Resolution: Conclusions

So, right off the ball, we can see that I’m a little behind with my New Year’s Resolutions; it will all make sense in a few minutes.

I find the whole idea behind New Year’s Resolutions mildly amusing. We literally have the power to changes ourselves or our lives whenever we want to, we don’t need to buy a new calendar to do it. In fact, to me, it would make more sense to make changes at the start of a Lunar New Year than a Calendar one, and I’m not even that into Astrology.

With that in mind, I had planned a few foolish things to say. I actually did tell a few people I wanted to learn the violin, to my chagrin most of them thought it was a good idea.

Jokes aside, I decided that this year I would try to come to a few conclusions.

I’m not talking about marriage or careers or serious things like that, but there are a few UFOs in my life that I think deserve my attention (for clarification I mean ‘UnFinished Objects’ when I use the term UFO).

When it comes to craft supplies, I am a collector and a hoarder. I am definitely a person for whom collecting craft supplies and using them are two different hobbies.

A few things I have floating around:

  • A crocheted rainbow baby blanket (the baby I was making it for was lost to stillbirth, so I haven’t had the heart to finish it)
  • A housecoat that I started crocheting late last year
  • A vest that I started crocheting early last year
  • Something with some awesome moustache print fabric that I bought but didn’t know what to do with (and ditto for a beautiful piece of black fabric with a hot pink waterlily print)
  • Assorted other jobs and messes that I have become adept at ignoring

With all those projects in mind, I have decided that I will spend some time trying to complete some projects this year. They are adding to my mental load and it isn’t good for me.

I’m one of those people with a perpetual to-do list and the jobs shuffle about like the ‘star in a reasonably priced car’ list on Top Gear. When the list becomes too long, I can’t decide what to do, so I end up doing nothing at all. Not a particularly productive position.

So, my goal this year is to conclude some of those projects.

So far I have completed the crocheted vest and decided what to make with the moustache fabric. Additional projects (which have been completed from start to finish) included redesigning a section of my living area that was bothering me and crocheting an octopus for my daughter’s birthday cake.

I’ll try to keep you up to date with some concluded projects as the year rolls on.

Wishing you all a wonderful year,



Bad Reviews

The other morning, I made a mistake.

I found, and read, a bad review.

It was a 258 word burn so fierce I almost needed an ice bath to recover.

My instinctive response to the review was to question myself and my writing – is it really as bad as this person said it was? I did say the book was set in my home town, but did I overdo it for other readers? Have I failed to represent other Indie Authors well and respectably? The parting comment said they may never touch another indie book, this particularly hurt as I would hate for other authors to lose out on income because of my work not measuring up.

The second part of my response was to wonder why on earth someone would post such a brutal review after several years of not reviewing a single book on Goodreads, especially when they gave that book five stars and everyone else thought that was a load of drivel….

Anyway, being that it was the morning of a convention and I had to put my ‘My books are great, you should buy them all’ face on about an hour after reading the review, I didn’t have time to internet stalk the reviewer.

Consequently, I decided to wax philosophical.

This was one negative review; just a few days earlier, someone had put a note on my Facebook page to say they had read that very same book and thoroughly enjoyed it. This led me to reason ‘You can’t be everyone’s Choc-mint Slice’.

Choc mint slice framed

Yes, it’s a shameless rip from other similar phrases, but I made it my own, so nobody can sue me.

Just as you won’t be everyone’s best friend, not everyone will like your work. You have to realise that and accept it for what it is. Sometimes that will be genre based – people who like mystery novels won’t necessarily like cozy mystery novels and if, like me, you can’t stick to one genre, but try to cover several, people who like one of your titles, may not like the others!

Maybe the prime slice in your life doesn’t involve mint cream and a chocolate topping (I’m also quite partial to a good ol’ jelly slice), but we all have our favourites and not everyone will share yours.

The question is, then, whether that should matter to you.

Writing books is therapeutic for me, partly because focussing on fictional problems helps distract me from those in the real world. It takes me on a journey where I get to buzz across the country, spending weekends with awesome people (convention guests and attendees both) to sell my books. Just last weekend I exhibited next to an author I completely idolised as a teenager.

Out of all that, I am enjoying my time and I know that there are other people (who aren’t related to me or know me on a personal level) who enjoy reading my books. If someone doesn’t like it, they probably weren’t the correct target audience anyway.

So take it away peeps, not everyone will like what you do, but if you enjoy it, keep doing it anyway.

You can’t be everyone’s choc-mint slice.


Covering Covers

cover art 1

So, you’ve written your book, reviewed and read it, had someone else read it (to make sure it makes sense to someone other than you) and now you’re ready for cover art. What fun!

Sometimes I think that cover art can be almost as tough as writing the book itself and on this last one I almost wished I’d purchased a pre-made cover and wrote a book to match it!

Because, of course, your book will be judged on its cover.

The cover art draws people into your story and has to give at least a vague inclination of what the story is about. You do not put the cover of the risqué couple with the backdrop of the Scottish highlands on your novel about an alien invasion of Uluru.

The book I am currently covering is humorous take on parenting with the underlying tale of a mother suffering from anxiety. Oh, and magic, just for fun. My inability to choose a defined genre to work in makes it difficult to accurately represent my work in the cover.

For this book, I toyed with some pop art ideas, thinking that would show the wacky side, but in the end I decided to go with a kitchen bench – a messy, chaotic kitchen bench, because that’s parenthood.

I print my books with Ingram Spark, who send a template for your cover art, so I used one of those, took a photo in my messy, chaotic kitchen and went from there.

Yes, I could have wiped down my kitchen bench before I took the photo, if this was a book about finding love in a small country town, I would have cleaned the bench, put a crystal vase of fresh cut roses next to the coffee machine and gone to the effort of ‘shopping out the power point, but that’s not what this book is about.


Above you’ll see the initial photo, step one after that was working out the best way to frame it for the cover. I found out that I can click a button and Photoshop will create a clipping mask for me. This might have been helpful three books ago, but it’s handy to know now.

Once you have the picture where you want it, add the words.

This is can be the really fun  challenging part, because you also need the fonts to match the cover art and the content. Your highlands romance would not work with a futuristic font, it just wouldn’t fit. There are literally millions of fonts to choose from, especially if you visit one of my favourite websites . I could spend hours on this website, probably almost as long as I spent writing the book, it’s a trap.

Important note: when selecting fonts from a site such as this, take note of whether the fonts are 100% free. If you choose a font that is free for personal use and use it on your cover art, you are breaching the terms of the creator of the font. Likewise, some fonts ask for a donation for their use. The people who design the fonts are creators, just like authors, if they’ve asked for payment for their work, you should respect that.

cover art 2

Back to the cover, as you can see in the examples above, the  font is important and can give a completely different feel to your book.

Once I had fiddled about, I decided the picture didn’t have enough colour, so I re-set the scene and took about twenty more photos to get one that I thought would work.

cover art 3

And then I had to change the font again, sigh.

cover art 4

And the addition of the spine writing….

cover art 5When writing on the spine, pay particular attention to the safety zones on the template. They allow up to 3mm for differences in printers, so if you take up the entire allotted spine space with text and their printer is out, your writing could end up on one of the covers, which is not pretty, or at all effective.

The writing on the spine should go from the top down, with the title first and the author name at the bottom of the spine.

cover art 6

When I reached this stage, I asked for help. I know my strengths and I know my limitations and I know that my graphic designer friends are much better at cover art than I am. I also know the importance of repaying favours in kind, or in wine and chocolate.

The suggestions from my wonderful friends included removing the ‘-‘ and changing to an ampersand on the cover. Someone also very kindly pointed out that I had cropped the image too much and took out the flame on the cook top.

And then more font changes.

After an hour or so on dafont (I told you it was dangerous), my (almost) final cover looks a little like this.

cover art 7

So, that’s how a cover evolves from concept, to work in progress to (almost) final.

I hope you enjoyed the journey. Kx

Write that book

An oft-quoted statistic of a friend of mine is that 80% of people feel they “have a book inside them. Of course the first hurdle in publishing is getting the wretched thing out.

If you search the internet you will find a lot of advice on writing; this blog isn’t necessarily about that part of the process, I’m aiming more to help on the logistics of publishing, but I will talk about the writing side from time to time.

Today I’m talking about one of the major differences in writing styles: whether you are a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’.

The term ‘pantser’ derives from the idiom ‘to fly by the seat of your pants’. Basically, you make it up as you go along. You start with a scene and roll on through from there with no idea where you are going or how you are going to get there.

A ‘plotter’ is the opposite of this. They plan each scene, they know how each will unfold and where breadcrumbs need to be left to bring the story to a full rounded position.

From the way I’ve structured the sentences above, you may be able to tell I’m a pantser. If not, go back and look for breadcrumbs 😉

I’m not sure if either style is better, it can probably purely come down to personal preference, but there may be writing genres more suited to one style over the other. For example a fantasy might be better off if left to unfurl of its own accord, but for a mystery, you might need to plot so you can leave the gun in the room before it starts smoking.

More important than your writing style, I believe, are your writing habits.

When and where do you write? Do you make time for it? Do you squeeze it in where you can? Do you get distracted easily or can you work while a marching band rolls through your office?

The best advice I can give you is to make yourself sit down and write the wretched book. Sometimes it will hurt and sometimes you won’t know where you’re going, or (if you do know where you’re going) how you’re going to get there. The most important thing is to sit down and put pen to paper or fingers to keys or even start swiping those little android screens and build that word count.

My favourite quote on writing comes from Jodi Picoult –

You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.

So, get writing my friend and then come back later for tips on publishing 🙂


A new Paradigm

So, a lot of water has passed under the bridge, several lines have deepened on my forehead and a LOT has happened since I last posted.

My last blog post was a first chapter teaser for my first book, “Through the Fig Tree” after my first event at Supanova in Adelaide in November 2016.

In the twenty months since then I have written and published two more books (“Water off a Dragon’s Back” and “The Shadows of Miss Pring”) and I have exhibited at 5 additional events:

Adelaide OzComicCon (April 2017), Brisbane OzComicCon (September 2017), Adelaide Supanova (November 2017), Melbourne Supanova (April 2017) and Sydney Supanova (June 2017).

I have also begun to establish myself as an editor; doing rough line edits and overall structural edits for myself and other clients.

With that in mind, this blog will now become a place I send my editing clients for information on writing, publishing and navigating the editing process and feature updates on my writing and maybe little spoilers here and there.

Get ready for the new and improved!


Teaser Post

Hi all,

To celebrate being at Supanova – Pop Culture festival in Adelaide this weekend, I am sharing the first chapter of Through The Fig Tree as a bit of a Teaser for you all.

Chapter 1

Violet (Prologue)

She turned to watch him leave, her emotions reeling from their farewell. She was sitting on a bench in the park, surrounded by magnificent trees and plants, watching the man she loved walk away from her. He left the path and began walking across the grass toward a tree; from where she was sitting it looked as though he would walk into it and she nearly gasped aloud.

It took her a second to realise that he had not collided with the tree – she had heard no thump – but he was gone. Not just that he had left her; it would take her days to come to terms with that, but he had not physically reappeared on the other side of the tree. She spun around, searching, but could not see his blonde head anywhere. She turned back and started to run toward the tree, utterly confused and more than a little scared, trying to find an explanation for his disappearance.

She approached the tree from the same direction he had, looking ahead to where she thought he should be. They had been in a clear area of the park and there were only a few other trees around, yet she could see no trace of him.

She approached the tree where she had last seen him, looking at it closely. It was a Moreton Bay Fig; it must have been relatively young as it was only about a metre around, not like some of the older ones she had seen in the park. She examined all the gaps between the giant roots, half expecting to find an Alice hole to fall down. She circled the tree, twice, and returned to the point where she thought he had disappeared to examine the tree from the ground up.

She was standing in a nook between two of the giant roots which were about the height of her knees. She examined the layer of twigs, leaves and litter in the gaps, but there weren’t any signs that they had been disturbed. There was a broken beer bottle still firmly buried in the twigs at the entrance to the opening and a plastic bag holding a small puddle of water and dirt. She ventured in cautiously and then paused as she noticed something glittering at the point where the two roots met the trunk. She realised there was something shiny nestled in the leaf litter, knelt down for a closer look and froze when she realised what it was.

It was a silver locket with an emerald on the front.


*          *          *          *          *


Their romance had begun through a series of accidents, ones that he had been in, and had come into bloom over four months.

The first time they met, he was being wheeled into the emergency room at Sacred Heart Hospital in a wheelchair with his arm in a sling. She was immediately struck dumb by his golden hair and the chocolate eyes set in his softly smiling face. Of course it was a slightly droopy smile which could probably be attributed to the pain killers he had been given for his injured arm, but she liked him for it anyway.

“Hey V,” called Mariusz, the paramedic behind the chair, “I think this one is for you,” he winked at her over the patient’s head.

She stifled a laugh; she had known Mariusz and his wife for a few years now and he was always trying to set her up with people he brought in, or family friends, or the person he sat next to at the football on the weekend. He made his opinion that she needed a man in her life very well known.

“Hi Mariusz, what have you got for me?”

“This fine young gentleman came off the worse for wear in a battle with an escalator.”

She looked at him, puzzled.

“An escalator?” She queried.

“Yes, I believe I had an issue with the dismount.”

The voice came from the chair, she had trouble placing the accent, it wasn’t quite the local drawl, there was a slight hint of the British Isles, but it wasn’t definite.

“Ah good, your voice is unaffected. My name is Violet, I will be looking after you today Mr….”

“Bond. James Bond.”

She looked at him speculatively.

“You’re right, I’m kidding. It’s really Daniel Connery, but I figure I am nearly an actor from a Bond movie, so I like to dream a little.”

She rolled her eyes at him.

“Thanks Mariusz, I’ll take him from here,” She said, taking the handles of the wheel chair.


On that first occasion, he managed to get away with only a sprained wrist, no cast needed.


A few weeks later, he turned up with a broken ankle.

“A treadmill got the better of me,” he said, grinning sheepishly.


She saw him in a corridor on the day he had his cast removed, then again the next day, when he came in for X-rays on his shoulder.

“What on earth have you done this time?” She asked him.

“Well, there was this bicycle,” he began, “and this track…”

He had taken a BMX on a track and fallen off on a banked turn, resulting in a suspected broken collar bone.

“You are a little accident prone, aren’t you Daniel?” Violet asked while wheeling him back to the ED after his shoulder X-ray.

“Well Violet, the truth is, I would do just about anything to see your pretty face.”

“Ha,” she laughed, “you really don’t have to go to such lengths just to see me.”

He didn’t need any further encouragement and before she knew it she was at one of the swankiest restaurants in town, wearing one of her nicest dresses and sitting with a man she could quite easily love.

It wasn’t just his eyes, or his hair, it was his laugh, the accent she still couldn’t quite place and of course, his smile.

“So where did you grow up,” She asked when the enigmatic accent finally got the better of her.

“Here and there,” he said, “my family travelled a lot when I was younger; defence force family, that sort of thing.”

It sort of explained the accent, but she still felt there was more to it.

“What about you?” he asked.

“Me? I’ve been in this town my whole life; I’ve never even left the state!”

“Maybe one day I’ll take you to my favourite beach; it is out of this world!” He told her, “Do you like fishing? You can catch some amazing rainbow fish there.”

She was swept away on the tide of his enthusiasm and was looking forward to spending more time with him when he dropped her home that night.

Over the next few weeks they spent more and more time together, but he was ever the gentleman and they never shared more than a few chaste kisses.


One evening after they had been seeing each other for about two months, he arrived at her door with a bunch of red, red roses. They were large, open blooms with a scent that would blast away the odour of a week old garbage bin. The roses were arranged in a bowl with a small, wooden box nestled in the middle

“Oh,” she gushed, “They are beautiful.”

“Beautiful roses for a beautiful lady,” he said.

He reached into the arrangement and pulled out the box, “This is for you.”

Her heart was pounding as he held out the box. When she didn’t reach for it, he placed the roses down on her hall table and opened the jewellery box, very slowly.

Nestled inside was a silver heart on a chain with a deep green emerald set in the delicately worked design.

“The emerald is green, like your eyes, and my heart is like the silver, it shows that you will forever be in my heart.”

Her eyes misted at this statement, it was the closest he had ever come to saying that he loved her.

“Oh Daniel,” she gushed, “It is lovely, thank you!”

She leant forward, breathing in his aftershave as he fastened the necklace around her throat. It was a short chain and the pendant sat nestled in the dimple between her collarbones.

“There,” he said, “The perfect place for my heart to rest.”

She felt a warmth settle in her belly and a deep feeling of happiness rose over her.

“I love you, Daniel Connery,” she declared, reaching her arms around his waist and tilting her face towards him.

He leant down and kissed her gently.

“I love you too, Violet Truman,” he said, only to her, it sounded as though there was more sadness in his voice than happiness.


Just weeks later, she had sat with him in the park as he prepared to leave her.

“Violet, I’m sorry, I have to return to my parents,” he told her, emotionlessly, “I have heard that my father is facing some trouble and my family need me.”

“Where are you going?” She asked, “Can’t I come with you?”

“No, that would be impossible, what would you do?” he asked her, “You have your work here, and your friends, it would turn your life upside down.”

“You have to know that no-one here means as much to me as you do now,” she told him.

“I know, but I can’t do that to you. Our relationship cannot go anywhere from here and it would be cruel for me to give you any other impression. Violet, we come from two different worlds.”

“Is this about money?” she spat at him and drew away, unspeakably hurt by the implication that she was not good enough for him, “Obviously, you don’t think that I belong in your world, not that you have given me any kind of chance. Clearly, I am not worthy of your heart.”

She unclasped her necklace with trembling hands and thrust it toward him. He looked utterly baffled and did not move to take it.

“You do not understand, sweet Violet, my heart will ever be yours.”

“And mine can never be free with yours across my shoulders.”

She tossed the necklace to him and he moved instinctively to catch it against his chest.

“I understand,” he said, sadly. He took her hand, kissed it, and breathed, “Goodbye. I’m sorry.”

Then he turned and left her – shattered – with the bench all that anchored her to reality.


Now she stood, staring down at the betraying sparkle of the cold green stone in the dappled sunlight under the tree.

Bitterly, she thought back to his comment about it being like his heart, did he mean his was twisted like the design, or was he simply cold like the silver?

Her gaze wandered up, she planned to peer up through the branches to get a view of the sky overhead, but when she got to the height of her belly, she caught sight of a strange pattern.

At the point where the two roots she stood between reached the tree, a raised row of bark extended up the trunk, converging just above her head. At the height of her belly button was a raised round gnarl, with three concentric circles around it. She bent down to look more closely at the gnarl, slowly reaching out a finger to touch it.

She moved her hand closer and placed her index finger on the centre of the protruding gnarl. It felt smooth and warm, and she was startled by a distinct click when she applied pressure on the spot.

She examined the tree trunk again, noticing a slight glow coming from the right hand side of the bark frame that she had not seen earlier. She blinked, wondering if she was suffering some sort of post traumatic shock. She pressed a finger toward the edge of the frame and pushed, the bark moved slowly inward, opening a larger gap between it and the trunk. She straightened slowly, unsure of what was happening.

She looked down to her feet, where the necklace lay resting in its bed of leaf litter. In hindsight, she thought, there may have been more to his story than Daniel had told her and she should keep the necklace until she found him and made him explain everything. She bent down and picked it up, then pushed it deep into her pocket, she couldn’t bring herself to wear it again yet.

She wondered what she should do. On one hand, she had absolutely no idea what would lay behind the strange doorway in the tree, but she knew it was unlikely to be like anything she had ever known. On the other hand, she was absolutely certain that the man she loved, or thought she had loved, had told her he was leaving and had disappeared through this tree.

She knew there was something he wasn’t telling her and she was determined that she was going to find out what it was.

Her uncertainty resolved, she straightened, placed her right hand against the door and pushed.


So, there you go.

If my story sounds like something that would be of interest to you, you can get it on Kindle or pick up a signed copy at Supanova this weekend for my show price of $15. If you do miss out, please feel free to send me a message through my Facebook page.

Enjoy life and be happy folks xo


First post of the new world order

Hello to my followers!

Just a quick message to all, I have now published Through the Fig Tree on Amazon ( as it is enrolled in Amazon Select, I can no longer have the chapters up on here. The good news is, you can download the book for free from 25/05/16 until 28/05/16.

So, this blog will now follow my writing updates, editing, maybe requests for Beta readers, you  never know your luck 🙂


Ramblings of a Wordsmith