Updated… Meet My Character – Carlie…

May 24, 2016 at 4:46 pm (Interesting stories, Into the Mists, News and updates) (, , , , , )

ITM_Trilogy_LRWhat is her name? 

Carlie (named for the goddess Kali) Parker. She’s the main character in Into the Mists and its sequels Into the Dark and Into the Light, and the story is told from her point of view…

Is she a fictional/historical character?

She’s fictional, although many of the rituals she takes part in are based on my experiences, her questioning and scepticism around magic and spirituality echo mine, and she drinks her tea the same way I do, so I guess there is a little of me in her – or her in me… I’m not sure which way that goes:-)

When and where is the story set?

Carlie is from Sydney Australia, and there are flashbacks to her life there, but most of the story is set in Summer Hill, a small village in south-west England, shrouded in the magical mists that are a character themselves in these books. It’s set in modern times, although I avoided the whole Facebook/iPhone aspects of today, in favour of Carlie being able to connect with the magic of nature and the landscape around her. Summer Hill is a fictional place, but it could perhaps be a parallel universe that sits atop the town of Glastonbury – a different kind of Avalon…

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

When we meet Carlie she is seventeen, and on a plane to the other side of the world. Her parents have just been killed in a car accident, and she’s being sent to live with a grandmother she didn’t know existed. She’s devastated, obviously, and angry, and already hates her new guardian – her mum had left England as a teenager, and always told her that her grandmother was dead, so she believes that this woman must be a monster, to have driven her daughter to flee to Australia and break all contact with her.

What should we know about Carlie?

She’s full of grief and loss, which has also made her angry and bitter, and she’s drowning in self-loathing and guilt. She’s angry at her circumstances and at the world, and cynical of anyone she meets – real or magical – that wants to help her. But her journey into the mists becomes a journey into her inner self, and she has the potential to reveal another self, one that’s smart and funny and caring and full of love, if she has the courage to let go of her teenage defiance and the walls she’s built around her.

What is the personal goal of the character?

In the beginning, she doesn’t really have any goals – she’s not even sure she wants to live. She’s so broken by loss – of her whole family as well as her best friend, her home, her school, her whole future life that she had planned out – that she wishes she had the courage to end it. But eventually the darkness recedes a little, and so her goal becomes to get through each day, to start to heal, and to make amends for her own bad behaviour. She also becomes desperate to uncover the secrets of her mother’s younger life, which have left her shattered and unsure of who she really is, and to unlock the mystery of the woman in blue and the cottage within the mists that isn’t always there…

How does she develop over the time of the Trilogy?

She faces loss, and love, and more loss, and new friendship, and hope… She learns a lot from her wise priestess grandmother – but she does grow a lot from when we first meet her to the events at the end of the Trilogy, and she ends up teaching Rose a thing or two too…

Trilogy_smallerWho is the publisher, and where can we read more about the book? Are there more in the series?

Into the Mists, Into the Dark, Into the Light and the brand new Into the Mists Trilogy Hardcover Omnibus, are published by Blessed Bee Books, and available in print and ebook formats. You can order them through Amazon, your local bookstore or my store, where you can read more about them too. I am currently working on two Into the Mists Chronicles…

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With thanks… November 30…

December 4, 2015 at 1:56 am (NaNoWriMo, With thanks, Writing) (, , , , )

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square
Tonight I am grateful that I made it! I wrote 50,789 words in November, for National Novel Writing Month, which is a huge chunk of the first draft of my next book*. It feels so good to be done, and to have my novel validated for word count…
I loved this from the organisers: “Every day of this past month, you chose your novel, your voice, and your story. You stayed up late or got up early. You stole minutes here and there. You created time…” Sure did! I snatched moments on the bus to work, and while waiting to meet a friend for coffee, and in that strange midnight time where I’m not quite awake but not yet quite asleep either…
And I’m grateful to, and so proud of, all my NaNo buddies this year – more of us hit 50,000 words together than any of my previous NaNos, and everyone else made amazing progress too! Thank you for sharing the inspiration, the motivation, the late nights, the trials and triumphs and slightly manic fun – you all rock!
I’m grateful that I have to unexpectedly be at the magazines tomorrow, on my day off, so I could swap my days and have today – NaNo deadline day! – free to stay home and keep writing… I would have stayed up stupidly late last night and finished it if I had to, but this was so much more relaxing 🙂
jill_kaabI’m grateful for an AWESOME Jillian Michaels workout – Killer Arms and Back, level two… I wasn’t sure I’d get through it, because it’s tough, but I did – and when it finished I figured I may as well do it again to make the hour. I think I’ll be sore tomorrow, but it keeps me sane,and mentally strong, and gets me out of my head and away from the computer and the book for a while.
And despite a bad migraine, I’m grateful for a quiet night at home with Juz…
* I realised that I’m not quite ready to leave Summer Hill and the sacred tor, and all the people who inhabit the mist-shrouded world I created, and so this book is Rose’s story – it will be an Into the Mists Chronicle…

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A beautiful review – Into the Mists

February 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm (Book reviews, Publishing) (, , )

Cover_Mists_smallInto the Mists

Serene Conneeley is an Australian author who has captivated many readers with the first two books of her current ‘Into the Mists’ trilogy series. Work on the third and final book will commence in November and be available for release in 2015.

From inSpirit magazine.

Carlie, a vibrant teen on the cusp of womanhood and a bright future that she has mapped out for herself, loses all that she treasures in one tragic night.

She is then sent to the other side of the world to live with a relative she never knew existed and, in her mind, must be a terrible person.

cover_2014_11As a reader, you connect deeply with Carlie as she struggles through her grief and tries to come to terms with her new life, so far removed from her old one. In her new life she finds herself stepping in two worlds – the present that is filled with grief, confusion and anger, where all that she thought is not as it seems; the other world is one of ancient magic of the land, where mysteries and secrets of the past are gradually revealed, offering healing and understanding if Carlie can accept them. The mystical energies have Carlie questioning her sanity, however these energies can show her a way through her despair and a chance for family connection and love again, if she chooses.

A captivating read that is nurturing and dramatic, with magic, mystery and ritual woven beautifully throughout.

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Meet My Character: Book Blog Tour

January 17, 2015 at 11:42 pm (Book reviews, Magic, Publishing, Serene's articles) (, , , , , , )

felicitybookAuthor Felicity Pulman invited me to take part in the Meet My Character Book Tour Blog – you can read my post about Carlie from Into the Mists further down the page, and enter a competition to win a copy of the book at the bottom… My friendship with Felicity began when we bonded over indie publishing a few years ago, and we’ve supported each other through deadline stress and book dramas since then (along with sharing successes and some lighter moments too). I was honoured that Felicity contributed a piece to Witchy Magic, based on her beautiful Janna Mysteries series, and so happy that we could launch our new books together last year, when Felicity unveiled her gripping I, Morgana, and I released Into the Dark.

Pulman_FelicityFelicity’s I, Morgana is a beautifully written story about the legendary Morgana, and she’s also penned A Ring Through Time, The Shalott Trilogy and Ghost Boy. And next week Blood Oath, the first in her new-look medieval crime series The Janna Chronicles will be published, followed by a new book each month until June. Find out more about Felicity and her work at FelicityPulman.com.au, and read my recent interview with her here. And you can check out her Meet My Character post here.

Now it’s my turn to tag two authors – I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading about Dionne and Emma, and also checking out their blogs once they’re up!

dionne_bookI met Sydney writer Dionne Lister last year at Supanova, where we both had stands to launch our new books, and we got to chat again at Book Expo a few months later. She’s the author of the fantasy series Circle of Talia, a coming-of-age story that weaves together magic, adventure and dragons, beginning with the novel Shadows of the Realm, continuing in A Time of Darkness, and concluding with Realm of Blood and Fire.

dionne1Dionne also writes novellas, has released a collection of suspenseful short stories, and is working on her next novel, Little Dove, the first in a new fantasy series. Plus she’s studying for an Associate Degree in Creative Writing, runs the Booktastik website, and co-hosts the Tweep Nation podcast – so I guess I should stop complaining about how busy I am 🙂 To find out more about Dionne and her books, visit her at www.dionnelisterwriter.wordpress.com.

Emma_book_blindsightedI met Emma Hibbs at the online book launch of Into the Mists (which I shared with Selina Fenech, who was launching Hope’s Reign, the second book in her Memory’s Wake Trilogy), where we chatted about faeries and nature and archery and Merida from Brave. We’ve kept in touch since – one of the joys of Facebook is connecting with wonderful people from around the globe – but as Emma lives in north-west England, we haven’t met in the “real” world yet 🙂

EmmaHibbsWriting as EC Hibbs, she is the author of the YA fantasy novel Blindsighted Wanderer and the paranormal romance/thriller Tragic Silence – and she’s already completed books two and three of the latter, and begun a new series. Emma is also a talented artist, which you can check out at her Elphame Arts website, where she does portraits as well as designing gorgeous book covers. Find out more about her at echibbs.weebly.com.

* * * * * * * * * *

Cover_Mists_smallNow to my book character!

What is her name? 

Carlie (named for the goddess Kali) Parker. She’s the main character in Into the Mists and its sequels Into the Dark and Into the Light, and the story is told from her point of view…

Is she a fictional/historical character?

She’s fictional, although many of the rituals she takes part in are based on my experiences, her questioning and scepticism around magic and spirituality echo mine, and she drinks her tea the same way I do, so I guess there is a little of me in her – or her in me… I’m not sure which way that goes 🙂

When and where is the story set?

Carlie is from Sydney Australia, and there are flashbacks to her life there, but most of the story is set in Summer Hill, a small village in south-west England, shrouded in the magical mists that are a character themselves in these books. It’s set in modern times, although I avoided the whole Facebook/iPhone aspects of today, in favour of Carlie being able to connect with the magic of nature and the landscape around her. Summer Hill is a fictional place, but it could perhaps be a parallel universe that sits atop the town of Glastonbury – a different kind of Avalon…

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

When we meet Carlie she is seventeen, and on a plane to the other side of the world. Her parents have just been killed in a car accident, and she’s being sent to live with a grandmother she didn’t know existed. She’s devastated, obviously, and angry, and already hates her new guardian – her mum had left England as a teenager, and always told her that her grandmother was dead, so she believes that this woman must be a monster, to have driven her daughter to flee to Australia and break all contact with her.

What should we know about Carlie?

She’s full of grief and loss, which has also made her angry and bitter, and she’s drowning in self-loathing and guilt. She’s angry at her circumstances and at the world, and cynical of anyone she meets – real or magical – that wants to help her. But her journey into the mists becomes a journey into her inner self, and she has the potential to reveal another self, one that’s smart and funny and caring and full of love, if she has the courage to let go of her teenage defiance and the walls she’s built around her.

What is the personal goal of the character?

In the beginning, she doesn’t really have any goals – she’s not even sure she wants to live. She’s so broken by loss – of her whole family as well as her best friend, her home, her school, her whole future life that she had planned out – that she wishes she had the courage to end it. But eventually the darkness recedes a little, and so her goal becomes to get through each day, to start to heal, and to make amends for her own bad behaviour. She also becomes desperate to uncover the secrets of her mother’s younger life, which have left her shattered and unsure of who she really is, and to unlock the mystery of the woman in blue and the cottage within the mists that isn’t always there…

cover_low-resWho is the publisher, and where can we read more about the book? Are there more in the series?

Into the Mists and Into the Dark are published by Blessed Bee Books, and available in print and ebook formats. You can order them through Amazon, your local bookstore or my website, where you can read more about them too. The third book in the trilogy, Into the Light, will be published in May 2015.

There are three copies of Into the Mists to be won. Just leave a comment on this blog post, then email me via my website, SereneConneeley.com, requesting a copy. The first three people to email me with their postal address will win. (*Paperback or ebook copy depending on where you live…)

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Interviewed on NaNoWriMo Inspiration…

October 17, 2014 at 9:28 am (Interviews, NaNoWriMo, Publishing) (, , , , , )

I was interviewed by Canadian writer Dianna L. Gunn about NaNoWriMo recently, for the first of her Author Spotlight articles to celebrate the upcoming NaNoWriMo. She found me on the NaNoWriMo site on the list of participants who’d had some of their NaNoWriMo books published…

You can read the full interview here, as well as checking out other inspiration from successful NaNoWriMo-ers 🙂

Cover_Mists_smallHow much planning did you do before starting NaNoWriMo?

I planned to do a lot of planning – but it hasn’t worked out that way. The first year I’d thought that I would have all of October to spend on plotting and planning, but I didn’t end up finishing the launch and promotion and website for my previous book until October 31, so the next day I just started writing furiously and discovering what would happen as it spewed out onto the page. And the same thing happened last year, and looks set to reoccur this year. So now I’m wondering if I’m just a make-it-up-as-I-go-along type anyway – a pantser as it’s known in the NaNoWriMo universe, for flying by the seat of my pants (I relate to this blog, although in reverse).

I find the process of different writers fascinating – some plan meticulously, and I really admire that, while others don’t plan at all, which can be stressful, and it seems that I’m the latter. Which makes sense I guess, since I’m a bit impatient, but I’ve also discovered that I really love seeing where the writing takes me, watching it unfold as I go and not knowing what will happen in the end. There’s a certain alchemy to the journey that I love, so although I always say I’ll plan next time, maybe I never will. I also really love the forced nature of NaNoWriMo – I could have started book three already, and tried to find time to write it amongst my busy life, but part of me thinks it would take much longer that way, that I would procrastinate too much, and second guess myself, and get bogged down in editing as I go, and wait until inspiration hits – which is never a guaranteed event – so I think I’ll be the most productive if I just wait until November 1st and write it all then.

Of course I’ll spend months afterwards editing and revising and rewriting and the rest of it, but there’s nothing like the pressure of a November deadline to force you to bang out a first draft

What advice would you give people attempting NaNoWriMo this year?

Tell people you’re doing it, to make yourself accountable. I posted my word count on Facebook each day, and I would have been embarrassed if I’d given up – which is partly why I publicly stated that I was doing it :-) I also had a few friends who were doing it, and that definitely encouraged me to keep going. Not that I would have quit – I’m pretty stubborn – but seeing other people’s word counts in my buddies list definitely spurred me on (I discovered a competitive streak I didn’t know I had), and I know that me posting about my progress (and the triumphs and challenges and frustrations and joys) kept other people inspired too. Plus, don’t despair if you don’t finish – no matter what happens, you’ll still have a lot more of a book written than you otherwise would have.

Three of our group of ten got to 50,000 words (and beyond) by November 30 – which is higher than the overall average – another two passed 20,000 words, and everyone else made an awesome start, and had the beginnings of a tale for next year.

Don’t be discouraged, and don’t be afraid of the blank page. I absolutely love the process of NaNoWriMo – my first time I started with just the vaguest wisp of an idea – that a girl goes to stay with her grandma in England and finds a cottage in the mists she’s not sure really exists… That was it, and each day when I started writing, I didn’t know what was going to happen – I’d just start writing, without stopping, scrawling sentences one after the other, and words would just flow out of me, and a whole story eventually emerged.

Which leads to my most important suggestion – be fearless. I had to stop worrying about how good what I was writing was, and just write. With my non-fiction books, if I had a migraine or felt uninspired I would do some research, or edit previous chapters, or do something else related to the project that didn’t involve writing. But with the knowledge that I had to rack up 1667 words each day (and more if I’d slacked off a bit in previous days), I didn’t have that luxury – I just had to write. And that was really freeing. My inner editor was switched off, and I wrote without thinking, almost stream of consciousness, and I never looked back at what I’d written either, I just kept going forward. And I was surprised (and happy) when I realised that by just keeping on writing, I’d figure out how to get from one scene to another. Each day I’d start with no idea of what would happen, yet by the end of that session I’d worked out how to progress the plot. Writing so regularly helped too, because I was thinking about the story all the time, and I’d often solve a problem in the shower or while working out, when my mind was free to wander. I loved writing long hand too – even though it was annoying to have to type it in at night, it somehow seemed to flow better using pen and paper rather than a keyboard… I’m often asked what the secret to writing a book is, and they’re always disappointed with my answer – but it’s true. To write a book, you just have to sit down and write it. Day after day after day. Seems obvious I know, but people always hope for a magic spell, a shortcut of some kind, but it doesn’t exist.

You can read the full interview here, as well as checking out other inspiration from successful NaNoWriMo-ers 🙂

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Interview about Into the Mists…

October 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm (Interviews, NaNoWriMo) (, , )

I was interviewed recently about Into the Mists, about the importance of the mists to the story, as well as the importance of the two black cats, and lots of other interesting questions…

Below are a few of the questions and answers, and you can read the full interview here.

Into the Mists is a mystical magical novel that follows the journey of Carlie, a teenager who after her parents are killed in a car crash, struggles to find her place in life. She finds herself on a plane leaving behind her home country Australia to live with the grandmother she never knew existed in the UK. What was your influence when choosing the UK as your destination?
The British Isles are a place of myth and magic – and mists – and a lot of my own magical experiences took place there, so it seemed right to base much of the book there. The mists are almost a character in themselves in Carlie’s story, and I needed to ground her experiences within these mists in my reality, and that is where I have encountered them. One summer solstice eve I found myself trapped by the mists atop the tor in Glastonbury, England, stranded up there until the sun rose the next day; one pre-dawn autumnal morning I walked into the swirling mists as I wandered through the sacred stones of nearby Avebury; another time the mists descended on me while I was climbing a mountain in north-west Ireland, on a grey and truly Otherworldly afternoon. And I’ve danced in stone circles there, been licked by a calf as I sat meditating within one, entered sea caves and clamboured into ancient burial tombs, walked through green fields and ruined castles and places of myth and legend there, all of which wove themselves into the story somehow.

Are there parts of Into the Mists that resemble your own life?
My first response when I read this question was no – especially as my parents are still very much alive, and sadly my grandparents are not. But a lot of Carlie’s experiences did emerge from my own. Many of the rituals she takes part in are based on my experiences, her questioning and scepticism around magic and spirituality does echo mine, and she drinks her tea the same way I do. So while Carlie’s life-defining moment was very different to mine, I guess there is a little of me in her, or her in me, I’m not sure which way that goes.

Two cats play an important role within your book. Was there anything in particular that influenced the events involving the cats and their personalities?
I’ve never really thought about this, but they were very important to the story. In a broad sense, Luther is Rose’s witchy black cat, her familiar, but when Carlie arrives at her grandmother’s she feels very isolated and alone and out of her depth, and scared of this woman too, and angry at people and at the world. So Luther is her way to communicate – she can confide in him, without having to speak to her grandma – he is a sounding board she uses to understand how she’s actually feeling and what she thinks of things. He enables her to start feeling love and affection, without having to let her grandmother in, and the support of the natural world, without having to accept magic. Luther was a melding of two black cats I’ve spent time with – one was my flatmate’s cat Luther, who I loved (and hence the name), and the other was Mowsie, who resided upstairs from me for a few years, but who basically lived with me, just going home for meals. And Shadow was based on Mowsie’s sister Freckles, who used to jump up on the table when I was doing healings and put her little paw on the person too. In the book Shadow embodies magic, healing and possibility, and a link for Carlie to her mother. And she is perhaps less real, but still equally important to Carlie on her journey…

You started writing Into the Mists the day after you finished your book Witchy Magic, as part of the thirty-day National Novel Writing Month. Do you feel this had any influence on the writing of Into the Mists?
It influenced the book in so much as I had thought I would spend October planning Into the Mists – writing up a chapter outline and plotting it all out. Instead I was still working on Witchy Magic (and the book launch, the US release, the website etc) until October 31, so on November 1 I just had to dive in, and make it up as I went along 🙂 And it was fascinating, how the story wove itself together through the process of writing. I think in a way my first book, Seven Sacred Sites: Magical Journeys That Will Change Your Life, had more of an impact on this novel, as that included many of my magical experiences in sacred places around the world, as well as all my research on the history and culture and legends of those places, all of which threaded itself into Into the Mists in some small way I’m sure.

Read the full interview here.

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Into the Mists book club reviews…

September 30, 2014 at 12:49 pm (Book reviews, News and updates, Publishing) (, , )

Cover_Mists_smallI was so touched to discover that a book club was reading Into the Mists, and blown away when they sent me their beautiful reviews with their orders for Into the Dark… xx
Natasha: We just loved the book as a group, and the general feeling was that it was such a lovely story and it also inspired our love of the sacred arts by reawakening it all. Thank you.
Catherine: Dear Serene, I really enjoyed reading “Into the Mists”. The language that you used in the book made both the story and the larger concepts accessible for the young teenage bracket. It really was wonderful to see a book that looks at the craft as a day to day way of living rather something that is relegated to ritual alone. As an adult well out of my teens it reminded me just how important it is to live life consciously and with awareness. This is definitely a message that I want to pass down to my children.
Your description of a Book of Shadows and its use is one of the best I have come across and truly demystifies the process for those starting out, and for those a little further along the path it is a reminder of the importance of recording the journey so that the same mistakes aren’t made again and so that future generations can benefit from the knowledge and mistakes contained within its pages.
In terms of how you treated the subject of grief, I felt it was handled with delicacy and understanding. I look forward to finding out more as to how the Blue Lady and the tower on the hill factor into the unfolding story.
This is a book that I will be handing to my Daughter in a couple of years time as its introduction to the craft is gentle and not too confronting.
The most important message I took away from this book was that the craft is something we live every day. It is living and breathing and as individual as a fingerprint, while at the same time being about community and belonging.  It was lovely to see it portrayed outside the typical “coven” stereotype.
Thank you for writing this book. I hope it is another step closer to breaking down some of the fear people have about the Craft due to their lack of understanding. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series as you write them and watching your skills as a writer continue to grow. Blessed be.
Christine: I thought it was fun and light and depicted a story line i am sure i have lived before… I connected most to the Grandmothers journey. Looking forward to the next book we read from Serene…..Thank you.
Jodie: I thoroughly enjoyed reading Into The Mist, it reignited the witchy part of myself that had been lying dormant for a few years! The storyline kept my attention and I became emotionally invested in the characters. It was a clear, easy read – simultaneously perfect for teenagers who are taking their first steps into the world of magic as well as more…. mature women such as myself (hahaha!) who have this knowledge but have let it slide a little under the demands and pressures of “real life” (whatever THAT is!). Thank you Serene, for reminding me of who my true, authentic self really is! I look forward to reading the next part of the trilogy!

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Coming Soon! New Book! Into the Dark!

June 12, 2014 at 11:52 am (Magic, News and updates, Publishing) (, , , , , )

ImageOn June 27, I’ll be launching Into the Dark, the sequel to Into the Mists, at an online launch with magical author Felicity Pulman, so feel free to join us…

Into the Dark…

A best friend. A forever love. A promise… A betrayal. An ultimatum. A choice…

Carlie coped with moving from her home in Sydney, Australia to a small village in England to live with a stranger. She battled her way through the mists she thought would drown her, and emerged transformed. She was even starting to think she’d survive the death of her parents. But now an old diary, which promises to reveal the mystery of her mother, threatens to tear her world apart. How will the words she reads affect her? Will she wish the truth had died with her mum? And what is the connection to her own life hidden within the pages?

In the second book of the gripping Into the Mists Trilogy, a new relationship with her grandmother is opening Carlie’s soul to the energy and power of the earth. A new friend is opening her mind to the magic and potential within her. And a new love is opening her heart to the sweetest enchantment of all. Yet betrayal hovers around her, and she will face an ultimatum, a sacrifice and a cruel choice that might just break her.

Will Carlie find the courage to go into the darkness of her own heart and seek the wisdom and strength she needs to survive, or will the tragedies and the pain of her life break her into a million little pieces?

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