Progress Update

Three drops of poison…

Okay, I’m super excited 😀 I think I’ve finally figured out the theme of my Ivy League College Thriller:

The three poisons–desire, aversion, and delusion—lead to suffering.

And let me tell you, it has been quite the journey getting here. Just this morning, I was tweeting:

Then, suddenly, the answer came to me – a Buddhist concept that has long resonated with me – the idea that the key to contentment lies with eliminating desire, and basically appreciating what you have. By inverse, desire leads to suffering, which is absolutely perfect for this book.

So, I went about researching Buddhism and it’s view on desire causing suffering and came across this gem:

In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied. As a result, desiring them can only bring suffering. Ignorance, in comparison, relates to not seeing the world as it actually is. Without the capacity for mental concentration and insight, Buddhism explains, one’s mind is left undeveloped, unable to grasp the true nature of things. Vices, such as greed, envy, hatred and anger, derive from this ignorance. Basics of Buddhism (

And then I remembered a book I was listening to about Stoic philosophy, which spoke about a similar path to (what Stoic’s term contentment) virtue. So, I googled Stoicism’s view of desire and suffering and found this:

Desire causes suffering just as much as aversion, and this is often why they are called “the root of all suffering.”
Desire Causes Suffering Explained (

So, I thought – Wow! Now I have a theme, and one rooted in ancient ideas, no less. Pretty cool!

After a little more digging, I went on to learn desire, aversion, and delusion are also known as the three unwholesome roots, the three poisons, or the three fires. Root Poisons – Freeing Oneself from Suffering and Its Causes (

I’m thinking maybe I might be able to derive a title from the novel from this. Three Drops of Poison perhaps, or using this Thriller Book Title Generator – Writers Write, The Poison House or The Poison History (lol), Poison Lies, The Poison Path (or A Path of Poison), Poison Eyes, The Lovely Poison, A Penchant for Poison… 😛

Breaking it down, there are effectively 3 misbeliefs combined in this one theme:

  1. Greed is good
  2. Failure is unacceptable.
  3. Ignorance is bliss.

Annika’s FearAnnika’s MisbeliefThe TruthAnnika’s Perceived Path to Happiness 
Emptiness, loneliness, depressionGreed is goodDesire leads to suffering  

Desire what you already have (gratitude is the key to happiness)
Being a part of Veronica and Marcus’ exclusive world (desire)  
Fear of Failure

Making serious mistakes that can’t be fixed and have serious consequences.

Stems from lack of confidence in abilities (ie. expects to make mistakes)
Failure is unacceptable  

It’s better to never try than try and make mistakes.

It’s better to regret what you didn’t do, than to regret what you have done.

It’s better to err on the side of caution
Aversion leads to suffering  

Mistakes are the path to growth
Staying in university forever so she feels safe (ie. doesn’t have to worry about making mistakes in the real world that have real consequences) (aversion)  
Fear of Knowledge

Losing everything because she discovers something bad

Fear of anxiety

Fear of disappointment
Ignorance is blissDelusion leads to suffering  

Knowledge is power
Staying willfully blind to aspects/actions of others that are bad – seeing people the way she wants to see them (ie. through rose-colored glasses) (delusion)  

So, yay! I feel like I’m starting to get somewhere now.

Progress Update, Uncategorized

Something old, something new…

So… I’ve finally finished my rewrite!!! YES!!!

And here is my final one-paragraph pitch… 

Set in eighteenth-century Scotland, A WHISPER OF DEATH is a YA historical paranormal romance in which a young vampire whisperer joins forces with her childhood sweetheart turned vampire to defeat a clan of Celtic vampires, aka baobhan sith, bent on wiping out her kind. Trouble is, the baobhan sith leading the genocide is masquerading as someone she loves.

Now, I’m plotting my next masterpiece 😀

I had planned to jump straight to my YA Portal Fantasy. The first draft is already written, and the first four chapters are completely done. But my Ivy League college thriller is badgering me, running around in my head like a hyperactive child and tugging on my mind’s proverbial sleeve, and I’m feeling particularly inspired. So, onto my Ivy League college thriller manuscript I go.

I already have three characters in my head. There’s the main character, of course, who, at this moment, I think of as Annika, but this could change. In fact, it might need to. I just realised this morning I tend to choose names for my main characters that sound like mine (eg. Boudica, Danica, Annika).

Then, there’s Veronica and Marcus.

In my mind, Veronica resembles Kristine Frøseth and Marcus, Ben Schnetzer (both of whom happened to star in The Harry Quebert Affair, which is a great series btw). When I think of Annika, I think of a cool classic, Hitchcock-style blonde, like Sarah Gadon.

The story will be set at an Ivy League college (inspired by UQ), against a backdrop of sandstone buildings and vibrant purple Jacaranda trees. It will be a thriller along the lines of The Talented Mr Ripley meets The Secret History, only with Law students (as they say, write what you know). There’ll be blackmail and intrigue and… murder.

I can’t wait to get started writing!

For now though, I’m researching how to write thrillers, watching movies and reading novels, all so I can organise the scenes in my head into a suitable order. This, I think, is the hardest part. Do I put the murder halfway? Or should it be the climax of the book? And pacing!!! I have to make sure I get that right.

Worse still, it looks like this story might need to be split into two books, which means I probably have another ten years to go before I finish this project ☹ Why, oh why, can’t I just write a simple story? For some reason, I always have to get complicated with twists and turns and layers.

But, if I can pull off what I want to pull off it will be a killer novel… fingers crossed!

Progress Update

Is it time for a snoopy dance, yet?

I’m happy to say, since my last post 11 weeks ago, I have achieved the following:

Listened to three audiobooks…


Watched season 1 of A Discovery of Witches on TV, which was good but sadly IMHO not as good as the book 😦

And while I do think Matthew Goode is a wonderful actor, I’m sad to say he isn’t the Matthew de Clairmont I imagined. In my mind, I pictured de Clairmont as being more of a Henry Fitzroy from Blood Ties than a Charles Ryder from Brideshead. But alas, I would rather a Charles Ryder than no de Clairmont at all…

Matthew de Clairmont? Now this is more like it…

Started re-watching True Blood, which is totally getting me in the mood for a long, hot, humid summer

Rewrote scene 37 (as planned in my last post) AND finished scenes 38, 39, 40 and 41. Currently, I’m 400 words into scene 42!!!

So I have to say, I’m pretty stoked with my progress. I finally broke through the barrier I was stuck at for 5 months, and only have 4 1/2 new scenes left to write. Once they’re done, I‘ll be on the downward stretch – just rewriting/editing the third act of my novel (which is about 30,000 words). And I love rewriting/editing 😀

At this rate, it looks like this draft will end up being approx. 110,000 words, and will hopefully be finished in 2019 😀 How wonderful that will be.

Then I’ll have to go back through the whole thing combing for anachronistic dialogue and prose… But I won’t mind that part because finally AGAIN I will have a complete novel.

Time for a snoopy dance…

Musings, Progress Update

The first day of the rest of my life…

I thought it was about time I checked in again. It’s been so long since I’ve written anything non-work related, let alone a blog post.

A lot has happened since I last posted:

I’ve finished at least four more audiobooks…

Pretty much completed the renovations of my writing room…


(The change is significant, considering how it used to look…)

Caught up with the Print Posse gals…

But still I haven’t written anything more in my novel. In fact, this weekend I plan to actually tear to shreds the last “new” scene I wrote and rewrite from the ground up. But I feel ready now… or at least I think I do. Actually, I feel pretty awful about the whole not-writing thing. Since I started writing seriously back in March 2009, this is the first time I’ve had so much time off. It’s scary and makes me feel like I’m not a writer at all, and then I start thinking “but what will I do if I don’t write?” I’ve kind of planned my whole future life around writing and all my writing plans. Without it, my life (and by “my life” I mean my personal, internal life within myself) would be pretty empty. I would be lost. Writing gives that part of me meaning. A purpose. Self-satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

I have to write!!! I just have to!!!

But right now, not having written for so long (since April), I feel disconnected from a huge part of myself. I have to get back into it. I have to force myself to do it. I only have 11 new scenes to write, for goodness sake. All that stands between me and moving on to my new project is freakin’ 11 new scenes and then a reworking (which I love doing) of the final act. Blah! I just have to do it and break this drought.

That is the plan anyway. This Saturday I am sitting down in front of my computer and rewriting this last scene I wrote. I’m gonna make it better and then I’m going to write the next scene and the next and the next (well, not all this Saturday, but I’m going to at least get started). Then I will feel better. Then I will be a writer again.

Lol I just realised Saturday will be the first day after I turn 40 (my birthday is on Friday). What a great start to the next decade of my life 😀

Progress Update

A most amazing writing weekend!

We had a long weekend last weekend and I spent most of my Friday and Saturday tucked away in my writing room, sneaking out every now and then to watch movies with the kids and play board games (we discovered our old copy of the board game Zathura tucked away, so we introduced the kids to the movie and then played our very own version which was super fun 🙂 so much so that Musketeer #3 decided he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up).

Zathura, The Board Game: Adventure is Waiting

I haven’t had so much fun writing in ages! I was totally in the zone and it was wonderful 🙂

You see, since the end of last year I’ve been stuck on the two last scenes I need to finalise before I can move on to the next section (which involves writing 12 brand new scenes). The reason being that these two scenes are pretty good but they’re written from Boudica’s perspective, and a big part of me feels, in this new dual-POV version, they should be written from Aiden’s perspective. So, as I’m sure you can appreciate, a huge conflict has been raging inside me, between that part of me which thinks I should just leave them as is and move on, and the other part of me which is adamant I should get it all right RIGHT NOW!

According to the first part of me – the one which thinks it’s okay to move on – the scenes are good enough to stay the way they are for now. It’s far more important to finish the book than to keep messing around with things over and over again. I can always go back and change the POV once the rewrite is done. But the second part of me – the part which is naggy and whiney (let’s call her Marge) – disagrees with this logic profusely and will not allow me move on until I’m completely satisfied with every scene that has preceded.

Well, over the weekend, Marge finally won. So I put down my metaphoric pen and printed a copy of my manuscript. Then, with a newfound determination blossoming inside my heart, I combed through my rewrite, scene by scene, making changes as I went and refusing to set aside a chapter until I was convinced I’d done my best.

Now, this may sound like a bugger of a thing to do, but I absolutely loved it! It was so gratifying to polish a scene to satisfaction, stick a smiley face sticker on the print out, and then move along to the next. So far I’ve finished 16 of a total 36 scenes. Once I get to those last two pesky scenes, I’ll attack them with gusto and transform them into Aiden-POV scenes Marge will be proud of.

And then FINALLY I’ll be able to charge forward with no regrets 🙂

Anyone familiar with my favourite YA series, The Secret Diaries by Janice Harrell, will understand why this song is so dear to my heart…

Progress Update

Progress Update: A Whisper of Death Rewrite


That’s how many words I’m into the rewrite now.

That’s 54.66% of the way, if I calculate on the basis the novel will be 90k words (its current length).

6 scenes to go until I get to the diary entry scenes, which is the point I was hoping to reach by the end of the year. So I’m not too far off track 🙂

Then I’ll only have 12 new scenes to write before I get to the finale.

THE best part of all.


Progress Update

When it comes to writing (and Twin Peaks) patience is virtue…

Today I’m feeling pretty damn fine…

I just finished scene 22, which was a brand new scene to be slotted in amongst the others. In total for this rewrite now, I have completed 30,179 words of my 90,000 goal. This means I’m just over one third of the way done!

At the start of this year, I set a goal for myself. In the earlier versions of my book, a series of diary entries appears at the end of Act 2. By the end of 2017, I wanted to finish rewriting all of my scenes up to those diary entries. Right now, I’m 14 scenes away, so if I can get one scene finished a week (which isn’t too unreasonable), I can potentially reach my goal before the end of the year, with 6 weeks to spare! Those six weeks are wonderful to have up my sleeve because they allow for any of those unexpected interruptions life likes to throw into the mix.

This is a great feeling, because back in February I had sort of reconciled myself to not being able to write much this year at all. But now that we have our two amazing Settlement Superheroes, and David has offered to drive the kids to school two mornings a week so I can squeeze in some writing time, I am back on track, baby.

At this rate, A Whisper of Death should be finished sometime next year and I’ll be able to participate in the exciting world of pitching again 🙂 Gosh, I miss that.

I’ve set up a toolbar in the dropdown menu above, showing my progress as I rewrite A Whisper of Death. The day it finally reaches 100% will be a day for celebration! I can’t wait.

One thing I can say about writing… and David Lynch – they certainly teach you to be patient…

Progress Update

The hiatus is over…

And all I can say is YES!!!

Finally, after many months of not writing I am back 🙂 And it feels awesome…

I hadn’t actually realised how long it’s been since I last blogged until I checked just now. More than 16 months!!!

It’s incredible how fast time has flown…

Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t been sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I’ve been super busy.

2016 was all about work – working in our business and working on my writing.

I entered many different writing contests throughout 2016 with quite a few resulting in places. Seven, to be precise.

I was awarded first place in four contests:

Utah Chapter RWA Great Beginnings Contest – Paranormal Category

Chicago-North Chapter RWA Fire & Ice Contest – Young Adult Category

First Coast (Florida) Chapter RWA Beacon Contest – Young Adult Category


West Houston Chapter RWA Emily Contest – Young Adult Category

Second place in two contests:

New Mexico Chapter RWA Rebecca Contest – Young Adult Category

Chesapeake Chapter RWA Rudy Contest – Paranormal Category

And third place in one:

Missouri Chapter RWA Gateway to the Best Contest – Young Adult Category

It was certainly a boost to my confidence to receive such accolades.

And the feedback was invaluable. That is by far the best thing about contests – the insight you receive into your work by readers who are judging your writing on merit alone. They don’t know who you are, only the story you are telling.

The other thing that eclipsed my time throughout 2016, and all the way into 2017,  our business. Business boomed and it boomed big – so much so it became a 10 to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week sort of affair, which, when you have three kiddies, tends to suck the life right out of you. Well, at least any semblance of life you might have.

But there was light at the end of the tunnel. Finally after months of hard slog, we bit the bullet and hired some staff – super spectacular mind-blowingly awesome staff 🙂 And for the last few weeks I’ve actually been able to finish work at a reasonable hour, spend quality time with my stooges, and dip my toes back into the pond of literary creation.

It has been absolute heaven… 

This weekend I even completed a scene that has been hanging over my head for months now 😀

So with this newfound life-balance, I fully intend to throw myself back into my rewrite and get the thing finished.

I can’t wait to keep you updated on my progress!