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Aug 2, 2016 - Aussie SF Snapshot 2016, Guest Posts and Interviews    Comments Off on Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Lynette Noni

Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Lynette Noni

10730870_1510619605862580_1440370106279141236_n Lynette Noni is the author of the five-part young adult fantasy series, The Medoran Chronicles, described as a combination of Harry Potter, Narnia, and X-Men. Her first book, Akarnae, was released in 2015, with the second, Raelia, in April 2016, and the third, Draekora, coming out soon.

A regular panelist at national and local events, Lynette has featured at Sydney Writers’ Festival, Emerging Writers’ Festival (as part of the National Writers’ Conference), Supanova Pop Culture Exhibition, GenreCon, the National Young Writers’ Festival, Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival, Voices on the Coast, and the Australian National Speculative Fiction Convention.

Lynette’s engaging world building and character development workshops make her a sought after presenter for schools, both local and interstate, and for National Youth Week activities. She presented this year’s inter-school Readers’ Cup in June for the Sunshine Coast region (on behalf of the Children’s Book Council of Australia) and has been invited back again for the August competition.

Lynette was one of the YA authors featured on the inaugural ABC Radio #OzYA broadcast earlier this year. She is also an active blogger at www.lynettenoni.com and has an impressive and rapidly growing international following.

akarnae

Your first two books, Akarnae and Raelia, have been released and Draekora looks to be well underway, what’s next for The Medoran Chronicles?

This is such a tough question to answer without giving away any spoilers! Let’s just say that in books three, four and five, Alex will have to face *cough*, *cough*, and *cough*… She’ll also struggle with *cough* and sadly, *cough*, but she’ll get through the aftermath by *cough* and with help from *cough* and, of course, *cough*. Believe me when I say *cough* will definitely be worth the *cough*.

… Fortunately, amid all that, Alex doesn’t have to suffer from a chest infection (just everything else you can imagine), so all of the above will happen without the actual coughing.

To be completely serious though, things to expect are plenty more action scenes, heaps and HEAPS of surprises (which shocked even me), some new and very important friends, some special times between old friends, some personality transplants between certain characters, lots of danger and intrigue, and plenty of backstory and continued worldbuilding and plot twists. And on top of all that, many more Library adventures. So all in all, exciting—and dangerous—times ahead!

You’ve also had a busy year with conventions, speaking engagements and festivals. What have been some highlights?

This year has been insane for me. I feel as if between March and July I pretty much lived out of a suitcase since I was touring so much. It was beyond surreal, and such a wonderful experience!

As for highlights, Supanova is always an incredible experience, and I’ve had the pleasure of being a guest at three tours in the last eighteen months, all of which were AMAZING. On top of that, speaking at Sydney Writers’ Festival, National Young Writers’ Festival, and Emerging Writers’ Festival were also brilliant experiences, as well as Bellingen Writers’ Festival and Voices on the Coast—and a whole heap of other opportunities, of which there are too many to note! Perhaps one of my favourite memories would have to be the ‘Medoran Chronicles Q&A’ that Dymocks (George Street) hosted for me while I was in the city for Sydney Writers’ Festival—that was basically a whole evening just to spend chatting about my books and characters, and it was incredible!

But to be completely honest, I have to say that what I love most about what I do is the people I get to meet along the way. The industry professionals, like other authors and publishers, etc., but even more, the readers who come along to meet me and get books signed. It’s because of my readers that I get to keep doing what I’m passionate about, and it is an absolute privilege to have the chance to meet them in person and say ‘thank you’.

Once The Medoran Chronicles are finished, do you think you’ll try your hand at another genre? Do you have any other projects waiting to be started?

Ha! Always! I have a gazillion folders on my laptop that say “DO NOT OPEN THIS YET!!!” and each have story concepts across multiple genres that I’ve jotted down for when I get the time to draft them fully. Fortunately, I’m a relatively speedy writer, but I currently have three on-the-go series that are taking all of my focus right now. The first is, of course, The Medoran Chronicles. But on top of that, I’ve written two other first-in-series books, both for trilogies. They’re also YA, but one is slanted more towards sci-fi (but still definitely fantasy), while the other is more… I guess you could call it magical realism. I absolutely can’t WAIT to share those other books with the world when the time is right!

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What Australian work have you loved recently?

One of my favourite reads from the last six months was Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. I loved it from a storytelling perspective but also found the creativity fantastic. That book truly was a work of art, and I’m eagerly anticipating the release of the sequel, Gemina later this year.

Another book I recently read was Jane Harper’s The Dry. It’s a thriller/crime and not something I would have perhaps normally have picked up at a bookstore for myself, but I was speaking on a panel with Jane in Melbourne last month and read her book on the plane trip there and back only to find myself immersed in the ‘Whodunit’ nature of the story. I was on the edge of my seat right until the end, which made it a pleasure to read!

Australia has many, many incredible authors—I could honestly go on and on forever with book recommendations!

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

It’s a total cliché, but I’m going to have to say J.K. Rowling. If only because I have SO many questions for her, especially about her writing process with the Harry Potter series. Having gone back to re-read it as an adult and as a now-published author, there are just so many things I would love to ask her. Not the least of which include the requisite, “WHY SIRIUS? WHY DOBBY? WHY FRED?” and I would probably continue with my list of ‘whys’ until our plane landed, long-haul flight or not.


Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.

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Guest Post: Exploring the Ick Factor with Kathy Bryson

I have a confession. I don’t like gore. I watch psychological thrillers with one eye closed, but I can’t sit through slasher films at all. This is in part because I don’t like to see people in pain, but it’s also because so many of these films are just gross.

So how did I manage to write a zombie novella being kinda squeamish? Well, I’m a writing tutor, but I’ve coached enough students through Anatomy & Physiology to know the reality of death. And amazingly, it’s not as gory as you’d think.

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Guest Post: Brooke Johnson on The Seven Wonders of Worldbuilding.

One of my favorite things about starting a new story is figuring out the world where I want it to take place. Most of the time, when I come up with an idea for a new story, the world spawns into being at the same time as the characters, but not always. Usually, I have nothing more than a vague idea of a setting, and I need to flesh out the rest of the landscape and the culture before diving into the writing part.

Here is a general list of considerations that I ask myself when building a new story:

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Guest Post: Michael Grey on Patreon vs Wattpad

Hey, you!  Yeah, you there with the hair, come here!  You reading this?  Great….

…now I have your attention I am potentially one quarter as successful as I was publishing my writing on Patreon, and all I had to do was be a bit rude.  Sorry about that, but it was a necessary example which will be apparent why as you read on.

But first perhaps I should back up.

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Guest Post: Lynette Hill on the origins of The Glass Singers

Thank you Belle for letting me share a little about the origins of my fantasy series, The Glass Singers. The first two books, Halfnote’s Song and Octavia’s Journey, are available on Amazon. The third book, currently titled Prelude, will be available later this year.

Every two years the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. holds a folk life festival celebrating the customs and traditions of a particular part of the world. In 2002, at the urging of world renown cellist Yo-yo Ma, the festival focused on the countries and cultures that hosted the fabled Silk Road of Central Asia.

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Guest Post: The Courage to Really Live by Erin Rhew

Thank you to Belle for hosting me today, and a big hello to Belle’s readers! <waves> I’m currently on blog tour with my husband, Deek Rhew, to celebrate the release of his book and the spotlight feature my publisher is putting on my trilogy, The Fulfillment Series! Stay tuned for information on how you can enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card!!

In 2007, I thought I was going to die. Not in the “OMG, I’m going to die” figurative sense, but in the literal “I’m sick enough to actually die” sense. I’m thankful to have a huge family and tons of friends who supported me through many surgeries and on the long recovery road.

This girl is dying.

Because of the great advances in modern medicine, I—thankfully—recovered. But what I discovered from my brush with death is the importance of truly living. So often, we walk through life with a long bucket list, but why wait? Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Instead, take the bull by the horns and do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Put a concerted effort toward saving to go where you want to go (I’m a huge Dave Ramsey fan—budgeting is amazing), make the time to do what you want to do, and always, always spend time with the ones you love.

In 2011, I started writing a trilogy, and by 2013, it had been published. I’m a huge grammar nerd, and I always wanted to work for a publishing company. Now I do! A big romantic a heart, I’ve always wanted to meet that special someone who looks at me like I hung the moon and treats me like a queen (and of course, whom I feel the same way about). When I found that person, I married him! Deek is the most wonderful man in the world. The two of us have always wanted to travel, explore, and adventure, so we do. We’re saving money toward our long-term dreams (of being professional vagabonds and living in lots of different places for six month stints), and we explore and adventure all the time. In fact, we’ve been across the country several times—by plane, car, and train!

What’s on your “to do” list? What have you always wanted to do but never have? Start making plans to do those things today. Why wait? Life’s too short to not truly live!

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Guest Post: Turning negatives into positives with Thomas Brooke

It was an October night, and I was returning home from a night out with a few friends in my local pub in London,
when something happened that changed my life dramatically.  The nights were closing in, so it was already dark by the time I left the pub, but I was in a good mood.   I’d recently returned from a trip to Pompeii , so I’d been telling everyone of my excitement at walking through the Roman streets, marvelling at the murals and depictions on the well preserved houses, and laughing about the seedier aspects of the ancient city – the brothels and street graffiti that had also survived the great volcanic eruption of AD 79.

It was probably because I was so preoccupied with these thoughts, that I didn’t see the guy who came out of an alcove and wrapped an arm around my neck.  My first thought was, ‘Am I being mugged?  Who’s going to mug me??’ – I’m a big guy, over six feet tall and I keep myself in pretty good shape, so I’d always thought the chance of this happening in London were pretty remote.  But I was wrong.

When the second guy came out from behind a car, then the third from behind a bush I knew I was in trouble.  This was no ordinary street robbery; these guys were out for blood, and the three of them surrounded me and between them punched, kicked, and smashed me to the ground, beating me to an inch of my life.

Afterwards, as I tried to hobble home – one of them had crushed my foot, to prevent me from getting up – another passer-by saw me covered in blood and called an ambulance.  I was lucky, I got to live another day.  And within a few weeks, my bruises healed, and I began to walk without a limp, all physical signs of my encounter disappeared.  But that was just the start of my nightmare.

I was completely unprepared for the mental-trauma that such an incident inflicts on you.  That winter was torture for
me.  After any night out, I was terrified to go home; I found I was scared of the dark, constantly thinking that people
would jump out of the shadows at me.  I’d never previously been a heavy drinker, but over that winter I found I needed to drink a lot just to give me the courage to walk home.  I could have called a taxi, but then people would wonder why I was taking a cab for such a small journey – this became another all-encompassing fear:  that
others would find out about my terror. This might seem irrational, but at the time, that fear was almost as
great as being mugged again.

Those first six months were very difficult, but then as the nights started getting lighter, an idea came to me.  After
visiting Pompeii I’d been searching for a character to be a lead in a novel set in ancient Rome – someone who fully embraced the entirety of Rome, its seedier aspects as much as its magnificence.  Why not put my experiences to good use, rather than having it a weight bearing me down, let it be something that produces something positive.  At the time, the news on the television was full of stories of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with
post-traumatic stress and it made me think how soldiers dealt with such issues in the ancient world.  My experiences had shown me the power that traumatic events can play on the mind, and I quite simply didn’t believe anyone who claimed that in the ancient world such a thing was not a concern because life was different back then.   The human mind was biologically exactly the same then as it is now, and just as fallible to conditions we now diagnose and
understand the importance of.

So I came up with the character Cassius, a great soldier, but someone who’d been affected by a terrible battle a few years before in the forests of Germany.   I knew from my own experiences how easy it was to fall into a trap of blaming yourself for your own perceived weakness, and I knew how living a lie to hide that same weakness can become a part of life.  I then started my novel in Rome so I could show Cassius being seduced by the many vices of that ancient city – something that is all too easy under such circumstances.  I then returned Cassius to Germany where he learns to understand and come to terms with his fears, just as I did whilst writing my novel.  The novel culminates in the Teutoburg forest and one of the most dramatic and historically significant battles of the ancient world. Cassius needs to draw on all his courage and strength in the midst of that terrible event.

I’m now pleased that I encountered those three men, that fateful night in October.  It was a terrible experience, but it gave me something so much more – I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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Guest Post: Writing Great Characters with Michael Fletcher

The truth is, I have no idea. But I’ll talk
a bit about my process and if you’ve read my dark fantasy novel, Beyond Redemption, you can decide for
yourself whether it works.

Step One:

Embrace insanity. At the very least be
willing to wade nostrils-deep in schizophrenia.

You aren’t writing about these
characters, you are these characters. Get into their heads. Pretend you
are them. Role-play their parts as you write. Never have a character say or do
something simply because the plot requires it, always allow them to say and do
what they must to be true to who they are. Give them freedom. If you have to
fix your plot outline after one of your characters runs amok, so be it.

At all times you must keep in mind what
each character actually knows. If they didn’t witness an event occur, unless
another character tells them, they don’t know about it. Each character must
make decisions based on what information is available to them, your precious
plot outline be damned.

Though you know what each character
is thinking and what impetus is driving their decisions and actions, the other
characters do not. Just as in real life—if there is such a thing—each of your
characters should make decisions based on what they think is going on.
Your egocentric swordswoman is going to read a situation very differently from
your gigolo-with-a-heart-of-mud. If you want your characters to seem real, make
sure they’re at least occasionally wrong in their interpretation of events and
motivations.

Step Two:

Choose the point-of-view you write in
carefully…and get ready for more insanity.

The majority of science fiction and fantasy
is written in the third person (he did that, she said
this) rather than first person (I said this, she told me that).

Since third person POV is my personal
favourite, that’s what I’m going to focus on.

Don’t write in a Close Third POV, write in
a Suffocating Third POV. Be in the character’s head. Share their thoughts,
describe everything from their point of view. And I don’t
mean describe it from where they’re physically located, I mean describe it the
way they would, see it through their filters, through their personality.

Bob is a gardener and he’s looking at a
rock. It’s flat and round and smooth, glowing in the morning sun. It would look
perfect against a verdant background. There’s that garden he’s designing…

To Gwen, the assassin, it’s a brown rock
she can smash someone’s skull with. It looks well-balanced, easily thrown. It’s
fist-sized and will send teeth skittering like startled cockroaches.

And there you have it, my two step program to losing
your mind and ending up in a psyche ward writing great characters.

What is your favourite POV and why?


About Michael R. Fletcher

Michael
R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author. His novel, Beyond
Redemption
, a work of dark fantasy and rampant delusion, was published by
HARPER Voyager in 2015.

His début novel, 88, a cyberpunk tale about harvesting children for
their brains, was released by Five Rivers Publishing in 2013.

The next two Manifest Delusions novels, The Mirror’s Truth, and The
All Consuming
, are currently in various stages of editing while Michael
tries to be the best husband and dad he can be.

Michael is represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

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About Beyond Redemption:

Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of
physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a
force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield.
Delusions give birth to foul new gods.

Violent and dark, the world is filled with the
Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High
Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his
followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to
become a god. A god they can control.

But there are many who would see this would-be-god
in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one
can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous
Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for
the young god.

As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one
more obstacle: time is running out. When one’s delusions become more powerful,
they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably
find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is:

Who will rule there?

Guest Post: On Norge by Alexander Patterson + Giveaway!

While the veracity of dragons and magic is still up for debate amongst the historical community, many common falsehoods about Scandinavian history have already been disproven.

The word Viking, for starters, which has become a catch all name for the Scandinavian and Minnesotan population was once reserved for the event of going on a sea-based raid. Leaving the base definition behind, we come across
more misconceptions. The term Viking brings to mind horned helmets and longships, but the simple truth is Scandinavia has so much more to offer than one History Channel show. While myths and tales of raids are exciting, the best facts and most interesting tidbits lay behind the glamour. The role of women in their society, for example, is fascinating. The powerful women were not all shield-maidens, as much as I love that depiction it is simply not completely accurate. Powerful women were traders, wealthy merchants, and yes occasionally fighters, but they could not be leaders. They could not attain the rank of jarl and most likely did not fight in the shield wall.

I tried to make Choices at least historically inclined. It is an alternate history after all. So, I set Choices in the year 672 CE. Why this date in particular? You ask. The answer has nothing to do with Scandinavia actually. I chose 672 CE because that is the year Greek Fire was invented by the Byzantines. I thought it was fitting since one of the main characters is a dragon. And while the time period I have for my alternate history is grounded in real history many of the details in Choices are false. My idea for Choices is that it is set in a world in which the Norse Gods not only existed, but one in which they also behaved as their Greek counterparts did.

This means many things in Choices are less than historically accurate. There are a few large picture things such as the main kingdoms Ager and Threkeld existed, but their interactions were not quite as depicted. There are also a few smaller details. The creation of marble walls did not happen. Instead, many Scandinavian people built ring forts and used wood or dirt as their primary building materials. Even the geography is not entirely accurate. I hope that will be a heads up to anyone who does not read my little **THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION** disclaimer.

I could go on for about nineteen pages on all of the things I wrote that are falsehoods, but there is not space here for
that. Instead, I hope you will read this –or Choices—and decide to look into  the rich heritage of Scandinavia for yourself. I promise there is so much more than our network television tells us. I highly recommend Viking Answer Lady, Hurstwic, or “A History of the Vikings” by: Gwyn Jones if you would like to know more. That recommendation is the only thing you should place one-hundred percent faith in as fact. The rest of my writings are only mostly accurate. I did not do nearly enough research to honestly call either myself a historian or this post a credible source.

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Guest Post: Adam Dreece

Today I have a guest post from Adam Dreece, author of the Yellow Hoods series. For more information about his books, click here, otherwise, onto the 5 Steve Jobs-type things he fussed over once the books were written!

With the words done and the cover art complete, there was plenty that I insisted on tweaking until I felt they were just right. Here’s the top 5:

1. Font size

I opted to have an 11pt font instead of the standard 9pt font. As a dyslexic and as someone with supposedly large eye apertures, and knowing that there will be younger and older readers reading the book, I decided to opt for higher print costs but make the books easier to read. The slightly larger font allows for less information to be pulled in for people like me allowing for better focus, is less intimidating for the younger person and makes those needing glasses more comfortable. I couldn’t very well create a book that I wouldn’t be able to read comfortably, now could I?

2. Word frequency in paragraphs

My dyslexic brain finds patterns very easily. Some books will have a good 8 to 10 paragraphs in a row (and I’m not exaggerating, he says looking at a specific book on his bookshelf) that all start with a character’s name. My brain will focus on that, and now it’s fighting for my attention to investigate other patterns. I also lose my place easily because of the repeated structure. Thus I decided to make sure, unless it was impossible, that my books don’t have a repeating start.

3. Look from ten feet away as well as in hand

People need to be pulled in by the book, which requires it to be clearly visible from a distance and up close. I have put the book covers and looked at them from a distance, approach them, played with them, until it looked and felt right.

4. Weight of the book

I wanted the book to feel the right weight, to have credibility in how it felt in the hand and for the make being charged. It sounds funny, but I’ve watched countless people do that. They look at the cover, they read the back of the book, and then I watch their hand bob up and down slightly as they weigh its value and their decision. I’ve been told many, many times that “my books are great value” even before someone has read them.

5. White space around the text

One thing that drives me absolutely batsheep crazy is when an author has such narrow margins that it looks like they thought you were allowed to write on every possible space on the page. To read what’s in the bound margin, you have to break the spin, then the words go all the way from about a quarter inch or less at the top (he looks at another book on his shelf) all the way down to the very last row of the page. For my brain, its unreadable. There’s no place for my fingers, there’s no framing of the text.

This is done to reduce printing costs, and again, I’d rather make a bit less money but provide a much better reader experience than save myself 4 pages and ticked off a reader.

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