Archive for the ‘Dragon’ Category

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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Recently I posted about my RSI and that I was using some dictation software, notably Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I’m using the software at work and I’m using software at home.

However, there is a difference in the calibre of the program I am using in both places and I’ve been receiving training on the professional version of the software. What the training has done is open my mind to the vast possibilities inherent in the program. I’m not going to go chapter and verse into the instruction that I received. However, I think I can give a few tips on how to make the software work well for you. Noting, however, that dictating fiction is still a bit of a leap. If one can overcome the technical difficulties and increase the accuracy of the software, then I think working towards being able to dictate a novel or a short story will be easier.

The first thing the tutor did was replace the standard microphone set that came with the program. This tutor is a qualified reseller and trainer of the program so she knows what she is talking about. So the first thing, if you’re serious about writing and you have issues with RSI or carpal tunnel, then invest in a quality microphone set. The tutor is as a USB soundcard and the different headset to increase the accuracy of voice recognition. She says you can get the accuracy as high as 95%. I noticed that using this microphone arrangement the program was much easier to use. I also noticed an increase in accuracy. At work, however, I’m using the professional version and my laptop has sufficient RAM to cope the program’s demands. Even then, there are hiccups and occasional hanging, which aren’t necessarily due to the program but the heavy demands from Word and other programs open in time. (I’m using a network computer, which has a range of other programs running in the background) I’m going to invest in a cordless microphone set at home because I have other issues including lower back and neck pain. With a cordless headset, I’d be able to stand up still dictate. (I understand John Birmingham users a cordless headphone and a stand-up workstation) Although, apparently you can lose some accuracy with a cordless headset, particularly in an open office environment. I think it will work for me at home. I’m also considering buying a different edition of the dictation software because the premium and the professional are much more powerful versions. Before I do that, however, need to upgrade my computer because it is really important to have the necessary grunt for the dictation software to be fast enough to be efficient.

Another key point that I picked up from a training is the importance of using the ‘vocabulary editor’. This is really useful for adding terms that you use a lot and also for differentiating terms that have other meanings. For example, salutations in e-mail like ‘Dear Dweeb’ or ‘Hi Dweeb’ and ‘Hi Beans’. If you say ‘open vocabulary editor’ the menu appears and allows you to key in the term and ‘add’ it and then when you say the term again it usually has no trouble recognising it. Also, the vocabulary editor is updated when you say ‘spell that’ or ‘correct that’ when there is an inaccurate recognition. Sometimes the program makes a mistake because the word dictated is also a command. This can be frustrating because you really don’t understand why it is not recognising a word. I had this problem when I was trying to say an old lady had a lace cap. It just would recognise ‘cap’ because it is also a command as in ‘cap that’ so a way around it in the Vocabulary Editor is to put in ‘lace cap’ in the written form but with a corresponding spoken form. In my case, I said ‘insert frilly lace thing’ and it types ‘lace cap’ and so you see it can be useful. For speculative fiction writers, having a set of strange names or devices or places in your Vocabulary Editor can make your life much easier.

I am finding that I can dictate work documents to a certain extent and sometimes that is faster than typing. This is particularly so when I’m reading from a text which I’m quoting from. If you find the ultimate hurdle difficult to surmount, that is, dictating your fiction novel or short story, the dictation software can be useful to reduce the amount of keystrokes required in your day. For example, dictating e-mails, Facebook updates,tweets, blog posts and Internet surfing. Using the dictation software can reduce the workload for already tired arms. In theory, this should allow more pain free time to work on a novels et cetera.

I highly recommend using skilled tutor to open your mind to the possibilities of the dictation software, particularly where the tutor may have developed macros which create shortcuts for things that you do frequently. My tutor has some macros which she will install next lesson, which make using track changes a lot easier. Personally, I find track changes are very demanding part of work when working on edits because each one requires about three mouse clicks and mouse clicking is particularly difficult using a normal mouse and even a trackball mouse. (I have switched to a vertical mouse called Evoluent website here)

Anyway so ends my lecture on dictation software. I hope this is useful to some of you. Remember you still need to take regular breaks even though you are typing because you are sitting in a static position. Also dictating can be tiring because you are talking and concentrating, so take breaks.

I also think that dictation software is the stuff of science fiction (which is extremely cool) and the advances made the program since the mid 90s is absolutely amazing. you can write as fast as you speak.

So you can increase the accuracy of the machine through a few simple techniques and reducing inaccuracies can increase your acceptance of the program and make it more useful for dictating fiction. I dictated 95% of this blog post.

Below is a link to some of the microphones you can use/buy etc Here

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I’m dictating this post from my iPad. I had a lesson in Dragon NaturallySpeaking at work on Thursday and the tutor told me about this free iPhone application called DragonDictate. It’s pretty cool, and it lends itself to posting to twitter and e-mail on either the iPad or the iPhone very simply.

Learning Dragon naturally speaking also opened my mind to the vast possibilities of using Dragon NaturallySpeaking on the computer. For example switching windows. The trick is using the vocabulary editor and set up options. The tutor also developed macros to shortcut things.

Okay the dictate function is limited. I’m now typing this post on the iPad. But it works for twitter, facebook and short emails. I’ve also used the copy/paste function to copy to the notes app.

Things seem more positive this week, generally.

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