Bear Heart is Published!

 

Words cannot express how thrilled I am to announce that I’ve published my first story, Bear Heart!!!

It’s currently uploading to itunes and Barnes and Noble, however, it will take time for the sale to appear there. As for Kobo, I’ll be uploading it there today and I’ll make notifications on Twitter and Facebook when it’s live. However, you can grab a copy right now on Amazon by clicking on the image of the cover below.

bear heart small

I will be doing promotions for it over the coming month and I’ll post here when they’re available. I’m going to send out the first chapter to all newsletter subscribers in the coming month. I’ll also be sending them snippets from the next book in the series.

I wrote about my Bear Heart writing process on Author Central, but I will re-post in here for you all to read.

 

Writing Bear Heart
This novella is the first of a series of novellas I’ll be writing about Klawdia. Klawdia is a supporting character in the my Concealed Power (The Healers of Meligna Series) novel which I am releasing in three weeks time. This novella precedes Concealed Power and gives information about the Ruxdor nation located North of South Senya, where Concealed Power takes place.

I wrote Concealed Power first and Klawdia’s story came to me from writing that first novel. I spent quite a bit of time learning how to write fight scenes for this book, to my surprise, I found myself a natural at it. I also downloaded the “Winter Survival Course Handbook” for U.S. marines to derive ideas on how to live and survive in snowy climates. I also watched documentaries on Youtube, read books from the library and asked experts on their advice.

As for the fighting methods, Brandon Sanderson has an excellent and extensive series of fantasy writing methods on Youtube. I’ve learned so much from him, taking writing courses and generally just researching how other writers create engaging fight scenes.

Klawdia is a very different character from Adenine, who is the protagonist of my Healers of Meligna series. Klawdia is assertive, proactive and bold whereas Adenine is quite passive. I think this is why Klawdia and Adenine –later on in the history — develop such a close bond.

Klawdia has been inspired by others characters I’ve come to love such as Balsa from Moribito: Guardians of the spirit (a japanese anime– absolutely worth watching); Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore and many other ‘strong’ but not cliche, female characters.

I intend to write 5-6 novellas in this series and they will span 15 years of Klawdia’s life; although large periods of time will be skipped. I loved writing Bear Heart and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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Concealed Power: Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Over the next week, my parents kept me locked in my room. After many nights of weeping over having lost my sight, I became used to the darkness. Father visited me for what felt like many hours a day, leaving Mother to run Mystoria.  He read to me every day, but I didn’t want him in my room. He scared me because of how he’d hurt Uncle Garrad.

‘I might be going away,’ he blurted in the middle of reading a tale from the northern country of Ruxdor.

I didn’t know if he’d try to hurt me too. I turned my head to hear his words clearer; I didn’t want to miss anything. ‘Why?’

‘Do you remember when Uncle Garrad and I had that fight?’

‘You mean when you killed him,’ I said, angry that he was trying to lessen the badness of what he’d done.

‘Yes.’ He paused for a moment. ‘Well, I shouldn’t have done that. A lot of people didn’t like that we fought. And they don’t want me to fight again, so I have to go.’

‘They hang people. I’ve seen the bodies from my window. The hangings outside that big building. Are they going to hang you, Papa?’

I’d asked Mother about the large building, why it was always surrounded by soldiers and guards. She said it was the council building where powerful men, like the mayor, dealt with complaints of the people, crimes, and approved building and farming, and collected taxes.

‘Promise me you’ll take care of your mama. You promise?’

I nodded, but it took all my might to not wrap my arms around him and hold him forever. My cheeks were wet with tears, and I heard Father sniffle.

‘Now. Mama is going to miss me. But you don’t let her dwell. Don’t ever let her spend too long thinking about what could have been.’ He patted my head.

I jumped up to grab him but stopped. Instead, I screamed, ‘You can’t go! You can’t. Don’t leave me. It’s not your fault. It’s my fault!’

He put his hands on my shoulders and shook me a little. ‘It’s no one’s fault. Blame is a sure way to suffering. Accept, Adenine. Let go.’

He let go of me and walked away. I tried to follow, but he spun me around so I was disoriented. I put out my hands, searching for him, and found only a cobweb in the corner of my room. I gave a little yelp, imagining the spiders it held, and heard the door to my bedroom close. The lock turned.

I ran in the direction of Father’s fading footsteps, found the bedroom door, and kicked and banged on it. ‘Father! Father!’

***

Later that day, a chanting began outside our house. ‘Murdered, murderer, murderer…’ The voices blended into an unearthly chorus.

About five years before, I heard the same chanting, but I’d been too small to see through my window. I had built a rickety mound of toys and boxes to stand on so I could look at the commons. I’d only seen the legs dangling in the distance, but even then, I knew that was what they did with bad people. I asked Mrs. Moferberry about it, and she said bad people did bad things, and they were sent to the next life earlier than most. The next life was where people went after they died. Really bad people like Father didn’t go there, though. But he wasn’t bad because he’d protected me from my Uncle Garrad.

I heard some banging and shouting.

Mother cried, ‘No! Please, no!’

I rushed to my door, trying not to trip or stumble. Father had said people didn’t like that he’d fought with Uncle Garrad and that they wanted to punish him for it. I pressed my ear to the door, and the sounds deep inside the house seemed to get louder. I heard the shuffle of footsteps against our stone floor, the clearing of throats, and the desperate voices of my parents.

‘He was protecting Adenine, our daughter,’ Mother said.

‘Quiet, Capacia!’ Father snapped.

‘What daughter, Capacia?’ a man asked.
Mother didn’t respond.

The stranger continued, ‘Have you gone crazy? Did you give birth during the night?’ A few men broke into laughter. ‘I’m sorry. Murder is murder. We have to take him.’

‘It’ll be all right, my love. Look after her.’ Those were the last words that I ever heard my father say. At the time, I hadn’t known who he meant.

The voices quieted, and the fading footsteps told me the men were leaving. Mother’s sobs replaced the silence, echoing off the stone walls and making it sound as if the house itself were weeping. Outside, people began to chant.  I ran to my attic window and pressed my ear against the icy glass.

‘Murdered, murderer, murderer…’ The cries grew louder and louder, then the crowd hushed.

A man spoke. ‘By decree of King Erageo and Captain Festral, we hereby charge Ardonian of Mystoria with the murder of his brother, Garrad. Ardonian will be hanged at midday on this day.’

Father was going to be killed. Had he washed before leaving me earlier? There were many people who could die out there. I couldn’t lose him. I couldn’t hurt everyone.

‘No!’ I screamed and banged against the window. ‘No. No. No.’ But then I stopped, knowing that if anyone heard me, if anyone discovered me, they might take me away. And if they touched me they’d fall ill, and I’d be responsible for the death of someone else. Not just one person, but the plague would spread and kill thousands of people like before. I couldn’t do that, but the knowledge that I couldn’t help Father made me feel small and useless.

I collapsed on the floor and curled my legs against my chest. Father would stand before the judging eyes of Borrelia’s townspeople. I remembered Mrs. Moferberry describing what happened when a grown man was hanged. Thinking about that made me stand up again and resume my shouting.

‘No,’ I said one last time and slumped to the floor again. I held my breath, waiting, because I knew what happened next.

‘Release!the man yelled at last.

A gasp from the crowd was followed by an eerie silence. I crawled towards my bed, pulled myself onto the linen sheets, and wept.

The next day I awoke to the town crier giving the midday news.

‘Hear ye! Hear ye! Ardonian, patriarch of Mystoria, has been hung for committing the crime of murder on his brother, Garrad of Borrelia.’

***

The days blurred, and the nights were freezing as winter set in. I could almost feel the snow falling outside, and the icy winds seeped between the cracks of the walls around my window. A week after Father’s death, I turned eleven, but there was no celebration. Mother visited only to bring me food and to light my small bedroom hearth.

‘Mama,’ I said. ‘Mama, don’t go.’

She didn’t seem to hear me. I tried to get out of the room, but she was always too quick to catch me. My stupid blind eyes made me helpless. One day, I almost got out, but she pushed me back in the room and squashed my hand in the door.

‘I’m sorry, Adenine. I’m sorry. I can’t let them take you too,’ she cried.

Nursing my injured fingers, I said, ‘Mama, don’t leave me alone.’

But she had already gone back downstairs. And then I realised that Mother blamed me for Father’s death. She was angry at me. And she was right to be so. I was a bad person, an evil person, and it was my fault Father and Uncle Garrad were dead. If my uncle had not loved me so much, if I had not been born, my father and uncle would be alive. My parents’ kindness had protected me, but I was their mistake, not their daughter. I stopped eating, I stopped sleeping, and I stopped crying.

Mother began to visit more often. She would read me stories and put food into my mouth, but the darkness of my mind became a shield that I hid behind, protecting her from me. I had to protect people. I couldn’t let them love me anymore.

I knew that Mrs. Moferbury would no longer come. I was glad about that. She wouldn’t be hurt by me either.

Mother seemed to grow sadder and angrier. She’d pull me into her arms and onto her lap screaming, ‘Forgive me! Forgive me. I love you. Come back, Adenine.’

It was strange how at the beginning, I had needed Mother to say those very words. But I had discovered that silence was best.

Winter passed. I ate enough to live. I obeyed many of Mother’s instructions: stand, undress, bathe, drink. But I never spoke and was always happy to get back to my bed, to get back to imagining myself in a world far away.

One night, Mother brought me the usual evening dinner, but instead of turning to leave, she shouted and punched the bed. It scared me a little, and I wondered if she would start hurting me like Uncle Garrad had. I deserved nothing less.

‘If you do not live, Adenine, I will die. I will kill myself for I cannot go on without you.’ Her voice seemed miles away, somewhere beyond where I could be reached, somewhere that didn’t matter to me anymore.

Die? The word soaked into the thick nothing inside me. No, I can’t let her die. Father. He had told me to care for her, to look after her, and I wasn’t doing that. It was my fault he was gone, and I wouldn’t disappoint him by disobeying.

The smell of the hot wheat bread and spiced stew wafting up from the food tray alerted me to my hunger. My stomach ached, and my mouth was as dry as salt. As I surfaced from the depths of my mind, my thoughts swirled and raced. But one of those thoughts was steady and sure, and its glow put the others into shadow.

Mother wants me to live.

Her happiness was more important than my life or death. She had loved me, embraced me, and taken care of me, and all I had done was hurt her. I was no more precious than a piece of waste rotting in the streets, swarmed by flies and looked upon with disgust.

I moved my head in her direction. The bedclothes her face was buried in muffled her sobs, and I reached out and felt her plaited hair.

Her head jerked. ‘Adenine. Adenine. Talk to me.’

‘Mama,’ I tried to say, but the word cracked on my lips.

She gasped, scrambled up onto the bed, and scooped me into her arms.

 

 

 

 

 

My Process. Indie Bits ‘n Pieces.

As an indie writer, I believe in sharing my knowledge about the process of creating my business platform. Every indie writer should use wordpress (WP). Of course if you can afford to have some marvellous website developer create a site for you then go ahead and do that. WordPress is fairly simple, but to create a really useful site does require ‘some’ technical ability. If you have lots of patience, you could definitely make it something GREAT. I’ve been messing with WP for a couple of years now, so I’ve learned a thing or two.

How do you make a wordpress website? Well, there are many ways. But personally, I’m hosting with Hostgator. They have a function in the Cpanel (the back of your website where the technical stuff happens) that AUTOMATICALLY installs wordpress for you. They also give you ENDLESS tech support. So definitely worth the sign up fees.

As for the graphics on my website. So far, all done by me using Photoshop CS4 and DeviantArt brushes.  I’m sure my graphics aren’t perfect, but honestly, I’m so busy with my writing that I don’t have a lot of time to create sparkly graphics. So that suits me. I think they look good enough.

Finding the money to fund indie writing can be a challenge so doing things yourself really helps to cut down costs.

Things you should not spare money on: Editing!

I won’t say how much I paid for editing. But it was above the mean, weekly salary for an Australian income earner and it’s worth it. Every. Single. Cent.

You’re a writer. You need to write well. You need to learn where your strengths and weaknesses are. A critique group could help you with this, but nothing beats an editor with experience.

Who did I go to for editing? Red Adept Publishing. Specifically, Lynn O’Dell who is a wonderful person. She knows her stuff and honestly, she talks so much sense into my gung-ho, newbie-writer mind. It must have been torture for her on the first draft of my manuscript because honestly, it was tragic. Since then we’ve worked together. I’ve learned so much and I stuck with my story taking 6-7 months to bring it to a publishable form. Is it good? I think so! 😉

But honestly, you need to have thick thick skin in this writing world. Does that mean you won’t have breakdowns? No. You will certainly have mini meltdowns. But you will grow, and learn, and when your editor has butchered your manuscript for the third time you’ll realise that you’re getting better. You’re improving and one day you’ll awe your readers. Imagine that!

As for the covers of my novels, I’ve decided to go with Streetlight Graphics. Tabitha is an indie author who knows her stuff. She is taking care of my novel art and formatting and so far has been responsive and communicative. But honestly, I wanted to find someone who was affordable AND good. For $260.00 I’m getting a cover and formatting for various different platforms. A really great deal!

If you want pro covers that draw the eye and leave the viewer breathless, you’re looking around $500 dollars a book (just for the art, no typography or formatting). If this makes you cringe, realise that the product is the artists business. They need to make a living from their work and have spent countless unpaid hours developing their skills. It doesn’t mean that the cost isn’t painful though, and after you’ve been through payment for editing, seems a huge investment for one book. If you want to compete with the vast amount of other writers out there, then sometimes you need to fork out the money.

But then there’s the money the book ‘might’ make. Let’s do a little maths. *cringes*

If you set your novel at $2.99 on Amazon. You’ll get 70% royalties. Which is about $2.10 in your pocket.

Let’s say your initial costs for the book were $1200. In order to come out even you would need to:

Divide 1200 by 2.10 = 571.

So you need to sell 571 copies to make back your initial investment. Over ten years of your novel being ‘out there’, I think that’s feasible. You’d only need to sell 1 copy a week for 10 years.

Personally, I suggest you don’t quit your day job. It will help you fund your art until you’ve built up an established reader platform. I already have an established business that helps  fund my writing, but am hoping to go full-time writing some time in the future. If I never do, I’ll still be writing. And I LOVE writing.

So that’s a run down on ‘my stuff’. There’s probably a horde of errors in this post, feel free to point them out and also any other suggestions on how I can improve my process… I am ALLLLLLL ears! 🙂 Bye!

2013 February already? Yay!

 

excited

 

Yes little adorable kitty, I am. I really really am. *wipes away tear*

So far this year I’ve been on two holidays, been to three music festivals, gained a new roommate and have been cracking the whip on my writing. At the moment I’m writing 5000 words a day, or 2 chapters. I intend to keep this up 7 days a week and maybe letting myself off 1 chapter here and there. I have the enthusiasm of a new writer with none of the jadedness and am determined to use that energy to its potential.

Right now my manuscript, currently named Concealed Power (Book 1 of the Healers of Meligna series) and previously named Adenine, is being read by two proofreaders. Concealed Power is booked in for cover art design and formatting in May and the release date is set for April 5th. Since I’m new at all this I’m still working out the most efficient way to get editors, artists and ‘formatters’, lined up. Soon it will be on a publishing platform near you (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Itunes, etc). I’ll give specifics closer to the date.

I was working on the second novel in the series, but have decided to write a novella. It’s been nagging at me for a while and it’s based on one of the characters from Concealed Power. So TOTALLY RELATED. Her name is Klawdia and the book will probably be called Klawdia. Creative, I know. Once I’ve completed the first draft I’ll devise a blurb and post it to my blog, FB and link Twitter to it. All those social networking activities that proves I’m a responsible business owner.

Why has the novella taken priority? Because I’m making it FREE! Permanently!

It’s important that readers can sample a taste of my writing before they commit to purchasing a novel. And also, I just LOVE to get my stories out there and have people enjoy them. That’s why I do what I do. So far my biggest fans are people I know. I need to throw awesome, quirky strangers like YOU into that mix!

Book two of the Healers of Meligna series should be released in June. I’m hoping it’s released sooner, but right now I’m finding my footing and challenging my limits. That’s what Ghandi said we should do. No? Well, I bet I can find a quote for it (or make one up in photoshop: challenge accepted).

So, things I can promise you:

Klawdia will be out next month! And it WILL be totally free!

I can guarantee that Concealed Power will be out in April!
I promise to post all cover art up for you to drool over. Okay okay, for me to drool over.

 

Your magical world dweller,

~Kylie~

Phew!

My first post for the year. And after five months of head-down/bum-up, I’m finally getting to the end of my editing-fest. I had major re-writes in this novel, why? Well, the first reason is I’m an amateur. I’ve had a university education, I’ve written blogs and helped people with resumes, cover letters, and even worked on publications. But I have never brought a novel to it’s publishable ‘form’.

Creative fiction is a whole other world, full of ambiguity and irritation, but in the end it’s ALLLL worth it. Thank god for my editor. I had many ideas of how a novel ‘should’ be. She helped me realise that many of them were wrong. Did I like hearing that? God no. But I did listen, and pondered, and re-wrote, and re-wrote, and it seems I’m getting close to what is needed.

Where would we be without our editor’s fresh eyes, critical remarks and all around sensible bring-us-down-to-earth ‘Track Changes Comments’ in Microsoft Word. Our editors throw themselves on our ready-to-explode-from-horrific-errors, manuscripts and groan and mutter as they correct our shameful mistakes. They’re forced to be people-managers as they deal with our fragile egos that crumble under the pressure of having our overvalued words stripped from our manuscripts. It’s a tough love that creates respect, trust and gratitude.

I’ve been exceptionally humbled by this process and can say that I’ve grown so much in how I convey my ideas. I’m still an amateur, maybe I always will be, but I have LEARNED LEARNED and LEARNED some more. That is the most valuable jewel that I have obtained from chipping away at padding, preposterous prose and predictable plots.

I hope you have a successful 2013!

If you are a writer struggling with your manuscript. Don’t. Give. Up.

Hire someone to give you REAL feedback. Someone who knows what your story SHOULD look like if it’s to ignite that soul gripping spark in your readers. As writers we’ll always need editors, but what can change is how much work we put those editors through.