November 2007


Just heard from my publisher that my first novel, Heart of Hythea, will be released on December 3rd.  At the moment we are in the final stages of editing, and I have been busy designing a cover for it.

It has been a long road.

I began writing H of H in July 2005.  At first I didn’t tell anyone, even in my own family, what I was attempting.  “You?  Write a whole novel?” they would have said in derision, knowing full well that I am the Queen of starting things with great enthusiasm without ever finishing one of them.  So I kept writing, pushing myself, until I had about 60,000 words.  Everyone was wondering why the house was so messy all the time, and my husband probably thought I was having an affair, so finally I had to confess.  The reaction was much as I had expected (see above) but I kept going anyway.

When I had a finished manuscript, I had to do the hardest thing I have ever done–show it to someone else.  My husband read it first.  He was complimentary, but I knew it was awful.  I showed it to a female friend of mine, who is a librarian.  She said the story was good but I needed to work on the grammar.  That was more helpful, so I took it to my sister, who is an ex-English teacher.  That almost sank me, because she was very UN-complimentary, and I wondered if I ought to chuck the whole thing in the bin.

But I didn’t.

Instead I took an intensive  novel writing class at the University of Otago.  It was helpful, although the atmosphere was a little too “supportive.”  I needed something between my sister (this is rubbish!) and my husband (This is great!  When do we eat?)  I found it in the form of Mike Goodwin, a classmate.  Together we formed the Otago Writer’s Guild, and went through H of H chapter by chapter.  He was honest about the bad stuff and complimentary about the good stuff.  Slowly, I polished my work.

Then I sent it to a publisher.

It was, of course, rejected.

I did some more polishing and tried to get an agent.

No joy.

I totally rewrote huge chunks and sent to another publisher.

It was rejected.

I dabbled with the idea of self-publishing through Book Surge.  Mike talked me out of it.

Meanwhile I started work on Book II, Ketha’s Daughter.

I decided to try one more publisher.  I searched on Google for small presses, and found Bladud Books.  I sent them an e-mail, not expecting a response.  I got one–an invitation to submit my novel for publication as an ebook.  “Fine,” I thought.  “What have I got to lose?”  Especially since they were willing to read an electronic submission rather than a paper one.  To my surprise and everlasting joy, they offered me a four book contract, through their ebook arm, Mushroom.

Seeing my book for sale on the Internet will be one hell of a kick!

(But now I have to worry about people buying it…)

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Here are some of the things I overuse:

After a moment

Began to

Begin to

Beginning to

He/she shrugged

For a moment

In surprise

Shook his/her/its head

He/she sighed

Other words I hate that I use all too often: that, got, gotten, then, but, suddenly, surprize

I try to read things that will improve my own vocabulary, like the works of Gene Wolfe. I especially like the Book of the Long Sun series.

It is good to be able to come up with a unique word or phrase now and again–something you know captures the essence of what you are trying to say exactly. It doesn’t happen all that often for me, but the more words I write (I have probably passed half a million) the more opportunities I have.

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