Thursday, March 31, 2011


Once upon a time I had three copies - yes three (my big box of author copies hasn't arrived yet) - of Children of Scarabaeus. Now I have none. My mum took one. I sent one off as a prize. And MCP stole the last one to give to his boss, who is in the middle of book 1 at the moment.

So now I have no copies of my own book. At least there are none for my baby to rip off its cover like she's started doing with other paperbacks in the house.

By the way, I really hate that the abbreviation for this book is CoS... Church of Sc_. Ugh. SoS was livable-with. Henceforth they will be SONG and CHILDREN.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reviews, interviews and giveaways

The Qwillery has an interview with me along with a Children of Scarabaeus giveaway, where I talk about research and favorite characters.

Angieville has an interview too, and another Children of Scarabaeus giveaway, with a discussion of my book covers and how I met my writer hubby (MCP).

And don't forget my mousepad giveaway (posted below).

Some early reviews:
My Bookish Ways - 5 stars
Dirty Sexy Books - 4 stars

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Supernatural Underground - WIN book and signed bookmark

I'm blogging at Supernatural Underground today. Head over there and answer a simple question for the chance to WIN a copy of Children of Scarabaeus along with a signed bookmark.

Celebrate release day: WIN Finn & Edie mousepad

Five hours to go until Children of Scarabaeus goes on sale in North America. To celebrate I'm giving away a Very Cool Thing!

For your chance to win a fabulous round mousepad of Finn and Edie, email me with MOUSEPAD CONTEST in the subject line. I will choose one random winner.

The contest is open internationally and closes Tuesday 5th April (11:59PM EST) or Wednesday 3PM AEST in Australia. I'll notify the winner by email and post their name. (Mouse not included!)

Meanwhile, get yourself a copy of Children of Scarabaeus from your local bookstore or online store, and follow my blog tour (list on the right) for more chances to win.

Edie Sha'nim believes she and her bodyguard lover, Finn, could find refuge from the tyranny of the Crib empire by fleeing to the Fringe worlds. But Edie's extraordinary cypherteck ability to manipulate the ecology of evolving planets makes her far too valuable to lose. Recaptured and forced to cooperate - or else she will watch Finn die - Edie is shocked to discover the Crib's new breed of cypherteck: children. She cannot stand by while the oppressors enslave the innocent, nor can she resist the lure of Scarabaeus, the first world she tried to save, when researchers discover what appears to be an evolving intelligence.

But escape - for Edie, for Finn, and for the exploited young - will require the ultimate sacrifice... and a shocking act of rebellion.

Monday, March 28, 2011

One/two days to go

Tomorrow is sort of Children of Scarabaeus release day, except that due to the time zones it's really not until the day after. I can't wait! Meanwhile, here are the dates for my upcoming blog tour. I'll post actual links once each post is up.

29 March The Qwillery - interview
5 April Literary Escapism - interview and giveaway
7 April Reading Between the Wines - interview
11 April Kylie Griffin - guest blog and Aussie giveaway

Dates to come:
Tez Says - guest blog
SciFi Chick - interview
Angieville - interview and giveaway
Book Chick City guest blog - Women of Science Fiction Week 23-28 May

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Edward's second chance

And now for something completely different.

The other day I was at my sister's place. She lives in the country with her 6 children, 2 goats, 2 cats, squillions of chickens, 1 husband and a rusty old dog. I was surprised - nay, shocked - to see someone she once loved lying on top of a pile of junk that was headed for the rubbish tip. It was Edward the giant teddy bear. He was a gift from our parents on her 7th birthday. He was hiding in the cloakroom when she came home from school. She went to hang up her coat and there he was in the dark corner, waiting for her.

Edward is - was - a bright yellow bear about 4 feet tall. My parents bought him second-hand for five pounds sterling, so he's of unknown vintage but is in his mid-thirties, at the very least. His seams are coming apart, his stuffing is leaking out, his nose has gone completely flat, his ear is half ripped off... But he's Edward! And my sister was just throwing him out! No room, she said. Too many toys filling up the house already, and she didn't have time to repair him.

When I was little, every stuffed animal I owned was a person with a soul. I loved them to bits, sometimes literally. I remember walking to school one day with my sister and seeing a garbage bin on the street overflowing with old stuffed toys that the local children's home was throwing out. We were devastated. We wanted to rescue them but didn't dare raid someone else's bins.

So I rescued Edward. I'm going to pull him apart, wash him and patch him, refill him with new stuffing (nice clean polyester from Lincraft instead of nasty foam chips) and stitch him up like new. Edward the giant teddy bear has suffered (in a good way, mostly) at the hands of my sister and her six children. Now he will be my baby's giant teddy bear so she can love him to bits all over again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Aurealis Awards - SONG nominated!

The Aurealis Awards shortlists were announced today, and the judges have put Song of Scarabaeus on the Science Fiction Novel shortlist!

These are Australia's big SF&F&H literary awards, started in 1995 by the publishers of Aurealis magazine. There's a gala event in Sydney on 21st May to announce the winners.

Song of Scarabaeus is not (yet?!?) published in Australia but you can find it in online stores (see here for a list of retailers that currently stock the book).

Two features about the SF Novel shortlist this year: there are only 3 nominees, the other two both being for books by the ever-prolific and popular Marianne de Pierres (her 6th  & 7th nominations), and the fact that a woman therefore is going to win! Looking back over the 16-year history of the awards, only one other woman has ever won this category (Maxine McArthur in 2004, for Less Than Human -- NB. read her Time Future/Time Past books!).

For several years from about 1999 I worked on Aurealis magazine, as a copyeditor, slush pile reader, and eventually associate editor. It was a remarkable experience, helping me in both a writing/editing capacity, and in introducing me to the work of dozens of Aussie authors. Now that I'm back in Australia, I hope to reconnect with the SF community here -- when my little one deigns to give me time off -- and being nominated for an Aurealis Award is a fantastic way to come home.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ideas and icicles

Well, I didn't make it through to round 3 of DABWAHA, but I'm astonished and grateful at such a respectable voting turnout! In the end, only two out of three people didn't vote for me - and when one is up against Kate Elliott, one clutches to one's heart (for dear life) every vote one gets. Thank you everyone!

Here's the kicker: I researched my opponent, as you do, aiming to rake through the dirt and uncover hidden secrets to use against her. Instead I became sidetracked - nay, fascinated - by her idea of icepunk, or "steampunk on ice" as she defines it (the subgenre of her DABWAHA book Cold Magic). So much so that I spent much of the day researching ice sculpting, glaciers and the Icelandic horse, and had no time left for dirt-raking and secret-uncovering.

And the far-future story that I was intending to set in a hot barren desert? It now seems sooo much more romantic and interesting set on a frozen plateau in a glacial age.

So thank you Kate for stirring my imagination with Cold Magic - and I haven't even read the book yet! (Just ordered it.)


So I made it through round 1 of DABWAHA, but round 2 is even tougher: I'm up against Kate Elliott, mega-author. This is David and Goliath, folks, and I ain't Goliath.

Kate Elliott has written tons of books with beautiful covers. She has a fancy website with interesting articles. (Seriously, they are really interesting.) She has an author pic on the beach, for heavens' sake. So she's kind of amazing and I'm losing the vote right now. Okay, that's the extent of my trash-talking. Here's something she doesn't have. She doesn't have LOLbabyz.

Click here to vote for Song of Scarabaeus. Tell your friends! Do it now!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Interview about writing, babies, and secrets in the cellar

AmyBeth Inverness has started a new writing blog, and I'm happy to be her first interviewee. She sent me 20 questions and I rattled off some answers - read them here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Help ME win!

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Song of Scarabaeus is DABWAHA's reader-picked nominee in the "Crossover" category of this 64-book showdown. The other 7 books in each of the 8 categories were picked by the Dear Author and Smart Bitches ladies, and Dear Author's review of the book can be found here.

If you've read the book and liked it, please vote for it. Voting for this round is open from noon, central time, Thursday 17th March, until midnight (I think that's about 4 AM - 4 PM on 18th, in Australia). You don't have to sign in or register or anything - it's anonymous.

Full disclosure: I'll win an iPad if my book wins. I don't actually know what an iPad is, but more importantly it's great exposure for my book as hundreds of readers are taking part.

If Song makes it through this round, I may bug you again for another vote. Until then... thanks in advance, and please spread the word!

UPDATE: Wheee! My book has progressed to Round 2. Whew. A long way to go, though... and I'm up against Kate Elliott in the next round *breaks out in nervous sweat*. Voting for Song will be noon to midnight on Saturday March 19th (CST) which is 4 AM Sunday 20th in Australia. Mark your calendars!

Interview - and WIN!

My Bookish Ways has a review of Song of Scarabaeus as well as an interview with yours truly and a giveaway. I'll send a signed copy of both books (Song and Children of Scarabaeus) to one winner - enter on that site (not here).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Starting 'em young

I got some author copies of Children of Scarabaeus in the mail yesterday - it's such a thrill to hold my book in my hands! My daughter was moderately impressed until she got stuck on the first word, and threw the book across the room.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Now here's a nice surprise: Song of Scarabaeus is a nominee in the 2011 DABWAHA Tournament. And it got there because readers put it there! DABWAHA is a showdown between 64 romance novels. There are 8 categories, each with 8 novels. One novel in each category is nominated by readers, the other 7 by Jane and Sarah of Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. So first, a huge thank you to those who put me in the tournament - Song is in the "Crossover" category.

Secondly, there are simply oodles of prizes to be won, so get involved! Until 15th March you choose which book you think will get through to the next round, and you win stuff for being right. Then the books face off against each other in polls over the next few days, and you get to vote on your choice for Book of the Year.

To vote in the polls (after Tuesday night), go to the DABWAHA blog or click the link below, which is the icon I'm proudly displaying as a DABWAHA finalist.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Zombies: I don't get it

Zombies: I don't get it. I don't get the appeal. I just understand why they're "it" right now. Is it because that's all that's left to explore in the monster-of-the-week Urban Fantasy/Paranormal genre?

I really don't get it.

That is all.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ask me anything!

With the release of Children of Scarabaeus less than three weeks away, my publicist at HarperCollins has been helping me line up some guest blogs and Q&As. I already have a few in the works, but if anyone would like me to appear on their blog, go ahead and ask me: I prefer Q&As/interviews or specific ideas for guest blogs, because truly I'm all out of creative juices when it comes to thinking up topics, but I'll give it a shot if you can't think of anything.

The creative juices for my book(s) on the other hand are flowing freely. New mothers are advised to "sleep when the baby sleeps", and I certainly need to do that, with exhaustion a constant battle these days (make that these past 18 months). But instead of napping I find myself thinking up more weird and wacky plot lines for my WIPs.

Anyway, don't forget you can read the first chapter of Children on my website!

Or you could just look at this cutie, who was 9 months old this week and is cutting her first top tooth. Hard to write with this clinging to your knee.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Where Twitter led me today

A few tweets today led me to some interesting blogs and websites:

Trudi Canavan mentioned The Book Depository Live, where you can see what books people all over the world are ordering. Very cool, very addictive. If you care that someone in Belgium just bought The Early Rock Guitar Bible, then this is the place you need to hang out.

Bex Wicks, fellow HarperCollins author (Burqalicious - The Dubai Diaries), writes about meeting bestselling Aussie author Bryce Courtney, who gave her some advice on being a writer. Write commercially, he says, if you want to make money. It seems self-evident. But the fact is that many people want to be writers for the sake of the art. Cynical as it sounds, if you want to give up the 9 to 5 then writing commercially increases your odds of achieving that goal rather than writing a marvelous piece of literary genius (unless said piece of genius ends up on the state's high school curriculum). Of course, doing both at the same time would be nice!

And my most go-to site io9 has a trailer for Super. I don't really like the whole superhero genre but this is a parody, suitably due for release on 1st April (in the US), and it stars Rainn Wilson (aka Dwight from The Office) and Nathan Fillion (playing another superhero) - two great reasons to put Grandma on babysitting duty and take MCP to the movies for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long. (I can't find a release date for Australia, which makes me nervous...)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why I don't believe

Paranomal romance is hot stuff in the publishing world (and I don't mean science fiction romance, although that genre has been unfortunately lumped into the paranormal category). While vampires and werewolves still seem to be the hottest, there are quite a few ghosts in the mix. For me, a ghost as hero or heroine will never be anything other than creepy, and by that I mean too creepy to overcome whatever warm & fuzzies the romance angle of the story is attempting to generate. But plenty of people evidently disagree.

I'm pretty sure you don't have to believe in ghosts to enjoy a ghostly romance, but the fact is that twenty-seven percent of Americans do believe in ghosts (disproportionately women and young people). The figure is even higher for Brits. I can't find a recent figure for Aussies (MCP says "Why don't you ask your spirit guide?") but I suspect it's in the same ballpark. It would take more than one blog post to list all the many things I don't believe in, but today I'm here to state that I don't believe in ghosts.

While I don't find stories of hauntings and the like remotely interesting, I do find it interesting to look into why people interpret certain very real personal experiences as "I see dead people."

This article by Richard Wiseman from New Humanist (UK) summarizes some research (oh nose! science!) explaining why people may have ghostly experiences. A brief excerpt:
In one study [researcher James Houran] took over a disused theatre that had absolutely no reputation for being haunted, and asked two groups of people to walk around it and report how they felt. Houran told one group that the theatre was associated with lots of ghostly activity and the other that the building was simply undergoing renovation. Those in the “this building is haunted” group reported weird sensations all over the place, while the other group experienced nothing unusual.
Blame psychological suggestion. Even I've been known to scare myself silly, alone in a dark house. Mind you, I always attributed the strange noises to someone trying to break in, which I think you'll agree is about a million times scarier than a bit of wandering ectoplasm.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A common language

Living in three different English-speaking countries at various times of my life has been confusing, linguistically. You'd think not, given that English is English. (Should I use US or British spelling on this blog?) I wrote my first novel using British English spelling because I had no idea it would end up with an American publisher, and because Microsoft Word is set up for British spelling. When I moved to the US, I switched Word to American English and changed the manuscript from top to tail, including the laborious process of changing all the single speech marks to double.

Now I'm back in Australia, and Microsoft Word gives me those red squiggly lines under all the American spellings in my new SF manuscript. I'm also writing a fantasy set in England and really feel like sticking with British spelling. More than that, I want to use English words and phrasing. The problem there is that I'm starting to forget exactly which terms are English, which are Australian, and which are American. Where does "dob someone in" come from? My American friends had no idea what this means. Australians dink and hoon and eat pavlova and pikelets, but I don't think the Brits do. They're busy eating crumpets and English muffins, which of course they call just muffins. American kids play with Legos (Lego) and put their babies in diapers (nappies) and cribs (cots) and give them a pacifier (dummy) to keep them quiet. Brits and Aussies have cars with bonnets and boots, not hoods and trunks, and they run on petrol not gas (except when they run on gas).

Here we live in flats and bedsits, or houses with nature strips. Water comes out of the tap (faucet) and we keep our clothes in a wardrobe (closet). We pay rates and wait in a queue to tick boxes and go on the dole. We barrack for our footy team (well, I don't).

What exactly is that thing that runs alongside the road (which is made of asphalt there, tarmac in Britain, bitumen here)? Aussies call it a footpath, Brits a pavement, Americans a sidewalk. The first floor of a building is one up from the ground, not on the ground. At parties we bring a plate and at pubs we shout (when it's our turn). We cook (bake) with self-raising flour and castor sugar, neither of which I could find in American shops (stores). Is it fairy floss, candy floss, or cotton candy? What is catsup? What's a freshman? And what the hell is a hoagie?

Today I made flapjack. I know that means something else to Americans, although I'm not quite sure what, but I think it's the same thing to Aussies and Brits. To me, anyway, flapjack (never plural) is rolled oats, golden syrup, melted butter and brown sugar. MCP called it a "granola bar" (muesli bar) although it's really not. I'm pretty sure most Americans don't know what golden syrup is but here's the recipe anyway.

British (Aussie?) Flapjack
125 g butter
1/4 cup* golden syrup (I use half golden syrup, half treacle)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2.5 cups rolled oats

Melt butter, syrup and sugar in a saucepan. Stir in oats. Press firmly into greased 20cm square tin. Bake 20 mins at 180C. Cool completely before turning out. Cut into squares.

*A British/Australian cup measure is 250 mL, which is a couple of teaspoons more than the US cup measure, so Americans might want to use a bit more butter.