Thursday 31 May 2018

THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King

When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town's popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man. 

 Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day. 

As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King's propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear. 

 Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?

It's no secret that I enjoy reading Stephen King books. The guy sure can tell a story. But more than that, he has a way of totally hooking me into his books.

To the point of obsession.

Still, I took my time with his latest because it's a long and winding read that is best not rushed. 

When an eleven-year-old boy is found mutilated in Cap City, the police arrests a man instantly. Terry Maitland is a well-known teacher and father of two who also coaches baseball. The forensic evidence and witness accounts pointing towards him are so strong that the cops make an example out of him, by arresting Terry in public.

The police department and DA are ready to condemn him. That is, until more evidence shows up that places Terry somewhere else at the time of the crime. And just like with the other evidence, there are a bunch of witnesses who confirm this.

As the detective directly affected by these incredible circumstances, as well as Terry's lawyer, try to figure out the truth, they'll discover if it is possible for a man to be in two places at once...


Let me collect my thoughts.

Okay. This book is amazing.

One of my favourite things about King's storytelling style is how well he drops the reader into real world problems and then pulls the rug out from under you. In other words, he takes a super violent crime and just when you're comfortable enough absorbing all the evidence, he twists everything around and introduces the unnatural.

And I love how well he does that!

Another King trademark are his characters. No matter how often, or how little, they appear every single one of them feels real. They have quirks, sayings, tales and memories that leap off the page. This is why every single word in this book matters. A lot.

I also got a kick out of a familiar character making an appearance that really shook the narrative. I won't say who because it would spoil the surprise, but it just gels everything.

Actually, it's best not to know too much about this story before getting started. That way, you can really immerse yourself in what's unfolding. And when all the pieces gradually slide into place and the truth unfolds, just let it take your breath away.

I was a captive reader from the beginning, but by the last 100 pages I was holding my breath. I was on the edge of my seat until everything was revealed, confirmed and dusted.

The Outsider is a gripping thriller you can't put down. It's a terrifying horror that worms its way into your brain. It's a tale of suspense so frightening that once it sucks the reader in, you can't stop turning the pages. It's also filled with some very interesting folklore that adds a super creepy edge to everything. And in classic King style, the imagery digs itself so deeply inside your mind its forever etched in there.

Yeah, this is another winner. Another awesome book to add to my Stephen King collection.

The Outsider, May 2018, ISBN 9781473676404, Hodder & Stoughton

Saturday 26 May 2018

A Productive Week of a Different Kind


This week was all about taking the last step towards totally completing a novel adventure I began during NaNoWriMo 2016

When I had a blast writing a YA horror story featuring some of my most favourite horror tropes. A story I loved telling and then put aside for a while, before rewriting and revising the hell out of it. 

It was a long ride. But making this novel the best story I could, to match what I originally envisioned, was a great experience.

Now it's done* and ready for the next step...

Plus, I'm finally determined to tackle other ideas.

I kept wondering why I wasn't ready to get stuck into a new novel or novella. Or why my head felt so cluttered and restless... until I realised that THIS story HAD to be finished before my writing brain was ready to (fully) concentrate on anything else.

Yep. Sometimes you ignore the obvious without even realising why.


Feels so good to have reached this point. A point I still have to reach with three other completed first drafts. But that's for another day. First I'm going to let myself get totally lost in a new story. 😀

So. What else did I do this week? I finally broke my reading slump by enjoying a few short stories and starting one of my most highly-anticipated 2018 books: The Outsider by Stephen King. So far, I'm totally intrigued!

I also enjoyed the latest SirenThe 100 eps. Both were awesome, of course. Plus I watched The Breakfast Club with my daughter because she took a sick day on Thursday. 

Aside from that, I tried not to watch much else. I wanted to give binge watching a bit of a rest. 

Oh wait, we did go to watch the very disappointing SOLO movie. OMG. This movie really is the Star Wars movie nobody asked for. It was worse than I expected: boring, tried too hard & the twist was so ridiculous it made the experience even worse. What a waste of time.

This didn't even feel like a Star Wars movie. It felt like some generic shitty SF movie trying very hard to imitate SW. 😒

The worst thing is that I could tell from the first time I watched the trailer. TBH, the only reason I went was because hubby wanted to see it. At least we had a great time shopping for cute stuff.

Anyway. That's it for now.

I know it doesn't sound like I got much done, but all the work I did isn't as easily quantified as word/page count progress. Still, it's just as rewarding.

Next week, I'm going to daydream and brainstorm and read.

Have a good one!


* Of course, having said all this, every writer knows that stories can be rewritten, revised & edited forever... but you just gotta consider it done until the next phase of its life. And that's where I'm at.

Monday 21 May 2018


Incident On and Off a Mountain Road
I've had a bad run of books I can't get into lately, so I've been reading short stories. This is the latest one.

The night Ellen is driving too fast down a mountain road, she hits a car. When she gets out to make sure the other driver is okay, she finds the car empty. But she's not alone, because a maniac with a knife soon appears...

I really enjoyed this one!

Not only is Ellen crafty and not willing to give up--constantly remembering some of the survivalist bullshit her ex talked about--but she's brave af. She might get caught in a cat-and-mouse situation with a hideous killer and discovers some pretty gruesome shit, but she keeps a level head throughout.

Yep, I really liked Ellen.

And if I didn't like her already, I would've cheered for her (oh, hold on, I did!) as soon as that twist hits. Just that is worth everything.

Great fast-paced story. Just what I needed right now. :)

Saturday 19 May 2018

Another Week

Hey! The weeks just seem to be passing by way too quickly, if you ask me.

But I still managed to squeeze a whole bunch of stuff into each day. I DNFd another book, one that was supposed to be a horror story and instead ended up being a very slow account of someone's dull psychotic life. Then I started one that was promising, but ended up being the most boring vampire story I've ever had the displeasure of reading. There was much skimming involved, and a 2-star rating.

Since I finished GREMLINS a few weeks ago, I haven't been able to get into anything I've picked up. *sigh*

Although, I did read an excellent short story Stephen King gave away for free on his website. It's called LAURIE and is about a grieving widower whose life becomes shinier when he reluctantly welcomes an adorable puppy into his life.

My two main goals for this week were:
  1. Finalise short story
  2. Finalise synopsis

And I can happily say that I did both. Yay.

The beginning of the week was all about reading and re-reading the short story on my Kindle until all the typos and last minute issues were fixed. 

The final word count is 4,877.

Now I just need to find a market to sub this to.

The novel synopsis was a pain in the butt, but I did revise and revise and revised some more. So it's pretty much done. Well, I'll give it one more read through before starting on the subbing/query circuit.

Essentially, this means that the two projects that have kept me from moving on to other stuff are now done (and done) so hopefully this week I can rework my goals list and figure out what to work on next.

I caught up on the latest Siren (ep 8) and The 100 (ep 5). Man, these two shows are really great. I love how well the mermaid and human stories are developing in Siren, expanding the world and the emotional connection. And how The 100 is always so brutal and gut-wrenching and continually pushes the endurance and boundaries of each character.

Oh, and Westworld continues to be super enigmatic and fucking awesome.

Another show I watched was an Aussie production called Picnic at Hanging Rock. This is based on an old book that's become folklore, about a group of girls who disappeared in 1900 without a trace when they went to Hanging Rock in Victoria.

This was a period piece with a super creepy edge. It was also a great character study about a group of girls and women who wanted to survive and live their own lives during a time when society only wanted them to become devoted wives. It portrayed a bunch of strong female friendships too, and a variety of women.

I started out thinking it was okay, but by the time I finished the 6th episode, I realised just how much I loved it. I'm really glad to see a great and different approach at storytelling in Australia. Hope they keep this up.

We also finished Curb Your Enthusiasm. Phew. Watching 8 seasons during a two-month period was pretty exhausting. There's so much Neurotic Larry one can take.

Last night we went to watch Deadpool 2 and unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it much. There were some cool characters (Domino, Negasonic Teenage Warhead) but mostly I just didn't find it that funny. So disappointed about the movie using my most hated trope two minutes into it. Ugh.

So, there was my week. How was yours?


Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's BackTight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a fucked up little story about roses. And not the pretty kind you're expecting.

Twenty years after a nuclear war, one of the assholes who helped make the weapons that destroyed the world lives in a lighthouse with the wife who hates him. She blames him for the loss of their daughter, and their only connection is a tattoo she's putting on his back...

Yikes. This was bleak. But then again, what other kind of story could you tell after a nuclear war has turned the world to shit?

It's written in journal style, as this man recalls what happened to get them here and is so riddled with guilt that he's pretty much going insane and is continually haunted by his daughter. Very disturbing, but also interesting, in a totally fucked-up kinda way.

I really enjoyed it.

The awful imagery, and even the monsters that rise from the earth, didn't disturb me as much as the inappropriate thoughts about his dead daughter. Now that I had a problem with. I know he was going crazy and was totally delusional--because he couldn't live with the weight of the guilt--but IMO, that daughter stuff wasn't necessary. And it's the only reason why I'm giving this story 4 stars instead of 5.


Friday 11 May 2018

Sometimes writing is about more than word count...

This is something I got to thinking about this week.

I had plans to start a new novel project next week, but by Wednesday I realised that because of the smaller things I've been focusing on, there's no way that's going to happen.

I might not be a big plotter, but I need to have a story plan and notes. An actual project to concentrate on. 

When I first admitted to myself the new story wasn't going to happen yet, I was disappointed. Felt like I was letting myself down because I was determined to get lost in a new story during May. But as the week moved along and I got stuck into revising a short story, as well as the synopsis I've been avoiding for ages, I realised there was no point worrying about any future projects until these two things are done.

I don't enjoy synopsis writing. It's kinda painful, and hard to condense a 70-80k-word novel into a few pages. But I managed to do it, even if I'm not too happy with it yet.

That doesn't matter, though. I'm just happy (and relieved) to finally have something on screen. A synopsis I can read, re-read, revise and polish until I'm happy. And of course, once this is finalised I can actually start querying this little book of mine.

As far as the short story goes, it's one I wrote late last month. A story that came out of nowhere but was sparked by a lovely pic and some sleep. Just like the first draft, I ended up revising (both second & third drafts) on my phone while watching Curb Your Enthusiasm. BTW, how crazy and frustrating is this show? 😲

Anyway, after some very cool changes and additions the word count is 4,941. I even ended the week by adding the doc to my Paperwhite for one final read.

This is when I realised this: Sometimes writing is about more than word count. Actually, a lot of writing involves no actual new words. Or sitting down and having fun while creating a new world. 

And I'm okay with that, because getting these two smaller projects done means I can start subbing both.

Asides from that, I also watched two very disappointing movies: Goosebumps and Winchester. Goosebumps was silly and terrible, badly acted and not remotely fun. Winchester was a try-hard psychological horror movie that fails in every way. Ugh.

At least Siren and The 100 are still super AWESOME.

So, this month might not be turning out how I originally imagined but I'm really happy about taking care of some of the things I've had on my to-do list for ages.

Have a nice weekend!

Sunday 6 May 2018

GREMLINS by George Gipe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gremlins is a movie that I've seen many times. Of course I have, I'm a kid of the 80s and this movie was HUGE. Like everyone else, I fell in love with Gizmo and have collected Gizmo merch/toys for years.

I might or might not be wearing my Gremlins tee right now. *whistles*

Anyway. Let's get back to this book. A book I had no idea was written. Not until I read an article about it a few months ago, which is kinda strange because when I was a kid, I went out of my way to read movie novelisations. LOL.

Hubby found a copy on ebay for me, and I couldn't wait to get stuck into it as soon as it arrived. You know, for a book published in 1984 it's in pretty good shape. This makes me happy because it's always lovely to see well-loved books.

We know how the story goes...

An adorable Mogwai lives a quiet and content existence in a store in Chinatown, but when the store owner's grandson sneaks the little creature out and sells it to a travelling salesman, the trouble begins.

Rand Peltzer takes Gizmo and gives the Mogwai to his son Billy as a Christmas present. And so we meet the residents of Kingston Falls, where Billy (with the help of young Pete) accidentally breaks all the rules essential to keeping the Mogwai from becoming something truly horrifying...

I had a total blast reading this book! It's pretty much the same as the movie, but with much more detailed insight into the characters because it's told in multiple POVs. It also focuses on the gremlin phenomenon to a much greater degree, which was really cool.

There's a lot to like about this book, but my favourite bits include the casual writing style, how different each POV is, and that both Gizmo and Stripe get a chance to tell their stories. I loved how we found out the origins of the Mogwai, who created them, why they're on Earth, why there are rules, and that whether Mogwai or Gremlin, they're highly intelligent.

I also liked Billy and Kate, and how well they worked together before and after the green terrors start their crusade. Kate was an especially smart, kind, strong and hardworking character, and this book totally conveys that. Billy is a nice shy guy who likes to do the right thing, but gets himself into trouble without intention. Pete's great as the pesky kid who sets the bad stuff rolling and then mysteriously disappears when everything goes to hell.

Yeah, this was a great book. Whether compared to the movie or not, either way the story worked for me. Actually, I think it added a deeper appreciation for the movie because the nitty-gritty details revealed in the narrative add to the experience.

I'm so glad we found a copy, because this is going on my Keeper Shelf.

Saturday 5 May 2018

A Strange Week


How was your week? Mine was a bit strange. A little topsy-turvy because after almost three weeks, my daughter went back to school.

That means that my brain needed to switch gears before settling into any new projects. My head is just too full of ideas right now to concentrate on just one. Not until I get the chance to make a plan.

So what did I do? My daughter was home on Monday, so of course we watched SIX episodes of Pushing Daisies S2. We're seriously addicted to this show. A show I was going to watch alone but my daughter ended up getting as hooked on as quickly as I did. 

After she went back to school I decided to finish a short story I wrote several months back. That's what I spent most of Tuesday doing. By Wednesday I'd read it one last time and found a few final teeny things to fix.

On Thursday, I finished. I'm really happy with how it turned out, and the final word count is 4,215. I just need to find a market to sub to... 

I also caught up on Siren, which is turning out to be quite a violent and suspenseful show I'm really enjoying. And The 100 is as fantastic as ever. I was a bit worried about how they were going to show what happened to those who went underground, but I LOVED how everything played out. It was so clever.

There was also a lot of walking, plenty of washing, a bit of sorting and even some reading. But not enough planning. That's for next week. Probably.

Anyway, have a great weekend!

ETA: Because we loved Pushing Daisies SO MUCH, we managed to watch the rest of S2 by Friday night. Loved how it ended, even if I was sad it was over. I can't believe such a unique and wonderful show was cancelled. 😞

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