Going a-viking in 2016

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As I put my Pictish manuscript in a box to wait for someone to want to buy it, I head off on a new adventure.

Viking silver

 

Book Two, Raven Sword (working title) in “The Stone of Destiny” trilogy, sees my reluctant time traveller smack bang in the midst of Viking Scotland. I’m busy collecting pretty pictures to inspire; reading novels, text books, blogs and dedicated websites. Awesome fun. You may remember reader, how much I love researching.

Beyond that, I am working on the plot, sorting inciting incidents from character development to narrative arcs. Exciting times.

Viking Ship

 

 

There is something about starting a new story, it’s like heading on a journey. I work out a destination, plan the route, pack supplies and become breathless with excitement. Because, I know, beyond a doubt that my journey will deviate from my intended path, and possibly even find a new destination. It will be fun, frustrating, exhilarating and exhausting.

long house

A year from now, if I’m disciplined, I will have a wonderful addition to my writing portfolio. Who knows, I may even find a home for my writing and you will be able to pick up a paperback with my name emblazoned along the spine.

My year is going to full of adventure, some writing related and some other stuff. We’re off to Vanuatu in May and then I’m heading to the Historical Novel Society Conference in Oxford this September. I also plan to write Raven Sword, and finishing my Australian Historical, but that’s another story.

So, that’s my 2016 sorted. What plans do you have for the coming year? Are you too going to be writing, or do you have some other adventure in mind?

In good times and in bad

Hello reader. I know it’s been far too long since I last wrote to you. I can only apologise. I won’t offer excuses. We all know about LIFE.

So, instead of belabouring the point, I thought I’d give you an update.

I’m very excited to be able to share that I finally bit the bullet and sent one of my manuscripts out into the big world to find a publishing home.

Celebrate

I started writing The Kelpie King over ten years ago and it has seen many incarnations since then. It was always going to be a time-slip novel set in a castle in Scotland, but after visiting Scotland and Caithness last year, I’ve managed to focus the timeline and set the first book of the Stone of Destiny Trilogy in the time of the Picts. I’m in the process of fine tuning and polishing the prose one more time as I patiently wait for a request for the full manuscript. Oh, and I’m in the research and planning phase of writing book two. Exciting times.

On the home front, it’s been an interesting year for us in the Beavan household. My husband finished driving trucks full time and moved in to share our tiny office. Writing at one end and transport company at the other. It’s been fun, difficult and challenging, but almost a year on, we’ve sort of got it under control.

We’ve adopted a new baby, Miss Lucy the Jack Russell cross Cattle dog. She arrived with a leap and has disrupted our untidy life even more. She is the naughtiest thing, has no manners but is so darn cute we seem to have lost our will to discipline.

Not a brilliant photo, but she rarely sits still long enough to get a decent one.

Not a brilliant photo, but she rarely sits still long enough to get a decent one.

Flynn is back to his old self after I accidentally tried to kill him with a dog flea treatment that is toxic to cats. The dose I administered is meant for a 40kg dog, so he should never have lived. I thank my God for his grace and patience, as Flynn really shouldn’t have survived.

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Lola, the grand old lady of the house is getting slower as arthritis kicks in, but she loves Lucy and I’m sure the pup keeps her active and happy. I know her days are numbered, because when she can no longer make it up the stairs and into the house on her own it will be time to say goodbye. I’m not one for prolonging her life with medications for my own poor heart. But that time hasn’t come yet, so I’ll be enjoying every minute I have with her.

Lola loves Lucy’s bed best. She thinks it’s cosy.

So as 2015 draws to a close, Christmas shopping looms and summer is upon us, I’ll be thankful for what I have, and wish you all a wonderful December.

What’s it like: Copy Editing (or taking constructive criticism when you don’t expect it).

Some very good advice for newbie writers like me.

Kathryn Evans

Space for where my book will one day sit! Space for where my book will one day sit!

I’ve done it, more-or-less. More of Me is finished – there’ll be the possibility of minor tweaks when the proof copies are ready but all the tough writing stuff is done, including the final stage, COPY EDITS.

My Facebook pals, and worse, my Twitter followers (why don’t they let you edit tweets? I never see my mistakes until it’s too late!) will suspect any copy editor  of mine deserves a medal. My typos are disgraceful but I was very careful with my script. I spell checked until my fingers bled before I sent it off, but there were still things that came back needing correction. Some of which, for the first time since the edit process began, rankled.

It wasn’t the formatting things:

‘Speech marks’ should be “speech marks”.

Indentations should be

Indentations.

It was questions like this, “Why is Teva pretending to be dyslexic”:

She’s…

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Drum Roll! Cover Reveal: The Reluctant Jillaroo! Prizes to be Won!

Check out this awesome sounding read by Kaz Delaney.

Kaz Delaney

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Well, I’ve been waiting and waiting… Waiting to get the Hi-Res final copy of my cover so I could show you. And finally I’ve chased it down!  Do you know, have any idea, how hard it’s been to sit on this!!

My agent, Jacinta di Mase, summed it up when she said this cover is ‘simply delicious’. And she’s right. It just draws me back and back to it. So pretty. And it’s got horses inside! Well, not pictures, but the story certainly features horses. I hope you love it as much as we do.

Expect to see it around because – why not? It’s so gorgeous, I may not be able to stop myself flaunting it.

And so, without further ado…

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What do you think? I’d love to know.

My publisher, Allen & Unwin, intro:

Surf-loving Heidi impersonates her horse-mad twin to help Harper get a scholarship to…

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Juggling with history

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There are times reader when I really have to wonder what on earth was I thinking? Historical Fiction, should be fun. Or not. I love historical fiction for so many reasons. I love learning about how people lived, their hardships and triumphs; difficulties and the simplicity. If you can call it that. But let’s face it, the lines were clearly drawn and though we may not like some of the things that happened, given the times, would we behave any differently?

Recently I purchased a book, and paid much more than I could ever have imagined I would. The foreword really resonated with me; expressing my sentiments about the past exactly.

Dawn in the Valley

“The history of the Hunter River Valley is the history of human effort, of lives spent in making clear the path through a continent; for this valley was the road of settlement to the North. Men cleared it and spent their lives and sweat and labour, sometimes from greed, in desperation and sorrow, but with all their strength. And it is these lonely and forgotten and savage lives we think of as we read of their day of toiling behind bullock teams, the long day riding, felling, fencing and building their homes. 

We are now in those easy circumstances where we can reproach them for waste and folly, for killing the native dark people, for destroying the forests, for eroding the hills and causing flood by ignorance, destruction of wild animals that ate their crops. Would we have done as well? At least let us who have our ease from their early labour learn how they went about their sturdy land-getting and reflect that ours must always be a less endeavour. For if we do not honour their toil and hopes we have no right to our bread which comes from the paddocks they cleared.”  Foreword by Kylie Tennant. DAWN IN THE VALLEY by W. Allan Wood. 

I’ve chosen to write an historical novel and include real people with histories. This is a decision I’ve often lamented. Because by including real people and real events, I have to try to make sure my story fits and to know when to juggle the history to suit the story.

George Wyndham

This choice has slowed my writing down considerably. Instead of forging ahead with the first draft {although this WIP is not really a first draft, more like a fifth or sixth} and writing 2,000 -3,000 words each day for a month or so, I find myself stopping constantly to research and read about characters and events. I love this kind of research. I could do it all day. I frequently manage to read all day and instead of clocking up 1,000 words, I’m lucky to add 83!

Will this research be worth it? I hope so. I want to write a story about the people who laboured, dug, cleared and built; who fought, killed and bled. I want to write a great story with the right degree of historical accuracy. Because that’s the kind of story I love the read.

How about you? Does historical accuracy matter? Do you like to understand why the people who went before us did what they did? Tell me, do you even like historical fiction?

 

Using real life in the narrative

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Hello again reader, it’s me.

One thing that I love about having a crazy topsy turvy life is that everything that happens is grist for the mill!

I’ve lived on a sheep station, I’ve travelled and lived out west. I’ve been through bush fires, and floods. Each and every experience has given me an insight into how my characters might handle various situations.

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After all, historical fiction or not, people are people and mostly people react emotionally to situations.

Recently we’ve had an unusual weather system hit and much of the area was crippled due to category 2 cyclone conditions, flash flooding and heavy rain. It hit close to home when my sister’s property was flooded.

Used with permission.

Used with permission.

I have no idea how many horses, cattle, dogs, cats and other pets were lost in the flood waters. There were several deaths and many dangerous situations. These floods aren’t unusual in themselves, its just that the folk who live in town are less effected by the weather. This storm that lasted days, has impacted tens of thousands of homes and properties. Many of the effected were town dwellers, where water and power supplies were disrupted for days. Phone service was limited and staying in contact was difficult. This really hits home when you can’t contact people who may or may not be in danger.

Hay delivery

In my current WIP (work in progress) I have my MC (main character) battling the elements as she takes on the responsibility of running her father’s property on the newly colonised Hunter River. There are fires, bushrangers, natives, and of course floods.

I’ve made use of 1830’s diaries and journals to get a sense of place and time, and have already written of a flood that decimated crops and livestock. Now, having been through this natural disaster, and experienced the devastation first hand I have more scope for my writing. The above is a picture of my husband (standing in the water) and my sister’s brother in law going by boat to “rescue” my brother in law and nephew from their stranded and water logged house; and taking hay to cattle on tiny islands of high ground and seeing floating dead cows, I have so much more to add to my story. A part of me feels that using this experience is a little off. Like ambulance chasing, but on the other hand, I hope this last week or so can add a depth of reality to my writing.

Sometimes a writer must delve into the darker side of life. We examine the hard stuff. Sometimes we write about the things that make us cry, and sometimes if feels like we can hardly express it.

I like to read the hard stuff, to delve into the real thing. When you read or write, do you like to go into the dark places? Do you like a story with the hardships laid out, or do you prefer a more romantic view of life?

 

 

 

A little about setting

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Hello again reader, sorry it’s been so long. All I can say is life seems to have taken some interesting twists and turns and I’m just now beginning to catch up.

My days have been jam packed and writing is only one part of the routine. But I am pleased to be able to say it still has top billing. I’ve actually been blessed with more time to call my own, but somehow, it’s also been sucked down a vortex of having to share my house again.

One of the things I’ve been contemplating is my story setting. With any novel, there needs to be research done. Even when you know your subject, there are points and information that will need checking.

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Sinclair Girnigoe Castle, Caithness, Scotland UK

Sinclair Girnigoe Castle, Caithness, Scotland UK The setting for my YA timeslip.

I began writing a YA time slip story about ten years ago, I got about half way through and got lost. I found I couldn’t write it when I had never been to Scotland. In an effort to not simply stop writing, I decided to write an Australian Historical. Maybe a short story. Just to keep my writing happening.

I found a suitable competition for a story of about 3,000 words and thought it sounded perfect. 100,000 words later I had my first ever finished first draft. It was wobbly, had no structure and way too many adverbs and adjectives, but I finished.

Fast forward seven years and several million words, well maybe a bit less, but you get the idea, and I’ve dragged out the old manuscript and have started again.

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Hunter River, setting for my historical fiction

 

The setting for this is the early settlement of the Hunter Valley and it’s been so much fun to research where we live. There is so much I didn’t know about the river and the people. Every time I come across a familiar name in historic accounts or articles I want to add yet another character to my too long list.

The setting in my stories are pretty much a character in their own right. From the wild northern coast of Scotland, to the brown ribbon of the Hunter River, I love to weave in a sense of place for my characters to move about in. I also love to read stories that ground me in the setting. I want to feel as if I am standing in the characters shoes and looking out through their eyes; smelling, feeling, experiencing everything they do.

Some of my favourite authors are really good at this and I find reading their stories inspiring. My top 5 favourite Australian writers are Kate Forsyth, Juliet Marillier, Cathryn Hein, Margo Lanagan and Felicity Pulman. But I can’t fail to mention Diana Gabaldon, Jilly Cooper, Stephen King and Nora Roberts.  I love lots of different writers for different reasons, and we’d be here all day if I listed them all. Now reader, how about you? Who are your favourite authors and why? I’d love to hear from you, so don’t be shy.

Back into the fray . . .

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Here we are reader, almost half way through January 2015 and I have to say my life has been hectic since I finished NaNoWriMo in November. Most of December was taken up with preparing for an audit for our business. With new laws and expectations, I ended up needing to rewrite our entire business policies and procedures as well as implementing a lot of new strategies. The audit was the week before Christmas and we passed with flying colours. So then it was time to get ready for Christmas. Shopping, cooking, present wrapping and cleaning.

We made it through the week between Christmas and New year with little to do and prepared to enjoy the break. I started back into my daily work schedule, decided to paint the interior of our house, started painting, it was all looking good.

Before

Before

After

After

And then the MOTT had a heart attack.

After the angiogram

After the angiogram

As you can imagine, this has taken it’s toll on Miss Muse, she took off and hid in the archive box and wouldn’t come out. So I spent a good majority of the last 2 weeks at hospitals, doctors offices and trying not to freak out. MOTT is fine, out of hospital and preparing to annoy me for the next 8 weeks until he is cleared to resume driving a commercial vehicle.

But, I am taking the opportunity to write while he is running the phones and chasing loads. I need to write a minimum of 30K in the remainder of January, so I can get my ms to Felicity Pulman for her perusal. After being fortunate enough to win a mentorship with the awesome author of “A Ring Through Time”, “The Shalott” Trilogy not to mention the “Janna Mysteries” and her latest release “I, Morgana”, I certainly did not want to blow the opportunity. So from now on reader, I will be writing like a wild thing.

If all goes well, I’ll share a snippet with you soon. So enough about me, what have you been up to? Have you ever read any of Felicity’s books? What did you think? I loved the “Shalott” series, and have “I, Morgana” on the top of the pile beside my bed.