• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:

    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!



Interview with a Witch

Image of Kreshkali

Nordinho’s Sophia

I had the chance to catch up with one of my favourite people from the Quantum Enchantment series, Kreshkali Richter. She’s not an easy woman to pin down so I took the opportunity, with her consent, to record our conversation.

KIM Kreshkali, it’s an honour to have you here in my home.

KRESHKALI Not a problem. You checked out.

KIM *clears throat* Many of our readers have asked me about your relationship to the Earth’s underground. In the first three books, you seem to be a loner, yet . . .

KRESHKALI *interrupting* It’s all about illusion. A glamour. To ASSIST, I look like a streetwise whore, scratching out a living on the edge of a ruined city. That’s the mask. After the underground was infiltrated by ASSIST, our leaders were killed. It was up to me. Pecking order, you know? I was next in line.

KIM And you’ve held it together very well indeed. But what about the magic? Did you really learn that on your own? From your mother’s grimoire?

KRESHKALI Not alone. I had Nell with me. Most of the time as kids, we studied together. Then there was the night in the sewer. Things went dark for sometime after that. But between Nell, and my mother’s books, ya, I learned the craft.

KIM And now you teach, of course. Can I ask who’s been your most challenging student?

KRESHKALI *chuckles* That would be Teg.

KIM Can you tell us a bit about him?

KRESHKALI Teg’s a Lupin. You know the term? Of course you do. He’s got wolf DNA merged with his own. A powerful shape-shifter, as all Lupins are, but Teg’s got something else. He’s a brilliant student. Drives me crazy sometimes . . .

KIM Because . . . ?

KRESHKALI *Surprised* If you met him, you wouldn’t have to ask! It’s like there’s no air in the room when he looks my way. Those eyes . . . He’s my apprentice though, so I keep it together.

KIM How do you cope with that?

KRESHKALI We train hard, fight dirty, study, debate, elude, detect and travel the many-worlds at the speed of light. It keeps me focused on the task at hand.

KIM Which is?

KRESHKALI Saving Earth and Gaela, what else?

KIM Ah yes, Gaela. How did you feel when you first woke up there?

KRESHKALI #%^@ing blown away! You can’t appreciate it, because your Earth is still healthy, but for me, waking up to see the sun shine, to see stars overhead at night and not a muddy vault, to drink water fresh from a stream and walk among trees was like opening my eyes for the first time. Fresh air that doesn’t smell like death, rain that doesn’t sting like demon’s piss, people who live and train and practice magic in the open . . . seeing that did it for me. I knew then and there. . .

KIM Knew what, Kali?

KRESHKALI I would do anything to bring Earth back to life.

KIM Beautiful. Thank you. *looks at the wall clock* Do you have time to take some questions from our readers?

KRESHKALI *winks* I thought you knew by now. I’ve got all the time in the world.

There will be a lot more of Kreshkali come September with the release of the third book in Quantum Encryption, Journey by Night.  Meanwhile, you can ask any questions here!

Chinese New Year of the Rabbit

Rabbit Under the Harvest Moon by Elizabeth Alexander

New Moon in Aquarius

New York February 2, 21:31
London February 3, 02:31
Sydney February 3, 12:31
LA February 2, 18:31

The year of the Metal Rabbit brings to Earth a piece of the moon—nurturing, protecting, restoring, beguiling. There is a feeling of serenity and frayed nerves are soothed. The Muse awakens! The focus is on environment, Mother Earth and creative expression. Think recycle, plant, adopt, express, love, connect, vision. Negotiate peace. Do what you can to make someone’s life more beautiful, beginning with your own.

RAM: The Year of the Rabbit may seem like a slow one especially in career and finances. Patience. The best approach is to focus on a few things as opposed to scattering energy. Pick what’s really important and put energy there. Health and fitness require attention. Look for the hidden messages. They will direct you.  

AUROCHS: The year of the Rabbit is for finding peace and serenity. All action that stems from this state will work out well in career, finances and health. Work and relationship life overlap so create solid, practical and fulfilling connections on all fronts. Aurochs may find that making a magic list will bring positive change. 

TWINS: In the year of the Rabbit, career and finances take a wild leap upward as long as you aren’t trying too hard! Seriously, relax! Your creativity can reach a ‘wider audience’ when you focus on the art and let the rest take care of itself. Think global marketing and improved public image! Onwards and upwards!

COBRA: Year of the Rabbit brings the feeling of accomplishment and creative fulfilment. All you have to do is believe in yourself and your career, mission or profession. Do you love what you do? That’s the key. If you aren’t in your dream job and dream money flow, make changes early this year. Mid-March 2011!

LION: In the year of the Rabbit, the key phrase is ‘don’t force it.’ If it feels like you have to work until you snap, it’s not going to deliver the results you want. Go with the gentle approach and that means being easy on yourself. Respectful. Stop measuring by external standards an open your heart. Grand year ahead!

CERES: The year of the Rabbit holds much promise for Virgo. This is a year to allow things to unfold in the grace of their own time. No rush. You can use the rules of magic though, and that will have a profound effect on your year ahead. Relationships improve – old ones shape up or a new potential comes into view.

BALENCIA: The year of the Rabbit is supportive for Libra, especially when you remember the secret of charm. By being the leader, and not the follower or chaser, opportunities arise in career, finances and creativity. Remember you get what you expect. A special someone steps up and your best stance is appreciation.

SCORPION: The year of the Rabbit can start out slow and your efforts to make changes put you off. But remember what you have accomplished! There is more to come when you lift your spirit and think optimistic. Love and romance will brighten your smile the moment you get out of the old love story. Much to celebrate!

 ARCHER: The year of the Rabbit is one of great success as long as you don’t get needy about instant results. Seriously, desperation only gets more of the same so lighten up. You don’t have to grasp for finances and career advancement, or the perfect relationship. Go with the flow is the most powerful approach in 2011. 

 SEA-GOAT: The year of the Rabbit brings fabulous news for Capricorn. Difficult family situations start to work out for the better and career changes made in 2010 now pay off. Co-creative projects are especially favoured and you can expect the financial rewards to increase. Romance blossoms. What a year!

 WATER-BEARER: In the year of the Rabbit, Aquarius makes improvement in career and finances IF they get over a ting of jealousy. Focusing on envy is only going to slow things down. Rabbit year is one to cultivate multiple streams of income, improve relationships and make bigger plans for the future. 

 FISHES: In the year of the Rabbit the first thing to focus on is improving relationships – family, love and at work. If single, relax. The trick is to not think of how much to’ work at it’ but how you can get what you want without lifting a finger! It is definitely a case of doing what you love and trusting that all else will follow!

The Gaela Stars are brought to you by Kim Falconer, author of the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption trilogies, set in the worlds of Gaela and Earth. The first book in the Quantam Encryption, Path of the Stray, is out now. Kim lives in Byron Bay in Australia and also runs the website Falcon Astrology.

How to Stay Inspired by Kim Falconer

Write while the heat is in you. — Henry David Thoreau

‘Starcatcher’ by Duy Huynh

Passion translates through the pages and the advice to writers is: get it down while it’s hot. But deadlines don’t go away just because the celebratory summer has arrived with school holidays, lapping waves and picnics in the park.  Writers must write, rain, snow, sleet or perfect beach days. How to stay enthused and keep the drone of the computer from turning into a lullaby? Here are my favourite tips to inspire the flow.

Tip #1Show up: Writing is like a date; you have to show up if anything is going to happen. Get to your desk every day, turn the computer on and say now it begins! Sooner or later the Muse will be there, but you have to make the first move.

Tip #2 Set an intention: Make a statement of your intended outcome for the day. Say it aloud. You might also write it down on a post-it and stick it to your monitor. Two thousand words today, flowing like a river, or ten pages edited, clean and easy. Setting an intention gets your goal clear in your head. Adding a ‘feel good’ to the statement lifts the spirit.

Tip #3 Write what you love: This is KEY. If you aren’t enjoying the work, it will show. This isn’t something you can fake or get by with half-heartedly. Write what lights you up. If your current assignment doesn’t, find a way to change your mind about it. Throw caution to the wind. Fall head over heels in love!

Tip #4 Look after yourself: When others are on holidays, splashing in the pool and kicking the ball around, the blank screen can seem like a punishment. When this happens, amp up the self-nurturing! Good food, power nap, exercise and socialise. Deadlines to not equate with prison sentences. You’ll get more done if you schedule in daily fun time.

Tip #5 Evoke the muse: In ancient times, nothing was scribed, no story told, without first calling on the Muses. Tell me, O Muse . . .Homer begins, and we know where that got him. Stephen King suggests that when writers feel blocked it’s not because the Muse has abandoned them: I think what happens is that the writers themselves sow the edges of their clearing with poison bait to keep their muses away, often without knowing they are doing it. Love your Muse and she will love you back! More on evocations

Tip #6 Ghost write: If  the keys aren’t clicking, open a new word .doc and write a few paras in another voice. Choose some author with a different style. Ask yourself how Dostoyevsky, Oscar Wilde or even Homer Simpson would write. After a few hundred words, take a break. Have a cuppa. When you come back to your work, your fingers will fly!

Tip # 7 De-clutter your desk: Clear out all the old cups and wrappers, organise your notes, clean the draws and vacuum under your chair. This Feng Shui tip really lights a fire in the belly. You can clean up your virtual desktop too, and tighten your backups and files. The outer environment reflects the inner. Take a look around and see if anything is askew. It will boost you Qi big time.

Any other ideas? I’d love to hear how you all stay inspired!

Kim Falconer is the author of the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption trilogies, set in the worlds of Gaela and Earth. The first book in the Quantam Encryption, Path of the Stray, is out now and the sequel, Road to the Soul, will be out in March 2011. Kim is also an astrologer and runs Falcon Astrology. She is based in Byron Bay in Northern NSW, Australia. Catch Kim at Galaxy Bookshop (Kent St, Sydney) next Saturday 4 December at 12:30pm, along with Traci Harding.

Bringing Characters to Life (Why zombies make rotten lovers …)

Cast of characters from HBO’s True Blood (Based on Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Series

It takes more than a description and a few lines of dialogue to bring characters to life. They must be fleshed out in believable ways—grow, change, exhibit emotions (or repress them), have likes and dislikes, flaws and attributes. Basically, they have to be ‘real’ people. If characters are not fully developed, they won’t engage the reader, and that means the story ends before it even gets started.

If characters feel like cardboard cut outs, the story will fall flat on its face. No matter how brilliant the plot, characters have to have a potency of their own—driving and charismatic. If they don’t feel alive they might as well be zombies, and that’s not going to make anyone’s’ heart throb. If a main character can be replaced by one of the flesh-eating undead, it’s time for a radical makeover.

Lao Tzu said character is destiny and it holds true in fiction as in ‘real’ life. How characters think, what shaped their past, what hopes excite them, as well as their physicality, combine to create what will happen to them in the future. Achieving this level of characterisation boils down to one thing—know them inside and out! (Read Jennifer Fallon’s rule number three.)

When a new character pops into my head, (for me it is just like a light bulb going on) I see them in a scene. They might be in a fight, making a spell or making out. No matter. With that first look comes an idea, a name and then a horoscope. I create a ‘star charts’ for each one of my people. It’s more instructional than a Myers-Briggs personality test!

Example: I’ll randomly assign planetary placements for a new male character: Sun (individuality) Virgo, Moon (feelings) Scorpio, Mercury (brain power) Leo, Venus (relationships) Gemini, Mars (actions) Taurus, Jupiter (beliefs) Sagittarius, Saturn (boundaries) Aquarius, Uranus (group consciousness) Aries, Neptune (spirituality) Libra, Pluto (authority) Gemini.

Male character from Gaia Online

With chart in hand, I can say this character acts cocksure of himself but isn’t. He’s fun at parties; sacred of true intimacy. He takes orders if he respects the authority, bucks the system if not and has father issues up the yin-yang. Lonely childhood. He hides his vulnerability behind clever words, has intense eyes, holds a grudge and has no idea (yet) that he longs for something deeper, richer and more fulfilling that winning the next battle and yet another lass. His boots are always polished, favourite colour’s red, hates spiders, has a full head of hair (always will) and his friends say he thinks way too much . . .

I’ve discovered I’m in good company with my Astro approach to character development. Spec fiction writers Satima Flavell and Margaret Atwood use astrology to get to know their characters too. The idea is to treat them like people, friends and relatives you love (or hate). Know their history, their favourite breakfast cereal and how old they were when they first had sex. Get to that level of detail and you’ll never be accused of writing zombies (unless you mean to!).

I’d love to hear how other authors develop and keep track of their characters. Editors and proofreaders?

How do you do it? Comments most welcome.

Kim Falconer is the author of the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption trilogies, set in the worlds of Gaela and Earth. The first book in the Quantam Encryption, Path of the Stray, is out now and the sequel, Road to the Soul, will be out in March 2011. Kim is also an astrologer and runs Falcon Astrology. She is based in Byron Bay in Northern NSW, Australia.

Kim Falconer: New Moon in Libra

The Rider by Michael Parkes

New York October 7, 14:45
London October 7, 19:45
SydneyOctober 8, 05:45
LA October 7, 11:45

RAM: Relationships are vital now. It’s the perfect time to make creative changes but first, get to the core of what you really want. No one out there can make you happy. You do that yourself!

AUROCHS: A busy time, with energy spent looking after others, especially those tricky to understand—pets, children, foreigners. Magic happens when you set an intention, and follow through.

TWINS: Play! Sing! Dance! In every way you can rejoice, do so, no matter what. It is through a childlike wonder that you’ll wake up each day, ready for the time of your life! Share the feelings.

COBRA: There is much industry around the home and family, a feeling of building something from the ground up. Hard road ahead, but more satisfying than ‘difficult’. A lost relation returns.

LION: There could be a lot of travel this month over familiar territory. It’s what happens along the way that will be so interesting. A new plan is afoot! Write down all ideas and inspirations. Brainstorm with a friend.

CERES: Sudden and unexpected support comes ‘out of the blue’, and not a moment too soon. There will be more work to do, but if you’ve set your mind to business, it will be a labour of love. The money wants to roll in.

BALENCIA: It’s high time you break out of old patterns around love and union. They aren’t serving you, so say good bye. With fresh eyes, see how truly amazing your life is. Also, clean house. Company’s coming!

SCORPION: If you ever listened to your intuition over logic and statistics, this is the time. All the evidence in the world means nothing to the spiritual being inside your body. Trust the inner voice. It’s steering true.

ARCHER: Friends are asking you to join a group or be part of the team. Much fun and inspiration can come from participation. You may even find you learn more about yourself in the company of others than alone.

SEA-GOAT: The career, mission or profession is tested to see if you really are on the right track. If it makes you smile, then all systems go! Your relationship with the public improves. Perfect for increased income, promotion and publicity.

WATER-BEARER: Your world gets bigger. This can be new friends, groups, job description, travel or study. Suddenly the vista is broader, full of portend. The opportunities to expand are there. All that is left is for you to say yes!

FISHES: An offer to go into business with someone, merge finances, get a loan together or even go to couples counselling has you relating intimately and intensely, nonstop. Sleep may be the only escape! Set boundaries, pronto.

Kim Falconer lives in Byron Bay with two black cats. She runs an astrology forum and alternative science site‚ trains with a sword and is working on the second AND third books in the Quantum Encryption trilogy, the follow up to Quantum Enchantment, both of which are set in the world of Gaela, as well as on Earth. The first book in the new series is called Path of the Stray and is out now!

Sneak Peek: Road to the Soul by Kim Falconer

Are you getting edgy because you’re not at AussieCon? Don’t worry, we’ve got some reading to calm you down :-). If you ARE at AussieCon, don’t miss the following panel with Voyager star Fiona McIntosh.

Getting edgy: The disreputable protagonist in modern fantasy
While fantasy used to centre around noble and good-hearted heroes, a growing sub-genre of recent years has
celebrated a less savoury breed of protagonist. Knights and wizards-in-training are giving way to thieves, assassins, mercenaries and cutthroats. What is the appeal of this form of anti-hero, and what are its origins? How does changing the protagonist alter the kind of story you are able to tell?
Ellen Kushner, Trudi Canavan, Fiona McIntosh
Monday 1300 Room 204

Not at the panel? Here’s a sneak peek from Kim Falconer’s Road to the Soul, the following up to Path of the Stray. Kim would have been on today’s panel but unfortunately had to return home as she has a bad flu.

Jarrod discovered the source of the haunting call the moment he entered the woods. It wasn’t wind whistling through a hollow canyon or skimming across the mountain lake. It wasn’t the swaying trees or a murder of crows shooting like black arrows into the sky. It was a beautiful young witch with honey red hair. The call came from her.

He watched her walk through the heart of the woods unafraid. Never had Jarrod seen such a contrast — her hair red against the trees. Opposites on the spectrum, it made the tone of the woods seem even more vivid. Hunter green! He’d heard about it in Corsanon. Bards wove it into their songs, those who had travelled here and seen it first-hand, and what they said was true — the hunter green of Vesper would catch you, seduce you, and it did. And so did the young witch.

Read on

Galean Stars

'Angrier Red Planet,’ by Hugo professional artist nominee, Bob Eggleton

August 17 – 23, 2010

RAM: When the road gets rocky, one of the best antidotes is recalling a time when it was so and you totally handled it! Remember? ‘What would you call the highest happiness?’ Wratislaw was asked. ‘The sense of competence,’ was the answer, given without hesitation. ~John Buchan

AUROCHS: Family disputes can find their way into your home, even if you are playing it neutral. It’s not always ‘bad’ if things escalate, as long as you can let go. Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying a grudge, the other guy’s out dancing. ~Buddy Hackett

 TWINS: The temptation this week is to justify. If you must, it’s best to avoid using long, drawn out explanations with multiple adjectives and gesticulating. Simple rocks! The best reason for having dreams is that in dreams no reasons are necessary.  ~Ashleigh Brilliant Continue reading