Monday, 31 March 2014

Read Me For Free!

What is the price of true love?  A hundred gold pieces.  What is the price of AS GOOD AS GOLD by yours truly, Heidi Kneale?  Free on Amazon for Kindle from 1 to 5 April.  It's promo time!

Go buy get for free on Amazon now.  Don't wait too long, or you'll miss your window of opportunity.

If you do pick up this sweet little fantasy romance, do me a favour and give an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

Her Grace hopes she can share this delightful little tale with you.

TBR Pile is Big!

I haven't posted my TBR pile for quite some time. I've been busy and haven't had much time to read. Shame, that, as I love me a good book.

So, in brief:

  • Thirteen Nights by Sabrina Gale - Actually, I just finished reading this one.  Loved it. Sexy paranormal romance.  I loved this because the sex scenes were Necessary to the Plot.  
  • Dark Surrender by Erica Ridley
  • Caroline by Cynthia Wright
  • Jewels of Historical Romance (anthology)
  • Silver Storm by Cynthia Wright
  • The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
  • The Rebelliousness of Trassi Udang; Icefire (standalone short story); Raven's Call; Whispering Willows; The Shattered World Within; Watcher's Web; Fire & Ice -  All by Patty Jansen.  I've known Patty from the Online Writing Workshop and got to hang out with her at WorldCon in 2010.  Had an opportunity to snag a handful of her books.  Glad I did.
  • The Winter of Magic; The Summer of Shambles; The Autumn Palace, by our Ebony McKenna.  Won them in a contest. Tickled pink, not for the win, but because I get to read more Ondine.  Spring should be coming out soon.
  • The Chimera Vector by Nathan M Farrugia
  • Standoff by David Rollins
  • Lethal Metal by Harry Ledowsky
  • Defender: Intrepid 1 by Chris Allen
  • Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck
  • Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
  • Dark City Blue -and- Out of Exile by Luke Preston
  • 8 Hours to Die by J R Carroll

And that's about it.  I don't know when I'll get around to updating Goodreads with all these.  I certainly won't get all this read in the next month or so.

Have you read any of these?  Anything you would recommend I read before the others?

Her Grace misses the heady days of her youth when she could devour a book a night, sometimes two.

Friday, 28 March 2014

My Second Novel: Legacy of Leporis

They say everyone has a novel in them.  Lots of people write that one novel and they're satisfied for the rest of their lives.  But for the true novelist, the first novel is merely the instigation in a lifelong addiction.

That's me.  I was fourteen when I wrote "Legacy of Leporis", a science fiction novel about the universe's greatest treasure--knowledge.

Four teens had studied The Great War at school, and how it nearly destroyed humanity. Now scattered across the galaxy, Humanity must rediscover all the knowledge it lost during The Great War.

Few people had heard of the myth of a library where the Leporine monks had squirreled away every scrap of human knowledge--as much as they could gather--before The Great War wiped it out.

If such a world existed, how could anyone ever find it?

Pretty much, this was a YA adventure quest where the kids hop about from planet to planet on some lame excuse of a holiday, and happen to run into another teen who just happens to know that the myth of Leporis is real.  Only no one believes her, etc, etc.  Eventually they find the library, to realise that it contained all the lost knowledge. Hurrah, Humanity is saved.  Sorry for the spoilers. I know you were dying to read this really lame tale.  

I completely failed this book in storytelling. I loved the concept of Humanity nearly wiping themselves and all their knowledge out and only a few intrepid lovers of information managed to rescue it all. Back in the mid-80's, this was a very cool idea.

Then someone introduced the Internet for mass consumption.  Today, this makes me realise several things:
  1. We've already got monks to squirrel away the whole of Humanity's knowledge. They're the guys who run Google and the Wayback Machine.  Not exactly hallowed sanctums.
  2. Teenage kids don't bounce from planet to planet.
  3. This novel will never, ever, see the light of day. No big loss.
Every novel teaches an author something.  This novel taught me that I should not let the opinions of others sway what I write.  Also, I can be good enough to run with the big dogs.

I love to talk about writing, mine, yours, someone else's. (Does it show?)  Back in the Day, when I shared my novel idea with someone, they said, "That sounds like [Asimov's] Foundation series.

I cannot tell you how devastated I was!  Someone else--a Master at that--had already written about this idea? If he has, then I'll never be able to get this novel published.  Went home and had a good cry.  I was a little aspiring author with no publishing credits to speak of.  Someone else had beaten me to a pretty good idea.

So I trunked the novel.  

Years later, I realise that novels are bought and sold not on the ideas, but the strength of writing.  I'd trunked the novel for the wrong reason.

Not to say it shouldn't be trunked; I'd written it very poorly. I'd have to completely revamp it should I ever wish to pitch for publication.  

I don't. 

I love the concept, and the Leporine monks, and Gamma Leporis IV, and the thought of preserving lost knowledge.  But I don't love this novel enough to want to bring it out of the darkness.

Kind of ironic, huh?

But I had proven to myself I could write a novel.  That alone has value.

I wish my next project did.

Her Grace had a penchant for Sci-Fi in her younger days. At this point, she's not sure if she wants to go back.  Only time will tell.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Cool Romance Sites

Fan of Romance?  I sure am. And so are lots of other people.

Want to know the latest releases, delve into historical info, or does your Bitch need Helping Out?  Then look no further:

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:  One of The Best, no-holds-barred romance book review sites. They cover the whole gamut, from Historical to Contemporary, Sweet to Bow-Chicka-Bow-Wow. And it's not just their honest-truth book reviews.  They've got all sorts of fun stuff, like the Help a Bitch Out. Read a romance book, but can't remember the title or the author?  Some smart bitch will.  Also, I L O V E! their Romance Novel Reader Workouts.  Grab your nearest 1980's Bodice Ripper and get pumping!

Risky Regencies Love historical with a bit of spice? You're in good company with the ladies of Risky Regencies. Sure you'll get the lowdown of the Books Your Mother Wouldn't Let You Read (But your Crazy Aunt would), but you get a little bit of everything from Regency fashion, culture and society, politics and more. It's a good place to immerse oneself, should one love Regency.

The Dashing Duchesses  Prefer a more genteel approach to your Romance?  You are cordially invited to the drawing room of the Dashing Duchesses. They cover All Things Historical Romance.  Learn to play whist, learn who visited a posting house, encounter a Scoundrel or a Pirate or two.  And the giveaways!  They're always giving away copies of the beautiful books. I won a deliciously dark romance novel just last week!

Jane Austen’s World  Is your Pride and Sense Prejudiced in their Sensibilities?  Come immerse yourself in the world Jane Austen knew.  (Okay, the blur the lines and step a bit outside of the Regency.  Fancy a Georgian cooking lesson?  Or do you want to weigh in on Downton Abbey?  Because if Jane were alive now, we know she'd be completely into Downton, if only to have An Opinion.)  Also a good research site, for those of us who wish to write Regency Romance.

Her Grace loves to visit the 19th Century, but she firmly prefers to live in the 21st.  The Internet and Modern Medicine have won her over.  Best thing: she can still wear Regency Day Dresses if she so chose.

Monday, 24 March 2014

What to read next when you loved what you just read?

When I worked at the library, we'd often get readers in who said something like, "Man, I absolutely LOVE Georgette Heyer!  But now I've read all her books? Who else writes like Heyer?"

We had a loffly little reference booked called "Who Else Writes Like...?"  We could look up a favourite author and make some recommendations. Granted, we didn't need it too often, because each library staff had their areas of expertise.  But sometimes someone would throw us for a loop.

Now, Who Else Writes Like...? is online. If you didn't know that Marion Chesney is similar to Georgette Heyer, Who Else Writes Like...? might be for you.

It is a paid service if you're getting an individual membership. (They do offer a free trial.)  However, if your library has a membership, you can get access through them. Check with your local library for details.

WEWL only lists authors who have a minimum of three books published (with the exception of major prize winners), so if you're looking for a debut author, you might have to rely on the old-fashioned method of asking a mate.

Her Grace goes through phases of adoring a certain type of storytelling and will search out authors of a similar nature.

Friday, 21 March 2014

My First Novel: "The Atomic Girl"

 Every author has a novel that never sees the light of day--either it's too terrible to show, or it simply doesn't "take".

My first novel was definitely in the first category.  Can you blame me?  I was only ten years old.

It was a MG Science Fantasy.  I was a voracious reader.  Perhaps I read too much, because I ended up with a story of my own inside me that just Had To Get Out.  But that's a first novel for you.  Everyone who writes a first novel does so because it Has To Get Out.

Here's mine:

Ten-year-old Katie never fit in at school. After a particularly bad day, she runs away, only to find herself caught up in a nuclear accident.  When she wakes up, she discovers she's got powers. Cool powers.

But her new-found telekinetic abilities do not endear her to her fellow students. The bullying doesn't stop. It simply changes its nature, fueled by a new reaction--fear.

For the first time in her life, adults are taking notice, but not in a good way. Katie's drawn the disapproving attention of teachers, the students' parents and some scary-looking outsiders in suits, who don't tell her who they are.

Except for one. "My name is Marianne," she says. "We need to talk."

Katie's never had an ally before--certainly never a friend.  Is Marianne the one person who's on her side, or is there something far more sinister going on?

Over the next few years, I rewrote it several times. Eventually, I got it all out of me and could safely abandon it to the trunk.

This novel will probably never see the light of day, but it served its purpose--to get the story out of me. If I ever do choose to give it a chance, it will need some serious overhaul. Really serious overhaul.

After I finished "The Atomic Girl", I went on to write another novel, as you do.

Her Grace has known for a Very Long Time that she is a novelist.  Before writing her first novel, she had penned several short stories and poems, to local acclaim. But there's something about novels that sings to her heart.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

I'm on Goodreads

I've recently joined Goodreads.  I've also added "As Good As Gold" to Goodreads.  Go add it to your Want to Read, Currently Reading, Read list, depending on status. If you've read it, please leave an honest review.  Ta muchly.

Meanwhile, I'm reading and rating books on there. I'm happy to take recommendations.  I'm always on the lookout for more good books.

Her Grace has always been an avid reader.  Fond of bookshelves and libraries, she'll take any opportunity she can to read a book. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Dreams (ain't they grand?)

When I first went to uni (college for you 'Mericans), much of my tuition was paid for via scholarships and grants.  I was very grateful for those people and foundations who enabled me to gain a higher education.  So impressed was I, one of my greatest dreams was to start a scholarship fund, should I ever find myself with a million dollars.

Back then, the idea that I would ever have a million dollars, much less one I could spend on something like a scholarship fund, was mildly ludicrous. But since when should ludicrousness ever stop one from dreaming?  (After all, I also dream of getting a nice, memorable kiss from Richard Armitage.)

In the early stages of my dreaming, I even researched what it would take to create a scholarship foundation.  To register as a charity, I had to fill out this paperwork and that paperwork, and fill these forms and pay those fees and jump through a bunch of red-taped hoops that laid a very wet blanket on my plans. Bummer. A goodly portion of my funds would go towards something other than scholarships.  That put a damper on my plans.

Ah well, it was just a dream, so I ignored those issues by tucking them firmly away in the back of my head, and dreamed instead of bestowing scholarship cheques on everyone who applied for one.

I thought, should I make my scholarship a specialist one?  Should I create a scholarship for fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy?  Or should I create one for writers?  How about those who were not great scholars in High School, who only just got into college by virtue of sheer luck (and high test scores)?  For that class of student, scholarships are harder to come by, than, say, your 4.0 student. That would be groovy.

And so, the fantasy goes.

Then, while researching ways to fund my own grad school, I came across crowdfunding as a way of funding education.

Crowdfunding for education?  B R I L L I A N T !!

A dream that had been a long shot, suddenly became a very real possibility.

1.  Goodbve registration of a charity and red tape and other legal restrictions.  I can donate as a private citizen.
2.  Goodbye needing a million dollars before I can contribute to this dream. I can get going for only $5K.
2a.  Forget hundreds and hundreds of dollars, as I originally thought a scholarship handout would ahve to be.  I can bless a student with a mere $25.
3. Given enough capital, I can contribute to hundreds, if not thousands of students, thereby enabling so many, many people!  The more capital I've got, the more people I can fund.  (Okay, a million dollars would be nice.  Invested wisely, with a 4% withdrawal rate, I could either fund ten thousand students per annum with Funds of Significance, or I could share it out among nearly a quarter million students with smaller amounts. In perpetuity.)

Do you know how earth-shatteringly wonderful it is to realise that a once-distant dream is now a very close reality?


Such wow.

Many delirious happy.

So yeah. Once I get sufficient capital, I'll start crowdfunding education as a way of paying forward the generosity of those who funded my own education through scholarships and grants.

My dream is coming true!

Wanna help?  Go crowdfund someone who needs tuition money.  Wanna help me in my dreams?  Go buy my novella "As Good As Gold".  And then when future novellas and novels come out, go buy them as well.  The income from my writing will fund my capital that will provide continuous income which I can devote towards future crowdfunding scholarships.

Her Grace is a strong proponent of higher education, not only for increasing income opportunities, but also for the sheer joy of learning.  This is why she's indulging in an MFA at the moment, and hopes to pursue a MS in Astronomy next.  P.S.  Richard, if Her Grace succeeds in this dream, will you come give her a kiss?

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Randomosity for Crab Fest

Yesterday was full of other people's birthday parties.  Today was Crab Fest, so I spent the day painting parasols, sampling the wares from Margaret River and eating crab.  Therefore, yesterday's Randomosity is a day late.

Stuff that interested me this week:

Swinburne University offers a class in Astrobiology, as part of their Master of Science (Astronomy) course.

Melissa Hunter makes really cool videos, like Adult Wednesday Addams.  Very cleverly done.

I'm making a One Block Wonder quilt, using a Whack'n'Stack technique (hexagonal kalideoscope). They take some rather busy fabric and turn out something quite beautiful.

I think microloans are a good idea in that they help people in developing third world nations get ahead, thanks to the wealth of first world nations.  We should do more of this.  Kiva is one such microloan site. MicroLoan Foundation Australia caters to us Down Under.

Her Grace has been dwelling on some Very Big Dreams lately. All she needs is the capital, or the time, or both.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Motivated by Other Peoples' Success

State of the Union: so, currently I have one novella out for your reading pleasure. (Please leave an honest review, if you've read it.)   I've got another one with my editor (a tale for another time).  I'm editing a full-length Regency Romance novel at the moment and have a full-blow Fantasy Trilogy out with beta-readers.

Love letters from my Guilty Conscience.
I've got a lot of work to do.

Yet what have I done this morning? Perused Facebook and Twitter.  My flists and feeds are full of other professionals, sharing their professional successes and pictures of their cats.

Every time I read social media before I've done Proper Work for the day, I get a good dose of Guilty Conscience.  I shut down the social media and I dig in to whatever project I'm scheduled to work on that day. (Today: editing my WIP.)  Yes, this happens Every. Time.

I guess it's good that I don't get too sucked in to the glittering world of social media, and I am getting some work done.  After all, isn't that how all my successful peeps out there got successful?

Okay, sometimes I do get too sucked in. I read more, and more.  This peer has this book out, that peer has a cover reveal, the other peer just got a starred Kirkus review...  Then I look at my own efforts and heave a great big sigh. It can be depressing seeing so much success out there, and so little happening in here.

Then I realise that I'll never have that sort of success if I don't go Do Something.

And that thought alone is enough to drive me to close down those open tabs and get yWriter up. Works every time.

What pricks your Guilty Conscience?

Her Grace sometimes wishes she could tap into her motivation more often without relying on social networking. Still, it's good to keep up with the industry.  Meanwhile, here is a picture of her cat, lasers fully charged:

Embedded image permalink

Monday, 10 March 2014

Going for a Trot

My current Work-In-Progress (WIP) is a Regency Romance.  So naturally, there are a few horses about, especially as my characters do a bit of travelling.
Going for a trot is much better than having the trots.

So, how long did it take our travellers to go from one place to another via horseback or carriage?  Many factors come into play: the condition of the roads, the condition of the horse, the pace or gait of the horse, the distance, the weight pulled, etc.

If an experienced rider is on the back of a conditioned horse, going at a sustainable trot, he could make about twelve-sixteen kilometers in an hour.  My Hero needs to go a distance of about twenty kilometers one morning. A trip that would take just under two hours (factoring in increasing fatigue for both horse and rider which will slow the pace somewhat towards the end).

Coming back, he rides in a carriage drawn by two horses with a few other passengers. The average speed of a horse-drawn carriage is about 8-10 kilometers an hour.  That same distance would be a good three-and-a-half hours thereabouts, depending on road conditions and other factors, like toilet breaks for the passengers.

In the 21st Century, with our highly-engineered cars, our paved highways and other conveniences, sometimes we forget just how difficult travel used to be.  Today, that same distance my hero traveled two hundred years ago would take only 33 minutes "at current traffic rates" (midnight in London), if Google Maps is to be believed.  Also, his backside would be in much nicer condition, having reclined on some nice, heated leather seats, as opposed to being punished on the saddle of a trotting horse.

Have you traveled a great distance via horse or horse'n'carriage?

Her Grace does not miss the days of inconvenient travel. That said, there is not much more comfort squeezing into the teeny-tiny seats of a budget airline.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Randomosity for the middle of Bunuru

I found this stuff fascinating this week:

Not everyone believes in four Seasons a year.  The Noongar believe in six. After having lived on their land for fifteen-plus years, I completely agree with them.  North American Season marking does not apply in Australia.  Even so, we change our Seasons at the beginning of the month, not on the solstices/equinoces.
So yeah. It's gonna be hot for a little while longer during Second Summer.

That corset is giving him
tremendous lift.
Hercules was a cross-dresser?  Yep, sure was. For some reason, this delicious tidbit of info doesn't get mentioned too often in school.

The Granite Youth Symphony plays some lovely music for you.  Can you believe they're all under the age of 18?

Throughout history, Lefties have gotten a bad rap.  But there may be advantages to being left-handed.

Her Grace comes from a family with a high proportion of southpaws and ambidexters.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Ash Wednesday

Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday (also known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday).  We had pancakes for dinner, even though my faith and my household don't really observe Shrove Tuesday (or the rest of Lent, for that matter).

Despite our lack of strict observance, I do use the time for reflection.  

Can one say, "Happy Ash Wednesday"?  No? Didn't think so.

Ash Wednesday is the First Day of Lent, the forty days before Easter.  Oh, we celebrate Easter! Easter Hymns, Easter Service on Sunday, etc.  Yes, we even go for the Super Long Weekend, here in Australia.  I wisely took the few days off after Easter, because on Friday after, it's ANZAC Day. (More on this later, as this is an even more reflective holiday than Ash Wednesday. Downright sad, sometimes.  Ne'er you mind that I'm using such important holidays to score nearly two weeks off from work.)

So, back to more serious stuff:  I like using the time of Lent for reflection.  I believe not enough people do this, which is why I'm mentioning it here.  Go reflect.  It's scary, but worth it.

It can be a difficult thing to hold a mirror up to oneself and admit one's flaws.   Last year for Lent, I went on a Selfie Spree.  Normally I don't photograph myself unless absolutely necessary.  While selfies are usually considered a selfish pursuit, I used them to have a good, honest look at myself.

Who was I?  Who did I want to be?  What was reflected in my face?

As writers, we're concerned with character development arcs.  Sometimes it's good to take those writerly skills and apply them to ourselves.  Who are we, if we were a character?  What are our strengths, our weaknesses?  What are our goals and motivations? What are our obstacles?

As writers, we tend to throw obstacles in the paths of our characters.  As humans, we do our best to remove our obstacles--assuming we know what they are.

Thus, I reflect.

You ever know someone with an annoying characteristic--something they say or do, some mistake they make over and over?  Have you ever said, "Why on earth don't they change?"  

They might not be aware they are doing it.  We are creatures of habit, we humans. We get into a pattern and a certain part of our brain turns off.  It's not until we stop and consciously question our actions that we can see what we truly do, and can change if we so desire.

I've changed a few things about myself based on last year's reflections.  This year I shall continue to reflect and continue to improve myself.

After all, I am a Romance author and we love our HEAs.

Her Grace has pulled up her socks, girded her loins, shifted into gear and got her act together. Also, it is Cadbury Creme Egg season.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Any Time But Now

I am not into contemporary romance.  It just doesn't sing for me.

I love historical romance. I love futuristic romance. I love otherworld romance. Anything, anytime, anywhere but here.

Maybe this is because I read for escapism.  Historical fantasy paints an idealised picture of romance in a different time period, safely glossing over the majority of social woes, disease, war and more. Futuristic and otherworld also aim for a more idealised portrayal of worlds that don't exist.  Worldbuilding in these categories can be done well enough for readers to suspend their disbelief.  Ignore the ubiquitous poverty and rampant chauvanism of Regency. Forget the disease and war-torn Mediaeval. Bypass burnt-out humanity in the future.  Get to the good stuff--love never dies.  We're all in it for the HEA.

With contempo, everything has to be as real as the author can make it. Anything that's not honest and real feels fake. You can't get away with tweaking the worldbuilding.  And I love me some good worldbuilding, larger-than-life.

Also, I think the dialogue may have something to do with it.  Contemporary dialogue simply isn't romantic enough for me.  "Hey, Baby," might be a commonly-used pickup line, but it doesn't do anything for me.  If anything, I find it a bit of a turn-off.

So give me romance in some setting other than the Here and Now. Take me to someplace I can never go. Thrill me. I live in the contemporary world every day. It can be a bit tedious at times and downright disappointing.

Sometimes I just wanna escape.

Her Grace has always wanted to visit Narnia.  Ever notice how a wardrobe and a TARDIS are similar?