Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: Randomosity

Here is a list of Randomosity:

  1. You can tell how hot a star is based on its colour. The hotter a star is, the bluer it appears. Thus, the red ones are cooler.
  2. Once Feminism reaches its true beneficent goals, it will cease to exist. Feminism is okay with this.
  3. Most flat buttons are either two holes, or four holes. The even numbered holes are easier to sew on by machine. Four-holed buttons provide a stronger connection. However, three hole buttons do exist, even though they tend to be rarer. For some reason, certain snobs think that three hole buttons  means that the buttons must be sewn on by hand. (Like that is any guarantee of quality!)
  4. Popular and wildly successful children's band The Wiggles is descended from an Aussie pub rock band called The Cockroaches.
  5. Everybody's name has a meaning. Mine means "Noble Champion". What does yours mean?
  6. Clinical depression may be a medical condition requiring medication, but the random Blues can be solved by indulging in something uplifting and funny. Don't wallow in the Blues. The Blues, if left untreated, can turn into clinical depression and really, that's not fun.
  7. Read a random article in Wikipedia. Report here what it was.

Her Grace would love to hear a random fact from you. That's what comments are for.

Monday, 20 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: I advise you to Quit.

Very interesting article written by Moira Allen about the fine art of Quitting (or not). Go read it. I'll wait.

Every writer is faced at one time or another with the question of whether or not they should quit.

Sometimes one simply runs out of mojo. I'm okay with giving a writer permission to quit. 

When someone says to you, "I just want to quit writing (or whatever)," they're looking for one of two responses: "No, keep going!" or "It's okay to quit." They pose this because they are unsure and are looking for external validation one way or the other.

Now, whenever I'm presented with that question, I always advise them to quit. This is not because I really want them to quit writing, but because I want them to realise what they truly want to do.

It's all in how they respond to my answer.

If their "You think I should quit?" is accompanied with a worried expression, they're not ready to let go of their writing. If they have doubts about quitting, maybe they should keep writing until they are more sure they want to quit.

But if their response comes with a sigh of relief, even if their words say otherwise, then let them quit, and let them find joy therein.

Advising quitting is a far more honest response, which will serve them best in the long run. True can't-not-write writers will always find a way to write, even when they go in hiatus for a while through the valley of the shadow of death. (We writers often take breaks. It's necessary.)  If writing is not their One True Passion, then quitting will not destroy them. They will go on to find another way to satisfy their souls.

Compare that to the misguided, if optimistic advice, "No, don't quit! Keep writing!"

Sure, we all want to hear something positive and uplifting, especially when we're down. But sometimes, when we're down, we're tired. We need a break.

But for someone who doesn't realise that it's okay for a writer, even a professional career writer, to take a break, telling them to keep writing might be the last thing they need.

And what if this person, deep down, doesn't want to be a professional career writer? What if, in their innermost soul, they do want to quit?

To tell someone like this to keep going, when really they don't want to, is a bad idea. It puts social pressure on them to persist in something that they really don't want to do, ultimately.

If someone had truly made up their minds to quit writing, they'd not bother with saying, "I want to quit."  They'd simply quit, with little or no fanfare. Writing is no longer an important part of their life. Let their past fade.


If a person is destined to be a writer, at whatever level, let them quit. 

It'll only be temporary and may be just the thing they need.

Her Grace wrote this as a response on a mailing list last month. She liked it so much, she had to share it here.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: P is for Putter

Yep. P is for Putter.

As much as I would like to avoid it, some days I must putter.

Of all the things I wanted to get done today, I haven't touched a speck. Instead, I've puttered about.

At least I did not get bitten by that really big Redback Spider. Normally I'm okay with spiders, but not this one. Not today.

And I must confess it was a good thing I drive like a little old lady, or that Not-Quite-Paying-Attention-Young-Driver might have nailed me instead of the kerb. (I wonder what sort of damage she's done to her tyre?)

I'm sorry, Mr Ficus. You and I have had a good relationship for the past decade or so, but when you go sneaking taproots into the pavement behind my back, I will cut you off. Please don't hold it against me too long.

Last night was a really, really good night. I attended the opening of the Rockingham Writer's Centre. I caught up with some fellow writers and met some new ones. I talked with lots and lots of people who told me about the good things in their lives, and the writing they were doing. I'm so, so glad I went.

I might have used up all my mojo last night. I don't regret that.

But today I must putter. Today I'll just have to accept that.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Her Grace really should be working on Gamma Ray Bursts.

Friday, 17 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: Interview - Corinne O'Flynn

Today I welcome fellow A to Z challenger and and Fantasy author Corinne O'Flynn to our Friday Interviews.  As part of the A to Z Blog Challenge, I encourage you to visit her on corinneoflynn.com  and say hello.

Her official bio says:
Corinne O'Flynn is a native New Yorker who now lives in Colorado and wouldn't trade life in the Rockies for anything. She loves writing flash and experimenting with short fiction. Her novel, THE EXPATRIATES (Oct. 2014) is a YA fantasy adventure with magic and creatures and lots of creepy stuff. HALF MOON GIRLS (April 2015) is a murder mystery/police procedural set on Kauai and was written as part of the launch of Toby Neal's Lei Crime Kindle World. She is a scone aficionado, has an entire section of her kitchen devoted to tea, and is always on the lookout for the elusive Peanut Chews candy.
When she isn’t writing, Corinne works as the executive director of a nonprofit. She is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. You can find her online at her websiteFacebook, or Twitter @CorinneOFlynn.

I had some fun chatting with Corinne about several nifty things:

CO'F: Thanks for having me on your blog. I've just released a new novella and I'm hosting a contest for anyone who reads and reviews on Amazon, they can enter to win $25 amazon gift cards or ebook copies of my YA novel. Contest details here: http://www.corinneoflynn.com/a-giveaway-to-celebrate-a-new-release/

Cool! We love contests. Y'all have one more week to enter. 

Corinne writes YA Fantasy. Her first book The Expatriates: Song of the Sending is out now. I quite enjoyed it.

HWK: In "The Expatriates: Song of the Sending", James has lived most of his life on Earth. His mother kept the reason for that a secret from him. Having read the book, I understand the wisdom of her decision. That's a hard choice to make. What was going through her head or her heart when she initially made that choice?

CO'F: When his family made the choice to hide Jim, it wasn't a unanimous decision. Without revealing spoilers, I will say that Jim's mom wasn't interested in the greater good or anything political as it would relate to doing this. In fact, she abhorred all of those things. Her choice was driven by the "mama bear" instinct to protect her child and give him the best shot at a decent life, everyone else be damned! If you read the story, you'll know that ends up.

HWK: The Sweetwater clan hid on earth in plain sight as a travelling circus. Was this part of their camouflage, or did the clan have a deeper connection to the performance arts?  Do you have any circus connections?

CO'F: Oh, how I wish I had circus connections, in the fantastical non-animal abuse, nostalgic way! Didn't we all want to run away and join the circus at some point in our childhoods? No, when I think of the circus, it's a romantic, magical place. In The Expatriates, the Sweetwater clan lives in a traveling carnival as a way to stay on Earth without arousing the suspicion of the locals. They aren't the first ones from Bellenor on Earth, and previous clans have been doing this for ages. Since many of them have special abilities, a nomadic life was the best protection. There are carnival clans that live on Bellenor, the world where they are from. It's a part of the culture for these people and, at this point, is a planned feature in future books.  

HWK: What do you love most about publishing in the 21st Century? 

CO'F: Aside from the fact that the barrier to publication no longer exists for anyone willing to do the work, I think the coolest thing about publishing today is the ability to try new things. For example, I was invited to write a novella to help launch Toby Neal's new Lei Crime Kindle World. Half Moon Girls launched last week! The whole concept of Kindle Worlds and the ability to license fan fiction in this way is possible in many ways because of how publishing has changed. I love that the short-story is making a comeback, and anthologies. Indie publishing has made a huge impact there as well. I am fan of publishing in all is flavors. But the changes are empowering, for sure.

HWK: What one writing tool do you wish you had?

CO'F: I wish I had a gigantic visual, wall-sized touchscreen for plotting and outlining. A dynamic flowing beauty like we see in sci-fi and futuristic movies. That would be the one writing tool I'd love to have. Like, right now, please. 

HWK: Your neighbors stage a protest march on your street. What are they protesting and would you join them?

CO'F: Hmmm. There are so many causes igniting passions these days. I could list a dozen. Instead I'll share one that I was talking about just yesterday. Something that's going on around here in Colorado that is troubling many people is the mass-murder of prairie dogs to make way for new development. While many see the prairie dog as vermin, the fact is prairie dogs are what is known as a keystone species--their existence contributes to local wildlife diversity and should they become extinct, that would result in the extinction of species dependent upon it for survival. I love their cousin... the squirrel. I *love* them. I have a pinterest board dedicated solely to the delightful squirrel. And based on that alone, I would absolutely join that march!  

HWK: Preach it! If you could convince the world of one thing--anything--what would it be?

CO'F: Oh man... that's a huge question! If I have to pick one thing, I'd like to empower people: It is possible for one person to make a difference in the world. And if you're passionate about something, do it! Don't listen to the people who would hold you back. No matter who they are!

HWK: Thanks for spending some time with us on Romance Spinners.


The Expatriates:

Amazon.comBarnes & NobleiTunesSmashwordsGoodreadsKobo

Half Moon Girls: Kindle Worlds Novella
A kidnapping and murder mystery/police procedural set in Toby Neal's Lei Crime Series


Links to info re: Toby's Kindle World - other writers can write in it if they want!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: My Novel: My New Novel!

Last week when I wasn't excepting it I was struck with the idea for a new novel.

Now, I've been mulling for a few months over what my next project should be. I have very specific plans for this novel. Originally, I was considering a Turn-of-the-Century steampunkish Romance novel involving an enchanted pocketwatch, but it just didn't hook me. Or rather, the characters weren't hooking me.

Oh well. Toss that idea aside. Maybe it'll develop itself later. Still am in need of a novel.

I'd been reading other A to Z Challenge blogs, and one of them spoke about how we needed to bare ourselves on our page. Only then can our novels come alive.

Normally I'm a bit nervous about baring myself on a page because I fear that someone will use my weaknesses against me.

Then I thought, my fear is the Real Me. How honest would it be to explore that on the page?

What if Our Heroine had the same fear and It Came True? The fear of someone deliberately using your weakness against you is a very real fear. I know this because it has happened to me. It's terrifying.

Thus, Our Heroine was born. I realise that she'd been lurking in me for decades. I'd even attempted to draft her into an earlier novel. I trunked that novel because it Hadn't Worked. Now I see why, because I was too busy bolstering up my heroine with hubris so she didn't get hurt. Not an attractive character trait.

I speak from experience; that does not work in real life. Yet that's exactly what too many people do.

(Now that I think about it, elements of her also appeared in my very first novel, when I originally attempted to put my personal experiences down on paper.)

Once I made the decision not to be afraid of Our Heroine's vulnerability, that's when she was truly freed.

Unlike most of my other newly-drafted characters, she even came with a name: Victoria Arden. Now, I'm terrible with names. I've completed final drafts of novels with characters sporting placeholders such as "His Badness" and "Lord MMMM", preferably with terms that are easy enough for search'n'replace without compromising any other text.

Our Story so far:

Miss Victoria Arden is no stranger to loss. She lost both of her brothers during military campaigns against Napoleon. When her father died, she and her genteel mother discovered that he was not as well-off as they thought. There simply wasn't enough money to keep poverty from their door for long.  The only solution: Victoria must marry.

When a cousin offers to host Victoria in London for a Season, naturally she jumps at the chance. He even provided a chaperone in the form of another poor relation.

Alas, the chaperone proves herself inadequate to the task. At a society do, Victoria is lured away by a less-than-savoury character with intentions of compromising her. Thanks to being raised by two brothers, Victoria is capable of surprising her attacker and escaping with her skirts down.

However, she never counted on her attacker's final weapon--gossip. To punish her for getting the best of him, he spreads the rumour that she was compromised. Based on this lie alone, Victoria finds her reputation completely and utterly ruined. The invitations stop coming. In public she receives the cut direct. Society quietly puts Victoria Arden away.

There go her chances of an honourable marriage.

One day when she's moping away, an invitation arrives for an "intimate supper", hosted by the Duke of Whatever. In her experience, "intimate suppers" often feature only a hundred guests or so. Plus, it's hosted by the Duke of Whatever, and he's considered good ton. Naturally, she accepts the invitation.

However, when she and her chaperone (who desires an atonement for her earlier lack of duty) arrive at the Duke's town residence, she discovers it's truly an intimate supper--only Victoria and the Duke.

There, he offers what many a fallen woman would consider a lifeline--carte blanche. A truly compromised young lady might consider such an offer.

But Victoria is furious. She lashes out at him for the insult. It's her lashing out at the unfair stricture that demands a young lady must remain virtuous or she is ruined forever, that a lie was stronger than the truth, and that Society is so shallow that they would seize any opportunity to squish a little ladybird like her purely for entertainment. But deep down, she lashes out at him because he would never have considered her wifely material; she's only good to tumble for a season, then abandoned at whim when he grew bored with her.

Nobody else might believe her, but Victoria is convinced she has some sort of value. If only someone else would recognise it.

So that's the premise. It's like this story is writing itself. I love it when they do that.

However, I need your help.

1. I'm terrible at names. Victoria's name came to me the same day the plot did. Also, the Duke's first name is John:
          "I insist you call me by my Christian name." Amusement tweaked at the corners of his lips.
          Victoria frowned at him. "I will not call you 'John' in front of others. It wouldn't be proper." It'd be too intimate. If she were to embrace such familiarity openly, then the ton would naturally assume she'd accepted his offer. "I won't do it."
          "And I will refuse to answer to any other name. My mother gave it to me. It means 'beloved'."
          Her temper flared. "I most certainly will not call you that in public!"
That's the sort of fun I'm looking for.

I welcome suggestions for names for the following characters:

  • John needs a last (family) name and the Duke of ______________.  I was considering claiming an existing title that was currently not in use at the time of the novel. I am open to something made up.
  • Victoria's Cousin. His father was Mrs Arden's brother. He's minorly-titled nobility, late 20's, unmarried, and extremely fond of Victoria in a protective brother sort of way. Isn't above supporting her in some harebrained scheme, but only if it makes sense. Will often act as a voice of reason.
  • The Chaperone. A poor relation. On the far side of middle-age, slightly foolish in many things. Easily distracted. Untitled gentlewoman.
  • The Compromiser. Serial ruiner of poor young debutantes for sport. Victoria spurned his advances and he's the one who spread the initial rumour. Son of gentry, maybe minor nobility, with an overblown sense of entitlement.
  • Society Matron. Moves in the highest circles and insists on proprietry. She's the sort of lady of which the Patronesses of Almack's approve.

2. The Duel. Compromiser is called out in a duel over Victoria's honour. He is shot. Should it be:

  • a minor wound--his pride is dented more than his skin.
  • a major wound that will affect him for the rest of his life.
  • his death. (slow or quick?)

3. Subplotty fun. Cousin needs a subplot. Could be romance, but it doesn't have to be. He needs something to centre his life on other than meddling in the affairs of Victoria.

I'm open to your ideas and suggestions in the comments. If I am influenced by a comment of yours, I'll put your name in the acknowledgements.

Her Grace acknowledges that writing is a lonely profession. However, novels are rarely spawned in a vacuum.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: M3 - Mr Money Mustache

Today is one of several M posts because there are many M things I'd like to talk about, and I couldn't choose just one.

I can't get enough of Financial Independence advocate Mr Money Mustache. His mantra is "Financial Freedom Through Badassity."

Darn tootin'! My cousin put me onto him, and I haven't looked back. I proudly declare myself a Mustachian. Please go read him. He will change your life.

If you have anything to do with money (and what human doesn't)? You really need to read him.

Essentially, his message is that we are cleverer than we realise, and through a simple plan of simplification (some would call it "frugality", but I don't know if that's the best term for it), you spend less than what comes in, save'n'invest your surplus so that in the end, instead of you working for your money, your money works for you. Also, with your attitude adjustment, you will find the happiness you were trying to buy with money.

He's not some accountant or financial guru. He's just some Canadian living in Colorado who once had a regular job AND RETIRED AT AGE 30.

After reading his blog, (I went hard core from the beginning) I see this as entirely doable. I've already put some of his ideas into place and I'm doing so much better for it.

His platform is thus:

  1. We spend too much money on things we shouldn't. "Your current middle-class life is an Exploding Volcano of Wastefulness," says MMM.
  2. We're far too consumerist as a society. And the worst thing is, many of us think that that is how it's supposed to be. 
  3. You don't have to "deny" yourself everything. Just be wiser in how you spend your money. Depriviation is NOT his message. (Frex: do you really need a double-soy latte from Starbucks every single day, when you could make your own at home for less than half the price?)
  4. Investments are simple and any Joe can do it. (He loves Vanguard.)
  5. Don't be a complainypants. That doesn't solve your problem. Proactivity is your friend.
  6. DIY's not that hard. Not only does it save you money, but increases your useful skill set and your self-esteem.
  7. Debt sucks your life as well as your money. How many of us are in a Debt Emergency? If you have debt, it's an emergency.
  8. Know what has true value in your life, and what adds true value. MMM lives a rather luxurious lifestyle by cutting out the junk and embracing what's truly valuable. This guy eats organic every day! His exercise plan keeps him in top shape without costing him a cent. He lives in the kind of efficient and comfortable house most people dream of. And it's all paid off.
It's hard to describe just how successful this bloke is in my solitary blogpost. All I can do is say, go read him. His no-nonsense attitude may be a little strong for those of nervous disposition or who are afraid to look their finances straight in the eye, but he's just the kind of kick in the pants many people need. His attitude towards money is one I think more people need to adopt.

Go Read Him Now!

Her Grace is already on her way to her own Financial Independence, even with her small salary.

A to Z Challenge: M2 - Marketing

Today is one of several M posts because there are many M things I'd like to talk about, and I couldn't choose just one.

One of the necessary evils of being a professional author is the Marketing. Writing the book is the easy part. Getting enough people to know about it enough for them to want to buy it is another.

I thought about writing about how difficult I find marketing, or about various techniques I've employed, or a Top Ten of marketing blogs, how Word-of-Mouth is the best marketing technique around or even just a Link Soup to other people's marketing opinions, but I thought, no. I might as well use this blog entry to share what it is I'm trying to market. that would be the most effective use of a blog entitled "Marketing".

Go buy my books.  Isn't that what marketing is all about?  It helps that I've written some pretty good stories (my editor and publisher agree. So do other readers). If you enjoy Romance and escapist fiction, check them out. Even if you don't buy my books, feel free to Tell Someone About Them.

About the Author

I'm a novelist. I write books, full-length and novellas. I've written a good double-handful of them. Now I'm in the process of polishing the better ones for publication.

I love Escapist fiction. Reality gets me down more often than not, and a good book rescues me from the Black Doghouse. Because of this, I prefer Romance (escapist fiction with a happy ending), Science Fiction and Fantasy.

My novels reflect that.

I have two novellas out currently, with a third due for release in February. Before then, I am working on an indie novella I hope to have released before the end of the year.

Would you like to ask me any questions?

Her Grace's Current Releases

As Good As Gold

Daywen Athalia wants love--true and lasting. Fearing a future of bitter loneliness, she seeks help from a gypsy woman. The price: a hundred pieces of gold. Daywen's never had two shillings to rub together in her life. Where's she going to find a  hundred gold pieces? 

Bel MacEuros made a career of theft from fey creatures. When the cursed gold he rightfully stole from a gnome is taken from him by Daywen, the consequences could bless or break his life. 

It is not the gnome's curse or a gypsy's blessing but another magic, far deeper and more powerful, that will change their lives forever.

This was first published in a collection called The Enchanted Faerie. Later, our publishers The Wild Rose Press decided to release it as a standalone novella.

What I love about this is how Our Heroine Daywen does whatever it takes to find true love, even solicit magic. However, it's not so much the magic that does the work as Daywen herself. The little enchanted faerie she buys from a gypsy woman merely lets her know she's on the right track. Everything else that leads her to discover her love is purely of her own motivation. I like heroines that go after what they want.

Buy Links:
TWRP : Barnes&Noble : Kobo : Google Play :  AllRomance : Amazon

For Richer, For Poorer

The Deveraux line is famous...for a family curse. The rich must marry the poor or lose their prosperity. Peter Baring is the last of the Deveraux and sinking slowly into poverty. But will marriage to his icy business partner save him?

Beatrice Nottham dreams of leaving Earth for a fresh start. But only married couples are allowed to move off-world. Marrying a man she’s unsure she loves will solve that problem...but at what cost?

When Beatrice visits England to research her branch of the Deveraux family tree, she meets Peter and sparks fly. Both question everything they ever believed would fulfill their dreams. If they dare to be together, will the Curse follow them beyond the stars? The answer to breaking its power could lie in the heart of a crumbling tapestry...if they have the courage to try.

When I originally wrote this tale, it was to be the last story in an anthology about the family curse. Every single other story was historical romance. Me, I thought I'd take mine in the other direction--namely the future. I think it might be the only Historical Romance novel set in the future.

Meanwhile, I'm plotting out my latest project tomorrow. Join me for "N" on the A to Z Challenge and have your say in what I write about next.

Her Grace shall always love books.