And we have a cover!

I am overwhelmingly pleased to be able to share with you all the final cover art for The Damning Moths!

Please head on over to the official website and bask in the pretties! Wait, that’s what I’m doing. You may join me in basking if you like, or just take a quick little look. Either way, I’m so excited!

The Damning Moths – Proudly announcing the cover art

This beautiful piece of illustration and design was done by Ty Scheuerman, my very talented husband. I could not ask for a more wonderful cover.

~A

The Next Big Thing

Friend and fellow Perth writer Martin Livings, who has been kicking around the industry for over two decades, has pegged me for this: The Next Big Thing writer promotion cycle. Answer the interview, tag more writers, watch as it takes over the blogosphere. Many thanks, Martin! On that note, I highly recommend everyone wriggle on over to pick up Martin’s short story collection, “Living With The Dead” because this man knows his horror, yes he does.

I also have to make mention of both Michael Bailey and Annie Neugebauer who asked me to participate after I already agreed to be one of Martin’s tag-ees. Thanks, both of you!

Now! I give you The Next Big Thing(s). Yeah. I’m a big cheater, so absolutely no one should be surprised when I break all the rules and talk about the collective of my current work. It’s all connected! That has to count for something! But let me try and keep the focus on my first novel, The Damning Moths, coming out soon.

ONE: What is the working title of your next book?
Disclaimer: my working titles are always lazy and hasty. The Damning Moths was known as “Novel Series” until it got properly named. Uh huh. Book Two is exactly that, although pre-draft it received the codename “Spiral Leaves”. The novella prequel has the misfortune of being called “By Blood”. This is why I never discuss working titles. Moving on.

TWO: Where did the idea come from for the book?
The first concept which triggered the plot for everything is actually slated to be in Book Three, and I believe that was from a dream I had. During the subsequent two years of writing, editing, and refining the ideas, it has blossomed to where we are right now. The individual ideas tend to come to me through asking questions of the characters. What is their motive? What do they believe in? What makes them tick? With knowing those answers, I then ask: What will shatter their world? The resulting implosion is what happens in the book. Something to shake the character’s personal resolve in an integral way and see how far I can push them before everything breaks.

THREE: What genre does your book fall under?
Dark fantasy. Fantasy setting, horror lifeblood. I’ve had so many people look me up and down then ask why I write dark stuff. It’s an interesting subject, to be sure. I like the feeling of things being really, really bad for the characters. I enjoy the psychology in writing those who have to deal with horrific things. And I like being a little scared.

FOUR: What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a terrible question, and the person who originally asked it should feel bad. That said, I always have the disparity between the actors and actresses who look most like each character, and those I feel would play the role to perfection. This is part of why I don’t aim for live action films, and would love to see a high budget anime made of TDM.

FIVE: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“A world of blackened Faerie Tales is bubbling over with the conflict of past sins and perverse schemes as the gods’ glorious crown is passed to a new, unwilling victim.”

SIX: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Coming out through World Ender, my independent media label!

SEVEN: How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Six furious weeks on the scant and roughest draft of The Damning Moths, where words flew from my fingertips incomprehensibly. It took me another five months of changing the POV, fleshing out all the necessary parts, adding in characters, and finally, some very tough editing, before I had gotten it into the shape of a real novel instead of whatever I had spun in a bleary daze of drafting. The novella was drafted in five weeks, and Book Two is still in the works.

EIGHT: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Goodness, I don’t know. I struggle with this constantly. A lot of other dark fantasy is very much the armies, swords, and dragons kind of thing. Those who write about the fae kingdoms often stick with the very Tolkien/D&D styled races, or have a much more traditionally detached take on Faerie. Since there is a convoluted and vast history which triggers the political conflicts in TDM, as well as eldrich themes, big magic, and a character-driven plot, it’s not in one or the other camp, and I don’t know if I’ve read anything much like it before. I’ve had early readers compare my writing to far more dramatic names than I’m brave enough to repeat. I expect fans of George RR Martin and Laurell K Hamilton would find something to appreciate.

NINE: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Other authors inspire me to create, though each individual story is told because of the characters. I want to see where they go, all because they are fascinating to me. A dream started this tale, as is true of many stories I write, but inspiration is a constant flow for me. In the words of the awesome Chuck Wendig, Ask a writer: “Where do you get your ideas from?” And the writer will reply: “How do you make yours stop?” I’ve been writing for fifteen-some years. This just happens now.

TEN: What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Let’s take “about the book” rather liberally, shall we?
First, The Damning Moths is illustrated with some of the best artwork I’ve ever seen, and that’s before my bias kicks in! Truly, I have been overwhelmed by the quality of the illustrations and how well the artist has captured the scenes and characters. Readers will get treated with a page of artwork every chapter. Yay!
Second, there is an original soundtrack written for the book, an amazing post-rock/progressive electro rock album by The Revolver Project. I am so, so, so happy with how the soundtrack has come out. Early listeners have universally proclaimed, “This sounds like it’s from a horror movie”. I think that counts as a massive success. Music is an integral part of writing for me, so there is something inherent and natural about a book having companion theme songs. Double yay!

With great pleasure, I introduce to you my tag-ee, and the star of a “Next Big Thing” post! Please direct your attention to the lovely Kristen Tsetsi!

~A

Timelining

Okay. Alright. So. I am not a plotter by nature, and any kind of organisation system I have tried has failed me utterly. Something about all of the bits and bobs (especially in certain speciality writing programs) leave me irritable and unproductive. This shouldn’t go here, and what is that doing there, grumble grumble. Too bad I’m not a programmer, or I would just make my own application the way I want it.

But there comes a time when some things are necessary, and you either adapt, or fall to the ground in a sobbing heap. I adapted, and man, have I ever been missing out on the fun!

The Damning Moths requires an ongoing timeline. Simply put, there are a number of vital players in different locations who I need to keep track of, even if their actions never show up on paper. Oh, sure, I hummed and hahhed over how best to do this, and tried the sort of standard-looking horizontal timeline dealie (you know the kind they have to depict historical events or a person’s lifetime). That flopped. Too many people, too many things happening, too difficult to modify; I found myself holding the original sketchy outline of “character, location, and event” in a messy pile in my notebook, with a bucket-load of extra frustration. So what do I try to keep this tidy and easier to reference to prevent mistakes?

I realised at some point, people use daily planners in the format they are because it’s the effective way. I already knew the calendar system for TDM (which is actually far too complicated to relate in a few sentences), the length of the years, the months and seasons, so forth. Which lead me to the somewhat lengthy, but ultimately very useful process of creating the full calendar in a normal OpenOffice document, using a table. Yep, just like a real calendar, with little boxes for each day, or month, or year, depending on the level of detail it holds.

As such, I have several versions to reference. The historical, which is just years listed, because the characters have lifespans of hundreds of years, so I just use that to note births, deaths, and important events like wars, covering the past several thousand years as I need it. Then we move down to important years, which shows all the dates for a more specific tracking of events and the season they occur in. And now, the individual book calendar, which follows where people are at times of the day and when important plot points are revealed to various characters.

Sound complicated? It is and isn’t; when TDM deals so heavily with misplaced memory and deceit between people that the individual character’s knowledge at different times is a major factor, this makes it much, much easier. It took a lot of work in the first place to build the calendars. But it’s so refreshing to have it finally laid out where I can see everything at a glance, and I’ve kept blank copies of the yearly calendar to re-use for each subsequent book. There won’t be future issues regarding who is where and what they know about at the time. I’ve got it covered. I can easily figure out people’s relative age during events through history, keep track of who knows who and when they meet, and of course, at the book level, I can make sure no one will be written in two places at once as these subplots come crashing together. It’s exciting.

~A

Two months, just like that

Wow, hey. Zips by, doesn’t it? I’ve been all too aware of the passing days, though not within the context of, “I haven’t blogged in two months”, and more the general sense of time whirling by, oblivious to the human experience. Time is a fascinating illusion; the measurement of movement and change, especially when one can imagine that nothing is changing at all, and still observe the all too obvious differences between “then” and “now”.

Life has been what it is. The down parts which we spend half our effort trying to avoid still come knocking. Upheaval is part of that change which I note, but also blurs together in the apparent sea of sameness. We still get up each day. Eat, shower, work, sleep. The little things in between. Seeing the same faces, having close approximations of the same conversation within each encounter. Our greetings are universal. Sometimes I answer differently just to see the expression on a person’s face register that they must think about my reply, rather than it being the expected generalisation. Sometimes, I see how glad they are for a variation, themselves. Sometimes, they are busy, and it was a cursory exchange, and they don’t really want to have to think about something new. Ah, but that’s people-watching for you.

And as a counter to the troughs, there are the bright points of laughter and friendship; the good news instead of bad; the moments of brilliant entertainment which enrich our lives. Going away for short trips to places I like with people I love. Seeing animals, walking in the rain, making children giggle. Spending hours talking, seeing the obvious fruits of your labour, and especially, the much-appreciated acknowledgement of others for what you do. Finding things worth reading, worth watching, worth playing. Even the quiet times of being alone where thoughts are free to bubble over faster than you can possibly record them, even though you’re certain they are important and need to be collected for future uses.

Two months. We saved a kitten from a storm, and said goodbye to some family members. I’ve read a whole lot of books, and written nearly a third of another. I have determined that I can probably do a lot more than I believe of myself, but it’s finding the time and effort that’s the real trouble. I like November and the positivity and companionship it brings out in so many of my writer friends (thanks to NaNoWriMo). I’m especially enjoying building some expertise on the “behind the scenes” aspects in releasing books.

Oh, yes. I’m still around. Two months in a long time, but really, it’s just the blink of an eye.

~A

New books from Martin Livings, and Greg Chapman!

Coming from Dark Prints Press, publisher of Surviving the End, are two new novellas from Australian authors to tickle your dark side:

Rope by longtime horror writer Martin Livings, featuring the scenic seaport Fremantle and its historical prison.

And Vaudeville by author and graphic artist Greg Chapman, with classic demonic horror awaiting.

Click here for both Rope and Vaudeville

~A

This goes out to the Gunjin

Back in the days of old, I hung out with a lot of text-based role players. Amidst this group were a particular crowd who role played as magic users and warriors, demons and beasts of ill-imagining. Their purpose was to write the most epic battles you could imagine.

I dipped my feet in and wrote in a couple of battles. Would you believe, some people shy away from fictional text-hitting a girl? In a setting where this attack is meant to happen? Well, I experienced that, at least once, much to my character’s dismay. She was ready to bring it, but her opposition barely came to the party. I also role played as quite a few insane characters, which made text-battling very, very fun. In fact, characters of dubious mental stability have become a recurring theme. They are just too deliciously entertaining to write!

I also spent a lot of time as a designated panel judge for major battles and writing “tournaments” for this group. In this role, I learnt a lot about another side of writing. Because part of my job was to explain exactly why one person’s efforts in the ring had been superior to another’s, I had to understand what I was reading and why it worked or didn’t. I broke down a lot of work in that position, and analysed the description, movement, ferocity; the creativity, environmental use, and especially, the give and take of a battle. It taught me a lot about writing fight scenes.

One of the most important factors to me was always how untouchable a character was or wasn’t. There’s nothing great about a character who is never hurt, never at risk. If a writer remembers to let their character take a good beating in the middle of their turn and still overcome while considering the disadvantaged they’ve just written in, it’s going to be a thrilling battle. Nothing else works on the same level as seeing a character trampled, then still manage to fight back. Observe any successful action film and you’ll probably see this, well, in action.

The Damning Moths is no stranger to battles, and a lot of the essential elements for a good fight can harken back to my days of role playing. I know, those dudes won’t ever see this: but thank you. You can’t imagine how fondly I remember you, and miss you, and think of those who taught me the most when I’m in the middle of having my characters tear each other apart. Thank you.

~A

New books from Zoe Winters, and Laura Rae Amos!

Life Cycle is the newest installment in Zoe’s Preternaturals paranormal romance series. Things are getting exciting as the stories progress, and while you can read this on its’ own, enjoy the whole series and catch all the details!

Click here for Life Cycle

And Exactly Where They’d Fall comes out from Laura, a long-awaited literary fiction exploring all the good parts of dramatic, interwoven lives.

Click here for Exactly Where They’d Fall

~A

The amazing, beautiful depression of book three

Book three of The Damning Moths Anecdota was actually what started me writing the series. I’ve known certain things about this book since the moment of conception; scenes which would be integral to the overall plot. From these seeds, much of the world lore and characterisation was born.

Last night while at work, a lot of book three happened in my head. Certain key scenes in books one and two carry over emotionally into the main points of the third story. Things were just right for me to follow these scenes and understand the direction of this story arc.

This morning, as usual, I sat down to work on The Damning Moths and hunted for some appropriate music. I came across the perfect song for the culmination of last night’s ideas, a song which just broke all of my plans to edit and demanded I write this book. It isn’t just one of those “make notes and get to it later”, this is all-consuming. Depending how you see the situation, this is either awesome, or really unfortunate, because I have written a lot, but edited very little.

I’m a big believer in taking what’s offered to you; if my mind is fixed on these parts of the third book, I might as well write them. And they have come out smoothly, without effort. The setting is all there, and I have reached “Flow”. Nothing like writing completely out of order! Also, this book is depressing as hell. You’re all forewarned. Book three. I knew it would be this way, but I have had a few moments of wondering how I can possibly love my characters so much when I’m doing this to them.

I am definitely a tragedienne; the one prone to choosing tragic roles. I revel in sad music, my favourite stories kill, maim, or impossibly wound my favourite characters, and this definitely shows in my writing. There’s a lot of struggle and sadness for my characters. It all makes me love them more, though. To have them experience loss and death and their own melancholic realisations. The actions of other characters. Challenges they don’t know if they can survive. And speckled in between are the moments of light and love and happiness to contrast all the parts which make me pause, close my eyes, and feel an echo of their pain. Writing is hugely emotional, especially when the right song is on repeat for hours at a time.

With things the way they are going, I should manage to get these scenes out of my system with plenty of time left to get back to editing, and then I have all this head start on the third novel… when I am finally meant to be writing it.

~A

The home stretch

I hesitate in posting this, simply because I have proven myself inept at gauging the time it takes me to finish any writing project! Even short stories, ones which I think will be completed in just a quick flash. No, they take months extra for no good reason. But, nevertheless, despite a novel being even more unpredictable, I think I’m on the final leg of this novel’s journey – before things really get underway for The Damning Moths.

There’s a certain sense of complication in thinking I’m nearly at the end. Of course, the inevitable desire to rush through, which is absolutely not allowed! After all this, rushing the end would be unforgivable! So I must consciously maintain the same critical mind I’ve had through the rest of these final edits. At the same time, my fast read-through of these last chapters feel like they’re pretty solid. I made a lot of notes about certain plot threads which need to be tidied, but other than that? Well, the ending is just a lot more certain of itself than the beginning was in a lot of ways. We’ll blame it on all the action; it changes the pace, the story evolves into something else. And honestly, by the time I was writing the end, I had all the practice of writing the beginning, going at it for weeks solid. That helps. Truly.

So I will do what is necessary, and finish this novel, and then it will be read for the last time by my copyeditor to make sure I fixed the problems. We’re coming to the hard part. The “everything after”. I feel familiar enough with writing that the writing itself is just this fun thing I do. I sit and have conversations with fictional people. I record what they think and do in challenging situations. I get to read my work and enjoy where it takes me and feel vicious glee and longing and sadness and laughter in all the right places. What comes next, though, that’s all new to me. Publishing is still the big scary beyond.

All the more reason for me to get through it, do what I must, then return to the comforts of writing book two.

While I know most of my blogging buddies will have already seen this, because I am absurdly late to share things, I must reiterate the many people before me who’ve said watch Neil Gaiman give a speech to university graduates. Because Neil Gaiman is amazing. So please, if you haven’t already, watch:

~A

New book from Zoe Winters

The Catalyst is the newest installment in Zoe’s Preternaturals paranormal romance series. Read and become a fan of her writing! Check out her website and purchase the latest novel as well as the rest of this series.

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