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!!

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!

From the Waste Land: announcing the stories!

wooden bridge in snow

One hundred years ago…

TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, a masterpiece of modernism, reaches back into legend and forward into dystopia. First published in October 1922, the poem resonates with the grief of the Great War.

You know, ‘the war to end all wars’…

A hundred years later, we can easily empathise with that mood. But we also know that, despite our fears, humanity continues its struggle to find the goodness and the light.

Autumn 2022

I’m thrilled to announce that later this year PS Publishing UK will release our anthology From the Waste Land: stories inspired by TS Eliot (edited by Clare Rhoden), marking the centenary of publication!

PS Publishing UK
PS Publishing UK has acquired our anthology

Meet the stories

With a mix of ghost stories, sci-fi, fantasy and apocalyptic tales, these original stories conjure wastelands from the 1500s to many centuries ahead.

You’ll also find hope for humanity and a belief in our shared future.

You’ve already met the wonderful team of authors; now let me introduce the contents.

Delightful, shocking, unique, extraordinary… you’re sure to find something amazing in these gems of speculative fiction.

From the Waste Land: contents

Death by Water, by Grace Chan
A Winter Respite, by Clare Rhoden
She Who Walks Behind You, by Leanbh Pearson
The Watcher of Greenwich, by Laura E. Goodin
Exhausted Wells, by Tee Linden
Rats Alley, by Jeff Clulow
Fragments of Ruin, by B.P. Marshall
Dead Men, by Cat Sparks
A Dusty Handful, by Aveline Perez de Vera
Lidless Eyes That See, by Geneve Flynn
A Witch’s Bargain, by Rebecca Dale
And Fiddled Whisper Music on Those Strings, by Eugen Bacon
Mountain of Death, by Austin P. Sheehan
Fawdaze, by Rebecca Fraser
Over the Mountains, by Tim Law
A Shadow in This Red Rock, by Louise Zedda Sampson
Dry Bones, by Robert Hood
April, by Francesca Bussey
The Violet Hour, by Nikky Lee

sunrise
Autumn sunrise … hope for the future (photo C Rhoden)

Keep an eye out for more news as this exciting project nears completion.

Personally, I can’t wait for the cover reveal!

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!)

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

The Ten Stages of Writing a Series: Part 1 The First Novel

The Chronicles of the Pale series

This month is the second book-iversary of my dystopian fiction series The Chronicles of the Pale.

I’m very proud of these books and still very much in love with them.

But how did this love affair with talking animal stories begin?

Today I’m letting you into the ten hidden stages behind the Chronicles.

Stage 1: An Idea

Ideas comes from everywhere. I can’t stop them.

This one began with a dream in 2014. We were shut inside a gated compound while outside, crying babies were dying from exposure. We couldn’t get out, but my dog Dinny (an ancient and beloved German Shepherd) snuck out and carried the two babies into safety.

German Shepherd Dinny
German Shepherd Dinny, the original model for Mashtuk

From small kernels of inspiration, a big story grew.

Dogs had to feature!

Stage 2: A Short Story

The story of the babies left to die Outside was too good to lose, especially during the height of the worldwide refugee crisis. The wise and compassionate canini Mashtuk and Zelie, the heartless humachines, and fully-human Hector appeared in my head.  I wrote them into a story and submitted it to progressive journal Overland. My first ever short story acceptance!

Man-machine-dog-Illustration
Man-machine-dog-Illustration from Overland #215

Man/Machine/Dog‘ is available online.

If you’ve read The Pale, you might like to see where it started.

Stage 3: A Novel

After the story was published, an indie publisher contacted me because my Overland bio said that I was writing a novel about these characters.

Ahem.

I hadn’t started, but I immediately began. Ideas came too fast and the novel grew too long, but I submitted it within six months.

Stage 4: A Rejection

Sadly, The Pale Version 01 didn’t make the grade. The novel was BLOATED with too many characters and dozens of subplots, and falling over itself with over-complex world building.

While the feedback was positive, the novel needed severe editing.

Stage 5: An Acceptance

More time passed. I took a good hard look at my manuscript and pruned a few thousand words. Some of the off-cuts were old favourites: names for every (and I mean every) minor character, a newly invented calendar based on the many seasons recognised in indigenous cultures, and a subplot involving flashbacks to the time before the Great Cataclysm…

Then I sent the new manuscript to my dear, dear beta readers. Their ultra-valuable feedback (thank you – you know who you are!) resulted in more tidying…and THEN

I sent the manuscript off to another indie press looking for new authors.

The Pale cover detail: Mashtuk
The Pale cover detail: Mashtuk

About three months later, and email came, asking if The Pale was still available.

Yes! I shrieked. Yes, yes, yes!

(Thank you Odyssey Books!)

 

What next?

Oh, my. Having a novel published was a lifelong dream come true.

I fell onto a steep learning curve. Working with fiction editors challenged me, but I could see that every discussion, every point, made my work better. A wonderful cover artist sent me concepts, and I jumped with delight on the one with the city and the canini – of course, it’s Mashtuk!

I’ve talked about launching here, and I can still remember the wonderful feeling. The Pale sold some copies. Readers contacted me and asked about the characters and what happened next? The characters gambolled around in my head.

And the publisher said: is there a sequel?

Next week, I’ll explain how I got from a single dream to a three-novel series … and perhaps a set of short stories in genesis.

The Pale
Chronicles of the Pale #1: The Pale

 

Australia Reads!

Kitten and question

Do you love cats? Do you love reading?

Yes of course!

Do you like hearing yourself read? Hmm, not so sure 🙂

This happened to me this week:

I recorded a reading for Australia Reads

And I read … the first chapter of my forthcoming book HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR MAGICAL FAMILY

Kitten
If you love kittens, you’ll love How to Survive Your Magical Family

You can hear this sneak peek in Episode One of Australia Reads from Australian Book Lovers

For the celebration of Australia Reads this month, our friends at Australian Book Lovers (ABL) gathered together over 4 HOURS of free stories from Australian authors.

I’m thrilled to take part and even more excited at the opportunity to promote reading.

With thanks to all the fabulous Australia Reads Ambassadors in every state, and especially to ABL for including me 🙂

Check out the fabulous titles! I’m very pleased to see fellow Odyssey Books authors Phil Hore and Lachlan Walter among the list.

Here’s the all-important link:

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1718602/9185906

And here are the

Show Notes:

From ABL: To celebrate Australia Reads and the Australian Reading Hour, we’ve put together an audio extravaganza of truly spectacular Aussie authors reading from one of their amazing stories! So tune up the ears and ready the imagination for the following wonderful audio treasures –

The Link in case you missed It:

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1718602/9185906

 

Keep an eye out for more news about

How to Survive Your Magical Family

Love is in the … anthology

Crown Affairs

Do you like romance?

If you’re keen on a little HEA (happily ever after) in these locked down times, maybe a peek into this romantic anthology is just what you need.

Crown Affairs: royal entanglements of steamy proportions , from US publisher Paramour Ink, is now available in both Kindle and paperback editions in Australia:

 

Scandal, love affairs, tales of relationships that go against the odds and more can be found between the sheets…pages…of Crown Affairs, steamy tales of love among royals.

From olden time romances to modern royalty trying to escape the paparazzi, there’s something for all romantic types in this anthology from Paramour Ink.

Keep a fan handy, because things can get a little hot…

 

Watch out for my story “An Unexpected Arrival”. Poor Crown Prince Felix didn’t plan for his mistress and his betrothed to visit him at exactly the same time…

Stories in this anthology are from Lynn Yorke  (Author), Chisto Healy (Author), Clare Rhoden (Author), Lana Trick (Author), Alice Mollihan (Author), S.O. Green (Author), Dorian J. Sinnott (Author), Jodie Francis (Author), and Matt McGee (Author)