Guest Post | Writting Tips by KJ Taylor

KJ will be awarding an eCopy of Broken Prophecy to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

There’s a lot of generic writing advice around, partly because authors tend to be very individual. We all write differently, and the stock-standard advice doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone, so with that in mind my first tip is not to take all the advice you’re given as gospel. For instance, some people insist that you must sit down and write out a detailed plot outline for your book. This is untrue. Some authors do this and it works for them, but for others it doesn’t work at all. I myself have been told at least once that I have to write outlines, but when I tried it it didn’t work, and so I stopped doing it.

Many will also say that it’s important to find time to write every day. This is true in a sense. In the beginning I believed I could only write when everything was exactly right – I had to start at the proper time, there had to be a candle burning, and so on. If I felt that I wasn’t “in the mood”, then I wouldn’t write.

Years later I discovered that I could actually write whenever I wanted to; if I wasn’t “in the mood” when I sat down at the computer, the “mood” would come along all by itself as soon as I started typing.

But you shouldn’t expect to be able to do this overnight. The process of writing becomes easier with practice, so you if you find you can’t sit down and write whenever you like, don’t beat yourself up about it. You should have a go at it, though. Reward yourself with a drink or something else nice when you’ve written something, and that will no doubt make it easier – it worked for me!

Another important tip is not to get too attached to a single project. In the early days (ie. when I was a teenager) I had a series which I was very invested in. I spent years working on it – I filled an entire shelf with scrawled notebooks that way. Rewrites, re-imaginings, drawings, a custom zodiac system, two different runic scripts – it was huge.

But, despite all my hard work and passion, it just plain wasn’t any good. The day when I made myself face that fact was a hard one, but I finally decided that it was time to drop it and move on to other things. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it was still the right decision. If I hadn’t done that I might well have remained largely unpublished, stubbornly clinging to a series which was essentially a Redwall ripoff about talking mice with magic swords.

With that said, I do not for one moment believe that the time I spent working on that series was wasted. The things you don’t publish are in a way just as important as the things you do – what matters is to have written them. I learned a lot in the process, and that means it was worth it!

Finally, don’t write for the sole purpose of getting published. Publishing isn’t about art; it’s about business, and you should be doing this because you are an artist. Art is about making life richer and more meaningful, and if you can achieve that for only one person – even if that person is yourself – then you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.

K.J. Taylor was born in Australia in 1986 and attended Radford College and the University of Canberra, where she returned to obtain a Master of Information Studies in 2012. She currently works as an archivist.

She published her first work, The Land of Bad Fantasy, through Scholastic when she was just 18, and HarperVoyager went on to publish The Dark Griffin in Australia and New Zealand five years later. The Griffin's Flight and The Griffin's War followed in the same year, and were released in America and Canada in 2011. The Shadow's Heir, The Shadowed Throne and The Shadow's Heart have now joined them in both Australia and the US.

Title: Broken Prophecy
Author: KJ Taylor
Genre: Fantasy

A fun adventure that satirises fantasy tropes in the style of Terry Pratchett.

Ambit Afterman is the Chosen One. Born with the mark of the silver bellflower on his palm and given a magical spear, he is the one whose coming the prophecy foretold.

Unfortunately, he would much rather drink beer and get laid - destiny can go fuck itself.

Together with his demon friend Snarl, Ambit sets out on a mighty quest - to make sure the prophecy doesn't come true, and avoid doing anything heroic under any circumstances. Along the way he will make polite conversation with demons, not deliver any great speeches, not train with the wise monks, and weasel his way out of adventure and into the nearest pub. But there may just be time to have cheap sex with the beautiful princess along the way.

Once, long ago, the Land of Flowers was happy.’ The storyteller paused to look meaningfully at his audience. ‘Yes, very happy,’ he added. ‘But then the demons came. One day the sky went dark and the Nine Mountains erupted, with fire and smoke pouring into the sky. The land went dark and lava flowed over the earth, and the demons came crawling out of the ground – thousands of them, with burning eyes and metal teeth. They spread everywhere, killing everyone they found, destroying villages and towns, spoiling everything.’

The storyteller’s voice rose dramatically and his audience, mainly children, listened expectantly. Around them other people were half listening. Adults relaxed in the shade after a long day’s work, and a young woman was singing for tips in the background. She provided a rather nice soundtrack.

‘Today, the Nine Mountains are home to the nine demon lords,’ the storyteller continued, ‘and they send their minions out to oppress anyone living too close to the ruined lands they’ve taken for themselves. One day, perhaps, they will spread through the whole of the land and the human race will be wiped out.’

‘Or maybe they’ll bore themselves to death first,’ a lazy voice put in from somewhere behind the audience.

‘But there is still one thing that can stop the demons and put everything right again,’ said the storyteller, ignoring the interruption.

‘The Chosen One!’ a small girl piped up. Around her, the other children buzzed excitedly.

‘Fifty years ago, when the demons first came, it was said that someone would come with the power to drive them away forever,’ the storyteller nodded. ‘A special warrior, with a special weapon.’

‘Bullshit!’ the heckler from up the back shouted.

The storyteller glared in his direction, and went on doggedly. ‘Some say this destined one hasn’t been born yet. Others believe he is already here, and that one day, any day now, he’ll appear to begin the fulfillment of his great destiny. For all we know, he could be here today. He could be one of you, and you don’t even know it yet.’ He smiled at the fascinated children.

‘I wouldn’t count on it, kids,’ the heckler threw in.

‘When will the Chosen One come?’ a boy asked.

‘Nobody knows,’ said the storyteller. ‘That’s all I know. But maybe, one day . . .’

‘Maybe one day people will stop wasting time on fairy tales,’ said the heckler.

‘Will you shut up?’ the storyteller finally snapped.

The young man lounging on a rock by the wall of the town tavern only grinned at him, and when the other adults nearby muttered ominously, he grinned at them too. The singing girl took the opportunity to sing a little more loudly, and was rewarded with a faint rattle of demon eyes thrown into the bowl at her feet.

Seemingly realizing he wasn’t going to win this particular confrontation, the storyteller pushed his red-striped hair away from his face and turned his attention back to his listeners. ‘If you want to know more about the Chosen One, the monks in the valley are the people to ask,’ he said. ‘They know the prophecy, and they can recognize the Chosen One. Many people go to them asking if they’re the one, but all of them have gone away disappointed.’

‘I want to go and see them!’ a small boy said immediately. ‘I want them to teach me how to fight demons!’

‘That’s definitely something you can find there,’ said the storyteller. ‘The monks are always happy to take on new apprentices.’

The boy glanced proudly at his friends, golden eyes shining with excitement.

‘Oh goody, let’s all go and get ourselves killed,’ the heckler muttered. ‘Why is everyone letting this old goat tell their kids what a great idea it is to go and fight demons?’

‘And I suppose a coward like you would tell them they shouldn’t?’ the storyteller threw at him.

‘I’d tell them to make up their own minds, is what I’d do,’ said the heckler, idly rolling the shaft of a spear over his palm. ‘That’d be why you’re the popular one, right?’

‘Well, I’m not too scared to go and see the monks,’ the golden-eyed boy told him.

‘That’s because you’re a stupid kid,’ said the heckler. He winked at the singer, who had stopped singing and was now eyeing him with interest. ‘Hey, sweetie, want to see my spear?’

‘Who are you, anyway?’ someone else asked. ‘I’ve never seen you around here before.’

The heckler shrugged. ‘I’m just passing through.’

‘Going anywhere in particular?’ the man asked.

‘Trying to work out where I’m going at the moment,’ said the heckler, resting one long leg on the other and stifling a yawn. He leaned his spear, which was a shabby thing with its shaft bound with leather, against the wall beside him.

‘One of the Dispossessed, are you?’ said the storyteller.

‘Stop doing that,’ the stranger growled.

‘Doing what?’

‘Giving everything names,’ said the stranger. ‘It’s obnoxious. I’m not a Dispo-whatever; I’m a traveler. Labels are unnecessary. And right now I’m way too sober, so fare-thee-well, grandpa.’ He stood up, heaving a heavy pack onto his shoulder, and sauntered off into the tavern

KJ will be awarding an eCopy of Broken Prophecy to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

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