Friday, September 30, 2011


Today I'm diving into the first round of revisions on The Boyfriend Plague. I know it's not going to be easy. I've already decided I need to cut one subplot entirely, and there is one that's not developed that I need to work on. It's a big job, and one I'm not sure how to attack.

Every book I've written I've revised differently. This time, I've given myself a month. The book is 31 chapters long, so I figure a chapter a day is reasonable. Maybe.

The first step is to read through the whole MS. I printed it yesterday on real paper, not recycled from the scrap box, so I have a nice blank page on the back of each one to scribble notes on as I read.

Then, using these notes, I will take one chapter out of the binder each day, and work through it, tightening, changing, rewriting as necessary. I know already that the early part of the book will need the most work. I found my focus and the core of the story about 10 chapters in, so those first 10 chapters are going to need a ton of work.

That's not to say the later ones won't need work too. I'm sure they do. Especially as I develop that under-developed plot line. But once I'm through this revision, I'll be ready to show the book to my critique partners and beta readers. Then I'll revise some more, based on their comments. It's a long process, but I hope to have something I'm happy with before 2012 begins.

I just need to be calm about it. If I can't finish in a month, that's okay. It's better to get it done right. I have 2 weeks of school holidays this month, plus a film festival, so there is a good chance I won't get through. I have to be okay with that.

How do you approach revision? Love it or hate it?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Yesterday I had a day off. A real, honest to goodness day off. I didn't go to work, I didn't go near my computer and my phone did not ring all day. It was heaven.

So what did I do all day, given I'm on a week long writing break? Well, that was actually a tough decision. Normally any free time I have on a Wednesday is writing time, and I have to jam it in between school drop off, chores and school pick up. But yesterday I was free of all those things except school drop off.

I went to the gym (which I actually do every week, so it's not news) and did a new class. I'm in pain today, but bet your ass I'll be going back to do it again next week. I sucked at it, so I have to go back and get better at it. Then I had an appointment in a suburb a long way from here. Luckily there is a bus that goes there, so I had the world's fastest shower and dashed out to catch the bus. It's a long trip, so I read my book all the way. Bus trips are about the only time I get to read these days.

I got there just in time for my appointment (which ended up being a waste of time, but never mind...) and was in and out in 10 minutes. Having spent an hour getting there, I was a little loathe to just leave, so I hung out in this little suburb for a few hours. There are interesting little stores and I browsed for a while, had a nice lunch in a cafe there, and finally took the bus back into the city.

It's the first time in ages I've had to do that. Just browse. Wander. Be ALL BY MYSELF. It was heaven!

Do you get time to yourself? What do you do with it when you're not writing?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Furious Rant

I don't get mad often. Ticked off maybe, but not downright furious. Few things actively enrage me. My printer at work not working is one. I actually walked out of my job last year, swearing 'I quit!' as I left because the printer just wouldn't work. Unfortunately I left my bag behind with my money and bus pass in it, so I ended up going back....

This morning, I had another furious moment. I have to book my kids in to swim school for next term and the system they use for bookings is ridiculous and infuriating. Yesterday I tried calling at least 4 times and was on hold for more than 15 minutes each time. I also tried several times last wee and spent many minutes on hold. I don't have time to spend 3 hours of my day on hold, sorry. When I finally got through yesterday, they told me I couldn't book until 8am today. Tearing my hair out by now, believe me!

So at exactly 8am this morning, I was on the phone. I was on hold for 40 minutes, getting more and more agitated as the walk to school grew later and later. Finally the tinny hold music stopped, the phone started ringing, and I thought I was about to get through. The phone rang. And rang. And rang. Finally it clicked like it was getting picked up. And you know what? They hung up on me.

It was at this point my frustration and rage at the ridiculous system (remember, I've had to go through this every term for the last 3 years) peaked and I just lost it. I think my partner is going to divorce me. I have rarely if ever been so angry. I have a huge swollen bruised knuckle from punching the wall now, but it only reminds me of how stupid the system is. They set up online bookings last year, but every time I try to use the site, it crashes when you get to the point of actually booking the class.

So I ran off to drop the kids at school, still breathing fire from every orifice. Then, when I got back from the gym, I tried again. This time I got through in only 10 minutes and managed to book my son's friend a place in the same class.

So, it has all ended up okay, but I am already dreading having to go through it all again next term. And my knuckle hurts....

What makes you really angry?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pack Mentality

The Rugby World Cup is on at the moment and the whole country seems to have dropped any interest in anything they may have had except rugby. Personally, I think rugby is boring and I can't be bothered with it. It irritates me that the whole nation seems to be on standby until it's over.

The pack mentality is something awesome to see. Last night there was a big game on at 8.30pm and by 8.15 crowds were spilling out of the bars up and down the street my cinema is on. I didn't need to watch the game because the roars and groans of disappointment ringing up and down the street were enough to tell me exactly what was going on. Strangers grabbed each other and hugged when one team scored.

It's like sport can create an artificial brotherhood between people. Supporters are united in their passion for their team. I guess it's nice, in its way, but I can't help remembering how these things can turn brutal (British football hooligans, anyone?). A lone guy sat on a railing last night, waving his large French flag. I couldn't help wondering how long it would be before someone gave him a shove and he went tumbling to the street below...

Are you a sports fan? Do you feel an affinity with others who support your team?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I just finished the first draft of The Boyfriend Plague, the book that has been kicking my ass for the last three months. It's such a relief.

I'm pretty sure it's a huge, steaming pile of manure, but I'm also sure there's a good book somewhere in there. I'm just going to have to wade in and try to dig it out. But first, I'm taking a week off. A whole long, luxurious week with no writing, no pressure. I need to catch up on my critiquing and I should send some more queries for Taillights.

Then I'll dive into the dreaded revision.

The book is 31 chapters long at the moment, so I figure if I revise/rewrite one chapter a day through October, I should have something to give my betas and critique partners by the beginning of November. Just in time for NaNo, or the other secret project that may come up around that time...

But right now, I'm going to take a deliciously trashy novel out into my backyard and soak up some sunshine while I read.

How do you celebrate finishing a book?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Can you Hook A Teen???

Brenda Drake is hosting another awesome blogfest. This one has teen judges, so for all us YA writers, it's a way to see if our work actually appeals to the demographic we're aiming at.

So, here's my first 250 (again... sorry regulars. I am going to finish the first draft of the new book today, so within a couple of months, I should have something new to post in these things.)

TITLE: Chasing the Taillights
GENRE: YA contemporary

The darkness is absolute. I’m not sure if my eyes are open or closed. I strain to push the lids up, but they’re already wide. Something covers my mouth and nose, making breathing difficult. My lungs burn for air, but I can only suck in tiny mouthfuls through whatever smothers my face.

I turn my head, crying out as a savage bolt of pain shoots through it. Wavy grey lines waft across the blank space before my eyes. I can’t think, can’t make sense of the darkness threatening to drown me. Certain now I won’t pass out, I gasp for breath. There’s nothing covering my face. It was the ground my nose and mouth were pressed into.

The ground? Wet. Greasy. Reeking of something that reminds me of… gas? Reaching out my left hand, I try to find something to hold onto. My fingers scrabble over small objects, pebbles perhaps, that skitter away beneath my touch. I reach further, wrapping my fist around them. Pain prickles my fingertips. Not pebbles. Glass. Small, sharp shards of glass.

Using my torn hand, I drag myself forward, an inch, maybe two. I can’t move my legs, can’t even feel them. Raising my head, I see light. Not a lot of light, but light. Red light, bright at one end, dull at the other. I know what this is. I do. My heart thumps at the side of my head and I can almost hear the gears of my brain creaking to make sense of this weird red glow.

Let me know what you think, okay?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Way to Make Me Feel Old, Dudes

I was on the bus yesterday afternoon when a bunch of high school boys got on. From their conversation, I gathered they'd just finished an exam. Media Studies, I think. What is Media Studies? It didn't exist in my day. Well, it seems that Media Studies is the study of films and television.

These kids started talking about the films they'd been studying and I was gob-smacked to hear them refer to Pulp Fiction as a classic. It's a good film, but a classic? It's only... well...okay, I guess it is almost 20 years old. It struck me as being really strange that something released in my lifetime can be called a classic, but I guess my lifetime is a fair expanse of time now. Ouch!

Then they went on to talk about the cartoons they used to watch when they were kids. Double ouch. I was too old for cartoons by the time these shows came out and what they were saying just sounded like gibberish to me. It was like sitting next to a bunch of aliens.

These kids are the age I write for. Sitting there, completely lost by their references, I began to wonder if I'm at all qualified to write for today's teenagers. Clearly there is a lot going on in their world that I haven't a clue about.

Do you ever feel too old to write YA?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Err On The Side of Caution

I have vast numbers of short stories, flash fiction and bad poetry stored up on my hard drive doing nothing. Some of it is abysmal and will never see the light of day. Other things, I quite like, but for some reason or other, I haven't managed to place anywhere. I admit, my submissions this year have been very limited. I have several really goo stories I really should keep sending out, but I just haven't had the time or the motivation to do it.

So, I'll share a few bits and bobs here. Not the longer stories, but the flash pieces. So, without any further ado, here we go!


By Kate Larkindale

It was hot and the pavement was crowded. I stumbled as a large woman in a too-tight scarlet shirt pushed past me.

“Excuse me!” I snarled under my breath. “No manners!”

“What was that, dear?” My wife Martha turned from where she was studying a row of crocheted doilies.

“Nothing.” I tried to move myself out of the line of traffic, but there didn’t appear to be anywhere out of the line of traffic. It seemed as if everyone in the entire city had turned out for the Sunday market.

The stalls snaked their way down the esplanade, only a low stone wall separating them from the beach below. I breathed in the scent of ocean, mixed with the smells of grilling sausages, roasting nuts and assorted others. I was exhausted, the heat having drained my energy completely. My feet and knees ached, not to mention my arms, laden as they were with the seven shopping bags Martha had loaded on me.

“I’m too old for this,” I muttered to myself, trying not to lose sight of Martha who was darting tirelessly in and out of the crowd, looking at the various wares the stalls had to offer.

Between two stalls I spied a bench, thankfully unoccupied. I hurried across to it, lowering myself and the packages onto it.

“Thank goodness!” I sighed, shifting around until I found a comfortable position for my long legs. As I moved my left foot, it hit something that rolled away, striking the leg of the bench with a dull metallic thud. I bent stiffly and reached under the seat, pulling up a small brown glass bottle, liquid sloshing away inside.

The sun shone through the brown glass, making it gleam like amber. I held it away from my face, squinting at the faded type on the tattered paper label.

“Youth Serum,” I read then started, staring back at the label. “Must be some kind of joke!” But I held the bottle up again, studying the liquid within. Carefully I tugged at the stopper, easing it from the neck of the bottle with my gnarled, arthritic hands. It was a struggle, but finally it came away with a gentle hissing sound.

The smell that emanated from the bottle was faint, but gave me an instant shock of recognition. I bent my head, plunging my nose into the opening. I breathed deeply, recognising the scent of the hydrangeas that had grown around the house I’d grown up in. Underlying this was the smell of starch and bleach, of sheets that had been dried outside in the sun. A note of spice was in there too, an aroma that reminded me of baking, of fruit buns and homemade gingerbread. I breathed deeply again, realising all of a sudden that what I smelt was the scent of my childhood.

I stoppered the bottle, not wanting the liquid and heavenly scent within to evaporate in the baking sun. Glancing around, I spotted Martha a few yards away, talking animatedly with a stallholder who held up colourful painted mobiles of hanging jungle animals. I smiled a benevolent smile. The grandchildren were spoiled enough, but Martha just couldn’t help herself. I waved at her as she moved away from the stall, carried along by the crowd towards the next one. She knew where to find me now. And she would, when she was finished with her browsing and shopping.

I turned back to the bottle, smoothing the paper label down with my thumb. There was more writing on it, under the bold letters that announced it to be Youth Serum. I’d left my glasses in the car. I held out the bottle, wishing, not for the first time, that I had a few more inches of arm. My sight seemed to get longer every year. Finally the type came into focus, blurry, but still readable. Use with care, the label warned. Each drop will take one year from your age. Err on the side of caution in all instances.

One drop, one year. My mind whirred as I tried to figure out how many drops it would take to get me back to thirty-six, the best year of my life, the year I met Martha. It took longer than I care to admit. Finally I decided a single sip from the bottle would be enough; it’s not as if I couldn’t hold onto it, administer more as needed. I couldn’t wait to do it. I wanted to have done the deed before Martha returned so she’d see the new, youthful me when she returned. Then I could give some to her and we could be young together again.

My fantasy excited me so much that my hands shook as I re-opened the bottle, that heavenly nostalgic scent filling my nostrils again. I tipped the bottle towards my mouth, lips parted, but tight, to limit the amount of serum that would fall on my tongue. Just as the bottle met my mouth, someone in the crowd brushed by, knocking my elbow. A great gush of liquid spilled from the bottle, into my mouth. I gulped, swallowing involuntarily.

A strange sensation filled me, as if my blood had sped up and was now rushing through my veins at great speed. I looked down and was startled to see my clothes puddling around me, pants legs limp against the slats of the bench. I raised my hand towards my face, a small, plump thing, pink and unwrinkled, devoid of the liver spots that had covered them for the last fifteen years or so. My mind was my own, filled with the memories and experiences of the eighty-six years I’d lived on earth, but my body had changed.

I opened my mouth to call out as I saw Martha shouldering her way through the crowd towards me. But all I could hear was the pitiful wailing of a baby, somewhere very close by.

I hope you enjoyed it!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Live to work or work to live?

There's a lot of talk about a work-life balance and I'm feeling very much like my work-life balance is out of whack. I'm exhausted. I went to work at 9.15 yesterday morning. I got home at 1.35 this morning. And I'll be back at the cinema by 9.30 this morning.

Okay. I wasn't actually at work for all that time. I did sneak off to the library for around 3 hours in the middle of the day (from 11.30am -2pmish). But still. It's a long day. Especially when there was a function for 110 from 5-9pm, then 300 odd people for the 10.30pm burlesque show. Believe me, there was a lot of beer sold.

This kind of day is unfortunately all to common for me. I've been cursed with a strong work ethic (thanks Mum & Dad) and because I love the cinema I run, I almost always go above and beyond what the job requires. It was my son's birthday yesterday, but I barely saw him. We're having a party next week, but it's not quite the same...

But today, exhausted and with a to-do list longer than my arm (functions are great, but they take so much time away from the other, more mundane things I need to get done) I have to wonder if it's worth it. By the time I get home tonight, I'll be too cranky and tired to do anything except collapse in front of the TV and go to bed early after the kids go to bed. Which means no writing.

And no writing means I won't get to finish the final two chapters of my book. Because yes, I made it through the climactic scene yesterday, and am now well into the home stretch. The end is in sight!

This is all kind of my fault. I am the boss and I do write the rosters. I just always feel better if I'm there to oversee major events.

How do you manage a work-life balance?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The weather here has been insane. Totally off the wall crazy. Yesterday it was pouring rain when I got up, but by the time I took E to school, it was fine enough I needed sunglasses. When I got back from the gym, it poured again, only to fine up enough to walk to the supermarket about a half hour later.

Then in the afternoon, the sky got dark. Really dark. Thunder growled somewhere just over the horizon. Wind whipped through the trees outside the window. I bundled little O up and we ran for the bus stop, steel colored clouds heavy above our heads. We got on the bus just as the clouds broke and rain poured down again. On the way into town, the rain turned to hail. And this wasn't just little hail, it was huge. It looked like snow piled up on the street.

Going down the small hill on the way to my cinema, the bus almost crashed, but managed to make it by going at about 2 miles an hour. The hail piled up against buildings and floated down the gutters on rivers of rainwater. It was incredible. And fifteen minutes later, you guessed it: sun.

This whacky weather comes after a winter of weirdness. We had a very mild winter this year, apart from the super-cold snap where we got snow (for the first time in 30+ years). When you add these odd climactic happenings to the earthquakes, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters around the globe, I have to question whether the world is coming to an end. Or if nature is fighting back against us for poisoning her.

What do you think?

Saturday, September 10, 2011


In the process of re-editing Taillights, I came across a few sections I excised at one point or another. Since I always love to watch the deleted scenes in the DVD extras, I thought I'd share the odd deleted scene with you here.

This one was, originally, the beginning of the book. I realized about 10K in, that I'd started in entirely the wrong place and scrapped most of what I'd already written and started again. A few scenes from that first 10K ended up making it into the book in flashbacks, but this one wasn't among them...

The kitchen is hot. Summer sun pours through the windows in slices made by the wooden blinds. It’s warm on my back and sweat trickles between my shoulder blades. The thin fabric of my uniform sticks to my skin. My eyes are heavy and I yawn, letting my hand run across the scars and gouges in the soft pine tabletop. My fingers find the place my brother learned to write his name. I trace the shaky letters, T - O - N - Y scored forever in the wood. I know I could find my own name on the other side of the table, the letters just as awkward and misshapen. I don’t bother looking though, just yawn again and let my head drop to rest on my folded arms.

The screen door swings open and crashes into the wall behind.

“Goddamn it!” My mother struggles through the door, her arms over-full of grocery bags.

“Oh good.” She eases her load onto the counter and wipes graying hair from her forehead. “You’re still here. There’s more out in the car. Be careful of the flowers.”

I force myself to my feet, dazed from the heat, and yawn my way through the door. The sunlight is blinding on the cement driveway and I squint as I head toward the blue station wagon. The trunk is open, revealing stacks of grocery bags.

“Did you buy the whole store?” I mutter as I scoop up as many bags as I can handle.

“Why so much?” I ask, staring at the counters that have vanished beneath the acres of shopping. “There’s only three of us.”

“I know.” Mom turns from where she’s trying to find a place for three jars of peanut butter. “But we’re going to the beach next week, remember? So I bought extras of everything for the house there.”

I pull a sack toward me and start excavating its contents. “Do I have to come? I thought maybe I’d skip it this year.”

“Skip it?” Mom skewers me with her gaze. “You think I’m going to leave you alone here for over a week?”

“Well, I thought Kim could come and stay…”

“You and Kim… Lucy, you make me laugh sometimes.”

I slam the fridge door. “I guess that’s a no, then?”

“You guess right. I’m not leaving two irresponsible sixteen-year-olds alone in my house.” Mom grins at me, turning back to the groaning pantry. “It’ll be fun, Lucy. You love the beach. And Tony’s coming.”

“You say that like it’s a good thing..”

“It is a good thing. How long has it been since you saw your brother?”

I shrug. “I dunno. A few months, I guess.” It’s not like I care that much. Tony and I have nothing in common but genes. The four years between us might as well be forty; we live in different worlds.

So, what do you think? Can you see why I chopped it out?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Failure and Success

I'm not going to meet my deadline for finishing the first draft of The Boyfriend Plague. There. I said it. I promised I'd be done by September 15th, but as it is now September 10th and I'm still a good 15-20K from the end, I have to say it's not going to happen.

Why, you ask?

Well, that's the exciting part. When I got home from my Wednesday writing session at the library, a whole bunch of rather cryptic messages popped up on my Twitter feed, congratulating me. For what? I asked myself (and my friend Juliana).

Then I found out that I'd won 2nd prize in a contest on Gabriela Lessa's blog and the prize was to submit my full MS to an editor at Sourcebooks. How exciting is that?

So rather than working on Boyfriend in the past few days, I have been madly re-reading Taillights to make sure it's okay before sending it out. I haven't read the whole book through since the last time I polished it for a full request back in June, so it's like reading it for the first time all over again. And I'm actually quite happy with it. I've made a few little tweaks and changes here and there, but overall, I still really love this book. I have another 12 chapters to work through, then I'm sending it off.

Fingers crossed the editor loves it too....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shameless plug...

I don't usually do this...


One of my favorite stories, After The Rains, was just published in an anthology. This is a really different story for me, in that it's a dystopian sci-fi kind of piece. I know. Way outside the box, right?

But I love this story. I love the character and her journey. And I want people to read it. So, why don't you? You can get it at all these different places.

And that ends my small commercial....

If you do read it, let me know what you think, okay?

Monday, September 5, 2011

When Life Gets In The Way

I'm frustrated. I'n less than 20K away from the end of my draft, but I can't seem to find enough time to sit down and write it. My deadline is September 15th, and it is creeping up on me way too fast. I have plans to write every day, but somehow life keeps getting in the way.

For example. I was just getting ready to sit down a the laptop on Thursday night when my youngest son came out of his room barking like a seal and barely able to breathe. Luckily we knew it was croup since he gets it a lot, but it was a very bad bout and we had to take him to the Emergency Room. And if you've ever been there, you know how long you have to wait around.... So, no writing time for Kate.

Then, when we got back from the ER, my older son started vomiting, so I was washing sheets and duvets at 2am. I ended up having to take the day off work to stay home with them both, and luckily there was a short period of time when they were both asleep so I wrote then. But it wasn't long enough.

Then on Saturday I had to go into work early to catch up on all the work I hadn't got done on Friday. And Sunday is my day to do stuff with the kids, so we went out to the coast. I wrote in the evening, but again, there wasn't enough time to do as much as I wanted to.

And the rest of this week doesn't look promising either. I have a late night burlesque show opening at work on Thursday, which means I'll be working late nights twice this week. And both my parents' birthdays are this weekend.

I'm going to scrape and steal whatever time I have, but I'm not entirely confident I'm going to meet that September 15th deadline.

How do you fight back when life gets in the way?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

There have been some amazing entries, and I want to thank everyone who has taken part, either as a writer or just a reader. So, now comes the fun part! In the comments, tell me whose beginning, middle and end you liked the most! The ones who get the most votes will win prizes. We all love prizes, don't we? I have copies of an extremely limited edition of short stories to give away (only 50 were ever printed), plus one lucky writer will get a query and first chapter critique from yours truly. Sound worth playing for? So get voting!