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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Halfway through… It’s not easy, but it is worth it…

November 19, 2015 at 2:01 am (NaNoWriMo, Writing) (, )

nano_25000I can’t believe day 15 is done, and I’m halfway through NaNoWriMo… I stayed up too late again, and blitzed through two thousand words in a slightly delirious state, to hit 25,095 words by midnight of the halfway mark. Hooray!

I’m not sure how much sense they all make, or how many of these words will end up in the book, but I’m making progress, and that’s the point of this writing challenge. To write, without stressing myself out with editing as I go, or worrying about the perfect sentence structure, or even knowing where the story begins and where it ends.

Each of my writing days has covered a different part of my main character’s life – I figure that by the end of the month I’ll have worked out what needs to be in the book and what doesn’t, and will be able to move the chapters around so they make some kind of sense.

I won’t lie, it hasn’t been easy to write 1667 words a day. Many days I’ve wanted to throw my notebook across the room and give up. Sometimes I’d rather collapse on the couch and watch Arrow with my hubby than banish myself to my little purple office and painstakingly type out a bunch of words. There are nights that I get home from 12 hours at the magazines and would rather crawl into bed than force myself to stay awake and type in my hastily scrawled words from the bus, then add some more to hit the target. Most days I would much prefer to curl up and read a book than torture myself trying to write one.

I also spend most of the month thinking that my story is boring, there’s no point, it’s too much effort, no one cares anyway, and why am I bothering… Apparently, according to my hubby, I wrestle with these particular demons with every book, and my doubts seem to increase, rather than diminishing, the more books I write.

But, I do it anyway. I tell the “it’s boring” and “you’re useless” voices in my head to shut up, and force myself to get at least 1200 words a day done (while aiming for 2000 to average out the crappier days). If at the end I decide it’s crap, I can ditch it. Or rewrite until I’m happy with it.

Because it’s only thirty days. Thirty days is nothing. It’s half of one of my workout programs. One moon cycle. Four episodes of Arrow. You can do anything for thirty days. And at the end of that I will have fifty thousand words of a novel, which is way easier to work with and improve than a blank page is…

Life’s short. I want to live it with no regrets, and no excuses. Two years from now will I wish I’d spent more time on the couch watching superhero shows this month, or getting to bed a bit earlier, or will I be happy that I knuckled down and hit my word count targets and had the first draft of my next book finished…

Like most things that are worth doing, it’s not easy, but it is possible, and it is worth it…

nano_cutebadges

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Happy Day 5 of NaNoWriMo!

November 5, 2015 at 1:00 am (NaNoWriMo, News and updates, Writing) (, , , )

nanoI can’t believe it’s already day 5 of NaNoWriMo*!

Four days of writing done, and 7333 words committed to paper, which means I have 665 words up my sleeve for one of those days that is more of a struggle 🙂 It fascinates me, how some days are easier – well, less difficult might be more accurate – than others, and it’s rarely the days I expect. On Monday I was at my day job at the magazines for 10.5 hours straight, but I still managed to write 2085 words – on the bus to and from work, in a few moments snatched as I waited for a meeting to start, while I quickly ate my lunch at my desk and typed a few words in, and then in a sprint after dinner that ended at midnight (the curfew I’m trying to impose so I can function the next day). Then on Tuesday, one of my days to work at home, I only managed 1333. Granted I went to a movie screening (He Named Me Malala, which was hearthbreaking, inspiring, devastatingly sad and wonderful all at once), walked 20,000 steps on top of my Body Pump workout, and spent the afternoon with a friend, but it seems I am often more productive the busier I am, and more easily distracted the more time I have…

I have stopped panicking quite so much though – this year NaNoWriMo started on a Sunday, and while I planned (hoped?) to get my words written early so I had the rest of the day free to hang out with my hubby, the bulk of them were written between 10pm and midnight, so I may as well have just given myself a break and enjoyed the day, knowing I would hit my minimum word count before bed… I guess it’s all just a learning process, about what works for you, when you’re most productive and how you react to deadlines.

I will also admit, as a life-long panster (the opposite of a planner and a plotter, as in writing by the seat of your pants, without an outline), that when I opened a blank document on Sunday, I panicked. There was a moment of fear, of what-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself-into, of what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-write? But as my patient and long-suffering hubby pointed out, I think that with every book. (Along with this-is-so-boring, this-is-so-sh*t, who-would-want-to-read-this, I-can’t-write-to-save-myself etc etc etc)… Eventually I just took a deep breath and started to write. And write.

Not all of the words I wrote that day, or any of these thirty days, will end up in the finished book. While the published version of Into the Mists was pretty similar to my original draft, the next two were not – I wrote quite a few chapters that were cut altogether, especially with Into the Dark, killed off one character before he was even introduced, and changed one storyline all together. But none of that could have happened if I hadn’t written at least 50,000 words each November. After all, you can always edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank one, and you can always rewrite and add chapters and change the entire structure of an existing manuscript, but you need something to start with…

On which note, I’d better start writing for day five!

* National Novel Writing Month – the writing challenge that sets a target of 50,000 words of a novel written in thirty days. It’s how I wrote the first drafts of Into the Mists, Into the Dark and Into the Light – and how I will write at least two Into the Mists Chronicles – the tough deadline seems to work for me…

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Countdown to NaNoWriMo…

October 30, 2015 at 2:13 am (NaNoWriMo, Writing) (, , )

It’s only three days until National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo – kicks off, and as usual I’m woefully unprepared. As in, not at all. Each year I think (hope?) that I’ll have some time to plan my story before November 1 rolls around, but as usual I haven’t had a spare second. But I did tick off three annoying things that have been hanging over my head for a while, including two years worth of tax, so at least I can leap in free of those stresses 🙂

And really, who am I kidding? After doing it three times – resulting in Into the Mists the first year, Into the Dark the next and Into the Light last year – I probably wouldn’t even know where to start with planning a book. Of course it terrifies me, having no idea what will happen, no path to follow, no back-up plan to fall back on, but in a way it’s liberating too. Who knows what magic will be woven, what inspiration I will follow, what challenges will arise? The only way to discover a story, for me, is to write it. To sit down and just do it – write madly, and freely, and fearlessly. Without second guessing or reading back over it or limiting where it can go or what it should be.

So, I have no idea at all what will be created, but I’m looking forward to the adventure… Do you want to join me?

And are you a plotter or a pantser? Some people plan meticulously before they start writing, plotting the storyline and fleshing out chapter outlines and character bios, which I very much admire. I had planned to do a lot of planning – but it hasn’t worked out that way. The first year I’d thought 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 the plot was as it poured out onto the page.

The same thing happened the following two years, and looks set to reoccur this year, so I guess I’m a make-it-up-as-I-go-along type – a pantser as it’s known in the NaNoWriMo universe, for flying by the seat of my pants. 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 (believe me!). After three years of NaNo, I realise that I’m firmly in the latter category, 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…

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Guest Blog… Felicity Pulman… and a great opportunity…

October 24, 2015 at 3:05 pm (Guest Blog, Magical Places, Opportunity, Writing) (, , , , )

This week’s guest blog comes from Felicity Pulman, author of the wonderful novel I, Morgana and the magical Janna Chronicles, amongst many others. She has recently returned from a three-month writing adventure in the UK, after being awarded this year’s Di Yerbury Society of Women Writers’ Residency. During her time in England and France, Felicity wrote the first draft of the sequel to I, Morgana, which I’m so excited about. Read on to follow Felicity’s journey – and discover how to apply for the residency in 2016.

FelicityEver dreamed of having ‘a room of your own’, somewhere to plot and plan, to dream and write without interruption or having to cope with the everyday mundane minutiae of life? Read on and be inspired to make your dream come true!

I’ve recently returned from a three-month writers’ residency in Barnstaple, Devon (UK), where I was able to complete a first draft of the sequel to my novel I, Morgana. When you live in Australia, the joy of having a base in the UK is that you’re comparatively close to everything, so before I took up the residency I was able to do some research in France, and during the residency I took time out to spend a week in magical Glastonbury.

felicitybookMy sequel, The Once and Future Camelot, tells the story of Morgana’s daughter, Marie, who at the end of I, Morgana finds herself stranded in our world at the time of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine (hence my visit to France). It’s a time-slip dual narrative between the poet, Marie de France, and the present day Morgan, a rebel and runaway, who fetches up in Glastonbury and then has to try to make sense of the terrifying visions that haunt her: visions of the end of our world that she needs to understand in order to save the future. It will take all her courage, ingenuity and knowledge of magic, along with Marie’s help, to fulfil an ancient prophecy about the return of Arthur – but also to find a way to love and happiness, both for herself and for Marie.

Glastonbury_TorI loved my time in Glastonbury; it inspired me on a personal level (I found my time there very healing) and it also helped to inform Morgan’s story and give it veracity. I climbed the Tor, I visited the Springs and the Goddess Temple, and I found the people I needed to find (and I truly believe the Universe conspired to help me there!).

Felicity_TintagelBeing in the UK was a blissful and very productive time, writing in the morning (I set myself a target of 2000 words a day) and going on a long ramble beside the river in the afternoon, making notes as ideas flowed, talking to myself (!) and also enjoying the beautiful scenery. There was also time for reading and research, and for exploring historic and beautiful Barnstaple, and meeting some lovely people there, including the writers who meet regularly at the library. Barnstaple is also very close to some famous seaside towns, including “Portwenn”, the setting for Doc Martin, and also Tintagel, the birthplace of King Arthur. (Photo taken on Arthur’s throne in the Great Hall there.)

The Society of Women Writers/Di Yerbury Writers’ Residency is open to members of the NSW branch of the SWW (Australia) under the following conditions:
* You must be a member for at least three months before submitting your application, due March 6th, 2016. (So you need to join the SWW by early December.)
* You must be researching or writing a work of fiction or non-fiction either set in or linked to the UK.
* You must be over 55 years at the time of your residency.
* Applications must be received by 5pm March 6th. The winner will be announced at the SWW meeting on Wednesday April 13th.
* The residency is available from June 20th to September 19th, 2016.

Further details about the residency and the application form can be found on the SWW website: www.womenwritersnsw.org. Good luck!

Find out more about Felicity’s books and her writing journey on her website, www.felicitypulman.com.au. You can buy her books in bookstores or from Amazon and other retailers, and for more information and to buy the beautiful I, Morgana and The Janna Chronicles, visit Momentum Books.

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Meet My Character Book Blog Tour – Sophie Masson

December 16, 2014 at 4:15 pm (Favourite books, Publishing) (, , )

trinity-koldun-code-coverAuthor Sophie Masson is the award-winning author of numerous novels for children and adults, on such diverse topics as Ned Kelly, Shakespeare, Marie of France, and other novels set in France and drawing on Sophie’s French heritage. Her latest series, Trinity, is set in Russia, and book one, The Koldun Code, has just been published.

Sophie invited author Felicity Pulman onto the Meet My Character Book Tour, and Felicity in turn invited me. I love it, it’s kind of like a chain letter in reverse or something 🙂 I’ll be posting mine in a week or so…

You can read about Sophie’s character Maxim Serebrov, one of the main characters in her new book Trinity: The Koldun Code, on her own blog tour post, as well as learning about author Wendy James, who tagged Sophie (reading about her books inspired me to buy a few…), and the two authors she tagged.

Read more about Sophie’s work on her author site, and stayed tuned for Felicity’s tour entry soon…

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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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Favourite authors…

April 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm (Book reviews, Favourite books) (, , )

gspells_booksA friend posted this challenge on my Facebook wall the other day…

The Rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who’ve influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first 15 you can recall. Tag at least 15 friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what authors my friends choose. To do this, copy this intro and start your list.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a couple, but here is a start:

Anne Rice, Sarah Addison Allen, Juliet Marillier, Paulo Coelho, Shirley MacLaine, JK Rowling, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Philip Pullman, Joanne Harris, Jorge Amado, Michelle Lovric, Richard Dawkins, OR Melling, Jillian Michaels, Stephenie Meyer, Mitch Albom…

Anne Rice was my favourite author for years and years, and I still adore her books. She writes so vividly and lushly, so poetically, and her characters are so wonderfully flawed and fascinating. Visiting her house in New Orleans was amazing, because it was absolutely the way it was in my head in her amazing Lives of the Mayfair Witches series, and I adored being able to sit in the same cafe as the Vampire Lestat and nurse a cup of coffee like he did…

Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favourite writers now – she writes so beautifully, so magically, and her books are such a joy to fall into…

Juliet Marillier is another favourite, perhaps my very favourite? Her books are so full of magic and mystery, intrigue and history, larger-than-life characters, the Otherworld, the magic of this world, just so beautifully rich and lush and magical…

I adore Paulo Coelho too, The Alchemist was hugely inspiring, and I love so many of his books (although his recent ones haven’t moved me as much, sadly)… Interviewing him was a joy.

Shirley MacLaine made me want to travel to Peru, and was really formative on my inner search many years ago. And while I concede that some of her theories and beliefs are a little too out there for me, I have boundless respect for the way she has challenged people spiritually and pushed our boundaries, and made all kinds of alternative spiritual searching acceptable. She’s certainly a trail blazer…

The Harry Potter series is one of my favourite ever – I love the books and the movies, and the beauty of JK’s writing. I also enjoyed her Casual Vacancy book, in totally different ways to Harry – and admire her greatly for writing what she wants to write after the success of Harry. It would have been easier to continue in her magical world, but she has been brave enough to follow her muse and not care about the response…

The Mists of Avalon is still one of my favourite books – it’s so beautifully written, so magical, and has opened so many people’s eyes to the spirituality and beliefs of pagan England. I love her characters, her championing of a woman who has been so vilified throughout history, and the incredible research she did to create a world that is so totally believable and heart-touching…

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials are also on my favourite books ever list – I love his writing, his characters, his subversive deeper meanings and dark truths. I loved the movie too, and so wish it had done better so there would be more…

I love Joanne Harris’s books like I love Sarah Addison Allen’s – so much magic woven into the stories, so much love and mystery and vivid sight-sound-taste-touch-feeling…

I read some of Jorge Amado’s books when I was in Brasil, which no doubt influenced my adventures there…

Richard Dawkins inspires me so much. I love that he sees so much magic in this world, that he loves the phenomena he describes even more because he understands how it works, like rainbows, and he brings so much passion and joy and enthusiasm to the magic of science that he can’t helpbut inspire others to love it too.

I read Michelle Lovric’s Undrowned Child while researching and writing Mermaid Magic, and adored her Venice and her mermaids, and the other books I’ve read of hers since. 

I read OR Melling’s The Chronicles of Faerie while I was researching and writing Faery Magic, and they were so beautiful, so vivid, so steeped in myth and legend and so deeply touching.

I love Jillian Michaels – she inspires me so much, her workouts had a huge influence on me, and I love her attitude and her advice, both in her podcasts and her books. She kicks butt, she doesn’t believe in excuses, and she’s an incredible motivator.

After I finished writing Seven Sacred Sites, I took a week off and read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series, one book after the other, reading all day, staying up half the night, gulping them down all at once. And I loved them. I love the way she writes, her characters, her stories, and the fact that other people hate them means nothing to me – I enjoyed them, and I love the movies, and hats off to her, Twilight was quite the phenomenon…

I still haven’t actually read Tuesdays With Morrie, although I have it, but I absolutely loved Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Such an amazing premise…

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