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 (pbs.org)

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 (stoichandbook.co)

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 (buddhist-spirituality.com)

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.

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2022, here I come…

Wow! It’s hard to believe but I haven’t posted on here since pre-Covid days. These past two years have certainly been a whirlwind. 

I have much to update. In March 2020, I signed with an amazing agent, who fell in love with Boudica and Aiden’s story enough to offer me representation. We worked together for a few months, and she gave me some incredible advice that, I think, has helped me more than any other advice I’ve ever received (more on that later), and I set forth on a journey of rewrites.

Sadly, though (although this was an exciting and wonderful turn for my agent), in late 2020 Chrysa retired from her agenting career to focus on her upcoming wedding and the next chapter of her life.

I have to say though, I’m so grateful for the time I spent working with her. To be able to share my story with someone who believed in its potential was a dream come true, and I gained useful insight into a problem that has plagued my writing since day dot.

My main characters are too polite and too passive.

Ever since I first put my writing out there, one piece of feedback I’ve consistently received is that my pacing is off. How to fix this, though, I could never seem to work out, no matter how I tried. I studied plotting books, looked at the structure of books and movies I love, tore my story to shreds and rebuilt (several times) but to very little avail.

It wasn’t until Chrysa pointed out I’d written Boudica too passive in a rewrite that the penny dropped. My main characters are too much like me 😛 hahaha But truly, I’m being serious. And when I told Dave what Chrysa had said he laughed and said the exact same thing. Anyone who knows me knows I’m an introvert who avoids conflict at all costs. I don’t like to rock the boat, and I will run and hide rather than face discomfort. And unfortunately this personality trait of mine has impacted negatively on my writing!!!!

So, even when I was ticked the plotting boxes (I strive to follow the three act structure – Save The Cat is my bible), my actual story wasn’t as compelling as it should be because I wasn’t putting my MC out there in the action. Things in the plot would happen, and then Boudica would sit in her room while other people went out and slayed the dragon, so to speak.

While working on my current rewrite (rewrite #7), I have kept this in mind the whole time, and I think (fingers crossed) this has made a huge difference to my pacing.

Now, I know I’ll never be able to make my novel exactly the way I want it to be–there is always something I can improve upon–but I’m hoping, this time, it’s good enough. And by good enough, I mean good enough for me to let go.

I must move on. I have to leave Boudica and Aiden behind and dive into the world of Danica and Astrid. I need to finish a different book to the one I’ve been working on since 2009.

So, that is the plan – my 2022 goal. Finish my current rewrite then set it aside, and finally finish my portal fantasy. The first draft is written, all I have to do is flesh it out and make it pretty 😀

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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…

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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 😀

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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…

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Progress Update

Progress Update: A Whisper of Death Rewrite

49,192

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.

Yeehaw!!!

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I’m ba-ack!

I'm back!

Last night I wrote 300 words on my fantasy novel – the first time in four months I’ve worked on the project. But the break was totally worth it. Finally I fixed the issues plaguing the beginning of The Mark of the Cagairáin (issues I wrote about in an earlier post HERE) and have a version I feel proud of 100%. It’s such an awesome feeling – and so freeing. I can move forward and finish my second novel knowing my first is the best it can be 😀

I’m so in love with my second novel – an adventure about friendship and accepting oneself, fears and foibles and all. And it’s full of creatures from Scandinavian folklore – creatures I’ve longed to write about for years. It’s so different from The Mark of the Cagairáin – there’s no romance, it’s dual pov, and I get to play with a new style of writing (more direct, less descriptive) for half the story.

You can follow my progress at the top of my blog (there is a progress bar in the header: A Nightmare’s Betrayal – Second Draft) as well as on Twitter. I will try to write a bit each night, and update after every session.

I will also try to post a bit more regularly on here, now that I am back in writing land.

Oh, and if you’ve missed any of my posts on The Print Posse over the past few months, you can also find links to them in the header (bottom right corner).

Hasta la vista, baby 😛

I'll be back

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Viva la Resolution!

Viva la Resolution

Woohoo! 2015 is upon us 😀

Well, to be precise, 2015 has been upon us for a few weeks now, but I only got back from Tasmania last night so it officially started for me today 😛

I thought I would write a little post about what I have planned for this year, and what I want to achieve. The list will no doubt grow and change as the year progresses, but I think it’s always good to have a jumping off point.

1. Rewrite my synopsis for The Mark of the Cagairáin – to be completed by the end of January.

I wrote a 1 page synopsis when I first started querying. But since then, my novel has undergone significant change, dropping from a whopping 105K to a nice, svelte 88.5 K. As such, my original synopsis doesn’t quite match any longer. I also need a 2-5 page synopsis to go with my 1 page synopsis. So off to the rewriting trenches I go.

2. Work with my Pitching Posse to set up our new website and maintain throughout the year – website to go live sometime in February.

Last year I participated in a pitch-writing workshop hosted by The Australian Writers Marketplace, and was fortunate enough to befriend 3 lovely ladies: Fiona Stevens, Gabrielle Stroud and Karen Evers. We’ve decided to set up a website together where we will post regularly about our writing journeys and perhaps even showcase some of our writing 😀 I’m very excited to be a part of this! Watch this space for more info as this progresses…

3. Finish the first draft of my fantasy novel – hopefully by end of April.

Currently, I’m just past half way.

4. Write a significant proportion of the second draft of my fantasy novel by the close of 2015.

5. I’m also thinking of compiling a few playlists and setting up some individual web pages for each of my novels. Oh, and posting more novel-related material on Pinterest.

Inspiration for a novel I’m not even close to starting – my modern adaptation of Knut Hamsun’s Victoria – has been whispering to me lately, particularly in the music sense. This is something I’m going to have to submit to – even if it means simply compiling a playlist and collating images.

6. On a personal note, attend my high school graduation 20 year reunion on August 22.

7. Finish watching Buffy and Angel with my eldest. And then maybe move onto Twin Peaks.

On the topic of TV series, I’m really looking forward to season five of Teen Wolf and catching up on the last season of Revenge. And seeing Outlander, of course. When I was in Tassie, I also started re-watching The Lying Game – I absolutely love that show (and watching Blair Redford is definitely a treat 😉 ) Shame it never got a third season.

Hello, Mr Redford… 😉

Anyways, that’s about it for now. Fingers crossed every one of these goals gets the tick of completion 😀

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Fun! Fun! Fun!

I’ve had the most awesome week!

Last Thursday the boys and I went Trick or Treating at Sunnybank Shopping Town. On Friday for Halloween, Cole and I dined on burgers at Grill’d (Cole had the sweet chilli chicken and I had the crispy bacon and cheese) before catching Ghostbusters on the big screen. On Saturday, we met up with family at Boondall lake and watched model boat racing for the day. Then all this week, Cole and I watched Season 1 of Buffy 😀

Come Along WillowIt was the first time Cole’s actually sat down and watched Buffy episode-by-episode, and I’m very happy to report he enjoyed it! Of course, I’m not surprised – he is a Doctor Who fan after all and can appreciate great writing when he sees it 😀 Tomorrow we start Season 2 – I can’t wait.

Speaking of Doctor Who, the season 8 finale aired this morning. Cole and I will be catching it sometime this evening, once the littlies have gone to bed and we can watch without distraction. I really hope it lives up to expectations. Last week’s episode was exceptional and the massive Missy bomb was totally beyond all expectations. I found this season a little hit and miss though, but I have faith in the Doctor Who crew. They’ll make magic happen again, I just know it.

Desperate by Athena DanielsOn another note, I’m very excited to announce that a writer friend of mine was offered a publishing deal with Evernight Publishing this week, for her romantic suspense novel, Desperate. Congratulations, Athena Daniels! I can’t wait to read your masterpiece once it is released to the world 😀

Progress on my WIP is coming along nicely. I’m currently working on scene 20 (of 39) of my first draft – so I’m just past halfway. I’m taking my time with it though – balancing it with my family time and work time. It’s only one more year until Sebby starts school so I want to be available to him as much as possible and not completely lost in my work. There will be plenty of time for me-time once the boys are older. One thing I learned with Cole is how fast they grow up – I mean, gosh, he’s starting high school next year, and it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was trotting him off to prep! I’m just so glad I get to enjoy the little-kiddie years one more time with Sebby and Dom. It’s lovely (albeit crazy at times).

The law firm is going well. We have our first few clients now, and this weekend we started our marketing campaign. So, all things going well, business should start kicking off very soon.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the FathersOn a final note, I recently finished playing the 20th anniversary remake of one of my favourite 90s games, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The soundtrack is amazing and the graphics phenomenal. It made me fall in love with New Orleans all over again, and tickled that urge inside me once again to travel. Of course, that will have to wait.

Anyways, that’s enough from me for today. I’m going to go now and tap out some more of scene 20 and then, once Dom wakes up, pick up Cole from his ong ba noi’s.

See you on the other side of the TARDIS!

PS. Only 5 weeks til Tassie! Woohoo!

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