Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How do you get inspiration?

This is a purely self-indulgent post — an excuse really, for me to post some pics. The best way I seem to get inspiration for my writing is by going on a long walk with my dog Roxy.

I've no idea why it works, but walking really helps me to dream up stories, or iron out plot issues or character details.  It's particularly helpful to have some beautiful spots that really inspire the imagination.

I've made a board called My Walks on my Pinterest account, and I'll add some pics every now and then of the pretty places I enjoy most.

So what inspires you?

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Win a copy of 'A Whisper of Leaves'

A Whisper of Leaves by Ashley Capes is a beautiful, mysterious ghost story that will take you on an intriguing escape. I enjoyed it so much I'm giving away three (ebook) copies of this book to my mailing list subscribers - winners will be drawn end of July (more information below).

Riko is an ESL teacher on a working visa in Japan, and in a spot of bother. There's been some allegations that she's been 'inappropriate' with one of her students, and deportment out of the country threatens. When her good friend invites her to go hiking in the beautiful forests of Mt Fuji, Riko is glad to get her mind off work and her troubles. But in the forest, one should never leave the path. And when Riko inevitably does she finds a half buried treasure - an old mysterious journal.

Riko cannot keep her nose out of the journal. She translates parts of it into English; beautiful, and often dark, poetical passages add another level of mystery.
black clouds
was I ever a bird?
Just as she is drawn to the journal, Riko is drawn back to the forest, and suddenly her life becomes haunted by an unseen presence. Unknowingly, Riko's quest to find out more about the journal's origin puts her life in danger.

There are so many things I enjoyed about this book. The mystery builds and makes it quite a page turner by the end. I loved the supernatural element, told so convincingly, it almost seems like an actual Japanese folklore at times. Riko is immediately likable. And what I loved most is the imagery of Mt Fuji and those beautiful yet eerie forests. Ashley Capes is a poet and his power to evoke strong visual imagery is a wonderful element in this story.
The grass was cut close; the water's edge a brilliant deep blue. Across the lake, clear of snow, loomed Mt Fuji — a dark purple giant. Almost glorious, the way it hugged the sky lines, seemingly unconcerned with everything below it.  Even its reflection in the silken surface of the lake was proud.
Whether you're a lover of poetic language or not, the visual descriptions in this story will have you fully immersed in the landscape and the mystery.

Fans of paranormal mysteries and ghost stories will love this book. Readers will also enjoy the beautiful Japanese setting and 'mythology'. I fully recommend A Whisper of Leaves to anyone who likes a good story.


If you'd like to enter a draw to win a free copy of A Whisper of Leaves all you have to do is sign up to my mailing list. I'm giving away three copies, and all my list subscribers can enter. The winners will be drawn at the end of July. Good luck!

Subscribe to my mailing list and you could win a free copy of 'A Whisper of Leaves'

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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Why are ravens so popular in fantasy fiction?

I love watching ravens.

An unkindness of ravens.

Not long ago an unkindness of ravens moved into my back paddock, after waging a war on the resident magpies. They're very shy and if they know I'm near they will fly off. But every now and then I can out-sneak them and study them for a little while. In the sunshine, their feathers are glossy and fascinating to watch. They're graceful and silent fliers. And their mournful 'caw' can be seriously creepy on a foggy morning when I'm attending to my ducks.

Inspiration soon hit and I thought of an idea for a story. That idea grew and now I have finished my next novel, a standalone fantasy called, you guessed it, 'The Raven'.

A scene from Poe's 'The Raven'. Illustrated by Gustave Dore.
I know what you might be thinking - how can I call it 'The Raven' when everyone knows that delightful poem? And besides, Ravens have been done to death in fantasy fiction, as symbols, as characters and in titles. A quick search of 'fantasy books ravens' in Amazon brought up thousands of samples.

So, why are ravens so popular in fantasy fiction?

Raven's plummage - so shiny!

I think it definitely has something to do with the look of them. They are a deep, dark black. There's no denying it, and there's no other bird who is so purely black (well, aside from that other group of birds - a murder). And over time we have come to see their darkness as symbolic of more abstract dark and sinister aspects of life, and the supernatural. As we've all heard in Game of Thrones - 'Dark wings, dark words.'

Odin with his ravens Huginn and Muninn

A quick read on the net shows the very long tradition that ravens have had as symbols in various cultures. The Ancient Greeks considered ravens to symbolise good luck, and believed them to be Apollo's (a god of prophecy) messengers. They served a similar purpose for the Viking god Odin. His ravens, Huginn and Muninn, would fly all over the world and bring back important information. In Celtic mythology (my favourite) they symbolize warfare in Ireland, and in Wales they're associated with the god Bran the Blessed - who's name actually means 'raven' in Welsh.  And of course in England it is known that if the ravens at the Tower of London fly away, the crown and Britain will fall. Ravens hold significance in almost every culture throughout history. So this is one major source of inspiration for writers of fantasy fiction.

I like to think that it is also their very high intelligence that has earned our careful respect. Many studies have documented the high-level problem solving capacity of ravens - "they possess surprising and sophisticated mental abilities". Here's one example from a fascinating study by scientist Bernd Heinrich.

Smart birds!

One of my favourite fantasy books is called 'The Black Raven' (book 10 of the 'Deverry series' by Katharine Kerr). It features a sinister raven skin changer, and wonderful raven imagery.

I've decided to keep my novel's title as 'The Raven' despite that well known poem. That is simply what it must be called. As a finishing note, I thought I'd add one more picture that I tweeted not long ago - it reminds me of one of my most favourite scenes in my story.


Aderyn's new book The Raven will be released later this year.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Raining Men and Corpses

If you're in the mood for a fun murder mystery to take to the beach in summer, or curl up on the couch with in winter, then Raining Men and Corpses by Anne R. Tan will fit the bill.

Raina Sun is our sleuth. She's a graduate student who is instantly likable for all the mistakes she's made in her life as much as for anything else. Getting involved with her 'dashing college advisor' and lending him a substantial sum of money is one of many items on Raina's list of 'wish-she-hadn't-dones'. And things don't get any easier for Raina when a professor is murdered and an ex-lover appears. Not to mention the Grandmother, Po Po, who arrives on her doorstep and comes with her own set of troubles. Although, Po Po will no doubt become a favourite character for many readers. Raina's grandmother is a bit loopy but instantly endearing.

What I liked about this story was the build up of more than just the murder mystery. There's a good dollop of mystery in other aspects of Raina's life too - her romantic past and her family are both hiding a good share of skeletons. And things get more mysterious before it all unravels in a satisfying end.

I'd recommend this book to all lovers of fun, light murder mysteries. Romance fans looking for something different might also enjoy it.

You can find out more about Anne R. Tan on her website -

Saturday, 9 May 2015

'The Borderlands: Journey' discounted at Smashwords

I've finally managed to publish 'The Borderlands: Journey' at Smashwords. Only took me a year! So to celebrate I'm slashing the price for this weekend only.

Only .99c at Smashwords this weekend
So for the 'cheaper than chips' bargain of only .99c (usually 3 bucks) enter the following coupon code in at Smashwords to reap a pretty good story (if I do say so myself ;).

Coupon code: GH26N

And if you have the time to leave a review, I'll be forever in your debt. Well, pretty grateful anyway.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Game of Thrones VS A Song of Ice and Fire.

I've been battling my own denial about the HBO series Game of Thrones catching up to and overtaking A Song of Ice and Fire (the books). But, since the arrival of HBO's fifth season I've had to face my fears. It's now been confirmed by the makers themselves that the television series will meet the end well before the books.

What conclusions am I formulating about this first world dilemma? Obviously, David Benioff and DB Weiss are going to have to create more of the detail and fabric of the story than they have so far. I largely trust them to do it justice. I think they've done a super job in translating this epic to the screen. But I do remain somewhat cautious.

It's been my opinion since the first season, that the number one reason I enjoy the television series is because Benioff and Weiss have remained so faithful to the books. And, in my little corner of the world, this opinion is largely shared (by fellow book nerds, anyway). Is this the reason why the series has been so successful overall? One might argue that great swarms who've never picked up any of the books have jumped on to the 'Game of Thrones' fan wagon anyway. In fact, there seems to be a bit of a new divide in society - the 'have reads' and the 'have not reads' and the division disagreements between the two are growing. But, is it because of the close adherence to the original story, the fact that they have so accurately translated the settings, characters, magic, and intrigue from the books, is this the real secret of the television success? And what does this mean for the future of the HBO series?

Before we go forward, let us go back - yeah, just like Daenerys.

There's no denying there have been many differences between the books and the TV series from Season One to now. A quick google search will bring them up, or if you really want the nitty gritty, here's a good place to see the season by season discrepancies. For the most part, I've appreciated those differences as interesting additions or changes that work well on the screen, but never greatly digress from the story in the books.

Flipping through the beautiful and new companion, The World of Ice and Fire Official History made me more aware of some of the visual discrepancies between the books (as imagined by the author) and the television series.  I was reminded, for example that the iron throne looked less like this:

And more like this:

Many places are different too. Dragonstone in GoTs:

Compared to the Official History:

There's no denying Benioff and Weiss have done an excellent job with everything so far. But the first few episodes of Season Five have seen more dramatic differences from the books come into play. Large chunks of storylines have been entirely left out with Tyrion and Arya - and also Mance - what about the child he has in the books? And there have been major changes and additions to the plot lines of other characters - Sansa, Brienne and Jamie Lannister are all doing things that are just not done in the books (well, yet anyway).

While I still enjoy the television version (hell, I love it!), I do find myself vocalising the typical  criticism of book nerds everywhere, "that doesn't happen in the books" more often in this series than any other - much to the annoyance of my 'haven't read' partner. And that's when I realised that, for me, a lot of the joy in watching this series is to see the books play out. So perhaps I am enjoying it a little less than usual. And there are still two more books to 'cover' in the television series. What happens when they have really 'caught up'. Will the changes be even more dramatic? Well, I guess we won't know until the long awaited Winds of Winter is released. Needless to say, what about all the spoilers to come?

There's one part of the television series that continues to be portrayed exceptionally well, in my opinion. Those dragons:

And while I'm confident the TV series will continue to please me (let me reiterate, Benioff and Weiss have done a brilliant job) I'll keep watching just for those dragons if nothing else.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Tap, Tap ... Testing

It's pretty dusty here, and I apologise, but very soon I hope to have this blog back in shape.

So I've had an accidental hiatus from all things writing. Apparently this can be a type of writer's block. And maybe it was for me. For some reason I just stopped writing and focused on everything else in my life. I've been writing for the past two months now, quite solidly too, and I've been enjoying it. Why I stopped over six months ago, I don't know. It just happened.

On the plus side I've got a lot of energy for my writing now, and I was able to look at the first draft of my current work in progress ('The Raven') with fresh eyes, deleting all the crap and identifying what needed fleshing out. This is why I always like to leave a draft sit for at least a month before picking it up again for editing.

On the negative side I have dropped some deadlines I had set. The sequels to both 'The Viscount's Son' and 'The Borderlands: Journey' will now be published much later. And I'm sorry to anyone awaiting their release.

So while I was away from my writing desk the writing world kept on turning. I've had a million emails, and if I haven't got back to you please feel free to send me a line. I've had more reviews on both my books, and even earned my first ever 1star rating! I think I've made it now :)

Anyway ... Better get back to dusting!