Wolf at the Door

Wolf at the Door


I’m having a rant. Want to know why? Because people are being bullied. Being threatened. Being made to feel unwelcome and unwanted in the #WritingCommunity.


I wish this wasn’t the first time I’ve spoken about how I’ve seen or been guilted in the #WritingCommunity about what I do with my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, but I’d be a damn liar.


Anyone who’s followed me would know I have been very verbal on the reasons why I do not follow everyone who follows me.


I follow people who interact, who talk to me, who have interesting things they tweet, and some of these people none of you know. I like them, they talk to me, we help each other out. No, I’ve never met them, they aren’t on my webpage, we just have a good connection and I like what they have to say.


You know, what social media is for?


But when I first joined I didn’t know that.


I joined in on these follow trains and met heaps of great writers. And then I met some writers who weren’t so great.


So break out the popcorn, and take my hand as I walk you through my most reviled Twitter experience that has made me the person I am today.


I had a small following of less than 2k followers about 2 years ago now, when I got a message that went something like this;


Hey! I see you’ve got a book out, that’s cool! I do too, we should follow each other!


Great! Thinks I, anther person to interact with, talk about writing and books and all that good stuff.


Oh, and if we buy each other’s books, we can swap reviews!


Wait, no, what? You can’t do that, its against Amazon’s T&Cs I’m pretty sure (I am now very sure and talk about how people game and manipulate Amazon in this blog post based on a personal experience. It also prompted me to give more reviews but be honest about them). I declined the invitation to swap, stating the rules and why I made that decision.


Aren’t we supposed to be helping each other? What are you doing if you aren’t helping the writing community?


This was before the #WritingCommunity tag had become as prolific as it has now, *especially* in the self/indie publishing industry on Twitter. I felt really bad, but I had to stick to my guns, because if we reviewed swapped we’d get into deep, deep, dodo. I could lose my whole eight reviews!


And then it got really scary.


If you don’t follow me back and review my book, I’m going to buy your book and give you a one star review and everyone will know what a trash person you are.”


Ellen gif


What now? You will fucking WHAT?!


I panicked. I legit burst into tears and sat there for about an hour debating what to do. Do I break Amazon T&C’s and begin down a dark and twisted path that I’d previously condemned? All to save my measly reviews from being down graded just that little bit further?


But I had to ask myself a question. Was caving into the threat going to be worth it? I didn’t want to review swap because of Amazon’s rules, but also because to be honest their book looked terrible. From the cover to the sample read it was clear this person had done little to no work. And I knew they’d want me to give them a great review and I’d have to lie about it.


It’s a subject I’m very passionate about, but if you expect someone to PAY for your book you better damn well do what you can to make it the best it can be.


My book wasn’t perfect, but I’d gotten a professional cover, a professional editor, beta readers and I had worked my substantial ASS off to afford it all because I wanted to do the right thing. It had taken me YEARS.


I dried my tears, girded my loins and said something akin to the following;


“Do it. Do it. I fucking dare you.”


Go ahead


I wish I was that cool. *sigh*

I sent a short apology that I wasn’t willing to involve myself in the communication, blocked him, and then got really freaking angry. And I wrote a tweet about it. I wish I still had it because I was getting likes for it over a year later, but it was something along the lines of THIS ENTIRE BLOG POST.


You don’t have the right to black mail people into review swaps.


You don’t have the right to bully people into following you.


You don’t have the goddamn right to make people feel guilty for following you and those of you that do, you are the underbelly of our community. You are the wolf at the door. You are the corruption, the ones who will cheat to make a buck. You are happy to scare a novice away from Twitter with your lies, your bullshit and your fake famous accounts.


People in the publishing community no longer give nearly as much of a shit about your public follower account, and ask me, I know. I have been doing this for years. I have watched accounts with less than a hundred followers get a big five deal and do you know what? I’ve been fucking HAPPY for them because it proves that it doesn’t matter what you do on Twitter, what matters is that you write a good story.


Yeah but Ejay, you have like, 12k followers? Doesn’t that make you, like, an attention whore?


I wish this was a god damn joke but that was pretty much the private DM I got about 6 months ago I decided NOT to tweet about because I wasn’t going to give THEM the attention.


I am grateful for those of you who follow me, I do what I can to enrich and help your writing lives, either with how silly I can be, writing encouragement, sharing my failings, or sometimes, my success. And I try to celebrate yours too. I buy your books, some of you have never heard of me and I buy your books and review them. Self-pub all the way through to traditional. I review them all. I offer book tours and author interviews. Blog posts on my journey, marketing tips, how to get reviews. I do as much as I possibly can and it takes away time from my own writing and editing and I don’t care because I want to help you get there. I genuinely do, and I don’t believe a follow is how you do that.


And if you’ve ever noticed in the comps I throw I don’t ask people to follow me to be a valid entrant, because I don’t believe in follow for follows anymore. Yes, you can follow for follow while you get used to the community, but its okay to pick and choose who you follow when you are more familiar with everyone’s opinions and how Twitter works.


You should never be made to feel like you don’t belong or that you are alone…


You can always reach me, through a tweet, a DM, my website, for whatever you need. I might not follow you, but to be honest all that noise gives me anxiety and I hate muting people. I think its wrong to follow someone and mute them because why are you following them then? No, REALLY, why are you bothering? You follow someone to see what they say.


I follow back accounts I know, who I interact with, who’s opinions I want to read, and not all of them follow me. But its my feed, just like this is my social media platform. I will do what I damn well please with it, and while I’m grateful for all of you who do follow me (still amazed), who you follow is up to you.


Its your feed. Its your time. Its your life.


So the next time you feel attacked, guilty or threatened into following someone, remember this;




And the person who is making you do it? Those of you out there guilting people? Blackmailing them into following you only to mute them because you aren’t interested in them as a person, and you gloss it up with the bull shit like publishers only take writers with large platforms seriously?


You’re fucking lying.


Go ahead. Unfollow me. Block me.


I dont care


But don’t you damn well threaten me, and don’t think I’ll allow you to get away with threatening newcomers to the community. I will speak out. I will not let the real people behind the tag feel like they need to join an amorphous thread of follow for follows for their voices to count.


There is so much more to being a writer than to be demeaned by the abstract and unnecessary pressure for a follower count that when it comes right down to the publishing mark… doesn’t matter.


Your writing matters. That’s what I’m here for. What the fuck are you here for?

Like A Boss

Hilariously enough this post is not about games, one of my favourite past times.


This is about the miserable blog post I drafted last night about finding the strength within with a good cry and some sobby youtube clips because my last week has been awful. On one day I received three agent rejections and two job rejections. So I wrote this post at 2am last night feeling very sober and sorry for myself and I got up this morning and thought… fuck that noise.


You have your own songs and movies and stuff you just curl up into a ball and feel fucking miserable and like none of this is going to be worth it and that’s not what you need when you want someone to help pull you up.


I’m all about making these blog posts as useful and helpful as possible and sometimes it doesn’t work and other times I’m surprised by the responses I get. If my little snippets of aggressive positivity, especially with these songs, helps you get up and do something today, then that’s a freaking win.


Here is my list of the BOSS songs I put on my playlist;

(… you’re going to find out pretty quick how much I love my bass and metal…)


[Hardcore] – Stonebank – Stronger (feat. EMEL) [Monstercat Release]


TheFatRat, Slaydit & Anjulie – Stronger [Monstercat Release]


These are really techno but I find that are a great motivator to just get up and do something!


Opening Black Lagoon — Red Fraction (full version) by MELL

Black Lagoon – “Red Fraction” | AmaLee Ver (English Version of the same song)

I’ve included the Black Lagoon opening song for the anime, and while it’s Japanese if you struggle to listen to it (I know some people have trouble liking songs when they don’t know the language) then there is an English version which I thought was very good too! This is an absolutely kick ass song and a kick ass anime.

David Guetta – Titanium ft. Sia (Official Video)

I know its far more mainstream than the other songs but this one is still great, and I’ve loved Sia since she did Breathe.


THIS is the song I really return to when things are crap. I discovered this band purely by accident when they did a song called Ari Ari but this was the song that made me become a Patreon. It’s an Indian metal song but the guys and the message behind the song is just pure and they are really lovely, not to mention the song is metal.


INDIAN FOLK METAL (Bloodywood – “Jee Veerey” ft. Raoul Kerr)


This is by no means all the songs listen to or we’d be here for eight hours.


What these songs are is the capacity to just get on with it. They have messages within them that you just put on headphones and dance your damn heart out. Clean the house and make everything as perfect as you can. Do something no matter how many other times its failed.


You become stronger when you are at your weakest.

You become brave when you are most afraid.

You get up because you’ve been knocked down that many times you know you can’t stay where you are and there really is nothing else to do but keep trying while you are still alive.


However you need to get there, a song, a movie, or just finding someone else who understands, who can give you a hand… or post you a song that somehow makes a difference.


I hope my strong songs make a difference to you today, and you can do this, because you’ve lain in darkness too long.

Riding the Ripples

It's a celebration!





We talk a lot about writers block and what to do about it. All the different tips and tricks, and outright clownish tom-foolery in order to just sit down and shuffle twenty six letters until we can finally finish the fugly dumpster fire we somehow have to convince people to love as much as we do.


Anyone who’s written more than a few pieces, or those *naughty* individuals who edit as they go, know the eye peeling, ear gouging hatred of sitting down to edit your own work. It feels like you’re in a shopping mall on Christmas eve during a children’s party with Daft Punk on repeat; Cut it, paste it, check, rewrite it! Fix it, change it, quick, erase it!


You may as well say writers block is like a stroll through The Secret Garden and editing is finding a damn door that raptor claws can’t open in Jurassic Park.




I may be tainted by my experiences of sprint writing all my books in very short order but lets just leave it at this; I don’t get writers block but I have a real issue with editors block at the moment.


I recently figured some ways through this and wanted to share with you some of the philosophies that’ve helped me;



  1. The BIGGEST problem with editing…


…is that it never feels like it will end, especially when you see everything that’s wrong. You start with an ocean’s frothing waves and the desire to settle it until its still as a reflective lake. Except your editor is an expert surfer and they are there to make waves. Because glossing over all those reefs of mistakes under the surface of your story is only going to make other surfer readers hit shoals you either covered up or worse, didn’t see. And then they wont come to your beach anymore.


So the first thing to do is to fix developmental issues. Plot holes are vortex’s of problems that ripple outward to effect the whole plot. You might end up fixing a bad plot hole only to discover it’s set up effects a sub section of the plot, creating holes where previously it was fine. You might have to do several passes to iron all these out and then you go back to work on other things. Character types/reactions/arc and tropes that don’t flesh out.  World building, technology, magic systems, social customs, religions & politics. A tangled ball of wool from an uncontrollable kitten. That kitten is you. You are the asshat who did that to the ball. The editor has to make a jumper out of that you nonce.


There is a steep learning curve the first time you write a book that your first good editor will teach you how to handle. The trouble is there is so much to learn and you’ll probably need a few books for it to start sinking in… or… you know, more than a few.


Look, dont look at my book past, I don’t need that pressure right now.




You just finished writing/paid an editor/are contracted for a publisher, to go through and find out everything that’s wrong. Those initial first passes you do fix everything immediately incorrect but its when someone else gives you back their edits that it can really become frightening, like receiving a notice the mail from the tax department.


But they’ve spent the time polishing it and working out what they think is best and now you have to go back and address all those issues. After you’ve already read the script fifty million times and now you’re currently writing a character’s name when you go to write your own.


This isn’t enjoyable, this isn’t even like finding needles in haystacks, this is like shoving both hands into the freezer to find that one tub of double choc ice cream you hid from your spouse. When I get one my scripts back, it’s like one of those horrible rooms in torture porn films even the director decides to cut.


It’s still very important that you respond kindly to someone who has gone to that trouble, to examine what they think thoroughly, take notes, and apply it throughout the entire text so that the next time they have to do that (oh yes, editing gets a sequel horror film – and if you’re lucky, a trilogy), it will be easier. For them, and for you.


Remember, they are trying to help you do better, to get your story right the way you saw it in your head to the way it should be on the page. The best thing you can do is embrace the changes when they come back to you, that someone understood your garbled dreams and said yes.


  1. There is never ONE final edit – resign yourself to having a reader find a mistake


For those of you who don’t know me on twitter or in real life or who weren’t paying attention, I am sometimes a little smug vengeful bitch and none moreso when I see a traditionally published book come out from a famous and well respected author that has a mistake…


It’s a golden ah-HA! moment that I wont take back for the world, and mostly because it makes them human too, it means they make mistakes, and suddenly an impossible part of whether I can do this too becomes less intimidating.


And then I go back to loving the author and thinking their story is wonderful.


Its such a small moment, but it proves that they are human and that’s important.


This can be quite an envious market, a particular green elephant in the room Ive dipped into for another blog post, but it has relevancy when it comes to editing.


One of the key complaints in the self-pub/indie market is the propensity for these mistakes, how frequent they are, and that trad books don’t have that. Mostly because about six dozen more sets of eyes go over the book.


And if you are working with more than one editor or person who is actually changing the script, there is no guarantee that the editor is the one who’s made the mistake. (NEVER POINT THIS OUT TO THE EDITOR – I HAVE YET TO DISCOVER WHAT IT WILL DO AND REFUSE TO PUSH THAT PARTICULAR END OF THE WORLD BUTTON). (Also to all my editors… this wasn’t you, this was that other editor, honest, and could you please stop stalking my blog).


So there may be mistakes, little things, but if an author has done their due diligence there should be very few of them, or enough to be forgiven and just get on with the story.


What bugs me about self publishing is when authors don’t do their level best, and I recently wrote a blog post on the level of editing I expect when I buy a book. Any book. I’ll forgive a few mistakes, or a difference in spelling, or a specific punctuation choice. What I wont forgive is no effort at all to do this, which is why I go above and beyond to do as much as possible.


Having said all of that, you will still miss something. A reader will find it, point it out to you. They’ll even be nice about it.


And you know what? The world doesn’t end. Trust me. No, shut up, and get out of your end of world bunker!


This is a good life lesson too, if you resign yourself that something may go wrong, when it does it ceases to matter nearly as much and you can relearn  how to breath. It was the only way I survived my wedding day and several international holidays.


At the end of the day this book is going to be like anything else you do in life; put as much of yourself in it as you possibly can, get outside advice if its not working or you’re struggling, ask for help where you can, and know that it may never be as perfect as you want it to be because nothing ever is.


I currently have 3 scripts to edit, 2 needing serious overhauls that are very intimidating, and one that’s just not as perfect as it needs to be given where its up to. I’ve never had an inner perfectionist before I started writing and finding her an adequate gag has proved a challenge.


So when I have to go back, to ride those waves of edits that ripple through my books I find that once I’ve sat down to do it one thing becomes abundantly clear; I love my stories. I love writing. I actually do love editing, and it’s no longer about smoothing out a lake, its about riding that wave through the story, back and forth, until its the best it can be.


I’ve poured a fantastical tale from my head out of the infinity of nothing and that’s what I want you to see… but my grammar sucks. Maybe you need to flesh out characters. Perhaps someone else has a plot hole.


These things are fixable but like learning to sit down and write, no matter what, sitting down to edit is a challenge too. But one of the ways that I’ve found work best, is to remember why I wrote the story in the first place. Why did you?


How I F*cked Up


Rather than respond directly to a series of tweets that were recently hurled at me about why I would need editors, critique partners or beta readers before selling my novel to unassuming readers, I’m going to explain why I do in great detail.


And to do this I have gotten up at 5am to trawl through notes made to me about my work over years of novels to show you all how badly I stuff things up. It’s enough to see that I made a mistake, and sometimes disagree with the advice and this is the beauty of advice and reviews; you can choose to take what you want from it. But it is never okay to attack readers for their opinions and its never okay to demand more from them, when they’ve already paid for your work, and taken the time to review it.


So I want to use a magnificent piece of feedback from someone very close to me for some of my earliest work and move through to samples of my later work.

I’ve put the actual text from my manuscript in italics and the feedback in bright red;


The Well of Youth – written in 2016 after 4 rounds of self editing, 1 round of professional editing;

‘Tomorrow come here. We need waste no time anymore. I bid you and the dean good afternoon.’ Andy didn’t react to the dismissal, he had already got more than this afternoon could have possibly had hoped for given where he started the day.

I think ive gotten a bit lost, has he actually accepted? cause I know he goes, but the commander doesn’t know that, maybe he should say be here by that time if you wish to participate and then scream TALLY-HO and run out the door. Or something.


This was not the first comment of that nature, nor would it be the last, and I loved the way this beta gave me feedback, it was always jovial and her other comments made me wet myself laughing in reactions. She doesn’t know it but she’s the reason I leave those sorts of comments when I give beta reading, because I think its important to note when you evoke a good response from a reader.

(Re-reading this old work for me is an absolute cringefest of mistakes and wording, BTW, I would totally rewrite that entire sentence if I could, but I promised it raw and that’s what you are getting).


Queen of Spades – written in 2016, betaread x 3, self edited x 3, edited, revised and rewrote whole book in 2019, x 4 rounds of self editing, x 2 beta reads (this book had a lot of work put into it!)


Six hours passed and he came and got her, and by then Ayla was ready for the sleep, passing out fully dressed on the bed still warm from his body.

Ayla woke up hours later, curled around his scent, breathing it in.

“The Nuria is here,” Leith said over the comm.

Ayla was quick to get up, put her clothes and weapons back on, and hurry to the bridge.


Ayla passes out fully dressed on the bed and then wakes up and gets dressed???


Just a simple series of actions that were completely wrong/out of context but it does point out a very easy and fixable flaw that I hadn’t noticed DESPITE READING THIS STUPID BOOK MORE TIMES THAN I CARE TO THINK ABOUT!!! ß this still makes me mad, in case you couldn’t tell, and I absolutely love that the beta reader in question picked this up, and couldn’t be more grateful.


Here is an example of something that was said to me that I haven’t got entirely in context but was something of this nature;


One With Rage – written in 2019 after 3 rounds of self editing only

Spray; I swear to god there are other words out there for water Eleanor

Repetition is not your friend and I am terrible at it and its one of the first things I have to address with editors (I am still so sorry to you all that I do this), but its ALSO one of the first things I pick up when beta reading work. Repetition is monotonous if not done with specific tact and it can pull the reader from the vision.


Running a comb through her hair, with a spritz of mousse, she was scoffing the pancakes at the briefing room, having been the first to arrive.

Is she doing her hair and then going to the meeting room and scoffing down pancakes, or is she sitting in the meeting room doing her hair WHILE scoffing down pancakes? It’s not clear which.


Another case of scene transition that did not work well and I pick this up when beta reading other people’s work a lot but also it occurs in my own work as well. I knew what I wanted to do with that scene, but I completely stuffed up the way about it. A quick fix of breaking it into a couple of sentences only took moments to fix what was otherwise a very awkward transition scene.



Having used these very upfront and glorious examples of how badly I have made mistakes I want to extend these mistakes on to greater overall feedback I have gotten from some of my stories and I’m going to start with the most painful one first.


The Last Prophecy Series novella

I wont go into detail as to what was said but I felt like I was being chided by a loving grandparent when an editor told me an ending of my novella needed a lot of work. This is the part where people think editors are some sort of villain there to change your idea into their own idea and its not.

The story in question had reunited characters far too early for the overall series (which is HUGE). The story itself and the ending was all over the place, and I hadn’t given the reader a sense of closure by the time they got to the end. He was kind, honest, and careful but he made it clear I wasn’t just doing a reader a disservice, I was doing it to myself.

That hurt a lot.

It was the BEST lesson to date I have had that I can do better, that someone knew I could do better, and was brave enough to tell me that. I took what it cost them to say that very seriously. I went back and rewrote the entire ending, pulled apart the start to add other characters and what it ended up doing was giving a much more fleshed out character for the following book, so much so that by the time I got to the book the editor was very happy with the story overall and had no major changes.

Why? Because I’d learned the lesson the first time, and used the novella to improve my writing craft so when I wrote the following book it had a far more solid plot.


Queen of Spades – Awakening & Darkening

I originally queried Awakening and I had my first full request from a New York agent and I was SO excited that he liked my overall story, but in the end he didn’t like the world building or the concept of Ayla’s power and it wasn’t enough.

Given this was my first foray into querying outside of Pitmad I was pretty upset – but I went back to beta readers to clarify and work on exactly that to make it better.

I also decided to fork out the money to get a professional editor and a wonderful CP, both who have been incredibly helpful.

But both found many mistakes even after all that, and when it came to book 2, my CP said to me that overall I spent too much time in Ayla’s head, and she was absolutely right and I will be working on fixing that.



I don’t wish to talk about one of the major changes I will be making to Behind the Veil but the editor recently got back to me and I want to sum up our conversation very succinctly over a series of emails;

Ed: I think this might need to be tweaked, and it’s a big tweak, what do you think?

Me: … actually that is dead on, you are absolutely right, I will fix all that, this is how I think I’ll fix it, what do you think?

Ed: Sounds good


They spend hours, many of them unpaid, to make your story the best it can be. At the end of the day few of them get a kick back unless you sell well, and you will not sell well without help.

I am often pulled between the self pub/indie author/trad press options before me because I want the freedom for some of my stories, but I also know they need improving, each and every one until the day I stop writing (which will be when I am dead).

I have chosen all three because I want people to love my stories as much as I do, but I am not going to expect random strangers to fork out $0.99 to $20+plus for a book I didn’t spend the time, money, and effort making it the best it could possibly be.

If you are struggling for editing money, ask for beta readers and look at traditionally publishing or trying with smaller presses. Get feedback on your work, learn how to best relay your story to your reader.

If you can afford it and want to take the financial risk, find a great series of people to work with and organise for professional editing and self-publish.

Because in the end no matter your lofty goals, these people aren’t here to tear your ideals down, to make huge changes to your story, they are helping you because they love those things about it, it’s the nitty gritty detail that needs smoothing out. That needs polishing.

It doesn’t matter how often you write, if you just want to get your stories out there post them for free via a website. But don’t attack readers after they aren’t happy with a book they paid for. You made money off their time, they read your whole work, and if they didn’t say something nice about it that might just not be their taste. But if many readers leave less than savoury reviews, don’t attack them.

Ask yourself this really fucking hard question; did you do your best?

And that isn’t about writing the damn thing, or self-editing, its about getting that outside opinion to make your book be the best it can be for everyone, not just for you, and especially not if you want people to hand over money for it.

Don’t do that to readers, its not fair, and you aren’t just cheating the reader, you are cheating yourself.


My MOther kills


My mother kills fairy tales.

She read us Lord of the Rings twice.

The Nargun under the Stars, though it gave us nightmares.

She dredged up British classic and found swamp ridden Australian delights to amaze and frighten us. Day of the Triffords, Watership Down, The Dark is Rising, The Hobbit, and forever our minds were fed.

And with it all came a grain of salt.

We sat watching Victor Victoria.

Possibly too young but it didn’t matter in our house when “I want to be dirty” was not a line from Rocky Horror but about playing in mud.

But when King Marchand steals into Victor’s room, and an ensuing scene of near misses commenced we giggled together, three girls and their mother, all of us crowing; “Bitch, bitch, bitch!”

And then with wide eyed wonder and somewhat skepticism we watched King Marchand see “Victor” in the bath. And that little feral grin on his face when he knows that Victor is in fact a woman.

For all the movie’s delicate humour and beautiful songs, something twisted inside.

We kept watching in avid attention of exactly what would unfold, and how this would all resolve.

But three girls in front of screen watched as Victor, on the run from the police, protected by King Marchand’s quick thinking, stood in a Paris alley with snow cascading on their panting forms, enraptured in the moment.

“I don’t care if you are a man,” King Marchand declared as he laid his lips passionately on Victor’s.

Heaving breaths, Victor confesses. “I am not a man.”

“I still don’t care,” Marchand declares, and cue kissing.

But three little blond head turned to their mother, and all three whispered; “He lied.

And her calm reply still echoes in my mind; “Yes, he did.”

What should have been a movie about acceptance, about freedom, about finding oneself despite all that could stand in the way was caught, snatched, snared, on this singular lie.

And it didn’t end there.

In the 90s we moved to the city and my mother could get us to local dance classes. Tap, ballet, contemporary, we did it all, and while I could digress into the growing dysmorphia that occurred over this period, I will stick to the lies that weren’t about my body, from either strangers or loved ones.

Michael Flatly, that blonde mullet of a dancing god, had every girl I knew interested in dance ready to sell their souls for a chance to dance with him.

We watched Riverdance with the kind of passion that should have been poured into teenage romances. We danced the parts in our living room, stomping our feet in semi trained awkwardness that was at least in time and didn’t damage the floorboards.

But something stayed with us. Something tainted the dance.

For all our Irish stained blood, the beat of the music catching us and the rise of our heartbeats and fighting spirit, there was one that would not be caged with song alone. One that would not settle or be tamed.

One that belonged to no man but wholly to us.

And it’s subtle birth was given in a single sentence.

In the dance there is a male and female lead. Michael Flatly and Jean Butler.

I was in love with their romance.

As a teen with more social issues than a politician has skeletons in his closet I hungered for that kind of passion, that kind of love.

But it was with careful word that a constant irritation I had observed between the pair became clear to me in my mother’s words.

We watched a dance between the lead pair, and my mother whispered; “Look at them, look at their eyes; she hates him, and he knows it.”

It may never have been true.

It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t.

There may have been parts they loved, parts they hated, parts they wished to be together and never apart.

All I remember was the look in their eyes when my mother said it and I knew she spoke a truth.

There would be many stories over the years.

Ones we’d watch on TV, ones she’d read to us, but every more did we look for the lie.

The man who’d snuck into a private room without permission. The man who pretended to love the woman, all the while she loathed him. She taught us to see what was not said, not shown, not there. But it hovered under the surface, an ugly stain across the smiles of those who were supposed to entertain us.

Film after film, book after book, a niggling part of me never left.

Was what they’d done right? Fair?

It ingrained in me a deeper sense of what it was to be a woman, to be listened and lied to and evermore I listened for the lies. I feared them.

Because I knew that they could happen to me. And I swore they never would.

The time I think my life was at it’s lowest I knew I was being lied to, and ignored it.

Just as the dancer in Riverdance, just as Victor in the film, all the lessons I’d ever learned gone in an instant and for what? Some semblance of job security where I told myself that I was just trying to fit in.

All the while the lies burned.

They raged on distant hills until they were inside me and I was choking on the smoke and couldn’t stop the flames, the world was ending and I only had myself to blame for the chaos inside, made real for accepting the lies of the outside.

There was no music here.

No song.

No dance.

No romance.

Only the lie.

I don’t know whether it would have been better to live in naïve bliss and acceptance, but that would never be what I would have wanted.

I’ve walked the tightrope of the story and the lie all my life and sometimes not always to my benefit.

But what I can tell you, even as I lived the lie, was that every tear stained moment I learnt.

I saw the liars and though the magic of the story was gone, there was some that remained.

That’s what I bring to my stories.

The tale without the lie, and if it’s there I do not hide or fight it.

I see it for the snake in the grass it is and unlike every time it has left me confounded, alone and lost in my life, in my stories you see it for the lie that it is and it is you who knows. Now you can see the lie too.


Roaring into 2020

2020 is full of KICK ASS goals because in 2019 I got far more done than I thought possible.

It’s the past examples of what you did that makes you A-freaking-mazing and I’m full of confidence for 2020.

We’ve been badgered by smoke all our holiday, and the last 72 hours have been harrowing from its thick pervasiveness and the constant updates of the worsening fire conditions, but if you read my story, The Water Tower, you’ll know and be pleased when I say I can now see it again.

Which gives me hope, determination and goals!

One of my key goals was fitness, I’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, which has led to a thick waistline, but now I have the medication that’s proven to work I will be making that one of my key focuses. Expect more bitching about health related subjects, but I am determined to succeed.

On a more author related front, I promised that I’d write another ten books this year and I’m going to pick a project at random to work on this afternoon as my first 2k day for 2020. Expect kicks to get your daily writing goals!

I will also be looking into a mailing list and *gasp* Patreon!

No matter if you are traditional or indie this is an expensive process and I have put a lot of work and help out there over the 2019 year, and I hope to continue to do so but any kick back I can get would be a great help.

Don’t fret if you were hoping I’d be doing the same for 2019 as I did for 2020, you can still get free 5k beta read samples and very cheap beta reading rates for whole scripts, but its down to our communication and what you want to get out of it! I’ll also be tossing out some cool promos in a tweet in a bit so if you want your book read & reviewed, your whole script read for nothing, or some book tour features and author interviews, keep my Twitter refreshed!


Sending so much love to all of you who have supported me for 2019, and looking forward to a great 2020.Spread good cheer.(2)(1)

Ten Books Too!

This was meant to be a delightful post I wrote several days ago about my accomplishments this year. I’ve not had time to go over it, given the NSW fire issues but wanted to post it anyway because despite everything it doesn’t take away my accomplishments of this year.

I wrote a story in this blogpost to help relay what its been like. You have to find ways to remember all you’ve done even during the stressful times…






My face is still melting over how I started this and got it done, particularly because I never planned to write ten books.


I planned to release the next novella and book in my fantasy series the Last Prophecy but due to budget constraints it all had to be put on hold for one simple fact; I couldn’t afford an editor.


If you are self publishing you had to pay for your own and I’d never thought about querying my epic 21 book/novella steam flavoured fantasy series.


So when I had to stop a writing journey five years in the making I was furious, mostly with myself.


With this fury I wrote a book in 25 days, Behind the Veil. Hart, a friend and someone who became a valued beta reader read the first chapter and said to me; “Oh, I think you’ve got more than a short story here…”


It set me off, and when I finished I polished it as best I could and pitched it to Pitmad, where Sharon from Literary Wanderlust subsequently offered me a contract for the book and I accepted.


Over the year I worked on many projects but it wasn’t until October did I realise in the lead up to the end of the year that if I worked my ass off (more like how much time I spent at my desk), I could write ten books.


Let me outline them for you so you know I’m not just crowing about them, I did work on them all year;


Behind the Veil – 75k words written in 25 days Gothic Noir

You can find more about that story here, but this was just the beginning of freedom for me to work on anything and I diligently applied myself to working on as much as I could.


An Absent Tale – 70k words written over the year Gothic Noir

It was meant to be a secondary story to Behind the Veil of a similar nature with a gothic noir feel, but after the plot walked off course and I finished it to find out where it would end up but I was disappointed with it overall.

Queen of Spades Trilogy – 240k in 3 books over the year scifi action romance

This trilogy was originally written in first person which made me very uncomfortable and it showed, so I went back this year and rewrote all three books from scratch, only using parts of what I’d done before but mostly rewriting the entire trilogy. I’ll be looking to self publish this in 2020 and that’s really exciting to have that for next year.


Echo of the Evercry – 80k written in 23 days Fantasy/mental health

Echo was written after being inspired by a poem and it turned into a quest but carried a huge undercurrent of mental health issues and the effects of bullying past high school. It was an odd thing to put into a fantasy story but I felt it worked. I pitched this for PitchWars and got a full request, but didn’t get in. Now I’m querying this manuscript, but I also won a free developmental edit from Meg Trast and I am looking forward to finding an agent for this script in 2020.


One with Rage – 70k written in 21 days magical realism/cyberpunk romance

Rage was written purely for fun, it has an angry and vengeful kick ass heroine surrounded by charming arrogant men who don’t deter her from her quest. The completed novel was generously edited by Lorney Tunes and is on Wattpad. I loved this world and its characters, it has a few holes but I wrote it purely for me, because it will be a while before I see my published work come out and I wanted to have something out there so people could understand what my writing style was like.


The Book Binder – 80k written in 28 days (or so) contemporary paranormal romance

I wrote this book over October waiting for the PitchWars results to come out and the idea of a librarian on the run from the library she used to work was just too irresistible not to work on. Not sure what will happen with the script but I’m looking forward to querying it next year.



I wrote two books during this period and I kept an active Twitter thread of when I was working and how much I did so people could see it was being done, but also to kick them in to doing it too. I have the benefit of no kids, an easy job, and a loving spouse to help me though, and I never hold back on that information or fail to use that gift well.

Read Well the Dark – 79k written in 13 days gothic fantasy romance

I wanted to write a vampire book but one where it wasn’t scary and it wasn’t a once and for all, it has a HFN ending that I wasn’t sure I wanted to build upon but I couldn’t resist the idea of vampires, gypsies and tarot readers and its dark themes and practical approach to life was fun and earthy to write.


Atlantis Abyss – 65k written in 17 days Frankenstein f/f climate change retelling

I wrote this in response to my editor Lorney Tunes giving me a series of random prompts and how I got to this story I don’t know but it was set about 150 years in the future when water levels have risen but all the bigotry and climate change denial is still rampant. Two happily married women try to bring order back into the world of their small Australian country town, but the town’s leaders only want to control the limited resources left.




And do you know what my first thought was after I’d done it?


I’m going to do it again, and you can too.


I’ve never taken much stock in the 2k a day writing advice by Stephen King but I realised that over the course of the year I’d written some 679k words in first drafts and then added yet more words (Echo of the Evercry ended up topping out at 109k words) when I went back over it and filled in my very narrow endings.


And I’d done it in the space of about five months when I realised I only needed to amp up how much I was doing every day and be sure I wrote two books in Nanowrimo.


So if you take an average size of a novel at 70,000 words, and you times that by ten its 700,000 words.


If you write 2k a day for 365 days of the year you get 730,000.


If you wrote 2k a week for 52 weeks of the year you get 104,000.


There is a middle ground it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, you can go back and rewrite stuff, but you’ll never know what you are capable of until you try.


I never knew I was capable of this.


And this year, to show for all my hard work, here is what I got;


  • A publishing contract
  • Several NY agent full requests
  • Invaluable experience from the agents & editors I worked with
  • Amazing support and encouragement from the Writing Community
  • A year without regrets because I didn’t stop trying and I didn’t give up


I plan to write ten books for 2020 and if you want to hold me accountable hold onto your panties because I already have seven lined up;


Queen of Hearts Trilogy – This will follow a different character to Ayla from the Queen of Spades, and instead focus on an as yet unnamed character as the Queen of Hearts who can see the deepest darkest desires of the heart.


An Absent Tale – I need to untangle this book and I think the only way to do it is to rewrite it from scratch which I hate doing but its not worth the time to pull apart and rebuild in its current structure, and I want it to be as good a book as Behind the Veil.


One with Hate – If you’ve read One with Rage you’ll know there are a few character that have potential and I intend to focus on the hate fuelled apathy of Giselle and the only person who can read her thoughts and not be afraid, Saul. (For anyone waiting for Ayre and Meyrick to get there moment, too bad, cause Ayre’s not about to open herself to Meyrick only to be left behind).


Butterfly’s Kiss – A fantasy story about the deception of good and evil and all the shades of grey in between.


A Girl of Gremlins and Gargoyles – Honestly if you’re still reading and having figured out my muse is a little bitch this is your clue because I have no idea what this book is about except the title, and a girl who’s ugly without and beautiful within.


This leaves me with three books open for the year, and I like to work on books that inspire me on a moment to moment basis, and I found that though they take a fair amount of polishing they are much better off for the story being fast paced and exciting, full of twists and turns and moments of delight. But that’s just my sadistic side torturing the characters.


If you’ve come with me this far thank you.


Whether it was reading this post, following me all year, or just being one of the many I will never be able to thank enough for your support.


I did interviews, book tours, and reviews of trad and indie books all year.


Next year I plan to keep doing that, but also have a mailing list and a Patreon site to help with the editing fees, and maybe, one day, go back to the story that called to me as a writer.


May 2019 have its silver lining, and 2020 be a rainbow infused sunset of delight and hope.





The Water Tower

I’ve been trying to find ways to fill in the time while we watch and wait for the fires.

I’ve written a short story to help relay the events of the last few days and how it feels now, on New Years Eve, waiting for the weather to cool and the fires to fade.

I’m safe, everyone I know is safe. But that doesn’t take away the fear.


The Water Tower





“That’s disgusting.”

A wall of smoke into NSW waited for us.

“Maybe it’ll clear over the mountains.”

I looked at my husband. “Maybe.”

The thick cloying smoke that swallowed cars on the highway in front of us was a nuisance, filling the filters with smoke and stinging eyes. The pollution from the Sydney fires hadn’t reached Victoria yet but there was hope on the coast things would be cool. I was determined to have my holiday.

“Look it’s clearer through the mountains,” I said hours later, as we wended our way out the other side of Tumbarumba and through the Kosciuszko national park.

“We’ll still be able to enjoy the holiday,” my husband said, and we checked on the dogs in the back who were ready to be out of the car after the eight-hour drive, with still two more to go.

Down through Cooma the skies cleared, and in a moment of relief we were at my parents in Bega.

“Hullo! Don’t mind the dog weeing, she’s just excited to see you.”

“Oh, Lily,” my mother chides, “thanks for doing that on my shoe.”

“She just likes you,” my husband laughs as we unpack and set up the tent.

“Glad to see it isn’t too bad here,” I say as we settle down for a tea. “It was awful on the other side of the Kosciuszko’s.”

“Oh, it gets smoky here too,” Dad said. And it did.


“That’s just ghastly,” I said, spanning my camera across the smoke drenched hills tainting my holiday with their tang.

“Bega hasn’t been that great,” Mum said. “It was clearer before, but we’ve had few good days.”

We talk about the fires. Its okay. They’re far away.


I envy you guys your summer weather! My editor tweeted to me and I chuckle and go outside and take a picture.

Not that great, the smoke from the fires are awful! I send him the picture and he send me a grimace.

That doesn’t look very nice.

Nope, I replied. I’m tracking how thick it gets by those hills and that water tower, its not great but we’ve got air con and whiskey, we’ll survive. The tower has been my gage on smoke thickness, as long as we can see the tower its unpleasant but not too bad.

That afternoon we lost sight of the water tower, but it came back. It was fine.


“I’m going to the chemist,” my husband said, keys in hand.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“The smoke,” he said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “It’s messing with my sinuses and I’ve got an awful headache.”

“Well get some soda water while you are there.”

“While I’m gone, can you move all our stuff into the house?” he asked. “I don’t want to be in the tent again tonight.”

“Not a worry.” I glanced outside. The smoke has retreated enough I can see the hills, the water tower’s a beacon. Its fine.


“I don’t know if we should go to poker tonight,” I said to my husband who shrugged.

“We’ve just got cabin fever.” He rubbed my back. “Let’s get out for a while.”

The drive is calm, the smog thick, but closer to the coast a sea breeze brushes the worst away. At the tables my father introduces us as novices’ players and we’re warmly greeted.

“You’ll struggle to get back to Victoria now,” one lady said, scanning her phone.

“We’ll be fine,” I said, trying to remember how to deal the cards. “We’re taking the Cooma Road up to Adaminaby and over to Tumbarumba after New Year’s Day.”

“No, you won’t,” she said, her succinct and final tone rang in my years. “They’ve shut down the Brown Mountain road.”

At home we checked. The roads are closed, and 11pm at night is no time to leave. We’re trapped in Bega. Its fine, we have the house, even if I can’t see the water tower.


I woke to an orange sky.

“Smoke is a lot thicker,” I said to my husband who nodded. The water tower is clear, but beyond it the sky curls with blackened ash.

“See those two plumes,” my Mum said. “They are the fires at Bemboka and north at Counegany but its miles away.”

I stare at the horizon; it doesn’t look it.

“Let’s go down and get some things from the shops,” I said. “Early before they get too crowded, its New Years Eve. Mum do we need anything?”

“Yes, I’ve got a little list, but just be careful, apparently there are people coming to Bega, they’ve been evacuated from the fires and it’s a bit grim down there.”

“Rightio,” I called, and we collected only what was needed.

At 8:30am there were still a few shoppers about, tired, bedraggled but enjoying the cool. More than one gaze met ours, a friendly smile and curse at the smoke. And then we look to the horizon were a dark smear is worse than the haze that has shadowed our skies for days now.

We collect our things, buy a bit extra, not much, there will be others in more need than us.

They’re selling water at the front, loads of it, and several people pass, filling their trolleys.

“My parents are on town,” I said to my husband. “But they’ve got the tank.”

I paused. “Lets just grab some small bottles for the trip on Thursday.”

“Not sure the roads will be open.”

“Let’s grab them anyway.”


At home my parents have taken down the tent we haven’t stayed in for the last two nights, the heat and smoke too much.

We take it all down, pass jokes about how if they are evacuated at least they’ll have the tent to themselves. They tell me its why they took it down, in case they are evacuated.

“Let’s have a break,” my Mum said. “Time for coffee and the sudoku.”

“After coffee we’ll get fire ready,” my Dad said. “I’ll get the hoses out and some buckets with towels.”

And in the distance, the water tower is fading.


I film the sky. It turns darker and redder.

A hellish landscape with no relief in sight. The smoke has permeated everything, and I can’t smell it anymore.

“I’ve uploaded all my books to a Google Doc file,” I said to my husband, on the way out the door. “I’m going to wet the garden down for Mum, she’s about to get on the roof and clear the gutters. Do you want to pack our bags? Mum and Dad have already packed go bags.”

“Yeah, but can you hug your dog? I think he’s nervous.”

I hug the dog; he whimpers at me with little groans and I pat him and tell him it’s okay.

When I go outside the water tower is gone. There’s just the haze, and on my shoulders soft as snowflakes are the grey edges of ash.


“They just went to break for that ABC news presenter,” I commented, lying on the couch with my phone after failing to concentrate on the sudoku. “The poor bastard’s been reporting for hours now, sounds like he ran out of words and I don’t fucking blame him.”

“Eat something.” My Mum puts an omelette in front of me, but my stomach is churning so much I don’t want it. But I eat it, and its good, and I know I need protein. I can’t remember if I ate this morning.

I’m watching the water tower. Its been gone for hours.


“Have you got any empty bottles?” I asked Mum, refilling my water bottles from the desk I’ve been pretending to work at while I flick through Twitter and Facebook.

“Yes why?”

“There are reports further north that the power’s out and the sewerage lines ruptured so the tap water isn’t safe to drink.” I walked around the kitchen, collecting empty soda bottles and washing even milk bottles out.

“Oh dear,” Mum said, and together we find and fill what empty bottles we can, check for torches and light.

The sky is darker, the creeping edge of smokes persistence eats away at it like the finger of time, inevitable as the smell soaking through our clothes into our skin.

“It’s alright,” Mum said after a moment. “As long as people are safe. The rest is just metal and money.”


The light grows and fades. Black leaves fall from the sky. We’ve started spot checks every half hour or so.

The smell of banana cake is a sweet and hope fuelled contradiction to the constant pervasive smell of smoke. It bathes my face as I come inside, eyes stinging and wondering how people have lived in these unbearable conditions.

“I’m taking cakes down to the Bega emergency centre,” my Mum said. “And I’ve got another one in the oven. Can you take it out a little after 5pm?”

“Why don’t I go with you?”

“No, you need to take out the cake.”

“Can’t someone else do it?”

“I’d like it better if you stayed here.”

I stayed.


The sky is still orange.

I still can’t see the water tower.

I wont tonight, the sun is going down.

I stare at my clothes; all cotton. My mother’s boots with thin socks so they’ll fit. Jeans that aren’t cotton, but they’ll have to do for my thick thighs. A white cotton shirt, and I’ve stolen a business shirt of my Dad’s to put over it.

There is nothing left to do but eat our New Years Eve dinner of soft cheese and smoked salmon, maybe have some champagne.

Hopefully the cool weather will stay.

My Dad walks in. “They say tonight we’re going to lose our telecommunications some time tonight.”

I nod and smile. “Yep, no worries.”

There’s nothing else to do.

Trademark & You

guest blogger zack Riley here to speak on trademark & the fiasco of...


There has been a lot of talk lately about the #darkgate incident closely resembling #cockygate and some of you are already looking at me thinking… what?

Okay rehash in a few simple lines for a subject that is anything but; Feleena Hopkins, tried to trademark the word “Cocky” in the US for her cowboy themed books. Subsequently she threatened and scared many authors into yanking titles offline, but the backlash against her was enough for her to pull the trademark. But the damage was done. Hopkins as a self published author had just done the unthinkable and turned against her fellow self publishers. She will never be forgiven in some eyes and though I don’t publish cowboy romances, I don’t blame them.

So when extremely well known author Christine Feehan tried the same thing only months later with the word “dark”, to say Twitter exploded was an extreme understatement. (I may or may not have joined in the shenanigans… okay you bet I did).

The author has since updated her Twitter page to do a complete 180 after only a week since she made the original post;

Christine Feehan

To say that she is sorry might all be too late in the eyes of many after what she did, but the fact of the matter is that she’s behaved in a far more noble way than Feleena Hopkins did. I hope in the coming days the author world treats Feehan better for her frankness and apology. (That last line though – its a brave thing to admit you made a mistake like this one).

But how does that effect YOU?


Please welcome fellow writer and Twitter buddy Zack Riley, who’s my guest on today’s blog post with his words of wisdom on Trademark laws, what this means and how it affects you;


I’ll start by saying this is only educational and not legal advice and may not be 100% accurate to the law or specific laws in specific countries.

I’ll try keep this short as trademarking something is expensive among small artists/authors, and so on and only really matters once you truly establish yourself. If this doesn’t describe you then copyright protection would benefit you more as it protects the work you make, where a trade mark protects your logo or brand.

For example, a character can’t be trade marked unless it is a literal part of your logo. The purpose of a trade mark is to protect you as a creator from a competitor trying to confuse a customer from using a similar/same name so not to buy your work. It would be very confusing if there were two different K-mart shopping chains out there in the same location selling similar items.

A trade mark must be an established and constantly used on everything to keep it. In the case of the trademark on the word cocky, the author had used the series title of “cocky” and therefore pushed the trademark on the word. The way trademark law works though is having the word “cocky” not only blocks the word from being used but anything that sounds like it, effectively cock blocking the use of the word, pun intended.

This caused a huge uproar within the writing community attracting 27000+ signature’s on a petition to overturn the copyright, and in a court ruling by judge Alvin Hellerstein, found the trade mark not enforceable against authors as there would be no market place confusion among purchasers of romance novels. He called the term cocky, “a weak trademark that could only be enforced against direct, deceptive imitation.”

So why was cocky awarded the trademark? Probably the uniqueness of the name, and poor research into the overall use of the name. This also only covered her market, however unfortunately knocking off the use of a lot of other people’s book titles and ultimately failed because of the over saturation of the use of the term within the writing community.

Trademarks are only set within a set geographical area, such as the state of New York in the USA, meaning that someone in Colorado could legally use the same name unless the trademark is applied for all states and territories within that country. This means that someone in Australia or the UK could still legally use the trademark within those countries unless the trademark is again, applied to every country that the material is relevant. You need to still defend your trademark if its contested where ever its current. This can get expensive and there is a mountain of paperwork. If however you receive a takedown notice for breach of someone’s trademark, you should seek legal advice. You may not be in the geographical area the trademark is represented in or be outside the bindings of the trademark. There are many ways to protect your own brand and if you are not directly trying to deceptively imitate the trademark holder, you may have a case. Be mindful that sites such as amazon are located in the USA or the set geographical area of a trademark holder, therefore the trademark may apply to your work. Remember, you can always opt not to sell to that area if you clash.

Different rules apply to huge and established brands such as Disney, Pokémon and Harry Potter, for example, that protect the brands. In some countries trademarks do not need to be registered with the government, the same with copyright but if you can register your trademark then you have a better chance of winning a case.

In Australia the fees just for the application are $200 pre trademark at the cheapest option. In the USA I believe its $250, so if you are applying for more then one trade mark this can add up. To renew a trademark, its $400 in Australia minimum per trade mark so I hope you have plenty of cash.

So how do you protect your work the free way? Copyright.

How do you get Copyright? Simple, the moment it exists anywhere else but your mind, you own the copyright to it. You are god, you just have to prove it. So a date or place is a good way to do this, such as publishing a work online, there are many ways to go about this but you own the copyright. Advice for an author is to register an ISBN with your book and also send a copy of your book to the national library of your country.

So, what does copyright protect you from? Having your work copied, derivative works, fan fiction, and so on. Yes, I know fan fiction is a derivative work but for this example we will say fan art and toys.

Say you become an established brand and have artwork of a character in your world, someone could create fan art of your work. As the copyright holder you own the copyright to that art work and therefore can make a case for someone not to draw your characters or write fan fiction, shipping character A with character C instead of character B. You have the right to say what can and can not be said about your work and send a cease and desist letter if what is drawn/written is not to your taste. You also have the right to claim any/all money from derivative works based on your original work. For example, if you sell a Star Wars x-wing drawing or 3d model you printed then Disney has the right to stop and claim any/all monies you made from that venture. Obviously, some areas can damage fan bases and this is why things like Harry Potter fan fiction and artwork can be found. An example of a copyright being infringed is the song “Down Under” by Men at work and the rifts taken from the song Kookaburra where the rights are owned by Larrikin Music.

Be mindful (as seen a lot on YouTube) adding, “Copyright  and Trademark infringement not intended” or something similar to any part of your work is blatantly admitting that you have infringed on someone else’s work.

The use of a trade mark to protect your brand based on a title honestly doesn’t seem like the best of ideas. And from Cocky gate we have seen the fallout of this. A smarter option would have been to apply for a trade mark on a pen name. You honestly won’t see anyone else selling books under the name Stephen King or Tom Clancy for example. If it is really that saturated a market that you need a trademark for a book title or series title, wouldn’t it be better to pick a different name instead of throwing good money down the drain?

You can find Zack’s work through his Facebook page & on Twitter, especially if you like a good pun. Or even a bad one.


Welcome one and all to my blog!


For All Hallows Eve (look, if you haven’t figured out I’m Australian by now here is you’re cue), I wish to present to those on the cusp and preparing for the dreaded thirty days of mayhem, trauma, and soul crushing despair, faced during the course of Nanowrimo, the kind of foe which every writer has come to know…




Scary, yeah?


*buffs nails* Nope.



I’ve won Nano the last four years in a row and I am going to give you a crash course on how to get this DONE.


And in case that wasn’t enough, I plan on writing TEN NOVELS IN 2019. Two of them in Nano. Who’s a loon?? THIS AUTHOR! But I’ve done the dreaded math and guess what? I can do it.


Want to know my secrets? come closer…




  1. Writing Sprints.


If you are a writer you may have heard of these sprints.

The challenge is simple; set a timer of minutes, 5, 15, 20, 30, 60 and do nothing but write. No alt tabbing, no phone, no Twitter, you WRITE. You challenge yourself to get those words in, as many as you can. You don’t stop, don’t breath, don’t break for the bathroom.


I said WRITE!



When I started I think I got about 100 words in my first 20 minute sprint. With six years of writing under my belt I can get in about 2.5k in an hour.


Where this can go wrong is decisions/plotpoints/and the dreaded block, but I’ll discuss this below.


If you are a pantser (you write the story with no idea of where it is going to go) you are going to THRIVE on sprints.


If you are a plotter I suggest as minimal guidance to do a one line/paragraph on every chapter which will at least give you direction.


Yes, this method is really intense, but with good practice it does work. My last record for an 80k book using this method was written in 25 days and subsequently picked up by Indie press, Literary Wanderlust. (AFTER A BUTT LOAD OF EDITS).


There are several discord channels with this as a function and everyone joins in. It becomes a team and group effort. I will also have a pinned thread advertising when I am going into a sprint for Nanowrimo 2019.


This can be very difficult to accomplish if you have people who need your attention in your life; kids, family, loved ones with special needs (including yourself). It does not work for everyone, find what works for you.


  1. Names


The hero’s weary horse reaches the cusp of a valley leading to… a foreign kingdom, surveying the twisting river called… called… the twisting river, wrapping around the castle of… of… a castle in the distance, and our hero,… who is our hero… he has a name… wtf is his name… Our hero, sighs in relief at having reached….



Whether you pants, or plot, do the prep before you start by having a guide of name generators booked marked in your web browser so you aren’t wasting time finding the “right” name. Get ANY name and move on.

You can fix it later, you can find replace weird names you don’t like, just get something close and move on with the script. Here is a helpful guide on generators for you, just to get you through.

Book mark them. Thank me anytime. No really, please, I did a lot to find these.


  1. Description


Damien walked into the tavern, and it was a tavern… that had beer… and people drinking it.


Put a freaking X there and move on. Adding descriptive scenes can come later, don’t get caught up worry about it if you just feel the story tugging you along. Yes, I hate doing this, it bugs the crap out of me, but I’d rather let the flow of the story carry me along than worry about a thirty second scene in a second rate motel. Seriously, I’d only give it 2 stars, I think I saw a rat.


You can come back to these scenes, you can fix them later… which brings me to my next point.




I mean it.


Yeah, I’m looking at you. I know the sort. I see you… just like I’ve seen parts of myself.

The perfectionist.

Seeking the perfect series of words…

The first to take out the blade to carve slices out of their darlings…



Leave it. I mean it. PUT THE SCRIPT DOWN.




Because you *aren’t* helping yourself if you are doing this while trying to Nano. You are worrying about words you will probably go back and change again later anyhow.

If you are one of those people who do that, and its where your comfort zone is, and you can’t stop it, I get it. But try making sure you can’t see what you wrote, scroll right up, do it consistently. Don’t put the past words in front of your face to tempt you to edit.

Resist the temptation – forge on. This is how you finish books.


  1. Writers block.


Oh yes, my FAVOURITE demon.




But do you know what writers block is? For me, its like anxiety. Or depression. It was one a foe I did not have the tools to fight. Today, I’m going to loan you mine.


See this beauty? You might not know but I am an avid RPG player (roll playing gamer – no, not the custom and dancing about in fields with a sword kind, the kind that sits inside and curses normals and fights a pretend zombie apocalypse).

And the games I generally play are not… *gasp* D&D… Dungeons and Dragons.

I play and run Cthulhu, All Flesh, Chill, Pathfinder-… yes okay so its like DnD but it isn’t DnD. Don’t @ me.


You get to do a lot of things with a pair of dice for varying reasons in role playing, and I’ve written more about it here, but for the purposes of this blog post lets keep this short;


You have a choice.


Your heros arrive at the gates to a castle where a friend is being held captive in the bowels, accused of a crime they didn’t do… but…how do you get it?

You have options. Put yourself in the characters shoes and think; a castle has a front gate, and a servants entrance… two choices.

I like to roll a D100 to give more extreme ideas of how much they go in one direction and succeed or fail but any dice with even or odd chances is fine.

Any wall you face you are at a point, don’t focus on what to do next, focus on the options available, put yourself in the place, and roll a dice for the outcome.

You don’t know where the story might take you, and I generally find myself somewhere far more interesting… like Alice down a rabbit hole…



At the end of the day the person who is stopping you accomplishing this is you.


I’ve seen shift workers write on phones while in the car on a lunch break.


I’ve seen Mums on a tablet during soccer practice furious getting out a few hundred words.


I’ve sat next to the room of a dying man, writing away all the  pain inside because I couldn’t not stop what was happening in that other room.


Ultimately, you are not fighting or writing or winning against me or anyone else.


You are finding out whether you have it in you.


And maybe you don’t this year, but maybe you will make the habits you need to improve your craft enough to keep going, and do it next year.


The whole point is to keep going. Keep writing. No matter what.


Find me here if you want to buddy too!