Monthly Archives: December 2010

Words have power


Many cultures believe words have power. The bards sang stories. They made sure things were remembered and took these stories from one place to another. They could also lampoon someone and make them suffer.

Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me …

Not true if everyone is laughing at you because of an easy to remember catchy rhyme that is passing through the village like wild fire!

When I set out to write King Rolen’s Kin I wanted a traditional fantasy story, but some of the words we use have been used so many times they lose their power. So I avoided prince or princess and used kingson and kingsdaughter. Both of these are based on the way people were described (and what is a name but a description?) in the Norse sagas. Unlike our society, in the Norse sagas a man might also be described by his mother’s ancestors as well, and I use this in KRK.

The other word I wanted to avoid was magic. It has been used so much it has lost its original awe inspiring power. It used to be out there, all around us, tied to the earth and to specific places where someone with the right ability could tap into it. So I came up with affinity. In KRK power seeps up from the earth’s heart. It affects animals and people. Some people are born with the ability to manipulate this power, they have an ‘affinity’ for it. So the term becomes, they have affinity. This way magic becomes something ‘other’ and powerful again.

What I look for in fantasy and science fiction is that the thrill of wonder. It can be associated with the future and the possibilities of where we will go as human beings, or it can be associated with the past and the powerful things our ancestors held to be important. There was a time when your word was your bond. You could not break an oath, or you would be known as an oath-breaker and no one would trust you.

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Filed under creativity, Fantasy books, Resonance, Writing craft

David Gemmell Award Poll Opens

David Gemmel said:

‘There is no gratuitous violence in my books, I tend to concentrate on courage, loyalty, love and redemption. I believe in these things. If there’s anything I’d like my books to achieve, it would be to increase the desire of people to do good.’

The David Gemmell Award Poll has now opened and will stay open until the 11th of March. (See here for the post) According to the team behind the David Gemmel award, their aim is:

• Raise public awareness of the Fantasy genre

• Celebrate the history and cultural importance of Fantasy literature

• Appreciate & reward excellence in the field

• Commemorate the legacy of David Andrew Gemmell and his contribution to the Fantasy genre

All this leads up to the fact that The King’s Bastard is nominated for the DGLA this year. If you enjoyed it please drop by and vote for it. Here’s the link.

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Filed under Awards, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff

Angry Robot has opened to submissions from author without agents. Here’s the link.

And this is what they are looking for:

We’re publishing novels, either standalone or as part of greater series. We’re not looking to publish your novellas, short stories or non-fiction at this time.

All our books are “genre” fiction in one way or another — specifically fantasy, science fiction, horror, and that new catch-all urban or modern fantasy. Those are quite wide-ranging in themselves; we’re looking for all types of sub-genre, so for example, hard SF, space opera, cyberpunk, military SF, alternate future history, future crime, time travel, and more. We have no problem if your book mashes together two or more of these genres; in fact, we practically insist upon it.

Our books will be published in all English-language territories — notably the UK, US and Australia — so we’ll be buying rights to cover all those. If you are only offering rights in one territory, we will not be able to deal with you. We will be able to offer e-book and audio versions as standard too, plus limited edition and multiple physical formats where appropriate. We are not contracting any work-for-hire titles; we offer advances and royalties.

Beyond all of this, what we’re really looking for in your writing is this:
• A “voice”, that comes from…
• Confident writing
• Pacy writing
• Characters that live, have real relationships and emotions, even in extreme situations
• A sense of vision, a rounded universe that lives and breathes
• Clever construction, good plotting, a couple of surprises even for us jaded old read-it-alls
• Heightened experience – an intensity, extremity or just a way of treating plot or situation in a way we’ve not come across before. “Goes up to 11″, if you know what that means.

Do all those, and it will be almost irrelevant that your story is one or other sub-set of SF, fantasy or horror!

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Filed under Nourish the Writer, Pitching your book, Publishing Industry

Obsessed by words

Here is an amazing site where you can enter words and find out how often they have been used in the last 300 years. I entered the word ‘awesome’ and found the world has been getting ever more awesome recently.

It is truly sad that I’ve spent the last half an hour typing in words to see when they came into use and how often they were used!

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Filed under The World in all its Absurdity

Books by friends

My friend AA Bell has just released her latest book, something she’s been working on for 10 years. (I know that feeling). Here’s her blog post about it. Her book is called Diamond Eyes.

And here is her ROR blog post about crossing genres. Go AA!

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Filed under Australian Writers, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Nourish the Writer, Promoting Friend's Books, Publishing Industry, SF Books, Writing craft

A ramble on Art Deco and Resonance

It’s interesting what inspires writers. For Christmas last year my husband bought me this book on Art Deco houses. Did you know that there is a whole town in NZ filled with Art Deco houses? The town was flattened by an earth and rebuilt in this style. I do love the Art Deco. You don’t seem much of it where I live in Brisbane, Australia. There are more buildings in Melbourne. Lots of blocks of flats.And you can get modern homes built in the Art Deco style.

I’m torn between Art Deco and Art Nouveau. Anyone else love these two styles?

My friend Tansy’s new series, Creature Court, has a strong Art Deco flavour because much of the clothing is reminiscent of the twenties. We joked when we read the manuscript at a ROR that she should start a line of Creature Court clothes!


It’s funny what inspires us as writers. Tansy did her PHD on Rome and spent time there researching. Her book is an eclectic mix of Rome and the 1920s.

I have a novella set in the near future where the fashion is retro Art Deco. The settings and the clothes are beautiful as I visualise them, but I don’t think the average reader would get all the references unless they googled the things  I mentioned. This is where a movie art director can create resonance for the film with sets and clothing. Think of the look of Blade Runner!

Much harder for us writers.  We can mention music, but we can’t play it unless the reader has already heard it. We can mention a certain type of building or clothing, but again, the reader must know what we’re talking about. Yet, we still set out to create resonance in what we write by layering images, scents and music into the narrative. Because ultimately, its the story that’s important. Everything else is window dressing.

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Filed under creativity, Inspiring Art, Movies & TV Shows, Nourish the Writer, Resonance, The World in all its Absurdity, Writing craft

Cats Rule …

This is what happens in our house when we run out of bread. Sassy cat takes up residence in the bread box!

(Please ignore the messy kitchen bench. One day I may live in a glamorous Home Beautiful house, but right now I’m lucky if there’s milk in the fridge).

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Filed under Fun Stuff, The World in all its Absurdity