Uncategorized

The IW Story Festival and my anxiety

On Friday, I had the pleasure of giving a workshop on writing poetry about dragons at the Isle of Wight Story Festival.

However, as I have quite severe social anxiety and get easy overloaded by sensory stimuli – some of the more negative things about being autistic, I was dreading being at the festival and talking to people while I waited for my turn (I went a few hours early, as my partner’s brother was giving a talk on butterflies, which I’m really glad I attended as it was utterly brilliant, but also meant that I had two hours spare until my own workshop).

I ended up hiding in the green room, with other authors and illustrators in there with me, and though they were lovely to meet and listen to, I was so unsettled and not sure what to do that I didn’t feel comfortable enough to say much or eat my lunch until they all left. I also had to wear my ear defenders as the kids attending the festival were shouting excitedly and running around – not a bad thing, as it meant they were enjoying themselves, which is what the festival was all about, but the sound was a little too much for me to handle.

Still, I had a decent amount of kids attend my workshop and they all wrote some brilliant poetry. I wasn’t sure if they were enjoying it much, as it was a quieter workshop than some of the earlier ones, and was very much based on their own creativity, but when we finished, most of them came up to me and said they did. The parents did too, which was nice, and I was even asked to have my photo taken. I also did a giveaway of some of my books, so I was able to sign those, along with some of the bookmarks I had on hand.

Part of the workshop was making a group poem, where I asked the kids to write a single line of poetry, which I then wrote down and, while they were busy coming up with their own individual poems, I used those lines to craft a complete poem. We also voted on a title for it, too. So below is a photo of the completed group poem, made entirely of parts from the lines they gave me. (Apologies for my handwriting, it’s always terrible.)20200223_111600

I’m not sure if I’ll take part in the festival again, as being there has completely drained me (I expect for the next week, as it usually takes a while to recover from events like this), and it weighed so heavily on my mind during the few weeks before it that I couldn’t focus on any other work. But listening to the poems the kids wrote was a really wonderful moment, so I do feel greatly privileged to have had that opportunity.

Reviews

Review of Will Save: The Nibiru Effect by G. Sauvé

Earlier this month, I received a copy of Will Save: The Nibiru Effect from the series’ author G. Sauvé in exchange for sharing news of its release with my readers if I thought they would enjoy it. I’m always thankful when other authors share their work with me, and as I’d been sent the blurb as well, I was genuinely excited to read it. It promised time travel, adventure and high stakes, all things that snag my interest.

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The story follows the journey of Will Save, an orphan who knows nothing about his parents until the first hour of his fifteenth birthday, when his friend and mother figure reveals that she has been keeping a gift from his birth mother safe for all these years. Despite being tempted to give it to him earlier, she followed the precise instructions his mother had laid out and finally hands it over as soon as his birthday begins.

The gift contains a ring, with a message for Will to wear it all the time as it may protect him from harm. Alongside it is another note: his mother wants to meet him that day. Encouraged by his friend, he sets out to meet her, but while he’s waiting at the train station, he gets involved in a dangerous conflict with complete strangers who seem to possess a technology alien to his time.

One side of the conflict vanishes through a portal that suddenly appears at the twist of a ring looking oddly like Will’s own, disappearing before the other side can chase them.

Confused by what’s going on, Will ends up on the train tracks just as a train approaches, and with shouts from his new-found associates, activates the power of his own ring, opening another portal. With death by train the only other option, all three of them jump through the portal. The next thing Will knows is he’s in hospital, in a lost city that should no longer exist.

What follows is an engaging adventure into prehistoric times that involves meeting humanoids previously hidden from history, being chased (and nearly squashed) by dinosaurs, eaten by giant worms, threatened by dragons and lots and lots of lava, plus having to navigating the subtleties of teenage love.

The time travel element in this book is very different to others I’ve read in that it relies on the effect the planet Nibiru has on Earth when it nears it. It was a great thread to work into the plot, and was tied with myths of Atlantis (another favourite of mine).

What I truly loved about this book was the sheer imagination behind the world building. The detail was very vivid, and I had no problem picturing it all. I also enjoyed the characters and how they developed throughout, particularly one of the prehistoric humanoids, called Korri. I think out of everyone, he was my favourite.

Will himself is quite unusual as a protagonist, because he fully acknowledges his cowardice, selfishness and lack of empathy throughout most of the book, and yet despite knowing that, he struggles to change. Only when the stakes are well and truly high does he finally bring himself to step up and push through all of that. At times, I found him to be repetitive in his whines and complaints, but overall I thought he was quite well developed and believable.

There were also a few points in the book where I laughed aloud at some of the situations the group found themselves in. Some were so unpleasant I could feel it, and yet they were hilarious at the same time. Not to mention, there were several nights in a row where I found myself reading into the early hours of the morning because I was so wrapped up in the story that I didn’t want to let go.

The only complaint I had was that some of the writing was a bit clunky, but it wasn’t enough to put me off. It did take me a few chapters to come around to the idea that the story is told through memories discovered on discs by Will’s son, Will Jr., as at first I couldn’t see the relevance of including the son’s timeline, but the ending tied it all in for me and I was left with the right kind of questions the first book in a series should leave.

In conclusion, this is a fantastic debut and I’m truly looking forward to the next installment of Will’s adventures.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the book, here’s the author’s website:

http://gsauve.ca/

 

 

Extracts/ Flash Fiction

Extract from my latest MG, ‘Wings in a Wounded Sky’

Her parents had never uttered even the hint of a roar in her lifetime, even when another Ogg came by to demand why they were missing from that year’s summer gathering. They’d simply explained their reasons and invited him into their nest hole, which, as most Oggs thought they could go anywhere, invited or not, only served to enrage him more.  He’d roared at them, spouting about disrespecting Ogg etiquette, and raged off.

It hadn’t been that long ago, really. Only a few weeks before her parents had fallen ill. She rested her head against the mottled bark of an extremely old Okke tree, wishing more than ever that they hadn’t gone, when Silver popped up in front of her, orange eyes ablaze.

‘Why are you hiding, stupid? The sisters are worried sick,’ she snapped, letting curls of smoke trail from the corners of her mouth. Rae could see scratches on her arms and face, which was surprising, because she’d been sure the Fae boy hadn’t fought back.

‘They’re scared of me. I can’t face them knowing that,’ Rae replied, avoiding her gaze and picking at a piece of loose bark.

‘You are an idiot. Yes, they were scared of you, the same as I was when you roared, but it was only because we didn’t know you could do that. You took us by surprise, that’s all. We know you’re far too soft to actually hurt anyone…and if you hadn’t stopped me, I might have broken that boy’s wings off.’ There was reluctance in her voice, but also shame. ‘Come back with us. Then we can find out together why that blue-eyed slime is here, and why his people took my parents.’

Rae took a deep breath, and stepped out from behind the trees so that the Rosycheeks could see her. They cried out and ran up to her, embracing her warmly, before heading back to the cottage. There, they found the Fae boy by the pond with Nymphy, in deep conversation. As they approached, Nymphy gave a nod and disappeared into the water, warping out of sight.

‘Where’s she going?’ Silver asked, rushing forwards. ‘What have you sent her to do, slime?’ she said, pressing her face close to his so that he coughed on the lingering coils of smoke escaping her mouth.

‘I didn’t send her anywhere,’ the boy said quietly, stepping back. ‘I told her about something, and she went to see if she could have a look at it.’

Poetry

Path finder

You cradle the dragon against your chest,

shielding its sleeping form from the elements.

 

Walking proud

along sandy shores

that soak up your footprints

even as you make them.

 

Waves crash and swell,

music in its most natural fashion,

reaching

for the pull of your hand.

A friendly caress, an age old bond.

 

But it is not yet time to give in

and take its shelter,

Rocks must be overturned and mountains scaled.

 

The dragon already begins to stir

and it is still

far from home.

Uncategorized

My new book, The Door Between Worlds!

I’ve been talking about this on my social media pages, but sadly neglecting it on here, so it may come as a surprise to say I have another book out, a stand-alone middle-grade fantasy called The Door Between Worlds. It’s release day today, and I’m super excited to share it with everyone!

This book has everything I love in it – dragons, twists on fairytales, adventure, portals, more dragons…

The way I pitched it to my publisher was: Alice in Wonderland meets Big meets The Pagemaster. I still stick to that wholeheartedly.

So, without further ado, here it is (with the official blurb):

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Michael is a young bookworm who really believes in magic. But even he isn’t prepared for what lies behind the secret door in the school library: Treeshallow, a parallel land where all known stories originate from.

When Michael runs into the residents of Treeshallow, he finds them reminiscent of characters he’s read about in books.

Michael’s appearance there isn’t an accident. After he sets to find the famous wizard Ramble, the two learn that the school librarian, Mr. Rogers, has been taken captive by a band of demons known as the Desrai.

But even with their combined forces, can the two save Rogers from the clutches of evil?

 

(Find it HERE)

Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Protagonist Bound (Crisanta Knight Book One) by Geanna Culbertson

Protagonist Bound is a book I picked up on a whim – it looked like a book that played with fairytales and stereotypes, which are two things right up my alley. And it did not disappoint (despite it taking me some time to actually get to it, thanks to my enormous TBR).

The story takes place in a land called Book (yes, you read that right) where a mysterious entity known as the Author sends out a book with a single name on the cover, and whoever the name belongs to will be a future protagonist. They have no choice in this matter. Female protagonists, including princesses, are sent to one school to learn about being good damsels in distress and such like (they have a lesson on how not to crease their gowns while fainting), while male protagonists, including princes, are sent to another, where they learn how to be swashbuckling heroes.

Crisa, the slightly wayward daughter of Cinderella, isn’t a fan of learning such lame things at school, and finds the fact that she is supposed to be a graceful, well-spoken damsel in distress unfair to say the least. When she gets her ‘prologue prophecy’ – a further note in her protagonist book that decrees she will marry a prince she truly despises and that will be her protagonist role – she refuses to believe she has no way out of it. In fact, she decides that the only thing to be done is to find the Author and confront them. Her friends – Blue, Red Riding Hood’s younger sister, SJ, Snow White’s daughter, Jason, brother of beanstalk lover Jack, and the quiet, irritating new-boy-at-school Daniel – all agree to her plan and go with her. But finding the Author is no easy task, especially with less than helpful fairy godmothers on their back, not to mention most of the Kingdom’s antagonists.

What I truly loved about this book (and books two and three, which I had to read immediately after) is how well the fairytale elements are woven together to make not only a strong, in-depth word, but also great characters that you want to succeed. And they are all so different personality wise that it really is like reading about a real group of friends – with all the ups and downs of their relationships on top of being nearly killed by equally intriguing foes. Everything about this series is well thought out, the writing itself is excellent and it’s great to see all these strong, butt-kicking characters shake away the stereotypes of what it means to be a princess or prince, and what a hero truly is.

This is the kind of book that after reading, makes me want to shove it into everyone’s hands. I won’t, because not everyone likes fairytales or YA books, but that doesn’t stop me from being very tempted.

So there you have it!

Kat out.

Extracts/ Flash Fiction, Uncategorized

A little taste of my WIP (which features ogres, dragon-people, fae and many other creatures)

‘What…is all this?’ Max said, tentatively picking one of the hair-wrapped parcels up. He rubbed it against his trousers, trying to get as much dust off it as he could.

‘It’s blue,’ Rae said, examining the neat strands. ‘Gwind, it’s just like yours. It’s exactly the same colour.’

‘You think it’s Fae hair?’ Max asked her. ‘I suppose if it was used to protect whatever is underneath, then that would make sense.’

‘I’ve never heard of it being used for that before,’ Gwind said, ‘but as Silver discovered, there might have once been more uses for it than we think. Perhaps we should unwrap them? Though it looks as if that would take even longer than rearranging the books upstairs. I can’t even see where the ends are.’

‘I could just burn through it,’ Silver said, and before they could stop her, she spat a tiny flame at a parcel by her feet. It touched the hair, fizzling for a moment, and then went out. ‘That’s strange. Our flames should be able to burn through anything.’

‘Let me try,’ Max said, and took out his knife, attempting to cut through the hair. Despite pressing down hard, the blade simply glided over it. ‘Some hair you people have,’ he said to Gwind, failing to keep the awe from his voice.

Extracts/ Flash Fiction, Poetry

Extract from my current WIP

I don’t usually write poems or songs in my books, but this time the story called for one. And as this blog features quite a lot of my poetry, I thought I’d share it. To put it in context, it gives a vial clue for my characters to find something:

‘And when the snows begin to ease

On mountains high, with cool breeze

Look out to the peaks every morn

From which the ice sparrows are drawn

And watch them duck and dive

Until upon the floating cities they arrive,

Stealing crystals for their nests,

Those naughty sparrows, dragon’s pests.

Reviews

Review: Moroda by L. L. McNeil

Moroda is the story of a girl who escapes from her home city as it is burnt by Dragon fire, and tries to find her place in a world now threatened by war. With her sister, a foul-mouthed sky pirate, two weapon smiths with the ability to transform into animals, an ex-solider from the city, a man with the power to fly and control storms, and a man whose race is known for being deadly killers, she travels across the world of Linaria in search of the answers she so desperately seeks.

I first heard about Moroda via Twitter, as one of the people I follow retweeted a post by the author which showcased the cover. It caught my eye immediately, and led me to read the synopsis, which I found very captivating. I think the reason for that is it hinted at the idea of the plot itself revolving more around Moroda’s own personal journey of self-discovery than the typical fantasy quest of saving the world with an object/magic/intense training. It does have this basic element within it, because of the threat the dragons (and certain others) pose to all of Linaria, but McNeil has cleverly twisted it so that you don’t really notice such a trope is being used.

What’s captivating about Moroda’s character is that she is forced to recognise her own short-comings by spending time with characters with vastly different backgrounds and ideals to her – she and her sister grew up in relative luxury compared to most, but when their father suddenly died, all financial stability they had went out the window. So as she watches her companions, she starts to realise that she has very little experience in most areas of life and is eager to improve on that.

The other characters in Moroda were equally interesting. The sky pirate, Amarah, who is strongly independent and not afraid to speak her mind, is so well-written that I had a solid sense of who she was from the off. Palom and Anahrik, who have the ability to transform into animals, played well off of each other, highlighting that even though they have a strong friendship, they are very different people – Anahrik is hot-headed and quick to take up a challenge, whilst Palom is more rational and patient (until a certain point in the story, where Palom actually takes on some of Anahrik’s personality traits, for reasons I can’t state because of spoilers). Morgen, the soldier – in fact, I believe he is a captain – is a bit harder to get to know because his arc is somewhat slower that the others, more on par with Moroda’s, where he doesn’t really know what to do or where he belongs after the city is burnt. But I slowly picked up who he is: a good man initially quick to follow orders, then after he becomes aware that those orders may not be for the best, just a man trying to do his best to help prevent the oncoming war and protect those he loves.

Then we have Kohl and Sapora, both from races which Moroda knows relatively little about. Kohl calls himself a dragon hunter, and initially warns Moroda and her sister about the dragon heading to their city. He is an outcast from his race, and we don’t really find out why until a good way through, though the whole time it was unclear whether he was trustworthy or not – I wanted to, but felt like I should be wary. Though he can’t transform into an animal like Palom or Anahrik, he has wings on his back which allow him to take to the skies. His race all have the power to harness thunder and electricity, though his powers go a step further as he can freeze things. But it does seem very much like a power he doesn’t want.

Sapora is my favourite character, mainly because all the reader knows about him initially is that his race is associated with violence, and even though Moroda wants to look past that, his very presence put her on edge. The arguments he and Amarah have reveal a lot about both characters, and show off his sharp tongue.

Eryn, Moroda’s younger sister, is introduced very strongly, but as the story went on, I felt as though her individuality was lost. She follows Moroda because of how close they are – they have no other family, so they’ve had to depend on each other since losing their father. While Moroda can be a bit rash and impulsive, Eryn tends to hold her back to get her to consider things first before she takes action. I enjoyed the fact that even though Moroda is older, Eryn is the one who is most mature. However, some of her reactions and traits were ‘told’ rather than ‘shown’, and I think that’s why she paled as bit as a character for me.

With such a cast of characters, the plot is very driven by them, which is rather refreshing to see in fantasy. If I hadn’t enjoyed the characters, and had they not been so well written, then I would have said this was just an okay book. As it is, I think Moroda is quite the riveting read, and actually got me out of a reading slump I’d been in for a while. Yes, there is a lot of world building, and some of the lands and customs are only lightly touched upon, but I have to consider that this is the first book in a series, so many of the questions I have about Linaria will probably be answered in the sequels.

I consider myself quite an avid fantasy reader, and personally,  I would rate Moroda well up there with some of my favourite reads by authors published by big publishing houses. I really highly recommend it – even though I finished it a few days ago now, the story is still with me.

Poetry

Down the hall

The hall was hot

with a fiery glow,

great wafts of smoky air

swept towards me with mighty blows.

 

I knew what awaited,

how could I not

have heard of the beast

who occupied this spot?

 

 

Staring at me

through the door’s seam,

I saw two green, glowing eyes

and wings cramped against the beams.

 

My hand shook

as I reached for the knob,

after all, a dragon’s breath

could reduce me to a messy blob.

 

But a beast

shouldn’t be trapped

just because some people think

it’ll eat them for a snack.

 

Bravely, I opened the door,

overcoming my fear

as I stepped right into

its tiny, sparse lair.

 

I braced myself for the worse,

yet the dragon shied away from me.

Then I saw the chain around its legs.

‘Don’t worry,’ I said, ‘I’ll set you free!’