Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Where does all the wonder go?

WARNING: This post is not going to be in the usual three-point style. And it will be littered with links to things I love.

So here’s something I just don’t get.
As a fan of all things fantasy (and therefore awesome), it boggles my mind that I am often categorised and boxed up as 'weird' by a society that lulls children to sleep with stories of armoured dudes climbing up a girl’s ponytail.

Think about it:
How large is the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section in your local bookstore? Not too big, huh? And more often than not it’s hydden in some obscure corner where the lights are dimming and the dust mites come out in full battle mode to fight whoever has dared to disrupt their Hadarac-y world (now fully covering the bottom shelf).
Sometimes we’re lucky and we get a brightly lit - albeit tiny - spot next to the Classics section. But it comes with the price of constantly moving out the way so folks can pass, seeing as this spot just so happens to always be in the middle of the store.
Come on! You’re always throwing theme parties for mainstream fiction books out front with all sorts of crazy displays. Why can’t we sci-fi and fantasy fans get some excitement over here? What’s wrong with a bit of Elderglass or even a nice little warren we can burrow down into?
OK, OK. I get the practicality thing. But still.

So many people are willing to jump up, looking all cool and hipster, and proclaim that they “loooooove” fantasy and superhero movies. But how many of them actually sit through the credits just to see some giant duck or a weird dude being worshipped in the desert
The credits separate the mice from the men.

But should they have to?

Here’s what’s irking me:
Sci-fi and Fantasy fans fall into a subculture that is viewed in the same way as hardcore tattoo junkies and legit 90’s grunge fans. Everyone loves to associate with these cultures, because they think it makes them seem cool and even dangerous (which also baffles me, but still). They like to think that they come off as original and quirky when they can recite the One Ring verse whilst gazing deeply into their beer like they know something others don’t.
But start talking to them about the Underland and Beowulf, and they shut down.
“No, that’s not really my scene… I like The Hobbit, but talking cockroaches are a bit unrealistic…”
Suddenly, they retract. You become weird to them. Your wild imagination and love for 800-year old messengers is a stretch too far. They go back to their little world, having touched the 'dark side' and survived, and looking so much cooler for it.

But why?
Why, why, why?
Didn’t we all grow up with stories of wolves swallowing people whole and pigs building houses? We were all once fully capable of believing someone could sleep for a hundred years, or even wear glass slippers without severing a tendon.
Where did the magic go? What happens to people’s imaginations as they grow older? When do they lose their sense of wonderment? When does something suddenly become too unrealistic? (Just for the record, I hate that word. It kills creativity).

At least a few of us seem to keep the spark alive in our hearts. I am happy to be one of the survivors.

So come to think of it... if you need to dip your pen into the Inkworld every once in a while, before running away exhilarated and bragging to your friends… I guess that’s OK.

But just don’t view our little sci-fi and fantasy world with so much scepticism and scorn. I mean, you once believed in magic beans, for crying out loud!
And while you visit once every few years, why not broaden your horizons a bit and explore the world on the back of a giant turtle?

The wonder is not gone from this world.

We’ll aim to keep it alive for you, from our dusty ill-lit corner, in the meantime.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

My word, it's been a long time!

Er... Hello, I guess? *Hangs head in shame*

Well! It's been a ridiculously long time since I last blogged. I won't bore you with my excuses of failed emigration, triple moving of house and giving away of cat. Let's just say it's been a rough year.
As in Gets-Excited-By-Owning-A-Can-opener-Again Rough.

Long story short, I am now a proud resident of Durban, South Africa!

So far, I am loving the warm water, tropical gardens and scalding hot curries.

Oh! And I am rewriting my novel. No biggie. Just a lot of sleepless nights and more discipline than I bargained for.

Bottom line? I'll be blogging again, just to get away from any actual work.

Keep a lookout!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Yars, yars. I was interviewed, darling.

The last few months have been completely nuts with us moving to Germany and all. There has barely been a moment's respite for me to have a relaxing cup of tea, never mind blog and promote my book.

But, to update you, I am happy to announce that the writing of the second book in 'The Pages of the Blade' trilogy is well under way! In the meantime, however, feel free to get to know me even better by checking out my author interview on the Smashwords website here.

I'll blog again as soon as I can!

PS wish me luck with my German lessons...

Auf wiedersehen!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Elves! Elves elves elves!

Alon Shalev is a writer with quite the interesting range: politics and fantasy.
Then again, those two seem inevitably interconnected anyway. Go figure.

I had the pleasure of reading 'At the Walls of Galbrieth' - the first book in a fantasy series focused on elves. Here's my review, as posted to Goodreads:

Fast-paced and dynamic, I found this story very exciting! Seanchai is quick to evolve and I can completely understand why Alon won an award for this book - this elf captures the imagination of every day-dreaming teenager. Well, at least the type of teenager I was.
I have to say that I would have liked a bit more meat here and there (the bonds between characters forged a little too quickly for my liking) and I often got lost in regards to the setting.
But all in all, an engaging read. My favorite part (writing wise)? The fact that the characters have these complicated and exotic names... and then there's Uncle. Creative!
If you are looking for action without having to trudge through seventeen chapters to get to it, this is the perfect fantasy book for you. You're thrown right into it on the very first page.

Check out Alon's blog here: http://elfwriter.com/

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Super Twisted Short Story

I just read a short story by Richard L. Foland, called 'At What Price'.

Now, if you are looking for something short, interesting, and slightly futuristic (with a lot of twists), give this a go! Here's the description:

In 2012 Alexander Vernick killed his fiance after someone proved she was stealing from him. That person then turned him in and he was arrested and tried. He managed to get off but has spent the better part of a decade looking for the person who ratted on him and he's found him. Now he can have his revenge. But what price will he have to pay another ten years down the line?

Need more info? Here's my review:

Wow - the imagery really got me going! I can see this book successfully be extended into a full-length title, no problem. Richard manages to describe scenes and even futuristic objects with ease. I am a big fan of authors who are able to capture atmosphere - well done! I have to add that I got lost once or twice and I would have liked to know more regarding the details of the big twist, but I really enjoyed it. Even completely forgot about my cup of coffee (a rare occurrence).

Visit Richards's blog to get to know him!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

I got my first review!

Oh, happy day! I am so excited! Woke up this morning to my very first review for my fantasy novel, 'The Unsheathed Key'.
It was posted by a reader named LostLigeia on Smashwords.com - rated 5 stars!

Here it is (sic):

'Thrilling and imagenative! “The Unsheathed Key” is one of those books, you cannot put down anymore, once you start reading. Captivating story, authentic characters, attention for the detail and here and there a hint of subtle humor - All this makes this book a nice piece of work and the perfect book, to forget about everything else for a while. Yurika KotzĂ© tells us a story about the classical sides of good and evil in a fictitious world, but there is a lot more behind her words than just a simple story…
I am waiting for the next one!'

>Blushing profusely<

Thanks, LostLigeia; you have made my day!

*** To learn more about 'The Unsheathed Key', go to my author site and click on Titles. An excerpt from the book is also available ***

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Packing up your life, The trouble with having characters in your head, Kruger!

You know, I always dreamed of writing all day. They never tell you that it is incredibly hard work. Now, to pick up where I left off...

Packing up your life - As briefly touched on before, we are moving to Germany. I am so excited! Watching the XGames this weekend, I couldn't help but ooh and aah every time they showed a shot of Munich in the background (quickly followed by chortling laughter at the idiot who went all that way just to fall on his face).
I am desperately trying to learn German, but so far ich bin ein very confused little person. Still, this is not the biggest of my worries. I am in complete agony over what to pack. I have gone so far as to design a little weighing game in my head whereby I mentally place items on opposite ends of a scale to see which has the most value. Cookbooks vs cookie-maker? Cookie-maker (duh, I can always make up the recipe as I go). Clothes vs fantasy books? Fantasy books (yes, I said it). Shoes vs hairdryer? Erm....
But now, this little game creates another conundrum all on its own. You see, mental value does not equal actual value. So I might not necessarily get away with airline weight restrictions if I pitch up with a bag filled with cookie-makers, story books and hairdryers stuffed into shoes.
The whole packing thing creates such a moral dilemma, too, because your friends and family are keeping a close eye on what you decide to take with you across the waters. 'Are you taking that heavy sweater I gave you? How about that massive picture frame with all our photos in it?' Scary.
In the end I'll probably just say 'stuff it!' and wear all my clothes at once, books hidden in pockets and clamped under arms, pictures taped inside my handbag and the cat hidden in the carry-on.

The trouble with having characters in your head - So there I was, thinking I was on a writing holiday for a month after my first ebook was published. I would read every day, wake up late and do nothing but lounge about. Meantime, my characters were thinking, nah!
Without warning, one night as I was innocently drifting off to sleep, they started popping up in my head.
'Don't forget to kill me in the next book!'
'Hey! Psst! Forget about him, what about letting people actually see me?'
'Oh come on! I'm the main character, she should start the book with me and not some snobbish nymph!'
You think that's frightening? Try keeping sane like this.
So against my better judgement, I got up and started making lists. Plot lines, random ideas, people to add, people to kill off, possible fights, cool little scenes...
And there you go. Officially started Book II of 'The Pages of the Blade'.

Kruger! - I am blessed enough to have grown up just outside the Kruger National Park, and to still be visiting it at least once every year. There's nothing like it.
The minute you drive through the gate, it's like you enter another world. A sudden quiet descends on you and nothing else matters but mopani trees and dodging dung beetles. I love everything about it. The rich, dusty smell; waving at fellow park-goers; the slightly stale pies at the restaurants; the frozen yogurt lollies; the early morning drives to look for animals...
At night, I love to sit by the campfire and listen to the bushveld waking: hyenas whooping, lions calling, the odd hippo grunt.
This weekend, we are heading out to the park for the last time before we move to Europe... Ah, crap. I promised myself I wasn't going to cry over my keyboard.

Don't be afraid to take on challenges, never stifle your own creativity, and make sure to visit the Kruger at least once in your life.

PS the above photo was taken during a supervised visit. Don't get out of your car in the park and go off trying to pet cheetahs. They WILL eat you.

PPS Remember to check out the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale... 'The Unsheathed Key' at 50% off (use promotional code SSW50) https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/323926