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Archive for September, 2014

Three wishes

Today we dared to dream on the wisps of dandelion petals… imageimageimage

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A lot of what I read online about writing stories focuses on churning out novels every few months and that the best form of marketing is writing more books.

It’s an interesting thought and one that I ponder as I pack for my latest research trip. In this age of frenetic writing should I just stay at home and google the information I need? Worse, youtube it?

Is the idea of the research trip, of hitting the road and walking in the steps of my characters, a quaint overhang of a bygone era?

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I’m at the historic Malanda Hotel on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland where my heroine meets her betrothed (he is but a short term hero as I kill him off eventually).

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The occasion is the arrival of the railway in 1911.

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As I stand in the echoing emptiness of what was once the  ballroom of the hotel I know that the decision to throw the kids and a tent in the car and head north to the Tablelands was the right one.

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i can already see my heroine dancing in the arms of her handsome beau, hear the swish of her crinoline frock as she sways in time to some inner waltz tune and feel the breeze drifting in from the balcony and hinting of the descent of another crisp Tablelands night – a night my heroine will always remember as the night she lost the only man she had ever truly loved.

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To prologue or not to prologue, that is the question…our middle grade novel, Dirt Busters, A Cracker & Gilly Mystery, was originally called, Old Bones, and was based on the bones of a WW1 aboriginal soldier and and an ancient burial site. The site was being turned into a housing development and Cracker and the gang were determined to stop this happening.

Despite rewriting the preface to our story a zillion times, I made an executive decision to cut it. That’s the advantage of being executive but my co-author is still mad…and that’s okay because our novels are based on sibling squabbles, and our co-aurthorship has more than its fair share – yep, exactly like Cracker and Gilly, and yep, Gilly always wins, sort of, because her creator is the one who makes the executive decisions in our co-authoring team. And Cracker always saves her because that’s what big brothers do.

And being an Indie author team, I figure we can always put the prologue back in one day, and change the name back to Old Bones…but here are the reasons I made the decision I did (yeh, I know, self-justification is no justification:))…

1. My beta readers – Yr 5 & 6 kids – wanted to get straight to the action

2. I’ve been following the prologue/no prologue debate for years and it seems the no prologue team always have good reasons not to prologue

3. I wasn’t confident of our material – I don’t know a lot about our aboriginal history

4. With the right research and help I can always include it in a future edition

5. It’s a great talking point in my writing workshops and my students always engage (maybe I’ll put it in our non-fiction writing book as a discussion point for writers)

6. I went with the old maxim, if in doubt leave it out…

7. Our publisher agreed with me

But I still like our prologue…as my co-author says, it has just the right amount of spookiness…what do you think?

 

PREFACE

 

THE night air was thick and pungent with wood smoke emanating from a fire built high above the tide line where a group gathered under the light of the full moon recently risen from the west.

It was a night like no other Tanjatjiri could remember and the thought made him uneasy. He sniffed at the air as he watched the men of the Wulbunga people dance the corroboree.

Namittitnan, middle-aged and spry, danced to the rhythm of the night, as did his son,Nappittitan, beside him. Karipcoycae and his son, too, danced and Tarijatjiri momentarily forgot his worries as his gaze rested on his own young son who swayed at the feet of his elders, ready to take his place amongst them although he was only seven.

These people looked up to Tarijatjiri, the men and boys of the Wulbunga, and as their leader, Tarijatjiri took his duties seriously, which was why on this night of dance he stood to one side and tried to understand what it was that made him uneasy.

Ochre outlines painted onto the skins of the dancers, with feathers attached by animal fat long horded, showed the care each man took to present himself to the “old ones”.

From his vantage Tarijatjiri could see the sea, the sky, and the land where the men danced and as he gazed around him there was nothing amiss. Yet still he was uneasy. The melodious ‘r’ rurr r’ rurr r’ rurr’ of the dozen didgeridoos played in time to the pounding of the surf as it crashed onto the beach added to his unease.

As the dancers clapped the flats of two nulla-nullahs together, the sharp ‘slap slap’ emphasizing the driving beat, Tanjatjiri turned back to the shadows where the sea met the sky and frowned.

And from deep within him came a guttural cry.

He began to run, his words of warning unable to compete with the ancient rhythms around him, of pounding feet and the fury of clapping wood sticks. It was the crescendo of the tribal dance and as Tanjatjiri ran his brain was filled with the sounds of the dancers, but still he heard it, above the sounds, louder than the sea and the earth combined, and he knew that his warning would come too late.

As the men of the Wulbunga tribe danced to a rhythm passed down from father to son for as long as Tanjatjiri could remember, the big wave struck.

 

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A Writer's Path

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Should you include a prologue in your novel? I have known writer friends who have debated this for years. Some love them, some hate them, but in this post I’ll detail what I think of them.

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image The first book in our Cracker & Gilly Mystery series arrived yesterday (Book 2 has been out for awhile but that’s another story) and I suddenly realized the potential of  publishing and marketing a series.

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1. We already have a readership

2. We already have a marketing strategy

3. Two books look better than one

4. We can now discount one book in the hope of interesting new readers in our series

5. Writing a book is tough…writing two books shows we’re serious 5. There are more marketing angles with two books

6. There is increased anticipation for Book 3

7. With more books we can sell boxed sets 8. Our books look good between bookends (okay, this one is a gloat:))

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Photo on 25-09-14 at 12.51 PM

The other day I shared my experience of working through a set of tutorials to learn Scrivener, delivered by Joseph at http://www.learnscrivenerfast.com.

I had no intention of doing another post on this but a funny thing happened on the way to completing the course…I cheated and skipped to the end to the Bonuses and found a great podcast by Joanna Penn (of http://www.thecreativepenn.com fame).

The podcast is all about organising your projects.

In my ideal world – let’s call it, say, Fantasyland – I decided to devote 2014 to getting half a dozen projects to completion with the grand idea of having something to market in 2015. Well, in my haphazard way I’m halfway there with three books completed and – remember, this is Fantasyland – selling.

But after listening to Joanna’s podcast on getting organised I realise I’m only a whisker away from having the other three done.

Back to Joseph and learning Scrivener. In my Scrivener binder I now have the final three projects for 2014 racing towards the finish line – Joanna even talks about daily word counts and a gizmo that does this in Scrivener – and yes, it looks like I can reach my goal of six completed projects for sale by the end of the year. If I wanna be clever I can double that because all are in both ebook and print formats (and I’m learning about audio books fast).

Twelve products for sale, me??

Joseph’s Learn Scrivener Fast has jettisoned my writing business out of Fantasyland and into the real world with one swift kick. Now all I need to do is go back in and finish the course…

Ah, I can hear my family laughing as they read this post. Me, finish anything?? In the infamous words of Eliza Doolittle, ‘Just you wait, ‘enry ‘iggins, just you wait’…

Anyone else doing Joseph’s course and loving it? Let us know your successes…

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Another journey….Scrivener. I’m currently working my way through a set of tutorials by Joseph at http://www.learnscrivenerfast.com so that I can take control of my writing in a way that hasn’t been possible for me to date.

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This program promises that not only can I organise my writing and keep count of my progress but I can take control of my output too…and herein lies the secret for me, being able to format my books as ebooks and print books, and upload them to the appropriate retailers in the right format. Sounds simple??

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Let me tell you, it’s not…I’ve been blessed with the support of Australian EBook Publisher (AEP)…but now it’s time to learn at least a bit of the process for myself and that’s where Joseph and his ‘learn Scrivener Fast’ tutorials come in…he is my Scrivener coach and can be found at http://learnscrivenerfast.com…

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