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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Which cover did I finally choose?

For those who voted for their favourite cover for Mine to Avenge a few weeks ago, I have finally made a decision and opted for the black one below. It was a difficult decision to make as public opinion was evenly divided and I ended up being quite confused about it, but I have been quite happy with my decision since making it and haven’t had any second thoughts.
The publishers were extremely efficient in preparing the proofs. I submitted the manuscript on Sunday 22nd and had it returned yesterday. Hopefully the release isn’t too far off now.
Today I had an open house celebration here at home to say goodbye to friends and family. The move to a new job, new home and new town is only a few days away now - my things are nearly all packed and ready to go, and the flat is now very bare and quiet. I’ve planned for the next two days to be as relaxed as possible with very little to do. Maybe I’ll start reading through the proofs…
The week was soured a little by a minor car accident on Monday when I was driving to visit my mother for the final time for quite a while. When I move house next week, she will be 7 - 8 hours away rather than the 1 hour and 45 minutes she is now. Another driver ran a red light when I was only 15 minutes from home and hit my car on the passenger side doors, so that I am now unable to open them. With all the preparation to move house, attending to this needs to wait until I have made the move, but I have been told that the repairs will probably cost more than the car is worth, so ultimately I will be up for a new car in the very near future. Insurance will give me a small payout but not enough to meet the total cost of a new car. Fortunately the car is still driveable and it should be able to do the 5-6 hour trip I have on Tuesday.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Extract from Chapter 32 of Mine to Avenge

It’s been a hectic week all round in the lead up to moving house. The removalists are booked for Tuesday 31st, I’ve finished up at work and I have a lovely house to go to. I will be able to have all my books with me and somewhere to keep my artwork and calligraphy set up all the time, and a writing desk. Now comes the hard work of packing everything up and catching up with so many wonderful people I won’t be able to see so regularly anymore.

In the meantime, I have finished the post edit read through of Mine to Avenge and it goes back to the publishers this coming week before I leave. They will be working on the proofs while I move and settle in, so the timing has all dovetailed together in the end.

Please enjoy the following extract from Chapter 32 of Mine to Avenge:

Constantine, along with his comrades, was caught up in the day-to-day battle for survival. However, internally he was fighting another equally bitter war.
From the beginning, he blamed Alcandor for what had happened to Helena. He never wanted to see Alcandor again. But, occasionally, a still, small voice of reason whispered to him from his conscience: If only I’d done my duty. If only I’d found a match for Helena. If I’d done that, she would still be alive.
He found these whispers too painful to bear, and one day they were almost the death of him. An army colleague found Constantine holding his army pistol to his head. The shock of being caught in this situation made him waver. Perhaps there was another way to silence his conscience.
As he had trained his body for battle, so, now, he began to ruthlessly train his mind to stifle his conscience. Each time the whisper spoke from the depths to condemn him, his soul cried back: It wasn’t my fault … Alcandor will pay … Alcandor is responsible.
Occasionally, Constantine found that his mind seemed to empty itself of pain and memories, and become more fully engaged with the external war he was occupied in. However, when this happened it alarmed him. He didn’t ever want to forget that day. This war he was now fighting for his country was only to be the prelude to a much longer war—one he knew he must eventually fight for the honour of his sister. This conflict was but a training ground.
He needed to feed his growing bitterness, and whenever his thoughts strayed away from those past events, he deliberately took them captive again. He entertained, nurtured and fed his memories until they tormented him and sated him at the same time.
Eventually, he no longer had to tease or trick himself to remember. The memory became his constant companion, bringing both pain and a strange and eerie comfort. The memory fuelled a burning purpose within—a purpose that warmed him, keeping him alive and wanting to live, during that angry, frozen winter.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Moving House plus a second extract from Chapter 29 of Mine to Avenge

This past week has been an exciting one. After 15 months of solid job-hunting, I finally landed a full-time job, after ten months of half time employment. It means a significant move for me - back to country town living in the town where I spent my last two years of school.
While I am looking forward to the job and the move, it has further slowed down my post-edit read through of Mine to Avenge before sending it back to the publisher to prepare the proofs. I have two weeks to finish up my current job, pack and try to find new accommodation from five hours away … but I am going to try to fit in a few chapters a day and send it off before leaving, in about a fortnight.
I may not have time to think about blog posts for a few weeks so I will probably post a few more extracts from Mine to Avenge over the next few weeks to keep it simple. I have been receiving positive feedback about the teasers posed so far, so keep dropping by my blog for a taste …

A second extract from chapter 29 of Mine to Avenge -

Fuelled and primed by alcohol, Landor’s body was suddenly possessed by an unfamiliar seething rage and courage. He leapt to his feet, throwing the photos back at his father, and tipped the coffee table over towards Spyridon, knocking the beer bottle and a stale-smelling, butt-filled ashtray to the floor. The bottle and ashtray shattered into thick chunks of green and brown, the glass ricocheting in every direction over the cold, bare linoleum.
‘I won’t do this … you can’t make me. You’ll have to do it yourself.’
‘Settle down, Landor,’ Spyridon said softly. ‘You’ll wake the boy if you keep on like this.’
Spyridon remained calmly seated on the sofa, maintaining eye contact with his son. Landor eventually lowered his eyes in defeat. He finally found his voice again, but it was hoarse and dry. ‘Get out, Dad. I want you to leave.’
Spyridon stood up and strolled casually and unconcerned to the front door. He spoke the last words on his way out. ‘You haven’t heard the last of this boy. You will play your part.’
He stepped out into the cold night air and Landor closed the door behind him. He leaned against the door, hoping his weight against it would be enough to keep his father from ever coming into his life again. He closed his eyes, wishing he were dead. He stumbled back to the armchair, in a dazed stupor, picking up another bottle of beer from the sideboard as he passed. He set the coffee table upright, and noticed that Spyridon had left his empty glass on the floor by the couch. He picked up the glass and hurled it into the empty fireplace and, for the second time that evening, splintered glass burst like mini comets into the far reaches of Landor’s lounge room. He threw himself into the armchair and drank the bottle of beer before passing out.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

When 24 hours isn't quite enough ...

Does anyone else find that a 24-hour day often isn’t quite enough to do all those things that need to be done and all those things we want to do? I have always had a great deal of difficulty with this as I am one of those people who never gets bored. I have a range of interests and have sometimes been known to waste an entire afternoon because I have so many things I want to do that I can’t make up my mind which one to choose.
In April last year I reluctantly left a full time job of three years (I won’t go into the circumstances here) and found myself unemployed. My first priority was to find work, so finishing Mine to Avenge was consigned to the backburner for a while. I decided not to give myself permission to touch the novel again until I had a job.
The months between April and September 2011 were spent downsizing into a small one-room granny flat, applying for jobs, and going for interviews. So even though my novel had been set aside, I honed my writing skills on job applications and found that they were very successful as I had a 96% success rate with landing interviews - but kept missing out at the interview stage.
In September I was finally offered a half time position, and gave myself permission to finish Mine to Avenge. I found that although a half time job is not ideal in terms of finances, for the past 10 months I have been able to fit things in and get things done, as I have only been working 2 days one week (Thurs/Fri) and 3 the next (Wed - Fri), giving me a lovely long weekend every week to write. As well as writing, I also like to do calligraphy and had a few small commissions to do in that time.
Half time work is ideal for a writer. Also, living in a small granny flat means little housework and more writing time. It has been an excellent trade off for the lack of money - for a while at least. It meant that I have been able to finish Mine to Avenge and get it to publishing stage, but I have found that I can’t continue only working half time. I need full time on-going work.
A few months ago I was asked at work if I’d like to accept a temporary full time position to fill in for three months while a colleague is away on leave. I accepted and have just finished my first week of full-time employment in 15 months.
I will certainly appreciate the increased income for that time, but of course this means I have lost my writing time at a crucial stage in terms of getting Mine to Avenge published. My editor has finished the final edits, and I am quite a way behind. I heard from the publisher on Friday, saying that they are ready to move on production as soon as I return the manuscript to them and give them the go ahead. So things are a little hectic at the moment as I learn again how to fit all those things I want and need to do into only two days, but I hope to have the novel back to the publisher by next weekend, if I can finish the edits and read the entire manuscript through once more. And I am also still writing job applications for when the three months temporary position is ended, so things are somewhat busy right now.
 I want to thank readers for the feedback and votes for the novel cover. I am still undecided because public opinion has been almost evenly divided. I have been considering a few other minor changes based on some of the comments I received. If you haven’t voted yet and would like to, please scroll down and let me know if you prefer the light or the dark version.
Now to catch up with those last chapters of the final edit…

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Extract from Chapter 29 of Mine to Avenge

A month or so after starting school, Landor proudly brought home some brightly coloured paintings of his family—smiling red and blue stick figures of his father and mother, his sister and himself. He had written their names under each figure … Mummy, Daddy, Landor, Anna.
‘Look at my paintings, Daddy,’ Landor said excitedly. ‘I painted pictures of us at school. I wrote our names too. I can write now.’
‘Later, son,’ Spyridon replied as he put on his coat. ‘I’m going out to visit your grandfather now. Leave them on the kitchen bench for me and I’ll look later.’
Landor left the paintings on the bench, and eagerly watched the clock, waiting for his father to come home. Spyridon returned that evening at 8.30 p.m., as Landor was getting ready for bed. Landor heard him come in, and hurried to put his pyjamas on. Barefooted, he ran to the kitchen, wanting to remind his father to look at his paintings. His father was standing by the bench, with bread, cheese and ham from the fridge, preparing to make a sandwich. Spyridon wasn’t aware of his young son in the doorway behind him.
As Landor watched, he saw his father reach for the paintings on the corner of the bench. He waited, in silent anticipation, for his father’s reaction. Instead of holding them up to look at them, Spyridon screwed them into a ball and tossed them into the corner of the room, aiming for the rubbish bin. It was then that he saw his son standing in the doorway. In the time it took Landor to blink, his father was in front of him, and Landor felt a stinging slap over his right ear.
Don’t leave your stuff lying around the kitchen, boy. Take it to your room in future. Now get off to bed before I give you another.’