Tuesday, 24 November 2015


I'm very happy to be sharing the book cover and blurb for
Amabel Daniels's debut novel, Better Than The Best,
which I had the privilege of beta-reading for her. I made
reference to my beta-reading experience with this novel
in these past blog posts:

Anyway, Amabel's book is out now, and I have my print copy ready to read again in its final, polished form! I can't wait. It's on my GoodReads "tbr" (see link below). Meanwhile, here is the cover, and the entertaining blurb:

A new beginning. Turning a leaf. All that crap.

After her divorce and the death of one of her patients, an ER nurse, Kelly Newland, searches for a fresh start in the little town of Churchston, unaware that trouble and danger has followed her. As she learns to accept her failures in life, she befriends some of the locals, except for one disgruntled man, the hero everybody loves to hate.

He could feel their stares on his back, their judgments hovering over their heads.

Will Parker suffers from PTSD, and as the black sheep of the sleepy lakeside community, he struggles to get back up on his feet. Initially, Kelly and Will mix like oil and water, but as a series of dangerous incidents strike the people closest to them, their antagonism turns from cool to hot. It is only when they realize it is impossible to resist each other that a killer closes in on them, threatening the love they've dared to find.

I really loved this book even in its rough form - it is very suspenseful, as well as romantic, and amusing. But I'll be putting up a proper review on GoodReads and so on once I've read the finished product.

Purchase links:

Friday, 20 November 2015

NaNo update

See my little NaNo calender widget thing? That red square on the Thursday is a bald-faced lie! I did update on that day, but I forgot to update until it was already midnight. I honestly think that must have been Friday, because who stays up till midnight on a "school night"? Not me!

(except I did last night, but that's because I'm reading a rather gripping book...which I may well talk about during the Cephalopod Book Club next week... stay tuned)

So anyway, this where I'm at with NaNo 2015. Let's just say I'm keeping up a relatively new tradition of struggling through November. There used to be a time when I would smash out 50k easily in the first 6 - 12 days, and relax the rest of the time, all the while trying to complete a novel by November's end. That isn't my reality any longer. But at least I'm writing. And at least I'm working on getting back into all my creative interests.

I hope I don't struggle to get writing done tonight, since I have a few after-work appointments to get through before I can start.

I hope you're all having a great November.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

IWSG #16 - Enduring the usual NaNo-dialogue

It's NaNoWriMo time again, and I have had a difficult start so far - only because I have been really busy with "family stuff" and therefore have only been able to cram writing into the last hour (or two...when I stay up too late) of each day. Still, I am exceeding the daily target, so that's what matters.

In terms of insecurity this month, ummm, well I have the usual feeling I always get during NaNoWriMo:

"Wow, I am writing a bunch of crap here.
I'm not going to stop writing this bunch of crap.
Geez, I'm really rambling here!
I'll have to cut out huge chunks of this scene during revisions.
I may have to rewrite this entire scene, actually.
What's the point of writing this if it's all going to disappear during revisions?
You know ... I'm going to keep writing, because at least I'll have something to edit later!
It's only Day 4?!!"

So yeah, I guess that's the constant internal dialogue I have while doing NaNo, at least it has been for the last few years. I'm still quite happy with most of the novels I've ended up with, though, even if I still need to edit them a great deal - during some future very productive editing phase of my life!

Anyway ... I love my story even if I think what I've written so far has quite a few ups and downs in terms of mediocrity of writing quality.

Here is my little word count widget, provided by the NaNo people!


Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

Friday, 30 October 2015

[OCT UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals

~ The Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Club : October Edition ~

I've been meaning to read this book for ages, and have only just got around to it.

It was a pleasure to read a book that was well written, as well as witty and entertaining. Jordan sure can write.

I am not religious at all, and the heroine in this book is Mormon, but the story doesn't preach to the reader about religion or anything - her being Mormon is just another aspect of her character (albeit one that does effect her decisions and sometimes complicates her job as a spy) that you get to know.

The book is mostly taken up with spine-tingling action, and that's the way I like it to be! There's also a little bit of romantic sweetness, in case you were wondering. :)

Thanks for the fun read, Jordan McCollum!

During October, I've continued to do some work on SUNDOWN III. It's slowed down a bit though, I'll admit. But I have done some rearranging of chapters, merging some short ones, and have continued on my quest to convert the story to third person. I know there will be some gaps in chapters to come, that I'll need to fill in. I've already filled in one significant gap. But of course November is coming up, so I won't be doing much work on this novel revision during that month.

So, speaking of November, my goal is the usual one - to get a new novel written. The title is THE PHOTOGRAPH and the story is what you'd call a drama, I guess. But it'll also be a romance, I think ... though at the moment it's not feeling very romantic to me! So I guess we'll see how it goes.

I hope to update regularly during November... for a change. My poor blog is a little dusty of late!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

[SEPT UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals

I read five books this month. I was travelling, so I had a bit more time to devote to reading. Also, I was trying hard to catch up on my reading goals (I was 6 books behind at one point). This is one of the books I downloaded for free (or very cheap... can't remember which) in recent weeks. I have been on a bit of a 'free books' binge, which is helped by a mailing list I'm on for free / discounted books. There is quite a lot of mediocre stuff out there, but this was one that I really liked (one of three this month actually!).

The book did have some (but not many) typos and things that could be fixed with a good line edit, but they weren't enough to piss me off particularly. I loved the story so much - and the writing! and the characters! - that I could move past the imperfections fairly easily. I love the whole zombie apocalypse theme - and the fact that Adrian takes that on board with enthusiasm. Reading the very first scene, I did wonder, IS this book actually about a zombie apocalypse? But soon enough I found my footing and knew there were no zombies about.

I loved Deanna Eshler's witty writing, and I really love the character of Keegan. Adrian, of course, was totally adorable, and it was great seeing their story unfold. I haven't read Book #1 (which focuses on different characters), but having read this one I hope I will find #1 to be just as entertaining, when I do get around to reading it! For now, I recommend this book if you like quirky humour and wacky characters (like Robert. That guy was hilarious too).

Last month I reported that I had been doing some work on SUNDOWN III. This is still the case, but it's been slow going. I did manage to do a bit while I was travelling. The latest thing I did, was remove all of the hero's POV chapters. I want to try doing this book with just one POV. But I will do something with the hero's scenes, it just might not be a full length novel. So now I have some gaps to fill, from the heroine's POV.

I am also still in the midst of editing it back to 3rd person. I always go back & forth on this. Deanna Eshler's book that I reviewed above is written in 1st person, and I really do have a soft spot for that perspective. But I've committed to 3rd person for SUNDOWN III, and it does seem to be working quite nicely.

Next month is October, "the month before NaNoWriMo". So I'll be doing some gearing up for NaNo during October. But I hope to have a lot more to report on my editing of SUNDOWN III too, for the October check-in.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

IWSG #15 - I'm (almost) back!

Usually this IWSG post would count as late, since back home in Perth, WA, it's 2:52pm on Thursday. But as I'm in California right now and it's not quite midnight on Wednesday, I'm not really late with my post!

I've had a pretty crappy year or more, when it comes down to it - at least in terms of making progress on my creative stuff! I did participate in NaNoWriMo last year, and wrote most of a new novel, which I finished in the post-NaNo months. So that's one significant achievement. But other than that, I haven't done much at all. This last month though, I've actually been working on editing! I mentioned this in my previous post for my Goals update, so I won't go into any detail. I'll just say that this time around, I'm feeling a lot better about my creative goals than I have in quite some time. I'm even looking forward to this year's NaNo, and have my novel idea picked out.

Anyway, I'm gonna leave this post short and sweet, since it's now six minutes away from midnight. But it's a pleasure to report something positive instead of my usual grave insecurities about being a total slacker who is achieving nothing of creative note. :) I hope you have all had a great month too!

P.S. THANK YOU so much to those who Blitzed my blog in the last week.
I feel very honoured indeed, and I'm glad to be part of such a great group!
Also, thanks to the organisers of the IWSG who put on such a great event every month.

Friday, 28 August 2015

[AUGUST UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals

Once again I've read a Katie McGarry book I really enjoyed. This one might have been my fave yet, though some of the other leading men have probably intrigued me a little more! But I really loved the story of West and Haley.

Haley reminded me a little bit of the main character in the movie "Stick It" (and it turns out her name was Haley too!), but I think book-Haley's self esteem was way lower than movie-Haley's, for most of the book.

It was really nice to see her finally start to believe in herself towards the end of the book, and stand up for herself. And the ending was perfectly happy! I look forward to seeing which book is next in line for me to read in this series!

I'M SO EXCITED!! Finally I can say I have done a good amount of work on one of my editing projects (well, good compared to what I'd achieved previously, anyway ;) ). I've been working on SUNDOWN III, and my main task has been to switch from present tense to past (I have a long way to go there). I was also experimenting with doing 3rd person for one character, but it wasn't working, so I'm reversing that.

I haven't made huge progress, since I've been jumping around in the manuscript, compulsively editing scenes I've been dying to edit for a long time. Constant re-reads of a draft really get you familiar with what you don't like about your manuscript! So that aspect is exciting. But I'm still sort of figuring it out as I go. I don't expect it will be a very smooth ride, considering the jumpy nature of my editing. But it feels really good to be doing something.

I am going on holidays for three weeks, at the end of August. Though I'll be in the US and Canada with friends & family, I do hope to get some writing time in here & there. We'll see how I go, I guess. :)

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Write ... Edit ... Publish ~ SPECTACULAR SETTINGS

Lake Louise.

It's back! I'm happy to be participating in the WEP Challenge once again. Thank you to Denise Covey & Yolanda Renee for starting this baby up again!

Today's theme is Spectacular Settings, and while I could have drawn inspiration from where I live, by spectacular oceans and a mighty river, I tend to be more inspired by what I can never have. Sniffle. That's why I'm going to talk a bit about snow. ;)

The photo above was taken at Lake Louise, Canada, in 2009. Lake Louise was the coldest place I've ever been to, so cold it hurt to breathe. But I love snow, and cold weather. Easy for me to say since I never have to deal with any actual snow in my daily life. But it's still true - I love snow. One might say I'm a little obsessed.
Maybe that's why the song "Falling Snow" by Agalloch first caught my attention! It's one of the most mesmerising songs I've ever heard. The lyrics are beautiful to me, though to others they may seem rather bleak and dark. I don't know what it is about metal, but to me, it's often romantic. This song is no exception. And so I thought I'd share the lyrics, though I don't expect everyone to "get" my obsession with it / them. But here they are anyway:

The water pours its embracing arms 'round the stone.
Decay drips from the unquiet void.
Where the ice forms. Where life ends.

The stone is by the crimson blood, swallowed.
The red tide beyond the ebon wound, contorted.
My sacrifice bids farewell in this river of memory:
A wave to end all time.

Red birds escape from my wounds,
And return as falling snow,
To sweep the landscape a wind haunted
Wings without bodies.

The snow, the bitter snowfall.
You long to die in her pale arms, crystalline
To become an ode to silence
In the soul of a mountain of birds, fallen.

The cascading pallor 
Of ghostless feather.

The snow has fallen
And raised this white mountain
On which you will die
And fade away in silence.

Those last four lines are the ones that get me every time! 
Thanks for visiting. :)

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

IWSG #14 - Boring the shrinking masses

My biggest insecurity right now, is about having to post here and say "Hey, nothing's changed!" It's getting old, and I don't doubt my visitors here are becoming quickly bored by it. However, it is just my life at the moment. I have said it recently and I'll say it again - I'm motivated, in fact I'm slightly desperate to get going again. But I just haven't shoved myself over that line yet.

I am starting to take some time back for myself as I have long felt I should, and I believe I'm creeping ever closer towards being 'ready'. I'm getting closer to that point when I will jump on my laptop and instead of going straight to Facebook to check up on the kitty rescue business, I'll open a Scrivener file instead, and get writing. Or rather, editing.

I want nothing more than to get stuck into my editing!

In other fun news, I had a DVD & pizza night at a friend's place recently, and we started our 80's fest. We watched:

  • The Breakfast Club
  • Some Kind of Wonderful
  • Pretty in Pink.

We're not sure which movies will be on the menu next time, but the plan is to have a DVD night at least once a month, and I can't wait for the next one.

Also, another friend and I are going to a screening of Serenity this Saturday, followed by a "Shindig" at the pub next door to the venue, where apparently games will be played and prizes may be won. Woot!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

[JULY UPDATE] Book Club & Goals

I meant to post this yesterday, but am only getting around to it now. Better late than never!

I was excited to be reading this book that I just didn't want to put down, as that has seemed a little difficult to find lately.

The story in Charade flowed really well, the characters were addictive (as was the storyline), and it was just a really good read. It might not have been the most perfectly written story in terms of the actual writing, but the story was engrossing.

I was excited to see there's another book in the series, too! Thanks for a very satisfying read, Nyrae.

Oh jeez, what a sad state of affairs. My goals are just lying in the dust. The only bright spot is that I'm still reading! But I have to admit that I'm lagging behind with my reading goal - five books behind, to be exact.

One of my main problems is that I am simply not dedicating enough time to reading. I desperately want to change that. Sometimes there's nothing better than chilling out on a weekend and catching up on some reading. But I guess we'll see how I go.

As for the other goals ... don't even go there. But I can say that I am motivated to do some editing. And I am going to try and step away from some of my other extracurricular commitments at least a little bit, so I can get back into writing / editing.

Friday, 26 June 2015

[JUNE UPDATE] Book Club & Goals ... and Mal / Jayne

This month I have a very simple little review for you, as I am all drained of energy and steam to write a better one!

Basically ... I love this series and want to see it all on the big screen, NOW!

I really admire Marie Lu's world of LEGEND that she has built. I am going to miss the characters now that the story is over. But I guess I can always read it over again!

The description in these books, Champion included, does put me in mind of some of the anime series I've seen on DVD, and that is a good thing.

I was happy with how things wrapped up. Towards the end I was worried it was going to be some cruel cliffhanger, but thankfully Lu didn't do that to her readers!

All in all ... a thumbs up!

What I said last time, still applies this time. I am terribly sorry to say I have nothing more to say than that. I will say that I'm steadily saving up to pay for the production of my band's next album, so that's something! I guess I might just focus on that.

Oh, and THIS...


This weekend is SupaNova 2015, and tonight I'm going to see Nathan Fillion & Adam Baldwin on stage together, in the flesh!! This is majorly exciting as I am a Browncoat in spirit if not in fact, e.g. don't have an actual brown coat to wear around! There are other people I'll see during the weekend who are pretty exciting too, but you can't really top Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin on a Friday night. ;)

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Movie Mayhem! $10 movies

My mobile phone service provider has this really cool deal where you can get $10 movie tickets. In Australia, that's a great discount, since movie tickets cost well over $20 each these days. I went to two movies today (yes, a bit over the top of me!) and ahead of the second movie I bought a 'small' popcorn...for $7.80 or so. But anyway, moving on.

These are the movies I've seen since early April, not long after I first signed up for this rewards program:


Insurgent - I am really liking how these movies are going, but having read the books, I'm curious how they're going to handle book three. I guess time will tell! But for now, the movies are pretty enjoyable. The people behind these productions have really brought the story to life, and I will definitely be buying the DVDs at some point!

Avengers: Age of Ultron - I wasn't all ga-ga over the first Avengers movie. I enjoyed it, sure, but unlike most people I didn't walk out of the cinema thinking it was the best movie ever made. I'll still happily see all these movies at the cinema. With this one I believe there was some controversy over the treatment of the Black Widow character? But as someone who hasn't ever been a comic book reader, this was lost on me.

San Andreas - As soon as I saw the short for this, I knew I wanted to see it. For some sick reason, I love disaster movies - Deep Impact is one of my all-time faves, and I even like cheesy crap like Armageddon (though Deep Impact is a way better movie, I must say!). With San Andreas, I wasn't at all surprised by the scene at the end with the big American flag unfurling (reminded me of the similar scene in Armageddon, actually). It's basically a requirement of cheesy disaster movies. All in all, though, I was entertained, and in some ways, pleasantly surprised, by this movie.

Cinderella - I love a good Cinderella movie. But I suppose after seeing one like Ever After and having it become your all-time fave, it's hard to move on to another one. Especially as Ever After is the only one that has the hotness of Dougray Scott in it. hehe. This was still a cute, magical movie. But I just couldn't believe Cinderella never snapped after how amazingly horrible her step mother was to her!

And just today, I saw these two:

Jurassic World - I always get nostalgic when a new Jurassic movie comes out. I saw the first movie when I was in my first year of high school, on an excursion. It was so amazingly epic that the movie made a serious impact on my life. While the later movies might not have had such a strong impact, I still have loved them all. This one was good, too, though I have to agree with a large part of this article regarding the comparative sexism in this one. Still, for a bit of dumbed down action that wasn't nearly as philosophical as the original movie, this one did all right.

Pitch Perfect 2 - Obviously these movies have a certain type of stupid humour, but at least they're not as stupid as Dumb and Dumber, or certain other movies I can't even remember right now. I've never really got into Glee and I'm not really into musicals, but I enjoyed Pitch Perfect when I saw it for the first time recently. So I figured I'd give this one a go too! I was entertained, and that's all I asked for.

So yeah... that's been my movie watching lately. I love my mobile service provider. :)

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

IWSG #13 - "So far away" like the Dire Straits song

I feel that I could sing that epic Dire Straits song to all of my novels, all of my undrawn drawings, all my short stories ... etc. Those beloved things are all fairly far away from me! I did some editing in the last month (at least, I think it was within the last month ... the days and weeks are going by in a blur), at a writer's gathering which I mentioned recently. But that's it, really.

I guess at least I've been reading, staying in touch somehow with the craft. But I do miss the writing. I've been busy with work, a little bit of travel, kitty rescue, and family stuff. So it's not like I've just been sitting around doing nothing. Also, I'm getting solar panels on my roof, and I'm signing up for REAL INTERNET (e.g. not this little pocket wifi with a puny data allowance that I've survived on for years now). But in general I guess I feel a little bereft, and far removed from the craft I love - the craft of writing. At least I still have the very strong desire to write! If I didn't have that, I'd be worried.

On a related note, this is June, and June is BuNoWriMo month. I'm admitting to myself and to the world here and now that I'm not participating this year, as much as I wish I was. But I will be ready for NaNo in November, at least.

Right now I need to go as I am super sleep deprived, since I woke up in the middle of the night last night worried about all the homeless kitties my group hasn't managed to adopt out yet. But I'm glad I managed to update for this monthly IWSG hop which I have missed quite a few times lately. It's important to me, just like writing is!

Friday, 29 May 2015

[May Update] GOALS & Cephalopod Coffeehouse

I have wanted to read this book pretty much from the moment I heard about it and first saw the cover. I finally got around to it this month, and promptly ordered books 2 & 3 as well (I'm now reading book #2). It was a good book, really enjoyable and easy to devour, though I probably can't say it's the most mindblowing book I've ever read. But all in all I thought it was great, and I would absolutely love to see a movie of it.

The story was fast-paced and gripping, and the characters were people I could really get behind. I saw another review that suggested the characters seem a lot older than they are in reality - but I don't know about that. They live in a world that has made them harder and more 'grown up' than a typical teenager in our world, so I found it believable. But maybe I'm too far removed from my own teenaged years to really be able to comment on that with accuracy.

Anyway, all in all I recommend this book if you like futuristic settings, YA drama / action, and kick-arse characters. And just for the record, book #2 is continuing the theme of books I would LOVE to see on the big screen.

I don't want to talk about it.

No, really.

Okay, I did get ONE thing done since my last update - I went to a writer meeting, and actually did some editing! I didn't get through an entire chapter, but still, I did some editing. And it felt good.

I worked on ON THE OUTSIDE, my 2013 NaNo novel that has been stewing for a while now. I've been reading it on my Kindle over and over again (mostly reading this bit, then that bit, then an earlier bit, jumping all over the place) and basically letting all the things I want to change and fix sink into my brain. So I'm going to have those things in mind while editing.

I haven't gone to the writer's meeting since, but I totally want to. I just need to have weekends where I have nothing else on at all, so I am emotionally prepared for going somewhere on the Sunday.

That hasn't happened in quite some time.

Anyway, at least I have something to report this time other than the usual "foster cats have taken over my life!" line.

Friday, 15 May 2015

I was away, now I'm back

My "R" theme was Reflections, but
another possible theme I was
considering was "Roads".
After the A to Z finished, I managed to put up my reflection post, and then I had to prepare for a work trip. I'm back from that trip as of tonight, and the weekend to come is going to be filled with collecting all my kitties back (my two, and some foster kitties).

I have yet to continue with my blog visiting catch-up, but I still plan on doing that. Meanwhile I have actual homework to do, because I'm doing a course in PHP & APIs during this month of May.

I also have a presentation at work to prepare for, this Tuesday, and I won't have a car all week because I got rear-ended a few weeks ago and the car needs to be at the shop for a whole week.

Another "Road" photo I would have included.
Hopefully some time soon I will actually have more writing stuff to talk about. I will say that I went to one Sunday session a few weeks back, and it was great. I did get stuck into revising one of my projects that's been stewing a while. But I haven't been able to get back since. That's yet another thing I fully intend on doing more of in the relatively future.

So there is all that. But I'm here basically to say hi, and to let you all know that I truly do want to be here more! ;)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

A to Z 2015 - reflection post

EDIT: I just realised I didn't miss it!! Yay! :) Oh gosh, I really intended to do this on Monday - but it entirely slipped my mind. I am embroiled in kitty rescue chaos with lots of cats & kittens being adopted / still needing homes / needing new foster care, etc. Also, the A to Z totally whacked me over the head and made me a zombie this year! So there was that.

Even though I missed out on the linky list and everything, I thought I'd post for this anyway, because I do always like to participate in this reflection part of the A to Z each year. So let us reflect...

I have usually done things by the seat of my pants with the A to Z, but this year it really didn't work for me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed compiling photos, and visiting other blogs (when I got the chance), but I was spending most of each evening after work scrambling around for photos to post (and on a couple of occasions it took me most of the night to even decide on a theme for that day's letter!). This meant that I had very little time to visit other blogs and leave comments. For the first few days I was doing well, but after that it all went a bit sideways.

There was one year when I had scheduled most of my posts ahead of time, because I knew I'd be travelling most of the month of April. Obviously that year I didn't have much time for comments either, due to that whole 'travelling' thing. But I really do like the idea of having everything scheduled so I can spend April commenting.

That is my plan for next year. And I think I already have a vague idea for next year's theme, which for me is another thing that's unheard of. ;)

So I guess that sums up the A to Z 2015 for me. It's an awesome challenge, but given how busy my life is with kitty rescue now, as well as me wishing I could actually find time for other things - like writing - I really can't do the A to Z pantser thing anymore.

My A to Z History

(random things)

(books from my GoodReads "tbr")

(Aussie music)

(follow up on 2012's theme, with links to GoodReads reviews)


Thursday, 30 April 2015

A to Z 2015 - "Z" Photos

I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW RELIEVED I AM... that it's the last day of the A-to-Z challenge! Obviously I feel this way every year, as I stagger up to the finish line. I'm not yet across it 'cause I have to compile this post. But it's so close I can taste it!

I have too many photos for my "Z" theme, but at this point I don't really care. Besides - may as well go out with a loud bang, eh? ;)


P.S. Thanks so much to everyone who has commented on my blog.
I know all too well that I owe a lot of comments in return!
During May I'll be working on that.