Tuesday, February 26, 2013

'Neverwhere', an updated post!

A little while ago, I posted some early news on the upcoming Radio 4 adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. You might remember it, I was quite excited.

A couple of days ago, an email from one of my lists contained this rather nifty link containing a bunch of updated information for this upcoming radio play. It's happening, guys, it's happening!

I really cannot state in calm and rational sounds just how excited I am by this cast.

Keep in mind, I come from a strong fanfic (fangirl) background, so it's tempting for me to take a look at each individual actor from the popularity of previous fandoms if only for just one second:

James McAvoy.


Look at that cutie-cute. You may know this man from X-Men: First Class where he played a non-bald, non-wheelchaired Professor Charles Xavier. Should you also read fanfic, you will also recognise him as the often-times partner of one Erik Lensherr (Magneto), easily one of the most popular 'ships for months after the release of this movie.

Benedict Cumberbatch.


You may know this man from BBC's Sherlock, where he plays a not!sociopath alongside characters such as a not!housekeeper and not!boyfriend. The fanfic archives would have that otherwise, however, in the overwhelmingly large responses that have risen up after each season finale. The grief-stricken John fics alone, as he first comes to terms with Sherlock's demise only to find that the death has been a fake (and often punch Sherlock in the face). We are all achingly awaiting the day when Moffat finally reveals to us how it really was that Sherlock escaped death, but in the meantime we're happy to just listen to his amazing voice.

Anthony Stewart Head


Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Although I have seen Tony Head in a number of roles past his portrayal of weary watcher Rupert Giles (Repo, Spooks), not to mention the sheer number of hours I personally have whiled away on the computer over the years reading Buffy fanfic. He may appeal to an older audience, true, but there is a lot in this man that's still there to appeal to the younger crowd. See also: previous comment about amazing voice ;)

Other most notable mentions include:

Christopher Lee & Natalie Dormer. 
British-Legends-of-Stage-and-Screen-Christopher-Lee.jpgThumbnail image for Natalie-Dormer-natalie-dormer-24827871-2560-1920.jpg

Lord of the Rings (Fellowship and Two Towers, anyway) & The Tudors/Game of Thrones.

This series will begin on SATURDAY 16TH MARCH, and I will be listening eagerly.


It is four months this week since Gothic hit the shelves and I'm pleased to see a whole bunch of reviews coming back this week to commemorate the occasion.
This week, I have both a featured interview and review over on Ashley Torbeck's http://drunkenspacepenguin.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Advice for writers

This is another blog post based on a question I've seen in a number of interviews:

What would you say to help new writers?

Well, apart from, Go, go now while you still have a chance! It's too late for me, but you've got your whole life ahead of you!

Apart from that, which I would obviously never, ever say to a new writer. Not one who didn't know my peculiar sense of humour, anyway.

I find myself usually offering something that feels trite in answer to this question: Keep editing, make your friends read over your work, make your family read over your work, make kind strangers on the side of the road read your work, then revise what you've written with that feedback in mind.

Keep trying. Remember that every 'no' brings you closer towards a 'yes'. Success is built on the mountain of 'no'. Embrace it. Hug it like a lover.

And stuff like that.

In this personal blog, though, I have a bit more room to make an answer to this question. I've been there through most of it myself. I've been in the writing classes, the workshop groups. (I had a particular woman who was the bane of my writerly existence from aged 18 to 24, constantly telling drawing thick red lines through my writing. I'm now lucky enough to have stayed in contact with her for long enough that my writing has progressed to the point there are fewer thick red lines.) I've agonised over what words to use in the synopses, and polished the first page within an inch of its life in vain hopes that it will capture a publisher's interest. I've been rejected and then picked up by another house for the same piece of work so I know it can't have been that bad, it just wasn't the right fit for the first place(s) I submitted to. I've been published and then discouraged when I found my work wasn't done, lost interest in the books I was meant to be promoting, and let things slide.

But it's like they say on the popular campaign for teenage LGBT kids: It gets better.

Of course it does, otherwise we, as writers, would throw in the towels and refuse to get up in the mornings.

I've also decided to make use of other peoples' words to further aid this advice for writers segment. The links below are, without exception, written by people who have shown thought and wit over just some of the issues writers face.

I found them useful and I thought you might too.

The links:

On Writing.
So, it's hard to have much to edit or submit without an actual piece of writing. That's why we're going to start with Rachel Aaron's blog post on how she got from writing 2k words a day to writing 10k.
How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day.
I'm a writer who has commonly been able to write large amounts in a single sitting, and been surrounded by people and blog posts that have instructed that the way to go is the steady 1,000 words every day. Look them up on Google, they're out there. They're just weren't really helpful to me. So, if you're like me, I strongly encourage you to click on this link. Rachel is amazing and witty and her 'triangle of writing metrics' is, in my humble opinion, unparalleled.

On Editing.
Obviously, it's difficult to edit your own work. You're a writer, not an editor. Unfortunately, before you can become an author, you do need to learn a little bit about the craft of editing.
Why Editing on Paper Beats Editing on Screen.
Christopher Ruz puts together a run down in this post on what goes into a round of edits for him. Obviously, this isn't a definitive how-to on editing for everyone, but it does give you an example of what can go into an editing process and it's also a good place to start. I've also found the act of reading your manuscript aloud to hear how it runs is helpful. Ultimately, you'll find an editing method that works for you.

On Synopses.
You've got the writing, you've done the editing, but now it's time to make something of it. More to the point, it's time to make somebody else sit up and take notice of it. For that, you need to condense your 50k, 80k, 100k novel into a one page document.
My Method for Writing a Synopsis.
Stacy Nash gives you the run down on how she does synopses in this concise and useful post.

On Rejection Letters.
So, you've written the novel, edited it, submitted it for publication complete with a synopsis and...
It still got rejected.
Why Good Stories Get Rejected.
Not to worry. You are an author now. Come on, you can say it. Your first rejection letter is a rite of passage. Your tenth rejection letter is a rite of passage. Sure, there are some authors who get accepted in the first house they submit to, but it's the exception rather than the rule. In this blog post, E. M. Lynley goes into some detail on what it is that causes good stories to get rejected.

On Online Promotion.
Now you're published. If you got into one of the big houses, good for you! They'll actually do a lot of the marketing for you, you'll have a book launch, it'll be terrific. But maybe you got picked up by an indie publisher, or got sick of all the rejection letters and decided to go into self publishing.
The Complete and Unabridged Guide to Goodreads for Authors Set Up Customization and Widgets, Lots of Widgets.
What they don't tell you is that the writer's job doesn't stop at getting the novel published. Even if you're published with one of the bigger companies, you'll still be expected to have an online face. Twitter and Facebook are great, but one of the best online promotional tools going around right now is Goodreads. It changed my life. It'll waste a lot of your daytime hours, and it'll be worth it. Best of all, this is one of the most fun sites around right now, and John Corwin's post is one of the best walk throughs I've seen of it. I had a hoot while reading it.


I've also been featured on Allan Krummenaker's blog, writing further insights on plot and character creation.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What I like to read when I'm writing urban fantasy.

Inspired by the Author's Chat post on the weekend, as well as questions I've been getting from a couple of recent interviewers, I've decided to write a blog post based on the things I read when I'm writing my Shadows of Melbourne series.

In preparation for starting to look at a second draft of the third book Smoke and Mirrors and make my first steps on a draft for Harsh Light of Day, I currently have a copy of Patricia Briggs' Bone Crossed on my waiting-to-be-read pile.

Patricia's paranormal fantasy novels are like a breath of fresh air. The market is currently flooded with vampire novels and these novels stand out. If I could be seen to write like anyone out there in paranormal fiction right now, it would be Patricia Briggs.

The characters, the plots... I definitely have the feeling that I am standing right within the world she's created when I'm reading. I love the friends that her main character Mercy Thompson has, the way those friends complicate and enrich her life. I love that each single book plot wraps up, while still leaving the reader wanting to know what will happen next on the greater, overarching plot of the series.

Most of all, I like that someone else is writing these books, and I'm not the one who has to figure out what to write next.

From Booklist: In a world where witches, vampires, werewolves, and shape-shifters live beside ordinary people, it takes a very unusual woman to call it home...

I'm so looking forward to start reading it!!

I'm also pretentious (and academic) enough to have picked up another couple of books to flick through as I develop the vampire and werewolf plot lines in upcoming Shadows of Melbourne novels. The most instrumental texts I have on my shelf to that end are Our Vampires, Ourselves by Nina Auerbach and Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Auerbach's book is an amazing look at the history of the literary vampire, starting from Byron's vampire story begun on the same night as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The format of the old Gothic tales are looked at closely. Those tales aren't things I necessarily think about when I am writing, but reading through Our Vampires, Ourselves has given me some great ideas to do with a character who has only appeared peripherally so far in Gothic.

Women Who Run With the Wolves is a book I have picked up, put down, picked up again, put down, and never owned myself until running across it recently in a university book sale. I snatched it up immediately, determined to pick it up this time for more than a passing read. This book had been in my mind as potential insight into the deeper relationship between Dahlia and her adopted werewolf kin. The book is, of course, interesting for many other archetypal and societal reasons.

I've also received the link to a guest post I did a little while ago over at the Ramblings from this Chick blogspot. Feel free to go over there and have a look:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Writing Genres and The Casual Vacancy.

This morning began with my partner calling that breakfast was ready from downstairs. Breakfast was a cheese, eggs and bacon sandwich with the kettle already boiled and ready for me to make any hot drink I desired.

Not a bad way to start the day.

It's now an hour later. I've yet to get out of my pyjamas, my fiancee is sitting next to me and working from home, I'm on my second Milo of the morning and I'm pleasantly surprised to find that I'm enjoying my read through of J. K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.

Although it's incredibly obvious that this book is by the same author as the Harry Potter books, Rowling's writing is easy to get into. In The Casual Vacancy as well, there is no great battle between good and evil to push the plot along at the expense (in my opinion) of character. In Rowling's first novel for adults, the plot is the characters. The prologue of the book shows the last hours leading into the death of the central character. The plot of the novel is the people who are left in the town, and the way their lives have been changed in the wake of this central figure's death. The cast of characters are diverse. Dislikeable and sympathetic. Annoying but understandable. They range in age, race, class status. Rowling does a very good job of fleshing out what feels like a real small town in England.

This is not a fantasy novel or a children's book, and it represents a great diversion from the style of books she is best known for.

I've gotten very used to writing urban fantasy and young adult novels. The urban fantasy / paranormal romance series in particular, with the release of Gothic. But I know that I have almost complete versions of the second and third books Revelry (coming very soon from Leap of Faith publishing) and Smoke and Mirrors, so perhaps it is time to pause and take up a different genre of writing for a while...

In a conversation I had with my partner before Christmas, when I was having a terrible time with my mental health, I mentioned the difficulties I was having with writing the fourth book in the above Shadows of Melbourne series.

Him: Have you been writing anything at all lately?

Me: Not really. It's easier to pay attention to the real life job. All I have to do is rock up there, not cry and stay there till the end of the shift. There's a manual we follow, we've gone through training to understand the manual and anything outside of that I can transfer or ask someone else for further advice. With writing thought, I have to make things up as I go along, things have to fit together and if I get to a road block, I'm the only one who can unblock the damned thing.

Him: What if you weren't making things up as you went along? You've always liked journal writing and you've had a bunch of interesting things happen in your life. I'd really love to read that. What if you were to go through your old journals and write up a narrative around them?

Me: .....

My partner is also observed I've been reading a lot in the biography/memoir genre lately. I've written here before of my love for Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. I shortly after followed that up with her novel Committed which, to be truthful, I didn't find as alluring. Since this conversation, I have also added the semi-autobiographical novel Marrying Buddha by Wei Hui to this list.

From these books, I have observed things that I thought worked, didn't work. It has also occurred to me that a good memoir seems to be as much about what you decide to put in as it is about what you don't decide to put in. The format of a narrative is necessarily neat. But real life doesn't happen as a neat narrative, obviously. There are threads that occur in a chronological time line that may have little or nothing to do with the greater story you're setting out to tell. Some bits you'll emphasise, some bits you'll belittle, and some you'll leave out altogether.

I don't know what to do with this statement, I just want to have it here.

I've been guesting blogging between posts here as well. Follow me here at my fellow Leap of Faith author blog, Gemma K. Murray: