Cover Reveal: House on the Hill

House on the Hill is coming to an online bookstore near you soon.

Eleven-year-old twins, Cat and Mouse, crave adventure but when the school bully talks them into taking a ride on a dodgy-looking canoe, they know it can only lead to disaster. Proven right, they must learn how to deal with the bully and the man who lives in the sinister house on the hill.

House on the Hill cover

#kidlit #childrensbooks #middlegrade #adventure #CoverReveal #ComingSoon #bookbuzz #ebook

Update from My Writing Desk

It’s the second month of the year already. Time flies when you’re having fun … or just when you’re older. Not sure which is truer these days.

Today, I’m glad to say that during the month of January, I averaged about 800 words per day. It may not sound inspiring to you, but to me that is one hell of a job well done. I am super proud of myself.

I’ve been working on Book 3 of The Land of Miu series, The Lion Gods. And, I might add, I am very close to writing those magic words “The End”. I should finish the first draft by the end of February. In fact, if I continue with my current average, I should finish it by mid-February. Then the editing stage begins. Without putting pressure on myself, I feel as if I will meet my goal.

In other writing news, the consistent writing has also awakened my mind to thinking about other ideas. I’ve written them down, but refuse to allow them to distract me from my goal. However, the ideas are quite vivid and I find myself thinking about how I might expand the ideas into another series for young readers. But this set of ideas will remain just that for the time being. Perhaps I will do something about writing these ideas when I’m in editing mode to give myself a break. I’m not sure yet. All I know for certain is that I do not want to lose the consistency of writing every day. So maybe writing 800 words for this idea and editing for an hour or so each day may be the way for me to go. I’ll see.

Lastly, I’m super excited to say that I purchased a cover for another of my manuscripts, known here as Mirror Image, but will be published with the title “Domino Effect”. The first draft of the manuscript is complete. This one is NOT for kids. It’s a very dark novel for adults. Totally the opposite to the stuff I write for kids. I have done a read through and corrected obvious errors, but that was in 2015 and my plan is to work on this one after The Lion Gods has been published.

Question: Do you like to write one project while editing another?

Writing Update

It’s been a long, long time since I wrote an update for this website that didn’t consist of a book review. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking the blog is dead. But it’s not. I’m here as always. I check in often but don’t feel there’s anything worth saying, that hasn’t been said before. That’s one of the problems with having a blog for many years. The blogger runs out of things to say. Or, maybe the importance of what’s being said changes with time.

Anyway, after the stroke 18 months ago, I spent many months recovering. I did little else except sleep, work and read. 2012 was a complete write-off for me.

2013 has been different. There are on-going medical issues and will be forever, from what I’m told, but I’m not going to focus on any of that. This post is about achievements. Despite the set-backs, I have had achievements.

I completed the editing course and received my diploma. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when that happened.

I have edited and published two anthologies — Night Terrors and Tomorrow — under the name Karen Henderson.

And in recent months, I have started writing again. I have written half a manuscript for younger readers, which has a working title of Haunted House and I have written four chapters of book 3 of The Land of Miu series — The Lion Gods.

At present, I am averaging about 800 words a day, which (to me) is brilliant. It is important not to pressure myself into a corner, so I made the decision to write 450 words a day. And, if I do miss a day (which is rare) I don’t beat myself up over it.

Writing, for me, used to be a way of spending every spare moment. I would think about writing while at work or on the train. I would dream about writing at night. I would sit long into the night and lose myself in worlds of my own making. But then, I started to feel pressured and writing became a chore. When that happened, I lost the joy and stopped writing.

I’m not interested in going back to that. Not ever!

So, when I write, I do it to relax. I want to enjoy what I’m doing and never want to feel pressured in any way. If I write 200 words and it’s just not coming together, then I’ll stop and try again tomorrow (when I’ll probably scrap those words and start again). However, I’m finding that the words flow if I don’t over commit myself and I’m pleased about that. I’ll go with it until both the manuscripts I’ve mentioned above are completed.

Short Story Tips

I’m experiencing serious problems with two short stories I’m writing. One is for younger readers, 9 to 12 year olds, and the other is for readers in their late teens. The problem is the same in each story, which tells me something. The problem is actually me, or the way I write — not the story itself.

This afternoon I set about researching tips for writing short stories in the hope that the problem can be fixed. Lots of the information I’ve read today is common sense and most of it I’ve read before. Having said that, I feel a writer can forget the basics when attempting to put together a strong story. And it’s also possible to get caught up in what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Nothing really helped me until I came upon Short Story Writing Tips by Short Story Group (website appears to have disappeared). There are five tips, but I will only quote one of them:

Have a clear theme. What is the story about? That doesn’t mean what is the plot line, the sequence of events or the character’s actions, it means what is the underlying message or statement behind the words. Get this right and your story will have more resonance in the minds of your readers.

This simple paragraph helped me to realise that the themes of my two stories have been lost in the telling. The story is fine, the author (that’s me) has lost sight of the theme. That’s the problem! That’s why I can’t fix them!

Now, armed with this knowledge I’ll be able to revise my stories again and this time, hopefully, get them back on track.

Canoeing, Gaia, the 17th Century and the Future

What do canoeing, Gaia, the 17th century and the future have in common? They are all featured in my current writing projects.

It’s been a while since I mentioned my actual writing and today I feel the need to clarify where I’m at and where I’m heading with these four projects. The clarification if for my benefit more than yours. 😀

The Canoeing (Mis)Adventure is a story for children. It is being written for a specific market and must be between 10,000 and 12,000 words in length. I’ve reached the half way mark. Problem is, I’ve been there for a while! I know where the story is heading and I know exactly how it will end, but the middle doesn’t give a toss about the required word length. The story wants to finish around 6,500 words. I know I should push on and finish the story and worry about publisher requirement later, but the lack of words is stopping me. How stupid is that?!

Wynter’s Boundaries is a short story for young adults/adults. It will be published in the upcoming Hope anthology later in the year. However, when the editor finished splashing the manuscript with her red pen, I found her comments overwhelming and daunting. At first I felt the story was beyond repair and actually considered withdrawing it from the anthology. However, not wanting to make rash decisions I put the manuscript away and let the problem(s) roll around in my mind for several weeks. Now I’m able to see fixes are available to improve the story. . .and my crushed confidence.

Whispering Caves is a novel-length manuscript for adults. It is a story I have revised many times. The characters are well known to me, almost to the point where I sometimes forget they are not real people. The problem with this manuscript is that I edited and revised it so much that I ruined it. Every attempt to rewrite it from scratch goes nowhere because the story starts long before my starting point in the manuscript. For that reason, I have decided to write the prequel first. When it is written, this untitled manuscript will be a solid foundation for the new, improved Whispering Caves.

And this leads me to the fourth project. This one is also untitled. There are no notes, no planning, but nameless characters and some crazy events are distinct in my mind. They roll around in that vast vacancy where my brain should be and I’m beginning to see a story set in the future, our future, that is somewhat chilling to think about. I already know the beginning and end, the middle is quickly falling together too. I think I’ll be compelled to write notes soon. I’ve always been an avid planner, however I have a feeling that the most planning I’ll be doing for this project is writing down a few notes, working out a few names and dates and then just writing.

Four projects. All of varying lengths, genres and audience. I’m usually a one-manuscript-at-a-time kind of girl but variety is the spice of life and I think I’m going to have four open projects from this point on. I’ll swap and change between them as I see fit, according to mood, timing and whatever takes my fancy. The prospect of doing this actually makes me feel positive! As long as I write, does it matter?

Oh, I just realised that I haven’t covered all my projects, so now I’m going to throw a fifth one into the equation.

Cat’s Paw is the second book in The Land of Miu series. The manuscript has been completed but it needs a final edit. I intend to do that once I’ve finished reading the book I’m currently reading. Then it will be ready for publication.

Accepted: Amunet’s Gift

I’m proud to announce my story, Amunet’s Gift, has been accepted for publication in 100 Stories for Queensland. The anthology will be published on 8 March 2011 and all proceeds will be donated to the survivors of the recent floods in Queensland. This is a great cause, so please be sure to purchase a copy of the book when it is released.

I will make an announcement when the anthology is available, with all the appropriate links.

Varuna The Writers’ House

Varuna The Writers’ House is situated close to me, but I had never heard of it until today. I’ve spent some time today going through the awards, competitions and events and feel this website could be useful to me.

I have already put my name forward to be added to their mailing list. Unfortunately, they had the Sydney Writers’ Festival last weekend and the Sunday program was of interest to me, but I missed out which is a shame.

However, there is a short story program coming up that I’m thinking of submitting to. A selection of stories will be published in an anthology in 2011 in Scribe’s (not associated with me) New Australian Stories 2.0. I have to write a short story first!