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.

Last Night I met Shanna Wann

I’d love for my followers to go and check out Sober In The Country, a new movement encouraging Australians using alcohol to self-medicate their mental health issues to seek support and help to recover. The following blog I’ve taken from Shanna’s site highlights just how necessary this movement really is for our countrymen and women. Please have a read and if you are as moved as I am by this woman’s journey and her resolve to empower others to quit the grog and take their lives back I’d love to read your comments. Together we are better!

Delusions of grandeur among us … ADDICTION doesn’t discriminate

A Blog Post by Shanna Wann

As you all know, I am shamelessly very specific about speaking directly in the space of rural Australian that includes my peers, professionals, executives, corporates, etc., whether it be in the form of agriculture, grazing, rural business or whatever.

Why? Because I have lived it and known it for my entire life. Simple, really. I get it, know it, understand it.

I was reflecting the other day with a mate and just shaking my head, saying that I wonder if young, clueless, privileged me could’ve looked into a crystal ball and seen what was coming … what I would have done?

Ye Gods… probably would’ve moved to Mars.

I was reflecting on the crazy few years it’s been. How that’s included standing up and addressing a room full of VIP’s at Parliament House; starting over from scratch, or sitting in a hospital holding the head of somebody violently vomiting their way through detox while they watched their privileged life and reputation collapse in pieces.

What I have learned through much of these experiences is that ”priveleged” rural Australia is a demographic that can be the most misguided and intentionally oblique of all. And cruel with it on occasions.

There’s nothing like old-money, old-school snobbery and elitism to show the true meaning of the double-standards strolling amongst us in well-shod feet driving the latest SUV.

Let me illustrate: have you ever witnessed a group of the well-to-do sipping expensive red wine while having dramatic whispered discussions about the ‘drEADful state of affairs with the meth addiction sweeping across rural Australia…” for example?

No? Well, it’s a thing. This kind of attitude is rampant in rural Australia.

… there’s this kind of ‘perceived’ superiority from the landed-gentry where some can talk themselves into thinking wealth and prestige equates to immunity from pesky, awkward and unpleasant things such as addiction.

Well – I put to you that this is something we need to address and get real with.

Because dwelling in our prettiest houses amongst our nicest A-List suburbs are some of the sickest people of all. Pretending they’re not. For years. And while ever the perception remains that alcohol isn’t a deadly drug (albeit prettily packaged and splendidly marketed) remains: so does the divide.

In reality, the only thing separating a well-shod high-functioning ‘successful’ alcoholic from a ”low-life” meth addict is a paycheck and the packaging. Yet – the illusion and the immense social divide remains.

I saw that this week another rave-styled party took the lives of two young kids.

Pollies were sad and hysterical. Understandably. It’s tragic.

People called for the lynching of those low-life drug dealers! And yet, still, NONE of these public comments from people in power or politics seem to ever address the fact that alcohol-related deaths, accidents or illness makes drug-related death literally pale into insignifigance or comparison. Here in Australia, and globally.

Why? I can only guess it’s because alcohol is the go-to drug of choice for the elite. Right?

(Along with cocaine, of course. But the prestigious won’t actually admit to that one publicly. Alcohol, on the other hand. Well: bombs away.)

While ever we continue to see brilliantly packaged-and-marketed wines for ”busy Mummies” and gold-label scotch for ‘exhausted important executives’ at airports – none of this will change.

Because we still aren’t calling it for what it IS when it comes to those who are sick, addicted, and living in extreme denial. Because it is VERY uncomfortable. Because we like to think we are DIFFERENT. We’d really rather not be labelled in the same way we label the hoi polloi.

I think it is simply because of stupid, ancient and out-dated beliefs that ”we don’t talk about our problems or ask for help’‘ or that many among this demographic sincerely hold tight to the belief that pedigrees or education and inheritences equates to immunity from addiciton.

Honestly these last few years of walking this road have shocked me again and again. I’ve also seen the so-called ”elite” among us behave worst of all in terms of judgement or condemnation. People who see somebody fall by the wayside and chant from the sidelines ‘you’re just an alcho – you’re not welcome here anyway …’ and kick a man when he’s down. The same man they stood beside not much earlier in the story getting fall-down-drunk with in public. With fake camaraderie and back-slapping.

But that’s fine – becuase that was a special occasion, and everybody was pissed. Right?

And the thing that makes me saddest of all is to watch these folks walking among us pretending to be all about ”inclusivity” and tolerance.

It’s all good and well to say you’re ‘about’ those things – but we all know that true integrity happens when we behave a certain way regardless of our audience.

What I would love to say and convey is that we are all walking this earth on borrowed time. And that at the end of the day, whether we are the King, the Bishop, the Knight or the Pawn – when the game is over – we will all end up in the same box.

I will always be immensely grateful that my life took me to the bottom. Humility is the greatest gift of all. And I would rather sit with the broken than stand with who society tells us is ‘great’ – because that’s where life is real and raw.

To read more posts by this champion for recovery you can find Shanna online at

https://www.soberinthecountry.com.au/blog/

The Breadwinner by Morgan True

Image result for the breadwinner morgan true bloom

So a couple of months back I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or as my children call it ‘Muuuuuuummmmmmmm get off your phone I’m hungry’ and I found this incredible writer/illustrator/freelance cover designer who I immediately begged to design covers for my contemporary romance trilogy. And she did folks! I was super grateful because I had been fumbling around with concept art for a while and nothing was speaking to me. Some people struggle to write a book, some people struggle to edit, I really struggle to create a simplistic but impactful cover that will draw in potential readers. We all have our flaws dont we? Okay, enough about me lets get down to the review for The Bread Winner!

Set in the year 1924, the book follows the MC, Pasha, who is sixteen and a struggling immigrant from Russia. I won’t spoil the book with his tragic back story but when the book starts he is living with his mum and mentally unstable little sister working for a street gang to support them. Things look bleak but here’s the twist guys. This book is a fantasy and our young hero is soon flung into an incredible world of magic tucked away in good old Central Park. Written in 3POV (Which is my favourite format) This book had everything, great characters, accurate historic setting and a well paced narrative that sets the series up to continue. As a reader I was left wanting more.

Morgan True Blum (@morgan_true_blum_author_artist) • Instagram photos and videos

If you’d like to purchase this book for yourself,  the link is here https://www.amazon.com/Breadwinner-Morgan-True-Blum/dp/0998042900 or if you, like myself want to enlist this talented lady to help design artwork to promote your next book or if you’d simply like to see more of her incredible work you can find her over at https://www.morgantrueblum.com

When marketing kills your creative energy

I always see people who are posting about products they love, products we should buy and links to their endless social media sites that you should follow. Like for like posts and other boost your tribe on social platforms requests are currently clogging up my news feed. The hustle to market your content as a creative writer or painter etc etc is getting out of hand.

I have often expressed doubts about social media, I personally believe that Australians, in particular our under 40 years old demographic spend too much time on our phones and we are disconnecting ourselves from the “real world” and in doing so also teaching our children that this is an acceptable way to behave, when empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

You want to hear the truth? YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS ARE HURTING YOU!

Yes, I realise it is the cheapest way to engage with your potential audience and reach readers or buyers. You can meet new people, reconnect with old friends (and lovers) and take some of the worlds most ridiculous Which Disney Princess Are You quizzes ever.

But every minute you spend on Facebook and Twitter and whatever else you are using (I’m not even going to try and list all the other social networking sites available, there is a freaking butt load) is another minute you aren’t writing the next chapter of your novel, or reading to improve your understanding of the craft, or practicing with watercolours, or exercising, or meditating, or cooking healthy meals or just generally nurturing your well-being. 

I read an article at work last week (I work in Mental Health intake) that broke my heart. It was an honest, true assessment of exactly how comparing ourselves to strangers online harms our minds and ultimately our screen addictions are compromising the relationships we have with our families, coworkers and friends. I can’t share the article with you guys because it mentioned current clients in digital detox but it revealed just how easily everyday people, even educated professionals can fall into the trap of allowing their online world to become more important than the real one.

I totally get how dependence on social media can happen. I myself have experienced it. Being fairly new to this whole “Building a writing career” I have had to familiarise myself with the plethora of sites that my potential readers, reviewers and #writingcommunity are all using. I was told early in my querying days by a well known publishing firm that having an author platform and networking via social media, especially when you’re a new writer, is vital to your future success. Don’t get me wrong, I am well versed in the need for online interactions and sales platforms, however I am not sold on social sites as the best practice method for generating income from my art. In fact, I have sold more books in person than I have advertising with Google or enrolling in Kindle Unlimited.

I guess, in getting back to the point of this post, how do you know that your use of social media has become a problem? How do you know when it is damaging you mentally, and some times physically (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005) How can you launch a career as a content creator or artist and still be inspired?

I’m sorry, I don’t have the answers. Although there are plenty of topical marketing and entrepreneur focused blogs and companies out there that claim to know the answers. The best one I’ve read lately was this one: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/10/24/18-steps-to-take-before-you-launch-a-product-or-service/#6db69c2819cf

Even though I can’t offer you a concrete no fail solution (and here’s antoher heartbreaking truth here, no one can, so don’t get sucked in by good marketing yourself, learn from it!) I do know that spending all your free time liking posts and following other creators or bloggers online is definitely NOT the solution. Creating a supporting and inspiring circle of like minded persons on your social pages is only that. A network, unless you keep creating new product you have nothing to share with that circle and they can’t help build up buzz for products that don’t exist.

Now is the point where you may want to ask yourself some tough questions.

  • Why do you write or paint or offer your product or service? *Hint – Money is not the answer and if you can’t pull a different reason out of your hat then maybe it’s time to rethink this career choice. You will likely make more money (profit wise) working as a retail cashier than you ever will from self-publishing or selling your art.
  • How often are you actually wasting online? *This includes Netflix, Stan and YouTube. Can’t answer that offhand? Maybe it’s time to install a digital well-being app on your devices.  Track your email consumption, your instagram posting, your binge watching, your blogging, your blog reading, your time answering questions on social media groups, your aimless surfing and your not so necessary “research. Be honest. Don’t cheat. When you look at your habits I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how much time the Internet takes away from you. Time you can’t ever get back to go for a hike, learn a musical instrument, watch your children playing, have a barbecue with neighbours.
  • Is the Internet as a whole compromising my creative time, am I reading less or drawing less or sewing new headbands less because I’m spending too much time participating in #satsplat or #ff on Twitter? Why am I doing this, I’m not seeing an increase in book sales or client bookings. Maybe the reality here is that I am reaching out to strangers because I’m not feeling the same sort of support at home? Maybe I don’t have any friends who are artists to engage with, maybe I did but my inability to get off my phone when we met up for lunch or hung out at thier place meant they stopped inviting me places. Do you have a digital addiction and is it blocking opportunities for you to be creative?

I know that eighteen months ago I had to admit I had a problem. I had to delete every single social media account I had in order to reclaim my relationship with my husband and to start role modelling good behaviour with my sons. Nowadays, everyone in my house gets one hour a day of technology on weekdays and two hours on weekends, because you can’t teach children to exercise self-control unless you practise it yourself. My husband replaced Joe Rogan podcasts with learning guitar, I replaced binge watching netflix and moderating a breastfeeding support group with running in-person therapeutic journaling workshops. My teenage son replaced fortnite with learning brazillian jui jitsu and my five year old started school and I shudder to think how much harder that would be for him if we hadn’t moderated his access to his iPad. Because here’s the heart of the matter when it comes to digital devices, gaming and social networking a little goes a long way. You don’t have to abandon all your accounts like I did in order to focus on prioritising your life, I encourage you to continue to follow interesting people, make new artist friends, and leverage the vast resource that is the internet as a marketing tool but I urge you to monitor how much time it sucks out of your real life. Allocate specific time in your schedule for looking at your social feeds, glance at each account, interact with a specified number of posts, read what you need to read for genuine professional development, then move along, get back to creating your books, painting masterpieces, recording songs and connecting with people face-to-face. Every day you need to be refuelling your brain with good chemicals – Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins in order to be mentally well. Doing this involves being active and interacting with the world not just viewing it through a screen.


If you read the entire article, you’re a total champion. Thank you! If you found value in this I would love to discuss how we move forward as creative artists more collaboratively and how we can spend more time doing the work we love rather than just marketing it!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/riss.thomas.988

Thank you!

Wattpad and my current WIP

Okay, so I’ve heard a mixed bag of reviews about this Wattpad platform and how useful it is for writers to gain credibility, and more importantly, notoriety by using this site as a launching pad for their book series. I’ve decided to give it a go (despite all the warnings regarding plagiarism) and am going to be uploading chapters for my next book series Out of Vegas on my Wattpad account.

I may not leave this series up permanently free on this service but I am hopeful I can make some great connections with readers and get feedback on my chapters while they are live. Ultimately I am hoping that when and if I query for this saga I will be putting my best foot forward and be able to use the comments I collect on Wattpad as evidence for the popularity of the books. Wish me luck everyone!

P.s cover art concept for my current WIP The Unseen Forest which is a dark fantasy stand alone book. Why? Just for fun.

Cover design

P.p.s An excerpt from this WIP as well. Why? I freaking love feedback. It helps me grow as a writer and that’s the only reason I am putting myself out there on all these social media apps, so that I can hone my craft and one day make this my legit career.

The Unseen Forest

A mother’s heart-breaking journey from this world into the next.

M. A. Thomas

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

As an Australian Writer I would like to pay my respects and acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of this land on which I gratefully work and live, and also to pay respect to the Elders both past, present and emerging, in particular the Iutruwita (Tasmanian) peoples whom I mention in this book. Where possible in my fictional novel The Unseen Forest I have endeavoured to use the traditional namesakes of the locations I’ve mentioned. And I thank the nomenclature board for recognising the dual names in signage in those regions as this is vital in preserving the states heritige.

PROLOGUE

The unslightly creature squeezed its lumpy hairless grey body beneath the colourbond fence and crept through the darkness of the yard towards the small cottage soundlessly. A thin layer of fog still clung to the air despite the threatening dawn. The window made a slight groan as two thin arms with gnarled hands forced the pane upwards and then with the tiniest creak the grotesque form slid over the sill and into the rosey hued nursery adorned with floral decals and lace dream catchers upon every wall. In the corner of the room, furthest from the window, was a crib carved from spalted myrtlewood and inside the intricately carved frame lay an unprotected human infant, fast asleep clutching her softest plush teddy tightly against her little body. A long ashen arm snaked between the rails and with a gentle tug removed the toy from her tender grasp then pulled back the sheet that lay across her tiny form. The child cringed in response to the sudden chill and her hands reached out for the comfort of her stuffed animal finding nothing but the crisp air. Within moments her lip begun to quiver as her mind begun to stir. Before the child could even so much as whimper and alert her slumbering family to her distress her kidnapper had clambered into the cot, lifted that sweet little bundle up and over the rail and swiftly exited through the open window, returning to the dark forest that loomed beyond the well-groomed yard. The little girl, now awake, stared quietly at the strange being that had hold of her, she felt no fear at being in the arms of this strange, somewhat humanoid thing.

“Back to sleep now little one.” A raspy voice whispered, gently stroking the bridge between her bright shimmering brown eyes.

“Gaap will keep you safe on your journey home” and the Imp stepped through the softly shimmering fork of a tree, still clutching little Claudia Douglas in his arms tightly as she was lost to this world.

CHAPTER ONE

My mother told me endless bedtime stories, when I was still young enough to fit in her lap and snuggle soundly in her warm arms. Often sleeping in her loving embrace safely through the night. What she never told me was that all her tales of magic and tragedy were real.

Those beautifully crafted fables she burned into my mind from such a tender age were not in fact sweet little fantasies to delight my youthful imagination but her own experiences with the magical creatures with whom we occasionally share our world.

That other realm she had spoken of so animatedly as I listened enraptured upon her knee began to bleed through into every facet of my life shortly after I turned twenty-four, starting with the abduction of my youngest son, George.

I almost walked right over Ainsley as I emerged through the woods into an open clearing, still distractedly calling out for George.

“Have you seen my two-year-old?” I asked her, offering a hand to help her stand. She’d clearly been enjoying an afternoon siesta between herding sheep.

“No, and I’ve been here a while.” she answered with a smirk as she dusted off her jeans.

“He’s clearly good at hiding.” I smiled back at her before looking back to make sure my other child emerged through the trees to join us.

“I’ll help you look too then.” She suggested and before I could waive off her offer she was already walking back towards the highway calling his name.

“We’ll take the fence line back Linky,” I told my eldest son in the cheeriest voice I could manage. “he must be in the toilet block there and we missed him.”

He wasn’t.

Ainsley arrived still calling out Georges name and as she took in my crestfallen face she stopped dead.

I took out my phone and called 000.

How long had I already been searching? Why didn’t I call the police before now? I knew the answer to that. I didn’t want to talk to Shaun. That didn’t matter now though. I have to find my son.

“What do you mean he’s missing!” my husband screamed at me through the phone. Loud enough that the police officer standing on the other side of his vehicle could hear and I noticed his body shift away uncomfortably. I squeezed Lincoln, my eldest sons hand a little tighter as I repeated again the details of Georges disappearance.

“We went to the park and we were playing hide and seek together on the play ground, I could hear him giggling from behind the big oak tree so I pretended to look for him for a bit first and then when I finally checked behind the tree he just wasn’t there. I called out for him but he didn’t answer. No one else is here, it’s just us, we’ve walked through the whole park now and haven’t found him anywhere. I called Shaun at the station to come out.”

“I’ll be right there.” and Thomas hung up on me. I pocketed my mobile and looked my ten year old square in the eyes.

“Link, stay here with Shaun, I’m going to go through the park again and make sure George isn’t hiding anywhere.”

“Yep.” and he headed around to the other side of the Hilux where Shaun stood quietly, our eyes met and I felt my face burn with shame as it did every time I was in his presence.

“Can you call my mum and get her here for Link?” I asked him. No need to give him her number, I knew he’d have it. He nodded and I took off to find my wayward toddler.

How far could a two year old go? I checked inside the slide, calling his name, behind the tree where I was sure he’d be, just standing there, smiling proudly and looking at me to praise his excellent hiding skills. Nothing but dirt and leaves. Not even an imprint of his shoes on the ground to indicate he’d ever hidden there at all. I called his name all through the park, attracting the attention of more than a few farmers who upon realising the severity of my plight joined me in searching the grounds. I called the Myrtle Creek Camping Office again hoping desperately he’d been picked up by some well-meaning tourist and this horrible afternoon would mercifully end. He hadn’t been brought in but both the caretakers are heading to the park to help the search effort now as well.

There was sixteen extra bodies standing beside Link and Shaun by the time I had looped back to them, I saw the look of hope on my first born sons face fall when he saw me returning without his baby brother safely in my arms. I couldn’t bear it and I avoided his eyes as I searched the group for the only other faces that mattered to me now. Neither my husband or my mother were among the people who had arrived. I refused to let the tears overcome me and I grabbed out my phone and dialled the only other resource I hadn’t yet made contact with in my efforts to locate George.

“Mount Arthur Rangers Department, this is Travis.” He answered on the first ring.

“Are you in town?” I asked, not bothering with any polite formalities.

“Yes.”

“Can you drive through the Rivulet park grounds, look out for my two year old as you go.” I told him and I hung up. I don’t think George could have made it over to there without assistance, but It’s been an hour since I last had eyes on my son and if there was any chance he’d made it to the creek I needed someone to be looking there.

“What do you need us doing?” Clare asked and both she and her son Evan looked at me expectantly.

“I haven’t walked up towards the church yet.” and she headed off with her boy, each taking a separate path towards the All Souls Anglican Centre.

“I’ve got the volunteer brigade headed out to Hill road.” Shaun told me, breaking my gaze away from my best friends retreating form.

“Kay.” I replied, unable to meet his eyes. The piercing knife in my heart was going to overwhelm me and I’d be of no use to George if I let it. I knew this.

“The staff from the Nunamara station are coming up now as well, I called them to look as soon as Jake got off with you at dispatch.” I could only nod. I closed my eyes and tried to breathe. I felt Links hand worm its way back inside my own before I had steadied myself.

“We haven’t checked the bus stop yet.” came his raw choked voice as I wrapped him in a hug.

“We’ll make our way there over now.” I heard a young man declare, I think it was a Holders boy who spoke. Craig or Jeffrey.

“He was just behind the tree.” I said as the tears begun to fall, they erupted as soon as I saw Thomas’ car arrive.

“We’ll find him.” Shaun told me, I felt his hand cup my shoulder and I stiffened involuntarily. Not because it felt wrong, but because it had been so long since he had touched me I was shocked by the sensation. He removed his hand quickly.

“You haven’t got him.” Thomas yelled questioningly across the growing crowd. It had doubled in size since my last head count, even with the groups that had set off calling for George as they went.

“I asked Travis to drive to the creek, is my mum with you?” I asked hopefully.

“I came straight here from work.” Thomas blurted, annoyance and frustration straining his voice noticeably.

“Did you call her?” I asked Shaun, meeting his eyes for only a fraction of a second as I walked over to Thomas, Link’s hand still firmly interlocked in my own.

“She didn’t pick up, I’ll keep trying.”

“Get out there and look for my son.” Thomas boomed and a stunned silence came over the gathering of neighbours who were watching the scene unfold before them.

“We are mate.” Shaun responded calmly.

“We’re not fucking mates.” Thomas yelled back as he grabbed the arm Link wasn’t holding and pulled me away from him.

“How long before you noticed him missing?”

“Not even a minute, I could hear him hiding behind the tree.”

“Where haven’t you looked?” He asked, the desperation in his features was painful to see up close like this.

” The Highway, The Forestry Trails.” I said without hesitation. We had man power combing every where else.

“He’s two he wouldn’t make it there without being seen.”

“Maybe there’s a fence down somewhere.” I offered, not sure why I was trying to send Thomas off on a wild search when I knew in my heart all to well that George couldn’t get that far alone either. I had to piggy back him just to walk down here for a play because he was complaining the walk was breaking his legs before we’d even reached the gate on our property.

“What was he wearing?” Naomi asked, interrupting our discussion, her ear pressed to her mobile.

“Uh.” I blinked and I couldn’t even remember.

“He had a red spider-man shirt on with a pair of blue pants and blue and orange sneakers.” Shaun told her and she relayed that information back to whoever was on the line. He was right, that was what George had on this afternoon. He’d started the day in a white shirt but he’d spilt yogurt all over it when we had afternoon tea and I changed it. That shirt was now sitting in a bucket of cold water in the laundry sink. I didn’t have enough whites yet for a load.

“I’m going to head through the Dales property.” Thomas declared and he released my arm suddenly. I felt the blood rush back to my capillaries and my nerves erupted in a painful burn down my forearm and into my fingertips. I rolled my wrist, then clenched and released my fist a couple of times to try and get circulation back to normal. I watched as my youngest sons father collected his UHF from his ute and made his way over the road. I knew looking that way was pointless. Link was hiding beneath the slide and I was pretending to search for my sons in full view of the road and the tree line when George disappeared. No way I couldn’t have seen him.

“I know you’ve said you barely took your eyes off him, but…” Shauns voice trailed off, he couldn’t bring himself to ask if I wanted to change my story now that George still hadn’t reappeared.

“He was right there.” I repeated, feeling deflated. Was he, or did I just think I’d heard his highpitched giggles and snorts as I announced every hiding spot I could as I made my way to the tree I’d watched him duck behind. Was it even that tree?

“He wasn’t even trying to hide his laughter from us.” Lincoln answered when my silence had gone on uncomfortably long.

“I’m going to get dogs out then.” Shaun said with determination and he continued to stare at me as he retrieved his phone. I’d forgotten how deep set his eyes were. I looked away and grabbed my own phone out to dial my mother once again.

She didn’t answer me. I phoned Clare.

“You’ve found him.” Her voice answered, her heavy breaths filling the silent.

“No, and you haven’t,” the tears begun then, “either.” I finished with a sob.

“I haven’t met up with Ethan just yet.” She said and I could hear her voice growing more breathless as she sped up her pace towards the Anglican hall.

“I’ll call you if the dogs find him here.” I told her before ending the call.

“They’re on the way now.” Shaun told me and I blinked back the tears that were threatening to erupt and gave him a nod before trying my mother again.

Thomas came back from the adjacent farm with no news. No one had him seen George over there and before Thomas returned he helped Kelvin and Nora search all through the machinery shed and along the track down to the bore just to check he hadn’t got stuck in the mud somehow. The Dales wheeled a generator over with them shortly after Thomas had returned.

“Have you got anything of George’s in your truck?” I asked him.

“No,” Thomas responded through clenched teeth, “why?” he finished with less anger.

“They’re getting dogs out.”

Thomas turned on his heel without another word to me and left with a flurry of dust in his Ute.

He must have gone over 200 km a hour up the road to return as fast as he did, with Georges pillow and blanket in hand.

The Launceston K9 squad arrived not long after, Thomas held the pillow out first for them to catch a scent and they got excited fast.

All the dogs made a direct route across the play ground to the big Oak tree he’d hidden behind, just before the forest begins, and then they ran into the woods about fourteen meters from where he’d been hiding and they stopped. No one could understand it, they’d clearly picked up a scent only to lose it immediately. I realised as I stared at the forked **maple? tree** where they’d lost Georges scent that I’d run along this exact same path with Link as soon as we’d noticed George wasn’t with us in the playground. No one else had been there then. No one had came out the other side of the clearing either according to Ainsley who we’d met on my first loop through the woods in my initial, dare I admit, more casual search for George. I grabbed my phone again and tried calling my mum. Why hasn’t she returned my calls? Why hasn’t she come down here? I looked at the handlers who were leading the dogs back up the way we’d come to take another run at the search using the blanket this time. Where the hell is my son?

I made a book trailer and other ramblings

So with my book launch only three sleeps away I’ve decided to finally attempt to make a book trailer to promote the first instalment ‘Awkward Honesty.’

I used Powtoon and while I think it was easier than attempting a similar slides video in powerpoint, I’m not one hundred percent sure. All I can say was at least it was free. Once I make some actual profits from my debut novel I will engage with a legit video savvy professional on Fiverr. I am sure it’s worth it for the background music choices alone.

In case you’re interested, here is my trailer. Feel free to also subscribe to my channel while you’re laughing at my first ever attempt. I’d appreciate your love and I’ll likely reciprocate it 🙂

Awkward Honesty (The Girl Diaries Book #1)