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?