Sunday, 30 December 2012

Signing off for 2012 with a special treat!

Hard to believe that 2012 is almost done.

What's even harder to believe is all the stuff I've managed to achieve in a year that seems to have just flown past.

The biggest thing, from my point of view, has been saying goodbye to a job I hated and finding myself a new and much better job. It's been a busy year, but rewarding, working in an office with a great work culture and where people are treated with respect.

The one main drawback of the new job has been that it has seriously impacted on my writing time. Still, even then, I've achieved a number of significant milestones in that regard:

  1. In March, I released my first full-length novel, Magnus Opum
  2. In October, I finally managed to complete a first draft of the YA novel I started back in 2008. It needs a heap of rewriting but it's definitely on the way. 
  3. Also in October, I released a sequel (of sorts) to Doodling. A second helping of adventures for Neville Lansdowne titled Scribbling
  4. Since then, I've made significant progress on a third installment for Neville.  Not sure of a title at this stage - could be Jotting or Sketching or Scrawling.
So as we move into 2013, I hope I can keep that momentum up, particularly to:
  1. Finish and release Neville #3.
  2. Continue to move the YA novel forward - though it's unlikely I'll have it in a publishable state next year.
  3. Figure out what to do with the bunch of children's stories I have.
Anyway, that's a brief status report from here at Dag-Lit Central. Now to the special treat I mentioned in the title of this post.
 
To celebrate the holiday season, my fellow authors at APG have got together to produce an anthology of stories, with a definite holiday theme - An Alexandria Winter story collection 2012. If your thing is Christmas or Hannuka or Samhain or even Festivus, you should find something great to read here. And, of course, I'm very pleased to note that of all the stories, mine is definitely the silliest.
 
You can grab a copy from:
Hope you enjoy. Have a great new year and talk to you all in 2013. 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Girl in the Window - new release by Valerie Douglas

As the year winds down, I'm pleased to be able to announce some more exciting news from the Alexandria Publishing Group. Our founder, Valerie Douglas has just released her latest novel, The Girl in the Mirror, and it's sure to be a ripper. But rather than let me go on about it, I'm really pleased that Valerie has popped in to tell us about it directly. So let's hand it over to her.

The Girl in the Window


In a way, The Girl in the Window is the celebration of the life of someone I never met, but who still had a huge impact on me. According to his Facebook page, his name was Spirit Wolf Wakta. He made jewelry by hand. I don't even remember when we met, or how, but somehow we began talking. I was struggling in my writing career, not finding satisfaction with my publisher, experimenting with this new thing called Indie or Self-published writing. My writing had stalled. I had just finished the enormous task of editing one of my epic fantasies. It had taken a whole month. My husband was angry and frustrated at my fixation, I was tired, discouraged and seriously considering giving up. I didn't even have any new ideas for stories.

And that terrified me.

Spirit Wolf and another friend I knew as Mateo kept encouraging me to chase the dream.

Then one day Spirit Wolf sent me this picture, along with his impressions of it. I hadn't asked him to do it, and if it had been anyone but him, it would have annoyed me and I would have ignored it... but you see, I'd seen his work. He'd sent me one of his necklaces. Packed with it was a seashell he'd found walking along the shoreline near his home.

The picture was simple - a girl standing by a window, with the faint impression of a horse visible through the glass. There was a pensiveness to the portrait.

I looked at the picture, at his thoughts, and it resonated with me personally. I started writing. Some stories come in a great rush, some flow, and some are like pulling teeth. The Girl in the Window flowed, but not easily. The draft was rough, but good. I struggled with including a few scenes - which I'd later add.

Like many authors, I knew I had to step away from it, from the emotions that had poured out of me, and so I put it away.

First, though, I sent the rough draft to Spirit Wolf and Mateo.

A year went by, a little longer. I thought I'd have more time. The truth was that I was a little scared. The Girl in the Window was so different from anything else I'd ever written. Sort of Seabiscuit by way of Nicholas Sparks. I can be as insecure as any other writer. But they say that you should do what scares you. Spirit Wolf died before he ever saw The Girl in the Window come to life. He had cancer. I'd no idea. He'd probably known he was dying even as he gifted me with The Girl in the Window.

Even then, I wasn't ready. As I grieved privately for the friend I had lost, but had allowed to grow too distant, I still wasn't ready.

I finished the horror novel I'd been writing - another exercise in doing things that scare you - and needed something to clear my mind.

Finally, I picked up The Girl in the Window. For some reason, it was important to me to finish it by Christmas. I didn't know why.

Now I do.

Merry Christmas, Spirit Wolf.


The Girl in the Window is available now from Amazon.com

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Something original

I reckon I've had things a bit easy over the last few weeks.

With all the new releases from my fellow writers in the Alexandria Publishing Group and my participation in a bunch of blog hops, I haven't had to come up with anything original on here for quite a few weeks.

So here's the challenge. No more blog hops. No more new releases. I'm on my own now, and I have to think of something new to write about. And believe me, that's not as easy as it sounds.

It's an amazing thing really, this whole idea of creativity. How it is that an idea can just come to you - a thought just plucked out of the air - something where previously there'd been nothing. How the hell do you do it? I've got no idea.

You'd think we writers would be the first to know. After all, that's our business isn't it? We're professional idea makers. We're expert at the delicate art of something out of nothing.

Except that we have no idea how we actually do it. Okay, let me temper that. I suppose I can't speak for every single writer out there, but I know I certainly have no idea how to do it, and I suspect that a pretty large proportion of my colleagues have no idea either.

It's something that kind of just happens. You can't force it. Often the best ideas come at the most inopportune moments. When you're walking around the block or in the middle of cleaning the house. I often seem to get them just as I'm falling asleep (hey, I sometimes get them when I am asleep). The problem of course is that the moments when you're most likely to get a great, different original idea are precisely when you're least able to grab a piece of paper and quickly jot it down - so of course, you run the risk of losing it completely.

So there's the problem. Here I am, siting at my desk, knowing I need a good idea for this post and also knowing it's not something I can force. I'd prefer not to go and clean the house now, and the weather's not looking too promising so a walk is out of the question.

 Maybe I should go off now and take a quick nap.

Hopefully I can do better next week. 

Monday, 10 December 2012

Meet the family blog hop

At the moment, I can barely keep still. I'm hopping and hopping so much I hope I don't end up falling flat on my face. I guess if I do, it won't be the first time.

Anyway, to clarify thing, today I'm participating in another blog hop, my second on three days. This time it's the meet the family blog hop sponsored by Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah's Wake.


The topic of this blog hop is family holiday traditions. To be honest, we're not a particularly tradition-focussed family - we tend to make things up as we go along. But I thought what could be fun was if I imagined a holiday celebration in which some of my fictional characters came along. Now that could be very interesting.

First of all, there'd have to be Neville Lansdowne, from my novellas Doodling and Scribbling.  Neville would probably just wonder in, completely lost after trying to get somewhere else. He would wonder around, looking somewhat dazed, and try to make polite conversation while not particularly understanding what anybody else was saying. Come to think of it, Neville would be acting pretty much the way I act at a party. Funny that.

Then there could be Kriffle, the main character from Flidderbugs.  Mind you, Kriffle is actually an insect so he probably wouldn't be having much fun. He'd be spending most of his time avoiding fly spray (especially if it's a good old Australian celebration). I guess things aren't looking too promising so far.

I think it's the characters from Magnus Opum that would really liven things up. For a start, we'd have to have Magnus Mandalora and his Kertoobi friends. They'd bring the pflugberry wine and the pflugberry pies and pretty soon we'd all be happily engaged in a big pflugberry food fight. Entertainment would be provided by Shaindor and the Cherines who would regale us all with never-ending songs - come to think of it, we may want them to end after a while.

We'd have to have a contingent of Pharsheeth to liven the party up. Who else would keep dancing all through the party, and probably for the next couple of days as well - we probably won't actually be able to get them to leave. And we'd definitely need a few Doosies around, to spread all the gossip about what went on and who hooked up with who, even if most of it ends up being completely made up.

The more I think about it, the more I reckon my fictional friends would make a great party crew - but then again, that's what they've been doing inside my head for quite a few years now, so I guess I should know.

Now you've heard about my holiday plans, make sure you check out the other participants, listed below. And make sure you check out the home site for a chance to win one of two $50 Amazon or B&N gift cards.

All the best and have a great celebration, whatever it is that you do. 

Friday, 7 December 2012

All pets want for Christmas

I haven't had a lot to say over the last few weeks as I've been busy highlighting new releases from the Alexandria Publishing Group. Today I'm participating in a really fun event - the All Pets Want for Christmas blog hop sponsored by the Indie Exchange, David Brown and Vickie Johnstone.

Important note - due to time differences, you may be seeing this a bit early. If it isn't yet December 8, make sure you come back here when it is.

Unfortunately, I don't actually have a pet, so I can't say exactly what it might want for Christmas. However, to make up for it, I thought I might ask my good friend, the Blerchherchh, to step out from the pages of Magnus Opum and tell us what it wants for Christmas.

So now I'll hand it over to the Blerchherchh. And then I think I'll run away very quickly...

Grrrr. It's the Blerchherchh here - if you couldn't already tell. Now what do I want for Christmas? So many things to chose from. So many tasty treats. Such a hard decision.

I've got it. I know what I want. Santa. Just imagine how good he would taste. All those delectable rolls of fat sliding down my throats and into my stomachs. My mouths are watering, just thinking about it.

What would I do with my present? How would I serve him? Maybe a big juicy Santa steak, with a spicy peppercorn gravy. Or perhaps sizzling Santa skewers, slowly grilled over hot coals. Or perhaps seared Santa in satay sauce. There's no end to the delightful ways I could serve Santa up - unless I run out of S words.

Of course, I wouldn't want to have Santa on his own. I think some delicate reindeer drumsticks would go down a treat as accompaniment. I think I'll batter them in my own secret spice recipe. Come to think of it, maybe I'll just batter them with my claws - that would be a lot more fun.

Now I'm really making myself hungry. I think I'll go out now and put up a chimney on top of my cave, just to make sure Santa doesn't miss me out.

Oh, and before I forget, if there are any carol singers in the vicinity of the dingy, dungy Drungledum Valley, please pay me a visit. I love carol singers. Especially lightly marinated in a white wine sauce, with radishes and garlic and just a little parsley as a garnish.

But before I come and eat you, make sure you check out the other posts in this blog hop below, then go to the main event page to enter into the prize draw for a $50 Amazon gift card - hey if I win, I'll eat that too. 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Charisma - another new release from APG

Well it's definitely been a busy month for my fellow writers at the Alexandria Publishing Group. After Terry Simpson's release last week, I'm pleased to announce that another group member, Paul Kater, has released a new children's book, Charisma the young witch.

Here's a quick synopsis for you:

In this story we meet Charisma. She is the youngest daughter of a witch and a wizard, and she is always looking for adventures and things to have fun with.

One day she takes the magical ring of her big sister along when she goes to play with her friends Quinsee and Barnaby. As they play they arrive in a very strange place and it's up to Charisma to find a way home again!


You can pick up an ecopy at:
A paperback version will follow shortly.
 
All the best to Paul on this new release.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Ashes and Blood

A big congratulations to my fellow Alexandria Publishing Group author Terry Simpson on the release of his new novel, Ashes and Blood.

Ashes and Blood is an exciting epic fantasy, book 2 of his Aegis of the Gods series. Here's a quick synopsis:

Ancel Dorn has gained the first of his power. And now he's a wanted man. 

Ryne Waldron wants to teach him. The Nine want him to be taught before they kill him. Galiana Calestis wants him to live, and learn, and hopefully accomplish what she never was able to do: save their people. Irmina Nagel wants to love him again. Stefan Dorn, his father, wants him to lead and pave his own path.

The Tribunal and the shade want him dead.

All he wishes is to save his mother if she lives; rescue his father from the Tribunal's clutches; find love again; help his people. And to learn how to harness his power before it drives him mad or kills him.

Cities will burn. The innocent will die. The dead shall rise. Nightmares will stalk the land. Guardians will wreak havoc.

Can he, Irmina, Galiana, and Ryne help to stem the tide? If so, at what cost?  

What's even more impressive is that Terry was able to get it finalised and released while dealing with the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

All the best to Terry - hope it is a massive success.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Five moments of pure pop perfection

It's been a while since I did one of my musical lists, so I thought today was a good time to get something up - it's good to take a break from blabbing about books for a change, and music has always had a big impact on my writing. I'm always trying to write a story which is like a great pop song - one that makes you perk up and listen, and makes you feel happy for a good while afterwards.

So with this in mind, here are a bunch of what I reckon are fantastic songs which do exactly that. I've chosen a list of Australian artists that probably aren't so well known overseas. Who knows, maybe you'll find a new favourite here. 

I Want You Back - Hoodoo Gurus


The Hoodoos were always one of the funnest bands ever. This was the first song of theirs I heard, from their classic "Stoneage Romeos" album, and it caught my ear from the very opening. How great is this dodgy old filmclip? How great are those animated dinosaurs? How great is Dave Faulkner's hair?


 

Forever Now - Cold Chisel


The kings of sweaty Aussie pub rock show they can turn out a beautiful sparkling pop song when they set their minds to it. I love the jazzy drums and I especially love Ian Moss's guitarwork - the end solo when the notes just come cascading out is a gem.

 

Blind Eye - Hunters and Collectors


If Chisel can do it, then the Hunnas, Chisel's successors as the rulers of the pub rock circuit, show they can do just as well. The accoustic guitar break in the middle, as the rest of the band, especially the Hunna's amazing horn section, slowly come in, still sends a tingle down my spine.

 

Always on this Line - Sarah Blasko


I remember watching a not very good Australian move (based on an even worse Australian book) on telly when this came on and just lit everything up. Enough said.

 

Heartbeats and Sails - Augie March 


A band it was impossible to categorise playing a song it's impossible to categorise. Is it a pop song? Is it a sea shanty? Is it something else entirely? Dunno, I just reckon it's amazing. I love the instrumental break, where it goes from something kind of quaint and rustic into something that really rocks. And I love the daggy shipboard video as well.

 

Friday, 9 November 2012

Not happily ever after - and that's exactly the point

Does anybody remember the TV show Soap?

Way back in the early 80s (or was that late 70s - surely I'm not that old) it was one of my favourites. But there was one thing about it that used to always really annoy me.

I really got into that show. I really liked the characters - really cared about them. Whatever tribulations were occurring - whether it was this one charged with a murder they didn't commit, or that one's baby being possessed by the devil, or another one being kidnapped by aliens (yes, it was that kind of show), I would get really concerned about them. Then, when things finally got resolved (the real murdered was her adopted father, the devil got exorcised, and Burt escaped from the aliens with the help of Saul, the man who had been held captive for several thousand years), I always felt totally relieved. At last, things were good. Everything had worked out and now everybody could be happy.

Except it didn't happen like that. Everything didn't work out, and everybody wasn't happy. No sooner had one plotline been resolved than something else happened, and suddenly all sorts of new problems had been thrown up.

Looking back now, it's kind of funny to think that I had that attitude. Obviously, I totally didn't understand the significance of the title. Soap was a parody of a traditional daytime soap opera - and a very funny one too. If the characters were ever allowed to resolve their problems and achieve peace and contentment, then there wouldn't be much of a show left.

As a writer, I look at programs like Soap and think about how much fun it would be to be part of that writing team. I like to believe I'm a compassionate person, who would do what I could to ensure all the characters had an easy and satisfied life. Then I think, hell no, where's the fun in that? Let's see what else we can throw their way.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Written with love and care

A couple of weeks ago, Jim Murdoch wrote an interesting post about genre in books and literature. It was a really interesting post about a subject that I also think a lot about.

I have to say, this whole genre things confounds me quite a bit. Why do we feel that we have to put our stories into various little boxes which define what they are?

I know, there's a pretty good answer to that - it helps people understand what the story is about when they're selecting books to buy. And hey, doesn't it make sense to make things as clear as possible for the buying public? Don't we want to make it easy for them to determine that a book is for them or not? When put that way, it seems to make complete sense. And maybe it goes some of the way to explaining why my sales are not exactly setting the world on fire (yes I can admit it - I'm not moving a lot of books at the moment).

To me, it seems like a bit of a double-edged sword. Maybe I could move into the world of more conventional genres. Maybe I could write a cosy mystery, or a science-fiction adventure or a high fantasy - something I could put a label on and market in a relatively straight-forward way. Move right into the mainstream.

But I figure if I do that, I may be in the mainstream but I'd also be moving into a place that is much more crowded, and within which it would be much harder to differentiate myself.

That's why, for now anyway, I'm happy to stay in a place that is relatively uncrowded. True, it can be difficult for people to discover this place for themselves, but that's still the way I prefer it.

Because when it comes down to it, it's like this. I don't have a lot of time to write. I'm lucky to be able to steal half an hour after a busy day at work. In order to motivate myself to make this time, I have to be working on a story I really care about. And the stories I care about are the odd ones, the strange ones that don't necessarily fit into clear categories.

So that's why at least in the immediate future, you won't see me plugging my stories within most recognised genres. But hopefully, if you read one of them, you'll see the love and care that went into it. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Now it's time for a bit of Scribbling

After unprecedented excitement (from me if nobody else), I'm extremely proud to announce the release of my new novella, Scribbling.

Scribbling is pretty much exactly what its title suggests. It's me sitting on a computer and scribbling - all right so maybe I wasn't exactly scribbling, maybe technically I was still typing. But the story I was typing was one that pretty much evolved in a fairly random and unplanned way, so it felt a lot like I was scribbling out a story.

Of course, Scribbling is a sequel (of sorts - maybe companion is a better word) to my previous novella Doodling. Like Doodling, I began with what sounded like a funny kind of throw-away line, and just saw where it took me. And, like Doodling, the central character in Scribbling is my good friend Neville Lansdowne.

I think Neville is a bit like me. Except the strange fantasy ideas in my head end up being Neville's realities. What will he get up to this time? What will happen to him? I guess you'll need to read the book to find out. And there's a very good reason to read it quickly.

For the next two weeks after release, Scribbling will be available for the special bargain price of 99c. But that's not all. As an extra special bonus, anyone who buys a copy in those two weeks will also get some previously unreleased "outtakes" from Doodling - a chance to meet some new characters, encounter some familiar ones in new ways, and get an insight into the way the story was developed.

So join me for the fun - come along to http://www.facebook.com/events/356650867758902/ for a chance to chat about all things Neville. And go to Amazon to grab your own copy of Scribbling.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Almost time for a bit of Scribbling

Okay, now I'm getting excited.

I'm sure you can tell. I'm sure you can see a kind of spring in my typing. Maybe a slight nervous tremor between my words.

If you can, that's great. If not, then maybe when you read it, try to get a kind of jumpy, excitable tone into your voice - that should help set the scene.

I'm sure you're all sitting on the edges of your seats by now, waiting for the amazing and exciting news. So here it is.

We are now, officially, only days away from the release of my new novella, Scribbling. If you take a close look at the cover (another wonderful job by Lliam Amor) for Scribbling, it should give you a few ideas.

The first thing you'll notice is that it bears a distinct resemblance to the cover for Doodling, and there's a very good reason for that. Scribbling is a sequel - of sorts.I say "of sorts" because the order doesn't really matter. You could read Doodling first or Scribbling first, and in neither case would it be a problem. While definitely connected, they also stand alone.

Basically, Scribbling is the further adventures of Neville Lansdowne. He doesn't fall off the world this time. Actually that's not true, he does fall of the world - but he doesn't stay off for long this time. Of course, knowing Neville, he's off on all sorts of new adventures, meeting lots of remarkable and distinctly odd people, and dealing with unexpected problems for which he'll have to find innovative solutions. 

Hopefully, you too can stand the tension. Hopefully you can bear the remaining four days until the official release of Scribbling - Thursday October 25. because if you can, I have a special offer to announce:

For the first two weeks after release, Scribbling will be available for the special bargain price of 99c. But that's not all. As an extra special bonus, anyone who buys a copy in those two weeks will also get some previously unreleased "outtakes" from Doodling - a chance to meet some new characters, encounter some familiar ones in new ways, and get an insight into the way the story was developed.

Please stay tuned for further details -I know I will. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

When did it all start to be about genres? - guest post by Jim Murdoch

Today it's a real pleasure to have Jim Murdoch as my guest. Jim is a regular visitor here and one of my most frequent commenters. Today he is talking about something which I kind of feel as well - how we're all a bit too hung up about genres. Plus he says some nice things about my book, so he can come again.

When did it all start to be about genres?

The novel is not so much a literary genre, but a literary space, like a sea that is filled by many rivers. – Jose Saramago
It’s about twenty years now since I sat down to write what would turn out to be my first novel. Since then I have completed four others so you would never call me prolific but there are plenty of authors out there who have been remembered fondly by history whose claim to fame rests on the back of five novels or less (F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example). I was in my mid-thirties when I began that first book. In the twenty years prior to that I had composed nothing but poetry. I thought of myself as a poet and would have been perfectly happy to continue being one, however, after a bout of illness which resulted in a three year period of (for want of a better word) writer’s block, I sat down at my father’s desk one day to write a something, an anything; I had no plans to write a novel nor did I imagine I was capable of writing one despite the fact that everyone is supposed to have at least one book in them. The thing is I never sat down to write a psychological thriller or a paranormal romance or a gothic horror. I sat down to write words on a page and to see where they led me. That I ended up with a book-length block of prose came as a great surprise to me. It then got pottered around with for five years and then after a half-hearted attempt to interest an agent or two it got filed away in the proverbial drawer where it languished for another ten years before I decided to take the bull by the horns and do something about it.

At this point I was faced with the prospect of marketing the damn thing which raised a problem: What kind of book was this? Up until that point the bulk of my reading matter could be classified simply as literary fiction. The only crime novels I had ever read had all been written by a literary novelist; I had read three horror novels (again, all by the one writer), no romances, no fantasy (bar The Hobbit when I was a kid) and not much science fiction. I read people like Camus, Kafka, Solzhenitsyn and Beckett for fun. To my mind there were real books and genre fiction and I had written a real book. I wanted to say I’d written a literary novel—because that’s what I aspired to—but even I recognised that it wasn’t highbrow enough. But what exactly had I written?

When I first started promoting that book, Living with the Truth, I said it was a cross between Kafka and Douglas Adams but it was the author Kay Sexton who, in her review of the book, nailed it. Sort of.
In all, this is one of those novels that bookshops must hate: not 'hard' enough to be specific, not 'weird' enough to be fantasy, too realistic for the humour section and yet too humorous to shelve easily with the lit fic. And that, I suspect is going to prove to be its charm; for those who do read it, it's a singular take on the world, and it will either resonate with you or leave you cold. … But I can recommend that you try it — if you like distinctive fiction that rings no bells and blows no whistles but creeps up on you with its absurdities, this book will satisfy you, as it did me. – Kay Sexton, ‘Novel Review – Living with the Truth’, 12 June 2008
I’ve quoted this paragraph many times but in my heart of hearts it bothers me because it underlines the fact that I’d produced a book that was neither fish nor fowl and I’ve found that can put people off. 

Genres are not new. The earliest recorded systems of genre in Western history can be traced back to Plato and Aristotle. Aristotle's system distinguished four types of classical genres: tragedy, epic, comedy, and parody and these still stand as the four pillars that hold up all writing. Oh how things have changed. In his essay “‘An Arousing and Fulfilment of Desires': The Rhetoric of Genre in the Process Era—and Beyond” genre theorist Richard Coe talks about something he calls “the tyranny of the genre” and says that this “is normally taken to signify how generic structures constrain individual creativity.” It constrains creativity because of reader expectation. If you pick up a novel by Catherine Cookson you expect certain things. The same goes for James Patterson or Agatha Christie. Labelling anything is a direct message to the purchaser: This is what you’re supposed to do with the contents of this packet or tin or book, e.g. Empty the contents in a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 – 4 minutes stirring continuously. If you tell a reader up front that the book he has in his hands is a mystery he or she will read it accordingly and expect certain things from it. People may bitch about rules but the fact is we secretly prefer them; they provide an element of security.

So how do you read a book that’s “not 'hard' enough to be spec fic, not 'weird' enough to be fantasy, too realistic for the humour section and yet too humorous to shelve easily with the lit fic”? If it’s not all those things then what exactly is it and does it matter?

When Mary Shelley sat down to write the book that would become known as Frankenstein she had in mind to write a horror novel—Mary, her husband Percy, Lord Byron and John Polidori had decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story—but what she wound up writing, Brian Aldiss has argued at length, was one of the first science fiction stories. Actually what he says is:

Frankenstein is generically ambivalent, hovering between novel, Gothic and science fiction. To my mind, precisely similar factors obtain even today in the most celebrated SF novels. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land contains magic; Anne McCaffrey’s dragon novels hover between legend, fairy tale and science fiction. Is Greg Bear’s Blood Music nanotechnological or allegorical? ‘Pure’ science fiction is chimerical. Its strength lies in its hybrid nature. – Brian Aldiss, The Detached Retina, p. 54
To my mind too many authors these days start off on the wrong foot. They do it because they believe it’s necessary and they subsequently sell more books than me because of this; because they considered their audience right from day one, page one. The purist in me looks down on them; the pragmatist is not so quick to judge.

Think of a book this way, though: as a present. I hate Amazon’s wish lists. I think they’re a necessary evil and they make life easier for my American relatives who don’t know me so well. They always buy me something I want and yet I’m always disappointed because it’s something I expected. This doesn’t mean that there’s no comfort to be had in the familiar. I would hate to go to a chip shop and my chips not come generously slathered with salt and vinegar as happened to me once in Edinburgh (where they ask customers if they want salt and sauce as standard). Chips—especially chippie chips—are comfort food; they’re predictable and reliable and may they never change. There will be times when you want a book like that. If I’m sad I’m not going to stick on a CD of Strauss waltzes and marches—I’m going to pick something that suits my mood—and if I’m in a bright mood I’m not going to automatically reach for Bernard Malamud’s The Fixer but there will be times when I want to be surprised and that’s when you don’t want your bog-standard thriller or mystery.

That’s what I liked about Jonathan’s first book—which was the first thing by him that I’d read—because it wasn’t like anything I had read before. It didn’t sit neatly in any pre-existing genre or subgenre, which is why, I guess, he felt the need to concoct his own term (daglit) to describe his style of writing. How would you describe the novels of Franz Kafka? He never invented the term but everyone has some idea what Kafkaesque means and the same goes for Pinteresque, Nabokovian and even Philidickian. My friend, the Irish playwright Ken Armstrong, once left a comment on one of my blogs which began, “I thought this was exceptionally tight piece of writing (even by Murdochian standard)…” and that pleased me no end because it underlined the fact that I had a unique voice.

I personally think that genrification is ultimately damaging. I get it. I know exactly why Amazon has its tag system. There are simply too many books swilling around out there and readers need a way of reducing the lists they’re wading through to something manageable, however, in so doing so many wonderful, wonderful books that are never going to be easily classified end up slipping down the plughole. I don’t know what the answer is other than word of mouth but all that needs to start the ball rolling is one person saying to another, “Hey, there’s this writer called [Jim Murdoch or Jonathan Gould or any of a thousand neglected others] and you should really have a look at his stuff.

***

 
Jim Murdoch is a Scottish writer living just outside Glasgow. He has published three novels, Living with the Truth, Stranger than Fiction and Milligan and Murphy along with a collection of poetry, This Is Not About What You Think. Next year he plans to bring out a book of short stories, Making Sense. You can read more about him on his blog The Truth About Lies and on his website where there are excerpts from his books and copies of many positive reviews.
 

 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Genre Underground - Trick AND Treat

Are you ready for a little tip. You'll need to be reading my posts extra specially carefully this month. Ok, maybe not too carefully - I'd hate you to pick up a bunch of typos and grammar errors. But maybe just a bit more carefully than normal. And there's a good reason for that.

This month I'm participating in a really fun event from a group called the Genre Underground.The event is called Trick AND Treat and it involves a little bit of trickery and guesswork.

Later this month, there's going to be a bit of blog swapping happening. I'll be posting somewhere else, while someone else will be posting here. But that's not all the fun part of it. When we go over to each others blogs, we're not going to be saying who we are. That's up to you guys to figure out. And if you can correctly identify who one of these tricky blog-swappers is, you might get to win a prize. Lots of prizes: books, swag, and other fun stuff.

And do you want to know the best bit of all. The persons who figures out the most correct bloggers gets to win a Grand Prize - this includes a Kindle Fire, a premium book distribution package from BookBaby, a bunch of books and lots of other stuff.

So be sure to look at the GU event page, check out all the participating blogs, and get to know their writing styles. As for me, I should be easy to pick. Cheerful, friendly, or maybe just a bit grumpy and whingy, but always in a fun way.

Hope you all have fun with this. 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A borse is a borse of course - World Animal Day

Well who would have though it. Today is world animal day. And to commemorate that, I'm participating in a really fun event - the World Animal Day blog hop sponsored by Terri Giuliano Long and David M Brown.

So, of course, today I'm going to talk about animals. Not just any kind of animals. Today I'm going to be talking about a rather special animal called a borse. If you've read my novel, Magnus Opum, you should already know a bit about what a borse is. It's the chief beast of burden used by the Kertoobis, who are the central race within the novel. A borse looks a little like a cow and a little like a pig and not a lot like a horse at all.

However, the thing that makes a borse quite extraordinary is the fact that the two legs on the left are substantially shorter than the two legs on the right. In the book, there's quite a bit more about how unsuitable borses actually were for any kind of manual work, and how stubborn the Kertoobis were for insisting on using them anyway, but I won't go into that now.Instead, I want to tell you about something even funnier related to borses that I discovered not long after the book was released.

It was my dad who told me first. I can't remember where he said he got it from, but he told me there was in fact a real animal that had a similar discrepancy re the length of its legs. Of course I didn't believe him (he has a great tendency to take the piss out of me) so I had to look it up. I didn't find anything substantial, but I did discover there is actually a long history of fictional animals with legs that are shorter on one side. Some examples I discovered are:
  • the dahu - supposedly a type of French mountain goat
  • the wild haggis - obviously where the Scottish delicacy is derived from
  • the sidehill gouger - another mountain creature, something like a cross between a goat and a badger
  • the rackabore - which funnily enough looks a bit like a cow and a bit like a pig (but nothing like a horse).
So I'm rather pleased to now find myself part of a proud tradition of silly animals with leg-length discrepancies. I hope you've learned something useful out of this post - I know I have. 

And please, check out the other sites participating in the World Animal Day blog hop. There will be lost of other great posts to read as well as some fantastic prizes.
 

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A man out of time

It's been a while since I had a bit of a musical theme here, so today we're going to start off with a clip from one of my favourites:



Of course it's Elvis Costello, doing what I think is one of his greatest songs - Man out of Time.

As a writer, it's easy to hold Elvis Costello's songs in high regard - he's definitely one of the cleverest and sharpest wordsmiths around. The reason I particularly enjoy this song is because it really strikes a chord with me. I often feel like I'm a man out of time.

I reckon I feel it most strongly on the tram heading into work. I look around and there are all these people engrossed in their mobile phones. Hammering on their non-existent keyboards and staring at them as if somehow the secrets of the universe are contained on their screens. I don't get it. I don't even own a mobile phone. Does that mean there's something wrong with me - or does it just mean I'm totally not with the times.

It's not just the phone thing either. It's TV and movies and music. I have no interest in being up with the latest in any of these. Modern pop music just sounds like noise to me now - and hey, I used to love to rock out with the best of them (in my own kind of way). These days I sound a lot like my dad. It's a bit frightening.

Sometimes it makes me feel lost. I talk to people and they say, "Have you seen this?" or, "Have you heard this?" or, "Have you got the latest app?" Most of the time, I haven't got a clue what they're talking about.

But other times, it makes me feel like I've got my own place, and I'm not just following the crowd. Maybe it's a snobbish thing - I don't know.

What I do know is that I think I'll just keep on doing my own thing, listening to the music I like, and writing my own kind of stories, regardless of what is currently on the bestseller lists. I've gotten used to being a man out of time, and while it can have its disadvantages, it's mostly pretty good.

Enjoy the music. See you next time. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

New release from the APG: Glass Block by Kai Wilson

Today I'm not going to be talking about me - which will probably be a bit of a relief for most of you I bet.

Today I want to put the spotlight on one of the really top people in the indie publishing world, and one of the mainstays of the Alexandria Publishing Group - the incredible Kai Wilson.


I reckon I've known Kai for a bit over a year now, and in that time I don't think I've seen a more tireless worker and helper for all of us clueless writers out there. Her range of skills is amazing. She's a terrific editor and proofreader. Plus she's extremely cluey when it comes to all things webby. But most of all, she's a brilliant writer, and that's what this post is about. Because today Kai is launching her new novel, Glass Block.

Before I talk about the special events in store, here's a quick blurb to describe what the book is about:

When Big Brother fell out of popularity in the early part of the 21st century it was replaced with ever more ‘realistic’ reality TV shows, till the need for this was replaced with a need for fantasy. In an attempt to resurrect the old format some die hard fans filmed themselves locked in with a recently released murderer. The person to get out got the money from the stream sales at the end. Needless to say they were slaughtered.

Word of this spread on the internet and a ‘sanctioned’ version by the UCPS (United coalition of Prison Services) was established. Brought in from Darkness, one of the cities providing most of the prisoners, most of which he’d been responsible for collaring, Elliot Peters is forced into a nightmare world where the walls are made of glass and people vote as to whether you survive.


Sounds good? There's more. To celebrate the release, Kai is putting on a special event with a whole lot of prizes, including signed books, gift cards, ebooks, letters from Elliot and a case notes file, of your choice, with a short story created - signed and posted to YOU.

So come along and join in the fun at http://www.facebook.com/events/337132569712471/. And for more information about the book, see http://www.facebook.com/DarknessContinuum.

Hopefully you'll enjoy this - another quality release from the Alexandria Publishing Group.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Whether I live or die - guest post by Stacy Eaton

Today I'm really pleased to have another guest - Stacy Eaton is here to talk about her new release, Whether I’ll Live or Die.

So take it away, Stacy.


Jonathan was gracious enough to invite me to his blog today and talk about my newest novel, Whether I’ll Live or Die. Thank you Jonathan!!! It is always a pleasure to reach out and visit with other authors and their readers.

Jonathan asked me to write a guest post talking about why Whether I’ll Live or Die (WILoD) is different than other novels.  I have to say that this was a very different request and I had to spend some time thinking about the true answer to that. After some long hours of throwing it around in my mind, I found that I really liked that he asked me to write about that topic.

Before I get into the answer, I feel it is only necessary to explain to you what WILoD is about.  This novel was officially released on July 13, 2012. It is a very intense and emotional novel dealing with the very serious topic of domestic violence.  Here’s the book blurb for you to see real quick:
“It sounded so simple in theory; ready... aim... fire... but what actually transpired was so much more.”

Officer Nicole Nolan holds the gun steady in her hands, knowing that life will be forever altered once she pulls the trigger. Her position as a small town police officer is to protect those who cannot protect themselves. It is her job, her career and her life.

Amanda stands where protection does not exist. With several failed relationships behind her, Amanda turns a blind eye to the possessiveness Josh displays in order to sooth her desperate need to be loved. As the mental abuse turns violent, Amanda must deal with the denial and embarrassment of being a victim once again. With her emotional and physical health siting on the edge, she must fight to regain control of her life.

A gripping story with one final destination, but will it be life or death?
Now out there in the market are many books that bring to light the effects of domestic violence. Some of them are written by the victim spilling the truth of pain and torment, some are written from an author’s perspective and they use what they have learned from research in a fictional manner.  This book was written giving you both.

Many years ago I witnessed domestic violence firsthand. I knew what it felt like to feel the physical and emotional pain. I know what the lack of self-esteem can do to a person and I know the fear they have not only of the attacker but also the fear of what others will think about them in society.

Now, I am a police officer. I see even more domestic violence in my job on a daily basis and I have to help the victims and the families deal with it. I also have to deal with the legal aspects of it.

Putting these two things together gave me an edge to write this story in a way that I could show people what happens when the doors are closed and the neighborhood is quiet.

Maybe you have stood at your front door and watched police show up at your neighbor’s house and wondered what was going on. Or your friend showed up with an unexplained bruise and some wild excuse for how they got it. Stepping into the pages of WILoD will give you, the reader, and advantage of understanding a very serious issue that too many people deal with on a daily basis.

This is not a light hearted story. There is some very minor romance, only to show there is good in the world, but this story was meant to bring the raw emotion to light for those who have never witnessed it. It was written to show families they can get help and there are people who will listen. These words were written so the voice of the victim could be heard and instead of you saying, “Man, I can’t believe she stays with that guy”, you will say “I understand how hard it is to leave that situation, is there anything I can do to help”.

I’m not asking people to jump into a situation that is none of their business, but I want people to know that while it mostly happens behind closed doors, it needs to be discussed.

Do I think this is a great book? Of course, I wrote it, lol… but what shows me it is a great book is that I am reaching people. I am showing people who have never had to face abuse what it is like. I am showing them that if someday they are abused, then there is hope. I have had all kinds of people read this. People who were true victims, people who have never seen abuse. People who have lived it through family members, police officers, social workers, mothers, fathers, dispatchers and other authors.  All of them have said basically the same thing. Wow, intense…  And that to me is the absolute best I can ask for.

Thank you Jonathan for allowing me to visit your blog today. It is an honor to be here and to visit with your readers.

Author Bio:

Stacy is a full-time Police Officer who enjoys crime scene investigation above all else. She also owns a business that deals with helping people get the awareness out for the causes they care most about. She is a mother of two and her husband is also in law enforcement. She is very much into photography and carries her Nikon Digital SLR with her almost everywhere, just in case. She also has two Shiloh Shepherd dogs and loves to play catch with them.

Stacy uses her experience at work to make the stories more believable, weaving bits of crime solving knowledge into her stories of fiction to make them more lifelike. She writes using a unique style that keeps you in the minds of all the important characters. Switching back and forth from mind to mind to keep the readers aware of what each character is feeling and why they do the things they do.

Her first book, My Blood Runs Blue was the start of her writing career.  It brings the world of law enforcement into the paranormal world of vampires. It is a suspenseful adult series that will keep you guessing from chapter to chapter. Book one, My Blood Runs Blue, was published April 2011 and is currently available in paperback, hardcover and e-book editions. Book two of the series, entitled Blue Blood for Life was released September 2011 and like book 1 made International Best Selling lists on Amazon very quickly.  The third book of this series is in the plot and characters development stage. She is hoping to have it completed and published in the winter of 2012.

Stacy is also currently working on several different novels. The first one is called Liveon. Using a similar writing style as her series, this book brings to life Detective Jacquelyn Liveon as she tries to protect a movie star who is being threatened. While this book is well on it’s way, it has been put to the side to make way for another book that she is working on.

Whether I’ll Live or Die was released on July 13th! This book is a fictional story about a young woman named Amanda who deals with the pain and emotional issues of Domestic Violence. You will read about how Amanda deals with the things life hands her while you follow Nicole Nolan as she grows at her new job as a police officer. This book is very emotional and intense as it deals with the all too real problems that face people in violent relationships.

Reviews:

“This book is absolutely riveting, taking you on a kaleidoscope of emotions…”

"WOW - That was Powerful! So well written I felt like I was right there."

“The story is phenomenal and beautiful in an emotion way.”

“Thank you Ms. Eaton for this excellent story of a very heartbreaking fact of life.”

“Life changing, compelling and heartbreaking are just a few of the words I would use to describe author Stacy Eaton's novel…”

“This book is raw and real.”

“…a brilliantly crafted journey that engages the reader both emotionally and psychologically.” 

Links:




Twitter: @StacySEaton







Friday, 14 September 2012

A special treat from the APG: four for the price of none

This is a big weekend for us at the Alexandria Publishing Group.

We're offering, not one, or two, or even three, but four of our books for the extra special price of nothing. Not a penny, or a pence, or whatever currency you're used to. The same price as a cup of coffee, minus the coffee, or a box of chocolates minus the chocolates. And the box.

When you see the listing, you'll know there are even more reasons to be excited.

Ok, so one of them is from me. I don't usually like to be the one to blow my own horn, so maybe I should let others do the talking. Reviewers have described Magnus Opum as "totally magical, brimming with imagination and fantasy, and entertaining from start to finish" and "a master work of both parody AND satire rolled into an easy-to-read family-friendly story", so who am I to argue?

Here's a little about the other books on offer:

The Coming Storm is by Valerie Douglas, author of the bestselling Song of the Fairy Queen (which has now spent several weeks in the upper reaches of the Kindle rankings). It is an epic fantasy that has been described by reviewers as "Compelling Heroic Fantasy" and "fast moving with strong, well developed characters that are easy to identify with and yet complex."


The Shadowbearer is the second book in Terry Simpson's Aegis of the Gods series. It has been described by reviewers as "a high paced fantasy with all the twists and turns that keep the reader on the edge of their seat" featuring "an original world, a cool system of magic, and some touching character scenes."
Cataclysm: Return of the Gods is by Stephen King. No, not that Stephen King - the other Stephen King (or TOSK as he likes to be known). An urban fantasy with gods and goddesses aplenty, reviewers have described it as "a great, detailed story that I could not stop reading" and a story that "flows and keeps you interested and emotionally involved." 
So don't waste any more time. Click on the links below to get over to Amazon now to grab yourself free copies:


Oh, and I better not forget - Magnus Opum.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Hey you - are you talking to me?

Hope that got your attention. If not, well I guess you're not reading this anyway, so it doesn't matter.

Today I'm going to be talking about talking. Or talking about dialogue to be more precise. Yes that's right, I'm actually going to talk about writing for a change. Even I've had enough of all that complaining and whinging. So, here goes...

I love writing dialogue. I reckon writing dialogue is my favourite  part of the whole writing process. You can take your flowery descriptions, or your heart-stopping action. I'll happily write scene after scene of nothing else but people talking to each other. Come to think of it, there are a couple of short stories I've done which pretty much contain nothing else except dialogue. They're rather good too, if I might say so myself.

Am I short changing readers with my focus on dialogue to the detriment of the other components of story? Not at all, in my opinion. As a reader, dialogue is my favourite bit as well. I'll skip over long passages of description. I'll even yawn at action scenes that are meant to excite. I'm always in a hurry just to get to the next bit of dialogue. And given that the first person I'm writing stories for is me, it makes complete sense for me to take that approach.

Of course, that doesn't mean I completely neglect the other aspects of the story. Beyond the short story form, it's pretty much impossible to write nothing but dialogue. And there have been times when I've been rather pleased by a descriptive passage or a bit of action I've just managed to compose. But dialogue is still the best bit. It's how characters get to show who they are, and the way they bounce off each other is the way relationships are established and plot is progressed.

I'm really inspired by some of the great dialogue writers, the ones who can really make their characters come to life with distinct voices. Dickens is one obviously example. Another less obvious one is J.K. Rowling. In all the talk about the success of Harry Potter, one thing I think that is often missed is how good she is at voicing her characters. But my big inspiration is Douglas Adams. I love how, especially in the first two Hitch-hikers books, the dialogue just zings off the page. A lot of it was originally written to be performed via the original radio series, and it shows.

I don't know if I could ever reach the heights of some of those masters but it's something to aspire to. When I write dialogue, I try to hear it in my head. I try to imagine how each character will sound -  sometimes I'll even make notes to describe it, e.g. this one sounds like a TV gameshow host, while another sounds like an overly hammy British stage actor.

Sometimes it's a tricky thing to get right. Every line has to serve some sort of purpose to the bigger story, whether revealing character or plot (hopefully both together) while also sounding natural and unforced. I suppose it's up to my readers to decide whether I achieve it or not. But it's certainly fun to try.

 

Scribbling update

 

Speaking of dialogue, there's an awful lot in my new novella, Scribbling. Scribbling is a sequel (of sorts) to Doodling and features more of the strange and unexpected adventures of Neville Lansdowne.

Currently, it's in the final stages of editing so hoping to have it available in late October/early November. Keep posted here for more news. 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Happy birthday to the Indie Exchange - September Social Smash

September Social SplashThis month I'm excited to be part of a special event.

A year ago, a great friend, Donna Brown, established an event called Adopt an Indie. It was a terrific event and I was privileged to be able to take part in it. Over the following year, this evolved into a really great and supportive group for independent authors called The Indie Exchange. Now, a year has passed and I'm pleased to be able to be involved in the birthday celebrations. From an event supporting dozens of authors, the Indie Exchange has grown into an 800 member strong - and growing - group.

To celebrate, this success, they are holding their best ever giveaway: The September Social Splash.

Main prize: $100 Amazon voucher

Second prize: $10 Amazon voucher

There are so many ways to win - just check out the Rafflecopter below. You can complete as many actions as you like to enter the draw and be in with a chance of winning the $100 prize.

It's great to see so many members and visitors making The Indie Exchange such a success so far! Visit The Indie Exchange: Website ** Facebook Group ** Facebook Page ** Twitter

So let me finish with a big thank you to Donna Brown, Coral Russell, and all the other wonderful people who make the Indie Exchange such a great resource for writers everywhere. May your group continue to go from strength to strength.

Happy Birthday The Indie Exchange

Happy Birthday
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 26 August 2012

How to be a cynical optimist

I've decided that I'm a cynical optimist.

I'm not totally sure what that means, but then again, I'm never quite sure what anything much means.

What I can say for sure is that at various times, I have been accused of being overly cynical.

I've never agreed with this assessment. I don't think I'm overly cynical at all. I just figure that I look at things in a practical and realistic way. When you read the newspapers. When you listen to the guff that politicians spin. Ok, let's not single out politicians unfairly. When you listen to the guff that lots of people spin, cynicism seems like a completely reasonable response.

And it's not just the stuff that's covered in the rarefied world of the media. Just getting through most days seems to require a healthy dose of it. Whether you're working in the public or the private sector, there's more than enough rubbish you need to wade through every day. I should know - I worked in universities for the better part of 20 years. Supposedly, universities are full of the smartest people in the country - god help the rest of us is all I can say.

As for being a writer, a dose of cynicism is more than required to get through the day. It was needed back when I was trying to deal with publishers, and their various prevarications for why they didn't want to publish my stories - especially after I saw the stories that they did publish. And it's even more necessary in the self-publishing world, where the variables that define success still often seem to have little to do with the quality of the writing.

So why the hell do I do it? Why do I put myself through all this daily torture? Because, as I said, cynicism is not the only side to me. I'm also a ridiculous, pie-in-the-sky optimist. Every day, I get up, I put all my grumbling and cynicism to the side, I look up and tell myself that there's a bright side to all of this.

It's a bit like one of my stories: Flidderbugs. I suppose it's a bit of a satire about politics and all that stuff. I've had reviewers say it was overly-cynical. I've had others say the ending is too contrived and optimistic. I like to think it means I've somehow got a good balance of the two.

Because that's the thing about us. We're all a contradiction. We all have a mix of different qualities. You just have to make sure you make the best of all of them, and don't let any take you over.

Seems to me, being a cynical optimist is the best approach to take. It means you'll always be aiming for the sky, but you'll also be aware of where the dark clouds are. because how else will you be able to avoid them?  

Sunday, 19 August 2012

29 Days of Fantasy - a great anthology for a great cause

Back in February, I was excited to be involved in a really great online event. 29 Days of Fantasy was organised by Thomas A. Knight and involved a whole bunch of posts by a range of authors covering just about every aspect of fantasy you could possibly think of. There were posts about how to construct worlds and how to develop characters. There were posts about fantasy for young adults and romance in fantasy. It was a really great collection of articles by a bunch of interesting and talented writers.

The really great news is that Thomas has now collected all of this material together and published it in the form of an ebook - called, of course, 29 Days of Fantasy. All of the great articles can be read in one simple and convenient format, and at the exceptionally convenient price of just 99 cents. I could say more, but I'll let the blurb for the book on Amazon give you a better idea of what this is about:

What is 29 Days? It's a celebration of the fantasy genre, and fans have every reason to party! The fantasy genre is bigger and better than ever before, and shows no signs of letting up. This celebration is for the authors, the creators, the artists and producers, publishers and promoters of fantasy, but most importantly, this celebration is for the fans!

Fantasy author Lorna Suzuki writes about incorporating reality into fantasy, author J. Robert King brings is The Heart of Villainy, world renowned author and game developer Jeff Grubb spills the beans in an in-depth interview, and much, much more.

But that's still not all the great news.

Thomas has very generously decided to share the royalties for 29 Days of Fantasy with an organisation called Reglue. You can learn more about them at their website, http://reglue.org, but in summary, they work to provide access to technology to underprivileged kids - a pretty worthy cause if you ask me.

So there's a bunch of really great reasons why you should check this out. Even if you don't think you're interested in fantasy, you may find yourself swayed by some of the terrific posts captured here. And the chance to help a worthy organisation is always a good thing on top of that.

About Thomas A. Knight


Thomas A. Knight has spent most of his life either immersed in or building fantasy worlds and bringing characters to life.

From Middle Earth, to the skies of Pern and beyond, no world is too great a challenge for him to conquer. His favourite places include a pair of worlds that spawned from his own imagination, one of perpetual light, and one of perpetual darkness.

When he is not living a life in one of these worlds, he is a husband, father of two little girls, software developer, and avid role-player. He grew up and currently resides in a small town in Ontario, Canada. Holding a diploma in Network Engineering, he works as a software developer at one of the world's leading vinyl siding manufacturers.

You can learn more about him and his writing at his webite - http://thomasaknight.com/