Saturday, October 30, 2010

I have no idea the type of person who reads this blog but...

I assume it is some of the following: booksellers, reviewers, readers, potential international editors and, my friends.

*Tania waves*

What follows is a short rant:

The internet is evil! Evil! It is so deliciously wonderful that I, an author, who has far better things to do (just look at my overgrown garden) actually puts time on FACEBOOK ahead (see!)ahead of solving the problems of my 11th Century characters.
I read blogs – there are many interesting ones and I learn a lot.
I respond to emails (and send some in the hope of a reply). Actually, not counting my day job (teaching) I get between, 17-25 emails a day with regard to me as an author. Not counting the teacher and personal emails. They figure in the 50 or 60s.

When I first started writing, I was impressed that I could type my manuscript straight onto the computer, print it out and send it via post (that’s like, put in an envelope, address, seal, place stamp and then put in post box). Edits came to me as hard copy (a word unheard of to me back then). How else would I receive them?
To contact overseas required getting up in the middle of the night to phone. That is: push buttons on the telephone!
I adore the ease of this new age but it does bring with it some distraction. We never had a tv for the first five years of our marriage and only bought one because of the first gulf war. The tiny 14inch had its place and, when the children came along, they could not have Nintendo or play station. We were model parents.
This weekend has confirmed why we did the right thing all those years ago: we hired an, um, I think it’s called an x-box. The girls have tried to be glued to it all weekend but I’m being mean and shutting it down every 30 mins.
‘Mum!’ one cried. ‘Just go write your damn book!’
‘Don’t speak to me like that,’ I responded, the guilt already creeping in.
‘Sorry. But now we’ve returned the horse, we can play without all the angst.’
She has a point. Real horse was returned on Monday and now our afternoons are free again.
As to the online stuff? Boundaries and goals. Goals and Boundaries.
Critical to the survival of writers, readers and their families.
I love the internet. Wahhh. But, I’m sure it takes away time I could be writing.
This post took two hours to construct cos I was up and down what with cooking dinner and feeding dogs and looking around the blogsphere….
I’m a bit tired now. Might call it a night at go to bed.
Fleance can wait while I catch my breath.
Naku noa
PS I'm sure there will be typos in the above post but I have to move on and write the next damn book. (tea was cooked btw and all who imbibed were happy).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bloodlines Number Five on the bestseller list

this is very pleasing. Still getting lovely emails and messages left on the facebook page from people from all over saying how much the LOVED Bloodlines - more than they loved Banquo's Son.

I have just polished the first 5,000 of Birthright after the detailed notes and comments made by the girls and am very happy with it. They have giving it the thumbs up as well with some suggestions for further tweaking which I agree with. A month or so down the track, I might put up the first few pages as a teaser.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reader's response

Gave one of the babes and my eldest child the epilogue and first ten pages of Birthright. Neither were particularly impressed. Both said I can do better. Eldest said: Mum, we need to be REPULSED by the witches. And then terrified when Hecate turns up. What is it you are always saying to your students? It's all about reader response!'

Babe said lovely positive things but also specific comments about voice and characterisation.

Thanks to Mackenna and Penelope. I do think the bones are there but I really, really appreciate your honest reader response. Now gonna go back and have more fun with the witches, and girls, make the first chapter un-put-downable!

Even though there is a wee person inside of me going 'wahhhh', I have faith in these two to care enough to take very seriously their comments.

Currently having fun trusting in my own author's voice (this was the problem, I think, that I was changing the way I really write to please what I think others expect!)

It is like re-painting a house (I know about such an experience having spent a couple of summers working for painters). You've got to ensure the energy goes into the preparation and then make sure the ingredients are top notch.

Anyway, I'm appreciative of the advice and now will spend the next few days re-working what I have been polishing.

Am buoyed that Bloodlines is doing so well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I know it's not about 11th C Scotland but (well, actually...)

I am in Naseby. I would shout out that this place is the best place in New Zealand. I am qualified to make such an unscientific judgement because I have been to EVERY place in my country save Gisborne (sorry East Cape - plan to come soon and I've watched 'Whale Rider' and 'Boy'...). Ironic really as I am Ngati Porou.

Why is Naseby so great? Because, it don't matter the season, there's stuff to do. It don't matter the season, it's completely acceptable for a writer to be holed up in her room writing. There is a great cafe and two wonderful pubs. There is the internationally recognised curing rink (and in winter a real frozen lake one to skate on. Oh, and the luge). There are biking trails and damns and birds and stuff and it's quite like the highlands of Scotland I am told by those who know.

It's a place where you don't lock your car or your house. Here in the south, they call them cribs but I'm from the north so they are baches for me.

Unfortunately, Naseby is so far up the highlands that there is no cellphone coverage and the only reason I am able to be on the internet is because I'm staying at a motel. There is no doctor and no pharmacy which is a pity as, yet again, one of our number came off his bike (why is it always the males?) and we had to rush him to the local hospital but, of course, being NZ and it's administration of essential resources, didn't have x-ray facilities so the injured and support team had to go to Clyde.

As I write this, the birds have decided that they will come awake (lazy things) and I’m pleased to report that there was not a broken bone.

I have been having fun polishing the first act of Birthright and Jo, who is with us on this holiday, has yet to read. She may or not during this wonderful long weekend but I am VERY pleased with my writing.

The witches are SOOOO much fun to write.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How wonderful when you recieve a 'tweet like this:'

OOh just spotted the latest Tania Roxborogh on the binding shelf. Blood Lines. I am so taking that home tonight. (from the Central HawkesBay Library).

It's always a good sign when one gets a librarian excited.

You know you've made progress, in the world of writing, when the phrase 'the latest [insert your name]. It's almost celebrity status. Like 'Have you seen the latest Bruce Willis movie? or 'Have you read the latest Diana Gabaldon?'

Kinda like branding.

In other shameless self-promoting news, a steady line of students are arriving at my desk with copies of either Banquo's Son or Bloodlines (sometimes both) to sign. Loving also, hearing them discuss the characters with each other, tell me how much they loved the book and nice to hear their mums, nanas, cousins..... are reading the book now.

Book sellers are making a good job of displaying both titles (from the txts I'm getting from friends and family around the country). One store manager told tell me the books are selling steadily and another reported Bloodlines was the third best seller for their store.

My youngest spotted someone at her high school walking around with Banquo’s Son. She told me it was too weird. ‘You’re everywhere, Mum!’

The writing/editing is happening about a page a night at the moment. I just have too much other stuff crammed into my days.

We are off to Central Otago tomorrow for three days and I hope to do lots of work then. I might even let my friend Jo take first peek - but only if I'm brave.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Latest review of Bloodlines

"Love and duty collide in this thrilling continuation of the story started with Shakespeare’s Macbeth, then picked up by Roxborogh with Banquo’s Son. Blood Lines is a story of honour and betrayal set in historical Scotland and beyond. Readers who enjoyed the first book of this saga will love Blood Lines"

From Tomorrow's Schools Today NZ. Full piece here

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Roxborogh can't keep quiet

Okay. I AM writing. I'm also now heavily loaded with Level 2 English marking (hi girls!) and, I am being VERY VERY good when it comes to posture and micro pauses and yadda yadda yadda to help my OOS.

Just looked at JK Rowling's page (thanks Maureen) and laughed out loud. The scribbles look just like mine. Though I prefer to type the text straight onto the computer, I need to write out the plan - go figure.

Anyway, Bloodlines is doing well in the market/review stakes and I'm concentrating on Birthright and, acutally, writing some really good stuff.

Have finished the first act but now have gone back to the start and am going through fixing up the clunkers (there weren't many - promise) and polishing the art work.

I needed to do this because I was getting twitchy with what I was writing - too much mess; too my clutter.

It's all good though. The English teacher/reader in me is VERY please.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Reasons I'm not writing but I will after this post - promise

A couple of weeks ago I posted here about what stops me from carrying on with the task of writing.

In that time, I've come up with some others: occupation overuse syndrome (known as OOS). I am currently getting intensive physio every two days to help alleviate the pain in my right elbow and neck and shoulder. My bad. I did not use the correct posture over the school holidays - am now, I can tell you - and the wonderful 13,000 words I wrote came at a cost.

Add to this that I am a teacher. An English teacher. I mark - a lot! Currently, my arm is so sore I cannot pull clothes from the dryer, chop carrots, pick up a bottle of wine, lift up anything heavier than a copy of Bloodlines. Even driving is a problem (thank goodness for the eldest teen). Family are having to step up to the plate and they are bless them.

The other thing keeping me from my writing is the wonderful Dunedin weather at present: it is sunny! It is warm! It is, I'm-just-gonna-sit-in-the-sun-and-read type of weather not lock-myself-away-in-my-study-and-write. Hey, I need the Vit. D.

Online stuff distracts me but I find it so fascinating: the blogs, FaceBook, the emails, the webpage. I'm a nosey, looking over the fence type of gal. I want to know what other writers are doing and saying. Half the time, I'm lifted up and encouraged; the other half sends me wailing into my breakfast.

I'm also distracted by the emotion of it all: waiting to here news from overseas; waiting for reviews for Bloodlines; the comings and goings of key people who are, I feel, my touch stones and, the waiting and worrying and waiting.

But, like those of you who have already read Bloodlines (and told me so and told me to hurry up with the next book) I want to know what happens. I love being in their world. I really came to admire Rachel and so pleased Rosie got the final say and Henri is so interesting and and and....

So, I’ve taken twenty minutes to write this post (cos I am a bad speller and needed to check it was all perfect before I posted), I am now ready to go back to the fray cos, damn, fray it is!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Birthright: there you go then

This post will probably be lost in the curfuffel but the author is forging on ahead.

OMG, even if I'm modest, it's really, really good.

My recommendation:
Buy the published works and wait for the next.

Bloodlines: the first print review

T.K. Roxborogh
Penguin, $40, pbk

I can't help thinking that T. K. Roxborogh might be New Zealand's answer to J. K. Rowling.

It's not just the ambiguous initials rather than first name, but the fact that Blood Lines follows hot on the heels of Banquo's Son and one wonders if there are indeed another two or three in the pipeline.

And like Rowling, Roxborogh writes a cracking adventure.

The Blood Lines story proper starts with Fleance, King of Scotland, all set to marry the lovely Rachel, a marriage designed to secure the bloodline rather than for love, for the young king's thoughts and emotions are very much with Rosie, whom we met in Banquo's Son.

Things take a twist when Rachel is abducted, and from thereon in Roxborogh pushes the narrative on apace - so much so that at the end of each chapter I was bursting for the next.

She switches point of view seamlessly. There is an assortment of characters that we care about, and three witches are dropped into the brew for good measure.

Roxborogh has a fine descriptive eye for the less savoury aspects of medieval life and she pulls no punches when portraying the stenches, discomforts and brutalities.

If I have one quibble it is with some of the dialogue.

Roxborogh says she aims to replicate "the vocabulary that was in use during Shakespeare's era", but to my ear there were some much more modern turns of phrase that jarred. But it is only a quibble.

If you liked Banquo's Son you'll love Blood Lines.

- Julia Brannigan is an Auckland writer and marketing consultant
This review appeared in the Otago Daily Times, 9th of October.

Waahh about the jarring. Not going to let that happen in the final (but, hang on, heh heh, will it be a final...) book
PS just so you know: I read every single one of the Harry Potter books and have seen ALL the films and I think Rowling is one of the most cleverest people on earth - Tolken without the verbage.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The reviews begin to come in....

This first one from the online site Fangtastic Fiction which is interesting for me because I didn't see any connection between the vampire rage and my trilogy but I DO have witches and ghosts and prophecies so I should not be surprised.
Thanks to Ali for taking the time to review the book:

has wonderful imagery, all written in a modern style, and you don’t notice yourself being completely transported to medieval Scotland. TK Roxborogh weaves historical elements into this magnificent work of fiction, which not only bring historical figures to life, but in using this setting as the backdrop of the story, the fictional characters are given an added dimension, making them seem more ‘real’.

The second story picks up and carries on from Banquo’s Son, but could quite happily be read as a standalone novel as it is a ‘new’ phase in Fleance’s life. Although Tania proclaims that this was an incredibly difficult work to write, there is no pain in the reading: the story is well constructed and flows from start to end.
Fleance seems to have more emotional depth, and, although still prone to almost childish tantrums (as befits a youth in his position), he also shows remarkable empathy, as well as remarkable strength and understanding of the importance of his role to Scotland.

If you’ve read Banquo’s Son, you will no doubt remember the incredible skill in which you are lead down the garden path of plot deception. Bloodlines carries on this tradition. There is nothing formulaic about the way the story unfolds. In fact the author seems to take great delight in flying against traditional ‘norms’ in storytelling, yet still manages to make it all come together perfectly. Unexpected characters die, trustworthy characters betray, enemies give their lives... but do they? Is what we believe to be a betrayal, really a betrayal? Oh, so many wonderful, subtle twists that you just cannot try and guess the plot.

From angelic Rachel, to stoic Preston, no character is left undeveloped. In fact, great care is taken to build a connection between the characters and the reader. Yet, again, this is often done with such subtly that I was completely surprised at how attached I was to a character until I faced the threat of them being taken away.
I really adored this book but it is one that you must relax into to really enjoy. As soon as you stop trying to second guess the plot, the story just starts to flow, the images form in your mind and you hear the characters talking in your head.
Bloodlines has such wonderful characters and settings, and is such a vividly alive story that holds a little something for everyone to enjoy.