Sunday, January 31, 2010

Birding around Brisbane, Queensland

All good birding trips start with food and friends...
Some of my favorite people offered us their hospitality and drove the car and showed us the birds. Many thanks to Aun Tiah, Siew Ping and Dr Smathi Chong
Good birding trips have very early starts. Geez, the sun gets up early in Qld...And include different habitats...

Including some that look familiar in this case. This photo could so have been taken in Malaysia...

It was great to be in a place where the infrastructure is well looked after. We visited Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, and several parts of Brisbane Park, plus odd stops to look at roadside ponds and fields etc around Nambour where we stayed the night.
And there's always someone who is looking the other way when a good bird drops by...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Aurealis Awards night, Brisbane 2010: photos

Above: winner of fantasy novel award Trudi Canavan, and myself;
Below: with fellow Voyager author, Nicole Murphy
Below: Trudi giving speech of thanks after receiving the award
Below: Cat Sparks, after receiving her award
Below: HarperCollins editor, Stephanie Smith with Cat
Below: Stephanie and myself
Matthew Farrer, Donna Hanson and myself.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Post Aurealis Breakfast

These photos are a bit back-to-front time-wise; I actually haven't yet seen the ones from the Awards ceremony taken by my husband. All these from him were snapped at the post-awards breakfast, at what has to be the most lovely setting in Brisbane (see the first two, taken looking over the railing.)

Below: with Kate Forsyth and new Voyager author Nicole Murphy
Below: Trudi Canavan (winner for the best fantasy novel) and Kaaron Warren
Below: editor Abigail Nathan, author Karen Miller, writer Donna Hanson, Trudi and myself.
Below: having a serious discussion with Peter M. Ball, who won the SF short story award.
Below: Kathy Jennings, Abigail, Karen.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A summary of a trip in pictures

Above: Walking on the beach near the family time share on the Gold Coast

Above: catching up with friends - breakfast along the river in Brisbane after the Aurealis Awards
(From left: Karen, Donna, Trudi and self.)

Above: Catching up with some other old acquaintances...

And looking for new ones -
the habitat of the Grass Owl we saw just before we left for home.
Ok, some of you may think that standing in the dark being eaten alive by clouds of mosquitoes isn't fun, but all that tells me is that you aren't a birder...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back again, intermittent blogging forecast for coming week...

Home again, after a hectic few days.
Will blog in full over the next week or so about everything.

General summary:

Disappointed not to win of course, but as it is becoming a habit I am actually quite used to it. Us losers talked about starting a losers' club...

Really though, that was the only thing about the past 5 days that wasn't utterly fantastic.
Friends, friends and friends. New friends. Old friends.
Book talk, industry talk, writer-reader talk (special thanks to Joanna!)
Food, drink, talk, books. Books and books and writing talk.
Birds, birds and birds. Grass Owl!

Photos coming.

Oh, and my computer had a lovely rest in hospital and is now running at speed again.
I wasn't noramlyed.

What more could I ask?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Read Chapter 2 of STORMLORD RISING



And by the time you read this blog post, I ought to be in Surfers Paradise.

Ah, the way I suffer for my art.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pseudonyms: The how to do...

Several people asked how do you go about using a pseudonym. Well, I'm no lawyer, so take anything official-sounding here with a grain of salt.

Legal Stuff:
I can say this: I have never written a book under my official, real, passport name. If you look at my books, on the first page where all the printing details are you will see the copyright is assigned to the name on the cover of the book - my pseudonym. The publisher does that as a matter of course. In other words, the copyright is asserted by me using my pseudonym! Legally, it is apparently enough for the copyrighted individual to be pseudonymous.*

I imagine it would be awkward if you wrote under a pseudonym and didn't tell your publisher it was a pseudonym. They do have to send out cheques and taxation notices and so on, all normally done under your real name. You sign your contracts using your real name. So unless you are an escaped train robber or Osama bin Laden, it's not a route I would recommend.

Next Action:
One of the first things you should do, if you decide on a pseudonym, is to give that name a public presence, and decide how much you will link it to your real name, if at all. You need a website, and possibly a blog, a facebook, a twitter name all quite distinct from your real name, or at the very least something that people can easily find. I actually use Glenda Larke Noramly as my facebook name and no one seems to have any trouble finding me there.

My advice:
would be this: if you are keeping your pseudonym and your real name closely linked, you have to be careful just how much personal info goes up on your real name sites. If you hit the big time, an awful lot of complete strangers will know an awful lot of personal stuff about you, your spouse/partner and your kids, simply by linking back to your real-life site. Be careful.

Once you have chosen a name, but before you actually do anything with it, the most important thing to do is Google it and see what comes up. If it is the real name of someone on America's Most Wanted, or the name of an up-and-coming vocalist on Australian Idol, or the brand name of the very latest line in African jewellery, or the scientific name of a Namibian kingfisher, you might like to think again. You want something that is going to pop up easily, not get lost in all the other hits.

More advice:
Personally, I think fairly common names such as Ann Miller or Robert Anderson is a lot harder to remember than Ursula le Guin. Choose something that you won't mind when it is used to address you. I once asked Robin Hobb what name she would prefer to be called by (she has two pseudonyms and a real name that is different again, and she said she answered happily to all three!)

Practical stuff:
Let's say Sally Sullimunder submits her MS titled "Midnight Star" to a publisher under the pseudonym Xerxes Zatopek. She should write"Midnight Star", and underneath "by Xerxes Zatopek". Then, where she writes her address in the bottom corner, she puts something like this:
Ms Sally Sullimunder
(aka Xerxes Zatopek)
6 Mishmash Crescent
Ulan Bator...etc etc

She should use the name Zatopek/Midnight Star on the header (or footer) of each page.

Many thanks:
To everyone who commented on this series of posts!

*When you are published, you do not hand over your copyright to the publisher. You hand over the rights to be published in certain formats for a certain length of time under certain conditions. If your book goes out of print, you claim back those rights (in the form of a letter. One of the things your agent will do for you). I not only have the copyright of Havenstar, but I now also have the rights. Rights to my other works are now with a variety of different publishers because they are all still in print.

BTW, no one, except my print publishers, has the right to publish my works as ebooks or pdfs or whatever, so if you download them from some iffy download site, you are receiving stolen goods and I would really rather you didn't.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Me, you ... Brisbane ... Saturday ... OK?

An informal chat/booksigning for authors and readers at
Pulp Fiction Booksellers
Saturday 23rd January (hey, in a few days I'll be in Brisbane!!)

Trudi Canavan and Kaaron Warren at 10.30-11.30
Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, Sean Williams 11.30-12.30
Karen Miller and Glenda Larke at 12.30-1.30
Pamela Freeman and Katie Taylor at 2.30-3.30

Now you Brisbane-ites aren't going to pass up a chance like this, are you?

Pulp Fiction Booksellers
Shops 28-29 Anzac Square Building Arcade
265-269 Edward Street
(entrance halfway between Ann and Adelaide Streets)
Brisbane 4000

Sneak peek at Stormlord Rising

STORMLORD RISING is of course the second book in the Watergivers trilogy, and HarperVoyager have put up Chapter 1 here, and will put up Chapter 2 Friday the 22nd, just to get you all worked up enough to put your orders in at your favourite bookstore, right? The release date in Australia is March 1st, 2010. Which is about when Book 1, The Last Stormlord, has its release in US and UK.

And above is the cover, the work of the wonderful UK fantasy/SF artist Vincent Chong.

Oh, and for all you cold country peoples, that white stuff is not ice ... it's salt.

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

PART 4: To Pseudonym or not

Why should you worry if your own name... hard to spell, pronounce or remember?
A writer sells a product, but that product keeps on changing names. Your books or short stories have different titles. What doesn't change is your name. That's your branding. And we tend to buy products of a brand we trust, right? If Sally Sullymunder wrote a great book, you'll buy her again.

So you want a brand name people will remember, and be able to pronounce when they're talking to the bookseller or telling their sister what they want for Christmas, and spell if they're looking you up on Amazon or Google.

You might immediately say, yes, but what about Ondaatje? Didn't stop him from being successful did it? I don't know how to pronounce Cherryh, either, and I have trouble remembering if it's Fiona McIntosh or Macintosh. None of those things have stopped those writers. (Larke, btw, can easily be spelled Lark.)

And what if your name is Ann Smith. Is it too common to be distinctive? Maybe the Cherryh was a plus, because people didn't forget it?
Let me say here I would rather be Ondaatje than have something too common. My French publisher is Pygmalion. Recently I wanted to find their webpage. Have you any idea how many "Pygmalion" hits you have to sift through to find a French publishing imprint? When someone googles you, you want your name to be up there, not someone else's, or worse still, lots of someones. There are very few Glenda Larkes in this world.

(Here's an irony for you: Google "Noramly" and you get over 25,000 hits, and every one belongs to either me, my husband, or one of my daughters...and all the people who spelled normally incorrectly.)

Is your name appropriate?
What do I mean by that?
Well, if your name is Candy Truelove and you want to write hardnosed political thrillers or police procedurals, you might think about a pseudonym. Remember it's about the branding. I suppose you could also argue that the combination of Candy Truelove and the title "Macabre Murders in Manhattan" might be memorable...

And then there's the whole gender question...
Unhappily, there is a lot of evidence out there - some, but not all of it, anecdotal - that a lot of men will not read books by women. For example, see here. There's a lot less evidence for the opposite. If you don't believe me, google "men won't read women writers" and see what you come up with.

I didn't know this was the case when I started out. It would never have occurred to me that it was true! I had much more faith in men than was actually justified...
Quite frankly, if I was looking for a pseudonym now, I would go for a gender neutral name: Morgan, Kelly, Terry, Kerry, Robin or something like that.

Of course, as a feminist, you might want to say you will stick with a female name, dammit, and show them what they're missing! If so, I salute you.

Men don't have to worry about this, unless they want to write straight romance. Then I'd say they might need to worry about their sales too if they keep the masculine name (and found a publisher who let them do that).

Women do have one thing going for them: more women buy books than men, and they read more too, at least in some parts of the world. (Google "more women buy books than men" if you want to browse for evidence for that statement.)

The other reasons I gave for using a pseudonym were fairly self-explanatory:
You would rather be anonymous because your books may upset people close to you
You are a very private person and want to keep your private life separate.
You intend to write in different genres and use a different name for each genre
And for not using a pseudonym:
You want everyone to know you write books
You have a real public persona already and that will help sell books

Of course you can still have a pseudonym, and not keep your real identity a secret. Anyone with the slightest curiosity can find out that Glenda Larke and Glenda Noramly are one and the same person. All my friends know I am a published writer under another name.

From the above, you can deduce that there are no hard and fast rules about whether to use a pen name or not. You have to weigh up the pros and cons and decide for yourself.

There is still one more post on pseudonyms to come: how to go about using the pseudonym once you have chosen it, copyright issues, etc.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Parts 1 here, Part 2 here..
What you should NOT take into account
when deciding whether or not to use a pseudonym

The first letter of your own name:

Several people have mentioned that it's no good having a real surname that starts with a letter towards the end of the alphabet because you end up on a lower shelf in the bookshop. Sorry, I think that's a non-starter. Every bookshop is different. You can't even guarantee that Aaron Aardvaark will be on the highest shelf, because your genre may start on the third bookshelf down, after say, the crime fiction. Anyway, the highest shelves can be too high - or just right.

The books are shelved in alphabetical order down to the bottom, and then continued on the next top shelf. So I have seen Mercedes Lackey down there on the bottom and Glenda Larke at the top of the next set of shelving. And everyone says being an "L" will put you in the middle? Forget it!!

If Zoe Zachary is the publisher's flavour of the month, they they will pay to have her in the front of the store. If your books sell well, the bookstore will feature them.

You simply cannot second guess where you will be in any bookshop. If you sell well, people will seek you out even on the bottom shelf. And maybe ebooks are the future, where shelving won't matter?

What your family says

Sorry, this should be a non starter too. We are not talking about your private life here. This is your business side, and writing is a business if you are going to do it as a professional. If Mr Lemon is starting a used car business would it be wise to call it Lemon's Used Cars simply because he's proud of his name?

If it is professionally a good decision to make to use a pseudonym, then do it.

(If you want to spare your dad some hurt, tell him this is a commercial decision taken so you will be rich and able to look after him financially in his old age. Or your publisher insisted. Or you want to have a private life, especially when you are as famous as J.K.Rowling. Or the family wouldn't want their name associated with what you will be writing anyway...hmm. Maybe that last one will take his mind off the whole question. )

What you SHOULD take into account when deciding whether (or not) to use a pseudonym
Is your own name...
Hard to spell?
Hard to pronounce?
Hard to remember?
Too common?
Too much like someone else who's writing books?
One which has inappropriate connotations for what you are writing?
And then there's the whole gender question...

Other reasons to think about it (or not):
You would rather be anonymous because your books may upset people close to you
You want everyone to know you write books
You intend to write in different genres
You are a very private person and like to keep it that way
You have a real public persona already and that will help sell books

Tomorrow I will talk about some of those points, and answer a couple of questions posed previously in the comments section.

Why I use a pseudonym...

In one sense, I already used a pseudonym.

The name I go by - Glenda - is not actually the name I was born with. I disposed of that partly because of the unusual spelling: Glenyce. Few people could get their head around how to spell it.

Secondly, it stuffed things up for Malaysians, who really, really didn't know what to make of it. Still does, in fact. As I have never changed my name legally, Glenyce is what you will find on my passport, hospital card, etc. So whenever I am waiting somewhere for my name to be called, I have to keep an ear out for every audio-linguistic variation from Glenyensee to Kali-nice. (I'm not kidding.*)

For my first book, Havenstar, I used the name I routinely use: Glenda Noramly. Big mistake. I wish I had used Glenda Larke from the beginning. I did ask my then UK editor about it, but he shrugged and didn't seem to think it mattered, saying "After all, if Sri Lankan-Canadian novelist Michael Ondaatje can still be a best seller..."**

Why was it a mistake? Because I had to change my name for my next book. This was a shame, because I lost the enthusiastic readership of Havenstar, many of whom are probably still unaware that I have written other books. Sure, there weren't that many readers. It only sold some 8,000 books worldwide, but it seemed to be universally loved and is still pulling in huge sums on the secondhand market, over 10 years later.

But my next book had another publisher, in Australia this time, and I was asked to change my name because it was too difficult to remember, too unfamiliar, too easy to misspell. So I reverted to my maiden name and became Glenda Larke.

Tomorrow the topic continues!! I shall talk about the advantages and disadvantages of a pseudonym. Keep your comments coming...

*I also didn't realise when I chose Glenda as an easier name to use in Malaysia, that some non-English speakers have a problem with the G-L combination.

The funny think is that Malaysians don't seem able to cope with my husband's name when it is my surname, either. When he uses it, everyone pronounces it correctly. When I use it, it instantly becomes in their mind some sort of weird Anglo moniker. And they have come across a word very much like it...

Which is why Glenda Noramly ends up being Calendar Normally. Now there's a pseudonym for you. Unforgettable, right?

**Oddly enough, having mentioned him once on this blog, "How do you pronounce 'Ondaatje' " became one of the favourite google searches that bring people here. I still have no idea how to pronounce it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Should a writer use a pseudonym?

This was a question to me from a writer just starting out. And I am going to answer it in bits, because I am too busy to sit down and write a long post this week.

So here's Part One: THE PROBLEM

She has an unusual name (I've never come across it before) that is easily mispelled and mispronounced, and she doesn't like it anyway. Let's, for the sake of this post, call her Sally Sullimunder (and I hope there isn't a real person out there with that name!). And let's say she is thinking of calling herself Sally Tye.

Sounds like an easy call, doesn't it? Become Sally Tye for your professional writing life!

But there's a couple of catches that don't make it so simple:
  • She knows that a name change would be hurtful to her father, Mr Sullimunder, who's proud of being a Sullimunder.
  • And all those people who know her as Sally Sullimunder from kindy onwards are never going to know that the author Sally Tye is the person they grew up with/are now working with. And that's a lost selling opportunity. (Most of us will buy a book by someone we know!)
So what should she do? She asked me because she knows I changed my name. Tomorrow I'll talk about that.

In the meantime, what do all you readers of this blog think about the issue?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A shot in the dark...

A fern shoot on the dark of the forest floor heading for the light.
A metaphor for me, writing my way towards the completion of another book?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

No one religion has a monopoly...

...on the stupidity of some of its adherents.

In Malaysia there are some folk getting all het up about just who has the rights to the word Allah. Apparently, according to these folk, if a non-Muslim uses the word it is somehow supposed to, um, harm the faith of Muslims. Or something.

While elsewhere, you have some Christian folk, equally bizarrely, warning their faithful about science fiction. Reading it, apparently, will shake your Christian faith to its foundations. Wow.

Who'd have thunk their foundations were so shakey?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Intelligence on terrorism...not

Remember 9/11? When there was a number of planes involved in a terror attack?

You'd think one of the results of that would be this: when a terror attempt is foiled on a plane in the air, other planes in the air would be notified, right? Seems pretty obvious.

You know, so they could look out for other people with explosives in their underwear like the one they caught this time.

Nope. You, the commercial airline pilot, want to know about things like that? Watch CNN on your iPhone.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A New York Times Bestseller makes millions, right?


Think again. Read this written by Lynn Viehl, which supplies some figures that may surprise you.

The truth is that few fiction writers make enough to earn a living from book sales. The only reason I survive is I have a husband who earns too, and I earn money from other sources.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Hugo Nominations are now open

As you should all know, this year the Worldcon 2010 is going to be in Australia.

One of the results of this is that more Australians will be able to nominate works for the Hugo Awards (2009 publications), and to vote for the winners. And I hope they do.

See here for details: Aussiecon Hugos

The best site to give you more general details about the Hugos is here:

If you have paid up your membership for Aussicon - at least partially - by the end of January, then you can nominate a work published in 2009 - in fact up to five works in each category.
If you attended last year's worldcon, you can also nominate.

Works which receive most nominations will then go on the ballot.

Remember, though, that this is not about voting for your friends. It's about voting for a work which you think is world class.

Some people are a bit intimidated by the nomination form (or later by the voting) because there are so many categories, including categories they may know nothing about. But you don't have to vote for everything, or fill up all the spaces. Read only novels? Then nominate your favourites and forget about the other categories.

So get out there and nominate!! Or at least think about what stories etc you want to nominate. Nominations close March 13th.


And before you all get worked up on my behalf, it is extremely unlikely that The Last Stormlord would make its way on to the ballot although it is eligible, as it is not published in the US or UK until March 2010. So, worldwide, few people will have read it. It actually has more of a chance statistically next year for that reason - whether it ever gets thought of in terms of a worldwide award is another matter entirely, of course.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Warning: scattered, infrequent blogposts expected

Forecast is for seasonal book-writing frenzy. As a consequence, expect blogging dry spells throughout January, lasting possibly into February.

To receive updates, it is suggested you friend me on Facebook at Glenda Larke Noramly or follow me on twitter glendalarke (or you can read the tweets in the sidebar here.) I shall also be updating the word counter in the sidebar here so you can see how it is going. And I promise, I read all blog and facebook comments, always, even though I may not always have time to respond.

Orchid pictures from our garden
"Dancing Ladies"

Friday, January 01, 2010


To everyone who has dropped by this blog in 2009.
Many thanks for your support and friendship,
your comments,
your help
and everything.

I feel blessed, as so many good things are lined up for 2010.
And you are one of my blessings.