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Archive for the ‘Dragon’ Category

Well it’s been a long wait!

The reversion of rights process did not go as planned. Shatterwing and Skywatcher were taken down early (I had requested May) and I had a mad scramble to get covers and get the books prepared etc. I’m so lucky that Crocodesigns were able to do the whole series. Don’t you think Frauke did a great job? There is more to come. She’s working on the covers for final two parts (not actually written yet) and box set covers.

I can’t decide which cover is my favourite. I really love the meteors and the depiction of the observatory in Skywatcher and I love the colours in Deathwings and I love the dragon in Bloodstorm. Overall, I think the covers portray the darkness and the space elements of the stories. Shatterwing and Skywatcher are out now everywhere! iBooks should flow through today. I uploaded them this morning.

Deathwings I think I’ll put up next week (maybe). I’m so nervous about releasing this part three. It’s been edited and proofed and it’s waiting to go. But holding on to it seems like a good idea. I’d like to be able to release Bloodstorm, Dragon Wine Part Four soon after. That’s due back from the editor next week. Still I’m nervous. Stupid I know…but I can’t help it. I had ten years to work on Shatterwing and Skywatcher. Although I drafted Deathwings and Bloodstorm a while ago it is only recently that I’ve picked them up again. Hopefully there will be some good reviews. I need to work on the final two parts.

These books are retailing around $3.99 US per book. I’ll be putting links up in my book section later on. I need to drink some French Champagne just now and eat chips and dip and chocolate and veg in front of Netflix. Sorry duty calls. I presented my confirmation seminar for the PhD today and it went well! So celebration.

 

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And I’m going to release Part One and Two together as a ebook box set. Maybe next week. Estimated price is $5.99 USDragonWineVolOne-3D

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I am so excited to bring you this interview.

I love science fiction and fantasy and I particularly love it when someone writes a story and plays around with the tropes I love so well. One of the things I’ve noticed is that books from diverse authors really bring a distinct flavour to genre. For example, Lukyanenko’s Daywatch or books by Alliete De Boddard, Isabelle Allende, Ken Liu etc.

I stumbled across JC Kang’s series in one of Patty Jansen’s regular newsletters ‘Ebookaroo’. I was so taken by the covers I had to buy one. Then I started reading Dances of Deception. Oh my…I’d picked up book three but didn’t realise and it was too late to stop and go back to book one so I kept on reading it.

I couldn’t stop reading it!

This series is a high fantasy with dragons, elves, dwarves, gods and the rest. But for me it had something different–an Asian-centric viewpoint, meticulous world building carefully woven into the story, a world with many cultures, each with their unique manners and approach to life well depicted.

It had political intrigue, trade issues, plausible economics, ninjas and romance. The magic in this world ranges from beautiful and delicate to blunt and hard. The characters were well drawn and three dimensional, each with a history and a complex set of relationships. (As I started in book three this is to be expected). My favourite characters are Tian, the secret agent/spy dude, who is probably most like a ninja, the princess, Kaiya, who has difficult but character-building adventures and Jie, the half elf handmaiden, come body guard.

Here is a graphic of my favourite characters. Thank you John!

3heroes

The baddie in this book is bad! Yet, there is a side to him that evokes some compassion, due to the curse of his people. I like how Kang sprinkles this hard race with sympathetic characters that lead you to believe that there is hope for change. I don’t want to spoil it for you so I’ll say no more.

Also, the interior layout is something special. Some lovely touches in the ebook.

This is definitely a five star read for me. Now my dilemma is do I buy the books in ebook or print?

John (JC Kang) dropped by my blog today and answered some questions. It’s a special day because Book four is launching today.

4book

  1. John tell me a bit about you, where you live and what you do for a day job.

I hail from the black hole of despair, also known as the Capital of the Confederacy. Actually, Richmond, Virginia, has since transformed from the urban blight of my childhood, to hipster haven and up-and-coming foodie capital of America. We probably have more craft breweries per capita than any other place in the world.  I’m an acupuncturist and herbalist, and also moonlight as a Wing Chun Kung-Fu instructor.

  1. What first interested you in the fantasy?

When searching for a BDSM club… no, wait, you mean fantasy fiction!  Yeah, just ignore that first part.  I must’ve been five, and my older brother read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to me. It was my gateway drug to The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and then onto harder addictions like Dungeons and Dragons.

  1. How long have you been writing? Did you always aspire to write fiction?

After I read the Dragonlance Chronicles, I was determined to be a fiction writer.  My first story was basically a rip-off of Dragons of Autumn Twilight based in my D&D world, with only the names changed to protect the innocent. Basically, my younger self didn’t have a unique idea in his head, and he gave up on the idea of writing fiction.

  1. You have a beautifully rendered story in Dragon Songs Saga. How did you about developing this world? What were your influences? Did you research? If so, what, how?

Twenty-five years after I went through rehab for my D&D addiction, I uncovered the world building materials in my childhood home.  As an adult, I had to laugh at what my younger self dreamt up (nice men who respected women) or otherwise plagiarized (impossibly beautiful women who like ugly guys). Still, there were some cool underlying ideas, and I spent the next week reimagining the world with those premises at the starting point; but taking into account trivial matters like gravity, supply and demand, and biology.

My biggest influences were the Civilization video game, Tolkien, Chinese Wuxia movies, and samurai dramas. And Jedi Knights. I can’t say I did a ton of research, but I’ve worked as a political analyst and economics technical writer, and watched a whole lot of TV (usually while I was doing economic analysis, which probably explains why I am now an acupuncturist).  During the writing process, I researched everything from the Latvian language to ancient Ethiopian culture (and that BDSM in my search history, it was purely research for writing).

  1. Why did you write the Dragon Songs Saga? (I’m wondering here if there is a dearth of Asian-centric high fantasy, or was it that you were sick of western-centric fantasies etc).

I had actually planned three books total, the first with a Western-oriented story which would recount a war between cursed descendants of the Sun God and humans who had mingled with elves in ancient times; and the third which would follow an East African sorceress, a Persian priest, and an Asian Indian “jedi” (I was serious in that earlier answer) as they discover the secrets of the world’s pyramids.

However, I settled on the middle story about an East Asian princess who could evoke magic through music, and her childhood friend who had become a ninja, as they try to escape from the aforementioned descendants of the Sun God. It wasn’t because I was sick of Western fantasy—there’s plenty of non-Western stuff out there nowadays—but rather because I had a strong background in Asian history and was too lazy to research the other two arcs.

  1. I think, judging from the world building and plot in your books, that you are a planner rather than a panster? Am I right? How do you develop a series of books like this, so rich with culture? Spill your secrets!

I’m a totally plantser.  After all, what was meant to be a single novel became a 4-book series. After I wrote the book you read, Dances of Deception, I went back and wrote the prequel, and then the sequel, and then  the prequel to the prequel.

As a whole, I have an idea of where I want to go, but sometimes (this will sound so stereotypical) the characters rebel against my machinations and decide they know what they want to do better than I do; and sometimes get an idea and have to retrofit it into earlier parts of a story.

For example, Tivaralan has three moons. One of my earlier readers thought I shouldn’t use Earth’s hour system, and I realized one of the moons, which has an orbital period of one day and never moves from its spot in the sky, would go through all its phases in that day. People on the planet would naturally use it to tell time and for direction.  Another moon was large and blue with an orbital period of 44 days; but later, I read an article about a Super Saturn, J1407b, so I turned that blue moon into a planet and moved its orbit way out so that its shape would change over the course of 2 years.

  1. Who are your favourite characters in the Dragon Song Saga and why?

I am a total narcissist, and since my characters all embody the best aspects of me, I can’t decide.  Kaiya, because she has a heroic spirit. Tian, because he is smart and handsome. Jie, because of her quick wit. And Chen Xin for his modesty.   In all seriousness, though, my favo(u)rite would be Tian’s brother, Ming, who is something of a flamboyant buffoon.

  1. What made you decide to Indie Publish?

I actually had a R&R out with an agent on Book 1, but after a brush with my own mortality–

  1. Brush with your mortality? That sounds serious! What happened?

My friends made me watch Fifty Shades of Grey, and at the end, I wanted to shoot myself.

10: So why indie publish?

I realized I could die any time, maybe before I got representation. Even then, the entire revision process would take a year or two, and who knows, maybe no publishing house would take it. In the meantime, I had 4 books which had been critted, revised, beta read, and revised again. Basically, they needed a professional edit and covers.

All that said, I didn’t know the first thing about marketing, so I first released Dragon Songs with different covers and titles which suggested YA Fantasy Romance.  I was attracting readers who wanted to see Kaiya fall in love with the dragon, not vanquish it.  I just rebranded starting this year.

  1. What’s ahead for you fiction writing wise?

I’m currently working on four projects, all which relate to the Dragon Songs series: a 1st Person, Single POV YA version of Songs of Insurrection; An episodic serial which follows the dragon, Avarax, who is stuck in human form and has to learn how to play nice with other humans; A story which takes place a thousand years before Dragon Songs, which recounts how the First Dragon Singer sings Avarax to sleep; and Book 1 of the series with the aforementioned Sorceress, Priest, and Jedi as they learn about the pyramids (I know, it sounds like the start of a bad joke, with a worst punchline).  Jie from Dragon Songs will also play an important role in that story.

Thank you so much John. The story about you and your novels are so interesting!

What are you waiting for people! You should buy these books!

Book One, Songs of Insurrection, Blurb

Only the lost magic of Dragon Songs can save the realm. Only a naïve girl with the perfect voice can rediscover it.

Blessed with an unrivaled voice, Kaiya dreams of a time when music could summon typhoons and rout armies. Maybe then, the imperial court would see the awkward, gangly princess as more than a singing fool.

When members of the emperor’s elite spy clan uncover a brewing insurrection, the court hopes to appease the ringleader by offering Kaiya as a bride.

Obediently wedding the depraved rebel lord means giving up her music. Confronting him with the growing power of her voice could kill her.

Looks like these books are only available on Amazon. Free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Buy link here.

Book Two, Orchestra of Treacheries, Blurb

The mightiest dragon threatens the world, and only the power of a Dragon Song can vanquish him.

Two years have passed since Kaiya rediscovered the lost magic of Dragon Songs, yet the power of her voice is untrained. Potential suitors see her as a stepping stone. One ruthless cousin would rather step on her gravestone.

Not one to get walked over or buried, Kaiya is holding out for the exiled foreign prince who inspired her to sing. The only one who appreciates her abilities more is the world’s last dragon, Avarax, and it’s not because he enjoys a good song.

Raw and unproven, she finds mentors in unlikely places. An elf courtier. An ancient healer. A martial arts master. And an evil sorcerer. She’ll need their guidance to survive the final showdown between a girl finding her voice, and a dragon who has no intention of being fooled a second time.

Buy link here.

Book Three, Dances of Deception, Blurb

An invincible empire threatens to invade Cathay, and only a Dragon Song can ensure peace.

After vanquishing the Last Dragon with the power of her voice, all Kaiya wants is a quiet life of anonymity. Instead, the Emperor sends her to negotiate peace with the aggressive Teleri Empire.

The critical mission reunites her with her childhood friend Tian, now an assassin-spy who loathes killing. He is no longer the adorable, gullible boy from her memories, any more than she is the adventurous, sweet girl from his. Instead of rekindling nostalgia for a youthful innocence they both yearn for, their reunion ignites a mutual hatred.

When the Teleri Empire breaks off talks, Tian must help Kaiya escape. Orcs, Ogres, and enemy soldiers stand between them and home, and their volatile relationship could get them captured… or killed.

Buy link here.

Book Four, Symphony of Fates, blurb

Kaiya escapes her ordeal at the hands of the Teleri Emperor, only to return to a homeland beset by enemies on all sides, and crumbling from within.

As a teenager, she quelled a rebellion with the Dragon Scale Lute. As a young adult, she vanquished a dragon with the power of her voice.

Now, robbed of her magic by grief, Kaiya must navigate a web of court intrigue to save the realm before it falls. Only she can lay claim to the Dragon Throne on behalf of her unborn sons—whether the father is the lover who perished rescuing her, or the hated enemy who killed him.

In the final story in Kaiya’s saga, she must rally a nation, repel invaders, and prove to the world why her family alone holds the Mandate of Heaven.

This book is live today.

Buy link here.

Here is a link to John talking about YouTube.

BTW I’m on the hunt for some more diverse fantasy and science fiction so expect more.

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In the lead up to Christmas and the end of year, it’s crazy season. There are farewell lunches, end of year parties, and things that need to be done.

I’ve not got serious about my Christmas present shopping yet and gee not even a morsel of food for Christmas dinner. I was going to bake a pudding and cake. Oh dear. Life seems out of control.

I’m sure it will all come together. It’s Matthew’s birthday on Saturday. We are going to the theatre tomorrow night and then to Star Wars on Saturday night. It seems a perfectly dweebish thing to do. Then the countdown begins.

My son is coming back from China on Christmas eve and that’s when we celebrate. In the meantime there are medical appointments to fit in, a blog tour to organise and the house to get ready. Not much time in there for writing (or much else)

However, I do have the bulk of my blog content sorted so the next post will be the schedule. It’s an exciting array of blogs and content. There are a couple of interviews, one really in depth and deep and then there are some articles by me on topics requested by my hosts. Hopefully there will be something for everybody and also enough temptation for people to want to download a free copy of Shatterwing and also enter the draw for a print copy.

So check back soon.

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I’m still settling in after the jetlag. Still in transition from being on holiday in lovely historic Britain to being at home again in Dweebenhiem in Canberra.

Here is a shot of Dweebenhiem with peach blossoms! I hadn’t seen those before as we saw the house in late Spring before we bought it.

Dweebenhiem in Spring

Dweebenhiem in Spring

Yesterday it was a fab Sunday roast with friends and some family. I even did stuffing to go with the pork. I’m still trying to hang onto the threads of my trip.

Last night I had the grandchildren over. They’ve just left actually and peace has descended. Tomorrow I go back to work. Mind you I’m not sure how I’m going to get there as Action Buses took my express bus away. No more 788 or 785. I’ll just have to transition to the more convenient but expensive car and leave the inconvenient but cheap public transport along. Mind you before the bus timetable was imposed it was convenient and cheap. Thank you ACT Government! Not!

As I’ll be back at work I won’t be able to do much promotion and writing time will be these treasured moments when time, inspiration and energy levels combine. I’m entering a busy reporting stage of my project that should keep me stressed out until Christmas and maybe beyond. Then again maybe it won’t be that way.

As I may not have books for my launch on Saturday 12.30 at Conflux SF Convention, I’m getting these postcards printed. Provided they make it in time. They will have a discount code for the ebook, which will be fab.I’ll also be on a couple of panels at the convention.

. Along with the fabulous launch speaker Cat Sparks and awesome MC Nicole Murphy. The wonderful Matthew Farrer will be doing the book selling (or preorders).  So for the launch reading there will be just me, raw, everyday me. I was going to say naked me, but not your your life! I’ll be wearing my special launch shoes. I haven’t thought about a dress yet. And I may not do a reading but I’ll need to work that out pretty soon won’t I? I mean there will be people and everything like that.

So the postcard!

Dragon Wine Series Book 1 and 2

Dragon Wine Series Book 1 and 2

Then the special launch shoes! (this is my excuse for buying a third pair of shoes in that store on that day in Maidstone, Kent).

Launch Shoes

Launch Shoes

Everyone needs special shoes on a special day. Now I just have to find something to wear.

Wish me luck. I may have real life print books sometime soon. But the ebook is awesome. Did I mention it had maps? I’ll do another post on the Donna and the map drama later. Why waste a good blog topic? Also, I’m still working on the Four writers on a canal boat for a week post. It’s complicated.

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Hi there

Well I am back from the UK and I have jetlag. It’s getting better day by day but it means I’ve been a bit slack about blogging. I have some trip blogs to do and I’m organising a blog tour for October to spread the word about Shatterwing.

Meanwhile if you haven’t seen them, there are a couple more reviews out. One amazing one by Tsana, who really delved deeply into the story and picked up on some interesting points. She also applied the label grim-dark. I’d not really thought of it as such but I guess it is in that it’s brutal, a bit realistic (gritty)  in places and with just a hint of optimism.

That review is here.

Then there was one by Liz Murphy here.

There are others on Goodreads. I appreciate the reviews and comments.

Skywatcher will be out on October 9 and I think that will balance Shatterwing nicely, but then I’d say that because I’m biased and I know what happens.

Now a random photo from the trip because…I have lots.

Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle

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I’ve been thinking through the notion raised in the first review of Shatterwing that an editor or copy editor made a mistake on  because it contains ‘sexual brutality’, that they somehow overlooked this, or that they failed to warn me in some way or that it should have been removed before publication.

I think there is a confusion here about what an editor and copy editor do. To my mind, editors assist in improving the content, the expression of the ideas but are not censors of content. I believe a commissioning editor exercises that role when they decide to commission a work or not or accept a work with a proviso…say I’ll take this if you change x & Y and or Z. They may do this for a variety of reasons. This was not the case. Shatterwing was acquired as a dark fantasy and it deals with some gritty and less than savoury aspects of the world setting.

The inclusion of any such content is entirely my decision. My name is on the cover after all.

I wrote Shatterwing (and Skywatcher) a long time ago, when some pretty nasty things were going on in the world. To some degree the content is me processing this through the narrative. When I was doing the copy edits I did stop, think and question. Some parts of the narrative are not comfortable to read and I may have deleted a line here or there voluntarily, but I didn’t change anything materially.

I have no issue with people liking or disliking this aspect of the work as that’s entirely a matter of taste. I am grateful that people are willing to review and discuss the books.

 

 

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I have let out hints on Twitter and Facebook about contracts! Yes, plural. I’m so excited and I’ve been dying to tell but a few things happened. One, I hadn’t signed the contracts yet. Two, my laptop fell off my bed and broke. I’m afraid I was traumatised. But it’s now fixed and all is right in my world again.

If you have been following me for a while, you would know about my novel Dragon Wine. It’s the work of the heart, my major work, my first glimpse of writing something good way back when (2005). It was a massive  door stopping beginning to a trilogy, which I started in 2005. It wasn’t quite as good then as it is now. If it wasn’t for the Varuna MS development awards it may not have been written. I was encouraged by being long listed for the first 25 000 words (all I’d written at the time) of this first imaginings of Dragon Wine in 2005. At the time, I had a little vineyard so I did think a lot of it up while I was out there working on the vines, pruning them, caring for them. I wrote more in 2006 and it made the long list again, then I submitted again finally making the shortlist.

I did a quite a lot of posting a while back about how I cut it back after some feedback and also to make it eligible for some slush piles. However, I hadn’t quite got it where I wanted it to go. And those slush piles. Shrug. Publishing is a different place from when I started writing way back when.

I was thinking to do another rewrite of Dragon Wine this year, as you do with a work  you never give up on, when I had a chance to submit it to Haylee Nash at Pan Macmillan Australia. The wonderful thing was she read it straight away and loved it. I was offered a deal with Momentum Books and I took it. All very quick. It felt amazing to have an editor read it and love it. You can’t imagine how it felt. I’ve been working on this book for 9 years.

So Dragon Wine is coming out really soon. It is coming out in two parts. Dragon Wine is the name of the series and the first book is Shatterwing, which is the name of the remains of the shattered moon above Margra, the planet where Dragon Wine is set. The second book is called, Skywatcher, which is the name given to the people who watch the skies and shoot down meteors. Alex Adsett, my literary agent, coined the term-post-apocalyptic dragons when she read it.

You can probably tell that this is a weird sounding fantasy as it seems to have science fiction elements. It does! It’s also a pretty dark fantasy in that the world is not nice and is inhabited by some pretty nasty and desperate people. Of course, my story is about the people who are good and want to change things. Anyway, you will have to wait for the blurb! Then not very long after for the books. I am hoping to launch them at Conflux in October in Canberra.

Meanwhile, I post things as I hear or see (like the covers!). I’ve just got the copy edits for the first part. And I’m going to get the next ones when I’m in the UK in August, eep! There is more to the story of course, but being a commercial world we need to see how these two go before decisions are made about the next installments. But I do have the next two drafted!

And I have good news for Dani K too, but that’s another blog!

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