Thursday 16 June 2011

#RomanticFridayWriters challenge for June 17 - My story, 'Up, up and away' - an adrenalin rush.

For this week's challenge I'm posting a rejigged version of a published story called '60 Seconds.' Some of you may have read an excerpt ages ago. After so many positive comments I knew I was onto a winner, so I then polished it and submitted it to a fiction magazine in Australia. It was published recently. This new version is quite different, but lots of fun to do for the weekly theme. Enjoy!

Up, up and away!

‘Too dangerous!’ Fazie yelled. ‘You have children. No more jumping from planes. Not on your birthday. The kids’ll be devastated if you’re late for your party.’

‘It’s my birthday Faze, my 30th. I told you I was planning something new.’

‘Skydiving’s not new.’

‘Going solo is.’

‘Solo! Think of the kids if you won’t think of me.’

‘They’ll be proud. I was hoping you would be too, facing my fears and all.’

‘You’re afraid of nothing, not even of letting me down.’

‘This jump’s not about you Faze. I’m challenging myself! I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you.’

‘I love you Jilli. I’m terrified of losing you.’


Your life really does flash before you as you die.

My parachute’s stuck. I’m not going to hear that thunderous whoosh, or see that puff of parachute silk billowing skyward. Nah, this time it’s just me, the sky and that old enemy, gravity. 

I’m drowning in wind and velocity as I plummet towards the ground with a flickering movie playing in my head – I see my children’s faces, Flo’s smile smeared with my bright red lipstick, Mikki’s high five after the soccer game. Their birthday parties flicker and I’m sorry I probably won’t share any more. Today they’ll be waiting to yell ‘Surprise! Clever Mummy!’ Fazie flickers into the scene. I hear his voice catch on his last words to me: ‘You’ll be sorry!’ 

I love you Fazie. I’m sorry now.


I’m dropping like a lead ball, faster, faster. Probably 60 seconds to impact. Think! Think! The adrenalin surges through me and I know what to do. I lunge backward, extend my arms and bend my knees so the back of my head nearly touches my heels. Now I can make a turn just by twisting my upper body. 

People have survived a free fall from 50,000 feet. I’m at less than 11,000 so I must have a chance. Survival float, it’s called. Choose a drop zone, a nice soft spot preferably. A sand dune would do.

Yes! My speed’s slowed and I’m heading towards the beach. I can hear the sound of wind screaming in my ears and my desperate prayers…‘help-me-help-me-oh-God-oh-Godddd...’

About 30 seconds left. 

 Any moment now. Bend knees! Drop zone! Dip shoulder left. Here comes the ground - colours blending-whirling-blue-green-sandy-use balls of feet-point toes-swish-thump-roll-bounce-cover head-arms over ears-elbows up-hold tight-grassy knoll-thump-thump-thump-ouch-ooh-ah…



This is my story of 400 words for #RomanticFridayWriters.
Click on the image above to read more stories from the talented writers
 of prose and poetry who post on Fridays.

I'm actually up, up and away in the air today, Friday 17, heading for Korea, France, Spain, Morocco and Andorra. I won't be able to post a RFW story for a month but I'm travelling with my netbook and a patient husband so I will be able to read your comments and maybe make a few comments of my own.

Monday 13 June 2011

I'm being interviewed at Writing in Wonderland, and au revoir!

The lovely Sylvia Ney over at Writing in Wonderland is interviewing me today. Please swing by and learn a little more about me if you're so inclined. Sylvia and I would love to see you!

On Thursday I will post my story for the Romantic Friday Writers, theme - 'Up, up and away!' If you've got a story to fit the theme, click on the badge on the right and link up. Love to read your story!

I'll be busy travelling (see message above) and building my story ideas repertoire, so won't be posting after this Friday. I'll be checking in from time to time, so you're welcome to leave a comment and I'll get back to you eventually.

Au revoir mes amis!

Friday 10 June 2011

#RomanticFridayWriters challenge - My story, 'Forgotten' with a touch of Hugh Jackman.

‘Jus, we need to talk.’
Uh oh. He knew what ‘We need to talk’ was all about.
‘Why? Why do we need to talk?’ he managed to croak through a throat newly scrubbed with sandpaper. Having just spent the whole day with Meleah, his heart'd been singing, but now his joy was disappearing like the smoke of a spluttering campfire.
He loved Meleah. No other girlfriend came close to the raging torrent of his feelings for her. She was his angel, his Botticelli angel with her mane of red curls, her smile that cracked open his heart.
‘I’m married.’
He hadn’t seen that coming. How did she fit in being married with all the jetting about they’d done? Sydney. Paris. New York. Rome…
‘How?’ He started to talk then the words dried up like an Australian river in drought.
‘He travels a lot too. He probably has other women.’
‘And this makes it okay?’
‘I’m just saying.’
He turned away. A hot tear ran down his cheek.
‘You must hate me.’
‘Yes. I hate you.’ By saying the words he was trying to man up. Wishing these words were true. ‘I hate you.’ He tried again. Hollow words. He glanced at her. He saw a pitying look on her beautiful white face.
‘I didn’t want it to happen.’
‘What? The marriage? Meeting me? What?’
‘You were just so darn cute. So Hugh Jackman. I couldn’t resist you.’
‘So I’m just some fantasy then?’
‘Well, Hugh Jackman’s more than a fantasy. He’s real.’
‘He bleeds huh? So do I. I’m bleeding here.’
‘When I was with you I felt so excited.’
‘Like Nicole Kidman in ‘Australia’?’
‘Too bloody right mate.’
‘I love you Meleah. You. Just you. You’re my fantasy come to life.’
‘It’s not working out with Frederick.’
‘Yes. What a name, huh? Old money.’
‘Another fantasy?’
‘Yes, but I don’t need that one any more. But we have a family.’
‘Family?’ This just gets worse and worse.
‘The triplets are only one. Nanny’s throwing a birthday party tomorrow. That’s why I can’t spend the weekend with you.’
‘Then why did you promise me?’
‘Sorry. I’d forgotten.’
‘Forgotten you were married? Forgotten you had triplets? Forgotten you’d promised to come away with me?’
‘All of the above.’
‘Now you’ll have to forget me.’
‘Already done. Bad memory. That’s me.’


This is my story for #Romantic Friday Writers this week.
  391 words. Click on the image to read more stories on the Forgotten theme.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Transitions - one debut author's inspiring journey. Would you do what Meagan did? Could you?

I came across this inspirational post at fellow Aussie blogger, Amie Kauffman's blog. As I had been planning to do a debut author post (here) I emailed Meagan to get permission to reprint this without any editorial from myself. I'm sure you'll find this story an inspiration and join with me in wishing Meagan Spooner every publishing success.

After you've read Meagan's story, please share yours with us...


Almost exactly one year ago, I got on a plane to fly to Australia. I had about 20,000 words of a new book, a lot of emotional baggage, and a metric ton of doubts. Not much to go on, really, but I knew I had to get moving on my dream of being a writer or I’d be waiting for something to happen to me forever.

I had quit my job the year before in order to attend an amazing six-week writing workshop. I worked part time after that, while struggling to shove my inner editor into a closet long enough for me to get words on a page. I started hating everything I’d ever written. I spent months sitting in my room, telling everyone I was working, while I stared at blank documents and fell asleep every night crying because I couldn’t make myself work. I was putting so much pressure on myself that nothing came out when I tried to write, covering up what was happening so that nobody would realize what a failure I was. Each day I felt more and more like I’d lost the spark that drove me to write when I was younger, like I had no more to offer, that there was nothing left but to give up.

But then in March of 2010 something changed. I got an idea, which wasn’t different in and of itself, except for the fact that this idea lit a fire underneath me like I hadn’t felt since I was a kid. Part of me wanted to shout, “Hang on, slow down, you’re not good enough to write this yet.” The rest of me said, “HELL WITH THAT!” I thank my lucky stars I listened to voice number two.

That idea, of course, was for THE IRON WOOD. I showed the first few chapters to my amazing and long-suffering critique partner, Amie, just praying the reaction would be better than a tactful “Well, at least you’re writing.” Instead, she blew me away by inviting me to Australia to live with her and her husband for a year in order to finish the book because she believed in it that much.

I only allowed myself to take up her offer after promising myself that I would write every day–EVERY DAY–until I finished the book.  I even woke up to write on the flight as I crossed the international date line, just to be sure. I finished the book at the beginning of July, about three and a half months after starting it. I revised. I gave it to friends to critique. I revised again. I tentatively started entering query contests. Suddenly agents wanted to see my manuscript, and I scrambled to get queries out.

In December I got my first offer of representation. By the end of the year, I signed with my wonderful agent, Josh. I revised some more. I went through a period that was difficult for reasons both creative and personal. I dragged myself out of it by rewriting the book yet again. Then Josh went out with THE IRON WOOD, and before I really knew what was going on, publishers in multiple countries wanted to buy my book.

And two weeks ago, I finally got to share with you all that I’d done what I set out to do–that I’d written, revised, queried, and sold my book.

I’m not really used to being proud of myself. But it’s been a very strange year. A wonderful year. A difficult year, too.

And tomorrow I get on the plane to go back to America. I’m going to miss Australia intensely. But I’m also really looking forward to whatever is next.

Want to know more about Meagan? Visit her beautiful blog here. Please leave me a comment then hop on over and tell her you've read about her journey. She'd love to hear from you.

It's just a matter of persistence - and a certain amount of talent. 
You just refuse to give up. 
Then, the game's not over.


  • If you'd like to read my story for Romantic Friday Writers, go here. A bit of a different romance.

Monday 6 June 2011

Fun and Games Blogfest - Quick and easy to play and read...June 6 (which is also Queensland Day.)

Despite a sizzling schedule I'm participating in Alex's blogfest as his are always quick and easy, or appear to be. Getting around to a gazillion participants is no fun though.

In case you don't get to the bottom of this post (now, what am I suggesting?) I'd like to tell you about another game I like to play. That is entering short story contests. This Narrative online mag is one of my favourites and the deadline is June 15. You have to pay a small fee to play but there's lots of dollars if you win a place.

Now let's get into Alex's fun and games. Here are my favourite games.


These little books are surprisingly hard to find at times as they get buried under a pile of Sudoku, Crosswords and Word Searches, but I always like to have a book of Codewords on the go. Luckily, they're now available online too. They look like the one below. Each letter in this puzzle is represented by a number 1-26. You then crack the code and solve the crossword. Every letter of the alphabet is used at least once. Three letters are already in place to get you started (you can find puzzles that increase the level of difficulty by only giving you 2 letters, 1 letter or none at all.)

GAME NO 2: MONOPOLY (who could ever get sick of this old favourite?) There's been adapations made to it over the years, but being a purist, I prefer the original. I just checked online and there's at least 44 versions in English so I'm sure there are many, many more. There seems to be a Monopoly for every taste.

Monopoly: Chronicles of Narnia Edition


One of the best ways (other than blogging) to procrastinate between scenes of my current WIP. Perhaps it's the most-played online game? I wouldn't know. It really gives your brain a boost. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.



 Today is Queensland Day. I know there are quite a few history buffs out there, so this is for you:

Generally the day is incorporated into a week of celebrations which focus on the State's history and development, the people of Queensland and their achievements.

It acknowledges the birth of Queensland as a self-governing colony, the anniversary of the date on which Queen Victoria (there's that woman again!) signed documents granting Queensland the right to its own representative government and appointing Queensland's first Governor, Sir George Bowen.

From 1859 to 1901, Queensland had the status of a self-governing colony. From 1 January 1901, Queensland became one of the six founding States of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Since 1981, Queensland's birthday has been officially celebrated and promoted by the State Government.

The highlight of celebrations is the "Queenslander of the Year" award which is formally announced by the Governor, and the "Young Queenslander of the Year" award.

Friday 3 June 2011

I've been tagged again, but this one is a riot!

The champagne-quaffing Francine from Romancing the Blog tagged me, and before I posted my tag, Nancy Williams came knocking at my door, so I can just do this once! There are 8 things to do for this tag: here they are . . .

1. Do you think you're hot?

Ans: Heck yeah, Australia is one of the hottest places on earth and I live in my own sweaty little patch. You know what the song says - if you're hot you're hot, if you're not you're not.

2. Upload a picture or wallpaper you're using at the moment.

Ans: You might have noticed this picture on several blogs. This is a group of romantic fiction writers - guys and gals - who write 400 words on a Friday. Getting the word out. Seeing it for the first time? Hop on over and see what all the excitement is about (and it's not just because 3 guys have joined us!) Today, Friday (it is so Friday in Oz at least!) new posts go up. I wonder who will be the Featured Writer of the Week?

3. When was the last time you ate chicken meat?

Ans: Are you kidding? Since my mother served me whizzed up brains and crumbed them and said they were chicken nuggets I never touch the stuff.

4. The song you listened to recently.

This is a link to a better version but the embed code is disabled.

5. What were you thinking as you were doing this?

Ans: Don't Francine and Nancy know I've got a truckload of stories to write before I sleep? Or get on the plane?

6. Do you have nicknames? What are they?

Ans: Francine has bragging rights for 'bubbles,' but I'm staying way away from alcohol this post. Got into enough trouble last tag time. Oh man, what is that song again - but I never drink red wine, so relax!

Oh? Nickname was it? Just plain boring ole 'Den' or 'Deni.'

7. Tag eight bloggers

OK folks, you're tagged!

1. Sylvia Ney

2. Beverly Deihl

3. Tony Benson at Fireside Park

4. Ann Best

5. Clarissa Draper

6. Nas Dean

7. Michael at time

8. Deniz Bevan

9.  Ellie Garret (I added Ellie coz I saw her enjoying another blog tag so I have an extra!)

8. A few questions about your tagged friends...
Who's listed as number one?
Sylvia Ney does a mighty fine job interviewing authors/writers. A service all my writer friends should appreciate.

Say something about number 5.
Clarissa is an inspiration. She is a great writer and her blog is a magnificent place to learn all kinds of sciency and writerly stuff.

How did you get to know number 3?
When his lovely wife Margo Benson hit blogger land, I was the first blogger she followed and Tony was hot on her dancing heels. Such a lovely couple from Devon.

How about number 4?
Who could inspire me more than Ann Best! Publishing your first book at 70! All that energy! And caring for her adult daughter Jen who has a disability. I love Ann's writing and know her memoir In The Mirror is going to be a great success and I'm looking forward to receiving my copy!

Leave a message for number 6.
Hello Nas! Thanks for inviting me to stay with you in Fiji! Can't wait!

Leave a lovey-dovey message for number 2.
Sweet Beverly! Thank you so much for signing up for Romantic Friday Writers and supporting our little shindig! Great to have you on board!

Do number 7 and number 8 have any similarities?
Well, they're both writers, both dedicated to their art and are sure to be huge successes in their writing careers! They both comment on my posts on a regular basis and I value their support in whatever I'm writing about. Watch this space! 

And hey what about number 9?
Ellie is one of the young-uns that I have tagged who has a great future ahead of her. Can't wait to read her first novel! With her imagination and dedication it's going to be a blast.

Now everyone, I'm looking forward to reading your responses. Please let me know when you post...

Wednesday 1 June 2011

The debut dance - do you have the energy? The time? The staying power?

'They' say that no-one is buying debut novels.

I saw a great post recently by Claire King which said 'No-one is buying debut novels these days. Publishers don’t want them. Agents don’t want to take on new writers because they can’t sell debuts. Booksellers are closing down and the way forward is 99cent ebooks. It’s all doom and gloom out there. So why bother? The chances are infinitesimally slim that you will ever get the book deal your heart is set on. Why not go to the pub, or get comfy and watch re-runs of Friends instead?'

Well, if this is true it is very despressing for those of us slogging away at the laptop day after day hoping to hit pay dirt. I read recently that even in little ole Oz, at any given time there are 10,000 mss languishing on agents/editor's desks. But is it necessarily true that you won't be optioned just because you're a debut author? Just remember that bad news sells. And a bit of sensationalism. The evidence shows that you are in with a chance even if you're a first timer. (Don't forget that some published authors are having trouble selling their second or third novels.) Uh, that's not necessarily encouraging is it? Sorry...

Claire tells of the success of ordinary writers, just lke you and me, debuting successfully.

Claire says: 'These people are not different from you and me. They are not better educated. They are not richer. They are not people with industry connections. They are people who sat down and wrote. A lot. And re-wrote. They have families and day jobs and they are busy too. These people are getting agents and they are getting book deals. Three cheers for these people:

Maria Duffy, who signed with Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown last autumn and has just signed a two book deal with Hachette Ireland. Her debut novel, Any Dream Will Do, will be published November 2011

D.J. Kirkby, who writes fiction and non-fiction and after self publishing her first novel, Without Alice, has just signed up with Judith Murray at Greene & Heaton

Liz Fenwick recently signed with Carol Blake at Blake Friedman and signed with Orion for her debut – A Cornish House - and a second novel…

Claire LeGrand (Who is 24, by the way!) has just sold her debut novel to Simon & Schuster

Kate Brown who just signed with Jamie Coleman at Toby Eady Associates for her debut historical novel.

Mariam Kobras who just signed her contract with Buddhapuss Ink independent publishers for her debut contemporary romance The Distant Shore

Kerry Hudson whose debut novel TONY HOGAN BOUGHT ME AN ICE-CREAM FLOAT BEFORE HE STOLE MY MA comes out from Chatto & Windus in summer 2012

Claire McGowan whose debut novel sold in February to Headline and will be published in 2012. See her blog post about living the dream here.

Jonathan Pinnock whose debut Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens is out this September from Proxima Books

Rebecca Emin whose children’s novel New Beginnings will be published next year by Grimoire books.'

Now that's just for starters. You may have just broken through or you may know someone who has. Care to share? I could add Talli Roland to this list, who had a cracker of a debut with 'The Hating Game', sitting happily in the Amazon top seller list for months and currently doing revisions on her second novel 'Watching Willow Watts.' Now this little alliterative title makes me want to buy it already, so hurry up Talli. Less of the wine and more of the writing! And how about Ann Carbine Best with her memoir 'In the Mirror' (featured in next post)? Who said debut novelists didn't have a chance?

We know it's not all wine and roses. We all know the market is difficult and there are many brilliant writers who have got great agents and are still waiting for a publisher to buy their book. Or maybe they haven't even nabbed an agent. How frustrating. But what do you do while you're waiting? Write your next novel. You will succeed if you're determined (and the planets are aligned.)

So, write. Write today and every day. Check out the Twitter hashtag – #writegoodnews. Here you will make friends, watch others succeed and be encouraged, or drown your sorrows together.

Soon I will be posting one of the most inspirational posts ever about how one debut novelist succeeded in this writing this space...

Happy writing!

Oh, and don't forget, if you write any type of romance you can show off every Friday at Romantic Friday Writers. Just a little flash fiction to keep your creative juices flowing...or give us a little peek at your WIP...