18 The Anthology – Get your free e-copy

18 Anthology18-diagonally

 

 

 

 

 

18

On one of my recent posts I mentioned that my Writers’ group – Vision Writers’, were producing an anthology. Well, I am happy to announce that ’18’ is here! Woohoo, I hear you all shouting. And believe me, I am just as excited as you are. The anthology celebrates 18 years of Brisbane based writers’ group – Vision Writers’. The group has a number of published members, including our founders Marian De Pierres and Rowena Corey Daniels. Vision Writers’ has a variety of characters from all walks of life, and as a member of the group you’re sure to get honest and invaluable feedback on any stories you submit for critique. I have learned a great deal from this fantastic Medley of Sci fi, Fantasy and Horror Authors. 18 Showcases the talents of some of our current authors with thirteen stories to lose yourselves in. The anthology covers tales of Wizards, Dragon’s, Spirits, Mobsters and much more. These stories will take you to new worlds; worlds of fantasy and worlds of horror. Thanks to all who helped put this anthology together: Trahern, Belinda, Talitha, Meghann, and all the other writers involved. 18 is available as an E book for free on various sites, check out my ‘Publications’ page for details.

So, enjoy and once you’ve sated your reading appetite, please post a review or let me know what you think via comment on this blog post.

Book Review – Zen of eBook Formatting by Guido Henkel

Zen of eBook FormattingZen of eBook Formatting by Guido Henkel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Zen of eBook Formatting is a book for writers who want to know how to format and create eBooks. Written by Guido Henkel, a writer and an experienced programmer, for writers. This book provides a step by step guide on how to correctly format and produce your own eBooks.

The Bad Stuff: If you are just looking for a book that says do this, then do that, this book may frustrate you a little. There is a lot of explaining, but to be fair, it is of value to know ‘the why’ behind what you are doing. I think the book would benefit from a summary at the end, that details what you have learned in the book without all the explaining in between, and can be used as a quick reference guide.

The Good Stuff: This book gives you a great insight into how to format and create an eBook, from cleaning up your manuscript to adding the cover. Guido provides all the code and links to the tools you will need within the pages, making the process as simple as possible. I certainly recommend you read this book if you are looking at publishing your own eBooks online. I have definitely gained some knowledge in the process that I will be putting into practice in the future.

This is a great addition to the toolbox of Indie writers. It will save you time and effort, and could even prevent you damaging your brand name as an author, by giving you the advice you need to produce quality eBooks. I’m giving it 4 out of 5 golden bookmarks.

View all my reviews

Book Review: The Magician by Raymond E. Feist

Magician (The Riftwar Saga, #1-2)Magician by Raymond E. Feist

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Magician is an epic fantasy novel about the lives of Pug and those around him, their victories, their defeats, their friendships, oh… and there is magic.

The Bad Stuff: If I said I had just read a book with wizards, dwarves, elves, goblins and a mad king, what would you think of? Well, The Magician is not the title that most people would think of. There are a few similarities to another well read epic fantasy in this book, some over explaining and repetition, with a fair bit of telling in the writing style.

The good stuff: While The Magician bears some similarities to another Tolkien’s work, it is an epic tale in its own right. Feist has put an original spin on a plot that has been used before and has some well rounded characters. His world building is done well, creating different races and cultures in worlds far apart. The Magician has everything a great fantasy epic should have: magic, magical weapons and armour, dragons, elves, dwarves and more.

In my opinion, this is a great fantasy novel and is a much loved classic that deserves a space on the shelf of any true fantasy fan. This one gets 4 out of 5 golden bookmarks from me.

View all my reviews

Hectic Lives and Kicking Goals

Hello again, I know I haven’t been posting regularly like I used to. I’ve been busy working on my book, but I am making progress, hitting 16,500 words this weekend. Apologies for not keeping my online presence up, but it is so hard trying to juggle everything. In addition to the writing, I’ve been reading as part of a reading challenge I’ve set myself. I’ve also been reading up on plotting, seeking those little nuggets of advice that might help things click into place and help me to write better. I’ve also been trying to maintain a bit of a social life, going out for a meal with my sister to celebrate her birthday. On top of that, I’ve been doing some work around the garden and trying to organize a present for my better half, who’s birthday is next month – all while working full time.

Incidentally, work often provides me with some great tips for my writing. As a leader of a team, I often come across articles on team building and the like, and I am always looking at how I can apply these as an author. The latest article was about motivation, and I thought I would share this with you. The article explains that motivation consists of feedback, goals and rewards. Here is a summary:

Feedback: 

Positive feedback can increase confidence and commitment, motivating when you start your goals. i.e. “So, you’re writing a novel? That’s awesome, I’d love to read it when it’s done.”

Negative feedback emphasising a lack of progress when your nearing the end of something, can motivate you when you need a push. i.e. “You’ve written three quarters of your novel and now your just going to leave it in a box under your bed. What’s the deal with that? I really think you should plug away and get it finished.”

Goal Setting:

This one really works for me, it’s about breaking down a big task into small goals. i.e. I am going to write 200 words a day. It has to be something achievable in a short time, so you feel like you are making progress every time you hit that target. You should focus on the progress you’ve made at the start of a project. Then as you get nearer the end, switch your focus to the distance left to achieve your goal.

Rewards:

Rewards work better if you can get them in a short space of time and if you get them when your target is met. A reward can be as simple as a bar of chocolate, a glass of wine, or a pat on the back. You could try buying a bar of your favourite chocolate and telling yourself, “I can have some of that as soon as I hit my goal for the day.” Or if you have someone supportive around you, why not let them know you just hit your goal for the day. I’m sure they will congratulate you with a “Well done!” Who knows, it may be just what you need to keep you on track.

If you’re not a writer, I’m sure you can apply these principles to another part of your life. Why not give it a go, it might just work for you.

Taking a break. How do you unwind?

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I haven’t posted much recently, mainly because I’ve been concentrating on getting my novella finished. I’ve set myself a goal to release all three books in my ‘Blood Rage’ series this year, and if I’m going to make that happen, I need to cut back somewhere else. I’m also trying to get a bit more me time, as it helps me unwind and re-energizes me. So, I took a short break down to Melbourne last weekend and while I was there, I visited the State Library of Victoria. Here are some snaps I took on my visit.

It’s a fascinating place and it’s free, I’d recommend if you’re in Melbourne that you pop in. Well, that’s one way I found to relax, how do you unwind?

Book Review – The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne

The Story Grid: What Good Editors KnowThe Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Story Grid is a book by editor, Shawn Coyne. The book gives you an insightful look into the technique he uses to break down a story, to analyse it in all its parts and find out what is not working.

The Bad Stuff: There is a fair bit of repetition within the pages of this book, while it could be considered as a technique the author has used to ensure you remember the important stuff, it felt like filler to me.

The Good Stuff: This book gives an insightful look into an editors technique for finding flaws in a story. I have definitely gained some useful knowledge from reading this book.

On the whole this was an informative read for me, while I knew some of the details within, it gave me a better understanding of how to use the information I have at hand in a constructive way to better my writing. Will I use the Story Grid to break down all my stories? Probably not, but it has created a better awareness of what I am doing and what to look out for. I’m giving this book 4 out of 5 golden bookmarks.

View all my reviews

Free Book and a Guest post on World Building by Donna Maree Hanson

Dragonwine Postcard (1)

Dragon Wine Book 1: Shatterwing by Donna Maree Hanson is free in e-book for a short time. As part of spreading the word about Shatterwing Donna is doing a blog tour and offering a give away of a hard copy of Shatterwing. Winners will be drawn from people who comment during the blog tour. So leave a comment to be in to win.

Blurb

Dragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.

Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.

The most precious of these resources is dragon wine – a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.

There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison’s best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.

Dragon Wine Book 2 :Skywatcher, the follow on book is also available in ebook and print.

http://momentumbooks.com.au/books/shatterwing-dragon-wine-1/

 World building

World building is an essential part of a novel creation, no matter the genre. If your novel is in a realistic contemporary setting you still need the physical attributes of the world, the rules, the clothing, the style, location etc. Think about a movie and those signals that let you know what kind of story it’s going to be.

For genre like SF and Fantasy there’s a bit more work to be done. Planning the world building is one of the most fun parts of writing for me. Sometimes I don’t do too much before I start because I have the story and a few ideas and I just go for it, but along the way I either have to stop and do world building or I get ideas that I incorporate and work on.

I also do some planning beforehand, depending on the story. For example, for the world building in Dragon Wine it was done in layers, by adding bits and pieces and weaving them all together. The more I delved into the world the more of the history and physicality of the place came into being. There was freedom in that process. I didn’t have a deadline so I enjoyed the planning and the thinking and the research I used to make the world work.

Now my way isn’t the only way. I know people who can spend years doing all the world building, drawing maps, documenting religions and history and the cosmos and everything. That works for them and the stuff they do is extraordinary!

The deal with writing is working out for yourself that there isn’t just one way that you have to do what works best for you. There are always cautionary tales about getting lost in the research and never writing the story. You can be an excellent researcher but not end up being a novelist!

The lesson for me is balance and the importance of story. I have a motto. Don’t let research get in the way of a good story. If I’m drafting and the story is coming I just go for it. I then research to make sure I can do what I’ve done. Sometimes I might have to tweak or change things but generally I’ve got enough background knowledge in my head to pull it off.

If your world building is a bit technical, then it is worth getting expert advice. I had a physicist advise me on Dragon Wine, particularly the moon stuff. That sort of science is interesting to me but the details do my head in. I’m not saying it’s all scientific. It’s not. I mean there are dragons and magic so no…not real life stuff there.

Best of luck!

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Donna.

Thank you Allan for  having me on your blog.

Hey Al, What you up to?

If you haven’t worked it out already, I’ve decided to take a little break from WordPress over the festive season. I’m trying to concentrate on finishing the novella I have been working on this year. As I have some time off work, it is an ideal time to concentrate on making some progress with it. While I am returning to work in a week or so, I want to make a solid attempt at getting this book finalised, so I won’t be posting much in the next month or so. Once the novella is done, I anticipate editing, formatting, preparing cover art (for the two books in the series without covers) and moving through to publishing the Blood Rage series in the first half of 2016. A little bit behind my original schedule, but better late than never.

What is one of your goals for 2016?

Merry Christmas

Picture by Matthias Ripp

Picture by Matthias Ripp

I just wanted to say “Merry Christmas” to all those who follow my blog. I wish you all and your families a fantastic time during this festive season and a happy new year. Here’s hoping 2016 brings us all the best year of our lives.

Super hero or Super zero

Picture by Gareth Simpson

Picture by Gareth Simpson

By day I’m a mild mannered office worker running a great team of people committed to doing a good job. But when the sun goes down, I rip off my collared shirt, put on my black rimmed glasses and transform into my alter-ego known only as… The Writer! Destined to use my super-powers for good, I reach for my trusty laptop and stare at the blank screen. My mind goes blank and words flow from my fingers, through my keyboard, and onto the virtual page faster than a speeding snail. In less time than it takes to walk to the moon, I’ll have a story. But alas, my arch nemesis the “Grammar Error” lurks near by. I focus my x-ray editors vision on the page and search, only to come up empty handed.

This is how I feel more often than not these days. Is working a full time job a writer’s Kryptonite? I get home feeling drained of all energy, yet I sit in front of my laptop every night trying to get some words down, even if it’s only a few words, because those few will get me closer to my goal. We all go through our peaks and troughs. There are times when I am inspired, I want to write, and hundreds, even thousands of words come in a gush of creativity. At the moment though, I have a story I want to finish so bad it hurts, but every time I look at it my shoulders sag and I stare at the page. Do writers need to take a break from there work? I wonder? Maybe I should slip my black rimmed glasses into there case, close my laptop and chill out over the Christmas break. But then, the time off work may be just what I need to get my story finished.

What I do know is that when my story is done I will feel like a super hero, but if I don’t keep trying… all I’ll come up with is super zero!

 

Can Saying Thank You, Increase The Loyalty Of Your Audience?

As a writer and a blogger I am constantly looking for new ideas or techniques I can apply to my writing and/or blogging. I have found that a lot of these ideas and techniques come from training and articles sourced through my day job. The latest being an article from a Harvard Business Review that explains how a boss can increase the support and engagement of their staff by providing regular praise. The article goes on to support the claim with a series of stats from studies completed on the topic.

For me, the main thing that stood out from the studies observations was that recognition has a direct correlation to loyalty. This got me wondering if the same applies to authors and their audience. I don’t really know the answer, but I figure whether it works or not, it is always nice to get some recognition, even if it is just a simple “Thank you”.

And on that note, I’d like to say “Thank you” for reading my blog/work :)

What do you think? Are you more likely to support an author that thanks you for your readership?