20 Questions – Author Edition!

 It’s been a while since I did a blog post. I’ve been in a bit of a creative slump, so I’m combating it by knitting a jumper , watching movies and playing Pokemon Go with my kids.
However, I haven’t stayed offline totally; I have too many author friends on Facebook to let go entirely – I have to keep up with their exploits, book launches and all the other fun that goes with them.

There’s a game that a lot of them are playing (Created by Author M. L. Preston) called “20 Author Questions” and I thought I would use the questions as the basis of a blog post for my readers (yes, all four of them *Grins and Winks*) and I’ll put them into an FAQ Page for anyone else that wants to find out about me!

1.) What is your Author name: I have two – Kira Morgana is my Pure Fantasy / Children’s pen name and A. E. Churchyard is for my more adult stories.

2.) What is the first book you ever published: That was “The Tower and The Eye: A Beginning”. It was originally  self published but then was picked up by Pfoxmoor under their Pfoxchase imprint.

3.) What is your publiversary? March 2011

4.) What is your favorite book you’ve written thus far:  I don’t have a favourite yet.

5.) What book took you the longest to write: That would be “Kingdom of The Seven Towers” – the first draft of that was 180,000 words long.

6.) How long did it take you?  It took me five years to finish, with various short stories interspersed when Puff ran out on me for the main project.

Sadly I lost the original story, but I have all the notes and maps (just the basic world building took me a year) and I know the basic plot, so I’ve been working on rebooting it.

7.) What kind of music (If Any) do you listen to while you write? I listen to all sorts of music while I write when I can, but most of the time, my background noise is children’s TV…

8.) Who is your favorite character from any of your books? I have several favourites. From Quargard (The Tower and The Eye) it’s Pigsnout the Wanderer; From Arking Down (The Angel’s Crown), it’s Rilx the Vir’Astillian; and in The Land Far Away it’s Pika the Phluph.

9.) What are you currently working on:  I’m editing “Pigsnout the Wanderer” for Blue Hour Publishing and writing the first draft of a couple of different projects – a novella called “Snow & Kitsune” and a novel called ” Teacups & Time Travel”.

10.) Do you have anything you snack on while you write? I drink a lot of Limonata, Lime cordial and soda water, Tea and Coffee. Snacks wise, my weakness is sweets, especially what most people think of as kids sweets – pick’n’mix, Haribo, Starbursts…

11.) What is your favorite quote or line from one of your books: I don’t have one at the moment, but I’d be interested to hear if any of my readers have one!

12.) Are you a self-published or traditional published author? I’m a Hybrid. I have a collaboration with another author/illustrator, Maria K. on The Land Far Away series and The Tower and The Eye is published by Blue Hour Publishing. I also indie publish through Smashwords and Amazon.

13.) What is your writing inspiration?  I’m inspired by all sorts of things. Snow & Kitsune is inspired by Ancient Japanese culture and folklore, The Tower and The Eye is inspired by my love of Sword & Sorcery / Tabletop RPG.  Arking Down is a mish-mash of influences from Science Fiction and Fantasy.

14.) What genre do you write in? Fantasy / Science Fiction Fantasy mostly. I have tried Horror, but my heart isn’t in it.

15.) Do you have any writing rituals? Not really. I get interrupted too much to be able to develop any!

16.) Do you have a specific place you write or time? My Writing Nook is all packed up at the moment (damnable damp) so it’s the couch for me at the moment; not a great option because I am interrupted too much / get distracted easily.

17.) Do you have any advice for Aspiring writers? Write what you want to write. Not what you think will sell, not what you think publishers and agents want to read, not even what you think other people will want to read. Write your stories for yourself and have fun doing it, and they will find readers.

18.) What are your writing goals? If any?  To entertain my Readers, to have fun doing it and to get as many books out into the world as I possibly can before I wander over the Bifrost to the Summerlands…

19.) What authors inspire you and your writing?  David Eddings, Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan, Dianne Wynne Jones, Monica Hughes… the list is too long for this question! I am constantly finding new authors to read and love – my latest ones are Gail Carriger and Ben Aaronovitch.

They inspire me to write and are my heroes, but I try very hard to keep my writing “voice” my own.

20.) What will be your next release? If you know and when? Hmm – Nothing is Scheduled at the moment; but as “Pigsnout” is in editing, that will probably be the next book out – unless I can get “Snow & Kitsune” finished first. Watch this space!

The end of a dry spell?

Over Christmas 2014, I was feeling quite down; partially because of the weather and partially because it didn’t look like anyone liked my writing anymore. It set off a case of “Writer’s Doldrums” and in keeping with tradition,  I self medicated with chocolate, wine and duvet days.

Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_Image (2)

Yes, I know it says Nanobug, but I changed it to Nanobot…

Then came January 2015 and I resolved to try and pull meself out of the doldrums and get on with the business of writing. Before Christmas, I’d putThe Necklace of Harmony“*  permafree on Smashwords and 99c on Amazon (because unless you’re in their special club, you can’t do free…) so after I sobered up, I went and checked the stats…

Smashwords sales Jan 2015

This was on Smashwords…

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found on Smashwords, even more so because my Amazon sales had flat-lined.

The thought that people were actually, willingly, downloading my little collection of stories, made me feel a lot better. So I started an attempt to finish “Night of The Nanobot”** , my on/off science fiction fantasy story.
Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_Image (2)
I posted each chapter up on wattpad as I went and posted about it on Facebook, Twitter etc… and I started getting reads! I even had a couple of votes, which while it didn’t catapult me into Watty Fame, did feel rather nice. It was encouraging.

So I ploughed on and eventually on the 4th of February I typed the final full stop. That one is going to be passed into the gentle hands of my alpha-readers and I’ll get on with something else.

I popped in on my published books recently on Amazon and came across this on “The Heir of The Dragon.” – 

 

5.0 out of 5 stars A Darkness in Te Ling, 24 Oct. 2014
By
Te Ling is a city like no other. Certainly it has all the usual sights and sounds of a modern metropolis – the crowds, the tourists, the businesses, the hustle and bustle. But the real life of the city is hidden, and the real rulers of the city lurk in the shadows. Under the Treaty of Te Ling, Vampires, Werewolves and Humans live in an wary but beneficial alliance.Until two outsiders arrive. They are hunters, and their prey is The Black Dragon – Vampire Lord of Te Ling.Against this rich and exotic background, the author weaves a fast paced and absorbing tale of love, blood and intrigue. More than just another ‘Vampire / Werewolf’ story, this has serious depth, a lot of action, and a brilliant twist in the ending!

I couldn’t believe that I’d missed this one. Heir is one of those stories that doesn’t get a lot of press and lo, someone had actually written a review of it! I had a mad case of warm fuzzies, I can tell you!

I was trying to decide what to do next. I can’t do anything to “The Tower and The Eye” until my editor has read them and given me a list of what needs changing. I thought about sorting out “The Dragon’s Pendant” but my beta-reader is currently in the throes of sorting her own writing out for publication, so I doubt I’ll be doing that any time soon.

I went back to my work-in-progress folder and took a wander through the fantasy section (a change is as good as a rest, as my Nan used to say) and came across the Japanese based world of “Yumi’s Story” and “The Ballad of Pigsnout the Wanderer”  from the Quargard Realm. Both of these stories draw me, but in the end, Pigsnout won the toss and that’s what I am now working on!

This post might sound like I am rambling and boasting, but it actually has a point. At Christmas I had reached the point of Writing Suicide – that of stepping away from the keyboard and never doing it again. Then I was talked round by my partner who said, quite wisely for him, that I should give it another year and if it still didn’t pick up, then I could give up.
The encouragement I had got from the sales on Smashwords, the reads / votes on Wattpad and the review that I had obviously missed; coupled with several rather nice private messages from a new reader, pulled me the rest of the way out of the Doldrums and into the feeling of “yes, I can carry on with this…”

Reviews are important to Indie Writers; even the 1 stars, which can at first glance see nasty and vindictive. They tell us that people value our work. That we have been noticed for whatever reason and that we are affecting those who read our work in whatever way.

Of course, increasing sales are good as well, because… this might seem a little mercenary of me… we need money to be able to pay the bills and continue to do the thing that we love best – create and write stories for readers to read.

In my case, the money from my books is going straight into my moving fund to get my family into a safe, secure house with a roof and enough space for my Aspies to feel happy and calm in… but that’s a totally different story really.

Right then, I’m off to do more wordsmithery and World Creation…

Peace and health to all who pass through!

M

*This book is still permafree by the way, so if you fancy a read, feel free to boost my ego a little more and download it!

** If you decide to follow this link and read what is up on wattpad, be warned – I stopped posting before I got to the end of the book. Also, the wattpad version will only be up until the end of february.

Autumn is on its way… and so is NaNoWriMo!

I don’t know about you, but September is one of those months where everything is a little confused. The weather can’t decide if it’s summer or autumn, there’s new flowers blooming and trees dropping their leaves. There are Bees and Butterflies, but also Craneflies and giant Spiders…

It’s the start of education for many children (and adults) as the schools, colleges and universities start back after the summer holidays, so there’s uniform, new shoes, stationary to buy… in fact it almost feels like it should be the start of the year, instead of the year being almost over.

I get quite sad at this time of year because of the confusion all around me. Then I hit the anniversary of meeting TOH (we count this our anniversary because we’re not married yet) and I’m reminded that this time of year was the start of our partnership and that that partnership brought me the three lovely children that we have together

TOH

Then things get better. We have several birthdays in October (including mine) and then Hallowe’en appears and NaNoWriMo… and before you know it we’re counting down towards Christmas.

So while September can be quite sad at it’s beginning, by the end of it, I’m cheery and moderately excited.

Hmm… Yes, all things considered, I like autumn and it starts with September.

* * *

Now I have to consider something really important.

What on Earth do I do for NaNoWriMo this year? Do I continue on with “The Secret of Arking Down” Project or do I do something completely different?

For those of you who don’t know what “The Secret of Arking Down” is, I’ll give you a quick recap.

In 2009 I wrote a story based on two things; a house in the village I live in that I would love to live in and the wish to win the biggest prize on the lottery and not have anymore money worries…

…yes, I know, it’s a recurring wish for me…

The story I wrote was about a set of twins who were split apart by divorce. One sister stayed with their Mother in Wales and the other went with their Father to live in England. The story followed the twin who moved away and the life she ended up living…

The Angel's Crown - cover (1)

…but as I was writing it, the world opened up in front of me and stories began appearing in front of my eyes. I scribbled down the premises and carried on with the one I was writing.

Once NaNo was over and done with, I reread what I had written… I’d managed to write 50,000 words but not finished the story, so it took me the rest of the year to finish that particular story. I decided in the run up to NaNo 2010 that I would try one of the premises I had come up with and write a complete story this time.

It worked. 

I wrote “The Dragon’s Pendant” in 30 days.

02 - The Dragon's Pendant - cover

I finished editing “The Angel’s Crown” and asked a editor friend to take a look at it. She was wonderful and pretty soon it was ready to publish. So publish it I did.

In 2011, I took another premise from my notebook and wrote “The Second Door” about the sister who didn’t go to Wales.

The Second door - cover - 03

 

I hit the 50k mark with it, but again, the story wasn’t finished and I was so involved with “The Tower and The Eye”…

The Tower and The Eye Series

… that I didn’t have enough time to finish it. So NaNo 2012 crept up on me!

I again managed to hit 50k on “Daemon’s Will” but I didn’t finish the story again and once again, TTATE swallowed up the rest of my year, so it remained unfinished.

The Daemon's Will - cover - 03
Last year, I wrote the required 50k on “The Cat’s Bell” – book #5 in the series. And yet again I didn’t manage to finish the story.

The Cat's Bell - cover

I started looking at “The Dragon’s Pendant” again this year. I decided it needed a thorough re-read and edit… there are so many plot holes and things that it’s now in the re-writing queue!

I’ve finished the TTATE series now, so there’s nothing to distract me from NaNo and I need to decide if I’m going to continue writing the series or take a break and do something else.

The book that is in line for creation this year is “The Tree of Fate”:

The Tree of Fate - cover

 

The novel is based on a novella I wrote called “The Bog Boy. This one is going to be almost pure Fantasy (Science Fiction crept into most of the previous books) with a touch of romance.

The story of  “The Bog Boy” is set after “The Dragon’s Pendant” and involves a very yucky sounding British sport called Bog Snorkelling and some rather interesting historical people!

Here’s an excerpt –

The Healer watched the little boy crawl around her herb garden. “He’s a fine, healthy boy, Annwr.”

“But that foot means he’ll never be a warrior. The Druid wouldn’t let my husband expose him the way the Gods approve of.” Annwr rocked the tiny girl feeding at her breast, almost absently.

“Tylo said the little one had a greater destiny waiting for him, Annwr. Stop worrying.” The Healer handed the other woman a steaming cup, then poured herself one from the jug beside her.

“He never makes a sound, Carys. Even when he falls and hurts himself; his mouth opens, but nothing comes out.” Annwr cast a scared look at the child.

Carys bit back a groan. I’ll have to have words with Hafwen at this rate. The changeling rumours have got to stop before poor Annwr goes moon-shy. “Iluead!“ she called to the investigating child

The little boy carried on exploring the texture of the herb leaf he had in his hands, his back to the adults. He rubbed it against his face and sniffed the fragrance.

The Healer rose and touched the child’s shoulder. He looked up, then held the leaf out to her, smiling.

“That’s Thyme.” Carys told him softly.

Iluead opened his mouth and nothing came out. He smiled.

I could have sworn he tried to copy me; but nothing came out. Is he deaf and mute?

Carys frowned and tried a few more of the tests her Mentor had taught her. She talked to him, naming objects. Each time, Iluead would open his mouth and no sound would come out, but he would grin as if he’d got it right.

She whispered into each ear and he’d turn towards her, but when she moved back and clapped behind him, Iluead ignored her until he was touched in some way.

Then Carys examined Iluead’s ears and throat carefully.

Annwr watched Carys test her son, the worried expression on her face growing with each failure.

Finally, Carys returned to her seat. “He is responding to me and trying to repeat the words I am saying, it’s just that nothing is coming from his throat.”

Annwr bit her lip.

“I can see that he hears me in some way, I just don’t know how.” The healer was perturbed by her failure to diagnose the problem.

“I see that you have discovered the gift the Gods have given our Moon Child.” The Druid’s voice preceded the man himself.

“He has no voice, he cannot hear and he has a deformed foot. How can you call those gifts!” Annwr’s voice rose. “He should have been exposed when the foot was discovered, yet you demanded that my husband let him live.”

“The Gods told me that your firstborn son would bring the Clan a great deal of power and save it from annihilation. I could not in conscience allow his death to happen.” He smiled down at the child who rocked over on his back and grinned toothlessly up at the white robed man, who hunkered down beside the boy

Annwr subsided as the Druid picked her son up. “But what will he do? I cannot look after him for the rest of his life if I can’t hear him and he cannot look after himself.”

Carys took Annwr’s hand as her distress disturbed the baby.

“I can hear him just fine. He has a lovely clear mind voice.” Tylo looked at the boy wriggling on his knee.

“That explains a lot. It would seem that he is destined to be a druid then.” Carys smiled and relaxed.

“For a while, yes.” Tylo let Iluead go again and laughed as he toddled off after a butterfly. The druid looked at Annwr “Is he weaned?”

She nodded. “He has been on solid food for several months now.”

“I will take him into my house as my Foster Son. May I ask for Alys to accompany him as well? Both will be well looked after.”

The child giggled silently as he fell over in his pursuit of the insect. A bumble bee caught his attention and the little boy scrambled up to watch it buzz from flower to flower; a small, serious expression on his round face.

Annwr sighed and rocked a little. “I don’t know what my husband will say.”

“He has already agreed to this. Your new daughter needs both her parents and there will be other children for you to love.” Tylo caught Iluead as the little one reached out to touch the bee. “Oh no you don’t.”

The toddler wriggled away from the Druid and wandered over to tug on his mother’s kirtle. She looked down into his guileless blue eyes and ruffled the white-blonde hair curling wildly around his cherubic face.

“I will always love him. He might be deformed, but he is my first born son and will always be so.” Handing the baby to Carys, she picked up the boy and held him close. Iluead snuggled into her arms. “I know you cannot hear me, Iluead, but I am your mother. If you need me, I am here for you.”

The little boy reached up with one hand and patted Annwr’s cheek, then he kissed her and wriggled down from her lap. She watched as he toddled over to Carys and planted a soft kiss on his sister’s head.

“It looks like he’s saying goodbye.” Carys said with wide eyes.

“He has more gifts than you think.” The druid said, holding his hand out to Iluead.

Iluead took the druid’s hand and without a backward glance followed him out of Carys’ garden.

Annwr watched her son leave, tears running down her cheeks.

The misery the little boy’s mother felt, swept over me in a wave. I could feel myself crying in my sleep, the lump in my throat making it difficult to breathe.

 

If you’ve made it to this end, maybe I can get an opinion? Should I continue with “The Secret of Arking Down” or do one of the many new ideas that have occurred to me in the last six months or so?

Thanks for reading!