I am a Writer right?

Chuck Wendig, the bearded writer guru and gnarly writer, published a great blog over on his kick ass blog Terrible Minds called ‘A Reminder Of What Makes A Real Writer’.  In it he makes this very true point:

‘There exists no one way to write any one thing, and as long as your writing has a starting point and an ending point, I think whatever shenanigans go on in the middle serve you fine as a process as long as it gets you a finished book heavy with at least some small sense of satisfaction. If you’re not finishing your books, you need to re-examine your process. If you’re not at all satisfied with your work, then again: re-examine that process.

And that’s it.’

And it is..so why the hell writers struggle so much to own it? Why do we look to others to give it definition?

There’s a bit of heated conversation going on about whether having a degree gives you that tick of approval from society and peers, a magical That’ll do, little writer, that’ll do moment where you will suddenly be seen as the artist you are.

Yeah, sorry guys it’s not gonna happen.

A degree is great but when you graduate you still have to get a job and if you are lucky enough to get a job in say, publishing, (and these are few and far between, especially in Australia) you’re still going to be put on the same wage as someone working in retail. I recently saw a job for a publishing assistant where they wanted someone with a degree and minimum 2 years experience… for a wage I used to get in customer service. A degree might help you get a job but its not going to necessarily help give you writer validation.

My point is no one is ever going to give you the “I AM NOW A WRITER” moment and a degree, job in publishing, or a book out won’t always help either. I know this from experience. I’ve been writing full time for fifteen years and have written twelve books and it has only been in the past two months that I’ve been able to say ‘I am a writer’ when people ask what I do, not ‘I work as a contractor for the government…and I also write a bit.’ I had this moment not when any of my books came out, when I saw them on a shelf in a bookshop, not when people have been repeating it to me over and over again over the years. This moment came when I rang a recruiting company about a contract for content writing and the consultant I talked to said, “Your resume looks like an Administrator resume. You need to write it again and put all that experience you just told me about at the beginning.” And I had to sit down and really go through the process of spelling out all the experience I do have in black and white. At the end of it I was like, “Fuck me, I AM a writer.” I had been doing the job thing all wrong over the years believing I was an administrator and not a writer. I don’t think I am the only one out that does this to themselves.

I recently read a great book by indie powerhouse Joanna Penn called The Successful Author Mindset. In it she talks about having to use “I am a writer” as a kind of mantra until she believed it. She even starts the book straight up with self doubt and imposter syndrome because every author on earth feels it:

‘Embrace self doubt as part of the creative process. Be encouraged by the fact that virtually all other creatives, including your writing heroes, feel it too with every book they write.’

I personally don’t read a lot of self help for writers type books but I have huge respect for Joanna Penn and this book really helped me out to realign my brain in a time I needed it (Derek Murphy also gives really good advice for writers and his courses are fantastic and have helped me alot).

I still need to go back and read these chapters regularly because I’ve started writing a new book that scares the shit out of me. I’ve tackled some big ones before but this is next level for me. There is a lot of research involved and has the tingly potential to end up being the best thing I’ve ever written or a heaving pile of crap. Its terrifying and intimidating and its helping me grow and write in new ways. DO I think I have the talent to do it justice? Hell no. Am I going to do it anyway? Hell yes.  Because that’s what makes us writers right? We give up our social lives and our rec time and we work unsatisfying jobs to pay bills while we hustle words and try and write the ones that scare us and helps us grow and maybe makes us money.

So what if were are anxious and insecure and feel like we are walking down the street naked every time we release words into the world that will judge us..we are writers its how we operate.

I am not going to be around too much in the next few weeks, I am going crazy full editor mode to get Eastern Gods, my new YA Fantasy book, all ready to pitch to Kindle Scout. The thought of releasing this one soon is pretty exciting as it was the first book I ever wrote that I was really proud of. It’s taken a lot of work to get it up to scratch and I’m stoked how it has come together. I’ll tell you guys more about it when I get closer to knowing dates and have a cover to share.

In other Amy book world news, Wylt is going well so check it out if you dig gothic romance, and Cry of the Firebird is on a price drop for those who want grittier, urban fantasy with lots of Gods and monsters.

Also, if you want something short, steampunky and based in an alternative Australia check out my new short story a Women in Men’s Waistcoats.  It’s a lot of random fun.

Keep writing you crazy beautiful writers,

A xo

 

 

 

Origins of WYLT : The Blood Lake Chronicles

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Wylt’s launch is one week away! Thank you to all of the lovely ARC readers who have given me feedback in time for me to fix a few formatting mistakes so the finished copy is perfect.

This blog is going to be as spoiler free as possible but I wanted to share with you how Wylt came into being. Like many of the more interesting things I’ve done it started with a dare.

My best friend and I go through ‘Monster Porn’ stages where life and study becomes so full on that the only books we can consume are romance. Usually with monsters, sometimes with time travelling knights and aliens with questionable anatomy.

The below video by the wonderful Rachel Hollis is a pretty accurate representation of every conversation we have during our romance binge phases:

We were going through such a phase which included me complaining about how disappointing I’d found a top selling vampire romance when the bestie said, ‘You should write one.’ I laughed hard. I have romance elements in my stories but write a full-blown romance? That was a completely different genre. Then she said the magic words ‘I dare you.’ And I agreed to give it a shot.

Writing romance is a strange and wonderful experience. I recommend that every writer try it at least once. There is a definite formula to it but the things you can do within that formula are fantastic. Structurally it has a different beat to every other book I’ve written and I cannot thank JamiGold and her wonderful Beat Sheet Guides for keeping me from wandering off.

I knew I wanted to have a classic gothic feel but with a modern setting, I wanted vampires but a new take on them (I hope you like my new origin story) and I wanted an older female hero that was no nonsense. I was tired of reading stories of 20 something innocent (or highly damaged) girls that you find so often in such novels. I wanted someone real thrown into a world that she thought she knew and then slowly flip it on its head.

Removing all the fantasy elements from the story, the focus has a lot to do with family and the way they interact with each other, the roles that siblings and ourselves fall into. The deep obligations that transcend blood  and that bind people together.

I am a really big nerd when it comes to faerie and a character that had always haunted me was The Autumn Queen. She made her first appearance in a nightmare that I turned into a short story called The Red Shoes that you can find here. She’s never removed her claws from my imagination and I’d always intended to explore her story line. WYLT gave me the perfect opportunity to do that. It’s also given the chance to really explore Celtic themes (and in later books a few Arthurian) that I’ve always loved and wanted to write mash-ups of.

Music always plays a big role in my writing and helps give me a feel for the world in which I am playing in. I’ve released my WYLT playlist on Spotify for anyone who wants a soundtrack while they are reading the story. Its a pretty good mix of modern and classical (including a few waltzs that are mentioned in the novel) and is good at capturing many of my themes.

Pictures and art are also great at feeding my imagination for world building so I also have a massive Pinterest board that is covering all three of The Blood Lake Chronicles if you want to check it out.

My cover has been designed by the incredible Fiona Jayde who was extremely patient with my descriptions of what I was chasing.. ‘You know like old horror movies with the woman running away with a mansion in the background!’ She knew exactly what I wanted and has rendered it beautifully.

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WYLT is a mix of familiar and the new…there is a definite Jane Eyre and Beauty and the Beast vibe going on…but with enough new to keep it interesting.

To quote Rachel Hollis ‘You can pre-order the crap out of it‘ right here.

I hope you like it,

Love Amy and Duke (who does not understand Bookstagramming AT ALL.)

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Digital ARCs for Wylt !

Hello Readers,

I am run off my feet like a crazy person at the moment juggling work and a final assignment on the Dead Sea Scrolls but I wanted to stick my head in for five seconds and let you know I’ve put up an Exclusive ARC promotion for Wylt on Instafreebie!

I will be writing a proper post about Wylt closer to the date with various inspirations and what not but right now I am checking paperback formats and generally running about.

wylt2final-fjm_kindle_1800x2700Wylt is going to be out on the 10th of March (a paperback giveaway will be announced in a few weeks) but I would love to drum up some reviews on Good Reads so if you like the idea of a gothic romance that’s like the love child of Jane Eyre, Beauty and the Beast and a horde of blood sucking Fae…please click here and check it out!

 

 

 

 

WYLT Preview – An Origin Faerie Tale

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For the first Wylt preview I thought I would share a faerie tale, found in an ancient book in the library of the Gwaed Lyn estate….

During the beginning of the world, the Great Creator God of the Aos Si fashioned night with a moon and stars to brighten the dark sky, forming the Guardians of the Night and naming them the Unseelie. All things must balance, so Day was created, and the sun was born with a brightness and a warmth to illuminate and nourish all of the Aos Si, and the Guardians of the Light were called Seelie. In Day, the Creator also crafted shade, dark places that could hold the balance.

It was foretold the world would move in four great seasons and that the rule of these seasons would fall to the Guardians accordingly. Summer would be ruled by the warm light of the Seelie, and the dark, cold winter would be ruled by the Unseelie. During the time of the autumn, the Seelie would slowly relinquish its power to the rule of the Unseelie, just as with the coming of the spring the Unseelie would relinquish its power back to the Seelie. This was the Great Accord, and during the First Cycle of Summer the Seelie thrived becoming stronger, more beautiful and their magic powerful. But with power also came corruption, and as the summer began to wane the Seelie Court started to despair at the weakening of their magic. It was not long before their voices were shouting their distrust and discontentment at having to relinquish their rule to their Unseelie brethren.

Autumn began to move through the lands, the green that the Seelie cherished so dearly began to turn to gold, red and brown. Furious that the Unseelie were taking their power a great war ensued breaking the land and soaking it in the blood of both sides of the Fae.

In the final days of the Last Battle, with both sides nearing extinction, the Seelie Queen created a spell that would have the power to hold the remaining power in her court forever. She convinced her King to hold a court with the Unseelie with the promise of a peaceful discussion to try and come to a new accord. Then, as the two kings sat down together, the Queen of the Seelie took her husband’s sword and slew them.

The Queen knew that all things must be balanced and mixing the power of the two kings, she cast her curse over all of the Aos Si. The seasons within the lands would move no longer, sealing it into an eternal autumn, making it so she would never have to relinquish her power to Unseelie kind.

The Unseelie King was survived by three sons; Bleddyn the eldest and the heir to the title of Seren Du, the Black Star, Trahaearn and Gwaen. Taken by the Seelie, they were made hostage slaves to the Autumn Queen. Unlike the other Unseelie kindred, the princes were fair to look upon, and as they grew their pale white skin, soft black hair and bright eyes became admired by the court and the Autumn Queen.

To all, the three seemed compliant and content in their situation. They never flinched at the sneers and insults dealt to them by their enemies or fought back when they were abused by the Queens consort, Ryn Eurion.

Deep in their hearts, the princes were dreaming of escape and none more so than the eldest, Bleddyn Seren Du. In their chambers at night, he would tell his young brothers stories of their kingdom and of the great land through the portals, a land where there was no war against them, where the Autumn Queen had no power or influence. Bleddyn practiced his father’s magic in secret, teaching his younger brothers the secret powers of their kind, how best to fight the Seelie, and all the while, he planned their escape.

Knowing that the only way to protect his brothers was to be above suspicion, Bleddyn set about earning the favor of the Autumn Queen. There had long been whispers around the court that the Queen’s appetites had become insatiable and distorted in her proclivities since the death of the King, many fearing to become the object of her desire. Bleddyn began to pay the Queen attention until at a ball, Ryn had men hold him down, and they beat him. Through the heavy blows, Bleddyn continued to watch the Queen, his eyes burning with an unspoken promise.

“Why do you not look away though you are beaten for it, insolent slave?” she asked on the fourth day.

“My glorious, Queen, how could my eyes look at anything else?” he replied. That night, instead of being dragged back to a cell, Bleddyn was taken to the Queen’s chambers. Dismissing her attendants, the Autumn Queen took the Unseelie prince into her milk baths and gently tended to his wounds. He watched her silently with the same intensity that he wore during his beatings.

“You do not fear me,” she said, “You do not fear pain or retribution.”

“No, my lady,” he answered as she ladled the healing milk over his battered body. Her white fingers dug into the bruises on his arms. His breath sucked in sharply but he did flinch or pull away from her. Her red lips curled.

“Do you find the pain exciting, Unseelie?” she asked lifting herself up so that he could see the beads of milk dripping down the sloping curves of her breasts. Bleddyn grabbed the Queen by her long white neck, pinning her to the stone wall of the bath.

“Do you?” he demanded.

The Autumn Queen’s eyes flashed in anger, and she struck him, her nails opening his pale skin. He did not move as the crimson drops of blood fell to mar the white milk. Bleddyn watched her, his body towering over hers and the anger in her eyes melted under the heat of her own desire. She kissed him, biting his lips in her eagerness. Bleddyn allowed it only a few moments until he held her back firmly.

“No.”

The Queen was shocked, her fury growing inside of her. “I am your queen. I own the very breath in your body.”

“But you do not own my heart or soul,” Bleddyn whispered in her ear. “And if you take me unwillingly you will never know the secret to the greatest pleasure that only the Unseelie can give you. It is dark magic, and it has never been given to a Seelie before. It is not something you can take like you took our lands. It must be given.”

Bleddyn walked from the pool, leaving the Queen wondering what the secret magic could be, for the only thing she really loved was power.

From that night the Autumn Queen forbid any of the Court from touching the Unseelie princes. They no longer had to wear the chains and slave collars around their necks and hands in the ballrooms. Bleddyn acted no differently from this special allowance only to bow to her in silent thanks on behalf of his brothers.

This act sparked malcontent in many subjects for the Unseelie princes were beautiful, unusual creatures that they had enjoyed using for whatever pleasure they saw fit. All were afraid of the older prince, but the Queen’s edict had robbed them of their treasured entertainment.

As he knew she would, the Queen summoned Bleddyn two nights later. She was wearing a fine gossamer shift that accentuated, rather than hid the nakedness underneath it. Her attendants were dismissed, leaving her alone with him once more.

“Come sit beside me,” she commanded.

“I would rather stand, my queen,” answered Bleddyn politely.

The Queen’s eyes flared. “You would deny me this one small thing after the great favor I have shown you?”

“I am grateful, my queen, but the chambers that Lord Ryn has locked us in are very cramped. We enjoy being able to stand properly when we can.”

The Queen’s red brow furrowed as she got to her feet and walked slowly about him. She snapped her fingers and his threadbare shirt melted away. Bleddyn did not move as she scraped her long nails down his back.

“Why do you resist me so much, dark one? Why do you hold yourself back from the pleasure I offer you?”

“I mean no disrespect but it is my awe of you that I must control myself. The Unseelie lovemaking is far more passionate than the Seelie and I would not wish to harm the queen for fear her wrath would turn to my brothers. It is a far better thing to resist what you offer.”

“I will not harm your brothers if you lay with me,” she said as she put her hand in his long, black hair, pulling it hard as she kissed him. His hands gripped her hips roughly, lifting her up. He carried her over to her bed of red silks, pushing her down onto it. Gripping the front of her shift, he tore it in half. He bit her breast hard enough for her to cry out in sudden pain. Bleddyn let her go and got back to his feet. A bruise was already blossoming like a purple autumn flower on her pale skin.

“I am sorry, my queen, but I cannot come to you as I am. You are the greatest queen in the entire world. I will not touch you with my soiled hands and body. It would be insulting to you.”

“You insult me by denying me,” the Queen said, touching the bruise, “but this last request I will grant you.”

The Unseelie princes were moved that very night to one of the finest chambers in her court. There they had servants bring them hot water for baths and new clothes of the finest silks and velvets. An elaborate meal was brought to them, and the princes ate well before hiding their knives in the folds of their clothes, listening as Bleddyn laid out his plans to them.

The next night, they went to the ball, the younger princes given free rights to roam where they pleased. Bleddyn danced with the Autumn Queen and made her laugh with his observances of the dour-faced courtiers. When she retired, she took Bleddyn’s hand openly in front of her advisors and led him to her chambers.

“I have given what you asked for, Unseelie, now give yourself to me as promised,” the Autumn Queen demanded.

Bleddyn took the knife he had stolen from the banquet dinner and held it against her chest. The Queen gasped as he ran the flat side of the cool blade down her skin.

“You mean to kill me, Unseelie?” the Queen asked, laughter bubbling out of her.

With a steady hand, he slid the blade down the front of her jeweled bodice and cut the ties one by one until her body spilled free from it. She tried to move, but he held the blade to her throat, stilling her as he kissed her breast through her thin undergarment. Two quick flicks of his hand and the shoulders of her gown tore away. A thin line of blood welled up where the blade had caught her, and he quickly put his mouth over it, drinking a drop of her blood before it healed. The Queen kissed him, viciously.

“Tell me what the Unseelie magic is,” she demanded breathlessly.

“Can you not feel the spell beginning to move through you?” Bleddyn asked as he ran the blade between her breasts, shredding the fabric and leaving a line of welling blood. Her back arched as he licked it, her eyes clouding, unseeing of the small cuts he was making in her. He cut the skirt of her dress to shreds, the Queen trembling with fear and excitement to be in the hands of her armed enemy. Wherever she felt the cold touch of the blade was followed by the sensation of his tongue until she was dizzy with need.

Bleddyn felt strength returning to his limbs, the magic in the blood filling him. With every cut, he grew stronger, and the Queen, caught up in her own desire, grew weaker.

Every moment he spent with her, his brothers were making their way to their agreed meeting place. Taking strips of her ruined dress, he tied her arms above her head, her legs to the posts of her bed.

“You mean to make a prisoner of me, Unseelie? I could burn these bonds with a thought,” she mocked.

“I would never want to imprison you, my Queen. My power is no match for yours,” he said as he ran his long body along hers, making her shudder with anticipation. He gripped her hair in his hands, lifting her pale white neck up toward him.

“Do you want to know want to know the secret magic of the Unseelie, my Queen?” he whispered against her skin.

“Yes…yes, my prince, tell me,” she whispered, her eyes gleaming.

“Then you shall have it,” Bleddyn watched her face change in fear as his teeth lengthened. Before she could cry out, he bit hard into her exposed throat, sucking the scream from it.

In her blood, he saw all the wards, the guards and the ways to escape their underground prison. He saw the spells she had cast, felt her magic in every drop. He saw memories and drew the one of the night of his father’s death to him. He saw how Ryn Eurion had killed his mother and delivered the heart to the queen. He watched as she ate it, stealing all of his mother’s magic into her.

He bit harder, his urge to kill more potent than anything he felt before but he saw the magical ties she had within the palace itself. If she died, it would turn against them and he and his brothers would never escape.

He drained her until all of the youth shriveled out of her and her true age was revealed. Red hair turned to white, her plump lips and body shriveling underneath him. A single drop of blood he left in her before he let the body go.

Upon the wall hung the sword of this dead father and Bleddyn held out his hands, whispered a word and Widow’s Fury flew from its bonds and into his hand. He heard it call out to him for Seelie blood but he silenced it and placed a glamour spell upon it so none of his enemies could see it. He did not spare the Queen a glance as he left her chambers.

“The Queen asked not to be disturbed for the rest of the evening,” he instructed her guards and they shared a knowing smile.

Under the gaze of the Seelie courtiers and warriors, Bleddyn walked through the halls of the court and he and his brothers escaped through the supply tunnels. Using the Queen’s magic, he passed through the wards until they ran out into the crystal night. So overwhelmed they were to see the sky and stars again that they stood in awe.

“Come, my brothers, our new world awaits,” Bleddyn said and they ran through forests to a doorway between the worlds. Not knowing where they were going or what lay before them the three brothers took each other’s hands and walked through the spaces of the world until they found the land of the creatures called Man.

They were free from the rule of the Autumn Queen but she did not die as Bleddyn had hoped. She recovered her strength and sent warriors in between the worlds to hunt and kill the Unseelie that evaded her and the prince that tricked her.

She hunts them to this day in her relentless pursuit to try to reclaim what was stolen from her: her pride, her dignity and her heart.

Liked this preview? Pre-order Wylt here