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My son is working in Shanghai and I’m popping over for a visit. I’ll have to get up early, my least favourite part, but I’ll arrive tomorrow evening.

This will be my first visit to China. My son says it is still warm and muggy. Different from here which is rainy and chilly. I’m looking forward to chilling with my son. Apparently there is a number of public holidays this coming week so we will just hang out. He works in games development.

On the writing front, I had thought to get Oathbound off to my editor and Ungiven Land to beta readers but I was derailed by a piece of bureaucratic bullshit that gave me a nice dose of anxiety and the need to seek legal advice. I’m feeling better now, but I don’t think I’ve recovered my equilibrium. I’ve not touched my writing and have buried myself in Lois McMaster Bujold (Komarr and A Civil Campaign) for the last couple of days. This is probably a nice sanity space and Bujold writes to well and I love the series. I will learn something I hope.

I should get back to packing and try to decide whether I should take my laptop and work over there.

It is my great pleasure to interview, Debbie Phillips, the president of the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) one of the most organised and efficient organisations I have ever dealt with. They run a biennial conference for readers (with writers) of romance, as well as the annual romance reader awards, surveys of romance readers, signing events, author high teas, local area romance reader lunches and the list goes on. They are awesome. So if you like reading romance you should consider signing up to be a member. It’s a modest fee. And if your fancy goes to meeting other romance readers then you should head to Melbourne in February 2017!!

I was curious about the origins of the organisation so I asked Debbie to answer a few questions.

So, Debbie, how did the Australian Romance Readers Association start and when?

ARRA was established in 2007 to organise the first Australian Romance Readers Convention. That was our sole purpose at the time. Since then we have incorporated the association and have added other events to our activities.

It all started with a discussion on an online loop, where Maggie Nash suggested Australia should have its own romance readers convention. Other members of the loop thought that was a great idea and we set up an expression of interest form and set it out through our various networks. Then came the amazing moment when we received an email from Sherrilyn Kenyon saying she’d heard about the idea and could she come. (Umm, yes!) After that there was no turning back.

How long did it take for your membership levels to reach a critical mass?

Not long at all. We started out with just 16 members—the committee organising ARRC09—and by the end of 2009 we had over 120 members. Our membership today sits at 341. (Donna: OMG! that’s so many. So Fab)

Why is the Australian Romance Readers Association important to readers of romance? What does being a member do?

Other than the obvious benefit of the events we host each year, ARRA also provides a place where readers can find other readers (and authors) who share their interests. We have an online members loop where we chat throughout the month about what we are reading; we have a monthly newsletter that is jam-packed with articles and news about romance fiction; we have an active blog with regular articles from authors and publishers, with giveaways as well. We also have active groups on social media.

Being a member of ARRA means you are supporting that community. We have taken the $20 membership fees from our members and turned them into an enormous enterprise that is getting attention from around the world.

In addition to the biennial conventions we host a signing each August in conjunction with the Romance Writers of Australia conference. Taking advantage of the opportunity presented by so many authors in one place has meant we can keep costs low and offer a unique opportunity for local readers to come along and meet authors and get books signed.

We have also hosted special events with authors like Julia Quinn, Karen Rose and Maya Banks when they visited Australia. Being able to do that is something really special for both readers and authors.

What made ARRA decide to run biennial conferences? What is special about these conferences?

With the growth of online communities and social media Australian romance readers were able to see all the fun readers have at the RT conventions in the United States. For most readers a trip to RT was something they would probably never be able to afford. So we decided to establish our own convention here in Australia. We move it around the country to make it more accessible to readers.

They’re special because they’re total immersion in romance fiction for an entire weekend. You get to meet and chat with authors and readers for two whole days (longer if you come to some of the optional social events). And even better, it is a judgment-free zone! Everyone there gets your obsession with reading romance and you will not see a single eye roll.

Where have these conferences been? Can you give me some highlights of the guests you have had?

We have had the most amazing guests!

The first convention in 2009 was held in Melbourne. Keynote speakers were Stephanie Laurens, Sherrilyn Kenyon, MaryJanice Davidson, Dianna Love, Susan Grant and Liz Maverick. (All these speakers very generously paid their own expenses, so we could afford to have six keynotes!) There were also another 40 authors at the convention.

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Sherrilyn Kenyon (L) and Dianna Love (R) with reader Lami, ARRC09

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Back row: MaryJanice Davidson, Liz Maverick and Susan Grant; Front row: readers Pamela, Carrie and Sarah, ARRC09

The next convention was ARRC2011, held in Bondi. Our keynotes were Anna Campbell, Nalini Singh and Cindy Gerard. There were another 40 authors in attendance as well.

In 2013 we hosted the convention in Brisbane, and keynotes were Anne Gracie, Kristan Higgins and Rachel Vincent. Our author numbers had jumped to 60 by then.

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Nalini Singh, Anne Gracie, reader Willy and Keri Arthur, ARRC2011

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Kristan Higgins, Rachel Vincent and Anne Gracie, ARRC2013

Last year we hosted ARRC2015 in Canberra. Our keynotes were Helene Young, Sylvia Day, Victoria Dahl and Kelley Armstrong. There were an additional 90 authors at the event, our biggest yet.

How do you decide who to invite as keynotes?

We ask our members who they would love to meet and then we compile a list and make our way down it. For every convention we are in contact with probably a dozen authors before we lock in our keynotes. All the authors we speak to are excited at the thought of coming to Australia to meet their readers, but unfortunately for some it just isn’t possible at that particular time. Authors are busy people! The list of authors who have regretfully declined our invitation is just as start-studded as the authors who have been at our conventions!

ARRA also gives out readers awards. When did these start? Are they well received?

The first awards were held at ARRC09. We hadn’t planned them at first, but when we saw the enthusiastic reaction to the convention we decided to establish the awards. Authors and readers alike love them. We hold them each year. In convention years the awards dinner is part of the convention. In the off-convention years we hold the awards dinner as a standalone event in Sydney.

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Inaugural award winners: Anna Campbell, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Melanie Milburne and Stephanie Laurens, ARRC09

Can you tell me a bit about the conference coming up in Melbourne? I understand you have a guest coming via Skype!

Next year ARRC2017 will be back in Melbourne, and our keynotes will be Kylie Scott, Courtney Milan and Kristen Callihan. And of course there will be some 80 romance authors from around Australia.

Yes, we are thrilled to say Thea Harrison will be joining us for a Q&A. She had accepted our invitation to be a keynote speaker, but then realised that her health would preclude the very long trip to Australia. That’s when we decided to try a Skype session for the first time. If it goes well that will really open up the possibilities for the next convention.

If anyone is interested in more information on the convention, they can find it here. There’s a link to buy tickets as well.

What is included in the conference fee?

The conference fee includes entry to all the sessions over the weekend. Delegates can choose from a number of panel sessions throughout the weekend (see the program here). It includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea on both Saturday and Sunday. There will also be a special screening of the documentary Love Between the Covers, speed dating sessions, the chance for a special morning tea with an author host, an epic signing event, and of course our keynote speakers. Another highlight will be out gold tickets, which 21 lucky readers will find in their goodies bag when they register; these tickets entitle them to a private lunch with one of the keynotes.

In addition to that, there are a number of optional social events over the weekend that are ticketed separately. Readers can meet authors ahead of the convention at a High Tea on the Friday, or join us for the wind-down lunch cruise on the Monday. On Friday night there are welcome cocktails, followed by a trivia night, complete with popcorn and ice cream. On Saturday night they can join us at the fabulous awards dinner.

Are readers able to meet authors at the convention as well as hang with other romance readers?

Yes! Throughout the weekend readers have the chance to meet and chat with all the authors. Whether mingling at the cocktail reception or enjoying the awards dinner, you could well be sharing the evening with your favourite authors. During the day you can sit in on the panel sessions, chat with authors and readers during tea breaks, chat one-on-one with authors at the speed dating sessions, and then catch up with them at the signing as well. The whole weekend is about authors and readers hanging out and chatting!

Do you have any tips for romance readers and writers on how to meet?

Don’t be shy! Everyone there loves romance fiction just as much as you do, and they can’t wait to talk to someone about their favourite authors and books. (In fact, some of the authors are just as shy as some readers, and they are all absolutely lovely! So don’t be intimidated.) All it takes is “What are you reading at the moment?” to get a conversation started.arrc2017-banner_700

 

You can find ARRA here: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thank you Debbie! Your answers were great. I had no idea all that was going on in the background. I’ll be there in February, but now I’m thinking after conference cruise? Why not?

 

Yesterday, just by happenstance, the ability to lose myself in a story and the loss of my university access cards, I finished drafting Book Three of the Silverlands, Ungiven Land. 8,000 words yesterday. I was knackered. I haven’t pulled one of those in ages. (A massage, hot pack,  hot shower, more hot pack was required to recuperate).

It’s not finished per se. I have to tidy the draft up a bit before sending to beta readers. There is probably a few talking heads and some scenes that need to be moved around plus other tweaking. I was fairly pumping out the words and the scenes unraveled in my head. I get all excited near the end and I plough through. I think I read in the same way. Also, I lost track of time. Didn’t eat dinner. Didn’t prepare dinner. Looked up and Matthew was home.

But damn. I got the story out. I did it. I finished my first trilogy. (picture me hands in the air, dancing on the spot) I have written in series format before say for the Love and Space Pirates series (I want to write another one) and under Dani Kristoff I’ve finished the third book in the Spellbound in Sydney series. But a trilogy is a whole new ball game. You start out thinking what’s going into those three books that make up the ONE story and time and lack of note taking can seriously derail that.

As an aspiring writer, I had lots of advice about whether to write the whole series or just the first book. The prevailing advice was don’t invest in a series you haven’t sold. So I devoted myself to a number of first books in series hoping to sell them. Lucky for me I also did writers’ retreats where I could devote myself to writing for two weeks. And in the past I had drafted second books or parts of books. I have 153,000 words of the second book (or second two books) in the Dragon Wine series btw.

That may be good advice, on the other hand, if you haven’t got notes and it’s a big complex story and you do sell the first book, the pressure would be immense. I’m not a fan of working on one book for ten years. I’d rather work on ten books over ten years. It’s all learning and I love ideas and exploring story and genre. If I had my time again, maybe I would have at least drafted the remainder of the trilogies I worked on while it was all fresh in my head and concentrated on selling the first one. It would have made this year easier.

You may recall that The Silverlands Trilogy is my self-publishing/indie publishing investment. Argenterra came out in late April. That book had been revised and edited etc many times over many years. Basically, the crafting of a load of crap into something worth reading over 15 years. I hope so!

Book Two was drafted but probably only ever a tidied draft. It was a much better draft than Argenterra was originally as I had progressed as a writer. No one had read it except me. I’m about to do a final revision, tweak and polish before sending it for an edit. You might ask why I haven’t already done this. Well, I was working on book three. I had thought I had 50,000 words of the third book written. Gah! I did but the words were shit. They had to be rewritten and most of it chucked out. I was in despair. Somewhere around 70,000 words the draft felt like it was coming together. Now at 121,000 words I’m pretty pleased. It’s done. The story works…well for now .Beta readers may bash me in the head.

This probably doesn’t answer the question. Why work on book three when two was waiting for a revision? Because finishing book three allowed me to work out all the kinks and to see if it was going to work before I went back to book two. I could still change things in book two before I set them in concrete by publishing it. Rescue a character who had sunk beyond redemption, for example. Set up things in book two that I had brought to a head in book three. I guess it’s a form of cheating. But hey, it worked. This is probably why I’m advocating writing the whole series in one go. Why I wish I had. But my best advice is just write what you want, how you want. I figure this book three is better than any I envisaged say ten years ago. Totally much better. I’m a better writer than I was. Ideas just smashed together well this time.

This week and maybe part of the next I’ll be tidying it up ready for beta readers. Then I’ll be back on book two, Oathbound.Now I’m ready to push forward. I believe the next two books will come out pretty close together. I have the covers. I just need the edit. I do my own laying out and book packaging. The cover layout I get help with. Technically I could do that I just have to buy Photoshop!

Then I guess I’ll get serious about marketing. My main goal so far has been to get reviews of Argenterra while I’m working on the other books. Reviews will help me if I want to do some paid promotion, such as Book Bub. If you read Argenterra and liked it please leave a review somewhere. It helps!

What have I learnt so far? I already knew writing well is hard work. Self-publishing/indie publishing is hard work if you want to do it well, but it has bells on. I’ve been stressed. I’ve had sleepless nights. I’ve invested my capital in my indie publishing gig. I have not spent time in promoting or whatever magic these successful indie writers do. My hat goes off to them. But I will when I get these books out.

The other thing successful indie writers do is they keep writing and keep producing. It sounds exhausting. I mean I do that too, but it’s driven by what stories interest me and my own creative practice. Maybe I should be more business like in my approach.

three-books

 

Buy link for Argenterra, Book One-Silverlands

Print copy from Book Depository here

Amazon.com Here

Amazon.com.au Here

Kobo Here

ibooks Here

Print (Amazon.com) Here.

Print elsewhere. Available from Createspace and Ingram Sparks.

It’s been an interesting week of romance reading for me with two totally different books. One that triggered me and the other that blew me away.

First up was Haunted Dreams by Charlotte Lamb (1995). This is a Harlequin Mills & Boon and British author. This book had a lot going for it, particularly as the hero had a checkered past and the book discussed the conditions of the poor in Mexico, the picking over of dumps and the exploitation of kids. It also featured domestic violence. The hero’s father had been a drunk and violent towards his mother and him and his siblings. All this boded well for me, despite the fact that the heroine was very young (half the hero’s age) and virginal etc. Yet she had some depth to her because she had nursed her dying mother and then rejected by her father after he married straight after her mother’s funeral.

Ambrose (great name!) is a banking man and makes money. Emilie works for her grandfather and is essentially his heir. All well and good. I don’t normally like to do spoilers but hey, this time I have to.

This book triggered me, right at the end too. I had trouble reconciling this so I have come up with the notion that the book is flawed. I know Charlotte Lamb churned these buggers out and maybe she didn’t think this one through, because there were some perfectly good opportunities to make it work out better. OMG! I can’t believe I’m being critical.

Firstly there was a burglary. There was a good setup for this burglary I thought. Emilie had been given sapphires and diamonds for Christmas and the evil cousin was jealous and avaricious and even asked if they were insured. The description of the burglar could have been a woman I thought, but no. It was only an excuse to get the hero to stay over the night. Now random things do happen in life, but in fiction well not so much…not with the potential there to make it work in the story. So the burglary  was a minor inconvenience, even though the cousin was a thief!

Then there was the strangulation of the heroine by the hero and the words something like ‘I’d rather kill you than let another man have you’. That’s my trigger. This happened to be, not a strangulation, but a bashing with words similar to this. However, triggered as I was there was a way to pull back from the abyss and Ms Lamb missed that too. She plunged straight into the abyss without a yell.

Do you think in the emotional resolution to the story that the hero would be remorseful, that he would pledge on his life never to touch her again in that way, that it was his horrible background that made him an abuser etc. No. Not a bloody word.

The heroine was upset because he didn’t trust her. She didn’t want to get back to him because he’d refused to believe her. What the actual…??? He sees the bruises says something like I can’t begin to apologise but she says sweet FA. Surely to god, there’d be some request for a promise never to hurt her again or she’ll leave him. No. The bloody violence is not discussed, other than a thin apology. Sorry. That book sucked monkey balls. Well the resolution did.

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Then we come to Flashback by Amanda Carpenter (1984). Mills & Boon published in London by an American author. I had this book by me because I’d loved her Cry Wolf story about an artist. It was so emotionally intense that I wanted to read another one to see if that was similar or Cry Wolf had been a one off. Luckily I scored one in the Grace Collection. Funny thing was I reading either a book or an academic article that said Flashback was an amazing anti-war book. So that was it. I dived in. I was also trialing my new data gathering tool that I can hand write while reading for later input into a spreadsheet or database.

This book was amazing. It blew my mind. It is not your average Mills & Boon and even using Pamela Regis’s barriers to analyse it, I found it hard to pin down. It seemed to break all the usual tropes over the head with beer bottles.

I won’t spoil this one but I will note a few features. It has a foreword by the author. This is an unusual feature for the time. It expressed sentiment about the loss of life in war. So clearly the author’s intention was to have an anti-war message.

My premise in reading category romances is that they try to depict reality. Doreen Watt set me straight on this. Before Harlequin Mills & Boon brought in all the lines, the Mills & Boon were one line. I’ve found some stories that would be more intrigue than straight romance. There was one where the protagonists remembered their past lives.(Charlotte Lamb’s Dying for You). Well Flashback features a telepath. Yes, you saw correctly. A bloody telepath. This is probably why it was really hard to identify any barriers to the hero and heroine getting together. They were linked telepathically and it was an intense and emotional story. Amanda Carpenter writes very well and I’m glad to see that after having a break she came back to writing as Thea Harrison and she writes paranormal romance. I have to check her out. She’s snared me!

So this story doesn’t feature another woman to make the heroine jealous. She lives with her mother and is very close to her. So she’s not an orphan caught in the hero’s web of sex and intrigue. She lives almost as a recluse. The telepathy drives the story. There is no sex scenes. It’s so damn intense it doesn’t need them. I think I need to measure my blood pressure after reading it. And what happens to the heroine in the end. Jesus. Mary. And Joseph!

Anyway, read Flashback.

Thea Harrison released her titles again with Samhain. Here is a link to the book. Here.

Also check out Thea Harrison. Here.

Ranty McHanson

That’s me!

It’s a forewarning that I’m going on a rant.

What caused me to rant? Ah life. In all its intricacies and heartache.

I presented my Introductory Seminar nearly two weeks ago now. I sat in on the other presentations. One of the earlier presenters was talking about representations of domestic violence in the media (in Australia) since Rose Batty became Australian of the year. The presenter was saying she wasn’t sure she was going to keep the title ‘domestic violence’ because it’s difficult.

This certainly had me thinking. I object to the term domestic violence for a number of reasons. For me in evokes the Victorian sensibility of the man in his castle and women and children as property. It brings back the times when my mother was bashed and the cops did nothing. The sixties was like that. It’s like it if is labeled domestic violence it somehow has a veil over it and it’s no one else’s business. It’s domestic. It’s behind closed doors. It’s not ‘real’ violence. The media treat it like that and that angers me.

But it is violence.

If women and children for that matter are human beings with equal rights, then any violence done to them is violence and should be treated the same as other types.

If my partner came home and shot, strangled or bashed me dead. It would be termed domestic violence. If I did the same to him, I reckon the media head line would be ‘murder’. (Not that I’m going to do that to you darling, Dweeb.)

The other thing that irks me about the term is that it has a sense of shame associated with it. The victim is shamed. Not the perpetrator. Thankfully this is changing, but not enough, not by a large margin and not fast enough. I feel shame twice over. I was a victim of child abuse and domestic violence. Why is it my fault? Why do I have this shame? Oh because I chose that fellow and therefore I got my just desserts. Or I was from one of those families. White trash. Just stay away from me, you might contaminate the rest of us. Why for godsake do I feel shame for something that was done to me? Because I was brought up in a world where you don’t talk about that, you pretend it doesn’t happen, or if you do you, look the other way and, by the way, if you interfere, you are going to look like a jerk.

Stuff that in your jumper, patriarchy!

So what do we call this. The presenter suggested intimate partner violence, but then that doesn’t capture the violence against children, which can coincide with violence against the mother. I was thinking patriarchal violence myself, but that’s a bloody big umbrella. Under patriarchal violence, you have war, abuse of: refugees, prisoners of war, women, racial minorities, gays, lesbians, trans, the poor, children… need I continue?

Patriarchal violence-sub category women?

The other aspect to the talk was the media representation of domestic violence. If media are the invisible arm of the patriarchy then they do a good job of whitewashing domestic violence. Man goes home, kills wife and kids. Media asks, what happened to this decent bloke? Poor man. Let’s all think about this poor man and what he went through to cause him to (destroy his property? )Not man turns violent; cuts the throat of his wife and kids. Or man keeps kids, then when wife is trying to get custody, he kills them rather than let her have them. Man throws children off bridge because no one else should have his kids. Man strangles child while having a visitation. Women denied protection by police and then is murdered in cold blood in her car on at the road. It is happening every day. It’s awful. Tell it like it is media. Stop whitewashing this bullshit. We shouldn’t have to have sites that reedit your whitewash to make it tell the truth.

Man is denied his property so he destroys it. No one else gets to play with his toys.

Anyway, it all boils down to how women and children are viewed, valued and validated. Here I think there is a long way to go to making them equal.

And my last bit of rant– the fight against domestic violence is seen as a feminist issue. Why the hell is that? Feminists have been fighting against domestic violence and providing avenues for women to escape it since the first wave of feminism, this is true.

Why is it just a feminist issue? Why isn’t everyone concerned? Why isn’t it a social issue that we are all working to eradicate?

Sadly this post is not as eloquent as I envisaged first up when my rant factor was running high. I will also acknowledge that women can also be perpetrators of domestic violence…but I consider them victims of patriarchal violence too.

I have violence in me. It was beaten into me. It’s a darkness that is sometimes hard to control. I’m not perfect. I see it is there and I try to rein it in.

It is still very early days in my hybrid/self-publishing venture for the Silverlands series. Book one is out and my main focus is on gaining reviews for the book. Why is this important? Bookbub. When I have all three books out I want to submit to Bookbub. You need reviews for that. Good reviews. So far so good. I don’t have a lot of reviews but what I have I’m very pleased with. There is a lot of retweeting of a review prefaced with How Not To Write Distopian YA. I thought that rather amusing. I wasn’t writing dystopian YA, but epic fantasy with a YA feel. Yet it might have some dystopian elements, of course. My main sin is a cliffhanger ending. Apparently cliffhangers are to cause people to buy the rest of the series. Hell everyone wants their readers to buy the next book. Mine wasn’t for that purpose. I started Argenterra when I was a newbie. I’ve thought long and hard how to move the ending…before the cliffhanger….after the cliffhanger…and nothing seemed to work. To top it all off, book two has a cliffhanger too. I guess I have to own that I’m evil.

My woes! Would you believe I have had the most difficult time with book 2? Firstly, I have to revise it a little and polish it before it gets edited. That’s sort of sitting there while I finish book three. Book three is totally rocking btw. However, I need to finish the draft before I go back to book two so I can align some things. Issues with agency, pulling back in some places so I can redeem a character in book three. The usual stuff.

The cover and the name of book two has been a real issue. I believe this problem crops up for authors in traditional publishing. I know I had to face it with Dragon Wine. Changing the name of the book (s). For example, in my original thinking there were three books in the Moon Fall Trilogy, Dragon Wine, Dragon Wing and Dragon Wane. Then Momentum took Dragon Wine. The editor wanted to split the book, call the series Dragon wine and I had to come up with two names for the first two parts. That was hard work and eventually I came up with Shatterwing and Skywatcher. It’s going to be a real bugger with Dragon Wing when I get around to publishing that. If I publish it in two parts what the hell and I going to call them. Barrahiem and Deathwings??? Your guess is as good as mine.

So back to the Silverlands…Book Two was called The Crystal Gate. Getting the cover together for this was proving to be hard. We tried a couple of combos but they weren’t working, particularly as I wanted the series’ covers to have some consistent feel across them. I’ve been stressed. I’ve been anxious. I’ve had sleepless nights. Then I realized I had to change the name of book two and think up a new concept for the cover. I tossed and turned and then it came to be: Book Two should be called Oathbound. That way I could have Sophy on the cover and used symbolism to denote the chaos of the oaths have brought round in the story, not just for Sophy but for others.

Yet I was so stressed because I was mucking the artist around. I like to be very straight, say what I want so all this indecision was like killing me. I know it’s a bit silly, but the responsibility for this is all mine. The cover, the content, the marketing…and I want it to be good, not crap…not just another ebook flung into the ether…I’m proud of this production. So there’s the woe. It is really tough.

I consulted with the lovely Aiki, who had beta read book two. She totally agreed with Oathbound being the best name for the book. I think I gave her a sleepless night. She’s arty, you know, not like me. She came up with the idea of binding or chains. You can find out about Aiki here. She’s multi talented and an author of an amazing SF YA story that’s coming out soon. Also she has been so supportive. High five, Aiki.

So anyway, I bit the bullet and emailed the lovely Les Petersen. I sent him my horrible sketch, some photos of my model with different expressions and he sent me this like within an hour or so.

Oathbound

I think this is amazing. I love it so much. It was just what I was picturing. Thank you Les for not sending the hit men after me.

Now I’m going to show you book one and two together. Les added the subtitle to book one (somehow I forgot that originally). Anyway, let me know what you think.

 

I should add that the cover for Book three is going well. Book three is called, Ungiven Land. I believe Sophy has a sword!

So if you are interested in checking out Argenterra. Here are the buy links. It’s available in ebook from your favourite ebook retailer.

Print copy from Book Depository here

Amazon.com Here

Amazon.com.au Here

Kobo Here

ibooks Here

Print (Amazon.com) Here.

Time to go back to work on the PhD. It’s creative project work today.

 

 

 

I had other posts planned, but then I saw the movie, Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, written and directed by  Burr Steers. I missed this at the cinema when it was out and was annoyed at that, but didn’t think too much of it. Just added it to my secret desires of DVD purchases’ list.

Matthew read Pride, Prejudice and Zombies (by Seth Grahame-Smith) to me. We read about half way and thought it was kind of cute. My recollection is that the zombie stuff was written around the Austen texts, inserted here and  there. We sort of lost interest. Probably because when Matthew reads to me I fall asleep. Just the other night I was snoring quite embarrassingly by the time he got to the second page of the short piece he wanted to share with me. It’s not his voice. I think it’s being horizontal or just plain tired.

Anyway, what a revelation the movie is! Steers did an amazing job. There may be spoilers here so look away. I’ll try to mark or avoid spoilers but it is P&P essentially so hard to spoil.

First up, I loved the whole recasting of the Regency period and the faux history of the plague and the little nods to mad King George and the Royal canal and the bridges to the In-Between. It was a delightful reimagining that didn’t quite come across in the novel.

The fact that rich, upper class women go to Japan to train and the poorer middle class train in China. Brilliant master stroke.

Possible spoilers!

The scene where the five Bennet sisters strut their stuff at the ball was sexy, surreal and utterly awesome! I know this because Matthew liked it too!

The idea that a woman can be refined or a fighter but not both. Totally fab.

The zombies were awesome and the whole Wickham plot a piece of genius.

Colonel Darcy comes across as severe and immutable. For different reasons or at least added reasons than in the original in Austen’s story. He fights zombies for England! I quite warmed to Sam Riley in this role. Was the doctor perving on him in the opening. I caught a naughty aside there.

The proposal scene. OMG! That was sheer brilliance. I laughed the second time I watched it. There are no repressed feelings here. I loved Lily James in this role. I love how Steers combined action and dialogue and even dropped in some from other Austen novels.

The confrontation with Lady Catherine, sheer brilliance. I loved Lady Catherine, just the right amount of tongue in cheek and humour. Matt Smith as Mr (Parson) Collins was fun. At first I didn’t recognize him and then the penny dropped.

Douglass Booth as Bingley was a divine choice. (He was Titus in Jupiter Ascending) His beauty was all the more in a Regency setting. Also I must say Bella Heathcote, Australian actress, made a lovely Jane.

I also should add that this re-visitation of P&P certainly excited the feminist in me. Jane’s rescue, Lizzy’s uncompromising stance to …well…everything.

If you haven’t seen it and you like zombies (I don’t much myself but in this instance (nods)) and P&P then this movie is for you.