For the Love of Libraries

In which libraries are awesome and gorgeous, and one must always love them, whatever their shape or size.

Aussie Writers

To celebrate V-Day, here at Aussie Owned, we’re dedicating the month to love. And how can we talk about things we love without giving libraries a mention?

Most book worms can track their love of reading (or writing!) back to these houses of art. Growing up, Heather used to BEG to go to the library, so her Mum caught on pretty quick and this became her good-behaviour treat.

Heather’s local library was a standard, small space, with mostly donated books and little government funding. The shelves were a definite safety hazard, the books were falling apart, and the whole place had that funky kind of smell that hangs around a constantly damp place.

And she loved it anyway.

Rebecca grew up with much the same in way of her local library, but she never had to beg to go there. Her mother was quite happy to take her and her two sisters…

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Find Me Series Book 4 Cover Reveal

Today on the blog I’m hosting the cover reveal of book 4 of the Find Me series by Trish Marie Dawson, part of the series rebrand by Elizabeth Mackey Graphic Design:

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I wanted him to stop talking. To just close his mouth and forget everything he was going to say so I didn’t have to hear the words. He could tuck it away into the back of his mind, I knew he could, because I’d done that with so many things already. But, as if playing a cruel joke on me, he wouldn’t shut up. It’s like he couldn’t.

At one point, I tuned him out, because it began to replay in my mind. I didn’t need his account of my first feverish night in his care, and the sordid tale of my abduction and torture through raging fits of insanity, because I was the one who had lived through the real thing. I was the one who had gone wild. Turned savage, like a caged animal freed after a lifetime of abuse and neglect. I was the one who wandered off into the woods, running away from the ghosts of the dead and the living. Running until I collapsed not far from Jin’s doorstep. He took me in, nursed me back to health, and shared his wisdom, though he didn’t realize it. He’d become a friend.

I felt myself fall backwards, hitting the snow-covered rail with my lower back, and I wondered, for just a moment, if I could fly. Would it be so terrible to die? To let go of the anger, the hate, to accept the pain as it was, a never-ending storm of doubt and grief. I could do it, I thought. To be with my kids again, wherever they were, I could do anything.

But the drawl of Jin’s calming voice pulled me forward, back to the cabin porch we stood shivering on. Back to the frozen pines, and the secrets hidden in the rings of their cores. Away from the jar and its contents. I couldn’t be angry at him, not for repeating my own words, so I did all I could. I let some of it go, some of that grief and pain that so desperately wanted to ruin the good that was left in me. I passed it on to the breeze, and let it drift down the valley with the fading sun. Because I didn’t want to carry it any more.

For the first time since the night he found me in the woods, I let Jin hold me. The two of us couldn’t change what had happened, and we couldn’t prevent the next storm from coming, but our hearts were still beating. We were alive. As we held each other under the first twinkling stars of the early evening, I reminded myself that life hurt because it was worth living; the best things in life were always worth fighting for. Through all the pain and loss, there was also love and friendship. And despite what I’d been through, I still had a family somewhere out there, searching for me. I refused to lose them too.

– © Trish Marie Dawson, Where Hope is Lost, Book 4 of the Find Me Series

THE FIND ME SERIES

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About the author

I was born and mostly raised in San Diego, California where I live nowTMDPromoPic with my family and pets. I began writing short stories and poetry in high school after an obsession with Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’. After over fifteen years of crazy dreams and an overactive imagination, I began my first book ‘I Hope You Find Me’ in December of 2011. I didn’t realize then that my first Fantasy series had been born.

When I’m not writing or researching or editing or formatting, I’m home-schooling my amazing daughter and mildly autistic son, reading whatever I can get my hands on, or enjoying the Southern California sun. As a strict Vegetarian, I hold a special place in my heart for animal rights and dash into the backyard weekly to rescue lizards and mice from our three rescue dogs. They all share the house with River, the rescue cat, who is part dog and part old man. I hate roaches due to an unfortunate childhood incident, like, LOATHE COMPLETELY, though I often fantasize about seeing one in Steampunk gear and I have an unhealthy obsession with a certain bow & arrow wielding zombie hunter. Don’t judge me – every girl has dreams

NaNo No, Part 2: A Resurgence?

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The further the skyship ascended into the stratosphere, the more Cathy was made to regret (that) she hadn’t tied her hair above her head/up. The rain danced/? off the sails with ?/ thrummed/? against the deck. She drew her/a shawl/? closer against/around her neck.

Because that airship in Stardust is gorgeous. 🙂 And a snippet of editing.

Yesterday, I started talking about National Novel Writing Month and its impact on my life – which, in summary, has been substantial, from spurring me to start my first proper novel (as opposed to a ‘novel’ I wrote when I was thirteen that was half the length it ought to have been, industry-standard) to helping me edit and put together what I think has been more significant and elegant writing (but who really knows?).

As I said, it’s November now, and we are seven days into it.  Whilst many if not most of my writer friends are (or have done, in the case of Cait G Drews ) already deep in their plans and their novels and their progress, if I had planned to write for NaNo, I would be seven days behind.

As it is, I have not considered it.

I might have done, might have said to myself what is necessary for me to write a novel or a project this November? Instead, however, it didn’t even cross my mind that I might. Why? Because – as I related in the previous installment – two out of my three NaNo achievements were made during July’s CampNaNo. Ultimately, I’ve made myself associate November with study (in this year’s case: towards my Master’s degree) and July with being able to spread my wings creatively, so to speak, and write.

Nevertheless, with everyone around me gearing into writing mode, it does feel a bit strange not to be writing. Perhaps, even to the point of trying to inspire myself to ‘celebrate’ NaNo in some way, using it to my advantage somehow. With its goal-orientated system of even the smallest encouragement, how could it not be useful to a slow writer and procrastinator like myself?

I think setting myself a task over the course of November would be useful to my editing, to my writing in general, so that it doesn’t seep from my fingers. A paragraph or a page edited a day, instead of my ambitious (on average, my chapters are 2500 words long) goal of a chapter a day. That I only rarely complete.

But I don’t think it’s advantageous. Not to me. I can’t fault that some people with greater workloads than me can deal with university, or work, or a busy home-life, and still pump out 2000 words a day or something similar, but I can’t. I tried. Even when I was a first year, and I did have the social and mental ability and disregard for my studies to stay awake until 3am, I didn’t have the drive then. Now, I have the drive and the want to work and succeed, but I’ve lost the want to stay up after 12 midnight, not least because it’s not good for my mental health the following day.

I admire those who have the ability to make those distinctions and sacrifices for their writing (as well as keeping a healthy reading and blogging schedule, too). It’s not me. I can’t do it. And I have to bow to the fact that, for me, it’s not possible. Maybe next November, yes (not July, as I will be in the middle of my dissertation then), but not this November.

I won’t be setting myself any goals – no matter how I want to – simply because I know I cannot consistently keep to them with my life as changing and in-flux as it currently is.

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On the other hand, that doesn’t mean I don’t still hold those who do NaNo in the highest respect. Go them! To write a deal of a novel alone in a month is an achievement that we must not dismiss.

I will just keep thinking to myself – maybe next year. Maybe.

NaNo No

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It won’t have escaped your notice that it’s November and the writing community, Twitter, blogs, Facebook even, are abuzz with tales of National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo).

Now, I am no stranger to NaNo; my favourite of my novels was born during NaNo in 2010 when I was 15, where I won NaNo, but then spent an additional three months trying to end the 50,000 words into 80,000.

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<It might partly have been to do with the fact that I handwrote the entire first draft, and so spent a deal of my time after November copying it onto Word.>

Later that year, I presented for my English Language GCSE on NaNo and my teacher and I were pleased with my resulting mark.

After that, my other forays into NaNo were in July, as I had entered a state of education where I could not afford to spend my November with a head of scenes and characters. In fact, there is indeed a version of NaNoWriMo called CampNaNo. It is essentially the same set up, though writers are encouraged to produce their own wordcount goals. Even so, I stuck to 50,000, as that was NaNo to me.

In 2013, I spent the two weeks I was volunteering in Uganda handwriting in a sandy notebook the sequel of the novel written for my first NaNo. But it felt disjointed, and, though again I completed NaNo’s wordcount goal, I was left with a lot more to type up of a novel that I didn’t love. The characters were bland and the plot felt samey, and, although this was a character’s side I needed to tell, I wasn’t invested in her as I had been my other heroine.

For those of you who know them: I still found Zara a whiny teenager as I had in Aidelle’s story. Although Aidelle was blunt, she at least had class. Literally.

The next time I did NaNo was the following year, yes the July again, with the absence of a notebook and a new plot on my mind. It was my first year as an undergraduate student, and I was free from exams, at least for where it mattered in July. I had already scrabbled at some ideas for short stories, but none were forming as I’d hoped, and coming to birth as knowing I was a Steampunk (and it was that aesthetic that the past two NaNo novels had tried to emulate), I was really beginning to grow a new idea in my head. One of true dirigibles and Vesuvian tribes and a linguist hunting for her beloved. Perhaps it sounds familiar…

I left her for at least a year, I did, and I kept leaving her. But I have been making slow progress through the third draft of H and editing updates continue (see the main photo above).

I haven’t done NaNo since then, though not for want of trying. As it is with my literary status (minor published, unagented, student), I’m not sure I want to spend my time on new ideas, particularly as writing a larger novel in general hasn’t been coming to me, when I ought to be editing, polishing, and submitting what I already have.

Well, I have written rather a lot – it’s funny to think how much I am still affected by those novels I have not worked on for a bit. I did mention they were dear to me. However, I have yet to talk about NaNo as it stands this year, the original topic of this blog, and it’s getting late. Look out for part two tomorrow, where I consider how I can utilise National Novel Writing Month this year.

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It’s been a while since I’ve worked on either of those favourite novels, but you can still read about the Time, Stopped trilogy over on my Novels page of this blog. 🙂

KISSING MAX HOLDEN has a cover!

The amazing Katy Upperman’s KISSING MAX HOLDEN has a final cover. Look at the prettiness! You can find KISSING MAX HOLDEN in August 2017. 🙂

Guys, Kissing Max Holden has a finalized cover, and I could not love it more!

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Let’s talk about the pretty, shall we?

The colors: I liked the grayscale of the winning cover direction, but I LOVE how this new image looks: sharp and crisp, with plenty of contrast. And then there’s the gradient pink of the title; pink is my favorite, and I’m so happy to see it featured on Kissing Max Holden‘s cover. It feels fresh and fun and romantic.

The cover models: I mean, I couldn’t have handpicked a more perfect Jilly and Max. She’s beautiful but approachable, and he’s got dark, wild hair and a jaw that won’t quit. Together? They’re adorable.

The composition: The way he’s coming over the fence for her? Yes. They way she’s touching his face? There’s a history there. The way he’s holding her wrist? Clearly, he wants her. The almost-kiss? Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Also, bonus: My name!…

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5 Senses

Taking inspiration from NevilleGirl’s post, of the 5 different senses in writing. Whereas she listed examples of senses to use in writing, I thought I’d challenge myself further by writing a little piece of description for each that could be relevant in my novel.

Smell

In amongst the soft chugging of steam from the device’s motor, the smell clouded the air. Faint at first, but only more pungent the more she angled her head upward, the steam clouded the air with a metallic stink. She stifled a cough (as much as she was able in the headrest), and concentrated on the basement’s usual odour of rotted wood and fresh copper wire. It was not much better, but it was better at least.

Taste

She sunk her front teeth into the wad of fabric, and very nearly heaved. She would’ve spat it out if she’d been able. It tasted like damp straw and the back of a fireplace.

Touch

Against her bare skin, the crushed velvet soothed like a bandage with extra padding—another gash zigzagged from her right elbow to an inch from her wrist-bone—and that was not the only surprising element to the rented outfit.

Sound

In the air, everything was muted, or muffled as if the world above the clouds blanketed the world below. Or both silenced the other. Amelia’s boots scuffed along the deck as she moved back and forth, map tight in her fist; a whoosh of air skimmed the bow from front to back as if trying to shush Cathy’s thoughts; and even the wheel squeaked little as The Cloud-Chaser’s faithful captain ploughed her through the dense atmosphere.

Sight

Cathy gazed over the plateau, shivering a little, despite the midday heat that curled off the building structures below her. In this hamlet, where the tribespeople worked like ruthless cattle and their ‘Queen’ was no better, a figure was conspicuously absent, no matter how far Cathy strolled.

A certain man with pince nez halfway down his nose and a stack of papers tucked in his arms.

Alexander had not crashed in Italia.

~

And, on that note, thanks for reading! Feel free to continue the 5 Sense tag in whatever way you think will help your fab writing!

Cover Reveal for RULES FOR THIEVES by Alexandra Ott

I am excited to share the cover reveal for RULES FOR THIEVES, the debut Middle Grade novel by Alexandra Ott. I interviewed her on this blog a little bit back. Did I mention that I am incredibly hyped for this novel, and you should be too? Not that I’m biased by her being my Critique Partner or anything.

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Here is the shiny shiny cover in all its bazaar (no pun intended! 😉 ) beauty. I love how it doesn’t give anything away, and yet emphasises the scenery and the fantasy of the novel. And of course, that pendant. So focal. If I’m honest, (being a non-MG writer) I’m rather jealous of MG cover designs at the moment. MG covers are rocking the market!

Interested? It’s a great book. See the rest of the cover reveal over at Middle Grade Minded.