My MOther kills

 

My mother kills fairy tales.

She read us Lord of the Rings twice.

The Nargun under the Stars, though it gave us nightmares.

She dredged up British classic and found swamp ridden Australian delights to amaze and frighten us. Day of the Triffords, Watership Down, The Dark is Rising, The Hobbit, and forever our minds were fed.

And with it all came a grain of salt.

We sat watching Victor Victoria.

Possibly too young but it didn’t matter in our house when “I want to be dirty” was not a line from Rocky Horror but about playing in mud.

But when King Marchand steals into Victor’s room, and an ensuing scene of near misses commenced we giggled together, three girls and their mother, all of us crowing; “Bitch, bitch, bitch!”

And then with wide eyed wonder and somewhat skepticism we watched King Marchand see “Victor” in the bath. And that little feral grin on his face when he knows that Victor is in fact a woman.

For all the movie’s delicate humour and beautiful songs, something twisted inside.

We kept watching in avid attention of exactly what would unfold, and how this would all resolve.

But three girls in front of screen watched as Victor, on the run from the police, protected by King Marchand’s quick thinking, stood in a Paris alley with snow cascading on their panting forms, enraptured in the moment.

“I don’t care if you are a man,” King Marchand declared as he laid his lips passionately on Victor’s.

Heaving breaths, Victor confesses. “I am not a man.”

“I still don’t care,” Marchand declares, and cue kissing.

But three little blond head turned to their mother, and all three whispered; “He lied.

And her calm reply still echoes in my mind; “Yes, he did.”

What should have been a movie about acceptance, about freedom, about finding oneself despite all that could stand in the way was caught, snatched, snared, on this singular lie.

And it didn’t end there.

In the 90s we moved to the city and my mother could get us to local dance classes. Tap, ballet, contemporary, we did it all, and while I could digress into the growing dysmorphia that occurred over this period, I will stick to the lies that weren’t about my body, from either strangers or loved ones.

Michael Flatly, that blonde mullet of a dancing god, had every girl I knew interested in dance ready to sell their souls for a chance to dance with him.

We watched Riverdance with the kind of passion that should have been poured into teenage romances. We danced the parts in our living room, stomping our feet in semi trained awkwardness that was at least in time and didn’t damage the floorboards.

But something stayed with us. Something tainted the dance.

For all our Irish stained blood, the beat of the music catching us and the rise of our heartbeats and fighting spirit, there was one that would not be caged with song alone. One that would not settle or be tamed.

One that belonged to no man but wholly to us.

And it’s subtle birth was given in a single sentence.

In the dance there is a male and female lead. Michael Flatly and Jean Butler.

I was in love with their romance.

As a teen with more social issues than a politician has skeletons in his closet I hungered for that kind of passion, that kind of love.

But it was with careful word that a constant irritation I had observed between the pair became clear to me in my mother’s words.

We watched a dance between the lead pair, and my mother whispered; “Look at them, look at their eyes; she hates him, and he knows it.”

It may never have been true.

It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t.

There may have been parts they loved, parts they hated, parts they wished to be together and never apart.

All I remember was the look in their eyes when my mother said it and I knew she spoke a truth.

There would be many stories over the years.

Ones we’d watch on TV, ones she’d read to us, but every more did we look for the lie.

The man who’d snuck into a private room without permission. The man who pretended to love the woman, all the while she loathed him. She taught us to see what was not said, not shown, not there. But it hovered under the surface, an ugly stain across the smiles of those who were supposed to entertain us.

Film after film, book after book, a niggling part of me never left.

Was what they’d done right? Fair?

It ingrained in me a deeper sense of what it was to be a woman, to be listened and lied to and evermore I listened for the lies. I feared them.

Because I knew that they could happen to me. And I swore they never would.

The time I think my life was at it’s lowest I knew I was being lied to, and ignored it.

Just as the dancer in Riverdance, just as Victor in the film, all the lessons I’d ever learned gone in an instant and for what? Some semblance of job security where I told myself that I was just trying to fit in.

All the while the lies burned.

They raged on distant hills until they were inside me and I was choking on the smoke and couldn’t stop the flames, the world was ending and I only had myself to blame for the chaos inside, made real for accepting the lies of the outside.

There was no music here.

No song.

No dance.

No romance.

Only the lie.

I don’t know whether it would have been better to live in naïve bliss and acceptance, but that would never be what I would have wanted.

I’ve walked the tightrope of the story and the lie all my life and sometimes not always to my benefit.

But what I can tell you, even as I lived the lie, was that every tear stained moment I learnt.

I saw the liars and though the magic of the story was gone, there was some that remained.

That’s what I bring to my stories.

The tale without the lie, and if it’s there I do not hide or fight it.

I see it for the snake in the grass it is and unlike every time it has left me confounded, alone and lost in my life, in my stories you see it for the lie that it is and it is you who knows. Now you can see the lie too.

 

Roaring into 2020

2020 is full of KICK ASS goals because in 2019 I got far more done than I thought possible.

It’s the past examples of what you did that makes you A-freaking-mazing and I’m full of confidence for 2020.

We’ve been badgered by smoke all our holiday, and the last 72 hours have been harrowing from its thick pervasiveness and the constant updates of the worsening fire conditions, but if you read my story, The Water Tower, you’ll know and be pleased when I say I can now see it again.

Which gives me hope, determination and goals!

One of my key goals was fitness, I’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, which has led to a thick waistline, but now I have the medication that’s proven to work I will be making that one of my key focuses. Expect more bitching about health related subjects, but I am determined to succeed.

On a more author related front, I promised that I’d write another ten books this year and I’m going to pick a project at random to work on this afternoon as my first 2k day for 2020. Expect kicks to get your daily writing goals!

I will also be looking into a mailing list and *gasp* Patreon!

No matter if you are traditional or indie this is an expensive process and I have put a lot of work and help out there over the 2019 year, and I hope to continue to do so but any kick back I can get would be a great help.

Don’t fret if you were hoping I’d be doing the same for 2019 as I did for 2020, you can still get free 5k beta read samples and very cheap beta reading rates for whole scripts, but its down to our communication and what you want to get out of it! I’ll also be tossing out some cool promos in a tweet in a bit so if you want your book read & reviewed, your whole script read for nothing, or some book tour features and author interviews, keep my Twitter refreshed!

 

Sending so much love to all of you who have supported me for 2019, and looking forward to a great 2020.Spread good cheer.(2)(1)

Ten Books Too!

This was meant to be a delightful post I wrote several days ago about my accomplishments this year. I’ve not had time to go over it, given the NSW fire issues but wanted to post it anyway because despite everything it doesn’t take away my accomplishments of this year.

I wrote a story in this blogpost to help relay what its been like. You have to find ways to remember all you’ve done even during the stressful times…

 

*

 

TEN BOOKS TOO

 

My face is still melting over how I started this and got it done, particularly because I never planned to write ten books.

 

I planned to release the next novella and book in my fantasy series the Last Prophecy but due to budget constraints it all had to be put on hold for one simple fact; I couldn’t afford an editor.

 

If you are self publishing you had to pay for your own and I’d never thought about querying my epic 21 book/novella steam flavoured fantasy series.

 

So when I had to stop a writing journey five years in the making I was furious, mostly with myself.

 

With this fury I wrote a book in 25 days, Behind the Veil. Hart, a friend and someone who became a valued beta reader read the first chapter and said to me; “Oh, I think you’ve got more than a short story here…”

 

It set me off, and when I finished I polished it as best I could and pitched it to Pitmad, where Sharon from Literary Wanderlust subsequently offered me a contract for the book and I accepted.

 

Over the year I worked on many projects but it wasn’t until October did I realise in the lead up to the end of the year that if I worked my ass off (more like how much time I spent at my desk), I could write ten books.

 

Let me outline them for you so you know I’m not just crowing about them, I did work on them all year;

 

Behind the Veil – 75k words written in 25 days Gothic Noir

You can find more about that story here, but this was just the beginning of freedom for me to work on anything and I diligently applied myself to working on as much as I could.

 

An Absent Tale – 70k words written over the year Gothic Noir

It was meant to be a secondary story to Behind the Veil of a similar nature with a gothic noir feel, but after the plot walked off course and I finished it to find out where it would end up but I was disappointed with it overall.

Queen of Spades Trilogy – 240k in 3 books over the year scifi action romance

This trilogy was originally written in first person which made me very uncomfortable and it showed, so I went back this year and rewrote all three books from scratch, only using parts of what I’d done before but mostly rewriting the entire trilogy. I’ll be looking to self publish this in 2020 and that’s really exciting to have that for next year.

 

Echo of the Evercry – 80k written in 23 days Fantasy/mental health

Echo was written after being inspired by a poem and it turned into a quest but carried a huge undercurrent of mental health issues and the effects of bullying past high school. It was an odd thing to put into a fantasy story but I felt it worked. I pitched this for PitchWars and got a full request, but didn’t get in. Now I’m querying this manuscript, but I also won a free developmental edit from Meg Trast and I am looking forward to finding an agent for this script in 2020.

 

One with Rage – 70k written in 21 days magical realism/cyberpunk romance

Rage was written purely for fun, it has an angry and vengeful kick ass heroine surrounded by charming arrogant men who don’t deter her from her quest. The completed novel was generously edited by Lorney Tunes and is on Wattpad. I loved this world and its characters, it has a few holes but I wrote it purely for me, because it will be a while before I see my published work come out and I wanted to have something out there so people could understand what my writing style was like.

 

The Book Binder – 80k written in 28 days (or so) contemporary paranormal romance

I wrote this book over October waiting for the PitchWars results to come out and the idea of a librarian on the run from the library she used to work was just too irresistible not to work on. Not sure what will happen with the script but I’m looking forward to querying it next year.

 

NANOWRIMO

I wrote two books during this period and I kept an active Twitter thread of when I was working and how much I did so people could see it was being done, but also to kick them in to doing it too. I have the benefit of no kids, an easy job, and a loving spouse to help me though, and I never hold back on that information or fail to use that gift well.

Read Well the Dark – 79k written in 13 days gothic fantasy romance

I wanted to write a vampire book but one where it wasn’t scary and it wasn’t a once and for all, it has a HFN ending that I wasn’t sure I wanted to build upon but I couldn’t resist the idea of vampires, gypsies and tarot readers and its dark themes and practical approach to life was fun and earthy to write.

 

Atlantis Abyss – 65k written in 17 days Frankenstein f/f climate change retelling

I wrote this in response to my editor Lorney Tunes giving me a series of random prompts and how I got to this story I don’t know but it was set about 150 years in the future when water levels have risen but all the bigotry and climate change denial is still rampant. Two happily married women try to bring order back into the world of their small Australian country town, but the town’s leaders only want to control the limited resources left.

 

TEN BOOKS WRITTEN FOR 2019!

 

And do you know what my first thought was after I’d done it?

 

I’m going to do it again, and you can too.

 

I’ve never taken much stock in the 2k a day writing advice by Stephen King but I realised that over the course of the year I’d written some 679k words in first drafts and then added yet more words (Echo of the Evercry ended up topping out at 109k words) when I went back over it and filled in my very narrow endings.

 

And I’d done it in the space of about five months when I realised I only needed to amp up how much I was doing every day and be sure I wrote two books in Nanowrimo.

 

So if you take an average size of a novel at 70,000 words, and you times that by ten its 700,000 words.

 

If you write 2k a day for 365 days of the year you get 730,000.

 

If you wrote 2k a week for 52 weeks of the year you get 104,000.

 

There is a middle ground it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, you can go back and rewrite stuff, but you’ll never know what you are capable of until you try.

 

I never knew I was capable of this.

 

And this year, to show for all my hard work, here is what I got;

 

  • TEN BOOKS
  • A publishing contract
  • Several NY agent full requests
  • Invaluable experience from the agents & editors I worked with
  • Amazing support and encouragement from the Writing Community
  • A year without regrets because I didn’t stop trying and I didn’t give up

 

I plan to write ten books for 2020 and if you want to hold me accountable hold onto your panties because I already have seven lined up;

 

Queen of Hearts Trilogy – This will follow a different character to Ayla from the Queen of Spades, and instead focus on an as yet unnamed character as the Queen of Hearts who can see the deepest darkest desires of the heart.

 

An Absent Tale – I need to untangle this book and I think the only way to do it is to rewrite it from scratch which I hate doing but its not worth the time to pull apart and rebuild in its current structure, and I want it to be as good a book as Behind the Veil.

 

One with Hate – If you’ve read One with Rage you’ll know there are a few character that have potential and I intend to focus on the hate fuelled apathy of Giselle and the only person who can read her thoughts and not be afraid, Saul. (For anyone waiting for Ayre and Meyrick to get there moment, too bad, cause Ayre’s not about to open herself to Meyrick only to be left behind).

 

Butterfly’s Kiss – A fantasy story about the deception of good and evil and all the shades of grey in between.

 

A Girl of Gremlins and Gargoyles – Honestly if you’re still reading and having figured out my muse is a little bitch this is your clue because I have no idea what this book is about except the title, and a girl who’s ugly without and beautiful within.

 

This leaves me with three books open for the year, and I like to work on books that inspire me on a moment to moment basis, and I found that though they take a fair amount of polishing they are much better off for the story being fast paced and exciting, full of twists and turns and moments of delight. But that’s just my sadistic side torturing the characters.

 

If you’ve come with me this far thank you.

 

Whether it was reading this post, following me all year, or just being one of the many I will never be able to thank enough for your support.

 

I did interviews, book tours, and reviews of trad and indie books all year.

 

Next year I plan to keep doing that, but also have a mailing list and a Patreon site to help with the editing fees, and maybe, one day, go back to the story that called to me as a writer.

 

May 2019 have its silver lining, and 2020 be a rainbow infused sunset of delight and hope.

 

 

 

 

The Water Tower

I’ve been trying to find ways to fill in the time while we watch and wait for the fires.

I’ve written a short story to help relay the events of the last few days and how it feels now, on New Years Eve, waiting for the weather to cool and the fires to fade.

I’m safe, everyone I know is safe. But that doesn’t take away the fear.

 

The Water Tower

 

Image

 

 

“That’s disgusting.”

A wall of smoke into NSW waited for us.

“Maybe it’ll clear over the mountains.”

I looked at my husband. “Maybe.”

The thick cloying smoke that swallowed cars on the highway in front of us was a nuisance, filling the filters with smoke and stinging eyes. The pollution from the Sydney fires hadn’t reached Victoria yet but there was hope on the coast things would be cool. I was determined to have my holiday.

“Look it’s clearer through the mountains,” I said hours later, as we wended our way out the other side of Tumbarumba and through the Kosciuszko national park.

“We’ll still be able to enjoy the holiday,” my husband said, and we checked on the dogs in the back who were ready to be out of the car after the eight-hour drive, with still two more to go.

Down through Cooma the skies cleared, and in a moment of relief we were at my parents in Bega.

“Hullo! Don’t mind the dog weeing, she’s just excited to see you.”

“Oh, Lily,” my mother chides, “thanks for doing that on my shoe.”

“She just likes you,” my husband laughs as we unpack and set up the tent.

“Glad to see it isn’t too bad here,” I say as we settle down for a tea. “It was awful on the other side of the Kosciuszko’s.”

“Oh, it gets smoky here too,” Dad said. And it did.

*

“That’s just ghastly,” I said, spanning my camera across the smoke drenched hills tainting my holiday with their tang.

“Bega hasn’t been that great,” Mum said. “It was clearer before, but we’ve had few good days.”

We talk about the fires. Its okay. They’re far away.

*

I envy you guys your summer weather! My editor tweeted to me and I chuckle and go outside and take a picture.

Not that great, the smoke from the fires are awful! I send him the picture and he send me a grimace.

That doesn’t look very nice.

Nope, I replied. I’m tracking how thick it gets by those hills and that water tower, its not great but we’ve got air con and whiskey, we’ll survive. The tower has been my gage on smoke thickness, as long as we can see the tower its unpleasant but not too bad.

That afternoon we lost sight of the water tower, but it came back. It was fine.

*

“I’m going to the chemist,” my husband said, keys in hand.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“The smoke,” he said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “It’s messing with my sinuses and I’ve got an awful headache.”

“Well get some soda water while you are there.”

“While I’m gone, can you move all our stuff into the house?” he asked. “I don’t want to be in the tent again tonight.”

“Not a worry.” I glanced outside. The smoke has retreated enough I can see the hills, the water tower’s a beacon. Its fine.

*

“I don’t know if we should go to poker tonight,” I said to my husband who shrugged.

“We’ve just got cabin fever.” He rubbed my back. “Let’s get out for a while.”

The drive is calm, the smog thick, but closer to the coast a sea breeze brushes the worst away. At the tables my father introduces us as novices’ players and we’re warmly greeted.

“You’ll struggle to get back to Victoria now,” one lady said, scanning her phone.

“We’ll be fine,” I said, trying to remember how to deal the cards. “We’re taking the Cooma Road up to Adaminaby and over to Tumbarumba after New Year’s Day.”

“No, you won’t,” she said, her succinct and final tone rang in my years. “They’ve shut down the Brown Mountain road.”

At home we checked. The roads are closed, and 11pm at night is no time to leave. We’re trapped in Bega. Its fine, we have the house, even if I can’t see the water tower.

*

I woke to an orange sky.

“Smoke is a lot thicker,” I said to my husband who nodded. The water tower is clear, but beyond it the sky curls with blackened ash.

“See those two plumes,” my Mum said. “They are the fires at Bemboka and north at Counegany but its miles away.”

I stare at the horizon; it doesn’t look it.

“Let’s go down and get some things from the shops,” I said. “Early before they get too crowded, its New Years Eve. Mum do we need anything?”

“Yes, I’ve got a little list, but just be careful, apparently there are people coming to Bega, they’ve been evacuated from the fires and it’s a bit grim down there.”

“Rightio,” I called, and we collected only what was needed.

At 8:30am there were still a few shoppers about, tired, bedraggled but enjoying the cool. More than one gaze met ours, a friendly smile and curse at the smoke. And then we look to the horizon were a dark smear is worse than the haze that has shadowed our skies for days now.

We collect our things, buy a bit extra, not much, there will be others in more need than us.

They’re selling water at the front, loads of it, and several people pass, filling their trolleys.

“My parents are on town,” I said to my husband. “But they’ve got the tank.”

I paused. “Lets just grab some small bottles for the trip on Thursday.”

“Not sure the roads will be open.”

“Let’s grab them anyway.”

*

At home my parents have taken down the tent we haven’t stayed in for the last two nights, the heat and smoke too much.

We take it all down, pass jokes about how if they are evacuated at least they’ll have the tent to themselves. They tell me its why they took it down, in case they are evacuated.

“Let’s have a break,” my Mum said. “Time for coffee and the sudoku.”

“After coffee we’ll get fire ready,” my Dad said. “I’ll get the hoses out and some buckets with towels.”

And in the distance, the water tower is fading.

*

I film the sky. It turns darker and redder.

A hellish landscape with no relief in sight. The smoke has permeated everything, and I can’t smell it anymore.

“I’ve uploaded all my books to a Google Doc file,” I said to my husband, on the way out the door. “I’m going to wet the garden down for Mum, she’s about to get on the roof and clear the gutters. Do you want to pack our bags? Mum and Dad have already packed go bags.”

“Yeah, but can you hug your dog? I think he’s nervous.”

I hug the dog; he whimpers at me with little groans and I pat him and tell him it’s okay.

When I go outside the water tower is gone. There’s just the haze, and on my shoulders soft as snowflakes are the grey edges of ash.

*

“They just went to break for that ABC news presenter,” I commented, lying on the couch with my phone after failing to concentrate on the sudoku. “The poor bastard’s been reporting for hours now, sounds like he ran out of words and I don’t fucking blame him.”

“Eat something.” My Mum puts an omelette in front of me, but my stomach is churning so much I don’t want it. But I eat it, and its good, and I know I need protein. I can’t remember if I ate this morning.

I’m watching the water tower. Its been gone for hours.

*

“Have you got any empty bottles?” I asked Mum, refilling my water bottles from the desk I’ve been pretending to work at while I flick through Twitter and Facebook.

“Yes why?”

“There are reports further north that the power’s out and the sewerage lines ruptured so the tap water isn’t safe to drink.” I walked around the kitchen, collecting empty soda bottles and washing even milk bottles out.

“Oh dear,” Mum said, and together we find and fill what empty bottles we can, check for torches and light.

The sky is darker, the creeping edge of smokes persistence eats away at it like the finger of time, inevitable as the smell soaking through our clothes into our skin.

“It’s alright,” Mum said after a moment. “As long as people are safe. The rest is just metal and money.”

*

The light grows and fades. Black leaves fall from the sky. We’ve started spot checks every half hour or so.

The smell of banana cake is a sweet and hope fuelled contradiction to the constant pervasive smell of smoke. It bathes my face as I come inside, eyes stinging and wondering how people have lived in these unbearable conditions.

“I’m taking cakes down to the Bega emergency centre,” my Mum said. “And I’ve got another one in the oven. Can you take it out a little after 5pm?”

“Why don’t I go with you?”

“No, you need to take out the cake.”

“Can’t someone else do it?”

“I’d like it better if you stayed here.”

I stayed.

*

The sky is still orange.

I still can’t see the water tower.

I wont tonight, the sun is going down.

I stare at my clothes; all cotton. My mother’s boots with thin socks so they’ll fit. Jeans that aren’t cotton, but they’ll have to do for my thick thighs. A white cotton shirt, and I’ve stolen a business shirt of my Dad’s to put over it.

There is nothing left to do but eat our New Years Eve dinner of soft cheese and smoked salmon, maybe have some champagne.

Hopefully the cool weather will stay.

My Dad walks in. “They say tonight we’re going to lose our telecommunications some time tonight.”

I nod and smile. “Yep, no worries.”

There’s nothing else to do.

Trademark & You

guest blogger zack Riley here to speak on trademark & the fiasco of...

 

There has been a lot of talk lately about the #darkgate incident closely resembling #cockygate and some of you are already looking at me thinking… what?

Okay rehash in a few simple lines for a subject that is anything but; Feleena Hopkins, tried to trademark the word “Cocky” in the US for her cowboy themed books. Subsequently she threatened and scared many authors into yanking titles offline, but the backlash against her was enough for her to pull the trademark. But the damage was done. Hopkins as a self published author had just done the unthinkable and turned against her fellow self publishers. She will never be forgiven in some eyes and though I don’t publish cowboy romances, I don’t blame them.

So when extremely well known author Christine Feehan tried the same thing only months later with the word “dark”, to say Twitter exploded was an extreme understatement. (I may or may not have joined in the shenanigans… okay you bet I did).

The author has since updated her Twitter page to do a complete 180 after only a week since she made the original post;

Christine Feehan

To say that she is sorry might all be too late in the eyes of many after what she did, but the fact of the matter is that she’s behaved in a far more noble way than Feleena Hopkins did. I hope in the coming days the author world treats Feehan better for her frankness and apology. (That last line though – its a brave thing to admit you made a mistake like this one).

But how does that effect YOU?

 

Please welcome fellow writer and Twitter buddy Zack Riley, who’s my guest on today’s blog post with his words of wisdom on Trademark laws, what this means and how it affects you;

 

I’ll start by saying this is only educational and not legal advice and may not be 100% accurate to the law or specific laws in specific countries.

I’ll try keep this short as trademarking something is expensive among small artists/authors, and so on and only really matters once you truly establish yourself. If this doesn’t describe you then copyright protection would benefit you more as it protects the work you make, where a trade mark protects your logo or brand.

For example, a character can’t be trade marked unless it is a literal part of your logo. The purpose of a trade mark is to protect you as a creator from a competitor trying to confuse a customer from using a similar/same name so not to buy your work. It would be very confusing if there were two different K-mart shopping chains out there in the same location selling similar items.

A trade mark must be an established and constantly used on everything to keep it. In the case of the trademark on the word cocky, the author had used the series title of “cocky” and therefore pushed the trademark on the word. The way trademark law works though is having the word “cocky” not only blocks the word from being used but anything that sounds like it, effectively cock blocking the use of the word, pun intended.

This caused a huge uproar within the writing community attracting 27000+ signature’s on a petition to overturn the copyright, and in a court ruling by judge Alvin Hellerstein, found the trade mark not enforceable against authors as there would be no market place confusion among purchasers of romance novels. He called the term cocky, “a weak trademark that could only be enforced against direct, deceptive imitation.”

So why was cocky awarded the trademark? Probably the uniqueness of the name, and poor research into the overall use of the name. This also only covered her market, however unfortunately knocking off the use of a lot of other people’s book titles and ultimately failed because of the over saturation of the use of the term within the writing community.

Trademarks are only set within a set geographical area, such as the state of New York in the USA, meaning that someone in Colorado could legally use the same name unless the trademark is applied for all states and territories within that country. This means that someone in Australia or the UK could still legally use the trademark within those countries unless the trademark is again, applied to every country that the material is relevant. You need to still defend your trademark if its contested where ever its current. This can get expensive and there is a mountain of paperwork. If however you receive a takedown notice for breach of someone’s trademark, you should seek legal advice. You may not be in the geographical area the trademark is represented in or be outside the bindings of the trademark. There are many ways to protect your own brand and if you are not directly trying to deceptively imitate the trademark holder, you may have a case. Be mindful that sites such as amazon are located in the USA or the set geographical area of a trademark holder, therefore the trademark may apply to your work. Remember, you can always opt not to sell to that area if you clash.

Different rules apply to huge and established brands such as Disney, Pokémon and Harry Potter, for example, that protect the brands. In some countries trademarks do not need to be registered with the government, the same with copyright but if you can register your trademark then you have a better chance of winning a case.

In Australia the fees just for the application are $200 pre trademark at the cheapest option. In the USA I believe its $250, so if you are applying for more then one trade mark this can add up. To renew a trademark, its $400 in Australia minimum per trade mark so I hope you have plenty of cash.

So how do you protect your work the free way? Copyright.

How do you get Copyright? Simple, the moment it exists anywhere else but your mind, you own the copyright to it. You are god, you just have to prove it. So a date or place is a good way to do this, such as publishing a work online, there are many ways to go about this but you own the copyright. Advice for an author is to register an ISBN with your book and also send a copy of your book to the national library of your country.

So, what does copyright protect you from? Having your work copied, derivative works, fan fiction, and so on. Yes, I know fan fiction is a derivative work but for this example we will say fan art and toys.

Say you become an established brand and have artwork of a character in your world, someone could create fan art of your work. As the copyright holder you own the copyright to that art work and therefore can make a case for someone not to draw your characters or write fan fiction, shipping character A with character C instead of character B. You have the right to say what can and can not be said about your work and send a cease and desist letter if what is drawn/written is not to your taste. You also have the right to claim any/all money from derivative works based on your original work. For example, if you sell a Star Wars x-wing drawing or 3d model you printed then Disney has the right to stop and claim any/all monies you made from that venture. Obviously, some areas can damage fan bases and this is why things like Harry Potter fan fiction and artwork can be found. An example of a copyright being infringed is the song “Down Under” by Men at work and the rifts taken from the song Kookaburra where the rights are owned by Larrikin Music.

Be mindful (as seen a lot on YouTube) adding, “Copyright  and Trademark infringement not intended” or something similar to any part of your work is blatantly admitting that you have infringed on someone else’s work.

The use of a trade mark to protect your brand based on a title honestly doesn’t seem like the best of ideas. And from Cocky gate we have seen the fallout of this. A smarter option would have been to apply for a trade mark on a pen name. You honestly won’t see anyone else selling books under the name Stephen King or Tom Clancy for example. If it is really that saturated a market that you need a trademark for a book title or series title, wouldn’t it be better to pick a different name instead of throwing good money down the drain?

You can find Zack’s work through his Facebook page & on Twitter, especially if you like a good pun. Or even a bad one.

The Monster… WRITERS BLOCK!

Welcome one and all to my blog!

 

For All Hallows Eve (look, if you haven’t figured out I’m Australian by now here is you’re cue), I wish to present to those on the cusp and preparing for the dreaded thirty days of mayhem, trauma, and soul crushing despair, faced during the course of Nanowrimo, the kind of foe which every writer has come to know…

 

WRITERS BLOCK!

 

Scary, yeah?

 

*buffs nails* Nope.

buffy.gif

 

I’ve won Nano the last four years in a row and I am going to give you a crash course on how to get this DONE.

 

And in case that wasn’t enough, I plan on writing TEN NOVELS IN 2019. Two of them in Nano. Who’s a loon?? THIS AUTHOR! But I’ve done the dreaded math and guess what? I can do it.

 

Want to know my secrets? come closer…

come

 

 

  1. Writing Sprints.

 

If you are a writer you may have heard of these sprints.

The challenge is simple; set a timer of minutes, 5, 15, 20, 30, 60 and do nothing but write. No alt tabbing, no phone, no Twitter, you WRITE. You challenge yourself to get those words in, as many as you can. You don’t stop, don’t breath, don’t break for the bathroom.

 

I said WRITE!

sargeant

 

When I started I think I got about 100 words in my first 20 minute sprint. With six years of writing under my belt I can get in about 2.5k in an hour.

 

Where this can go wrong is decisions/plotpoints/and the dreaded block, but I’ll discuss this below.

 

If you are a pantser (you write the story with no idea of where it is going to go) you are going to THRIVE on sprints.

 

If you are a plotter I suggest as minimal guidance to do a one line/paragraph on every chapter which will at least give you direction.

 

Yes, this method is really intense, but with good practice it does work. My last record for an 80k book using this method was written in 25 days and subsequently picked up by Indie press, Literary Wanderlust. (AFTER A BUTT LOAD OF EDITS).

 

There are several discord channels with this as a function and everyone joins in. It becomes a team and group effort. I will also have a pinned thread advertising when I am going into a sprint for Nanowrimo 2019.

 

This can be very difficult to accomplish if you have people who need your attention in your life; kids, family, loved ones with special needs (including yourself). It does not work for everyone, find what works for you.

 

  1. Names

 

The hero’s weary horse reaches the cusp of a valley leading to… a foreign kingdom, surveying the twisting river called… called… the twisting river, wrapping around the castle of… of… a castle in the distance, and our hero,… who is our hero… he has a name… wtf is his name… Our hero, sighs in relief at having reached….

keyboard

 

Whether you pants, or plot, do the prep before you start by having a guide of name generators booked marked in your web browser so you aren’t wasting time finding the “right” name. Get ANY name and move on.

You can fix it later, you can find replace weird names you don’t like, just get something close and move on with the script. Here is a helpful guide on generators for you, just to get you through.

Book mark them. Thank me anytime. No really, please, I did a lot to find these.

 

  1. Description

 

Damien walked into the tavern, and it was a tavern… that had beer… and people drinking it.

 

Put a freaking X there and move on. Adding descriptive scenes can come later, don’t get caught up worry about it if you just feel the story tugging you along. Yes, I hate doing this, it bugs the crap out of me, but I’d rather let the flow of the story carry me along than worry about a thirty second scene in a second rate motel. Seriously, I’d only give it 2 stars, I think I saw a rat.

 

You can come back to these scenes, you can fix them later… which brings me to my next point.

 

  1. DON’T EDIT

 

I mean it.

no

Yeah, I’m looking at you. I know the sort. I see you… just like I’ve seen parts of myself.

The perfectionist.

Seeking the perfect series of words…

The first to take out the blade to carve slices out of their darlings…

knife

 

Leave it. I mean it. PUT THE SCRIPT DOWN.

 

I WILL SMACK YOUR DAMN HANDS IF YOU GO BACK AND EDIT!

 

Because you *aren’t* helping yourself if you are doing this while trying to Nano. You are worrying about words you will probably go back and change again later anyhow.

If you are one of those people who do that, and its where your comfort zone is, and you can’t stop it, I get it. But try making sure you can’t see what you wrote, scroll right up, do it consistently. Don’t put the past words in front of your face to tempt you to edit.

Resist the temptation – forge on. This is how you finish books.

 

  1. Writers block.

 

Oh yes, my FAVOURITE demon.

 

hands

 

But do you know what writers block is? For me, its like anxiety. Or depression. It was one a foe I did not have the tools to fight. Today, I’m going to loan you mine.

dice

See this beauty? You might not know but I am an avid RPG player (roll playing gamer – no, not the custom and dancing about in fields with a sword kind, the kind that sits inside and curses normals and fights a pretend zombie apocalypse).

And the games I generally play are not… *gasp* D&D… Dungeons and Dragons.

I play and run Cthulhu, All Flesh, Chill, Pathfinder-… yes okay so its like DnD but it isn’t DnD. Don’t @ me.

*ahem*

You get to do a lot of things with a pair of dice for varying reasons in role playing, and I’ve written more about it here, but for the purposes of this blog post lets keep this short;

 

You have a choice.

 

Your heros arrive at the gates to a castle where a friend is being held captive in the bowels, accused of a crime they didn’t do… but…how do you get it?

You have options. Put yourself in the characters shoes and think; a castle has a front gate, and a servants entrance… two choices.

I like to roll a D100 to give more extreme ideas of how much they go in one direction and succeed or fail but any dice with even or odd chances is fine.

Any wall you face you are at a point, don’t focus on what to do next, focus on the options available, put yourself in the place, and roll a dice for the outcome.

You don’t know where the story might take you, and I generally find myself somewhere far more interesting… like Alice down a rabbit hole…

 

 

At the end of the day the person who is stopping you accomplishing this is you.

 

I’ve seen shift workers write on phones while in the car on a lunch break.

 

I’ve seen Mums on a tablet during soccer practice furious getting out a few hundred words.

 

I’ve sat next to the room of a dying man, writing away all the  pain inside because I couldn’t not stop what was happening in that other room.

 

Ultimately, you are not fighting or writing or winning against me or anyone else.

 

You are finding out whether you have it in you.

 

And maybe you don’t this year, but maybe you will make the habits you need to improve your craft enough to keep going, and do it next year.

 

The whole point is to keep going. Keep writing. No matter what.

 

Find me here if you want to buddy too!

The Green Elephant

I want to talk about the elephant in the room.

The green one.

The one that sits behind the screen and judges.

Both their own self worth and what they have accomplished.

A few months back someone sent me a screen shot a tweet that criticized authors for talking about writing many words in short periods of time and that the writing is probably trash. As a prolific sprinter, and knowing that I tweet about it a lot to encourage other writers, I was hurt. The tweet in question said that it was doing more harm than good by pressuring writers, rather than encouraging them because when I sprint I get a lot down.

As much as two thousand words an hour.

But as much as my presence on Twitter has only been high in the last year or so, I’ve been writing for six years now.

When I come up with a story, sit myself down, and focus… I DO THE WORK.

I don’t have kids or family to care for, I’ve spoken about how I do this a lot in this blog post.

But that didn’t change a random stranger for judging all I’d accomplished.

Without ever actually knowing me.

So, I stopped tweeting my sprints.

I kept doing it but I toned right back how much I was writing, but I did say that I’d managed to write a book in nineteen days, I wasn’t going to let them take that away from me.

On the flip side I producing all this work that was… going nowhere.

And all the while I was watching others self-publish books, picked up by indie presses, get agents, have their books published… and the big names having their books adapted to TV and Movies.

I wont bore you with the self-absorbed rant about how my circumstances weren’t fair, suffice to say there was more than one.

But I still congratulated EVERY single one of those that I saw, every damn time, no matter what it was, because I wasn’t jealous of them, I was jealous that they were somewhere I wanted to be.

And then I came back to the green elephant.

That all the while I was jealous of others successes, all this time, there were people jealous of what I could do, and do often. Its ugly. I hate it.

And I refuse to lie about it.

Then I came across this song.

The whole line that caught me was “I want to be you…nique.”

Everyone says there is no one path to writing, to becoming successful, and they are absolutely right.

Everyone says there is no one path to writing, to becoming successful, and they are absolutely right.

And then today @BruceKnapp gave me a #writerslift for my sprints. That he used them to help him focus and that was all I needed.

I have no idea where my journey is taking me, but I can tell you one thing; I’m going to keep sprinting, I’m going to keep being vocal about it, and if I help you great, and if I don’t block me.

But I’m going to keep doing what I think its best for me, I’m going to keep writing and at the end, do you know what I’m going to have? I hope to have 10 FREAKING BOOKS WRITTEN THIS YEAR!

So I don’t know what you want to accomplish but I’m not going to let anyone stop me, don’t let anyone stop you.

Pit What Now? #BoostMyBio

I’ve done a lot of challenging, ambitious and straight up crazy in my writing life.

Like the time I was so desperate for editing cash I actually considered a letting a foreign prince fund my writing career. It fell out because he didn’t want to the whale I bought him as a token of friendship… but I digress.

To add to my list of “I’m not quitting” challenges I am going to try for #PitchWars

Here is the link if you don’t know WTH I’m talking about, and the link for this blog post run by the fabulous Audra Atoche and Jade Loren who have kindly set up #BoostMyBio for hopeful mentees!

 

BIO

giphy owl

 

You can find out about me here but to keep it short and simple; I’m a writer.

I currently have three self published works for a series I’m writing and self publishing called the Last Prophecy.

I also have a publishing contract with Literary Wanderlust for my book Behind the Veil, which was picked up during a Pitmad event.

I’m also in the process of writing and releasing on #Wattpad a book called One with Rage.

My muse is an avid tormentor who will not shut up, even if I alternatively love and hate her for it.

 

My Pitch

giphy - lotr

As anyone who’s ever pitched will tell you, do not reach for titles that are beyond your writing, however I cannot think of a better way to slate this YA/NA Dark Fantasy other than an all female cast Lord of the Rings.

My mother read the book aloud to me twice growing up before I read it for myself, and as the years of writing have gone by I’ve written a story that is not the same but holds several similar themes.

Slay the Evercry

 

Pitch for Echo of the Evercry

Larissa wants nothing more than to closet herself in a library. But she must become a knight of the Fair Lady or dishonor her family name. She fails the graduating test, and instead finds herself among the ranks of the shunned Darkling, magick wielders who taint themselves to better understand the Fair Lady’s enemy; the Evercry.

When her warrior mother calls for her aid, Larissa must team up with the bully of her childhood, Valare, to take a mystical orb to her mother. But the Evercry seeks to stop her, a tainted soul consumed with magick, sending agents to take the orb… and Larissa. Larissa must relay on the girl that was her enemy to overcome their past and save her mother.

Lord of the Rings meets Sabriel/Abhorsen series, this is a predominately female cast dark fantasy about a Larissa’s journey within the ranks of the Fair Lady’s order, in a mystical realm where the order seeks to rid the world of the Evercry, a blight upon the world using the souls of corrupt mages as vessels for their chaos.

GENRE: Fantasy/dark fantasy

AGE: YA/NA

COMPS: LOTR x SABRIEL

THEMES:

  • great quest
  • sacred orders
  • item of magical power
  • female empowerment
  • oppression
  • suicide
  • abuse
  • matriarchal tones
  • magic
  • friendship
  • overcoming differences

 

We all have a 3.3% chance at getting a mentor according to Sarah Nicolas, its the kind of thing I could not have done a year ago, but I feel now I have a story worth pitching, and I wish everyone throwing their hat in the ring the best of luck!

giphy - odds

Write for You

Writing for You

 

I’ve been bummed lately. I’m not even gonna lie about about it.

 

“Don’t post about negativity.”

 

Blogging 101 – and today… I don’t care.

 

I’ve been stuck in a little bit of a rut and what I want you to know is how to conquer that because right now I feel like the world is at my feet rather than hanging over my head.

I’ve been querying a scifi romance series I love for several months now because I love it, and its gotten nowhere. Interestingly enough the rejections were nice, but I was better prepared for them because I’d self-published. My books aren’t for everyone, but in the process of querying I realised 2 things; I wanted to self-publish this series because I wanted the creative control of releasing it how and when I wanted because its important to the story line.

 

I also realised another thing; my muse doesn’t shut the fuck up, and its starting to annoy me.

 

For the third time this year I’ve written a book in less than a month and I’m set to do it again over the coming weeks. (We’ve been over this but if you want the inside how to here it is again).

The first time I did it I got a publishing contract with Literary Wanderlust and I was thrilled. There was no greater sign for me that said; you can fucking DO this!

I don’t know when the book will come out and that’s fine because I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about this raging monster inside me piling up manuscripts that are going nowhere because I’m only actively querying one of them. Another I have with beta readers (another book written in less than a month, and I have high hopes for that one), but I have about 6 others I think I can get out in less than a month.

My problem is not that I can’t write, and believe me, I know how lucky I am in that regard, but what kind of an idiot would I be if I didn’t use everything at my disposal to use that gift to the full?

My problem is that they’re just sitting there and for some stories that’s okay, and for others… it’s not.

NO, my writing isn’t perfect; but I don’t need you to tell me that.

NO, my stories aren’t the right tone for everyone; but I don’t need you to tell me that.

NO, not all my stories I will seek to publish, some are fun; but that’s what I wanted to tell you.

I have one story I’m writing to keep my fabulous CP company finishing a manuscript with her, and do you know what? I love it. But I don’t think I’d query it, or even self-publish it, because I’m just writing it for me, and just for fun.

So, I’m going to publish it on Wattpad.

I’m doing this for three reasons, the first is that as the content I am working to publish, be it through an indie press or self-publish, is going to take time and that’s fine. I don’t mind as long as something is happening with the stories I love.

The second reason is that because my stuff will take a long time to get out there I want to publish a fun story in the interim so you can all actually read some of my recent writing, but also see my raw drafted writing form.

Thirdly, I see so many writers dragged down by rejection, trying ceaseless to sell their self-published work, and I think many of them have forgotten that this is supposed to be an enjoyable activity. The chances of getting a magical writing career get slimmer ever day. I wanted to do something just for fun, just to flirt, and just to see if I could. And the beauty of it all? I’m not going to care if they don’t like it or have issues with it.

I think there is a big difference between edited work and just a polished piece from a reader, and Wattpad seems a great place to demonstrate my raw writing.

So without further preamble I’d like to show you the Wattpad book I will start to release next weekend; One with Rage…

OnewithRagecover

Oresia is consumed with revenge.

Her father gave his soul away to enact vengeance on a rival family that killed his wife, leaving his thirteen-year-old daughter behind alone except for a blood bound blade.

In a world of technology and magic, the blade offers Oresia a chance at killing the person responsible for giving an illegal weapon to her father, even if it consumes her own soul.

Ten years later she’s worked hard as an executioner for crime families to get the name and location of the soulcerer who made the blade for her father. But when she seeks him out she’ll find out all she’s ever believed is a lie…

 

A fantasy/scifi magic romance, I have to confess that its absolutely full of violence, snark, flirting and probably down the line somewhere sex. And do you know what? Its just good fun to write. Not everything we write has to be a wonderful literary piece, you can set aside the big projects for the fun ones and that’s what I’m aiming to prove here.

 

Write for fun, write for you. Because at the end of the day that’s what you have at the end of every day on your writing journey, and I’d rather be happy than worrying about things out of my control.

Wouldn’t you?

I’ve been doing a lot of beta reading lately, and thought I’d do a quick five minute post on some easy solutions for frequent problems I’ve been running into in my reading;

 

  • Repetition
  • Tell not show
  • Character reactions
  • Action sequences

 

Of all the things I pull people up on these are the ones that I come across the most and today I wanted to give you the tools to help get around these things by letting you know what I use to avoid these horrible things.

 

Repetition;

 

When I first started writing the “Repetition Stick” from my editor started out as a light touch and ended up as a bludgeoning stick.

repeatedly hitting

I quickly found an excellent tool in Rhymezone.

It allows you to look up rhymes for poetry (yes, I write a lot of poetry, I have a project about that I’ll be sharing at the end of the year), but what Rhymezone also allows you to do is look up synonyms!

So all of a sudden the dark cave that’s super dark becomes the gloomy cave that’s inky depths stretch on into the dark.

I have also recently found Power Thesaurus which appears to be another excellent resource for these issues.

 

Tell not Show;

 

I recently beta read this absolutely lovely little story involving a scene scape and the author really captured my fascination with the ocean floor in one sentence and then lost it in another.

We hear this all the time; show, don’t tell!

HOW? What witchcraft is this!?

There are heaps of blogs out there but where this one crops up a lot is in scenery and action sequences, and I’ll get to action in a moment but for scenery what I recommend is a little writing exercise… that doesn’t involve writing!

Imagine you’ve crashed on an alien planet, there’s only one space suit, and you’ve got to go outside and see what’s out there. There are no windows, and no cameras, so out you go, and now you’ve got to tell the shipmates what you see…

forest

What do you see? Tell me, out loud, describe the above for me. Yes, do it, I’m not here to stuff around. You may think I can’t hear you, but believe me I am going to be sitting here listening. DESCRIBE IT TO ME, SOLDIER!

If you’ve just said you see an alien city, the first question from the shipmates is going to be; is their life? What does I look like? They will have questions. Answer them.

Chances are you struggle to find the descriptive words you want to use when saying it out loud, so now try writing what you see, as though recording for future generations, not missing a single detail, you are the first person to find the ruins of an abandoned alien city. What do you see?

 

Here is what I see;

Spires of silver strike the sky, the grasping clasp of the jungle wrapping around the throat of each building to strangle the life that doesn’t exist within.

 

You do not need to spend a lot of time on a description, even a single sentence will convey a landscape well. Picture what you want to convey, remove the story and characters and focus purely on the single scene.

 

Character actions;

 

This is one thing that I run into a lot, and its usually for a very fundamental reason; the writer is focusing on the plot, and not the character.

The reactions your characters have to the plot points, such as the emergence of a stranger in town, is both in dialogue and in reactions.

I was reading a romance once where a character quite literally abandoned her friends to follow a stranger down a dark alley, because he was hot. There wasn’t even a supernatural aspect such as feeling they were bound together. She followed him down a dark alley because he was hot.

rolling eyes

EVERY WOMAN’S SELF PRESERVATION INSTINCT IN REAL LIFE WOULD BE; LIKE, NO.

It made it completely unbelievable. I lost so much respect for the character, and while the writer made an excellent follow on scene out of it, I had already lost a lot of believability for the character and thus the story.

So, when you need your character to walk down an alley, look at why. Is it a shortcut? Would you do it? Ask around for better natural reactions, say to a spouse or friend; hey, why would you walk down a dark alley? Chances are its not the alley, but something on the other side.

This is true in dialogue too.

What people say to convey the greater story elements should be in character to their personalities.

You are not going to have a cautious self-protective friend let the protagonist walk down a dark alley after a stranger. But you can’t have her, go with them either, it’d run the moment with said hot guy.

So what to do?

“Call me when you get to your bus stop.”

“Take my pepper spray.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?”

But above all, it shouldn’t be something like this;

“Wow,” she said, “he’s hot, go follow him and see if he’ll take you home.”

But especially from the over protective friend who wanted to get her friend a cab home with her.

Our protag is not a stray dog…

If you are questioning the actions of your characters but aren’t sure how to get it across, put yourself in their shoes, don’t force them into situations that aren’t feasible or you will lose a lot of believability in the characters, and that will lose you the reader.

 

Action sequence;

 

One of the easiest ways I see writers lose action sequences is with succinct specifics and order.

There is a lack of spatial awareness, as the writer becomes focused on telling you what’s happening that the details get missed.

A sequence I read recently (in my own damn writing), had a character the MC was fighting suddenly disappear for several moments. They vanished from the script while the MC fought someone else.

What were they doing? Standing there?

Think of yourself as a sports commentator if you will, you want to relay the sequence of events in tight punchy lines to better relay to the reader (who is a listener too), what you want to convey;

Player one kicks the ball to player two, who kicks it into the goal. The ball rolls as though shot out of a cannon.

Really? That’s it?

The sequence should be as follows;

Player one kicks the ball to player two. Player two kicks the ball hard enough it’s as though its shot out a cannon, and scores the goal.

This seems simple enough but check your actions sequence for flow and look at breaking them down into single action sequence.

Sometimes I’ll do this, especially with fighting, by watching videos of the action sequence and doing a small exercise in describing just what I observe, the same as the above section with the landscape. It doesn’t need to be lengthy, but it does need flow through, so the action sequences make sense.

 

Ultimately, you’ll find that you make these mistakes, it’s the whole point of revising and editing.

But if you can teach yourself not to make them as you go you can make doing these things much easier. Sometimes its hard to tell, and that’s where getting beta feedback and good editors are going to pick these up for you. The more you can get this feedback, you can better focus on where you fall down as a writer and how to help improve not just that story, but you as a writer in whatever you are working on right now.