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

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.