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Saturday, October 17, 2020

My Characters as Avatars

Been messing around with the Facebook avatar maker to create the characters from the Wynter Wild series - because it's fun! - and I've uploaded dozens of them to the Wynter Wild Wiki on the relevant character pages.

I'm using the website version of the program rather than the app, and it's pretty limited in terms of hairstyles and especially when making older characters. But I did my best. Here are just a few of them...

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.

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 but please read "Rules of this wiki" (link from main page on the right) which are the standard rules of fandom.com, 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.

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.

WynterWildhome


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

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

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

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: