_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, 18 August 2017

Revision: Week Two


Hey! How are you today?

Well, another work week is over, so it's time to post a writing update. 

You might remember that this time last week I was feeling a little wonky because I pushed myself a bit too much. That resulted in losing an output day (last Friday), but I wasn't too concerned. I took it easy last weekend, my ribs stopped hurting and when Monday rocked around, I was ready to get productive.

Here's what I wanted to do this week:
  • Continue revising Haunted. (But this time aim for 12 pages/day)
  • Read BREAKING & post the review
  • Update photos, pics & writing files
  • Keep brainstorming my next WIP

Although I'd initially wanted to get the second draft done by the end of this week, I decided to slow the pace a bit. Mostly it was so I wouldn't push myself so hard, but I also wanted to pay proper attention to the narrative.

I actually ended up doing a bit of backtracking during the week to fix certain details, and it helped strengthen the story. Gotta be happy with that. LOL.

So, this is what I ended up doing:
  • Reached page 150/210 & added 4,773 words.
  • Read & reviewed BREAKING by Danielle Rollins.
  • Updated ALL files on laptop & ALL external devices.
  • Spent a lot of time thinking about next WIP & started jotting more notes + figured out the beginning.
  • Caught up on washing & other stuff.
  • Went for two walks every day.

There it is. I'm really happy with how everything turned out this week. I got a lot done and am feeling really good about this story. And new things keep coming to mind... love it when I get caught up in the story like this!

Anyway, that's it for now.

I'm looking forward to taking it easy during the weekend. I might squeeze some reading in, hopefully take more notes, go for walks, and spend time with hubby.

Have a good one!

BREAKING by Danielle Rollins

Breaking
Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Weston Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school--or her demanding mother, Dr. Gruen--her two best friends became the family she never had. 

 When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Weston Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There's a reason the students of Weston are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth . . . 

 With suspense and danger at every turn, Danielle Rollins keeps readers on the edge of their seats with this haunting thriller.



Last year I read a very creepy and fascinating book called Burning. So when I received the companion novel last week from Bloomsbury Australia, I couldn't wait to read it.

Charlotte attends a prestigious boarding school because her mother is a very busy doctor who travels a lot. Weston isn't the ideal home, still she's managed to make two friends who are more like family. But when Ariel and Devon commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte's left all alone and with so many questions.

Now she feels like an outsider and doesn't even want to fit in. Her only real connections are her dead friend's ex-boyfriend and her nosy new roommate. When Charlotte stumbles onto an enigmatic message from Ariel, the note sets her on a path filled with dangerous secrets, unlawful experiments, and self-improvements bordering on superpowers.

But she's not the only one caught up in this web of mystery and deceit. The clues lead back to her secretive and callous mother. The more Charlotte investigates, the more horrifying the answers become. And if she keeps following the clues, she might end up helping the whole school. As well as a bunch of forgotten kids caught in the middle of wealthy ambition...

Wow. The writing in this book is exquisite. So intimate and lyrical that Charlotte's words dragged me into her life instantly. As soon as I read the Prologue, I wanted to follow her down this very dark path. I felt a lot of things for this young girl--confusion, pity, anger, frustration, pride--and all at the same time. Her life is a lonely one made better by two friends who, as the plot starts to unravel, don't seem as wonderful as they did at the beginning.

Actually, even Charlotte isn't exactly a good girl. She's odd, considers herself average, an outsider, and certainly sometimes behaves in a questionable manner. But she's determined, and sympathetic, wants to explore who she really is. Even as the dark mystery of what happened to her friends pushes her forward and makes her do some very risky stuff, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. I just wanted her to find her own way to happiness and  be free of her mother's restrictive control.

BTW, it was so cool when a very familiar, vital character bridged the connection from Breaking to Burning. There are several clues along the way, so many breadcrumbs left scattered for the reader to make the connection between what happened at the Brunesfield Correctional Facility and Charlotte's dilemma.

I also loved the many fairy tales threaded into the overall storyline. Very clever!

Breaking is an intense and very intriguing book that's so addictive I was totally engrossed into the story. Walden might not be juvie, but it's still a place where the students are isolated and are imprisoned by the endless drive to succeed. The narrator dives headfirst into some pretty shocking situations, but is very honest and analytical about her motivations.

This story turned out to be an excellent dark thriller that toes the line of the supernatural as brilliantly as the first book. It also leads the reader to a very satisfying conclusion.

I loved this book as much as the first one. I will also always love stories about girls and monsters.



Breaking, September 2017, ISBN 9781408878262, Bloomsbury Childrens

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Forgotten Short Story Goal...


You know what I realised the other day? That I haven't posted a short story update for a while. 

The main reason is because I haven't actually written any new ones for a while. o.O

So, here I am today. To chat about the projects I've started/completed since my last shortie update.

Here's how my short story progress looks:
  • January: wrote a fantasy-esque, fairy tale-ish story about odd girls, strange spells, lost love and the mysterious sea. (w/c: 9,233, subbed a few times, got nice comments but still unpubbed)
  • February: wrote an adventurous UF story set in the underworld. (w/c: 4,880, didn't make it into antho because the guidelines were misleading) 
  • March: started writing a horror story about urban legend tropes and demons. (By the time I reached a certain point (w/c 7,964) I realised it was going to become a novel.)
  • April: wrote a YA horror story about an urban legend featuring a haunted train station. (w/c: 10,852, subbed to an anthology that is still open...)

And that, I'm afraid, is where the short story WIPs end.

So much for this:

O_o

It's not that the short story ideas have dried up or that I've given up on shorter works. It's quite the opposite. I have several I want to write and even a bunch to revise. While doing my massive file overhaul the other week, I even found some I wanted to go back to. So there's plenty of material there.

I'm just concentrating on novel-sized stories right now because they happen to be the loudest. Not to mention that I now have TWO completed first drafts that need revising. 

Anyway, here's what I have done (instead of short stories):
  • May: spent the month taking a reading break while brainstorming and preparing for the urban legend trope novel.
  • June: wrote the first draft of URBAN LEGEND. (w/c 70,035).
  • July: took most of the month off because of hubby's awesome 2-week annual leave and school holidays. Ended up dreaming about new stories and setting up Idea Files for them.
  • August: am currently working on the second draft of HAUNTED.

As you can see, I've taken a bit of time off lately, but I think it's important to rest between projects. Plus I'm really happy with the revision I'm working on right now, and excited about my next WIP.

I'm at that cool stage when I have several WIPs at various stages, and can pretty much set up a production line of projects. :D

So there's no point in stressing about that pesky ONE SHORT STORY EVERY MONTH thing. Think I'll remove the graphic from the sidebar...

Wow. This turned out to be quite a long post!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

DEFENDING TAYLOR by Miranda Kenneally


29347915
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the Hundred Oaks series, and yesterday I decided it was time to start the next book in the series. So I grabbed my Kindle and got started... less than 24 hours later, I finished it. Because I couldn't put it down.

Taylor comes from a wealthy family. Her father is a senator, both of her siblings are attending good colleges, and she loves her boarding school. But when she covers for her boyfriend when the school finds pills in his backpack, she gets expelled.

Now she finds herself in a public high school, and is a disappointment to her family. Her family thinks she's addicted to pills and when her ordeal becomes public, it even affects her father's chance of re-election. So she can't tell the truth without making the situation even worse.

The only things getting her through this difficult time in her life is re-connecting with an old crush, and soccer. But will Ezra and soccer be enough when her carefully-planned future seems so out of reach?

I loved this book!

Taylor's voice is so strong and interesring that it sucked me right in. Her ambition and motivation comes across through her actions. But she's also vulnerable. As much as she pushes herself in her studies to achieve the future she's always dreamed of, she's not always doing it for the right reasons. But she desperately wants to do the right thing and speaks her mind. I loved that about her!

Her connection to Ezra is so sweet. He's got his own problems. An old misunderstanding derailed them, so it was so nice to see them get to know each other again.

It's also very cool how these books deal with love and sex in such real and honest ways. Even with the conservative backdrop around them, these kids follow their hearts and hormones. :)

I'm so glad I decided to check this out. I missed Hundred Oaks

This is still one of my favourite series.

Also, the bonus short story about Jordan & Henry was a perfect treat. It's always great to catch up with the couple that started everything

Can't wait to read the next book.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Revision: Week One


So, another week is almost over. Yikes! And this time I went in with some goals.

If you read last week's blog post, then you know that I wanted to tackle a few things this month. I like to break them down into weekly lists because it makes it easier to achieve. :)

So, this week I had three things I wanted to do:
  • Start the second draft of YA Horror novel--let's call it Haunted from now on--and hopefully reach page 92
  • Read library book (ONE OF US IS LYING)
  • Keep brainstorming next WIP

I started the week strong and kept the momentum steady by working on revision during the day, and reading at night. But I also had a bunch of non-writerly things to do so that took up time I might have used for brainstorming/taking WIP notes.

Not to mention that I woke up feeling super wonky this morning and with a pesky pain on my (left side) ribs. I have no idea how I hurt myself, but I reckon I must have pulled a muscle or something. Like I said above, I did a lot of stuff. Plus, the NBN technicians were scheduled to come and set it up, so... that threw things out even further. 

Long story short: I took today off. Which for me means finishing the book I was reading. Of course. ;)

Anyway, this is what I achieved this week:
  • Started the Haunted second draft and reached page 77/196. Added 7,373 words and I'm really enjoying getting back into the creepy life of this small town.
  • Read and reviewed ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus. Even returned it to the library!
  • Soooooo much washing and other real-life stuff that EXHAUSTED me.
  • Went for two walks every day.

What I didn't do:
  • Any brainstorming for next WIP. :(

Even though I didn't get everything on the list done, I'm still quite happy with the progress and will keep working on the revision next week. Not sure if I'll reach the end by next Friday, but I've got the rest of the month anyway.

So, that's this week's hits and misses.

BTW, Atomic Blonde was okay. It was a case of style over substance. It looked stylish and the fight scenes were awesome, but the story was weak. The characterisation too flimsy. Oh well.

Looking forward to a relaxing weekend of hanging out around the house with hubby, going for walks, eating nice meals and just bumming around.

Have a good one!


ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus


32887579
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been looking forward to reading this book for a while, so I was super excited when the library got a copy. I mean, The Breakfast Club gets thrown around a lot when this book is mentioned, right?

The afternoon Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate end up in detention together, their lives become a living nightmare. The other person in the detention room is Simon, the guy who runs the very annoying gossip app. He's not a popular guy and a lot of people hate him for spreading rumours, but this time around he's the story.

And shortly after, these four become murder suspects. People start to talk about them, everyone wants to interview them, and the police won't stop hassling them.

Bronwyn is a good girl and an even better student, but she has a secret. Cooper is an exceptional baseball player, but his secret could ruin his career options. Addy is a loyal girlfriend, but her secret could end her relationship. Nate is a drug dealer, but more than that, he's a guy with trust and abandonment issues, and his whole life is wrapped in secrets.

So who killed Simon? Which one of these kids wanted their secret buried so badly they would kill a classmate? Or is there someone else calling the shots?

Wow. This book is fantastic! I enjoyed every single moment of it.

The story is told in the alternating POVs of Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate, so it took me a few chapters to slot each voice into the right place. Once I did, I relaxed into the flow and enjoyed learning more about each person. I especially loved how these completely different kinds of kids end up depending on each other when the world turns against them. As awful as this experience is, all of them end up learning a lot about themselves and each other. The character growth in this story is exceptional.

I also thought the writing style was awesome because it delved very deeply into each character in such a casual and natural way. Yet still managed to keep certain things concealed until the time is right. Everything just fit so well together!

Oh, and the sibling connections were as amazing as the amount of secrets squeezed into one book. So many secrets, so many lies... so much hidden beneath the surface. I LOVED it!

This is such an awesome book.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Time to plan for August!


Welcome to a new month.

OMG. Can you believe it's August already? AUGUST! Why is the year moving so fast? O.o

Anyway. A new month means new plans. A new set of goals to tackle. Especially since July was mostly hubby break time with a side of sorting + researching. LOL. 

Although the first week of this month is pretty much over, I decided not to get stuck into a new writing project until next week. This gave me the chance to sort through my digital folders/files. What I thought would take one morning to get through ended up taking THREE DAYS! That's quite a bit of time, but I'm really glad I did it because my epub and writing files were a total mess.

Seriously, I had a bunch of duplicated files & pics, zip files I no longer needed, missing docs and a bunch of stuff that was filed in the wrong place. It was seriously messy. A total nightmare. 

But after much thought and organisation, everything is nice and tidy. It should now be a lot easier to keep track of files.

Like I said above, this was a very time-consuming project that was frustrating and repetitive... BUT, it had to be done. Now I just have to make sure I file everything in the right place and keep it neat.

I also started a new notebook so I can add notes for the WIPs that keep dropping snippets into my brain. So far, whatever isn't stored inside my head, is in the folders I've set up on my phone for inspirational pics and research.

Feels good to sort through my ideas on paper. And even better to have a place to jot everything down.

So, what else do I want to accomplish this month? Revision! I'd like to complete the second draft (of one of the two) YA horror novels I've recently written. I'd also like to brainstorm and research my next WIP. I already know which one it is and the story is really speaking to me, so it would be cool to start developing the storyline.

Oh, and I want to squeeze in some reading, of course!

Well. That's it for now. We're going to watch Atomic Blonde tomorrow. Really looking forward to it.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

SPELLBOOK OF THE LOST AND FOUND by Moïra Fowley-Doyle


30079403
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last year I read an awesome book called The Accident Season, so when the next book by this author showed up on my local library's database, I put it in hold.

After a bonfire party where friends Olive and Rose drank a bit too much and can't remember most of what happened, they start to lose things. Some are simple things like a hairclip or a bracelet. Other things are a much bigger deal. Soon after the party, Olive can't find her friend, and when she does Rose seems sad and tries to avoid going to school.

Something strange happened that night, and it looks like everyone in town is going to have to pay somehow.

Things take a much stranger turn when random diary pages written by someone called Laurel begin to appear all over the place, at the same time that the girls meet three mysterious teenagers. Hazel, Ivy and Rowan are squatting in an abandoned housing estate and are clearly running from something, or someone.

But that doesn't matter because soon Olive and Rose find themselves drawn to these three. And when they find the spellbook, the five decide to use it to find their own personal losses. But using magic comes with a price and a sacrifice...

This book is so addictive! From the moment I started, I couldn't wait to find out where it was going to lead. The writing style is beautiful, and so captivating. The characters are intriguing and full of secrets and diversity. The story is magical and intriguing.

I have to admit that at first, there seemed to be too many characters and I had to get my bearings straight with each chapter POV change, but it didn't take long to get everything--and everyone--straight so I could immerse myself in the story. And when I did, I didn't want to put it down.

This story is charming and lovely and full of magic and loss. It's atmospheric, with such vivid imagery that I could see and feel everything described. There's also plenty of mystery and loss, as well as a very clever twisty path that becomes clearer the deeper you lose yourself in what's going on.

I obviously loved this excellent book that challenges what's real and what's not while entangling the past and present.

Can't wait to see what else this author comes up with.

Friday, 28 July 2017

ROSEMARY'S BABY by Ira Levin


34499949
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Earlier this year I read Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives and REALLY enjoyed it. So when the Fiftieth Anniversary edition of Rosemary's Baby was on special, I grabbed it. :)

Just like The Stepford Wives, I know all about this story because I've seen the movie and had heard all about it even before then. And just like TSW, reading RB felt like discovering Rosemary's sad story for the first time. I got swept away instantly and couldn't stop.

Anyway, here are the story basics:

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into a flashy NYC apartment building called the Bramford. This place has a reputation for freaky stuff, but that's not going to keep the young couple away. Guy is a struggling actor always looking for his big break, and Rosemary is the dutiful wife who takes care of the house while decorating and wishing for a baby.

Shortly after meeting their elderly neigbours, Roman and Minnie Castavet, good things start to happen. Guy gets a good part and Rosemary gets pregnant. But Guy spends too much time working or with the Castavets, and doesn't seem all that interested in the baby. The neighbours are very interested, though. Suddenly, they seem to be everywhere--willing to help out with vitamin drinks and good luck charms.

As her pregnancy moves along and Rosemary is constantly feeling ill, she starts to notice that something really strange is going on within these old walls... and she might be at the centre of it.

This story is SO GOOD. It's so well written and gets under your skin so much that the tension keeps building and building until the last word. This book is certainly a classic that I'm glad to have finally read.

I really liked Rosemary and found her to be a lot stronger and smarter than the other characters give her credit for. She's also likeable and her voice sincere. The story was as excellent as the very dark undertones shadowing the narrative all the way through. The other characters--even the pesky evil ones--were also very interesting. Actually, the only character I didn't like was her husband.

Guy is a total a-hole with only one thing on his mind: ambition. The way he treats Rosemary seems to be an extension of his acting career. Which makes what he does to her THAT MUCH WORSE! Still, I had to hate someone, right?

Once again, although this book deals with covens and the devil and other dark things, the true horror is how a woman is used and abused without a second thought. What these people do to Rosemary is despicable and so awful. And that she happens to be a pregnant woman with so much to lose during a time when even her body is out of her control, is chilling.

Although it's a story written so long ago and set in the mid-1960s, it still holds up. The only things I found cringy were the awkward and very dated way of referring to POC, as well as the Husband Takes Care Of Silly Little Wife thing. Luckily, neither of these things were enough to stop me from reading because (unfortunately) these were the attitudes of the time. But as I said above: cringy.

Asides from that, I loved this. It's another thought-provoking story that fills my head with so many thoughts that I'm sure I'll be thinking about this book for years to come.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

FRIEND REQUEST by Laura Marshall

When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past she feels sick. 

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. 

Because Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty-five years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers' party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life knowing herself responsible for Maria's disappearance. But now Maria is back. Or is she? 

As Maria's messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress, to try to piece together exactly what happened that fateful night. But when another friend's body turns up in the woods outside their old school, Louise realises she can't trust anyone and that she must confront her own awful secret to discover the whole truth of what happened to Maria...


This is a thriller that caught my attention after I received an email from Hachette Australia. The premise sounded interesting, so I was very excited when I received a copy.

Louise Williams is a single mother with her own interior design business. She adores her four-year-old son, only has one real friend and a handful of colleagues she barely keeps in touch with. She mostly looks through Facebook to anonymously watch other people's lives, and only sees her ex-husband when she delivers their son for visitations.

Her life isn't exciting, but it's orderly and helps her move on from the haunting teenage events that never left her.

So when she gets a friend request from a girl she used to know in high school, her world is turned upside down. Maria Weston disappeared in 1989 and was presumed dead, so how can she be sending any messages? A simple message that affects Louise so much memories begin to drown her just as the paranoia of being watched threatens to engulf her.

When she decides to attend her high school reunion, everything intensifies. Because trying to piece together what really happened that night while desperately keeping her very incriminating actions secret, might put herself and son in grave danger...

Yikes! Wow. Okay.

I really enjoyed this book. It was very addictive, well written and SO interesting. Seriously, one of my favourite things about this story was the honest simplicity of Louise's everyday existence, and how the reader is so easily fooled into believing her life is average and boring, when it's anything but. There's so much hidden beneath the surface, and the pace of the revelations is perfect.

The characters are also an amazing feat. I mean, asides from Polly--who is awesome and such a good friend--there was so much to dislike about the characters. Even Louise frustrated me so much that sometimes I couldn't believe what she was actually doing, and hated how easily she lets others dominate her. But as the story moves along and we get to know her better, every reaction makes total sense. Louise might be all grown up but she never overcame her many teen failures and weaknesses. Her interactions with an old school 'friend' (because Sophie was never much of a friend)  confirms this.

Although the majority of the story takes place in 2016, there are several very insightful chapters that jump back to 1989.

Friend Request is an engrossing and very suspenseful story that hooked me in and kept me riveted to every page. It was seriously addictive, got into my brain and I couldn't wait for the secrets to be revealed. When they were, I wasn't disappointed.

This is a seriously awesome book, with several unexpected twists and turns.

Also, I love the cover. It's so creepy!


Friend Request, July 2017, ISBN 9780751568332, Sphere

Monday, 24 July 2017

Long time no post!


Actually, that's not technically correct because I have posted several book reviews and even a Q&A with an Aussie author... but I haven't added any actual update posts for a while.

So, how are you?

This month has been an excellent one. We've enjoyed a bunch of adventures, had lotsa fun, done plenty of chilling, sleep-ins, relaxing with hubby,  and I'm now a year older. That's not so great, but you know.

Hubby took a two-week break at the beginning of July and it was AWESOME! (Especially since I thought he was home for one week and he surprised me with TWO!)

It was a break we both needed. And as I mentioned above, we went on several adventures. We watched Spider-Man: Homecoming (loved it!) and then hung out in the city, spent the best Monday ever in the city and Milson's Point (to do the Bridge Walk & visit Luna Park), walked to IKEA (which is always an adventure), went for two daily walks, caught up on some reading, watched several movies, bought a bunch of stationery & toys, found some jeans that fit super nice instead of falling down, and just enjoyed the hell out of spending time together.

Only problem is how hard returning to our real-life routine turned out to be. LOL. Last week was a little harder than usual and felt plenty wonky. Which is why I spent most of it sorting my toy, stationery and book clutter.

This week, it's time to deal with my brain clutter.

See, although we did take it easy during hubby's annual leave, my mind kept working. A bunch of idea snippets started to develop into something more solid, which is always cool. So I found myself adding inspirational pics, character names, research, and even started seeing scenes play out in my mind. When this happens, I make sure to set up files and keep adding things as they come.

It's an awesome process, really.

So, there you have it. This is what I've been doing lately. What have you been up to?

Have a great day!

Friday, 21 July 2017

THE GIRL IN BETWEEN by Sarah Carroll


34457237
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from the library because the blurb sounded intriguing, the cover is amazing (not this one, the other one) and it was added on a YA must-read list. :)

Sam and Ma live in an abandoned mill in the city. Their home is old, boarded up, the floorboards are in bad shape and the old machinery is mostly still there. Sam doesn't care about that because this is their Castle, and they live a somewhat comfortable life. But the best thing is that Sam feels safe, because as long as she stays hidden within the walls of The Castle, the Authorities can't take her from her mother.

Ma is feeling better and only takes off to buy food or to find new furniture or to beg for coins. While her mother is away, Sam watches people on the street and finds the painful memories that brought them here surfacing vividly.

As ghosts start to stir in the shadows and structural developments increase in the buildings around them, Sam might stumble onto the most shocking memory of all...

This book is amazing. It's so well written that I was captivated by Sam's voice and her story instantly. OMG. This is such a powerful story about a child forced to live on the streets because of her mother's many mistakes and addictions.

I went through so many emotions while reading this book, and read the bulk of it today because I couldn't put it down. I got so angry at her mother's selfish nature one minute, and then felt sorry for her the next. But mostly I couldn't believe she dragged her young daughter into so many dangerous situations. :(

Even though it was very sad, I really enjoyed Sam's story. In spite of being hidden away and living in isolation because her childhood was stolen from her, she was still willing to learn and always found ways to keep herself entertained. Not to mention that no matter what, she's super loyal to her mother.

Yeah. There's a lot to love in this book.

The story delves into some very serious topics: homelessness, addiction, the effect bad decisions have on innocent children, the harsh reality some people face on a daily basis. All of these situations are treated honestly, with respect and certainly moved me to the point where I wanted Sam's story to end happily.

And lastly, although I worked out the twist at the end, I still definitely loved this book and think it's worth checking out.

Q&A with Angela Slatter


Today I have a guest on my blog.   

 Angela Slatter is an Aussie author of dark fantasy and horror with a slant of mythology thrown into the mix.

The second book in her Verity Fassbinder urban fantasy series has just been released, and I was lucky enough to read an ARC copy. It's quite the mythological ride.




Hi Angela, and thank you for popping in today!

Thanks so much for inviting me, Yolanda!


I read VIGIL last year and really enjoyed it. I was hooked! So I couldn't wait to get stuck into the second book, CORPSELIGHT. How did you come up with the concept of old myth and legends co-existing with humans in an Australian contemporary setting?

It’s very much founded in ideas about how we bring our mythologies and legends with us, and that a lot of us have these tales from our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, etc, that are handed down … even though we’re no longer living in the countries that spawned us! I’m quite fascinated by how stories and our ghosts travel with us, and then change when immersed in a new atmosphere, rather like humans change when they shift and travel to a different place, and stay there for a time.


Verity's adventure began as a short story, didn't it? At what stage did you realise there was enough story to become a novel-sized series/trilogy?

Ha! When my friend Jonathan Strahan said “This would make a great novel!” and then publishers started asking “So, where’s the novel!?”

It was a big process of mental evolution to get myself into the headspace where I could think differently about the story and how it might look in a larger setting. That took a while!


What came first: Verity, the world, or the plot?

Verity. It’s always characters with me, I get their voices in my head, they start talking to me. Then I start thinking about where they fit in the universe, what environments they bounced around in … and then I start thinking about how to make life difficult for them.


I'm a huge fan of urban fantasy because it mixes the best parts of so many different genres. And reading a series set in Australia is always extra awesome. What was it about Brisbane that made it the perfect setting? Did you always plan to set it in Brisbane?

I think that for me, having been away from Brisbane for four years, it was really interesting to see the city again and to view it with new eyes. I also use public transport (I don’t drive), so that’s a really good way to see things in a different fashion, you’re not separated from other humans in quite the same way (of course, that’s not always a good thing!). And because I was also walking a lot I was seeing and exploring places I normally wouldn’t, or wouldn’t have paid attention to … and I’m kind of naturally inclined to imagine weird things in ordinary places anyway! 


And lastly, is the world of the Weyrd open ended, or do you have a set number of books in mind for Verity & Co?

Well, as with every series it depends entirely on how the books are received by readers as to whether or not a publisher decides to go ahead with other books. I have a second trilogy plotted out, but whether or not I will write it is another matter! I wrote the first trilogy to be self-contained, but there are definite possibilities. I’d love to take Verity back to Europe to investigate her family there, but we’ll just have to see what happens.


Thank you so much for answering all of my questions, and I look forward to reading more of your books.

You’re more than welcome!

---

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading the Q&A as much as I did. 

I'd once again like to say thanks to Angela for stopping by today and answering all of my questions. 

I look forward to reading more of her books. 

Plus, I'd also like to thank Jessica from Hachette Australia for sending me an ARC, and passing on my questions. :)






Wednesday, 19 July 2017

GIRLHOOD by Cat Clarke


Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows noone else will ever really understand. 

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died. 

Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity. 

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her? 

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief. 


I was really looking forward to reading this book, so I got stuck into it shortly after receiving a copy from Hachette Australia.

Harper attends an expensive boarding school in Scotland and is part of a tight group. Rowan, Lily and Ama are her best friends, so she can't wait to make long-lasting memories with them during their last year of school. 

All that changes when a new girl arrives.

Kirsty is nice but doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the group. Yet she has something in common with Harper. They've both lost sisters, and bond over their shared loss because no one else will ever understand the grief and guilt attached to such a devastating experience.

As Harper gets closer to Kirsty and finds herself confiding in her new friend, it comes with a downside--alienation from the others. With the distance growing between the girls and Harper, and her parents trying to move on with their lives, everything around her is changing too quickly. And Kirsty hiding something isn't helping...

Wow. This is such a great book! I really, really enjoyed it. From the beginning, Harper's voice is easy and relaxed, but also dripping with grief. Everything she does, experiences and remembers is measured against the memory of her sister. The twin sister who died several years ago. She feels responsible about what happened, and just can't shake the guilt.

I liked how flawed Harper was, and how easily she compensates for others' mistakes and strange behaviour, but is super tough on herself. She's a good person with good intentions, but lets everything rub her the wrong way and then reacts too impulsively. Her reactions come across as judgement, but that's not what she's aiming for. She's just so weighed down with sorrow all the time.

I also really liked the friendship group, and how they're all so close that they're virtually family. Even though each girl is very different, they are perfect friends, so at times it was hard to watch the slow deterioration of their tight-knit group. I especially liked Rowan, who was headstrong and no-nonsense, but still vulnerable in so many ways.

Yep. There were SO MANY small things I loved about this story that form an intricate and intriguing plot.

Girlhood is a gripping book. A page turner that made me fear the worst the deeper I got into the story. It's a story about the shadow grief casts over the ones left behind. It's about the highs and lows of amazing friendship. It's also quietly wicked. This book definitely got under my skin, so I had to keep reading until everything unravelled.

This is my second Cat Clarke book, and I can't wait to read more.


Girlhood, July 2017, ISBN 9781784292737, Quercus Children's Books

Sunday, 16 July 2017

EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire


25533896
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started reading this odd but wonderful book on my Kindle the other night, and have been captivated ever since.

Nancy slipped into another world and now that she's back, she just can't adjust. She hardly eats, dresses in monochrome shades, and stands so still she practically becomes a statue. These were all qualities she learned and perfected in the dead place she really calls home. Not to mention that her hair is mostly white.

So her parents send her away to boarding school. But Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children isn't an average school. It's a place where these returned kids go to stay and hopefully learn how to deal with adjusting back into the world they were born into but just can't live comfortably in anymore.

When Nancy arrives she's as lost as ever, and slowly becomes friends with the kids who've returned from darker places. But when the bodies start showing up, there's no denying someone is targetting the school...

Wow. This story is quite amazing. And whimsical. Magical. Full of so much pain and wonder. I absolutely loved everything about it. The characters are all fascinating in their very own way. It's also very diverse and challenges gender roles so well. The concept itself is also genius! Kids who were lost after finding and stepping through magical doorways into strange worlds who then can't return to their previous lives, and instead are left haunted and yearning for the other worlds.

Like I said: amazing.

Also, the way the story is told is so nice. It's like a modern fairy tale with a dark fantasy slant that's been cleverly dipped in horror. It's really beautiful and sad and strange.

Yes, I did love this story a lot.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

GWENDY'S BUTTON BOX by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar


34430839
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was very excited when I found out the library was getting this book. And even more excited when I borrowed it. :)

Gwendy Peterson is twelve and has decided to climb the Suicide Stairs to lose some weight. She's sick of getting teased and now that she's starting middle school she's decided to do something about it.

The day she meets the man in black her life changes forever. He gives her a very special box, one with mysterious buttons, tasty treats and silver coins. She's left in charge of the button box and soon finds it consuming her life. Something that might be obsessive and can be dangerous, but might also offer quite a few unexpected rewards...

Wow. This book is amazing. Intoxicating. Addictive. I read the first chapter yesterday and the rest today in one sitting because I didn't want to put it down.

Gwendy's story is intriguing and wonderful and sad. There's plenty of happiness and excitement, but when there's darkness it's sad and devastating. :( But SO GOOD. I also loved Gwendy so much, she's such a great character.

Stephen King and his co-author Richard Chizmar have written a gem of a story. It's so well written, hooked me in from the first word, and also looks so pretty. Love that cover, and the illustrations inside are lovely too.

This novella is outstanding. Loved it!

Monday, 10 July 2017

ADULTHOOD IS A MYTH by Sarah Andersen


25855506
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My daughter's had this book for a while and I've been meaning to read it for AGES. She was sorting her bookshelves today and let me borrow it. Then I picked it up and read the whole thing in one sitting because I couldn't put it down.

It's hilarious--I was laughing my ass off so much--and totally adorable. So cute! And accurate as fuck. I mean the manicure and pedicure thing was SO DAMN TRUE! And so was the bookworm stuff, the PJ stuff and the introvert stuff. Also, the internet connection and the leg hair panels were hilarious. Oh and the slow walkers!!

The artwork is simple but so effective. Comic strips that perfectly portray so much about adulthood and everyday life.

Yeah, this is an awesome book!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

CORPSELIGHT by Angela Slatter


Life in Brisbane is never simple for those who walk between the worlds.

Verity's all about protecting her city, but right now that's mostly running surveillance and handling the less exciting cases for the Weyrd Council - after all, it's hard to chase the bad guys through the streets of Brisbane when you're really, really pregnant. 

An insurance investigation sounds pretty harmless, even if it is for 'Unusual Happenstance'. That's not usually a clause Normals use - it covers all-purpose hauntings, angry genii loci, ectoplasmic home invasion, demonic possession, that sort of thing - but Susan Beckett's claimed three times in three months. Her house keeps getting inundated with mud, but she's still insisting she doesn't need or want help . . . until the dry-land drownings begin.

V's first lead in takes her to Chinatown, where she is confronted by kitsune assassins. But when she suddenly goes into labour, it's clear the fox spirits arenot going to be helpful.


I read Vigil last year and really enjoyed it. I thought it was an awesome urban fantasy book set in Australia. So I was looking forward to reading the next book.

Verity deals with a lot of otherwordly stuff every single day, but she's now dealing with a new challenge: pregnancy. She's expecting her first child and because she's temporarily lost her strength, can't really perform her usual PI duties.

She's doing odd, less dangerous jobs. But when she starts looking into what first appears to be a very strange series of insurance claims, Verity finds herself getting caught up in something a lot deeper. As if being pregnant isn't hard enough, soon she finds herself the target of a pack of kitsune. Girls who lead her to someone very unexpected, but also might shatter the normal life she's trying to live...

Well. That was quite the ride through Brisneyland and beyond. I didn't expect so much to be revealed, and definitely didn't see the root of the very messed up main storyline coming. There were some very cool surprises and quite a few secrets revealed, but it's obvious that there's still plenty left to unravel.

I also liked the fact that insurance cover for the Weyrd stuff average humans know nothing about is explored. Very interesting concept.

Corpselight is another energetic and intriguing addition to this very entertaining urban fantasy series. The world of the Weyrd is full of strange and interesting characters. It also opens even wider in this book, and leaves the reader wondering what will happen next to Verity, her family and friends. Especially after that ending!

No matter what, it looks like Verity will always end up in the middle of all the trouble.


Corpselight, July 2017, ISBN 9781784294342, Jo Fletcher Books

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Random Week


July is here! Can you believe it? Yikes. That means my birthday is just days away. O.o

The last week of June was very random for me. Because I finished writing my latest WIP a week earlier than expected, I got the chance to slow down a bit.

The problem with finishing a first draft is that when I'm done, I usually feel a little restless. It's a time when my head feels both cluttered and unfocused. So I spent the week reading, sorting, researching, thinking, daydreaming and looking forward to the coming week.

Hubby has the week off. Yay! Plus my daughter's also got the next two weeks off between school terms. So of course that means I'm taking time off too.

But my brain doesn't know how to relax entirely. There's always something ticking over. As I mentioned last week, I've got several story ideas bubbling at different stages, so bits and pieces keep slipping through the cracks. But I have to admit that I love when that happens!

I've also been doing a bit of sorting. I have a bunch of stationery, books and toys to reshuffle. It mostly involves moving things from one place to another, but that's okay. :D

Anyway. This week we're going to see Spider-Man: Homecoming, we'll celebrate my birthday, hang out, go for plenty of walks, and if the weather allows will go on an adventure or two.

Hope you all have an awesome week!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

BRING ME THE HEAD OF IVY POCKET by Caleb Krisp

Bring Me the Head of Ivy Pocket
Our magnificently infuriating heroine is on the very brink of her greatest adventure: bound for London and Prospa House to save Anastasia Radcliff and young Rebecca Butterfield from fates worse than death. But there are difficulties at every turn. The devious Miss Always and her devilish Locks are in hot pursuit. Anastasia is gone, taken by her evil sister-in-law Estelle and hidden in a place no one will ever find her. And worst of all, the Clock Diamond is no longer working, blocking Ivy's route to Prospa. There's a mystery to be unpicked and if anyone can do it, it's Ivy Pocket. After all, she has all the natural instincts of a Russian chess master.


You might remember that I absolutely loved the first and second Ivy Pocket books because they were such hilarious fun! Ivy's adventures are always zany, dangerous, and her quick wit is balanced out by her somewhat clueless nature and random insults.

Yes, our Ivy is a girl of many talents and I was excited to read her final book.

Ivy Pocket is once again on her own, and she has a mission. She's going to free the imprisoned Anastasia from the madhouse, and will then reunite her with her lost child. Plus, she's going to slip into another world to rescue her lost friend Rebecca. But while on her way to London, the devious Miss Always and her nefarious Locks track her down.

Before she knows it, Ivy is on the run. But that won't stop her from pursuing her mission. Nothing is going to stop her, and that includes being homeless and penniless. She has a perfectly good pair of snooping ears, connections and some serious plans. Not even feeling sick and wearing an unresponsive Clock Diamond can dampen her spirits.

So when a little good fortune comes her way, first she offers a home to two kind women in need, and then sets out to Butterfield Park. Back where some of the trouble began and will surely come to an end...

Well. That was quite the adventure! Poor Ivy sure goes through a LOT in this book, but in usual fashion, she's able to take it all in stride. 

Ivy Pocket is a survivor, and if she can't outwit her enemies, she'll accidentally set the wheels of hilarity in motion. Or even frustrate them so much they become virtually useless. LOL.

One of my favourite things about the conclusion to this super fun trilogy is how all the events, people and places she met along the way provided such relevant breadcrumbs to the conclusion of her tale. It's all quite clever.

Bring Me the Head of Ivy Pocket is another quirky and really fun book that kept me hooked until the very satisfying conclusion. As expected, Ivy's witty fibs and miraculous remedies take centre stage, but this time with surprising results. Her blatant disregard for etiquette always cracks me up. I loved how this story turned out, and enjoyed the pace at which the mysteries were slowly revealed, yet kept coming until The End.

I also got a kick out of catching up with so many familiar characters. And once again thought that the female representation was vast and varied. It's also effortless, which is even more wonderful.

Oh, and the illustrations were very nice too.

Well, that's it. While I'm sad that the trilogy is over, I'm very happy to have shared this adventure with Ivy.

Thank you Bloomsbury Australia!


Bring Me the Head of Ivy Pocket, June 2017, ISBN 9781408858721, Bloomsbury Childrens

Monday, 26 June 2017

Multitasking Time & Stories


The other day I posted this tweet on Twitter:


Writing is hard work. But it's also exciting, fun, something I'm compelled to do, and yes... even cool. :)

I have a bunch of ideas cluttering my brain at any given time, but when I get stuck into a WIP I usually get so consumed by the story I'm working on that I hardly have time to devote to other projects.

This is EXACTLY what happened this month. I spent the last 4 weeks writing the first draft of my YA horror novel about a bunch of kids and the scary stories they tell each other. Every spare moment I had during the day was spent adding new words, or figuring out what was coming next.

But this time I decided to do things a little differently:
  • Writing during the day
  • Note-taking during the afternoon
  • Researching other stories at night

It's amazing how much you can get done on your phone while sitting on the couch with hubby and watching Judge Judy on YouTube. LOL.

After a day full of words, the evenings are a good time to let my mind wander and lose myself in the possibility of other worlds and characters. So I collected heaps of inspirational pics, researched a bunch of concepts, named characters, made relevant graphics, and then sorted through all the files I created for easier (future) access.

Not only is this super productive, but I also had a lot of fun planning ahead. I now have about 6 ideas at different stages, and another I've just started to develop.

All of this has worked out very well, but there's one thing that suffered: reading. Working on stories fills my brain with so much I become obsessed with what's inside my head and don't have time for anyone else's stories. *cries*

Now that my current WIP is done, my new challenge will be to add reading time to the mix! I definitely want to keep developing these new ideas between projects and want to allocate more writing/revising time, but I need to include my reading habit back into the routine. I have TOO many books on my TBR pile not to.

Wish me luck!


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Current WIP: Week Four


Welcome to my fourth current WIP update! :)

This week, I was more concerned with figuring out how the downward spiral of this novel was going to play out, rather than the daily word count, but still ended up with several 5k days. That's mostly because I got so caught up in what was happening that my fingers went nuts over the keyboard and I didn't want to stop. LOL.

It's almost magical when that happens.

Reaching the stage where the story has totally taken over my brain means I'm constantly thinking ahead. Or taking notes of things I don't want to forget. Or deciding to add stuff after the scene has already been written. O.o

Yep. That means backtracking, which I did several times this week. But that's cool. The process for writing this story has been a little different from the start, but it definitely worked.

So, here's my daily w/c progress for this week:

Monday: 57,523 (added 5501w)
Tuesday: 61,225 (added 3702w)
Wednesday: 66,425 (added 5200w)
Thursday: 70,035 (added 3610w)

That's right. I finished the first draft today! I'm very excited about this particular novel because it's lived inside my brain for several months now. I visualised a lot of what was going to happen constantly, like a never-ending pesky movie that wouldn't stop until it was written.

And now it's done!

So. What now? Well, I'm going to post this update a day earlier than usual and will take tomorrow off. I wonder if anything will pop up during the next few days... If that happens, I'll either start a revision list or go back and add/tweak some last-minute things next week.

Well, that's it for now. Hubby and I are going to watch Wonder Woman again on Saturday.

It might be a bit early to say this, but: enjoy your weekend!

SAGA #43 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples


34831352
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely LOVED the Saga series, and that shocking cliffhanger ending in the last volume was a killer. So when I found #43 available for 25c at Amazon, of course I had to buy a copy for my Kindle!

Yikes! What a sequel. I honestly didn't expect things to take such a morbid turn as far as what happened with Alana's pregnancy. So sad and disturbing, and I'm wondering where it's going.

The gang is back and they're on a planet that is under Landfall's jurisdiction, which means that Marko, Hazel and Petrichor have to hide so no one sees their horns. While Alana looks for someone to help with her problem. But when they're attacked by shitty people (LMAO!), something bizarre happens to Alana!

I really enjoyed this new arc. The story continues to be interesting, the artwork is still beautiful, the world bizarre, and I do believe I'm once again addicted.

Oh, and I found the social commentary--about women's bodies, transgender issues, racial tensions--to be very well done, and unfortunately, also too familiar.

Looking forward to reading more...

Friday, 16 June 2017

Current WIP: Week Three


Welcome to my third current WIP update! :)

This week started with a public holiday so I only added new words from Tuesday-Friday. I actually compensated for missing this day while putting together my goals for June, so it wasn't a big deal.

I might not have written on Monday, but I took a bunch of notes and even made a few graphics relating to my WIP. I've reached that point in the story when it's ALWAYS ON MY MIND, because things are starting to click into place and I'm definitely past the halfway mark.

Yay!

I'm having a great time writing this first draft and am getting a kick out of all the creepy stuff I'm adding. I love creepy, freaky books about girls, which means I'm loving how vividly these scenes are playing out inside my head.

Anyway, here's my daily w/c progress for this week: 

  • Monday: 36,084  (added 0w) 
  • Tuesday: 41,101 (added 5017w) 
  • Wednesday: 45,191 (added 4090w) 
  • Thursday: 48,614 (added 3423w) 
  • Friday: 52,022 (added 3408w)

Not bad. :)

Like I said above, I'm so caught up in the story that I didn't grab a new book to read. O.M.F.G. How is that even possible?! Guess I'll have to make it up next week. LOL.

BTW, do you know what I noticed today? While updating my word count spreadsheet, I realised that my ytd w/c is currently sitting at 117,098. We're halfway through the year and I've already surpasses my total w/c for 2016. Last year I wrote 110,543 words. That's a pretty good total, but I was hoping to write more this year, so I'm really happy with my progress.

Well, that's it for now.

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Current WIP: Week Two


Welcome to my second current WIP update! :)

This week turned out to be a little topsy-turvy because I had a few real life things to deal with. I had an appointment to go to, my daughter started school later than usual a few times, and just basic headspace stuff that sucked up more time than expected.

Nothing huge, and not enough to completely derail my progress. Though I did miss one writing day. But I'm not stressing about it. For this draft, I promised myself that getting 2k done on any given day was fine & dandy.

I've given myself a whole month to get this done, and I'm pretty sure I'm still on schedule. Well, I'm actually ahead of my target word count because the story was already started, but you know how neurotic writers can be. At least, I am. Sometimes.

Anyway, here's my daily w/c progress for this week:
  • Monday: 27,394  (added 3273w) 
  • Tuesday: 27,394 (added 0w) 
  • Wednesday: 29,517 (added 2123w) 
  • Thursday: 32,183 (added 2666w) 
  • Friday: 36,084 (added 3901w)

The story itself is moving along nicely. There's plenty of creepy stuff happening, the plot gets darker and thicker, and I'm enjoying the hint of romance. Not to mention that I really like my main character.

Plus I'm having a great time researching urban legends and other freaky stories from around the world. It's so much fun!

I squeezed in a bit of reading and loved this super geeky book.

Well, the weekend is here and this one goes for three days, so yay.

Have a nice one!

 
Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants for single moms