Poem: The Changing Flame

In yet another testament to “my life doesn’t always go to plan”, the book review I promised of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness has been postponed to next week. Unfortunately I haven’t finished reading The Book of Life yet. So I’m swapping next week’s content for this week, and next week will be the review. And it will be next week as the book is due back at the library in a couple of days. 

This week I’d like to share a short poem with you. This is one of my more recent poems. I wrote it earlier this year. Most of what I’ve shared on this blog so far has been older writings, poems I created in college. The poem could probably use more work, but then I’m never one hundred percent happy with my writings and it’s hard to know when to stop. Sometimes life seems to rage out of control; like a fire. The flames change everything, burning away the old, and taking you down a new path. That’s the inspiration for this poem. 

The Changing Flame

By B. Forrester

Withstand the heat of the changing flame,
Your life will never be the same,
Take your dreams and make them soar,
Fly higher than you did before,
When defying gravity,
Dreams become reality.

Poem: The Dangers of Writing

This week I thought I’d share with you another poem. I wanted to share with you the cover of The Lady of Zion but I’m having technical difficulties. Apparently the power supply to my external hard-drive is damaged, so while I’m organising a work-around I decided to pull this post up the schedule. 😀

Hopefully next week I’ll have a shiny new book cover to show you!

I wrote this poem at uni as a bit of fun for an assignment.

The Dangers of Writing

By. B. Forrester

It starts off fun – a little hobby,
fills in time in the dentist’s lobby,
over time it grows sincere,
something you won’t want to hear,
Time draws on and still you write,
now of things that sting and bite.
A therapy it lets you heal,
another way to learn to deal.
An easy catharsis for the heart,
you don’t remember how it starts.

Furiously you’ll study every word,
wanting your message to be heard.
As you become obsessed,
loved ones will be distressed.
You’ll forget to sleep and eat,
You have deadlines that you must keep
You’ll withdraw, hide-away;
from deepest winter to early May.
You’ll wonder one day where they went,
and realise that your life is spent.

The Lady of Zion

Disclaimer: This was originally posted on my old website 1/07/2019.

I’ll be writing today about my inspirations for The Lady of Zion because due to the Christian, Judaic and Pagan themes, I fear it might be a little controversial.

Let me preface this by saying: the series is not meant to be a criticism of any religion or it’s practitioners.

I feel like it’s important to say that upfront because in The Lady of Zion, Yahweh (or the Judeo-Christian God) is the bad guy. Or at least, from the main characters points of view.

This story was originally a project for my Masters thesis. The driving question behind the story is “What if Western Judeo-Christian religions are wrong. What if “God” is the bad guy?”

Naturally in the Urban Fantasy sub-genre of Angel Literature God/Heavenly forces are usually the “good” guys and Lucifer and the Demons are the “bad guys”. The stories usually follow Judeo-Christian mythology as their basis for the underlying world building and mythic structure. My story turns that on its head.

Historically speaking this story is allegorical of the path Christianity took as it evolved over time. Christianity started as a minority movement growing out of Judaism that other religions, especially Judaism, tried to squash. Over time Christianity grew popular and eventually became the dominant religion. As it grew bigger it did it’s best in turn to squash the smaller religions, especially the polytheistic religions. This is a historical fact. It was one of the first things I learnt at University where I was studying History at the time. I wish I still had access to my old texts regarding the matter, but I’ll put some links you can check out below. (See further reading 1,2, 3 and 4)

In a lot of esoteric writings you’ll hear the phrase “as above so below”. So, what if the wars waged by Christianity against minority religions were reflected in the Heavens? What if Yahweh, a warrior God, decided that he wanted to be the head of the pantheon? What if he waged war on the other gods and took the Kingship of Heaven? That doesn’t necessarily mean he is the “bad guy” as such, but wouldn’t he be the bad guy from the point of view of the gods he over-threw?

There is quite a lot of evidence in the Bible (depending on which version(s) you’re using) to indicate that the Judeo-Christian God is not the only god.

  • “Who among the gods is like you, Lord?” (Exodus 15:11)
  • “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Deuteronomy 5:7)
  • “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them” (2 Kings 17:35)

There are others, but you get the point. (See further reading 9, 10, 11)

Christians generally interpret these passages as indicative of deceiving spirits and demons, rather than other divine beings, because that fits better with their mythology. However other indications within the Bible include references to the “Elohim” which in its original context was a Hebrew word for “gods” but has now, through the lens of monotheism, become interpreted as a reference to the Heavenly host (angels). (See further reading 16).

There is also a lot of academic evidence that at one point a Goddess was worshiped alongside Yahweh, both within the Bible and in texts found at Kuntillet Ajrud. In fact, some scholars have stated that Asherah is mentioned in the bible at least 40 times (See further reading 17). While studying this at university I kept seeing Asherah referred to as the “lost goddess” (due to her suppression in Christianity as monotheism gained popularity) and I thought her story, would make a great story. (See further reading 18, 20 and 21)

The story of Asherah in religious and archaeological evidence is patchy at best. Which is great for me as a writer, it means I can take quite a lot of artistic license with her story. And Asherah’s story is a large part of the story that I’m telling in The Lady of Zion.

What little we do know of Asherah doesn’t come from Judeo-Christian texts, it comes from the discovery of tablets in Ras Shamra regarding the Ugarit Gods. The Ugarit Gods were the gods worshiped by the ancient Canaanites before Christianity took its hold. (See further reading 23 and 24). According to these texts Asherah is the mother goddess; wife of El (King of the Gods). Little else is said of her, except that she intercedes on Baal’s (the equivalent Storm god) behalf on at least one occasion.

The Lady of Zion uses multiple Middle Eastern mythologies as inspiration to create the world within it. Notably Greek, Egyptian, and of course Ugarit. It is an Urban Fantasy, so it is primarily set in our world, and as Judeo-Christianity absorbed culture and mythology from its conquered neighbours so too has The Lady of Zion used the mythologies of the Middle East.

In the first book of the series, The Lady of Zion, twenty something Grace Haskiel, nursing student and Nephilim, gets swept into the War between Heaven and Hell. The appearance of Fallen Angel Nikili sets off a chain reaction of events that leads Grace to a meeting with Lucifer, King of Hell, and a quest to find the missing Goddess Asherah. Her quest takes her on a journey through the Australian Outback, the Middle East, Egypt and beyond, only to discover a truth even more shocking than the one which Nikili had brought to her.  

Closer to the series release date (which I’m hoping will begin January 2020 or earlier) I’ll re-release the previous blog posts I wrote about the Angel Lit genre. Both because I feel it’s a relevant time to share the articles and part of my mission to pull my old blog posts across to the website for consolidation. The current plan for The Lady of Zion is a five book series, with several novelette/novellas accompanying it.

In the meantime, you may be interested to check out some of the texts I’ve used in researching this series:

Further Reading: 

  1. https://www.history.com/topics/religion/history-of-christianity#section_8
  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/christianityromanempire_article_01.shtml
  3. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christianity/Relations-between-Christianity-and-the-Roman-government-and-the-Hellenistic-culture
  4. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/debra-macleod/pagan-culture_b_7058758.html
  5. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2018/06/hearth-of-hellenism-genocide-and-the-triumph-of-christianity/
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/dec/28/the-darkening-age-the-christian-destruction-of-the-classical-world-by-catherine-nixey
  7. https://www.learnreligions.com/st-patrick-and-the-snakes-2562487
  8. https://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/who-was-saint-patrick
  9. Fox, R. L. (1988). Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine. London, England: Penguin Group
  10. https://www.openbible.info/topics/other_gods
  11. https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Polytheism
  12. http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/gods.html
  13. Penchansky, D. (2005). Twilight of the Gods: Polytheism in the Hebrew Bible. Louiseville: Westminster, John Knox Press
  14. Olyan, S.M. (1988). Asherah and the Cult of Yahweh in Isreal. Atlanta: Scholars Press
  15. Urrutia, B. (1973). “About El, Asherah, Yahweh and Anath”. American Anthropologist. 75(4). 1180-1181
  16. Burnett, J.S. (1999). A reassessment of biblical Elohim. (Doctorial Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. (Order No: 9927030)
  17. https://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-religions/asherah-0010611
  18. Yamashita, T. (1964). The Goddess Asherah. (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. (Order No: 8103904)
  19. https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/asherah-and-the-asherim-goddess-or-cult-symbol/
  20. https://archive.archaeology.org/0503/abstracts/israel.html
  21. Dever, W. (2005). Did God have a Wife?. United States of America: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co
  22. Brenner, A. The Hebrew God and His Female Complements.
  23. Coogan, M. D., & Smith, M. S. Stories from Ancient Canaan
  24. Day, J. (2002). Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan
  25. https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium-archaeologists-discover-god-s-wife-1.5335007

Poem: Sister

This poem is titled Sister and was written during my college years about my sister. All of my siblings are adopted so this poem is rather special to me. I have two sisters, and two best friends who might as well be my sisters, and like all sisters we haven’t always gotten along at times, but this poem could easily be about either of my sisters. In case either of them actually read my blog I’ll refrain from commenting on whether the poem references one over the other.

Sorry girls.

Side note: I’ll never forget an argument I had about this poem. The lecturer teaching the class I wrote this for was perturbed by the line “This woman that life gave to me”. The lecturer insisted that the line should be “This woman that gave life to me” and insisted that the poem was about my mother.

For some reason she really wouldn’t believe me that it was about my sister. Even the title Sister did nothing to detract from her vehement assertions that this poem was about my mother. At least the whole exchange has given me something to laugh about and a good story to tell for years.

So, here’s the poem. Family to me is one of the most important things in life, and family doesn’t necessarily mean blood. Family are the people who love you unconditionally through the good times and the bad times, and who are always there for you in the end. Even when they don’t have to be.

Side note: if my nieces ever read this know that sometimes blood relations will let you down but family will always be there for you, no matter whether you’re “related” or not.

Sister

By B. Forrester

This woman that life gave to me,
to travel along on my journey.
An angel’s hand to guide me,
from being ecliptically lonely.

Life presented her as my friend;
she acts the warrior – defends.
Together, us, until the end.
On her I can always depend.

She’s my sister in all but blood,
she pulls me up out of the mud,
killing my self-loathing bug.
Together we weather the flood.

Living in the Internet Age

Time to be honest, I kind of hate the internet age.

Don’t get me wrong, the internet has given us many wonderful things, and quite frankly I couldn’t be an Indie Author if the internet hadn’t opened all these opportunities. I live in Australia, but my current editor and printing services are in America. I’ve never met any of the people who have printed my book, or my current editor; and that hasn’t been a barrier. That’s one of the beautiful things about the internet age. Of course, I’d love to meet these people, and build better business relationships with them, but the fact that I can’t hasn’t been a barrier. If I was doing this thirty years ago I don’t think I could have done this.

But, the internet has also made life harder.

Nowadays everyone is pushing so hard for “authenticity” on social media that it is really hard to actually be authentic. Sometimes it feels that what the people pushing for authenticity want isn’t authenticity. It feels like what they want is a clear, defined image of who you are, what you stand for, and what you want. If you do something that they feel is not true to their image of you you are “inauthentic”. I realise it’s not that simple, and I do believe in being as authentic as I possibly can be. But, I have so many contradictory sides that I feel that I should only present the ones that “match”.

Have you seen this meme? 

It totally sums me up, and yet I have trouble taking on the advice. Why? Because I love gothic culture, and skulls, and the dark witchy aesthetic. I want to be the weird lady at festivals dressed as a witch with a pet dragon. The lady who teaches kids writing classes and who gives out bags of “dragon treasure” to the kids, because she knows they’ll love it. But I also love pinks and purples, florals and a girly romance aesthetic. Social media gurus talk a lot about branding. They talk about how everything you post on the internet, wear, use in your public appearances etc. should essentially match. There’s very good reasons for this. By using signature colours and imagery for example, people can easily identify your brand as something they like (or fits in with other things they like). It seems more professional, for everything to be on point. But it’s really hard to be someone like me, someone whose interests and style can vary to such staggering degrees, and fit this into a “brand”. It seems really inauthentic to me to only portray one side of myself in my dealings with people in real life and on social media. It’s also really hard to choose branding themes and imagery when I’ve grown and changed so much by this point in my life that I can’t believe in ten years I might not be another person altogether. 

I write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance primarily and the on point marketing means I should fit in with other books in my genre. My books should look more like this:

Don’t you just love my screenshotting skills? These types of covers are typical in the Indie Author publishing scene. My current covers have more similarities with traditionally published covers than they do with other Indie Authors. Partly this is because traditional covers were the type of cover I was trying to emulate when I created them. I wanted to come across as professionally as I could. I still feel that the original stigma that surrounded Indie Publishing exists. It doesn’t exist to the extent that it did ten years ago, but I wanted to put the best book, with the best cover, that I could create out there, and prove that just because it was Indie Published didn’t mean that I wasn’t “good enough” to get traditionally published. So I tried to make it look like a traditionally published book. I wasn’t trying to “trick” the reader, I was trying to be professional. I also chose to emulate this kind of cover art partly because of my own skill set. I’m only just beginning to learn graphic design now and I just don’t have the technical skills behind me to produce a cover like the ones above. I also don’t have the funds to buy cover art from an artist more skilled than I. 

But, technical skills aside, the covers I want to make look more like this:

(And FYI, I only noticed the face on the cover of The Rules of Magic when I was editing the picture above. I never noticed it looking at the book itself.)

Part of the reason I like covers like this is aesthetic, and partly because they are easier. I’m not only an Indie Author, I’m also a photographer, and models can be highly unreliable, especially when you aren’t hiring professionals but getting well intentioned friends and family to be your living doll. I want to be successful and professional, and I realise that means fitting in with existing authors and the body of works they have created, but sometimes I just don’t know how to. And, sometimes I just don’t know how to be “on brand”. I’ve never done marketing or PR courses. I’m figuring this out as I go, learning from books, the internet, and podcasts mostly. 

These feelings recently came to a head when I was designing a tri-fold brochure to hand out at the upcoming Denmark Festival of Voice. The feelings I had during that process led me to write this post. I was stressed with work, both my own as an author and my day job, and stressed about some other things as well. Things came to a head while I was making the brochure and I felt very much like I was drowning.

I originally made the brochure in Microsoft Publisher and then I had printing issues. So I decided then was as good a time as any to give Canva a try. Quite a few of the authors I know on social media have advocated using Canva for their marketing needs, as well as cover art, and so I’d been interested to try using it. It took a little getting used to at the beginning, but fairly soon I had a professional feminine looking brochure. It wasn’t quite what I wanted. I had trawled through Canva’s free images and found plenty of images that would be appropriate for a romance writer (they have a lot of wedding themed stuff), but I couldn’t find much in the way of fantasy/magical type imagery. The brochure that I ended up with, the one that I finally felt professional, didn’t really feel to me to be particularly Urban Fantasy-y, although if would work well if I were a contemporary romance writer.

This was the result.

It’s beautiful, really. I just don’t feel like it would speak to my audience. I think it would work well for an author like Meg Cabot, or maybe even Kennedy Layne readers. I have to say I got pretty frustrated. Mostly, because of the reasons I outlined earlier: branding and authenticity. It felt beautiful but was this the kind of branding that would work with my target audience? It authentically captured my romantic heart, which could work for PNR, but it didn’t really fit with my gothier side. I used to claim myself a proud goth. Now I feel I’m more gothish. I don’t think that I really fit into any specific label. I like what I like, I wear what I like. My gothy tendancies are starting to surface again so maybe in the future I’ll once again call myself a goth? Maybe my likes will change again and I’ll be drawn to something else?

I decided to give the brochure another go. Because, it really didn’t feel right. I changed my search terms, and actually found some witchy images and some fantasy type images. Unfortunately a lot of the images I liked the most were premium images and I would have had to pay extra. As money is an issue I resolved to stick to the free images I could choose from and came up with this:

I like this much better. I created these to have at my children’s writing workshops. I wanted to include information about my books for adults, as well as my upcoming children’s series, and information about the workshops parents, teachers and social groups can hire me to teach. As these are going to be around children I wanted to keep the imagery to fit in with the gothier parts of my nature, and my urban fantasy writing, and I wanted to steer clear of PNR imagery. Most PNR covers have couples in various degrees of intimacy and I just didn’t feel it was appropriate for the brochures at children’s writing workshops. I feel like the final result, the brochure above, is more authentic to me. It’s pictures can easily suggest fairy tale type stories which feature heavily in both my writing and my teaching, but they can also seem a little gothy. So I ended the brochure drama on a high note. 

But I still have to wonder, why can’t we just be ourselves without second guessing everything. I understand branding/marketing has to be clear, for the reasons I wrote about earlier, but social marketing gurus make me feel that if my branding isn’t 100% on point and consistent across everything I’m doing, then I’m going to come across as unprofessional and ultimately, have limited success as an Indie Author (I would consider success to be able to make writing my day job and not have to worry about money). It’s really hard to be consistent when I’m learning as I go. My Indie Publishing journey has been a hands on, learn as you go, evolution that has spanned not just my writing career but has seeped into every aspect of my life. I’m doing the only thing I can do: trying to do my best and get better at it. I’m trying to ignore my anxiety (because with an anxiety disorder, if I didn’t ignore it where possible I would literally not do anything) and hope for the best but it’s incredibly hard. 

Tips for DFOV 2019

Disclaimer: This was written ahead of DFOV 2019, some links may be out of date but the tips will still be valid for future festivals.

Next month I’ll be at the Denmark Festival of Voice for my second year running! I’m so excited.   I thought now would be a great time to share some tips that I learnt last year. If you’re   attending DFoV 2019 hopefully these tips will make the experience more enjoyable for you. If   you’re not maybe they’ll entice you to make the trip in 2020 😊. At the very least these tips  are applicable to most festivals anyway and they may help you with future events.

 1.  Plan ahead!

There are so many amazing acts to see and workshops to experience that I found I really  needed to plan ahead. As I was an “act” last year I really found it useful to mark out on my  timetable the things that I was presenting and teaching in orange highlighter and then the  things that I wanted to experience in pink. I also volunteered at the festival for the organisers  and I highlighted that schedule in green. It gave me an instance way of telling if any of the  events clashed for me and helped me remember where I needed to be when. At other festivals  I’m employed similar techniques by marking the timetable and it’s always made things easier  for me. The time table hasn’t been released yet but generally speaking it is available prior to  the festival online. Last year I simply printed one out a week or so before the event.

Last year I noticed that while most of the venues are central to the Denmark township there is almost no buffer time to get from one show to another if you must travel to different venues. For this reason, I opted to stick to only a couple of venues so I had less distance to travel. I suggest taking the map that comes with the timetable and marking out the venues of the acts/workshops you’re interested in so you can gauge distance between them. Luckily for me most of what I was interested in required very little traipsing up Strickland Street but at other festivals distance has been an issue. One year for WAMED (Western Australian Middle Eastern Dance Festival) venue location was a real issue, with venues spread out over several streets in Subiaco.

There are quite a few cafés in town that host musical acts so that you can get some food and see a show at the same time. If you’re working on a budget however I suggest bringing your own snacks or a picnic lunch that you can munch on through out the day. If you’re coming down from say Perth and don’t want to carry much with you while you travel, there are two supermarkets and a health food shop where you can pick up healthy things to eat that won’t necessarily need to be kept refrigerated.

 2. Pace yourself

 This is something I learnt at the festival last year. I used to be able to flit from workshop to  show without stopping for two days when I took on festivals such as WAMED or Crimescene.  Apparently, I’m getting older and can no longer do that. Last DFoV took a lot of out me. This  year I’m going to pace myself a bit better. I volunteered behind the scenes last year in  addition to being an act and trying to catch other show, seeing as I was going to be in town  anyway, and it was too much for me. This year I’m taking on less roles so I can enjoy the  festival more. I also managed to dehydrate myself which I think contributed to my lack of  energy, and catching a rather nasty sinus infection, so make sure you bring your reusable water bottle! There is a fountain available to fill your bottles at free of charge on one of the  main streets of town, and I vaguely remember Denmark Arts setting up designated water stations for refilling reusable bottles. Denmark is very much striving to reduce plastic pollution so bringing your own utensils, reusable coffee cup and bottles is a must. Most of the café’s in town offer discounts to patrons bringing their own cup.

 3. Notes about Denmark
 
June is typically very cold in Denmark. For the last two festivals the weather has been sunny  and dry during the day and freezing cold at night. Last year the morning temperatures were  ~3˚C with ice on windshields and frost on the grass. Saturday night last year when I was working the door of a concert it was -1 ˚C at midnight when we went home. I suggest layering up on your clothing, making sure you have scarves, beanies and gloves, and carrying a bag or backpack large enough to store excess items (and snacks) when the sun gets warm.

Another thing to keep in mind is that parking is of a premium. I suggest finding an all-day parking spot central to the venues you plan to go to and then leaving your car there for the day. It will be much easier than trying to move your car several times through-out the day. Alternatively, try carpooling from accommodation or walking. Rivermouth Caravan Park is about 2 kilometres from the town centre and there is a quite a bit of centralised accommodations.

 4. Relax

I learnt this one at 70k Tons of Metal 2012. I was stressing a lot that I would miss out on the  acts I wanted to see, that I would get lost etc. I was alone in a semi-foreign country and quite  nervous. This was before FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) was considered a thing. On the first night my watch, which had been an 18th birthday present, fell off my wrist and over board. It’s currently somewhere between Florida and Cuba at the bottom of the ocean. I took it as a sign  to not be caught up in the time so much and relaxed. And do you know what, I didn’t miss out  on anything. I got to see my favourite band (which had been the whole point of going).

I got to see the band who’d stayed in the same hotel with me (they had been so friendly I wanted to catch a set) and I got introduced to some other bands I wasn’t really familiar with previously (the bass player from Alestorm even bought me drinks). All in all, I think I had a better time than if I had mercilessly stayed glued to the schedule I’d highlighted on the plane trip over.

5. There is always help

The people of Denmark Arts are some of the nicest people I’ve met. They want your experience to be positive and are ready and willing to help at any point. If you have questions feel free to talk to one of them. They’ll point you in the direction you need to go. If you’re coming to DFoV 2019 I’d love to meet you! Come and find me at one of my workshops or at my story telling session. I’ll be the crazy woman dressed like a witch with a pet dragon. 

You can still book tickets through https://www.denmarkfestivalofvoice.com.au/ and you can follow the festival on social media at: 

Instagram Page https://www.instagram.com/denmarkfestivalofvoice/

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/denmarkfestivalofvoice/

Facebook Event https://www.facebook.com/events/311523326186868/

Poem: Passion

Passion

By B. Forrester


On scented sheets of rose we lie,
in the ambience candlelight provides,
The passion of the night sublime,
our entangled limbs collide.

A hungry midnight snack; kisses trailed across a body.
A neck, a chest, a back; a fire within embodied.
Words spring from my mouth, spurred on by Calliope;
a kind of love-struck poetry; eloquent and smutty.

Silky satin linen, slides beneath our skin,
I dreamt of this, the moment when,
we fall, and lust becomes our sin,
your body; my own opium den.

On the horizon morning breaks,
And soon enough the world will wake,
so we lie, entwined, and sated,
our bodies incapacitated.

Book Review: Evensong by Krista Walsh

This week I am running off copious amounts of coffee. I’m starting to get my writing mojo back and I’m getting back into the swing of things. This time has been emotionally challenging but I’m hoping I’m coming out the other side now. Editing is coming along nicely on Samhain Sorcery and launch date is getting closer. Words cannot describe how stressed and excited I am.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been reading Evensong by Krista Walsh. I received it as a freebie somewhere along the line (it might have been for joining a mailing list or a suggestion from readfreely? I’m not sure. I’ve been reading a lot of free books lately as all my spare funds are going into producing Samhain Sorcery in time for October).

I have to say I really enjoyed it. DISCLAIMER: I’m not getting paid to review this. I genuinely liked the book and thought it worthy of discussion. 

I thought I posted the following review on Amazon:

I really enjoyed this book. Some parts were a little drawn out, but it was well written
and clever. The premise was fascinating: a writer drawn into their own book, both as a concept and an allegory. The question of whether writers create their art or whether they can tune into parallel universes to record other realities interested me, as it’s something drunk me has wondered many times.

But looking at both Amazon.com and Amazon.com.au I don’t see it. It’s live on Goodreads though. I thought posting a review through the Kindle app automatically posts it to Amazon and Goodreads. I guess I was wrong, or it takes some time to upload.

But I’m getting off topic now so let’s circle back. I wasn’t lying when I said the premise was fascinating. Without giving too much away, the main plot of the novel is that Jeff, a novelist, is trying to work through his writer’s block and finish his current manuscript. He takes a nap and wakes up in a foreign place which turns out to be the world he has been writing.

There are so many things I could write about, about this book. I could write about the kick ass women who don’t let themselves get pushed around, who can take care of themselves in a medieval setting. I could write about how as a writer, Jeff was an easily relatable character. I could write about the fascinating sister witches who seem to work in seamless unity. I could write about the author’s talent. But I’m not.

Throughout the novel the characters wonder whether Jeff is their “creator” in a godlike way, or if he merely sees into their world and can influence events in Andvell. Or, to put it another way: Do things happen because he writes them that way, or does he write them that way because that’s what happened?

It’s something I’ve wondered before. As a writer I’d like to think I’m fantastically creative, making characters and situations from nothing more than the dust bunnies and tumbleweed rolling around in my mind. But also, as a writer, I sometimes have no control over what I’m writing. I’ll want a story to go one way and it diverts the other. I’ll chuck a character in, expecting them to be minor, a means to an end, and then the character turns out later to be a major catalyst and plot point. Something that I had never planned on in brainstorming or outlining. At times I have no idea what to write next and other times the words come tumbling out in a tsunami of text, crashing onto the paper surprising me as they fall.

So, do writers create or do we have some kind of psychic connection to other times and other places?

I don’t think the question posed by the book is answerable, but it certainly is thought provoking. Some books (or movies even) become such phenomenons it’s hard to believe it’s not real. The Harry Potter books are so vivid, with back story and world building, that it could be easy to think that J.K. Rowling was a Dian Fossey to a hidden magical community. Some tales become bigger than their teller. How many times has Dracula been reworked? Dracula in part helped birth the entire Vampire Lit genre. I’m sure that Bram Stoker would not have imagined his work inspiring books like Twilight or The Mortal Instruments. I think all writers secretly want to have at least one book that is bigger than them. But for an author it’s also a scary thought, to lose control of your own creation. It could become Frankenstein or a Sherlock Holmes. Once you release a book into the world you lose a degree of control over them. Maybe no one reads them, maybe they become a bestseller, bigger than you could ever have imagined. Its journey is no longer in your hands.

Evensong is the first book in the Meratis Trilogy, and I’m intrigued as to where Walsh would take the story next. Things were ended in such a way I can’t imagine where the author is going to pick up the threads for a sequel.    

Poem: High School Horror

Do you still have nightmares that you’re in high school? That you can’t seem to get to class, or that exam? That you have a huge assignment due in the morning and you keep getting interrupted from working on it? I know I’m not the only one that does. My mother still has nightmares about her Chem finals. 

With most schools going back to school tomorrow here in Australia, after our big summer vacation, I thought it was an appropriate time to share a poem I wrote about my high school nightmares. High school itself was a nightmare, and I think it’s completely unfair that I still have nightmares about it. 

High School Horror

By B. Forrester

As I slept and dreamt,
I dreamt and wept,
for the backward step,
because I was so inept,
this horror I could not accept,
back to high school I was sent.

Upon waking, relief swept,
I was not inept,
all was fine except,
my alarm did not intercept,
the dream, I had overslept.
So to the shower, I quickly leapt.

Indie Publishing: BookFunnel – Part Two

So back in May (where has this year flown?) I wrote about BookFunnel and how I was using it to distribute ARC and free copies of my books. I also wrote about how I discovered (belatedly) that BookFunnel also allows you to participate in group promotions. You can read that article here.

This time I want to tell you what I’ve learnt since then. I’ve been in seven (two are currently on going) promos since then so I’ve had a chance to experiment and to see how it works. So, what have I learnt? 

  • Not to trust the “conversion” rate BookFunnel displays. BookFunnel will tell you how many people viewed your book link and how many bought your book. Mine all say that no purchases have been made, but purchases are showing in my KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) dashboard.
  • For an example, in one week I sold 5 books while running five promos (this wasn’t a typical week). This month I’ve been in two promos, one for each of my series. The Wings promo includes The Lady of Zion, and the 99c & Free has included The Kingston Chronicles. So far this month I’ve sold 6 copies from The Kingston Chronicles. This is a significant increase for me. The main thing I can contribute it to is running BookFunnel promos.
  • Since starting BookFunnel Promos I’ve sold 15 books in basically two months. This is a significant jump.
  • Don’t go crazy doing all the promos. When I started, I got a little over enthusiastic and joined a bunch of promos. I quickly realised that I had too many. Now I’m trying to keep it to two promos at a time. It allows me to focus better and get better results. BookFunnel gives you a ranking based on “shares” and it is easier to get a better ranking with less to offer.
  • Readers are more likely to download free books than 99c books.
  • Readers are more interested in free/99c books than KU books (Kindle Unlimited).
  • I have had a better response with sales promos than KU promos. I will probably stop doing KU promos for a while.
  • I have a better response when I post promo links on Twitter than on Facebook or Instagram.
  • I have a better response when I post themed gifs with the link.
  • Posting the link on Twitter once a day usually yields about 3 shares without bombarding my feed with sales pitches. I try to keep my feed 80% stuff, 20% sales/ads etc.

I’d like to upgrade to the next tier of BookFunnel so I can participate in newsletter promos, where you give away free books in exchange for readers joining your mailing list. But it will have to wait until I have some more funds in the bank.

I think BookFunnel has been a great tool to help me grow my marketing. It is pretty simple to use and is one of the best ways I’ve found to get my book in front of new readers without feeling like I was being pushy.

Side note: here are my current promos.