Posted in Australia, Book Review, Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

Not a review … as such

I’ve only just discovered the beauty of audio books. I take my time in getting acquainted with change. Usually denouncing the change stubbornly until I finally experience it and become they biggest spokes person.

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my day listening to my latest audiobook, A Heart This Big by Cheyenne Blue. I’m still only three quarters of the way through, so I can’t really give a full review as yet, but oh how this book has effected me already. It’s one of the first books I’ve read that has made me feel nostalgic in the most beautiful way to the landscape of my childhood.

I’ve read emotional books before, where they tear your heart out. But this book is a new level of emotion for me. It’s so beautiful and refreshing to read about Australia and fall back in love with my homeland. There’s no lying about the dusty landscape or the chicken shit, but the way Cheyenne has captured all the things I love about this beautiful country has me smiling and breathing deeper.

Much of what I myself write I have set in QLD, Australia. Because I love this country. Since I began writing I’ve had the discouragements and the downright statements that setting my writing anywhere in Australia will have me fail. I gave in a few time and took out specific town names, and obvious descriptors, and I have to say I’ve not liked the stories nearly as much. So after awhile I flipped the bird to the nay sayers and have continued to set my worlds obviously in this country. That doesn’t mean I haven’t worried at my bottom lip when I’ve sent a manuscript off with the tell tale names and places. But I’ve fallen in love with many overseas places through the words of others, I would love to one day make a reader want to see this country, or to fall in love with their own country.

A Heart This Big also sent me skittering to the kitchen. There is something so inherent in my childhood about cooking. My mum isn’t a big cooker, but my grandma was – possibly the only positive thing I could say about the woman. I danced around the kitchen with my son while I cooked and cleaned, baked, and chopped apples. The apples were to dry, but the smell sent me back to days where I would be at the farm and wander into the house to smell my Gran’s apple pies baking.

I feel like I’ve always appreciated this country, but perhaps the struggles of my childhood have made me forget how much I loved Australia even back then, and the country girl in me is still alive and well.

Thank you Cheyenne for reminding me that this country is beautiful, and always has been.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

The Great Pretender (Fighting the Impostor Syndrome)

I originally posted this March 28 2019, a lot has happened since then but many of the sentiments remain the same.

Because it feels like the universe is not so subtly nudging me in to addressing my own issue of being an impostor, I have feel the need to write about this. As a side note: I don’t believe in the concept of fate. I prefer to channel Kyle Reese/Sarah Connor ‘There is no fate, but what we make ourselves’. So I’m taking the hints and deciding to do something about it.
There things have happened within the last week or so that have made me pay more attention. So I’m trying to address it so I can move forward.

1. I read about perfection and it’s perils
I read a post called ‘The Perils of Perfectionism’ by Sam Brown and for the first time a big loud pompous gong went off inside of me. It’s a fantastic post about how striving for perfect creates fear. If highly recommend having a little looksie here.
I have carried fear around a lot in my life, and far too often the mean little bitch has taken the wheel. It will be a work in progress, I have no illusions about that, but I figure I have to start saying no, and take that wheel back.
2. Talking about my doubts.

Recently I was talking to a fellow writer from one of my writing groups about my own impostor syndrome. What I explained to her is that I find myself putting those thoughts in to the drivers seat (yep, liking this analogy) without always realising I am doing it. I quite often catch myself humming or singing The Platters song ‘The Great Pretender’ (Queen’s version) to myself because I am constantly feeling like a fraud. Strutting sometimes occurs as well, as it should when one sings Queen.

3. Reading
I’m reading this book called ‘What Would Boudicca Do?’. I’ve had to take off my own self critical hat of ‘I’m stupid, I know nothing about so many of these women from history’ to saying ‘look at all this amazing history I am learning from this book.’ For me, books are all about learning. Even if that lesson is something as beautiful as learning to turn off, stop, breath and enjoy another person’s craft. But, books that I adore can both intimidate and inspire the writer within. ‘What would Boudicca do?’, while not what I thought it would be, has really made me stop and think about so many things. The chapters are small little bite size nuggets of women from history and what lessons we can learn from them. When I came across the chapter ‘the impostor syndrome.’ I swear I could feel my body trying desperately to shrink into herself, hide inside her shell and take refuge in becoming the furniture.
That evil little voice inside started piping up ‘yep, they are talking about you. You’re about to get busted!’
I had been devouring the book, when suddenly for two days I found every reason to be too busy to pick it up.
I finally gave in. It is an interesting chapter, that took a bit of a different angle with the inspired female from history then I would have expected. And even though it is encouraging in it’s not entirely unique take on the idea that those that have the syndrome are more likely to actually be good at what they are doing as opposed to those overly cocky, I still feel as though at any minute I’m going to be found out. Ah the impostor syndrome even rears her head when reading about the impostor syndrome. She’s a strong little bugger.
So, it really is time to stop letting it stop me, it’s time to start fighting back. I am not a pretender, but a learner. I’m learning to overcome it and I’m learning more about my craft. It’s not a small thing to simply overcome but I am taking steps in exposing my writing and getting feedback, real feedback. Because as they say, you are your own worst critic.

Well that was an interesting read. I have come so much further than I dared to hope when I orignally wrote that.

The impostor syndrome still raises her insidious head, but I have an amazing tribe of friends and writers and I talk about the snarky little bitch and she goes and scurries into the back seat, like most bullies.

In these crazy times, be extra kind to yourself and reach out if that doubting voice tries to yell over you.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Book Club, Life Adventures, Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

Well that was a week

I’m not sure anyone really expected life to suddenly become perfect but I’m almost certain no one thought 2020 was a shocking calm before the storm. And perhaps it is neither extreme but this first week of 2021 has certainly thrown a spanned in the works.

I don’t want to go into the world at large thing, because we all know the dumpster fire has followed us into the New Year. Locally, we are in a sudden 3 day lockdown, which sounds minimal but I’m not delusional enough to think that after three days life will be great again. Nor will I be shocked if the lockdown is extended, again and again.

On a personal note, things have been a bit rough as well.

Three of the most influential and important women in my life are in dire situations with their health (mum if you are reading this, you are NOT allowed to get sick) one has even been given the devastating prognosis of approximately 6 weeks.

Last night when I learned this I sobbed into my partners shoulder and felt a crushing pain in my chest. I cried myself to sleep and have woken sadden but aware that if I were to let this stop me grabbing everyday and doing what I can with it, she would not only kick my arse but damn what a disrespect that would be. The sadness remains but along with that, I have the memories and light of her being in my life.

So what has 2021 offered so far to help light the rough days ahead. I have finally got this blog up and running properly and have my website good to go. I am working on finally getting my newsletter happening, and I’m so excited about it. I have a short story I am itching to give away to all subscribers and have the most beautiful cover made by the incredibly talented Pamela Jeffs. Her writing is mind blowing and her cover designs (a hobby she says) are truly stunning.

Reading:
I’ve embarked on a very optimistic goodreads reading challenge for 2021 of 100 books. Last year I managed 61 in the end and thought that incredible, but what’s a challenge if you aren’t pushing yourself beyond what you already know you can do.
In these 100 books I’m also working on the Sapphic Reading Challenge 2021 created by the incredibly awesome and talented Jae.

https://jae-fiction.com/sapphic-reading-challenge-2021/

I’m aiming for the dragon level 1 badge (1 book from each 50 categories) AND the bonus unicorn badge (10 of the 12 category). If you want to up your reading challenge and embark on some sapphic reading, and perhaps find new authors and categories then go take a look. There are many levels of badges, for all levels of readers.

I finished my first book The Queen’s Blade by Natasha Rose and am almost half way through Hotel Queens by Lee Winter. Both books are featured on the Les Fiction Book Club Facebook group this month. There will be author interviews, Q&A’s, and discussion at the end of the month. I’m also hoping to get some quick video reviews done as well.

Writing:
I finished my first full draft rewrite of Gargoyles, a dystopian novella I’m hoping to submit to a publisher by the end of February.
I’ve almost finished my last read through of The Void for the Publishers deadline of the end of the month.
I have also, with the help of my lovely partner, set up a writing space in our office. It’s so pretty and exciting.

New writing space .. Not yet finished but well on its way

So I hope you are all staying safe, and I’d love to hear if you’re doing any reading challenges this year, or any other challenges you are embarking on in 2021.

Be safe
Be brave
Be kind

Posted in Life Adventures, Publications, Writing Adventures

Just a Little Update

A lot later with this post then I meant, but these things happen, regularly. I’m working on my November Reviews post now but just a little update about life and writing. Since finishing NaNoWriMo, the publisher of my Novella Series Fang Ripper Chronicles has picked a date for Book 1, The Void and advertised it.

Book 1 of my first Series coming in 2021 – It’s real and it’s happening

In between working on this series, I’ve been preparing for my first Novella being released on April 23rd, Cold as Hell, which I should hopefully be able to reveal the cover and pre-order link in the next few weeks. As well as working on some other stories, including a dystopian tale to push me right outside of my comfort zone. It’s been very interesting and educational … about both my writing method and the frustrations I am getting with my own writing method.

In life news, we are looking forward to a small family Christmas with just our little trio (well there is five of us when you include the fur babies). We even got the lights and tree up.

Our Tree Book

Hope you are all staying safe, and looking forward to some season joy or downtime.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

Planning, who knew? Most successful NaNoWriMo

I assumed that my reading for November would be minimal because of the craziness of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but it turns out I managed to read quite a few books and there are several reasons for this.

Reading: I have found the enjoyable brilliance of short reads. Longer than a short story so you can get a bit more guts and immersion, but not a novel that will take a lot longer, especially when you are strapped for time and might have to wait a few days or weeks between picking them up again, and possibly needing to reread parts, or skim to get back into them.
November Reviews will be up soon, once I recover from a rather brutal book hangover.

Planning: Oh my … I’ve of course been told about planning your writing for years, and my usual reaction is a smile, a nod, and an immediate argument in my head that planning was just NOT for me. Turns out, I thrive whole heartedly on being able to know where the story is going before I start getting those words on to the page. In my younger writing soul, I thought it would some how squish the creativity. I now know I was completely wrong. It’s still my story, my imagination as I think through it all and work out how much crap I can put my characters through, which on a side note the answer is always ‘a bit more’ ;-p. And planning doesn’t mean your characters automatically do what you want them to, oh no. BUT overall the main points remain the same. NaNoWriMo has just finished and I’ve never done so well. My final word tally was 88001 words for the 30 days. :-D. It was amazing. I even think a large chunk of the words will be usable for my writing projects.

Day 16, when I hit the 50K word goal and the heartbeat of the entire month of November.

Let me know, are you are planner, a panster, or a plantser … are a bit of all depending on what you are writing? I’d love to know.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Book Club, Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

October Book Reviews

October has been a mammoth month of reading. These reviews are my own personal interpretations and opinions. I’m always up for book discussions, so let me know what you think.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – I wasn’t sure what to expect, all I had heard about it was lesbian necromancers in space. Sounded promising. And on almost all levels it certainly delivered. Overall I really enjoyed the story, but I found I kept expecting some kind of outward expression of Gideon being a lesbian (perhaps an indication of the dominant lesbian fiction out there?) and at times the near literary writing found some sections harder to get through. However, It was refreshing and freaking amazing reading a lesbian fiction story that isn’t Romance as it’s predominate theme. More speculative fiction lesbian books is needed in my opinion. Gideon the Ninth is a fantastical epic adventure of beautiful words and a detailed and wonderfully created universe. It is a brilliant read, but worth knowing exactly what you are embarking on. I am looking forward to reading book two, Harrow the Ninth with a little more understanding of what I’m about to read. I’m so happy to see other genres embrace lesbian main characters.

Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton – Finding Jessica Lambert is a contemporary romance. Everything about this book was deliciously beautiful. The words were divine, and the characters so real in a world that many may not have any experience with. The family dynamics and contrary actions of people were so human. It tapped in to anxieties so honestly they resonated and wrapped around me. It was a brilliant commentary on societies expectation that people should always have their shit together and the shame that’s created when keeping the struggles hidden. I also love the idea of second chances that is sewed through out the story. I loved this book and will be looking up more by this author.

Reservations of the Heart by T. B. Markinson – Reservations of the Heart was delightful from the first page to the last. I adored the characters and their fantastically witty and Laugh out loud banter. The dynamics between family relationships were varied and relatable while the writing was brilliant. T.B Markinson has spoken many times about her dislike of sex scenes but the many in this book were heat worthy phenomenal. It was also nice to read a book where both main characters are already aware of their sexuality.

Try me Again by Clare Lydon – A beautifully written snapshot of love, wrong choices, and second chances. Try me Again is easy to read with the flow and intrigue, while Clare Lyndon uses her humour, stunning scene setting, and insights of human nature to make you fall in love along with the characters.

Brooms Away by D. A. Kelly – A cosy mystery meets quirky fantasy. It is a fun adventure that will make you giggle. The mystery is intriguing, and the main character, Arabella is a riot of humour and rushing in to a world she doesn’t know much about. The writing is beautiful and the description and scenery is immersive. D.A. Kelly has done a fantastic job of putting her imaginative world on to the page and into our hearts. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Out of Nowhere: Moments in Time Anthology volume 2 by K. B. Elijah – I had so much fun reading these stories. Elijah’s writing is captivating and inviting while her characters make you chuckle or roll your eyes (intentionally), sometimes both. My favourites were definitely the stories about Death. She has created such a fun world and a unique and fun twist to a character I want to read far more adventures about.
Out of Nowhere ended with such a fantastic story, which brought together several other characters, from both this anthology and Volume 1. But no need to worry, the story stands completely on it’s own, but a fun little inside knowledge always makes this more enjoyable ;-p

Carnage by J. A. Henderson – In true Henderson style I devoured this book in three sittings (the downside of being an adult and needing to do life stuff). From the beginning to the end, Carnage entertained and pulled me in. I love the way J.A. Henderson gives you all the information, which somehow seems completely unrelated until his reveals where you slap yourself on the forehead and think, well of course, that makes entire sense. It’s a brilliant read, with laugh out loud moments, brilliant well rounded characters, and a story you need to know the end to. Highly recommend this book and the author.

The Rise of the Great Old One by Jasmine Jarvis – A quick dark read. A homage to Lovecraft and a spine chilling tale to make you question ‘where do writers really get their ideas’ ;-). Jarvis’ first solo publication that shows the skill and twisted mind of a great writer. I loved where the story began, setting up an interesting ended that made me shiver.

My last quick review was a live video I did for The Les Fiction Book Club group on Facebook. The review was on Clare Lydon’s ‘Before you Say I Do’, October’s book for the group. I also got a chance to chat with Clare during another live video, where we talked about her book, and other fun things like the first lesbian fiction book she read, different romance tropes, and her upcoming Christmas book. If you would like to check these videos out, you can join the group here.

Hope October was a good month for you all, and that November is fantastic. If anyone is embarking on the craziness of NaNoWriMo, GOOD LUCK … if you want to have me as a NaNo buddy, my user name is evil_koalas.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Publications, Writing Adventures

Staying Scared

When I had my son, I got scared. I ended up with post natal depression and social anxiety. Two years after my sons birth I began doing things that terrified me.

The first step was joining a local writers group. The Springfield Writers Group is made up of the most incredibly supportive and wonderfully talented human beings. I feel very privileged, two years on, to be able to call many of them friends. With their friendship and support I have continued to push myself into being scared.

I submitted writing out in to the world. My mum blog quickly became filled with writing posts. That blog has now been taken down but I can see myself revisiting the same topics, or reposting many of them here in the future.

Even after a year, and half a dozen anthologies with my by line … I was still treading along the line toward staying safe.

There are definitely times in our life where being safe is necessary and vital. Grabbing your dreams and turning them into life goals is definitely not that time.

But 2020 lulled me into a false sense of it’s ok to not push yourself. And for a while it was true. I got pneumonia and was tested several times for COVID-19. It took me six months to recover and then another month to realise that my comfort zone had shrunk once more and the mere idea of heading out in the car would send a cold shiver over my skin.

It wasn’t just one thing that finally pushed me to start scaring myself again. It was many little steps, many little wins, a few loses, and the constant and wonderful support of my partner, son, and incredible family, both blood and not.

The fear has pushed me to places I never thought I would be, to do things I never thought myself capable, able, or smart enough to do. When I get scared about something to do with promoting myself or getting my writing out in to the world I know I’m on the right track. The scariest thing I’ve done is to take myself seriously, as a writer.

So with the fear of discovering that maybe I’m not that smart or talented, I began researching writing: reading about it, learning what I could from books, people, and podcasts. And what has surprised me is the confidence I am gaining (regaining?) in myself, not just as a writer but as a human.

I’m working on a series of novellas for an overseas publisher, and am in the final editing stages with another publisher who is putting my first novella, Cold As Hell, out in to the world. I have also created the Les Fiction Book Club and been bravely contacting authors. I’ve put what money I can into pushing my writing career into gear, including self publishing a poetry collaboration, Forgiving Reflections.

I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and what I still aim to achieve. I’ve rarely said proud about myself, and never before without a warm cheeked shudder.

So fear is not always bad. Instead of shaking my head at steps that others suggest, I’m moving forward, at my own pace, and in a direction that while it might scare me, also feels right for me. Because you don’t have to move fast, or in someone else’s footsteps, you just have to move forward.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Writing Adventures

Writing Retreat

I recently went on my first ever writer’s retreat. It was a simple three person unprogrammed trip away in a cottage surrounded by trees and the sound of birds.

It had been many years since I spent a night away on my own. With 2020 being what it is, there was a chance we wouldn’t be able to do what we wanted. However, things came together beautifully and I spent three days in the company of two other amazing Aussie authors.

By the end of the weekend I had written over 6000 words, had two uninterrupted nights sleep and discovered how relaxed I can be around like-minded and talented human beings.

It’s been an eye opening adventure on many fronts, and I hope to be able to do such retreats often in the future.

Be Safe
Be Kind
Be Brave