Sunday, August 1, 2021

Weekly Goals 2-8-21

 Once again I feel somewhat adrift without any writing goals to work toward.  But at the same time, I don't feel ready to write yet.  I'm starting to wonder if I ever will...

Although, I am doing a considerable amount of writing at work.  It's that time of the year where I have a major report to write, so it is never a good time of year to try and do any creative writing anyway.  I have a tendency to run out of words...

I have been reading a lot though.  I finished three books over the weekend, so that's something.  Not quite sure how I managed that with all the cooking I had to do too.  I made four different desserts over two days!

No desserts this week, I swear...

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 30-7-21

It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

Well... this:

See that #1 best seller banner up there?  Pretty cool, huh?  I've been kind of buzzing about it all afternoon!  

This might just be the news to kick start me into writing again.  Maybe...

Just not this weekend because I have a lot of cooking I need to do this weekend.  My team at work are in charge of running celebrations for Epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani  -  Cook Islands Language Week, and my role is to bring the delicious Cook Islands treats for morning tea on Monday.  Which means a big chunk of my weekend is going to be baking said treats...  Luckily I like cooking and baking!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Books I've Read: In the Time of the Manaroans


For some reason I seem to have picked up a lot of memoirs lately and this was one of them, loaned to me from a friend.  I was interested in it because Canvastown is a place we drive through on our way to Kaiteriteri every year, and I never suspected that it was a hotbed of hippy activity in the 70s.

I wish I could say I enjoyed this book, but I really didn't.  I never felt any connection to the narrator or any emotion about anything that happened to her.  The book is written in a way that keeps the reader at a remove, telling us about the events of her life rather than drawing us in and showing them.

Some pretty awful things happen to this poor teenager as she moves from place to place, struggling to get an education and to find a place in the world to call her own.  Yet I never felt any emotions about any of these events.  Unwanted sex with older men is written about in much the same way as painting a caravan.  It's all very beautiful and lyrical, but the language doesn't allow the reader in.

The characters in this story are fairly well drawn, but there is a kind of sameness about them.  For people who professs to care passionately about changing the world, they seem remarkably selfish, focused solely on their own personal journeys and desires.  It seems incredible to me that not one of these people did anything much to ensure these young people living among them were taken care of.

For anyone who has ever imagined hippy life as being free and easy, this book will bring that illusion crashing down.  The hippy world described here is one of poverty and hard work.  Just getting a cup of tea made in the Manaroan commune is a task that will take most of the morning.  Living off the land isn't easy when the land you're living on is unforgiving.

While I didn't particularly enjoy this book, I'm glad I read it.  It gave me insight into a world I was only vaguely aware existed in my own country.  I just wish the author had given more of herself in this memoir as I think it would have been far more impactful if we'd been allowed more deeply into her thoughts and feelings about the places and events described.

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

At fourteen Miro Bilbrough falls out with the communist grandmother who has raised her since she was seven, and is sent to live with her father and his rural-hippy friends. It is 1978, Canvastown, New Zealand, and the Floodhouse is a dwelling of pre-industrial gifts and deficiencies set on the banks of the Wakamarina River, which routinely invades its rooms.

Isolated in rural poverty, the lives of Miro and her father and sister are radically enhanced by the Manaroans—charismatic hippies who use their house as a crash pad on journeys to and from a commune in a remote corner of the Marlborough Sounds. Arriving by power of thumb, horseback and hooped canvas caravan, John of Saratoga, Eddie Fox, Jewels and company set about rearranging the lives and consciousness of the blasted family unit.

In the Time of the Manaroans brilliantly captures a largely unwritten historical culture, the Antipodean incarnation of the Back to the Land movement. Contrarian, idealistic, sexually opportunistic and self-mythologising too, this was a movement, as the narrator duly discovers, not conceived with adolescents in mind.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Weekly Goals 26-7-21

 I don't really have any goals again this week.

I looked at the garage and decided there's no way it's ever going to be enough space in there to fit what I need for my painting.  I guess I'm going to need to find a space somewhere else if I'm going to try this.  Or go to a class of some sort.  When I used to make jewelry, I did a class and then because I was part of the school, I could use the jewelry studio at other times when it wasn't being used.

Or maybe I should stop procrastinating and just write something new.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, July 23, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 23-7-21

It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend and that's always worth celebrating.

And this weekend I have very little planned at all, which is lovely. I do need to take my older son to do some barista training, but other than that, I'm pretty free.

I was hoping to get started with my new creative project, but it occurred to me, I don't actually have anywhere I can work.  The type of painting I want to do is messy and I can't do it inside the house.  Which means I need to make some space in the garage for a table of some sort.  And our garage is pretty full of bikes and other stuff.  Writing is actually a very compact creative pursuit, when you think about it.  Most others require a lot of space and equipment.  I'm maybe starting to re-think this whole thing.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Books I've Read: Pumpkin

This is the third book in Julie Murphy’s series featuring larger than life characters in a small town. Characters from the other two books pop up in this one, but never tear the spotlight away from our hero, Waylon.

Overweight and ginger-haired, Waylon is one of the only out and proud gay boys in his small Texas town. He’s just waiting for high school to be over so he and his twin sister can leave town for college and he can finally become the person he knows he’s meant to be.

But then he discovers his sister’s plans have changed right after he gets dumped by the guy he’s been having an elicit affair with and he starts spiralling out of control. On a whim he creates an audition video for his favourite television drag reality show, never expecting it to get into the hands of the entire student body.

But it does, and as a result, Waylon finds himself nominated as prom queen.

Rather than back away from the humiliation, Waylon and his sister’s girlfriend who has been nominated as prom king, decide to go through with it. Waylon knows he’s the biggest queen in school, so why not?

But who knew there was so much involved in becoming prom royalty? And when Waylon is paired up with the very cute and very masculine king nominee, Tucker, things might just go a little differently than planned…

This is a fun, frothy book very much like Murphy’s previous ones, Dumpling and Pudding. There are serious undertones, but for the most part, Waylon’s outrageous adventures will keep a smile on your face throughout. And how nice it is to see plus-sized characters who take charge of their lives and find their happiness without losing weight?

If you've enjoyed Murphy's other books, I can pretty much guarantee you'll enjoy this one.

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

Waylon Russell Brewer is a fat, openly gay boy stuck in the small West Texas town of Clover City. His plan is to bide his time until he can graduate, move to Austin with his twin sister, Clementine, and finally go Full Waylon, so that he can live his Julie-the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music-Andrews truth.

So when Clementine deviates from their master plan right after Waylon gets dumped, he throws caution to the wind and creates an audition tape for his favorite TV drag show, Fiercest of Them All. What he doesn’t count on is the tape accidentally getting shared with the entire school. . . . As a result, Waylon is nominated for prom queen as a joke. Clem’s girlfriend, Hannah Perez, also receives a joke nomination for prom king.

Waylon and Hannah decide there’s only one thing to do: run—and leave high school with a bang. A very glittery bang. Along the way, Waylon discovers that there is a lot more to running for prom court than campaign posters and plastic crowns, especially when he has to spend so much time with the very cute and infuriating prom king nominee Tucker Watson.

Waylon will need to learn that the best plan for tomorrow is living for today . . . especially with the help of some fellow queens. . . .

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Weekly Goals 19-7-21

 It's weird trying to write these weekly goal posts when I'm not writing.  What kind of goals do people have for their weeks when they're not trying to hit a word count or submit to agents or publishers?  Or maybe regular people don't have weekly goals?  I just don't know...  I've spent the last 15 years or so always working on something and focusing my goals around whatever the next step for that something might be.

I guess one of my goals this week is to actually buy the canvasses and paints I want to experiment with.  I don't have anywhere really to do this, so I'm going to try and make some space in the garage where it won't matter too much if I make a bit of a mess.  Because I will make a mess.  It's inevitable!

And that's about it, really.  Seems a little sad, to be honest, but I can't think of anything else I really want to achieve this week.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 16-7-21

It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend and that's always worth celebrating.

I have quite a busy one planned this week, with lost of socialising with family etc.  Especially on Sunday.  So Saturday will have to be my chore day.  I just hope I get a bit of free time to read.  I took a whole pile of books out of the library almost two weeks ago, and I've only read a couple of them.  I need to read more!

I had planned to buy some paint and canvasses so I could do some artwork this week, but I don't think I'm going to have time.  Maybe next week...

In terms of writing, I haven't done much.  I sent Standing Too Close out to a different small press, so we shall see if anything comes of that.  Not really expecting it to, though.

And I'm thinking about writing some short stories.  Maybe that will kickstart something exciting.  It's been a while since I wrote anything short.  Maybe even some flash fiction...

What are you celebrating this week?

Introducing Fractured by Shay Siegel


Mason Vance is the guy everybody wants to be, and he knows it. He’s the best high school quarterback in New York, a shoo-in for a football scholarship at any school he chooses, and he’s expected to land in the NFL one day. That is, until a broken wrist leaves him fearing whether he’ll ever play again.

Desperate to save his damaged ego, Mason sets his sights on Lace. No cheerleader or homecoming queen like his usual type, she’s too wrapped in her own misery to fall for his pickup lines. Even though she tries to shut him out, she’s surprised to find he’s there for her when no one else is. Slowly, she lets him into the sad workings of her mind and less-than-perfect life, and Mason finds himself caring about Lace more than he’d ever thought possible. That’s why neither of them sees his huge mistake coming—one that instantly fractures everything between them.

Will Mason confront the ugliest side of himself, and in the process see who he’s capable of becoming, or will he fall back into the life he knew before Lace and his injury?

Shay Siegel bio:

Shay Siegel is from Long Island, New York. She is a Tulane University graduate with a B.A. in English, and former member of the women's tennis team. She has an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Shay splits her time between Charleston, South Carolina and Long Island with her boyfriend, Pat, and their giant-headed rescue dog, Bernie.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Books I've Loved: Tweet Cute


Okay, so this is totally not the kind of book I usually fall in love with, but something about this just tickled me in the mood I'm currently in.  I mean, seriously, how can you not enjoy a book where crazy delicious desserts and gourmet grilled cheese play an essential part?

Pepper moved to New York just before her first year in high school and was not expecting the city and her new school to be so intimidating.  Her family's business, Big League Burger, is booming, but her family has fallen apart.  To try and keep those thoughts at bay, Pepper has become the ultimate over-achiever, captaining the swim team, acing every test and topping every one of her classes.  She also basically runs the business's Twitter account.

Jack is pretty much the opposite of Pepper - which is probably why they clash every time they meet.  A twin with a massive inferiority complex, Jack spends most of his downtime working in the family deli, a business he has a love-hate relationship with.  When he isn't helping out on the shop floor, he spends his time designing apps including the school's number one social platform Weazel.

When Big League Burger introduce a new sandwich which looks suspiciously like the one the family deli made its name on, the one developed by Jack's Grandma Belly,  Jack declares war on the chain using the deli's Twitter account.  When Pepper sees the attack, it's all on.

Neither Jack nor Pepper are aware that while they wage war on one social platform, a close friendship is developing between them on Weazel.  

As the public war hots up, so does their secret relationship.

I loved this book.  It was fresh and funny and very contemporary.  Jack and Pepper were just the right amount of smart and clueless and their mutual love of crazy food mash-ups made me want to rush to the kitchen to experiment.

Sometimes a pretty straight forward rom-com is just what you need, and I think this weekend, this book fit the bill perfectly.

So I'd definitely recommend this one for anyone who enjoys fun, flirty romantic comedies, especially ones that involve food.

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

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Mid-year Goal Check in....

I'm a few weeks late, but I guess it's time to check in and see how I'm tracking with those goals I set myself back in January.  As usual, the original text is in black, my comments in purple...  I'm pretty sure I'm going to have done really, really badly with this....

Dear Me,

Writing this annual letter outlining my goals for the year seems almost presumptuous given the shitshow 2020 turned out to be.  But it's human nature to live in hope, so I'm writing this in that spirit of hope, crossing my fingers that 2021 turns out to be a much better year.

So what do I hope to achieve in 2021?

I started querying Standing Too Close in October, albeit in a very slow, quiet way.  So far, no bites, so I will continue to query this widely.  I'm confident it's one of the best things I've written and I love the characters almost as much as my own children so I want this book to be seen and read widely.

Well, I did this.  I've sent out almost 100 queries now.  Not a single request.  Three different queries too.  I still love this story, but maybe I'm wrong about being the best thing I've written.  Or maybe this isn't the best time for this book and these characters.  I just don't know...  I've never had such a low request rate when querying, ever.

I have a book coming out in March.  Chasing the Taillights was originally written about ten years ago, but has been rewritten several times since.  It's another story where I feel very close to the characters so I'm very glad other people are going to get the chance to meet Lucy and Tony.  I plan to throw everything I can at marketing this book in the hope it will generate some sales and possibly even boost sales of my other published books.  They need it!

I did this too.  Got some of the best reviews of my career. But sales are still not that hot, for that book or any of my others.  But I do seem to have a couple of fans, which is great.

In February I plan to dig out the book I wrote during NaNo to start revising and editing it.  By then I'm hoping I've forgotten enough about it to look at it with fresh eyes and really see what needs to be done - other than the 700 things I left myself notes to fix later.  I'm hoping this will turn out to be good once it has been through some revision.

I've done this too.  I just haven't finished revising it.  And it feels like there is such a huge, overwhelming amount of work to do to make it good.  I will do it.  One day.  I swear.

At some point in the year I want to write the other book I had in mind for NaNo.  A Stranger to Kindness is going to be a challenge for me, but the characters are living and growing in my head and eventually they're going to want to get out to play on the page.  It's going to be kind of a companion piece to Stumped in that Ozzy's little sister, Meg, is a character in this one.  Not exactly a main character, but an important one.  The main character is a boy who doesn't speak, and given how reliant I am on dialogue in my books, this is where the challenge lies...

I still want to do this.  The story is a good one, but I don't know if I have the energy or the will to do it right now.  I need to wait until I'm feeling more excited about writing again before I can do justice to Harley and Wolfe and Meg.

So those are my main writing challenges for the year.  I'm hoping to be able to find other opportunities too, but as I don't know what they are yet, it's difficult to know how to plan for them other than to be open to things.

I didn't hit my reading goal this year.  In retrospect, 160 books in a year was probably always going to be a stretch, but libraries closing over lockdown definitely didn't help.  I'm going to set a more realistic 145 book goal for 2021 and already have the first nine or ten lined up to read over the next ten days.  I can't wait!

Been doing a lot of reading this year.  Turns out that there's all this time to read if you don't write...

Other goals for the year include continuing to exercise regularly and to go to the cinema as much as possible.  COVID-19 has made significant changes to the way films are being released and viewed, and as someone who has devoted much of her life to cinemas, I want to support them as much as possible.  I cannot imagine a world in which movies are not seen in theaters.  As much as I love the convenience of being able to watch what I want at home, nothing will replace the experience of sitting in a dark theatre with a community of strangers and sharing a story.

Done this too.  The gym more than the cinema, although I have tried hard on that one.  There's just been so little on I want to see!  But as soon as there is something I want to see, believe me, I'll be first in line.

And I think that's it...  What are your goals for the new year?

So I didn't do too badly, did I?  Let's see how things look by the end of the year.

How are you tracking with your yearly goals?

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 9-7-21


It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend which is always worth celebrating.

My older son and I have tickets to the orchestra on Sunday afternoon which I'm looking forward to.  We're meeting a friend for lunch first, which I'm also looking forward to.

My slow cooker is a great success.  So far I've made a curry which was delicious, and the best cauliflower cheese I've ever made.  Going to try something with meat this weekend since it's my turn to host Sunday dinner.

Not going to get a lot of time to relax over the weekend, I'm thinking, but if I do get a few moments, I do have some good books to read.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

IWSG - July

It's the first Wednesday in July, so goes what time it is?  Yes....  It's the Insecure Writer's Support Group monthly post.

The awesome co-hosts for the July 7 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

This month's question is an interesting one:  What would make you quit writing?

This question has come at the perfect time for me because I feel a lot like quitting writing at the moment.  I'm going to take a break for a few weeks and try something else to exercise my creativity for a while because writing just isn't working for me right now.

I've been doing this writing thing for a long time, and while it may look like I've been relatively successful with four published novels and umpteen stories published in journals and anthologies, I don't feel very successful.  My books have all had pretty wonderful reviews overall - there are always going to be a few people who don't like them and give them one or two stars - and I regularly get contacted by readers who enjoyed or were moved by my stories.  And all that is great.  I love it.  That connection with readers is a big part of why I do it.

I've spent a lot of years working at this.  A lot of hours.  I've missed out on doing a lot of other things (especially sleep) to pursue my writing.  Yet I don't feel like I'm a lot further along the road to having a career than I was fifteen years ago.  My royalty cheques are regular, but depressing as hell.  Some quarters my royalties are not even enough to buy a bottle of wine. Bottom shelf wine...

I don't get to see my books in stores because my publisher doesn't distribute to bookstores and doing it myself costs me too much.  I lose around $10 on every copy I sell in a store in my city, between the amount it costs me to freight the books over here, the cut the store takes and the limit to the amount you can charge for a YA paperback.

I can see them in the library, but again, that's at my cost.  I donate copies of my books to the local library system and my sons' school library because I want people to be able to read them.  But I have to buy those copies and freight them here first.  But at least I know people are reading them when I go to the library and they are not on the shelves.

And then there's my newer books, the ones that I haven't published yet, the ones I'd like to see published with a larger, more established press.  I've been querying again for several months with a book I feel is the best I've ever written, and haven't had any requests.  Even my first, really terrible novel got a few requests, and that was before I knew how to write a proper query letter!

I know that was a long time ago and times have changed, but so have I.  I'm a much better writer than I was back then and I certainly know how to craft a query.  Yet... crickets.

So it's time for a break. I know I will come back to writing at some point.  I love it too much to give up entirely, and I know a new story idea will come barrelling in and blindside me when I least expect it.  And I guess there's always that tiny spark of hope that the new one, that shiny idea that won't leave me alone, will be the one that breaks through.

Do you ever feel like quitting?  How do you move past it?

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Weekly Goals 5-7-21

 Oddly, I don't really have many goals for this week.  I'm going to let my last pass on Juliet x2 sit for a week or two so I can think about what I want to do next and how I want to implement the changes I need to make.

I should be thinking about writing something else, but I'm just not inspired to do it.  I'm thinking about doing something else creative for a while.  Just until I get consumed with a new writing idea.  I'm pretty confident it will happen.  It always has before.

I have a lot to do at work this week, and a new boss starting next Monday, so things are likely to be pretty chaotic for a while there.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, July 2, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 2-7-21


It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

I found a slow cooker while cleaning out a room at work, and since no one else seemed to want it, I've brought it home to experiment with.  I've never used one before, so I'm interested to see what I can make.  I'm going to try a curry first because I feel like those really flavorful dishes are the kind of thing that would benefit most from slow cooking.

I finished a pass on Juliet x2 during the week, so now I have even more notes to address and more things I need to add or change.  I need to figure out a good time to take a day off to make a good start on that.

And that's about it for me this week.  It has been a fairly uneventful week in the grand scheme of things.  We're back to level 1 after no community transmission of COVID by the infected tourist.  Amazing how that happened considering how many places he went and how crowded they all were.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Books I've Read: The Darling


I've long been a fan of Russell Banks so it was a nice surprise to find a book of his that I hadn't yet read when I went to the library last week.

Based on real events, The Darling follows Hannah Musgrave (AKA Dawn Carrington) through two decades as she escapes the US where she is wanted for her political activities with the Weather Underground and makes a new life for herself in Liberia.

I knew very little about the history of Liberia, so I found this book fascinating in that regard, but I did find Hannah to be a very difficult main character to like.  She's a very cold woman, perhaps because she learned to supress her emotions to be able to do the work she had to do as a political radical.  She has more compassion for the chimpanzees she looks after in Liberia than she does for her own family.

The books jumps around in time quite a bit, starting in the 1990s when Hannah has returned to the States and is living a quiet life on a farm in upstate New York.  It's a place we return to several times, even as Hannah travels back to Liberia in search of the sons she left behind in the war-torn African nation and becomes mired in memories of the past.

We see her life in the 1970s, pre-Liberia as she lives in hiding from the US Government, still contributing to the radical political causes she has been devoted to since her college days.  We see her arrival in Africa and eventual drift into Liberia where it is not long before she meets Woodrow, the low-level government official she eventually marries.

Hannah's introduction to Woodrow's family in a remote village does not go well, and is perhaps a hint at what the marriage will be like.  Woodrow is not faithful, either to his wife, or to the president he purports to work for.  

Charles Taylor, the man who will set Liberia's bloody revolution in motion is present as part of Woodrow and Hannah's social circle from the start, but it is not until well into the book that his true colours begin to show.  And by then, his life and Hannah's are, intrinsically, if superficially linked, and with them, the fate of Liberia and its people.

I found this book fascinating, even though I can't say I particularly enjoyed a lot of it.  Hannah's lack of emotional engagement with the people around her made it difficult to empathise with even the most horrific things she experiences.  Yet she is not objective in her coldness to what unfolds, which made reading her account challenging.  I have never experienced a narrator like this, which is again, interesting, even if I didn't particularly enjoy the approach.

But if you are at all interested in Liberia and its recent history, this gives a pretty good insight into what happened there.  It's not a bad book by any means - it's well written and the characters remain consistent throughout - it's more that I just didn't enjoy spending the length of the novel with the narrator.  It might just be me...

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

Set in Liberia and the United States from 1975 through 1991, The Darling is the story of Hannah Musgrave, a political radical and member of the Weather Underground.

Hannah flees America for West Africa, where she and her Liberian husband become friends of the notorious warlord and ex-president, Charles Taylor. Hannah's encounter with Taylor ultimately triggers a series of events whose momentum catches Hannah's family in its grip and forces her to make a heartrending choice.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Weekly Goals 28-6-21

 My goals remain persistently the same I'm afraid...  Just to keep working on Juliet x2.  I've actually made some progress, which is good.  I just need to find the time and inspiration to do some new writing toward the start of the book.  And at the moment inspiration is something I'm struggling to find.

We seem to have reached that part of the winter where it rains all the time and is overcast and grey for weeks on end.  So my other goal is to do things that cheer me up - other than eating which seems to be my go-to in the winter.  But that just ends up depressing me more when I can no longer fit into my favourite clothes.

Which leads to my final goal, which is, as usual, to go the the gym more.  It's a little trickier with the city still in Level 2 COVID restrictions, but fingers crossed they will be lifted by Wednesday.  There have been no cases so far, despite the number of places that Australian went last weekend, and how busy they were.  I feel like we may have dodged a bullet there.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 25-6-21

It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

A few things actually.

My son got mugged on Tuesday, so I'm celebrating that he wasn't hurt.  It's a messy, complicated situation, but I'm celebrating the fact someone saw it happening and called the police before things escalated.

I'm also celebrating the fact the same son passed his first big math exam.  It can only be a huge (and much needed) boost to his confidence.

I'm NOT celebrating the fact we're back in COVID alert level 2 after some guy from Sydney came over here for a weekend and then tested positive when he got home.  He went to a lot of places, many of them very crowded, so the entire region has gone into level 2.  The only plus side of this is that so many people are working at home, the buses are almost empty and it's super quiet in my office.  I've been the only one in my team the last two days...

I have made some progress on Juliet x2.  Hoping to get through more over the weekend.  Once this latest COVID alert is over, I might take a day off and do a writing blitz in an attempt to try and fill in the holes I've identified in the structure/plot.  I feel like I need a dedicated day to do that work and it makes sense to go back to the library where I wrote most of the first draft to do it.

One of my friends became a grandma last week, so I'm going around to her house tonight to have a drink to celebrate.  Or maybe commiserate...  I'm not sure what's appropriate when you become a grandma at such a young age.  Makes me feel old because the daughter who had the baby used to work for me when I ran a cinema.  I know that was many years ago now, but it doesn't feel that long.  

Damn!  I'm getting old...

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021


This was a fun, quick read that I enjoyed far more than I was anticipating. I read the whole thing in a single afternoon!

Hugo has just been dumped by his girlfriend and as a consolation prize, she gives him the trip across America they were planning on taking together.  The problem is, all the bookings are in her name and they're not transferrable.  Itching to get away from his large, loving, but somewhat claustrophobic family, Hugo decides to find another person with the same name to travel with.

Mae is about to go to college but isn't looking forward to it much after not being accepted into the film programme she's been dreaming about for years.  When the opportunity to travel across the country by train pretty much drops in her lap, she jumps at the chance to leave her life behind for a few days.  Who knows?  She might even find the inspiration for a new film out there.

This is a dual POV book and the two voices are quite distinct in that Hugo is English and Mae American.  While they seem to understand each other perfectly well, their vernacular is distinct and I loved this about the book.

I also loved that Hugo is a sextuplet.  His journey through the novel was my favourite because I felt like he grew the most.  His conflict between wanting to find out who he is on his own, and the love and comfort he gets from being part of a large group of siblings really resonated with me.

Which is not to say that Mae's journey wasn't compelling too.  She's a filmmaker struggling to find her voice, and obviously that's something I understand too.

The setting, mainly a cross-country train, is the perfect setting for a romance.  There is something very romantic about the idea of being trapped in a small space with someone for a long period of time.  Especially if that space is pretty private and maybe a little uncomfortable.

As I said, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fresh, breezy romance.  It's the perfect summer read!

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

Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo's spare ticket offer online, she's convinced it's the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he'll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they've created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Weekly Goals 21-6-21

 It's my younger son's birthday today - can you believe he's fourteen?  I can't.  It feels like just yesterday that he was a toddler and always under my feet.  Now he's over six feet tall and still growing.

But this is not a celebrate post.  It's a goals post.  So this week's goals....  Much the same as last week's.  Keep working on Juliet x2.  I didn't do much over the weekend, I'm afraid.  The weather was horrible and it was far too tempting to curl up in a chair and read under a blanket instead of shivering over my keyboard.  But this week I'll do some more.

The weather looks set to stay horrible most of the week, so I think a lot of this week is going to be about staying as warm and dry as possible.  Thankfully we have proper heating at the office this year, which makes going to work much more pleasant, even if I do get soaked on the way there.  Both the kids already have colds, so I'm going to have to work hard not to catch it.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 18-6-21

It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

Fried cauliflower.  I just had some for lunch and it was ridiculously delicious.  If that's not something to celebrate, I don't know what is.

I've also seen some good films this week, which always makes me happy, one for work and one for fun  I also saw one I didn't love, but you get that sometimes.

I haven't done as much work on Juliet & Juliet as I wanted to, but I'm hoping to get some time with it over the weekend.  I also hope to get some sleep over the weekend because I'm feeling quite exhausted.  My son's sick and kept waking me up coughing and on top of that, there were a bunch of boy racers hooning around the neighborhood in one of those super grunty cars all night.  Grrrr.....

And that's about it for things to celebrate this week.  What are you celebrating?

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

This book was an absolute joy for someone who loves books and reading as much as I do.  I devoured the whole thing between waking up on Sunday and lunch.

Aaron Stein and his father Ira run a bookstore in a small town outside of Seattle.  A family tragedy has left his father barely able to cope so the store has been signed into Aaron's name.  But Aaron doesn't really want it. He hasn't even read a book since the tragedy which sent his mother running from the family and his father spiralling into panic attacks.

A broken bookshelf and the discovery of just how much debt the store is actually in send Aaron over the edge and he decides to sell the store.  He just can't quite tell Ira.  Yet.

When a chance encounter with an old school acquaintance leads to an unexpected friendship, and meeting Hannah, the girl who might just be perfect for him, Aaron's life changes.  So does his outlook which has always been gloomy.  Suddenly things are looking up and for the first time in a long time, Aaron starts feeling hopeful about the future.  Even the future of the store.

But unless he can find the money to buy back the store, there isn't a future for it and when everyone around him finds out what he's done, the hope he was beginning to harbour crashes around him. 

I loved this book.  Aaron's troubles felt to real to me, and so insurmountable.  No one should be dealing with so much at nineteen, and it's no wonder Aaron feels overwhelmed by the responsibility.  Yet once the tragedy his family has faced is revealed, it's completely understandable how and why he's wound up in this position.

The supporting characters are delightful, even if they are drawn with a pretty broad brush.  They are enough to re-instate your faith in the inherent goodness of people.

If you're looking for a quick, fun read that will leave you with a smile on your face, I would recommend this one.  It's not exactly a romp, but there's certainly a lot of humour in there and it certainly put a smile on my face!

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

'I got this whole-body feeling... it was like a message from future me to present me, telling me that in some way we weren’t just bound to happen, that we had, in some sense, already happened. It felt... inevitable.'

So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein.

While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.

And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for?

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Weekly Goals 14-6-21

 Can you believe it's the middle of June already?  Crazy!  My youngest son will be turning 14 in a week.  

Once again, my goals remain stubbornly similar this week - do some work on Juliet & Juliet.

I have revised, to some degree, through chapter 19, but there are a couple of places I need to add new scenes and I need to figure out what they are and how they will drive the narrative forward. 

Other than that, I don't have any other goals, other than the usual one to go to the gym at least 5 times during the week.  I'm kind of in a routine now, so I think that shouldn't be too hard.  I'm not loving the 6am classes, but I do like having it out of the way early in the day!

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 11-6-21

It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

I love a four-day week, even if it does mean cramming the work in.  In a perfect world I'd love to be able to work a four-day week every week and have a full day to devote to writing.  Once day, maybe...

I haven't done as much work on Juliet & Juliet as I had hoped to, but I have done some, so I'm calling that a win.  I hope to have a bit of free time over the weekend to do some, and a little more time next week.  I'm giving myself until the end of July to get it into some kind of shape so I can send it to readers.

I have family coming for dinner on Sunday and am going to try a classic recipe - chicken piccata.  I haven't made it before, but I've eaten it in restaurants and it's delicious.  I'm hungry as I write this and just thinking about it is making me hungrier.

My partner and I are going to the movies tomorrow night and I'm really looking forward to it.  I've been hanging out to see In The Heights since I heard it was being made into a film and they've got some previews on at my local theatre this weekend, so I'm going to pick up some tickets on my way home from work tonight.

And that's about all I have planned for my weekend other than chores and laundry and reading.

What are you celebrating this week?  Got any plans for the weekend?

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Books I've Read: In the Key of Nira Ghani

I have read a lot of books recently which deal with the immigrant experience and one of the things I've noticed is that regardless of where the family has come from, the struggles they face in a new country are the same.  In this book the family was from Guyana, but the challenges Nira faces are not unlike those experienced by families in other books from countries as diverse as India, Iran, Korea and more.

All the teens in these books face discrimination from their peers and the general public whether it's because of the color of their skin, the clothes they wear, their accent or anything else that makes them in some way different.  In this book Nira feels like McKenzie, the popular girl at school purposely misunderstands everything about her and makes derogatory comments about her diet or religion just to humiliate her.

On top of this, Nira has to deal with pressure from her parents to succeed at school and to get high enough grades to become a doctor.  And to make things worse, her cousin Farah now lives in the same city and the parents like to get together to compete over whose daughter is the best.  And Farah always seems to be one step better.

Nira doesn't even want to be a doctor. She loves music and is a talented trumpet player, even if her trumpet is not the best available.  When the opportunity arises to try out for the school's jazz band, Nira knows this is her chance to shine.  But first she needs to get her parents' permission and that's not going to be easy when her parents consider music to be frivolous.

On top of this, Nira's best friend Emily is suddenly including McKenzie in everything they do, causing a fracture in the friendship Nira has always counted on.  And there's Noah, the gorgeous boy who suddenly takes in interest in Nira once she starts talking about music.  Things get even more complicated when Farah inserts herself into their expanded friend group and starts cozying up to Noah.

Suddenly Nira's only ally seems to be her grandmother, but even she won't always stand up for Nira in the face of her parents' demands.  With her world pulling her in too many directions with its demands, Nira can't figure out how to keep all the people she cares about happy without hurting herself.

I really enjoyed this coming of age story.  Nira's struggles to find herself and her place in the world are not unique to the immigrant experience, but universal and every teen will be able to see themselves and their struggle for independence in Nira's story.  The cultural references included give the story added flavour and create an immersive and realistic world against which Nira's story plays out.

I would recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a good coming of age story.

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

Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira's grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it's now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion. 

As if fighting with her parents weren't bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie "Mac," take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira's much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily's attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira's trusted trumpet "George" remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.

But it isn't until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she's not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.

A relatable and timely contemporary, coming-of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghani explores the social and cultural struggles of a teen in an immigrant household.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Weekly Goals 7-6-21

 With the extra day off, I completely forgot to write my weekly goals post!

But better late than never, I guess...

My goals aren't that different than they have been for the last few weeks though.  Keep working through Juliet & Juliet in the hope that one day it will be ready to send to someone to read.  And maybe send out a few more queries for Standing too Close.  

But after not getting any bites during #PitMad and no requests from three different versions of my query, I'm beginning to think that book might be dead in the water.  Which is making me a little despondent because I love this story and these characters.

No wonder I'm struggling to get inspired to revise...

But enough bitching.  It's not like I don't know how publishing works.  I've been doing this long enough.  I may just have to add this book to the file of other finished books that never seemed to get any traction.


What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 4, 2021

Celebrate the Small Tings 4-6-21

It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!  And even better, it's a looooong weekend.

We're not going away or anything exciting like that, but just having that extra day off will make a difference.  It's the last long weekend until October, so I'd better make the most of it.

I have made some progress with Juliet & Juliet.  Not a lot, but some.  So I will keep going.  I really must stop calling it Juliet & Juliet because that's not actually going to be the title and it's misleading because the two girls aren't both called Juliet.  One is called Iris.  As usual, I haven't really settled on a title, but I'm leaning toward something like Guide Us...

I'm going up the coast to visit my friend tomorrow, and another friend is coming along too.  It will be great to see both of them because it's far too infrequent.  Other than that, my long weekend plans are pretty open.  The forecast isn't great for Sunday and Monday, so I will have to try and get all the chores done on Saturday.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Insecure Writers Support Group

 It's the first Wednesday in June, so it's time for the IWSG!  

The awesome co-hosts for the June 2 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

This month's question is also a good one: For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

For me this depends on the book.  Sometimes I know what changes I want to make to a story almost as soon as I finish the draft, so I go ahead and make those before I forget what they are and just keep going because I'm on a roll and my head is firmly in that story's world.

Other times I've left books for years before going back to them.  Two years or more, even.  

The book I'm currently querying is one of these.  I wrote most of it during NaNo one year, then dropped it for some reason - maybe because I had a book releasing and needed to focus on that for a while - and came back to it about 18 months ago.  After so long without looking at it, I'd completely forgotten most of it and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

Unfortunately in that case, I hadn't written the ending and there were some quite large pieces missing.  It took me a ridiculously long time to actually finish it because I'd left it so long I could no longer remember what I'd intended.  These are the times I kind of wish I did at least a little outlining so I had a record of what I'd been thinking.

On average though, I'd say I leave my books between one and four months before going back to them.

My dream is to one day be able to write full time and work to a draft one, revise one, draft one, revise one schedule.  But that is not on the cards right now.  And I'm supposed to be revising one at the moment - my 2020 NaNo novel - which I left for four months without looking at because I was busy with the release of Chasing the Taillights

I think that was a good amount of time.  I already knew it was going to be a lot of work because I left myself notes while I was writing so I'd remember to look things up and fill in details I was unsure of in the drafting process.  And since reading through it, I now know there's even more stuff that needs fixing.  The pacing isn't quite right at the start, so I feel like I need to add a couple more chapters.  I also think my MCs need a few more friends around them to feel real.

Unfortunately revising never seems to get any easier.  On occasion I've worked chapter by chapter and revised thoroughly before moving on, but this isn't the best process for me.  I like to draft fast and get the whole story onto the page before I revise anything - even when I decide three chapters in that some major plot event I thought I was aiming for isn't the right one after all.

At the end of the day, whatever works best for you.  If you lose interest in a story if you leave it alone to too long, work out what the optimum length of time for leaving it is for you.  If you work better with a year or more to let it settle, make your schedule work with that.

But I'm interested in other processes.  How long do you usually leave something?

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Weekly Goals 31-5-21

 I finished my most recent beta read, so this week I'm going to get back into working on Juliet & Juliet.  I still can't think what to write to replace a scene I cut out of chapter 4, so I'm going to just leave a note and move on.  What needs to go there may become clear as I move on.  Hopefully...

Other than that, I don't have anything much in the way of goals this week.  Just the usual stuff - going to the gym, getting through all the work I need to get through.  It's a long weekend this coming weekend (Queen's Birthday) and I feel like I will be crawling my way toward it.  It's the last long weekend before Labour Day in October, so I feel like I need to make the most of it.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 28-5-21

It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

I'm looking forward to having a quiet one this weekend because I've been feeling totally exhausted this week.  I think this 6am gym thing is wearing me out!  It's a little different getting up at 5:30am to crawl to my computer and write to getting up and out of the house and exercising.  But it's good and I'm sure I'll get used to it.  And not every week will have a super blood moon eclipse to stay up and watch the night before....

Did you see it?  Was quite spectacular and really gave the sense of how quickly the earth is actually moving.  I would probably have stayed and watched for much longer if it hadn't been so freaking freezing that night!

I have not done much work on Juliet & Juliet. I admit.  I opened the document again and did a few little tweaks to the first three chapters which I had already done some work on, then got stuck at the same point in chapter 4 that I did before.  I need to write some new stuff in there, and am not sure exactly what to write.  

And then another friend asked me to do some beta reading for her, so I jumped at that...  But I will go back to Juliet & Juliet soon, I promise.  This is only a few chapters of beta reading, not a whole book, so won't take long.

I also wrote an article which you can read here.  It's about writing LGBTQIA+ characters.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 25, 2021


I loved this book from the very first line.  The author is also a poet and I think this shows in the economical yet lyrical way she uses language. It's a short book, but packs a punch in its prosaic look at America's love of guns.

Pearl France is an outsider.  Born to a teenage runaway, she's grown up living in a car on the outskirts of a trailer park in small-town Florida.  Not wanting to get tangled up with the authorities, Pearl and her mother keep largely to themselves.  Margot works and earns enough to keep them in powdered milk, cereal, bug spray and cleaning products and Pearl goes to school.  One of the few residents of the trailer park is a preacher, so they occasionally also go to church.

When the church sets up a scheme where people can hand in their guns ostensibly to put a halt to gun violence, things in the trailer park start to change. Especially when the reverend's friend Eli shows up.

Suddenly Eli is taking up space in Margot's car and Pearl must find other places to go to get away from his overbearing presence.  And his guns which seem to be piling up all over the trailer park.  He even gives one to Margot, to keep her and Pearl safe...

But in this world where guns are as common as mud and people congregate on Sunday afternoons to shoot bullets into the river in the hope of hitting an alligator, it is inevitable that guns will dictate the course of Pearl's life.

This is a beautifully written book that deals with some tough subject matter.  Pearl is an engaging narrator, both naive and world-wise, tough yet fragile. Through her eyes, the world is both brutal and beautiful, even if she doesn't fully recognise either.  Her mother has sheltered her from a lot, only giving her small snippets of her past and the wealthy upbringing she escaped.  So Margot is Pearl's whole world.

Through exploring Pearl's world and those she calls family and friends, this book gives a stark reminder of the pervasiveness of guns and gun violence in America.

It's a short book, and I found it an easy read (and very enjoyable because the author puts words together in such a beautifully lyrical way), but the subject matter is tough enough that I would caution anyone who may be sensitive to violence to think a little before diving in.  It's not particularly graphic, but there are acts of violence on the page, if that is something that might upset you.

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

Fourteen-year-old Pearl France lives in the front seat of a broken down car and her mother Margot lives in the back. Together they survive on a diet of powdered milk and bug spray, love songs and stolen cigarettes.

Life on the edge of a Florida trailer park is strange enough, but when Pastor Rex’s ‘Guns for God’ programme brings Eli Redmond to town Pearl’s world is upended. Eli pays regular visits to Margot in the back seat, forcing Pearl to find a world beyond the car. Margot is given a gift by Eli, a gun of her own, just like he’s given her flowers. It sits under the driver’s seat, a dark presence…

Gun Love is a hypnotic story of family, community and violence. Told from the perspective of a sharp-eyed teenager, it exposes America’s love affair with firearms and its painful consequences.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Weekly Goals 24-5-21

 This week I swear I am going to get back into Juliet and Juliet.  It's going to be slow, I know, but I need to get this book into shape.  So I am making a commitment to actually do some work on it.

My routine is switching up a little though, because my gym decided to renovate and as part of the renovation, they're closing the spin studio.  So the class I have gone to on a Saturday for around 15 years is no longer happening.  Spin classes as a whole are barely happening, which is the same thing that happened at the branch of this gym I go to in town.

So, to try and get a couple of good spins a week in, I am going to sacrifice writing time two mornings a week to go to classes at 6:15am.  Not ideal, but it looks like the best I can do at the moment.  I looked up other gyms, but everything else doesn't have the same flexibility and costs more, so I feel like I'm stuck with this gym for now.

So I am going to have to find another couple of hours somewhere else in the week to make up for those two mornings.  

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, May 20, 2021

It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

My kids got me tickets to a show for Christmas and this time, it's actually going ahead!  In 2019 I got tickets to The Book of Mormon for Christmas, but the show was cancelled because of COVID so I never got to go...  This time the tickets are for Jersey Boys which is not The Book of Mormon, but hopefully still good.  It's been a long time since I last saw a musical in an actual theatre.

Other than that, my weekend is looking relatively free.  Rather annoyingly, my gym decided to cancel the class I have been going to every Saturday morning for about 15 years, so I'm going to have to rearrange everything to fit in a different class at a later time.  It's not that I dislike change; it's more that the 9am class worked well with everything else we need to get done on a Saturday morning.  But I guess now we'll just have to do grocery shopping and chores earlier, and the gym later.

And that's about it for this week.  I still haven't been writing, but I do plan to get back to it next week.  I'm putting it in writing here, so hold me to it. Make me accountable. I will get back to Juliet & Juliet on Monday.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A Quick Spell Release Day Celebration and Interview with Author Patricia Josephine


My friend Patricia has a new book out this week, so I had her drop by to tell us a little bit about herself and her book!

When did your writing journey start?

A: Unlike many writing friends, I didn’t get into writing until my late twenties. BUT, I’ve always been a day dreamer, so I’ve always had story ideas in my head. Usually, they were set in worlds that weren’t my own. X-men. Star Wars. Whatever book, TV, or movie I had consumed recently that I enjoyed. I guess I day dreamed fan fiction and it was only a matter of time until I started putting words on paper.

What made you decide to write short fiction?

A: It started with Twitter. Jocelyn Rish created a hashtag called #15tt (15 Minute Tweet Tales.) You were to use 140 characters to tell a story. You had 15 minutes to write it. I had been doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge every April and I wanted a theme, but 140 characters seemed too short for it, so I used Jocelyn’s prompts to write 100 word flash fiction for the challenge. When it was over, I kept doing them because they were great writing exercises. It wasn’t until later, when I saw a collection of 100 word flash fiction at MIParaCon that I got the idea to expand those stories to 200 words and put them into a collection. By then I had a ton of them so it was easy to pick out 45 and expand them.

Why 45 stories? Why not 50?

A: There is a reason, but I can’t for the life of me remember what that is. The answer will probably come after this is posted.

How do you come up with different names for 45 different stories?

A: It’s a pretty straightforward process. I write down all the names from each story and note when I have duplicates. Then I go to a baby name site or ask for suggestions. Thankfully, it’s not actually 45 stories that I have to do that for. Some stories are told in first person and you never learn their name.

Who do you look up to as a writer?

A: I can’t really say there’s any single writer I look up to, but one writer that always comes to mind as someone I enjoy reading myself and will definitely call a favorite is Kerrelyn Sparks. She writes paranormal romance. She also adds a touch of humor here and there that always makes me laugh. When I need comfort and a happily ever after, I turn to her.

About A Quick Spell


We are bewitched by what we can't see.

Conjure delight with a fantastical collection of tales. Each story is told in exactly 200 words and designed to delight your imagination no matter how busy your day is.

Will you believe? 

Buy Links




About the Author

Patricia Josephine is a writer of Urban Fantasy and Sci-Fi Romance books. She actually never set out to become a writer, and in fact, she was more interested in art and band in high school and college. Her dreams were of becoming an artist like Picasso. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head for fun. That was the start of her writing journey, and she hasn't regretted a moment. When she's not writing, she's watching Doctor Who or reading about serial killers. She's an avid knitter. One can never have too much yarn. She writes Young Adult Paranormal, Science Fiction, and Fantasy under the name Patricia Lynne.

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. 



Where to find Patricia: 







Amazon Author Page


Draft 2 Digital

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Weekly Goals 17-5-21

 I still have a few chapters left to go on the beta-read I'm doing, so my goal for this week is to get that finished and sent off.  Then I will get back into Juliet & Juliet, regardless of whether I feel like doing it or not.

I have a sense it's going to be a busy week at work too, so I'm preparing myself for that.

I rewrote my query for Standing too Close, so once I've finished my beta-read, I want to send off a handful of these new queries to see if I get any bites on this one.  I'm beginning to feel like maybe this story isn't the right one for the current point in time.  And that's disappointing because I know it's among the best things I've written.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, May 14, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 14-5-21


It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend, and it's my birthday!

I haven't actually made any plans or anything useful like that, but it's so nice to have my birthday fall on a weekend again.

Rather foolishly I told my family I was leaving it up to them as to what we might do to celebrate which probably means absolutely nothing.   But we shall see...

Even if they don't do anything, I will make sure I enjoy my day and I'm telling you now, I will not be doing any house cleaning!  That can wait until Sunday.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Books I've Read: The Project


Here's something you may not know about me: I'm fascinated by cults.  I've probably watched most of the cult docos there are available on Netflix and am always eager to read books set in and around cults.  So this book sounded right up my alley, not only because it deals with a cult, but because it's by Courtney Summers who is one of my must-read authors.

I found this book in the YA section of the library, but I'm not entirely sure it is YA.  It takes place over several time periods, jumping back and forth from one to another seamlessly, but in the present day, the book's narrator is 19 and working for a magazine.  19 is not far outside the traditional YA age-range, but it's getting up there, and some of the content in this book felt like it might sit more comfortably in an adult book.  

But look who's talking....  My own books often seem to fit into this grey area too.

The main character, Lo, is alone.  Her parents died in a terrible car wreck that left her critically injured.  While she was recovering in hospital, her sister Bea visited less and less, eventually disappearing to join the secretive community known as the Unity Project.  Ever since leaving the hospital, Lo has tried to re-connect to her sister to no avail.

Now Lo is working for a magazine and desperate to prove herself to the manager who hired her as an assistant.  She's a writer and is certain she has something more to offer the magazine than organising the boss' appointments and bringing him coffee and lunch.  When she manages to finally get access to the Unity Project, she's certain that not only will she and Bea reunite, but she'll scoop the story of a lifetime for the magazine.

But as she gets closer to the community and its charismatic leader, Lev, Bea is still elusive.  As she digs deeper, the community begins to reveal its dark side and Lo realises finding Bea is not her only problem.  In fact, if she doesn't stop digging into the Unity Project, her life might be in danger,

I really enjoyed this book.  There are plenty of twists and turns and the tension ratchets up from page to page.  It would be easy to dislike Bea for abandoning her sister while she was recovering, but because sections of the book are told through Bea's eyes, we get a real sense of the trauma she is going through as a result of the accident and the associated guilt and pain.  It is easy to see how, at this low point in her life, she might be vulnerable to what Lev has to offer.

It's also easy to understand Lo's anger at Bea for leaving her, and her desperation to reconnect even when Bea refuses to speak to her.  And it is this that drives her to pursue the Unity Project and to uncover whatever dark and dirty secrets she is certain they conceal.

I don't think you need to be as into cults as I am to enjoy this book.  I think anyone who likes a good thriller with lots of twists and unexpected turns will like it as much as I did.

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

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died in a tragic car accident, her sister Bea joined the elusive community called The Unity Project, leaving Lo to fend for herself. Desperate not to lose the only family she has left, Lo has spent the last six years trying to reconnect with Bea, only to be met with radio silence.

When Lo’s given the perfect opportunity to gain access to Bea’s reclusive life, she thinks they’re finally going to be reunited. But it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t want to be found, and as Lo delves deeper into The Project and its charismatic leader, she begins to realize that there’s more at risk than just her relationship with Bea: her very life might be in danger.

As she uncovers more questions than answers at each turn, everything Lo thought she knew about herself, her sister, and the world is upended. One thing doesn’t change, though, and that’s what keeps her going: Bea needs her, and Lo will do anything to save her.

From Courtney Summers, the New York Times bestselling author of the 2019 Edgar Award Winner and breakout hit Sadie, comes her electrifying follow-up—a suspenseful, pulls-no-punches story about an aspiring young journalist determined to save her sister no matter the cost.