Wednesday, 30 January 2013

How to choose tense and point of view when writing a novel

Well, my third novel Little Red Gem is off to my publisher of choice. Writing 60,000 words is difficult enough, the editing process is doubly difficult in that you're tidying up bits here and there, you're looking at chunks instead of the whole book, or you've looked at it over and over and can't pick up the typos anymore. So it wasn't until I tweaked the ending and did the final read through that I really fell in love with this story.

The thing that surprised me most is that I'm not a romance writer, so why was I even attempting to write a young adult paranormal romance novel? In typical "me" fashion, if I was going to do this, I wanted to do it well. I think I have nailed it. I'm very happy with the end result and I can only hope the publisher is too.

So what are some of the things I did differently with Little Red Gem from what I did with The Bird With The Broken Wing and Feedback?

Point of view:
Little Red Gem is the first novel of mine (published, that is) that is solely told with one point of view. As a writer, I need to determine the best way to tell the story. In my two earlier novels, I determined that I needed to tell the story with multiple points of view. This deterred a few readers, but at the end of the day, I had to stick by my principles and write in the way that best told the story.

Because single point of view can become bogged down with "I" statements (a wonderfully helpful editor pointed this out to me in an earlier and still unpublished novel), the entire first draft was written in third person, single point of view. This allowed me to avoid too many "I" statements and add in the beautifully descriptive detail I've become known for.

Present tense:
Little Red Gem is told in present tense. Again, I had to choose the writing style that best suited the story, and (provided the publisher accepts it this way) present tense was selected for a reason that I can't tell you here. You'll have to read the novel to see why.

Because present tense didn't come naturally to me, the entire first draft was written in past tense and then converted to present tense in the first round of editing. This allowed the writing to flow and I didn't become absorbed with getting the tense right, just the content.

I did carefully consider which tense to write in and present tense won the vote. Now, some readers absolutely refuse to read anything written in present tense. I'll admit, The Hunger Games was unsettling to read at first, but I got used to it pretty quickly and found it easy to get into and follow. Same with I Am Number Four. After all, the first-person/present-tense novel is very absorbing. A reader can't help but be hooked. But this isn't why I chose it.

When writing a novel, a writer needs to give consideration to whatever is best for the story. Again, hopefully you'll see why I chose present tense when the book is released.

During my earlier novels, the backstory was usually a stop/start flashback sequence. Now, this isn't the wrong way to tell backstory, but I did it this way in both The Bird With The Broken Wing and Feeback due to my inexperience. In Little Red Gem, however, I was able to weave the backstory into the writing without the need for stop/start, and I did this by using a techinique I learned at a writing course. 

What is backstory? It's what the author knows and what the reader needs to know to make sense of the story. Backstory must be relevant. One way to know when to keep backstory in is to ask yourself: "If I didn't write this, would the reader know what's going on?"

There are many ways to tell backstory. Prologue. Flashbacks. Different fonts. Separate chapters. Paraphrasing. Briefly dropping it into the chapter using past/past tense. What I did was this. At the start of each chapter I wrote dot points of the history behind the main character's actions and this helped me to drop the breadcrumbs throughout the book because the other important part to backstory is knowing when to let the reader know it. It needs to be sprinkled throughout the manuscript otherwise it's just an info dump best suited to a prologue.

Whatever you decide to write, you'll know which style to use.

Happy reading!

D L Richardson


D L Richardson is the author of speculative fiction. She has three teen novels and one short story anthology published. Her first novel reached number 2 at OmniLit and number 38 at Kobo Books. Her second reached number 1 at OmniLit. Little Red Gem is her third novel and recently won 2nd place Best Books of 2013 Paranormal Cravings. She lives in Australia on the NSW south coast with her husband and dog.

Contact information

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Twitter    !/DLRichardson1

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Pretty, deadly, creepy plants in fiction

Plants often featured in literature. They can either be the setting for a murder, as in a jungle or greenhouse, or they can be the actual murder weapon, as in strychnine or cyanide. Plants are also featured on many books covers, such as ivy that strangles or deadly nightshade that is beautiful yet toxic.
Plants have many uses in real life as well as in fiction novels. Healers use the flowers, roots and leaves to extract deadly poison to make life saving potions. Witches traditionally do the opposite, extracting the goodness from a plant to create a deadly potion, though historically witches and healers were the same thing. Speaking of history, the Wolfsbane plant was once used as means of detecting if a person was a werewolf.
Here, I take a look at some of the world’s deadliest plants. Some of which are still commonplace in gardens and yards around the world.

Hemlock is perhaps the most common plant in literature as it is often associated with witches. There are a few varieties but all wreak havoc in the central nervous system of its victims. Hemlock contains five toxic alkaloids and every part of it – fruit, roots and leaves – are lethal to humans. There is a long history of children being poisoned by making pipes or whistles out of the stems. Hemlock’s most famous victim was the Greek philosopher Socrates who was ordered to drink it. Hemlock was commonly used in Greece to execute the condemned. A sadistic and torturous death, because unlike many other deadly plants, Hemlock produce no carcinogenic or hallucinogenic qualities, hence the victim has time to reflect on the reason for his condemnation right up to the moment of death.


Wolfsbane is both pretty and deadly. The vibrant purple flowers are commonly found in backyards. It is loads with a toxic which causes asphyxiation. A villain in a fiction novel might mix up a batch of monkshood stew to do away with the hero or heroine. In literature, it is commonly associated with werewolves. The word wolfsbane probably comes from people using it to poison wolves and this wolfish connection seems to have crossed over into literature. In the Harry Potter series, Wolfsbane  is used to ease the symptoms of lycanthropy (an actual psychological condition where a person believes they can transform into an animal) thus preventing Professor Lupin from losing his mind during his transformation into a werewolf.

Venus Fly Trap

Venus Fly Traps are better known as man eaters in fiction. Like the ones owned by Morticia Addams, named Cleopatra, and Audrey Jnr, who had a starring role in the Little Shop Of Horrors. The book and movie The Day Of The Triffids featured carnivorous plants that became mobile and sought out human prey. This plant is often referred to as a man eating plant, though never has it eaten a human. Myths surrounding this man eater began in 1881, when tales of a tribe in Madagascar that fed a woman to a giant man eater as a sacrifice surfaced. The stories were believed to be true right up to 1955 when the book, “Salamanders and other Wonders” exposed the tribe and the myth originator as fabrications.

Angel Trumpet

Lovely to look at, and with such an innocuous sounding name, the plants are anything but harmless. In fact, this plant is voted the one most likely to turn a person into a zombie. Causing hallucinations, many teens have been known to test the substance by brewing it like a tea, but not many have survived. All parts of the plant are poisonous. A traveler to Peru in 19th century told of a man who had fallen into a stupor, his eyes were vacant, his mouth convulsively closed and his nostrils dilated. In fifteen minutes his eyes began to roll, he frothed at the mouth, his whole body convulsed and then he went into a fitful sleep. Zombie stories originated from the deepest darkest jungles, after travelers witnessed people drinking psychoactive drinks, some of which were then believed to be dead and buried, only to have these victims recover where they crawled out of their graves.


Everyone has heard of this plant, or as it is sometimes more sinisterly know – deadly nightshade. This plant, also known as the devil’s cherry, and it is toxic from tip to top. Legend has it that Macbeth’s soldiers poisoned the invading Danes with wine made from the sweet fruit. It seems authors are still fascinated with deadly plants, because nightshade is a very common title for short stories, novels, television episodes, fiction series, even comic books. In ancient times, this toxic plant was used in medicine, as an antidote to snake venoms, as a pain reliever, and as a stimulant. In the book and movie The Hunger Games, one of the Tributes was accidentally killed by eating berries known as nightlock. Though these berries are a work of fiction, they are a derivative of hemlock and nightshade, both of which are truly deadly.


D L Richardson is the author of speculative fiction. She has three teen novels and one short story anthology published. Her first novel reached number 2 at OmniLit and number 38 at Kobo Books. Her second reached number 1 at OmniLit. Little Red Gem is her third novel and recently won 2nd place Best Books of 2013 Paranormal Cravings. She lives in Australia on the NSW south coast with her husband and dog.

Contact information

Website Facebook  
Twitter    !/DLRichardson1

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Goodreads book giveaway "The Bird With The Broken Wing"

I'm holding a giveaway on Goodreads where one lucky reader will will a print copy of The Bird With The Broken Wing. 1 copy only up for grabs. Ends Feb 25, 2013. Will it be you? It might be, but only if you enter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Bird with the Broken Wing by D.L. Richardson

The Bird with the Broken Wing

by D.L. Richardson

Giveaway ends February 25, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Conflux 9, April 2013 - workshop and panel session


Conflux 9 – The 52nd Australian National Science Fiction Convention
Rydges Capital Hill, Canberra ACT
April 25-28 2013
I've recieved in my inbox the confirmation for the Conflux 9 convention I'm participating is as a workshop holder and panel member.
Workshop - Focus on the message not the messenger - navigating the marketing minefield
Panel session - Elegant promotion or just plain annoying - Promoting yourself with social media. The tips and traps of promoting books, films, events or your sense of humour. Take a journey through good and bad examples. This panel discusses various pros and cons of reaching audiences in this digital age.

I've also put in requests for a few other panel sessions which I think are suitable, so fingers crossed I get chosen. Anyone wishing to check out the entire program can do so here Conflux 9

Steampunk outfit
Conflux has organized a Steampunk High Tea at 3pm Thursday 25 April 2013. Here's what an attendee ought to wear.

Here's the bio I put together for the program:

D L Richardson (Debbie) has a background in sales in marketing within the music and film industry, and when she landed a publishing contract with small press publisher based in the US and had to do her own promoting, she fell back on this experience. She writes young adult fiction that blends paranormal elements with real teen issues and is committed to delivering YA fiction that ignites, excites, and delights her readers. Her novels The Bird With The Broken Wing and Feedback are widely available through online retailers and she is soon to release her third novel Little Red Gem. She has contributed on many blogs with interview and guest posts, and as well as her author blog she runs a sister-site dedicated to teens called InterestTeen. Her website is When she’s not writing she likes to play the piano and guitar.

I'll keep you updated as more details come to hand.

D L Richardson

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Teen novel “a nice change, no vampires”

That’s what a small group of 14 year old English students had to say recently about my young adult novel The Bird With The Broken Wing.

I've always wanted to be a writer, and an international one at that, still I never expected an American publisher would be the one to accept my debut novel. I submitted novels to every Australian publisher, and I’ve been rejected by every Australian publisher. But which writer hasn’t been rejected? Most of the responses were similar – publishers were looking for something unique. Well, I believe I've penned a unique novel in The Bird With The Broken Wing.
I attribute much of my success to my childhood. I grew up in the late 70’s in the western suburbs of Sydney. We didn’t have all the gadgets kids today have. We played air guitar and pretend games. We used to drive our mum nuts by dragging all her sheets out into the yard and fashioning houses out of the sheets and the washing line. We’d drag all the food out of the pantry and then set up shop to sell the food back to her. My imagination definitely got a workout.
My two young adult novels The Bird With The Broken Wing and Feedback are widely available through online retailers and at select bookstores. The Bird With The Broken Wing is a novel that has some of the tone of my childhood. It is a work of fiction but the rawness and honesty is something that comes from growing up in a raw and honest area. And no vampires.
How much of a part did school play in my success? Looking back, I can see that English played a huge part. Without a love of English, you can’t write novels. I had great English teachers. They did everything in their power to keep the kids engaged. The Outsiders by S E Hinton was the book that kick started my love of reading.

Two novels released and a third nearing completion for submission to US publisher Etopia Press, I have a busy year ahead of me although I can't forget that 2012 was a great year. I had two novels published, I conducted two radio interviews, but it looks like 2013 is my year for connecting with my audience. In late January I held a book launch in a local book store in Batemans Bay. In February I’m speaking to Year 11 and Year 12 English students. And in April I’m conducting a workshop at the 51st Conflux science fiction convention in Canberra.
And all because I don't write about vampires. (Not that there's anything wrong with them).

D L Richardson

Sunday, 20 January 2013

D L Richardson author highlights for 2012

2013 is shaping up to be a great year. So far I've held a book signing, and I've got school visits and workshops lined up over the next few months. I keep everything in a diary, so when I looked back over 2012, I saw that it was an extremely productive year.

JAN - final round of author edits on Feedback commenced

FEB - author edits of Feedback continued

MAR - book trailer for The Bird With the Broken Wing created, 5 lucky winners recieved an ebook copy of The Bird With the Broken Wing 
APR - Feedback submitted to Etopia Press and accepted for publication, Dear Teen Me letter published, local book store called to stock print copy of The Bird With the Broken Wing author started writing Little Red Gem

JUL - more SWAG posted to fans and bloggers, checked EBAY for storage cupboards (promo items start arriving and I have no where to store them), email database created, release day of Feedback advised Sept 7 (though this is later changed)

AUG - advance copy of Feedback sent to reviewers, Romanian bloggers continued to bombard author for The Bird With the Broken Wing, more SWAG posted, Feedback release date changed to Oct 5

promo material for YA fantasy novel The Bird With The Broken Wing (Sept 2011 - Etopia Press)

SEP - author attended convention in Canberra (Conflux 8), Feedback teaser campaign started, radio interview secured, more SWAG posted to fans, guest posts written for blogs, magazine interview secured  
OCT - Feedback released as ebook, The Bird With the Broken Wing released in print, blog ads done for Feedback and The Bird With the Broken Wing, largest giveaway of Feedback SWAG posted to fans, author blog converted into teen e-zine called InterestTeen

cover art for YA scifi/adventure novel (Oct 2012 - Etopia Press)
NOV - radio interview (Radio Northern Beaches) in Sydney, book blog tour with Bewitching Book Tours, local book stores stocked print copy of The Bird With the Broken Wing, application for convention submitted (Conflux 9), radio interview with loal radio station (2EC), interview in local paper (Bay Post)

DEC - month long blog book tour with Full Moon Bites for Feedback commenced with reviews/guest posts/interviews every day, more local book stores stock The Bird With the Broken Wing, book signing secured with local book store (Bay Bookshop) in Jan 213, confirmed to present workshop at convention in Apr 2013 in Canberra (Conflux 9), met with local school to set date to speak to students in Feb 2013, major round of edits for Little Red Gem completed.

I hope you will join me for a busy 2013.

D L Richardson

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Tips for holding a book launch

Firstly, welcome to my brand new author blog. I created an author blog in February 2011 when I received my first publishing contract with Etopia Press because an author needs a profile, then I didn't post on it because I didn't quite have anything to post. I felt as if I was repeating the same thing on each of the different social media channels so what was the point? I turned that blog into an e-zine for teens called InterestTeen where I post articles that my target audience might find helpful and informative. Anyway, I decided to create this author blog because I really should have one, even if it is only for posterity's sake.

So today, I held my first book launch in a local book store for my first novel The Bird With The Broken Wing which, although was released as an ebook in September 2011, was only released to print in October 2012 .

Book launches are nerve wracking to say the least. Will anyone show up? That's my biggest fear. I'm a grin-for-now-and-cry-later kind of gal. Put on a good show and if I need to afterward I'll go sit in the corner at home and have a good cry. I really shouldn't feel the need to do this considering I write young adult fiction to send a positive message to teens - which is, nothing is the end of the world. Yet I'm no different to anyone else, I fear things too, and for me, an end-of-the-world moment is holding a book launch where nobody shows up. Or I show up wearing slippers. Hey, it happens in my dreams ALL THE TIME. 

Here are the steps I took for the promotion of my first book launch:

1. visited local book store in December and asked them if I could hold my launch in their book shop. They agreed but couldn't do it prior to Christmas so the date was set for mid January
2. sent media kit to local local radio and newspaper and secured interviews with both.
3. invited local schools and librarians (January is in the middle of school break so the invite was sent for early notification) and as a bonus I secured the opportunity to talk to students at one school in the new year
4. posted flyers in surrounding shops
5. sent media releases to local newspapers - one newspaper kindly printed details of the launch and offered to do a follow up feature, and a second newspaper asked for a copy of the book to do a feature and giveaway
6. invited everyone I know (The rule of thumb when it comes to people telling you they're coming is to add up everyone who says they're coming then halve that number, unless you do a thorough follow up as detailed below)
7. sent invite to bookstores in surrounding areas to generate interest in holding book signings in their store. I secured the opportunity to contact in a few weeks to organise a book signing once the holiday period is over.

invitation sent to friends, media, and psoted in store windows

2.00pm came and it was time to pack the car. Without knowing exactly how many people were going to show up I piled eveything in to the car and dragged everything into the bookstore. A little table was set up for champagne and a few chairs set up for people to sit while I talked. 3.00pm came and we waited a few minutes for any stragglers and then at 3.15pm I talked to the small gathering. The good news is that a few books were sold, I chatted with another author, and the book store took more copies for general stock and my book got promoted to the YA section where before it had sat just in the Local Author section. The book store also offered to hold another launch when Feedback is out in print.

Was it a success? Of course it was, although my nerves are a little frayed because public speaking is not my forte. I have to work hard at it so it leaves me emotionally drained (one reason I sit behind a desk and write novels). But to me it was a success because of these reasons:

1. the book store asked me back
2. more than one person showed up
3. I got the anticipated number of sales though millions would have been simply wonderful (dreaming)
4. and it was a success because this was my first book launch and I did it.

You can never fail if you attempt something, you can only fail if you don't attempt anything at all. 

What did I learn from this experience?

1. maybe I won't hold a launch during the holiday period. I'd hoped to attract people from outside the local area, and I did attract one author who was here on holidays, but a great number of people including teachers and students were away on holidays
2. follow up with every single person I sent an invite to! Email them, text them, facebook them, drop a flyer in their mail box via email, go around and pick them up if I have to because everyone is busy and this follow up can be the difference between your friends forgetting or showing up to be there as moral support
3. authors who talk about their books with honesty and sincerity attract readers. When I told the group that my aim as a teen writer is to inspire, excite and delight - which is my mission statement - and spoke about some of the honesty behind writing The Bird With The Broken Wing, they responded well

Photo: Book launch Sat 19 Jan. Author chats to small group about YA novel The Bird With The Broken Wing, as well as past, present, and future as an author. Thank you Bay Bookshop for hosting this event.
D L Richardson talking about writing and book launch held at Bay Bookshop Sat 19 Jan 2013

Despite the smaller than hoped for number of people and sales, I'm very happy with the result. And as I mentioned, this is only my first launch. Plus the book has only been in print for two months. Every bit of promotion helps me reach my goal of becoming a full time writer. Each time I visit a school or talk to a writer's group or hold a launch, I'm engaging with people, and to this date, word of mouth is still the number one tool an author has to assist with the promotion of their books. Nicole Murphy (she writes fantasy novels and organises Conflux conventions in Canberra) once said, "It is better to have six people love your book, than to have a hundred people shrug their shoulders and say, "Ner, it's all right". So, as I told myself on the drive home, even if only one person showed up and that one person loved my book, then I've done my job as a writer.

Photos of the book launch can be found on my website, twitter, pinterest, and facebook pages.

D L Richardson