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.