Quotes:

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible - Vladimir Nabokov

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you - Zora Neale Hurston


20 November 2015

Goodreads Giveaway



As part of the countdown to the release of Book 2 in December, I'm giving away a paperback copy of Eva Thorne Book 1. Tell your friends!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tangle of Thornes by Lorel Clayton

Tangle of Thornes

by Lorel Clayton

Giveaway ends December 15, 2015. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

10 February 2015

Sign up for the blog tour...




I'm looking for reviewers for my book and bloggers to get the word out. There's a $15 Amazon gift card to win, plus you get a free copy of my new book to read! Please sign up at Chik Lit blog tours if you're interested.

Thank you!

28 January 2015

Genre-blending and cover indecision



Not only am I guilty of genre-blending (see my full blog post at my new website) but also of cover indecision! Above is the cover I've chosen for Amazon Kindle and for print, while below is the one I'm using at Smashwords and their affiliate retailers. Which one do you like more? Have I completely confused people? Am I just mad to genre-blend in the first place?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how best to choose a cover that portrays a book about a femme fatale turned detective in a fantasy world with magic and steampunk, where the story is basically a mystery combined with a dash of romance and big scoops of action, not to mention a sprinkle of spine-chilling villainy? Now I'm hungry for a banana split.

Anyway, it's too late now. I'm launching my book 3 Feb - Yay! Still I'd like to learn from all my mistakes this time around so I don't repeat them next time. I am open to your words of wisdom...


10 January 2015

I've moved!

All my latest blog post are now at my website. Please come on over and subscribe by email or RSS feed. http://www.lorelclayton.com/blog/ Thank you!








Coming Soon!

01 December 2014

What I'm Thankful for...



This has been a tough year. I hope that explains why this post is several days late, and why there have been few posts in months, but I'm a writer so I should be a bit more specific. It was just over a year ago my son was diagnosed with autism. ASD to be specific: He's "on the spectrum" as they say.

He is gorgeous and looks at you with the most beautiful big hazel eyes, but he's 3 1/2 and and tends to temper tantrum rather than talk. He's brilliantly able to do his alphabet, shapes, numbers and colors, but he does them over and over again in obsessed loops of activity that are hard to break. It started with wheels. Watching them spin round and round and never noticing the people or children around him.

I had my suspicions from when he was 18 months old. He wasn't like the other kids. I blamed it on him being a boy and slow to catch on, but when another boy in mother's group started telling me all the different parts of the car he was playing with and what his favorite cars were when my son could barely say "mama" I knew something was wrong. I had this sinking feeling.

I expected the pediatrician's diagnosis to be a relief, but it was a shock. You never know how you'll deal with these things until they hit you. My way of dealing was to learn everything I could and do everything I could.

A year later, and hundreds of hours of ABA (applied behavioral therapy) later, my son has gone from 30 words to over 350. He's doing amazing...but there's such a long way to go when I see the other 3-year-olds. I basically stopped writing this past year. I'd just completed a fantastic amount of work on my epic fantasy with a professional editor, but I just couldn't write after the diagnosis. I had to put all my effort, all my thoughts and dreams into my son. I couldn't care about anything else.

Now  he's doing better, and we've just enrolled him into preschool for next year (a fantastic school with plenty of normal kids but with skilled teachers experienced with autistic and other special needs children). His pediatrician confirmed the early diagnosis and we know we're into this for the long haul. It wasn't simple developmental delay. This is who he is...but I'm okay with that.

All the hours spent working with my son with first shape sorters and then puzzles and later category cards has helped me learn what a tough-willed little guy he is. He has his personality and it's a powerful one. He's incredibly stubborn, yet bright, despite his inability to communicate, and he's so much fun. His laugh warms my soul. I love chasing birds with him in the park and cringing as he climbs too high on the jungle gym. I love him so much I've forgotten about the ASD. It's just become a part of him, and that's the best place for it. Not his 'disease' but just a part of is unique personality.

I've stopped trying to save him and have started just trying to help him learn what he needs in life.

And I've started thinking about me again. Even my amazing husband, who dropped everything to become my son's all day long carer and teacher, has begun to paint again. And I've begun to write again. I can't approach that dark epic fantasy right now, but I rediscovered a fun little gem of a fantasy mystery in my files. I'm finishing it off and self-publishing soon. So watch out! I'm back.

16 October 2014

Zombification of America


Ok, I'm heading off from Aspiring Author Land here and heading into 'manifesto' territory, but I hope that doesn't forever label me as radical, eccentric, rabble-rouser...what have you. The fact is work and motherhood have temporarily curtailed by authoring time but given me far too much contemplative time (usually while pushing a toddler on a swing for hours on end) to worry about my son's future, the future of his parent's nation and the future of the world in general. And, of course, to contemplate zombies.

I have the benefit of distance, having lived in Australia now for 17 years, to see America as an outsider. Why I still love the motherland to the core of my being, from deserts and fir forests to new England autumn, from the Revolutionary War to the Second World War, I am scared of the direction she's headed. I am a tree hugger yet love to shoot a 9 mm at tin cans. I have family that range from Obama campaigners to Obama-care haters. And I love every one of them, so I listen. I consider myself capable of emotion, logic, and foresight, but all I see is disaster.

When did we start valuing possessions above helping neighbors or creating music for music's sake rather than for profit? When did war ever become an acceptable status quo? Why on earth did we think torture was OK as long as it was on foreign soil - even as the Declaration of Independence quotes 'unalienable rights'?

And then there's the Facebook updates showing my sister's zombie walk costume and how cool the grim reaper is, while my brother on the phone won't tell me his new girlfriend's name until pestered but happily launches into an excited update on the latest Ebola news and death count.

Sometimes I feel that America vanished sometime in 2001. And maybe it did. The Twin Towers changed things, and now the changes have had a generation to set in. No one thinks it's weird that billionaires with conflicts of interest (i.e. corporate and oil interests) can run for president and claim to represent the everyday person. No one thinks it's wrong to send technology and manufacturing capability overseas so corporations get richer while Americans lose their jobs and homes and can't afford healthcare so Doctors Without Borders is forced to come in and treat people, saying that while the illnesses are different, the amount of people in desperate need of aid is no different from what they've seen in Africa. When did it become OK for billionaires to 'trickle down' their scraps to the people while saying "Just buy a lottery ticket and you can be just like us...so don't cut off my head."

Well, I think it's OK because zombification has set in. People are dead already, no dreams for the future or hopes to better themselves and the world. Their soul and passion has been killed by mass marketing, biased media, and the latest celebrity gossip, gore-dripping drama, or reality TV that fulfills the role of Rome's gladiatorial games to pacify the masses. America is dead and loving it. Shambling around like mindless zombies...

Or am I being too critical of my sister's zombie walks and the plethora of child zombie costumes for sale this Halloween? Are zombies not a symbol of the death of society but, instead, a subtle rebellion?

Brain-munching zombies in unstoppable hordes can represent the apocalypse, or they can represent the end product of all the political corruption and corporate greed at work in America. Are these zombie mobs saying "look what you've created - and now we're coming to tear down your society and eat your flesh!" Are they in fact the equivalent of the French revolutionary, the down-trodden peasant whose reply to "Let them eat cake!" is "How about I take your head instead"?

Plutocrats beware, maybe the zombification is the pitchforks the wise have been warning you about...(this TED talk is great brain food for those craving brains).

Happy Halloween everyone.




14 August 2013

The first page of a great book

I had a spare thirty minutes the other day (very rare for me!) and decided to step into my local Dymock's booksellers. I'm embarrassed to admit it's been a while. I tend to download e-books these days as I barely have time to read, except while waiting for an appointment or riding the train, and certainly don't have time to shop. I missed the feel of real pages! I decided to have fun and read the first page of every bestseller--see if I could learn something.

None of them did it for me. I didn't turn to the next page on a single one. Was I just in a tough to please mood or what? Maybe it's because none were in my favorite genres of sci fi and fantasy.

I headed to that section, which was jammed onto half of one isle, with the paranormal romances surrounding them like a horde of scantily dressed Vandals at the gates of Rome. I like a paranormal romance now and then, but I was looking for something to make me go 'wow'. I read the first pages of a few epics I hadn't checked out before. Nah. Still not doing it for me.

I decided to read just the first line of some of my favorite books to see if it was me on that particular Thursday. I spotted the latest release of Ender's Game with the movie cover. I loved that book when I was a teenager in the '80s, so I read the first line, then the first page, turned the page...awesome. I made myself stop as I was short on time, but it was even better than I remembered. There was a Great Book.

I felt like a crappier writer than ever, but it was good to see what I should aim for. There was tension in every line. I felt the urge to bite my fingernails in worry for Ender from the very start. What are the monitors and what do they want with him? Why is his brother so evil and hateful towards him? Would his brother really harm him? Yes, definitely yes, and they're stuck in the same house!

Here's my scorecard for the few I looked at in case you want to read or re-read some great books:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - wow. read it now if you haven't and before you see the movie.
Magician by Raymond E. Feist - loved it as a kid and first page was ok. maybe.
Painted Man by Peter V. Brett - has an interesting world, but first page just ok.
Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman - very good. and it's newer, so not just nostalgia talking.
Forever War by Joe Haldeman - never read it, but that first page screamed 'great' so I will give it a go.

Have you ever done a first page test? Can you spot the greats right away?


11 July 2013

Never Say Never



The universe loves to play practical jokes on me. At least I know it's listening!

Example 1: All through university, while I was studying the hard sciences of biology, chemistry and physics, I would make comments like "Communications? Who would ever get a degree in communications? That's not a real subject."

What am I doing now? Communications, of course.

[This phenomenon is not limited to me. You know what my husband used to make fun of when he was a landscaper? Basket-weaving. And you know what his favorite course was went he went to art school a few years later? Uh, huh. You guessed it.]

Example 2: On this very blog, I have stated how much I hate short stories. This is not meant to offend those who write short stories. It is merely a reflection of my insatiable addiction to books. I can't get enough.

Give me a massive, epic story set over three, four, eight books, or, better yet, a series of character-driven novels that I imagine can go on forever, as long as the protagonist never figures out how she stupidly gets herself into all these bad situations. I fall in love with characters, settings, secondary characters, the bizarre workings of an alternate universe... and I don't want to leave. I'm far more likely to dive into a book as thick as my thigh (and I don't have skinny thighs, I tell ya) than I am to step timidly into a novella.

I once started reading a collection of short stories by one of my favorite authors, Walter Jon Williams, and as fantastic as the writing was, I couldn't finish one story. Not one! I think it's a mental block, something telling me that this is too short. Just as soon as I fall in love with the characters and the world, they will be whisked away and never seen again. I can't set myself up for such heartbreak.

And then agent Pooja Menon tweets this great post about 'Breaking the Deadly Loop of the Debut Writer' by Rati Mehrotra, and I decide Fine! I'll write some short stories and try to get them published. You know what? I've discovered I love writing short stories. They have all the tight storytelling and pacing of an hour long drama teleplay, with the added benefit of internal monologue and a chance to really show off my prose. Now, I'm tearing through my stockpile of ideas, brain buzzing with even more new ideas, as I write short stories in all my favorite genres from SF to Fantasy and Horror. It's so much better than querying.

Thank you, Universe, for teaching me another lesson.