Sunday, 26 March 2017

Why I wrote a story about guardian angels - The Bird With The Broken Wing

A novel tribute to guardian angels

Growing up, books were scarce in our house. What books I read were borrowed from the library or given to me. But I wasn’t starved for imaginative stories because growing up with my mother you didn’t need books to fill your head with tales of mythical creatures. She was, and still is, more than happy to do this herself.
You see, my mother believes in dragons, fairies, ghosts and guardian angels. She believes in demonic possession, witches, druids, Hobbits and that the pyramids were built by aliens. On top of all this she’s Welsh and Welsh people are higher superstitious, though she used to play on this superstition and pretend she possessed powers to repel bad luck as a means of extorting money off her neighbours. It’s no wonder I have an active imagination. But I’m starting to think it’s a wonder I’m not terrified of my own shadow.  
My mother told me the tale of my guardian angel when I was fourteen years old. This was around the time my best friend, Vicki, and I were watching horror movies such as Evil Dead, Incubus, and The Amityville Horror. After she told me the tale I didn’t think I’d ever get to sleep again.
I was four when this happened, my mother told me. One morning I'd woken up and asked my parents who the lady was who sat on the end of my bed and watched me while I went to sleep. My mother had asked me what the lady looked like. I'd told her that she wore a white dress. Did this lady do anything, my mother had asked? No, I'd replied, she just sat on the end of the bed. Ah, my mother had thought to herself, this is Deborah’s guardian angel. (In my mother’s expert opinion ghosts in white dresses are angels. Ghosts in black dresses are demons. I often wonder that if I’d said the lady was wearing a black dress whether I might bear the scar of a cross on my forehead from being exorcised.)
Anyway, after I'd told my parents that a lady in a white dress sat on the end of my bed watching me drift off to sleep, and after they'd tucked me into bed, they'd waited a few hours and snuck into the room. The next morning they'd asked me if the lady had sat on the end of my bed and I replied yes. My parents hadn’t seen a thing, yet according to my mother’s expert opinion, only the ward of the angel can see their angel, so she'd believed me.
To this day I don’t know whether I really did a lady on the end of my bed, or if my mother filled my impressionable young head with tales of fairies and I conjured one up, but my mother believes I have a guardian angel. And if she says I have one then I must have.
Maybe it’s instinct or maybe it’s an unseen force, but sometimes I think guardian angels are the little voices in our heads that tells us which direction to take. When we listen, we go down roads we would never have otherwise taken and find our dreams waiting for us. Sometimes we stop for a second, and in doing so miss the bus but discover that missing the bus has changed our lives.
If I truly do have a guardian angel watching over me, then my YA novel "The Bird WithThe Broken Wing" is the only way I know of giving her a voice, because as many stories as I have to tell, she has many more.
What stories do you have about guardian angels. Do you have one? Do you know someone who does? Do you even believe in them? I'd love to hear your thoughts about guardian angels.
About the book:
"The Bird with the Broken Wing" was first published by Etopia Press in 2011. It is now available with a brand new cover and for a lower price in both ebook and print. Join other readers who have fallen in love with the dark fantasy story about redemption and forgiveness.
When mortals make mistakes, they're forgiven.
When angels make mistakes, they're forsaken.
Guardian angel Rachael finds herself trapped in Purgatory with Ben Taylor, a young soldier with a secret that's driving him insane. Desperate to see him ascend into Heaven she breaks the rules about becoming involved and keeping her identity a secret. Her decision to stay in Purgatory to help Ben seems a good plan. Except they've been stuck for ten years already and Ben is no closer to ascending.
The unexpected appearance of a feisty teenager, Jet Jones, throws Rachael's wings into a tailspin. The instant attraction between Jet and Ben means the angel's work is getting ignored. And without her help, Ben's soul will be trapped and she will have failed in her mission.
But Jet's appearance also brings a chilling revelation. Maybe Ben's soul isn't the only one that needs saving.
"Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen D L Richardson threw in a new twist." -  Savannah Edelen, Readers Favorite
"Recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a paranormal story with real teen issues." - Night Owl Reviews

Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Bird With The Broken Wing cover reveal - relaunch

What would Madonna do? It's the question I asked myself when sales had slowed for my YA titles. They're great stories that I really want to get out to the hands of readers so I asked myself what Madonna would do in this situation. True geeks will remember this reference to Sue Sylvester of Glee and if you do, kudos to you.

I'm certain Madonna would re-vamp and re-launch and it's what I'm doing as well.

Even though we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, let's face it, we do. And I'm glad because I'm so pleased that I hired a professional to redo the cover for the YA titles.

Here it is. The new cover for this YA dark fantasy noel about redemption and forgiveness.


Cover by  Loraine van Tonder of Ryn Katryn, digital art 

When mortals make mistakes, they're forgiven.
When angels make mistakes, they're forsaken
Guardian angel Rachael finds herself trapped in Purgatory with Ben Taylor, a young soldier with a secret that's driving him insane. Desperate to see him ascend into Heaven she breaks the rules about becoming involved and keeping her identity a secret. Her decision to stay in Purgatory to help Ben seems a good plan. Except they've been stuck for ten years already and Ben is no closer to ascending. The unexpected appearance of a feisty teenager, Jet Jones, throws Rachael's wings into a tailspin. The instant attraction between Jet and Ben means the angel's work is getting ignored. And without her help, Ben's soul will be trapped and she will have failed in her mission.
Want to read the book that earned 5 star review from Readers Favorite?
"Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, D.L. Richardson threw in a new twist to keep my mind going." - Readers Favorite 

Freedom from social repercussion - When Authors Go Bad Part 3

This is Part 3 of the "When Authors Go Bad" feature article.

If you'd like to read Part One:
If you'd like to read Part Two:
I decided to write these posts because they are topical and as a fiction author  I often take what is topical and speculate on what might happen if that practice continues unchecked. It's the basis of many of my novels. What happens if there is a global one child per couple policy? What happens if people continue to spend too much time in virtual worlds? 

In Part One and Part Two of this post, I spoke about click baiting as a lure to engage people on social media sites, and I looked at how social media has become a platform for those with opinions - good or bad - to share while waving the banner of free speech. When I say opinions, it's often a rant and rants have repercussions in any public forum.

This blog post is about the fallout from social media rants.

Is it really freedom of speech some authors are seeking, or is it freedom from social repercussion?
Simon and Shuster came under fire for paying US$250,000 for a book deal to Breibart News tech editor, Milo Yiannoppolous, a  man who five months earlier was permanently banned from Twitter for his racist abuse on Twitter to Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones. He claims his racist and sexist comments on Facebook and Twitter are waved under the banner or free speech, and he also claims that he's attracting fans with his freedom of expression.

Reading the comments on one particular news feed about this book deal and there were a lot of anger, a lot of debate, a lot of agreeing with the principal, but nobody was agreeing with his words he posted, just that he had the right to post them. Milo didn't mind the comments. He saw it as boosting his profile. There would be plenty of people who saw this as boosting the profile of 'hate crimes'.

Ever since the walls went up in communist countries, freedom of speech has been a much-waved flag. As writers, we understand the need for freedom of speech and freedom of thought. It's essential to our way of life. Writers have exposed the truth, conspiracies, brought evil to justice. Words have the power to evoke and to incriminate. Words can elevate the status of a person or lower it. Words are powerful. But where does the right to free speech end and the right to a public platform to spill hate and anger start? And should it be allowed to spill over? And is 'authors going bad' even a surprise?

It could also be seen as ironic that this entire three piece article has taken one person's rant and turned it into another person's discussion piece under the same banner of freedom of speech. The irony is not lost on me. This post is about questioning, right or wrong, we must question what we see, hear, and read.
It's this constant questioning that drives me to write science fiction and fantasy and speculative fiction.  As I writer I ask the question: "Can we do this?" and the answer is usually of course we can. But we need to ask the second question: "Should we do this?" And therein lies the discussion.
I hope you've enjoyed these blog posts. They are meant to provoke thought and discussion. If you disagree, then I respect your right to disagree. I hope we can continue to have deeper conversations.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Why I based my novel in the United States of America

There are many reasons why an Australian author might base their novel in another country or even another solar system. Genre plays a part, as does audience. For me, it made sense to base "Welcome to the Apocalypse" in the US for two reasons:

Number One:

Australia doesn't have the internet capabilities to pull off this level of virtual reality. In 2016 the census was organised in Australia and the system crashed the day we were all to log in and record our details, despite claims by testers that the website could handle 2 million users logging on at the same time. Maybe the website could, but Australia still runs primarily on phone lines for its internet. Put simply, it can't handle the congestion.

Any time it rains in my home town of Batemans Bay, the internet slows. Everyone is inside playing games or watching Netflix or socialising on Facebook. The second it stops raining, the internet operates at normal speed because people go outside for walks or to the stores.

This is the basic premise of the "Welcome To The Apocalypse" series: 100 players enter simulation pods and play a virtual game of apocalypses. The game malfunctions trapping the players inside.

The players go to a facility and slip inside glass domed pods that will hook them up to a giant computer. Just this week, a lightning storm blew out my internet modem, which contrasts with my reasoning because it lends credence to the reason for the malfunction in the game. Mmm, maybe I could have based the book in Australia. But I didn't.

So why not?

Australia is a very large continent with a surprisingly small population per square metre. Many people would look at the map and think we've got so much space, but much of our large continent is either desert, drought affected dirt, or rugged mountain ranges that can't be lived on. It's also either in flood or drought and its prone to bushfires, so we tend to occupy the edges of the continent. Which means the roads and cities and phone lines and internet system have to pretty much circumnavigate the continent.

Australia is only recently rolling out a national broadband network with fibre optic cables to take the load off the phone lines, but this fibre optic internet won't connect to up to the regional towns. We'll still rely on the phone lines from the nearest fibre optic hub to the home. So imagine a facility that can accommodate over 100 NASA designed stasis and virtual simulation pods and a complex with computers capable of running a program of such complexity that people honestly believe they are battling aliens or rogue robots.

Number Two:

Surprisingly, of the top 10 countries in the world with the fastest internet connection the United States doesn't get a mention. Akamai Technologies, a Massachusetts-based internet provider did a study on internet speeds and according to them the top 10 countries are:

  1. South Korea
  2. Norway
  3. Sweden
  4. Hong Kong
  5. Switzerland
  6. Latvia
  7. Japan
  8. Netherlands
  9. Czech Republic
  10. Finland
So if the US doesn't have the highest internet speed, why did I choose it for the location of a cyber game?

Here's why:

The "Hollywood" Factor
Like authors everywhere, I imagine my books coming to life in the movies or on TV. And if I can make the job easier for the Hollywood producers by basing the book in a country they live in, doesn't it make sense to do so?

Independent books are enjoying their moment in the sun with adaptations into film because not every  producer or director has a huge budget. This leaves indie authors an avenue to sell their books, and we're pretty keen to do. I've even enrolled myself into an online course to learn how to write a treatment and to pitch a book to Hollywood producers. I've managed to do module one so far.

There are some fantastic independent films. "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction" by Quentin Tarantino are two films that pop to mind.

Each year, dozens of dozens of movies are made that began life as a book, especially blockbuster books, but not all the adaptations are of million seller books.

This is just a dream, of course, and like most dreams it relies on chance and hard work. In the meantime, I'll write the series of books and learn to write a movie treatment, and who knows, maybe my plan will pay off.

Have you based a book in another country? And if so, did you have a specific reason? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments box.

Coffee chat with Mirren Hogan - author of new release historical fiction "Night Witches"

It’s party day for Australian author Mirren Hogan who is joining me in my virtual café to launch her new release, an historical fiction novel “Night Witches” the name given to a group of women who fought during the war just as hard and deadly as the menfolk.

You can join in on Mirren’s Facebook party with links at the bottom of the post. Firstly let’s welcome her into the café.

DL: Since this is a coffee chat and I have a virtual cafe, how do you drink your coffee/tea or other beverage of choice? And what is your favourite time of day to indulge?

MIRREN: As I'm speaking to you at night, I'll have a glass of red wine, thanks. And some cheese if you have it.
DL: It takes authors long enough to write a book, and then find a publisher. Even after it's accepted for publication it takes another small eon of time until it's released. Since you have a few books waiting in the wings to be released, how do you deal with the frustration of waiting? And talk us through the timing and process from the moment a book is accepted by a publisher.

MIRREN: I try not to think about it too much, but I'm pretty patient. I've also been really lucky in that my other publisher — the one not publishing Night Witches— is always on the lookout for opportunities for its authors to help get our names out there. Burning Willow Press is involved in anthologies, helping get a magazine back up and running, and a bunch of other things. So I'm kept busy. Hopefully by the time my books are out, people will want to look out for them.

The timing depends on the publisher. Night Witches has taken a year from submission to publication. After acceptance was editing, which involved two rounds with the editor and two with me; then it was working with the cover artist to make a cover we all liked (and finding the right plane for the cover). Then it's a matter of waiting for the book to be formatted and distributed. And bought, read and reviewed.
DL: You're booked to attend SupaNova Sydney this June 16-18 (sharing a stall with me yah!).  What's the number one thing you want to take away from this event?

MIRREN: Money, lol. No really, a few new readers would be nice, see a few panels, track down a Han Solo pop vinyl.

DL: Night Witches is historical fiction. Firstly, can you tell us the inspiration behind the story. And secondly, what was the reason behind writing this story as historical fiction instead of non-fiction?

MIRREN: The story itself was the motivation. What could be more cool than a group of women flying flimsy biplanes and dropping bombs on the baddies? Also that it was a largely untold story made it more compelling. It's a story people should know.

Why fiction? Because fiction is my thing, and non-fiction had been done about them and I didn't know what I could add to that without travelling to Russia.

DL: Lastly, you were on my blog a while ago and your favourite cake/biscuit was biscuit because a cake goes stale too quickly and isn't always covered in chocolate. Are you tastes still the same?

MIRREN: Yes, I stand by this statement.

Thank you , Mirren, for the coffee chat. Good luck with the new book "Night Witches". All the details are below so please keep reading.

About the book
Nadia Valinsky was a student teacher in Moscow until Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Determined to defend her people, she joins the Air Force; where the famous aviator Marina Raskova is recruiting women for three fighting regiments. After rigorous training, and in nothing more than canvas and wood biplanes, Nadia and her friends are sent to the front line, where they'll become the legends history calls The Night Witches. 

You’re invited to a party!
You can read more guest posts and check out the giveaways happening for Mirren's new release party.

About the author

Mirren Hogan lives in NSW Australia with her husband, two daughters, dog, cat, rabbits and countless birds. She has a Bachelor of Arts (English/ history), a Graduate Diploma of Arts (writing) and a couple of degrees in education. She writes fantasy, urban fantasy and science fiction, as well as historical fiction. Her debut novel —Crimson Fire— was released by The Dragon’s Rocketship Publishing in October 2016. Burning Willow Press will be releasing Nightmares Rise – co-authored by Erin Yoshikawa – on April 8. Mirren also had several short stories published and has co-edited two charity anthologies; for breast cancer research and Plan Australia.
 Follow the author
Don't go away just yet...
Attention budding writers!
 Mirren Hogan is also one of the creators behind a charity  short story anthology "Like A Woman". If you have a story about an inspiring or interesting woman that you’d like to be considered for this anthology, please check out all the details here. Submissions are open until August 2017.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Manipulating freedom of Speech - When Authors Go Bad: Part 2

This is Part 2 of the "When Authors Go Bad" feature article.

If you'd like to read Part One:
I decided to write these posts because they are topical and as a fiction author  I often take what is topical and speculate on what might happen if that practice continues unchecked. It's the basis of many of my novels. What happens if there is a global one child per couple policy? What happens if people continue to spend too much time in virtual worlds?  

In an earlier post, I spoke about click baiting as a lure to engage people on social media sites. Some authors, desperate to increase exposure and ergo sales, are falling into the trap of posting innocuous or contentious posts on Twitter and Facebook with the sole purpose of  inciting an argument, while declaring that they are merely stating their opinion. The risk for authors who are click baiting is that they allowing their integrity to slide for the sake of exposure.
In today's post I'm looking at how social media has become a platform for those with opinions - good or bad - to share while waving the banner of free speech. Or more accurately, 'It's my blog and I'll post what I want. And if you voice your opinion back then you're a bully." The risk to authors who wave this banner of free speech is that it's a two way street. You post something people don't like, and they have the right to comment on it.
I'm all for freedom of speech: take it away and we lose so much more than the right to voice our opinions, we lose the right to take a stand against behaviour that is criminal and offensive. Public opinion has the power to change civil liberties. The freedom to voice public opinion is a good thing and it should never be taken away.

The result of controlling the free speech mediums is censorship. Nobody in the free-thinking worlds wants to be like Korea or China or Russia, where free thought is not only discouraged, it can be against the law. Authors especially do not like to be censored. I've always considered authors to be the type of people who are opposed to censorship. A novel has the power to allow another person to consider another side of the story.

Authors need to operate under the banner of free speech. We need freedom of thought and opinion. We need to hold tightly to this flag and we wave it proudly. After all, many authors have shown us that it's not okay to hang a black man for a crime he didn't commit such as in To Kill A Mockingbird.

What we do not need is to start arguments in cyber space and claim that we do so while operating under the banner of free speech, and then cry foul if the results of said manipulation aren't what we expected. In a further post I'll talk more about Freedom of Ramification.

What do you think? Are some people taking the 'freedom of speech' premise and using it to exploit themselves and lift their profile? I'd love to hear your thoughts or if you've had a similar experience.

Next post coming soon.


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Siblings in speculative fiction and how they create conflict

When it came to choosing the main characters for my novel, "Welcome to the Apocalypse", I don't know why but I always had a brother and sister and a best friend in mind. Three characters fighting for survival in a world of never ending apocalypses, three characters looking out for each other as best they can.

Writers are often asked how we choose our characters, but the answer is often the characters choose the story. It's weird, right, but that's how it is for me. One of the character types I see quite often in fiction (and one that I don't always like) is the lone wolf character. No family. No siblings. No friends. This situation is sometimes important because a novel is very insular, and if you have too many external factors you can pull a character away from their mission.

Which brings me to the top reason why siblings as main characters work in speculative fiction.

Siblings who detract each other from the mission can be where the conflict lies.

"Supernatural" is a prime example of where conflict comes from the commitment to the family. Dean and Sam Winchester are hunters of demons who invariably end up entangled in a situation where one brother has to choose to finish the mission or save the other, all the while the other brother gets mad at the other because they didn't need saving and the mission should come first. These very typical, bickering, stubborn-brother mannerisms are the key to the success of this series.


Family commitment is a strong theme in "Welcome to the Apocalypse", Jack Minnow enters a virtual world and instead of running around shooting aliens and killing monsters, he spends a good deal of his time chasing after his sister to make sure she's okay. I wouldn't say he spends every minute detracted from his mission to have fun, but in the beginning it might appear that way. He often thinks about her, especially when it becomes clear that they're not getting out of this malfunctioning game and his parents are going to kill him if anything happens to her. For Jack Minnow, much of his internal conflict comes from deciding whether to have fun or look out for his sister.

Another reason why siblings work as main characters. They're often the first people we look up to as children.

Siblings are like super heroes

When it came to writing Jack Minnow, the older brother of my female character, Kelly Lawrence, in "Welcome to the Apocalypse", who sweeps in like a superhero to help his sister through a tough time in her life, early memories of my older brother protecting me from harm sprung to mind.

One of my earliest memories is of my first week in first grade and a boy telling me he was going to 'get me'. I knew what that meant, having four siblings, so I walked all the way home and told my mother that school was cancelled. She extracting the reason for my walk-out like she was pulling out a tooth, but she got the truth. I remember feeling so humiliated that I was never going to go back to school. Mum told my older brother what happened, and the next day he walked with me into the school yard, and told me to point out the boy who said he would 'get me'. My brother gave this boy his fiercest look, the boy took off, and I was never harassed again. My older brother also told me to fight back if I had to.


And the last reason for me why siblings work in my series has to do with my genre. I don't write romance.

Siblings means zero romance or love triangles.

Watch any TV show with a female and a male character who are not related but are of similar age, and the writers will invariably have them hook up at some point. I just didn't want to have a female and two male characters and leave any reader wondering if I would plunge them into a love triangle. By having siblings as main characters, I've removed that notion altogether. Not that I want to remove love or sex from the story, I just don't want it to be a plot line. Jack Minnow forms relationships in the cyber world. But not with the main character.

Jack Minnow sounds like the perfect brother right? Swooping in like a superhero, supporting his sister every step of the way? But he's far from perfect, in fact Jack has his own reasons for wanting Kelly to get over the death of her husband. He has his own reason for wanting his sister and his best friend to hook up. But I won't give away the spoiler. You'll have to read the book to find out. 

Extract from a review of "Welcome to the Apocalypse" by Rachel Sawyer.

Jack, good, sweet, protective big brother Jack. He fully encapsulated the big brother role; he was a hero, a friend, and a protector, just like older siblings tend to be (I should know, being the youngest of two sisters, this is how they are). He might not have understood Kelly, or her feelings, all the time, but that didn’t stop him from being right there in her corner. He was calm and collected in almost every apocalypse scenario (which is probably the polar opposite of how I would’ve handled cannibalistic children or alien invasions). He was the glue that held the trio together and for that I will always be a little bit “Team Jack”.

When I read the above review, I was touched. I felt I'd achieve my task of creating this older brother. Jack Minnow acts like a big brother to other players in the book. He befriend Reis Anderson the third main character, and took this troubled teen under his wing at fifteen. In the game, Jack meets a 16 year old boy and immediately takes him under his wing too.

Extract from "Welcome to the Apocalypse"

  A static voice came over the radio. Different to the first voice, this one sounded frightened.

"…anyone out there? Hello. Come in…"

The blood drained from Jack's head as he recognized the voice.

"…if you can hear me, my name is Douglas Smith and I'm under attack."

"Douglas. This is Jack Minnow. Where are you?"

Static. Silence. More static.

At last, the voice said, "I'm inside the cinema. Jack, they're outside. What do I do?"

"Hang on." He pulled off the backpack and took out his map. Attractions were usually featured on maps and he located the cinema on Roper Road. "Douglas, stay where you are. I'm on my way."

Kelly gripped his arm. "You just said we should stick together."

Save the kid or save the woman, he thought. How did superheroes deal with these tough choices?

Jack had met Douglas at the hotel the operators had taken him to during the biochemical disaster apocalypse. They'd ended up sharing a limousine and Jack had immediately taken Douglas under his wing. They'd sat in the hotel lobby eating pizzas and playing cards. Douglas had told Jack his theories. Broken computer. Broken pods. Training exercise. Military game. Terrorist attack. The kid had an active imagination, which was in stark contrast to everything the older generation kept predicting about kids who played video games.

"I have to get him," Jack said. "Reis, take Kelly to the armory and take charge of the small-scale explosive attack."

"What small-scale attack?" he asked.

Jack suspected Reis might be pulling his leg, but his friend was usually too literal to involve himself in pranks, so Jack had to suspect that Reis was suffering from shell shock, even though he told himself it was more likely cyber sickness. Gamers got it from playing in 3D for too long. He must have it, too, he realized, because he couldn't keep his thoughts under control. They were flying all over the place.

"General Yulrich will fill you in when you get to the armory," Jack said. "I'm going to get Douglas. He shouldn't be here."

Then he took off out the door and down the street before anyone could remind him that none of them should be here.