How To Create A “Real” Fantasy World

I love fantasy. I love reading it, I love watching it, and most of all, I love writing it. There’s something so incredibly liberating about letting your mind run wild with infinite possibilities. Because, really, the only thing that limits the creation of fantasy is our own imaginations.

But how, exactly, does someone create a “real” fantasy world? Because by definition, fantasy means something that is impossible or improbable. So how on earth can it be “real”?

*Shrugs* Beats me! But let’s see if we can flesh out some possibilities.

First up, even though it’s fantasy, there still have to be limits. Otherwise the fantasy just becomes chaos. And nobody likes chaos—it’s gritty and difficult to read. You get lost and caught up in the nuances. It’s better to refine the scope of the fantasy than it is to have no rules in place. A good example for this is that a lot of fantasy writers who use magic in their stories always make it so there’s a cost. Whether it’s energy or pain or loss of some other kind, there are limits to it. Even Harry Potter is limited to using a wand for magic (unless in the case of the super-crazy-awesome-powerful wizards who can do some wandless magic… but now I’m geeking out so we’ll move on before I go off on a whole new blog post and fan-girl all things HP related). Just like with the magic example, fantasy worlds have to have boundaries. Limitations. Otherwise things just get… messy.

Next up, it has to not be too crazy. I’m a sucker for a fabulous story with a fantastic fantasy backdrop, but if there is too much detail it can sometimes be overkill. Especially when there’s such vivid descriptions that the reader has no room left for their own imagination to run rampant. There’s something beautiful about being able to fill in the gaps with your own ideas, so if an author paints the picture so completely that you don’t get to do that, it’s almost annoying. You also don’t have a way to relate to the story. It’s like, I don’t know… I guess it’s like someone telling you all about a place they’ve visited down to the very last detail, as opposed to you actually getting to visit the place and see for yourself. You have no connection to it other than what you’ve heard, and thus it doesn’t mean much to you at all. Does that make sense?

Next up, it needs to be consistent. If your sky is purple in one place and you travel to a different place and the sky is green, you need find a (realistic) explanation for why that would be the case. Fantasy can be a lot of fun and you can go a little wild with some of the things you come up with, but your ideas can’t be so insane that they make it all unrealistic in the end. Just because it’s fantastical, it shouldn’t be confusing! So let your imagination go free, but keep it consistent with whatever it comes up with.

Lastly, it needs to, at least somewhat, make sense. I read a book the other day where the main character was swept into the fae realm of the Summer Court and she had her cell phone with her and she was able to make a phone call. I mean, come on, what was that? Firstly, traditional fae legend tends to favour the belief that human tech messes with the vibe those pesky immortals have going on (ie. they freak out when near human tech because it stuffs up their magic or whatever)… But as much as that’s a deviation from the norm and could be “accepted” as a new spin on the fairy tale possibility, there’s NO WAY there would be phone service in another realm! That just does not make sense. Seriously! What gives? I doubt there are cell towers anywhere near the Summer (or Winter) Court. Thus all credibility of a “real” fantasy world went out the window.

When it comes down to it, I think a good rule of thumb when creating fantasy worlds is to put yourself in the position of your main character and act as if it’s the first time they’re visiting the world you’ve created. What questions would they ask? Would they accept the world or would they find it too chaotically impossible? And if it is impossible, how can you make it more possible, or at least possible enough that your main character can accept the weirdness and just get on with the story? Because that’s a big thing too—the world you create is a background only. It sets the scene for the story to flow along from, allowing the reader an escape from reality—literally, in the case of fantasy.

So there you have it! That’s my (very brief) guide to creating “real” fantasy worlds. I hope it helps in some way!

Show, Don’t Tell

As writers, we’re often told how important it is to “show, don’t tell” with our words. The funny thing is, it can be easier to write “tell” rather than “show”, but it’s waaaay better to READ “show” than it is to read “tell”. And really, as someone who spends a lot of time reading, I kinda hate it when I read writing that does more telling than showing, because it almost makes me feel dumb, you know? It sends the message that the writer thinks that to get their story across then they have to describe everything to the point that there’s no room left for my imagination to enjoy the creativity of filling in any gaps for myself. It then becomes an uninspiring read and, if I manage to get through the entirety of it, it leaves me unsatisfied at the end. Buuuut… Like I said, it’s easy to slip into writing that way. Think about it! How much easier is it to write “He looked confused” than “He furrowed his brow”? … Admittedly, that was a super bad example since both are easy enough to write, but the point is that one is telling you straight out that he’s confused, and one is using body language which then activates your imagination to decide for yourself what the body language means. Does a furrowed brow mean he’s angry? Scared? Hurt? Puzzled? You don’t know without reading it in the context of the whole written moment. And that’s the beauty of “show, don’t tell” because it immerses you in whatever you’re reading. Your entire attention is captivated by what’s happening, by what you’re “seeing” as your mind plays out the sequence of events and creates a picture based on what is shown through the words. It’s what makes the reading experience beautiful. … All that said, sometimes it really does just make sense to write simple tells. I’m definitely guilty of using my fair share (including the example above of “He looked confused”)… Let’s just say I’m a work in progress! :-)

Do What You Love. Love What You Do.

I saw an old friend last night, a girl I went to school with. We hadn’t seen each other in over 10 years, and one of the first things she said was that she’s not surprised I became a writer. Her comment made me laugh since she’s the first person who has ever said that to me. But it was her justification that made me stop and think, because she said she remembers the stories I wrote in school and how good they were.

It should be noted here that I don’t have any memories of those stories. I mean, I know I had to write for various curriculum requirements, but I can’t remember being any good at it! So it’s fascinating that she remembers something like that about me when I have absolutely no recollection of writing much back then at all, let alone enjoying it or even creating anything worth remembering! (So weird!)

I guess it just goes to show that whatever we’re passionate about will find a way to burst out of us, even when we’re not aware of it. So many of us are gifted in beautiful, wonderful ways, and we often don’t even realise it – not even when it’s obvious to everyone else.

It’s moments like this when all I can do is be grateful that I somehow found my way to becoming a writer – and even more, that my publishing dreams are actually coming true. It’s mind-bogglingly amazing. I only hope those reading this are living their own dreams, igniting their own passions, and embracing their own gifts.

Exciting Editor Update

Guess what? Guess what? Guess what!

So, I can’t remember if I’ve updated the latest on my publishing journey – but basically my book is currently in the hands of my editor (I love saying that!) and she’s going to give her preliminary comments to my publishers, Pantera Press, around the first week of June. Woohooie! I have no idea what comes after that – but I can’t wait to find out!

Anyway, the even-more-super-awesome news is that I was reading a newly released book the other day by one of my favourite Young Adult authors, and I really enjoyed it (enough that I pretty much read it in one sitting). But the exciting part? I read through the ‘Acknowledgements’ after I’d finished and…

… *drum roll please* …


How amazingly exciting is that! I mean, this author is signed with HarperCollins Australia and her books are sold all over the world! My publishers told me a while ago that my editor had worked with the big houses like HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Pan Macmillan, but still! Actually seeing evidence of a book that she’s edited (and me loving that book!) have really nailed it home for me. I’m so, so, so excited! And I’m a little bit in La-La-Happy-Land, to be perfectly honest!

It’s so surreal, but soooo YAY-worthy! And I just wanted to share with you all since you’ve been so encouraging on this journey with me! Hopefully I’ll have another update soon!

It’s Official: I’m Going To Be Published!!


Oh, wow. Yesterday was beyond a doubt one of the best days of my entire life! I honestly could not have imagined a more perfect day – in every way, from beginning to end, and everything in between! I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll do my best to not leave anything out. So, here goes!

The day started with a morning flight from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney… and even just arriving at the airport was fantastic. Airports have such a ‘feel’ about them, you know? It’s almost like there’s a sense of anticipation in the air; the knowledge that you’re about to embark on a fabulous adventure. But airports also mean waiting time, so I found my way to my happy place while I waited for my boarding call:


Then it was up, up, and away, before arriving in Sydney to miserable, rainy weather (but really, even a little rain couldn’t dampen my mood!). The moment I turned my phone back on I had a text message from the driver service that had been hired to collect me, and in all my dorkishness I managed to sneak a photo without looking like too much of a weirdo (and, hey, at least I managed to hold back from asking him if I could keep the sign with my name on it! Total restraint on my part!).


My driver, Geoff, was fabulous and very chatty in the best possible way. He also used his hands a lot to talk, which would have been concerning what with them not being on the steering wheel, but he seemed to know how to drive perfectly well without hands, so I who was I to argue with his methods? (Exhibit A:)


Anyway, let me skip ahead to the amazing parts!

So, Geoff dropped me off in Neutral Bay (I still have no idea where I was, but I did get a glimpse of the Harbour Bridge at one stage, so I know I was definitely in Sydney somewhere)…


… And once I was alone outside the office building, the nerves hit me like a freight train carrying a load of drunk elephants. I’m pretty sure I was actually shaking! The good news was, I was so determined not to forget a moment of the trip that I was taking photos left, right, and centre, so I managed to take a photo of the sign that gave the suite numbers for which offices were where, so when I reached the second floor and my brain totally froze, I just pulled out my phone and looked at the photo to see the suite number. Score one for my OCD-photo-taking. (That said, it turned out that the office was really well signed so I didn’t need the photo-suite-number-help in the end anyway).

Anyway, I buzzed on the door and almost immediately it was opened and I was in the room being bombarded by smiles and handshakes and welcomes-galore. I’m not kidding when I say that within seconds I was completely enamoured. Everyone was just so out-of-this-world nice! No, ‘nice’ doesn’t even do them justice. Because they were definitely nicer than nice! I could continue on about their awesomeness forever (seriously!), but I won’t because, well, that’s slightly weird. So, moving on…

I’m skipping heaps here because obviously we chatted for hours about them, about the company, about me, about my books, about the future, about all kinds of random other things like psychopaths and dreaming in black-and-white (don’t ask!)… We went off on tangents all over the place but always circled back around to the whole point of the meeting. (And, omigosh, did I mention how beyond-nice they all were?! I’d been previously told that working alongside them would be “like a warm hug”, and I can officially say I was definitely feeling that! Toasty warm hugs all-round!).

Umm… I just totally got off track…

So, yeah, there was food and drinks and talking and laughter mixed in with seriousness and all the other really important things… And we talked about cover design and editing and marketing and publicity and… wow… just all the amazingly exciting things. I’m sure I probably looked like an idiot because I was smiling so much, but I couldn’t help it! It was all just so perfect! Everything they said was exactly what I needed to hear! And at the end when they offered for me to go and think about it, I already knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was more than happy (ecstatic, even) with everything in every way, shape and form.

… So, I signed the contract!!

And now I’m officially part of the Pantera Press family! And I could not be happier! They broke out the champagne and we rushed through the signing and the toasting and the photos because I needed to hurry to get back to the airport, so we were swept up in this crazy whirlwind of ‘sign here’, ‘drink this’, ‘photo now’… and it was insane… but because it was so insane, it was also perfect! I was given a goody bag (I LOVE goody bags!) and hugs (I LOVE hugs even more than goody bags!) and a non-promise-promise was fulfilled in regards to a certain person (who will probably murder me if I mention names) singing a Disney song which totally was the icing on the top of an already beyond-amazing day.

I’m not kidding – I could not have dreamed of a more perfect day. And I have a pretty creative imagination! I’m still on Cloud Nine – and I’m sure I will be for a looooong time yet!!

So, I want to say a huge, huge, HUGE thank you to everyone at Pantera Press for making my dreams come true – and also for simply being so indescribably lovable. I cannot wait for the next step in our journey together!

I also want to say thank you so much to all you loyal bloggers who have been bombarding me with encouragement, support and congratulations. I’m so excited that you’re sharing this adventure with me – and I look forward to updating you on the next instalment! In the meantime, feel free to go and check out my AMAZING NEW PUBLISHERS! You can find their website here: and their Facebook here:


Sydney: Where My Publishing Dreams Become Reality

So, it looks like I’m off to Sydney in three days for my meet-and-greet with the publishers – how exciting! I feel like my ears are bleeding from all the legal advice I’ve received over the last month, but I’m now finally at a place where I’m comfortably knowledgeable about everything contract-wise… Which is awesome. Now I’m just ready for the next phase to begin – whatever that is!

Of course, I still have to pass the ‘jerk-test’ on Thursday because if we don’t get along, well, that would suck royally since it would mean no signing… But I’m ever hopeful!

Just a FYI for any Australian authors who are looking for a contract assessment, I contacted the ASA first and still had some lingering concerns afterwards so was recommended to try Alex Adsett. She’s a literary agent who does freelance contract consultations on the side, and she’s Amazing (worthy of the capital A). You can find out more about her here:

Starting A New Manuscript

There are two settings that my life seems tuned to: reading-mode and writing-mode. For me, there’s no in-between. I’m either reading, or I’m writing. I can’t do both – just like I can’t read two different books at once; I have to finish one before I start another.

I’ve been holding tight to my reading-mode for a while now, especially since I know that as soon as I sign this book publishing contract I’ll have to dive straight into the writing-mode again with all the editing/revising etc. But there’s a change in the air today and it’s like I can’t sit still – I need to be writing.

… I’m just not sure what to write.

I have so many potential story ideas – which is kinda annoying since it makes more sense to start working on the third book in the series for which I’m getting the contract… But I think I want to try something new. Usually I’m a stickler for YA (specifically fantasy/sci-fi), but I’m leaning towards dabbing into the New Adult realm for a change.

Hmm. What are your thoughts, awesome blog-readers? Do you have any ideas for me?

I guess all I can do is start at Chapter One and see where the characters take me. How exciting! I love new beginnings!

Road To Publishing: The Next Step

Good news, everyone! It looks like I’m almost ready for the next stage in my publishing journey! I’ve received the legal advice for my contract and I’ve been communicating back and forth (and back and forth… and back and forth… and back and–you get the point…) with the publisher.  And honestly, I’m surprised they still want to sign me on, considering how much back-and-forthing I’ve been doing (and yes, for the sake of this blog, ‘forthing’ is now a real word). But they’ve been ridiculously amazing communication–and toleration–wise. So, yay for that!

Now we’ve just got to figure out which dates suit best for all of us, but it looks like I’ll be flying to Sydney within a fortnight for the meet-and-greet and (hopefully) signing the contract. Woohoo!

What is writing ‘success’?

I was discussing the definition of ‘writing success’ with my best friend, Jodie, the other day and we found it to be an interesting topic. Even just the term ‘success’ is subjective – what I consider success to be isn’t necessarily what you consider it to be. And especially when it comes to writing – there are just so many possibilities! Here are just a few of them:

  • You’re ‘successful’ when you’ve completed a manuscript and typed those beautiful final words: ‘The End’…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when your critique partners get back to you and wax poetic about how wonderful your story is…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when your concept is so unique that your query letter gains a heap of attention – especially by your ‘favourite’ literary agents…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when you’re offered representation by an agent – because that means someone believes in you as an author…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when you get an offer of publishing…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when your book is printed and people are actually buying it (to your shock and amazement)…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when the international rights to your book are sold and it becomes available overseas…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when you make it onto the New York Times bestsellers list…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when a movie scout comes along wanting to turn your vision into a film…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when you’re walking along a street and some random person asks you for an autograph…
  • You’re ‘successful’ when…

I mean, I could continue forever. Even little things like, ‘You’re ‘successful’ when someone writes a fan fiction story based on your novel’ could go on this list. It’s an unending list because there will always be new levels, new goals, new opportunities to strive for further ‘success’. 

So, what is success? And really, does it matter all that much? I don’t write because I want to be ‘successful’ (whatever it means), I write because I just love to write – and anything beyond that is just a bonus. But if you want to know my own personal definition of success – at least for this moment in my life – then it’s this: I just want to hold my book in my hands. That to me is success. It’s evidence of a job well done, and it says that someone else believes in me and my writing enough to want to publish it and get it out to the world.

I’m just super-excited that I’m already on the journey towards that happening! I’ll hopefully be able to update more on the publishing journey later this week – and maybe soon after that I’ll be on a plane to meet my to-be-publishers in person. Yay!

And, hey, if you’re interested in writing or anything related to it, check out Jodie’s blog because she has some fantastically motivational posts: