Fast-action October for debut urban fantasy author (that’s me)

Fantasy author Louise Cusack presents me with flowers to celebrate the launch of The Blood She BetrayedIn a week’s time, I’ll finally be able to hold my novel, The Blood She Betrayed, in my hands, as I arrive in Brisbane for the start of its official round of book launches and author signings.

Its rather surreal. One spends years working on a story that is special to them, years waiting for publishers to get back to them and, as if the fabric of the universe has been ripped open, there’s this last minute bolt to the finish line as your Publisher formats pages, makes last minute changes and you spend hours reading proofs, and not even getting to see the final proof, before your baby is sent to press. And then you’re getting flowers and congratulatory emails/phone calls from friends – like my beloved fantasy author Louise Cusack (above).

This month, I’m sDean J Andersonharing my book launch journey with WriteFest buddy Dean J Anderson, whose adult urban fantasy novel, Unnaturals, will be officially launched at the same time as mine, along with Melbourne identity Jane Clifton’s crime novel, Flush, at GenreCon at the State Library of Queensland on Saturday, October 12.

In the lead-up to the official launch, Dean and I will also attend special Dark Creature book-signings and author events in Brisbane. Locations include Mary Ryan’s Milton (our major night event) and Dymocks at both the Carindale and Chermside Shopping Centres, all on Thursday, October 10.

I’ll return to Bundaberg in time for my local book launch at the Bundaberg Regional Library at 6.15pm on Wednesday, October 16. If you’d like to come along, please join me. Tickets are free but you must RSVP by telephoning the library on 4130 4140.

Cher’s Calendar of Events for October (so far):

Thurs, Oct 10: 10am: Dark Creatures Book Signing Event at Dymocks Carindale, Carindale Shopping Centre, Brisbane. I’ll be joining forces with urban fantasy author Dean J Anderson for all Dark Creatures events at Carindale, Chermside and Milton.

Thurs, Oct 10: 2pm: Dark Creatures Book Signing Event at Dymocks Chermside, Chermside Shopping Centre, Brisbane.

Thurs, Oct 10: 6.15pm: Dark Creatures Author Event, Mary Ryan’s Milton, Brisbane, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start. Tickets are $5/person to cover drinks and nibblies (but your children are free). Come along, chat with epic people and get your book personally signed. For bookings, please telephone Mary Ryan’s Milton on 3510 5000.

Sat, Oct 12: GenreCon, Brisbane. The Blood She Betrayed paperback will be officially launched at GenreCon at the State Library of Queensland, Brisbane, at lunchtime. Please email me via cheryse(at)quietdawn(dot)org if you’d like to join me for this special celebration.

Wed, Oct 16: Bundaberg launch of The Blood She Betrayed, Bundaberg Regional Library, 49 Woondooma Street, from 6.15pm until 8pm. Please telephone the Bundaberg Library on 4130 4140 to confirm your spot. This event is free but you will not be allowed in unless you book a ticket.

Sat, Oct 19: Presenting five children’s workshops at the Carinbundi Children’s Crush Day, CQUniversity, Bundaberg. Tickets can be booked online.

Sat, Oct 26: Book-signing at Mary Ryan’s Hervey Bay, 10am until noon. Come in, have a coffee and a chat and get your book personally signed. The Blood She Betrayed makes a terrific and personal Christmas present for teenagers and 20-somethings.

Killing two eagles with one stone

KILLING two birds with one stone is always magical and often goes hand-in-hand. For example, why mop the floors unless you’ve already locked up the caterpillar and his muddy shoes? Or why destroy a demon unless you also crush his coven and lair (after all, if you don’t, another heart-devouring creature just takes up residence there).

So it was satisfying to return from Sydney yesterday, having achieved two complete missions: I attended the inaugural GenreCon at Rydges Parramatta AND visited the State Library of New South Wales where my kick-butt heroine Shahkara fights off warriors and demons within its sandstone walls, while searching for the illusive Death Lantern (Book I of the Heart Hunter series, due out with Clan Destine Press next year).

Friends and fellow authors Sandy Curtis and Dean J. Anderson joined me on our jaunt to the State Library, where we were delighted to be given a free tour by the enthusiastic and dedicated Rosie. She took us through many of the rooms of the original library, the Mitchell Wing, and shared with us its fascinating history. Highlights included Shakespeare’s Room (check out Cookie Monster and I sitting on a chair made from wood from Shakespeare’s garden) and the delightful statue of Trim, Captain Matthew Flinders’ cat. It was fascinating to see the scenes of my book come to life before my eyes as I trod the library’s marble floors – and then sussed out the entrances and carparks for Shahkara’s appropriate get-away.

The best treat was yet to come – and it wasn’t even my stone! The incorrigible Dean J. Anderson met with Publisher Lindy Cameron that night and accepted a contract with Clan Destine Press for his riveting Dark Urban Fantasy novel (title yet to be revealed). Yay, Dean! This is exciting news for a Bundaberg Writers Club member who has worked very hard and been dedicated to the craft of writing for some years now. I can’t wait to see his book published late 2013/early 2014.

Cheryse Durrant & Deborah Green at GenreCon 2012Finally, GenreCon surpassed our expectations. This professional event delivered the latest industry info while stirring our creative juices. There was also a lot of fun and laughter, like when Daniel O’Malley kissed Kate Eltham during the Great Debate. It was fab to catch up with old and new friends – and we’re all looking forward to another fabulous GenreCon gathering in Brisbane next year.

How did you spend your weekend? Was it writing novels, scrubbing toilets or fighting off demons? Maybe you’d like to share how you wish you’d spent your weekend? I hope it’s a great week for everyone.

Practical Magic… rituals in our writing life

The flame whispered to life within my hands. Leaping from matchstick to wick, it sealed my fate for 2012. Not that I have a witch’s powers (and not that I want them, except to zap the odd workmate into a walrus or fade the aches from my Nana’s bones), but there is a kind of magic within us and it can be found through the art of ritual.

Chilean-born author Isabel Allende inspired me 13 years ago when she described to Sharon Krum in Qantas The Australian Way how she locked herself in her writer’s cottage on January 8 each year and summoned her muses with the aid of candles, incense and meditation.

Such a ritual fast-tracks two early objectives for a writer – setting a fixed date to launch their writing for the year and creating a moment in time where they can tap into their creative powers. This is no easy task in our fast-paced society of digital deadlines and “omnipressive” internet. It’s hard to find a time or a place to be still. Few of us have the luxury of a writer’s cottage, or a quiet place to write, but we can make a promise with ourselves – setting a time where we light our creativity and mentally shut out the noise of the world. Making that promise is possibly the greatest gift that we can give ourselves as writers.

This year, I am making my writing promise two days earlier than Allende’s sacred January 8. The Queensland Writers Centre is hosting a Down the Rabbit Hole marathon (30,000 words in three days) from January 6, so I’m lighting my candles and joining the silent fray.

Thirty thousand words in three days, I can’t do that, I’ll be late, cries the inner rabbit. But the magic of Down the Rabbit Hole isn’t the final word count. It’s having the courage to set a date with your passion. This is a three-day opportunity to focus on your story and write what sentences may come, even if it only results in a dozen paragraphs. There are no shortcuts in any game, especially publishing, but when we dedicate real time to our art, our work grows in depth and intensity until it becomes something we’re proud of and hopefully something we’re able to share with others. The only way you can fail is to never start.

I now understand Australian author Kim Wilkins’ words that getting published is exciting but nothing makes a writer happier than actually writing. If we are courageous enough to put aside that time, we will find happiness. Every day.