Birthday Presents

I’m really bad at birthday presents. I always have been. I remember an old school friend of mine used to give all of us $20 and a card for our birthdays. A few other friends used to tease him, but I was jealous. If only I could be that impervious to criticism, that willing to pick a standard present and never have to think about it again!

I’ve tried, over the years, to come up with cool, super appropriate presents that my dear friends will always treasure, but every time, I’ve felt like a failure. Perhaps my standards for success are too high, but there’s another problem and it goes much deeper.

I don’t like consumerism. I resent the whole system of birthday presents. I hate the obligation to come up with just the right ‘thing’ to add to the clutter of other random things that they feel obliged to keep, but don’t really want and hardly ever use.

I know. I’ve got exactly those kinds of things lying around my house.

So I’ve decided that from this day forward, I am going to join the ranks of radical non-present givers. I won’t buy you a present, I won’t donate money to random countries in your honor or give you a twenty dollar bill.

In celebration of the anniversary of your birth, I promise to:
Think of you with love
Give you my time
Attempt to bake / cook yummy food in your honor
Potentially draw you a picture (or write you a poem, or anything else fun and creative that fits in this box)

And when it rolls around to the anniversary of my birth (June 24th, in case you were wondering), please respect my wishes. Don’t add clutter to my home. Don’t spend money on ‘things’ I don’t need. Give me a hug. Tell me you love me, and maybe, make me something nice to eat.

That is all.

B

Meaning of life

Those of you who know me fairly well will be aware my Grandfather died recently. To me, he was calm, wiry humor, tight hugs and unquestioning support. Although I didn’t get to know him as well as I might have liked, I always admired him and wanted to make him proud.

I’ve always been a very driven person and losing someone close to me made me so much more aware, as I’m sure it does for most people, that you never know how much time you have. I get scared sometimes, thinking what if I die tomorrow? What if I’m just suddenly gone and I haven’t achieved anything worth remembering…

Lol. What if everyone hates me for never finishing my book series?

It’s taken me a while to process everything, but I realized that wanting to be remembered is silly. I mean, practically speaking, perhaps my friends and children might remember me, even my grandchildren, but given enough time and enough generations, everyone is forgotten… or turned into legends that bear no resemblance to the real people anyway (I doubt I’m legend material).

My grandfather’s life meant different things to the different people who’s lives he touched, but for my part, I’m proud to say he was my grandfather. He lived with integrity and courage. He loved my grandmother and all his children and grandchildren, and we loved him in return. I have no question that his life was full and complete and you know what? I think that’s enough.

So whether I live to twenty five or ninety five, if I’ve lived with integrity and love, the rest is just a bonus.

Thank you for being awesome Grandpa ❤

My first assignment

Dear Papa,

I’m not sure if you’re out there or if this message will ever reach you, but you said once that all I had to do was whisper to the stars and wherever you were, you’d hear me. It seems a bit fanciful for a Narian my age to believe children’s stories like that, but the truth is, I miss you. I can’t talk to Mikael about it. He still blames you for everything that happened.

We’re Junior Field Researchers on our first assignment now. The planet is called V107-G. It was claimed as an experimental world a few years after you… left. Mother set up the program here, her last job as a Field Lead before setting off to the uncharted territories with the exploratory research team.

The experimental conditions are fairly standard. We’re looking at social development in a human society with a gender-power imbalance. The techs provided us with a genetically altered sample which will block male humans ability to manipulate the ‘magic’ bubble around this planet. Within a couple of generations, there will be genetic mutations allowing males to use magic of course, but it will be interesting to track their progress.

I hacked the deity set-up protocol after mother left and changed the standard names to Mikael and mine. I know it’s silly, but I like hearing them pray to me and talk about me as if I’m watching. I swear it makes me more productive. I’d get so bored otherwise.

Did you ever study magic Papa? Even though it’s an official part of our experiment, I don’t really understand it. Why does physics break down in these bubbles, but nowhere else? When I heard we were going to work on this assignment, I tried to study up on magic, but the database is pretty sketchy on the subject. Don’t you think that’s strange? Why, after tens of thousands of cycles, has the Narian Collective not made a more complete study of the most mysterious phenomena in the Universe?

Ah well, I have a hundred cycles (at least) to ponder the matter. Wherever you are, I hope you’re well.

If you do get this message, please send something back. Even if it’s just small, it would mean so much to know you’re out there listening.

Love always,

Maat

*Maat’s journals are not official canon and are subject to change without notice (as I work out the finer details of my timeline). They will also turn up out of order. At some point, I hope to put them together in a collection as an eBook / physical book.

Hope you enjoy!

My first 100%

The progress bars seem to be helping! I got my first 100% today after going through all my major characters and working out what their story lines were all about. Each character was described in a single word (e.g. Tasya – Courage) and then a single sentence (A handmaid, suddenly crowned queen, finds the courage to lead her people). Then I wrote down where that character is at the beginning of the book, what the major turning points in their story are, what their ultimate challenge (or climax) is and how their story is resolved.

I’m hoping this road map will help me look at the overall plot of books two (and three) and have a much clearer idea of where I’m going.

Wish me luck!

– B

Renewed enthusiasm

Thanks to Woolfa’s awesome suggestion, I’ve put a progress bar up in the left corner of my side bar. It doesn’t tell you when I’ll be finished (as per my previous post) – but if you’re the sort to wonder what I’m up to (and if I’m actually doing anything on the book), you can see the goal I’m currently working toward and how far through I am.

This first one is to type up all my handwritten chapters (after my nearly month of productive hand writing). I’m improving them as I go, so this also an edit.

I’m having lots of fun and falling for my characters all over again, especially this new love interest for Tasya… 😉

Letting go of the pressure

I love how passionate many people are when they read my book. More often than not, I hear “Can’t wait for the next one,” which is such a huge compliment and makes me smile. I’m so grateful for everyone’s kindness and support.

Other times, people ask me, “When is the next one out?” which is essentially the same thing, but requires some sort of answer. I smile and say ‘some time next year’ while inside I cringe, just knowing I’m going to disappoint them. I go home and think about working on my book, but the arbitrary deadline I just made up looms over me like a black cloud. I get scared to start writing a scene, because it might be wrong and then I’ll have to scrap it and I will have wasted all that time. I don’t feel comfortable playing around with random unrelated characters or writing short stories, because they don’t directly add to the second book and might be judged as ‘distractions’ by this crowd in my head that’s campaigning for the next book to be finished… tomorrow.

Today I did a whole heap of tapping (EFT) with mum on that big black cloud and the crippling sense of pressure and once it was gone, I felt so free. I realized that I’m the only one making me feel this way. So now if anyone asks when the next book will be done, my answer is this – “When it’s ready.”

I hereby give myself permission to continue to love this world, be passionate about its characters (no matter how incidental) and write what I want to write. Half the point of being self published is the freedom to do things in your own way and in your own time. I choose to take full possession of that freedom and have fun!

Thank you all so much for your ongoing support. If the wait is feeling too long, make sure to check out all the action on my Chronicles of Tyria blog!

Love you lots,

B

All the best intentions

I just hit 50,000 on my Nano about ten minutes ago and I feel this huge relief. Every year, I convince myself that I will do Nano and ‘this time’ I’ll do it right, but the only way I ever get to the end is by writing ever single little thing that comes into my head and by writing about my novel just as much as I write the thing itself.

I wanted to blog regularly during the whole thing – to feel that I had arrived at a place much closer to a finished draft of my second book, and while neither of those things happened in the end, I am proud to say that I finally have an outline.

I love outlines, I write them for the sole intention of ignoring them completely (lol). They do make me feel a lot better though. This one needs a lot of work, but it feels good.

Thank you so much to everyone who supported me this month – especially Fran, Rochelle, Tammie and Dad (who growled at me whenever he saw me playing games or watching TV when I could be writing my novel). Love you guys!

Thank you also to Tierney and Ella – your enthusiasm over my teasers and your interaction on my Chronicles Blog helped remind me why I love this world and these characters so much. You guys are fantastic!

!!

That’s all.

Teaser 2

Sorry I’ve been away for so long – It’s been a mad month. I’m on target with Nano and as promised, here’s another teaser which follows on straight after the previous one which you can read here.

Their path was steep and rocky. Mikael’s short legs had difficulty keeping up with Maat’s determined stride. Her handheld scanner was linked to their spy satellites and occasionally she would pause, looking for a safe way to ascend the next hundred yards.

“How much further?” Mikael asked as they paused to catch their breath a few hours later. His eyes felt dry and his throat ached, no matter how much water he consumed.

Maat gave him a cheeky grin. “You want to go back already? What about your grand plans for defying mother and gallivanting off around the planet?”

He scowled. “Climbing a mountain in the desert was not on my to-do list.”

She glanced up, the nanites in her eyes automatically blocking out much of the harsh desert sunlight. “We’re nearly there, but the last part will be a climb. I can’t see a decent path anywhere on the scans.”

“If it really is a building,” Mikael murmured. “I’m beginning to wonder how they got the materials up here… and why they bothered.”

“It certainly wasn’t human in origin,” Maat pointed out. “Their magic couldn’t cause long-term particle frequency elevation without binding such a spell to an immortal living source, and as you say, why would they bother?”

“Exactly…” Mikael agreed hesitantly, glad that Maat was agreeing with him for a change.

“The best explanation I have is that it belongs to those energy beings we were scanning for,” Maat reasoned, “but I have no idea why they’d want to pull a physical building out of phase and keep it there?”

“I don’t think we covered this in our alien psychology classes…” He frowned. “Perhaps it’s an illusion or a portal or something?”

“Could be…” Maat frowned, giving the matter some thought.

“Really?” He’d been expecting her to laugh at the suggestion and point to a more logical explanation.

His sister shrugged. “We won’t know until we look.”

“And so we’re going to climb that?” Mikael asked, rubbing his sore legs. “Straight up?”

“It’ll be fun.” Maat said cheerfully. “The exercise will do you good. We rely too much on nanites to maintain our bodies.”

Mikael groaned. “They aren’t healing me fast enough to keep it from hurting.”

She laughed, pulling a long rope and a handful of metal clips out of her rucksack.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Mikael stared at his sister, thinking she’d gone mad.

“I replicated the desert-style climbing equipment.” Maat said, tying some sort of harness. “I’ve always wanted to try this.”

“We’re going to die…” Mikael repeated under his breath.

He let Maat go first, telling himself it was so he could help her if she really did fall and break all her bones. In truth it meant that when she reached the top, around half an hour later, he only had to get into her make-shift harness and she could haul him up most of the way. It was still a terrifying few minutes, swinging wildly at the end of a rope as the unpredictable desert wind buffeted him this way and that.

At last, they gained the summit and Maat shook her head in wonder.

“It’s so… real,” she was breathing heavily and grinning like an idiot.

For once, Mikael knew how she felt. The cooler eastern wind at the peak was a welcome change from the harsh desert air. He could see for miles, out across the rolling wasteland, not just the sand dunes, but beyond them to craggy canyons and black mountains. Hawks, the symbol of the House of Varna, circled below, the only living things he could make out in the vast emptiness. It was an experience that couldn’t be conveyed through a hologram, no matter how realistic.

It seemed wrong to break the silence, but Maat had wanted to be back at the ship by nightfall so, reluctantly, he asked, “What now?”

“Hmm?” Maat glanced at him, still lost in her own thoughts.

“The building…” Mikael clarified.

“Oh, just a moment.” Maat produced a set of collapsible grey pylons from her rucksack and began scanning the summit with her handheld device.

“It should be over there.”

“I don’t see anything…”

“Give me a moment,” Maat muttered.

She edged her way toward the phantom building’s footprint and waved her hand through the air, as if to check whether anything was there. She felt no resistance, so she began setting up the pylons at regular intervals around the perimeter. Mikael found a flat rock to sit on as he watched.

“That should do it,” she returned to his side and began packing everything back into her bag.

“Great!” Mikael stood and brushed the sand off his clothes. “What did we just do?”

“The emitters will allow us finer control from the shuttle,” Maat explained, gesturing to the pylons. “With any luck, I’ll be able to drag the building back into phase and we can find out what’s inside.”

“How long will it take?”

She hoisted her rucksack onto her back. “I doubt it will be more than a couple of days, but I suppose it could be up to a month if my initial plan doesn’t work.”

‘A month?” Mikael’s brow shot up. “What am I supposed to do here for a month?”

“Relax,” Maat suggested. “Take in the view. Contemplate the meaning of life and all that…”

His face fell and he found himself desperately hoping they could still access all of Maat’s satellites feeds from the shuttle.

The Next Big Thing

Just because Emm tagged me and it seemed like a good idea at the time 😉

So, here’s the rules:

  • Give credit to the person / blog that tagged you
  • Post the rules for the blog hop
  • Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog
  • Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?

The White Heron

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s the sequel to my first novel, The Silver Hawk, so the beginning at least is fairly set – where to go from there has been the main struggle. After more than a year and a half, I’m excited to have a fairly solid plot skeleton and will be writing the first draft for Nano this year.

What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy and Sci Fi (about half and half)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ahahahhaha… you should see my pin board – I’ve assigned actors to every character in my world (including great grandmothers!) I chose Ben Barnes as the look and personality of Kamron, and James McAvoy (from Children of Dune) as Tynan, but getting a good Juliana or Tasya has always been hard. I really love Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings) for Elaine and Andrea (just pic the cute versus serious expressions and voila, you have twins 😉

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Becoming the Guild’s puppet Queen was not on Tasya’s to-do list, and stealing Juliana’s throne makes her feel guilty as hell, but she’ll have to use every scrap of her newfound power if she’s going to save the Empire.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published. I enjoy having control over the whole process and it just seems way more efficient.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Still haven’t… but soon, very soon.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Game of Thrones without the extreme violence or sex… and with two immortal alien scientists who really aren’t supposed to interfere.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

All the people prodding me about when book two will be out 😉

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Reading the Silver Hawk. Around ninety percent of people who tell me they’ve read it also say they want to read book two, which makes me really happy!

Next Five Three Big Things

Lee Murray

Fran Atkinson

Kevin Berry

Angela Oliver