About Me

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

My books

The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are not available as e-books at present, but I expect to get them back online shortly. However, I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Cloak of Challiver

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've Lived - Sydney

Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
Blue Lake

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
From Kings Park

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
From Kings Park

Inner Peace Blog

Inner Peace Blog
Awarded by Joanna Fay. Click on the image to visit her lovely website!

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award
Awarded by Kim Falconer. Click on the pic to check out her Quantum Astrology blog!

Fabulous Blog Award

Fabulous Blog Award
Awarded by Kathryn Warner. Click on the pic to check out her Edward II blog!

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Sunday, 22 March 2009

Readers' pet hates

I know, long time no blog - but I've had internet and computer problems as well as being busy catching up with friends now I'm back in Perth for a few months! Today I'll post about something I've had an ongoing interest in for some years: things that turn readers off a book.

I've actually researched this, both on the internet (by reading forums, mailing lists etc) and by questioning friends who are readers rather than writers. Writers tend to read rather differently from others because it's almost impossible to turn off the editorial voice that says things like "Hmph - badly researched" and "How stupid to drag up that old trope" and "Oh no, not another vampire story..."

A reader who does not write, however, generally wants two things: an enthralling story and at least one character to identify with. Of course, ideas of what constitute an enthralling story and a likeable character are as varied as readers, which is why one reader's soul food is another's Bali belly material. It also means that the most unlikely book can attract at least some readers.

When we look at what turns readers off, however, there are several things that a wide range of readers will dislike. One is a waffly or confusing story. There are various factors that can contribute to this. The main one is lack of action. Many readers, and especially genre readers, want to see action on page one and want to see the action kept up throughout the book. Gone are the days when writers could spend a chapter or more setting the scene and introducing the characters. Modern readers want to become involved in an adventure of some kind right away. They also want plenty of sensory detail: first-hand experience of the sights, sounds, smells, textures and even tastes that the characters encounter. So boring writing that goes nowhere slowly or engages in lengthy description without a definite point of view doesn't cut it. Too many point-of-view characters - some readers will not tolerate more than three or four - can also confuse and annoy readers.

In fact, point of view is probably the next thing on which most readers have a firm opinion. Unless the story is a real stand-out, most readers dislike the old-fashioned head-hopping or fly-on-the-wall omniscient styles. Most people relate well to the "close third", which puts the reader right inside the character's head, experiencing the character's thoughts and physical sensations as closely as possible. Yet some of these same readers dislike the first person point of view, and I've been given two reasons for this. One is that although most readers love close third and its immediacy, some find first person, which is even closer and more immediate, somewhat threatening, as if they were being made to think another person's thoughts and must lose their own. Another reason given for disliking the first person POV is that it's obvious the character survives the trials and tribulations of the plot, since s/he couldn't be recounting the story otherwise. Seeing as the main character almost always does survive, no matter what the point-of-view, I can't really fathom this objection, but it has been given to me more than once as a reason for disliking first person narratives.

Which brings me to another widely held pet hate: the killing off of a favourite character. I've even heard readers say they will not read a particular author any more. "She killed off the man I really liked; the one I hoped the heroine would end up with," one of my informants said of a well-known fantasy author. Readers can be very unforgiving sometimes!

Most readers dislike long, unpronounceable names. Names with lots of x's, k's, y's, z's and funny symbols supposed to represent sounds not found in English generally annoy readers. Solid text - long paragraphs that take up more than a quarter of a page - are another pet hate, as are long internal monologues and long stretches without dialogue. Excessive use of italics is unpopular, although readers' tolerance for this varies widely: speculative fiction readers will put up with it if it represents telepathic communication, for example.

The final hate is of mucking about with time - flashbacks, flashforwards and big time jumps upset a lot of readers. Persons of a more literary bent tend to accept these more readily than genre readers, however.

What is your pet hate? What turns you off a book? I'd love to hear about it, especially if it's something I haven't covered above. So do leave a comment and let me know!
Sunday, 1 March 2009

Specusphere rocks!

These past few days have been chaotic. We finally have a new issue of The Specusphere up and running and at the same time I've been trying to get ready to return to Perth, Western Australia. I have a series of house-sits lined up so I should be there until mid-year at least, which suits me fine because not only will I be able to meet up with writerly friends (I belong to two writers groups in Perth) but I'll also be able go to meetings of the Shakespeare Club and The Society of Editors WA. I just missed the AGM of the latter (good timing, that - I have a dread of AGMs as it's all too easy to get a job) but I'll be there for the Shakespeare Club's AGM. I always risk going to that one, despite my terror of raising a hand at the wrong moment and finding myself on a committee, because it's nice to be there when they choose the plays to be read during the coming months. My faves are the middle period comedies and I hope we'll do at least one of those.

But do check out The Specusphere, and most especially Astrid Cooper's wonderful editorial in which she talks about the animal victims of the bushfires. She's arranged a raffle to raise funds for the welfare organisations treating injured wildlife and looking after lost and sick pets. If you haven't time to see The Specusphere right now, at least check out Astrid's web site where she has a page about the raffle. Please send up a prayer for southern Australia. More bushfire weather is on the way, with conditions predicted to be as bad as the "Black Saturday" of three weeks ago when so many people died and many more lost everything they owned.

Back to the packing! I leave in less than twelve hours and I'll need to sleep for at least a few of those! Talk to you again soon - from Perth!
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