Friday, 27 October 2017

[OCT UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals







It's been another month of quite a few reads, and it's another difficult choice between two top books this month. The honourable mention goes to The Mortal Instruments #6, because oh my gosh, I looooooved this. What a perfect ending. But shock of all horrors, this month another book wins the day, and that book is Second Helpings (Jessica Darling, #2). Yep, I know - I'm way late to this party! I'd never heard of these books until one of my critique partners put me onto them this month.

You can always tell when I adore a book because I will read it in a day or less. And in this case it was even more impressive because I was also doing homework during that time span, and watching stuff on Netflix. This is definitely a "lie on the couch and read" kind of book.

So, book #2 in the Jessica Darling series follows on from book #1's big cliffhanger, and the tension continues to build to near-unbearable levels this time around. The book's ending was so very worth the wait ... although of course the very ending leaves things open for the next book in the series (which I've heard mixed reviews about).

So what did I love about this book? Well, Jessica is hilarious - she makes me snort with laughter. The teenaged voice was so well done, but it was extra good because this is an intelligent teenager. I love the supporting cast too, with their various quirks. Each of Jessica's Clueless Crew have their own unique features that made reading all the dialogue between them a real treat. Then, of course, there's Marcus ...

He was great in book #1, but I much preferred him in book #2 where he was just too adorable - and of course, super sexy. Let's sum it up like this: *SWOOOOOOOOOOOOON* Okay, done. :) Sometimes I felt so sorry for him what with all those hoops he had to jump through. But it wasn't only Jessica's fault, since it takes two to tango (or not tango, as the case may be). And one of my very favourite aspects of this was book was "Tuttie Flutie"'s interaction with Gladdie. Gladdie, man, what a legend. The scenes at the nursing home were so wonderful.

To summarise, I'm so glad to have had this book recommended!

This is the GoodReads blurb:
"Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can’t seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica’s parents won’t get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany’s pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household.

With keen intelligence, sardonic wit, and ingenious comedic timing, Megan McCafferty again re-creates the tumultuous world of today’s fast-moving and sophisticated teens. Fans of Sloppy Firsts will be reunited with their favorite characters and also introduced to the fresh new faces that have entered Jess’s life, including the hot creative writing teacher at her summer college prep program and her feisty, tell-it-like-it-is grandmother Gladdie. But most of all, readers will finally have the answers to all of their burgeoning questions, and then some: Will Jessica crack under the pressure of senioritis? Will her unresolved feelings for Marcus wreak havoc on her love life? Will Hope ever come back to Pineville? Fall in love with saucy, irreverent Jessica all over again in this wonderful sequel to a book that critics and readers alike hailed as the best high school novel in years."


Currently Reading: Lola and the Boy Next Door,
Book #2 in the Anna and the French Kiss series








For those who don't know, there is now a blog for this blog hop, rather than us going straight to Misha's blog. Check out the new Do You Have Goals? blog, and join our hop if you want to have some extra motivation for achieving your goals. :)

Now, some updates on my own creative goals:
  • EDITS IN GENERAL - I've been doing edits here and there, including just adding notes to things for editing later. Homework has got a bit in the way of me doing much of anything for the last week or so.
  • Critique Group! & NaNoWriMo '17- We are all gearing up to do NaNo this year, and all have some pretty solid plans in place. We are all pretty excited about our projects, and we're ready to cheer each other on! I just have to get my last bits of homework out of the way before I can really settle into a NaNo rhythm once November kicks off.
  • Music - I have no updates. I still have not finished the last song because I forgot to do certain necessary harmonies for it, and until I do those it isn't finished. I also have to send Billy some other music files that he wants to work on, but I haven't had much of a chance to sit down and focus on getting that stuff done. Hopefully this weekend I'm going to have some spare time!
That's a wrap for October. How are you doing with your goals/projects/etc?

Monday, 16 October 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017



So, I had my plan all figured out for NaNoWriMo this year, with my 'beat sheet' written up and discussed with my critique group (though not in any great depth at this point). Then, boom, bam, lightning strikes and I get another idea ... which has sort of taken over my first idea.

I'll probably still start off writing my first idea during November, just because that was my original plan. BUT the second idea is really consuming me and I'm dying to start writing it. Currently I'm writing up scene summaries for what I'll be writing, and filling in any gaps that show themselves. And no matter how many notes I wrote, my excitement doesn't diminish. Ohhh, I love this inspired feeling!

Of course, before I can really get stuck into NaNo, I have my last two assignments to complete for my studies - and they're big ones hanging over my head. I also technically have to complete my research project which is a rather mammoth undertaking. So while I'm excited about NaNo, I'm super stressed about my studies.

It's a weird sort of situation to be in.

Friday, 29 September 2017

[SEPT UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals







Okay, I have read a few books this month and the one I have to choose is City of Lost Souls, Book #5 in The Mortal Instruments. My GoodReads review is one big gushy ramble of mostly "Clace"-related blabbering, but I did edit the review later to talk about "the rest of those characters" who are in fact quite significant. So I'll try to make this review some semblance of useful for anyone unfamiliar with and curious about the book and/or series.

** If you don't want to know ANY LITTLE HINT OF A THING about Book #5, maybe skip the review. Okay **


This entire series has been a combination of "eewwww", "OMG" and "aaaaahhhh must read on ASAP" for me. I struggled with Books #2 & #3, and if any of you have read the series you may be able to relate. After Book #3 was done, I foolishly thought there might be some light at the end of the tunnel in terms of character happiness. What was I thinking, huh? These books are definitely full of teen angst and drama, but I think the kids have good reason to be angsty, quite frankly, so I don't hold it against them.

Something to note about this book is that my respect for Clary grew so much. Sure, she frustrated me at times, but I thought she was so brave most of the way through, and the epitome of her bravery was in that epic scene near the end when she made the hardest decision she'd ever had to make before - you know the one, right?! I was really, seriously impressed with her at that point.


On a sort of related note, I actually do feel sorry for "the bad guy" of the story, because despite the fact that he is truly a heinous bad guy, Clary was right when she said he's incredibly lonely. Yeah, he's a creep, there's no denying that, but still, it's not his fault he was born the way he was, is it? He had no control over how he turned out, and a great wrong was done to him very early in his life.

This book was quite a slow and torturous read (even though it was good at the same time, and sort of psychologically harrowing), and I was very tempted to skip ahead just so I knew that something good would happen in the end, but I hung in there and kept reading the pages in the proper order, as is usual for me. It felt like it took forever to read this book, but in fact it only took me a few days.

Regarding other characters, Alec continued to annoy me, and I was totally on Magnus's side with that whole thing. I'm a fan of Maia and "Kyle". As for "Sizzy", I'm torn, but mostly because I don't really find vampires hot in general, because they're actually dead people and I don't think dead people are hot. Like, why would anyone want to be with a corpse? That said, I do love my Buffy and Angel hotties. Sigh. Anyway, yeah, I'm torn on this one. Isabelle is so full of life and warm and all that, and I just don't know if she's suited to dating a dead guy. But I'll reserve judgment till I conclude the series I guess. Also, I was happy to see Maryse Lightwood kicking arse, as well as Jocelyn. But when Jocelyn was telling Clary to get off Jace, I was like, "Step off, woman! Get ye gone! Leave your daughter be!"

All in all, I loved this book, and I'm now reading Book #6 and hoping the light will be VERY bright at the end of this long, hard-slog tunnel

This is the GoodReads blurb:
"The New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments continues—and so do the thrills and danger for Jace, Clary, and Simon.

What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.
"


Currently Reading: City of Heavenly Fire,
Book #6 in The Mortal Instruments series








Just a repeat of last month's news! There is a new blog for this blog hop, rather than us going straight to Misha's blog. Check out the new Do You Have Goals? blog, and join our hop if you want to have some extra motivation for achieving your goals. :)

Now, some updates on my own creative goals:
  • DAPHNE - I'm a little stalled on this one, but I've had a break from it so maybe it's time to return and try to tackle that third chapter again. I was happy with it until I realised the second half of it had a lot of dialogue. I want to rework the lead-in to that dialogue and think about what parts of the long chat I really want to keep.
  • Critique Partner Group! - Last time I mentioned I had found a new critique partner. Well, we have sucked another lady from AbsoluteWrite into our circle and now we are a little critique trio, and have our own PBWorks site to share our stories in and put feedback comments up, etc. It's really motivating and we are talking about NaNo plans and so on. So all is good there!
  • ON THE OUTSIDE - Last time I mentioned I had been revising Chapter #1 of this novel, and I finished that and shared it on my critique group. I got some good feedback and overall I feel like the revised chapter is better than what I had before, but it still needs some work. I think I'm going to leave it where it is for now, though, as I'm a little burned out on OtO at present.
  • NaNoWriMo 2017 - So yeah, speaking of NaNo 2017, I do have a sort of rough plan for what to write this time, but I only have plans for the beginning, and a hint of the end, and a very vague middle. I feel like I should at least have a skeleton plot worked out before November starts, despite my notorious pantsing ways. ;)
That's a wrap for September. How are you doing with your goals/projects/etc?

Friday, 25 August 2017

[AUGUST UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals







This month it was difficult to choose between the two novels I read. In the end I've gone with Katie McGarry's Dare You To, Book #2 in the Pushing the Limits series and actually my favourite to date. The honourable mention was Nyrae Dawn's Façade (Games, #2). Click HERE for my full GoodReads review of Dare You To, which contains spoilers.

I wasn't really sure what I would think of this book, since I'd recently re-read Book #1 and remembered why I loved it...and why I didn't. I can't remember Book #3 very well, but I think I'm safe in saying Dare You To is my favourite.

A problem I had with Book #1 was the patheticness of the heroine, Echo. Beth is a totally different kettle of fish; she's no shrinking violet, and doesn't faint against walls or black out. Wow, what a meanie I am! Poor Echo. ;) But seriously, I like that Beth didn't need to be constantly caught (literally, caught before she fell over) by the sexy hero. Ryan also gets major stars for not calling Beth "baby". He didn't, right?! I only remember Noah doing that with Echo... Disclaimer: I love Noah.

Dare You To cracked me up on many occasions - Beth's language is just as foul as mine (well, okay, I'm worse), and she was so fiery. Her early exchanges with Ryan were hilarious - she was a real force for him to reckon with. I also found it refreshing that Ryan was the 'innocent' one in this story, as opposed to the usual 'good' girl / bad boy dynamic in this series. Ryan was still sexy, so there was no letdown there. But Beth taught him a thing or two about life. That said, of course I adore bad boy characters - as long as they're not total assholes.

I remember reading Pushing the Limits and always wishing that Echo would become more of a rock for Noah. The school counsellor did that instead, while Noah was always having to be Echo's rock. Not that he was complaining. I was the one complaining. And I'm not really sure that Beth went much further in this regard than Echo did, but she had her moments. It was such a relief when she finally realised Ryan was right about her fear of having a new life...and possible happiness.


One downside to this read was seeing Isaiah so forlorn, but since I knew this gets addressed in Book #3, it wasn't really a problem.

I gave this book five stars!

This is the GoodReads blurb:

"If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs-until the day her uncle swoops in, and Beth finds herself starting over at a school where no one understands her. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does. 
Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him. 
But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image is risking everything for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...."


Currently Reading: City of Glass,
Book #3 in The Mortal Insruments series
(a re-read so I can finally read the last three books).








First up, some news! There is a new blog for this blog hop, rather than us going straight to Misha's blog. Check out the new Do You Have Goals? blog, and join our hop if you want to have some extra motivation for achieving your goals. :)

Now, some updates on my own creative goals:

  • Music - Somehow I believed I had recorded a song for our new album that I had never even downloaded the instrumental track for. Apparently I hallucinated an entire thing where this song was totally done already. So I still have one more song to do... Thankfully, Billy is happy with the other two, so no more work required on those!
  • DAPHNE - I'm continuing to post stuff at Absolute Write. I've had a lot of help from people with my opening few scenes for DAPHNE. It's been a hard slog (and isn't over yet), but I feel like I'm finally getting to the right place with the opening scenes.
  • Critique Partner! - In other exciting news, I appear to have found myself a new critique partner, one of the ladies who's been helping me on AW. So that's great! I'm excited at the chance to start getting some more in-depth and focused help on my work again, and to give said help in return.
  • ON THE OUTSIDE - I've been revising the first chapter of OTO, which has been driving me nuts. As usual with my stories, there's a lot of bloating that needs culling, and the first scene possibly needs to be merged with a bit of the next scene. I've whittled it a lot so far, but have a way to go. I wanted to post it on AW for critique, but my perfectionist self won't allow that till I've got it into better shape.

So, that's about it for August. How are you all going with your various creative / other goals? And yes, I have some catching up to do with your blogs too.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Kyra Lennon's REASONABLE DOUBTS - release blitz!

Hi everyone! I'm excited and honoured to be taking part in the release blitz for Reasonable Doubts by Kyra Lennon!

Blurb: Darcy Ryan is a woman on a mission. A mission to take down the corrupt cops who ensured her best friend, Matteo Torres, went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit – the murder of his wife, Rebecca.
                             
Darcy is willing to do just about anything to prove his innocence, including getting up close and personal with lead detective, Finn Drake.

She knows she’s playing a dangerous game, but it gets more dangerous than she could have ever imagined when she discovers everything she thought she knew about Rebecca Torres was wrong, and Finn Drake isn’t the man she thought he was either.

Darcy’s life and her best friend’s freedom are on the line. With her entire world turned on its head and time running out, she has to decide. Should she take a chance on Drake and go against her gut instincts, or go it alone and pray she can find the killer before he finds her?




Stalker Links

Website: http://www.kyralennon.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kyralennonwrites/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KLennonWrites


Monday, 7 August 2017

A quick word count update!

Time for a quick revision update!

My initial 2017 revision of DAPHNE took me from 107,902 to 126,249 words.

Last time I checked in about word count, I had shed around 3.5 - 4k of words, but today I have a more encouraging update. I'm down to 116,968 words. So I've shed 9,281 words so far.

I'm not entirely sure where I want or need my word count to be, honestly, and I'm not usually the type to worry more about word count than about the story making sense and flowing well. I'm sure there are a lot more words I can cut simply because they're not needed. And some parts still need rewriting.

I don't have much more to say, I suppose, so I'll leave it at this very short update. For now...onward!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

[JULY UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals





Oops! I missed the deadline, but oh well, I'm still here to post for this month's book club & goals blog hops.



I've read three novels / novellas this month, and have chosen Eleanor & Park as my novel of the month to share a review for. This is the non-spoilery version of the GoodReads (spoilery) version.


I vaguely remember back when I first heard about this book, reading some reviews of it that were mixed - I remember not everyone loving the book for whatever reason. I admit I was a bit influenced by that memory when I started reading - I was in the first chapter and wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy the read. Well, now that I've finished reading, I can say without hesitation that I loved Eleanor & Park! It was tragic, romantic, and funny. I love the emphasis on music, too.

The book ends on an interesting note that has seemingly divided readers - some are dying to know more, while others (like me) think that what we are left with is enough. It's not a neatly tied up ending, but there is a sense of hope that makes me happy.

Richie was such a creepy character - yech! I felt sorry for Eleanor's mum, but also angry with her, for much of the book. But I loved Park and his family - his parents were great characters.

This is the GoodReads blurb:

"Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor
... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try."


Currently Reading: my own novels...for editing.
But hopefully soon, book #2 in Lydia Kang's duology.








I'm continuing to work on my revisions for DAPHNE II, but now that studies are starting up as of Monday, I'm not sure how much progress I'll be making for the time being. I also did another thing - I logged back into Absolute Write (the Water Cooler forums) after approximately 6 years of absence, and started posting again.

I've shared the beginning of DIE BEACHSIDE and the first chapter of SUNDOWN III. The former has attracted feedback that surprised me - I need to cut out perhaps the first 1k of words. And I thought that little novella was pretty lean. Gosh, critique feedback is good. It wakes you up from your slumber. As for the SUNDOWN III chapter, that also needs some condensing, but the feedback was overall more favourable. I got some great feedback that I can work with for that one.

Oh, oh, something REALLY EXCITING? I finally got those last two songs done and sent them off to Billy. WOO! I just hope he doesn't ask me to do heaps more work on them. But if he does, so be it, I will do what I can. I'm hoping we can get down to the business of getting our second Woody's A Girl album out in the next few months.

I hope you are all doing well!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Anybody got time for dat? (beta-reading)


This is a quick entry to ask if anyone is in a position right now to be a beta reader for me.

I have a novella that I thought I would be fleshing out more (at least, that's what I said last year), but having just skimmed through it myself and made a few tweaks, I'm not sure if it actually needs fleshing out.

I can think of some areas that may do, however it could result in me adding words that don't need to be added. So I'd be curious to get others' thoughts on this before I do anything drastic. Here are the details:


Title: Die Beachside (working title)
Word Count: 32,805 (Scrivener)
Blurb: During her first year at university, Megan meets Avya, a fellow student who rather than living in student accommodation lives on the local beach in a cave.

The two girls clash at first, but eventually Megan becomes a confidant for Avya, who shares a scary secret - she's being stalked. In light of a recent unsolved murder in the area, this is especially worrisome. It also reminds Megan of difficult experiences in her own past, and she starts feeling paranoid.

She tries to protect Avya however she can, but campus security don't seem to want to take her seriously. Can Megan figure out who Avya's stalker is before something goes really wrong - and before she herself is put in the path of danger?

P.S. There's romance with a dark, brooding character too.

Let me know if you are willing to read it. :)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

DAPHNE revision update

I'm still going with this revision thing. I have next week off work, and the week after my studies begin, so my time is short. There was a point recently when I did a "mega-tweak" on my first chapter, and I thought I was almost there with fixing it. But as I read it on my Kindle, I got really discouraged by the amount of things I now needed to tweak in the wake of the mega-tweak. Thankfully I got past my moping and plowed on.

It's quite an undertaking, fully rewriting a novel. When I first rewrote this one back in 2012, some things stayed the same, like my main character and her family. But a lot changed. A previous "good guy" became a bad guy. A new love interest materialised, and became the male lead. A best friend became condescending, and her boyfriend a jerk. The setting itself also changed from "aimless new adults living life after high school" to first year of university.

After that 2012 rewrite, I left the novel to stew for, ummm, five years? Yeah, that's all. When I returned to it in 2017 I saw that I'd created a hot mess, but thankfully I much preferred this "new" mess to the old one. 2017's revisions / edits are making me love it even more. They say write what you love, and each new tweak of a sentence, paragraph or section is bringing me closer to loving this novel.

I think I've fixed most of the big problems, though there are still timeline blips to be worked out. I'm down to about 122,484 words, meaning I've shed 3,765 words or so. I need to shed a lot more! And no, I haven't removed my "darling" Jane yet. Still not decided on what to do there.

That'll do for now. But I wanted to mention that I'm reading Eleanor & Park after having it on my TBR for quite a while. I'm loving it.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

One new scene = SPANNER

Oops!

I added one new scene to my novel, and it messed with my entire timeline! I spent a couple of days writing out chapter / scene summaries, and printed the summaries out and scribbled notes all over them, etc. Eventually I worked out how to rearrange sections so the timeline made sense again. I was helped by reading an article about using metadata settings in Scrivener to create a timeline. Using that advice, I assigned dates / date ranges to chapters and shifted said dates where needed. Phew. Crisis sorted.

Another 'oops' moment came when I realised this current edit has not removed words as I hoped, but has added them. So where my first revision word count was approx. 107,902, the current count is 126,249. Yep, I've done it again. I know I have some padding that can be trimmed, and thankfully I think I'm at the point where that can be my focus now.

Speaking of padding... During my last revision of this novel, I mentioned a minor character that was a bit of a "darling" I might have to kill. She started out as a source of humour, but in truth there is a lot more to her that we're not even going to learn about in this novel. So she could even be seen as a bit of a blue herring - ya know, a herring with no purpose. ;) So really there is no point keeping her, at least not for plot purposes. I'm reluctant to let her go, but maybe I can revisit her story in some other way in another setting sometime.

Anyway, that's my update for now. I hope you are all doing well with whatever you're working on.

P.S. My addiction to Louise Rozett's Confessions series has been rekindled, sadly for no tangible reason - e.g. there is no FOURTH BOOK YET! She hopes to write one, but needs a contract. I offered to buy it off her even if nobody else does, I'm that desperate to read the rest of Rose and Jamie's story. ;) Anyway...I shall continue to wait and hope for another instalment, while moping in a very morose fashion as long as I don't get it!

Friday, 7 July 2017

First chapter editing 'marathon'


I've read a lot about authors struggling with their first chapters. First you have to figure out where your novel should start, and that can be the trickiest part to get right. I've often started my novels in the wrong spot with rough drafts. With my current edit of DAPHNE, I think I've got the start point right. The rest of the chapter though is where I'm struggling.

The main thing I'm dealing with is getting the dialogue between my two main characters right. Nathan is a bit of a lovable rogue and he exasperates Daphne when they first meet. That's what I thought I had conveyed in the first chapter, but reading through it after a long hiatus I found I had created more of a harasser than an entertainer! What?! That was definitely not my intention, so I've been honing the chapter ever since I started this latest revision, trying to make Nathan more Nathan-esque. This chapter is probably on version 5 by now (taking a wild guess there), and it's still not right. It's getting there, but s.l.o.w.l.y.

I think what will help is to print the chapter out and do a paper edit. I haven't done one of those in a long time. I really love editing my novels on my Kindle, reading and making notes along the way. It's almost as good as a paper edit for picking up mistakes or sentences that just don't flow right. Even paragraphs that can be chopped in their entirety. But I think being able to use a bright red pen and scribble all over the chapter might help me in this case.

Elsewhere in the novel, I've been making good progress filling gaps in the narrative, and I think I'm mostly done with that. Of course, some gap filling has resulted in a need to do yet more editing of subsequent chapters, as they no longer quite fit. This feels like a neverending process, but I know from experience that eventually I'll reach a point where I've done all I can for the time being. That will be the time to let the novel stew once again. And maybe, not long after, it will be beta-reader recruiting time!

Friday, 30 June 2017

[JUNE UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals




The last time I participated properly in this bloghop was September 2016! Yes, I've been very slack since then, or rather I've just found it hard to keep up with everything else in life as well as the few blog hops I am still committed to. I was going to skip this one, since I thought I hadn't read any books this month, but then I realised (after checking GoodReads) that I in fact have. :)


Last time I updated, I was reading Poldark. I got to the end of the main series since then, but haven't read the "next generation" books yet. My mum has read my copies and claims they are just as good, so I will get around to it sometime. For now... I read a memoir this month!

In this memoir, Jessica Bell weaves a compelling story of a painful coming-of-age in an unusual setting. As the daughter of rock'n'rollers in the 80s and early 90s, Bell certainly had an upbringing different to most of us - and yet I could still relate to parts of what she experienced, since I was also a child of the 80s and 90s in Australia, and big time into music.

I loved the way the book progressed with its sections of Jessica talking to her reflection. It was intriguing to see her relationship with her reflection change over the course of the book as well.

Jessica has led a life of adventure seemingly largely because of her constant need to run. But this book seems to represent a time in her life when she has finally stopped running and is facing her reflection at last - and coming to realise that her reflection is her friend, supporter, etc.

As usual, this is a well-written book that compels the reader onward. It's even more special because of the bravery it took the author to put it out there for all to read and judge in whatever way they choose.

This is a snippet from the GoodReads blurb:
"Jessica Bell never meant to be a rebel. But growing up with two gothic rockers as parents seemed to make it inevitable.

In 1980s Australia, Erika Bach and Demetri Vlass founded Ape the Cry and Hard Candy, two of Melbourne’s iconic indie bands. They encouraged Jessica with unreserved love to pick up the guitar and write her own songs. But Erika’s back problem became a nightmare of pill popping, alcohol abuse, and anxiety attacks. Demetri retreated into silence for fear of triggering Erika’s drug-induced psychosis. And Jessica turned inwards, to her own reflection.

But her mirror self was a fiend, not a friend. All it took was one secret drink at fifteen, and Jessica dove headlong into depression and self-destruction to escape the madness at home.
"

Currently Reading: my own novels...for editing





I had a long period of time when nothing much was happening with my goals. I'm glad to say (as you will have seen if you have looked at any of my recent blog posts - yes, I have recent blog posts!!) that this is no longer the case. Here are some general updates:

  • I've completed my latest edit of SUNDOWN, and am now letting that novel rest.
  • I'm currently reading through my DAPHNE novel, although I had a lot of edit notes that I lost by accidentally deleting the wrong version of the novel from my Kindle. ARGH, basically. But that happened to me once with my SUNDOWN edits too. Hopefully it will happen no longer!
  • I've also had quick read throughs of some of my other novels, like ON THE OUTSIDE and LOST & FOUND. Yep, I've been on an editing / revising binge.
  • I've also kind of edited / written new material for a couple of SUNDOWN-related projects.
I'm not sure which novel I will be focusing on properly next, the way I did with SUNDOWN, but it sure feels good to be compelled to do all this editing. I had a long hiatus when I struggled to get motivation, but I've got it in spades now.

As mentioned in other posts, I am also gearing up for my next lot of study (my last semester is coming up), so I will have to concentrate more on that and less on editing until the year's end. But I feel like I've achieved a lot already this year, and that makes me very happy. Someday soon I hope I will be ready to seek out beta readers for at least one of my novels.

P.S. The area still being neglected is my music. But I fully intend to get to that very soon!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Editing, music, and study

Latest revision update - I think I might be at the point where I can leave SUNDOWN III alone and let it stew for a while. I've continuously been tweaking bits and pieces, but now even though I recognise bits that I want to improve, I'm committed to leaving the poor thing alone and letting it settle after being thoroughly worked over.

I have started to look at fixing some of my novel ON THE OUTSIDE now. That's another book I've read and re-read over and over on my Kindle, and have wanted to edit for ages. I may not do a proper systematic edit for now but I'll fix bits as I stumble across them.

Something else that is emerging from this SUNDOWN III edit is what I'm referring to as SUNDOWN 1.5, which is the Jared POV parts that were in the original SUNDOWN novel being put into a new novel or novella or whatever it's going to turn into. I don't know what will happen with that in the long run, but I still want to get it done.

Some of the artwork for our
forthcoming album.
Despite all the stuff I wish I could focus on right now in terms of editing, I have to focus instead on my upcoming studies and also trying to get my vocal tracks down for the new album (OBLIVION) coming out this year. I'll just have to save up all my editing energy for the end of the year once my studies are done.

On another note, I'm now behind in my annual Goodreads reading challenge, due to all the time I've spent reading my own novels instead of other people's. But I hope to catch up, if not now then at least during my week off work which is happening in late July.

Friday, 9 June 2017

SUNDOWN III revision update

To give a brief update on my revision progress, I'm ready to do one last sweep through to correct any little niggly mistakes, and then I'm going to let the revised novel sit for a while...maybe even until the end of the year since I will be busy during the second half of the year with studies.

I'm pretty happy with the progress I've made, having corrected a lot of annoying problems that have been known to me for years through many re-reads of the novel. But I definitely think I need to have fresh eyes before I go through the novel again, so I'll give it a break once this last sweep is done.

When reading through parts of the second novel in the series, I recognise so much that needs changing. It's another novel that has a lot of bloating, so it needs to be whittled. I'm not sure where it should start, but I'll have to stew on that and see what I come up with. There are also obvious changes that need to be made that are the result of me changing various plot points / settings in the first book. I'll get to that someday, but I have plenty of novels that need editing, so I might work on a novel from a different 'world' next.

In other unrelated news, I finally finished reading Jessica Bell's autobiography Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel. It was a fantastic read and if you didn't know it was non-fiction, you'd think you were reading some compelling novel. I'll do up a proper review to put on GoodReads / Amazon, but for now that's my quick thought on it.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Compelled into revision mode

The last time I posted a writing update, I was writing something new. Well, my writing ground to a halt when I suddenly got re-obsessed with editing my first SUNDOWN novel. I had been part of the way through a rewrite that was bringing it from present tense into past tense, last time I opened the file.

Since starting up with that again, I'm now almost done with the present-to-past transition. But a complicating factor is that my previous editing had led me to remove all sections of the novel that were from Jared's point of view, leaving me with some gaps to fill from Louise's point of view. I'm now nearly done with that part too, I think. Along the way, I've also done some other editing, like removing sections that were too wordy and / or boring, and unnecessary, and trimming unnecessary words here and there. I have a lot more work to do on that. The first few chapters I think are pretty strong, but after that there is a bit of bloating that needs to be addressed.

On another note, I was looking back through my blog posts here and found this one: Knowing your characters vs. showing them. It's a little scary that that was back in September 2012, and I am still grappling with the problem today. But I'm slowly bringing my characters into line with their actual character. I just have some more work to do on it. It's all part of the joyous editing process. ;)

This current rewrite is titled SUNDOWN III (whereas the one I spoke about in 2012 was SUNDOWN II, my first total rewrite). This current rewrite is less drastic, as the setting and plot aren't really changing. But it's still taking me some time and patience, of course. As much as I'd love to be done with this and ready to think about sending my book out to beta readers (again), I'm also enjoying the process of refining the book into what I hope will be its best shape to date. Maybe because I know that in not too long, I'll have to put it aside because I'll be studying for second semester this year.

I'm getting stuff done while I can! And it feels very good to be inspired about my writing again. I've had a tough few years on that front.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

My review of ALIEN: CONVENANT (** contains mild spoilers **)

** Contains Spoilers **

Alien: Covenant - A Review

Source: IMBb - Alien: Covenant
I went with a friend to see Alien: Covenant last night, and we were surprised to find it was more of a comedy than an actual scary movie. I don't think they intended it to be funny, but we laughed a lot. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in the film - that will always happen for me when there are so many stupid characters who do dumb things and therefore end up dead.

The whole movie plotline wouldn't have even existed if not for one very idiotic decision early on that set the spaceship on an unplanned course. "Oh yeah, let's go check out this mysterious planet that is just PERFECT, but that we somehow never found before when we scanned everywhere for suitable planets." The captain was warned not to divert from the planned course, but he just took it under advisement and went ahead anyway and did a dumb-arse thing.

So, that set the tone for the entire movie - lots of stupid decisions, like "Oh I'm just gonna go do a pee, I won't be long." YEAH RIGHT. YOU WILL BE VERY LONG. YOU WON'T BE COMING BACK FROM THAT PEE.

Basically I was disappointed, particularly thinking about the original movies and how epic they were. And I'm sorry, but this new "bad-ass lady" character can't hold a candle to Ripley.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

When inspiration strikes

Light vector created by Freepik

You know how sometimes you're really busy with all sorts of non-writing-related stuff, and you're getting more and more exhausted and you know you need a holiday? Well, my next holiday's not till late July, and I'm definitely weary, but I have also been struck by the compulsion to write. That's not even including the fact that I'm eager to edit basically every work I've written so far (novels, at least). No, this is about writing something new.

Well, sort of new. I'm compelled to write yet another SUNDOWN-related story. So I've started that. I should be editing what I already have, like I've sworn to do. But this story I'm writing is filling a gap that needed filling - it's the story of Jared and Jenna and their love...and their ultimate grisly demise.

I don't know what it is about this series that always pulls me back, but there sure is something! So I'm writing the story of Jared and Jenna, and it's flowing really well so far. I know how it ends, so that's not a problem. I know a lot of what goes on throughout, but I had to think for a while about what point to start at. I had one false start, before settling on where it should all begin - their actual first meeting.

It may end up being a novella, which is fine with me. Once it's done, that'll be another main gap in this series filled, and I can move onto editing everything and anything.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

My kitty cat

Smog, a cheeky and cherished kitty. 2008 - 2017

I lost my beautiful kitty last week. It's been a pretty horrible week but time waits for no woman, so I've had to "get back on the horse" in terms of going to work each day and getting through the day. Still, it's not really getting any easier. I miss my naughty boy.

Just today when thinking about updating this blog, I was reminded of this below average quality poem I wrote in 2005 after losing my childhood kitty (she got to age 18 though, unlike my boy above who was only 9). I thought I'd share the poem:


Back in your box - 11/8/2005
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baby in a box
You touched her hand so tenderly
Tentatively
You knew not where you went
But you felt safe enough to return her gesture of kindness

A little one
Left alone at such a young age
Your sister gone
Who knows who had the better fortune
You or her
But we all know you had great fortune indeed

My little one
A face I cannot imagine forgetting
But I bet the image will fade in time

I think I need another thousand photos
To remember you by
Before we put you back in your box
And bury you


Anyway...my plan is to make a big photo book of my boy's life, to remember him by. I'm not really the type to bring ashes home, and don't have much room to bury pets in my back yard (it's mostly paved). So I will have to hang onto his collar and paw print given by the vet, even though it totally does not look like the Smoggy paws I knew so well. I will have to flip through his photo book once I have that done, and hang onto his memory.