SNEAK PEEK: The Wandmaker’s Apprentice by Mitchell Tierney

Chapter One

The Streets of Yorktown

 1 Wandmarkers apprentice ebookClaude ran as fast as his feet would allow him. The cobblestones were cold and uneven. He wove through the bazaar, ducking and weaving through markets, over the top of wooden crates and through roads packed with Clydesdale horses. They saw him and raised their front hooves, slamming them down hard on the stone ground.

‘Hey!’ a rider yelled at the young boy. ‘Watch where you’re going!’

‘Sorry, Sir!’ Claude yelped, dipping his cap to him.

He pressed his back against the brick wall and quickly caught his breath. Sweat beaded on his brow so he took his flat cap off and wiped his forehead with the back of his sleeve. His shirt was covered in holes and his pants were dirty. His boots were stitched together with string and fishing line. The importance of his task suddenly struck him, and he sucked in a lungful of air and started running again.

The journey took him through the streets of Yorktown, past the church where Father Jacob was hanging his clothes on the back line.

‘Why in such a hurry, Claude Wells?’ he yelled, as Claude zipped passed him and leapt over the fence.

‘It’s father!’ Claude yelled back.

Through alleyways lined with trash and slop buckets, Claude made his way to the end of town where a small building stood amongst the taller houses. On the door was a red cross, the paint peeling and faded. He stumbled the last few steps, his lungs squeezing and gasping for air. Up the stairs, he finally paused, raising his fists and banging on the wooden door. A woman answered quickly.

‘Why are you bashing on my door? Are you trying to turn it into kindle?’

‘It’s… my… father,’ Claude begged.

‘Get up boy, I can’t have you gasping and sweating on my front porch. Come through quickly.’

The woman, who was dressed all in white, and wearing a nurse’s cap, took him through a room full of people lying on beds. Most of them had handkerchiefs covering their mouths. They were all coughing and looked gravely ill.

‘Sit here. I will fetch the doctor.’

‘But!’ Claude said, leaping to his feet.

‘Sit!’ she demanded and pointed to the chair.

Claude sat, but was unable to keep still.

Suddenly the Doctor appeared. He had blood on his apron still and his hair was dishevelled.

‘What is it boy?’ he yelled. ‘I’m in the middle of surgery!’

‘It’s father… he’s not well again.’

The Doctor looked towards the door, as if expecting to see him standing there. He looked back at the young boy.

‘I’ll be there when I can.’

‘No,’ Claude said, rushing over to him. ‘Mother said it’s bad this time. You must come now.’

‘Okay,’ the Doctor nodded, looking down at the small boy in his ragged clothes. ‘After I sew this man’s leg up, if he hasn’t lost too much blood from me being out here conversing with you, I’ll come by.’

Claude saw the woman reappear, as if her and Doctor weren’t allowed to be in the same room at the same time.

‘Thank you,’ Claude said as he headed towards the door.

‘Tell your mother it will be 4 shillings!’

Claude pushed on the door and didn’t look back. He ran into the street and up through the alley way. There were people heading down from the township to see the Doctor. They were all coughing and spitting. Claude didn’t know how they were going to pay the Doctor to come out to see them.

He headed towards home, going faster than he had before.

Chapter Two

The Sickness

Claude sat beside his father’s bed and watched his mother dampen his brow with a wet cloth. His sweating was profuse and relentless. His father complained about the heat, even though the air in the small house was chilly.

His mother picked up a jug of water and poured a little into a glass. She lifted his head and he sipped it, before spitting it out over his drenched sheets and coughing wildly.

‘When did he say he would be here, Claude?’

‘I don’t know. He didn’t say. He was fixing a man’s leg.’

Claude stood up and looked at his father. He was pale and his eyeballs had receded into their sockets. He looked ghastly.

‘Get the last of the bread,’ his mother told him. Claude did as he was told and ran to the kitchen. It was small, with shelves with no doors and a cooler box with no ice. There was a bucket of filthy water and flies buzzing around old onion skins. Under a small cloth was two slices of bread from a loaf they had brought weeks ago. Claude picked them up as if it was the last piece of bread on earth and took it back into the room. His mother took them from him and tried to feed it to her husband, but he refused.

‘You eat it,’ he told her. ‘Do not waste it on me.’

‘It’s not a waste,’ she told him. ‘Not if you get well.’

‘What if I don’t get well,’ his father said, followed by a violent cough that produced mucus on his lips.

There was a harsh banging on the door and Claude looked at his mother, who appeared afraid. He jumped to his feet and bolted for the door, swinging it open. Doctor Herbert stood on the doorstep. His shirt was stained with red and he was carrying his medical bag. He looked unpleasant.

‘Are you going to let me in, boy? Or should we wait till your father passes into the next world?’

Claude moved aside and the Doctor rushed in, looking around frantically.

‘They’re in the bedroom,’ Claude announced, pointing to the end of the hall.

The Doctor marched forward into the room, shutting the door behind him. After a little time, Claude could hear his mother crying. He crept slowly towards the door and pressed his ear to it.

‘…the sickness. There is no cure. Only rest and water and pray that it passes. I can give him something for the pain, but he is in a bad state.’

Claude knew they didn’t have 1 shilling to pay for the medicine, let alone 4 shillings for the home visit.

‘I’ll return in a week. If he gets worse, send the boy.’

The door swung open and Claude nearly fell into the room. The Doctor looked down at him with narrowed eyes.

‘Eavesdropping, boy?’

‘Will my father get better?’

‘He needs the right medicine and clean water,’ the Doctor looked around the room and marched back towards the front door. Claude followed him.

‘If he can’t work, then you must,’ the Doctor told him.

‘I can’t. I’m only 14. Apprenticeships start at 16.’

Doctor Herbert leant down, so he was face to face with Claude.

‘Ever heard about lying, boy. Either you bring in money, or….’ Doctor Herbert looked over his shoulder at the room at the end of the hall. ‘Tell the employment office I will vouch for you.’

Far down the hall he could hear his father coughing and splattering. The Doctor stood back up and stomped out of the house. Claude shut the door and slumped down to the ground.

That night, his father got worse. Due to the house only having one room, Claude slept in the small nook in the evening room where the fireplace was. There was no wood and it had not been lit for some years. His blanket was an old rug he found in the alleyway in town. He slept on rags for a mattress and his pillow was a balled-up shirt his father never wore anymore. The window above him let in moonlight. From where he lay, he could see the stars. They seemed so far away and, no matter how much he focused, he still couldn’t see what they were. He heard footsteps coming down the hall. It was his mother. She fetched more water from the bucket and returned to the room. She had been awake now for over two nights, keeping vigil over her husband. What the Doctor had said to Claude had resonated with him. It rattled around his skull like a loose marble. Tomorrow, he thought, I will go to the job market and look for an apprenticeship. I will lie about my age and get father the medicine he needs. He closed his eyes and thought no more.

Want more? Coming  mid-March!

Ouroborus Authors Roundtable Review 2019

The last year of the twenty-teens has been a big one for many, and the crew at Ouroborus Books are no exception. For today’s blog, our authors answered some candid questions about the year that was, and the decade to come.

First, some 2019 stats:

New books published: 4

(Children of the Locomotive, Haunted, Amity and Eye of the Storm)

Total words published: 387,501

Blog posts: 26

Now, onto the all-important questions and answers!

Sum up 2019 in a single sentence

Annalise: For me, 2019 has been about the changes in my life and that it can take a lot out of someone.

Shayla: I think I can sum it up in two words: treading water.

Rob: “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

What was the biggest lesson 2019 taught you?

Annalise: The biggest lesson that I got from 2019 was to do things as soon as possible. As in editing. I found editing EoS to be quite challenging, challenging enough that I actually had to rewrite some parts. I think if I had finished some things earlier, then I would’ve given myself less pressure.

Danica: 2019 was full of ups and downs, fun travels, some extreme lows. But lessons that will allow me to grow and become to person I want to be.

Sabrina: That I can be true to myself and get along just fine.

Amanda: This year I learned a lot about perseverance. It has been a very heavy year for me personally with a lot of sickness throughout the year making other parts of my life difficult. I came face to face with the state of my mental health and have had to start the process of improving my quality of life in many ways. So generally I have learned and am still learning that I need to make time for myself and do what I can, not do everything thrown at me to make people happy otherwise I will be setting myself up to fail over and over again.

Josh: To just breathe, and let things sort themselves out.

Who inspired you in 2019?

Annalise: I suppose I can’t list everyone who inspired me in 2019. I had a lot of advice given to me by Shayla, Amanda and friends I’ve treasured.

Shayla: Greta Thurnberg. Children and young people with guts and vision constantly inspire me. This girl is taking a stand that matters and I am behind that 100%.

Rob: Oh my god, so many people, it’s been an awesome year for fantasy in general! But I think my no 1 goes to Neil Gaiman, watching my idol making his dreams come true on TV was amazing.

What was your favourite read of the year?

Annalise: So it’s a fanfiction, that I never thought that I would read. I don’t often read these kinds of fiction, but I saw a comic adaptation of it which prompted me to read it. I fell in love with the writing and only wish it was completed.

Sabrina: The Institute by Stephen King.

Josh: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.

How did this year progress you as a writer?

Annalise: I managed to successfully edit and publish Eye of the Storm. With the revision, I decided to revise Book 3 and got down above 100,000 words completed. On top of that, I have started Book 4 again, but while that’s been slow – I think it will pick up once my personal life settles a bit.

Amanda: This year as a writer I went through a long tunnel that had no end in sight. I was having trouble finding my way back to writing after life had gotten in the way and forced me to brush it aside. Since I use my writing as a creative outlet my mental health suffered due to this and I had to work to get through the tunnel and over the wall that was holding me back. Now I am back in the writing game, stronger than ever and writing my new books to the best of my ability and around my important life events.

Did you meet your 2019 goals?

Annalise: Did I meet my personal 2019 goals? Yes. On top of that, I have met some goals I had for 2020, such as getting a new car and finally getting a house to enjoy. Did I meet my writing goals? I like to say I did, but I kinda gave my series a soft reboot so I couldn’t finished my final book of the series.

Josh: No.

Shayla: Neither, I got totally derailed.

Amanda: In short, no. At the start of the year I knew I wanted to try and finish at least The White Wolf Trilogy (TWWT). I haven’t even managed that, because of the tunnel I found myself in and I struggled to find the end. I have now set new goals for the new year and I hope that they are more achievable than this year’s with my schedule.

What are your main goals for 2020?

Annalise: Writing-wise, I would like Book 4 to be finished and if I get enough funds I should be able to send Book 3 off to publishing.

Danica: Mine is to focus on my series Battles of Azriel. For I would like to publish book 3, get book 4 into editing and writing book 5. Let’s hope I can stay focused enough.

Sabrina: More writing. This year has been a hard one for me time-wise so I want to get some set time for writing next year.

Josh: Definitely get more of book 2 done.

Amanda: I really only have one writing goal for the new year, that is to finish writing TWWT. I have now started writing the final book so I believe this is completely doable. I have this goal because in 2021 I will be entering third year of my uni studies and I know I won’t get very much time to write. To allow for my readers to have closure before this time I want to have the books ready to go so that I don’t feel stressed about my writing projects during heavy study times. I still plan to write while I have heavier study, though nothing will probably be published in those two years except the third instalment of TWWT. As far as non-writing related goals go, I want to continue to better my physical and mental health that I have already started the journey for, I just want to maintain my current routine in regards to this and help better my general health as a whole.

What can readers anticipate from you in the new year?

Annalise: If I had an evil moustache, I would be twirling it. I have plans to publishing a free-to-read trivia from the Sacred Stone. I’m hoping to get some more lore down once things start settling. With everything going on, I have to see how I go though.

Shayla: New year, new author brand! I’m launching my newsletter, finally.

Rob: Well if I can get my mundane life together and scratch up the cash for it I’ll be publishing book 3, The Red Gentleman next year. It features Xavier at his most, excitable.

Grand plans for the ‘20s?

Annalise: First off, I want to start getting into my career. This way I will be able to feel mentally and physically satisfied. Hopefully with some funds, I want to be able to publish the remainder of the books and try to sell them at Dymocks. Which can only be sold in Perth because… haha… there’s nothing up here.

Sabrina: Take over the world!

Amanda: Really for the 20s I will be progressing from my 20s to my 30s. With my impending wedding in 2020 and university graduation set for 2022, I will be setting myself up in the teaching profession and cruising towards domestic bliss, and hopefully the beginning of starting a family with my husband to be. Writing-wise I will be entering into a new project next year and while I finish my studies so I am hoping to bring my new project to life with some world building and story development as we progress throughout the decade.

Very importantly: what’s on your wish list this Christmas?

Annalise: A pony! Haha not really. Poor thing would be squashed in this place. But I haven’t really thought of things I wanted.

Shayla: A pony is on my wish list every single year. Instead I have asked for tickets to German Comic Con in June because they don’t need to be fed as much.

Danica: Well I’d like a plane ticket that will take me to Africa or Egypt but I’ll settle for a new computer to help the writing progress.

 

From Amanda, Annalise, Danica, Josh, Mitchell, Rob, Sabrina and Shayla.

Writing on Medication

Although this topic may be taboo, or not talked about at all, writing on medication can be an obstacle. When I first started anti-anxiety medication, I thought it would affect my writing. I figured it would stifle the flow of ideas by making my brain zombified and non-creative. In fact, I found that it didn’t affect my writing at all, but I was lucky. It’s not this way for everyone.

A lot of writers I know are on some form of anti-depression or anxiety meds, in fact, most people I know, regardless of being creative, are on something. It isn’t something to be hidden or ashamed of: I embrace my anxiety disorder and tell people that the medication changed my life for the better. I remember thinking, when I first started it, ‘If this affects my writing, I’m not taking it.’ I was prepared to have panic attacks and be anxious in order to keep my creative output flowing. Luckily, my meds didn’t interfere with my writing, so I was able to overcome the panic attacks and keep writing.

images.jpgSome medication will obviously not work in this way, it will make you numb, and it will stop the flow of writing. As with all meds, you can switch and change (under the supervision of your advising physician) until you find one that fits with your life. I’ve taken different medication before, and the one I’m on now has made me cloudy. You feel like you haven’t woken up properly. Your body is moving and you’re speaking, but you aren’t all there. In time the cloud moves along, and you return to semi-normal, then after even longer, normal. It’s important to take care of your mental health first, then work with your doctor to try and get on a path back to the keyboard.

It isn’t anything to be ashamed of, or kept secret, but if you feel uncomfortable telling people, then it’s just between you and your GP. You might find other people are on the same medication or can give you opinions of meds that they took and liked or didn’t like. I’m on Effexor. I take it at night, so if the cloud comes in, I’m asleep. I don’t get anxiety anymore and my writing has continued on as normal. What’s happened for the better is, I don’t spend weekends stressing and fretting about something at work; it gets pushed aside and then I’m allowed to write uninterrupted. For me, that’s an improvement. If your mental health is interfering with your creative processes, your productivity and your overall wellbeing, consult with doctor about options, because it doesn’t have to be this way.

Mitchell Tierney

If you or someone you know are having issues and need to talk to someone please approach your doctor or click here for a list of helplines worldwide.

Announcing Amity!

Hello, Bonjour, Hola, it’s me, Danica, the middle child of Ourorborus, the author of Battles of Azriel series, and the person known around Supanova as the Girl that wears Glitter. When people get to know me, I often get the quote, “I didn’t expect that from someone so sparkly.”

front amity.jpgToday I want to talk to you about the release of my new book, Amity. I can hear a lot of you already say “about time.” Yes, I am finally happy with it and releasing it to the world at Brisbane Supanova this year.

If you don’t know about the Supanova events; are you living under a rock? Joking, Supanova is a Comic Con and gaming convention. If you love films, comic books, anime or games that surround the fantasy genre, it is the place for you. It is not a place your bank account will love, but your inner nerd will be having a party.

The 2019 Brisbane event is being held the weekend of 8th to 10th of November, so you should come down, check out it out, and come see my new book. The cover is beyond stunning, done by the talented Dayna. Check out her Facebook: AnotherMisfit. She is a fellow author as well as one of my good friends – thank you Facebook writing group for introducing us.

Amity will be the third book I have released. The first two, Lost World and Colours Within are a part of the series Battles of Azriel, and the third in that saga will be released in 2020 for all of you that are wondering. I apologise for the delay in its release. I will explain why soon.

About two years ago, I had this really bizarre dream of being in a thunderstorm and being attacked by growing wolves and having to fight them off with magic. And this weird dream is where the idea of Amity began. This scene from my head is actually in the story. But I sat down that morning to write, and it was my day off and I didn’t stop writing until that night. In a whole day, I had a very rough first draft.

Few months later, I was critiqued about a short story I had written. The first draft had a LGBT twist, which was denied, the second draft had no romance, was denied, the third draft, my heart no longer in the story, it was of course, denied. Because of this, I lost it, the inspiration, the faith in my writing. My mind and soul had a very painful, destructive breakup. However, writing is my sanity, and not writing for a few months was painful, so I sat down, and started everything from scratch. I messaged my editor and said I wanted Lost Heirs back (the third book of Battles of Azriel), I ignored the notes from my editor in Amity, as both of these were going to have complete rewrites. This is why Battles of Azriel wasn’t released a year ago, when it should have been.

I focused on Amity first. I didn’t think it was as important because I hadn’t got people invested into it yet. It was the book that was going to help me find my voice again. Working with Amity was interesting; she is a character that has gone through a lot and was afraid of who she was, and letting people see who she was, because she was afraid of rejection. The story is a fantasy-filled novella, allowing characters to know what others are feeling. It’s a rite of passage, allowing Amity to go from who she was born as to who she was meant to be.

It was a little bit difficult for me writing Amity because it didn’t have Arya in it. For those of you who have read Battles of Azriel, you’ll know she is one of the most important characters. She is also the most important character to me, for she was the first character I ever created. She wasn’t the first character I wrote about – when I was a child I would write stories, but I never gave background, or meaning, it was just the story at hand. When I was thirteen, I created Arya, her past, who she was, her future, her powers, her emotions. Even when she isn’t the main character, she is in the story. Amity is the first story I’ve written and finished that doesn’t involve Arya. And being apart from her was extremely difficult, but the break from her was good, and now I know that even when the series ends, I’ll be able to write without her.

In Amity, I actually enjoyed editing. Like I always love editing in the sense that when Sabrina sends me back my work, there is all this red pen, and I love working with stuff to improve on. But at the same time, I dread it because I have a habit of rewriting when I edit. Which is why it takes so long. But this time in editing I also worked with another fellow author, Shayla, and instead of the normal way of editors read the whole book and send back notes at the end, Shayla and I went back and forth; she’d edit a few chapters, send back to me, I send back to her, and so forth. There was just more communication this way and I was able to bounce off the editing style in a very positive way so I enjoyed that aspect.

Amity is also a very different genre to what I usually write. Battles of Azriel is vampires and witches and elves, whereas Amity is average people who have their lives chosen by Fate. It still has the fantasy element, and the female power but writing them was very different.

I think I have rambled on enough, so November 8-10th at Supanova, come and see me. If you want to purchase a copy of Amity and can’t attend the convention just shout me a message or preorder here.

And I am going to leave you a little present of the first chapter:

~ ~ ~

There is a swing set in my back yard.

It sits behind the pine trees, overlooking the fields. Nicholas stands behind me, pushing the swing. I move my legs with the wind, willing myself to go higher. Silver hair flies across my face and butterflies do flips in my stomach with each fall.

He catches the swing, slowing it to a halt. I tilt my head towards him and note the smile he gives me. He is well practiced in the art of charm. I can’t say the same for myself. I step off the swing and turn to face him, leaning forward and resting my hands on the seat of the swing.

I notice his eyes. Grey, like mine. Blank and unclaimed by fate. I think he is beautiful, in every sense of the word. His angelic face is the reason that every girl on the island, including me, fantasises about him.

Nicholas leans forward, his face close to mine. He closes the space between us and plants a soft kiss on the corner of my lips. I close my eyes at the touch. The softness of his lips on my skin makes my skin flush. I open my eyes as he leans back and smiles at me.

“Catch you later, Winters,” he says, before turning on his heels and walking up to my house.

My fingers linger on the spot he kissed me. A smile forms. I replay the memory in my head, scrunching my nose at his use of my last name. I can’t recall him ever saying my birth name.

I skip up to the back door and Mum appears in all her grace and beauty. I am envious of her strawberry blonde curls. My hair has no volume whatsoever.

“Perhaps Nicholas will be your bond mate,” Mum says in her not-so-subtle way of saying she saw the kiss.

“I hope not,” I say as I feel myself redden, which isn’t hard as I am usually snow white.

Mum asks me why I say that.

I look into Mum’s golden eyes.

“He is a Lex,” I state blankly.

“His parents are from the Lex Tribe,” she corrects me.

I roll my eyes.

“Come inside for dinner, Amity,” Mum says with a shake of her head. “Your father just got home.”

I follow Mum into the kitchen where I find my sister with her nose in a book. We look similar. We’re both petite with Mum’s fair skin and Dad’s silver hair. Sierra hasn’t bonded yet either.

Dad sits down at the table, despite the fact he is covered in dirt and sweat from working the farms all day. It is the duty of the Terra Tribe, my parents’ tribe. The men work on the farms and the women grow herbs and make medicines and such.

It is a simple life, and the one I hope to live.

~ ~ ~

~Danica Peck

Amity will be available in print or ebook from November 8, 2019. Connect with Danica on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and find her books in the Ouroborus online store.

 

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A Writer’s Review of Scrivener

Writers and authors use a variety of ways to plan their projects. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs I’m not much of a planner, I do however have my research and I have tried a few different programs to help me sort through all of my notes.

As far as programs go, I give it a solid 9/10.

images2This program has a lot of uses that makes it worth the $45AUD one-off cost. It updates your program and as far as I’m aware it is a lifetime subscription. Once such thing I came across while playing with the program was the name generator. You can put in a variety of different settings and it will provide you with names that fit your description, and you can even look up name meanings.

The basic layout for a fiction novel set-up is relatively easy to follow. It has a manuscript section where you can make a tab for each of your chapters then you are able to export the file and it will hopefully come out as a fully formatted novel. I haven’t tried this part of the program yet as I prefer to complete my manuscripts in Microsoft Word for easier reading and editing.

You can also create character profiles within the program which I found extremely useful, especially now that I am gaining more characters and venturing into the second book with them, it is important for me to remember who is who and how they are related to the main plot. Without this section of Scrivener I would be lost, I would be constantly reading through The Stray to make sure everything is correct. Similar to the characters section of the program you can create places. Describing a new place and need to know all the information later on, the best place to store it is in that section. For both the characters and the places Scrivener provides a basic template that you can edit to suit your project needs.

scrivener-cork-boardYou do also have the option to make extra areas, which is what I do. I make extra folders and corkboards that allow me to put my mythologies and species histories and connections into a database of some kind. You can also create extra template sheets for later use if you require them in other projects.

Scrivener is a very useful program for me and I’m not even using it to its full capacity. I think this program is fantastic for its price and would be useful to almost any writer beginning or published. I’m looking forward to giving Scrivener’s sister program, Scrapple, a try whilst I plan and write the rest of the White Wolf Trilogy. For only $15AUD it’s worth a try.
~Amanda

You can follow Amanda on Facebook, Twitter and on her website, and The Stray is available from our webstore.

Book Week 2019

Untitled-201This week is Book Week in Australia. I was blessed to grow up in a house of books, where the written word was not only respected but adored. Thanks to my mother, I was a gifted reader before I started school so I flourished amongst the library books that I could now get from two libraries (local and school) and the all-important book catalogues. Not sure if that last sentence ages me but Lucky, Arrow and Star were words that sent my heart soaring. My mum managed to get my teachers to get me all three catalogues even in Year 1 and 2 (they were for different ages) and I’d beg for books from all three. My first set in Year 1 was the Narnia box set which is long gone, water damaged when I was about 10 and replaced about five years later, reuniting me with Aslan.

68900118_10218574826057757_8662010796131221504_nAnd then I discovered Book Week. Books AND costumes? My dreams had come true. I did Bo-Peep, a space captain, a witch, a clown… so many costumes. And I was blessed with a mum who could sew and be crafty, so I had a ball.

Book Week was established in 1945 by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. It was “founded at a time when Australian children’s books were few, and Australian authors and illustrators were virtually unknown. In 1946 the CBCA established annual book awards to promote books of high literary and artistic quality. These awards are now the most influential and highly respected in Australia.”1

69343321_10162126131280246_1562037218522955776_nAs an author and illustrator, I look back and realise the Book Week was such a huge part in my journey to becoming who I am today, with the encouragement of my book-loving mother, by instilling joy in reading. The yearly themes were never important (although I happily used them for costume ideas) but seeing my school come to life in a flurry of colour and excitement over books, my favourite thing in the world, kept the storyteller and artist inside me alive.

69085983_10158742077684838_3351838610042126336_nNow I see a new generation of kids (and amazing teachers) embracing Book Week, through my friends’ kids and my nephew and nieces. Watching the new generation of readers embracing books with two hands and enjoying the written word makes me so happy. I don’t have kids of my own but I try to inspire the same love of books in my nieces and nephew, who all have amazing imaginations and artistic flair. I hope that they hold on to the love of stories, the love of books, long into their futures.

69304381_10158742077734838_4217684195641655296_nTo anyone out there with kids, READ to your children. Make them excited for books. Make them want to go on adventures in Narnia, Middle Earth, Hogwarts, Hundred Acre Woods, Neverland and all the magical places they can escape to, even if its on a screen, reading is reading. But if you can, this Book Week, celebrate the joy of the written words and all the places that it can take them, and yourself.

69336632_365404761057342_3072699928036769792_nAll pictures here are courtesy of, and with permission from, parents I know and love and their kids, and there’s even a few of me.

~Sabrina

You can find out more about Sabrina RG Raven at her websiteFacebook or Instagram and her books can be purchased from the Ouroborus Books online store.

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 1 http://www.cbca.org.au/about

Roleplay as Writing Practice

Related imageMy whole life I’ve been into role playing games. It started in primary school playing Dungeons and Dragons in the library. We didn’t have dice or character sheets; all we had was the DM and a few friends and he would tell us if we succeeded or failed. That got old quickly as we had no idea what we were doing. Fast forward a few years and I meet Tom in high school who played D&D, Star Wars, ShadowRun and others every Friday night at the spare buildings at the Darwin University. We played D&D occasionally, but mostly Star Wars. I did that for a few years until I sort of got over it and started playing guitar and playing in a band. The whole time I played, up til that point, I had no idea what I was doing. No one told me how the game was played, and I never asked. I brought the ShadowRun core book, but it was far too confusing to work out. I didn’t play for about 10-12 years after that.

I moved to Brisbane and joined a roller derby league. I started talking to the merchandise guy, who said he’d been playing D&D for about 20 years and still did from time to time. After wrangling a few others in, we started a monthly session that’s now been running for over 5 years. We play Pathfinder, which is identical to D&D’s 3.5 edition. Last year Pathfinder created a new book that was Pathfinder in space called Starfinder. I instantly gravitated towards it. I bought the book, read the rules, watched hours and hours of YouTube videos about how to play it. I wrote my own campaign, which took weeks. I then drew all my own maps and got everything ready to run it. When the day came, I was nervous. I really enjoyed writing it, because it was different than writing a script or a book.

Image result for pathfinder dndAfter the game was done and everyone went home, I really didn’t enjoy it. I couldn’t work out what it was. The design aspect was great, the writing of it was great, but running it was not fun for me. I wasn’t sure where I went wrong. So, I figured I would just be a playing character, instead of a dungeon master from now on. Then I started to notice that I was interested in the new D&D 5th edition. I’m not sure why, but I felt magnetized to it. I went to my local gaming shop and bought the core book. I read it, and watched some YouTube videos, read some blogs and noticed it had similarities to Pathfinder. I began writing a new campaign, learning from my mistakes and expectations from the Starfinder story. I was going to be less railroading and more sandbox. I think I had a direct line I wanted the players to walk, but role playing doesn’t work like that. You have to present a situation, then let them decide what they want to do, and improvise the rest. So, I gathered a few fresh newbies who had never played before, but wanted to, and I ran it. I really enjoyed it. I let them talk amongst themselves, I let them decide where and what they wanted to do and go.

The first campaign was 9 pages long and took 6 hours to play. I wrote the second one over a few weeks and it’s at 34 pages. I think because they were new, and I was new, we just worked out stuff as we went along. They fell for every trap I put out and I was inspired to write more. Writing role playing is so different from anything else. Being a writer, it makes it easier to describe the situation and the encounters, and I believe that is where the fun sits. They roll a dice to formulate the outcome, then I describe what happens off the top of my head.

With writing books, I get time to work on it, plan it, delete it, rewrite it, edit it, but with role playing you don’t. It’s off the cuff and exercises your mind. Good practice for writers.

~Mitchell

Mitchell is the author of Children of the Locomotive, Skellington KeyHeather Cassidy and the Magnificent Mr Harlow, and the Everdark Realms Trilogy

Visit Mitchell’s bio here