Dragons with Lee Murray

Interviewed by Lee Murray


Lee Murray Writer
Lee Murray

Talking dragons is one of my favourite past-times. Okay, and reading, writing and flying on dragons too… Whatever, dragons are cool. My middle-grade dragon fiction caught the attention of Lee Murray who has won five Sir Julius Vogel Awards and an Australasian Shadows Award for writing and editing.


On her blog Lee Murray.info, she interviews me about my dragons – yep, about the one that’s too short to fly, others that hide in the bathroom, your desk, and even in… Oh well, you’ll have to pop over and visit Lee and I to find out the rest!

Book Titles – Please Help

Help Choose my Book Titles!

Would you mind taking 30 seconds to help me choose new book titles? Just 2 books. It’s  important to know what my readers like, so thanks for giving valuable feedback!

The title selections are here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RLF37KV

Just so you knowHTTS-leftbrain, this is how I came up with these title choices

  1. Created 100 book titles.
  2. A small group selected their favourites from these 100 titles.
  3. I ran a poll of the top 10 titles (in a closed forum).
  4. Now I’m testing the 4-5 highest-ranking titles with you and also with kids at a local school.

I’ll have more books titles for you next week. As you can imagine, it takes  a while to come up with 100! Enjoy helping me make my books better!

Thanks! Your opinion matters.

Podcast – Writer’s Island

Writer’s Island

I recently appeared on Radio Access in their Writer’s Island program. The discussion topic was anthologies and collections. Three Wellington anthology editors were in the studio, hosted by Deb Potter.

The guests were Alicia Ponder, Blair Polly and me. We discuss how to put a collection together – the submission process, evaluating stories, funding, marketing the books – and lessons we’ve leaned as editors. It was fun to get together at the radio station and interesting to hear the journeys behind each collection.

Sweet AsThe Best of Twisty Christmas Tales-Height200pxelsLost In The Musuem

Deb PotterOur host, Deb Potter, presents Writer’s Island, is a journalist, has completed Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letter’s Masters in Creative Writing program and writes children’s and general fiction.


AliciaPonderAlicia Ponder has written for New Zealand’s school journal (a New Zealand educational publication), co-edited The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales, and edited Lost in the Museum – a Young Adult collection based in Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. Lost in the Museum won the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel award for best collection.

BlairPollyBlair Polly is an entrepreneur, the editor of Sweet As, a collection  of contemporary short stories (for adults) with a New Zealand flavor. Blair had the good fortune of editing the work of some of New Zealand’s top authors. He also writes adult fiction, children’s interactive stories and children’s adventure quizz books.


Eileen MuellerI was there as the  co-editor of The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales and sub-editor of Lost in the Museum.


You can hop in your boat and row out to Writer’s Island or just check out the podcast below.

You Say Which Way

Dragons Realm to be Published

I’m excited to announce that my middle-grade novel, Dragon’s Realm, for 8-12 year-old children, will be out in before Christmas this year.

You Say Which Way!

You Say Which Way is a great series of stories in which you choose the adventure you want. These interactive e-books are similar to the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” or “Pick a Path” stories we used to read when we were younger, but even BETTER!

In You Say Which Way there’s a new adventure on every page, and a multitude of cool endings to reach! The choices you make are meaningful and change the outcome of your story. You write your own story with your choices.

Earlier this year, I was contracted by The Fairytale Factory, to write one of these adventures, and it has been a real adventure writing it!  My story, Dragon’s Realm, will soon be joining all of these goodies! See these You Say Which Way adventures in the Amazon.com: Kindle Store

Eileen Mueller's title Dragon's Realm will join the You Say Which Way series on Amazon soon.
Eileen Mueller’s title Dragon’s Realm will join the You Say Which Way series on Amazon soon.

Rewriting a Novel Successfully!

Eileen Mueller

5 reasons why rewriting a novel is tough!

Rewriting a novel can be especially tough when time has passed, and your craft has been honed since you wrote those old words.

Rewriting a novel can be tough when you changed major plot elements mid-novel, and thought you’d fix them later. And later is now!

Rewriting a novel is tough when you want to cut a whole lot of words. Thousands. Perhaps tens of thousands.

Rewriting can be tough when you want to change a character’s voice.

Rewriting can be tough when you have a job, a family and a thousand other story ideas that would be easier, because writing new words is often more appealing than editing old ones.

rewriting a novel
Eileen has finished rewriting a novel!

6 ways to tell that rewriting is a Success!

Rewriting is a success when you LOVE the new novel.

Rewriting is a success when your characters’ voices, motivations and personalities are clearer, crisper, and sing to you from the page.

Rewriting is a success when the manuscript just begs to be read! And begs. And begs, no matter how busy you are.

Rewriting is a success when your beta readers (from your target audience) drool over the first few chapters, then plead to read the rest! Then offer to buy the book before it’s out.

Rewriting is a success when your story is done, well and truly re-plotted, restructured, polished, edited, and done, done, done.

Stephen King mentions that rewriting is successful when you’ve cut at least 10% from your work. If you’ve cut even more, you’re on the right track!

So what was I rewriting?

The YA paranormal romance that has been simmering on the back burner for a while. It’s done, and it’s great. Watch this space.

Word Meter for Projects

Word Meter & Exciting Writing Year

Last year I was involved in publishing two anthologies – Lost in the Museum and The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales – which sucked up a lot of my writing  time. This year I have some exciting news. I’ve been asked by a publisher to write a couple of kids’ novels for their You Say Which Way series. These are interactive e-books, similar to Choose Your Own Adventure or Pick a Path stories, where kids choose which way the story goes. I’ll have more exciting news about these soon. I am also finishing a kids’ novel and rewriting a young adult paranormal romance that has been on the back burner for  over a year. So it’s exciting and busy!

I thought I’d keep everyone up to date on my progress with my new word meters in the sidebar – a cool way to let my readers know what I’m up to. These word meters will be updated as I make progress.

Progress as at mid July 2015. To be updated soon!
Progress as at mid July 2015. To be updated soon!

Currently as you’ll see :

Black Belt Bailey – a middle grade martial arts novel for 11-13 year olds – is complete at 38,000 words.

The first draft of Dragon’s Realm the first of my You Say Which Way adventures – is finished at 42,000 words. This was fun to write and I look forward to receiving feedback from the publisher soon.

Nymphyre is a YA paranormal romance that has been brewing in the background for a couple of years. It was at about 92,000 words, and I’m whittling it down to about 80,000 (currently 87,000 and shrinking.) Written in fits and starts between other projects, this novel needs a through rewrite! I usually write a novel from start to finish, not over two years, so it’s been really interesting to rewrite this, bringing all the scenes into line with how I now want to the story to run. Clarkes’ Critique Group have taken my innocent sentences twisting them with their risque humor, making our local library cafe ring with laughter for hours on end as we chortle over possible romantic twists! Luckily most of these ludicrous suggestions will remain in the cafe – although their sound story-crafting ideas have been steadily worked into the novel. What is it about romance that makes people giggle and come up with silly jokes? Monkey Lab, my other critique group have also enjoyed aping around with the story!  Lots of grunting & screeching during those critique sessions – think chimps at the zoo.

Mystic Portal is a project planned for later this year, another You Say Which Way – a mountain biking adventure with a twist! Or several twists, depending on which paths you choose!

My 5 Criteria for a Word Meter

If you’d like to create a word meter, pop by this site to see the one I use. There are many out there, but my criteria were quite specific:

  1. Ability to reflect progress on several projects
  2. Include total word count and names of projects
  3. I did not want the names and word counts to take up too much space on my sidebar, so I decided to have meters with the words and count inside them.
  4. Flexibility with color (I can choose my own)
  5. I wanted to reflect which phase of the writing process I am at with each project , e.g. draft, editing, 2nd draft, rewrite etc.

This site enabled me to do all of the above.

5 Steps to Creating your own Word Meter

Hint: I used the following steps to make my word meters:

  1. I created several word meters with this resource
  2. I inserted the information I wanted (Project phase, name and target word count) inside the caption field.
  3. I decided to use blue for finished phases of projects and red for unfinished phases.
  4. I copied the code into one text box plug-in, in my sidebar, to create the word meters you see now.
  5. I repeated this process for each project, and saved my code in a word document for easy access (so I can edit the source code instead of using the site, next time).

Enjoy popping by the blog to see my progress. It’ll be nice to see you. Now, I’d better get back to writing or I’ll never be able to update the word meter.  See you soon.

For Three Days Only – Three Free Writing Classes

I have taken many of Holly Lisle’s classes over the past three or four years and have LOVED free-writing-classesevery one of them. She’s a great teacher, outlining principles in a  way that gets me fast results every time. In a few days, Holly will be closing How To Think Sideways, one of her large online courses, for the next year, then only taking  registrations for a week each year. To show people how cool her techniques are, you can take her 3 free writing classes right now. But be quick, they’re only open for the next two days.

In her words:

Today, tomorrow, and Thursday (USA time), I’m offering three free writing Mini-Workshops with downloadable PDF worksheets that you can use forever.

These are original, created by me to introduce you to the process of Thinking Sideways.

Today, you’re going to come up with a brand-new story idea you want to write.Tomorrow, you’ll create two great characters who will live in that story.The next day, you’ll write the first scene of a story that will thrill you.

No obligation, no credit card, I don’t even ask for your name.  Find out how to set your muse free, and write with joy.

– Holly

Free Writing Classes Have a taste of Holly’s work with her mini-classes, just a sample of the great tools she provides in her larger courses. I learn something new every time I revisit one of her lessons – and the first two of these mini-classes have given me fresh insights all over again.

Have fun doing these free writing classes. I’m  having fun doing them too!

Kindle & Smashwords Surveys

Recently released Kindle & Smashwords surveys provide overviews about the performance of their best-selling books and authors. These Kindle & Smashwords surveys have resulted in reports, detailing the performance of their top-selling authors, ideal price and length of books, and tips for marketing eBooks.

Kindle & Smashwords surveys
Kindle & Smashwords Surveys provide book marketing insights.

Kindle’s commissioned survey, conducted by Sellbox, provides insights into the self-publishing industry, & ebook marketing best practices. Key findings include:

  • Indie authors invest more in the producing their books than marketing their books.
  • Most indie authors don’t know the best way to promote their book and mainly use their blogs and Facebook for promotion.
  • Amazon still dominates the self-publishing industry.
  • Self-publishing markets still remain in their infancy.

The associated report contains insights into marketing, some statistics about how and where authors self-publish, and a few hints about marketing books. I hope this information is helpful.

Smashwords have done a similar survey which can be found here. This survey gives interesting insights into:

  • the size of the most popular books
  • the best way to promote a series
  • optimum pricing
  • effect of free books
  • pre-orders and effectiveness for marketing books

The Smashwords slideshow resulting from their survey is embedded here for you to view.

Although the information is broad, as averages tend to be, perhaps the Kindle & Smashwords surveys can help you to decide how to market, price and sell your books!

Short Story Submissions Open: Twisty Christmas Tales

Phantom Feather Press are opening their doors to short story submissions for a print edition of The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales.

Courtesy of www.netanimations.net
Click the picture to see Santa gallop – courtesy of www.netanimations.net. Submissions open now!

Well-written, offbeat, zany Christmas tales with a kiwi flavour or a fantastical twist will capture their editors’ hearts and earn you a spot in this festive book for kids and their families. So rein in those mischievous elves, decorate the pohutakawa and sprinkle your enchanted pavlova with fairy dust. Get in the spirit of tinsel and magic as you weave Christmas wonder for eager children!

Stories must be suitable for 8-12-year olds. Limit 1,500 words.

More details and submission guidelines are here. Have fun creating crazy Christmas capers! Deadline is 22 June 2014!

Free Writing Course, Newsletter & Discounts on writing courses!

Sign up to Write On!, my writing newsletter, before 10 May and you’ll get

Free writing course
Free Writing Course
  • a FREE 3-week FLASH FICTION COURSE by an author who has published over 30 novels and developed a novel writing school.
  • A discount coupon for any of the short courses on her writing site
  • Regular newsletters containing writing tips, techniques and recommendations.
  • You’ll get the Flash Fiction course link, and access to a flash fiction writers’ forum in your first issue of Write On!

Sign up before May 10 to get your discount coupon!!!

Since doing the flash fiction course, my fiction is tighter, shorter, and packs more punch! And this is a free writing course! Yes – free! This course is for novelists too – you’ll create more compelling scenes using these techniques.

Using this free writing course, I created my first humorous story, Dad’s Wisdom, published in Baby Teeth— the winner of the 2014 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work and currently top of the Goodreads horror list. I created three stories during this 3-week course, and all of them were accepted for publication within a week of finishing the course. More of my stories have since been published! This course works!

Write On! is my newsletter sent a few times a month. I’ll share writing resources, recommend courses to improve your writing, and provide links to interesting articles, useful downloads and writing forums. I’ll also share my experiences, grammar tips, quotes, and what I’m learning on the job.

Sign up using the form on the sidebar to your right. Select “Write On!’ from the drop down menu. When you subscribe to Write On! you’ll also receive updates about my books and stories and your DISCOUNT COUPON for tonnes of great writing courses – world building, creating compelling characters, plotting, creating riveting scenes, motivational training, writing techniques and many more!

Have fun and happy writing!