This Writer's Life, Up Close & Personal

Author Interview – Halloween Edition.

Image courtesy QuinceCreative

Hi everyone! I’ve had another author interview, this time with a Halloween theme.

This week I speak to fellow RWA member, and author/blogger Davina Stone. It’s a short, fun interview, with myself and two other authors of paranormal romance. I talk about my inspiration, my upcoming release, and a Halloween party guest of honour. Many thanks to Davina for letting me be a guest on her blog!

You can read the full interview at Davina’s website Spellbound! Fall in love with Spooky Romance this Halloween. Oh, and I also dress up for the occasion! 😉

And for those who celebrate it, Happy Halloween!

This cracks me up every time!
First Christmas, My Books

‘First Christmas’ Cover Reveal & Pre-Order.

Here it is, everyone! The moment has finally arrived!

My next book of short stories, FIRST CHRISTMAS, will be available 20 November 2020.

Christmas spirit comes in the most unexpected ways.

In 1916, young newlywed, Caroline Owens spends her first Christmas alone. Or is she?

Shy nurse, Linda Graham, struggles with a tragic loss. Can a ghost help restore her broken heart?

FIRST CHRISTMAS is now available for pre-order at Amazon for 99c!

IWSG, This Writer's Life

IWSG: Do You See Yourself as a Working Writer?

I have been writing for years, and it wasn’t until late 2019 that I became an indie author. Despite this, I did not really see myself as a working writer until only a few short months ago.

I could never understand those television shows where authors go about solving crimes, yet somehow manage to write books and be successful authors. To me, the term ‘working writer’ is someone glued to their chair doing a lot of writing with an assortment of pens and papers scattered around their desk. What I like to call ‘an organised mess’.

To me, a working writer is also someone who takes their writing seriously, are prepared to be in it for the long haul, learn new things (as well as from their mistakes), and adapt to change. Sometimes we can be doing all these things, but what is really required is a shift in our mindset.

When I released my two books of short stories in 2019, I put them out into the world with little fanfare. These were stories I had been holding onto for a number of years, so when I pressed ‘publish’, it was with a great deal of relief (and a lot of trepidation) that the job was finally done.

Recently, as I have been working on the release of my next book, my mindset has changed. Within the first six months as an indie author, I managed to learn more about the business – don’t we learn more by doing? I have learned from past mistakes and this time I am trying a different approach, and I’m sure I will try different ways of doing things with each book.

Looking back, despite having some knowledge of indie publishing, I was a bit naïve. I need to work harder and smarter if I want to be successful in this business, and I do! With that shift in mindset, I now see myself as a working writer.

This is something you will never see on these shows because it makes for boring television! 😉

Do you see yourself as a working writer? What do you think it looks like? Have you had a change in mindset and how has it worked for you? Are you an aspiring author or a hobbyist?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy Unsplash

Movies/Television

The Horror of ‘Seven’.

Recently, I was prompted to revisit the film ‘Seven’. I have not watched the film in years, so had therefore forgotten how good it is.

After the opening credits with a nod to Nine Inch Nails, we are quickly introduced to the jaded Lieutenant Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and ambitious Detective Miller (Brad Pitt). The film is set in an unknown city, a place where Miller wanted to transfer to, surprising Somerset and perhaps also, the audience. The city is portrayed as a dark, miserable place full of crime and drug users. Miller and his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) having recently moved to the city, live in an apartment where trains pass and rattle their living quarters whenever they go by. The local library is seen as the only redeeming feature within the city, a place where Somerset is a frequent visitor.

The film is certainly gruesome as the killer works his way through the seven deadly sins; gluttony and sloth, in particular. It is not just the imagery of the victims themselves, but also what we learn the killer does to them, that adds to the horror and the tension.

I don’t want to give anything away in case anyone has not seen the film, but the killer (Kevin Spacey) is patient and methodical, and as Somerset points out ‘he’s not the devil, he’s just a man.’

In the final scene, where we really get to see the killer, known as John Doe, we are taken out of the city to a remote desert location. It is here, where both detectives and the viewer are transported into the unknown, that culminates into a memorable gut-wrenching scene, making John Doe a notorious on-screen villain.

What I’ve been watching this past month: –

John Wayne Gacy: Killer Clown’s Revenge (Foxtel)

I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers and John Wayne Gacy has always been high on my list. This show is in four parts, covering his childhood all the way to his arrest. It was interesting to hear tape extracts of Gacy’s interviews, as well as hearing from detectives on the case. Although the narrator’s voice and the occasional ‘clown laugh’ irritated me, I found this compelling viewing.

The Dark Crystal – Age of Resistance (Netflix)
I admit to having watched this show before; in fact, this is my third viewing. I enjoy the plot, the characters, and the little snippets of humour. I never tire of the sheer magic of the puppetry and set designs, that there are moments I get so caught up in it, I forget I’m watching puppets. I’m really looking forward to the second season (and hope there will continue to be one).

What have you been watching? Have you been preparing yourself for Halloween? Have you revisited some favourites lately?

Back to the 80s

Songs We Were Listening to in 1984, Part 2.


This week is the second part of the list of songs I’ve compiled that we listened to in 1984. If you’re interested in seeing the Top 10 songs, you can find them at Rolling Stone.

In 1984, Red Hot Chili Peppers made their debut, Michael Jackson received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Madonna sparked controversy with her performance of ‘Like a Virgin’ onstage during the MTV Music Video Awards.

Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Controversial on its release, it went on to top the UK singles chart, selling 2 million copies in the UK alone. It became one of the most commercially successful songs of the decade.

Footloose – Kenny Loggins

This was one of many movie soundtracks released during 1984. Kevin Bacon looks so cute, and his VW beetle looks eerily familiar to my very first car. 😉

Take on Me – A-ha

This song became an international No.1 hit, and the music video was ahead of its time, winning six awards at the MTV video awards in 1986. It is considered to be the band’s signature song.

When the Doves Cry – Prince

It would be remiss of me to compile a list of songs of 1984, without mentioning the No.1 song of the year. It featured in the film ‘Purple Rain’ and in later years would go on to enter The Rock and Roll’s Hall of Fame.

Thriller – Michael Jackson

I wasn’t a big fan of Michael Jackson, but he sure knew how to dance as shown in this video. The man was practically liquid! Although a long clip (this is the shorter version), it showcased his many talents. I think it was also one of his best songs, and with a cemetery, zombies, and the wonderful Vincent Price, what’s not to love? 😉

What song/songs define the 1980s to you? Do you enjoy listening to movie soundtracks? Was there a song/artist from the 80s you didn’t like, but you’ve since changed your mind?

Image courtesy Pixabay

Back to the 80s

Songs We Were Listening to in 1984, Part 1.

The year 1984 appears in my next book of short stories. It was the year Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial, and Elton John got married in Sydney. It was also the year Band Aid released the single ‘Do They Know it’s Christmas?’ which became the fastest-selling single of all time in the UK (and probably to the world’s ears, was the most played single).

If you are interested in seeing the Top 10 songs for the year, you can find them at Rolling Stone, which lists the Top 100 for 1984.

Here I’ve compiled a variety of songs in two parts of what we listened to in 1984.

Burn for You – INXS

This song came from their album The Swing, an album that received international attention, and the rest, as they say, is history. Miss you, Michael!

Rebel Yell – Billy Idol

I wasn’t a big fan of Billy Idol per se, but I did enjoy the music, which I guess is what it’s all about. This one still stands the test of time.

Hold Me Now – Thompson Twins

No twins, no member of the band with the name Thompson, but they did come up with this beautiful, sad song, which was an international success.

You Spin me Round (Like a Record) – Dead or Alive

Okay, I couldn’t resist this one! 😉 This came out at a time when Culture Club and Marilyn were popular.

Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2

I really liked U2 in the 1980s, with some of my friends having crushes on them at the time (yes, Larry was cute). This song went on to become one of their most popular.

I’ll be back next week with another five songs of 1984.

Were you listening to these songs back in 1984? Do you still listen to them? Have you discovered 1980s music and prefer to listen to them instead of/as well as today’s music?

Main image courtesy Pixabay

Back to the 80s

Top 5 Worst Mullets of the 1980s.

As if 2020 couldn’t get any worse, I saw a post from a friend on Facebook that said mullets were coming back.

My instant reaction to that was this: –

The mullet would have to be one of the worst hairstyles ever created. To me, it’s up there with the rat tail, where I have the irresistible urge to grab a pair of scissors and cut it off.

Mullets were popular in the 1980s, with well-known celebrities choosing to embarrass themselves. Some didn’t carry it off too badly I guess (Patrick Swayze and Mel Gibson to name a few), but there were others that will probably go down in the hall of shame.

This was a tough list to make, as there are some real shockers out there. I think the award for the worst mullet of all time would have to go to Billy Ray Cyrus, but that famous mullet didn’t make our skin crawl until the early 1990s.

Here is what I think are five of the worst: –

5. Bono

As if having a mullet wasn’t bad enough, the blonde streak doesn’t help. Makes him look like a cockatoo.

4. Warwick Capper

Well known in Australia at the time for playing Aussie Rules football, Warwick Kapper was famous for his tight shorts as well as his horrible mullets.

3. Andre Agassi

I can understand wearing a headband while playing tennis, but with a mullet it borders on the ridiculous.

2. Michael Bolton

I think this one was a shocker due to the curls and the very short fringe (if any). Either way, it is up there with the worst.

1. Limahl

With his two-tone, spiky combo, this particular mullet is a cross between a crowned crane and a bird’s nest. It would have to be the worst mullet of the 1980s.

What are your thoughts? Are there particular mullets of the 1980s that really stand out for you? Do you like mullets or do you find them cringe-worthy?

Main image courtesy Pixabay

IWSG, This Writer's Life

IWSG: Remember Why You Started.

Recently, during these crazy days of a world pandemic, I was fortunate to spend some time away from home. My husband referred to it as my ‘writing retreat’. We had no access to the outside world, which was very relaxing. It was the perfect way to pause and reflect.

I came to think about why I started on this writing journey in the first place. Back to my childhood, using my imaginary worlds as a way to escape reality. Writing about the things I loved, what I was passionate about.

I preferred to be left alone, and nature was always the perfect environment. Either in the bush or on the beach, my imagination would take hold and there were always stories to tell. I was able to express what could not be said in the real world.

Taking that time away, feeling slightly cut off from civilisation, the days became slower, calmer. It allowed me to focus on the things that were important in my life, and writing has always been a part of that. I had become too caught up on all the other things that are part of the writer’s life when it comes to indie publishing.

My husband told me that without social media as a distraction, I was able to get more work done. What I really needed was discipline. What I needed was to remain focused on the act of writing itself, to tell my stories.

That’s why I started writing in the first place.

Do you remember why you started writing? What do you do to keep disciplined in your writing and avoid distractions? Do you create your own ‘writing retreats’? Have you managed to get some time away from the ‘real world’ lately?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Image courtesy Pixabay

Movies/Television

The Silent Fear of ‘A Quiet Place’.

‘A Quiet Place’ is one of those films that I had heard about, but it took a while for me to get around to seeing. These days, when it comes to watching horror, I tend to be a bit selective. I am after a good story, not just shock value.

*This comes with a spoiler alert if you haven’t already seen the film.

I’ve watched ‘A Quiet Place’ a couple of times now, and I foolishly have to admit that when I watched it the first time, I missed out on one very vital piece of information. I don’t know how I missed the fact that the daughter, Regan, is deaf and it left me confused for a little while. I couldn’t figure out how these people knew how to speak sign language*. Eventually, it twigged, but if you miss that scene where the viewer sees Regan’s hearing aid for the first time (I picked it up on my second viewing), it can make the story a bit confusing during the early scenes.

The viewer is immediately thrust into a dystopian future, and one is left wondering what had happened. We are given hints through various newspaper clippings and posters of missing people, as well as how long it has been since the first day it all took place. This is the only background the viewer is given, so hopefully in ‘A Quiet Place II’, this question will be answered.

Although a horror film, ‘A Quiet Place’ focuses on family and how they need to work together to survive. The title also suggests that after the tragic death of one of their own, each of them is struggling with their grief and have difficulty in expressing their feelings.

I liked the idea that their survival depends on sound (or lack thereof), and that the family’s survival depends on their daughter, Regan, being deaf. That, I thought, was an interesting approach.

Visually, these alien creatures reminded me of the demogorgons in ‘Stranger Things’. As with ‘Aliens’, they are intelligent and fast-moving. I found them to be more weird-looking than frightening. I think the horror lay in the build-up of tension throughout the film, knowing that even the slightest noise attracts them. This is what had me on edge.

Added to the tension was the fact that the mother was pregnant and due to give birth at any time. This poses new difficulties, not only after the baby’s birth but during delivery.

My only real issue with the film was the ending, although I get why it was done. No sooner does the audience get some resolution, we jump straight into the next problem and that is where it ends. Cliff-hanger ending in anticipation for the next film.

I watched ‘A Quiet Place’ earlier in the year in preparation to see the next one. Sadly, COVID-19 put an end to that. Cliff-hanger ending indeed!

*Yes, I know – ‘Duh!’ 😉

What I’ve been watching this past month: –

Lost Girls (Netflix)

This film is based on the true story of one mother’s quest to find her missing daughter, and in the process, uncovers a connection to those of the Long Island serial killer. This story reveals what a strong woman Mari Gilbert was, and is even sadder knowing what happened after these events.

Ice-Cold Killers, Seasons 1-4 (Foxtel)

This is a true-crime documentary series, set in the harsh climates of Alaska and other states of America where it can get quite cold. I found the first two seasons, which were based in Alaska, to be interesting due to their remote location.

Abducted in Plain Sight (Netflix)

This documentary is about the double abduction of a young girl by a trusted friend of the family. I found this difficult to watch, and at one point, literally had to cover my mouth in shock. A remarkable true story of trust, betrayal, and manipulation. Quite extraordinary!

Have you watched ‘A Quiet Place’? What are your thoughts on cliff-hanger endings? Are you selective of your viewing habits these days? What have you been watching lately?

First Christmas, Ghosts & The Paranormal, My Books, The Story Behind the Story

‘First Christmas’ is Coming.

Yay, my next book is coming!

Normally, I don’t write anything with a particular theme in mind, but this one has a bit of history behind it. And let’s face it, 2020 has been a pretty crappy year.

Before Christmas, 2019, as part of the Romance Writers of Australia, the aspiring group held a competition. We were given prompts in which to write a 1,500-word short story, which was to be judged and awarded prizes. My short story did not get a prize and I didn’t have a problem with it, as I was stepping out of my comfort zone. I was, however, encouraged by the judge’s feedback: –

‘Such a beautiful, evocative story. An emotion-filled tale that would appeal to many readers who like historical novels too.’

After this, I decided with some hesitation, to enter my first RWA ‘Sweet Treats’ competition. There are three judges to this competition and ‘the third judge’ is well known for being not only the deciding factor, but brutal. I called them ‘the hanging judge’ and the feedback I received was indeed harsh. As a result, I can honestly say that: –

  1. It took me a few months before I could look at my story again, as well as read the feedback with a critical eye, and
  2. I won’t be entering any RWA competitions in a hurry. 😉

I, therefore, chose to focus on the positive feedback from the other two judges, which basically said that it showed promise.

‘Plot and characterisation great! The reader wants the MC to be happy after so much sorrow, and that matters. Tightening up the story will let these lovely characters shine.’

Like my first story, I believed in this one too. I didn’t wish to be put off by one judge’s opinion. I wanted readers to decide.

If I worked on it and did a bit of tweaking, I could put them both into a book and publish it in time for Christmas. The end result is First Christmas.

These stories are a bit different to what I usually write, but 2020 hasn’t been the best of years, and I wanted to write something with a bit of hope. Both short stories have a paranormal bent but are romantic in nature.

I’m working on having First Christmas released in November, so watch this space. 😊

Have you received negative feedback in a writing competition? Do you write with particular themes in mind? Given the current COVID-19 situation, have you written something different than usual this year?

Image courtesy Unsplash