Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Broken Strings (Wynter Wild Book 9) is OUT NOW in paperback

Broken Strings is book 9 of the Wynter Wild series, and it's OUT NOW in paperback - this link takes you to the Amazon purchase page in your region (ebook also available):

Broken Strings

Given the downfall of one of my (five) favorite characters, this was perhaps the hardest book to write so far. The quote on the image there is from Patricia, who senses something isn't quite right in the Fairn household - but this is a family that keeps things "in the family", so nobody is talking about it.

The book takes place over a few months late in the year and through Christmas - Wynter's third on the outside. Will this finally be a good Christmas for her? She's struggling with a medical issue that develops into a psychosomatic one, threatening her career as well has her academic plans. Xay is waiting in the wings for her, hoping to recreate the closeness they once shared.

And wasn't there a tiny new character introduced in the last book? He has a huge impact on everyone's lives, but can they keep him?

More family secrets come unraveled in this latest instalment of the Wynter Wild saga, and two brothers must reverse roles to face a reckoning.

Also... a puppy that looks like an Ewok!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Where Did My Italics Go? Microsoft Word Tricks

While I use Google Docs for writing (and Google Sheets for notes and research) because it saves every few seconds, all my work ends up in Microsoft Word because that's where I format it for Kindle and paperback editions (the latter as exported PDF files). I've been using Word since the mid-90s and have picked up a few tricks along the way... and also noticed that Word plays the occasional trick on me!

My number one peeve is when Word loses italicized words. More specifically, it can change entire italicized paragraphs into regular font while you're busy formatting your document.

My workaround is laid out below in easy-to-follow steps along with screencaps to make everything clear.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Clickable Book Covers in Your Goodreads Profile

Whether you're an author or a reader, Goodreads is a busy, complicated website. There's so much going on that it can be hard to figure out not only where to find information, but how to change and customize that information as an author.

Wouldn't it be great if readers could click on your books directly from your profile page, without having to scroll down or scan all the other busy sections on the page?

So, how can you add clickable book covers to your author profile on Goodreads?

Read on for step-by-step instructions, along with a downloadable template for the HTML code.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

New Patreon

With over half a million Wattpad reads on my stories, nine books published and one more to go, I have loads of stories and ideas still to share. I've created a Patreon account where you can find the latest news on both the Wynter Wild series and my future projects (some of which will be set in the same "world" with crossover characters).

To "follow" me is free! After clicking the button, you'll end up on a payment page where you have the option of making a monthly pledge, but you can ignore that page. Just following me will put my posts in your Patreon feed, and for now all my posts are open to all readers.

I'll be adding content as fast as I can over the coming weeks while I finish up writing book 10. After that I'll be sharing cover reveals for my relaunch of the series, excerpts from my WIPs, Q&As, behind-the-scenes stuff about my writing process including cut scenes, and lots more. 

> My Patreon

See you there!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Minor Key (Wynter Wild Book 8) is OUT NOW in paperback

Minor Key
Minor Key is book 8 of the Wynter Wild series, and it's out today in paperback!

If you've been collecting the paperbacks and want a matching set, grab this one quick. In a few months I'll be relaunching the series with new covers.

It's been well over a year since I finished this book, and at least three years since I wrote some of the chapters. Looking back, I have to say it includes some of my favorite scenes to write.

Some of the events were planned from the very start, even if I hadn't written them yet, while others evolved as I was planning the book in detail (after finishing #7 Duet). 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021


In true soap opera fashion, the family tree in the Wynter Wild series gets bigger and more complex as the books progress and secrets are revealed. 

Following on from this post where I described a few family entanglements revealed in the Wynter Wild books (ones I hadn't plotted out from the start), in this post I'll present increasingly spoilerific family trees as a visual aid. To avoid spoilers, you can stop when you get to the latest book you've read...

Note: The series starts in January 2013, two months before Wynter's 15th birthday.

02 Out of Tune

If you've read the first two books, this is how the family tree looks. Wynter is the daughter of Miriam and Malcolm, and has four half-siblings from her mother's first marriage to Harry. Miriam's heritage is unknown. Joy is married to Sean, and left him at the ashram.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Rule212 Playlist

I've made my Rule212 playlist public on Spotify - take a listen below. You can also follow me on Spotify to find other playlists related to the books:

I've resisted being too specific in the books about Rule212's sound, beyond a vague "indie rock" (which could mean anything these days) and a lot of electric guitars, which moves them more into the hard rock category. Or nu-metal, post-grunge... whatever new-fangled label seems applicable. So this list is "representative" of their sound but don't take it too literally.

I'll add more songs when I think of them, as there's definitely not enough riff-based music, and too many ballads...

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Family Entanglements (SPOILERS GALORE)

This post contains serious spoilers for all ten books.

I started the Wynter Wild series with five characters in mind - the three Fairn boys, the two sisters - along with a few adults in their sphere. As their world expanded across ten books, I ended it with 365 named characters (admittedly, that does include the chickens). Somewhere along the way, a few of those characters became entangled in ways I hadn't envisioned when I set out.

A primary example is Xay. I created his character at the same time as I created Wynter's past in the cult - an Aussie boy she secretly befriends who leaves her behind. But making him Harry's son was an idea that came later (although before I started writing in earnest). Other ideas came when some of the books were already complete, and it's no easy task to weave revealed secrets into the plot when you didn't even know those secrets yourself!

As an insight into my writing process, I thought I'd lay out how some of my decisions evolved.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Naming a Ten-Book Series

How do you name ten books in a series?

When I started writing the Wynter Wild books, a stream-of-consciousness half-million words covering several years of her life and written out of order, I knew early on that it would be a long series. So the necessity of naming the books in some sort of coherent manner was an issue I dealt with early on.

I wanted titles that played on a single theme, but I hadn't decided what that theme would be. I jotted down endless ideas using themes from the story - not only music, but also "threads" (a recurring theme relating to broken or frayed threads, and of course braiding of hair and bracelets), lines from classic folk songs, matching words relating to family, and others.

Having decided on music, I brainstormed phrases and then matched them up with the relevant books. The later titles weren't finalized until the earlier ones were already published, since those plots weren't fully developed yet, but I had a list to select from. 

Here's my reasoning for each title - and a trip down memory lane for those readers who have stuck with the series until book 10.

Monday, February 1, 2021

What Do They Really Look Like? Part 3

This is the final (I think!) set of portraits created on the Artbreeder website to illustrate the characters from my books. In Part 1 I showed you the main characters and their immediate family, and in Part 2 the girlfriends and boyfriends of Caleb, Indio, Jesse, Wynter, and Xay.

Here are the four Palermo cousins from Vermont: Alyssa (an art student), Jessica (who claims to look like Jesse), Paige (Jesse's favorite, because of her inquisitive mind), and little Daisy:

Sunday, January 31, 2021

What Do They Really Look Like? Part 2

A few more characters I created using ArtBreeder, an A.I. face generator. Check out Part 1 for the Fairn boys, Wynter, Xay, and more. Again, there are minor spoilers here regarding relationships.

Here are Caleb's girlfriends and dates from the series... and whew, I didn't realize there were so many until I put them all together like this. (I omitted the mystery Canadian girlfriend because we never actually met her.) Bea was the harried single mother with dreams of marriage. Nicole was the colleague from Florida who raised Wynter's hopes, but only had one date with Caleb. Anita was Caleb's high school girlfriend for a few months, became Wynter's down-to-earth counselor, and went with Caleb on the trip to Arizona. Olivia was "sunshine", according to Wynter, but Caleb nipped it in the bud after a few weeks. And Kim... well, there's still hope...

Saturday, January 30, 2021

What Do They Really Look Like?

After a bit of fun making avatars of my characters, I've moved on to Artbreeder. All I can say is... wow! "Real" people that don't exist! 

One use for Artbreeder is to "breed" any two images together (such as a cat and an octopus, which was the first thing my daughter did). So you could upload "parent" faces and create "children" - but in my case I just wanted to visualize my book characters.

Creating faces is not entirely under the user's control - you can't tweak a nose exactly the way you want because you're mostly adding or subtracting "genes" from different parts of the world. But you can easily get photorealistic portraits with a few twists of the dials.

So, here are my results - just my impression of how the characters look, for my own amusement. Most of these characters are related to each other one way or another, so for many I started with the same "base" and fiddled with the age, gender, hair and eye color, etc.

[Mild spoilers ahead for the later books in the Wynter Wild series.]

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Duet (Wynter Wild Book 7) is OUT NOW in paperback

New paperback out today!

Duet is the seventh book in the series and introduces a new POV character Xay. 

We've already heard a bit about him in the previous books, of course. Getting into his head was a refreshing change from the other four characters. He has a positive optimistic outlook on life, making the best of things, but harbors bitterness over what happened to him and his best friend Roman at the ashram. When he finally discovers that Wynter escaped the Light and is living what he believes is a dream life in Washington, it raises all kinds of self-doubt in Xay.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Natural Harmonics (Book 6) is OUT NOW in paperback

I'm slowly converting my ebooks to paperbacks, and the newest release is Natural Harmonics (Wynter Wild Book 6). This is one of my personal favorites in the series because I finally got to write about the family out and about in Seattle playing their music.
Wynter and her brothers are ready to rock venues all over Seattle. No one can deny the natural chemistry Rule212 has on stage. Behind the scenes there's tension brewing.
It's not easy to work, play, and live together. Family means everything to Wynter and she'll do whatever it takes to keep it together.
But something at the very heart of this family is ripping it apart. They are finally learning that things went wrong years before they were born. No secrets or lies—it's one of Caleb's house rules. So why does everyone keep breaking it?

You can purchase Natural Harmonics on Amazon:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AUS

Amazon DE

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Broken Strings (Book 9) is Out Now!

This was probably the hardest book to write in the series so far, for two reasons.

Firstly, because it was the first book where I was starting from scratch. While I wrote half a million stream-of-consciousness words a few years ago that became the basis for all ten books, once I put the scenes in order, I only "completed" 8 books before I started publishing book 1 on Wattpad. I don't really mean completed, as I was rewriting and editing (and adding thousands of words to) the books as I published them, but essentially the plotting and two-thirds of the writing was done.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Useful Free Internet Tools for Writers

Gone are the days when writers had to spend hours in the library researching how to care for their character's pet python, or on the phone exploring the price of a plane ticket, or at the bookcase in the next room flicking through classic novels to find the perfect quote.

Everything's at our fingertips - and not just for researching our stories, but for editing and publishing our books as well. Here I'm focusing on some of my most-used tools and websites, and they're all free. Some do have paid services that expand the options available, and for others you will need to make an account (often, signing in via Facebook or Google is possible).

I've mentioned a couple of these tools before, and added lots of new ones.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Ashram at Touchstone Pass

Do you get a visual image of the layout of a place when you read about it? I have a very firm impression in my mind of the ashram in the Wynter Wild books, but I've never actually drawn a map. Now that I'm writing flashbacks for book 10 (The Beat Goes On), where we spend some time in the ashram (and - spoiler! - there are present scenes set there, too), I decided I needed a clearer idea of where everything is.

Firstly, to set the scene...

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Then & Now

I bought myself a new guitar, which I'll write about soon, but here's my daughter - then (age 2) with the Rock Band controller guitar, and now (age 10) with the new, actual, real guitar. Despite no amp she says it's already "too loud". Four+ months of remote learning at home has apparently lowered her tolerance for noise.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Xay's Playlist

It's not really a spoiler to say that in the forthcoming and final book of the Wynter Wild series (The Beat Goes On), Xay Morant is going to launch his singing career. He's a rockstar through and through (or will be, he hopes!) - and I've put together this playlist to give you an idea of the kind of music he sings.

Follow me on Spotify to find more playlists for the Wynter Wild books:

If you don't listen to anthemic rock music (as opposed to the indie rock of Rule212), these songs might be an eyeopener. They're mostly from current but not particularly huge bands (in some cases, unknown bands) including a couple of covers. In style and lyrical content they represent the spirit of Xay's music. Cigarette-lighter songs included!

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Book Your Reviewer Wanted to Write

Today I finished Broken Strings, book 9 of the Wynter Wild series. As I prepare to sink deep into book 10, I'm looking back at the previous books and the perpective I've gained as I think about the genesis of the series and the early feedback I received that could have, if I'd listened to it, changed the trajectory of the story. Just like Caleb, who had to decide what he was willing to overlook to get what he wanted, I want to talk about where we as writers are willing to compromise when we encounter feedback on a manuscript (from beta-readers and other sources) that may have been offered from someone in the wrong frame of mind. 
This post will make a bit more sense if you've read Little Sister Song, because I'm using, as an example, the early professional feedback I received on the manuscript. However, the principles for recognizing this sort of feedback apply to any story you've written that means a lot to you.

Reviewing another's work is an art in itself, and I highly recommend it as a skill worth learning. It can't fail to improve your own writing. However, as the recipient of feedback, recognize a reviewer's biases. I'm not talking about political bias or sexism or any other -ism. It's far more basic than that: it's when the reviewer is giving you feedback based on what they would've written instead of accepting that you're telling your story as intended.

Before we get into that...

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Cover reveal: The Beat Goes On (Wynter Wild Book 10)

This week I've been finishing up Broken Strings (book 9) and working on the book 10 cover... and here it is!

Monday, July 13, 2020

When Rights Won’t Revert

When it comes to being traditionally published versus self-published, there are pros and cons to each. One of the issues an author faces with traditional publication (meaning you sign a contract with a publisher, giving them the right to publish your book under certain conditions) is getting your rights back at a later date.

Why would you want your rights back? Now that self-publishing is so easy and indie publishing with smaller houses is expanding because of the ebook market, getting your rights back is the first step enabling you to republish your book and give it a new lease of life. As long as you're under contract with the original publisher, this isn't possible.

You can request the contract be ended, and your rights reverted, when your book is "out of print". The definition of this term will be defined in the contact. In my case, for my sci-fi novel SONG OF SCARABAEUS (first published in 2010 by HarperCollins), it means the publisher has no physical copies left to fulfil an order.

Electronic books can't be out of print, of course. My contract specifies that the ebook is out of print if it sells fewer than 250 copies in 12 months (which is two accounting periods).

Ten years after publication, how is SONG OF SCARABAEUS doing?

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Wynter Wild Wiki is live

Introducing the Wynter Wild Wiki! This project was suggested to me by a friend and reader who is helping write and administrate it, and appeals to my natural inclination to keep things orderly.

Take a look around! This is a community project - anyone can edit or add pages after reading the "Guidelines" - which are the standard rules of, with the last couple of points related to spoilers and formatting for the Wynter Wild Wiki. (A few pages are protected so only registered users can make changes - you just need to make an account for that. Most pages are freely editable.) Or add comments on a page if you have suggestions and improvements.

Note that the fan casting images and mood boards I've used on Wattpad can't be uploaded to the wiki. Wattpad's free pass for "famous people and celebrities" doesn't apply here. I'm working on some original artwork, and fan art or copyright-free art can be added as well.

As of today, bios for the main characters and most of the minor characters from books 1 to 3 are live, along with some information on pets and bands and a few other things. With your help we can grow the wiki into a useful resource for readers wanting to explore Wynter's world.

Friday, July 3, 2020

New Release: Distortion (Wynter Wild Book 5) in paperback

Distortion Wynter Wild Book 5The fifth book in the Wynter Wild series, Distortion, is out now in paperback!

In this book, Wynter puts together her first all-girl (well, not quite) band. While she'd love to be playing just about every song with the amp turned to 11 to maximize distortion, the Mail Order Chicks play mostly 80s and 90s British pop. This story also sees the genesis of the rock band she puts together with her brothers.

"Distortion" refers to how the siblings' mother, Miriam, has affected her children by her actions years ago. Particularly for Indio, he believes the ongoing absence of maternal love is what has formed him, rather than the abandonment itself:

Thursday, July 2, 2020

New Release: Minor Key (Wynter Wild Book 8)

The eighth book in the Wynter Wild saga, Minor Key, is out now in all ebook formats!

Little Sister Song (Book 1) is available here.

The title for Minor Key was inspired by two events in the story, the first being Xay and Wynter's long-awaited reunion after 3 years. Things don't go exactly as either of them planned, and neither knows quite what to do about it.

The second is the tragedy alluded to in the blurb (below).

In addition, Jesse is dealing with a mental health issue that takes him by surprise.

But there are happy times, too.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Wynter Wild Inspiration playlist

Little Sister Song on Wattpad has just hit 150,000 reads since I started publishing it in December 2018 - beyond my wildest expectations! I'll be posting a few blogs to celebrate.
I don't often listen to music while writing (especially not songs with lyrics) but when I'm plotting, or playing out scenes in my head searching for ideas, I have some favorite songs I keep going back to. These songs don't necessarily reflect how I imagine my fictional musical family would sound, but for various reasons the music inspired me.

Follow me on Spotify to find more playlists for the Wynter Wild books:

Monday, June 29, 2020

Tiger Mountain House - updated

I've updated the digital composite picture I made of Wynter's home on Tiger Mountain. This one adds the garage and improves the driveway. On the left is the concrete area used as a basketball court. The goat pen, veggie patches, and "Wynter's garden" with the stone wall are hidden by the main house.

Below, I've labeled the rooms as they currently are (that is, after Indio moves in):

Monday, June 8, 2020

Nailed it...

For her tenth birthday my daughter asked me to make a birthday cake that looks like her ice dragon:

Dragons and cats are her favorite things, and I was so hoping she'd ask for a cat cake... but no problem! I can make an ice dragon cake! Here's how I did it.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Caleb's house in Seattle + Caravan (The Sims 3)

As well as making the Tiger Mountain home in The Sims 3, I also made Caleb's house in Seattle - the house where Wynter shows up on the doorstep one cold January afternoon. This one was a lot simpler to build, and currently my Sims family is living there.

Here's the exterior shot, showing the porch, adjoining garage, kitchen on the left of the front door, and dining room on the right.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Text-to-Speech for Editing

I like to read my manuscript out loud to check for repeated words and clunky dialogue - things I don't always notice when simply reading on the screen. And it always makes me lose my voice! So I've been looking around for a good text-to-speech converter to do the job for me.

These days the voices available for this sort of software are pretty good. They sound human, although they don't always do correct phrasing, but it's good enough to get a feel for the rhythm of your prose and to pick up typos and repeated words.

Friday, March 13, 2020

A cute baby

For those of you less familiar with babies or who don't remember (like me!) what they are like at different ages, click on the image above for a 20-second video of a baby the same age as the one you might be reading about if you're reading my books.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Wynter Wild is a Sim!

Lego houses are my first love, but my second love is Sims houses! I used to satisfy my house-building fetish with the Sims years ago because all my childhood Lego was at my parents' place. Recently I purchased The Sims 3, which I was told is more versatile for building than the latest Sims 4, and built the house on Tiger Mountain.

But first, here's Wynter's family as Sims:

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Wattys Pre-emptively Screwed Themselves (Again)

The Wattys 2020 awards were announced last week, with the book of rules and guidelines going up on Wattpad.

After the 2019 awards I was vocal about two major problems (as I saw them): that previously published authors won two awards (I wrote about this and the outcomes here), and the rules book was misleading, contradictory, repetitive, and dense, with valid questions from Wattpadders seeking clarification going unanswered by Wattpad staff.

This year the Wattys have changed in two major ways, one of which makes business sense and the other is just common sense:

1. Only novels 50K are eligible (no non-fiction, poetry, graphic novels, novellas, short stories) - Given Wattpad is looking to publish the winner(s), they won't make money from anything shorter than a novel. To recognize these other types of writing, they will have other contests later in the year.

2. Only finished stories are eligible. Last year, one of the judging criterion was (obviously) plot - does it have a beginning, middle, and satisfying end? It befuddled me at the time how this was supposed to be judged when the story was unfinished.

So far, so good.

But I have gripes.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Doorways: Wynter Wild Houses Part 3: Tiger Mountain & More

The previous posts show the homes of characters from the Wynter Wild books - those mentioned during the series, and all the previous homes of the boys. In this post I'm looking at homes of some secondary characters as well as other locations.

Tiger Mountain

Here's a view of Tiger Mountain (facing east) showing how the homes - the brown clearings in the foreground - are buried in the forest. The blue flag could be where Caleb's family lives. The mountains in the very distance are the Cascades, which run north-south for 700 miles from Canada to Northern California.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Doorways: Wynter Wild Houses Part 2: Childhood

In my previous post I showed pictures of the various homes (and a boat!) lived in by the family in the Wynter Wild series. In this post I'll take a look at the two houses they visit for nostalgia's sake in Montana, along with the Montana homes the children grew up in even before then.

In my next post I'll show you some of the other characters' homes and hangouts.

Anaconda, MT

In Minor Key (book 8), the family visits the two homes in Montana where the boys grew up (at least, the last two homes they lived in - they moved around with Miriam before this).

Friday, February 7, 2020

Doorways: Wynter Wild Houses Part 1: Locations

I often "drive" through cities and suburbs on Google Maps to get a feel for how a place looks, even if those descriptions don't end up in my writing. I live in suburban Melbourne, which has many suburbs with their own distinctive and very Australian flavor. So it's fascinating to me to compare American locations with Australian, as well as with each other.

Early on I found houses to match each of the places Wynter and the boys have lived in. I looked for houses the right size and price (using Zillow estimates for the year in question, where possible), and in the right location. This helped me enormously in visualizing my scenes. Zillow also sometimes has photos of the interiors (when they've recently been on the market).

Below are screenshots of some of the homes mentioned in books 1 to 8. They're not necessarily perfectly matched to the way I ended up describing the buildings, but most are real homes in the actual neighborhoods given in the books. I've listed them in the order they appear in the books, not the order they were lived in.

Seattle house, Columbia City, Seattle WA

Monday, February 3, 2020

Xay: Personality Type

The youngest brother in the Fairn family is Xay, and today I'm looking at his personality type according to the Myers-Briggs definition.

New Release: Duet (Wynter Wild Book 7)

The silly season is over, the child is back at school, and I've finally managed to get Duet out there. The book is available on Amazon Kindle at these links

Amazon US
Amazon AUS
Amazon UK
Amazon DE

or purchase from Smashwords in multiple formats.

As always, I truly appreciate the support of my readers and ask you to please consider writing an honest review at Goodreads. It's the best way to support indie authors!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Caleb: Personality Type

Caleb is next up in my character analysis based on the Myers-Briggs personality types.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Wynter: Personality Type

As part of my deep-dive into my characters' personality types, today I'm looking at Wynter.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Jesse: Personality Type

This will be the first in a series looking at the personality types of the characters in the Wynter Wild series, comparing them to each other, and discussing character pairings - meaning how they interact with each other (in both positive and negative ways). I'll focus mostly on the siblings (Caleb, Indio, Jesse, Xay, Wynter), using their MBTI (Myers-Briggs) personality types.

Fellow writers might also be interested in my earlier post, Personality Typing for Made-Up People.

I did personality tests on my characters about one year into writing, when they already pretty well established in my head and on the page. I thought it would be interesting to see how closely they matched the established "types", and also knew it would generate some ideas for how they deal with stress, and with each other (particularly what causes conflict).

I became interested in this method of personality typing a couple of decades ago. 16Personalities is a useful summary site to familiarize yourself with the 16 types and take the test yourself if you want. (Not all sites use the same "shorthand" descriptor, e.g. "debater" for ENTP, but the idea is the same.) It's up to you whether you find this psychological approach useful for real people, but as a writer I do find it useful for character generation - or, in this case, for delving deeper into characters I'd already created.

I'm writing these posts in the midst of editing (and uploading to Wattpad) book 8, so there may be minor spoilers if you haven't read that far. Read about:

Jesse: the "debater"

Jesse's personality type is ENTP - the "debater". Let's break it down:

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Rule212 on tour!

In Minor Key (Wynter Wild book 8), Wynter and her brothers are about to take their indie rock band Rule212 on tour.

Barring unforseen diversions and detours, this is the route their three-week tour will take them, starting in Aurora CO, ending back home in Seattle WA:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cover Reveal: Book 8 of the Wynter Wild Series

Continuing on the headless girl theme, I present the cover for book 8 of the Wynter Wild series, which is titled Minor Key.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Wynter's Prom Dress

In the chapter of Duet (Wynter Wild #7) I recently uploaded to Wattpad, it's Wynter's prom night.

She's not much of a dress girl, but in keeping with social convention she borrowed an appropriate bridesmaid dress from Dusk and it looks something like this (along with the dendrobium orchid corsage):

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Making a Theremin

The theremin has fascinated me for many years. Recently I watched some YouTube videos on how to play it, and got the urge to give it a try. Apparently, it's easier to play if you have experience with the violin -- an instrument I played, and hated, for 7 long years. So I figured I could give it a go. The instrument itself costs at least $450, but I found a $100 kit on eBay and purchased it...

... Not realizing you need an electrical engineering degree to assemble it! Where's Jesse when I need him?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Craft Tutorial: Dragon Spines and Tail

Yesterday I wrote a tutorial to make your own dragon wings. Today I made the spines and tail for the costume, and here's how.

I wanted a long row of spines, with tail attached, that I could pin onto the costume after the wings were harnessed on. I cut two 3cm-wide strips of plastic sheet (from a poster frame), but you could use sturdy card although it won't give the tail the same "bounce" as plastic does. Whatever you use, it needs to be something with firm edges, so you can pull the felt triangles around it, which forces the triangles to stand up straight.

For the spines my daughter chose white glitter felt, which comes in A4 sheets. You could use card, maybe metallic-coated or with a pattern, in a color that matches the rest of the costume. It needs to be able to stand up by itself.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Craft Tutorial: Garbage Bag Dragon Wings

A couple of weeks ago my daughter announced she wanted to be a white dragon for Halloween. There are a dragon costume options available in the stores but none are white, other than the How To Train Your Dragon Light Fury for younger children. (My daughter is 9 and skinny, but so tall she wears age 12 clothes.)

I boldly said I'd make her dragon wings, and rather than the soft type hanging from the arms, I decided to make proper shaped wings coming out of her back. I don't know what I was thinking! But my husband cleared his weekend D&D game off the trestle tables so I had a big workspace, and today I finished them (other than the harness). I thought I'd share how I made them.

Initially I found an online tutorial showing how to turn two kites into amazing wings, and I tried to replicate this. The only suitable kites I could find were rainbow colored. White spray paint failed to cover the color (it just doesn't stick to that fabric, and isn't thick enough), so I decided to start from scratch using white garbage bags and garden wire.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Narrow Escape: The Doomed R101 Airship

My daughter and her dad were going through her National Geographic Kids "How Things Work" book tonight, and were reading the chapter on dirigibles, which mentioned the British R101 rigid airship.

This reminded me of a story my dad likes to tell about his father, John (Jack) Creasy, born in 1899. Jack was a chemist whose company, Titanine Ltd., supplied the nitrocellulose paint, otherwise known as "dope", for fabric used to cover the R101. After the ship was built, his team went on a tour of the airship. The story goes that Jack was so horrified by the workmanship, he declined a free ticket for its maiden overseas voyage to India in October 1930.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

NEW RELEASE: Natural Harmonics (Book 6)

Natural Harmonics is book 6 of the Wynter Wild series. The reason Wynter looks so happy on the cover is because her band is finally getting gigs and she loves playing live!

The ebook is now available for purchase for a teeny tiny price:

Amazon USA (US$2.99)
Amazon AUS
Amazon UK

It's also available in multiple formats on Smashwords, and through other online retailers. (BTW I accidentally pasted the book 7 description into the Amazon upload, and it'll take a day or two to fix. Big oops! Even I get confused when I'm working on three different books in the series at the same time.)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Breaking the Rules: What the What with the Wattys?

The other day I checked out the 2019 Wattys winners, looking for books to add to my reading list, and to get an idea of the kind of stories that win.

I started uploading my Wynter Wild series to Wattpad in December 2018, which in theory made the first few books eligible for the 2019 Wattys. I'd never heard of the Wattys until I joined Wattpad, but of course I considered entering Little Sister Song, come June, for the chance to become one of the ~60 winners. An award is great exposure for any writer using this platform where there are 500 million stories fighting for attention.

When I read the rules and found that published works were ineligible, I had to put that idea aside. (At the time, the later books in the series that weren't yet published were eligible, but I saw no point in entering book 5 or 6 of a long series, as it's necessary to read them in order.)

But back to those Wattys winners: On a hunch, I searched for one of the stories on Amazon and discovered it was self-published earlier this year (same title, author, and cover). I checked the other winners and found a second winning story on Amazon.

This blog post is partly a bitchfest about why ineligible stories won the award when I (and no doubt many others) specifically gave up our chance and did not enter because of the exclusivity rule. Yes, the chances of winning are minisculefor example, your story has to impress a "Story DNA" computer algorithm before a human even lays eyes on itbut that's not the point. And it's partly a piece of advice to Wattpad to get their house in order and be more professional about their contest, to avoid this problem reoccuring.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Rhubarb Crumble, Or Not

My sister's green thumb rescued my rhubarb plant (see previous post), and this week she gave me a bundle of its bounty so I thought I'd post a crumble recipe.

I grew up on apple, rhubarb, and peach crumble (not all in the same dish, except for the first two, sometimes) and my mother claims she used the recipe from the old Be-Ro cookbook, published in the 1920s. (Be-Ro was a brand of flour.) I also grew up using this cookbook for cakes and pancakes, etc. 

The crumble recipe called for rubbing in the fat and flour, then adding sugar, and baking it as a topping on stewed apple. Over the years we modified it a bit, such as adding oats or desiccated coconut, using crunchy raw sugar instead of white or soft brown, and using half self-raising flour to add some texture.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Gardening Woes

My least favorite pastime is killing plants. Unfortunately, I keep doing it.

Unlike my main character Wynter, every plant left in my care suffers a quick (hopefully painless) death. So when I discovered one of our major supermarket chains is giving away a free seed kit with every $30 spent (aimed at kids, like all similar promos - last month it was Lion King Ooshies), I was probably less thrilled than many parents. Not because it isn’t fun and easy to sprout seeds with your kids (it is!), but because I know damn well those seedlings are going to keel over and die as soon as I repot them and attempt to turn them into useful veggies, herbs, and flowers.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Mail Order Chicks Spotify Playlist

Wynter plays in an all-girl band (that isn't all-girl), Mail Order Chicks, starting in book 5. They play mostly 80s-90s British pop covers, so I made a playlist of the songs mentioned along with a few others they've probably played now and then.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

One Night Vacation - How Many Tiny Things Can Go Wrong?

Since my daughter is on school vacation, we decided to spend a couple of days, along with my mum, on the coast where my sister has a caravan. There were already six in the caravan, so we stayed the night in a nearby motel. MCP was home alone, fending for himself, because I didn't have time to restock the fridge before I left. He appears to have survived on hash browns and bacon.

How many little challenges can we fit into one 36-hour period?

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Fairn Boys' Motorcycles

Wynter's brothers each ride a different motorcycle. I know nothing about motorcycles, except what it feels like to ride on the back of Caleb's bike because my husband owned it, back in Arizona.

Caleb's bike is the 1985 Honda V65 Magna. It was manufactured for a few years during the mid 80s, and as the first power cruiser it really was called the "Beast", V4 engine, 1100cc, 116 horse power, with fast acceleration, low vibration, and high top speed. The bike below (1983 model) includes the "goofy" saddle bags that Caleb is so proud of. All photos from Click the images for more info.