Monday, August 11, 2014

This week in Portugal ...

This is where I'm staying, a remote villa outside Silves in southern Portugal. It's hot and peaceful and there's lots of fresh fruit and Portuguese custard tarts to eat. The water is very cold and refreshing.


This is where I'm working on Blood Queen this morning (below). There's a sea breeze blowing and a few puffy white clouds blowing overhead, but soon it will pass 30 degrees celsius (80 F? 190F? I have no idea) and I'll go to the pool to read and swim. I finished A Wizard of Earthsea yesterday and loved it. Review soon.



And these are keeping me company as I write, a family of tabby cats, a mother and two younger cats I think. They are very friendly and semi-domesticated. They love pats and scratches but never venture into the house, and they don't know what laps are for. They're skinny but not unhealthy, but I'm feeding them up anyway with lots of cat food and tid bits from our cooking.


There are only birds and cicadas to be heard. It makes such a change from London life. Now, back to Blood Queen for me.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black

I have been in such a reading slump. I mean, I've been reading, but no YA. Instead it's been mags and history and Longreads, and that's FINE, you know. But it's not getting lost in an amazing story in the genre that I love.

On the weekend I was in Brooklyn with a friend and we went to Word and had a nose around. They have a small but very good YA collection, mostly fantasy and PNR. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was a fat blue hardback on the shelf and tacked underneath it was a handwritten review that went something like "Thought you were over vampires? Read this!" And of course I'm not over vampires, but I still had to read it. (I also got Graceling for my friend as a thank-you for letting me stay, but also cos he was lovelorn and Katsa can wallop that right out of you.)

This girl called Tana goes to a party and wakes up in a bathtub the next morning, and everybody who was at the party is dead. In a bedroom she finds her friend Aiden tied to a bed, and on the floor is a vampire in chains. Outside the door are more vampires, and they want to kill all three of them. Tana doesn't want to die and she doesn't want her friend to die and she doesn't really know who this vampire is but he probably shouldn't die either, right? So she gets them all out of there, stuff happens, he's bit, she's sorta bit and the other guy is a vampire, so they head for a Coldtown.

Now, Coldtowns are like the Big Brother house but they're cities and the apocalypse has happened inside. And also The Bachelor and Strictly Come Dancing Too. All at the same time. They're where vampires and infected humans have to live, and were wanna-vamps go to try and get turned. There's a big baddies and little baddies and some good guys too, and they're all mixed up together in this place. And Tana might or might not be becoming a vampire.

There are so many quotable quotes in this book, and most of them come out of Gavriel's mouth. Gavriel is the vampire who Tana impulsively saves. I'm not going to quote any of them, though, because they're much better in the book.

OK, maybe just one quote.

Gavriel closed his eyes, sooty lashes brushing his cheek. "I'll stay with you.""What? No," she said automatically. "No! That's crazy.""I'm crazy," he reminded her. 
Do you know when you get a really strong picture in your head of how a character looks in the book you're reading? Here's how Black describes Gavriel:

He must have been handsome when he was alive and was handsome still, although made monstrous by his pallor and her awareness of what he was. His mouth looked soft, his cheekbones as sharp as blades, and his jaw curved, giving him an off-kilter beauty. His black hair a mad forest of dirty curls.

He's also got a strange accent and he's all handsome and mad and charming, and I could help picturing ...


... everyone's favourite prince who got cocky dropped the GODDAMN BALL. GAH. (Prince Oberyn of Dorne, I still love you. You IDIOT.)

But back to The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Basically this book is cool and sexy as well as being well written. What a trifecta. Loved it.

EDIT: Did I mention this book is gory? It's really gory. Gory-good. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

euphorYA: A Speculative Fiction Scavenger Hunt - Elizabeth Wheatley Guest Post


Today I'm hosting Elizabeth Wheatley, author of Fanged Princess (we like vampire princess around here!) for the euphorYA Scavenger Hunt. Enter the competition below to be in the prize draw!

Now on with the guest post ...

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Welcome to euphorYA and I’m delighted to share with you an extract from my vampire novella series, Fanged Princess. Fanged Princess revolves around Haddie, a teen vampire whose brother is in love. The only downside? The girl is human. Haddie knows firsthand the dangers of falling for a human and this loss is a large part of what drives her to help save her brother’s girlfriend. Today I’m showcasing a scene from Haddie’s backstory, the day she met Fletcher, told in his perspective. When I was writing this, I started to hate myself because I know what happened to Fletcher by the beginning of the first novella. It will probably make you all hate me, too. So check out the scene below and don’t forget to hop on over to the other blog stops today for cool extras on books you love and a shot at the scavenger hunt grand prize!

Read Fanged Princess: Extra I on Figment!

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I will not let my brother suffer the same loss… Hadassah’s father, the Vampire King, punished her for her choice to love a human. Now her brother, the only person in the world who still matters to her, has fallen for a human girl. Determined to keep the girl safe, the three of them flee from their home in New England and find themselves cornered with their father’s minions closing in. If they want to escape, their only hope may be to join forces with the mortal enemies of their kind… Be ensnared in this dark tale of enduring love, loyalty, and revenge from teenage author, Elisabeth Wheatley. Find Fanged Princess on Goodreads


Find Fanged Princess on Amazon About the Author

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Elisabeth Wheatley is a teen author of the Texas Hill Country. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, or hot guys in armor, she is wasting time on the internet, fangirling over indie books, and training her Jack Russell Terrier, Schnay.

Where to find her: Blog Facebook Goodreads Twitter Pinterest Tumblr

a Rafflecopter giveaway Here's the schedule for the EuphorYA Scavenger Hunt. Each blog stop features exclusive content from one of our authors as well as a giveaway. Collect the blue / red / pink colored words to make the daily secret phrases. Then enter for your chance to win the Grand Prize Giveaway--$75 Amazon / Nook gift card (first prize only), books and swag (first, second and third prizes). Day One Stops, Friday ,June 20 - Blue Phrase Anna Silver | Chloe Jacob's World | Elana Johnson | Books By Intisar | Ali Cross Day Two Stops, Saturday, June 21 - Red Phrase Elisabeth Wheatley | T.L. Shreffler | RaShelle Workman | Kelly Walker | Hannah L. Clark | Christy Dorrity Day Three Stops, Sunday, June 22 - Pink Phrase Rhiannon Hart | Natasha Hanova | Tracy E. Banghart | Kaitlyn Deann | Jadie Jones 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Jane Austen and the Guinness Book of Records

You know what doesn't happen enough? Wandering around Bath dressed in an empire gown and bonnet and pretending it's 1810.

I just found out there's going to be two attempts to break the most Lizzie Bennett (and Mr Darcy) wannabes all in one place, and one of them is going to be this September in Bath.

I think I have to do it. I'll look a right wally by myself because I think I'd struggle to find someone to do it with me in a country where I *do* know a lot of people, let alone here. But then everyone will be looking fabulously silly anyway. It sounds too delicious not to do it.

I'll want to make my own gown and accessories so I'll have to beg or borrow a sewing machine from someone. This pattern has a lot of good reviews:


I can see it in a textured cream-coloured fabric, or perhaps something sprigged, with a paisley shawl, teeny reticule and a bonnet. I would love to get the man done up a la Wentworth, but feel that getting him into silk stockings might stretch the relationship.

If you're planning on going, let me know and we can look fabulously silly together!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mandatory #1Kaday

Now that hashtags have made it to Facebook they're pretty passe, right? What the hell, it rhymes.

I have a new writing schedule, and like all new writing schedules, diets, boyfriends and New Year's resolutions it simply must be talked about.

It's very simple: I have to write a thousand words per day, and if I don't I have to add whatever I didn't write to the next day's total. No excuses. No shirking. I've been sticking to this for a whole two days now and its going better than a Stark in Westeros, so that's something.

Hashtag winning.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blood Queen, London and Life

You look away for FIVE MINUTES and suddenly nearly a whole year has gone by since you updated your blog. It was around this time last year that I started working for a publishing house instead of writing full time (it was nice while it lasted, but was always going to be temporary) and then LIFE just took over.

I moved house twice. The flat I share with my partner has a second bedroom in which I can write. There's also a balcony with potted flowers and squirrels that come up for nuts. I love it here.


Last week's blossom 

I visited Prague and Paris. Both of these cities were just gorgeous. Prague was atmospheric and gothic, and it was a beautiful sunny autumn day when we visited, and we walked and walked and WALKED. Paris was freezing cold and I was a little unwell, but we had very glam digs in Le Marais and saw lots of art, ate lots of food and bundled up warmly.


Prague



Versaille, just outside Paris


I wrote two books. Both were rejected -- yes, published authors get rejected too. I think I'm suffering from dreaded Second Book Syndrome. If you count the Lharmell trilogy as one book. But hey-ho, rejections only make you stronger, and keep you from getting cocky. 

I got burgled :( I can't stress this enough, BACK UP YOUR WORK. Sigh. I lost about 20,000 words of Blood Queen which, as you may have noticed, has put back the publication date to August. I used to very sporadically back up bits and pieces of projects but now I am using a cloud system that automatically backs things up. Automatic is good!

I flew home to Australia for my brother's wedding. OH GOSH BEAUTIFUL. What an amazing wedding it was, and it was so much fun being in the bridal party. 


The bride with a herd of deer



Me in my wedding get-up

This year I have more travel planned, more writing, more blogging and of course ....



The release of Blood Queen!

Happy Easter all.

Monday, May 20, 2013

On reading old books and being far away

I don't think I've read a book written in the last thirty years for two months now. I can't even think what the last one would have been. Oh, yes I can. A few Mills and Boon Moderns last week, because it's comforting to read romance novels when it's too wet to go out. But mostly there's been a lot of Jane Austen and the Brontes and Wodehouse and Neville Shute. The Shutes are particularly enthralling as the characters are Brits who come out to Australia and go back to London on slow boats or bunny-hop through Asia or the States to get here. Letters are send by air mail and take a week, or by sea mail and take months. The odd telegram is sent too, but you get the impression that they were terribly expensive.

These days I don't review books so I read what I like, which is the best way to do things, I think. So I wander over the Italian Alps with Emily St Aubert, not much caring that I should be "keeping up with the industry". I'll be in the mood for new releases soon I'm sure. But why am I liking these old books so much? I think it must be because I'm far from home. If a man who's lost his legs in WWII can't find a Naval Wren and chases her all over the world for years only to discover she's opted out with a bottle of sleeping pills the day before he finds her (thanks for the laughs, Neville Shute), I can't really be sad for being twenty-two hours or a Skype call from home.

I'm not a melancholy, homesick person, and I like being out of my comfort zone. I needed to be out of my comfort zone. What self-respecting writer hasn't moved to another country? Read their autobiographies in the back of their books: "Hazel has lived in Vladivostok, Tangiers and briefly in Yemen, which makes her pretty cool and smug, don't you know. No wonder she's written a bestseller based on her experiences and has a proper grip on metaphors."

But when your brother gets engaged and everyone's there at the party but you, in the house you used to live in, you might like to read a few comforting old books where they didn't even have Skype and shed a few untimely tears into your boyfriend's jacket on the main street. It was lovely to know that three of my dear friends, Shona, Megan and Ben, where there to represent me and drink plenty of champagne in my stead.

In a serendipitous booking, last night Tim and I went to see Alan Davies in a stand up show in an Islington theatre. Just love him. Tim was in tears at one point and I couldn't stop cough-laughing. (Back-to-back spring colds. Worth the extra coughs.) Cheered me up no end. Today I'm reading Rosamunde Pilcher novels from the 1970s, and this one's set in London. I'm sure it'll end up in Scotland at some point because what Pilcher novel doesn't? It opens with a girl getting a letter from Ibiza a month late saying her mother is dying. So Melbourne isn't very far away after all.

Stiff upper lip and all that. Spirit of the blitz. What ho and pip pip.