Blog Archives

Be Yourself This Halloween

Exciting news! So exciting! Get your excitement boots on!

Are they on? TO THE NEWS!

In just a few short weeks I’ll be releasing my fourth book, the novella My Father’s Death. This pseudo-sequel to The Vamps of the Marais will be set in Paris in 1905 and feature a death cult headed by an immortal deity and the unfortunate chemist who invokes their wrath. Feedback from betas has been overwhelmingly positive, with phrases like “complex and tightly interwoven”, “streets and streets ahead of other stuff I’ve read” and “I should finish it Tuesday” liberally applied.

But enough of that boasting. Today I just want to share the draft promo poster, featuring protagonists Hannibal du Noir, whom you may remember from The Vamps, and Paris’s unluckiest chemist, Roland Lambert.

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Expect more – along with the actual cover – soon! If you’d like an advanced review copy, those will be going out totally free next week. And if you’re like, no, Anneque, I want to buy this from you and have you sign my Kindle, then you can do that too! I’ll be signing books and various body parts at Brisbane Supanova on the 27th to 29th of November.

Oh my… get ready!

-Anneque

Just In Time For Your Ears: Kristi Lazzari’s Tomorrow’s Promise

After months of delaying, dodgy accents, computer death and dogs in the background, it’s finally here: my reading of Kristi Lazzari’s Tomorrow’s Promise.

The reading covers the first chapter. It is very slightly abridged due to video time constraints. A full podcast version should be available on iTunes and Stitcher in the coming weeks. As soon as I remember my Apple ID…

You can find Kristi’s home on the web here.

And support her by buying Tomorrow’s Promise right here. It’s totally worth it! This is a great title, whether you’re an adult or teenager, both powerfully emotive and evocative of 1930s country Alabama. I cried the whole way through, and loved every minute of it.

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Book Review: Legend of the Boy by Toi Thomas

Legend of the Boy by Toi Thomas

Novella, superhero fiction

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A boy wakes up in restraints, no idea who he is or how he got there. It soon becomes clear that the boy is an alien, whose fall to Earth destroyed a city and threw humanity into panic. The CIA has hold of the boy, and they want him to use his alien powers to save the Earth from a cluster of a thousand comets headed directly for us. But the heart of the story is not whether the CIA can talk the boy into helping us; it’s whether we really want the kind of help he’s got to give.
It’s a neat little story, broken into four parts. It’ll take you under an hour to get through. What I found most admirable about the story was Toi’s ambition. From the boy’s beginning strapped to a chair being grilled by mysterious forces, I expected Toi to throw in a handful of tropes – a friendly CIA agent, a bit of bonding, a slow development of power, catastrophe averted and celebrations all round. To my delight (and aghast), this really wasn’t the case. The boy does save Earth, but at an enormous cost, both to Earth and seemingly to the boy’s love for humanity. By the book’s end we really would have been better to take our chances with the comets. The boy has all kinds of crazy super powers – turning himself into light, pushing away the moon, exploding things with the force of his mind. He’s not the kind of guy you want to annoy. But, unfortunately, he’s also not a difficult guy to annoy. I really liked this corruption by power of a character who starts out so sweet and eager to please. Toi handled it deftly and it really makes for quite a striking story. I can’t say much more than that without massive spoilers.
The book does have its issues. Mainly these are superficial – a handful of typos I’m surprised weren’t caught, a few odd word choices, some heavy-handedness with adjectives. All in all however the prose is solid, if not exceptional, and Toi shows great promise as a writer.
Also, and I’m not going to fault the book for this – I would if it weren’t self-published – but there is also this deceptive bit of weirdness with internal hyperlinks. After each of the story’s four parts, we’re given the option to return to the Table of Contents. I’m not actually sure the book HAS a table of contents, but even if it does, the option to go back to the TOC at the end of each part tricks you into thinking that the end of the part is the end of the story. Which, imagine my confusion when 20% of the way in I reached the end of part 1. If you are reading the book, just beware of this, and keep reading all the way to the end.
There you have it. Legend of the Boy. I had no idea what to expect going into it, and I was pleasantly surprised. Earnest, ambitious and fresh, Toi is shaping up to be one to keep your eye on. I’m giving it 3.5 stars.

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You can find it on GoodReads here.

Amazon here.

And the remarkable Toi Thomas herself right here.

Also! I’m still floundering away in a sea of magic school fiction. There must be a plethora of it written by independent authors, but I just can’t find it. Anything that is kind of Harry Potter but not, will do. If you know any independents who have magic school stories available, or if you are one such independent, please drop me a line. Independent, represent! Whoo whoo whoo! Or something like that.

Videeeeeeeoooo Review!

You heard right. It’s done! It’s even on the right day! The video review for D. James Fortescue’s Sayeh and Zia is finished and it’s live and you can see it right here:

Sayeh and Zia video review.

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You can find D. James Fortescue here … and me, well I’m here. With you. Mwah. 😉

Have a great weekend and get those pens to paper!

Dell has never looked so … human

About four hours ago I said I would be back in two minutes with another post. And then I remembered I had to draw something. That something was Kordell, star of the upcoming Fallouts novella.

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Last week I ran a competition on my Facebook author’s page. It was pretty simple and I didn’t think it would get many hits ^_^;; The deal was this: to enter, you just had to list a word that was written either on your person (tattoo or clothing brand) or was written on an item within arm’s reach. The winning word would become the name of a fallout in the novella.

The competition generated a surprisingly amount of interest, given that Facebook is usually a dead-in-the-water platform for me, and for authors in general, from what I’ve seen. Terry Pratchett does all right but even he is lucky to get 2000 hits for big news, and compared to George Takei’s 20 trillion hits a day the discrepancy is clear. So I was pleasantly surprised, and the character has a name. A friend suggested Kore Dell, and Kordell it was.

But I had so much interest that I wanted to nominate someone else, too, so I counted the entries (34 whoo!) and used a random number generator to give me a count. That gave me fellow author Kristi Lazzari’s suggestion, Lilly, who is her dog. Very cute! And now we have a Lilly Peninsula, which will be the setting of the story.

So that’s that. I’m encouraged by the success of this, and plan to have a few more competitions in the coming months. I’m thinking one will be to suggest a location for a dystopian novella, another may be to suggest a super power. I’ll keep you posted, and if you like my Facebook page, you can participate and win things. Hurray for winning!

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Now for the news.

Serials. The Sunday Witch Hunters is rattling along at its own good pace. As of next week we’ll be a quarter of the way through the first book. Gees! Wow, that just flew by. I suppose there will be about 36 chapters, finishing some time in September. It may also be appearing in Jukepop Serials in the next few months. When the entire first book has been published, I’ll compile the chapters and publish them for Kindle along with a bunch of extras, such as exactly what Lily wrote on the sheet she gave Joe.

Speaking of juicy extras. I have a few new projects in the works. One is Fabled Ultimate, a fantasy series. Unlike Witch Hunters, Fabled Ultimate was written to be a serial, and so it should translate really well to a weekly release. The first 26 chapters will start going live when Witch Hunters is finished. I’m really excited about it! Gosh. I’m typing up the story at the moment from my handwritten copy, and it’s just heaps of fun and quite personal. There are like, two characters. I really tried to limit the characters, so that they could develop a very natural and very strong friendship, which is at the heart of the story. It’s also nice to work with a small cast after the huge number of characters in the Fallouts, and the fewer but still fairly intense numbers in Witch Hunters.

One (two) last bits of news. My plan for the rest of the year is to write and publish five novellas in ten months. The first of those is the Fallout novella. The next three are also planned, no idea what five will be. I hope to be doing some process workshops during that time, maybe sharing a few techniques for a solid editing regime. Uggggghhhh.

And last before the reading list, I have to thank everyone for their support over the past five months. It’s been unbelievable. These communities are so rewarding to work with, meeting other authors and readers is brilliant. And! I need a favour. But it’s nothing monetary. I’m caught up in some RL dramas at the moment. I hope to be able to update the site frequently and get everything done, but as you can see with the podcast (or lack thereof) it isn’t always possible. So, I don’t know how long it will take for things to be normal again. And I’ll be around, so, hold on, I guess.

All right, and now for the reading list.

No! You can't cheat and read Dune now!

No! You can’t cheat and read Dune now!

Now Reading:

  • Blue Mars (still T-T) by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Brilliance by Anthony McCarten

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Just Finished:

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Up Next:

  • Storm Front by Jim Butcher
  • The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold by Peter V. Brett
  • Balanced in an Angel’s Eye by Shaune Lafferty Webb
  • Heavenfall by Robbie MacNiven (finally!)
  • Achromatic by D. James Fortescue (also finally!)
Come on come on come on come on!

Come on come on come on come on!

And that’s it from me this week. Have a wonderful weekend full of adventure and books. :3

YA Review: Tomorrow’s Promise by Kristi Lazzari

Unfortunately Tomorrow’s Promise isn’t speculative fiction, and so misses out on being reviewed on the podcast. However, I enjoyed it so much that I thought it deserved a decent review here.

Tomorrow’s Promise by Kristi Lazzari

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Young adult, novella

Summer, America, 1937. 12 year old Sarah Jane struggles to comprehend the extremities of friendship and small town cruelty.

While other kids spend their summer holidays swimming at the river and seeing movies, Sarah is busy doing chores around home and helping her single mother scrape a hand-to-mouth existence. She’s pleased to help, but Sarah’s mother doesn’t seem to care much for her at all. Her mother is abusive, beating Sarah under the slightest provocation. The young girl finds herself in constant pain and pushing away those who would be her friends, afraid they’ll discover the secret of her mother’s abuse and judge her for it. Even the affable boy next door, Billy, is unable to get much out of her.

It all changes one day when Sarah, stiff from another beating, is walking is the woods near her house. She crosses paths with the town witch, Virginia. Virginia notes Sarah’s injuries and invites the girl back to her house for something to relieve the pain. Sarah’s mother has warned her strictly against speaking to Virginia, but Sarah can see no malice in the old woman and goes along.

It turns out that Virginia isn’t a witch at all. In fact she may be the one person in town who understands Sarah rather than judging her. Virginia says that she too was flogged as a child and her homemade remedies do give Sarah some relief.

But that’s not all Virginia knows. As the days go by and Sarah sees more of the old woman, she learns that Virginia also knows many secrets about the town, even about Sarah’s mother. Those secrets may be the reason behind the rumours about Virginia – that she’s a witch who killed a baby, and that she’s responsible for the bout of petty theft going on in town.

Virginia is the first friend Sarah’s ever had. She won’t stand for the rumours, and sets out to prove them wrong. To do so she recruits Billy, and as Sarah becomes more open and active, the two become fast friends.

Yet even as Sarah forges new relationships, old ones crumble down. Sarah’s mother learns about her friendship with Virginia and beats the girl so badly she’s trapped inside for days. Worse, the mother is moody and unpredictable, and Sarah is terrified of wronging her again. Her new friendships, Virginia’s reputation (and the violence threatened against her if the thefts don’t stop), and her newfound hope are all put at risk for the sake of her mother’s foul temper.

It’s a hard story, this one. It’s incredibly moving. The way Sarah would shamble away from her house feeling like an old woman with her injuries brought me to tears; just about every interaction between Sarah and her mother did the same. I don’t usually cry in books but in this one I couldn’t stop. The great sense of injustice – this young girl having to put up with an uncaring monster as her parent, and the freedoms that are denied to her – is an overwhelming presence in this book.

But just as strong are the themes of friendship and standing up for what is right. Sarah has been afraid all her life, of her mother, of being beaten, but befriending Virginia gives her a new stance on life. She finally has something worth fighting for. She’s tired of being afraid and she’s tired of being unloved. When she changes her mind from fear to resolution, everything changes for her. That transition is so deft and believable, I can’t commend Lazzari enough for it.

A few of the characters, Virginia in particular, often refer to God when explaining their decisions. Saying such things as trust in God, wait for his plan, etc. Something I really like about the book was Sarah’s stance on this. Rather than waiting for God to help her, Sarah goes out and helps herself, and the people she can see who need help. This is really what separated Sarah from the other characters, and made it entirely her story – that she has this attitude that if there’s something that isn’t right, then it is the responsibility of those involved to go out and make a difference. I think that’s a great moral and it worked beautifully with both the book’s religious themes – that is, tomorrow’s promise – and the transition of Sarah from victim to hero.

Reading, I had the sense that this story is very personal to Lazzari, more so than most stories are personal to their authors. I think that even if it isn’t her story, it is a reflection of her strength and hope and courage. It’s a wonderful story, heart-breaking and kind, and I recommend it to anyone young or old who doesn’t mind crying like a fool.

 

I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

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You can find Kristi here, and Tomorrow’s Promise here on Amazon. Check her out! She’s really tops.

 

Chicks for Novellas

Recently, living on my own and having very limited access to phone and internet, I’ve felt very lonely. To abate this I picked up reading Ai Yazawa’s Nana where I left off. Nana, if you haven’t heard of it, is a popular women’s manga series about the friendship between two women by the same name, Nana. One Nana is a rock star, the other just wants to be a housewife. It’s a very emotional and dramatic series, very beautifully drawn, sympathetic to its characters, and one can really sense Ai Yazawa is in tune with her readers. For me, both Nanas have always felt like good friends.

Anyway, I got to thinking about this novella competition Busybird is holding. Remind again me why the deadline is November 28th, tail-end of NaNoWriMo? How are we supposed to write a novel and a novella in two months (this is based on the assumption that all writing challenges are mandatory, not optional, as some people would have you believe). So I was thinking about this novella that I have a month to write while planning my NaNoWriMo project and entering a bunch of short story comps, and I thought of a really great idea. A story about the friendship of two young women… and mechs. Wow! I love mechs. They make everything better. They say a friend in need is a friend indeed, but I say a friend with a mech is a friend you want to hang out with.

The only problem with this story is that it’s … not… short. It’s certainly not 20-40K short. It’s more like 100K short. So it’s not so much a novella as a full blown novel.

But hey! Mechs are mechs, fun is fun, and life is for writing. I’ve got 20 weeks, give or take, to nut this thing out, get it written and edited, and then I’m going to break it up and serialise it throughout next year. That’s the plan. That way maybe my characters can be the friends to lonely girls out there, the same way Ai Yazawa’s characters have been friends to me.

 

…and after all that, I still don’t have a decent idea for a novella.