puzzles doors

It’s been almost exactly four years since I packed up my life in Canberra and moved back home to Brisbane. The main reason was to support my family, my dad especially. While I’ve been here, he’s had one or two scares and two minor strokes, so I can say for sure I don’t regret that move. But he’s stabilised in the past two years or so, and I thank God for that every day.

So why am I reflecting on this now? You may have seen my recent post about how my friend and I updated my resume with a puzzle. If you did, you may have guessed that I was making some changes in my life.

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Now that I’ve gone on about the more airy-fairy aspects of finding your voice, I thought I’d share how I found my own voice in my writing.

This might not be for everyone, but I found mine by writing a weekly blog-style article at Magnificent Nose. It could be about anything, from more philosophical thoughts on self-confidence, to a light-hearted piece on finding a new rice cooker. Point is, it was about my life and my things dear to me, which let the voice flow without too much thought on my end.

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This is something that I’ve seen asked so many times, and I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring (as though the ring wasn’t already overflowing!). Voice (and by extension, style) is such an intangible concept, so hard to explain beyond, “Something compelling about the writing that makes me want to read on.”

I think the trouble comes precisely when we attempt to define what makes voice. It’s unique to each individual, and though it may be very different between our characters, it’s still something that’s very much you. So, how do you go about finding it if you don’t even know what you’re looking for?

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Featured Image: Scott.Webb

I know, it’s been almost a year since my last post. A lot has happened in that time, not least of which my novel has changed completely. Instead of being set in that kind of WWII period where one nation has taken over the surrounding nations, I’ve shifted the timeline back to before that happened. So this will be the lead-up to that period.

Why? That’s a good question. It all started because I wanted to write a short background piece on one of the main characters in Broken Blade, when then became a novel in its own right. I decided I loved it enough to want to focus on it instead. So instead of seeing a fallen assassin, we see him growing up, and the events that led to the fall. A tragedy, to be sure, but I’m hoping to avert that and turn it into more of a redemption ending.

Will we see the original characters from Broken Blade? Not in that novel. As to whether the events in Broken Blade still happen, I’m also tossing up on that. It seems a little too dark for the note of hope that I want to end on.

For anyone who’s curious, a snippet from the beginning of the new novel is below. Enjoy!

My beginning has always been the source of wild rumour and speculation, so let me clear things up. I was not summoned by arcane ritual from the depths of the Endless Chasm, where the Great Father banished the Dark Ones at the beginning of time. Neither was I sewn together from shadows cast by the full moon, and breathed into being by the ghastly Hag, foul shadow of the life-giving Mother. And I most certainly did not claw my way out of my mother’s womb in a bloodthirsty frenzy.

No, I was born in the usual way, to an ordinary woman—though I would say she was extraordinary, such is my undoubtedly overwrought nostalgia—in a small village on the mountainous border of Capraeus. My mother was the village’s herbalist, and not given to the magic arts in any way.

I wish I could say I remember more about my mother. There are fuzzy memories of my hands stained green from crushed herbs, and her low, warm laugh as she ground the more potent ones with her pestle. The scent of rosemary and basil, growing outside our kitchen window, would mingle with the sharper smells from the medicinal plants like silverleaf and Goddess-vine. It’s strange how I still remember everything she taught me about plants, but so very little about who she was and what she looked like. Such are a young boy’s memories, I suppose.

Not a week passed when we weren’t awakened by frantic knocking on our door in the middle of the night, one villager or another desperately seeking her assistance. I could barely make her out in my sleep-blurred vision as she kissed me on the forehead and disappeared out the door in her favourite green wool cape. She always carried what I thought of as her “magic” basket, containing bandages, spirits, fresh and dried herbs, cordials, and various distillations.

Every rest day, we went to the roadside shrine just outside the village and left an offering to Terria, the Lady of the Land. My mother swore by her. Every plant that bloomed well, bloomed with the blessing of the Lady. Every plant that withered was one that returned to her great garden to bloom for eternity.

Then there was the lodestone necklace she wore, the black stone dangling from the leather cord like a charm against evil. She took great delight in finding bits of metal for me, and greater delight in watching my awe at how the stone pulled the metal to it like magic. It says a lot about the person she was, letting a child treat something so rare as a plaything.

I remember that I adored my mother, and she was the centre of my world.

But it’s my father who features most vividly in my memories. Back then, I knew him as a travelling tinker, returning a few times a year to rest before departing on his next journey. His visits were like a sharp winter wind that scythed through the drowsy warmth of ordinary life, bringing a shiveringly fresh scent of the world outside. Even my mother seemed more vibrant, more alive, more her, when my father was around. Perhaps I was the same.

german soldiers

…aka what Germany did in WW2.

german soldiers

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What I’m researching for the novel is: The kingdom of Caldwell is just one of 7 or 8 nations in a small area. They’ve had a war, lost most of their army, and now have a young and inexperienced king. Somehow, they end up being the main power in the region, conquering neighbouring kingdoms who refuse to surrender on their terms.

How does a small continent that is in the grip of depression, has been disarmed, and has a limitation on the size of their army turn into a superpower that nearly conquered a continent?Continue reading


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I’m currently at the world-building stage for my latest YA fantasy, codenamed Broken Blade. The world (or at least area) it’s set in contains a number of small, neighbouring kingdoms. The backstory begins with the king of one of those kingdoms, Edgar, wanting to wipe out all magic users – that is, people who can draw on the power of the goddess that the local kingdoms worship.

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This is a supplement to my article on the Magnificent Nose site, where I wrote about inspiration, and how I was inspired for my new story.


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The thing is, it’s very easy to be inspired, but where do you go from there? I’ve spoken to people who say that they have all these ideas floating around, but don’t know what to do with them. So I thought I’d share how I work my own ideas into something that can withstand the structure of an entire novel.Continue reading

Warning: Rant ahoy!
This is not directed at anyone in particular, it’s just a general trend I’ve noticed that’s really, really peeved me off.

The beta reader is the most underrated role in the writing process. People think that it’s a simple job – why, they’re just reading a book, aren’t they? It’s the easiest thing in the world. They read the story then tell you what they think. Continue reading