Fiction Writing Tips – 1 year in

  1. Don’t go on and on about the weather. Just because your character is witnessing the mother of all summer rainstorms doesn’t mean you need to describe it for half a page. Readers are here for character development. In particular, characters with giant flaws that we can all relate to.
  2. Don’t start with a prologue if you can reasonably add the backstory into your chapter dialogue. Why? Prologues are often just backstory that doesn’t even drive the plot and if something you write doesn’t serve your greater story arc, cut it!
  3. Use “said” as a dialogue time 95% of the time. Any other verb in replace of this is just you being lazy about describing the actions in between the dialogue that show character emotion. If you do REALLY need to use a verb other than said, avoid “grumbled”, “gasped”, “cautioned”, “lied” and “asseverated.” Speaking of dialogue tag tips, never modify said with adverbs, you really don’t need to say “she admonished gravely” if you can carry the grave tone in the wording of the dialogue itself this will involve the reader more fully in the plot.
  4. Reign in your use of exclamation marks. If I see one in the first chapter its either a middle grade novel or you didn’t use a quality editor.
  5. Avoid terms such as “he suddenly felt overcome by (insert random emotion here)” an “all hell broke loose” if you can show the readers that shits about to go down they are going to rate you five stars. if not, rework your draft.
  6. Avoid italics to convey tone, never use bold in your work either. Yes, even if they are yelling. Above all, don’t spell our regional dialect phonetically. This just kills the pacing of your scene.
  7. Avoid overly detailing the physical attributes of your characters. No one needs to know that the main character has five freckles on his right cheek but seven on his left. Outside of a hint at eye colour and ethnicity, let the characters personality and quirks inform the readers idea of their physical appearance. Lets be real, avoid over describing anything in your novel, setting, emotions, how the sewage treatment plant smells. These distractions don’t help with pacing, and the goal of your characters is the priority.
  8. Cut the fluff! If you would skip it when you are reading a book in the same genre it needs to go! Sometimes we writers get a wee bit excited by the sudden bursts of creativity that can overcome us and we suddenly HAVE TO ADD a little tidbit of detail that doesn’t serve to advance the plot or develop our characters in any way. This is okay, but they can’t be in your final draft.
  9. Lastly, if it sounds like rubbish when you read the paragraph out loud you need to rewrite it. No if’s, buts or any other whining. It needs to be rewritten. I did 24 drafts of my first novel ‘Awkward Honesty’ and looking back, I wish I’d done more. I probably could have got a traditional book deal if I had.

Tips for professional email writing

 

In my humble opinion, most people manage emails well. As compared to social media users who are not managing amazingly well. In my non-writing career I regularly correspond with my coworkers and network contacts and even when we have to discuss sensitive issues it all seems to be discussed with good grace. However, because of the ubiquity of conversing via a digital medium, sometimes emails can get the better of us.

Below is my own personal tips to assist you to email your colleagues and peers in a consistent non-biased manner.

So, firstly, what is email? A communication medium that transmits electronic information.  Guys, email is basically a formal letter. Treat it as such because it can be used against you in court. Your digital signature holds up these days.

Who should I cc into my emails? Management, your direct team leader, your co-workers, a professional connection involved in the project or case work? If it’s not relevant (generating junk email for your peers) or it’s breaching your companies privacy policy regarding client or company information maybe you just shouldn’t include them in the correspondence.

Should I use my work email to talk with friends? Nope. And if you do need to chat informally with your work mates it’s a good idea to just pick up the phone instead of wasting company time gossiping or making weekend plans.

Is it really necessary to review my email before I hit send? Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes! A long time ago in the days of hand written letters we allocated on average an hour and a half to the task. Most of the emails I receive have barely two minutes of thought put into them. And yes, that short cycle of preparation means we are now more efficient in our interactions but that also poses greater risks of misinterpretation. Take an extra two minutes to clear your email of jargon, emojis and inappropriate language. While you’re at it, run spell checker..  

 

Camp NANOWRIMO July 2019

Project: Pretty Liar

Book #6 in The Girl Diaries

Cover concept:

The Girl Diaries (2)

Scene I’m proud of:

Thursday 9th October

7:09pm

Out Thursday night shopping with my lovely friends Tegan, Jeanne and my boyfriend Chuck.

7:10 pm

Hardly!

7:31 pm

Tegan, Chuck and Jeanne have walked off somewhere and ditched me.

7:50 pm

Met up with Tara and we are going to go down to Fun Zone. I forgot to bring my mobile so it’s not like I can call my mates to find out where they are anyway.

8:11pm

Hanging out the front of Fun Zone with Tara, and some girls she knows from her Mums church group Em and Keira. Not that they are dressed like they would ever set foot in a church and finally Chuck shows up after Tegan’s and Jeanne had also ditched him. I decided not to mention feeling rejected and instead suggested we played car racing and the DDR machine for a bit.

 

8:19 pm

Chuck convinced me to play pool instead, but we were interrupted by one of Tara’s older mates showing up before we had set up the rack even. He exchanged hellos with her and her other friends and then headed back outside and lit up a smoke.

 

9:04 pm

He stood out the front and chain smoked for a half hour easy. Casually chatting with Tara-Louise who leaned on the bike racks beside the smoking area. He was clearly quite off his face stoned given the crimson tone of his sclera’s. I stared at him in between taking my shots as he took drag after drag. He must have thought I was checking him out because he introduced himself as Trent to me and then offered me a hit. I declined with a stifled laugh. I was checking him out. Just not in the usual way. Eventually Chuck bummed a smoke off him because he couldn’t handle nicotine withdrawal any longer and after they both finished their cigarettes he invited Trent to come play pool with us inside. They seemed to get on well, they were certainly conversing heaps in between taking shots. I decided no one would miss me while I went to the bathroom to reapply lipstick and didn’t bother to let the boys or Tara-Lousie know when I walked off. I stood and watched a couple of younger kids play Mortal Kombat for a few minutes because they had amped up the gore factor by unlocking some lizard looking character. Eventually that grew dull also and I took back up my original mission to sort out my lip situation. As I passed the row of Sega games towards the toilets I saw Josh gearing up to play laser tag with some of his basketball mates. He smiled and waved at me, so I gave him my best nonchalant nod and kept moving to the back of the building. Seriously, why does Josh have to be so good looking? I think I’m completely over feeling attracted to him and he grins at me like I’m the most amazing human being on the planet and then I spend all my energy just fighting the impulse to reciprocate his enthusiasm. It’s crazy. I hate that he still evokes any sort of emotional response from me. I wish I knew how to turn off the part of my limbic system that still finds him attractive.

9:41 pm

We’re all out of money now so Tara-Louise got one of her friends who has a car to give Chuck a lift home from Fun Zone but there wasn’t enough room for me so then her mate Trent who was swigging a beer at that point piped up and offered to walk me back to my house. No one offered me a better alternative, so I took him up on his proposal.

10:02 pm

It was nice of him to offer to walk me home. He said it wasn’t out of his way but I’m sure that it is. We ambled along silently for a good long while until we passed Emmaus school and I told him about working here sometimes with Mum. So, we detoured over the locked fence and I showed him the sports hall I help clean in the afternoons. There was a huge pile of leaves across the path we took to get back out of the school grounds. I took the opportunity to kick them everywhere. Trent laughed at me and then joined in. We hadn’t even made much of a go dispersing the leaf litter when he slipped and landed on his back crushing the pile completely. I didn’t mean to laugh as loudly as I did but once I started I couldn’t stop, which resulted in him retaliating and pulling me down into the autumn pile with him. We lay on the ground for a minute just giggling at how childish we were behaving and when Trent repositioned himself and sat up I followed his lead taking it as a sign we should head off again. That wasn’t his intention though because he turned to face me, pulled a twig from the complete mess that was my hair at this point and then leaned over and kissed me.

10:15pm

I was not expecting him to do that. He tasted like way too many cigarettes and lingering Carlton Dry. I pulled back and stood up hastily flinging my arms up in an exasperated why? I didn’t get a chance to censor the next words that came out of my mouth until I’d heard my self say, “What the actual fuck, you just spent 2 hours with me and my boyfriend?” And then I clamped my hand over my mouth mortified at the language I’d used in my shock at suddenly being kissed in the middle of a Catholic school garden bed. He smiled broadly and replied “You’re cute” which only served to make me feel more outraged. “That’s hardly a reason” I stated as I began brushing all the dirt and grime off myself and started walking towards the road again. He jogged after me and offered no apology, only saying “You’re really cute, is that a better reason?” I didn’t bother replying. I was angry at more than his justifications. I’m not cute. I have incredibly gorgeous friends in fact and they don’t get kissed constantly by random boys. Being cute isn’t the issue. Boys always tell me that I look attractive and that’s why they want to get with me. I don’t believe that’s what’s going on at all. I think I have a reputation for being easy and that’s what they find so attractive. Case in point. Trent. Trent who got on well with my actual boyfriend. Trent who shouldn’t be telling me I’m cute. The only reason this even happened is likely due to Tara-Louise telling him about me before tonight. I slipped back over the fence and marched over to the curb and pressed the button on the crosswalk and then I felt Trent stop beside me and I looked up into the goofy smile on this idiots’ face. He’s hardly going to apologise, and I still had a 5 block walk home so I looked him straight in the eyes and I asked him in a measured tone “Will you still walk me home if I won’t put out?” He pretended to think about it until the crosswalk lit up green for us and then he swung his arm across my shoulders and told me “Sure thing cutie” with a mischievous glint in his eyes that I chose to ignore as I ducked out of his one-armed hug and started across the intersection towards home.

10:40pm

We got back to my house without further mishap. I made a point to walk inside and lock my screen door behind me before I said goodnight to him. He didn’t look pissed off, he looked amused as he said “Night then cutie” and he blew me a kiss before heading off home himself.

11:01 pm

The hot shower isn’t making me feel less annoyed.

11:12 pm

All we did was kiss once though. Why do I feel so crappy?

11:41pm

That’s not any great achievement to only kiss someone once when you have a boyfriend.

11:50pm

In my bed. Crying. Lots.

Excerpt (draft one) from Hearts Unbound – Book Nine of The Girl Diaries

Some CampNaNoWriMo stuff I needed to store because I’m not on my PC and I can’t remember my email password.

 

14th February

My valentines sucked

 

Sunday 15th February

Shift at work was miserable. I was heartbroken and hungover.

You busy?

Just got off work

Come over?

I can but I’ve got work later.

Liams angry at Wyatt for going out with that girl in your ensemble group.

Ayla?

Yes.

Why.

Because he’s in love with you and Liam told him to leave you be. He thinks Wyatt is doing it to make you jealous.

Well, it’s not working. It’s just weird. Poor Ayla.

*Drama between Liam and Summer. I know it’s my fault because Wyatt came over my house last night

I left Summers house and thought about walking over to Chucks place. I didn’t want to go home. I got to his street and changed my mind, I couldn’t talk to him about this. I found myself absentmindedly going over to Kacies.

I rang the doorbell and her little brother answered. We’re the same height even though he’s years younger than me. He grinned and I was shocked at home much he looked like his big sister, they even have the same indent on there chins.

“ I’m here to see Kacie.”

“ She’s at work.”

“ Oh…”

“ Dad’s just gone to pick her up, do you want to wait in her room?”

“ Is that okay?”

“I don’t care,” he said walking back to the lounge leaving the door wide open, he plonked back on the couch picked up the controller and unpaused his game. The sound of shooting filled the hallway and I closed the door and made my way towards the stairs.

*turns out Kacie has had sex with Leyton, Jake and even Owen because he thought Delia dumped him. Nope. Awkward.

“When did all that happen?” I asked, genuinely impressed at home many boys she had slept with in such a short time. She’d been a virgin when we first met, could that really only be four months ago?

*Kacie and I talked about the Wyatt Ayla drama and I called my mum to tell her where I was and that I’d be home early tomorrow to get ready for work. I needed a uniform that fit me, Kacie was two sizes smaller than I am.

Chuck sent me a text as soon as I got off the phone with my mum.

Where are you?

Kacies.

Why?

Why not.

Wanna come to mine? Mum let me buy Woodys.

“Do you mind if we take this sleepover to your besties house.”

“Chucks not my bestie you know.”

“What is he to you?”

About the only guy I don’t ever want to sleep with.

Harsh.

No, it’s good. We can just hang out it’s great, plus he has you and he really loves you.

Why’d he try to hook up with Adalind then?

He was angry, but at least it helped him realise there is a difference between being with someone you love and just hooking up. He didn’t understand how meaningless it was before, before he’d only ever been with you.

“ Should I feel jealous?” I don’t. I’m worried that means something.

“ I wish I didn’t feel jealousy, it’s not productive.”

 

Monday 16th February

Chuck and I went back to my place so I could shower and dress for work. Mum invited him to join her at the movies while I had my shift. Geez mum, way to go overboard with being nice. Weirdly enough Chuck said yes. I couldn’t control my jaw dropping.

*unprotected sex and he came inside me*

“ I’m so sorry, I started pulling out and you dug your nails in.”

“ I don’t even remember.”

“ I came in you, shit you’re not on anything.”

“ I know but wow it’s so much better.”

“What?”

Theres no pain afterwards.”

“You always felt pain after?” Chuck looked horrified.

“With condoms yeah that’s why I always wanted to shower, it burned, I just thought it was normal.”

“No, it really isn’t. You ever think maybe you’re allergic to latex or something?”

 

Tuesday 17th February

Class. Home. Doctors visit to grab the morning after pill. Went to Chucks after school and noticed Adalind was there smoking with Chuck on the steps.

“Hey, sorry I didn’t tell you I was coming over.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I’m leaving anyway I just came to grab this,” she held up a pack of filters.

“Nice seeing you,” I said and squeezed past them to go and grab a cup of water so I could take these tablets.”

“I have to take two now and two at six,” I told chuck when he joined me in the kitchen.

“Did you have to get your mum to give permission?”

“No,” My sister pretended to be my mum and gave consent to my GP but Chuck didn’t need to know about that mortifying lecture she gave me about safe sex. I was still reeling myself.

I didn’t keep any of the tablets down in the end and I threw up well into the night. Chuck suggested calling an ambulance at one point.

“No, then my mum will definitely find out what idiots we are and I don’t want to ruin how good it is with you guys.”

“She’s definitely warmed up to me since…”

“Since I cut myself?” I finished for him.

“That, yeah.”

“You’re allowed to talk about it, I’m definitely not going to do it again.” Because I’m never going to cheat on you and hate myself for it.

Wednesday 18th February

Didn’t go to school. Still felt way too nauseated. Mum asked me if I was pregnant when she got home from work and found me lying on the bathroom floor. I told her that I definitely wasn’t but she wasn’t convinced. Neither was I to be honest. Surely this nausea can’t just be from the morning after pill.

Wyatt called, apparently Ayla had told him I wasn’t at school.

“Because I’ve been puking, but hard to work on choreography when you can’t move your head without retching into a toilet bowl.”

“you always say exactly what you’re thinking don’t you?” Actually, I most definitely do not.

“ Why are you calling?”

“To see how you are.”
“ Alive, now can I go back to bed please,”

“You sure you don’t want me to bring you chicken soup.”

“I’d just projectile vomit it back up all over you Wyatt and I’m sure Ayla wouldn’t appreciate you playing nurse with me.”

Silence.

 

At the GP with Chuck and my mum. When the nurse called my name they both stood up to come in with me.

“I’m going in alone.” I told them and when neither of them sat down I pursed my lips, “ Fine I won’t see a doctor, I’ll just wait it out like I wanted to in the first place.”

“Take a pregnancy test at least, please.” My mother said and Chucks face went white.

“ I’m not pregnant.” I told them both before turning around to head into the treatment room. I wish saying that convinced myself.

 

Thursday 19th February

The maxalon needle my doctor gave me did wonders, also I’m not pregnant, or if I was I’m not anymore. My GP also gave me another dose of tablets, mifepristone this time rather than just the morning after pill and I woke up today with cramps and a period that wasn’t due.

Sitting in assembly being lectured by our deputy principal.

Thank god school ends early on Wednesdays.

Walked to the shops with jade and met up with Felix. Super awkward tension. After I got credit I texted Chuck to see if he was done for the day and suggested we head to the pool.

Eating Chips and chocolate.

“ Good to see you have your appetitie back.”

“I never thought I would eat again.”

“ Don’t be so dramatic,” Alistair said, “ you had food poisoning for one day.”

“Well it felt like a month,”

“You’ve just eaten enough food to last a month,” Leigh said joining us on the stands.

“ Is anyone else grossed out by those two?” Alistair asked and we followed his gaze to watch Wyatt and Ayla making out underneath one of the diving boards.

“I know how to fix it,” said Felix and he jumped in beside them creating a wave that splashed everyone and ruined the rest of my lunch.

“Want me to get you another serve?” Chuck asked looking at my soggy half eaten plate.

“No,” I got up and dumped the pack in the bin and walked over to where Kacie was sunbathing with some of her school mates.

“Sup viola girl,” Veronica said, her voice was bright but her sneer was evident.

“I’m actually doing violin this year?”

“Can’t even commit to an instrument,” she said and I shifted awkwardly. We both know she was questioning my commitment to something else. I’m just glad Chuck hadn’t overheard her.

“Don’t be such a cow, come tan with us Riss.” Kacie offered.

“I just burn.”

“I just freckle but it sure does feel good in the moment.”

Felix chose that moment to get out of the pool and shake off like a dog.

“Asswipe!” Veronica yelled at him and threw a shoe at him in exasperation. He ducked out of the way and her thong landed in the pool. Wyatt swam over and handed it back to her.

“I’m gonna head, you coming?” she asked Kacie who declined.

“Yeah, I’m done with swimming too, lets go somewhere cooler for the rest of the afternoon,” Chuck said and he handed me my bag and unused towel.

“Is that dry?” Felix asked hopefully. I threw the towel at his face.

“We could go to the movies?” I suggested. My last pay was just begging to be used frivolously.

“There’s a new vampire movie out, I’ll come if you guys go see that.”

“Don’t get enough sucking in real life huh?” Felix asked her and Kacie and I both shot him and angry look.

 

*At the movies Kacie gave both Chuck and Felix hickeys to prove how expert her real life sucking skills really are.

“Your turn then, she said to me after she finished and a shiny red welt was apparent just below the caotd triangle of Felix’s neck. Chucks hickey was lower, just above his clavicle.

“I’m good, I’ve no doubt you have superior skills.”

“She really doesn’t” Chuck whispered and he reached over to hold my hand again. I relaxed the moment he touched me, I had even realized how wound up I’d gotten watching Kacie suck on his skin.

“ I will have to go to work soon,” I told him, my eyes on the screen. I didn’t want to look at the hickey on his neck again, it looked painful and I definitely wasn’t going to kiss it better. I had been so shocked when he agreed to let her give him one at all.

“ Want me to walk you over?”

“nah, hang out with these guys. Try not to hook up with Felix while I’m gone.”

“haha.”

 

Friday 20th

I have awful handwriting.

School was okay. More department heads ranting at school. This time it was about kids continuing to smoke in the tunnels below the overpass. I left school one class early to meet up with Summer before she went to work. We totally smoked together under the overpass before getting chocolate frappes together.

Chuck took me on an actual date.

I wore a dress and everything was great until Wyatt showed up with Ayla at the same restaurant and they sat down with us. He was clearly stoned and decided to loudly proclaim his theories about aliens in the middle of the dinner rush.

“Ask him to go outside for a smoke,” I begged Chuck. People were staring.

“Lets just leave.”

“I can’t do that to Ayla.”

“You owe me,” I’ll probably owe you for the rest of my life.

Ayla ate her meal in silence and then she and I paid for the bill. The guys still hadn’t come back inside.

Wyatt was sharing a joint with Chuck in the parking lot.

“I want to go home,” I told them as we made our way over to the bike racks they were resting on beside the industrial bin.

“I’ll walk you,” they both offered at once. Sigh.

“It’s all good, Ayla and I can share an uber,” I told them and I took her hand and headed back out the front of the building.

I got home and wrote a poem called Stuck on You. I can’t ever show it to anyone because it’s all about how Wyatt can’t seem to get over me but I needed to get my unhappiness at this fact out anyways.

I’m sorry I love him more, I know it isn’t fair

To lead you on and care not for your despair.

My heart is already full, though it doesn’t always show

The ways in which I love him are more than I bear to know.

I can’t remember your embrace, while accepting his.

That’s why I deny your attention and hurt you like this.

If only you could give your heart to another

I’d gladly go back to treating you as a brother

But that’s unrealistic to wish for it seems

I have to settle for watching you rip apart at the seams.

According to his profile Jake is dating Melita again. Good. They deserve eachother. Sometimes I wonder why I bother with these social accounts at all. No one even tells you anything in real life anymore.

While I was busy not caring about what my ex is up to I heard the doorbell ring, I checked my phone. Nope no messages. It’s not that late, it’s probably for mum.

“Can you get that?” she called. What am I the butler?

I opened the door to see a very well dressed Wyatt. Why didn’t he wear that nice outfit to dinner though?

“I need you to do me a favor.” Not this again.

“Ayla isn’t answering and Liam and Summer have friends over.”

“How does this result in you being on my doorstep?”

“I don’t want to get high and hook up with anyone.”

“So you came here.” Great logic that is.

“Yeah, you don’t want to cheat, I don’t want to cheat. We can help eachother.”

Saturday 21st

As soon as Wyatt went home I messaged Chuck. Can I come over today?

Of course, you don’t have to ask. He reminded me.

I grabbed food on the way over and we curled up in his airconditioned room to watch movies.

“I wish I didn’t have to get to work.”

“ I wish you never had to get dressed.”

“ if I had a bike of my own I wouldn’t have to leave for another half an hour.”

“Buy one, you can always earn more money.”

“Will you help me pick one?”

“Yeah I’ll go check out a few shops while you’re on shift.

“You’re amazing.”

“Do amazing boyfriends do this?” he asked and he rolled me on top of his still naked body and pulled my nipple in between his teeth and bit down slightly. I inhaled sharply and felt his penis harden under my thigh. I kissed him and said, “I guess they do.”

Later that night.

I have a nice shiny new bike and Chuck and I raced over to Felix’s house on it. Jade was already there and in his pool when we arrived. Chuck beat me by at least three blocks. No one felt like drinking so we just swam until I figured it was late and I should head home.

“I could ride with you, stay over, finish what we started this morning before you left rudely.”

“I have to work early tomorrow.”

“Please,” I hate saying no to him.

“I could finish you off here, those two aren’t coming out of his room anytime soon.”

 

Sunday 22nd February

 

Monday 23rd February

I got zero sleep last night because chuck stayed over. Ever since we got back together all he wants to do is have sex or get head. He made me come eight times last night before he finally let me go to sleep. I didn’t mind then but I’m stupid sore now and just lifting a pot of water is making my abdominal muscles contract painfully. It’s mums birthday though so I’m going to make her poached eggs with fried tomatoes and spinach. Hoepfully. I’ve never made poached eggs before but I found a recipe for it and it doesn’t look that difficult.

At swimming carnival sunbaking with Ayla and Leigh. Tabitha is the only one of us who still had races, if they weren’t taking attendance I would have just gone home to sleep. I managed a first place in backstroke despite not having any rest for the past 36 hours.

“So have you spoke to Wyatt since the worst double date ever?” I asked.

“Yes, he admitted he was being a wanker and apologized.”

“I hope you told him you will never go anywhere with him when he’s off his face,” Leigh said, the set of her eyes cold and severe.

“I told him that.” Why do I doubt the sincerity in that statement though?

At sizzler with the pirate family.

I had to leave early, before dessert even to get to work. I’m approaching 42 hours with no sleep now, I don’t know how I am going to manage.

Tuesday 24th February

Got home from my shift, amazed that my till even balanced because I can barely remember anything outside my hazy state.

My phone is ringing. Noooo I just want to go to bed. But it’s Chuck.

“Hey,”

“is Wyatt over?”

“What, no, I just got back from work.”

“oh, I forgot.”

“I really need to go to sleep,” I told him.

“He’s dropping off a bag for me.”

“Why is he dropping it to my place?”

“he lives closer to you.”

“I’ll wait up,” I promised but I wasn’t happy about it.

 

Fell asleep on the bench outside and woke up when Wyatt was carrying me into my bed. He tried to climb in with me too but I hissed at him, “Just leave what Chuck asked for and go.”

“I thought we could roll one, I need your advice about Ayla.”

“I don’t want to get high I just want to sleep.”

“She’s still pissed at me though.”

“Maybe stop getting trashed every single day and just spend time with her then.”

Woke up to mum asking me if I’d seen her spare shoes. Yes I had, I wore them to work last week and accidentally left them at Chucks house. I didn’t want to tell her that so I pretended to help her look for them instead of going back to sleep.

Decided I was too tired for school Want me to bring your weed over?

Ditching school are we?

Yes, but only because I want to sleep in your aircon. I’m sunburnt.

We got high and walked around the shopping centre. Ran into my mum and I made up some story about needing aloevera gel. I don’t think she bought it but she shouted Chuck and I lunch and waited around for me to try on clothes before giving us both a lift back to our place.

 

Wednesday 25th February

School. I had to pay attention because I had a lot of catch up to do. Wagging always seems like a good idea and it never is.

Got my pay in, shouted food for Tabitha, Chuck and Felix at the Indoor Sports Centre. Training was brutal, I still haven’t caught up on enough sleep.

Thursday 26th February

School.

Chuck met me after and he has the sniffles. I tucked him into my bed and made him a tin of soup. He ate it and fell asleep. I did my homework while listening to him snore and wished, not for the first time, that we could just live together. Not in our parents home but in our own place.

I fell asleep on the couch watching a movie and when I woke up I noticed my bed was empty. A sinking panicked feeling crept in. I checked my phone. Nothing.

I went to go look for him upstairs when I heard hushed angry voices.

I peeped out the front to see Chuck talking to Wyatt. What the hell is he doing here?

 

Friday 27th February

After eavesdropping on Chucks terrible advice to Wyatt about Ayla. “Dump her, find someone you want to be with and don’t tell them all your sordid history with Clarrissa.” I couldn’t hardly sleep so I’m at school like a zombie again.

“There’s a party at Graysons tonight,” Leigh told me at lunch.

“Are you going?”

“Yep, are you.”

“No, and Chuck is still sick so I’m going to his place tonight.”

“Can I tell my mum I’m sleeping at yours?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Can I tell my mum the same thing?” Tabitha asked.

“Sure, I’ll unplug the home line in case one of your folks tries to check up.”

“I was actually hoping we could both get ready at yours,” Leigh asked, she batted her eyelids at me.

I laughed, “Does that ever work?”

 

Ayla and Wyatt had a massive fight at the party. No suprises here he was smashed and flirted with some random girl that was there in front of her.

Jade slept with Grayson, at this rate I’ll be the only girl in my friend group who hasn’t.

“I left your esky behind in my rush to get out of there,” Jade explained when she showed up at Chucks house in an uber.

“It’s cool, I’m sure he’ll drop it off to Tabitha’s for me tomorrow.”

“What have you guys been up to then?” Foreplay, sex, anal sex, handcuffs… We had our own house party.

“Just watching movies, we’re about to put on another one if you want to join. I’ll make you up a bed when it’s over.”

“I can sleep with you guys,” she suggested.

“Ummm, I should probably make that bed too,”

 

Saturday 28th September

Jade made us a picnic lunch and Chuck and I joined her for a quick morning hike. Afterwards I had work, another close. Don’t get me wrong I love the penalty rates I get on night shifts but it’s really killing my social life. Chuck Jade and Felix all went back to her place to drink while I had my shift and then texted me asking for Pizza when they knew I was finished. I considered pretending that I hadn’t seen the message and just going home to bed but then another message came through saying Wyatt was over so bring three pizzas.

When I finally arrived, food in hand they were all super drunk and everyone except for Chuck was playing strip poker. I joined in and after I’d lost my socks and my hair tie and all I had left on was my underwear Chuck took off his shirt and gave it to me and then stormed out of the room. I turned around and awkwardly pulled it on despite protests to go and find him but he’d already left. I went back inside, got dressed and went to bed in the spare room.

Leap Year Day

“Wyatt and Jade had sex.” Felix announced and handed me a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I put the steaming mug down on the counter. “Well, so much for him not wanting to cheat on Ayla,” I said and I plugged in my phone at the charging station on the kitchen bench.

“Chucks pissed at you.”

“I may have noticed, what with him storming off last night.”

“He sent me a message asking if I’d stay here to keep an eye on you.”

“What?”

“Apparently you cheat on him everytime you guys have a fight.”

“Well all I did was go to bed, I hope you told him that.”

“ I did.”

“Thanks, I think.” I can’t believe he asked him to spy on me.

*Tried talking to Chuck. Made everything worse.

“You love the attention you get from guys, don’t deny it.”

“That’s so not true, I was just joining in and having fun. You should try it sometime instead of just smoking and drinking and annoying me for sex.”

“I do a lot more than that.”

“Really? When?”

 

At work. Chuck still hasn’t replied back to me since I apologized.

 

Monday 1st March

School. Home. Wyatt came over to beg me not to rat him out to Ayla about Jade.

“I wouldn’t betray Jade like that.”

“I don’t get the impression she likes Ayla very much,”

“Well I don’t get that impression from you either, why haven’t you broke up with her already?”

“I could ask you the same thing about Chuck.”

 

Picked up dinner on the way to Chucks house. If triple fudge ice-cream counts as sustenance. I made Wyatt pay for it because it equated to hush money. Chuck rolled a joint for each of us and we sat outside in his little sisters wading pool and got high and stared at the stars. Eventually Wyatt left to go talk to Ayla.

“I hope he breaks up with her,” I told Chuck after the door closed.

“He should, he clearly doesn’t love her.”

“Because he cheated? You know that’s not why.”

“No, but he spends more time with you than his girlfriend, he’s even happy to be around me just to spend time with you.”

“I know.”

“Then do something about it.”

Chuck and I discussed the best way to minimize contact with Wyatt and because he was really high he also let me trim his hair. I don’t think I did too bad of a job actually.

Tuesday 2nd March

School was arduous. I crammed in all my homework in my lunch break because I had to deal with Wyatt tonight like I promised. Unfortunately when I called him on my walk home he was already with Ayla and I didn’t want to have this conversation with her in earshot.

Wyatt showed up at my place and we walked across the road to the park so we could have a smoke.

“Did you break up with her?”

“No,” he said and he turned away from me.

“Oh for god sakes, what are you doing?”

“I told her that I’m no good for her and that I want to go get treatment for my addiction.”

“What addiction?” I regretted those words as soon as I said them, even an idiot could see how badly he misused everything you could possible drink or smoke.

“Liam is going to kick me out if I don’t go to a day program,” he admitted.

I laughed, I couldn’t help it, a dealer giving rehab advice.

“Okay but that doesn’t change the fact you should break up with her.” She’s too good for him, she truly truly is.

In my room

Giving another boy a hair cut. This is not the cutting that Chuck had in mind when he told me to deal with Wyatt but he seemed so lost that I couldn’t help myself. He needs a haircut for his upcoming court case anyway and if he’s going to see some counsellor about his substance abuse he should at least look like he wants to change for the better.

What is 20BooksTo50k and CreativeIndie?

There’s a lot of buzz in the indie world about self-publishing gurus like Derek Murphy and Craig Martelle. Are they just innovators? People who genuinely want to support other writers to succeed or is there an ulterior motive?

At the core of both platforms there is an option to pay to be supported, however there is definitely a crap load of free advice and products and no commitment asides signing up for a newsletter. If you really want to make money from writing and you are floundering around trying to work out where to start. Well, these guys offer a launching pad.

Derek Murphy

Craig Martelle

The best offerings I can find across both these platforms is the community of indie writers that each of these writers foster. A haven where kindred spirits discuss their writing/editing/marketing journeys. Sometimes getting your book baby out there into the world can feel like too big a task and it’s hard to watch others have sucess while you’re drowning in key words and social media like loops. Getting published, even just getting query ready is a lot of HARD WORK and often emerging writers are not prepared for it. I know I certainly wasn’t prepared for the $3000 cost to launch my debut novel series. and there are another twelve books to go!

Originally when I discovered CreativeIndie and 20Booksto50K I was already published on Amazon and going no where fast. I had maybe 13 KENP each day if that and a book sale per month. I was so dissapointed, like many newbie authors are when they start there self-publishing journey. So what did I do? Eat chocolate and abandon my attempts altogether?

Guerrilla Publishing

20BooksTo50K

No, I joined each of these Facebook groups so that I could stalk authors in the Indisphere that had already clawed there way to payday and I am going to share some of the wisdom these two successfully managed groups have to impart with everyone here hoping to make that same successful leap!

The one constant I have noticed is that successful authors are out there hustling, they are doing everything they can possibly do to grab readers and then coax them into buying their new books. Usually this starts with having a decent cover and an advertising budget but if you are able to build up an engaged subscriber base while you are creating your amazing content you are in a great position to release your book to market (with or without a publishing contract)

There is so much inspiration and advice available to newbies in both of these FB groups, you have to take what applies to your genre and what you can reasonably afford to do but it’s a great first step for anyone just now entering a highly saturated market. A word of warning, these ARE NOT platforms to market your books. Other writers aren’t your target audience, but… you can find out where your target audience is by finidng out what has worked for other authors writing in your genre. Learn about what good covers that attract readers and that are targeted appropriately look like, find examples of blurbs that hook your attention and learn about NL swaps. Best of all, get examples of e-Newsletters, templates for advertising, links to podcasts that discuss honing your writing skills and collaborate with other writers to broaden your social media presence. You aren’t in this alone.

Moving on, here is the condensed ‘Tips to success’ as promoted by those in the know.

1) You Must Write A Series. Series outsell other books. Series build a readership and encourage readers to stick around.

2) You Must Write Relatable Characters Don’t make them pretty or perfect. Readers want to connect with and empathise with their journey.

3) You Must Release Your Series Quickly. Publishing a book a month for a year is often the only way you will ever see an income. And yep it’s very hard to accomplish when you also have a day job but this is your priority NOT gaining social media followers. Sorry, but if it was easy, everyone would be a success.

4) If you can’t get traction try something different. Don’t waste money flogging a dead horse. Do pre-orders while you are finishing with edits for your book (This means you need a cover and a catchy description ready to go) as this is a great way to see if there is any interest for your concept.

5) Pay someone to design your Covers. Make it genre appropriate and make sure it matches the series. Readers need to know they are buying book two or three or just that it’s YOUR book. Your branding is important so make sure it is recognisable.

6) Get published on Kindle Unlimited. It doesn’t cost you anything but time to learn how to set up an account and format your book in Kindle Create.

7) Chapter One needs to be Unputdownable. If you don’t have your readers attention on the first page your book release will fail.

A Diary entry from when I was a teenager. Surprisingly deep

As I was walking home, having one of those super vivid daydreams where you are off being some amazing creative incredible person anywhere but here, I realised something. I really do want to be anywhere but here. In my fictional universe today, I was in my mother’s European homeland for a family reunion and all my previously unaccounted for relatives were sane types who let me drink craft beer and snuck me into a rave. My random delusional brain aside, it got me thinking. Do other people play out fantasies in their heads to combat the drudgery of living a normal existence? I feel like my imagination is always getting away from me, to the point that even when I don’t want to appear rude or ignorant my brain just checks out of a lesson or a conversation and suddenly I’m running away with that cute boy on the bus or pretending to join some cult so that I can rescue the children there from their oppressors. Occasionally when there’s no one who can see or hear me I will just practise fight scenes or make up aerobic routines to try and get out all this energy that sneaks up on me. I fidget a lot. A doctor once called my constant movement’s restless leg syndrome, but I do it purposefully, so I stay grounded. So I can focus on being present. It doesn’t always help, I feel constantly bombarded by my random thoughts. I wish that it was socially accepted to act them out or talk about them because I do have some interesting ones sometimes. I have only ever managed to have a truly deep conversation with one other person, my brother. I’m not sure it really counts as he was high on drugs at the time. I don’t know what he took, but we had this meaningful chat about the reality of being a human being. He told me that people are so much more than they ever project, we are forced to spend so much of our time pretending to be what others expect of us, so much so that often we become confused as to who the real person we are even is. We live these fake lives, where we bury ourselves carefully beneath layers and layers of learned behaviours to the point we aren’t true to our genuine personalities. After my conversation with (Girl From School) today, I think he’s right. I know I try hard to hide who I am and just show the socially accepted version. “You will become the person who you believe others want you to be if you aren’t careful.” He warned me, I was young then, eight, and I still remember those words. Conditioning starts young too. I remember people telling my mum I needed to see a psychologist because I was talking to made up dragons and rabbits at the dinner table and buckling up their seat belts in the car. “You were the only one of my children to have imaginary friends.” she said to me when I finally grew out of the habit. What I never admitted to her was that if she had of let me have a pet I wouldn’t have needed them. I was only six and I just wanted to bring something fun and lively into my day. All I had to focus on back then was the loss of my parents’ marriage. What kid wouldn’t prefer being given the glorious task of raising a baby dragon instead? I still feel like that now, as though I crave something more from this life, when I finally entered the front door today I walked into my room I saw a pile of job application forms I still needed to fill out and a full basket of laundry to put away. I immediately stopped feeling bad that I want to play out entertaining fantasies in my head rather than just be here in my real life. Surely there’s no harm making boring tasks like walking or cleaning more palatable? Sometimes though I’m worried that the thoughts that I have, and that my dreams for my future aren’t in line with what other people are thinking about. I really want my life to be exciting, fun, different from the all-consuming hard-working middle-class paths my family seem hell bent on steering me towards. At the same time, I also don’t want to disappoint them. I probably worry about this far more than is necessary, but it bugs me not knowing where I rank on the weirdness scale against other people. Do other people have dreams at night that are so vivid they also struggle to orient themselves back into reality when they wake? Do other people fantasize about random nonsense like meeting an astronaut in the supermarket or winning the lottery and building homeless shelters? Or is there something off kilter about my brain for getting side tracked so often? Nobody talks about this stuff, sometimes I just spend hours in my own mind, basically talking to myself, not out loud but there is a definite back and forth conversation happening. I used to write my stories down, but a teacher gave me a serve once, after reading a piece I wrote where a young girl sacrifices her family to jump into a parallel universe and escape her poverty stricken home town. I stopped writing them out after that. My mum, who used to praise all my creative work didn’t even notice that I stopped showing them too her. Most of the time when I check out I am just envisioning escaping, as if I would ever be brave enough to get on a bus and run away from all of this. How awesome would it be to just pack a bag and go somewhere completely foreign? To make friends with some amazing family, going out on adventures, just experience a culture that isn’t my own.A boy in my grade, once offered to sneak me along to an indigenous youth camp, I wish I had taken him up on it. I declined because I was so scared about getting in trouble, I would have needed to construct a lot of lies to pull that off and I was only ten. When I think about how the last four years have shaped me since that day I decided not to lie to get something that I wanted I have realised that all the missed opportunities that followed came down to the same thing. My willingness to do whatever it takes to get what I want, my desire to live life with reckless abandon and my conscience. I hope that in the next four years I can reconcile with this somehow before I am out on my own. I need to fill out a job application so I can actually fun being out on my own. I want more from my life than what is expected of me. When I really think about what life as an adult could be like for me, the friends I’ll have and the places that I will go, I can’t help but imagine it will be a thousand times more meaningful than what I have now. I do love my friends here, I’m grateful for the time and affection they bestow upon me, but I don’t always share their mind set I guess. I was just so excited to have a group of peers to be social with that I didn’t stop to consider that I would have to make compromises constantly to retain those friendships. And sometimes when I’m with them it feels like they are just passing time with me also. I guess I really struggle to feel gratitude. To accept the life that was handed to me. I didn’t ask for a broken family or to live in this basic and boring town. What am I supposed to do? Just acclimate into this crap life alongside all the other unhappy souls, never seeking out a chance to find more, to be more? Just say yes, smile and nod and laugh at jokes that aren’t even funny so other people like me, or at least they like the version of myself that I project. Which brings me to the question of how do you even know if other people want to be around you? My primary school friends who ditched me didn’t. My ex boyfriend didn’t. If I don’t mean what I am saying how can I know if other people are being truthful? I’m trying hard to figure all of this out this afternoon and I have no idea why. I am surmising that others have spent a lot longer than my fourteen years on these questions and for some reason still haven’t come to any sort of real answers. Unghhhh that’s so depressing. What if we go our entire life never finding meaning or purpose or true love, hell does true love even exist? I don’t think it does somehow. What I felt for (ex-boyfriend) couldn’t have been love, and if it was, it wasn’t worth having. How can you say that you love someone if you never know what sort of person they really are? If the answers they give you are just carefully crafted responses, products of their own social conditioning. What if the love you feel is all just based on your own assumptions. I don’t know if I’m ok with that. It sounds disappointing and messy. I don’t know if what you perceive to be love is worth putting your true self out there for someone to see and then reject. Is that ever worth the risk? And if love is pointless, then what is the point in pleasing family or friends, what’s the point of going to school? The constant limitations of age, schooling and societal constraints only serve to detract from living a rich life it seems. All the adults in my life have an opinion on what I should be doing with my time, what I should focus on learning about, what sports and interests I should find enjoyable. They never ask what I want to do, they just tell me what I should be doing. How am I supposed to become a well-rounded human being when I’m stuck in a box with all these other people and all we are all being taught is that we are sheep and we need to fit in? Occasiaonally, even the adults admit how crushing reality is, that my teen years are the best years of my life and I should enjoy my time now while I can. If that’s true, then what is the point to anything I do? Why even bother having morals or sticking to your obligations to other people if it’s only going to result in a crap life no matter what you do. I’ve always felt like things that I’m doing don’t matter and I’m starting to feel like maybe I should just start doing the things that I want to, stop listening to my inner voice and just not even care about how my choices affect anybody else. I know that technically that makes me a bad person but so far being a good person hasn’t felt great either.

Why Vellum Rocks!

I self-published on KDP guys. It’s been a learning experience let me tell you… Firstly, I wasn’t using Scrivener… I know right! It’s like $50 USD, how do people not have this life changing software? I don’t know either but I dutifully typed my entire first draft of my twelve part novel series (in chronological order) using Word. DO NOT RECOMMEND! No wonder it took me a decade. Then, in addition to all that, I had tab spaces in my manuscript. So of course all of that mess got doubly indented when uploaded to KDP. Sigh. Then I didn’t use page breaks, we all know how that reads on a Kindle, lastly my embedded fonts didn’t exist in the Amazon software so the digital copy of my debut novel (The version enrolled in KU) and the copy that gets the most attention because it’s free to subscribers just looked beyond wrong!

Thankfully, I have a spare iMAC in my husbands office and he has agreed to buy me Vellum for my birthday. God I love him, he is the best and most supportive person any Indie Writer could ever have. I wish I could clone him for you guys. I also have Scrivener now and am using it to do developmental edits on the next eleven books in my Middle Grade series.

So, as a converted Vellum user here are all the reasons I want you guys to consider investing in your writing career also 🙂

  • Vellum costs $199.99 to create unlimited ebooks or $249.99 to create unlimited ebooks and paperbacks. That is a whole heap cheaper than paying a monthly subscription to Adobe InDesign  or paying someone to edit all your manuscripts in word or *insert groan here* Calibre.
  • The layout screen of Vellum is straightforward.
  • It has a tutorial!
  • It integrates well with any document you’ve already typed up and had edited in Word
  • Chapter organisation is often done automatically even if you hadn’t used page break formatting and including hyperlinks to next in series is effortless.
  • It has a million styles, okay maybe not a million but certainly a good amount and across a diverse range of genres.
  • You can add text as you go (if you find a misspelled word or missing comma.
  • Inserting ornamental breaks is another great facet of this software.
  • Great export capabilities
  • It automatically creates a print book to your specs WITHOUT re-uploading your file and formatting from scratch. Page numbers. Margins. Headers. Font. Line spacing. All of the setup that can take hours elsewhere happens automatically.