Friday, 20 June 2014

Getting closer

My novel Twiceborn is another step closer to finding its way into the world. Yay! Do you like the new supermultigrated blurb?

I’ve just finished a big revision job: going through and adding more details.

I’m a lean writer (sadly that’s a metaphor – my jeans are getting too tight again. Damn things must have shrunk in the wash …). My natural instinct is to get to the point, not waffle on about the scenery or what people look like. Of course no one wants to read five pages describing the view, but all my beta readers agree that I go too far in the other direction.

So what started as a 60,000-word first draft, which became a 72,000-word revision and then an 82,000-word revision, is now fast closing in on 88,000 words as I flesh out the world and the story of Kate and all the other characters I’ve grown to love. (Well, some of them I don’t love, but that’s okay. You’re not meant to like the bad guys!) By this time next week this final revision should be finished, and Twiceborn will be off to a professional editor.

It’s getting closer! Close enough to start getting excited, though there’s still a lot to be done. Close enough to start imagining what it will be like to hold a book in my hands that has my name on the cover.

I could get used to this authoring stuff!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

In which I discover the importance of checking the camera battery

This year, for the first time, we went into the city to see Vivid, which is a light show where several public buildings are lit up with spectacular effects. The most notable of them is the iconic Sydney Opera House, but naturally my camera battery chose to die the very moment I raised my camera to start taking photos of it. If you’d like to see it, check out the gorgeous photos on Patty Jansen's blog.

My goodness, you should have seen the crowds! I knew it was popular, but I didn’t expect the sheer number of people. Talk about bigger than Ben Hur!

This is Customs House, looking very different to its usual prim nineteenth century self. The kids had been unenthused about the prospect of going into town just to see some buildings lit up, but they were enthralled by the ever-changing displays.

You can hardly tell this is the same building.

This is the Museum of Contemporary Art:

It was really very clever. The Opera House was particularly beautiful. Those big white sails lend themselves very readily to this kind of thing. Shame I HAVE NO PHOTOS. Stupid battery.

I’m determined to go back next year. I might even take the good camera and tripod.

What the heck – I might even charge the #$!!@# battery.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Like all Brandon Sanderson novels, The Rithmatist features an innovative magic system. The story is set in a school for young magicians, or “rithmatists”, but there are no spells and wands in sight. Instead, the implement of magical choice is a lowly piece of chalk.

With a piece of chalk, the trained rithmatist can draw all kinds of defensive and attacking circle patterns. As the name implies, these depend on good mathematical skills. But there’s also room for creativity – chalk monsters, called chalklings, can also be drawn and sent to attack the opposing rithmatist’s defences.

The budding rithmatists practise their skills in duels while at school, so they’ll be ready to use them in earnest when they graduate. There’s a war going on against wild chalklings, and the elite schooling and a life of privilege are to prepare the next generation of warriors for this war.

Our young hero, Joel, knows more about the theory of rithmatics than most of the rithmatics students, but sadly, though his chalk drawings are near-perfect, he lacks the vital spark that brings them to life. He receives mundane tuition at the pretigious Armedius Academy as a charity case, and does his utmost to sneak into rithmatics lectures, as he’s desperate to find another way into the longed-for world of the rithmatists.

When rithmatics students start to disappear in frightening circumstances, it seems he might get a chance at last. The principal assigns him to assist Professor Fitch and the police in the investigations, where Joel’s quick mind and wealth of rithmatic knowledge soon prove useful.

But it also makes him a target, and Joel soon finds there’s a lot more to rithmatics than he realised, and that the war is not so distant after all. With the help of Professor Fitch and Melody, a struggling rithmatics student who nevertheless draws very powerful chalklings, he must solve the mystery before he and Melody become the next disappearances.

It was a fun read. It’s called Young Adult, but it feels almost closer to middle grade, despite the word count and vocabulary not being middle grade level. Perhaps because, despite the sometimes dark subject matter, it never feels particularly dark? Maybe I was too distracted by my enjoyment of rithmatics, but the tone felt light, as if Joel was never in any real danger.

It’s a fairly straightforward plot, without the intricacies of a massive tome like Words of Radiance. The door is left well and truly open for a sequel, but there’s a nice resolution of the immediate story, so it’s not a cliffhanger.

Very selfishly, I wish Sanderson would stop writing everything else and just focus on the Stormlight Archive! – but if and when there is a sequel to The Rithmatist, I’ll certainly be reading it, to find out if Joel’s dreams ever do come true. An engaging fantasy, suitable for ages ten and up.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Would you read this book?

Okay, suppose you’re looking for a new urban fantasy to read. Would this blurb entice you to pick up the book?

“Whoever said ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you’ had never been in courier Kate Donohue’s shoes. She can’t remember anything from a special rush job this afternoon, but whatever happened must have been pretty wild, because now there’s a werewolf in her kitchen trying to kill her. And he’s just the first in line. Suddenly Kate’s running for her life, but if she doesn’t remember what happened soon, more than her life will be at stake.”

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m working on the blurb for my upcoming book, previously only known by the highly imaginative title “Dragon novel”, but now tentatively titled Twiceborn.

I feel as if that last sentence needs work. It seems to kind of fade off, but I don’t want to give too much away. Blurb-writing is harder than it looks!

Here’s another, slightly longer version, with a different last sentence:

“Whoever said ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you’ had never been in courier Kate Donohue’s shoes. She can’t remember anything from a special rush job this afternoon, but whatever happened must have been pretty wild, because now there’s a werewolf in her kitchen trying to kill her. And he’s just the first in line. 
It’s a nasty introduction to the hidden world of the shifters, but the news gets worse. It’s a world at war, and Kate will be a casualty if she can’t remember what happened – but first she has to live through the night.”
Any better? Worse? What do you think?