Friday, April 29, 2011

What I've been up to...

[ces't moi! photo courtesy Brett Sheridan, 2011]

Things have been busy. I am currently busy working on the final installment of the "Magical Series", which I hope to have completed by October for submission to Eternal Press. This is my deadline, not the publishers! I promises to be good read... I hope.

I also write a column for the Metior Magazine. If you're uber curious and want to have a look, you can download the pdf of the first issue here.

The second edition has just been distributed, so if you're in Perth you should try and get yourself a copy! When the pdf link is up, I'll post it.
Finally, on the 9th of May, an interview I did with Strange Candy Reviews, will be up. 
Then on the 9th of June I'll be popping by  fellow author Kylie Griffin's blog for a quick chat!  You can check her blog out here; Kylie's Blog

Additionally, I'd like to post up a few photos, to thank all those who've read and bought "Magical Gains". If I get enough, I'll create a page on my website dedicated to them.
*My biggest fan* - Mark


Thank you everyone for your continuing support :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ummm. No thanks...

[image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons; The Knowles Gallery]

There is a popular phrase in writing, "kill your darlings".

According to my ashamedly brief exploration on the topic, there seems to be some confusion on who coined the phrase first - either William Faulkner or Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. Personally, I don't much care because I disagree with phrase on principle.

The phrase refers to the practice of killing off an author's favourite or pivotal character/s. There are so many examples of this out there, that I won't list many, but the sad end of Albus Dumbledore comes immediately to mind and also that character in Val McDermids "Wire in the Blood".

Well, I am frankly not a fan of killing off characters. In fact, when an author gets too slash happy with their creations, I simply put the book down and refuse to pick it up. I really do not enjoy getting to know a main character and then have them die on me. It's sad, it's morose, it's often macabre and totally not what I want to get out of a book. Which is also why select with care the books I want to read!

I know you're thinking but it can develop the story. It creates tension, it makes you want to read on... Ummm. No. No it doesn't - not for me at any rate. There are often other ways of developing stories, creating tension and engaging me, you don't have to kill of a character to do that. That doesn't mean I'm not riveted to a near death fight, or a close escape. That's great! I like the escape part!

Let it be said I'm not entirely adverse to the occasional and necessary death of a character - if it truly develops the plot. When that occurs, I'll take I'll on the chin, and keep reading, but there really has to be a good reason for it. Alas, I read a series recently and in nearly every book a character or two (close to the heroine) died. It was annoying and miserable. One death would have developed the story just fine, but two, three, four? Oh my goodness. The heroine spent more time beside a grave than she did doing anything remotely interesting... I am probably one of the few paranormal authors who feel this way, and that's why I specialise in romance. You can have nastiness, intrigue, tension and excitement without the sadness, or if the sadness is necessary it's a backstory, not in your face gut wrenching misery. I've said it before there's too much of that in the real world, and I'll leave it to the news bulletin!

So despite my intitial wrinkle inducing disapproval, I'll reluctantly admit there can be a place for killing characters - obviously. Genre differences make for differences in character mortality too. I've never been one for straight horror or thrillers, so I am not talking about these. Paranormal romance however sometimes walks a fine line. Me, well, I write for pure escapism, I want readers  to enter into a world of romance, fantasy, intrigue and a happily ever after.

So "kill your darlings?"... Umm. No thanks, I like them just the way they are!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Magical Creations - the cover!

The terrific cover artist Dawne` Dominique has been hard at work and the cover art for "Magical Creations" is complete!


The Chupacabra

[Image courtesy; The Mythical Creatures Bible, by Brenda Rosen, 2010]

Have the goats in your village been found dead and drained completely of blood? No? Mine either... None the less, the Chupacabra (literally meaning goat-sucker in Spanish) has been blamed for the deaths of livestock throughout the United States and South America and it is being hunted, photographed and stalked by cryptozoologists as we speak!

What interests me about this beastie is that it is a relatively new mythological being, having been first sited around 1995 [Wiki reference]. Its 'newness' puts the Chupacabra more into the category of a Cryptid, rather than a mythological creature.  This simply means that the creatures existence is apparently possible, but unsupported by scientific or physical evidence. In time, however, though it may take hundreds of years, the Chupacabra will most likely weave itself into the mythology of the area and truly become a real mythological beast (how's that for an outrageous oxymoron?!)

Descriptions of the beast seem to take two main forms. The first is the image above - more alien with large red eyes, grey/green leathery skin, spines, vampiric tendencies and an unpleasant sulphurous odour. The second description (and the one you'll see a lot of if you Google the beast) is of a dog-like creature with leathery skin, sharp teeth, spines down its vertebra, red eyes, a bad smell and very long hind legs.

Now let it be said, I personally do not believe in the Chupacabra as a cryptid. The sad images that are scattered over the web of captured/dead Chupacabras are, in my opinion, starving coyotes or dogs suffering acute immuno-supressed sarcoptic or demodectic mange. This condition results in significant hair loss and the itchy infected skin can look remarkably like leather, though is actually soft to touch. Additionally, the condition can affect the dogs eating, and in the case of wild dog, they may simply be too itchy to hunt. This would result in prominent spine bones and receded gums giving the impression of longer than usual teeth. Finally, if the poor animal is really starving, the resultant muscle wastage would make the hind legs appear somewhat longer than the forelegs.

 My own dog suffered for years with immuno-suppressed demodectic mange and at times, despite multiple (not to mention expensive!) prolonged medical treatments, he really resembled the Chupacabra... So my heart goes out to the dogs in those images. Thankfully now at 15 years of age, my dog (aptly named Lazarus), is mange free but completely demented!

[Lazarus Wally Troublebucket aka "Lazi the bru" age 15, 20/04/11]

Still, the Chupacabra remains intriguing because of its alleged vampiric tendencies, rumored strength, and stealth. Due to this and the fact I love researching unusual beasts, I've decided to use it in my third (and final) installment of the Magical Series, "Magical Redemption" (working title). I've chosen to follow the more dog-like version of the beast as for some unknown reason, I find the alien-like one just hard envision. My Chupacabras are strong, tenacious and intelligent, and their leathery skin is hard and tough. I wanted something that I could pair against a Hellcat- and for that I'd need a whole a pack of Chupacabras. It promises to be a hell of a showdown anyway! So I'd better stop blogging and get writing...


Friday, April 15, 2011

Magical Creations...

If, at the end of "Magical Gains" you were left wondering what exactly happened to Omar then you don't have to wait long! Omar's story "Magical Creations" is scheduled for release on the  7th of October!

Sometimes freedom comes with a painful price.

Omar is a ‘masterless’ Genie and freedom has given him an Achilles heel no enemy can miss. When desperation drives him to search for services of a Nephilim – with the ability to see, touch and take souls - Omar finds the sassy Antigone Watson who is running from demons of her own.

With magic a commodity to be governed, sold and stolen just like any other, the Magical Mafia are always on the look-out for new talent and soon the hunt is on. Together, Omar and Antigone realize that weakness of the flesh can be remedied by strength from the soul and sometimes true love can be born of dreams...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Exciting news....

In exciting and breaking news, Eternal Press has accepted "Magical Creations" - the follow on novel from "Magical Gains"!  I will let you know as contract negotiations proceed when the release date will be!

"Magical Creations" is based on the character of Omar - who is Imran's rather estranged brother. It's also ten thousand words longer than "Magical Gains". "Magical Creations" also introduces you to the hero of the third and final installment - Lucian.

I have also been busy doing interviews! Below is the jpg. of my interview with the Weekend Courier, and my very cheesy smile!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pain - making your characters hurt

[Image courtesy Flickr creative Commons; Shekynah ]

Pain is an intrinsic part of humanity. Our ability to anticipate it, avoid it and cure it is a large part of what makes us human, and such a successful species. 
Pain comes in three main forms, emotional, physical and spiritual - or some variant of the three. It also comes in varying intensity, from mild annoyance or discomfort to gut wrenching, excruciating agony - there is a gradiating scale of intensity.
In romance (I have absolutely no interest in horror or thrillers), pain usually comes in the form of emotional pain and turmoil, and it is how a character reacts topain that makes the story interesting, believable and engaging.
The majority of people strive to avoid pain and suffering (I am not going to dwell of fetishism, s&m or whatever - that's a whole different story). As humans, we have created a world where we cushion ourselves in cotton wool, take the easy path, and constantly weigh up risks. Yet, in our reading we expect our characters to suffer, be burdened by pain or failure and hopefully overcome it. Pain and suffering are the characters motivation in a story.  Then, the characters reaction to pain and suffering is generally termed the "conflict". The "conflict" is what holds them back from gaining their Happily Ever After.
It is in describing pain and suffering however, that the author can have a lot of fun. For either physical or emotional pain, a good description makes the sensation real in the imagination of the reader.
For example, "a hot sick swoop of panic", is one of my all time favourite descriptions of panic. Over the years I've used it in my own writing and read it in others.  Alas, it's not a very unique description but it is very evocative. No matter how many times I read this, I can almost feel it, as the description fits so well with the horrible sensation.
The challenge for the author is to invent new (or use uncommon) ways of describing pain (or any emotion in fact). When your character's "heart aches" you're pretty much using a cliche. Although there is a place for cliche's in writing. You don't want to use them too often. So inventing a new way of saying "her heart ached..." is well worth the effort.
I have two methods for describing pain (and other emotions). Firstly, I consider what it would actually feel like... How would I feel if the man I loved could never be with me... yep, my heart would ache, but what else? Perhaps, I'd feel suffocating, cloying misery cloak me, and shadow my every move. Or maybe anger would burn in my gut and smolder like a septic ulcer. I'm going overboard now, but you get the idea.
Secondly, my lovely critique partner is constantly at me to "show"not "tell". To this end, I've spent hours looking at body language. How do you show when someone is in pain (emotional or physical it doesn't matter). Well, obviously, muscles bunch, sweat beads, brows furrow, lips thin. Going out and looking at peoples behaviour will give you some great descriptions.
So, all up, in literature (romantic or otherwise), pain is an important motivator. Finding good ways to describe it will ensure sympathy and empathy from the reader - which ultimately is all a little author could hope for.