Monday, August 31, 2009

;

Today's post of mine is over at SFNovelists. It's about what makes a successful writer, and when you should give up if you never manage to get published.

As Satima has pointed out over there on that blog, there is something to being appreciated too - not that people who read a writer's work are always appreciative! The ideal situation is to have a paying audience, but one of the nice things about today's technology is that it is possible to have an audience without publication. And I don't mean necessarily self-publishing or PoD on a large scale, although that is a possibility. It's so easy to print your own books for friends and family, or just email them digital versions. Or read to the kids/grandkids. Or post the story on your blog in episodes. There are so many options out there if you can't get your work published.

I am perhaps really, really odd. I stopped showing my work to others aged about 13. And with a few exceptions, I wrote for more than 30 years without showing anyone anything. I did read a kid's book of mine to my children. And a couple of times - when I could afford it, which wasn't often - I sent something off to a publisher. Seems strange to think of that now, but it was once a major expense to both print and to post a MS off overseas, with a SAE. My solitary life as a writer was more or less a secret only my immediate family knew. All my friends fell over backwards when I produced my first book, already published. No one had ever had the slightest idea of what I was doing.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Whew...people seem to be liking it...

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Is it a sign of the times? One of the first reader reactions came in by twitter, from someone who read the book on the plane flying to Japan...

Interesting - and encouraging - is that several people have remarked that it is by far the best book I have written so far. It is one of the things I strive for all the time: to make the next book better. And it is lovely when I think I may have succeeded, because it isn't necessarily a given by any means.

(And my editors say that Book 2 is even better than Book 1!!)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Australians: you can win my books

So, pertainingto yesterday's post, I had eleven requests to be the villain in Book 3, and one desperate request not to be because my villains are too awful!

Still over at the Harper Voyager site, they have a competition to win a complete packet* of my books, including the new trilogy (as it comes out). Here's what they say:

Voyager is giving you the chance to win the complete Glenda Larke pack including The Mirage Makers and Isles of Glory series, a finished copy of The Last Stormlord and the next two books in the Stormlord series as soon as they are released!

To win, send your review** of The Last Stormlord to voyager@harpercollins.com.au

And to sweeten the deal we will give FIVE runners up a Glenda Larke backlist pack with the Mirage Makers & Isles of Glory books. So your chances of winning are 5 times greater!

__________________________________________


*That packet would not include Havenstar, as they did not publish that...though I live in hope, one day....

**And I trust they will reward proper reviews and not fulsome flattery aimed at wheedling a way to a prize - :-)

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Last Stormlord online


If you want a free look, The Last Stormlord is online at the Harper Collins site, for a limited time. Two weeks I think.

Of course, our hope is that you:
a) like it so much you rush out and buy half a dozen copies
b) like it so much that you will blog and tweet about it till your fingers are sore
b) like it so much you will buy books two and three when they become available
c) like it so much you will tell friends, family, co-workers, enemies, strangers on the street, plus any odd aliens you happen to meet, that they have to go out and buy it too.

If you don't, I'll make you the villain in book three.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More translations!



Some time ago I hinted that I had some more translation deals in the offing. I have gone official on these over at the Voyager blog in this post: Writers: do we really starve in a garret?, which is about how writers try to scrape together enough money to keep heads above water, when their name doesn't happen to be Rowling-Meyer D. Brown.

Anyway, here is the official news re translations:

FRENCH
Some time ago I sold the translation rights for the Isles of Glory trilogy to J'ai Lu. However, they had some reorganization of the corporate structure (parent company Flammarion) after only Book 1, The Aware (Clairvoyante), was published. The rights were then passed on to Pygmalion, which is also part of the Flammarion group. I have heard some talk of an October release for Gilfeather (titled Guérisseur in French), with The Tainted next year, and the possibility that The Aware will be re-released under a different cover. But who knows.* Anyway, that it not a new sale.

The new sale is this:

Pygmalion is also going to publish the Mirage Makers. Yay!

GERMAN
I have just sold the rights for the Isles of Glory German translation to Blanvalet (Random House). I'm really glad about this one. I used to have a huge following in Germany because of Havenstar (Die Fährte des Blinden) and I was delighted when the same publisher, Heyne, bought The Aware - but alas, the editor concerned left, the book languished, the rights reverted...

Now Blanvalet have stepped into the breach.

So there you are. I may not starve next year, either. (Ok, ok, no wisecracking about my excess insulation, thank you ...)

*authors are sometimes the last to hear...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yesterday, with vampires

As you have probably gathered from my twitter etc, I spent most of yesterday in a hospital having a health problem I mentioned some weeks back being attended to. Needless to say, I didn't get much work done. I have also decided that having veins that aren't micro-sized and only accessible to something called a butterfly needle (for surgery on butterflies perhaps?) would be an advantage.

Now I know I have of late acquired considerable insulation, but even in my spare days this "hunt the vein" was a problem. Yesterday, it went to all new levels. A surgeon and an anaesthetist, each working on an arm - with the aid of a leaf blower (for warmth), three nurses and an assistant - were only successful after some 15 minutes.

At least I will never have a problem with vampires.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Photos from Charlottesville

Taken around the area where I was staying in my daughter's house.
Above: her street

Above: her street again
Above: the very arthritic, ageing dog that had to be taken for two walks a day.
I love all the trees and quiet streets. Alas, I came home to find my beautiful raintree that grew in our front garden had been cut down for no reason that I can see. Ok, so it was growing across the wires, and did need lopping... It was a gift from a dear friend, who now lives elsewhere, so it was a double blow.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Via Cheryl's Mewsings, I found this from Guy Gavriel Kay, one of my favourite writers: Are novelists entitled to use real-life characters?

He makes the distinction between peopling fiction with real people as background, and using them as point of view characters, in other words, purporting to know what they think and feel - their internal lives. He is not happy with that, saying that a line has been crossed, into a "dramatically expanded perception of entitlement, and of eroded privacy", even if the person is long since dead.

A.S. Byatt says writers who combine biography and fiction, are indulging in an "appropriation of others' lives and privacy".

I have to agree. I would in fact go one step further: I don't like the tendency of the movie industry to make films that deliberately distort real people, alive or dead, for their own purposes. Note that I realise the medium does call for a lot of adjustment to the truth e.g. taking liberties with the time involved, or shifting the place of an incident somewhere else for aesthetic reasons or time constraints and I have no problem with that, so my operative word would be "distort". I hate it when film makers deliberately distort what we suspect is the truth, for the purposes of a good film. When they put words in A's mouth, which evidence indicates he would have been horrified to utter, or make B promiscuous when evidence suggests she patently was not.

What do you think? Do we have the right to mess with real people, alive or dead, in our literary or cinematographic work, getting inside their heads or perverting what we know about their lives, just in order to make a good piece of fiction?

Kay's solution is to write fantasy!
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Equality at work?

I have taken this post down.
Apparently I have more faith in the good sense of authority than others do.

However, I have to say that there is nothing I despise more than not just holding women to higher standards, then punishing them for victimless transgressions, when men seem to get away with light sentences for crimes that devastate victims, often the very people they ought to be protecting. Can anyone tell me why there is a double standard?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grrrr

The internet has been driving me crazy for more than 24 hrs.
"Cannot find the server" at least 50% of the time.
I post comments on blogs and they disappear without a trace as soon as I press "post".
Try to put up photos on blogspot and it says I have been successful - but no photo appears.

And I am still wondering just why, when I pay for a pay for a connection speed of 100.0 Mbps here in Malaysia, everything is twice as slow than the 58 Mbps I was using in Virginia...

Mood: disgruntled.

Solution: go do some work instead....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Professor Emeritus Noramly

Here he is, looking very colourful and rather magnificent.
























The three men of the family: Noramly, his younger brother and their very proud uncle, in loco parentis, who is 85 today.

















Above:With brother & wife, two sisters, two nieces













After the ceremony, with another niece who just graduated from a different university, and an aunt.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Fabulous Review...:-)))


Yep, I am happy...

The pressure is beginning to ease. A second reviewer likes the book!

The review is from AurealisXpress, which I assume means it is in the Aurealis Magazine for August, and it is written by Chrisetta MacLeod.

"I am in awe of the sheer virtuosity with which Larke has created her world. Water, or rather the scarcity of water, is the basis of government, economy, social hierarchy and even religion. The Stormlord ability, which can pull water from the sea, and send it where needed, is a hereditary gift. There is a conspiracy to kill off those with degrees of this ability, to return to human warfare and the vagaries of climate."

The middle of the review gives a synopsis of the story, and the review ends like this:

"What a tale! Can’t wait for the next instalment. This is a GREAT book. I was so sad when I finished it; luckily it's going to be a trilogy. AND, she's Australian.
"
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

What makes a fantasy cover...

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As an addendum to the post on my Australian and UK covers:

Over on the Orbit US blog from Tim Holman, they have a graph of the items that have been on 2008 US fantasy book covers, graded according to popularity. Here they are below, in no particular order. See if you can guess what two things topped the list (by far!).

They included urban fantasy but not those books that were more urban paranormal romance than fantasy.

The list: Unicorns, swords, castles and citadels, horses, damsels in distress, staffs, glowy magic, guns, bows and arrows, completely dark cover of meaninglessness, tattoos, dragons, boats, elves/fae, stilettos, maps, elves-dwarves-goblins-orcs, wolves.

As several have pointed out, they neglected to add in cleavage and pecs, alas.

So what's your guess? Now pop over to The Publisher Files and see if you are correct.

And just for fun, here is my German cover of Havenstar.
Wolf, tick
Castle, tick
Staff, tick
Horses, tick
Dragon, tick
Damsel in distress, half a tick. She does look worried.
Sword, tick
Castle, tick
Glowy magic, hmm, well there is a rainbow.
No bows and arrows, but plenty of armour. The odd thing is that armour did not feature in the story, but bows and arrows were quite important!

Anyway, it's a cover that has as its motto: why confine yourself to one item when you can have a lot?

Actually, I have a sneaking love of this cover, I will admit. It would make me pick up the book in a bookshop!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Noramlyed, un-Noramlyed and then...guess.

My flight was Charlottesville to Dulles Airport (Washington DC), then Newark (NY - well New Jersey actually), then Stockholm and home.

The first flight was fine. Arrived in Dulles early. Found gate, plugged in and did some writing. Then comes announcement: delay because of weather over Newark. Doubt over what time would be taking off. Start worrying. Departure time keeps on changing. I have a three and a half hour layover in Newark, and it starts being eaten up... I know that when I get to Newark, I have to change terminals, get a boarding pass for my Malaysian Airlines flight and pass through security. No joke.

At 6.30 (when I should have been landing in Newark), there's an announcement - change in Gate number. Get over there quick, and the plane will leave as soon as you do. So we all rush off. When we get there, someone tells us the plane is not there yet. Then a pilot comes rushing past, glances at the gate info and does a double take. 'Whoa," he says, "that's my flight. How come it's here?" He was on his way to the gate we had just left.

Right. Anyway, he gets that sorted out, and yes, we are supposed to be leaving from this gate. We also hear that yes, there had been bad weather in Newark, but the plane had been taken for some kind of repair anyway...

We hang around for a bit longer. Finally plane arrives and we get to board. Then we don't move. Seems there's something wrong with the onboard computer. "Not to worry," says captain, "happens all the time. We have to get the technician to come and reboot the cockpit."

Oops. We passengers start laughing. Nothing else to do. It is now way after 7.30.

Technician arrives, fiddles around, lights go on on the cockpit console (hey this is a small plane, ok?). Technician gets off, we start taxiing, wondering all the time what can go wrong next.

After a strangely long time wandering all over Dulles airport taxi runways, we finally stop. "Sorry," says pilot. "We were directed to another runway. Now we have to wait." (I assume because we had lost our slot in the take off line.) We sit, and sit and sit.

Plane finally gets into the air at 8.15. We almost applaud. Great anvil black clouds on our left as we fly on into Newark. Land at 8.55. Off plane and in terminal at 9.05. No signs telling me how to get to the terminal I need. Ask questions.

Start running. Finally find airtrain to right terminal. Then rush to check-in counters. MAS counter not there. It's 2 floors down on the arrivals floor. Rush down. Counters still open. Wow. Thanks MAS. Have to wait for another person to be attended to - same problem, her flight also delayed because of weather. (Find out later that she lives just a few streets away from me in Malaysia, in the neighbouring sub-division.) I am dishevelled, perspiring, panting.

Girl behind counter deals with me, records my luggage details (it had been booked, in Charlottesville, straight through to K.L.), hands me the boarding pass. Offhandedly she says, "We have upgraded you to business."

I almost jump over the counter to hug her. But no time. Rush off to find gate. Have to pass through security. Take shoes off. Take out plastic bag of liquids. Take out computer. Put it all back again. Find gate.

And I am finally on the plane, sinking into the lap of luxury, fabulous service, good food, excellent wine, personal entertainment, a chair that becomes a bed. Meals are a dream. The cutlery is metal, not plastic that wouldn't cut icecream. And it tastes delicious. The coffee tastes like coffee should. There is even a buttonhole embroidered into the spotless white napkin, for gossake. Oh, wow, if only plane travel was all like this. MAS business class: I love you. Just tell me what I have to do to get upgraded again.

I am in Kuala Lumpur, on time, well-fed and rested.

Was that the end of the story? Of course not. I am a member of the Noramly family, don't forget.

My luggage is still in New Jersey.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

I am being Noramlyed!

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Bad weather at Newark, NY, has delayed my flight from Dulles...not sure I will make my MAS connection. Stressed!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Going home

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I leave the house in Charlottesville tomorrow. Four flights, three planes, two days (actually 31 hours in real time) later, I shall arrive at home in Kuala Lumpur. Do not expect sweetness and light along the way...see you on the other side of purgatory.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

UK Cover of The Last Stormlord

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I note that the cover of the UK Orbit edition is up on Amazon.co.uk now, with a publication date of March 4th. And the price is discounted at the moment, so it's a good time to order.

Here's the Australian Harper Voyager cover for comparison:
Which do I like better?
Can't say. They both say very different things about the book. The UK cover (artist: Larry Rostant) emphasizes the darker, more desperate side of the story; the Australian (artist:
Vincent Chong) puts the emphasis on the brutal nature of a land that has insufficient water, and on the magic that may - or may not - be its saving. They both say true things about the story.

I do know this: I am the luckiest author around to have not one, but two such talented cover artists and two dedicated design teams from two different publishers to work on the same novel.
And thanks Karen, for the great quote!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

YAY!!! The First Review!

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One of the really nerve-wracking things as publication day approaches is waiting for the first professional review.

Well, I just got it. I can't publish it here yet, as the review still isn't officially published - comes out in the September issue of Bookseller and Publisher.

But it is fabulous.

Whew.

I am soooooooooooooo relieved.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Naming System of the World of The Last Stormlord

This post is an adjunct to the map I posted previously.
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When you name towns and people and the geographical landmarks of a fantasy world, you are bound to irritate some readers. But, they say, that name has Celtic origins, and that one Germanic, so how can they both be in your fantasy world? Or something similar.
My reply is, well, they are both in our world, are they not?

This attitude has earned me some criticism in the past. My reasoning is as follows:

Take a look at this selection of names that have been around for generations in England:
Courtney and Chelsea (Old English), Riley and Abigail (Irish), Eric and Arnold (Nordic), Charles and Henry (French), William and Richard (Norman).

Quite a mix, some of them Anglicized, some not. In other words, those who inhabited that section of the British Isles we now call England were no purists. The Norman invaders may have brought their own names, but that didn't put a stop to the usage of previous names, and so on. I think that a writer who makes their naming system too rigid, must be writing of a world that never changes, and is never influenced by outsiders. So I look askance at a fantasy land where every female name ends in "ia" and masculine names all sound macho; or where all the town names are Germanic - or any other scheme that is just too bound by rules or uniformity.

I could have used names totally unknown to any reader. You know, things like "Neiggharg", "T'lebb" and "Pottarossmolleth". I prefer to use names found on - or similar to those found on - Earth, and let you, the reader, deal with them.

In the land of the Quartern, names are a mix, and show many influences for a reason. Some don't mean anything at all.

Once someone has read the book, some influences should be more clear. Many names which may seem made-up actually have meaning to those with a specialised interest (e.g. Sardonyx) - and in my world, there is a reason for all this. Some names are mispellings, just as happens in real life. (Why - on Earth - did Nova Zeelandia not become New Zeeland?)

So when you look at the towns* or the people** of the Quartern, don't be surprised if you find names that have varied origins. Of course, just as the reader has to mentally replace "English" with the language of the Quartern, so s/he has mentally to replace the idea of "Portuguese" or "Arabic" with other unnamed languages of countries outside the Quartern. (Btw, the map maker, Perdita Phillips, added in some names of her own too...)

What am I trying to say from all this variety?
That the Quartern was either inhabited by people of many cultural backgrounds, or was invaded multiple times, or had many trading partners or immigrants ... just exactly what the answer is, you can work out for yourself if you want, as you read the trilogy. Or you can read the book and not worry about the back story of the world at all. The hints are there for those who like a layered story, and can just as easily be ignored if you prefer a straight tale.

But please don't expect a naming scheme that is beautifully ordered and systematic, because you won't get it, any more than you do in, say, England or Australia or America.

* For example:
Scarcleft - based on geographical formations
Sloweater - pertaining to the results of the movement of a geographical formation
Qanatend -
Arabic/English
Dollypot - name of a tool
Fourcross Tell - English/Arabic word for a geographical formation
Athro Purida - Latin/Portuguese

** For example:
Laisa (Danish)
Senya (Greek)
Terelle (American)
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Friday, August 07, 2009

Now here's a map for you...from The Last Stormlord

Just to tantalize while you wait for the book to hit the shops in Oz...

THE QUARTERN


Drawn by my niece (a professional artist, Dr Perdita Phillips.)


Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Vice-Pres of the largest Muslim country...

When I was at UWA (University of Western Australia) about a million years ago, there were stacks of foreign students from developing nations. I joined the International Club and came to know many of them, and some of those friendships have lasted to this day. (Oh, yeah, I married one of those guys too.)

Now I see that one of those students, whom I remember as a modest guitar-playing guy with a nice singing voice and a charming shyness, is now Vice-President of Indonesia. Congratulations Boediono*! If my memory is not playing tricks (and it does, I will admit), a few times I had a meal in the house he was renting with a group of students - can't remember whether he was one of the cooks, but it is likely. I have loved Indonesian food ever since...

Actually, many of those international students went on to be leaders in Africa and Asia - when I think about it, I am amazed to see how many cabinet ministers, attorney-generals, accountant-generals and so on that I have known, from so many different countries. They were top of the line students to begin with, but UWA must have done something right too...

*(also spelled Budiono)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Updating...

I am sitting in Greenberry's coffeeshop in Charlottesville...nice coffee if you pass this way, and good free internet connection!

As you will probably have noticed, I have started to twitter. Had my reservations about it at first, and have resisted, but as usual I cave in to the joys of new techno innovations eventually!

If you read this blog, then the tweets will go up on the sidebar. On my facebook page, they will go up as updates. And of course, you can follow my twitters if you want. (I have very few followers as yet.) You'll find me @glendalarke.

The other thing I have done this week, with the help of techno savvy daughter, is set up a Glenda Larke group on facebook, which is devoted to news and stuff related to my writing side: for readers, fans and fellow writers, published and unpublished. Join me there, if you haven't already. And to those who have - it's great to have you on board.

Slooooooooooooow progress

But see, I have hit the 5% completed!
Next few days are going to be slower still, I think. Younger daughter has gone back to LA, and older daughter not back yet - so I am still in charge of one everlasting battery-powered kid and a very large dog that needs multiple walks.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Another one of those lovely, lovely author days...

Firstly, I went out to post a letter to my agent.
And in the letter were three copies of
a three book contract...

...specifically, for the translation rights of one of my trilogies.

Now this was extra special for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's the first time I have sold all three books of a trilogy at once for translation. Because the publisher also has to pay the translator, they often buy one at a time.

Secondly, it was the first time this particular trilogy has gone for translation.
Thirdly, it was ...um... ok, you don't need to know that. Let's just say that it was nicely surprising.

So then I come back to the house to find another nice thing had happened -
my lovely editor Stephanie at Voyager Australia has sent me a hot-off-the-presses copy of The Last Stormlord. It had been couriered and was leaning against the front door.

What can I say?
Firstly, it looks even better than the pix I posted yesterday!!
The colour is somehow more intriguing, and it kinda glows.
My name is BIGGER than the title. Does that mean I have arrived??? Only the French and the Russians have done that before... (I think I sell rather well in Russian speaking countries, actually.) Oh, and my name is shiny. Nice.

Here is one happy, happy writer...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Here's the Oz cover to The Last Stormlord

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Just one more month!

Cover artist: the very talented and award-winning Vincent Chong. You can see more of his work here.
And if you are in Australia, now is the time to go out and order the book from your local bookstore - and if there is one near you, support your local spec fic bookstore!