Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Rest rethink restart

After my nano crash I have also crashed a little. It’s a combination of things. December is not my favourite month. After breaking my walking streak, I haven’t been inspired to do my daily amount of steps. The device I use keeps a ‘longest streak’ not a ‘current streak’ so until I pass 300 days I can’t see any progress. That’s kind of disheartening.
I usually listen to audiobooks as I walk. Often this encourages me to get out there when there is a story that I am eager to continue listening to. My current audiobook isn’t doing it for me so I am finding other reasons to stay inside.
[I know the easy solution is to just dnf that book…]
I’ve been messing with recording my time in an attempt to keep myself on target, and it isn’t working for me. I end up beating myself up because I wrote so little in so much time, or whatever fault my brain decides to pick on.
[look how much time you spent on tumblr … I swear those pics of naked men are inspiring. I write erotic romance… ]
I’ve said it before, the nanowrimo kind of word count thing works for me.  I do NOT know why. It seems to be just enough of a step away from setting the target myself. I often do the camps where I set my own word target, so how does that inspire me… shrugs. But it does.
This week I saw some writers on twitter singing the praises of another kind of word count app and I went to check it out. It’s free. Yay. And I saw more people rave about it today. So I will give that a go.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Toggl time recording app
Pacemaker word count app

Thursday, 1 December 2016

I made the shot and I missed

Nanowrimo 2016.
Well, that was a trip.
Here is my chart for 2016. I missed the midnight cut off by 421 words.

421 words.
Actually, it’s closer than that; when I tried to enter an update I was up to 49,696 or 324 words off finishing.
Sighs heavily.
It’s my own fault. I spent the first week paralysed by shock and horror at the trumperdink vote. I was unable to write a love story under those circumstances.
I left it all to the last minute, as I often do, in my life. So on the last two days, I powered up. Twenty minute Pomodoro’s, too much coffee - just get the words down. I was punching out two thousand words an hour.
And then I got some other curve-balls. Days wiped out through no fault of mine. A power outage at a friend of kid 2’s who then asked if he could hold the party he had all planned at my house. I said yes. He needed a hand in the kitchen and my desk is in the corner of the living room, so I didn’t get a lot of words written.
Kid extra brought a friend home because of train cancellations. All disruptive.
[After the party I was cleaning up. I looked at my step counter and said ‘what time is it? I have 280 steps to go’ as it clicked over to midnight and wiped out a 300 day run of goals. Kid 2 looked at my face, said, ‘I love you, mum’ and RAN.]
In the last two days, even with all of that on, I started at 36,455 and wrote nearly 14 thousand words. The nano site is often glitchy when it comes to geography. It kept saying I still had two days to go when it hit midnight and froze me out. I could have lied, but I don't do that, either.
I made the shot and I missed.
But you know… all I had to do was write an extra 14 words on each day.
That’s all. I could have done that amount on any day.
And what I have now is a jumbled mass of words. It’s rougher than most of my rough first drafts, but it’s fifty thousand words. I got some blinding insights for some characters back stories. I sorted out my themes and my story arcs. I got some ideas for the next story in what is becoming a series.
But man, am I pissed about those step goals.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

People will die

I watched the American election results with growing horror. I’m Australian. We have compulsory voting which kind of solves voter suppression issues. You live here, you vote. If you don’t vote you get fined. If you want to spoil your ballot or donkey vote (number it from 1 down) go ahead. We also have preferential selection. Each party decides which other candidate their votes go to if they don’t have enough to win. To demonstrate, you could have made a third party protest vote to Johnson and then, if he gave his preferences to Clinton, they would count in her total.
We also gave the world Rupert Murdoch and for that I apologise.
As it is, Clinton won the popular vote and will probably not win the Presidency. The Electoral College system is unique. No one else in the world has copied this form of voting because historically, it’s based on slavery. I don’t know who the EC voters are, or how they are selected, but they hold too much power as anonymous citizens for this to be democratic. I have seen reports that some people are trying to lobby them. I fear that will not work. I don’t change my mind because someone shouts at me. Most other people don’t either.
I do not know how Americans could vote for a man endorsed by the KKK, the US Nazi party, by North Korea and Russia. Daesh celebrated when he won. He is not a successful businessman. He seems functionally illiterate. A man charged with the rape of a child and about to appear in court for fraud. Almost the only group he hadn’t offended was Jews and he did that in the last days of his campaign. I thought his daughter Ivanka married a Jew and practiced Judaism. I am horrified that whole counties voted for him.
I don’t get it. I don’t care if you think it was a protest vote against the establishment. From the outside, it looked like an easy choice: reason vs madness.
My kids found me sobbing at my keyboard and all I could say was, ‘people will die’.
It has already started. My twitter stream is full of reports of people who with this last straw have decided they can’t carry any more. They suicide because they are gay, or trans, or they feel their health bill will be a burden on their families. Then I am trying to comfort people because trolls tell them they made up the death of their friend.
Maybe it’s because I follow and have befriended a lot of writers. Writers are what they are because they constantly think of ‘what if’ situations. They can turn a one sentence prompt into a whole novel.
Writers are frightened right now. Often they use their words to generate income because they can’t hold down a nine-to-five job. They may be struggling with chronic illness, or mental health issues. I know people whose lives have been dramatically changed by the last eight years. They got married, they got Obamacare and with the extra income they have started new businesses or become full time authors and given up the day job; the one with the health insurance.
I have friends who say without Obamacare, they will not get health insurance and they do not know how they and their children will survive. I have friends who are frightened to hold their spouse’s hand in the street. I have friends who are rushing to get long term contraceptives now before that choice is taken away from them.
The people Trump has flagged to assist him are genuinely terrifying. They have already proved their inhumanity and incompetence, and he is giving them power.
‘What if Trump is elected?’ was a scary enough proposition. But when people don’t get what they think they voted for, they get angry. America already has a problem with guns. Angry people with guns? More people will die.
I don’t have it in me to be positive right now. I’m still angry and sad. I’ve been reading a lot to escape to other worlds; worlds where there’s a happy ending, where love wins, where different people are accepted. Today I am going to write. I signed up for Nanowrimo and my word count graph hasn’t moved in days. I need to fix that.
I reckon the world is going to need more stories.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Dammit brain!

There are days when I despair of myself and my ability to knock ME off track.
To explain: I’ve been doing the Artist’s Way workbook course. It’s a twelve week therapeutic drill-down course into yourself. One of the set tasks was to eat a favourite food from childhood. Being a good Aussie kid I chose fresh bread with butter and Vegemite.
Sounds easy, right?
Not for me.
Did I go to the store and buy a loaf of fresh bread or a newly baked bun?
Oh, no.
I decided that I needed to make my own bread. I already do this. I own a bread machine and I have a giant Tupperware container that holds five kilograms of the bread mix.
Did I choose that method? Oh, no.
No, you see. I decided that I needed to make sourdough.
I have never tried this before. I do not have a sourdough starter, nor do I know anyone who does that I could steal some culture from. It’s living yeast bread. You need a little bit of the starter yeast to feed and grow before you can start making a single loaf.
So, I needed to harvest wild yeast from within the environment of my own kitchen. This is why sourdough from different places tastes different. Nifty, eh?
This, naturally, took six days.
Oh, AM… shake my head.
But, after almost a week of feeding, weighing and crooning my starter was bubbling away. I’m sure the crooning to it was an essential part of this process even if the kids did look at me weirdly.
Then to make the dough. This, also took more hours than I thought possible. Fold it over on itself four times, and only four times, cover and then leave it for half an hour. Do this for three hours.
Wait… what?
That was just one step in the daylong process. But, eventually, I made two sourdough loaves. They were crusty. They were bubbly on the surface, and they had big air holes inside. They were almost perfect, if just a little bit vertically challenged.

They tasted good, too.
Did this work in the way the exercise was supposed to; to transport me back to a moment in my childhood? Of course not. You don’t think my mother would have had anything as odd as sourdough bread, do you?

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Anagrams and pseudonyms

One of my Smashwords works is in i-books jail. ‘Kissing Cousins’ has been marked as containing ‘inappropriate content’. Duh, it says it right on the damn title. I can try to appeal but what is the point?
I’ve said this before, and had many a response on reviews about this. Australians do not have the same quasi incest thing that Americans have with cousins. We just don’t. Maybe it’s our English roots? Honestly, I’ve read a pile of Regency romances lately and people are always having sex with and getting married off to various cousins. I truly think it is America’s puritan roots showing.
But regardless, being in sale jail is an issue. It means that your works do not and will not show up in search items, or ‘also boughts’ or any other of the viral kind of sales methods.
I was thinking…
We all know how dangerous this is…
But more than a few erotica authors have pseudonyms, often for just such an occurrence. If one of their series gets the tar and feathers treatment, then they can publish new works under another name.
I was thinking about this, when I probably should have been doing a hundred other things.
So what should my pseudonym be?
And I plugged my full name into an anagram generator.
I got the result: anagram.

Friday, 14 October 2016

10 million total fanfiction hits

Some time ago, I realised that my fanfiction stats were fast approaching a huge milestone.
And then I kind of forgot about it. I set a reminder in google keep with an alarm date on it, but obviously my math skills are deficient, and I was days late. I suspect I also forgot some of the more recent stories I had posted. They weren’t in the table and skewed the total in Excel.
Today, I was tooling about and thought I’d just check because the daily read rates were higher than they have been for a while, and voila… my legacy story stats total is 10,032,027 hits.

The top three stories make up 6 million of the total. They're the usual suspects.
You know the ones. *grins*

Thursday, 29 September 2016

He will always be my almost.

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag #writeworld in your block!
“He will always be my almost,” Kathleen said and sighed.
Her friend, Marie, noticed. “Almost is a horrible word.”
“It is neither one thing nor the other. It is nothing.” She busied herself stacking the plates on their cafe table.
“Yes.” Kathleen handed her a side dish they hadn’t used. “That’s the waiter’s job, you know.”
“I know.” Silence for a moment and then Marie added, “If you don’t ask him, you will never know.”
Kathleen frowned. “Ask what?”
“Ask whom.”
“Is that almost’s name?”
“Yes, and no, I won’t ask.”
“Why not?”
“I just told you.”
Marie waved her hand dismissively. “No matter. Call him.”
“I don’t have--”
The look Marie gave her stopped her cold.
“You have his number. You know where he works and you know his name. You follow his career.”
“I--” she stopped at another glare.
“Slay the dragon, or fuck him. I do not care.”
“I think you mixed your metaphors there--”
“But finish it. Either way. Shift it from ‘almost’ to ‘never’ or ‘done that’. Don’t forget to tip well.” She stood, leaned down to kiss Kathleen and strode away.
“She’s right,” Kathleen said to the bill Marie had left her. “I guess I’m paying for the advice. And the tip.”
She laughed and the waiter who was clearing the plates glanced at her.
She did have David’s details. She sent him a message; a chatty, I’m-in-town, we should meet up type of thing. He responded so quickly it made her suspicious.
They agreed to a lunch for the next day. Lunch felt less like a date than a dinner, and if she did it quickly she wouldn’t have time to chicken out or drive herself nuts over what to wear.
Lunch was safe, right?
She suggested the cafe she and Marie had been at; the food was good and it also made it feel more like a safe, social thing.
He was a little bit overweight and his skin looked florid; she suspected he drank too much. When he ordered a bottle of wine she knew it.
She had followed his career, but not his facebook. She wasn’t a stalker.
If she had, she might have learned that he was mid-divorce. He spent the whole lunch bitching about his ex-wife and describing incidents that the ex had complained about. The more he told, the more Kathleen agreed with the ex.
She sat back in her chair, smiled politely, moved food around her plate and wondered how to escape.
As luck would have it, he got a call from his divorce lawyer. “She what?” he screeched before putting the phone against his chest. “I have to go,” he announced, and then left without paying.
She texted Marie. Disastrous
Why? Tell me everything.
He hasn’t changed. He’s still the selfish boy I had a crush on.
Right. Why did I think that attitude was so great?
So, he’s slain?
Hell, yeah.
No more almosts
Marie was right; she felt better. The lunch was delicious once she stopped stressing about how awful David was.
As she exited the cafe someone called out to her. She turned and ran into the waiter. He grabbed her arm as they almost overbalanced.
“Sorry for manhandling you.”
“I would have fallen otherwise.” She looked at him expectantly. It was the same waiter as the day before.
“You forgot your wine.” He held out the bottle with the screw lid replaced.
“Thanks, but I don’t drink alone.”
He grinned at her. “That almost sounds like an invitation.”
Kathleen could hear what Marie would say. “It does, doesn’t it?” She took a deep breath and went all in. “What time does your shift finish?”
“You hold the wine hostage and I’ll be back at five to ransom it. We can drink it together.”
He had the loveliest smile. “Perfect.”
And it was.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Things we didn't know we couldn't do

The first jumper I ever knitted is a brilliant example of me as a person; it’s a full Aryan sweater. A mega complicated cable knit. One that most knitters never even attempt. My first garment.
I had never made a full knitted thing before other than a jumpsuit for my teddy bear, whose name was Stephen. I am well aware of how tragic that is… or was, or whatever.
At any rate, I was sixteen… maybe.
I have tried to take a photo of it. Yes, I still own the jumper in question, and yes, I still wear it.
For the record, I am now fifty two. Jet was clearly a particularly hard wearing wool and it is hanging together better than fine. I do admit to making a mistake in the bottom rib. I only did half the number of rows. When it said repeat row 1 &2 11 times, I did 11 rows, rather than 22.
But the thing about it that amazes me is the seam. I managed to sew a flat seam in the first jumper I have ever made and to this day… I do not know how. People paid me to make them jumpers in the years after that and I did not do the same flat seams; I didn’t know how.
Look at that thing, it’s beautiful. It’s flat. It’s literally seamless.
And I don’t know how I did it.
This has happened elsewhere in my life. I used to share a house with three others when we were all penniless uni students. I didn’t drive a car, so they would sometimes give me lifts and I would repay them by making them clothes and jumpers.
I drove my fashionable flatmate nuts because I would study fashion label items she had purchased, make a pattern from newspaper and then make a copy of it for myself. And honestly, I don’t know how I did it. There were super complicated placket gaps up sleeves that I do not know how I made. I honestly don’t.
Kid three is graduating and the thought crossed my mind that I should just make her a prom dress… and then reason screamed at me, “Oh my God, no! She’d be lucky to have it for her wedding!” I am not good at hitting self-imposed deadlines.
Sometimes not knowing you can’t do something works.
There were too many negatives in that sentence, but you know what I mean.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Goodreads milestone of a sort

Tonight I posted a review and noticed that it was number 1200. It’s not much of a milestone but it seems like a nice round number.
I am utterly certain I have read way more books than that; that’s just the number since I started recording reviews on Goodreads. I am certain I OWN more books than that.
So far this year, I have read 232 books and I am the number 35 top reviewer in Australia. Whoa. Blows on knuckles… way ahead of last year when I read 236 for the entire year. You can see the links on the right hand side of this blog page.
I keep all my GR reviews in one Scrivener file but it is getting ridiculously large and hard to load. Maybe next year I will have to start a new one, or something. It is of huge help when Amazon tells me an author has a new book out and I am familiar with the name but can’t recall if I liked them enough to buy their new book. A quick search… and all is revealed.
Oh… that’s right. I remember this story-
I sort Kindle books into ‘collections’ and I have one for ‘currently reading’. I tried to put things in that category that I think I OUGHT to be reading… and it has failed spectacularly. Dammit brain… so my Kindle thinks I am reading 15 books, my GR account says 9 and there are probably a few more on my bedside table with bookmarks in them, and some others borrowed from a friend that take precedence over my owned editions. I have to give them back one day…

Ah the life of a bookworm.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Tarot cards

I follow all kinds of blogs on tumblr. One of which is author, Maggie Stiefvater’s. I own a couple of her books. Her blog is very interesting and she’s got some good things to say on working with mental health issues. She writes, paints and loves her cars.
I saw the images of her progress as she designed a set of tarot cards to go with her Raven Cycle series. I’ve never owned a tarot deck, but it was on my wish list. I remember telling a friend about that and she said she gave away her deck after it started to freak her out a little. I knew that you are supposed to give them away, rather than throw them out.
One day as I was tooling about on book depository, there they were. The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot and it was reduced.

I did the click thing.
When they arrived they are much bigger than standard playing cards. I settled down in bed that night with a different kind of book to read. I shuffled the pack as I read and eventually tried to do a full reading for myself.
It was all a bit muddled. Hey, newbie here.
So I tried cutting the pack into three piles, taking a card from each and doing a three card draw to cover my past, present, and future.
And the oddest thing happened.
First draw I got three cards from the same suit, in order but it was reverse order. The book suggested that I was moving from bad to good, and on to better, as I moved from my past towards my future. Nice.
I tried again, thinking that I had not shuffled the pack well.
It happened again.
Different suit, same three card reverse order. I look those up.
Same deal: worse, to better.
I shuffle the crap out of that deck and I tried again.
You know what I’m going to say… I tried again. Third time. Same thing.
Seriously? What are the odds?
Spooky, eh?
I told my friend and she said, “See? That’s why I gave them away!”

the art, of course, belongs to Maggie Stiefvater and is taken from her Tumblr page
Maggie’s tumblr

Friday, 19 August 2016

Australian Gothic

I have been having great fun reading old romance novels from Jennifer Blake. I’m talking 1970’s circa stuff. Her books have been re-released on Kindle and they are routinely offering them free to generate interest and sales.
I am a lifelong book hoarder. I will grab a free book that I think I might (one day) get around to reading.
The quality has been a little spotty, but the ones I am enjoying the most are the full on Louisiana Gothic romances. I know some of the story elements are problematic, especially the way it treats the slaves. Recently, I read the original Gothic novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho. It was a trip, I tell you. I wondered if anyone had re-written it; updated or modernised it, but I couldn’t find any evidence of it - other than Jane Austen writing her own satirical version in Northanger Abbey. Amongst the overwriting and the bad poetry is a great story. One that has been read since 1794 when it was published.
Some months ago I read a Dean Koontz writing book and Gothic was one of his categories. This is his recipe for writing a Gothic romance novel:
A young heroine, alone in the world and often an orphan, goes to an old and isolated house to live with her last living relatives. Everyone in the house is a stranger to her. At the house, the heroine meets a cast of suspicious characters (servants, the lady of the house, one or two sons) and soon finds herself plunged into some mystery—either of supernatural or more mundane origins, most often concerning the death of someone in the house. Inexplicably, she becomes the target of the supernatural or mundane killer's attacks. Concurrent with the development of this mystery plot is the growth of a romance between the heroine and one of the young men in the household. Either this man is her only safe haven in the dark events of the story—or he is as much a suspect as any of the other characters. The conclusion of a Gothic must always promise marriage or the development of genuine love between heroine and hero.
Louisiana Gothic adds in the environment, the bayou, as another thing against the heroine and the slaves provide the supernatural element.
After I finished the last Blake book, I went to bed and I had a revelation.
I could move the entire thing to Australia. The whole Gothic recipe would work in Australia. Isolated, dangerous, a family estate, sons fighting over inheritance, and the element of magic/supernatural could be from Aboriginal Australians.
‘I’ve invented a new genre,’ I told myself.
Next morning, I google it … curses. It’s existed forever. It was just that I hadn’t worked out that everything from ‘The term of his natural life’ to ‘Picnic at hanging Rock’ is categorised as Australian Gothic. Patrick White has won literary awards for this genre. Australians are particularly good at putting this into film. Mad Max and even Wolf Creek fit the style.
I’ll file that one away in the ‘nooo brain' box I made for ideas I can’t work on right now. Maybe it’s not an original idea, but I still reckon it’d work.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

One shot woes?

In the last few weeks I wrote a fanfiction one shot. A twilight one with Sam and Bella. It was a request from a long time reader.
It ends with them in a happy place, and a lot of the reviews ask for more. I do have a habit of extending a short story into a full blown one. Apologies, Hurt, I’ll be home for Christmas, and Swans mate for life, all started as one shots.
Some of my original fics are extensions of flash fiction written to writing prompts.
I guess if there is enough of an idea to write a short story, there might be more for a longer one?
But some reviewers just kept asking.
I spent a lot of my time and about a thousand words explaining to a couple of readers why it wouldn’t work. I explained about story structure and how you needed something to keep the reader turning the pages, otherwise it was a boring story.
So to extend this - I've already dealt with Jake and Emily. Sam and Bella are happy, they've agreed to go out ... so where's the story? She didn't cliff dive, so Alice doesn't come back and Ed doesn't try to kill himself. Victoria sent Laurent, but is she crazy enough to attack Bella anyway even if the Cullens aren't around? (I've written this too many times)
Is there some other threat to the lovers? Volturi? nope. Edward? maybe (written that, too). Charlie freaks about her dating a NA - unlikely
I could write pages of happy Sam Bella, but it's boring to read, nothing happens, there's no conflict, no threat. Great life, boring story.
But perhaps I should have said that it wouldn’t work for me.
One of the super neat things about fanfiction is that you could write ten years of happy chapters in Sam and Bella’s life with no conflict and people would read it. And they’d probably love it.
But it’s that it just doesn’t work for me to write. Not when my head is full of pushy characters, who want their conflicted, angsty, sexy stories told.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Smell and memory

I saw my gyno this week for a yearly check-up and he told me I had lost 10 kilograms since my last appointment. That’s equivalent to 22 pounds for my US readers.
It surprised me, not the amount, but I thought it was over two years. It’s not unsurprising for me to lose that amount in that time period. I’ve been gaining and losing the same 20 kg my whole life. I had been a chubby kid. That weight was probably gained over the year before. But now I walk every day and I am careful with what I eat.
But what got me thinking was scent. I bought some plain soap this week and the first time I used it… wham. I was back in time. I was fourteen and my mother was very ill with cancer. I got packed off to the farm to live with my aunt and uncle. I had nothing to do. I didn’t walk as much as I did in the city. And I was worried about my mum and no one made much of an effort to tell me how she was. I had to go to the local high school and it didn’t offer my subjects. I found the whole experience pretty bad. So I ate and I got fat again.
The farmhouse had a shower on the back veranda and that was the one you used if you were super dirty before you were allowed inside. My uncle always used it, and I did on the days when I had been riding horses or feeding pigs or whatever.
I couldn’t have told you what the farm soap smelt like if you asked me all these years later, but the second I smelt it, I knew. And the new soap I bought smelled exactly the same. I was, for a moment, that sad fat teen.
Given it’s such a strong trigger for an emotional response I have noticed that it’s rare to read it. Writers always describe what they see, less often what they touch and rarely what they smell. Maybe we should do more of that?
Don’t forget to describe all the senses when you’re writing.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Kobo… again

Well, I fixed some of the issues with my kobo reading app for Windows. But only after I had deleted it and reinstalled it. And re-started my PC. Only then did the books I had bought start to show up in the app. Prior to that, they were lost from both the PC app and my phone.
I still can’t work out how to find anything easily. It defaults to a search of the site when I want it to search my library.
There is also no way to tag things yourself.
My Kindle has a dozen categories: my star rating for GR reviews, the category, completed, etc. many titles are dual listed.
And I can easily find a title.
That makes me think twice about downloading on Kobo.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Frankie and Johnny

The movie came out in 1991. I saw it in the cinema.
What I didn’t realise until this week when Garry Marshall died, was that it was yet another of his amazing movies, may he rest in peace.
I just watched the trailer to remind myself, but it looks like a romantic comedy. Two people who work in a diner fall in love. He - Al Pacino - is the chef chasing the waitress - Michelle Pfeiffer. He says in the trailer that they should be married and that they definitely should have kids. They are fated to be together because of the Frankie and Johnny song. Nathan Lane is her BFF and he’s funny and adorable as always.
Garry Marshall made some of our favourite romances and this one sticks in my memory for another reason.
It was 1991. I was in my twenties.
There is a scene… spoilers for those who haven’t seen it… where Franky tells him she can’t have children because of something her abusive ex did to her.
But this scene… oh, my god this scene. It hit some woman in the audience in a way that she was not prepared for.
She … sobbed. Loud, heart rending sobs.
Her heart… oh, my god, her heart. I am a sympathy crier. And I’m crying now just remembering how distressed this woman was and it was a very long time ago.
And we all knew. It was her. She was seeing her story on that screen and she was not ready for it. It smacked her sideways.
Stories can do that. The best ones do. They resonate.
But I have always regretted that I was so paralysed; stuck in my seat when all I wanted to do was get up, find that woman and give her a hug because by God, she needed it.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016


I don’t own an e-reader but I do use several on my computer: I read books in pdf’s on adobe, Kobo and kindle apps. They also work on my phone. It’s a Samsung.
But… I keep forgetting I have Kobo. I find the app difficult to use, to search, to read on.
So when push comes to shove, I go for the kindle app.
I also listen to some books on audio as I walk my steps around the suburb. But again, this is Audible, an Amazon affiliate.  Plus, if I already own e-books, the audio books are much less to purchase.
Tonight I nearly purchased an audio three book deal that I already owned on Kobo.
I’m not sure why this is. They send me offers, they try so hard. Perhaps because I find the Kobo app less easy to use? I don’t know. If I had a Kobo reader, I’m sure I would have a different opinion. I don’t normally buy things in app, though.
As it was, it was Goodreads that saved me from paying twice for a book series I already owned. I really don’t have the funds to pay for the same thing twice.
But this week, I will be doing my walks to classic novels. With the Amazon whispersync option, if you already own a kindle book, they will sell you the audio book for $2.99 regardless of the original price. So I will be walking as people read me the Mysteries of Udolpho and the Bronte books.
And I can’t feel bad about that.

Friday, 10 June 2016

it's my sixth anniversary

I wrote this post back in 2013, but it still works. Except that 'What was she doing?' is now on the fave list of 1469 fanfiction readers and pushes it down to fifth place. It has over half a million hits.

June 9th. On this day back in 2010 I posted the first chapter of a little story called ‘What was she doing?’ My first attempt at writing fanfiction and the start of my obsession with putting the characters Paul and Bella from Twilight, together. It is little, too - just under 30,000 words. At least compared to some things I write now.
banner by lapushstarlight

The title is actually the first line of the story. I am utterly hopeless at thinking of fic titles. If you save a document in Microsoft Word it defaults to name it whatever the first line is. That was the rough draft name and it just stayed, then it spawned a whole set of W stories after that. It is on the favourite list of 999 people at fanfic. That puts it at fourth in that list. Not bad for such a little story.
Some days I look at it and think it begs to be rewritten, but if I started doing that with my old stories I would never write anything new. I’d be trapped in an endless cycle of rewrites. And in a way, it is a view of me back then; my style, my mistakes and things that I would write differently if I wrote them now. It’s historic MTR. I still get reviews from people who love it and take the time to tell me that, and I really appreciate that.

So I will pour myself a glass of wine tonight, toast that story and all the people who read it, and remember how it started my continuing obsession with writing.
Thank you all.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

I’ve heard he’s an exceptional lover

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag #writeworld in your block!
“I’ve heard he’s an exceptional lover,” her sister whispered in Andrea’s ear as they waited for Prince Robert to enter the room. The disturbance at the door indicated that his party had arrived.
“How did you hear that?” Andrea asked. No reply, other than a smirk. The only rumour Andrea had heard was that he had come to ask for her sister’s hand. As the elder of the two it was appropriate. Andrea didn’t envy her. She was not ready to leave her home nor was she ready to marry at seventeen. Just as well her sister was the beautiful one and got all the attention.
Robert strode through the crowd. It parted easily in front of him. He looked regal and dangerous. A big man with broad shoulders. And then he took off his helmet. Brigid stifled her gasp. Robert had clearly been struck across the face with a sword. The scar stretched from his cheek, over a ruined nose and up to his forehead. The marks where it had been stitched were visible. He stood, waiting for the moment to pass.
Andrea wondered if the rumour had been started to make up for his looks. He had a beard, like most men in society but he kept it neatly trimmed; it could have covered some of the scar but he hadn’t bothered. He was at ease with how he looked.
Her sister was not. The negotiations broke down. Robert and his advisors left in a huff. It was too late to ride for home but they would be gone in the morning and any hope of an alliance went with them.
Andrea found her father staring out one of the tall windows. Peering past his shoulder, she could see Robert’s camp. “She refuses him,” he said without turning around.
If Brigid had listened to news rather than gossip, she would have known how important this alliance was to the kingdom’s security. Robert fought well. His soldiers loved him. Andrea wasn’t sure if that made him a good leader, or a better man, but it did make him a formidable ally and an even more dangerous enemy. She knew her sister would not be swayed by such arguments.
Her father’s shoulders were tight with tension and his face etched with worry. She had to do something, so she put on a hooded cloak and snuck out of the palace to the camp. His guards stopped her. “I-I need to speak to Prince Robert.”
“Speak?” One chortled. “A little thing like you.” He leaned in too close to her face. “He’ll eat you for dinner.”
“Long past dinner,” said the other. “More like a midnight snack.”
They laughed wickedly.
“Now!” she demanded. Fear overcoming her nervousness.
Her voice carried and a man walking past took a second look at her. Robert’s second, Laurence, ordered the guards back to their posts, and took her to his leader’s tent. “I apologise Princess Andrea, but you should not have come unattended.”
Too frightened to speak, she held tightly to the edge of her cloak and just nodded.
“He is not in a good mood,” he added.
Robert was sprawled on the floor of his tent.
“You have a visitor.” Laurence did not announce her name. She glanced at him but he shook his head and motioned that she stay in the opening.
“Not a woman.” Robert groaned. “This is your fault for starting that stupid rumour. I need wine.”
“No,” said Laurence. “And it’s not a rumour if it’s true.” He kicked Robert in the side. “Get up and bow to the princess.”
“What?” Maybe he’d already had some wine. He seemed slower to Andrea. “What princess?”
“God’s blood, Robert.” Laurence threw up his hands and sat hard in the camp chair. He waved at Andrea to enter.
Robert rolled over to his knees and looked at her. “Huh,” was all he said.
She had never been so insulted in her life. “How dare you?” she demanded. “I came here to make you an offer that will hopefully get both of our kingdoms out of this mess and you can’t even be bothered to greet me appropriately.”
Robert glanced at Laurence, who had his arms crossed and an ‘I told you’ look on his face.
“What offer?” Robert asked.
“To marry me, but I am inclined to withdraw it now.”
“Please don’t,” muttered Laurence. “She came alone,” he added for Robert’s benefit. “I’d suggest her father does not know she’s here.”
“Exactly. I may be the poorer choice in beauty but it could work. If I return, no further harm is done.” Andrea brushed down her skirts nervously, knowing she really was second best. “If I don’t return it could enhance your … reputation  to say I was held here until I accepted.”
Laurence sat forward in the chair. “Clever.”
“Why would I do that?” Robert said. He rose to his feet and made an abrupt gesture. “I would never stoop to such vile behaviour. I’d rather walk into the castle and ask for your hand properly.”
“Oh,” she said.
Laurence snorted. He rose, clapped his hands together and said, “Great. I’ll cancel the order to leave in the morning. You have ten minutes.”
Robert blinked at Andrea. He had just understood that he had accepted her offer. “Please sit, Princess.” He waved at the chair. “Wine?”
She shook her head to both.
“I was rude and I apologise. I know what it is to be judged by your looks. I was not pretty before this.” He waved at his face.
She nodded warily. “Is it hard to breathe?”
“Only when I am ill.” He reached out a hand to her.
She took it and he wrapped the second one around it, drawing her closer. She felt how big and rough his hand was but also how gentle. He smiled down at her. The scar did not affect his mouth as he pressed her knuckles against his lips. “Are you sure about this?” he asked.
Laurence had said the rumour was true and it worried her. “I know nothing of love. What if I am not good enough?”
He frowned at her, and his brown eyes looked worried. “Let us find out. May I kiss you?”
She nodded.
When Laurence returned, he had to clear his throat loudly. They pulled apart. Andrea was very glad that she still had her cloak on and that Laurence could not see where Robert’s hands were. They were cupping her buttocks and holding her in so tight against him that it made her knees weak, which coincidentally made her lean against him harder.
Laurence offered her his arm and she needed it to walk without tripping as he escorted her back to the palace.
In the morning, Prince Robert threw open the chamber doors and demanded his princess. Brigid paled. Andrea stood to move towards him. The King opened his mouth to protest and then shut it again.
“Princess Andrea,” Robert said as he dropped to his knees in front of her, his face transformed in adoration. She placed one hand on the top of his head and leaned down to kiss his forehead. Then, whatever he said to her, made her laugh and everyone could see the woman she would become and that she, too, was transformed.

Monday, 16 May 2016

May update

So I have been taking things a little easier after writing 92k in April. Reading a lot. 122 books already this year. Check out my pinterest page here:
I have been doing more work on the poly threesome story that I should NOT be writing. Bad, bad brain. I read a very short erotica story that I did a Goodreads review of and said something about how there could be a really good story in there if they had dealt with all the conflict that they had just glossed over. And then, because I can’t help myself, I started to write it. Ideas come from literally everywhere.
Naturally, one of the guys has morphed into a paulish dude. (My favourite fanfic character to write) That could be just because it feels easy for me to write him, and I was doing this story for the 50k for camp nanowrimo and I really didn’t need to be writing something really hard. But I am at the point where I really like them. And they are happy.
And now, of course, I have to hurt them… mwahaha.

*rubs hands* bring on the angst and the pain…

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The House of lost Hearts

I have sent the work off to a friend to read through for me. Someone who’s opinion I trust. It is about 95% complete and has 85,000 words. That makes it a short book; standard for a romance. There are a few gaps: names I have yet to choose, and some scenes need more details or description. I use this symbol %% to mark the spot and it is very easy to search through it for those gaps.
I have read through it so much I can’t ‘see’ it any more. And it needs a fresh set of eyes. Then I guess I will have to go through it again.
Welcome to the life of a writer. At least there’s one joke that makes me laugh each time I read it. Although I'm not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Meeting a Twilight fan

I was at the Medicare office this week making a claim.
[No, I can’t do it online. No, I don’t know why it won’t let me do it. I don’t mind walking up to the mall.]
I yawned, and the lady asked me what job I did to start so early and be off work in the afternoon. I have struggled with owning the fact that I write, so I decided to step up to it and I answered that I was a writer.
“Oh, wow. I admire anyone who can produce a whole book.”
And off she went to prattle on about her favourites (Nora Roberts). When she asked me what I wrote I said supernatural stuff; werewolves and so on. Also one of her favourites. I said I had given a lot of stories away. [It’s the easiest way to explain fanfic to people who don’t know what it is.]
I wasn't sure that I could write a whole book either.
And then she leaned forward and she said, “One of my favourite books is Twilight.”
Really? I love it, too. We chat about going to the midnight movie sessions.
“I adore Edward.”
Wolf girl all the way, I say.
“You think she should have chosen Jacob?”
No. [How do I explain my obsessive adoration of Paul?] I have written alternate versions of the Twilight books.
Here, I say, and I write out my fanfiction name for her. Google mrstrentreznor and you will find my stories.

It will be interesting to see if she has read any by the next time I go in to the office. But even if she doesn't like *my* stories, hopefully I've opened a whole new world of fanfiction for her to read.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Oh look I didn’t fall on my face

Camp Nanowrimo winner, here. Phew… I did it.

Woo… look at that last day. It is the time zone thing, I updated late one night and then frequently the next day and it put it all in one 24 hour period. I didn’t cheat, I swear it.
And a very interesting month it was too. In keeping with Monica’s writing method I tracked everything.

The columns across are times, word count start and finish, words per session, daily total, words per hour and words per minute.
I did 20 minute writing sprints with short breaks in a Pomodoro style of 3 or 4 then took a longer break. I did seem to decline rapidly if I did too many of them, so I have learnt something from that: longer breaks are good. I used my breaks to walk so I've hit my step goals for the month as well. Go, me.
This is my threesome romance. I can’t tell if I’m just good at writing that kind of content, or if I was in a coffee guzzling panic as the end of the month (and the deadline) approached. Meh… either way, my words per hour average for the month is 1155.
So doing the math: if I wrote for one hour every day, I should have 1155x365= 421,575 words in a year.
What? No, no, no, that can’t be right. That’s like 4 entire books.
*frowns at figures* recalculates* admits math is right*
I did kind of let the 500 word a day project go. But I added a lot of words to the haunted house story. It’s now at that read through, this scene should happen before that scene, did I just change the name of a character three times (he was matt, then max, then something else that started with M- mick? Bad, bad brain), oh the math on the character ages and children don’t add up… that stage. Do I like this stage of story writing? No. no, I do not.
My total of all words for the month is 91,191 which IS an entire book.

So, I have no excuses.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Over-commitment update

I swear I am such a dag (aussie word for fool or idiot in an embarrassing way?)
I have never failed nanowrimo and I am certainly not going to do it this month. So after a few days of almost flat-lining, I have written 13k words in three days. Now the site tells me I need to write 2,300 words a day rather than the usual 1,667 to finish on time.
Meh, I can do that. (Watch me fall on my face.)
The other projects?  According to my spreadsheet I have written 45k words so far this month. The 500 words a day one is behind.
And, the haunted house fic now has 70k words. I did lose a whole day when kid 3 and I piled in the car and we drove south to scope out the random small town I had chosen. A good three hours’ drive from our place on freeways at 110 kmph and still three hours away.
It seems that it was not so random. It’s funny how we choose something from a map or off a list and it is only later that our brain connects the dots on why we chose that particular thing. If I remember rightly, and as I remember it NOW, when my mother finished teacher training her first job was in the tiny town of Laggan, NSW at the one teacher school. There she met my father who had grown up in Crookwell, the nearest small town.
And this was the area that I ‘randomly’ chose… Yeah, right.
Thanks for that, brain.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Several days into over commitment

Right… *dusts off hands* How am I going?
Well… I posted a fanfiction one shot tonight - just over 3k words. It was in my draft folder and I had forgotten about it. Cleaned it up, edited it a little, and posted it.
I have been nominated in the Favorite Veteran Author category of the Fanatic Fanfics Multifandom Awards. I’ve not heard of these before, so again, thank you to whoever nominated me! The website is here:
or is it here:
I don't know, one redirects to the other.
Voting starts on the 11th April and closes May 2nd.
I’ve never made it into a multi fandom awards contest before. How cool.
As an update on my word count and recording everything (as per my earlier post)… 12k words in five days. Not so bad… but - and I know that Monica Leonelle will not be surprised by this - my highest word count per hour is when I dictate:  3,743 words per hour.
The kids - all four of them - are the biggest distraction in an open living room where my desk is in a corner and there are no doors I can close.
And this dictating isn’t really high tech. It’s me, huddled in my bed, talking into my chromebook using the inbuilt microphone and the Goggle Drive speech to text option. It’s not very good with commands, so I will have to go back and edit in speech marks and fix a few mistakes. Not sure how I count that in the word count?
I just noticed it has an Australian English option. I assume that means it can translate ‘yew bewdy mate, let’s go down to maccas for a sausage sanger’ accurately. Or maybe not.
So, back to the writing!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

How did I manage that?

I have over committed myself this month. I signed up for camp nanowrimo. 50,000 words in a romance idea I had ages ago and had sketched out some basic story ideas for. That’s 1,667 words a day.
I promised my therapist I would write 1,500 words a day for the Aussie haunted house romance story that I stalled on and that a first draft will be done by… you guessed it… the end of April.
And I’m doing an Udemy course with Harry deWulf in which the homework is writing 500 words a day for yet another story. I chatted with Harry online and he gave me a voucher to the course. Yay. He’s a literary editor; the one who helps you iron out the story problems BEFORE you waste your time writing a huge chunk that has to be deleted later.
I have often joked that my inner critic sounds like my ex and it really is becoming a problem when it has me so cowed I can’t finish any of my original fiction and I am making myself, and everyone else around me, crazy over this. So I am doing something I have never done before; talk to someone professional about it. I always feel drained after a session, so I guess it is digging out some old wounds. That is probably a good idea, too.
In order to have public accountability for the Aussie story, I am posting the rough first draft on Wattpad if you want to check it out.
And for the icing on the cake, I am following suggestions in Monica Leonelle’s book Write Better, Faster: How To Triple Your Writing Speed and Write More Every Day in which I use Pomodoro time sprints of 20 minutes each and track everything: where I am, what I’ve just done (walked, ate, consumed vast quantities of red wine), which program I’m writing on, music or silence, what distractions there are (the kids - always the kids), etcetera. The spreadsheet calculates how many words a minute I am producing so I can say conclusively (after some time) when how and where I write the fastest.
With my luck it will turn out to be half drunk with music at full volume in the middle of the night, eh?

Harry deWulf
he’s just started a YouTubechannel as well

The House of lost hearts

Monica Leonelle
Her website - a lot of info is free on here if you can’t afford the book

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Non-Canon awards 2016

What a fabulous surprise. I was nominated for the non-canon awards and then I confess, I just forgot about it. Usually I try to write a one shot and tell everyone to go and vote. So I didn’t have very high hopes but I got third in the Royal Author category - that’s the one they put you in when you are too big to go anywhere else. *grins*
So thank you to everyone who nominated me, and voted for me. I'll be home for Christmas was nominated for the Royal fic award, too, but missed out to other deserving favourites.
Thanks again.
Links: https://thenoncanonawards.wordpress.com/round-five/

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


I haven’t been in Wattpad for a while so it was a pleasant surprise to log in and see that ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ had passed 6k reads. Nice… and it had amassed 452 gold stars. Woot woot.
Well done, Josh.
The next most popular? It’s my Paul one shot ‘Wake up and smell the coffee’… of course it is.
Links: wattpad

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Vampire novels

People keep saying that nobody wants to read vampire novels - that they are so five years ago, when Twilight was all the rage.
I may have picked a bad month to buy a program called KindleSpy. It reverse engineers figures from Amazon pages; uses the number of sales and all the information about price etc. to generate sales totals. It is meant to give you an idea of what genres are selling well and which it would be hard to compete in. All useful stuff for self-published authors who are doing all of this stuff themselves.
This month the Amazon kindle charts have been OWNED by a self-published author named Bella Forrest. *eyes narrow* Is that her real name? Bella was the name of the main character in Twilight, remember? There is no author page so I assume that it is a pseudonym.
My friends on Goodreads have this in the ‘so bad its good’ category or are unimpressed. But clearly there are enough readers to be pushing a lot of sales in this series. They've got something right.
At any rate, Ms Forrest has seventeen of the top twenty titles in the Amazon category of paranormal vampire romance. There are twenty two novels in the series so far. The first ‘A shade of Vampire’ was published in 2012 and is set at 99c, the rest at $3.99. They are selling like hotcakes and Amazon literally has a big red ‘hot’ tag next to it. That can only increase sales, right? KindleSpy does the math for me and it pulls in at a total of more than two and a half million dollars. That’s just for the top twenty books and only for the month of January 2016.
And here’s the kicker - that’s only on Amazon US. It doesn't count sales on other platforms. Here in Australia we have to buy through a different kindle site and Amazon UK has its own sales tables as well.
Maybe you shouldn’t ditch that vampire novel you started? It looks like there is still plenty of life in that undead corpse.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

2015 in a nutshell

New Year resolutions don’t seem to work for me, but I like to look back to see what I have achieved. A week ago, if I had to pick a word for 2015 it would have been stagnate. But then I sat down to collate everything and had to think about my year. And I feel that stagnate isn’t quite appropriate now.


I read 236 books - 47,216 pages
The shortest 9 pages, the longest 846 - average 210 pages
My average mark was 3.3 out of 5 stars. But I still have a massive number of books in the ‘to read’ pile. I am a book hoarder… I confess.
I marked 23 of those as ‘did not finish’. If I do this, I write a review mostly to remind myself what was wrong, but I don’t rate it if I didn’t finish it. I aimed for 225 so that’s not bad. I’ve read more than that but I am waiting to finish my review on a couple. Sometimes you need to think about it - let it stew for a little while. It also doesn’t count reading articles and fanfiction of course!


I did 4 Udemy courses on story writing and understanding Scrivener - 88 lectures - 792 minutes of coursework. I did courses with Tim Grahl, and Shawn Coyne. I signed up for a Nick Stephenson course - your first 10k readers - hours and hours of videos and PowerPoint presentations. I’ve watched them all but the course also relies on a Facebook group to exchange comments and ideas. I hate FB and I have real trouble using it. My issue, not Nick’s - the course is totally worth the money.
I hate the way FB sends you a message to tell you X has changed their status - don’t you want to see what it is? Why can’t you just send me the status? It’s passive aggressive stuff … ugh.
I also signed up for a writing group with the Write Practice, in conjunction with nanowrimo, called Becoming Writer. (I know that is bad English - why do they do this?) I didn’t find it that useful. The writing group relied on the community members to read and comment on your work but everyone was doing twenty different genres, they were all at so many different levels of expertise, and also working on nonfiction and fiction. Plus, it’s your nanowrimo rough draft. It ain’t pretty.
I wrote an Aussie ghost story and one member told me off for having a Ouija board in the story when I also had ghosts, murder, kidnappings, sex and forced adoptions… seriously lady?
I have no idea how many people actually completed nanowrimo in the group. They don’t give us info like that. I also found the website clunky and annoying to use. Posts were made in daily work posts, so one story might be spread across 31 individual posts. It was a mess. I put all of my work on the same story in one post. Even though it was out of order (I don’t write in chronological order) but at least it was all together.
There were video conferences as part of the course as well but the time difference meant I had to be up super early to listen and the presenter had a particularly soporific voice. I’d just fade out halfway through; sitting up in bed with my Chromebook on my lap. I tried getting up and standing at my standing desk but that didn’t really help. I found the group unhelpful but it may be one of those things where I just need to spend a lot more time in there to get anything out of it.


I listen to at least six regularly:
·       The creative penn 
·       Sterling and stone 
·       Mur Lafferty - I should be writing  
·       Mur and Matt Wallace do Ditch diggers, too
·       The sell more books show with Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen 
·       Lindsay Buroker Scifi fantasy podcast 
Each is an hour or so and that adds up pretty quickly if they do more than one show a week. I still have to work out how to download them to my phone so that I can listen and walk. I usually listen while at my standing desk so it counts as a kind of a break.
The biggest problem is each interviewed author usually has a sign up or a free book on offer and I end up with a few MORE books in my ‘to read’ list.


39 blog posts, 57,849 hits
Most of my readers come from the US, and Russia. I get a lot of visitors from Seely James website - no idea why. I should post at least once a week and I will aim for that this year.

Words written

I confessed in an earlier blogpost that I stopped updating my word spreadsheet for a while, so I guess I wrote more than that. And yes, I’m kicking myself now… I was offered a joint project early in the year and did a huge amount of work on it before I got cold feet. I don’t like not having a legal contract when the final ambit was about 800k words and I didn’t know who owned them or how I would be paid. I don’t regret backing away. I had written a fifth or so, and done a lot of preparation for another big chunk of it. The work is mine, but every time I look at it, I just feel frustrated and angry, rather than excited and eager to work on it. I can rewrite it, and make it into something slightly different but it may take some more distance before I am able to do that.
I finished nanowrimo in November- only 14% of people manage that, so yay me! I also did camp nanowrimo in April with a total of 80k words and in July with 50k.


I posted a one shot and that was it. My page hits are still big on ff.net and slow everywhere else. I get a lot of messages from people telling me that they constantly reread my works. That’s a massive compliment.
My stats for the year are: 1,452,258 hits and 202,276 readers.
My total hits are 8,904,681… whoa… so, some time this year I should pass 8 figures?

Social media

Pinterest I have 54 followers, twitter 937, tumblr 281 followers. I don’t know what it is about twitter but I can’t go over 940 followers. Every time I do, a dozen people unfollow me. It’s weird.
My feedly gets super scary if I don’t check it every couple of days. It collates all the blogposts and articles from all the websites that I follow. More reading…

Personal stuff

I bought a garmin vivofit about a year ago- one of those bracelets - and it’s been super useful. I am determined not to let it down. So every day it makes me walk a few more steps. I’m up to 10k steps a day - or about 6-7km. I have linked it to a phone app myfitnesspal where I record what I eat. I am fairly honest and I find I won’t eat that cream biscuit if I have to enter it into the calories app. I make choices: I can have a glass of wine or dessert, not both.
I had a slow weight gain over a few years and have now lost almost ten kilos. I feel better and I have less back pain. Makes it easier to sit and write if my back is not complaining.
So, looking at all that, I guess my word ought to be educate or amalgamate?
What was your word for 2015?