that draw on fairy tales and folklore all twisted up with a large pinch of darkness and more than a few shreds of cobweb, Angela is your gal.

So. Conflux! When I’m not running around troubleshooting or recovering from all of that in the con bar, here is where you’ll be able to find me:

Friday

10am – Con 101 with my good friend Elizabeth Fitzgerald. New to cons? A bit shy? We’ll have tim tams.

11am – Magic school. I’ll be talking magical education both real and imagined with Angela, Lyss Wickramasinghe and Dion Perry.

2pm – Fairy tales with teeth and claws. I’ll be moderating this conversation between Ellen, Angela, Kirstyn McDermott and Jason Nahrung.

4pm – Beastly transformations. A subject dear to my heart, you might say (boom-tish!)

Saturday

11am – Not for children. I’ll be talking about the dark roots of classic tales with Ellen, Angela and Kirstyn.

Sunday

9am – It’s early for a Sunday, but I’ll be soaking up the company at the Conflux 13 Guest of Honour Breakfast.

11am – Anthology makers. I’ll be honest, I put my hand up to mod this discussion between Ellen, Cat Sparks (who is launching her anthology with Liz Grzyb, Ecopunk, at Conflux) and Michelle Lovi of Odyssey Press hoping to get some hot tips for editing A Hand Of Knaves at the end of the year.

1.00pm – Deadly dance. I am really looking forward to this one. Dance & death in SFF fiction with Angela and Aiki Flintheart.

3.30pm – The Canberra Fairy Tale Ring agreed to let Conflux  host it’s September meeting (just a teeny bit later than usual). Conveniently this month’s tale is The Girl With No Hands, as that was the title story in one of Angela’s earlier collections of twisted fairy tales. So she’s going to come along to that too.

If you’re in Canberra over that weekend, come along to the Vibe Hotel & say hi. It’s going to be spectacular. (Ticket info on the Conflux website here.)