Posted in Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

Who Knew Planning was so Effective, My most Successful NaNoWriMo

I assumed that my reading for November would be minimal because of the craziness of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but it turns out I managed to read quite a few books and there are several reasons for this.

Reading: I have found the enjoyable brilliance of short reads. Longer than a short story so you can get a bit more guts and immersion, but not a novel that will take a lot longer, especially when you are strapped for time and might have to wait a few days or weeks between picking them up again, and possibly needing to reread parts, or skim to get back into them.
November Reviews will be up soon, once I recover from a rather brutal book hangover.

Planning: Oh my … I’ve of course been told about planning your writing for years, and my usual reaction is a smile, a nod, and an immediate argument in my head that planning was just NOT for me. Turns out, I thrive whole heartedly on being able to know where the story is going before I start getting those words on to the page. In my younger writing soul, I thought it would some how squish the creativity. I now know I was completely wrong. It’s still my story, my imagination as I think through it all and work out how much crap I can put my characters through, which on a side note the answer is always ‘a bit more’ ;-p. And planning doesn’t mean your characters automatically do what you want them to, oh no. BUT overall the main points remain the same.

NaNoWriMo has just finished and I’ve never done so well. My final word tally was 88001 words for the 30 days. :-D. It was amazing. I even think a large chunk of the words will be usable for my writing projects.

Day 16 … and I managed to hit the 50K word goal
My heartbeat of words for November

Let me know, are you are planner, a panster, or a plantser … are a bit of all depending on what you are writing? I’d love to know.

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Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Book Club, Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

October Book Reviews

October has been a mammoth month of reading. These reviews are my own personal interpretations and opinions. I’m always up for book discussions, so let me know what you think.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – I wasn’t sure what to expect, all I had heard about it was lesbian necromancers in space. Sounded promising. And on almost all levels it certainly delivered. Overall I really enjoyed the story, but I found I kept expecting some kind of outward expression of Gideon being a lesbian (perhaps an indication of the dominant lesbian fiction out there?) and at times the near literary writing found some sections harder to get through. However, It was refreshing and freaking amazing reading a lesbian fiction story that isn’t Romance as it’s predominate theme. More speculative fiction lesbian books is needed in my opinion. Gideon the Ninth is a fantastical epic adventure of beautiful words and a detailed and wonderfully created universe. It is a brilliant read, but worth knowing exactly what you are embarking on. I am looking forward to reading book two, Harrow the Ninth with a little more understanding of what I’m about to read. I’m so happy to see other genres embrace lesbian main characters.

Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton – Finding Jessica Lambert is a contemporary romance. Everything about this book was deliciously beautiful. The words were divine, and the characters so real in a world that many may not have any experience with. The family dynamics and contrary actions of people were so human. It tapped in to anxieties so honestly they resonated and wrapped around me. It was a brilliant commentary on societies expectation that people should always have their shit together and the shame that’s created when keeping the struggles hidden. I also love the idea of second chances that is sewed through out the story. I loved this book and will be looking up more by this author.

Reservations of the Heart by T. B. Markinson – Reservations of the Heart was delightful from the first page to the last. I adored the characters and their fantastically witty and Laugh out loud banter. The dynamics between family relationships were varied and relatable while the writing was brilliant. T.B Markinson has spoken many times about her dislike of sex scenes but the many in this book were heat worthy phenomenal. It was also nice to read a book where both main characters are already aware of their sexuality.

Try me Again by Clare Lydon – A beautifully written snapshot of love, wrong choices, and second chances. Try me Again is easy to read with the flow and intrigue, while Clare Lyndon uses her humour, stunning scene setting, and insights of human nature to make you fall in love along with the characters.

Brooms Away by D. A. Kelly – A cosy mystery meets quirky fantasy. It is a fun adventure that will make you giggle. The mystery is intriguing, and the main character, Arabella is a riot of humour and rushing in to a world she doesn’t know much about. The writing is beautiful and the description and scenery is immersive. D.A. Kelly has done a fantastic job of putting her imaginative world on to the page and into our hearts. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Out of Nowhere: Moments in Time Anthology volume 2 by K. B. Elijah – I had so much fun reading these stories. Elijah’s writing is captivating and inviting while her characters make you chuckle or roll your eyes (intentionally), sometimes both. My favourites were definitely the stories about Death. She has created such a fun world and a unique and fun twist to a character I want to read far more adventures about.
Out of Nowhere ended with such a fantastic story, which brought together several other characters, from both this anthology and Volume 1. But no need to worry, the story stands completely on it’s own, but a fun little inside knowledge always makes this more enjoyable ;-p

Carnage by J. A. Henderson – In true Henderson style I devoured this book in three sittings (the downside of being an adult and needing to do life stuff). From the beginning to the end, Carnage entertained and pulled me in. I love the way J.A. Henderson gives you all the information, which somehow seems completely unrelated until his reveals where you slap yourself on the forehead and think, well of course, that makes entire sense. It’s a brilliant read, with laugh out loud moments, brilliant well rounded characters, and a story you need to know the end to. Highly recommend this book and the author.

The Rise of the Great Old One by Jasmine Jarvis – A quick dark read. A homage to Lovecraft and a spine chilling tale to make you question ‘where do writers really get their ideas’ ;-). Jarvis’ first solo publication that shows the skill and twisted mind of a great writer. I loved where the story began, setting up an interesting ended that made me shiver.

My last quick review was a live video I did for The Les Fiction Book Club group on Facebook. The review was on Clare Lydon’s ‘Before you Say I Do’, October’s book for the group. I also got a chance to chat with Clare during another live video, where we talked about her book, and other fun things like the first lesbian fiction book she read, different romance tropes, and her upcoming Christmas book. If you would like to check these videos out, you can join the group here.

Hope October was a good month for you all, and that November is fantastic. If anyone is embarking on the craziness of NaNoWriMo, GOOD LUCK … if you want to have me as a NaNo buddy, my user name is evil_koalas.

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Posted in Publications, Writing Adventures

Staying Scared

When I had my son, I got scared. I ended up with post natal depression and social anxiety. Two years after my sons birth I began doing things that terrified me.

The first step was joining a local writers group. The Springfield Writers Group is made up of the most incredibly supportive and wonderfully talented human beings. I feel very privileged, two years on, to be able to call many of them friends. With their friendship and support I have continued to push myself into being scared.

I submitted writing out in to the world. My mum blog quickly became filled with writing posts. That blog has now been taken down but I can see myself revisiting the same topics, or reposting many of them here in the future.

Even after a year, and half a dozen anthologies with my by line … I was still treading along the line toward staying safe.

There are definitely times in our life where being safe is necessary and vital. Grabbing your dreams and turning them into life goals is definitely not that time.

But 2020 lulled me into a false sense of it’s ok to not push yourself. And for a while it was true. I got pneumonia and was tested several times for COVID-19. It took me six months to recover and then another month to realise that my comfort zone had shrunk once more and the mere idea of heading out in the car would send a cold shiver over my skin.

It wasn’t just one thing that finally pushed me to start scaring myself again. It was many little steps, many little wins, a few loses, and the constant and wonderful support of my partner, son, and incredible family, both blood and not.

The fear has pushed me to places I never thought I would be, to do things I never thought myself capable, able, or smart enough to do. When I get scared about something to do with promoting myself or getting my writing out in to the world I know I’m on the right track. The scariest thing I’ve done is to take myself seriously, as a writer.

So with the fear of discovering that maybe I’m not that smart or talented, I began researching writing: reading about it, learning what I could from books, people, and podcasts. And what has surprised me is the confidence I am gaining (regaining?) in myself, not just as a writer but as a human.

I’m working on a series of novellas for an overseas publisher, and am in the final editing stages with another publisher who is putting my first novella, Cold As Hell, out in to the world. I have also created the Les Fiction Book Club and been bravely contacting authors. I’ve put what money I can into pushing my writing career into gear, including self publishing a poetry collaboration, Forgiving Reflections.

I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and what I still aim to achieve. I’ve rarely said proud about myself, and never before without a warm cheeked shudder.

So fear is not always bad. Instead of shaking my head at steps that others suggest, I’m moving forward, at my own pace, and in a direction that while it might scare me, also feels right for me. Because you don’t have to move fast, or in someone else’s footsteps, you just have to move forward.

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Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Writing Adventures

Writer’s Retreat

I recently went on my first ever writer’s retreat. It was a simple three person unprogrammed trip away in a cottage surrounded by trees and the sound of birds.

It had been many years since I spent a night away on my own. With 2020 being what it is, there was a chance we wouldn’t be able to do what we wanted. However, things came together beautifully and I spent three days in the company of two other amazing Aussie authors.

By the end of the weekend I had written over 6000 words, had two uninterrupted nights sleep and discovered how relaxed I can be around like-minded and talented human beings.

It’s been an eye opening adventure on many fronts, and I hope to be able to do such retreats often in the future.

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Be Kind
Be Brave