30 December 2010

Time Travel

I not infrequently displace my characters in time.  Not, as a rule, sending them back, but bringing someone forward, so that they have to deal with a home that has become not-home, recognisable and yet wrong.

Going to Townsville for Christmas took me into vaguely similar territory - it has become not-home, recognisable but strange.  Whole new suburbs have appeared, the mall is being restructured, and the saplings in the middle of the big roundabouts are now large trees - but recognisably Townsville with the cascara flowering, and tamarinds littering the ground.  Familiar stores have different names, but the bones of home are still there. 

The worst change was speed bumps on "Sonja's Hill" (known by non-Hosths as "The Cutting", I believe).  This was a terrific street for driving really fast up and making yourself seem to fly when you crested the top.  Speed bumps take all the fun away.

The Townsville of my childhood was rarely anything but brown-gold - El Nino held sway and the hills were dry.  It was more than disconcerting to see everything so green, and that's not even counting the floods.

The 1000% humidity was also an excellent reminder of why I don't live there any more.

24 December 2010

A Place to Write

I'm not someone who can write through a lot of noise and interruptions (which makes Christmas visits to relatives a rather unproductive patch).  The best place I've found to write is on my morning commute by train.  No internet, little in the way of distractions, and a great deal of predictability.  I can concentrate.

Little progress this past week - I'm meant to be doing a final edit of Stained Glass Monsters, but Word is not launching itself, and there are few occasions when I can find the "write moment".

18 December 2010

Around the World

Just finished my first book giveaway promotion at Goodreads, which has been a fascinating experience.  Goodreads is a great site, and I had 845 people who thought it might be nice to get a copy of Champion.  The ten who won were scattered all over the world - from New Zealand to Russia - and it gives me a real kick to think someone on the other side of the planet will see Soren through the fight with the 'wretched shrub'.

13 December 2010

Sixth Cover - Voice of the Lost

"Voice of the Lost" is the last of the covers from my first commissions.  The conclusion to the story started in "The Silence of Medair", we've moved here from fire to water.

The mood Julie has achieved here is just wonderful: a wholly eerie scene, with Medair contemplating her past self, and her past self looking disturbingly like she's capable of reaching up and taking a firm grasp of Medair.

I'm still not totally decided on font and font colour.  This is not a title shouting its name to the world, but it's readable even in thumbnail, and I love the picture so much I don't want to draw the eye from it with too loud a font colour.

"Voice" will be the last of this batch of first releases - I'm aiming for about March with it, and then there will be a gap till probably the last quarter of next year, where I will have one or two more.  I already have covers in mind for them.

Covers are fun.  :)

12 December 2010

Ngaio Marsh: "Overture to Death"

Overture to DeathOverture to Death by Ngaio Marsh

The stand-out characters of this book are all very unlikeable people. Neat, ferrety Mrs Ross. Bullying, brash Idris Campanula. And judgmental Miss Prentice. It is a book of lonely women; embarrassing, manipulative, needy. The scene where Alleyn and Mr Copeland (two very handsome men) are sharing a shudder over the passions of a woman too blind and lacking in self-awareness to see how unwanted she is, rings very true, but is not a kind moment.

In the larger story of Alleyn, this novel falls after Troy has finally agreed to marry him, but before their wedding, and his feelings for (the small, talented, attractive, intelligent) Troy - everything Idris Campanula is not - serves as a stark contrast. Not one person mourns Miss Campanula's death, but on this re-read I was struck that she spent the night before her death crying and heart-broken.

It's a difficult book to love, but as a mystery it is clearly plotted and worth reading.

View all my reviews

[Experimenting with cross-posting reviews between here and Goodreads...]

07 December 2010

Fifth Cover - Stained Glass Monsters

The third of my covers from the amazing Julie Dillon, Stained Glass Monsters packs some serious punch.

I love how Julie worked Rennyn's ribbons into this scene, and subtly captures the seething menace of Eferum-get.  Rennyn and Faille both come across brilliantly (Faille particularly so, heh - Kellian jokes are never going to get old).  Rennyn is so determined and focused on her task, and this image bring across her power and her potential darkness.  The placement of Faille's sword is a particularly nice touch, suggesting both the need to protect and protect against Rennyn.

Font-wise, this was by far the hardest, but after a diligent century of searching I managed to find something which felt exactly 'right'.  I may change the colour of the 'glass' - originally I had a rainbow spectrum, but because the image is already a complex one, I've toned it back to the two shades of yellow.

SGM (and Stray) will be released early January 2011, and this is another cover I'm overjoyed to have.

05 December 2010

Step by Step

I now have an "Author's Page" at Amazon, which makes publication feel rather more real.  [Admittedly, as an Australian, I tend to shop at The Book Depository - can't beat free shipping - but Amazon is a major market and it's nice to see myself there.]  It'll be quite a few more weeks before the books are available more widely, but this was one of the biggest steps, and so I could go ahead and change my .signature at the forums I frequent.

The Champion cover makes a gorgeous avatar.

01 December 2010

Pressing "Go"

Today is official "Publish Day" for Champion of the Rose and The Silence of Medair!  They start out from Smashwords and CreateSpace, and slowly filter out to other distributors, and I suspect I won't really think of myself as published until I can find myself at The Book Depository or Amazon.

Since the books are currently only at the cusp of availability, so to speak, I'm holding off on changes to signatures and so forth - the various self-promotional things you're supposed to do to bring your book to the world's attention.  Self-promotion is a two-edged sword, more liable to annoy than entice, so I will refrain from all the more spam-worthy efforts.  Any small amount of success I have will be more than gradual, I suspect.

But it's fun, just to have them up there.