Tag Archives: indie-writers

A break in the gloom

My home state is still being savaged by bushfires, but I thought we could all use a break, so this post is about writing and writers. Plus I confess I have a promise to keep.

The technical term for this post is blog hop, or blog chain. I’d heard of blog hops, but had never done one until an aussie writer  friend tagged me last week. I said yes because the questions were all about writing, but that was before all this mayhem, so I can only half keep my promise.

The rules are simple – ‘basically you answer 4 questions on your blog on 10th Feb, thank person who tagged you (include bio and links) and then tag 3 other people (who will post Feb 17th) and give brief bio and links for them’. 

The first part is easy. I was tagged by Jennifer Scoullar, a writer who also happens to live here in Victoria. Jennifer lives on a lovely country property called Pilyara with her family and an assortment of beautiful horses, so when I say she writes Rural Romances you can be sure she knows whereof she speaks. The flavour of the bush permeates Jennifer’s writing like the smell of gum trees after rain, and her characters are just as authentic.

In case you’re wondering, Jennifer, her family, her horses and Pilyara are all safe, thanks in part to her sons who are helping fight the fires with the CFA.

But back to writing. Jennifer’s first, traditionally published novel is called Brumby’s Run, and I had the pleasure of reviewing it some time ago on the blog. The review can be found here. In a nutshell, though, this woman can write. 🙂

And now to the questions, which are :

1) What am I working on?

I currently have two stories on the go. The first is a side-ways sequel to my first novel, Vokhtah. Tentatively titled ‘Kaati’, the action veers away from the main storyline as we find out what happens to the Apprentice after the end of the first book. For those who have not read Vokhtah, the Apprentice is a young Trader who is disowned by its people and left to die on the freezing heights of the Spine. It survives, obviously, but I can’t say more as that would give away too much.

The second story I’m working on is set on earth, in the not-so-distant future. All the characters are human, and I’m finding it much easier to write! The original idea for the story popped into my head when I signed up for Nanowrimo 2012. I wanted to try my hand at something different, something a bit more… romantic. Of course, being me, I soon became intrigued by the world, and the technology, and the effect that technology would have on the lives of the characters.  Titled ‘Innerscape’, the book still has a strong element of love running through it, but the over-arching story has expanded to include more global themes. Sadly, neither story is finished, yet.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There are a great many flavours of science fiction, but mine seems to lean towards the character driven, social end of the spectrum. Vokhtah had next to no technology, but the biology and astronomy were both possible. By contrast, Innerscape is chock full of technology that I have extrapolated from what is either already available, or likely to become available within the next 50 years. Nonetheless, the focus of the story is not on the technology, rather it’s on people like you and me, people who will live with that technology, and be subtly changed by it. To me, that is the real attraction of science fiction, the ability to put people in extreme situations, and then watch to see what they do. Will they grow? Or will they crumble?

3) Why do I write what I do?

My Dad was big on the classics, both in literature and music, so I was already going to university when I first read Dune [by Frank Herbert]. That book opened my eyes to the potential of this strange genre called science fiction, and it was so beautifully written, I saw no distinction between it, and the classics I’d grown up with.

Since that pivotal moment, I’ve spent decades searching for those special science fiction novels that literally take your breath away. When I finally started tapping out a story of my own, it just had to be science fiction. More importantly, it had to be something that I would want to read myself. It goes without saying that I want other people to read my stories as well, but first and foremost I write to please myself. My writing is the legacy I leave behind. It’s my version of ‘Foo wuz here’. As such, it has to be the best that I can make it.

4) How does my writing process work?

I’m a hybrid pantster/plotter. In practical terms, that means I get a flash of inspiration – almost always about a character – and I run with it. After a while though, I realise that the personal life of one, or two characters is not enough to sustain a whole novel. They live in the world, and are affected by it. This is the point at which the retrospective plotter rears its head. It also happens to be the point at which the writing slows right down. I do a lot of research. I do a lot of thinking. I don’t do a lot of writing. And then, suddenly, everything falls into place, and the writing flows again. It’s a long, often tedious process, and I would love to be able to streamline it. Unfortunately, my brain refuses to co-operate. If I were a traditionally published author I’d be in real trouble. As an Indie I can get away with it because my only deadlines are self-imposed… and I can cheat. 🙂

Now for my apology. I should be tagging three more authors who will go through this same process in a week’s time. The problem is that time, and real life ran away with me. So instead of tagging three authors, I’m just going to tell you about some wonderful science fiction authors whose work I really admire [and enjoy reading!] To be fair, I’m listing them in alphabetical order.

M.R. Cornelius

M.R [Marsha] Cornelius ‘…lives in the countryside north of Atlanta with her husband, Bill, and two molly-coddled cats. Her two college-aged sons visit regularly for food, clean laundry and cash’. I pinched that line from Marsha’s website because it’s something every Mum can relate to. But Marsha is also a very talent author. I first stumbled onto her writing when I read ‘The Ups and Downs of Being Dead’. Ups and Downs is thought provoking speculative fiction that happens to be great fun to read as well.

Chris James

Chris James is an English author who lives and works in Poland with his Polish wife and children. Chris’ genre of choice is fast paced, time traveling science fiction [The Dimension Researcher series], however his most recent work is a collection of short stories inspired by the great rock band, Genesis. Ranging in style from gritty contemporary to high fantasy, Stories of Genesis, Vol. 1, is a delightful read, whether you’re a Genesis fan or not!

Christie Meierz

Christie Meierz is a new breed of science fiction author who combines stunning, believable worlds with romance to create SFR [science fiction romance]. What first drew me to Christie’s work was the completeness of the Tolari world she created. The Tolar – a humanoid race of empathic beings – may look like us, but in some rather important ways, they do not think like us, at all. I can honestly say, the clash of cultures is fascinating.

Roz Morris

Based in London, Roz Morris has been a ghost-writer, and an editor, and is only now beginning to write under her own name. The bio on her website says she writes ‘…quirky literary fiction’, but I can tell you she writes amazing literary science fiction as well. Her most recent novel is Lifeform Three, and I raved about it not long ago.

And last but not least, Jason Phillip Reeser

I met Jason quite by accident via Goodreads. I was browsing the R4R [Read for Review] group when I stumbled on his noir science fiction novel, Lazaretto. I was impressed [cue music for understatement]. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of reading the ARC copy of the second novel in the Series – Lady in the Lazaretto – and am really looking forward to reading the final novel set in this bleak, yet unforgettable world.

And there you have it. Five amazing science fiction writers who all push the boundaries of the genre, and prove that science fiction is much, much more than just tech and space battles.

Thanks for coming on this little journey with me, and thanks for being part of this fantastic, online community of ours.


Stepping outside my comfort zone #1

canstockphoto8443816Before I explain that rather cryptic title, I’d like to share the opening paragraph of a novel with you.

“My boots make a sharp tapping sound as I clomp my way home. The loose gravel at the edge of the road jumps away from my anger, skirting ahead of me then tumbling down the steep embankment.”

That is a damned fine bit of writing. It is also a very evocative opening paragraph. Makes you want to know what’s happening, doesn’t it?

Well, that short excerpt was taken from Melissa Pearl’s YA novel ‘Betwixt’. And I would never have read it, never in a million years, if not for the First Chapters sampler.

Why? Because it’s YA and I don’t read YA [well, except for the Hunger Games trilogy but that’s not really YA].

You can see the snobbery right there. In my head, I still think that any novel that’s well written and interesting to an adult can’t possibly be something written for, well, you know… kids. Can it?

The interesting thing is, when I started reading the First Chapters sampler, I didn’t know that the Betwixt excerpt was YA. Yes, the female protagonist was only sixteen, but Shakespeare’s Juliette was only fourteen[?] and Romeo and Juliette could hardly be called YA!

So, I read something out of my normal comfort zone because I did not approach it with my normal preconceived prejudices. And Betwixt was not the only novel that took me by surprise.

In the next three weeks I’ll be posting my thoughts on other surprising finds in the First Chapters sampler. The two things all of them will have in common is that :

a) The excerpts will all be chosen from novels I would not ordinarily read, and

b) They will all come from the First Chapters sampler.

The reason? To convince you, my friends, to download First Chapters when it goes free from September 20 to 21. All the authors represented in First Chapters are Indies, and all struggle with the problem of visibility.

As I have discovered, part of the problem with visibility is that everyone has preconceived prejudices about what kinds of books they like to read. I’m hoping First Chapters will change that. 🙂



Trailer for First Chapters

Sorry, I didn’t realise this was available. What do you think?

Important information for all indie authors!

Back when I first started learning about self-publishing on LinkedIn I heard a few horror stories  about Author Solutions [the parent company of self-publishing companies like iUniverse, Xlibris etc] but I did not pay much attention because back then I was still sitting on the fence about whether to become an indie or not. Now I know that I will be an indie and so this article by fellow blogger David Gaughran really made me sit up and take notice.

The article is about Penguin’s recent buyout of Author Solutions and what the implications of this move will be for indie authors. In a nutshell the prognosis is not good and I’m doing my bit to pass the message on to every writer I know.

Please follow the link below to read the article in full as it could save you thousands of dollars and a great deal of frustration.

The Author Solution article

For those who won’t follow blind links here is the url in full :


If you found this information as shocking as I did please reblog it so that we can reach as many writers as possible.



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