Sunday, 26 March 2017
Saturday, 25 March 2017
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.
THE BIRD WITH THE BROKEN WING
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:
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?
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
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:
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
- Czech Republic
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.
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?
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.
Thank you , Mirren, for the coffee chat. Good luck with the new book "Night Witches". All the details are below so please keep reading.
Saturday, 25 February 2017
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.
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
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.