Book lovers give the best Christmas gifts!

Looking for a special present for a special someone? These “December specials” might suit you. While stocks last, you can get three fabulous deals:

DEAL #1 — How to Survive Your Magical Family 

A sweet magical coming-of-age novel for ages 11+ and all cat lovers

One signed paperback and a small cat-themed gift, plus free standard postage, for only $22.95 (Australia only). Order it by December 12th for pre-Christmas delivery.

Magical Family with wrapping
Time to wrap up your gifts for book lovers

DEAL #2 — The Stars in the Night

My historical novel of the Great War. Buy one signed paperback plus free standard postage for only $19.95 (Australia only). Order it by December 12th for pre-Christmas delivery.***

Book The Stars in the Night
‘An emotional and beautifully-written novel about a war that should never be forgotten’

DEAL #3 — The Chronicles of the Pale Box Set

A stunning dystopian world with heart, soul, and hope. For ages 15+. 

The complete Chronicles, with one copy of all three novels, signed, plus standard postage for only $45.95. Order the box set by December 12th for pre-Christmas delivery.

three books of chronicles of the pale
The Chronicles Box Set … won’t come in this box!

“Progressing through the series, I was in awe of the author’s ability to handle grief and intense drama, yet bring hope, faith, loyalty and kindness into such abysmal chaos.”

 

Thank you for reading and sharing my books.

And please remember how awesome it is if you ask your local library to order one of my books. It helps me to reach readers and adds it mite to the upkeep of the writing attic, all at no cost to you. Thanks!!

Halloween: Special Price on magic cats and scary adventures

girl reading book

This Halloween, there’s a special price on signed copies of How to Survive Your Magical Family!

Order here before MIDNIGHT on OCTOBER 31st for your copy at the spooktacular price of $22.95 including postage! Australia only.

Grab your copy now!

Here’s what readers are saying:

What an incredibly sweet story about a boy, friends, family and a loveable group of cats! — Megs, on Goodreads

This is a fun magical story! Really really cool worldbuilding here. I love in general that cats are the “good guys” even though this is a story about cool, sometimes spooky, magic. — Julia, on Goodreads

“Waiting is the hardest thing ever.” Heart, soul, and adventure; this one has it all. Absolutely a light, fun read. — MyBookNest7

I really liked how cute the story was, where it went, the cats, and how they colored the whole story. I feel like there’s a second book in the future. There is not really a cliffhanger, or any thing to indicate that specifically, but I was left with some questions I could see wrapping a second story around and I would absolutely be there to read it. — Steph Bauer

♥️If you like books featuring cats…ESPECIALLY magical cats….this is your next book to pick up♥️
🐈‍⬛ 👀🐈‍⬛👀🐈‍⬛👀🐈‍⬛👀🐈‍⬛👀 — ShortBookThyme on Instagram

Hashtag Magical Family! Miaow!

Read all the Goodreads reviews here

My cat fever is getting spooky

boy holding book

I have cat fever. It’s like hay fever but much more furry. Can it have anything to do with How to Survive Your Magical Family?

Everywhere I look, there’s a cat. It’s quite spooky now that my cat book is here. Seems the neighbourhood cats know something.

Maybe they sense me spending too much time on cat memes and images like these.

black kitten looking sad
Cats everywhere! Image by Huda Nur from Pixabay

My page of cat links is live with cat-loving video games, movie recommendations and more. Can you suggest any more links for me to feature?

In the meantime, here’s a little snippet of the action:

While Helen drew the sedan over to the side of the carriageway, I walked slowly along the wet verge, scanning the asphalt where the cat was struck, listening for any mewing. There was no sound other than the slick swishing of tyres on rainy road as the traffic sorted itself back into its usual pattern. There wasn’t even any blood. In the gutter, though, was a silver bracelet.

The bracelet was pretty battered and bent, but it looked like solid silver. I considered picking it up. It had a charm clipped on it, in a kind of round shape. But I was searching for something alive, so I walked right on, scanning the verge. Nothing. I turned back toward the car.

Passing that shining bit of silver again, I could see that the round charm was actually in the form of a cat, and the bracelet was more of a bangle and not so battered as I first thought. When I turned to look at it a third time, the round cat charm was seated upright on top of the bangle, looking directly at me.

I gave in. I’m not my father’s son for nothing. Okay, cat plus charm plus silver equals magic. Though why the street cat thought this was a kitten …

I picked up the bangle…

***

Can’t wait to read on? How to Survive Your Magical Family is available now at these online stores:

Odyssey Books

Booktopia

Amazon Australia

Barnes & Noble

book cover How to Survive Your Magical Family
How to Survive Your Magical Family

But wait – there’s more!

Watch out for more news – a Halloween special is coming.

With a book featuring magic cats and clever crows, it’s only right.

Spook you soon – I mean, speak to you soon!

How to Survive Your Magical Family

cat and book cover

How to Survive Your Magical Family is here.

I have actual paperback copies in hand and I’m thrilled.

smiling woman with book
It’s here! How to Survive Your Magical Family is in the hands of readers. Enjoy!

Here’s the blurb of my new book:

Toby’s family is no ordinary family.

They are magical, talented, and special.

Toby’s father is a surgeon and his older sister is a lawyer. But Toby’s dad is also a renowned wizard, and so is his uncle, and his sister can influence people. His mum was special too, but she had to leave…

Toby isn’t any of those things. The only special thing he can do is pretty useless. Toby can talk with cats.

When Toby and his sister rescue a family of abandoned cats on the side of the road and Toby spots a mysterious silver bangle in the gutter, everything changes.

Mia is Toby’s best friend. She’s not magical either – she doesn’t even know magic exists! But when she watches Toby get on the wrong bus to school and a ferocious bus driver screams away with Toby on board, Mia’s world is about to change too.

How to Survive Your Magical Family is an exciting adventure filled with mystery, cats, friendship, and of course, magic!

girl reading e book
Making little waves in reader-land: How to Survive Your Magical Family

If you love cats, or magic – and especially both! – this is your book. For confident readers 10+, and cat lovers of all ages. It’s a book with a dual point of view (‘dual POV’ in book-speak), with half of the story told by Toby and half told by Mia.

cat posing for scratches
Is this Katkin the arch-cat? Image by rihaij from Pixabay

I’ve made a page all about this new book, including a variety of buy links, and I’m also putting together a page of CAT LINKS!

If you love cats, you might want to check it out.

And if you have any great cat sites that should be included, please let me know!

Miaow for now, my friends.

From the Waste Land – sharpening your appetite

From the Waste Land

Hey everyone! I’m re-blogging this fab post about From the Waste Land by one of the amazing contributors. I’m sure you’ll agree that reading just a little of this will sharpen your appetite for the entire anthology.

We can’t wait to share it with you!

In the meantime, try this:

From the Waste Land – a new anthology by contributor BP Marshall*

*and a reminder about his wonderful novel The Last Circus on Earth

The Last Circus on Earth by BP Marshall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And also admire the fab graphic created by multi-talented contributor Cat Sparks!

From the Waste Land
From the Waste Land edited by Clare Rhoden, graphic by Cat Sparks

 

Where The Weird Things Are, edited by Clare Rhoden and Austin P Sheehan

book cover

I’m delighted to announce a new member of the family: Where The Weird Things Are Volume 1 is here!

A collection of strange and sometimes spooky stories, Where The Weird Things Are Volume 1 is your guide to travelling Australia and Aotearoa … but with fantastic and freaky adventures.

My story ‘A Beechy Boy’ was inspired by the little bush block we had for a long time at Gellibrand River in Victoria’s Otway Ranges. Some of you have visited me there! My, it was beautiful.

But that persistent fog. Those strange noises in the night. That creeping cold. That monstrous king wallaby. That sense of remoteness in the night.

They all come together in a story that riffs off the old ‘Little Boy Lost’ tale. I hope you enjoy it!

Available now as an e book at the Zon: Weird Things Vol 1 e book

 

And as a paperback on Booktopia: Weird Things Vol 1 PB

 

And I’ll have my own paperback copies coming soon, for anyone who wants it signed.

Where the Weird Things Are Volume 1 is published by Deadset Press, one of Australia’s foremost independent publishers of awesome speculative fiction (PS, check out their site for new story calls!)

From the Wasteland: what’s it all about?

A new anthology of speculative fiction called From the Wasteland will gather original stories inspired by TS Eliot’s The Waste Land  

I first had the idea for this collection last December while walking the Empress (otherwise known as Aeryn Spoodle).  I was listening to an episode of ABC Classics’ The Game Show (music from video games). This episode had a very dark theme. Naturally my mind turned to my studies into First World War literature, and then to The Waste Land.

The Waste Land begins with a chapter titled The Burial of the Dead. The very first line says that ‘April is the cruellest month’. What an attention-grabbing start!

The 434-line poem is Eliot’s extended lament for the lost lives and the destruction of the 1914-1918 war. He’s talking about the collapse of civilised behaviour, the wanton wreckage, the widespread despair. And he does it in style.

Australian headstones at Tyne Cot cemetery
Australian headstones at Tyne Cot cemetery on the Western Front (my photo from my 2011 study tour)

When I got home from my walk, I looked up the poem, recalling that it includes dozens of splendid lines. Then I discovered (re-discovered?) that the poem’s first publication was in 1922.

Lo and behold, 2022 would be the centenary!

The idea of an anthology of Wasteland stories burst into my head. Wow! so many good lines there that are almost irresistible as story titles – for something in literary speculative fiction genres. (Literary spec fic? Think Margaret Attwood and Octavia Butler.) Look at these phrases for a start, all from The Waste Land:

  • a heap of broken images
  • they called me the hyacinth girl
  • looking into the heart of light
  • the barbarous king
  • are you alive, or not?

I’ve invited a select band of other active speculative fiction authors to write short stories springing from Eliot’s poem. I’m thrilled to say that we are a merry band of 19 writers. You can see more about them here.

snow covered trees
My story is based on line 5 of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land’: Winter kept us warm, covering earth in forgetful snow’, from the first section of the poem, ‘The Burial of the Dead’.

‘From the Waste Land: speculative fiction inspired by Eliot’ will include ghost stories, fantasy, horror, steampunk, dystopia and queer romance. All will be intriguing and amazing tales.

I’m doing my best to ensure that this anthology will come out in the second half of 2022 to coincide with the poem’s centenary. I’m very busy querying publishers–no easy feat when we don’t actually have a completed manuscript on hand yet! And of course, I’m writing up a storm with my collaborators…

It’s going to be fabulous. Keep an eye peeled for more news about this wonderful project.

More new stories: 2022 writing projects

Welcome to 2022

A year of potential, of reckoning, of change and reassessment. A year of the Tiger, a strong character who banishes evil and demonstrates courage. It’s a year to keep going.

For me, 2022 is a year for new writing projects, and the completion of earlier ones. Let me show you my planned journey.

New writing projects

From the WasteLand

An anthology of literary speculative fiction inspired by TS Eliot’s seminal poem The Waste Land, first published in October 1922.

Stories inspired by one of the most important poems of the 20th century

If you are unfamiliar with the poem, suffice it to say that it’s as long as a novella, and its subject matter is the fragmentation of society during and after World War One (WWI). All in beautiful, strange, evocative words. I’ll be writing a lot more about this project soon. It’s going to be wonderful and amazing.

Peggy’s Story

A companion novel to The Stars in the Night

In this novel, I’m focussing on the Australian home front during WWI.

I’m writing a new novel about the women left at home during WWI

If you’re familiar with Stars, you’ll know that it’s the story of two brothers, Harry and Eddie, who fight at Gallipoli and in France. This new book will fill in all the gaps about what was happening back in Semaphore. More about this story as it progresses. I hope to have the whole manuscript completed this year to submit for publishing in 2023 or 2024.

Where the Weird Things Are

Aussie Speculative Fiction are about to publish a guide to the fantastic, freaky, and far-out in Australia and New Zealand.

Coming in early 2022, Where the Weird Things Are Volume 1 will feature a story of mine, inspired by our former bush block in the Otway Ranges.

How could a kangaroo inspire a horror story?

I’ll be working on the edits soon and I can’t wait to see this tale in print.

How to Survive Your Magical Family

My middle-grade novel

Don’t worry, How to Survive Your Magical Family is definitely coming this year, from the wonderful Odyssey Books. There have been just too many interruptions to the publishing industry, and too much pressure on staff due to the pandemic.

How to Survive Your Magical Family (2022 release)
How to Survive Your Magical Family (2022 release)

I’m now hoping for a February release. And I’ll most definitely keep you updated!

Forthcoming stories

In 2021, I kept busy with some substantial shorter fiction for themed anthologies, as well as the odd little tale for drabble collections (a drabble is a tale told in EXACTLY 100 words, no more, no less).

New Tales of Old Volume 2

New fantasy tales based on old myths, fairy stories and legends.

New Tales of Old Vol 2

This features my story ‘Starting Over’, set in the same world as The Chronicles of the Pale. It’s being published by Black Ink Fiction — and yes, I’ll let you know as soon as it’s available.

Fantasy on Four Feet

Tales from the animal kingdom: fantasy stories coming in 2022

Original stories from the animal kingdom

This fantastic (pun intended) anthology is coming from Black Ink Fiction in March. My story features the Cwn Annwn, ghostly hounds of the Welsh hunt.

Ancient Gods

Stories about a fantasy ancient kingdom inspired by Greek myths and legends

Ancient Gods: tales inspired by Greek mythology (2022)

In this wholly realised world, gods and demons vie for supremacy, with humans at risk. Twelve inter-linked stories unfold the tale of the semi-divine women who must face the demons. My story is  ‘Ione and the Sea Demon’. This is also coming from Black Ink Fiction in 2022.

Cursed Shards

Fantasy tales of a malevolent magic mirror

Lady Marian’s Gambit in Cursed Shards…coming in 2022

An ancient curse, a lingering threat: these stories tell of the evil effects of the broken mirror’s curse. The stories are all based on legends and all feature the fateful Fae mirror. My story ‘Lady Marian’s Gambit’ plays with the Robin Hood legend. This is coming in 2022 from the groundbreaking Australian independent Black Hare Press.

Winter Shocks

This wintry horror collection features my drabble about the Sugar Plum Fairy. The book is available now from Black Ink Fiction. Here’s a link: Winter Shocks

Winter Shocks – tiny tales of terror published by Black Ink Fiction

And not forgetting From the WasteLand

…but a whole lot more about that next time.

Till then, happy reading.

 

 

My Five Star Reads of 2021 … and a peek at 2022

taking-baby-for-a-walk

Here are (some of!) my five-star reads from 2021.

Of the 80 or so books I read every year, some stand out. As I’ve mentioned previously (see my post on book choices), I’m pretty good at judging what books will suit my readerly needs. I should be, after reading so many!

If your reading preferences are anything like mine, you might like to check out this selection from my 5-star reads this year.

Recommended Reads 2021

Permafrost

A stunning debut collection of wonderful short stories

 

Permafrost by SJ Norman

Coralesque

Prepare to be amazed. A great book to take on your beach holiday, full of scary seaside stories

Artifact Space

A wonderful first instalment in a new coming-of-age series. take yourself to the stars and beyond with this exciting and diverse novel

Worldshifter

A brilliant little novella about a world-building alien who just happens to be one of the sweetest -dog-like characters you’ll ever meet

Worldshifter by Paul Di Filippo
Worldshifter by Paul Di Filippo

Taking Baby for a Walk

A terrifying story about a missing child, set in an ordinary Queensland town. Unputdownable. How about that cover in the top image of this post?!

Danged Black Thing

Black fiction that leaps and cavorts, alive with challenge, wit and a very big heart. Read these stories with gusto and amazement

Before You Knew My Name

An unusual read for me. This is the best murder mystery I’ve ever encountered, and I love the way it foregrounds the victim instead of the vile killer. Eye-opening and such great writing.

Court of Silver Flames

My favourite of the entire series. An insightful and tender exploration of depression and anxiety through the lens of dark fantasy.

The Gulp

Ha! Want to be terrified on your summer road trip around Australia? Meal-sized tales of antipodean horror from a master.

The Harp of Kings

The first of a new series by Juliet Marillier, whose evocative writing immerses the reader in ancient Ireland. Myth, romance, adventure and tragedy combine in this wonderful story.

Watch out for in 2022

As a reviewer, I’m privileged to read quite a few books prior to their release, in the form of ARCs (advanced reader copies). I love being considered an advanced reader LOL! Here’s one I adored for its teeming, lush fantasy world.

Saint Death’s Daughter

And here’s two that I can hardly wait for! From the marvellous Odyssey Books, out early in 2022:

Fleetwalker by J Victoria Michael
Fleetwalker by J Victoria Michael

Fleetwalker

The eagerly-awaited third book in the GriffinSinger series … and of course

How To Survive Your Magical Family

A fabulous new fantasy from yours truly 🙂

The link is to the Booktopia pre-order page, but I’ll have my own pre-order page early in the New Year. Keep your eyes peeled!

 

How to Survive Your Magical Family (2022 release)
How to Survive Your Magical Family (2022 release)

Run and won: The Stars in the Night giveaway

Book

Thank you to everyone

Almost 100 people entered the draw for  The Stars in the Night  book giveaway earlier this month. Awesome! It’s nice to be wanted.

I’m happy to tell you that a signed copy of the book, plus the little rosemary sprig badge, went to country Victoria and received a glowing welcome!

Here’s some ideas for anyone who missed out:

  • ask your local library to order a copy for you to read. Getting the book into more libraries means that it reaches more readers, which is wonderful. And a trickle of Public Lending Rights cents go to the author, which is a lovely thing … yes, if you see my book on the shelf, please borrow it 😉
  • keep an eye out for a special price on the eBook version coming next month – for most of December, The Stars in the Night will be on special
  • see if your book club would consider adding The Stars in the Night to their 2022 reading list. I guarantee that it would make fabulous reading for the month of April, when Anzac Day shines renewed interest on war service and its aftermath

Some reflections on social media for authors:

I decided that The Stars in the Night book giveaway would do two jobs: send my work to another reader, and give me feedback on my communication channels.

I’ve listed the effectiveness of each channel, in descending order:

  1. My newsletter received the bulk of responses (76%)
  2. Personal Facebook page (8%)
  3. Author Facebook page (6%)
  4. Author Instagram (5%)
  5. Personal instagram (3%)
  6. Word of mouth (neighbours) (1%)
  7. Word of mouth (family) (1%)
  8. Twitter (0)*
  9. Pinterest (0)

Of course, this is my experience with one giveaway, and most of the numbers reflect my pattern of usage. I’m not on Twitter much (*someone did enter from Twitter, but ineligible as it was for Australia only), and rarely on Pinterest (though I have an absolutely AWESOME collection of pins related to my books).

HOWEVER

I don’t send newsletters very regularly. The strong response surprised and gladdened me! With this mini-experiment, I have a new direction for communication in 2022.

Oh – and keep an eye out for my December newsletter. Coming soon!

Book and brooch
The Stars in the Night November giveaway