Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sunday Showcase - Fantasy Author Jennifer Kenny

Today my special guest is fantasy author, Jennifer Kenny, But I'll let her do the talking.

1. What inspired you to write in your genre?
I was drawn towards fantasy elements since I was a teenager. When I say fantasy, it is more than just dragons and wizards. I consider paranormal, urban, all of those other genres that sit under the fantasy umbrella when I say I love fantasy. I live in reality, and I find it boring to read about things I could find in my real life. Coming from a place where I am entertained through fantasy, it was natural for me to want to explore this from a creative perspective. Fantasy is the world that I have always known.
The Extol Series though came about as a response to the new trend with vampire literature. I grew up on stories like Dracula, The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice and The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike. All of these books showed vampires in different ways but to me, they were always damned. They might find acceptance, but it was doomed. This is a defining feature of the vampire lore – in my opinion. Vampires cannot be the hero, and if they are, tragedy follows. I wanted to reclaim the vampire out of paranormal romance genre. And so the idea of a vampire that would never be loved even after he loved her was the first idea about Extol.

2.  If you write a series, how many books can your readers expect?
This should be an easy answer, right? My problem with this question is I am not sure exactly what is going on when it comes to how long Extol is going to be. My original idea was a short story for a university creative writing assignment. (2000 words), but then it got bigger and turned into my NaNoWriMo project for 2015 (50,000 word target), but it became evident at the 25,000 word mark that it was going to be bigger than that.
Extol of Agnatic Dreams comes in at 120,000 words. While developing the story and brainstorming with a beta reader, she asked me what happened next. I told her that was the end, and she pointed out that out was only the beginning. And so Extol of Eildon Fallacy came into being. (current WIP and sitting at 30,000 words). I thought Fallacy would be the end, but as I am writing, I can see that it isn’t. There will be a third book – currently unnamed – and I am ok with that because trilogies work well.
While talking with friends, though, there are many branches I could explore if I felt like it. The past of Braykith, the family lines, The War… so I really cannot say just how big the Extol series will be. I can confirm that it will be at least three books in Evangeline’s story.

3. Are there any books or authors you admire?
Ultimately I respect any author who writes the story they want to write, and not the one that will get sold. I enjoy Stephan’s work (from the 80’s – 90’s mostly), but it is his work ethic and the understanding of the craft that I admire the most about him. 
However, it was meeting George R. R. Martin that changed my life as an author. I kept reading about how discipline writers are, and I just struggled with that some days. George is just like me. A terrible procrastinator who writes with inspiration. It was mind blowing to me that authors could work in ways against the obvious.
Side note: one of my favourite books is Armageddon Rag by George R. R. Martin. Yeah, who knew the guy who wrote Game of Thrones didn’t always write high scale fantasy. I recommend it to everyone.

4. If you had to choose a playlist for any of your books, what would it be?
I have assigned songs for my characters to help me get into the right mood when I am writing them. Right now, Little Mix Secret Love Song is dedicated to Evangeline and Thomas. Glais has Underneath by Adam Lambert as his anthem. If you want to know the main personal story for my three leads, those two songs tell you everything.

5. What do you find the most challenging thing about being an author?
Continued self-acceptance and love. I think any person who pursues a creative field needs to be a little bit of a narcissist. Art, music, literature… all of these things ask for a piece of your soul that you must share with the world, and you want people to sit up and take notice of it.
Part of putting your work out into the world is receiving criticism. After a little while, that negative feedback is going to wear a person out. It is just human nature. If you tell someone they have no talent; even the most self-believing person will start to believe it. Remembering the reason why you wanted to write in the first place is a hard thing to retain, and will be the only thing that keeps you sane.

6. Tell us about your publishing experience. Did you always intend to be traditionally published or indie published?
I think, deep down, all authors want to be traditionally published. Until we get to a place in society where self-publishing is at the same level as traditional publishing, then we will keep having this debate over what is better.
I want the contract so people take me seriously as an author. If I could tell people that Random House published my book (and paid me $15,000 for the privilege) then maybe people might stop thinking that this is just a hobby.
I like self-publishing because I can tell the story that I want in the way I like it. To me, it is important that my brand is honest, and right now I am not sure it would stay that way after the publishers were done with me.
I recently did a one-day course about ‘how to get published’. You can read my blog about it here:!Faber-Writing-Academy-Getting-Published-course/c1qtt/578c45980cf256540e9cc132 It was interesting to hear about the process, even though I am still not sure if it is for me. 
I am a firm believer in trying things before you hate them, so I am currently working on a separate book that will be fit for sending to traditional publishers. (Publishers won’t touch anything connected to a self-published book because you have already flooded the market). Maybe it will sell, maybe I will learn how harsh traditional publishers are, or maybe I will realise that there is some merit in traditional publishing.

As Earl to an up-and-coming province, Barret Dilston had difficult decisions to make. Fortunately for him, the decision to give his daughter to a King of mythical power and devious connections to the occult was not one of them. Evangeline was due to wed the future King of Braykith when she was four years old. 

Now a young woman, Evangeline is learning that not everything about her marriage is as it seems. King Quintus refuses to accept her professional manner. His son, and her future husband Glais, barely speaks a kind word to her, and sadly there is no sight of the must talked of Braykith dragon. At first glances, the Kingdom of Braykith is no different to any other. 

Just as she believes she can relax, Evangeline discovers the secret of the royal family that fails when compared to the legends she had been raised on. After the years of training to become a Queen, Evangeline had never been prepared for the truth that lies buried within the lore of the Kingdom. The royal lineage survives on a blood lust, exclusive to the male heirs to the throne. 

Surviving Braykith is not for the faint of heart. 

Book Extract

“You know nothing of what I need.” It seemed Glais had found humour in this moment and not the allure Evangeline was aiming for. Everything about this moment proved that she did indeed knew nothing about his needs as he had pointed out. Also that there was more to flirtation and sex than Evangeline ever imaged was possible.
“It is true that I am innocent…” her thoughts tapered away at his scoffed at her admission. It was enough to turn her cheeks red from his apparent disbelief that it be true. “We have been engaged since we were children. Of course, I am pure when I come to you.” She could not believe that Glais did not think it was so and was suddenly ready to defend her honour against a man who clearly had none of his own. Evangeline managed to raise her face in defiance but she could not meet his gaze. Emptiness sat there in his pupils and Glais would drag her in until she felt breathless and ill. “I belong to you. Take it from me, and no other. I will not fear whatever it is you feel needs to be hidden.”
Evangeline had caught his interest finally. She could tell from the newly controlled posture, the seemingly natural stance gone from his body as Glais regarded her for perhaps the first time as someone worthy of his time. His father had been telling him since her arrival that Evangeline could be trusted just as Kyleigh was trustworthy, but he had never believed his father's insistence until this moment. Glais stood at attention without even realising it, trying to find some logical reason to reject her once more. It should be simple enough for him to force her from this room and back to the other party guests with no story to tell. He would do this for her own life, even if Evangeline did not believe it. He did all of this to keep her alive. The less she knew, the safer she would be.
Evangeline dared a peek at his eyes and instantly she was breathless and had to look away. This was not the first time she would come to wonder if he liked her as a person. Could Evangeline ever be someone he thought of or was Evangeline simply someone to tolerate because both of their families needed this marriage to work? She felt him move, her breath caught in her throat as she feared, and also willed, his hands on her body. Instead, Glais reached for her hand which had stayed behind his neck, plucked it from its perch and steadied Evangeline on her feet.
“Return to the party,” Glais commanded.

Get it here - Amazon 

Until next time, happy reading 😊

Monday, 25 July 2016

Sunday Showcase - Let Me Introduce Children's Author Claire Plaisted

1. What inspired you to write in your genre?

My friend’s grandson was two years old when I started writing Girlie and the War of the Wasps. He has since turned 5 yrs.  So book one is dedicated to him and his nana.  I wanted to write a young children’s book. The Cottage Garden idea was my friend's, and Sammie Kitten belongs to my friend.

2. If you write a series, how many books can your readers expect?
Girlie Adventures is a growing Series.  I have one published, one with beta readers and another half written.  There are a total of maybe 7 or 8 books so far and the ideas keep growing. J  Each one will have donations to a charity which is relevant to the story.

3. How and why did you choose your book cover(s)?
The book cover for Girlie is a picture I drew and put together when I first started writing.  It was a line drawing and with assistance from a few others it became my book cover.  I will be drawing a cover for each book (I hope)

4. Are there any books or authors you admire?
I adored C S Lewis – The Chronicles of Narnia.  A set of books for children of all ages.  I have read them over and over for years. If I can write books for children of all ages I will be a happy author.

5. If you could co-write a book with anyone of your choosing, who would it be and why?
I would love to co-write.  Not attempted it with anyone outside my family yet.  I have seen the results of co-writing which gives me lots of ideas.  I have a part co-written book with my daughter though not sure it will ever be finished.

6. If money was no object and you could travel to any place in the world for your dream vacation where would you go and what would you do?
Our dream is to travel the world from 2018. Check in with my parents and meet as many of the lovely authors and friends we have made online.  Heading back to New Zealand to retire to the beach.

Girlie is a young blue ladybug who sees her best friend kidnapped. Venturing after her, she discovers some naughty wasps who need to learn about healthy eating. Along the way, Girlie meets many different characters, some who are helpful and some who aren't.

Extract from Girlie

How a Wasps Hive Should Be!

Trent and Mersey showed their guest around, explaining the history of the hive.
“During the winter the Queen wasp hibernates, protecting her wings and legs until the first days of a warm spring arrive,” said Mersey.
“We have heard about some queens coming out of hibernation too early and dying through lack of food.”
“How sad for her,” Girlie said.
“Anyway, the Queen comes out of hibernation to eat and start to build her hive for her babies.”
“You use wood?” asked Pedi.
“Yes, generally we use wood. We strip small amounts off any wood we find, mash it into a pulp and mix it with our secret ingredient to make our hive.”
“The Queen builds the central hive. After she’s finished she’ll have babies. The Queen makes the central columns and then, like the bees, she’ll make and attach little pods which she will fill with larvae.”
“After this, the larvae grow and become new wasp workers. They take over building the hive,” said Mersey.
 “Well, our Queen does breed into the pods, it is just the larvae are not overly healthy.”
“I’m sure we can help sort you out,” said Trent with a smile.
“I presume you know what happens next, Pedi?”
“Yes of course, the larvae are fed insects and grow. When they are ready, they put a cover over their pod. I’m not sure what it’s made from.”
“Then what happens?” asked Girlie.
“They eventually turn into adult wasps, break the seal and go join the other workers or drones.”
“Where do the queen wasps come from if the others are all drones and workers?”

Buy links  - Amazon 

Where you can connect with Claire - Website   Twitter     

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Thursday, 21 July 2016

UK/Australian Spelling vs American

When you read a book, do you pay particular attention to the spelling? Does it bother you that some words seem misspelt? 
And how do you know they are? Depending on which English-speaking nation you're from, you're bound to come across variations in spelling, and even terminology. If, like me, you're used to Oxford spelling (as used in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada) you'd have noticed nothing odd about the word I used in the 2nd sentence. But to anyone from the USA, it looks like an error.
Too often, I've seen authors unjustly criticised (me among them), and receiving low stars in reviews based on the reader's ignorance of cultural variations in spelling and terminology.  
It's annoying and frustrating, let alone unfair. 
I've even gone as far as adding a statement on my Amazon book page explaining my use of AUSTRALIAN spelling and grammar (which is essentially OXFORD standard). Sad but necessary.
Believe it or not, there are countries in the world that do not use the Webster's dictionary. 
I believe it's time we corrected this ignorance and embrace our differences.
Check out the list I've gathered showing the spelling differences between only a handful of words. Others, some of which I included, are those where "z" is used instead of "s" and "l" rather than "ll" and the omission of the letter "u" (they're in the list).   
So next time you come across, what you think is a misspelled or wrong word, check again. It might be you who's wrong.


aeroplane  airplane
ageing – aging
arse  ass
autumn – fall
barrister – attorney
bill (restaurant) – check
bookshop – bookstore
biscuit – cookie
bum bag  fanny pack
caravan – trailer
centre – center
cheque (bank) – check
chemist’s shop – drugstore, pharmacy
chips – fries, French fries
cinema – movies
coffin – casket
colour  color
cozzie – swimsuit
criticise  critize
draught  draft
favourite  favorite
flat – apartment
petrol station  gas station
jam – jelly
jewellery  jewelry
lift  elevator
mobile – cell phone
motorway  expressway
mum  mom
pavement – sidewalk
petrol – gas/gasoline
pimple – zit
postbox – mailbox
programme  program
pyjamas  pajamas
rubbish – garbage, trash
scone – biscuit
solicitor – lawyer
sweets/lollies – candy
taxi  cab
wardrobe – closet
Westfield (shopping centre) - mall

Those who've read my books will recognise some of the words in the list.
Happy reading 😊