Blasting into the Past

Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres, and not just because I enjoy writing it! It has to be one of the most wide ranging and encompassing genres available. From Europe to the Americas, to Asia, and Africa, even the Pacific, Hist Fic can tell tales of any culture or nation in the world, add into that thousands of years of time to work with and there’s a smorgasbord of potential stories to be explored.

My favorite thing about Hist Fic is learning about other cultures, how they developed, and why people within them do and feel in current times due to those historical influences. There’s so many sub genres within Hist Fic, like Regency, WWI & WWII, American Civil War, but outside of those popular western histories is Native American, South American, Ancient History, Chinese, Japanese and so many more. You can literally travel the world in Hist Fic and meet incredible people that are mere blips in Western culture.

Historical Fiction can also include Mythology. This sub genre is where things get interesting as this too includes myths from all around the world. While most people think of Greece or Rome, I have read some amazing books about Hindus, Native Americans, and Celts. Even Disney with Moana has ventured into this realm.

So, here is some of my favorite Historical Fiction. Click on the links below to see their details and my reviews. What are your favorites, and why do you enjoy Hist Fic?

Mrs. Poe,  The Woman on the Painted Horse,  SarahThe Sword of Attila

Fire of the Covenant,  Horrible Histories,  The Cenote

Souls EntwinedEchoes of Dark and Light

 

Characters

So I’m writing this up while sitting at my desk at work…. which is why this will start out so plain, but I’ll add pics when I get home. My life is madness, and writing for me has come to an abrupt halt. I do have snippets of time to write here and there, but it’s because of my characters that I can’t.

Characters are the heart and soul of any story. Whether they be a human, an animal, or a talking object, without characters, all your doing is compiling a list or non-fiction. Even then, non-fiction often has characters! Characters breath life and purpose into a story, giving it direction, emotion, and reaction.

Because characters provide the pivot point for works of fiction, I believe that their integrity is essential. I’ve always gone a bit crazy with my casts, building way too many characters to manage, which has forced me to write up family trees etc. Keeping track of characters appearance, backstories, and families is only the first part. For the Kiya Trilogy I had wrote a family tree with descriptions of each character beside. For my Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles I have a massive excel spreadsheet with several pages, one for each of the seven books.

But the most important part is getting to know the characters. It’s this step that has prevented me from writing much lately. I love to spend time with my characters, getting my head-space into theirs. Whether it’s while listening to music while going for a walk, or driving, putting myself into the character’s place to discover how they want their story told, how they would react to situations and people around them, makes a story authentic.

Stories need these authentic characters, flaws and all, without political agendas, because real people are that way. Think about the people you know, even yourself, and no one is perfect. No one does anything exactly how they should, our how you would. Take Kiya for example; she makes reckless decisions, but I took the time to get to know her and understood her drive and everything she did was out of love for her family to the point of being self-deprecating. But also, all characters come from a place of selfishness, just like all humans do. It’s that inward perspective that drives all of us, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but understanding that will help us to see the perspectives needed for the characters. What do they see, how do they perceive it, how do their values, the way they were raised, their beliefs, cultural customs and norms, affect how they react or even don’t react. It’s up to you, the writer, to get that head-space on, to take the time to get out of your bubble and into the character’s. It’s always clear when an author inserts themselves into a narrative, it happens when you suddenly feel forced out of the story. None of us want that. And sometimes, a character does something that makes us uncomfortable, and that’s okay, because that means you’re making them real.

So, take your time to understand who you are writing about. Your readers will love the story more for it.

Katie Teller

Katie Teller aka Katie Hamstead is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 100,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitterfacebook, instagram or at her own blog.

***Check out her Pitching comp here or on twitter under #SonofaPitch

 

 

Review: Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon by Rena Rocford

26829865 (2)From Goodreads:
Allyson fights acne, not trolls. As an inhaler-carrying member of the asthma society, she just wants to meet the father who turned her mother into a paranoid, move-across-the-nation freak. Now she’s trying to fit in at yet another school, but for the first time in her life, she has a best friend, Beth. When Allyson accidentally spits fire at kidnappers in the mall, she realizes why her father isn’t in the picture: she’s half dragon. Her acne? Emerging scales. Her asthma? The side effects of her dragon’s fire breath. Instead of freaking out, unflappable Beth reveals her own troll heritage and explains how things work with the supernatural creatures hiding within the modern world of smartphones and skyscrapers.

When trolls kidnap a unicorn, Beth gets blamed. Allyson is determined to prove Beth’s innocence and keep her friend off the unicorn chopping block. When they start looking for the kidnappers, they get a call from the last person they expect: Allyson’s father. He tries to warn them off, but he’s been put under a spell by the kidnappers to keep the victims from escaping. Nothing short of death can stop him. Now Allyson must choose between killing the father she’s always dreamed of, or letting her best friend die for a crime she didn’t commit.

My Thoughts:
I first saw this in our Pitcharama contest. It intrigued me back then, and so I waited for this release eagerly.
This story didn’t disappoint! Action packed, full of adventure, friendship, and a sassy heroine, this novel with an extremely long title that really grabs your attention, has the makings of a fun read for anyone seeking something for pure pleasure.
Allyson was an absolute delight to follow as she rushed through a steep learning curve. She reacted naturally, and often humorously to the situations thrust upon her, and with a heart full of fierce loyalty.
A clean read I’d definitely recommend!

Katie Teller

Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 50,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitterfacebook or at her own blog.

The Month of Love: James

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To celebrate the Month of Love, Aussie Owned & Read are giving our followers exclusive content! It may be a love letter between characters, a special date, or a scene you’ve never read before.

Today, Katie Hamstead is giving an exclusive alternate perspective of Deceptive Cadence. With the Cadence Duology told through Cadence’s eyes, this scene is through James’. This is the moment he realized he loved her.

Deceptive Cadence

Twelfth grade. Man, the years have gone fast. Scanning the classroom, I took in the other kids in my grade. Some I’d been with for years, some I’d never talked to, and others I’d become close to over the last year.

Having physics first thing on Monday could be the ultimate form of torture through boredom. But Cadence was across the hall, starting her biology class. After the swimming carnival last week, I’d need to watch out for her. Something was up, and I had a feeling I knew what. Becca was up to something.

Movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention. In the hallway, Cadence stood, smiling in at me. I glanced at my teacher, who was busy helping some other students, and  I headed out the door. One of the perks of being a senior; leaving without needing permission.

Cadence grinned as she took my hand and we headed out of the science corridor. I loved when she got in these playful moods. She was usually such a stickler for the rules when it came to classes and school. I was pretty sure it was because she didn’t want to disappoint her dad.

“James,” she whispered as we slipped around a corner. “Bio first thing Monday sucks.”

I grinned, touching her soft cheek. Everything about Cadence was so soft. “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about Physics. Wanna make out to break the monotony?”

She shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.”

“Sweet.”

I planted my lips firmly against hers. Her lips, true to form, were so soft, and tasted like her favorite strawberry chap-stick. I slid my fingers into her hair, again, which was so soft, and placed my other hand in the dip of her back. I pulled her closer, holding her tight. If I could, I’d never let this girl go. Sometimes I wished we were in the same grade so I could go to classes with her.

“Mr. Gordon.”

Cadence shoved me off with a gasp at the vice principal’s voice. His timing sucked balls. “Hey, Mr. T.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere?” He folded his arms over his pale blue business shirt and tipped his head toward the building.

“I’m good right here.”

“James.” Cadence turned bright red and pushed out of my arms. Stupid vice principal ruined everything.

“Get back to class, both of you.”

Cadence muttered something about the bathroom and disappeared in the direction of the girls’ toilets. I watched her go, and edged after her.

“James.” Mr. Turnball stepped in front of me. “You should probably keep that kind of behavior off the school grounds.”

I rolled my eyes. “It’s not like I’m smoking or drinking, sir.”

“Yes, I am glad you stopped doing those things, but let’s keep this winning streak up, eh?”

“Fine,” I grumbled and turned back toward the labs.

In class, I couldn’t stop thinking about Cadence. I shut my eyes, remembering the summer together, her skin turning brown under the sun on the beach or at the pool, the late night making out in our backyards to the sounds of cicadas. I’d never had a more perfect summer, and it was all because of her.

It was weird, feeling the way I did. The girls I’d been with in the past were just fun, fleeting, and lacked any meaning to me. But Cadence was more than all of that. I trusted her more than I’d ever trusted anyone, and the way she looked at me sometimes, with those big, dark blue eyes, man, I was a goner.

As I headed out to my next class, I glanced in at her. She grinned and hurried out to meet me. “What’s up next?”

“P.E.,” I answered, taking in her bright face. I knew there were girls around that were just as pretty as her, but there was something about her, something about the way she smiled, the familiarity of the freckles across her nose, that made her outshine everyone else.

“What’s up with you?” she asked, elbowing me in the ribs. “You’re unusually quiet. Turnball give you a lecture?”

“Nah.” I brushed her hair back over her shoulder. “I’m having trouble waking up. I think I may have fallen asleep in class.”

“I wouldn’t put it past you.”

“Brat.” I flicked her ear and she laughed.

And right at that moment, as she smiled up at me, it hit me. I was in love with Cadence. Like for real in love. Not just yeah, she’s my awesome, hot girlfriend, but I could see myself with her forever. I never wanted to live without her.

I gave her a long kiss as she tried to leave me to go to her own class, and she pushed me away with a giggle. “You’re so out of it today. I’ll see ya after class.”

She waved as she turned toward the main building and I stood watching her go. I’m in love with her, and it’s the best feeling in the world. I might have been only seventeen, but I knew. The realization came without fanfare or fireworks, or any crazy explosive moment, but I knew Cadence was it. I’d never love anyone else the way I loved her.

 

Katie Teller

Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 50,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitterfacebook or at her own blog.

Life Cycle of Book Reviews

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Book reviews. Such an essential part of an author’s existence. They give an author validation and confidence, and they can make the author feel like utter failure. But I have noticed certain patterns with the life cycle of reviews.

Book release! Yay!

Here’s when you get a solid number of four and five star reviews. This is so great! These reviews come from fans, friends, family, and fellow authors the author is in contact with. They also come from carefully selected reviewers who were approached before the release with ARCs. All of these people went in with a desire to read the book. Yay!

Soon we see the slammers…

Yes, with all this positive attention, the trolls emerge. They see a high rating, and pick it up in search of a way to pick it apart. Yes, people do this. It’s crazy, but that’s life. An author is best ignoring these reviews, and taking them as proof that the book is getting enough attention to attract those wanting to tear it down.

Around this time too, the Netgalley reviewers start rolling in. In Netgalley, these reviews seem to come in extremes. They love it or hate it. I honestly think trolls patrol the site, but luckily, more honest people head there than they do. I’ve picked up some beloved reviewers through Netgalley.

After about 3 months…

Things start to stabilize here. you get the mid range reviews of three and four stars, while still getting five stars and the odd two. Usually by this point the one star hate diminishes.

After 6 months…

If things are still rolling nicely, these reviews usually stay at 3+ star ratings, and very few are people connected with the author in any way. Rarely are they from requests or Netgalley.

What are your observations and experiences with reviews?

Katie Teller

Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 10,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitterfacebook or at her own blog.

How Do I Become A Writer?

I get asked this question a lot, especially by my “non” writer friends. I think it’s interesting because I know it secretly means How do they become a writer? I’m also fairly certain most of the people who ask me haven’t read my books, but that’s another issue at this point.

So I’ll begin with one thing: a burning need to write a story. Then another, then another. This need needs to be more than just an idea. You need to write it down, hash out the plot, the twists and turns, develop the characters.

No time? Congrats, I don’t have time either. I’m a mother and wife, which in themselves are crazy busy gigs, I have a baby and almost five year old, have church and family commitments, and work. Yes, my work is mostly edits, but that leaves very little time for actually writing, and before I received my first contract, I was working in an office part time. Not to mention, I’m a female and put a heck of a lot of pressure on myself.

So no time? If you’re serious about writing, you’ll find time. Please don’t insult me and every other writer out there by asking this.

Next: Remember your first story won’t be the next Harry Potter. There’s a reason why we have the term “first draft.” Working in submissions, I’ve seen a lot of newbies submit. It’s cute, really it is, and I try to send them something constructive for feedback. Yes, please, for the first round get all your ideas down. Better out than in. But after that, get online, join in writers groups, read blogs, make some friends who can critique with you and refine your art. Like anything else out there, there are rules and styles for writing, and these are there to fit the trends and reader expectations. Trust me, you want your readers to be happy.

Once you’ve written that manuscript and polished it to a shine, then you can look into querying. I started by getting involved with competitions. This way I could get great feedback on my query, and I met other writers at the same stage as me. We worked together, and I’d say most, if not all, the people I met during that time have a book deal of some form.

But you’ll need to know a few things.

1. You will be rejected. Over, and over, and over, and over…

2. Know what you’re looking for. Do you want an agent? If so, don’t sign with just any agent. Know who is good, what agencies have positive/negative reputations, who actually gets big 5 publisher deals (some agencies have little to none of these) etc.

If you choose to go through a press, know the same about them, are they reputable? Do their books sell?

Also make sure you read over any contract you consider thoroughly. You don’t want to be blindsided by contract clauses you missed.

So there you have it. Sounds simple enough, right? With hard work and patience, along with frustration and a thick skin, you can get there. There are plenty of writers out there, but the authors are the ones who soldier on and work through the trials.

Katie Teller

Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 10,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitterfacebook or at her own blog.

Author Interview: Cassandra Page

Going through our interviewed authors, I noticed the absence of an interview of our very own Cassandra Page! I had to rectify this, so here we are today! Cass is one of those super supportive, hard working types, and has her trilogy out, plus another novel on the way. So with no further ado, here’s Cassandra!

Cassandra Page

  1. Tell us a little about you.

I could cut and paste my author biography here, but that feels a little bit like cheating. So instead, let’s go with this: I’m a long-time nerd, who has been role-playing since her teens and still has a weekly tabletop game even though she should have grown up years ago. At this stage it doesn’t seem likely, though. I’m a single mother to a bright little boy, having done the dreary marriage/divorce thing. (I don’t recommend it unless you have to.) I have a weakness for good coffee and chocolate, and an abhorrence of bad coffee and chocolate. I’m an introvert who would prefer to spend her time curled up with a book, a pen and paper, or a colouring book, rather than go to a noisy party full of strangers. I’m a public service editor, so I spend a lot of time reading boring reports and have opinions on hyphens (yes please), the Oxford comma (where required) and semicolons (not just for winky emoticons).

I think that about covers it!

  1. You currently have The Isla Inheritance Series available. Tell us a little about the series and how you came up with the concept.

Actually, sadly, Isla’s Inheritance is currently unavailable. The small press that published it is closing its doors this month, and so the trilogy has been pulled from sale. I’m currently working on getting it ready to self-publish, with shiny new covers and a new feel. One of the things about publishing through a US press was that some of the Australianisms got toned down in the editing process — entirely reasonable at the time, but I’m re-editing them to correct that. I love my Australianisms.

But to answer your actual question, Isla’s Inheritance is a trilogy about an Australian girl named Isla (surprise!) who lives with her aunt and cousins here in Canberra. Her father immigrated here when she was a baby after her mother died … or so he has always told her. During the course of the series, Isla discovers her mother is actually an aosidhe, a member of the high fae: the cruel elfin overlords of the various fae races. Her father fled to Australia to escape her, but loves her still. Isla needs to navigate a fae world she’s never heard of before in order to keep herself and her loved ones safe. But with kissing.

  1. LD_CoverEbook_Fina_smllYour next book, Lucid Dreaming is due for release soon. When will that be and what can you tell us about it?

Lucid Dreaming is scheduled for release on 3 November. As I write this, the Kindle ebook is available for pre-order, and I’m hoping to have links for the other retailers soon.

Melaina, the protagonist, has a few things in common with Isla: she also lives in Canberra, and she is also only half-human – although her non-human half is Oneiroi, or dream spirit. That is something that had always been impossible, for rather obvious anatomical reasons; her birth caused a significant amount of consternation among the Oneiroi and caused her non-human father to go into hiding rather than reveal how it had happened…

Lucid Dreaming is a story for older readers; while Isla’s Inheritance is suitable for teens, Melaina’s story is darker and, well, has a few steamy moments. I’m currently preoccupied with trying to figure out how to stop my mother from getting hold of a copy. 😉

  1. What types of books do you read?

I usually read speculative fiction: mainly urban fantasy, but with some high fantasy, steampunk and sci-fi thrown in. I’ve also started reading a fair smattering of contemporary in the last couple of years, partly because several of my very talented author friends write it, and partly because I’ve been doing the Australian Women Writers Challenge, which has forced me to diversify. I just finished a devastating historical, The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth, and am still reeling.

  1. Do you have any advice for novice writers?

Write now, edit later.

I’ve read a lot of books and blog posts about writing, and when I was drafting my first novel I spent a fair bit of time thinking – no, obsessing – about all the things I was doing “wrong”. For example, I knew my first chapter had issues. I spent a lot of time worrying about that, and tinkering with it, rather than continuing to draft the book. As a result, writing that first draft took over a year. And it wasn’t until I’d received some valuable beta feedback and gained some critical distance from my work – something you can only get through time and practice – that I was able to see the issues and fix them.

  1. Tell us about your writing habits.

I wish I could say I wrote every day, but that would be a lie. I usually only write two or three times a week. To keep myself on track, I use a weekly word goal instead. With my most recent manuscript, that was 2000 words, although often it’d be higher when I had to catch up due to disruptions. All three Isla’s Inheritance books came out during the drafting process, so I was somewhat distracted!

I don’t write to music or anything like that. I prefer the house to be quiet, although the distant chatter of the TV is okay if I’m trying to get work done while the boy is awake. It’s terrible parenting, I know – but I tell myself that it’s good for him to see me role-modelling values like persistence, and following your dreams. (Seems legit.)

  1. If you were one of the characters in your book/s which one would you be and why?

I wish I could say Melaina – she is sassy, confident and a little bit punk. She’s what I wished I was when I was a teenager. But, if I’m truthful, I’m closer to Emma: the bespectacled, socially awkward girl who runs the séance for Isla in the first chapter of Isla’s Inheritance. I’m also a bit like Isla herself, in her sensibleness and, well, squareness – although Isla isn’t a nerd.

I need to write a book with a nerdy main character. *writes that down*

  1. If you could live and write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I love Canberra but, if I could, I’d live somewhere close to the beach, where I can go for a walk along the rocks with my son, or sit on the dunes and watch the waves while I contemplate a plot problem.

  1. If you had one wish (something personal) what would it be?

It’s a bit of a cliché, because most writers probably say this, but I wish I earned enough from my writing so that I could support myself and my boy without having to work my day job. I enjoy what I do, but working around everything else means I’m such a slow writer. Also, being able to collect my son from school every day (and write in peace while he’s there) would be a real privilege.

Bio

Cassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra, Australia’s bush capital, with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat — despite being allergic to cats. She has loved to read since primary school, when the library was her refuge, and loves many genres — although urban fantasy is her favourite. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?

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Katie Teller

Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 10,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitterfacebook or at her own blog.