Thursday, December 31, 2020

Celebrate 2021

 Happy New Year!

After the train wreck that 2020 turned out to be, it's great to welcome a fresh, new year.

Who knows what 2021 might hold...  I wish you all the best for it!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Books I've Read: Boys Don't Cry


With it being the holidays, I've been reading a lot more than I usually do and have been getting through a book a day for the last few days.  This was yesterday's book, and one I really enjoyed.

Dante is seventeen.  He's just finished his exams and is eagerly awaiting the results that will tell him whether or not he's qualified to go to university to study journalism.  The last thing he's expecting is his ex-girlfriend of more than a year ago to show up on his doorstep with a baby in tow.  A baby she claims is his, the result of his one and only sexual encounter, a brief, disappointing drunken few minutes at a party.

Claiming she needs to pop out and get some nappies and other things for the baby, Melanie leaves Emma with Dante for just a few minutes.  But then she never comes back.  A phone call hours later tells Dante she feels unfit to be the baby's mother and she's leaving Emma with him.

Dante's world - and that of his brother and father - is turned upside-down.  Nights out at the pub with mates are suddenly off the table.  So is university and the career Dante has imagined for himself for so long.  Reality is suddenly teething, crying, trips to the park and the endless anxiety that comes with bringing up a child.

While Dante is struggling with the realities of becoming a new father, his brother Adam has his own problems.  Openly gay, he's a target of local bullies, but keeps it to himself because the worst of the bullies is Dante's best friend and Dante has enough to deal with right now.  

This is a brutally honest book about the challenges of becoming a parent too young.  It's also a book about learning to communicate with the people you care about and to accept change as inevitable.  Dante and Adam are real, flawed characters, but by the end of the book you're really rooting for them to overcome their various challenges and find their places in the world.

I really enjoyed it.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

This is the explosively page-turning new novel for teenagers from the author of the award-winning "Noughts and Crosses" sequence. You're about to receive your A-level results and then a future of university and journalism awaits. But the day they're due to arrive your old girlfriend Melanie turns up unexpectedly ...with a baby ...You assume Melanie's helping a friend, until she nips out to buy some essentials, leaving you literally holding the baby ...Malorie's dramatic new novel will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the final page.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Weekly Goals 28-12-20

 I'm on summer holidays now (although the weather doesn't seem to think it's summer - I'm sitting here in the clothes I write in during the winter this morning as the wind howls around the house) so I'm trying to keep goals to a minimum.

I finished the edits on Chasing the Taillights and sent them off to my publisher on Christmas morning so they wouldn't be hanging over my head for the rest of the holidays.  So now I'm free to do whatever I want for the next couple of weeks.

I plan to send off a bunch more queries for Standing Too Close before we go away on Saturday, but other than that, I have nothing writing-related planned.  In fact, this week is all about getting the house sorted out.  I've hired a carpet cleaner for this afternoon and hope that might help freshen up the living area.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Celebrate Christmas!


Whatever you are doing, whoever you are with, I hope you have a magnificent day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Books I've read...

 Goodreads has just sent me a handy wee infographic about my reading habits in 2020 so I thought in lieu of a single book review today, I'd share my year in books with you.  There appears to be a lot of re-reads in there this year, something I put down to the lockdown period when the library was closed and I was forced to explore my own bookshelves again.

So here's my 2020 in books.

If Goodreads has done the same for you, why don't you share it in the comments.  I'm sure people are looking for good books to read over the holidays.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Weekly Goals 21-12-20

 I have two goals for this week really.

1. get the edits done on Chasing the Taillights

2. get through Christmas.

Once those two things are done, I can relax and enjoy my vacation.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Celebrate the Small things 18-12-20

This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's Friday!

It has been a stupidly busy week, considering there are only four more days of work before the Xmas break, so I'm grateful for the weekend, even if it does look like it's going to be super busy.

I got edits from my publisher for Chasing the Taillights, along with the news it's an Editor's Pick. That makes 4/4 of my Evernight Teen books being an Editor's Pick.  Plus An Unstill Life was an Editor's Pick with Musa Publishing who published it first.  Doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it makes me feel like I'm doing a good job.

Which is nice because agents seem to be trying to clear their query boxes before the end of the year and I've been getting rejections for Standing too Close.  During the break I plan to do a bunch more querying, so hopefully this trend will turn around.

Going up the coast on Sunday to (hopefully) have my first beach swim of the season and to catch up with a friend I've barely seen this year.  Then going to a BBQ at another friend's boatshed in the evening.  Such a lot of socialising!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

My Dark Fairytale by Christine Anna Kirchoff

One of my fellow Evernight Teen authors is joining me on the blog today to introduce her new book, My Dark Fairytale.



Monster or hero?
My name is Larkspur and I was born in the Colony, a labyrinth of tunnels and caves miles beneath the surface designed for prisoners. Being born among the criminals isn't an easy childhood. But I have a secret, my nails turn into sharp claws. That gives me the edge to survive down here. I learned early how to fight dirty, hide well and never trust. Here’s where I live, among the lawless.

All too soon, our world changes. Something happens to the prospering world above. The criminals desiring freedom and revenge push toward the surface. Me among them. I make it to the surface and find myself in the middle of a war. Treston is a shy guy that’s always staring at me and Rafe is my handsome friend from the prison. Together we fight back against a group called The Blood Brotherhood. What do they want? To take over the world, of course. You’d think the bad guys would get a new plan. Starting a resistance is hard enough then I discover what makes me the way I am. It all ties into this cult and the end of the freaking world.

Humanity needs a hero, now more than ever, but all they get is me, a monster from the darkness.

Welcome to the mothership! Please keep hands and feet inside the spaceship until we've come to a complete stop. I write Young Adult books and I may have been delivered by aliens. Enjoy the ride! 

I have two books published with Evernight Teen, one of them is an editors pick! You can find me on the internet below:


My mom used to tell me about those things. Fairytales. The stories of an average person and their happily ever after. No matter the odds. The beautiful princess always found her prince. A handsome hero would come and whisk his heroine bravely from any danger. There were big dresses, shiny shoes and an ending that promised they’d be happy forever. Who wanted to be a princess anyway? They always needed rescuing. I grew out of that crap real quick. Down here, I had to. 

I lived in the Colony.

I was named Larkspur seventeen years ago. My mother gave birth to me in a world of darkness and criminals. The Colony was deep underground, removed from upstanding citizens that followed strict rules about morality and the law. Blah, blah, blah. All I knew was that from the moment I drew my first breath, she cared for me. She didn’t leave me to the freaks. How bad could she possibly have been on the surface to be sent to the Colony pregnant? 

It wasn’t easy being a kid when the sky was hard rock. The toys were sticks and there was no such thing as safe. I’m making it sound like a horrible place to live. Well, it was bad but at least I had my mom. Sometimes a new person would be sent down here and they weren’t so bad. Of course, over the years the good people were killed.  That made it difficult to keep friends. I was a loner, although my mom liked to call me a survivor. Eh, you know, Moms.

The Colony was a labyrinth of tunnels. Most of them were all rock and dull lights. There were the deepest parts that no one ever tried to explore. Sometimes I’d hear screaming from in there. Not a great place to search. We all called it the Deep. 

Anyway, today was meal day. I got up extra early. My dark hair was braided down my back. I wore all black clothes, sown together from rags so they weren’t all true black but damn close. Blending in with the shadows was a skill of mine. It saved me a time or two. My feet were bare but that’s how I liked it. Over the years down here, I learned to deal with the harsh rock walls. 

Our home was this alcove in a tunnel. It was enough to fit both of us. Sure, it was dirty and dark but it kept us hidden from any predator that happened to roam. Mom still slept as I slipped out of the small opening that would be considered our front door. It was small so we had to crawl out. My hands sunk into the warm dirt that concealed the tunnel floors. I glanced to my right. The lackluster lights showed an empty path and a few feet down the tunnel was where the lights were swallowed up by complete darkness. That would be the part we didn’t get close to. I checked to my left, two men shuffled by and dipped into a shadow. 

There’s one more peculiar thing about me. You see, I wasn’t exactly normal. I mean not in the complete sense in the word. I don’t know if I was some sort of new type of human or a mutation or what. I faced the wall and focused on my fingers. My nails elongated and hardened. They turned into a dark brown, almost black, like the rock around us. I did the same with my toenails and forced them to lengthen. I simply climbed up the wall. Okay so it wasn’t that straightforward but when I was younger, they just sort of formed. Like I said, I’m not sure what I was but it’s not as if I had some kind of freaky tail or anything.

I ascended. My claws sunk into the rock and kept me from falling. In only a few seconds, I hiked along the ceiling. The people that walked in the tunnel were oblivious to the freak crawling above. The movements were second nature to me now. It took a lot of practice. I couldn’t even count how many times I messed up and landed on the tunnel floor, crying out in pain. 

I rounded the corner, hugged the rock and let the shadows hide my form. Meals were sent down a huge tube into the center chamber of the Colony. It was kind of like the main gathering place for all the criminals. It was also the most dangerous. Sometimes men formed groups, like gangs, and an entire tunnel could break out in fighting. There wasn’t much order. It was the biggest first because they usually fought their way to the food. The newbie’s would either learn to eat less, starve or try to prove how tough they were. 

Me, I was the smart one. It must be a gene from my mom because she didn’t talk about my father much. Hell, she never talked about my father. Every time I asked she’d clam up. There was a story there and I’m not too sure I wanted to hear it. I crept along the ceiling as the tunnel opened up. This was where the lights were the brightest and the reason I came the earliest. I made my way to the hole in the rock and eased into the food chute. I concealed myself on a ledge here. All I had to do was hold my makeshift bag out and collect as much food as I could. No fighting, no blood and no problems. Although, the older I got, the smaller this damn ledge became. I felt like a huge beast trying to tuck myself away. Once I squished myself in there, it was a waiting game and watching. 

And I always watched ...  him.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Weekly Goals 14-12-20

 Well, I did it.  I finished #CatholicSchoolLesbians yesterday.

It's kind of crappy and too short and will need a lot of editing, but there are some good moments in there (I hope).  I'm going to leave it alone for a few weeks now and then go back in and read the whole thing and make a plan for how to edit it into something worth reading.

But for now, I need to focus on Christmas and the holidays and what we are going to do with them.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, December 11, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 11-12-20


This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's starting to feel like the end of the year.  We had our Christmas party at work last night and I've finished a whole bunch of my projects for the year.  Th next two weeks are going to be about winding things up and getting ready for the holidays.

Which includes finishing my book.  Fingers crossed I'll get done this weekend.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Books I've Loved: The way I Used to Be


This is a really powerful book and needs to be read by more people.  It's honest and in many ways shocking and very, very important.

It also has a really unlikable protagonist who behaves in some truly appalling ways. She does some terrible, horrible things to the people she cares most about and those who care for her.  But because there are reasons for her behavior, and consequences for her actions, I didn't hate her as much as I probably would have in another book.

The book opens with Eden as a thirteen-year-old being raped by her older brother's best friend.  She doesn't tell anyone, even her brother who she is super close to.  Not her parents.  Not her friends.  

Instead, she becomes someone else.  Someone her friends can't recognise.  Someone she possibly doesn't even recognise.  She sleeps around, takes drugs, drinks, withdraws from her parents and brother and generally gets into trouble.  She loses her best friends.  She pushes away the boys who actually like her and treat her with respect.

Taking place over the four years of high school, the book shows in graphic detail just how far-reaching the effects of one terrible night can be and how a single event can change a person.  It shows how difficult it can be to move on from trauma.

Now I know this is only one person's story, and not everyone would react to an event like this in the same way.  But this is one reaction, and one young woman's journey back to herself.  And it's incredibly powerful even if it is often difficult to read.

So I definitely recommend this one.  Just be warned it's not a fun read, and Eden is not a likable heroine.  Spending time with her is often unpleasant, but I think it's still worth the effort to see how she comes out at the other end.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Weekly Goals 7-12-20

 I really thought I'd finish #CatholicSchoolLesbians over the weekend, but I'm not quite there yet.  Somehow the two chapters I thought it would take to get to the end have turned into four or maybe five.  

So the goal is to finish it this week.  I don't have a day off to write, but hopefully I can get it done over the weekend.

The other goal is to finish my Christmas shopping.  I'm very close because people don't really want a lot of things this year.  But it's nice to have something, even if it is a token.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 4-12-20

This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

I haven't quite finished #CatholicSchoolLesbians, but I wrote another 6K+ on Wednesday and feel like I'm probably only two chapters away from the ending.  Plus maybe an epilogue.  I think I can probably finish over the weekend which is perfect because I can then leave it alone over the holidays and come back to revise with fresh eyes after the summer break.

It's only three weeks until Christmas, if you can believe it.  I really need to do some thinking about Christmas shopping at some point.  I keep thinking things at work might clam down a little as we head into the break, but it doesn't seem to be happening.  Thankfully I'm not hosting Christmas dinner this year, just breakfast.  I am going to need to do some thinking about that though, because we don't finish work until 1pm on the 24th.

How are your Christmas plans shaping up, if you even have any? This year I can't take it for granted that anyone does outside of my own country.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

ISWG - December

 It's the first Wednesday in December so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support group!

This month's question is:

Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

For me, November is always my most productive month as a writer because of NaNo.  I have done the challenge numerous times over the years, and while I haven't always 'won', I've always done something.

In the last couple of years, I've really prioritized November as a writing month and have taken days off from my day job to ensure I can give everything I can to writing during the month.  I don't usually finish whatever I'm writing in the month - my books tend to be closer to 80K than 50K - but it's a fantastic foundation to start with.

The rest of the year I tend to edit and revise and re-write more than I actually write new material.  Unless I get floored by an idea that demands to be written, of course!  I already know that once I'm finished drafting my NaNo book I'll probably start drafting the book I initially thought I was going to write during NaNo, before my Catholic school lesbians took over my brain.

Finding time to write is always a challenge for me, as is finding the energy.  I write a lot for a job, and there are often no words left at the end of the day for me to mine.  So I write in the early hours of the morning, before work, and during the weekends.  And when I really need to get things done, like editing to a deadline, or really needing to get a story out, I take time off from my day job to do it.

Are there any times of year when you're more productive?  What are they?  And do you know why?

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Weekly Goals 30-11-20

 Well, I hit 50K on #CatholicSchoolLesbians on Saturday, and wrote a bit more on Sunday, so I think I'm on track to finish the whole book this week.  Hopefully on Wednesday when I've got the day off to write, but if not, over the weekend.

I feel like I'm in a good place to finish.  I just have all the Shakespearian misunderstandings and death to get through.

Then there's going to be a ton of rewriting and revising.  I already know I made a whole bunch of wrong turns in the story which I will need to fix.  But at least I have a story to fix.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 27-11-20


This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

I'm so close to reaching my 50K in NaNo!  I would have busted through that milestone today if I had managed to get the day off I had planned for, but my bosses had other things in mind. 

But I'm not worried.  I'll get to 50K tomorrow and I will hopefully finish the book on Wednesday when I take the day off I had booked in for today.

It's going to be a short, messy draft of the book I wanted to write, but at the same time, it's certainly been one of the easiest books I've written so far.  There's a lot of editing in my future, but I'm okay with that.  There's not the same time pressure when it comes to editing.

How have you done this month, if you were NaNoing?  And if you weren't, tell me about the rest of the world...

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Books I've read: Unpregnant


This was a very quick and entertaining read about two ex-friends on a road trip to get an abortion.  It doesn't exactly sound like it would be a laugh, but the situations these girls got themselves into were often hilarious.  Especially with Veronica's douchebag boyfriend in hot pursuit, desperate to stop her from getting to her appointment.

And boy is he a douchebag!  Any guy who fucks with birth control to get a woman pregnant on purpose is not a guy you want to stay with.  

Veronica is actually kind of a bitch and I didn't really warm to her until the moment her boyfriend revealed his treachery.  And even after that, there were a lot of moments where she said and did things I thought were extremely selfish.  But by the end of the book she had redeemed herself somewhat and I didn't dislike her nearly as much as I had.

All the time I was reading this, I thought how great it would be as a movie, so it was no surprise when I reached the end, to discover the writers are screenwriters.  The whole book plays out like a comic road movie with a few serious undertones.  And I believe it may be made into a movie at some point too.

It's basically a story about female friendship and over the course of the book Veronica learns how to be a better friend after learning what true loyalty can be.  

I'd recommend this one if you're looking for something quick and light that doesn't take too much out of you.  It was kind of exactly what I needed this weekend.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Veronica Clarke never thought she would wish she’d failed a test until she finds herself holding a thick piece of plastic in her hands and staring at two solid pink lines. Even the most consistent use of condoms won’t prevent pregnancy when your boyfriend secretly pokes holes in them to keep you from going out-of-state for college.

Veronica needs an abortion, but the closest place she can legally get one is over nine hundred miles away—and Veronica doesn’t have a car. Too ashamed to ask her friends or family for help, Veronica turns to the one person she believes won’t judge her: Bailey Butler, Jefferson High’s own little black cloud of anger and snark—and Veronica’s ex-best friend. Once on the road, Veronica quickly remembers nothing with Bailey is ever simple and that means two days of stolen cars, shotguns, crazed ex-boyfriends, truck stop strippers with pro-life agendas, and a limo driver named Bob. But the pain and betrayal of their broken friendship can’t be outrun. When their fighting leads to a brutal moment of truth, Bailey abandons Veronica. Now Veronica must risk everything in order to repair the hurt she’s caused

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Weekly Goals 23-11-20

 It's the final week of NaNo so my goals are much the same as they have been through November: keep writing.

I hit 44K yesterday afternoon, so I'm on track to finish NaNo this week.  I will probably even go over the 50K mark before the end of November, although I'm not sure I'll reach the end of the book.  I won't be far off though.

I have purposefully kept most chapters a few hundred words shorter than I would usually write them so I have room to add stuff while I'm editing later.  And there is going to be a lot of editing.  I've realized a lot of things about my characters as I write that I didn't write in earlier, so I will have to go back and make sure those things are clear.

So this week's goal is to get to that 50K and if possible finish the book.  I'd like to be able to leave it for a few weeks over the summer break so I can come back to it with fresh eyes in the new year.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, November 20, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 20-11-20


This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

I've had another really good writing week and am now about 200 words shy of 40K.  So I feel like I'm definitely on track to hit the NaNo 50K before the end of the month.  The story is moving along nicely too and I feel like I'm hitting all the right plot points.  I know I need a few extra bits and pieces earlier in the book, but that can come later.  Right now I just want to get to the end.

One thing I hadn't considered is that I'm writing in two POVs, but one of these POV characters dies before the end of the book...  So I guess the last quarter of the book will be from a single POV.  Or maybe I can move things around so she dies later than I had originally planned.

It's all very Shakespearian, so pretty much everyone dies by the end...  Doesn't leave much for a first person narrator.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Books I've Loved: Even if I Fall


I think Abigail Johnson has become one of my favorite authors.  I've read five of her books now and every one of them has totally kicked me in the feels. She writes characters who are very real and puts them in the most difficult situations, yet somehow they always seem to get through them in the end.

In this one, a girl is dealing with her beloved older brother being in prison for murdering his best friend.  Initially Brooke didn't believe it was possible, but when Jason confessed, it was even worse.  She and her family are now almost entirely isolated from the rest of the people in their small town and unable to move on.

Things change when Brooke runs into the murdered boy's younger brother Heath.  Despite being wary of one another, the pair soon find themselves drawn to meet in secret.  No one else can understand the different, but similar losses each has experienced.  They both know how horrified their families would be if they knew they were meeting, so every one is heightened by this understanding.

When Brooke visits Jason in prison and he says something that leads her to believe he and Calvin were not alone the night they fought, she clutches at this as a way to prove Jason's innocence or at least find out more about what actually happened that night, how the sweet, gentle brother she thought she knew could do something so monstrous.

As she digs deeper into the mystery, she discovers that truth may be more painful that the reality she has been living with since the murder and the collateral damage to those she loves might be devastating.

I loved the way Heath and Brooke's relationship developed.  It felt real and organic and almost inevitable.  Both had such raw, visible pain that came from a shared source.  Only they could understand each other and what they were living through.

I also really liked the different relationships Brooke had with her brother and her younger sister.  It was clear the three siblings were very close, but also that they each had their own relationship with the other.  The sense that that closeness was lost was palpable through the book, as was the pain their parents felt, even as they dealt with it in very different ways.

So, if you're like me and love books that explore the complex dynamics between siblings, families, friends and lovers, this is a definite recommendation from me.

But don't just listen to me.  here's the blurb:

A year ago, Brooke Covington lost everything when her beloved older brother, Jason, confessed to the murder of his best friend, Calvin. Brooke and her family became social pariahs, broken and unable to console one another. Brooke’s only solace remains the ice-skating rink, where she works but no longer lets herself dream about a future skating professionally.

When Brooke encounters Calvin’s younger brother, Heath, on the side of the road and offers him a ride, everything changes. She needs someone to talk to…and so does Heath. No one else understands what it’s like. Her brother, alive but gone; his brother, dead but everywhere. Soon, they’re meeting in secret, despite knowing that both families would be horrified if they found out. In the place of his anger and her guilt, something frighteningly tender begins to develop, drawing them ever closer together.

But when a new secret comes out about the murder, Brooke has to choose whose pain she’s willing to live with—her family’s or Heath’s. Because she can’t heal one without hurting the other.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Weekly Goals 16-11-20

 We're past the middle of November already, if you can believe it.  

This week's goals are very similar to last week's: to keep writing my NaNo book.  I finished the weekend with just over 31K and my goal for this week is to add at least another 10K.  Which should be achievable.

A lot of it isn't great, but I feel like I'm much more in the story and in my characters' heads now.  The writing has been really easy the last couple of days which is always a great feeling.  Hopefully this will continue as I get into the really messy part of the book.  The truly Shakespearian stuff.

And that's about it for goals this week.  Keep it simple, right?

Friday, November 13, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 13-11-20


This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

I've had another pretty good writing week and am now just over 26K into #CatholicSchoolLesbians.  Hoping to crack 30K before the end of the weekend.

It's all pretty terrible writing, I think, but I'll take care of that later.  Right now it's all about getting the story and the characters down on the page.  I'll pretty it all up and force it to make sense later.

And that's about it for celebrating this week.  There hasn't been a lot of time for anything other than work and writing...

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Books I've Read: The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods


This book sounded fascinating, and in some ways, it was.  In others it was a real disappointment.

It's called a thriller, but it really isn't.  The thriller element is part of a second narrative that runs alongside Arty's story about leaving the idyllic community in which she'd grown up.  I won't say much about it because I'm sure the author meant this part of the book to surprise readers once it becomes clear what is going on in this second story.

Personally, I just found it annoying and confusing, but I can't explain exactly why without giving away the surprise.  Sorry to be vague, but I'd hate to spoil the book for anyone...

Arty is a fascinating character to explore as she discovers the world outside the clearing in which she grew up.  I felt like maybe she adapted to the outside world too easily, that she'd been taught so much about it by the adults in the clearing it wasn't quite as alien and frightening as I imagine it really would have been.

More realistic is Arty's lack of distrust of the people outside.  She has only ever lived with people who are peaceful and loving so doesn't have any understanding of the danger people can present or the kinds of discord that can exist between them.  I would have expected the people in the clearing to have warned her about people on the outside, scared her into being terrified of their worldly ways and their decadent consumerism.  But they clearly didn't, because Arty trusts everyone who speaks to her.

As she moves through this strange new world she's discovering for the first time, she learns about betrayal and distrust for the first time, but still seems to manage to be upbeat and sunny.  There are also some unbelievable coincidences that help her on her journey, but I could almost forgive these because they seemed to work with her character.

Overall, I thought this was a fascinating idea that just wasn't executed as well as it could have been,  Which in many ways is the kind of book that frustrates me the most - so much potential wasted...

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

A commune hidden from the world. A terrible accident. A lifetime of secrets to uncover. The new YA thriller from Emily Barr.

I've been trapped here for days. What if I die here? I decided to write down my story so that one day, when I'm discovered, they will know who I was and why I was here.

Arty has always lived in the Clearing, a small settlement in the forests of south India. But their happy life, hidden from the rest of the world, is shattered by a terrible accident. For the first time in her sixteen years, Arty must leave the only place she's ever known, into the outside world she's been taught to fear.

Her only goal is to get help from a woman called Tania, who used to live in the forest, and the Uncle she knows is out there, somewhere. As she embarks on the terrifying journey, pursued by an enemy she can't fathom, Arty soon realises that not everyone is to be trusted. She's looking for answers, but what she'll learn from Tania and Uncle Matthew is a shocking truth about her past.

Everything is changing too fast for this girl who came out of the woods, and is she running into a trap...?

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Weekly Goals 9-11-20

 It's all about NaNo again this week.

I managed to get just over 18K written in the first week, but I know I'm not going to get that much done this week.  My goal is to get over the 25K mark by the end of this week, which should be achievable.

And that's really it.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, November 6, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 6-11-20


This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

I've had a great couple of days writing and have over 16K written of #CatholivSchoolLesbians.

It's not great writing and I already have notes for myself all over the place telling future-me to move certain scenes, cut out various plot points introduced early on because they're no longer needed and change other things, but that's what vomit drafting is for, right?

I feel like I'm getting there.  I'm reaching a pivotal moment in the book (probably too soon, but I can fix that later) and feel like the rest is going to be really fun to write.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

IWSG - November

It's the first Wednesday of the month so it's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group!

This month's question is a goodie too!

Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

There are many reasons why I write what I write.

Primarily I write YA contemporary, although I occasionally dabble in other genres and styles, particularly when writing short fiction.  But YA contemporary is my main genre and my real passion.

I love writing for and about teens because the teenage years are such a tumultuous and heightened time in anyone's life.  It's the period in which people become who they will be for the rest of their lives and they try on ideas and personas and beliefs until they find the ones that they find the most comfortable.  

It's a time of great change as kids grow more independent and start the process of separating from their families.  It's also a time where things are experienced for the first time - first love, first heartbreak, perhaps even a first time away from home.

And amongst all this is the hormonal upheaval that teens deal with, making every emotion heightened, every decision life or death.

And teens can be so mature in many ways, while still being children in others.  I love immersing myself into this world and these characters because there are so many choices ahead of them, and so many of them will be bad ones.  I love to throw my characters into situations they are not prepared for, just to see what they will do, how they will navigate their way around the various obstacles and challenges I throw in their path.

And that's why I write what I write.  I keep trying to write a novel for adults, but somehow my heart and my mind always goes back in time to when the characters were younger, to the moments that made them who they are today, the things that shaped the adults they have become.  Things that inevitably came before the story I sat down to try and tell...  

I have a book coming out next year that sprang directly from this kind of scenario.  I sat down to write a book for adults about adoption and abortion and family betrayal, but when I started to write, I began questioning how two of my main characters came to have the relationship they had in the story.  And when I started exploring this in my mind, it ended up becoming another YA novel.

Maybe one day I'll actually write that story I initially sat down to write...  Then again, maybe I won't.  There are too many other characters populating my mind, demanding that I tell their stories.  And they're all teenagers.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Weekly Goals 2-11-20

 It's November, so this week's goals are all around NaNo.  I had hoped to write 5K+ on the first day to give myself a big cushion, but only managed around 3,500 in the end.  My goal is to hit 15K by the end of the week.  Possibly more, if things go well on Thursday and Friday when I'm off work to write.

I think things will go relatively smoothly once I get through all the introductory stuff and move into the real meat of the story.  Right now I'm still working out the two girls' voices and introducing the key characters - all the stuff I'll probably end up cutting out in the final draft.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 30-10-20

This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

My partner and I celebrate our anniversary tomorrow.  It's not an important one - 23 years - but we're going to go out for dinner anyway.

NaNo starts on Sunday, and I'm excited to get started even though I'm still vacillating over whether to have my girls already in a relationship when the story starts, or if I need them to meet and get together.  I guess I'll just start writing and see what happens.  I can always change it later.

That's the beauty of NaNo.  You can write without worrying about getting everything right the first time.

And that's about it for me this week.  What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Books I've Read: The Grace Year


This isn't something I would normally pick out to read, but I love Libba Bray's books and she blurbed this, so I thought I'd give it a go.  And I'm glad I did.

Set in a world that is kind of like the one in  The Handmaid's Tale, this book covers a little over a year in the life of Tierney James.  She's sixteen, and in her County, girls are sent away for their sixteenth year to "get rid of their magic".  Before they leave, they are betrothed to one of the eligible men in town and expected to come back and be good wives and mothers.

Only each year, only some of the girls come back and no one speaks of what happens during what they call 'the grace year'.  There are rumours of course - it can't be helped when the apothecary is filled with jars containing various body parts of untouched women that are used as medicine.  Plus one of the ways men living on the outskirts of the County earn money is as poachers who sell these girls to the apothecary.

Tierney expects the most difficult thing about the Grace Year will be the hardships of living in the woods, but is confident in her abilities in that area.  Her father has prepared her well to survive in the outdoors.  There are the poachers to fear too, but what Tierney doesn't anticipate is the other girls and the madness freedom from their constricted society brings on.  It becomes clear from the first night they spend away from their families that not all the girls will return.

I won't go into any detail as to what happens in the woods because that would spoil it for you.  But it is unexpected, even if some parts of the story don't make complete sense or feel unsatisfactory in some ways.  Overall, it was a real page-turner and I really enjoyed it.

Until the ending, which didn't feel entirely satisfying to me. But maybe I was expecting too much...  Or just something a little different to what actually happened.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Weekly Goals 26-10-20

 It's the week before NaNo begins, so this week is all about clearing the decks to make time and space for writing the new book.  That means finishing up anything else writing related so my focus can be entirely on the new book when I start next Sunday.

Unfortunately the weather has not been ideal this long weekend, so the gardening that so desperately needs to be done is still not done, but it will have to wait until December now.  Unless I get a few really good writing days in there and am way ahead.  Or if next Saturday is fine enough to get some done after the rest of the housework.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 23-10-20

This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's a long weekend!  Yes, it's Labour Day here on Monday so we have a three-day weekend.  

And can I say it is much-needed?

I feel kind of bad about saying that because obviously things aren't as bad here as they are in the rest of the world.  We're not locked down.  We just re-elected Jacinda as our Prime Minister and her party won enough seats to govern without having to partner with other parties.  COVID-19 is well managed and there is little to no community transmission.

But I still feel like I need and deserve a long weekend.

I don't have any serious plans for said weekend.  My partner and older son are both working, so it will just be me and my younger son for most of it.  It's the last week of our annual burger festival so I'm planning to take my younger son out for lunch tomorrow to sample one of the burgers.  I also plan to go to the library to get some new books to read.  And after not having had a haircut for almost a year, I've made an appointment.

I also plan to do some writing stuff and some housework and gardening stuff - so long as the weather co-operates.   And that feels like enough.  Especially since NaNo starts next weekend and I'm going to be starting a new book.  Yikes!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Books I've Read: Juliet Takes a Breath


This was an interesting read about finding your identity and why it's sometimes better not to meet your heroes.

Juliet is a Puerto Rican who has grown up in Queens.  She's just finishing her first year in college and hasn't yet come out to her family despite having a girlfriend she thinks is pretty serious.  She's about to leave for the summer to intern with the feminist writer who has changed her outlook and decides to come out before she leaves. Her mother won't speak to her which isn't the best way to leave home for the first time, but Juliet feels like she's done the right thing by telling them and heads to Oregon.

As soon as she arrives she feels like a fish out of water.  Harlowe is an ethereal, weird hippie and the work she sets her intern is vague and unstructured.  And then there are all the complicated relationships in Harlowe's life that Juliet becomes entwined with.

As the summer continues, Juliet's eyes are opened in many different ways. Her heart is broken and she learns that nobody is perfect, even writers whose ideas challenged you to change your way of thinking.

I loved the way Juliet grew during the course of this book.  She started out so clueless, but ended up with strength and wisdom that would carry her through the rest of her life.  She began as a child and grew into a woman who, while not wholly confident, was way more sure of herself than she was at the start.

If you're looking for a book which asks some big questions about identity and race and your place in the world, this may just be the book for you.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Weekly Goals 19-10-20

 This week my goals are pretty simple.

I aim to finish the MS critique I'm doing for a friend.  I got just past halfway over the weekend, so I figure I can do the rest this week.

I have sent out a second batch of queries for Standing Too Close.  I also got my first rejection.  Does anyone else find it really freaky when you send out a query and get a rejection within a couple of hours?  I always expect it to take a couple of months!

I signed the contract for the new book to be published, and it looks like it will release in February or March 2021.  More about that later.  I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that edits won't come in until December so I can keep November free for NaNo.

I'm trying to work out my plan for NaNo.  I want to try and take a couple of days off work each week to work on it, but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to.  I guess if I can get even a single day some weeks, that will help.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Celebrate the Small Thins 16-10-20


This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

I know, I know...  I celebrate that every week.  But this week I feel like I need a weekend more than ever.  It's been one of those weeks where I've had so many things I want to do and so many things I've committed myself to, and work has just got in the way.  I wouldn't mind so much if I was busy at work, but it's actually been a fairly quiet week, so I've been more frustrated by it than usual.

But this weekend will be about getting all those things done that I haven't managed to do during the week.  I have great plans to be very productive, so we shall see how I get on with that.  The weather looks like it's going to be terrible, so at least I won't need to feel guilty about not working in my garden this week.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Books I've Read: Above All Else

I've never climbed Mount Everest.  I've never wanted to.  But I can understand wanting to push yourself to do something like that, something so extreme and so dangerous its more about proving to yourself you can do it than anything else.

Tate and Rose have spent their entire lives climbing together, encouraged by Rose's mother and Tate's father who are both keen climbers.  For years now, their focus has been on Everest and they have trained and fundraised and done everything they could to get there.

But now that the trip is actually happening, neither Tate nor Rose are as excited or as focused as they need to be to meet the challenge.  Rose's mother is ill and couldn't accompany them to Nepal, leaving Rose feeling like she's missing a limb or something, while Tate's hiding a new terror of climbing he's developed since a nasty fall a few months back and pushing back when his father nags at him about failing to live up to his expectations.

And to complicate things even further, it appears that after all these years of being just friends, their relationship is changing, moving toward being the romance their friends always assumed they were already embroiled in.

With the mountain's summit growing closer and the challenges of climbing it with limited oxygen become more apparent, each of these climbers is going to need to dig deep to find their own strength and reason to keep going.

I enjoyed this book because it really brought home just how dangerous and how difficult it is to climb Everest.  The characters were real and flawed and the romance between Tate and Rose felt like it grew organically.

I particularly liked the detail about climbing and the way you prepare for something like summiting Everest and the care and attention the Sherpas put into ensuring their climbers make it through the experience.

If you're interested in climbing, or maybe, like me, don't know much about it, this might just be the book for you.  Thank you to NetGalley for letting me read it in advance.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

In a fictional tale as riveting, irresistible, and heartbreaking as Into Thin Air, teen climbing prodigies Rose and Tate attempt to summit—and survive—Mount Everest.

Rose Keller and Tate Russo have been climbing for years, training in harsh weather and traveling all over the world. The goal that kept them going: summiting Mount Everest, the highest point on earth. Accompanied by Tate’s dad, the two will finally make the ultimate climb at the end of their senior year. But neither Rose nor Tate are fully in the game—not only is there a simmering romance between them, but Rose can’t get her mind off her mother’s illness, while Tate constantly fails to live up to his ambitious father’s standards.

Everyone on their expedition has something to prove, it seems. And not everyone is making the best decisions while short on oxygen and physically and mentally exhausted. The farther up the mountain they go, the more their climbing plans unravel and the more isolated each team member becomes. Rose and Tate will have to dig deep within themselves to determine what—or who—they value above all else.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Weekly Goals 12-10-20

 I managed to fix my screw up with the word 'that' over the weekend and even sent out a few, first, tentative queries.  Terrifying!  I never thought I'd be doing that again, but here we are...

This week I need to write a synopsis since way more agents seem to want one now than they did the last time I queried.

I also have a beta read to do and a couple of other little bits and pieces of critique work.  I need to get all this done before November hits and all my spare time is taken up with NaNo.

I would also like to send out another small batch of queries this week.

So that's me.  What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 9-10-20


This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

I had another book accepted for publication.  I haven't received the contract yet, so I won't say anything more now, but will save that news for another day.

I did something monumentally stupid during one of my 5am writing sessions this week and somehow managed to replace every instance of the word 'that' in my MS with double spaces. And I didn't realize until I'd done a whole lot of other work on the book.  In an ideal world, this would be an easy fix - just do a find and replace of all those double spaces - but because I'm old-school and learned to type on a typewriter, I still use double spaces after punctuation, so there are a lot of double spaces that DON'T need to be replaced with 'that'.

I feel so dumb, because the reason I was searching for 'that' in the MS was to delete as many as I could.  Unfortunately a lot of sentences don't make a lot of sense if you take out 'that'...

So I'm a little behind with getting the MS ready to send out to agents as a result.  I'm hoping to get through all this miniscule editing work on Saturday so I can start putting together some queries on Sunday.  Although I feel like I may need to do another full read-through of the MS before I send it anywhere because if I made such a stupid mistake with 'that' who knows what I may have done with other filler/crutch words I was seeking out to replace or remove?

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Insecure Writers Support Group for October

It's the first Wednesday in October so it's time for the IWSG post!

This month's question is a good one:

When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

To me a working writer is a writer who publishes.  Doesn't have to be novels.  It could be articles, short stories, poetry, blog posts - anything.  It could be in print or online.  It doesn't even matter if the writer is being paid for the work.

But that's just how I see it.  I'm not sure how the industry defines a working writer, if they do so at all.

I certainly see myself as a working writer because not only do I publish novels and short stories, but I write in my day job too.    I also write for a group blog which, while unpaid, is very rewarding.

To be realistic, anyone who carves out time to write on a regular basis can probably call themselves a working writer.  If you're putting in the time, regardless of what happens with those words, you're a writer.  You're working.

I feel like you're only a hobbyist if you write purely for yourself, if you have no intention or desire to get your words in front of readers.  There's nothing wrong with that.  If you're happy, and the writing itself is something you enjoy, then go for it.

And I've always hated the term 'aspiring' when it comes to writing.  Even if you're not published yet, if you sit down regularly and bang out words, then you're a writer.  You're not aspiring to be a writer.  Maybe if you sit around and think about writing without ever picking up a pen...

But that's just me.  How would you define a working writer?

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Weekly Goals 5-10-20

 Well, I think I did it.  I think I finished Standing Too Close.  I just have to go through and finish removing all my 'crutch' words and those little things, then I think I'm done.

It wasn't even as hard as I thought it was going to be.  And I didn't add as many words as I thought I might need to.

So the goal this week is to finish the final polishing and start researching which agents might be interested in a story like this.  I'd like to send a first batch of queries out next weekend.

The other goal for this week is to write my little summary of Juliet & Juliet so I have that ready to go when NaNo starts.  I may even start writing a few scenes before November because 50K is not enough words to finish a novel.  It never hurts to have a few words already written before you start so you're not starting the month staring at a blank page.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 2-10-20


This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

I have made some progress on Standing Too Close.  I've changed a couple of things that I hope will make the ending more satisfying, and I just need to add a couple of scenes toward the middle and I think I'm done.  Fingers crossed I'll get some writing time over the weekend this week.

A week later than I hoped, but done all the same.  Might be time to send out a few tentative queries to see if that part of the package is working...

And progress on Juliet & Juliet (thanks for making me think of it as this, Jeanne!) is going well.  I think I have most of the plot straight in my head, now, so it's probably time to write it down before I forget how things move from A - B.  This one - two pager is about all the outlining I do before I start writing, so it needs to make sense.

Daylight saving started last weekend, so this week I started riding my bike to and from work.  It's been pretty windy, so I only managed two days this week, but fingers crossed I'll be able to do a little more next week.  Even if it's only one way.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Books I've read: This Boy

I really wish I had liked this book more.  It started off so well and I was really enjoying Paul's peculiar sense of humor and his burgeoning friendship with Roby.  He seemed like someone I'd have fun hanging out with for a while.

But then, like so many guys seem to do, he turned into a complete ass and I lost any compassion or empathy I might have had for him.  He treats his friend like shit because he 'falls in love' with a girl, but he doesn't really seem to love her at all.  It's all about her looks and not about who she really is.

And then he becomes a drug addict and she dumps his ass.  Which he deserves because he's pathetic and does nothing to help himself.  And then his mother has to try and pull him out of it.

The depiction of his slide into drug addiction wasn't convincing although I did believe the way he cheated on his detoxing.  His mother is really innocent if she thinks she can trust an addict do actually be doing what he says he's doing where is comes to what he's taking.  Everyone knows junkies lie.  Or I thought they did...


I thought the voice was great in this book.  Unfortunately it wasn't a voice I wanted or needed to hear.  I'm not sure how the author managed to write this with such an obnoxious character living in her head all that time.  

So I wouldn't recommend this one.  And if I did, it would be because it captures the voice of an unlikable character perfectly.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Lauren Myracle brings her signature frank, funny, and insightful writing to this novel of a teenage boy’s coming-of-age.

Paul Walden is not an alpha lobster, the hypermasculine crustacean king who intimidates the other male lobsters, beds all the lady lobsters, and “wins” at life. At least not according to the ego-bursting feedback he’s given in his freshman seminar. But Paul finds a funny, faithful friend in Roby Smalls, and maybe — oh god, please — he’s beginning to catch the interest of smart, beautiful Natalia Gutierrez. Cruising through high school as a sauced-out, rap-loving beta lobster suits Paul fine, and if life ever gets him down? Smoke a little weed, crunch a few pills . . . it’s all good.

But in the treacherous currents of teenage culture, it’s easy to get pulled under. With perfect frankness, Lauren Myracle lays bare the life of one boy as he navigates friendship, love, loss, and addiction. It’s life at its most ordinary and most unforgettable.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Weekly Goals 28-09-20

 I'm ashamed to admit I got no writing done over the weekend.  All the time I had was taken up with family stuff and chores, which is annoying to say the least!

Especially since I spent time on Saturday going to visit my father-in-law in the hospital, only to discover when I got there that he'd been sent home.  So that was time I could have spent writing which instead I spent on buses and walking.

But on the plus side, at least he's back in his own house which has to be more pleasant for him. Although as he lives alone, I do worry about him.  We went to visit yesterday and he seemed very tired and a little frail which is not something I've ever thought about him before.

Which leads me to this week's goals...  To actually finish the work on Standing Too Close.  And I would also like to scribble down some notes about the plot of my Juliet and Juliet romance in case I decide to write that during NaNo.  It feels more and more likely that this is the story I'm going to tackle and in many ways, I feel like it makes more sense because this is a book with girl protagonists and A Stranger to Kindness is another boy book like Standing Too Close. I can't help thinking it might be good to write some girls again for a while.  It feels like a while since I did that.

So that's me this week.  What are your goals?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 25-9-20


This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

It has felt like a really long week again, so I'm looking forward to a couple of days off.  Even if I have a lot to do in those days off.

My father-in-law has had his operation and seems to be doing remarkable well.  They think he might go home today, and if not, tomorrow.

I haven't done as much work on Standing Too Close as I had hoped to do, but I have done some.  I'm hoping to get a few hours this weekend to really dive in and make some changes.  I'm not sure if I will though, with everything else I have to do over the weekend.

I am vacillating over which book to try and write during NaNo.  I have a very vague idea of the plot for A Stranger to Kindness, but I know the characters really well now, whereas I have a much better idea of the plot for my lesbian Romeo and Juliet story, but know the characters less.  I'm not sure which one will be the best to work on, or if I should try something truly crazy and work on both at the same time, switching between them as I get stuck at various points.

But I guess I have a month or so to decide...

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Books I've Read: Rabbit and Robot


I've been a huge fan of Andrew Smith's books since I stumbled across Grasshopper Jungle several years ago and thought it was one of the most bizarre, inventive and plan fun books I'd read in years.  Rabbit and Robot is very much in the same vein and it's going to be difficult to talk about without giving away too much.  But I will do my best...

Set in a future where war is a daily occurrance and most of the world is on fire, Cager and his friend Billy are among the few people in the world who are not either robots (cogs) or those who programme robots (coders).  This is purely because their fathers are the uber-elite, super rich who have built the system.  To keep the human population under control, a drug called Woz is administered freely.

Cager is not supposed to use Woz, but out of boredom he started taking it and is now an addict.  To try and wean him off the drug, Billy and Cager's carer Rowan hijack a luxury space cruiser for him to detox in.

Unfortunately, as they are prepping to leave the Earth's atmosphere, Earth implodes under the weight of too many wars, leaving the three men as potentially the only human survivors. The spacecraft is well suited to sustaining human life long-term.  A full staff of cogs is available to serve and food and drink can be printed to order.

But something has been let loose on the spaceship.  Something that makes the cogs behave in an increasingly bizarre manner.  And who are the human girls on board that Cager alone can smell?  Will they be able to help Cager and Billy escape a lifetime trapped in space?

There is so much to like about this book.  From the fully functioning cogs, each of whom has one defining characteristic - cheerful, depressed, know-it-all, outraged, horny - to the visit to the ship by another species of alien who claim to be fully responsible for the human race.  And then there's the French-speaking amorous giraffe...

Cager is kind of an annoying protagonist.  He's spoiled and weak and unable to do anything much for himself.  But it's clear this is not really his fault.  His parents have brought him up this way, allowing Rowan to be a surrogate parent/valet/man-servant all in one.  They've even paid kids to be friends with Cager and Billy.

To give away more would be too much, so I won't go into much more detail. Just know that everything that happens in this book is surreal, strange and immensely fun.  I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but if you like quirky, extremely imaginative stories, this one is for you.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Cager has been transported to the Tennessee, a giant lunar-cruise ship orbiting the moon that his dad owns, by Billy and Rowan to help him shake his Woz addiction. Meanwhile, Earth, in the midst of thirty simultaneous wars, burns to ash beneath them. And as the robots on board become increasingly insane and cannibalistic, and the Earth becomes a toxic wasteland, the boys have to wonder if they’ll be stranded alone in space forever.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Weekly Goals 21-9-20

 Once again my goal this week is to finish my new draft of Standing Too Close.  I'm not any closer to reaching that goal than I was on Friday because my weekend kind of got thrown out of kilter when my father-in-law (who is 92 today) was put into the hospital.

So now I am going to have to try and get the work done in the mornings, evenings (if I have the energy) and possibly next weekend, although I have a feeling my time will be taken up with Peter quite a bit then too.  What is it they say about best laid plans?  

On the plus side, this book has been hanging around for so long now, I suppose a few more weeks isn't going to kill it.  My deadlines are my own, not anyone else's, so if it takes me until the end of October to finish, I'm the only one who will be disappointed.

Anyway, that's my week.  What are your goals for the week?

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 18-9-20

This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

It's felt like a long week even though I had a half-day off on Tuesday because I felt sick, and then worked from home on Wednesday.  Still managed to get a lot of work done though...

Looking forward to the weekend and getting the house cleaned.  I was away at the mountains last weekend, and of course nobody thought to do anything useful around the house like laundry or cleaning anything.  My younger son did vacuum, he says, but the cats shed so much fur, it's always a little hard to tell.

My elder son turned 16 this week, which is both wonderful and terrifying.  And his band won their heat in the battle of the bands which means they move into the next round.

I've been working on Standing Too Close and hope to have a new draft finished by the end of the weekend (or next week at the latest).  I'm determined to get this finished by the end of the month and will query widely through October.  Eeeek!

What are you celebrating this week?

Welcoming Author Patricia Lynne

My friend Patricia Lynne has just re-released all her YA novels with new covers and I'm excited to be able to share them with you today.  Aren't they pretty?  And they're great reads too.  So if you're into paranormal stories full of mythical creatures, these books might just tickle your fancy...

Being Human

Tommy forgot his human life when he became a vampire...but it didn’t forget him.

Like all vampires, Tommy must do one thing: survive. With no memory of his life before death, his only connection to humanity is his twin brother. When Tommy rescues a young girl, he learns not all monsters are undead. After returning her to her family, Tommy struggles to understand why he felt so protective of her when she has no connection to him.

As the years pass, and with his twin’s help, Tommy moves on with his ‘life’ but never forgets the young girl or the monster who hurt her. When she re-enters his life as a teenager, Tommy struggles with his vampire need to survive and his desire to protect her. He will be forced to decide which part of him is stronger: The vampire? Or the human? The answer may destroy him. 


Cyclop can see other people’s futures, but his own is clouded by a past he can’t escape and a man he calls Master.

It’s not Cyclop’s albino skin and mismatched eyes that make him stand out, but his ability to see the future and a dark past he escaped. Only those close to him know his secrets, and with their help, he has carved out a normal life. But his past refuses to let him go, and when the man he calls Master finds him, he is forced to return to his old life.

Imprisoned, Cyclop clings to the hope of freedom. To do so, he must break Master’s control over him. Will he find the strength to become the master of his own life? Or is his past destined to be his future?

Leaves of Fall

Armory was raised to hate nature, but not all trees wanted a war.

Armory was born in a world torn apart by the war between man and nature. The threat of another attack looms over Armory and the survivors hidden in the remains of New York City. When Armory is kidnapped, a tree nymph is her unlikely savior. 

Birch claims he can return Armory safely home. Can she trust a tree? If she wants to see her home again, she has no choice. As they travel across the wasteland of America, Armory meets both humans and trees who want the fighting to stop.

But the hatred between man and nature may be too deep of a wound to heal. In a world destroyed by hate, can Armory and Birch’s friendship change minds and forge peace? Birch has a plan to make it happen. He’s just not sure he’ll survive.

About the Author:
Patricia never set out to become a writer, and in fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was more of an art and band geek. Some stories are meant to be told, and now she can't stop writing. Her young adult stories often have a paranormal, fantasy or sci-fi twist.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow. She also writes New Adult Urban Fantasy and Sci-Fi Romance under the name Patricia Josephine.


Links to Books: