Friday, March 30, 2018

Songlines - The Sentinels of Eden: Book One by Carolyn Denman #clean #YA #fantasy



Songlines


by 

Genre: Clean YA Fantasy
Release Date: August 20th 2016

Summary:




We belong to the Earth, Lainie-Bug. We were sent here in human form for a reason. If you don’t know what to do, then just be human.
 Right. Like that was ever a simple thing to do.
In the heart of the Wimmera region of Australia, an ancient gateway is kept hidden and safe by a creature so powerful that even the moon would obey her commands – at least it would if she had any idea that she wasn’t just a normal girl about to finish high school.
When a mining company begins some exploratory sampling near Lainie’s sheep farm, a family secret is revealed that makes her regret not having learned more about her heritage.
 What she’s told by their farm hand, Harry, can’t possibly be true, but then the most irritating guy in class, Bane, begins to act even more insane than ever, until she can no longer deny that something very unusual is going on.
When Harry doesn’t return from his quest to seek help to protect the area from the miners, Lainie sets out to discover the truth of her heritage, and of the secret she’s been born to protect.


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About the Author:



Carolyn lives on a hobby farm on the outskirts of Melbourne with her husband, two daughters, and her parents. The fact that she always has at least three of her pets following her around at any one time in no way means that she is the fairest in the land. They probably just like her taste in music.
As well as writing stories for Aurealis and Andromeda Spaceways magazines, Carolyn is also the author of the YA Australian fantasy series The Sentinels of Eden.

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My Writing Process

By Carolyn Denman

I thought I might share with you some of the processes I have for my creative writing. First of all, no, I did not want to be a writer ‘from the moment I could hold a pen’ like so many other authors. In fact, the sheer dread I used to feel with anything at school that resembled writing my own piece (especially essays) had always been more than enough to put me off writing anything I didn’t have to. Seriously, ask my family and friends when they last received a birthday card from me. The idea of trying to come up with something witty and heartfelt? So not my thing. Or so I thought. Until I started reading more YA. As a reader, I always adored fantasy, and good, creative sci-fi. I still can’t get enough of dragons. Then when my daughter finished Harry Potter and started grabbing at books to relieve her ‘Harry Hangover’, I began to delve into more YA fantasy, so I could recommend suitable titles (as you know, there’s YA, and then there’s YA that you’d never let your fourteen-year-old read). Well, one thing YA tends to do well is to give you that juicy heart-squeeze when the guy and the girl start to really flirt with each other effectively (and yes, I can get just as squeezy with same-sex flirtation – it’s about how well it’s written, not what genders are involved).

After reading a few great tales, I couldn’t help imagining what sort of One True Pairing I would like to see in a story. Exotic eye colour? Sure, why not. Vivacious protagonist who draws the introverted guy out of his broody shell? Of course! More importantly, I began to imagine conversations between them. Petty arguments. Sweet understated compliments. Actions speaking louder than words, and above all, a deep respect for each other that shines through their pseudo-nasty behaviour. So I wrote those down. Just the fun scenes. Lo and behold, I enjoyed it so much that I got addicted. I think what I’m trying to say about my writing process is that it has to start with the most fun parts. I don’t believe in splitting writers between ‘plotters’ and ‘pantsers’. All writers fly by the seat of their pants to begin with. Even if it’s only in the early dreaming stages of a story. The only difference is that the pantsers like to fully write out as many ideas as possible while they’re on a roll. The plotters jot those down in point form. Eventually they both get to the next step of re-structuring the story to tidy it up. Those we know as ‘plotters’ just don’t write their ideas out as fully detailed scenes first. I like to do a mix of both. I write the bits I’m most excited about, and this provides the backbone of my plot plan. That way my plot tends to be driven by the characters, and by what they would logically do. The alternative is to plan what exciting action you want (and if writing action scenes is what excites you the most, then this will work well for you) but then you have to find logical reasons for the characters to end up in those situations. Whenever I try that, the character’s motivations can seem a bit weak. Of course, the downside of my method is that when my characters take the most logical actions, they tend to solve all their problems with absolutely no effort. Well, of course they do. My characters are smart people. It’s a good thing I have such a nefarious streak, and can throw dangerous and heart-breaking challenges at them.

I tell you this though – writing any form of crime or mystery into a story is really hard (and all good stories have at least an element of mystery). Not only do you have to plot what happens, but then you have to hide the truth from the readers, and from the characters. You need to see the sequence of events unfold from each character’s point of view so every action they take, and every word they say is logical. Of course, some of them will be keeping secrets, or lying. It’s an awful lot to keep straight in your head. Getting it even slightly wrong can lead to your protagonist missing a really obvious clue, and no one has patience for that. Nothing puts a reader off as fast as when the hero does something un-intelligent. For me, personally, if a main character ever does something really dumb without a good reason, I quickly lose respect for them and don’t feel like they deserve to defeat the bad guy. Harsh, I know. But the next time you read a story or watch a show you don’t like and you’re not sure why, ask yourself if the main character did something dumb. I need my heroes to be intellectually smarter than me. The smarter they are, the more I respect them. Apparently I’m quite shallow that way because I don’t care if they’re emotionally clueless (which can be endearing) or physically inept, or lacking in any of the other Howard Gardener categories for intelligence, so long as they are more clever than I am. Good thing I’m not at all like that in real life!

Yes, I see the problem. How can I write a character more clever than I am? Easy. I fake it. I get to work backwards by knowing what’s going to happen and why, and then have my heroine cleverly solve the mystery from just an overheard piece of gossip, the colour of the curtains and a couple of clues on a map. I also get to take an hour to research the answer to a question and then have my heroine rattle it off like it was obvious. The best thing about all this? It makes me feel vicariously clever.

So, in a nutshell, my writing process can be summed up thusly: I lose myself in the early dreaming stages of my story, indulging in the heart-squeezy moments; I develop those moments into conversations and scenes, which help to determine character traits; I weave in all the action and drama I’d like to see, and structure it into an interesting story; lastly I flesh out my characters to make them as clever and funny and compassionate (if they’re goodies) or malicious (if they’re villains) as possible.

Got it? Excellent. Go write something down. Just one scene. Just one flirtatious conversation that squeezes at your heart. But be warned, it can be awfully addictive.




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