_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, 16 October 2017

Writing Numbers


Since finishing my latest first draft a few weeks ago, I've been thinking about how I work through each draft. Especially first drafts.

So I thought I'd post a bit about how I tackle these projects by allocating daily, weekly and monthly goals. I always find it easier to break things down into smaller goals to reach the big one.

Even though my process is similar every time, each project is a little different. But they all start with brainstorming an idea that's been simmering in the back of my mind for months. 

When I pick my next WIP, I grab a notebook and fill it up with pages and pages of notes. Every thought, scene and/or dialogue relating to the story goes in here. As well as character names, descriptions, traits and research. Not to mention pictures. These help me visualise the characters, locations and some of the things the characters will do and/or face. Then I start the chapter breakdowns. Sometimes I'll have loose notes for the entire book. Other times I'll only have the first 5-10 chapters.

I just fill my brain with stuff before I even begin to create the Word doc. I keep going until it feels like I'm about to burst if I don't start telling the story. LOL.

Then I grab a calendar and figure out how many actual writing days there are in my chosen month. What I mean by this is how many Mon-Fri there are, because I take weekends off. It's important for me to make sure I don't work on weekends, and instead spend time with hubby, go out, read, go for walks, and have my brain working on the story in the background. That way when Monday hits, I'm ready to go.

Usually I end up setting a 4k words/day goal. That totally works for me because I write in the morning and then in the afternoon. I like to call my sessions: before and after lunch. It's nice to break for an hour to eat and get a breather before adding more words.

Although the 4k thing totally works for me because I write fast first drafts, the projects I've tackled this year have started with 3k/day goals. That end up turning into 4k+/day when my need to get the story out becomes a word count frenzy. 

The reason for the smaller w/c goal lately is because I have a tendency to needlessly push myself, and I'm trying to stop that. If I add 4-5k on any given day, excellent. If not, as long as I have my 3k, I'm good. 

It's all about not putting too much pressure on myself. Which I always do. And strangely, the story ends up doing because everything gets so vivid that I go nuts in my quest to reach The End.

Another thing I find myself doing is reading the last chapter I wrote (the day before) to get back into the story groove and get a feel for what comes next. I usually don't look back and keep moving forward but lately, if something doesn't work or needs to be changed for better direction/plot/motivation, I don't mind backtracking. It saves time later.

The bottom line is: get the raw story out of my head and onto a Word doc as fast as I can. Thorough revision comes later.

First drafts are all about getting the story out.

When I finish the first draft I spend a bit of time updating my chapter and story notes. Plus, I get rid of all the scraps of paper and sticky notes I've accumulated.

Then I feel mentally exhausted and lost for a few days. I miss the story. I miss the process. And start a Revision List before putting it aside for a while. I make sure to take a few months away from the story and start thinking and dreaming about other ideas.

BUT first, I take a few weeks off to refuel. I read, go for walks, search for inspirational pics and watch stuff.

This part is important to avoid burning out.

After that, it's time to either start a new story or revise a first draft.

Well, there you have it. 

This is my process. What's yours?



Thursday, 12 October 2017

NaNoWriMo is Around the Corner


I posted this tweet the other day:

 

I might have written a (YA horror) first draft during mid-September/beginning-October, but now it's time to start thinking about NaNoWriMo.

*rubs hands together*

What is NaNoWriMo? Well, it takes place during the month of November. The goal is to write a 50,000-word fast draft. Writers from all over the world sign up, take part and share their progress on the NaNoWriMo website. You also get badges and word count metres and a snazzy certificate after you verify your novel.

It's fun and a great chance to squeeze in one last WIP before the year is over. :)

I've taken part since 2006. Actually, I've only missed one year (2011) since.

So, this will be my ELEVENTH attempt. Yay!

Here's a breakdown of the stories/genres:
  • 2006: UF (Angie)
  • 2007: SFR (Shade of Grey)
  • 2008: SFR (Shade of Blue)
  • 2009: Horror (Sinful)
  • 2010: Futuristic (Embracing Sunlight)
  • 2011: N/A
  • 2012: UF (Torn from the Shadows)
  • 2013: SFR (Dash)
  • 2014: UF (Willow)
  • 2015: YA Historical (MixedTape)
  • 2016: YA Horror (Haunted)

It's interesting to see how many different genres I've tackled throughout the years. It's also exciting that several of these titles (4) were actually published. And another three were contracted. Even if the publishing companies are no longer alive.

Published is published, I suppose.

Back to NaNoWriMo...

As you can probably tell, I'm a fan of this process. It's pretty much how I tackle my first drafts anyway. 

So: of course I'm going to sign up for 2017! 

But before I do that I have to decide which of my current WIP ideas (there are currently 10) I'm going to focus on.

I've been riding a creepy girls horror story vibe lately, and would love to do that again. Yet, I've got my eye on a project that isn't horror. It's more a YA summer thriller with whimsy SF elements. It's kinda like The X-Files meets Stranger Things with a good dose of Roswell.

There will be some spooky stuff, a dangerous summer adventure, strong friendship bonds and romance. This is also a story that's been in my head for MONTHS, and 50k sounds like the perfect word count goal. So...

Yeah. It looks like I might be leaning towards this story because:
  1. Switching genres--after writing such a dark & emotionally overwhelming demonic possession horror story--will be refreshing.
  2. It'll be fun to write a story set in summer.
  3. I'm enjoying the research & finding inspirational pics for this project.
  4. This story is very much ready to be told.

Um, it looks like I might have made a next-WIP decision. Maybe. I still need a bit of time to think. In the past, I've picked a NaNo idea and then changed my mind at the last minute. Especially since I've got that pesky dragon idea bugging my brain... ;)

Right now I'm enjoying a wonderful, relaxing week with hubby. After everything that's been going on around here, I really needed this time off with him. When he goes back to work next week (*cries*) I plan to spend the rest of the month taking a break between drafts. I need a bit of a mental break. 

I'll keep you posted on what story I decide to write. Either way, I just wanted to share a bit about my NaNoWriMo love and experiences

Are YOU taking part?


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES by Krystal Sutherland


35285431
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading Our Chemical Hearts, I couldn't wait to read this book. And as soon as I started, I was hooked. The writing style is beautiful, Esther is fascinating, and her family so intriguing I was instantly addicted.

Each member of the Solar family is destined to die from their greatest fear. Ever since Reginald Solar met Death during the Vietnam War, his family has been cursed. Everyone in Esther's family suffers from one great fear: her father won't leave the basement because of his agoraphobia, her mother fears bad luck, and her twin brother is terrified of what lurks in the dark.

As for Esther, she has a list full of fears she calls her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares, and after reconnecting with an old friend from elementary school in the oddest way possible, he convinces her to face these fears.

Jonah Smallgood is an enigmatic young man with his own set of very serious problems. The more time they spend together, the more Esther realises he might lead her to that one big fear she's never wanted to face...

Wow. This book is: awesome! I enjoyed every single minute of it, and couldn't wait to see where it would end.

The only reason I took so long to finish is because I was super busy finishing a first draft last week, and had several things to tidy up, then we went out several times. There was so much going on. But hey, if you're going to take your time with a book, this is definitely the one to do it with. :)

Anyway, back to the story.

I loved every single damaged character in this book. I loved how the Solars used the curse as a way of justifying everything. I loved the way mental health was displayed so honestly and dealt with in such a raw way. Plus, I loved the whole Horowitz mystique. Everything fit so well, and when tied together formed a fantastic tale.

The kids were also awesome. Esther, with her anxious ways and always hiding behind some very cool costumes. Jonah, who is so kind and just such a wonderful human being but also a pickpocket. Eugene, with his desperate desire to not be consumed by the darkness of depression manifesting as fear of the dark. Hephzibah, with her selective muteness and ghostly but uplifting constant presence. And of course, the adorable Fleayoncé.

Each one of these characters affected me in a different way, but they all toyed with my heartstrings. And that, my friend, is some brilliant writing right there!

Yeah, I loved this story. It's dark, odd, sad, moody, heartbreaking & beautiful. Plus the ending was perfect, in so many ways!

I'll be looking out for more books written by this very talented author.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Current WIP: Week Four


Welcome to my fourth current WIP update! :)

This week started with a public holiday, so I didn't actually add any new words until Tuesday. But the word count was pretty heavy for the rest of the week because I knew exactly where the story was going and how it was going to end. Mostly. ;)

So I pushed ahead. Even though I did backtrack several times because everything was swamping my brain at the same time and sometimes didn't come out in the right order.

Here's how this week's w/c turned out: 
  • Monday: 62,932 (added 0w) 
  • Tuesday: 68,213 (added 5281w) 
  • Wednesday: 71,799 (added 3586w) 
  • Thursday: 76,971 (added 5172w) 

Yes! The first draft is now DONE. Yay.

I actually finished one day before my self-imposed deadline. Just in time for hubby's one-week break. How's that for good timing? Phew.

After writing this book, I really need a break. This story was an incredible experience. I knew a demonic possession book would take me into some pretty screwed up places, but I didn't realise it would be so overwhelming. It was a LOT more emotional than I expected, and so many surprises popped up.

It's also made me realise that I can't write a story without kissing. I was so sure there would be no complicated love story, but there is and that just adds to the horror. *rubs hands together*

I'm very happy with how the novel turned out and can't wait to revise it, but it'll also be good to get a bit of distance from it.

Anyway.

Today I sorted all of my random WIP notes so everything's in the one spot. I also updated all of my inspirational pics. This is a pesky job that I have to deal with after finishing a draft. It kinda sucks, but has to be done.

I'm feeling a bit wonky today. Not sure if it's the usual change of season thing, the clogged up rhinitis that returns when I least expect it, I might be coming down with something, or it could be the ongoing stress of these freaking endless remedial works. They're bringing out the worst in people and I'm so ready for everything to go back to normal.

At least school starts again on Monday and I get to laze around with hubby for a week. I need a break. I need to take a deep breath. And I REALLY need a break. Especially with NaNoWriMo just around the corner.

Oh, and we're going to watch Blade Runner 2049 tomorrow. We actually watched the original last weekend, and the replicants were still the most humane characters.

Have a good one!

Monday, 2 October 2017

OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS by Krystal Sutherland


28928700
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My daughter borrowed this from the library, so when she finished with it I decided to read it too. And I'm so glad I did!

Henry is a senior who's got two best friends, devotes most of his time to doing schoolwork so he can get into a decent college, and desperately wants to be the editor for the school newspaper. He's never been romantically interested in anyone because no one has captivated him enough.

That all changes when Grace walks into his classroom. She's got a cane, dodgy hair and dresses in oversized boy's clothes. She's also going to be an editor for the paper too. This obviously means he can spend more time with her.

Before he realises it, Henry is totally falling for her but Grace is secretive and damaged. She's hot and cold, fun and depressing. But one thing is for sure, he's addicted to her and most addictions don't end well...

Wow. This book is HEAVY.

It's also super awesome. And so addictive I read it in less than 24hrs. It's also very well written.

Henry's voice shines and he's such a funny and nice kid that I really wanted things to work out for him. Even when I could tell they wouldn't because he wasn't seeing clearly and was falling way to deep too soon.

He's a romantic at heart, but still manages to sometimes be a bit too pushy when it's clear that Grace is not in a good place.

And Grace. OMG. This poor damaged girl has suffered such a traumatic accident with devastating results. She's sad, grieving and all while trying to find a new path in life. A path she's clearly not ready for. As selfish as she seems to come across sometimes, when everything is revealed, you can't help but feel sorry for her.

I also really liked Lola, she was feisty and such a good friend she wasn't afraid to call Henry out on his bullshit. Murray was more of a pain than anything else. His constant Aussie slang was usually out of place and just too much, but I totally got what the author was doing. Plus, he was a bit stalkerish, which is always ew.

Another thing this book did right was the adults. They were actual people with their own set of problems. None of them are perfect, but I got a kick out of his parents and sister because they made me laugh.

And that's another thing. For a book that's so sad and full of complicated love because of each character's life experience, it was so funny!

Yeah, this is an awesome book.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

WONDER WOMAN: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo


29749085
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm a HUGE Wonder Woman fan. I've got a shrine full of WW collectibles. I used to love the show when I was a kid. I went to watch the movie twice because I loved it so much. My favourite mug is a WW one.

Yeah, I'm a fan.

So of course I was looking forward to reading a YA Wonder Woman story.

Diana is always trying to prove herself to her sisters. She might be the queen's daughter, but isn't really considered to be a true Amazon. That's why she enters a race, and is determined to win. Instead, she ends up witnessing a boat explosion and saves a young human girl.

She hides Alia in a cave, but having her is harming the island and making everyone sick. Plus, if she stays she'll end up dying.

When Diana finds out Alia is a Warbringer, she decides to get her off the island and sets off on an adventure to stop war from ravaging the world...

Okay. *takes a deep breath*

I have to be honest. I didn't love this book.

The writing is nice. Diana is great. I liked Theo and Nim. Alia's POV was okay. Actually, I would've liked it better if only Diana's POV was featured. I really disliked Jason. I didn't buy anything about him. Not his connection to Diana, his motivations, or the big reveal. Nope. Nothing.

It's a shame because I thought I would love this book, and I didn't. The story just didn't hook me in like I hoped. It just... I don't know. There was something missing.

Oh well. I'm still glad I read it.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Current WIP: Week Three


Welcome to my third current WIP update! :)

So, how was your week? Mine was super busy. There's a bunch of remedial work going on in our building and the contractors are taking their sweet time getting things done. To the point where we start to think they forgot about us and then, boom! They return with noise and grit and get in the way, making access hard. Ugh.

I'm so over this. Can't wait for this shit to be fucking done.

Anyway. My daughter's also home at the moment. She's got school holidays for two weeks. BUT, I kept writing because this story has to get out.

Last weekend I sat down with notepad and pen to brainstorm everything that was stuck in my head. I ended up taking a bunch of notes, leading me all the way to the end of the story. So: yay!!

Thanks to those notes, I've made some very cool progress.

Here's how this week's w/c looked:
  • Monday: 44,544 (added 4427w) 
  • Tuesday: 49,218 (added 4674w) 
  • Wednesday: 53,498 (added 4280w)
  • Thursday: 58,750 (added 5252w) 
  • Friday: 62,932 (added 4182w)

This week I was hoping to reach 52,500. I ended up writing way more than that, and that makes me very happy.

Oh, and BTW, last week I said this: I'm at that stage where I'm pretty sure the total word count will probably end up somewhere after the 60k-mark. As you can see from my word count numbers above, I was wrong. In a good way. LOL.

Now, I'm thinking 70-75k. But I'm not concerned with the total w/c. I just want to get to The End and I'm sooooo close now. I can feel it. I can see it. Seriously, the rest of the story keeps playing out inside my brain. I'm once again at that stage where this WIP is TOTALLY consuming my brain and I'm constantly thinking about it. I can't stop!

So much that my reading is suffering. :(

I'm not going to fret about this, though. I'm having such a great time writing this novel. It's exciting and creepy and filled with so much more emotion than I expected.

So, yeah, I'm cool with this. Reading the books on my TBR pile is going to be an awesome reward to work towards AFTER I finish this first draft. *thumbs up*

Well, we're heading into a long weekend, so I won't be adding new words until Tuesday. I'll miss the story, but it'll also be nice to get a bigger break so I can get stuck into it again next week. Plus, hanging out with hubby is always awesome.

See you in October. ;)

Have an awesome weekend!


Friday, 22 September 2017

Current WIP: Week Two


Welcome to my second current WIP update! Yay. :)

This week was another busy one. There seems to be so much going on around here lately that I just can't seem to find any time to relax. Not to mention that although I love spring, I always feel wonky around this time of year. The winter to summer transition is never kind on my body. *cries*

Anyway, my daughter finished up her Year 11 exams on Tuesday. So even though she went to school today for her last day of Term 3, she had a few days off along the way. And now, she's having a two-week break before officially starting Year 12. Yikes! O.o

In spite of all that, I pushed on with my first draft writing and managed to reach 40k! When I set goals, I'm very strict with myself. And when the story's so keen to get out, who am I to stop progress? LOL.

Anyway, this is how this week's w/c looked:
  • Monday: 24,175 (added 4052w)
  • Tuesday: 29,249 (added 5074w) 
  • Wednesday: 32,398 (added 3149w) 
  • Thursday: 37,016 (added 4618w) 
  • Friday: 40,117 (added 3101w)

As you can see, the word count wasn't steady but constant. And I've actually gone over this week's goal. I was hoping to reach 35k, so I'm definitely happy with where I ended up.

The story is coming along nicely, too. Everything is building at a good pace. The revelations keep coming. The creepy factor is always in the background. And just how deep the emotional impact is turning out makes everything that much better. I don't want to write a demonic possession story with a string of shock factors ruling the narrative. I want to tell the claustrophobic story of one girl's sad and confusing deterioration into darkness, while never forgetting she's a teenager. And that makes everything a little more challenging, and even a lot more fun. Plus I'm enjoying the family dynamics a lot.

I'm at that stage where I'm pretty sure the total word count will probably end up somewhere after the 60k-mark. I pretty much know what's going to happen from here to the end, but it's all a jumbled mess inside my head. I really need to sit down with pen & paper to work through everything.

I'm not a plotter but I definitely take a lot of notes along the way. I also find unexpected surprises slipping into the story during the actual writing and totally love that!

For me, brainstorming the mind clutter into bullet points always helps. :D

Well, that's it for now. I'm really looking forward to taking the weekend off.  

Have a good one!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villany edited by Ameriie

Because You Love to Hate Me
This unique YA anthology presents classic and original fairy tales from the villain's point of view. The book's unconventional structure--thirteen of the most influential booktubers on YouTube join forces (writing-prompt style) with thirteen acclaimed and bestselling authors--gives these mysterious, oft-misunderstood individuals characters a chance to tell their stories, their way. 

Like Maleficent or Wicked, these are stories of vengeance, of defiance, of rage. They are stories of pain, of heartbreak, of sorrow. But don't expect a circle of hands. Leave it to the heroes to help the world; villains just want to rule the world. We love to hate them and they hate to be loved, if only because being hated frees them from having to be good.

Contributing authors include bestselling and buzzy names Renée Ahdieh, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, Sarah Enni, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon, with a foreword and a story from anthology editor Ameriie.


I have to admit that I was really excited when Bloomsbury Australia sent me a surprise copy of this book. The cover is bright and pretty, and I was intrigued by the concept. Besides, I enjoy a good villainy story, and there are some pretty cool authors included in this anthology.

However, when I started reading, I realised there was something odd about this collection. For starters, the YouTubers who gave the authors these challenges provided some pretty average essays (or rather, opinions) after each story. And the commentary has no impact at all because I don't know who any of these people are. :/

Not to mention that I personally would've preferred the challenge to be stated before each story. Adding it later is just so strange, and a little annoying.

Anyway, let's talk about the stories...


THE BLOOD OF IMURIV by Renée Ahdieh
I've never read anything by this author, so I was excited about giving this story a go. I actually liked the beginning, but started to get bored only a few pages in. DNF, unfortunately.

JACK by Ameriie
Sorry, I couldn't even get past the first page of this one. DNF.

GWEN AND ART AND LANCE by Soman Chainani
Um, nope. The format is distracting and trying to be too clever. Besides, the challenge was a bit much anyway. Didn't work for me. At all. DNF.

SHIRLEY & JIM by Susan Dennard
Finally, a story that actually hooked me in! 

Shirley Holmes sends an email to her friend Jean Watson, to tell her about the time she met the enigmatic Jim Moriarty. Shirley tells her all about how quickly he captivated her attention and befriends her in the library via daily games of chess. How intriguing it was to be captivated by his different view of the world, and mysterious plans that would ultimately lead to conflict...

Just awesome! My favourite thing about this story is how easily it leads the reader down what seems to be an average teenage path and soon reveals how deep Moriarty's manipulation delves. He certainly finds what he was looking for, Shirley just didn't realise until it was too late.

This is such a clever contemporary take on Holmes, Watson and Moriarty. The writing style was so cool. Loved it! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE BLESSING OF LITTLE WANTS by Sarah Enni
Another DNF. Just couldn't get into this one. My mind kept drifting...

THE SEA WITCH by Marissa Meyer
Well, this one was just okay. I thought I would love it, but Nerit's story--although it has a few twists--wasn't that exciting. I know she's supposed to be villainy and all that, but her bizarre quest to force love working against her every time got tiring. Still, I read all of it.

BEAUTIFUL VENOM by Cindy Pon
Ugh. This one was just boring. I couldn't get into it, which sucks since I like Medusa! :/ Another DNF.

DEATH KNELL by Victoria Schwab
Now we're talking! I really enjoyed this one.

Death is a beautiful boy with brown eyes who wakes up on a rainy day at the bottom of a well. He's very hungry, but not for food. It's time for him to go to the nearest village and find a burning soul to consume. But when he does, nothing goes as planned...

Wow. The writing is beautiful. The imagery is vivid. The characters are delightfully ambiguous. And the location is perfect. The twist is also wicked. This is how you write a short story that grips the reader from beginning to end, and lingers after the last word. Loved it! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MARIGOLD by Samantha Shannon
Bit of a yawnfest, this one. Lots of skimming, and then ended up DNFing.

YOU, YOU, IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU by Adam Silvera
Oh, hell no. Stories written in second POV are the absolute worst! I couldn't even read more than a few paragraphs. No. Nope. DNF!

JULIAN BREAKS EVERY RULE by Andrew Smith
It started out all right... but I quickly lost interest. Skimmed to the end.

INDIGO AND SHADE by April Genevieve Tucholke
OMG, OMG, OMG! I knew April Genevieve Tucholke wouldn't let me down. Her books are SO awesome. And of course I loved, LOVED this story. Not only because I absolutely adore Beauty and the Beast, but also because this contemporary retelling totally rocks!

Brahm Valois considers himself a hunter. He's also rich, a town hero and very nice looking. He's a hottie and totally knows it. He's not exactly humble, and is determined to kill the beast haunting the Hush Woods. However, the day he meets the beautiful Indigo, his attraction to her leads him down a very dangerous and sad path, one that is sure to lead to heartbreak...

Wow. This is another beautiful story. I adored Brahm and Indigo as much as Belle and the Beast. The Colorado contemporary setting was so lush and perfect. The town of Valois is steeped in a haunting history that captivated me as much as the story that's happening in the present.

This is another perfect example of a well-written short story that sweeps the reader away and then destroys them. *wipes away tears*  :( Loved it SO MUCH! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

SERA by Nicola Yoon
This story was interesting enough. I liked the way it was told and how it was written, not to mention the shocking conclusion. I especially liked the character names and the gender swap. But I didn't love it.


Because You Love to Hate Me has an interesting concept, but the anthology doesn't reach it's full potential. With the exception of three stories, the others are lacking that special quality guaranteed to keep me glued to the page all the way through.

These odds aren't great, but I don't mind because the THREE (out of the thirteen tales) that I did LOVE were totally worth it. 

I did find two other tales okay, but didn't enjoy the opinion/commentary attached to each one by people I don't even know. To be honest, I would've preferred a small note from each author talking about the inspiration for their story than the waste of time that's actually added. :(

You know what sucks the most? That the three stories I did enjoy--SHIRLEY & JIM, DEATH KNELL and INDIGO AND SHADE--are actually brilliant. Some of the best examples of short stories I've read.

Yeah, this one was mostly miss for me but the stories I actually enjoyed stand out like colourful gems. O.o


Because You Love to Hate Me, September 2017, ISBN 9781408882764, Bloomsbury Childrens

Friday, 15 September 2017

Current WIP: Week One


As I mentioned yesterday, I started writing a new novel this week. Yay.  :)

This story has been simmering in the back of my mind for several months now. When that happens, as soon as I get started the words usually pour out of me pretty fast.

My goal for this week was to reach 17.5k, and a few times this week I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to get there.

Luckily, even though there were quite a few (pesky) distractions, I still managed to stay on track. I thought two technicians coming in at the beginning of the week were distracting, but once the NBN was finally sorted out, remedial works started downstairs. O_o

That means tile removal for TWO DAYS. Even though they stopped hours ago I can STILL hear the drilling sound inside my head. But I pushed on.

Today turned out to be a big wordage day. I even updated my files, photos and pics. My daughter spent all day at school--because she had two exams--so I got a chance to just lose myself in my work without having to worry about anything else.

 So, here's my first w/c progress: 
  • Monday: 4,146w
  • Tuesday: 8,161 (added 4015w) 
  • Wednesday: 11,171 (added 3010w)
  • Thursday: 15,173 (added 4002w) 
  • Friday: 20,123 (added 4950w)

I honestly can't believe I reached 20k! But I'm very excited about the pace of the story, and even happier about the progress.

So, what's this story about? I've already mentioned this is another YA horror, and that it deals with demonic possession. It's a familiar trope twisted into an emotional story of survival and the struggle of one girl at risk of losing herself.

I'm really enjoying it right now.

The only problem with being so caught up in my own story is that reading has taken a backseat. Seriously, I have so many books I want to get stuck into but I can't concentrate because my thoughts keep wondering back to my WIP.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to read something over the weekend. Hopefully. I'm just looking forward to slowing down for a bit and relaxing with hubby for a few days.

Well, have a great one!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Time for a New WIP!


That's right! 

After spending a lot of last week working through my notes for this idea and brainstorming the beginning, I finally started writing a new story. Yay.

It wasn't an easy week to start something new because my daughter's doing her Year 11 exams. That means she's only going into school for a few hours every morning. Plus, we've been dealing with this NBN connection prob for several weeks now and had two different technicians come in on two different days.

So, yeah, all of the above has taken time away from actual writing. :/

Still, I'm not letting anything stop me from tackling my next first draft because this story is SO ready to be told. It's been inside my head for months now. Waiting very (im)patiently. LOL.

The idea first came to me while watching Annabelle. It was just a simple, very random thought that struck me during the movie. Such a strong thought I ended up writing it down afterwards and then started jotting more notes instantly!

As you can probably guess from the graphic above--and if you follow me on Twitter--this novel is about demonic possession. Or at least my take on one of my fave horror tropes.

So far I'm really enjoying it.

Like my two previous WIPs, this is another YA horror about creepy stuff, a strong girl, her family, friends, and the demonic.

I'm once again aiming for 50-70k, and because I would like to have this draft finished by the second week of October (when hubby has a week off work), it would be cool to write between 3-4k/day from Mon-Fri. Yeah, I like to take the weekends off.

It's filling my head so much I haven't been able to concentrate on reading anything. All I want to do is think about my story, keep researching stuff and taking notes. Not to mention that with so much going on, I'm totally buggered by the end of each day.

Anyway, that's about it for now. I'll be back for my first progress post on Friday.

See ya!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Reading & Thinking & Brainstorming


Hey! How's it going?

There goes another week. Man, they sure go fast! O_o

Although I plan to embark on a new WIP this month, I just wasn't ready to start yet. Not so close to the revision I just finished. Not when I wanted to think and brainstorm some more. So, I spent the week updating files, researching demonic stuff, reading a book I was enjoying (until I wasn't), and brainstorming the WIP.

This is a story that's been inside my head for months, so I'm totally ready to get started. BUT, at the moment everything is just crowded in there and I needed more time to get everything into some sort of sequence. LOL.

I'm really happy with all the notes I took, the research I collected, the inspiration pics I added to the collection, and the direction the story is going.

Oh, and I'm taking part in #authorconfession on Twitter. So if you want to find out a bit more about the novel I plan to write, check out my timeline. :)

The other thing I spent most of my week doing is complaining about how our internet connection keeps dropping out. It's seriously awful. Less than a month ago we switched our cable to NBN, which is supposed to be the future of internet in Australia. Instead, it's a burning sack of shit. It's so frustrating. Terrible.

After a thousand calls and my constant complaining on Twitter, they're finally sending a technician next week. I really hope this gets sorted out soon because it's making me fucking crazy!

*fingers crossed*

Well, that's about it for this week.

Hubby & I are going on a date to watch IT tomorrow. I hope it's creepy, fun and awesome.

Have a great weekend!


NEVERMOOR: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks - and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide. 

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. 

It's there that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart. Except for Morrigan, who doesn't seem to have any special talent at all. 

To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests - or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.



I was super excited when I received a gorgeous ARC of this book and couldn't wait to get stuck into it.

Morrigan Crow is a Cursed Child. In Jackalfax, she is blamed for just about everything. Even accidents and disasters that have nothing to do with her. Everyone, including her family, put up with her costly existence because they all know that when Eventide arrives, she will die at the age of twelve. 

When the Age changes before it's time and an eccentric ginger-bearded man sweeps her into the amazing land of Nevermoor, she miraculously survives.

In Nevermoor, she gets to stay in a magical hotel that changes daily and becomes friendly with the interesting staff. But, in order to stay in this magical place, she'll have to complete the Wundrous Trials...

As soon as I started, I was charmed by both Morrigan--because this Cursed Child was super sweet and strong and adorable--as well as the fantastical setting. The world is fully imagined and vivid, even if some of the aspects were a little hard to visualise. 

I was enjoying the book so much that I managed to ignore the slow, dragging pace in some places. I didn't let the off-page events bug me, even when they were briefly summarised. It was easy to do because every time I started to feel like my mind was straying, something really cool would happen and I'd once again get swept up in the story.

Having said that, the second half of the book was a bit of a struggle to get through. What made Morrigan charming at the beginning made her annoying by the end. And what was the deal with Jack? A character who conveniently drops in and out of the story to provide someone for Morrigan to argue with. I did like Hawthorne, though. He was funny and cheeky. Fen was interesting, but was absent for too long. I wanted to see more page time for the giant cat. Who wouldn't?

Oh, and let's talk about Jupiter North. (I love that name, btw.) He was a bit of a conundrum. One second I liked him, the next I didn't. Most of the time he seemed to come and go for the sole purpose of being the quirky adult character. A character who keeps a secret for 400 pages! A secret that becomes quite obvious early on, so by the time he explains what he knows it seems almost irrelevant. O.o

As much as I enjoyed the first half of this book, too many things bugged me. I found all of the Christmas chapters tiresome and unneccesary. The book is set in a fantastical world, so I sometimes found the real world stuff randomly mentioned throughout a little jarring. Although entertaining, it's just too narrative heavy. It's hard to explain exactly what I mean, but it was enough to strip away some of the enjoyment.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow is mostly a great adventure tale about an interesting character who finds herself in a world which is much more exciting than her own. There's definitely enough there to charm the reader into the story. But overall I found it dragged in too many places--especially between the trials--and this ultimately outweighed everything else. 

I also think the book would've been a lot more fun if it was 100 pages shorter. 

The fact I didn't enjoy this as much as I hoped makes me sad. I really wanted to love this book. :(


The Trials of Morrigan Crow, October 2017, ISBN 9780734418074, Lothian Children's Books

Sunday, 3 September 2017

AFTER I'VE GONE by Linda Green

You have 18 months left to live . . . 

On a wet Monday in January, Jess Mount checks Facebook and discovers her timeline appears to have skipped forward 18 months, to a day when shocked family and friends are posting heartbreaking tributes to her following her death in an accident. Jess is left scared and confused: is she the target of a cruel online prank or is this a terrifying glimpse of her true fate?

Amongst the posts are photos of a gorgeous son she has not yet conceived. But when new posts suggest her death was deliberate, Jess realises that if she changes the future to save her own life, the baby boy she has fallen in love with may never exist.



This is a surprise book I recently received from Hachette. I knew nothing about it, had never read anything by this author, and was a bit confused about the cover because it didn't seem to fit the blurb. But, I'm a sucker for a good thriller and am always willing to give books with an interesting concept a chance.

I picked it up the other day to get a taste and before I realised it, I was several chapters in. And wanted to keep reading because I loved the narrator's voice. After that, I was hooked!

Now, let's talk about the story.

Jess Mount leads a simple life. She's twenty-two and still lives at home with her father. She works at a cinema with her childhood best friend. And she doesn't take shit from assholes. So when she meets Lee, a nice looking older guy who is totally into her, she gets swept off her feet.

It doesn't take long for her to get excited about where her life is heading with her new boyfriend. He's charming, has a good job and buys her nice things. She's totally smitten. But when she stumbles on a bunch of Facebook future messages from friends and family missing her after her death, her life is turned upside down.

Now Jess is living in the present while sampling a bleak future. The only positive is finding out she has a son. A baby she can't wait to meet. Yet, chasing her unborn child means her life starts to spiral out of control, sending her down a one-way road to death...

Wow. What an amazing story!

On the surface, this book comes across like a standard love story gone wrong. The tale of a woman who falls in love so hard and fast that she's blinded to the obvious truth. But it's so much more. It's also the story of a headstrong young woman who is happily coasting through an uncomplicated life because of the scars losing her mother at a young age left behind. 

The story was interesting enough when Jess is telling it, but the addition of Angela gave everything an even better perspective. Not to mention that the future Facebook messages add a suspenseful narrative to the already bleak events slowly unfolding. And catching glimpses of a much younger Jess helped get inside her head.

I also loved how Jess was a huge Harry Potter fan and that she loved movies. Her friendship with Sadie was touching, and her relationship with her father is so sweet. Not to mention how well some of the 2016 shocking celebrity deaths were included in the narrative. All of this added an even deeper level of sadness to an already emotionally-heavy story.

After I've Gone hooked me in from the very beginning. It was so addictive I struggled to put it down. I just wanted to keep reading, to find out what was going to happen next. And it didn't disappoint. From start to finish, there isn't a dull moment because the writing is exceptional. 

I loved this book. A lot. Even when I was frustrated about where things were going. Even when I was scared about what was going to happen next. And even as the true horror of abuse darkened every page and filled me with so much sadness.

This is a very powerful book, and I'm very glad to have read it. Thank you, Hachette Australia, for sending me a copy.


After I've Gone, August 2017, ISBN 9781786483027, Quercus

Friday, 1 September 2017

Last Week of Winter


That's right! Can you believe winter is finally over? That's a good thing because I'm done wearing layers of clothes. Ugh. Besides, I hate how my hands are always cold and sore enough for the skin to tear. Ouch!

I'm so ready for spring. Although, I'm not sure about September! Can you believe it's SEPTEMBER already!? O.o

Anyway.

After finishing a draft--whether it's first, second or third--I like to take (at least) one week off. It's just nice to take a breather in between projects, you know? I usually take this time to sort clutter, read and dream about ideas. Sometimes I even watch stuff.

This week I watched the Wynonna Earp S2 finale, and boy was it AWESOME! This has become one of my favourite shows, and one I watch alone because hubby & daughter aren't into it. But I love it! This show is as effortlessly feminist as it is diverse. It's so much fun, but full of serious issues. It's a simple premise that presents a lot of scary consequences, and takes many twists & turns. Not to mention the one-liners are LOL-awesome, and the characters keep me hooked.

Yeah, I love this show. :)

Asides from that I picked up two books I ended up DNFing. One because it was annoying and the other was super boring. I did read a deliciously wicked short story online, and am now halfway through an excellent thriller.

So this week's reading was a bit of a mixed bag.

I also spent some time tidying up notes for my two WIPs, as well as starting new Revision Lists for both. I got a bit of brainstorming done on my new phone & added stuff to my idea notebook. I've also been sorting a bunch of inspirational pics on my phone for each idea, which included a complete overhaul at the beginning of the week.

So, there you have it. I did get quite a bit done, but at a much slower pace. It was nice to have a short to-do list for a change.

Now I'm going to enjoy a few days off with hubby.

Have an excellent weekend!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

THESE DEATHLESS BONES by Cassandra Khaw

These Deathless Bones: A Tor.com Original
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was certainly a great way to start the day. What an awesome tale!

This is an incredible story about what happens when the second wife of the king gives the god-awful prince his just desserts. LOL.

Everything about this story is wonderful and wicked: the writing style, the narrator's voice, the language, the story... It's a perfect blend of beautiful narrative and truly horrifying events. Not to mention that while the conclusion was certainly satisfying, it leaves the reader wanting more. So much more!

A short story worth reading. Probably more than once.

And that cover is perfect!


Friday, 25 August 2017

Revision: Week Three


Hey! What's up?

This week has been a loooooong one. It feels like we packed so much stuff into it. I'm serious. By the time Wednesday rolled around,  I was already exhausted and wishing it was Friday. O_o

But you gotta keep moving.

Anyway, this is what I wanted to do this week:
  • Finish the second draft of Haunted
  • Read either a review book or a library book
  • Continue brainstorming next WIP
  • Get to know my new phone & (finally) say goodbye to my old one :(

I was really hoping to finish the revision I've been working on this month... 

And this is what I ended up doing:
  • I reached The End of Haunted on Wednesday afternoon & on Thursday I rewrote a few chapters & adressed the revision list. (Second draft: 82,391/217pgs)
  • Read a library book: COMING UP FOR AIR by Miranda Kenneally.
  • Instead of brainstorming my next WIP, I ended up developing/researching a different idea.
  • Slowly--and eventually--said goodbye to my Galaxy Note 3 & am getting used to my LG G6.
  • Got a bunch of RL stuff done!

I'm very excited about finishing the second draft. Yay! Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of work to do, but I'm really happy with my progress. It was so nice to catch up with these characters and their creepy little town.

Now it's time to put this novel aside for a bit so I can get some space before doing the third draft. Although... I might have already started a new Revision List. LOL.

Now that I've completed the project I assigned for this month I'm going to take next week off. Well, I'm hoping to squeeze in a bit of reading, some brainstorming, spending time with new ideas, getting comfier with my phone AND watching the Wynonna Earp season 2 finale. :/

But first, I'm going to enjoy the weekend with hubby.

Have a good one!



Tuesday, 22 August 2017

COMING UP FOR AIR by Miranda Kenneally


32470593
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've really enjoyed reading the Hundred Oaks series, so I was really excited about reading this one. But after finishing (and unfortunately skimming a bit), I'm actually sad this is the last one.

This installment turned out to be the one I enjoyed the least. :(

Although I (mostly) liked Maggie because she's so motivated and has personal goals, I just didn't like some of her odd motivations. I also didn't much like Levi. So, add those two things together with the fact that I found the swimming angle really boring, and... yeah. This was just okay for me.

It's such a shame that I couldn't connect with this story, especially since I read Defending Taylor a few weeks ago and absolutely adored it!

Also, I usually love the friends to lovers trope--which worked great for Jordan and Sam--but this one was missing something. I just didn't buy the love connection. The way they got together just didn't grab or convince me that these two fell in love. Oh well.

At least I enjoyed the epilogue. A lot more than Maggie's story, to be honest.

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.

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