Is it just me?

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Hello again reader, I’m trying to get back into the groove of a routine and it’s only taken me almost 4 months. No sense in rushing these things.

Today I’d like to chat about editing and where that can take you; the things it can lead you to do.

For instance, trying to describe the way someone’s face looks and expression changes when they are surprised. Yes reader, I do pretend and then scribble down the results.

expressive face 3

Sometimes, ok – most of the time, I find myself so busy examining facial & body movement and reactions on the telly or while I’m out for coffee that I forget to follow the show’s plot or respond to the MOTT’s (Man Of The Truck) question. Not to mention eaves dropping. MOTT reckons I’m am embarrassingly obvious in my attempts to observe fellow diners. So I guess I won’t be getting a job as an undercover private investigator. Never mind, I’ll just have to continue with this writing gig.

expressive 1

The other clanger I battle with is repetitive words. As you can imagine, reading over a paragraph and realising you have written the MC looked, was looking and saw, seventeen times in the same sentence isn’t what you want to see. See! See what I mean? It’s hardly what one would call good writing, but it is fairly normal for a first draft. The problem is when you want to convey the situation and lose all the repetitive words. This is where we drag out the Thesaurus and start dredging for the exact word. And let’s face it, sometimes the exact word is “Look”.

I can spend far too much time flicking through good books I’ve read to find a passage that describes a scene well. To get a feel for the perfect description, how it’s done and why it works. So much time that I end up not doing much on the actual edit.

VisualThesaurusImpressiveMap_thumb

I’ve recently read a post on a writing forum regarding how long it takes to revise or edit for different people. I must admit there is a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth when I read that someone takes about a week, less if there’s a deadline. HOW? I demand of the screen. This question quickly rolls over into WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? I mean for goodness sake, it can take me all day to edit one chapter and then I go over it again the next day and I have to start over. It took me 30 days to write Something In the Water and it’s taken me over 12 months and 70 gazillion edits to realise I need to do it again. I honestly wonder sometimes if I’m beating a dead horse. But, and I really appreciate every single bit of advice or encouragement I get, friends, writing buddies and just about everyone who’s read it, urges me on, to not give up and to keep at it. So I do. So the advice I clutch to my heart is this comment from one well known author of romance, she said “How long is a piece of string”. Yes, those seven simple words have pulled poor Kiki and Jared from the fire once again and I will battle on. On with the edit I say . . .  ok, I might be getting a bit delirious here.

As a reader do you notice things like repeated word, or even worse, if a writer has written a scene that seems an obvious attempt to say someone looked at the ant on the corner of the table without using the word “look”? Writers, do you struggle with this darker side of writing too? How long does it take you to edit a story to publishing standard? How many sweeps are required? I find if I’m in a good story I don’t notice the writing, but that may be because the writing is so good that I don’t notice the writing at all. Now there’s a thought.

Music and the Muse

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We often hear people talk about their muse. But, what the heck is a muse anyway? So I looked it up, and then I remembered I actually did know this. Hey, it’s a sunday afternoon and I’m a bit tired after a big weekend.

muses

The Muses, (Ancient Greek: Μοῦσαι, moũsai:[1] perhaps from the o-grade of the Proto-Indo-European root *men- “think”[2]) in Greek mythologypoetry and literature, are the goddesses of the inspiration of literaturescience and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.

I’m pretty sure we all know what music is, but just in case.

music

Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempometer, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; “art of theMuses“).[1]

Anyone see a theme developing here?

I like to make a playlist of music for when I’m thinking about, planning and writing a story. I’ll put it on my iPod and play it frequently during the long and winding process of writing, editing and polishing a manuscript that will one day be a published novel.

Sometimes I’ll put one song on repeat while writing a particular scene that the music resonates with. Often I’ll put the 20 – 30 song playlist on a loop and within a few bars of the first song I’ve zoned out and don’t hear the songs at all. I don’t know why, but I find writing easier with the music, whether I actually listen to it or not.

This conundrum piqued my interest, so I headed off to Google, as one does. Apparently music moves the brain to pay attention. But I believe it also encourages us to get into a rhythm. I’m sure some of you go to the gym. I don’t, preferring walking the dogs and playing tennis. But when I use my elliptical machine I play up beat music and find that, intentional or not, my body tries to keep in time with the beat. So when I played something like Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” I nearly killed myself trying to keep up. (one of my goals is to lose weight, you can read my goals here).

I did a little experiment, and did a few typing sessions with different songs to see how it effected my writing. I found that the more regular and up beat the rhythm the faster I typed. I was also more accurate. Interesting.

A few years ago I had a very bad bout of Trigeminal Neuralgia and could’t stand music at all. It would make me feel sick and oftentimes would set off an attack. This aversion to music lasted about 5 years. The only music I listened to in this period was classical, and the only time I listened willingly was when I was doing bookkeeping. Again, once I started working, I would barely hear the actual music. I’m happy to say that I can once again listen to everything from pop tunes to classical. I must admit I still don’t like Death Metal, but that’s probably just because I have a degree of good taste. Just kidding – actually, no, I’m not, but I don’t mean to offend anyone. You can listen to it as much as you like.

In November 2012 I wrote Something in the Water, originally the story was called Sweet Solomon but when I came across Brooke Fraser’s “Something in the Water” it fit my story so well that I changed the name and added the song to the playlist.

From my afternoon of researching and terribly clinical testing, I’ve found that Music and the Muse work hand in hand. Music is good for our brain processing. So if you’re having trouble with a wayward muse, perhaps you should give her/him something to listen to.

Do you listen to music while working, working out or writing? Or do you find the exact opposite and can’t stand the distraction? If you do use music, what kind do you listen to while writing or working. Do you use different genres for different tasks. I love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts.

Better late than never, I hope . . .

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Dear reader, I can only apologise for my long absence. I have no excuse except perhaps rebelliousness.

I have been busy, trying to continue to write, edit, keep our business going and assist in a major back yard blitz.

Back yard and chickens

Pre Backyard Blitz

2013-06-04 11.03.20

Until Dave came home with a mini excavator

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And it started to look a bit messy

Then came the dingo, that was a bit wild, with the thing almost tipping over, that may have been the operator though :)

Then came the dingo, that was a bit wild, with the thing almost tipping over, that may have been the operator though 🙂

Then we had rain . . .

Then we had rain . . .

retaining wall under construction

retaining wall under construction

Now let's have a go with the bobcat

Now let’s have a go with the bobcat

back filling, more wild moments

back filling, more wild moments

now for the topsoil

now for the topsoil

and turf- Sir Walter soft leaf buffalo- lovely

and turf- Sir Walter soft leaf buffalo- lovely

Beautiful new back yard

Beautiful new back yard

As you can see, it’s been pretty busy and I admit that visiting here and keeping in touch have been pushed so far to the back of the stove that it was in danger of falling off.But to bring you up to speed, I was so sick during NaNoWriMo and I kept writing to make sure I made my 50K. And I suffered for it. I should have given up and gone to bed, instead I persisted and burned out in a big way. December was full of trying to finish, restart, restructure and sort out the mess I’d made of the story. I’d done so much research for it and planned everything out meticulously only to have it come to a lot of incomprehensible waffle. Now I don’t even want to look at it all. It’s dreadful and garbage. But perhaps one day it will come to light and I’ll see if it’s redeemable. Just not yet.

On a good note, I received wonderful feedback for Something on the Water from Charlotte Ledger of Harper Impulse (remember I won a manuscript development in August with RWA’s Clayton’s Conference?), and have been slogging away at rewriting SITW for about the gazillionth time. At times I’ve felt like tossing the whole thing, thinking if it takes me this many goes to get the darn thing right I should just toss it. But then I realised it’s all good practice, and who knows, it may even finish up publishable. Wouldn’t that be nice?

And so that’s me, for the last two and a half months, I’ve been hiding, editing, trying my hand a little poetry and renovating our back yard.

I apologise for my slack friendship, and hope you’ll forgive me and we can remain friends.

Enough about me, what have you been up to? How was your Christmas and holiday season? Did you work through most of it like I did or were you laying back enjoying the sun, or the snow? I’d love to hear so please, share.

Life v’s NaNoWriMo

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Oh deary me reader, what a crazy few weeks it’s been.

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Illness, birthday’s, stormy weather and NaNoWriMo

November isn’t over, but it has certainly been all over me. I’ve been to a writing course in Sydney, decided to go to the UK for a writing retreat and then got sick. All the while with NaNoWriMo playing in the back ground and my story so not working out.

Two days ago I decided my NaNo project simply was a disaster. I think being sick and having a passive goal for my main character made for a bit fat 40,000 words of boring.

Boring, boring, boring. And I figured if I was bored with it, what would you think? The same I’d imagine. My MC, Crystal is her name, was doing nothing but moping around. Let’s face it, everyone likes to mope for a bit. But 40K of moping is simply too much for any muse to put up with. I didn’t know what was wrong with her. Crystal spent all day moaning and having long passages of internal dialogue. Yep, enough to make you long to watch paint dry. I won’t say grass grow, because it’s growing quite quickly around here after all the rain we’ve had. Sorry, off topic there. Lola in the Grass

And being the dedicated little Facebook dudette that I am, I made an announcement. I gave up and with both hands held high, surrendered.

Then I thought “But hey, Crystal needs a goal” I suddenly realised. Yes, it was sudden, I’ve been sick, OK? I realised she was doing nothing but waiting. Waiting is boring enough without having to write about it. So, I came up with a new idea. I gave Crystal something she wanted. Instead of letting her cool her heals waiting for time to pass, I decided she might just having something to offer the world instead of simply waiting for things to be handed to her on a silver salver.

Beautiful. I’m happy, and even better, Crystal’s happy. Poor darling, she was as bored as the rest of us.

So now, here I am, putting 40,000 words aside and starting again. I am vain enough to be willing to keep the first 40K until after NaNoWriMo is finished. I’m starting again, but adding to my word count. There are several bits that I will be able to reuse and refine. So it’s not a total waste. The good thing about writing is you can start again. They are only words, they can be deleted.

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As an aside, my morning has been a tad chaotic. If you and I aren’t Facebook friends, (well you can look me up) but you may not know that I have, so far today:

  • Waved goodbye to my husband for a few weeks
  • Discovered my darling cat Mr Ferrol Flynn was sick
  • Had my hammock chair break and the timber spreader bar come down and whack my in the nose, resulting in a bleeding and very sore nose, scratched new glasses and worst of all, spilt coffee
  • Been to the vet with poor Flynn, who is ok, apparently must have had a bit of a fight with a feral cat and been bitten, so had an infection
  • Slipped in the bathroom when the phone rang and I got out of the shower to answer it
  • Burned the roof of my mouth on over-nuked left overs

2013-11-25 07.28.37 2013-11-25 07.28.56 2013-11-25 09.11.36

It’s been a long day, and I still managed to re-jig my plot, scribble a mind map and create parallel narrative arc’s for both new and improved plots in my story.

So, how about you, how’s your Monday going so far? Mine’s been good and bad, but in the spirit of getting with my American friends, I’ll take the Thanksgiving option and be thankful for the good that has come from the day.

30,000 words and I’m not ok

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Good morning reader.

Well here we are, day 18 of NaNoWriMo and I’m exhausted. I’ve been sick for a week and a half and have tried to battle on. Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 8.32.32 AMThe whole of November has just been hard going so far, and it’s not looking like getting any easier.

I came out of the gates with a bang and was pretty consistently writing 2,500 words or more per day. Except when I was in Sydney for the writing course with Kate Forsyth. I told you about that last week, you can check it out here.

Then I started getting sick, but I persevered and was totting up that word count nicely. The only thing was, I wasn’t getting better. I was progressively feeling worse. I blithely ignored all the advice from family and friends and wrote on. Brave thing that I am. Uh, nope. Stupid, more likely.

After almost a week of sticking my head over a bowl of steaming Vicks Vapour Rub in hot water between word wars, and getting no where. Of sucking on Strepsils and taking decongestant medicine, and plotting my next scene while feeling like each breath was being drawn through wet hessian. On Friday I gave up and I went to the doctor. Of course it wasn’t lungs full of phlegm that was the problem but a strep infection in my lower trachea. No wonder all that head steaming and decongestant did nothing. So, I am on antibiotics.

All this is not the worst of it. The absolute worst is that my story has reflected my decline in health. Slowly creeping down into a miserable place. Not where I wanted it to go at all. So probably the 10,000 words I struggled to force onto the page in the last week were all for naught! I know! It makes me crazy. I could have just rested and recovered and been no worse off. I guess I have no choice but to go back to where it started to go off kilter and rewrite. I may as well just do it now and get it over with.

Have you ever read a book where it seems to change tone mid novel? I know I have, I remember reading a book where the main character started to feel annoying. I later read that the author started to hate her and it reflected in the story.

So, for me, it’s back to the drawing board. I hope your day is sunny and bright. It’s cold a raining here. But that is quite good writing weather.

Rainy day

Might just turn on the heater. It’s hard to write with cold fingers.

News Flash

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Reader, I’m sorry for missing last week’s usual Monday offering. I have been so excited and totally forgot to share the post I had prepared for you. Note to self- I really must remember to use the Hootsuite thingy I pay for.

wild girl Bitter-Greens

Well, I will delay gratification and tell you about last weekend. I attended a writing course in Sydney. The course was History Mystery and Magic with Kate Forsyth. I wanted to go because, as some of you know, I have a first draft of a historical romance story that badly needs editing but so far I’ve been unable to edit it. That’s mostly because of fear. Fear of getting the historical elements right. Fear of sorting out the meandering plot. Fear of hating it when I go back.

Kate is a wonderful teacher and quickly ascertained where we were all at in our writing. Unfortunately for me, she pegged my reluctance to edit straight away and I found myself in the hot seat when it came to research and editing procrastination discussions. Kate modelled her comments, feedback and encouragement individually but in a way that was helpful to the whole class and not just to whom it was specifically addressed.

I was surprised by the number of student who were starting out. I had assumed the class would be packed with writers further down the writing track than I am. There were some, but most not. This turned out to be a real plus for me. Because Kate seemed to restructure the program to cover a broader spectrum of novel writing. Everything from narrative arcs and plots, researching effectively to basic editing tips. I so needed to hear each and every word she uttered. Kate has a uniquely engaging teaching style that includes everyone and covers every need that was revealed when we all introduced ourselves.

I could waffle all day about how good the class was, how much I got out of it, etc . . . but instead you can check out the Australian Writer’s Centre here. Kate’s website here, and I can only recommend you check it out yourself and save up your pennies and attend a course. You won’t regret it, I promise.

On the the really exciting news. I was so encouraged and inspired by Kate, that I’ve booked in to attend a week long intensive workshop and writing retreat with her in Oxford UK.

Oxford

Yes me! I know that previously I’d never even have considered doing anything so brave. Travelling overseas on my own wasn’t even something I considered. But Dave came for an after course chat and drink with some of our class mates and Kate and thought I should go after hearing Kate talk about the trip.

So, the deposit is paid, the insurance is sorted and I am going. Stay tuned for lots of exciting squee moments, and I’ll try not to drive you all crazy with my crazy blethering.

Are you a traveller? Do yo have any exciting or essential tips to give me? Please, feel free. I need all the encouragement I can get. More importantly, what sights should I simply not miss?

A new book, and more editing

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Reader, it’s only days until November and that means 30 days of intense writing and not much else.

NaNoWriMo

Except I’ve enrolled in a two day writing course with Kate Forsyth. Yay, I am so excited. To add to the already hectic schedule that’s scribbled on my calendar I am still trying to get the editing finished on Something In The Water.

As I draw closer to the time to send SITW out to some publishing houses, I get ever more nervous of doing it. I wonder if I will ever feel that it’s ready to go. Each time I read through it I find I am still changing things. Restructuring sentences and deleting extra full stops. Instead of feeling as if I’m getting closer, it’s making me more nervous about it ever being good enough to send to an editor. I could pay to have it edited but I really don’t have the money, so instead I’ll go over and over and over it.

books

The feed back from Charlotte Ledger has been helpful, and as I apply her recommendations it only serves to make me feel that I’m not up to par. On the other hand, I think I should just send it out and see what happens.

Finding where to send it is a whole other ball game. I’m simply not sure where it sits in the market. I didn’t write it with any particular imprint in mind. If I’m honest I didn’t even know what an imprint was when I wrote the first draft for last year’s NaNoWriMo.

As I approach the pointy end of writing, the bit where I have to do the hard slog and not just spew out convoluted prose, I can see that my dream to be a writer is a dream worth the blood, sweat and tears. And yes reader, there has been all three. While day dreaming about my story I’ve managed to cut myself instead of the carrot I was chopping. I’ve trudged up steep hills to visualise a scene for my story. I’m cried because I can’t get a scene right and feel like giving up. Or cried because my hobby is now a job and therefore it required that I actually work and not faff about.

So, is it worth it? I think so. Whether I ever get to sign a contract to have one of my stories published or not, I know that I will continue to write. Because I actually enjoy it. Well maybe not the editing, but the making stuff up, absolutely.

Do you write? Do you feel like it’s all too hard sometimes? Or is it just me and my wimpy tendencies? (note- you can lie here)

writers blockBy the time we chat again reader I’ll be firmly bogged down in NaNoWriMo and just back from a weekend of writing in Sydney, so keep an eye open for a crazy dribbling post from me. Have a good week, I’ll be getting my house in order before the madness begins.

A quick hello

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underwaterReader, I’m fully immersed in yet another edit on Something in the Water. I have feedback from Charlotte Ledger of Harper Impulse and am getting stuck in.

As a new and so far unpublished writer, it’s a fairly steep learning curve to work with someone on my novel. I’ve had great feedback and help from my beta readers. Who I will name as they are wonderful friends and writers too. Sean Wright, has been a great help and is a fabulous writer and poet, check him out here. Two very good friends have been with me through all the ups and downs of each and every sweep over, thanks to  Deborah Turner and Phyllis Khan. I’ve other non writer friends who’ve read and encouraged and pointed out inconsistencies and head scratching moments.

It’s a long weekend Monday here in New South Wales, Australia and I’ve set myself up on the front veranda to work. I’m enjoying the sunshine, cool breeze and playlist I made before I started in on the first draft of Something in the Water.

It took me a little while to digest and be ready to implement the suggestions that Charlotte made. And while I didn’t necessarily disagree with her, I had a bit of trouble trying to get my head around working them into the story.

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But, after a short time of mental processing, I’m getting stuck in and can see the benefits already.

So today reader, I’ve only a short and sweet “Hi” from me. I am determined to get this done and hopefully have it ready for submitting somewhere.

Mind you, it might take me a bit longer to work up a decent synopsis. But that is a whole other story reader.

Hope your Monday is going well. Are you up to anything interesting?

Special Edition ~ featuring guest blogger, Juliet Madison

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HAPPY RELEASE DAY! Starstruck in Seattle (plus bumper giveaway)

Starstruck

Juliet Madison is celebrating the release of her third book with Escape Publishing, STARSTRUCK IN SEATTLE, a contemporary romance novella with a touch of magic (romagic).

Aspiring actress Anna Hilford might only have a small role in a leading television drama, but she longs to be dreamboat Karl Drake’s leading lady. Sick of being loveless and overlooked, Anna seeks the help of intuitive love coach, Lulu, from LuluTheLoveAngel.com to give her the courage and determination to follow her destiny. But fate has different ideas, Lulu has undisclosed power, and Anna is about to realise that life happens while you’re busy making plans…

Juliet tells us a little about how this book came to be…

“I got the idea for this story when Sleepless in Seattle was on TV. I thought, instead of a call-in-radio show where people ask for advice, what if there was a website that specialised in helping people anonymously with their love dilemmas? So I thought up the idea for a Love Coach, but as I like to do in many of my stories, I decided to give it a slight magical twist, and gave the character of Lulu some other-worldly powers that help her to give destiny a shove in the right direction. But, as Lulu discovers, doing destiny’s work can be a pain in the wings, and may be more challenging than she thought. ”

 

~ BUY NOW: >> STARSTRUCK IN SEATTLE is available worldwide and you can buy it from all ebook retailers, including:

Amazon / Amazon UK / iTunes iBookstore / B&N Nook / Kobo / Booktopia / JB Hi-Fi / Google Play / ebooks.com / All Romance ebooks

 

~ You can also add it to Goodreads here, and visit Juliet online at her website, blog, facebook, and twitter.

 

~ GIVEAWAY>> Juliet is giving away four prize packs of ebooks from Escape Publishing until 10th October (20 ebooks in total). See the prizes on offer and enter here

Here’s what you could win. Enter one or all of them!

#1 Fun, Fast, & Fabulous novella pack:

Christmas Wishes, New year’s Kisses, and Valentine’s Dates by Rhian Cahill; I Dream of Johnny by Juliet Madison; The Virginity Mission by Cate Ellink; and Bonjour Cherie by Robin Thomas.

Enter here

#2 Escape from Reality pack:

Fast Forward by Juliet Madison; Red Moon by M.A. Grant; Fish Out of Water by Ros Baxter; King Hall by Scarlett Dawn.

Enter here

#3 Out and About pack:

Matilda’s Freedom by Téa Cooper; Getting Wild by Sarah Barrie; Swift Runs The Heart by Mary Brock Jones; Riding on Air by Maggie Gilbert; Dark Oil by Nora James.

Enter here

Wow, so there you go! You have to be in it to win, so click on those links and you could be a winner. All the best dear reader, and Congratulations to Juliet, I’ll certainly be reading Starstruck in Seattle soon.

Thanks everyone for dropping by, Paula.

The test of true mettle

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Well first off reader, what is mettle anyway?

flower

It was a saying I’d heard often and probably even quoted myself. But, I didn’t know for sure, so I googled!

This is the first of 4,420,000 results

met·tle

/ˈmetl/

Noun
A person’s ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.
Synonyms
spirit – nature – temper – temperament – character

I’ve been in the process of streamlining and restructuring my work/life balance. No mean task, I can tell you. Naturally, I’m disorganised and scatty. Or so I thought.

Recently I’ve made a few lifestyle changes that have proven that my self image was a misconception. I am not lazy and vague. I just shouldn’t eat sugar!

Oh! Don’t stress reader, I’m not going to launch into a lecture about the evils of the white stuff. If you want to read about it there’s plenty of information out there. But here and here are two interesting blogs about sugar and it’s effects. Only click if you want to.

Anyway on with the story. Since I’ve removed processed sugar (not fruit) from my diet I’ve seen a lot of changes.

fruit & veg

Mostly with my concentration. I am much more focused and less inclined to wander away from a task. It’s great. The best thing I’ve found is that I have been able to stick to tasks that previously would have had me cleaning the fans or oven.

But, back to the mettle. There have been a few things happen lately that add up to my feeling a bit deflated. Nothing that is note worthy by itself. But things add up.

Which brings me to where I am and if I can pull myself up by my bootlaces and keep on going.

Of course I can reader. When you want something, you keep trying. Regardless of circumstances. In the words of someone far wiser than I, “It will be right in the end, and if it’s not right, it’s not yet the end.” <quote> 

Last week I talked about NaNoWriMo creeping ever steadily closer and what I’m planning. You can read about that here. So while I’m working on a new story and am excited about that I realise it’s good to move on.

too good to be true

Sometimes, no matter how good something looks, it’s a case of, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” Thankfully my writing adventure isn’t in the too good to be true category. So while something in my life haven’t panned out to meet expectations, the good thing is I’m resilient and will keep pressing forward.