A whipping breeze scaled the rolling hillsides around Loslilian, stealing loose leaves from the trees and leaving them carelessly in swirling clusters around the cream bricks of the manor. The days had grown so cold these last few weeks that I’d taken to wearing sweaters outside while, inside, every fireplace in every room was roaring with hot orange flames, the constant burning of wood leaving an almost permanent but very cosy musk over the landscape. I walked slower now across the countryside than usual, enjoying the homely smell of approaching winter, but the thoughts of pumpkins and the scent of cinnamon cakes being prepared by staff fit jaggedly with my childhood memories of October. It would be well into a crisp, warm spring in Australia right now, with the golden sun brightening the beaches, and the sweet, plastic scent of sunscreen filling the air. I’d be shopping for a new swimsuit if I were back home today, not recoiling from the icy gusts sweeping an open field, tucking my stripy scarf against my chest as the wind kidnapped the ends and raked them outward with my hair.
As far out as the eye could see, the once lush Enchanted Forest had been scaled down to creaky branches and such a sad state of undress that, when I walked in the forest at dawn, even I felt kind of naked. Which is why I chose to spend time at the lab this morning instead.
I watched its red rooftop rise on the head of straight, cream bricks over the hilltop as I trudged downward, smiling coyly to myself at its grandeur. In issuing this building as the lab--a twenty-minute walk through a grassy meadow from the manor--I knew, and everyone else knew, it’d been David’s intention to put Jason out of sight. But Jase and his unlimited budget had outdone themselves. No one would ever have known it was once a stable. The horse crap and mouldy hay had been swept aside for an entirely new interior, complete with a sterile room, a morgue for all the bodies he tested on, or rather, failed on, and even observation rooms. I wasn’t sure exactly what kinds of experiments he planned to perform and why those observation rooms needed soundproof glass and steel doors but, at his core, he was a vampire and I was used to a certain level of sadism and poor medical ethics from his kind. I knew not to ask, because I knew I wouldn't like the answer. Still, the morgue had me concerned.
“Ara?” Jase called, catching up at a run.
I stopped and waited for him, squinting as the breeze parted my hair at the back and wrapped it around my face like a pair of stringy hands. “Hey, Jase.”
“Hey.” He stopped beside me. “You here to see those results from last week’s test?”
“Mm-hm.” I nodded. “You got them back from the Manhattan lab yet?”
He nodded, his lips split wide with excitement. “And you won’t believe it, Ara. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. I’ve gone as far as to seal your records—classified them Top Secret.”
“Come on.” He grabbed my hand and dragged me along. “I’ll show you.”
We passed through a narrow hall between the two observation rooms and entered the wide, open space of the greater lab. A giant steel wall cordoned off the morgue at the back where, through the open door, I could just make out foot ends of seven or so gurneys lined up ready for bodies, and the control panel for a giant freezer that I knew already housed a few dead humans. The only light in this windowless space was the glow from a wall of computers, blinking and flashing with information to my right, and the flicker of flames under test tubes being heated on a giant table in the centre of the room. The whole lab had that real mad-scientist feel to it, infused with million-dollar modern technology and sleek, clean surfaces. I thought of it as “Frankenstein meets modern science”. It was the dream lab of anyone in Jason’s field, he’d told me. But even as he’d said that, I’d noticed something oddly regretful under his smile.
He led me to the big wall of computers and pulled out a chair, offering me a seat, then leaned over the keyboard and focused hard on the smaller screen right in front of him, his face glowing blue.
“Shouldn’t we turn on the lights?”
“Nope,” he said, typing away. “That experiment in the corner needs a dim room.”
“Should I ask why?”
He turned his head and grinned at me. “Only if you want a lengthy explanation.”
I laughed. “Right. I’ll take silent wondering, thanks.”
He loaded up my test results and sat on the chair beside me, sliding back a little too far, then pulling himself closer again with a steady hand under the desk. “Go ahead. Check it out.”
I leaned in and peered at the graphs and numbers on the screen. “What am I looking at?”
“You results, Ara.” He pulled himself closer to the keyboard again and started typing. “Your electrical readings are off the chart. They’re some kind of crazy mix of static and … I don’t even know. It’s just a mess. But you, and those tiny little hands of yours, are more powerful than we’ve realised.”
“And you made me heat up water while we were in it?”
He winced. “Had I seen these, I might've thought twice about that.”
I sat back, slapping my brow.
“Anyway, you might not understand these numbers, but look at this—” He typed again at a-hundred-words-per-second, and a video came up on screen. “Remember when I filmed that training session last week—when you shot Falcon?”
“Check this out.” He offered the screen, and I watched the replay, seeing Falcon’s body shake as it absorbed the energy from my hands, lifting off the ground a second later to fly back and hit the wall.
“Okay, so, we should upload this to the Internet. It’s very cool, but I don't get what I’m supposed to be seeing.”
“Look now,” he said with a grin, typing something else.
The video slowed, and I practically put my nose to the screen, squinting like an old lady reading fine-print.
“See this?” He pointed to a very thin blue line of light coming from my hand—wispy and branch-like.
“Now, look here.” His finger moved off to the far left of the screen—to where one of my knights stood watching, laughing—and the same kind of spark was there, emanating off his head.
“What the. . .?” I leaned closer. “How did the spark get there?”
“Simple. He’s a vampire, Ara, not a Lilithian.”
“So … do you know how lighting grounds itself?”
“Um . . . I think I remember something from primary school.”
He laughed and sat back, folding his arms. “Well, there are many different types of lightning: cloud-to-ground, ground-to-cloud, intracloud, heaps, right?”
“But, basically, all lightning is essentially the same thing—just an electrostatic discharge. It’s the conditions that effect the way it discharges, and how we, essentially, see it appear in our atmosphere.”
“So,” he started, using his hands to demonstrate as much as his words. “Imagine a negative build up of energy shoots from the base of a cloud, taking off through space and time in what we call a stepped leader—which is basically like a branch of negative protons rushing toward the earth. You following?”
“Before it gets there, though, objects on the ground sense the electric field and respond with their own positively charged streamers—” He made a separating motion between his hands as if pulling a string of invisible clay up from the ground. “When the stepped leader meets those streamers or, in layman’s, the negative and the positive meet, this violent charge of electricity can then drain toward the earth, right, creating a massive flash of light that we call lightning.”
“But, it began as a negative charge looking for a place to ground itself,” he said with hinting eyes.
“So … I’m the negative charge?”
“Right,” he continued. “When you use your power this way—” He tapped the screen. “That’s exactly what you are. And it really got my brain ticking,” he said, now tapping his head, leaning forward eagerly. “See, I think the reason you can sense vampires and the reason you can make them feel like their hearts beat is because that’s exactly what you’re for.”
“Why doesn’t the streamer rise off a Lilithian—or objects on the ground?”
“Because they’re not compatible?” I asked, the uncertainly moving my shoulders upward.
“Precisely. You’re not designed to shoot them. You’re a whole different kind of negative energy to the vampire’s positive. Like nothing we can measure with today’s technology. But I liken your power a little to Anvil Crawlers at this point. My theory may change.”
“Okay,” I said slowly, wondering where he was going with this. “So, you’re saying I was born to shoot vamps.”
“Something like that.”
“What am I then, some kind of vampire hunter?”
“No. Even better. I think I was right.” He wagged his finger at me, as if some vital piece of the puzzle was about to come together. “I think your light is the key to turning vampires back to humans.”
“That’s . . . that’s the part I haven’t figured out yet. But,” he added with another flick of his finger. “I may have a theory. It’s a long-shot, but I’ll needed venom for it--your venom.”
“Why?” I pressed my thumb to my fang.
“Because I think that, while Lilithians you create personally can kill a vampire, only your venom can really do what I think it can do.”
I rolled my eyes. “You’re not going to tell me until your theory’s complete, are you?”
He shook his head, grinning impishly.
“Okay, so you need me to sign off on a supply of my venom?”
“If you could.”
“Sure. Where’s the paperwork?”
He handed me the rolled-up sheets by the keyboard.
I grabbed a pen from the pencil pot but paused over the dotted line. “Jase?”
“What was with the shipment of human men I saw walking in here the other day?” I looked over at the observation room; the curtains were drawn but the lights were on. “Did you kill them?”
“No.” He pulled up a chair and sat down again. “I … need them.”
“I’m going to turn them all into vampires and try to cure them.”
“What?” I put then pen down. “Then what’s my venom for? To kill them if you fail?”
“No. It’s for the cure.”
“Look, don’t make me explain it now—it’ll ruin the surprise if I’m right. Just—” He took my hand. “Trust me?”
“And what if it doesn’t work?” I motioned to the observation room. “What if you can’t turn them back, or if you kill them in the process?”
“Well, if I can’t turn them back, I will kill them.”
“Jase, you can’t—”
“Relax, Ara, no one will miss them.”
I stood up, shoving the wheelie chair back way too far. “Why, because they’re homeless or something?”
“No, no, Ara, of course not.” He jumped up, too, reassuring me with a steady pair of hands to my arms. “They’re criminals—convicted and sentenced criminals.”
“So, what, you just plucked them from the prison?”
“No.” He looked over his shoulder. “I snatched them after they’d done their time.”
“Jase, that’s not fair. They—”
“They’re convicted child sex offenders, Ara,” he said dully, and I shut up. “I figure I’m doing the world a favour.”
“Oh … okay.” My lips sat slightly apart, my head moving in a nod. “Well, in that case, go ahead and kill them. But. . .”
“What if we succeed? What if we actually turn them human again? You won’t just put them back out there in society, will you?”
“No. I’ll snap their necks,” he said with a casual shrug. “Or, better yet, feed them to the Damned.”
“Now that is poetic justice.” I grinned and grabbed the pen to sign that venom order. “There is just one thing, though.”
I put the pen down again turned to face Jason, propping my hands on my hips. “How do you turn them into vampires?”
“How?” he repeated as if he wasn’t sure about my question.
“Don’t play dumb with me, Jason Gabriel Knight. I want the secret, now, or I’m not signing this.”
He looked at the paper, then at me, and his eyes narrowed.
“I’ve got you by the proverbial balls now, Jase. You have to tell me.” I laughed.
“Fine.” He scratched his eye, clearly stalling. “The human has to have a mix of blood and vampire venom in their system in order to turn. It’s not enough just to bite them, they have to drink it as well.”
I swallowed, thinking back to the night of the masquerade, when Jason’s lips touched mine and he spat copious amounts of what I thought was saliva and my own blood into my mouth while I was dying, the confusion I felt—the thoughts I went over repeatedly after that night—all surfacing for a moment.
“Please don’t do that.” He put his hands on the sides of my head gently, stopping the memory. “I can’t stand to see those memories, Ar.”
“Sorry. It’s just…”
“Yes, that’s what I did to you,” he said. “I made it look like a kiss so David wouldn’t know I tried to turn you.”
“Wow.” I stared at nothing for a second, reliving it. “You know, you tried to turn me to save me, right?”
He nodded. I was looking down at the page now, so I didn’t see it, but I knew he nodded.
“But, I couldn't be turned because I was Lilithian?” I added.
“Well, technically, by spitting your own blood into my mouth, you gave me a real fighting chance to survive,” I said, and felt the energy in the room change. “If a Lilithian gets hurt, what’s the first thing you give them?”
“Vampire blood,” he said, and I heard the smile in his tone.
“See?” I turned my head with a flick and grinned at him. “You saved my life that night, Jase.”
“I also nearly took it.”
“Details.” I waved a hand and signed the dotted line.
Jase laughed, scooping the document up. “Thanks, Ara.”
“Hey, before you go.” He grabbed my wrist and pulled me back toward him. “I wanna say hello to my baby.”
“Your baby?” I said, looking down as he knelt and lifted my top.
“Yes.” He kissed my belly so softly I barely felt his lips. “I told you, I’m claiming her.”
“And what if David suddenly decides to come back and play daddy again?”
“He can be Dad Number Two. I—” He stopped talking and looked up quickly with a sparkling grin. “Did you feel that?”
“What?” And then I felt it: it was a sharp, quick tap from inside me—like a bubble had popped right next to my skin. “It kicked.”
“Hello, baby,” he said, his hot breath wetting my skin. “Hi.”
“She kicked,” I said to myself. “I can’t believe it.”
“You haven't felt one yet?”
I shook my head.
“So. . .” His hands froze right above my belly. “No one else has then?”
I shook my head again.
“Oh.” He stood up, drawing my top back down. “Might not wanna mention that to David.”
“No,” I said, running my hands down the bump. “Could be cause for another sore spot when it comes to you.”
Jase laughed softly. “Well, on the bright side, I think our baby approves of me.”
“Scientists,” I scoffed playfully, turning away. “Interpreting situations to fit their own theories since time began.”
The last time I saw David was as he disappeared behind his closing bedroom door. We never talked again after that last argument, and frankly, I didn’t much want to. Over the last three weeks, everything he said or did to hurt me had boiled up like a storm cloud inside me and, now, the only thing I felt for him was a kind of stormy rage. I didn’t want him to come home next week. I didn’t want him in my life anymore, and while that didn’t mean I was ready to move on with Jason, I was sure as hell not wanting David back.
The thing about time for reflection is that it gives you perspective. I cried my eyes out the day David left for Paris, but after a few days, I realised that the only thing that’d changed with him being gone was that I didn’t feel so scared, like I was gonna run into him and he’d say something to hurt me again. I was glad he was gone. I could handle his absence better than seeing the hatred in his eyes every time he looked at me.
I checked my phone to see if Vicki or Dad had responded to my messages, and when an empty inbox came up, I dumped the phone in my pocket and wandered into the Great Hall. Everyone stood as I took my seat, going back to their private chatter once my butt was on the chair.
“Hey,” Jase said.
“Hey.” I smiled at the vampire sitting in Morgaine’s unoccupied chair.
“You okay?” he asked.
“It’s not like you to be late for dinner.” He nodded once at my fork, hinting at the many times it’d been to my mouth and back to the plate in the last ten-seconds.
“Oh. Um.” I shovelled some more food in, not self-conscious of my ravenous behaviour at all. “I was leaving another message for Dad.”
“He still hasn’t called?”
I shook my head. “Today marks three weeks.”
Jason’s eyes narrowed and he sat back, taking his blood goblet with him.
“I’m sure they’re just busy, Ara,” Mike assured me. “I can take a trip down there and drop in on them if you want. I need to make an appearance at your old house anyway—it’s been two weeks since I was last there.”
“If you could, that’d be great, Mike,” I said. “Maybe get a few pictures for me, too. I haven’t seen them in so long now I’m starting to forget what they all look like.”
“Well, last time I was in the neighbourhood, I ran into Sam, and all I can say is,” he said with a breathy laugh, “he’s bloody-well as big as me now.”
“Yeah. Remind me never to pick a fight with him.”
I laughed, sitting back then. And my calmer, now more relaxed gaze went across the room and onto the last seat at the table—the empty one.
Walt and Arthur spoke to each other across the plates and candles, muttering something about a new plant Arthur had created, and all the other vampires and Lilithians carried on about unimportant things—movies or books they’d read—but not once, not at any point as my wandering thoughts moved from conversation to conversation, did I miss David. Until I realised I didn’t miss him. And that made my heart sink a little.
How had it gotten to that? How had I let his anger hurt me so deeply that I never wanted to see him again?
“Clean slate?” Jase said, placing his hand on mine.
He motioned to David’s chair. “Maybe you should offer him a clean slate.”
“Because I hate seeing you hate yourself for hating him.”
I smiled a little, looking away from Jase. “He won’t want a clean slate. He won’t even want to talk to me.”
“I know.” He nodded. “And he’ll outwardly deny any need for forgiveness from you, Ara, but everyone says things they don’t mean when they’re hurt—my brother is definitely no exception.”
“For once,” Mike said, saluting with his glass, “The vampire has something of value to say.”
Jase laughed to himself, choosing to take that as a compliment.
“I know he’s right,” I said to Mike. “It’s just …i t’s not so much what David said to me that makes me want to stay away from him, but more … that he meant it.”
“Yeah.” Jase winced, scratching his temple. “Guess that kinda does sting, doesn’t it?”
“What’d he say to you, Ara?” Mike asked, looking from Jason to me.
“It doesn't matter.” I sat back. “I’m sure, in time, we’ll start talking civilly with each other.”
“Well, you’ve only got eternity to sort your issues out,” Jason said.
“Yeah. I guess.” I looked into my lap, wishing I could tell them about my eighteen-year deal with Drake.
On Saturday 19th of October, 2013, while surfing the Net and checking my Google stats against other vampire books, I came across something that darkened my day.
Harry Styles Fanfiction Website.
Why, you ask, should fanfiction darken my day?
Because this wasn't just a creative little writer taking a story idea and rewriting it in their own words or changing things around to make a new idea based on mine, it was a person copying and pasting more than 90% of my words to a page and calling them their own. They even went as far as to say they would write more soon.
Isn't that what fan fic is, you ask?
What is legal when it comes to fan fiction and what is not? What are your rights as an author and what are the rights of your beloved readers?
Let's talk a little about that here.
Here's the general rule: fan fiction is fiction based on the works of another author.
What fan fiction is not:
It is not taking the book, word for word, and posting it as your own work. If you do this in class from an encyclopedia, you get suspended or even expelled. It is against the law.
Fan fiction (by basic definition) is not against the law.
How do you make sure you're not plagiarizing an author?
Easy. Don't copy the book word for word, and let people know that it is not your original idea or words and that the rights to this story and characters belong to that author. You might even be helping them boost book sales. And if you love the book enough to want to write your own version, then you must love that author enough to want to help them out or at least respect their hard work.
Just because everyone does it or because you think no one will notice, doesn't make it okay.
I have been greatly affected by this incident of theft, and while carrying baby number 4 and trying to write my next book, I really don't need the stress. Like I said, I have NO PROBLEM with them writing a story based on my plot or characters, but at least let people know you didn't come up with it.
Let me tell you a little about why I feel I deserve this much at least.
In 2001, by choice, when I was 18 years old and newly engaged to my high school sweetheart, I decided to have my first baby. I knew in my heart that this was the right path for me. I wanted to be a mum and couldn't wait to have a baby. The fact that neither my fiancé or I had a good job didn't matter. We were going to be a family, and the rest would take care of itself.
This is called the naivety of youth.
We weren't okay. We struggled something fierce.
When our baby was about 2, my husband's father passed away and left him enough that we could buy a small run-down house. Things got a little better, but because my husband was pursuing a career in the music industry and I was at home now caring for one and a half babies (one in the belly), we quickly fell from grace and, when baby number 2 was just 3 years old, we lost our house in the financial crisis. My dream of being a stay-at-home mum died with it.
My husband and I sat down to decide what to do. Fact was, he needed a 'real' job if we were ever going to have a life. So, he decided to study to become a pilot. We thought this would bring us a stable income. But, after 4 years living with my mum and another baby being born, he finished his studies and got a job at KFC. (And this is skimming over all the heartache we suffered during this time living with my mum. I love my mum, but you just can't have two households in one. Not to mention, my hubby had a medical condition that meant he couldn't run around with his kids, suffered extreme exhaustion, had several operations and was finally cured 6 months after baby number 3 was born. Everything fell on my shoulders during this time trying to support him through his medical problems, studies and to raise 3 kids, one of them being a new baby with a few problems of his own).
A few weeks after he landed the job at KFC and we thought maybe he'd just end up being a fast-food store manager, he got a call. A small company called The Airplane (Yes, that’s spelled right) Company offered him a position as a full-time flight instructor for $32, 000 a year (p/a is what we call it in Aus). This is right on the border of Australian minimum wage and meant we could move out of my mum's into a rental, but we couldn't eat or live. We paid the rent to keep a roof over our heads and I started trying to make writing a career, hoping one day I might be good enough to make a little money, maybe even enough that I wouldn't need to work at a check-out in Coles.
Life was very tough, and we nearly separated more than once. We hated each other and I became so depressed I locked myself in the house for about two years and left only to take my kids to school. I didn’t talk to anyone. I kept my head down and if anyone said hello, I felt like crying. I didn't even shop at the grocery store. My husband would come home after a 10 hour shift at the Aeroplane Company and would have to find something to feed our 3 young boys (this was usually after 6 pm). And on the income we were on, it was usually noodles or cereal.
Debt swallowed us whole and at the point we couldn't take anymore, 3 weeks before Christmas, the Areoplane Company went into administration and a bunch of suits walked into the office, ushered everyone out and didn't even give them their last fortnight's pay.
But we remained positive. We got through Christmas (thanks to a loan from my AMAZING mum) and our kids were never the wiser for what had happened, but over the course of the next year, my husband couldn’t find a job. And he searched like I've never seen anyone search. Went for interviews all the time, nearly got jobs but lost them to people who had more skills. I mean, who needs the skills of a flight instructor? And the aviation industry was dead. He could work full-time in some flight schools but they would only pay for the hour or so he'd be IN the sky with a student. Never mind the briefing and teaching that came before it. They were taking advantage of a shortage of jobs and a mass of pilots (due to a government initiative to increase the number of pilots, without increasing jobs IN Australia).
Things got worse for us, and at about this time, after pouring all this depression and devastation into my books, I got my first cheque for $20. Yep, $20.
But I was thrilled. I'd finally been paid for writing. I was a legitimate author.
I started getting monthly cheques for around $700 after that, but with the debt we had and my husband still with no job, all that money did was pay interest on credit cards we would never pay off.
So, I put my head down and just kept writing. Just kept pouring everything I was and everything I suffered into those books. It was my best and only hope. I knew if I went to Coles and slid barcodes over a laser, I'd slit my own wrists. I envy people that can do that. I am just not strong enough. They say it has to do with creative tendencies: that people like me cannot endure the mundane. This is why authors and musicians quite often turn to drugs or massive amounts of alcohol. I am glad to say, though, that in all my depression, I never turned to drugs or alcohol.
Anyway, nearing the end of one year, Mike got an interview with a bus company to drive buses for $36, 000 a year. He pretty much had the job, but then, out of the blue, they called and said they were suspending all job applications while doing some massive clean-out in the company. We thought it was just that no one liked my husband, but anyone who's met him loves him. He's hard working, honest, always smiling. What’s not to like?
We didn't take it to heart. We tried to see it as a positive--that maybe there was a better path out there for him. But Christmas was around the corner again and I was getting worried. I looked at my books and sighed, thinking I knew what I had to do. I opened a job search on Google and started searching for the mundane. My depression had lifted a little and I was coping with things like conversations and leaving the house. I really hoped I could pull up my big-girl panties and survive a job at Coles.
After some thought, I decided to take a short course in editing and maybe become a freelance editor, but when I got my course leaflets and had just begun, Dark Secrets really took off, and my $700 cheques became more than $1500 cheques, and that was from just one company. Every month. Things were looking up. Mike, God bless him, told me I should be doing what I loved and that this was a sign.
We decided that I would keep writing, no matter what.
Later that week, he got a callback from a job application he’d made (one he did as more of a joke, really). It was time for another interview. It seemed good, but we were too damaged now to hope anymore.
He went for the job interview at Telstra and GOT THE JOB!!!!!
It was $36, 000 p/a (best we'd EVER had!!) and we slowly started paying our debts down and I braved the grocery store again, still unable to buy fancy food, but not cringing over the price of noodles anymore.
We all got a little healthier with the weekly dose of vegetables and meat, and I even lost some weight and started exercising. My kids actually smiled more and we even started going to parks to play (something I just couldn't face while so deeply depressed).
Then, a few weeks before Christmas a year later, my husband was roped into applying for the assistant manager's position at Telstra, and he actually got it!!!! We were shocked, but not as shocked as I was when they told us what the pay was. Let's just say we don't worry so much about money anymore. We're actually STILL in debt (his study fees and few other horrid interest-bearing cards), but nothing we can't handle with a regular income. And through that period before he got the assistant manger position, it was my books that put veggies on the table, McDonald’s on the 'okay' list and bought Christmas presents for my 3 very grateful boys.
Writing has changed my life, as you can see, in more ways than one. My heart and soul are in those books in more ways than anyone can possibly imagine. In those dark days that I couldn't even leave my bed without crying or contemplating hanging myself with a bathrobe belt, writing was my only salvation. I couldn’t look at my boys and say I was here for them, because I truly believed they'd be better off if I was dead (not a rational thought at all). I couldn't find any rays of light in my life. I felt like the universe was against me and just pushing me that one step closer to the Devil's arms.
In that time, I just closed my eyes, put headphones in my ears and sat in my dark room, in my bed, and typed away. Even when I got really bad RSI, I wrapped my wrist and kept writing.
Ara and David saved my life, so, for someone to steal that idea and say it belongs to them, get praise for that, it hurt. As you can see, it hurt for more than one reason. I cried when I saw it and got in such a panic, all I could do was run out to my husband with my laptop in hand, hyperventilating, and try not to cry in front of my children. It hurt. Deeply.
So, let this be a lesson to anyone considering stealing someone else's work. Please. Just imagine what they might have been through to bring it to you. More times than one, I nearly didn't make it through the day. And I axed the idea of writing more than once. Had it not been for my husband convincing me, every time, and my AMAZING fans pleading with me to keep writing (even though they knew nothing of what was going on), we wouldn't be seeing Lies in Blood in 6 days' time. I owe my life to my fans and to my husband. I am not going to let anyone claim my story as their own achievement. It is not just a cool story about vampires. It's a journal of survival. My survival.
Did anyone hear about that nasty email and website that was going around slandering indie authors?
I was actually a little insulted NOT to be on this list.
My name never seems to come up in controversy. But controversy is really good advertising. They say bad media is still good media. So why wasn’t my name being slandered?
As it was said, the authors on this list had paid for reviews at one time or another.
When I read that, I was actually relieved not to be on the list. Some of these claims were untrue, though. Not all the authors had paid for reviews, and it’s not uncommon for an author to give away a free copy of their book in exchange for a review. There is nothing wrong with this. There are companies that accept payment for an honest review, and there are many authors who, in the early days of publication, indulge in this service to help boots ratings.
Personally, I do not have a problem with this at all. I don't feel as though it is unfair and I don't feel as though everyone should get their panties in a knot over it.
Having said this, I never felt the need to pay for reviews. I always wanted only honest reviews on my books. Even my family weren’t allowed to leave reviews unless they’d read the book. That brings it down to one person. And my husband. Only a very small handful of my friends have even read it, and I don’t think any of them left reviews, that I know of.
The thing is, newbie authors, if your book is good enough, you don’t need to pay for reviews. Let it stand out there on its own two feet and see what happens. If you get a lot of bad reviews, or maybe no reviews, maybe it’s time to reassess. I can’t tell you how many times I drew my books back in for a much-needed go-over (and this doesn't mean you're a failure. It means you're capable of learning). I had only 15 bad reviews on my book when it was Tears of the Broken, and over a 150 five-star reviews.
So why did I feel the need to listen to the negatives?
Because I got really upset over what some readers said. But the reason I got upset was because, deep inside, I agreed with them. They were like the boyfriend you realise you’re going to marry--the one who can see right through your facade.
So, the books came back in, were reworked and rereleased, and now I have more one-star reviews than I did before (30, to be exact). But of those reviews, they’re not saying the things they used to. Now, it’s all about Ara, basically. Some people don’t like her. And I’m fine with that. She creates a world of controversy all of her own, and that is the greatest achievement for an author. So, my negative reviews are actually all positives. And, as a plus, most people say in these negative reviews that the writing is brilliant and poetic, but the character is a whiney little brat.
Sweet. That’s awesome. That’s just what a writer wants to hear. It’s not my writing you don’t like. It’s my character. How can anyone possibly take insult to that? You can’t. And if you do (and I say this with love), you might need to get a backbone, or consider that you’re in the wrong profession.
My name never comes up in topics of controversy, e.g.; “Authors behaving badly” or any other such trending subjects, but this is because, even when I see bad/nasty reviews of my books, I conduct myself in a professional but also ultimately kind manner. Everyone has an opinion. And everyone’s opinion is fascinating to me. It’s like my own world of human behavioural research.
So my insult over not being one of the named authors died down. I was mainly only insulted because, at times, I feel like I don’t have a very good internet presence, but that’s not true. Nearly everyone has, at one point, heard of me before, or heard of my books. But in the wait for Worldwide Domination, not being mentioned in a controversial post can make you feel like you’re living under a rock and no one knows your name.
Now, if I said “Ara”, that would create a whole world of controversy and bad media. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want anyone to start a rumor thread about me. Ha ha ha ha. And I don’t actually want bad media. But when a list of indie authors went around and I wasn’t on it, I did start to wonder if maybe I should raise a little hell.
But I think I’ll stick to just being me. That’s the safest thing you can be as an author.
It's never been done before, folks, but today we're discussing the life and choices of Dark Secrets protagonist Ara-Rose Thompson. Facebook fans pooled together and threw some challenging questions her way, and our rising queen was only too happy to answer them. Let's hope this gives us a better understanding of our complex, moody, confused, young Ara.
Q: What do you see in all the guys in the series (David, Jason, and Mike)?
A: If answering this question from where I sit now--two years after I first met David--I’d say that, when I was in love with Mike, he was my protector, in a lot of ways. He’d always been like a big brother--the only boy I really had in my life. But that love changed as he and I got older, and he got cute. I started dating other boys and learned more about what I liked and disliked in a guy, then I realized at one point that Mike was never like any of those other guys. He was never nasty to me. He never ignored me, or told anyone my secrets. He never expected anything of me. He was just easy to be around, and he always looked at me like I was his everything. You can’t not fall in love with that. As for David--my first thoughts were that he was the most gorgeous guy I’d ever seen. His green eyes and that confident smile he tried to pass off as timid got me from the start. But, then, when I got to know him and found that there was this depth to him--something he kept from everyone else but me--I felt “included”. I felt like I was a part of him that he’d keep a secret for forever--protect for forever. I loved his compassion toward me, the way he’d think I was immature and annoying, but how he also loved that about me. Everything everyone else hated in me, he loved. And he was always there for me. It didn’t matter what he had going on, he cared enough to listen and, sometimes, that’s really all you need. As for Jason...well...I’ve always felt a connection to him. From the first moment our hands touched the night of the masquerade, I felt like I knew him--like there was just something...more. He’s kind and sweet and so selfless I was forced to care about him before I was even ready to forgive him for what he did to me. He’s the kinda guy that, if you were in a fight and he was in the wrong, he’d admit it right then and apologize. He puts everyone else before himself, and I know with all my heart that if he ever needed a new kidney, I’d give him one. In my eyes, he can do no wrong, really. He’s like my best friend, but with the face of my husband. I guess he’s what I wish David had turned out like.
I have a lot of love for all three of those guys. When I was seventeen and I first met David, I couldn’t distinguish the difference between the kind of love you have for a best friend and the kind you have for a boyfriend. These days, the lines are a lot clearer. I guess I just needed to feel loved so badly that I was looking for it in all the wrong places. But Mike and I are cool now, and all those old feelings are gone. I wish I could say the same for David and Jase, but I know that the time will come soon where I’m forced to choose, and the one I push away will be gone forever.
Q: Have you ever considered just chucking it all in and moving back to Australia?
A: Yes. But I’m bound to these people, their lives, their futures. If I left, I’d get as far as the coastline and start screaming for the pilot to turn the plane around.
Q: Are you afraid of what your future holds?
A: Not anymore. I was. But I’m strong now, and I don’t need anyone to guide me or show me the way. I have faith in myself that I can handle anything life throws at me. I say, bring it on.
Q: Why do you always seem to take on the guilt of the world?
A: It’s just my own guilt, really. I guess, when there’s a problem, my automatic reaction is to find what caused it, essentially--to go all the way back and find the absolute root of the root. Most times, I trace it back to something I did or said. Jason tells me I quite simply just have a very ‘science-minded’ brain. He says if I were to become a scientist, I’d do great. The guilt I feel is a personality trait, I guess. Like being moody in the mornings. I’m not sure it’ll ever change that much.
Q: Why do you have to hide your feelings, like the way you feel about Emily and David’s friendship (i.e.; how you think there was or is more to it)?
A: I don’t have to hide the way I feel. I try bringing it up with David, but he gets snappy and won’t talk about it. I very rarely, if you actually go through the books, leave things unsaid. I usually bring it up at some point. But if I don’t say it straight away, it’s because I think maybe I’m just being silly about it, and don’t want to upset everyone when there’s nothing to be upset over. I get like that sometimes--reading into things way too much. Know thyself.
Q: Why can’t you stop over-thinking things, and realize you need to feel more than think?
A: Because I’m young. Ha ha ha. But, yes, I do tend to let my brain get in the way, but often my heart does, too. If I listened only to my heart, I can’t even imagine what I would've done wrong by now to screw things up with David. I’ve learned that I have to listen to a combination of both my heart and my head. But my head just needed to do some growing up so I didn’t question myself as often.
Q: Why is it so hard for you to admit to yourself and others what your true feelings for Jason are?
A: Think about your boyfriend or husband. Now think about his best friend or brother. If you were in love with them, the best thing you can do for everyone is to ignore that. Don’t let yourself think it, and don’t ever say it. If you love your husband/boyfriend, if you promised to commit to them, you don’t get to walk out because you have a change of heart. The heart will change many times in the life of a marriage. If you jump ship for every Tom, Dick or Harry that comes along and ignites your blood, you’d never be able to commit to anything. The best thing to do is just quietly let it go and let it pass. A promise to be together is a promise you must keep, even if you don’t want to anymore. This is how you stay married for a lifetime. Ask an eighty-year-old couple how many times they’ve wanted to leave the marriage, and whether or not they think staying was the right choice. They’ll always tell you they’re glad they stayed. No matter what.
Q: Do you ever wish that you were still in Australia with your mom, Mike and little bro, even if it meant that you never met David?
A: Yes. But I may feel differently about that one day. At the moment, with everything we’ve suffered, I’m just not sure meeting him was really the best thing for me. I love him, but life would’ve been easier without him.
Q: Why can’t you just make up your mind about one guy and stick to it? Why do you feel the need to have all the male attention?
A: Well, I’d like to stick to one guy. But I had to work through a lot of inner issues to find out who I was in order to know what I wanted. I was seventeen when I met David. Seventeen when I was tortured by a vampire and nearly killed. I was seventeen and scared and lonely when I agreed to marry my best friend. If I’d had a normal life, I wouldn't have clung so hard to everyone that mattered to me. It just so happened that those that mattered were guys. If I’d had a best girl friend growing up, I might have clung to her. But I didn’t. So, Mike was it. But it wasn’t real love, and as soon as I figured that out, I let him go. I would actually rather not have all the attention of all the guys. I just want a normal life. I just want me and the man I’m in love with, and maybe a baby or two. Nothing else. I’m confused about Jason and David, and I don’t know why. I can’t control my heart. But I know there are thousands of other girls out there who are torn between David and Jason, too. So, I’m not alone. If people hate me for being torn, then they have to hate themselves, too, right? I’m only human. But I’ve also only recently learned that commitment means sticking to one guy, no matter what your heart says. For some people, their life lesson is patience, or self-control, or maybe even compassion. My life lesson is love--how to love. I had to learn how to love a friend and how that differed to a lover. I had to learn the difference between many types of love, because this wasn’t knowledge I was born with--it wasn’t taught to me in school. It wasn’t something I brought with me from another life. Some girls are smart and their heads are on their shoulders the right way. They know what they want, they’re sassy and independent from birth. But I’m just not that girl. And I know there are more girls like me (confused and arguing their head against their heart) than there are strong-willed ones. I’m still young, and we cannot berate ourselves for the choices we make when we’re children. Mistakes are a part of growing up--the only real way to learn. And one of the other ways we learn who we are is by gathering information on how other’s see us. That’s, I guess, why I the attention of boys is sometimes important: they see me for something I could never see in myself. I wouldn’t look in the mirror at my scars and say I was beautiful. I wouldn’t put on an outfit and think I looked hot. I used to think I only mattered if others thought I mattered--if they thought I was pretty or smart or thin, or whatever. That’s the mind of a young person. I see myself differently now: I look in the mirror and I decide if I’m pretty. I think about what I do and say, and I decide if it’s right. I know myself now, and I know who I am, and that’s only happened by making all these mistakes. I am a journey of my own. That’s my life--that’s my mountain to climb. And we all have different mountains.
If I told you half of the things that happened to me, you probably wouldn't believe me. I think it's a prerequisite of life for an author that you must experience all kinds of good, bad and ugly situations. And if I'd not told my husband about this one before the fact, he might not have believed it either. For the purpose of this post, we'll refer to our protagonist with a capital letter, since the what has kind of become the who. And the who is a long-necked white bird called Stork.
It all began one day, 5 years ago, after I had baby number 3. I decided that after spending my entire young adult life raising kids, it was time for me to focus on my career. I swore I was done having babies. So when I woke one morning a few weeks ago and this Stork was outside my window, I told him to go away. Shoo.
Get outta here.
And he left. But he wasn't done with me.
Later that week, I went for a walk down my favourite lakeside trail, and just as I was entering the bushland, Stork looked up from the creek nearby. I politely nodded and hurried past. If I left him alone, maybe he'd leave me alone.
But he didn't. He came gracefully swooping down, following the path of the creek, and landed on the bridge up ahead--right where I needed to cross. This is unusual behaviour for our wildlife, and I did think it rather odd. I mean, I'd seen him before, but he'd never followed me. I said hello again and continued on my merry way. When I got home, I told my husband about the bird and we both laughed saying we hoped I wasn't pregnant.
It wasn't until hubby and I went walking together yesterday, after receiving our happy news, that I saw Stork and suddenly stopped, grabbed my husband's arm and said, "Oh my God! Remember that Stork story I told you!"
He just sighed, shaking his head, then took a photo of the bird to catalogue upon documentation of this amazing situation. Things like this happen to me quite often. They are very rarely surprising.
So, if you were wondering where babies come from, they do, in fact, come from the stork. Or perhaps by will of the stork. I'm not saying I had unsavoury relations with a long-necked white bird, but that perhaps there is some truth to this whole stork myth. Mind you, if this was a Family Guy episode, the stork would have followed me down the trail, clocked me over the back of the head and said, "Giggidy-giggidy goo."
And yes, this is the reason I will be releasing (or aiming to release) the books early. Will it mean they are rushed?
Heavens, no. I need to fully flush out the story and the plot, and this takes time. Ideally, I'd like all the books released by March next year but, in truth, I think Lies in Blood will come as early as September (cooperative editor willing), and the last book will follow roughly six months after. But if I have to release late next year, so be it. I guess it's better to have a great product than an early one. So, do not despair. I will be finishing the series. I will be writing more, and no, that won't change once I have the baby. I've done this a few times before, so I know that a new bubba might slow me down a little, but it will never stop me. The Elora series will still be happening, and I will still be in contact with you all on social media sites.
Now, I'm off to deliver a trail of children to school, and when I get back, I have section 3 for the Beta Team to finish. With any luck and a lot of hard work, I could be done tomorrow or the next day. And, I tell you, it's juicy!
It's no secret that balancing work and life is a skill that takes a lot of practice and, sometimes, a few miracles. Unless you're a miracle mom. Well, guess what? I'm not. I am probably among the most useless multitaskers out there, and I suffer from the more than occasional bout of 'House Duty Laziness'. By 'House Duty Laziness' I mean, I really do not like housework, and avoid it as much as possible. You know those people who wash their floors after dinner every night? Yeah, I'm not one of them. My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to give me the free time I need to write. But, today got off to a particularly bad start.
As some of you may know, my house was broken in to on Friday night. My husband was away with his band, and I was alone. I was afraid to go to sleep on both Friday and Saturday night, which left me as a zombie during the day. On Saturday at 8 AM, I got a call from the forensics guy, asking to come in at 8:30 AM and dust for fingerprints. Yikes! I was still in my pjs, and my house was still quite messy. I jumped up, went crazy with the tidying, and opened the door right on time for the very cute cop to come inside. He liked my cat.
After that, I had to start getting cupcakes ready for my nephew's birthday, and get my other son to a party at 2 PM. I baked the cupcakes and ran down to get the decorations. But, I missed the cake store. It closed at 12. So, I came back, readied my son for the party and delivered him, then got home and tried to get an hour's sleep. When I arrived to pick up my son from the party, he wasn't in the pool with the other kids. He was sitting out. I was then informed that he'd been sick since 20 minutes into the party. I hadn't heard my phone ringing when they tried to let me know. So, he sat there the whole time, shivering, feverish, and feeling like throwing up, and I wasn't there. Why didn't I answer my phone?.....because it was on silent--something that happens quite often, but not deliberately. I should have made sure my phone was not on silent, and I should have had it in my pocket. But, I am a harebrained mother. Yep. 1 point in the 'Useless' column.
However, the parents of the party girl took really good care of Kyan, and even bought him a hot chocolate to keep him warm. They were every lovely people. And Kyan was very thankful to them.
Anyway, so I get home and we all have takeout for dinner (again) because I was just too tired to cook. So tired, in fact, that I nearly hit 3 cars on the way home. But, all was well because the day was over.
But so came the night, and the fear of burglars.
I went to bed with a knife under my pillow, but refused to go to sleep until my husband got home (at 4 AM). I fell asleep, though, some time just before 2 AM, and woke to him brushing my hair off my face (a sweet goodnight). I nearly jumped out of my skin and attacked him. Ha ha ha. I sleepwalk when I'm really tired. So, he's lucky I didn't instinctively kill him.
Anyway, so, Sunday came, and I had to go to the shop to get cupcake decorations. But the shops here don't open until 11 AM on a Sunday. My nephew's party was at 1:30 PM. I was running out of time, and still had to get a costume for my son from my sister's house because, as you guessed it, my useless parenting stepped up to make sure I didn't have one. All our costumes are in the garage--stored away because the kids kept leaving them out. Well, that punishment backfired.
Anyway, so, I went to the shop but only took $20 with me--just enough to get the cupcake stuff, and not enough to get milk or food for lunch for school tomorrow. (In Aus, we pack lunch for our kids in a lunchbox. They have a cafeteria, which we call a canteen or tuckshop, but they don't sell very good food there, and Preschoolers (like my son Will) can't go to the canteen).
So, Monday comes around and my eldest son enters at 6 AM, asking where his uniform is. I told him it was in the basket by the dryer. He found it in the washing machine---unwashed. Apparently, I'd forgotten to turn the machine on. Yup. Parenting points for me.
He ironed (pressed) his own pants (he's 12), and was now late for his bus, so I had to drive him, get breakfast for the little ones (because there was no milk or bread, so McDonald's it was) and still had to go to the shop (that opened at 8 AM) and then get to school before it started at 8:25. I wasn't dressed. It was getting late (7:30 AM by this point), and Jake's school was across town--about 10-15 minutes drive.
"Yup," I told the boys. "We're gonna be late." But was determined not to be. We're not usually late, or this disorganised. Okay, so, maybe sometimes.
I located uniforms for the little ones, dressed my self while they dressed themselves, and loaded everyone up in the car--upsetting Kyan on the way because I told him we wouldn't have time for McDonald's. He asked why nothing in his life ever turned out the way he plans, and why he has such crappy days all the time.
I asked him to tell me why that was case--why he thought life was like that.
He told me God is preparing him for adult life.
Well, at least I made the good choice to send them to a Catholic school. One parenting point in the 'Way-to-go' column, right?
Anyway, we dropped Jake off, and I get to Coles (supermarket) and gather up recess and lunch supplies. They had a cheese and bacon bread roll, cupcakes, apple, and two other packaged, unhealthy items for their lunchbox. I ran across town and gave them McDonald's so that my son wouldn't lose his faith in life, and when I went to pack their lunch into their lunchboxes in the trunk of the car, realised I had forgotten the sandwich bags (or wrappers). Their bread rolls and cupcakes had to be put in their lunchboxes unwrapped.
Parent of the year!
We rock up at school, and the classroom door is locked because all the kids are already at assembly. Will (my 5 year old) goes through the other classroom door to get a mat to sit on at assembly, and we head over to find his teacher just as all the kids sit down after singing their school anthem. Silence ensued. Will went to walk down the centre of the aisle to get to his class, and I pulled him back and told him to walk around the outside so no one would see us. But all the 'good' moms and a couple of cute dads and a very cute, very new teacher, saw me walking my preschooler late into assembly and slink away at a very fast pace, hiding my shameful face.
I concluded, as I sped away from the school (at the correct speed limit), that I might have to get a nanny very soon.
But, although this sounds like a negative post--me bagging on myself for being useless--I pride myself on being a good mom where it counts. They might not always have pressed pants or be on time for school, but I teach them what they need to know about life, and love them unconditionally. And I guess, at the end of the day, that's what they'll remember when they grow up and have their own kids.
So, to all the moms out there who don't sweep their floors every night, who skip every second page at story time, and who sometimes put junk food in their kids' lunchboxes, this post is for you. Let's not be hard on ourselves. Parenting, after all, is hard enough.
You are all great moms. And...now they're all at school, let's just kick back and read a book. That laundry pile won't wash itself, but it's damn-well worth the try.
I warn you! Before you watch this, be prepared. I am the world's biggest goofball. Yep. I find myself amusing; hope you do too. This is just a video diary of me and my husband Mike walking out at Point Peron in WA. Not much of anything very interesting going on.
There are many measures of fame. I never think of myself as famous, but maybe well-known among certain circles. However, I have recently been stopped in my local community several times by people who have read my books. This is weird for me, because I'm somewhat of an undercover writer. No one I know really knows what I do. Friends, yes, but not acquaintances. So it's very strange for me to be recognised here in Australia.
But I'm going to talk to you today about what life was like for me before I was famous, and some of you may be quite surprised to learn a few facts that, until now, I've held rather dear.
It all began when I was 15. Wow, that's a boring way to start a story. Okay, try this;
On my 15th birthday, a few months after my parents split, I got a call from a guy telling me he was my supposedly dead brother (the one who died of SIDS before I was born). I cried, screamed, called my mum and yelled down the phone that this was the worst prank anyone could play on me--especially given everything I was going through at the time. My mum took the phone and talked with this boy, who turned out to be my dad's son--one he had before he met my mum. Wow! I'd just gained the brother I always wanted. Growing up in a house with three girls, we'd always prayed for this moment (be careful what you wish for). And a few months after this, we were blessed with a little baby brother as well, who is now 14, and one of the people I treasure most in my life.
But, the same year I found out I had a big brother, was also the same messed up year I decided I wanted to write. I wrote a magazine article for English studies at school, and took on the persona of an abused child. The teacher sent me to the school counsellor, thinking my article was me 'reaching out'.
I was not abused, for the record. But I was grateful to my teacher for being so vigilant.
That same year, I met and fell in love with a man who was 22 at the time and had thought I was 16 when we met. He had blue eyes, a cheeky smile, and played the guitar. He also had a motorbike, and loved Bon Jovi--even dedicated Bed of Roses to me (for reasons I may one day cover in another post). He confessed that, if I was older, he would be with me. But promised to wait until I turned 18. He didn't wait. And this, folks, was my first true heartbreak. But, it gave me a lot of material. However, with things going so wrong in my family for so long, I just couldn't focus on school, and my grades dropped until, eventually, I left school in tenth grade.
Baby brother was born in Jan 1998, and we moved to Sydney just after April--my mum getting back with my dad, even though the baby wasn't his (I know, isn't he great to take on another man's child?). I decided to take this fresh start and get on with my life. I was 16 at the time, and went to a school in Engadine called St John Bosco, where I met the boy I would eventually marry. And yes, he had perfect dark-pink lips, a wide grin and lovely dark hair. I decided I was in love with him after two weeks of dating, and never looked back. His name is Mike, but he's nothing like Mike from the books. Funny enough, he's nothing like David either. But all my characters have been based slightly on my husband in some way, and he has contributed (by the things he says to me in conversations) to a lot of David's romantic one-liners. Yep, folks, these words of David's were truly spoken once, and there are guys out there that say them.
Anyway, I left school again (it just really wasn't for me), and we had a baby (that we planned, because we both wanted kids early in life) and by 21, I was having baby number 2 and we were getting married. He played in a band and we owned our own home (a little helping hand his father left when he passed away), and things were okay. But I had sat down to write many times, and just couldn't get the words to flow from my brain to a page. To be honest, I really had no idea how to paint a scene. So, I put things away for a while and focused on raising my 2 boys. But the dream inside me wouldn't die.
My husband focused on getting famous with his music, but the long months on tour and low pay saw us fall into the financial pit-holes everyone at that time did. The Global Financial Crisis had set in deep by then, and we were forced to sell our home. Mike, at this time, decided he needed a better paying job. He chose to become a pilot. But, this cost us everything we had left over from the sale of our home. We moved in with my mum for three years, and in that time, had baby (not planned) number 3.
I had just gone back to work when I fell pregnant, but I was miserable in my job. The thing about creative people is, they struggle to do mundane and ordinary jobs. It eats at our soul. So, I decided I needed to do what I loved. I loved writing. I was a great poet, but not so good at story telling. I had been trying to write children's books, but my heart clearly wasn't in it. So, I decided to write adult fiction. I got on the internet and Googled "How to write". I read blog after blog after blog on writing styles, do's and don'ts, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and publishing. And while doing this, started writing on a notepad. My story began with a blue pen, a stiff neck, and a dining table. I had no desk, borrowed a computer to research, and had no time between lack of sleep, caring for a newborn baby, washing bottles, and two other young children. But I wasn't going to give up. I decided that I wanted to do this, no matter what got in my way.
And I did.
Mike finished pilot training, studying in a house full of children and people coming in and out all the time (being that it wasn't our house, we couldn't moderate visits, and had family and their kids over nearly every afternoon), and we eventually moved out into a nice rental when my baby was a week shy of two years old. By this time, a story about a boy who lived in the 1800s (David), who ruined a girl's reputation by sleeping with her outside marriage (Ara), that then goes into the Navy at his father's (Arthur) request and dies (but actually becomes a vampire) had turned into a story about a young girl who went to a new school when her life was falling apart, and there she meets a boy.
I worked hard on this story for about a year, never telling anyone I was even trying to write. I kept it as a little secret. Then, one day, decided to show it to my sister Kate. And she LOVED it. After that, I decided I would publish it.
While looking into publishers and agents, and writing queries, my husband came home and, three weeks before Christmas that year, told me the company he was working for had gone into administration and everyone lost their jobs, without their last fortnight's pay.
But the worst part was that he couldn't land another job. Aero companies at the time were basically abusing the rights of flight instructors, and wanted him to work unreasonable hours and only pay him for the time he was in the air. Basically, he'd work a 45 hour week, but only get paid for roughly 3 or, if he was lucky, 4 hours a day. He chose to find another occupation. But, after applying for even the worst kinds of jobs, a year went by and we were on the brink of being homeless.
Then, a shining light glimmered up ahead.
He landed a job around the same time that I published The Knight of the Rose, and we suddenly had a stable income for the first time in our lives, and I was getting monthly cheques as well. My very first ever cheque from Amazon was for $22.00. I still have the cheque. And from there, they grew and grew, until, finally, I was making a decent living. We went from nothing, almost being on the street and having debts so deep we couldn't pay even one cent, to being okay again. And it was largely due to the money my books brought in.
But I am blessed, and I thank God every day for the struggles we went through, because I know there cannot be a poet without the pain, and one cannot write a storm if they've never been through the rain. Dark Secrets is filled with the heartache and torment I've been through in my life--things I wouldn't elaborate on in a blog post--and I want you all to know that, not only can you rise out of the ashes of your own misery, but also that I rose above it all because of the love and support of my readers. So, thank you all for believing in me. I owe this post about before I was famous to you, because without you all, there'd be no fame for me.
All right. All right. I'll tell you.
So, we've all been waiting for the next book, Lies in Blood, but with me working so hard on the revised editions this last 8 months, I haven't been focusing on writing as much as I would've liked to.
But, alas, I bring you good news.
Yesterday, I finished the revisions and sent the last book off to the editors. It is in their hands now. And today! I can focus on Lies in Blood.
All I have done this entire day is write, write and more write. There came a point during all my revisions, where I started to wonder if writing was what I truly wanted to do anymore. It seems like it was just a dull moment where editing continually got the better of me because, today, I am back on track, loving my job.
So, where are we up to with this next book?
I have written approximately 114 A4 pages (done and ready for the Beta Team), which, when translated to eBook pages, would be a lot more. As a paperback, it's roughly 98 pages. And this is only the first 1/4 of the book, if that. There is still so much to go. Those of you who enjoy a nice long read, that's exactly what you're going to get.
In the first 1/4, you will see some of the lies in the manor unravel. You will see Ara grow up more and become an adult. You will see someone confide in another and get hurt because of it. The truth about the Dagger of Yahanna (the one to kill Drake) will be unsheathed another notch, and people you thought you could trust will now reveal themselves as liars from the beginning, while those you were cautious of become allies.
I am very excited about Lies in Blood, and I think this one will have the plot line you've all been waiting for.