Just a picture of a Eucalypt tree, because it’s beautiful.
And some news to let readers know that my latest work-in-progress is in fact galloping towards the final 10%!
The Fugitive Queen is approaching the climatic scenes of the ending when — I hope — everything comes together.
Longtime since I did blog post…
A lot has happened!
Mostly centred around the ongoing health issues of my husband, which included heavy issues like triple bypass, valve replacement and pacemaker.
OTHER newsy things:
- Continuum Convention, bless ’em, over in Melbourne has very kindly invited me as Australian Guest of Honour for the 2020 Convention in June. More about that closer to the day! I’ve always had a soft spot for that particular convention, and their International guest will be a Malaysian, which makes things doubly special for me.
- And also in 2020, I will be going to the World SF Convention in Wellington, New Zealand in August. Well, I’ve bought the ticket anyway, so fingers crossed!!
- Ezvid Wiki over in Los Angeles has included “THE LASCAR’S DAGGER” as one of:
What’s the difference between me (and other professional writers) and a
professional athlete? You know, like those talented young folk now
showing us their skills and brilliance at the Commonwealth Games?
Let me tell you.
I had to have a job unconnected with being a writer, which enabled me
to earn a living. In my spare time I laboured alone to hone my craft. I
sacrificed time and money I could ill afford, sending manuscripts off by
snail mail (back in the day), buying self-help
books, attending courses, etc, etc. Eventually I made it, and started
to get paid. A bit. I still had to fork out money to help me —
attending conventions, for example, and I still had to work.
10+ years, I actually made enough to earn a living (although I doubt it
was enough to support a whole growing family–but by then my family was
Now let’s look at athletes. They also had a talent and a
passion, probably noticed while they were still at school. They came to
the attention of sporting bodies or trainers. Like me, they worked hard.
Unlike me, they had so much help. They had trainers. They had
encouragement or paid professionals devoted helping them, along with
tech experts, videos and science labs… Most would have had financial
help, perhaps in kind, or even in cash. They were sent off to compete at
meets, in and out of Asutralia, mostly not at their own expense.
And now we hail them as heroes, mention them on TV, applaud their
achievements, offer them endorsements, free trips and adulation. Good
What I wonder is why do they deserve it, and we writers
don’t? Why is there so little money for us, especially while we are
still struggling? Why do we give so much adulation to athletes and not
to writers — to physical achievements, not intellectual ones?
do it all over again, mind you, and I don’t regret a minute of time
spent on my writing career, and I’m very thankful for the financial help
I have had (from the Public Lending Rights for example) –but I do
wonder sometimes about the imbalance …
(opening scene) of
a SF/F/H novel in advance of the workshop,
and will receive a private written critique of their work from me on
the day. There was to be a cut off for submission of these first pages by March 1st, but as I am not being inundated by entries, I think we can extend this for another couple of weeks!
The workshop will look at how to address common writing issues within
manuscripts generally, looking at ways to reinforce strengths, identify
weaknesses — and provide advice on how get rid of the boring bits!
Spaces are limited so attendees will need to book. Manuscript extracts can submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org with Strong Beginnings in the subject line.
Yes, it’s Blaze, the woman with an attitude…
…and a very large sword.
The three books of THE ISLES of GLORY will be legitimately available again through Hachette’s ORION SF GATEWAY and you will be able to buy them via the usual eBook sellers, from 21st December, worldwide. You can already pre-order!
See a review here:
Fantasy Book Review
Here’s what The Romantic Times USA had to say:
Rich world building will capture the reader’s interest. With a forceful
heroine who is mature and experienced, Larke crafts a fantastic tale
that moves beyond a typical coming-of-age fantasy. Fans of Lois McMaster
Bujold and Mercedes Lackey’s strong heroines will relish Blaze’s
Also available will be HAVENSTAR (see below)
the story of a mapmaker’s daughter
caught up in a world that shifts and changes from moment to moment, a world where changes can be fatal...
Here’s what Pauline’s Fantasy Reviews says about it.
Here’s a review from Tsana’s Reads
IF YOU HAVE ALREADY READ & ENJOYED THESE BOOKS, how about giving them to friends as Christmas presents?
How do you write the boring bits between the interesting bits?
In other words, how do you breathe the magic on to the page to keep your readers awake, even when you aren’t writing the really exciting action bits?
Personally, I find that writing the exciting parts of the story – the adventures, or the emotionally charged character confrontations – is the easy task. What is tough is to get the hero in the door to start with, or to get the army to the battlefield, or to get the heroine up and dressed in the morning, or get the travellers from place A to place B.
Take the travelling. In a mainstream novel set in Megacity, no problem. You can say “She caught the train.” It’s somewhat harder in a fantasy. She walked. Um, she walked six days. (Reader is immediately thinking: what did she eat, was it safe to walk, where did she sleep, etc, etc, and they expect answers.)
But what if the answers are unimportant and have no bearing on your overall story arc? How do you get her from point A to B? How do you get the hero in the door?
1. Sometimes the answer might be simple. You use a trick:
e.g. the end of a chapter
Your hero goes to bed in his room at the inn at the end of chapter 10. At the beginning of Chapter 11 you have him knocking on the door of the villain’s house for the great confrontation scene. Voilà, you have avoided all that tiresome business of getting up, getting dressed, having breakfast etc, all of which is irrelevant to the story arc.
e.g. the division of your book into parts.
At the end of Part One, you have your king declaring to his councillors that they are going to march to war on neighbouring kingdom. Part Two opens with the king’s army besieging the walled city of the neighbouring king. None of that tiresome business of how you raise an army, supply it, arm it, march across the border…
e.g. the section break (seen in the book as a blank line or sometimes an asterisk or equivalent.)
Seen in the typed text as –TEXT BREAK HERE–
You write a scene where Mary is trying to decide which of her numerous dresses she is going to put on for the ball. You insert a text break, and then continue on to show Mary as she sweeps into the ballroom clad in her older married sister’s bright red gown, to the horror of the conservative dames. And you, the writer, have avoided the details of how she pinched her sister’s dress out of her closet.
Mostly, though, the problem of tiresome, irrelevant but important details is more difficult to solve.
2. Use a sentence or two rather than a paragraph of explanation. Gloss over the unnecessary details by the way you structure your sentence(s).
Problem: Your travellers, led by Jokum, have just arrived in a town. They are very hungry and very dusty. The reason they are there is to hunt out the local mage for help, only to discover that he has been arrested for treason. It is unlikely they would visit the mage ravenous and dirty, but you don’t want to dwell on how they eat and wash up – it is unimportant. You want to get to the exciting bit. However, if you don’t say something, your readers won’t find your story believable. So keep it succinct – explain but don’t bury your reader in detail.
After a meal and a wash at the first inn inside the city walls, they asked the way to the street of Mages. Ten minutes later, Jokum was knocking at Hokus’s door.
After stopping at the town pump for directions and to wash away the worst of their travel dust, they bought a loaf of fresh bread. By the time they reached the house of Mage Hokus, there wasn’t even a crumb remaining.
You may be able to think of even better ways to reduce the information down to a snappy minimum.
I am recycling some old posts
3. Spice up the boring in-between-bits with interesting world-building or character info.
(Remember, if it tells you something important about the world or the character, or if it pushes the story forward, then your info becomes important and interesting.)
For example – the army preparations might be boring – or they might not, if they include arguments between the king and his advisers or sons or brothers, or if they include the oddities of your world. For example, how do you feed your fighting dragons? How do you get your mages to the battlefield if they can’t cross water without losing power? Can you use magic or dragons or something else fascinating to supply your army with food?
4. Use dialogue to give the info.
It’s a lot easier to make something interesting if it is delivered in speech.
Here’s some info in text form:
By the time they reached Emitiville, the horses were thin and losing condition, so Tom bought some oats.
Spiced up with dialogue:
“Tom, did get any oats for the horses? If they lose any more condition, I reckon I’ll have to put another hole in my saddle girth.”
“Yeah, don’t worry. I bought some cheap, from the ostler’s wife. Only a shilling and a kiss. Well, a bit more than a kiss.” He grinned.
“What? You seduced the ostler’s wife?”
5. Condense specific info into a general paragraph
Here’s a section of text from “The Last Stormlord.” It covers six days of walking by the protagonist down a tunnel that supplies water to a city from the hills. He has just entered the tunnel and lit a lamp.
Now he could see what he was doing, he used the walkway built along the side. When he was tired or hungry, he stopped. He slept fitfully at intervals, stretched out on the walkway in the smothering dark with the lamp extinguished. When he awoke it was always into panic at the utter blackness, and the panic remained until his fumbling with flint, striker and tinder produced enough of a flame to light the lamp or a candle.
The next paragraph deals with him arriving at his destination. So those four sentences are all there is to cover six days – and (I hope) conjure up a bit of how it felt. The above paragraph gives all the necessary information (except perhaps the problem of waste disposal!!) without being boring. The waste disposal? Yes, I do deal with that too – it is one of the first questions the indignant water reeves ask him when they catch him at the city end of the tunnel. (Want to know more? Buy the book!)
6. Getting the hero out of the room by diverting the attention of the reader to something else.
You have to get our teenage protagonist from, let’s say, the kitchen (where he’s just had an unsettling conversation with this mother about his elder brother), to the letter depository a mile away, because he wants to send an important message (that the reader already knows about) on the next coach out of town.
One way to do it is to ignore the uninteresting method and deal with the interesting thoughts he has. Let’s call him Jaydon.
He slammed out of the kitchen in a temper and, on his way across town to the letter depository, dwelt lovingly on numerous impractical plans to wreak revenge on that sneaky, mean-spirited liar of a brother of his. That bastard! How could George have behaved like that and upset his mother so – so callously?
By the time Jaydon arrived at the depository, the scowl on his face made the man behind the counter take a step backwards.
I’ll guarantee your reader won’t notice that you didn’t bother to tell them HOW he got across town. Did he walk? Take a coach? Ride?
Who cares? It wasn’t important. What he was thinking, though, was. And it was much more interesting.
Remember: Don’t worry too much in your first draft about what is boring and what is not. Get your story down first. Then start attacking the details. In your rewrites, aim to have NO boring bits. The above were just suggestions of some ways to do this. Look for other ways writers deal with the same problem. Learn by reading!
And your general aim should be:
THE ISLES OF GLORY TRILOGY
THE AWARE 9780732276508
THE TAINTED 9780732276522
THE MIRAGE MAKERS TRILOGY
THE HEART OF THE MIRAGE 9780732281984
THE SHADOW OF TYR 9780732281991
THE SONG OF THE SHIVER BARRENS 9780732282004
THE WATERGIVERS TRILOGY
THE LAST STORMLORD 9780732289294
STORMLORD RISING 9780732289300
STORMLORD’S EXILE 9780732289317
published by Triconderoga publications and can be bought online as a hardback or paperback — try indiebooksonline
My last trilogy, THE FORSAKEN LANDS is published in Australia and worldwide by Hachette ORBIT, and if you can’t find it on the shelves in your local bookstore, ask them to get it in for you. (The Lascar’s Dagger, Dagger’s Path and The Fall of the Dagger.)
Available online with the exception of
HAVENSTAR and THE ISLES OF GLORY trilogy.
This is about to change (in August)
Watch this space.
|PHOTO BY ART DIGGLE|
|In this case, the Tin Duck is actually a very elegant swan.
And for those who don’t know, the Tin Duck is the colloquial name for the Western Australian award given to the Best Long Work (i.e. book) of the year in the field of speculative fiction, in this case that was published in 2016.
My thanks to everyone — it is truly an honour to receive an award because people cared enough to vote for the book!
The prize-winning book in question?