Orphans & Outcasts Release! Yay!

I am very excited to tell you all that my new book, Orphans & Outcasts, has been released in both eBook and Paperback. The paperback version comes with beautiful illustrations as well – so that’s totally a bonus reason to pick that one up. ^_^

To celebrate Orphans & Outcasts release you can pick up KEY: Book One of Chronicles of the Children for FREE on Amazon Kindle. I really hope you enjoy the beginning of the epic adventure!

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Where to find Orphans & Outcasts

Amazon Kindle

Illustrated Paperback

 Bringing to life a new book is so much fun. It constantly baffles me that a story takes shape and form in my imagination and I can type it out, shape it, gradually craft it and then, have a book for people to enjoy. But that book first came out of…well…really nothing? Right? It came out of just – imagination – isn’t that incredible. I think it’s incredible.

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The full wrap around cover is gorgeous. Art work done by Ben Wootten – such a fantastic, amazing artist who picks up my ramblings and creates masterpieces out of them.
I do enjoy doing the graphics – it’s an enjoyable part of being an indie author I guess, being able to control the little things. ^_^

 

I also love the chance to illustrate and express my world through not just words. While I am sure everyone who reads my books will have very different ideas of what the characters and world would look like (and I hope they do) being able to illustrate is a joy, and making beautiful books to share is so exciting.

Nixyle

Princess Nixyle, one of the characters in the novel. She’s been around in my head for a long time, and it’s so nice to finally tell her story.

 

Denvy

Denvy Maz – very much the main character of Orphans & Outcasts, or at least, the character who inspired me to write the book. All my other books have characters who are quite ‘young’ as heroes (not counting, you know, ancient gods…) but Denvy is – ah – one of those ‘ancient gods‘ and his age and sudden removal of his immortality is really interesting to explore.

Titus

Titus Timothy Tevlon – one of my favourite secondary characters from both Chronicles of the Children and Northland Rebellion. Titus is a Messenger Hunter, a very rare type of Messenger who was consumed by a Twizel but managed to keep his sanity. It makes him extremely skilled at hunting Twizels, but ostracised by Messengers.

 

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They’re awful pictures – because my phone camera is just horrible – but in the paperback version of the book I finally had the chance to do something I’ve been wanting to do for ages, and that is add a little comic at the back. Something connected to the world of Livila, but is a random ‘Myth’ from their history. It turned out so well. I am SO, SO, SO happy with it!!

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I’m really looking forward to being able to do more things like this in the future. I mean, it takes me FOREVER, but they’re just fantastic when printed.

So, if you’re wanting to begin this journey – and it’s a real journey, I can tell you that – KEY: Book One – is free right now, I think for another day and you’re most welcome to jump right in and join the heroic adventure.

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Cafe Life

 

As I brush through the fly screen into the quiet atmosphere of the early morning lull, I am greeted with a call “Morning, Kylie.”
I lift my head. “Good morning,” I chime back in reply as I dump my heavy bag on my usual table. A single table, with two chairs, second up from the door, far enough away not to the catch the breeze. I would have preferred a seat by the window, in the comfy chair, but I loathed taking up two tables and four chairs for hours at a time – just for me and my laptop, didn’t seem proper, you know. 

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The new owners of my cafe – my cafe, funny that, it’s away’s been MY cafe in my head, even though, technically, I don’t own the place – anyway – the new owners are delightful, cheerful and always up for a chat. I still haven’t managed to figure out their names yet, but considering it took me several years to learn the names of the previous owners, I’m not to fussed, it will come in time.

I have been told to find another place, to move on – time and time again – but I am a creature of habit, someone who loves familiarity. Perhaps it isn’t a good thing, perhaps it is, perhaps I am stuck in a cycle that circles around and around, I do not know, but I love the comfort that comes with knowing a place and the people within it, and watching the world change gradually, year by year. I have seen women marry, new born children grow up, start school, all from my seat within this cafe. I’ve talked with war vets, listened to their heroic tales take me to Germany, England and to the skies within planes, or the fields of Africa, all while mulling over a cappuccino. 

My cafe is like the TARDIS. 

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It can transport me anywhere. Through the people within it, that share the magical place with me. 

Before the previous owners left one of the patrons painted a painting that now hangs in the cafe. When I first saw it, I just smiled, thinking; “Oh, that’s lovey, they put in some of the regulars…” I was a little sad, as I couldn’t see myself in my regular spot so I thought I must not have been included. 
Silly me.
Silly, silly me.
I was standing by the counter one misty winters morning and the painting had been hung on the wall nearby. As I was waiting for my turn, something caught my eye and I started laughing. It was me. There I was, sitting towards the back of the painting, wearing my black coat, my beanie, with my laptop and my  books. My eyes grew damp and my chest tightened. Was this what I looked like in the eyes of the other patrons?
It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen – myself – in a painting. 

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Perhaps this sounds ridiculous, or maybe it’s just me, but I feel, almost as though I have become part of a mythos, that is gradually being crafted, day after day, year after year. A mythos that is our incredible little pocket in the world. And here I am, sitting it, writing stories of other worlds. Isn’t that just the most delightful thing.  

 

 

Bonfire Night

 

 

Last weekend my parents had some visitors from the Philippines over. It was wonderful to see them again after many years. I am the only one of my family who hasn’t visited the shanties, so I am always enthralled by the stories they have to share about the children we’ve supported over the past couple of decades.

As everyone was swapping stories, my Dad happened to mention something interesting – as he often does – Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night – due to him mentioning the time he, my mother and older brother spent in the Philippines on New Years Eve and just how alarmingly loud the fire works there had been. I was fascinated when he said that as a child, here in Australia we’d had a celebration in which fireworks and bonfires had been a major part.

My father turned to me with his knowing smile. “It was a celebration about the day when Guy Fawkes didn’t blow up the British Parliament, didn’t you learn about it at school?”

I was moue. “No,” I replied. “I didn’t learn anything interesting about Australian or British history at school.”

A couple days later and I was on Facebook and I stumbled across this trailer for a new mini-series. What’s it for? Yeah, the story behind that plot on November the 5th. I just sat there laughing, thinking how ironic it was that my Dad and I had just been talking about it on the weekend.

Our history, and our culture is so interesting – it is full of such incredible tales that I was never told. I sort of had an idea there was something behind the 5th of November because I’ve seen “V for Vendetta”, but I’d never researched into it. I rather wish at school, in history class, our teacher could have told the fascinating tales that gradually lead to Australia being the nation it is. Sure, we don’t celebrate Guy Fawkes Night now (though, I really wish we did, what an interesting tradition, and traditions create bonds, culture and stories within a country –  I understand why they stopped it though) but I feel the story should be told, and kept on being told, so the history can continue, and become legend, and that legend remains a part of the culture we’ve become. We shouldn’t forget where we’ve come from, and what has made us, shaped us – what scars have crafted us into the nation of Australia.

I love it when my Dad tells me a piece of history that reminds me we’re all stories, just waiting to be told.

 

I never wanted to be a stereotype…

A stereotype.
I recall hearing the word frequented in writing classes I attended – telling me to avoid stereotypes, type-casting characters into cookie cutter blocks, that I needed to give them flaws and backgrounds, something to make them seem human to the readers.
I was young, gosh, I had to be – fifteen – yeah – about fifteen. Gracious me – FIFTEEN – I didn’t know anything about what the world had to offer.
Sweet sixteen, they say, don’t they, when you get your first kiss?
No, I had my stolen from me at twenty-eight and it was the worst experience ever.  I’m filing that under memories I wish I could erase, clean my whiteboard from all the smudges that horrid recollection drudges up, every time I re-loop the memory. I’m such a broken record.

I find, though, that stereotypes in writing can sometimes be useful. It simply depends on how skilled the author in question is, in using them – much like all other tools in the library of tools at the disposal of an author.

However, a stereotype of real life is another discussion all together.
Some stereotypes can have negative continuations.
I wanted to be a particular sort of stereotype – I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mother.
It was the dream. I didn’t care what anyone ever said, it was my dream.
It is a dream that is gradually fading away. Is it my fault? Perhaps. Sometimes I think it is.

I am an author, an illustrator – and I fear I have become a stereotype of that – I live at home, with my parents. I am a lover of pop-culture, a collector of stuff, (or junk, as my family would say) and I even have a cat, who I’m a little bit…ah…overly fond of. I mean, if she dropped dead, yeah, I’d be sad, but I’d just get another one. But she is my companion. I do love her, but she’s just a pet. I just happen to not have…many people to talk to…so…I talk to a cat.
It’s weird.
And so, I am weird.

And I am ashamed of this.
Yet I cannot change who I am. I like who I am. I love this young woman I have become.
I adore the enjoyment I get out of simple things. How I light up at entertainment, and can see the beauty in art that people often scoff at, how the stories in anime utterly delight and enthral me, and I can get lost in their worlds for days thinking on their deep, deep topics. I might not manage large crowds of people, and I’m awful in big groups, but get me started on a topic I love, or world politics, or the creation of the universe, or the beauty in this world, and I could talk for hours.
Sure, I am weird – but I am weirdly wonderful.

A part of me truly hopes that someday I will be that mother, but if that dream never comes to pass, then I am already living a wonderful dream.
I am a fantasy author – with a cat.
I’m going to write, and keep writing, until all my stories are told.

Pain

This was written about a month ago, on a very bad day when my pain was excruciatingly bad and I couldn’t take it – so I decided to try and write what it felt like. Since then, nothing much has changed, I’ve just been coping with the ‘new normal’ which is a steady increase of overall pain levels.
However, upon re-reading this with a little bit of more level head, I felt it was still worthy of a share. There might be others out there who deal with chronic pain, or a chronic illness, who have similar experiences. I simply do not know.
If you do – know you’re not alone, even if the battle is a lonely one. 

Pain is exhausting.
It eats at me, every single day. Piece by piece it consumes. It started as an ember, so small, years ago, and now it is a fire, fuelled by existence alone and sometimes it is all I seem to know.

It hurts to even breath. Each lung full is like stretching skin over barbed wire. When did my chest start betraying me, I am often left to ponder? There is not a day that passes when my head is not ripping itself apart with hatchets. What would it be like to live without a headache? Would I even know myself if I ever woke up without one?

Pain has blurred memories together, and years have become a long string of time wasted away in a body that is young, but feels so decrepit.

I should be relishing in youth.
So young, people tell me. Oh, Kylie, you are so young. You have so much time. Don’t worry – don’t worry – you are in the prime of your life. Their words are like mockery. I haven’t felt young in a long time. Not in a body that I am forced to drag through a day. The vigour of youth is long past, despite the youthful years of my unwrinkled cheeks. Yet, what life have I truly lived? Can I say I have lived at all? People my age seem so falsely carefree. They are like adverts in front of me, flashing on a movie screen, portraying a wondrous example of just what I do not have:
Freedom from an invisible tower, created by bricks of pain, built up day by day.
And there is no prince to save and comfort, just endless staring out a window, wishing for the seasons to change.

Pain has already worn me down, it’s a grindstone and I am the dull blade never to be sharpened.

The fingertips on a keyboard become sharp, stabs, as if I’ve pounded them down to the very bone—but if I had, would they hurt anymore? Everything is heavy, even smiling is an effort I just can’t be bothered with doing. Am I beautiful, without a smile? Have I ever been beautiful?

The first man to call me beautiful, other than my father, was an elderly gentleman in a café.
No man has ever told me again.
It is just a word, I always tell myself—
But it is word with such potent meaning.
Like pain.
A word becomes a dagger in the heart—if you let it.
Don’t let it.

My entire world has shrunken into a room. I am Rapunzel in her tower. Sleeping Beauty waiting to wake up from a dream. Snow White poisoned by an apple. Ariel wishing to explore a world above. Moana trying to escape to the ocean. I can almost reach—but I just can’t make it.

I try, I try, I keep trying. I fight, I fight and I keep fighting.

Some battles are lifetime worthy. Some princesses pick up the armour of a dead knight nearby, and battle their dragons alone.

 

Grey Skies & Yellow Fields

There is something wonderful about stopping and taking a moment to breathe the fresh air of the country. To hear the birds chirping in the high branches. There is a peacefulness here that is precious and trusting. Every so often you hear a distant car rumbling along the single main street, or a child on the school oval, shouting victory at a goal, but otherwise it is the leaves dancing in the wind that sing a clean melody. 

There is a soft, cold chill on my cheeks. A freeze that is gradually encasing the land. It runs up my legs through my tights as evening creeps ever closer. A stillness falls. The twilight hour tinges the sky mauve. How do you describe the tranquillity of being under the shadow of a mountain as protective and cloistering as the great Mt. Remarkable. It is a guardian to the small town that hugs it’s skirts. I wonder of the tales the mountain could tell us, if it could whisper them on the wind, of the lives that have come and gone under it’s shelter.  Of the hardships the first settlers faced, battling against a foreign land, carving their mark for future generations. South Australia is young, Australia itself is an infant compared to the elders that surround it, but the lives of those European pioneers were harsh. The land threw every torment it could upon them, and yet they prevailed to give us the South Australia we have today. Why, I have to ask, is it that I must seek the legends of their times myself, when their tales are still so young?   

As I turn from my walk, heading back the way I’d come, to seek out the warmth of the hearth waiting for me, I pause and stare out across the green pastures, and yonder them, to the bright yellow canola fields. The mauve tint of the sunset has turned, and grey clouds is what remains, but it is still a startling beautiful contrast against the green and yellow of the meadows. I wonder what the settlers of yesteryear would think of us now. Would they be disappointed in their children, or glad of what we have made here in the land they toiled upon? 

From my Journal – 24/8/2017

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This past week my sister (Melissa) and I went to Melrose. It was a trip to partly get away from the hustle and bustle of life, but to also do some research for a book I am currently working on that is set in the District around Melrose and within Melrose itself.
While I grew up in Whyalla, and we stayed in Melrose a few times while I was a kid, I didn’t have the clearest memories of the area so it was wonderful to have a chance to return.

And it was beautiful. So beautiful. What a glorious time of the year to visit the Flinders. The canola fields are in bloom, the wattle blossoms are in bloom, and everything is green from rain. Melrose also boasts some gorgeously large gum trees.

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I didn’t get the chance to do any hiking — I didn’t want to do the 13km hike up Mt. Remarkable on my own without a workable phone. Also, apparently, it’s super steep, and my knees are bad, so everyone told me not to do it. BUT. I just really like conquering mountains. I really need a hiking/camping budding…okay, so I need a boyfriend/husband in general, but a hiking friend would be great too! However, even though I didn’t do any hiking, I wasn’t really there for that. I was there to spend time with my sister, to get away from Adelaide, and learn about Melrose. I felt those things were achieved.

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Mel and I stayed at a utterly beautiful place called Bluey Blundstone Accommodation – it was once the old Blacksmith Shop of Melrose, and the owners have been gradually renovating and restoring it. I cannot recommend it enough, it’s amazing what they’ve done. Every night we sat by a little open fire, sometimes chatting, sometimes just quiet while I wrote. It was beautiful, peaceful and away…away from everything
My phone didn’t even work! What luck! ^_^ I was really away from everything. (Though it was a good thing my sister’s phone worked, we’d have been a bit lost without Google.)

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There is one memory I have very clearly of Melrose from when I was a child and that is the Swing Bridge. I recall this bridge being really, really awesome in my mind. The coolest thing EVER. I remember running across on it, being totally awed by it, freaked out by it, thinking it was HUGE.

I told Mel about it, saying how amazing it was, that we had to go and see it…
And…
Well, my memory was shattered into reality.

Yeah, nah, it’s actually tiny and not that awesome. (Don’t get me wrong, childhood memory me still thinks its amazing!!)
I think Mel thought it was all pretty hilarious. But I am pretty hilarious. If you can’t laugh at yourself, what’s the point, right?

I am very grateful to have such a wonderful sister to go on adventures with. Who is immensely understanding of my physical condition and illness, and who puts up with me being a pop-culture nerd. It’s great to be able to make the most of the moments we are given. Times change, slowly, rapidly, who knows…but they do change. It’s nice to have memories to treasure forever.

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Stone Table Books – Cover Illustrations

This year I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with Stone Table Books on some front covers.

Two of those books are to be launched soon. So I have permission to showcase the art here.

For DA.jpg This illustration was done for the cover art of Lizzy’s Dragon written by Melissa Gijsbers. It is a lovely little mid-range reader about a little girl who discovers a dragon who can breath water instead of fire.
I loved the opportunity to illustrate such a beautiful coloured dragon. And on the front cover when printed, this just pops, so I’m really happy with how it turned out.

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This illustration is for the cover art of the book Hidden written by Sif Dal – a young adults adventure that reminded me a lot of what I used to read when I as a teenager, so I quite enjoyed the story. It was really a treat to illustrate the book, hopefully I did it justice.

 

It’s really an honour to be entrusted with the chance to illustrate a front cover of a book. As an author myself, I know how important front covers are, so I really hope to do something beautiful for both the author and the publisher.

If you get the chance, check out the books, they’re both really wonderful.

Keep well, dearest readers!

KL

Trying to Inspire Hope

So recently I have been struggling with a lack of motivation to continue writing.
It isn’t so much that I don’t want to write, or to create – it’s just that I haven’t been getting much ‘joy’ out of it lately. It has become a real slog to get through. The imagination hasn’t been flowing.

I’ve been asking those questions, “Why? Why do I do this…?” – “Do people even care for my story?” – “What is the point of all this work?”
Those questions have been circling my mind over and over.

And I’ve been trying to remember the childlike innocence and wonder in which I first went into writing with. The obsession, the excitement and the passion that fuelled me and the late nights I would spend writing. To do so, I have tried to remember…
I’ve tried to remember what inspired me to write this long epic.

When I was a little girl I had a dream:
I stood upon the verge of a bottomless canyon. Pieces of earth would collapse into the abyss from the rumbling ground, and I had to kept trying to steady myself. Not just against the shaking earth, but the roaring of an intense wind ripping across the land behind me. The side I stood upon was green and lush, blanketed by a forest and mountains rising up yonder. Across the yawning canyon, as wide as several streets, a golden ocean of sand awaited me. The sun was just cresting the horizon, sparkling on the dunes. I recall that standing on either side of me were two young men, and yet I had no idea who they were, for I had never met them, but I woke relieved by their presence and in such awe of my dream that I wrote it down in my journal.
It was this dream that eventually led me to the creation of the world of Livila, the Borders that divided the Lands. What I was seeing became Border between Pennadot and Utillia. The two young men being Zinkx and Daniel. Their appearances haven’t really changed from when I saw them in that dream.

Chronicles of the Children is an epic about good vs. evil.
About being broken to the point that all hope is lost, finding yourself so entirely defeated that you desperately desire to give up, and yet, you don’t.
You just keep trying.
Because you don’t know how to do anything else but try.

As I’ve been staring at the blank pages in front of me while attempting to write Book 3, I’ve thought about the character of Sam and just what it is that he experiences in Book 3 and I think I better understand — going through my own despair — the motivation Book 3 has been lacking. I’d forgotten about what the book is supposed to represent in the series.
It’s a book about being broken.
So badly broken.
But picking up the pieces regardless, and still moving forward.
Every word I write should reflect that.

I think, if I continue to remember that…
I’ll get back on track.

 

Update – Burnside Libcon

Can you believe it’s already July?
I can’t.
Honestly, it seems the older I get the faster time just seems to rush by. Each year’s pace quickens, and yet, nothing really changes around me. It is a very odd sensation, to feel the days roll into each other, day fading into night, and night blooming into day, at such a rapid pace, and still discovering myself in the same place I was the year before, and the year before that.
Is this truly what adult life is? I often find myself pondering…
Is this…all life is?
Anyway, before end up telling you all about my existential crisis, and trust me, I could waffle on about it, I have some exciting news to bring to the table.

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On the 15th of July, at Burnside Library, here in my beautiful city of Adelaide, I shall be attending Libcon. I’ll be on a panel of other amazingly talented, wonderful and fantastic authors. It’s a real honour and privilege and I am’s really excited. (Hopefully this time I’ll actually <i>smile</i> at bit. XD Gotta learn to smile.)
It’d be wonderful to see you there, if you can come along. Libcon will be between 10AM and 4PM and I’ll be selling both KEY and PROTECTORS there. Sorry, I haven’t managed to get Orphans and Outcasts out yet.
Want to see the list of all the illustrations I have to do that book? By the end of September, well, technically SOONER, so that I can actually make the book and then order the copies, so it all arrives before Supernova in November. Gosh, I’m cutting this closer. Oh gosh, I am so worried.
Tah dah…my list.

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Yeah. Bit of a list.
But I’m prepared for some late nights if I have to. I love it. I love creating these things, and I love bringing a book out. It is SO exciting to see it come together in the final stages. I just can’t wait to hold the book. *squeeee*

You can see me working on some of the illustrations on my Youtube Channel:

 

At the back of Orphans and Outcasts I’m also working on some comics that will be added.
These are taking awhile to do. Here are pages from a comic called ‘Trench Ealdo’ (and it connects with Book 3, because everything in my world is connected…) just to show you how it’s going. They’re not in order…by the way… 😀

 

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I am also continuing to write Book 3 of Chronicles of the Children, though it is going very, very slow.
Encouragement would be welcome. I’m really struggling with it at the moment…just an immense lack of feeling like it’s worth it, really. 😦
Also writing a much shorter novel too, that has utterly NOTHING to do with the Chronicles of the Children world, that I won’t talk about until I know more about the publication possibilities, but it has been a fun endeavour to write something so very different.
So yeah, lots to do, lots to keep me busy — and I’m still having that existential crisis…funny heh.

Hope you’re all keeping well.
Thanks for all your support.
*hugs*
Kylie

Experiencing Your Own World

A couple weeks ago I was reading a book by a friend of mine “Water Off a Dragon’s Back” by K E Fraser and as I turned off my kindle and rolled around to go to bed a thought struck me:

Was what I thought the characters looked like the same as what my friend thought of them as? Was I imaging her world the same as she did? Turns out what she envisioned of her characters and world was entirely different from my vision and this utterly fascinated me. (I recommend her books by the way, they’re enjoyable reads if you love fantastical romances – plus there is a dragon.)

This fascinated me because I’ve been writing Book 3 of ‘Chronicles of the Children’, and editing Book 1 of ‘The Northland Rebellion’ recently. I’ve been inside of the world of Livila for a good eighteen years now – I know the world I built rather well now, and it’s annoying sometimes, to have created a world over such a long length of time, and while I was a teenager (because I assure you, teenagers do not always make great decisions in world-building.) Thinking about my friend’s world and her characters and how I envisioned them drew me to this odd realisation:

I will never be able to read my book and experience my world and characters as a new reader. I will never have that pleasure, that joy, that incredible wonder of exploring the world I built in that exciting, thrilling way that happens when you open a book and are introduced to a new adventure.

I was…a bit sad, and a little jealous.

It became even more obvious to me this past week when I had my first ever conversation with my editor, Elle, via Google chat. We’ve talked back and forth via email for years now, but we’ve never actually chatted face-to-face. Elle is amazing. Without Elle I wouldn’t be able to release my novels, she works so hard and I am so lucky to have such an incredible editor.

While talking with Elle, she pointed out a couple interesting things about my characters that I had never thought of before.
Zinkx chuckles because he picked that up from Denvy.
Skyeola’s picking that up from Zinkx.
I have characters who sound conservative and old fashioned, and younger characters who sound modern and I need to keep it that way.
Things like that.

The more I thought about it the more I noticed such things. The characters had their individual tones and traits. How come I had stopped noticing this over the years? Was it all just becoming blurred together because I was so used to being inside the world.
I am grateful for people like Elle, who remind me to take a step back, to come outside of the sandbox and review how I am writing and why I am writing.

I don’t know how other people picture my world, nor my characters – likely entirely differently to me. I know from talking to my second cousin, her picture of Sam is vastly different from mine and that makes me really happy. I write books to expand imagination, never to limit them.

So, if you ever do read my books, feel free to tell me someday what the world looks like in your eyes. I’d be so curious to know, because I really wish I was you, able to meet Zinkx, Shanty, Sam and Skye for the first time. It would be magical.
Zinkx and I go way back now. I feel like we’re bored old friends who sometimes randomly meet up at a tavern to tell stories to each other because I’m single and he has a wife and kids and needs to get out of the house. That’s the extent of our author/character relationship.
Hopefully you all have a much better imagine of Zinkx than I do… 😀