Thursday 29 September 2011

Writer's Corner - Anti-Hero Anxiety

A couple of Follow Friday's ago, we were all asked to come up with villians in stories we wished had won instead of the hero. Not a lot of people jumped off the fence for that one, but there were quite a few anti-hero picks and this prompted me to ask the question: What makes a loveable anti-hero and where does the line between anti-hero and villain lie?
        If I had to name some of my favourite anti-heroes they would have to be Severus Snape, Haymitch Abernathy, Katniss Everdeen, The Hobbits from LOTR and Abe from Vampire Academy. In trying to psychoanalyze what makes these characters memorable to me and why I didn't class them as villains, I came up with these conclusions:

1. That Pesky Killing Thing
The anti-hero can kill people, but only if they do so for a noble cause or our of self defence. As opposed to the villain who chops a few heads off as their morning exercise. Killing non-humans (i.e. vampires and demons doesn't count as immoral for some reason, possibly because paranormals are mostly portrayed as evil). While anti-heroes are generally darker characters they havent yet crossed that line between broody and downright apathetic to murder. But then this doesn't apply to Abe because I'm pretty sure he's killed just to prove a point.

2.Social Norms? I Spit On Thee
The anti-hero generally walks that tightrope between devil may care and outright scandalous behaviour when it comes to conforming to socially accepted rules of conduct. The anti-hero conforms enough to stay out of the deep end but not enough to be considered normal. Sometimes the anti-hero will purposefully break the rules just to keep their reputation in tact. But these rules have to be below the felony line or else they've crossed to the dark side. Villains on the other hand are utterly contemptuous about rules and will break as many as they can in their bid to take over the world. Having said that, Snape was all about the rules wasn't he?

3. My Reasons Are Too Lofty You Plebs To Understand (Insert Double Dose of Angst Here)
The anti-hero usually has some unknown heroic reason for the way they act, or they're tortured by some tragic past event that justifies their otherwise unacceptable behaviour. The anti-hero is misunderstood and their methods of self preservation are often perceived as arrogance. Except this explanation doesn't fir the Hobbits at all. They simply don't care about being broody. They just want to have second and third lunch on time. And the tragic past? No chance. They haven't even been out of The Shire.

4. Friends? I Think You Mean Disposables
The anti-hero usually enjoys the company of one person. Themselves. Or a select group of carefully chosen friends. The anti-hero, though sometimes arrogant, seems to have a slight social phobia and whilst outwardly disdaining the company of others, they are secretly lonely and find it difficult to make friends. Part of this is because by nature, anti-heroes are cynical and this means they have huge trust issues. Villains don't have friends so much as minions that they can dispatch whenever they feel like. Then again, both Katniss and Haymitch, surly as they were, had heaps of friends or at least people who admired them enough to follow them into war.

I could try and pluck up a few more fluffy reasons but I'm hoping you get my point. There are no hard and fast rules it seems when it comes to creating the perfect anti-hero. Nor are there any rules for creating the perfect hero come to think of it. I'm starting to think it's all a matter of perspective. I watched 300 again the other night (Yeah, I admit it. I have a Gerard Butler issue) and thought to myself, these guys are considered heroes, but really they just love killing way too much. So in Sparta they're heroes. In Persia, not so much.

All this confusion does not bode well for poor Rory from my work in progress, who is stuck between anti-hero and what I would consider sociopathy. And noone likes a sociopath right? Now I'm thinking of all the very popular sociopaths: Dexter, Sheldon Cooper, House, Dr Perry Cox...ARGH!!!!!!!!!!

So here are my questions for you guys:
1. Who are your fav anti-heroes?
2.What makes them an anti-hero and not a villain for you?
3. Are there any other general anti-hero traits you can think of?

Clearly I need help in this department!

Tuesday 27 September 2011

My Book Boyfriend #1: Jason from TELESA

My Book Boyfriend is a cool meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader. I think it's pretty clear that we book bloggers get crushes on boys from books from time to time and what better way to honor those crushes than to share the love!! I've always wanted to participate before but all my book boyfriends kept being taken. Until now.
      Let me introduce you all to my latest book love: Jason from Telesa by Lani Wendt Young. Jason is an American living in sunny Samoa. He's in his early twenties, blonde, blue-eyed and a kickass surfer. He also happens to be deathly gorgeous and smarter than the average guy. I think that's what I most like about him. He's practically a genius. Jason, or Dr Williams (sigh!) is a geochemist in charge of studying the volcanic activity in Samoa and he may be the losing contender in the heroine's affections but he's sure got me on his side. Who would I get to play him in my dreams? Hands down there could be none other than Mr Ryan Reynolds:

Jason tugged his shirt over his head before lifting the surfboard out of the truck. His toned physique didn’t fit my stereotypical image of a scientist and I tried not to let my surprised eyes linger on the rugged arms with their tan line, or the way the contours of his chest looked in the moonlight. Suddenly I was self-conscious. Up to this point I had seen him just as a funny, easy-to-be-with boy, kind of the way I imagined an older brother would be. But, as I watched him walk easily down to the water’s edge and into the gentle swells, I saw him for what he really was. A twenty-five-year-old man, Professor of Tectonic Science, leader of a team expedition,and disturbingly striking to look at in the ocean light. - From page 201.

Jason walked up to me and took me in a big, strong hug. Then he backed away and reassured me, “Hey, you’re not a freak. You make no scientific sense but you’re still Leila. The girl who can’t surf for shit and who will never, ever walk down a catwalk wearing stilettos! But you’re not a freak, okay?” As usual, I had to laugh. Jason always seemed to have that effect on me. - From page 212

For what seemed an eternity, we just stood there, our bodies separated by cupped hands of flame while a storm raged and thundered outside. I couldn’t read the look in his eyes. I was used to the mischief, the teasing glint, the concern, even the serious intensity – but here, now, in his eyes, there was something different. He leaned closer toward me and reached with one hand to lightly brush my cheek. He whispered in the electric night. “You’re beautiful.” And now his eyes spoke what I could understand – he wanted to kiss me. From page 215.

Hope you guys enjoy. Would love to see who you've all picked this week. Happy crushing.

Obsession in Real Life

Hey All,

You may have noticed my lack of presence on the blogosphere lately and this post explains why. The jist of the story is that I've had to go back into the real world and be a real person. As you can see from this weeks icon, I am not happy about it! Mostly because in my every day encounters, I haven't come across any vampires, werewolves, shifters and least of all any super smokin' hot guys.
          All jokes aside, I've had to do my fair share of socializing with non bloggers this past few weeks and have noticed that whilst I seem pretty outgoing and laid back on my blog (at least I hope so) it's a pretty different story in the real world. I'm still friendly and stuff but I don't find that I go out of my way to be extroverted. In fact, I get downright annoyed when I have to leave my lair and venture outside for groceries or petrol (gas for you Americans!) or work.
         Also, I have developed a very low tolerance for bullsh@t. Suddenly, I am that funny sidekick character who can't shut their mouth and who is either there for comic relief or to be sadly killed of in a later book. Sometimes, I find that I even zone out in the middle of a conversation a la JD from Scrubs style and imagine a number of funny scenarios that would take me away from the boredom of my current situation.
        All in all, I think I may possibly be going crazy. But it has at least prompted me to wonder what my fellow blogger friends are like in real life. So tell me, who are you? Are you exactly the same? Are you like me and feel more comfortable in the world of words? I would really love to find out :)   

*On another note, I have taken everybody's advice and decided to be kinder to myself. Therefore, I am going to start changing the way I write my reviews so they don't take up so much of my time! Woohoo for shortcuts.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Wolfborn Winners and Sue Bursztynski Author Interview!

Hey All,

Sorry I've been so slow on the uptake. As promised, a gazillion years ago, here are a collection of the questions and answers for my Sue Bursztynski author interview. Thanks to those who took the time to ask questions!

1. Have you ever been "orphaned" by an agent?
Can you define "orphaned"? If you mean did an agent disappear on me - I did once have an agent for about six months, who then closed down her agency to work on her own writing, but since she hadn't sold anything for me or even come close to selling anything, it wasn't a big deal. In fact, the only time I ever got a printed rejection slip for that manuscript it was when she had sent it out! Every other time I got a personal response.

 I tried and tried to get an agent for a while, but they all had full books or just didn't bother to reply to my inquiries. Only two agents gave me a go - one was Selwa Anthony, who at least read the first three chapters of Wolfborn, though she said no, the other was Cherry Weiner, an Aussie living in the US, who said sorry, she couldn't sell anything shorter than about 100,000 words and it had to be part of a trilogy. Things may have changed since then, but I believe Cherry's books are now full. However, after selling my first book I found that publishers were willing to read my work even if they said they only dealt with agents. So don't despair if you can't get one - there are other ways to sell.

2. Has there ever been a time where you gave up on a WIP?
I've got two unfinished novels on my computer right now. One is a mainstream YA book, the other is a prequel to Wolfborn, which is already as long as the whole of Wolfborn but is lacking a villain! I'm going to work on that when I can get some quiet time to myself, maybe take some long service leave to concentrate on it. As for the mainstream book, I froze after a few chapters. It just wasn't working. Sometimes you just need to put a manuscript aside and re-write from another angle. That works for me - one short story I wrote simply wasn't working, no matter what I did to it. One day I came back to it, trashed the whole thing and re-worked it from a completely different angle. Originally, the theme had been "what if the Holy Grail was in an op shop?" Didn't work. So I made the op shop only a small part of the story. The heroine had worked out what it was she'd inherited and had to go look for it in the second-hand shops to which her grandfather's belongings had been donated. When she did find it, it had been bought by someone who was making better use of it than she could. THAT worked - and it meant that it was not like a Neil Gaiman story on the theme of the Holy Grail in a second-hand store which I read AFTER  this one was published! My story, "Of Loaves, Fishes and Mars Bars" got an Honorable Mention in Kelly Link and Ellen Datlow's Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, which was very nice! ;-)

I do have a few short stories unfinished on the computer, but every now and then I raid the pile and re-write/finish one I never thought would work.

3. I've just finished editing my MS. How long does it take for a book to be published after you sell it?
I have news for you. Even if you sell this novel tomorrow, you're unlikely to see it in print for about a year. At least. After editing and other stuff. They have a schedule. This year's books were commissioned t least a year, maybe a couple of years ago, on the average. I was very, very lucky - they had a hole in the schedule, so they could slot me in. That doesn't happen often. The good news is, it gives you time to promote.

4. Is there any truth to the idea that you NEED an agent in order to get a publisher?
Agents - who knows what goes on in their brains? I tried and tried to get one and ended up simply selling my own stuff. They all seemed to have full books. Mind you, this may no longer be the case, I haven't checked - I've seen several first novels - Aussie ones -  thanking "my agent". Still - stuff agents. I've sold ten books and many articles and short stories without one., unless you count my friend Natalie Prior, who got me my first interview. Still - after that, it was up to me. They could have said no. My first book was non-fiction for children (the monsters one) and that was easier to sell, at the time, than a novel. As long as you had a good subject and could tell your story well, they'd buy it. Non-fic isn't so easy to sell now. Best thing you can do is check out the editorial guidelines on publisher web sites. Once you have sold something, I don't care what anyone says about agents, you don't need one.

Once again, many thanks to Sue for being such a great sport and to anyone who is  interested in reading the first chapter of Wolfborn, Sue is more than happy to provide a copy if you email here HERE.

And now the competition winners: DRUMROLL!!!!!

CONGRATS to Tammi and Sabrina who have each scored a signed copy of Wolfborn. Hope you both enjoy Wolfborn as much as I did!

Monday 19 September 2011

Very Miscellaneous Monday

Spring has finally arrived in Australia but instead of being all revived and whatnot, I find myself in a bit of slump. I think it's because time has flown by so quickly in the last couple of months that I feel as if the arrival of spring is a bit premature. I've haven't done much in terms of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. There's a lot of housework to be done, work is a dementor slowly draining all happiness from me, I get guilty pangs when I'm doing anything but writing and I spend wayyyyy too much time idly blog stalking. Not productive blog stalking, just idly reading random posts that I don't comment on and have no intention of ever following. Overall, I think I'm putting too much pressure on myself. My only solace is that I don't seem to be the only one. I've seen a few post from bloggers I follow saying the same thing so I feel a bit better admitting I'm just Clark Kent and not Superman.
       To counter all this sluggishness, I'm going to give myself a break until the New Year. Yep. From now until after the silly season I'm just going to do whatever I feel like without worrying about deadlines, books I haven't been able to read yet and  reviews I haven't posted. So there!!

The following is just a bunch of miscellaneous thoughts I didn't know where else to post:

1. I've been dying to share think link with someone forever but have never had a chance. It's hilarious. 7 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Outbreak Would Fail (Quickly)
2. I am deathly afraid of ghosts but have started The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong and really want to finish it. Not sure what to do now. I didn't sleep properly for weeks after watching The Sixth Sense. Fear vs Extreme Curiosity. *edited authors note: read to chapter 4, haven't been able to sleep for 2 nights. Think it's time to give up. Spewing because the book is so good.
3. Have finally caught on that novel writing is a long process and no amount of OCD on my behalf is going to change that.
4. My conspiracy theories about fantasy being less than respected is proven in this episode of the First Tuesday Book Club where authors such as Emily Rodda discuss the perception of fantasy writers amongst the industry.

That's it from me for now. I might be a bit absent from here for a bit but I'll still be lurking around. Having said that, I might learn so self control and be back with a vengeance. 


Saturday 17 September 2011

Review: Solace and Grief by Foz Meadows

The Story:
Solace Morgan was born a vampire. Raised in foster care, she has always tried to keep her abilities secret, until an eerie encounter with a faceless man prompts her to run away. Finding others with similar gifts, Solace soon becomes caught up in a strange, more vibrant world than she ever knew existed. But when the mysterious Professor Lukin takes an interest in her friends, she is forced to start asking questions of her own. What happened to her parents? Who is Sharpsoft? And since when has there been a medieval dungeon under Hyde Park?

My Thoughts:
Sue recommended this book to me after I had a big whinge discussion with her about how I didn't think my MS would fit in with the current culture of publishable Australian YA. After reading Solace and Grief, I think I am even more dismayed. But that's another story entirely. Solace and Grief is beautifully written novel and blends the concepts of vampires and other paranormals or Rare with social issues such as homelessness, alcoholism and general displacement and listlessness.
       Solace grows up in a group home where for seventeen years she feels as if she doesn't fit into the world. After dozens of foster parents fail to materialise on the day they are meant to pick her up, Solace is resigned to living out the remainder of her teenage years with the eclectic mix of other unwanted group home kids. That is, until the day the Faceless man begins to stalk her and for reasons unknown to Solace, she is compelled to run away. Solace encounters a ragtag group of youths in a club and almost immediately forms a bond with them. It isn't till much later that Solace learns that every member of her new found group of friends is a Rare and all have their own special Tricks
        Sound great at this point doesn't it? That's what I thought too at the beginning, and then the "getting to know you" bit went on and on and on. Much of the book is spent idly hanging around the Gadfly club where Solace initially meets her friends, or sleeping in the warehouse they all live in. While I was compelled to continue reading because of the premise and the writing, I have to admit that at times the story dragged and I almost thought it was a bit pointless. Things do pick up towards the end of the book though and I think the small twist was what saved it for me. 
      Character wise, there was a lot of scope for some great personalities in this book, what with the special powers and the sheer number of friends Solace makes. I really liked the idea of a group of ragtag teens coming together to fight evil. Unfortunately, this was one of the areas where I believe the author let herself down. Besides Solace's closest friend Manx (whose power is to turn into a giant house cat..LAME!), I can't remember anything distinguishing about any other characters. Even whilst I was reading the book, I kept thinking how interchangeable everyone was and there were times when I had no idea who a couple of the girls were. Solace herself was far from being a kickass heroine. Most of the action in the book was thrust upon Solace and she just reacted. Rather slowly I might add. For a vampire with super strength, I was disappointed with her if I were to be honest. Even the tiny bit of romance in the book felt incredibly out of place because of the previous disinterest shown by Solace and then when things started happening, Solace exhibited some overwhelming emotions that seemed to come out of nowhere. 
       I know it was meant to be a paranormal fantasy but I just couldn't suspend my belief for this book. If only because Solace's group of friends were meant to be street kids and vagrants and yet their dialogue was more befitting a high tea luncheon. I was also a tiny bit concerned with the very liberal portrayal of underage drinking, drug taking and general aimlessness. I'm not sure at this point if I'll check out book two. The writing as I've stated was incredible. That and the concept of the Rare has carried this book past the neutral rating mark. I'm not sure if I'm invested enough in the story to overlook the lackluster cast though.


Thursday 15 September 2011

Writer's Corner - Touchy Subjects (Literally!)

Inspired by this post by Lani and because I'm currently grappling with this contentious topic in my own writing, I thought I'd open up the forum and get your thoughts on S-E-X in YA books. I personally don't have a problem with it as long as it's not overly graphic and portrayed in the right way. Then again I'm not really a young adult anymore and have probably become desensitized to it (come to think of it, libraries really shouldn't let 13-year-olds borrow adult romance books!!).
      From the perspective of a parent (even though I'm not one) I guess the idea of your 14 year old reading a book with sexual content is a bit of a minefield. I'm curious if there are any parents out there who screen the books that their kids read for the naughty bits. I guess my biggest reason for not really minding sexual and probably also drug related content in YA books is because let's face it, kids are probably experimenting much more in real life than what is written in a book. Then there is the issue of sex on TV and whether there is any point in trying to leave it out of books when they can pretty much flip on any channel and it's right there in front of them.
      I suppose there are heaps of arguments for and against sex in YA books, but is there ever a time when, for want of a better phrase, it just feels right? 

Monday 12 September 2011

Calling All Would Be Beta Readers

Hey All,
Am suffering from aspiring writer's angst at the moment and second guessing many things about my MS. So I thought I would turn to you guys and ask if anyone would be interested in doing a wee bit of beta reading for me.

You can read as much as you like and if you hate it, I won't mind in the slightest. In fact, if you do hate it, I would love your feedback even more. Here's a bit of a synopsis:

IRON WILLED - YA Sci-fi/Fantasy

For seventeen-year-old Willow Atherton , fight or flight has always been a no brainer. Punch first, then smart ass yourself out of trouble later. Born with an unstable ability to generate electricity and raised on the mean street of City Square, Melbourne, it's little wonder that she could fight before she could read. If the fights happens in the dark however, she's less technokinetic badass and more teenage sobbing mess. 
     When the elite unit of law enforcers Willow works for is disbanded without explanation and forced to join the larger Peacekeeping Academy, Willow and her misfit band of psychic friends are given one directive: Shut up and move on. Willow's no stranger to following orders, sort of, but when they come from the man she believes is responsible for the death of her parents, all bets are off. It's too bad that man happens to be the Minister for Defence.
     Willow can grit her teeth and ignore the hazing of the other officers but it's the dark eyed gaze of her gorgeous new partner and his order for her to stay out of his mind that disturbs her most.
      Then psychics begin disappearing all over the city and a mysterious hooded figure haunts her every move. When the abductions hit too close to home, Willow must learn to control her power at all cost and overcome her debilitating fear of the dark before someone she cares about it killed.

If anyone is interested and would like to earn my eternal gratitude, contact me at and I'll send them the first few chapters. 

Thanks All!

Saturday 10 September 2011

Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

The Story:
Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.
Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.
Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide. - From Goodreads.

My Thoughts:
I had to stop myself from reviewing this book straight away because I was seriously in danger of breaking my no ragging on other books rule. From the first few pages, I honestly thought I was going to love Firelight. Then I continued reading and it all sort of went downhill from there. I don't hate the book, plus I finished it so it was readable at least. Instead of writing a full on review I thought I'd list all the things that worked and didn't work for me. 
Stuff that worked:
- My first love is epic fantasy, so the idea of beings decedent from dragons really appealed to me. The different types of draki and their various powers was very unique.
- I liked the writing style. I'm a really lazy reader and don't want to have to look up a dictionary every second word.
- Cassian is a cool name.
Stuff that made me want to scream into a pillow:
- Jacinda suffered from the Bella virus bigtime. She kept going on and on about how she was the only fire breather and how special she was and how much she wanted to keep her draki alive and yet when she was threatened she basically curled up into the fetal position and whimpered. My biggest pet hate is heroines with powers that they don't use.
- Quote in point: Then he mutters, 'A hunter in love with his prey.'  Cliche and copyright infringement much???
- So so so much whinging without anything being done about it. I am not a fan of passive MC's. 
- I couldn't sympathise with any of the characters and downright hated Jacinda's mum and her sister.
- The most exciting scene happened in the first chapter, the ending was too cliff hangery and it was so anti climactic. 

I'm not sure what else I can say, once more with feeling: At least I finished it!!

The Rating:

Friday 9 September 2011

Follow Friday (11) - V for Villian Week

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkie and Alison. It's a really fun way to get to know other bloggers and pick up a few new followers on the way.

This week's question is: Have you ever wanted a villain to win at the end of a story? If so, which one?

I'm going to risk a lot of flack this week but I'm feeling very villainy so I'm going to just come out and say that I really wanted James to bite Bella in Twilight. Then Edward would die of grief and the next few books could be about Jasper....what are your picks guys?

PS. If you haven't already done so, don't forget to enter my Wolfborn giveaway!!

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Author Guest Blog: Sentiments from the Slushpile by Sue Bursztynski

In conjunction with the Wolfborn giveaway I'm doing at the moment, I thought I'd ask Sue to do a guest post and she very kindly obliged. Sue has many talents and amongst them is slushing for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Sue shares some of her unique insights in this post and I hope you guys will get as much out of her advice as I have! Take it away Sue:

Since there are so many writers following this blog, I thought I might tell you a little about one thing I do while you come up with questions about writing and Wolfborn.

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is a semiprozine published in Australia. “Semiprozine” means that writers and artists are paid, if only a small amount, but we, the publishers aren’t. We do it for love.

We slush blind; the authors’ names are removed from submissions before the slushreaders see them. Because of that, you don’t have to be a famous writer to get in, just a good one.

The best stories go through three rounds, the final one being our “slushpool” in which we place the stories we consider publishable. Not all of these are published, because we get  far more stories than we can use, even the publishable ones, and we have to keep balance – so much fantasy, SF, horror, poetry, etc. per issue. The good news is that if your story has made it to our slush pool, you can pretty certainly sell it elsewhere – and people have.

“So – how do I get to the slushpool?” you ask.

No matter how good your idea is, if it’s been used over and over, you’re unlikely to sell it to us.  Do a lot of reading so you know what’s out there. Then again – if you’ve found a different way of telling a well-used story, we just might take it.

Grammar, punctuation and spelling are very important too. You may think that this can always be edited later, but if you don’t care enough about your work to make sure it’s all correct, why should we care about it? I try to read the whole story, but if the first couple of pages are full of errors, I tend to give up.

Ask yourself – do you care about your characters? If you do, it will come through. If you don’t, why should we? A story written entirely for the punch line might work, but it has to be short. I’ve read 10,000 word stories in which the whole point is, “Ha ha, it’s set in space, but it’s really a Western, geddit?”

If you’re having a go at science fiction, make sure you get your science right. We actually have a number of scientists in the ASIM co-op and they’ll pick out the flaws if any.

For a fantasy, remember that most are based on the real world. For example, I set Wolfborn in my own universe, but it’s more or less set in 12th century Europe. For first-class mediaeval fantasy, read George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire – there’s someone who has really done his research. It’s set in his own world with its own culture, but the knights in it wear heavy armour, the streets smell and the horses are not furry machines you can ride without feeding and resting them. Wounded fighters don’t leap up and fight some more.

Readers should be able to feel comfortable in your world. For ASIM#50 I took a story whose author convinced me that he knew Greece, modern and ancient alike. I’ve just chosen a story for #56, our tenth anniversary edition, because the author was clearly comfortable in ancient Egypt and made me feel the same way; the characters were likable and I could identify, but it was still ancient Egypt. I took both of these stories straight from the slush pile, without knowing who’d written them. One was a new writer, the other established, but I didn’t know that till afterwards.

Endings are just as important as getting your reader hooked with the first line. Sometimes I get a story that hooks me in and persuades me to read till the end – and then the end falls flat. I always reject those, however regretfully. For me, a disappointing end spoils the whole story.

Just one more point: if you’re writing for an international market, make sure you remember that a joke that might have them rolling in the aisles in New York will have the rest of us saying, “Huh?” Don’t assume anything.

This is how I read my slush, but it’s all common sense and you’ll probably find that it works for whichever market you try, not just ours.

Good luck with your writing, guys!

Sunday 4 September 2011

GIVEAWAY With A Twist!

You guys may remember that I read and reviewed  Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski last month as part of my 2011 Aussie Authors Challenge . I came across Wolfborn because Sue is part of one of my online YA readers/writer's groups and she happens to be a blogger as well.
       Anyway, to cut a long story short,  I somehow grew the cojones to ask if she would do a guest post on my blog with a signed copy of her book for a giveaway. Unbeknownst to me, Sue is an amazingly generous and awesome human being and has come up with the idea that I should get my readers to send in questions for her to answer. You see, Sue has published heaps of books besides Wolfborn and I know that her insights have really given me some much need perspective.
      So I'm putting the call out to all you guys, if you have any writing/publishing related questions or general questions about Wolfborn that you're dying to have answered feel free to post it in the comments or email me at Over the coming weeks, I'll be forwarding your questions to Sue and I'll do a couple of posts with her answers if I get enough!
And now for the giveaway bit. Sue is a smart and very logical lady and doesn't want to (in my words) waste the signed book on someone who won't enjoy it. So instead, Sue is offering sample chapters in PDF format to anyone who asks for it by emailing her at I'll cap the emails and questions on Sunday 11 September otherwise this could get confusing. In the next few weeks, I'll be putting the entry form up along with the interview questions and anyone whose read and liked the book can enter to win the signed copy. The giveaway will be open internationally so all my followers can participate!!

So get cracking guys! I know I have a heap of questions to ask Sue that I haven't already grilled her about.

Don't forget to visit Sue at The Great Raven if you want more info on her other books and just to see how great she is!

Friday 2 September 2011

Follow Friday (10) - Opening Up A Can of Worms

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkie and Alison. It's a really fun way to get to know other bloggers and pick up a few new followers on the way.

This weeks question: If you could change the ending of any book (or series), which book would you choose? And, why?

I think my answer to this question can be pretty much summed up by THIS POST. It encompasses my frustrations about MOCKINGJAY and *SPOILER* I just wanted Katniss and Gale to remain friends. Nothing more. I would be happy with just that.

This question is fantastic and I can't wait to hear what you guys have chosen. Happy Friday everyone!!

Thursday 1 September 2011

Writer's Corner: Spin Off Skepticism

If you read my blog regularly (YOU ARE AWESOME!) will know that I am a die hard Vampire Academy fan. Having said that, I have been a heck of a lot bit resistant to pick up Bloodlines despite how much Ashley pimps it out. In theory, I should be lining up outside the bookstores, but for some reason, I just can't bring myself to care that much. At first I thought it was the not really liking Adrian thing and then I went to stay at my parent's place and saw my Buffy DVD collection in my old room and it finally hit me: I just don't subscribe to spin offs. Well, not at first anyway.
       I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to watch the first few episodes of Angel and even then I wasn't too impressed. I love it now, but I had to be pretty heavily convinced to watch it at the beginning. Plus, I still cringe at the episodes where they did Buffy crossovers. It just didn't feel right that Buffy wasn't the central character. Especially in light of the whole apocalypse ending and Buffy supposedly saying no to helping Angel. WTF was that???
      I think my problem is that I get way too invested in the characters in a specific series and it takes someone breakout to pique my interest in a spin off. Angel had Cordelia. Bloodlines has nobody I care about so far. Also, I find it really difficult to believe in the importance of a different MC when the central character in the original series was so strong. I mean, how significant could Sydney's life be when you consider the things Rose and Lissa did? If Richelle Mead had made Viktoria the MC, I would possibly have been interested because there could have been something to do with shifts in the way Dhampir communes are thought of. But I suppose Viktoria is too much like Rose for a spin off to really work.
     Suddenly I feel like an old person who doesn't like change for the sake of it. What do you guys think? How do you feel about spin offs?